There’s Never Been a Spanking Scene in… The Egg and I

A pretty teenager, Joan MacDonald, lies across a table-top, squealing as her elder sister, Anne, repeatedly slaps her on the bottom.

Connie McJunkin (upright) and Judi Rosamond (prone) at Springdale High School, Arizona, in the school year 1965-66

Connie McJunkin (upright) and Judi Rosamond (prone) at Springdale High School, Arizona, in the school year 1965-66

It’s an attractive sight, but it’s not technically a spanking scene – and not only because of the principle that it’s not a proper spanking if it isn’t OTK.

The Egg and I was originally a comic memoir by Betty MacDonald telling of how she and her family were uprooted from their suburban existence in Seattle in the hope of making their fortune as chicken farmers up in the mountainous wilds of Washington State. First published in 1945, it became a movie in 1947 and was the subject of several lawsuits by people who felt they had been portrayed unflatteringly in the book. That helps to explain the lapse of time before it was dramatized by Anna Coulter Martens in a version for performance by high school classes: that only happened in 1958. But it went strong for half a century and more: the most recent production I know of was in 2011.

Anne and Joan are the daughters of the family. One of Joan’s problems is a belief that the third of her ‘vital statistics’ has a few more inches than she would like. This is the more pressing in that she now has a selection of boyfriends, among them a lackadaisical youth known as JJ. She has found a weight loss method in a magazine, but she needs some sisterly help with it. Here’s what happens:

ANNE: Forget about the rain and assume the position.

JOAN: Now?

ANNE (moving toward her): If you want me to give you that treatment before JJ comes.

(Anne opens magazine and puts it on left end of kitchen table.)

ANNE: Move!

(Joan throws herself across table, face down, and inches along until she rests on her elbows near magazine.)

ANNE: Okay, now read me the directions.

(Anne is standing upstage of table.)

JOAN (reading): ‘Pommel briskly on protruding areas.’

ANNE: Is that all?

JOAN: ‘Pound your pounds away,’ it says. ‘Keep this up every day for a week, and your friends will soon start calling you Snake-Hips.’

ANNE: That’s a compliment?

JOAN: Tessie used to go to a regular beauty salon for treatments like this.

ANNE: Dear little Thermometer Tessie!

JOAN: Are you going to pommel, or gab?

ANNE: You asked for it! (Begins a light pommeling with her fists on Joan.)

Dian Hopkins pommels Dolly Dollins at Fort Worth, Texas, in the school year 1958-59

Dian Hopkins pommels Dolly Dollins at Fort Worth, Texas, in the school year 1958-59

Then the girls’ mother, Betty, comes in.

BETTY: What in the name of sanity are you doing?

JOAN: What it says in the magazine.

ANNE: Pound off the pounds. (Pommels a little harder.)

The fists of Kathy Ausink meet the bottom of Marlys Osier at Lynden High School, Washington Stare, in the school year 1961-62

The fists of Kathy Ausink pound the bottom of Marlys Osier at Lynden High School, Washington Stare, in the school year 1961-62

There is more unrelated banter…

(Joan is squirming and Anne gives her a whack.)

ANNE: Lie still!

That's about to be an 'Ouch!' from Robin Gehri as Teresa Carson smacks her hard in the 1970-71 production at Federal Way High School, Washington State

That’s about to be an ‘Ouch!’ from Robin Gehri as Teresa Carson smacks her hard in the 1970-71 production at Federal Way High School, Washington State

Yet more unrelated banter. Anne ‘pommels harder and faster as she talks’, until…

JOAN (yelling at same time): Ouch! Stop it! Take it easy!

Lynne Edson smacks Elaine Yost in the 1964-65 production at Benton High School, Pennsylvania

Lynne Edson smacks Elaine Yost in the 1964-65 production at Benton High School, Pennsylvania

Whereupon Joan gets up and starts to do some exercises.

Now, that’s obviously a massage scene, not a spanking scene, and for at least some of the time the assault on Joan’s ‘protruding area’ is done by Anne’s fists or as ‘karate chops’.

Mount Oliver High School, Illinois, 1967-8: Joyce Eickmeyer practises karate on the 'protruding area' of Jane Byots

Mount Oliver High School, Illinois, 1967-8: Joyce Eickmeyer practises karate on the ‘protruding area’ of Jane Byots

But on the other hand, the scene still contains an underlying allusion to the spanking that isn’t happening. The playwright, Anna Coulter Martens, was well attuned to the everyday dangers of being a teenage girl in the middle of the last century: one of the perils faced by Penny Pringle, the arty teenage heroine of her earlier play, A Lucky Penny (1947), is a spanking from her grandmother’s hairbrush. So in starting the massage with Joan being told to ‘assume the position’, Martens was being consciously witty. The only thing missing is Anne saying it will hurt her more than it hurts Joan.

So no, there isn’t a spanking scene in The Egg and I – but there is an extended visual and conceptual pun on a spanking scene.

And of course, it’s all for Joan’s own good!

Acknowledgement: The first photo in this article, from Springdale High School, Arizona, was discovered by Richard Windsor, who has graciously allowed me to use it here.

Photographer of the Week: Scott Saw

Scott Saw, whose background is in fine art, runs the San Diego firm Vixen Photography with his partner, the ballerina and burlesque performer Kixxi Galore: Kixxi poses the models and he photographs them. And with her dancer’s eye for line and his artist’s eye for detail, the results tend to be stupendous!

Vixen Photo 01Vixen photo 02vixen photo 03Vixen photo 04

Much of Vixen’s work is in the genres of pin-up and boudoir, shading into fetish and ‘alternative’, the latter often another way of saying ‘tattooed women’. One particular tattooed woman who will be relevant to us is Porcelain Midnight, seen here drawing attention to what she has called her ‘famous bum’:

Vixen Photography Porcelain Midnight

And here it is with Ashley Jade, whose bum will also be relevant later on:

Vixen photo Ashley & Porcelain

But Scott is a commercial photographer who will turn his lens to whatever a client may require. From time to time, for example, Vixen supplies the photobooth at parties, which allows revellers to be photographed doing whatever takes their uninhibited fancy:

Vixen Photography 2012 photobooth 1

Vixen Photography 2012 Valentine's Day photobooth 3Vixen Photography 2012 Valentine's Day photobooth 4Vixen Photography 2012 Valentine's Day photobooth 1Vixen Photography 2012 Valentine's Day photobooth 2Vixen Photography 2013 Valentine's Day photobooth 1Vixen Photography 2013 Valentine's Day photobooth 3

The firm also does the occasional publicity shoot, notably one for a 2015 tour by the band William Control, whose work combines Goth style with electronic music. One aspect of William Control’s interests may be guessed from some of the branded merchandise it has on offer:

William Control merchandise

And if you can’t guess from those hot pants, check out the band’s 2016 Valentine’s Day card to its fans:

William Control 2016 Valentine's Day card

So the theme for the tour promo shoot, featuring lead singer Wil Francis, drew on the ‘fetish’ end of Vixen’s expertise. And it was also going to be ‘alternative’, because the other contributor was none other than Porcelain Midnight. Here they are together:

Vixen Photography Porcelain Midnight & William Control

Of course, it’s Porcelain whose pants are going to become hot.

Vixen Photo 2015 William Control shoot (1)

Well, they would if there was enough of them there to heat!

Vixen Photo 2015 William Control shoot (2)Vixen Photo 2015 William Control shoot (3)

Never mind, Wil goes at it with a will:

Vixen Photo 2015 William Control shoot (4)Vixen Photo 2015 William Control shoot (5)

And lest you should imagine they’re only posing, just look at the after effects:

Vixen Photo 2015 William Control shoot (6)Vixen Photo 2015 William Control shoot (7)

Porcelain didn’t just get hit; she was a hit. So much so that she joined the band for some of their shows and VIP events.

And in case you’re wondering whether her ‘famous bum’ could stand the heat, we have proof positive in another shoot she did for Vixen with Ashley Jade, in which she needed to be able to sit down:

Vixen Photo Porcelain Midnight spanks Ashley Jaded

If you are interested in Vixen Photography’s work, please visit the firm’s website.

Who Needs Spanking?

Q: What do the following eight pictures have in common?

01 Liver Birds02 Aladdin03 Two and a Half MenSugar 2011 Eva Jedlickova05 Freefall06 You Know I cant Hear You07 Spaghetti a Mezzanotte08 Huit Femmes

A: None of them shows a girl being spanked.

If you want to know where each one comes from, head for the end of the article, where all will be revealed. But what I want to propose right now is simply that these images are enjoyable in their own right even though they aren’t, technically, spanking pictures. The girls are OTK, or at least horizontally perpendicular to a second figure: it is classic spanking positioning, only without the spanking. I have a nickname for this type of non-spanking picture: ‘Faux-TK’.

Probably the most widely circulated example of Faux-TK imagery, and certainly the best known, is the death of the mysterious spy Annabella Schmidt in the stage version of The 39 Steps.

09 The 39 Steps

What’s odd about the scene is that there isn’t even a latent suggestion anywhere in the play that the pose might imply that Annabella is being spanked: that’s entirely in the eye of the beholder. It’s odd because, despite what we see in the eight pictures at the top, there aren’t actually very many other circumstances in which a woman would find herself face down across somebody’s lap. In a casual context, with the right positioning of the characters beforehand, it might indicate uninhibited physical intimacy if the woman chooses to lie across the man for to reach for something on the other side, like this example from the 1977 television play Spend, Spend, Spend, featuring Susan Littler in lace-trimmed black panties:

10 Spend Spend Spend

But generally, if we see a woman OTK, even if it’s really only Faux-TK, the first assumption we will usually make is that she is there in order to be given a good spanking.

And there are Faux-TK scenes that play up to that, giving us something that looks like a spanking and that, in context, we might reasonably expect to be a spanking, but isn’t.

Take the 1941 movie romance The Bride Came C.O.D., in which Bette Davis plays Joan Winfield, a madcap heiress determined to make a bad marriage, and James Cagney is Steve Collins, the tough, plebeian pilot hired by her father to prevent it by kidnapping her.

10a Bride Came COD

It’s a familiar kind of story in pre-war Hollywood, that usually ends with the rich girl falling in love and marrying her bit of rough, and often also entails, at an earlier stage:

11 Flying Down to Rio12 Public Deb

Those are, of course, actual spanking scenes, OTK not Faux-TK, from Flying Down to Rio and Public Deb No. 1. And the publicity material for The Bride Came C.O.D. made a point of showing its two stars like this:

13 Bride Came COD

The scene was also among those chosen to feature on the film poster:

14 Bride Came COD

One of the fan magazines, reporting on the filming, duly made the reasonable inference that Cagney was ‘administering a spanking to Miss Davis’.

15 Bride Came COD

And it’s reasonable not just as an interpretation of what’s shown in the photograph, but because of Cagney’s reputation for playing roles in which he was rough with women. But take a closer look at that shot from the poster, paying particular attention to Bette’s bot.

16 Bride Came COD

In the movie, Joan accidentally sits on a cactus,

Bride Came COD Cactus

and Steve has to extract the spines, which means she has to lie in the most convenient position:

17 Bride Came COD18 Bride Came COD19 Bride Came COD

We then cut to a low shot showing Joan’s facial reactions: each time Steve does something to her bottom, it produces a shout of indignant pain, only in this case it’s not because of smacks landing but spines coming out.

20 Bride Came COD21 Bride Came COD22 Bride Came COD23 Bride Came COD

This is a sequence that looks almost exactly like a spanking,

24 Bride Came COD

and leaves Joan with a sore bottom…

25 Bride Came COD

… the difference being that it was already sore even before Steve put her across his knee!

So it isn’t a spanking scene: it uses Faux-TK to present an extended pun on a spanking scene. And it’s not the only example.

Fast-forward a quarter of a century to 1966, where one of the many televisual delights on offer was the quirky spy series The Avengers, starring Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg as the unconventional agents Steed and Mrs Peel. In the episode ‘How to Succeed… at Murder’, the duo are investigating a secretarial agency that is really an assassination bureau: the temps turn out to be trained killers, among them Mary, played by Angela Browne.

26 Avengers

The object of the exercise in each case is for the hired secretary to bump off the boss and then take over the company, thereby putting women in control of an ever expanding business empire. Yes, the agency has strong feminist principles – or appears to have them, since in the end it turns out that it’s being run, incognito, by a middle-aged man. So on the face of it, this is one of those stupid, reactionary 1960s scare stories about the women’s movement, which tend to finish up with the proposition that the best way to deal with a ‘women’s libber’ is to put her across your knee – something that, admittedly, I enjoy seeing even though I repudiate the anti-progressive sentiments that motivate it.

And that’s what happens to Mary after her final confrontation with Steed, in which she’s dressed for action:

27 Avengers

As Steed remarks to her, there’s ‘nothing between you and the weather but leather’ – an arch way of saying that her trousers are so tight that she obviously isn’t wearing panties. Probably not all that good an idea for a girl who’s destined to find herself over a man’s knee before too long…

Steed needs information from Mary and her colleague, but they attack him.

28 Avengers

He gets the other girl trapped under a stool, which he then sits on. So that’s one female assassin out of the game, so long as he stays sitting down. How then is he to deal with Mary? Well, obviously…

29 Avengers30 Avengers31 Avengers

A less witty, less inventive series would have Steed proceed to spank the information out of her, and obviously part of me wishes that he did just that. But what he actually does is tickle her into submission:

32 Avengers

So just as in The Bride Came C.O.D., the story takes a scenario where you might expect the girl to be spanked, but where that would be something of a cliché. Then it gives you something that looks like a spanking but isn’t. It uses Faux-TK as a way of being clever with run-of-the-mill material. And (who can deny it?) in the process it produces some very attractive imagery.

And talking of attractive imagery, I promised you a rundown of the origins of those eight pictures at the top of the article. They are:

01 Liver Birds

1: Nerys Hughes, star of the BBC sitcom The Liver Birds, leaning across Clive Francis to take a phone call in a 1972 episode.

02 Aladdin

2: Jean Carson as the title character in the 1951 London Casino production of Emil Littler’s pantomime Aladdin, getting the seat of her shorts sewn up by Widow Twankey, played by Nat Jackley.

03 Two and a Half Men

3: Alicia Witt doing some lap-dancing in a 2008 episode of the US sitcom Two and a Half Men.

Sugar 2011 Eva Jedlickova

4: Eva Jedlickova as Dolores in the 2011 Czech production of Sugar, a stage musical based on the gender-bending Billy Wilder classic Some Like It Hot. (The apparently female figure she’s across is a bender of gender, Jerry, played by Milan Nemec – the Jack Lemmon character in the movie.)

05 Freefall

5: The 1990s comic book superheroine Freefall getting her bottom tattooed.

06 You Know I cant Hear You

6: Tom Ewell and Nicole Shelby in the 1968 West End production of Robert Anderson’s comedy anthology You Know I Can’t Hear You When the Water’s Running.

07 Spaghetti a Mezzanotte

7: Poster artwork for the 1981 Italian comedy Spaghetti a Mezzanotte (… at Midnight), showing Barbara Bouchet failing to distract Lino Banfi from his pasta.

08 Huit Femmes

8: And finally, Isabelle Huppert getting an injection in her bottom in the 2002 French murder mystery musical 8 Femmes. In the movie itself, she is not only OTK but has her skirt raised…

8 Femmes a

And if even that’s not enough for you, if you really do need there to be some actual spanking, maybe you can take heart from the fact that, in a much earlier role, Isabelle Huppert was put across a man’s knee and had her pants taken down for a spanking. The movie was Jean-Luc Godard’s Slow Motion (1980), and what you saw on screen was this:

Slow Motion 1980 Godard

The spanker is sitting in the back seat of the Swiss car, while an accomplice is hanging onto her ankles. All you can see of Isabelle is her bare calves. Even so, her character is undoubtedly being spanked, and spanked on her panties too (if worn). But when you compare the scene with some of the ‘Faux-TK’ imagery we’ve been looking at, it really does beg the question:

Who needs spanking?

Price of Fame

Wilfred Massey’s 1955 comedy Price of Fame was mainly intended for amateur performance, though it also had at least three professional productions in England’s script-hungry repertory theaters of the late 1950s, at Peterborough (1955), St Anne’s (1956) and Newcastle (1957).

The story concerns the domestic life of radio and television wit Laurence Montefioret (pronounced Montfort), who rejoices in the reputation of being ‘the rudest man in England’ and a misogynist to boot. We get an early example of that wit, or rudeness, in action when, moving into a country cottage, he is told by Mrs Possett the cook-housekeeper that she can’t come in on Monday and Friday evenings, because that’s when she ‘sits’ – only then and on no other occasions. She means babysitting, but Laurence takes it more literally and remarks, ‘You must either have very sturdy feet or an unusually tender posterior.’

And a play that more or less begins with a reference to a tender posterior ends with another character having her posterior made tender – a theme that Massey evidently enjoyed, and had already written into several other plays. The one to watch in Price of Fame is Tessa Montefioret (still pronounced Montfort), Laurence’s niece and the reason he has moved to the country. She is a ‘cheerful and likeable’ girl, written as a 16-year-old but intended for an actress in her 20s who would be better able to handle the part’s complexities. She has just left school in Switzerland – she hopes for ever – and is coming to live as her uncle’s ward because she can no longer live with her widowed mother, who is about to remarry. There wouldn’t be room for her in Laurence’s London flat, so he has had to take a larger house, bringing with him his long-term secretary, 28-year-old Frances Jeffries.

This is a relationship that is not going to be without its problems. Laurence asks Frances to speak to Tessa after she goes for a bath in a state that he considers to be indecent. Tessa retorts that she was wearing ‘Full regulation underwear! And if anybody can show me anything more indecently decent than my school vest and knickers, I don’t want to see them!’ So Laurence is not only rude but a prude.

But even so, in the course of the play Tessa dresses progressively more and more casually: she starts out in school uniform, changes into jeans and is last seen wearing a pair of brightly colored shorts. The character reason for this is that she grows more and more confident as the story goes on. The plot reason for it is that, on her first day in the house, she works out that Laurence isn’t her uncle at all – he is her father, something he is keen not to become public knowledge. So when Laurence orders that she should only ever wear dresses and skirts, his secret gives her a hold over him, and the offending jeans and shorts, sent to be burnt, are saved and remain part of her wardrobe.

Power doesn’t only make Tessa confident; in Massey’s word, it makes her ‘pert’. Three weeks later, she makes her radio debut in a program about Laurence, during which she makes some tactless remarks about the local community and an unfounded suggestion that she might be having a fling with a local artist, Michael Collyer. The despairing Laurence engages a psychiatrist to treat her with hypnosis, but it does no good and the shrink ends up treating Laurence instead. ‘I know a much quicker way than that!’ says Frances ominously. We’ll let The Stage put it more explicitly, in its review of the 1957 Newcastle Rep production, which featured Pamela Pitchford as Frances and Bridget Webb as the terrible Tessa: ‘Not until his secret is revealed, and he decides to forsake the entertainment world, does she get the spanking so richly deserved.’

As Tessa becomes more outrageous, Laurence’s fortunes decline. Frances quits as his secretary and is considering going off on a boating trip with Michael – a jaunt in which Tessa schemes to supplant her by telling Michael she has already gone. Meanwhile Laurence admits to Frances that his biography is not quite accurate: he doesn’t have a dead brother Orlando, Tessa’s father – he is Orlando Montefioret, but changed his identity when he got divorced, and subsequently became a media personality.

And so we learn the price of fame: to be trapped in your own public persona. Laurence isn’t really rude: one day he decided to be outrageous to spice up a boring broadcast, only to find this was so popular with listeners that he had to go on doing it. What’s more, he certainly doesn’t hate women: he craves female companionship and a happy domestic life, but cannot have them because he makes his living as a professional misogynist. The big turning-point near the end of the play is his decision to renounce that line of work and ask Frances to marry him. And that acknowledgement of the truth means the reign of Tessa is at an end…

Frances calls Tessa out of the bathroom, and she enters brushing her hair in readiness to go away with Michael, as she thinks. ‘Your little racket is over, my pet,’ Frances tells her, and explains that she knows everything and is about to become the second Mrs Montefioret. Tessa isn’t sure if she likes that idea, but asks if Frances has made any plans. ‘Only one, so far. I’m going to anticipate the marriage ceremony.’ But not, as Tessa supposes, with a weekend fling in Brighton.

FRANCES: I mean I’m going to anticipate my job as a stepmother by taking you across my knee – (taking the hairbrush from Tessa) and giving you something that’s been overdue for several weeks.

TESSA (hotly): D’you think I’d let you.

FRANCES: I doubt very much whether you could stop me in my present mood.

(She pushes Tessa towards the bathroom.)

FRANCES: Go on – in there.

TESSA: I won’t go in there! And if you…

FRANCES (overlapping): And two more words out of you and I shall make it a condition of our marriage that your father sends you straight back to school in Switzerland.

TESSA: No! Frances, you wouldn’t do that.

FRANCES: Wouldn’t I? Just try me.

TESSA (plaintively): Oh!

Frances then says that, immediately after she has been spanked, Tessa has some apologies and some amends to make. And with that, she pushes Tessa into the bathroom and closes the door behind them.

And with that, we pause to acknowledge the disappointing fact that the spanking takes place offstage. This is a moment where Massey has to make a compromise between his instincts as a spanking enthusiast and his instincts as a playwright. It’s clear that the play must end with Tessa being spanked, and Massey’s track record in Happy Days and Till Further Orders shows that he had no objection to presenting it onstage. But the play must also end with Laurence contented and happy in his new life, and the spectacle of an onstage spanking scene would pull the audience’s focus away from that. Moving the spanking offstage allows Massey to cover both bases, and perhaps offers other opportunities too. We’ll come back to this when we’ve seen how things pan out.

The scene continues as Laurence comes onstage looking for his pipe. Having found it, and after some business, he’s about to leave…

(He is going towards the doorway when there is a loud whack off and a cry from Tessa. Laurence stops abruptly. More smacks.)

TESSA (off): Oh! Not so hard! Frances – please – not so hard!

(Laurence goes quickly towards the bathroom.)

LAURENCE: Frances! (He rattles the handle of the bathroom door.) Are you there – Frances!

FRANCES (off): Just a minute.

(Frances opens the bathroom door and stands in the doorway. Laurence, without getting too near the doorway, looks beyond. Tessa’s plaintive voice is heard and Laurence’s expression changes from alarm to hope.)

LAURENCE: Frances! Frances – does this mean that – that you …?

FRANCES: Yes, Laurence. (Holding up the hairbrush with its back foremost.) First steps in bringing up the family.

LAURENCE: Oh, my dear. (He kisses her.)

(Frances goes back into the bathroom, leaving the door wide open behind her. Laurence gives a sigh of relief and pleasure and sits down to read. Sounds of spanking and cries from Tessa come from off, but not too loud. Mrs Possett, attracted by the noise, enters.)

MRS POSSETT: Whatever is it?

LAURENCE: Just what I’ve always dreamed about – a normal, humdrum family household.

(Mrs Possett slowly crosses to the bathroom door and watches off.)

LAURENCE: Isn’t this cosy?

(He puts his pipe, without lighting it, into his mouth and reads contentedly. The noises from off become louder as –

THE CURTAIN FALLS.)

And that’s the play’s closing tableau, cleverly combining a good spanking for Tessa with quiet domesticity for Laurence.

There are two things to observe here. The first is that this is rather a long spanking, as stage spankings go. It’s broken off halfway through so that Frances can appear at the door and show Laurence what she’s doing, but even so there’s a full page of dialog and onstage business happening simultaneously. And it’s also rather a hard spanking, administered not by hand but hairbrush. All in all, it’s a lot to ask of an actress dressed in skimpy shorts, much as we might have enjoyed seeing it: doing it offstage at least means the sound effects can be made some other way, while the exact details are left to the mind’s eye.

And that’s important too. In a more reticent, repressed era, audiences were used to making inferences and imagining around what they didn’t see, and Massey gives them ample scope for interpretation. It’s striking just how much onstage business there is after Tessa is taken off and before we hear the first smack: Laurence has to come on in search of his pipe and find it; he then spots Frances’ scarf lying on the desk, picks it up, ‘looks at it for some moments in silence’, sighs and lays it tenderly down. All very romantic, but while all that is happening onstage, what’s going on behind the closed door?

Once Frances has got Tessa in there, things ought to happen quite quickly: across her knee with the naughty girl and WHACK! Unless of course there’s some further preparation to be done. In fact, are Tessa’s brightly colored shorts involved in the spanking in any way at all? Massey cannily doesn’t go into the slightest detail, but we have seen elsewhere that, in British theater of this period, an offstage spanking might imply one administered on the seat of the girl’s panties. But is Tessa even that lucky? Because Frances pointedly takes Tessa to the bathroom to be spanked, the one room in the house where people are routinely naked. Could it be, could it possibly be, that Price of Fame contains a real rarity – an authentic mainstream spanking on the bare bottom?

Photographer of the Week: Bruno Bozon

Bruno Bozon is a French art photographer, based in Essonne, near Paris. He specializes in portraiture and erotica, and though his work has a number of recurring themes, one of them is especially pleasing:

010203040506

And with all those upturned female bottoms, surely his portfolio must contain something even more specifically relevant to us?

07

Nearly

08

Nearly!

And on October 8, 2011, he did it. One of the models is known as Shadow, while the prettier of the two is Bibi Rubis:

09

And here they are together

10 Formol

You may think Shadow’s dressed rather formally there, but the title of the picture is actually ‘Formol’. Bruno’s inspiration for it was Thomas Fersen’s 2008 song of the same title, which begins:

Chapeau melon, veston croisé, tel est le joueur de tam-tam

Tandis qu’avec un air blasé, il donne une fessée à madame.

Or if you prefer:

Bowler hat and double-breasted waistcoat: that’s the percussionist

As, with an indifferent air, he gives madame a spanking.

And though it isn’t strictly a bowler on Shadow’s head, at least there’s no disputing what’s happening to the other end of Bibi!

If you are interested in Bruno Bozon’s work, please visit his website.

So Close

The neo-punk band Piss Ant was formed in 1995 by its lead singer, the fetish model and genre actress Josi Kat.

Josi KatSo Close Josi Kat

She claims to be ‘known for dishing out plenty of attitude, bad girl strut and sassy lyrics’. She has been known to dish out other things, too, including whackings. (She’s the nun.)

Josi Kat

And for the band’s number ‘So Close’, a track from their 2011 album I Know Your Type, she also dished out a video.

PISS ANT POSTER SO CLOSE FINAL

The video, which articulated the song in terms of imagery from film noir and 1950s sleaze, premiered at the 2012 Los Angeles Fetish Film Festival. And, of course, one element of the mix was a spanking.

Of the two relevant contributors, Mark White, alias Dark Mark, plays a man in pinstripes, and the girl he spanks is Elizabeth Aston.

So Close aston pSo Close astonElizabeth AstonSo Close Elizabeth Aston

She has been known to smack the occasional bottom:

So Close Elizabeth img_0925

But for the video, its hers that’s on offer. Here she is in costume:

Elizabeth Aston (So Close)So Close E Aston

And here she is with her fellow artistes:

So Close

According to Mark, Elizabeth ‘was the only one who would let me spank her’. It doesn’t last long, and afterwards his character winds up dead. But keep watching, because there’s a little more action involving Josi Kat and the detective. Here’s the video:

To find out more about Piss Ant and hear more of their music, please visit their website.

Tomorrow’s Child

In the years towards the end of and immediately after the Second World War, the British thought a lot about the future and how it could and should be different from the past. We’ve already seen early stirrings of it in a play of 1944, Tomorrow’s Eden, and it reached more serious fruition in July 1945 when, after Victory in Europe, a genuinely progressive government came to power. But some people had serious misgivings about what they perceived as a turn towards officialdom and bureaucracy, and one of them was the Yorkshire-born, Cambridge-educated writer John Coates (1912-63).

01 John Coates

His response was Tomorrow’s Child, a satirical comedy set twenty years ahead in a future where everything is standardized: furniture, clothing, entertainment, even people. To underline the point, one of the characters is called Utility, who sounds as if she might be a forgotten Mitford sister; but the name actually alludes to the cheap and functional no-frills ‘utility’ goods manufactured by government order during the austerity of the war and its aftermath. The state controls its citizens’ every action, even their every thought. There are uniformed ‘Community Wardens’ to watch the neighborhood and enforce the rules, their black shirts another topical reference to the distinctive appearance of British fascists in the years before the war. And technology also plays its part: every home is fitted with a loudspeaker, through which instructions are issued, and these devices cannot be turned off. And if you think that sounds vaguely familiar, it’s worth adding that Tomorrow’s Child was written four years before George Orwell published Nineteen Eighty-Four (which was in 1949). Orwell was living in Islington at the time, so it’s not entirely inconceivable that he might even have seen the play during its four-week London run.

The story deals with the misfortunes of various individualists and eccentrics, the square pegs who don’t fit into the state-defined round holes. Among them is Allan Winter, a painter and an incorrigible romantic who is duly unimpressed by the unimaginative utilitarianism to which English culture now has been reduced. His strand of the plot concerns his relationship with a pretty bureaucrat, Elizabeth Solway, and his efforts to educate her in amatory matters. Here they are in that original London production, flanked by Utility on the left and, on the right, the silly-ass character of Peter Grimsby, played by Wallas Eaton (who was later known for playing the inept senator in the Frankie Howerd sitcom Up Pompeii).

02 Tomorrow's Child in 1946

The reviewer in The Stage put Allan’s story in a nutshell: he ‘breaks all the rules, wears down the resistance of a young civil servant who scarcely realises her ability to rebel, spanks her severely, and marries her’. But the crisis comes towards the end of Act II when she refuses to marry him. The quarrel happens semi-privately, in so far as privacy is possible in one of the chromium-and-plastic apartments issued to citizens by the benevolent state. Elizabeth’s friends and family aren’t far away, but that doesn’t deter Allan one bit…

ALLAN (grimly) All right, Elizabeth, if ever a woman asked for it you did.

ELIZABETH: What’s the matter?

(ALLAN whispers something to her)

ELIZABETH (horrified and trying to break away from him): Here and now! You must be mad.

ALLAN (grimly): It’ll be the first sensible thing I’ve done since I met you. And it’s going to hurt you more than it hurts me but it’s for your own good.

(There is a brief struggle and she breaks away from him. She quickly gets the other side of the armchair.)

ELIZABETH: Allan! Listen to me.

ALLAN: I’m afraid it’s too late now.

(He chases her round the armchair.)

ELIZABETH: Allan! My mother and father are on the balcony!

ALLAN: Go on, scream. I’d love to hear you do something so deliciously old-fashioned.

(He chases her round the armchair again, catching up with her in front of it.)

ELIZABETH: Allan! Let me go!

ALLAN: Not on your life.

(There is a brief struggle. She cannot get away but she slaps his face.)

ALLAN: All right, my girl. Now we’ll try something else.

(He sits on the couch, bends her over his knee and smacks her.)

ELIZABETH (furious): Allan! How dare you! Father! Father!

(Solway, Helen, Peter and Utility come running in from the balcony. Solway stops in the doorway when he sees what’s going on and folds his arms. Peter flutters about ineffectually in the background.)

PETER: Good heavens, corporal punishment!

(The curtain falls.)

That’s the action as Coates intended it to be performed. But when the play was submitted for licensing in October 1945, it was deemed to be ‘most amusing’ with only one problematic sequence: as usual, the Lord Chamberlain’s reader objected to the spanking scene, and also to a subsequent dialog reference to it. ‘I think any suggestion of assault is quite unnecessary, and should be removed,’ he wrote. ‘The “struggle” should be allowed to suggest no more than an attempt to kiss her.’ On that basis, the censor opened negotiations with the producers, and the outcome was that Coates met with the officials on November 2 and agreed to a modified version of the scene, in which Allan chases Elizabeth offstage, leaving the door open, after which ‘there is the sound of someone being slapped’. A handwritten amendment to that effect was duly stapled into the Lord Chamberlain’s copy of the script, and the play was licensed the same day.

That meeting with Coates also resulted in the withdrawal of the censor’s objection to Allan’s later mention of the spanking, no doubt because what he says is imprecise and the action alluded to had been made correspondingly imprecise by being moved offstage. That’s lucky, because it’s a piquant reference that the reader had obviously misunderstood. ‘I might have got five years if I’d done what I meant to do,’ Allan says a few minutes into the third act. The reader somehow took this to mean that the ‘assault’ didn’t actually take place – except of course that Elizabeth does get spanked, even in the amended scene. The line implies, instead, that she was lucky to get only what she did get, and not something worse that could have landed him in serious trouble. And surely that can only mean that his intention had been to lift her skirt and spank her on her panties!

The play opened at the Cambridge Arts Theatre on December 3. The production broke for Christmas, then had a short tour in February before opening at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, on March 12. It ran there for 28 performances, which was a considerable success in those days, closing on April 6. Then after another break it embarked on an eleven-week tour of Britain from Llandudno to Huddersfield and from Edinburgh to Wimbledon. Throughout all that run, from December 1945 to July 1946, Allan was played by Nigel Patrick, but the role of Elizabeth was recast twice. In Cambridge, she was Ninka Dolega, who later married the veteran character actor Peter Copley:

03 Ninka Dolega in 1953

By the time of the pre-London tour, the character was being embodied by Sheila Sim, who had recently become Mrs Richard Attenborough:

04 Sheila Sim

She stayed with the production until it left London, whereupon Joan Seton took over for the second, longer tour:

05 Joan Seton

And let’s be clear about one thing. The phrase in the amended stage direction, ‘the sound of someone being slapped’, just might refer to the impact of feminine hand on masculine face, which perhaps explains the censor’s belief that the ‘assault’ had been forestalled. But in the production there was absolutely no ambiguity about what was happening. The ‘slapping’ (a word then used as a polite synonym for ‘spanking’) was certainly being done to Elizabeth’s nether regions, and realistic squealing could be heard from offstage; one reviewer even described the sounds as the highlight of the play!

One little thing did change after the London run: the period setting, originally 1965, was put forward another ten years to 1975 – perhaps in the hope of extending the play’s longer-term life expectancy in repertory and amateur productions. In practise, it lasted for fifteen years.

Liverpool Playhouse picked it up in the fall of 1946, and it was released for amateur production the following year. There followed a modest but respectable run of productions, notably including one at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in November 1949, in which the great actor John Neville spanked Caroline Hooper, whom he then proceeded to marry the following month. 1957 saw an amateur production in Geneva and a television version in Australia, the latter with James Condon as Allan and, as Elizabeth, that year’s Miss New South Wales, Janette Craig:

06 Janette Craig

It was broadcast live in Sydney on April 9, and filmed for a subsequent showing in Melbourne, so there’s a slim chance the footage might still be in existence. Who knows, the production might even have evaded the Lord Chamberlain’s edict and presented the spanking onscreen!

But Tomorrow’s Child was nearing the end of its lifespan. The last known production was at Dundee Rep in April 1961, just after the march of time crossed the halfway line between 1945, when the play was written, and 1975, when it was set. And by then, all those late Forties fears about state control and creeping bureaucracy seemed less pressing anyway. After all, nothing goes out of date quicker than the future!