Spicy Birthday to You

Before the beginning, when Spicy World hadn’t even been thought of, the American cartoonist Don Flowers (1908-68) realized that there was something just a little off the wall, and more than a little sexy, about the widespread tradition of birthday spanking. He specialized in lissom, long-legged ladies like Diana Dane, the thricespanked heroine of the strip Oh Diana!, which he drew from for fourteen years its inception in 1931.

In the 1940s, he began to develop his style towards pin-up, culminating in the creation of Glamor Girls, a syndicated collection of one-panel gags about the imaginary lives of, well, glamor girls, drawn with confident, free-flowing lines and those signature endless legs.

And in 1949, it was one of the glamor girls who found herself getting an unexpected kind of birthday greeting:

Flowers’ innovation of putting pin-up together with one-panel cartoon humor is important, because it was the fusion that led, half a decade later, to the birth of Spicy World. There had been spanking gags in toons before (go here for an example from 1948), but what was new was the emphasis on the voluptuous allure of the girl. And strangely enough, one of the earliest known spicy spanking toons, on the cover of the January 1956 issue of TV Girls and Gags, had essentially the same birthday joke:

That wasn’t the very first spicy spanking, though: there had been three secretary toons in 1954-55, with pretty girls spanked for, among other things, the perennial office offenses of lateness and spelling mistakes. And that gets to the heart of the typical Spicy World spanking scenario: men are always looking for a reason, or at least a pretext, to spank a girl, so her birthday is bound to be a prime opportunity with many takers.

What may be surprising is that there weren’t more birthday spanking toons, as compared with more than 40 entries in the secretary spanking stakes. In all likelihood, that’s because it was hard to come up with a sufficient range of effective jokes over and above the basic scenario, which obviously couldn’t be repeated too often in unembellished form. Some of the birthday spanking pretexts seem peculiar even by the standards of Spicy World:

When smacked out in Morse Code, with the customary ‘one to grow on’, the greeting ‘Happy Birthday’ would mean she was 40 years old, which obviously isn’t the case! Never mind, dear, worse errors have been known:

It can all be put down to an excess of enthusiasm, which also explains why spicy birthday spankings don’t always happen on the right day.

Sometimes, it seems, nowhere near the right day!

At least there are other birthday customs to compensate, which are presumably acceptable even on a happy unbirthday.

But that doesn’t entirely explain what happens in the Spicy New World of more recent times, as illustrated in this toon by the artist and pin-up model Inky Cheex, published in the June 2018 edition of the magazine Night Owl:

For some modern girls, apparently, it’s not the birthday gift they covet – it’s the birthday spanking…

Glad to oblige!

Fear of the Clown

There are otherwise intelligent, well-adjusted people who happen to be afraid of clowns. Why might that be?

Because, after all, clowns are only supposed to make you laugh with their merry japes.

Only a tiny handful of them are actually supervillains.

And that can’t account for such a widespread irrational reaction. Maybe it’s got something to do with the clown make-up.

It’s generic, which means that clowns have no identity, no humanity.

Some people find that sinister.

And it gives the clown a licence of effective anonymity for all kinds of antisocial behavior.

But you know, I can’t help but feel there’s still something obvious we’re missing, some definite, concrete reason why people fear clowns.

I wonder what on earth it could possibly be?

Some Good Years for Tomatoes, Part 3: 1994-2003

It’s a slow start for Decade #3 in the stage history of John Patrick’s A Bad Year for Tomatoes, but better late than never…


The play was produced in the school year 1994-95 at Hemingford High School, Nebraska, with Vanessa Graves spanked by Josh Engel:

And on May 1, it was the senior play at Wausa High School, Nebraska, and Sarah Monson was spanked by Brian Johnson wielding what looks like a mean ruler:

That one also craves closer scrutiny: is it really what it appears to be, a raised-skirt spanking on white panties (or bloomers, perhaps)… or is it an optical illusion? (The latter, probably, but the former is a nice thought…)


In Sheffield, Alabama, June 19-22 were spanking days for Suzie Alexander, courtesy of Dennis McCaleb:

And in Houston County, Georgia, at the Warner Robins Little Theater, the play was staged November 13-22, with Brian Neil as Piney and Lee Kingery as Myra:


At Stuart, Florida, JoAnne Humphries was spanked by Mark Sheldon:

In October, Tomatoes was the senior play at Bensalem High School, Pennsylvania, which meant a spanking for Michelle Krut from Mike Frost:

Also in 1999:


In June, and in North Carolina, New Bern Civic Players mounted Tomatoes, and Sue Baldwin both directed and got spanked:

The video is here.

At Fond du Lac Community Theatre in Wisconsin, Debbi Debbert was spanked by Steven Wimmer in four performances between September 28 and October 6:

Also that fall, at Our Lady of Providence High School in Clarksville, Indiana, Tristan Jones was spanked by Ryan Wells:


In January:

Later that year, at the Royal Playhouse in West Palm Beach, Florida, Diana Loy was spanked by David Dailey:

And also:

And with that, the play reaches its 30th year, and also approaches the era of social media, meaning the documentation of productions is about to mushroom. Before we get there, it’s as well to slip in a handful of undated photos that must come from late in this decade or early the next. This one’s from Vernon College:

This looks like a high school production:

And these could be from anywhere:

(If you know, please say, because some people do care about context!)

The fourth decade will follow!

An Inadequate History of Birthday Spanking

It is probably futile to attempt to trace the history of birthday spanking, the annual ritual in which the birthday girl gets one smack for each year of her age, plus ‘one to grow on’. We can begin to track it back through the decades with selected examples….










… until eventually our material dries up. But what we’re approaching is the beginning not of the tradition but of the technology that transmits it down the generations to us. It’s pertinent that our 1940s exemplar is a birthday card rather than a candid photograph. Fewer people had cameras in the first half of the last century and every individual photograph was not only costlier but took more effort to set up and snap. And though candid photography certainly existed, it’s much less common to find examples with enough of a context to allow us to say that they show specifically a birthday spanking rather than a piece of general horseplay on some other occasion.

But birthday girls were certainly getting spanked decades before that. I’ve come across references to the custom from the 1920s,

and just because I haven’t found any from earlier still doesn’t mean the custom didn’t exist: commonplace things are often not documented simply because they are unremarkable, not because they didn’t happen. Likewise, the huge amount of birthday spanking pictures from recent times doesn’t mean there is more of it going on now than before, just that it has become easier to keep a visual record of ordinary events and everyday life, and to publish it for all to see.

Exceptions to this rule sometimes arise when the birthday has some claim on public attention, such as an association with the movies or other media. A noteworthy example took place on May 25, 1956, during production of the film The Search for Bridey Murphy. This dramatized a celebrated, or notorious, amateur hypnotism case of 1952 in which the subject was supposedly regressed back into a former life as the 19th-century Irishwoman Bridey Murphy.

Playing teenage Bridey in the film was Eilene Janssen, who started work as, legally, a child actress, but outgrew the requirement for a chaperone when she turned 18 on May 25. This created a photo opportunity for the publicity department and some extra work for the catering and wardrobe departments. The story fed to the press was Eilene’s birthday spanking, administered by the film’s leading actor, Louis Hayward, who played the hypnotist. Catering supplied a ‘Bridey Turns 18’ birthday cake decorated with an icing model showing one of the hypnosis sessions. Wardrobe’s job was to supply an additional garment that was not required for the film itself, because Eilene was spanked with her skirt up, on a fetching pair of Victorian bloomers:

(This was not strictly period-accurate: Bridey herself would have turned 18 in 1816, but pantalettes were rarely worn before 1830, and bloomers in that style were later still. Never mind, it’s a great image!)

Other movie actresses who got birthday spankings for the press included Ann Sheridan, Lucille Ball and (probably) Martha O’Driscoll.

A few fell foul of an inventive kind of publicity stunt. In 1941, the long-running country music show National Barn Dance had an anniversary, but, as the press release pointed out, ‘You can’t spank a radio program on its birthday.’ But a star of the show could be asked to stand in… Step forward, singer Jane Kaye.

And to do the honors, step forward atd sit down, fellow Barn Dance star Pat Buttram, well before his post-War stint as Gene Autry’s sidekick in Western movies.

The show had been running in Chicago since 1924, but luckily for Jane, they decided to count only from when it went national in 1933.

Not so lucky in 1982 was 17-year-old Lori Loughlin,

who was chosen to get a birthday spanking from fellow actor Joel Crothers for the anniversary of the soap opera The Edge of Night, which first aired in 1956…

The full 26 smacks were administered – so this time there may possibly have been no sitting for the stand-in for a little while to come!

And this sort of press story continues into the present century. Meet Miss Czech Republic 2004, Jana Dolezelova, who was also a semi-finalist in the Miss World competition.

Now see what happened to her on her 25th birthday in 2006:

As the Czechs say, petadvacet (25), though fortunately for her, it wasn’t na holou!

The question of coverage, or rather uncoverage, leads us towards an important subject that’s also raised in this 1958 installment of Cal Alley’s family humor strip, The Ryatts.

Kit ought to be trying to avoid her birthday spanking, it is implied, yet she seems strangely compliant:

So that’s it: built-in protection! Omit it at your peril, as demonstrated here by the near-mainstream cartoonist Wolfie:

But even if a birthday girl has been prudent, we all know she can’t rely on a skirt.

The risks are obvious,


and the consequences range from serious

to dire,

though arguably these birthday cheerleaders really have nothing to complain about…

The consequences of having your birthday party on the beach ought to be foreseeable…

Perhaps it’s no wonder some girls opt for shorts on their birthday,

or jeans.

Don’t get too confident…

And it could be worse…

Much worse…

Though of course some girls are game for something close to the very worst, like this one who got several birthday spankings for charity, and dressed for the occasion:

There are two contradictory things I’m trying to get at here, the first of which is the issue of whether a birthday spanking should hurt.

Some evidently do, even without any clothing adjustment!

On this vintage birthday card, the birthday girl seems to have been taken to the woodshed:

And in a video from 2020, a guy from South Carolina tried to give his girlfriend a 23rd birthday spanking, a magnificent spectacle while it lasted, except that he had to give up after four when she couldn’t take it:

The rest of the video has the balance delivered intermittently in passing smacks, as you can see here.

And the end result, even without any uncovering, can be a very warm bottom!

Some take steps to ensure this, by using something a bit harder than the flat of the hand:

That brings us neatly to Poland, where (as we have seen before) birthday spankings are associated specifically with the girl turning 18, and where it is traditional (albeit not obligatory) to use a belt.

That often means mixed feelings for a Polish birthday girl: it’s a time-honored, feelgood custom among friends,

and it’s also a real pain in the ass…

Some Poles rationalize it as a settling of accounts, rather like the traditional Christmas spanking: it deals with any undetected childhood misdemeanors and so launches a girl into adulthood with a clean slate. And that means it really should hurt:

Whether in Poland or elsewhere, the realization that a birthday spanking might actually involve some pain can create a practical complication. The movies often make it look easy, but in real life, spanking a girl who doesn’t want to be spanked, even on her birthday, may call for a bit of wrangling.

But with determination she can be maneuvered into the correct position…

But why accentuate the negative? Who knows, there might be certain benefits in a birthday spanking!

Well, that’s just a joke, of course – so far as I’m aware, there’s no accredited medical research into the impact of spanking on posterior attractiveness! Nor is there anything in the superstitious notion that the pain inflicted chases away evil spirits and confers good luck in the coming year. But the spanking does mark, and honor, the attainment of a certain age by counting it out in a distinctive way. That’s why it’s often done by a peer-group as a communal ritual,

why it’s frequently enacted in public, and even onstage,

and why it’s sometimes done with tacit institutional sanction, such as at school.

Or used to be. School birthday spankings have been in decline of late, in part because, with the recent upsurge of irrational spankophobic prejudice, there has developed a general feeling that there needs to be a firmer, more rigorously policed boundary between social and sexual behavior, to the sad detriment of all forms of innocent flirtatiousness. So nowadays a girl’s more likely to get her birthday spanking in a nightclub than from her teacher or classmates.

One notable burlesque troupe that routinely spanks its birthday girls are the Parisian Filles de Joie,

while others performing all over the world may bring members of the audience up onstage for the same purpose,

sometimes rather raunchily!

And at long last that brings us to my second major point about the tradition: even if it does hurt a little sometimes, it’s fundamentally a piece of sexy fun, especially when there’s a bit of uncovering involved.

Fun for whom?

Well, obviously fun for the spanker:

But, really, fun for everyone!


Let’s finish with some video links. First, a handful of American birthday spankings may be seen here, here, here and here.

Now for another small collection of videos from Poland:

2019, 2019



2022, 2022, 2022, 2022, 2022

2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023

Many happy returns to the lot of them!

The Pomlazka Will Rise Again

Easter comes round again, meaning some slightly sore bottoms in the neighborhood of the Czech Republic, while humorists, cultural commentators and busybodies continue to ponder the question that’s bothering the cops in this Slovak cartoon from 1998:

Is this criminal violence or harmless tradition? Don’t worry, it’s only a minority who think the former, as you can read here, something that’s worth emphasizing because of a recent, blatantly dishonest attempt to massage the statistics into saying the opposite, as you can read here. (If you can’t read Czech, the survey found that 20% of women are really, really enthusiastic about the tradition, which its extremist opponents tried to spin as meaning that 80% absolutely hate it; the possibility of more equivocal feelings, or complete indifference, is not admitted.) At least it has been openly stated in the Czech Parliament that most carollers don’t behave badly, and at least whacked bottoms still have their place on Czech Easter cards alongside the more universal chicks, eggs and rabbits.

And when Easter Monday 2023 rolled around, the pretty girls were waiting,

sometimes self-prepared!

A few prepared themselves more assiduously than others,

though it has to be said that this year the overall balance of the occasion tipped more towards a family centered approach than a raunchy one. I guess you could say that the number of small children taking part in 2023 might be a logical consequence of the raunchiness in evidence in earlier years,

but it’s worth stressing that in Czech culture it is a wholesome custom, not the kind of weird and invasive sexual ritual that its detractors would have us believe: no children were harmed (or sexualized) in the practice of this tradition. But when the pomlazka‘s coming and it’s not accompanied by the patter of tiny feet, there’s only one thing for it:


These girls are ready with their running shoes, but maybe this one’s giving herself an unfair advantage:

After all, it’s not as if the girls (or at least the ones who choose to take part) don’t want to be caught.

Rewards at the readly, ladies! Eggs are one option,

but if you want things to get raunchier, there is an alternative…

Now for a crucial question: what should a girl wear for her annual date with the pomlazka? Some opt for jeans, to emphasize the area of interest…

Other styles of pants are available,

but many girls will always opt for skirts, because they’re prettier overall…

But skirts raise an issue…

Is your skirt really necessary?

And since the Czech Republic is in Central Europe, the answer, when it comes to spanking, is often no!

Some self-preparing girls understand this already.

Better not ask them what’s arguably the logical next question…

though it seems some of them already know!

There are a couple more posers left. What if you’re away from home at Easter… holidaying in Zanzibar, say?

A golden opportunity to introduce the locals to the delights of Czech culture, we are told!

And what if you can’t lay your hands on a pomlazka when another sort of golden opportunity presents itself?

Take care with that metal bar, mister! And never forget, you can always use your own hand!

Man of Seventeen

Robert St Clair’s comedy Man of Seventeen (1955) centers on a middle-class household in the American mid-west, and on the youngest son of the family, Kimball Thatcher, who is coming up to his 17th birthday. Almost as crucial a character is his would-be girlfriend Susie Wallace, who calls him Junior, to everyone’s distaste. She keeps dropping by the Thatchers’ home even though Kimball insists to his parents that he’s ‘not even interested in the dames’. Since it’s the mid-Fifties, that doesn’t mean he’s gay: his life is wholly taken up with electronics, specifically the way radio and television work. He is trying to develop a gadget that can turn black-and-white TV pictures into color, but he needs to raise $100 for his upfront costs.

In the opening scene, Susie comes over to pressurize Kimball into asking her to marry him. Mrs Thatcher, his mother, thinks this is ‘cute’. Laurence Thatcher, his irascible father, doesn’t. ‘She ought to be spanked!’ he opines. Susie reacts with injured dignity: ‘Why, Mr Thatcher, that’s a perfectly terrible thing to say!’ The intergenerational quarrel starts to bubble up: Laurence won’t let his wife reassure Susie that he was only kidding, and insists that, as a teenager, Susie is a child who should be playing with dolls. She defies him and offensively suggests that, if his own daughter was doing so at the same age, she must have been retarded. But this is a distraction: Susie has come to see Kimball, not to fight with her intended future father-in-law, and the dialogue moves on to other conversations about other things. But a marker has been laid down that will lead to…

Richard Moody spanks Carole Parker in the 1956 production at North Andover High School, Massachusetts.

As the scene develops, it becomes clear that Susie is an inveterate gossip and an incorrigible meddler in other people’s love-lives; she’s particularly keen to start a spat between the eldest son’s new wife Dorothy and his former girlfriend Madeline. ‘Sometimes I’d like to murder that girl!’ fumes Laurence as he tries to concentrate on his bridge game. And Dorothy loses her temper when Susie suggests that she’s behaving childishly: ‘Some day, somebody who gets mad at you is going to lose control of themselves and slap you silly, you little troublemaker, you!’ Susie resists all efforts to get her to go home as the family quarrel spirals out of control. That’s a mistake…

LAURENCE: And as for you, young lady, I’m going to teach you a darn good lesson for fouling everything up like this!
SUSIE (becoming frightened): Wh- wh- what do you mean?
LAURENCE: You’ll find out. Come here!
(He grabs her hand, sits in the armchair and before she realizes what he is about he has pulled her across his lap. Madeline and Grandma watch in wide-eyed amazement.)

Dotty Want gets a spanking from Al Tucker at a rehearsal for the spring 1956 senior play at Austin High School, Texas.

SUSIE: Oh! Help! Don’t you dare! I’m too big to be…
LAURENCE (interrupting; grimly): Your old man may knock the sawdust out of me for this, but it’s something he should’ve done to you a long time ago!
(He struggles to hold her face down, her legs kicking over the arm of the chair. Grandma and Madeline gasp as he gives Susie a resounding smack where it does the most good.)
SUSIE (wildly; kicking and struggling): Ouch! That hurt! Stop it! Junior! Help!
GRANDMA (sharply): Laurence!

Another angle on the 1956 Austin High School production.

KIMBALL: Dad! Cut that out!
LAURENCE: You mind your own business, young man!
(He give Susie a third whack. She screams. Kimball grabs Susie’s hands, tries to pull her off Laurence’s lap.)

The 1956-57 junior play at Glenville High School, Minnesota.

KIMBALL: D’you hear me, Dad? Cut it – out!
LAURENCE; Look here, Kim, I’m your father and you’d better…
KIMBALL (interrupting): I know you’re my father, but I’m not gonna let you spank the woman I love!

Larry Wilson spanks Bonita Wertenberger at Toppenish High School, Washington, on March 22, 1956.

(He succeeds in dragging the outraged girl off Laurence’s lap and helping her to stand upright.)
LAURENCE (explosively): The– what did you say?
(He jumps up. Kimball holds Susie’s arm while she ruefully rubs her posterior.)
KIMBALL (breathlessly, with splendid defiance): You hear me. Maybe she’s nothin’ but a little dumb kid an’ – an’ a terrible gossip, but she’s cute an’ honest.

For Susie, it’s a vindication:

‘You see, Junior? That’s what love does to you. It makes you brave and strong and – and manly. I’ll never forget the look of defiance in your eyes when you pulled me off that old sourpuss’s lap! Honestly, I almost flipped! Isn’t it wonderful to be so madly in love?’

In Act II, set the following afternoon, Susie returns to the Thatcher residence while most of the family are out on a picnic, and remarks that Laurence ‘hurt my feelings’, to which Kimball’s friend Timmy retorts, ‘from what Kimball told me he did to you I guess he hurt more’n that, didn’t he, Susie?’ She’s offended to be the subject, rather than a spreader, of gossip, but Timmy persists: ‘What’d your folks say when you told ’em you got spanked?’ Answer: she didn’t tell them, because she doesn’t want a fight between her father and Laurence and (more pertinently) she doesn’t want to be forbidden to come over and see Kimball anymore. After the ‘simply wonderful’ way he stood up for her, she’s more besotted than ever. She wants to talk to him alone, but doesn’t want to be there when Laurence gets back. ‘Afraid he’ll give you another lickin’?’ laughs Timmy, exiting. She tells Kim her plans for scandal-mongering to raise money to fund his electronic ambitions, and also her plans for their impending wedding, but he discourages the blackmail scheme and insists he only said he loved her to save her from the spanking.

The rest can be told in short order. Susie never learns her lesson, and continues to interfere to the end, though ultimately to a more positive effect. Kimball’s television ‘color wheel’ turns out to be absurdly impractical, but his grandmother secretly gives him $500 to encourage him to develop something else. And as the play comes to an end, he celebrates his birthday: he has become a man of seventeen.

This play has a marked resemblance to another one that Robert St Clair wrote 22 years earlier, when he was still using his real name, Ray Hodges: Sweet Sixteen. The characters and some aspects of the situation are different: Kimball Thatcher is Pat Patton, his father is named Cranston, and Susie is Ruthie Goddard. But the story is broadly the same and, crucially, meddling Ruthie meets the same fate as later befell meddling Susie:

Cranston Patton (Joe Sparks) spanks Ruthie Goddard (Janis Reed) in the senior play production at Rochester High School, Indiana, performed on October 30, 1942.

In the Fifties, St Clair rewrote a number of his existing plays in order to update them. For example, the (more or less) wartime setting of his Sadie of the USA (1941), with enemy saboteurs plotting to blow up a munitions plant, became a Cold War espionage scenario in Susie and the FBI (1958), with the red menace trying to get its hands on the secret plans of an airplane factory. But whether the title character is Sadie or Susie, both plays see her get spanked by her mother:

Above, Sadie (Joan Harry), spanked by Shirley Eldred at Colestock High School, Titusville, Pennsylvania, in the school year 1944-45. Below, Susie (Canice Ondich), spanked by Cindy Eicher at East Huntingdon High School, Alverton, Pennsylvania, in the school year 1963-64.

Sweet Sixteen’s ‘replacement’, Man of Seventeen, was motivated by the need to keep up with developments in electronics and home entertainment since 1933. In the earlier play, Pat Patton had invented a wondrous radio-enhancing device, and though sound broadcasting did not become obsolete in the 1950s, St Clair and his publishers thought it prudent to take account of the newer medium, which was such a distinctive part of the stage set that the script includes instructions on ‘how to make a fake television set’.

Leonard Humphreys spanks Joyce Bennett at Centreville High School, Maryland, on March 29, 1956.

The new play was copyrighted in September 1955, and did fair business in high school productions up to the early Sixties.

Warren Cradduck spanks Diane Robare in the junior play at Geneva High School, Nebraska, on November 17 and 18, 1961.

And, perhaps surprisingly, it was revived as late as 1992 at Cowan High School in Muncie, Indiana, with Dave Kemmer comically aged up as Laurence,

and Mary Orebaugh doing an absolutely terrific job as spanked Susie:

Applause for her, and for all of them!

A Study in Scarlett

Introducing Scarlett Bordeaux, a professional wrestler of variable hair color, sometimes red,

sometimes blonde,

and sometimes somewhere in between.

And maybe it’s not only her hair that’s sometimes pale, sometimes red…

We’ve seen before what risks are run by ladies who get involved in professional wrestling. So let’s see Scarlett’s idea of an appropriate choice of outfit for the ring.

Well, dear, I’m sorry to say this, but you really have nobody but yourself to blame…

Yes, alright, sometimes it’s Scarlett who has the upper hand. (The upended girl there was Veda Scott, seven years her senior.) But she’s not afraid of a bit of assertive masculinity, either, in or out of the ring.

And she must know that things can happen to a gal if she allows herself to be picked up too freely by other wrestlers.

It’s something that seems to happen to Scarlett rather often, and in the best possible way.

So maybe she’s regretting her sartorial decisions now…

(Video here.)

But even so, she just keeps on making the same mistake, and paying the same penalty!

(Video here.)

No complaints here: these really are the cream of wrestling spankings.

I wonder if Scarlett thinks so too?