Now You See It, Now You Don’t

We begin with Shell Scott, a ‘hard-boiled’ California private eye who appeared from 1950 to 1987 in no fewer than 37 novels and four short story collections by Richard S. Prather (1921-2007).

The book that concerns us was first published in 1952 as Pattern for Murder, under Prather’s pseudonym of David Knight, then reissued in 1958 in his own name under the altogether more distinctive title of The Scrambled Yeggs. It begins with an encounter between Scott and the hoodlum Fleming Dragoon and his sister Sara, who is described as a diminutive woman with pretty legs and short hair, ‘fluffy around her small head, and as black as the bottom of the sea’, and wearing a black silk dress that clings tightly to her curves. In the course of the scene, she tries to sweet-talk Scott, then gouges her fingernails into his neck. He responds in a way that we might expect, and enjoy:

I’m not sure whether I actually started out to spank that litte hellcat, or whether it just happened that way. But I automatically took a step toward Sara and grabbed her wrist as I sat down in the chair again, yanking her toward me. She flopped over my thighs, apparently caught by surprise.

I held her with my left hand, raised my right in the air and then slammed it down with a satisfying thwack on her gently gyrating derriere, again and again.

The scene made the cover of the paperback…

although it’s clear that the artist hadn’t paid any attention at all to Prather’s description of what Sara looks like or what she is wearing.

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The book was later published in a British edition in 1961, in which the relevant passage reads: ‘I held her with my left hand, raised my right in the air and then slammed it down with a satisfying thwack, again and again.’ And there we come to the point: Sara’s ‘gently gyrating derriere’ disappeared in the trip across the ocean.

Here’s another disappearing derriere:

The photo is from a 1977 newspaper story publicizing a new run of the New York revue, Another Way to Love, and you might not think anything’s amiss, if you didn’t know that what actually happened onstage was:

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OK, you wouldn’t expect most newspapers to print a skirt up, panties down, bare bottom spanking photo without some ‘doctoring’, but my point is the wider one that, since spanking is inevitably indecorous (as I’ve discussed elsewhere), it tends to attract censorship – but not always to be censored in itself. For another example, let’s go back to 1918 and consider what happened to the Hal Roach comedy short A One Night Stand. It features the clown Toto as a stage hand at a small-town ‘opry house’ who inadvertently ruins several of the acts. There is a scene in the second reel in which a mother (Margaret Joslin) spanks her leggy daughter, played by Clarine Seymour:

The film was censored by the authorities in Chicago to remove three bits of business that were considered indecent, the third of which was connected with the spanking. No objection was raised to the spanking itself, but what the censors wouldn’t allow was a shot of Toto fanning the girl’s derriere afterwards in an effort to cool it down!

So far, so familiar: the problem isn’t with spanking as such, but with the attention it draws to the target area. But with that in mind, let’s consider the case of a 1938 movie starring Wayne Morris and Priscilla Lane.

No, I don’t mean Love, Honor and Behave, which ends with that epic but strangely unexciting spanking scene. I mean the movie they made immediately afterwards, on some of the same sets: Men Are Such Fools, about secretary Linda Lawrence (Priscilla Lane) and her ambition to become an advertising executive, but perhaps of most lasting interest because the director was Busby Berkeley and the cast included Humphrey Bogart. A Pennsylvania paper described it as ‘another of those husband-spank-wife pictures’, which is a long way from the literal truth. The danger to Priscilla’s posterior is much diminished compared with the previous outing, but there is an early scene in which she helps a colleague (Mona Harris) to remove a tight shoe and ends up getting an unintended kick in the seat:

And later on, Morris gives her an affectionate little slap on the bottom as they arrive home one night:

And that meant trouble in Ontario. When the movie came up for exhibition there, the censors ordered the bottom-smacking to be cut out. That must have been tricky, because the slap is the initiating moment of an extensive piece of business, a playful mock-fight, which is completely unmotivated without it.

Here’s the problem: censorship tries to be like invisible mending, to make its cuts seamlessly without any obvious sign that anything has been done. The British edition of The Scrambled Yeggs and the newspaper edit of the Another Way to Love photo are examples of the job being done skillfully. But with sound, vision and a narrative line, a film is a much more complex artefact, so it’s hard to see how the Ontario censors could have made such a neat job of trimming Men Are Such Fools without leaving some trace of their work.

That’s one reason why stage and cinema censorship most often operated through agencies like the Hays Office or the Lord Chamberlain’s department, which censored movies and stage plays in advance so that the finished production was at least a coherent thing, and so that local boards and watch committees were spared the fiddlier task of making cuts to that finished production whilst also ensuring that their interventions went unnoticed. But when pre-censorship proved ineffective or wasn’t in operation, or when the local authority simply had different standards, the results could be calamitously extensive when the material deemed objectionable went beyond mere passing references and imagery.

Our case in point is the silent comedy short Jerry’s Running Fight (1917), about an attempted elopement in which the escaping girl (Claire Alexander) disguises herself as a boy – that’s her on the left in the poster. She is pursued and caught by her father (Joseph Hazelton), and after an elaborate slapstick fight sequence, Claire’s boyfriend goes to jail and she, still dressed in boy’s clothes, gets dealt with by dad and his slipper:

That was fine in the USA, and it was even acceptable in Ontario. But when the very same print crossed the border for exhibition in Manitoba, the province’s Board of Censors decided that the spanking was ‘vulgar’, and, since the scene was the payoff to the whole film, they duly banned the whole film.

So Jerry’s Running Fight, complete with the spanking scene, was deemed fit for viewing to the east in Ontario and to the south in the US, though there’s no information about what, if anything, Saskatchewan had to say about it. But if you lived in Manitoba, bad luck! What you were allowed to see at the movies depended on where you lived, and also, obviously, on the particular sensitivities and prejudices of the particular individuals in your area who were entrusted with deciding what was admissible and what was obscene. Some objected to spanking, some only to excessive attention to ladies’ bottoms, whereas some saw no harm in either. With the matter under local control, the entire system was rife with arbitrariness and inconsistency.

One US state that was noted for a particular aversion to bottom-smacking was Kansas: in the pre-Code 1930s, its State Board of Review was said to regularly order the excision of movie spanking scenes. This reputation may have been exaggerated, for the Board certainly let through a number of such scenes: the censorship records for Don’t demand the elimination of a scene ‘where girls stand on grates and skirts blow up’, but make no mention of the spanking; Exchange of Wives had to lose a great deal of Renée Adorée being kissed, but none of her being spanked; the only cut required in Professional Sweetheart was ‘words by Ginger Rogers’, not her getting a spanking in her underwear. But nevertheless the records do contain orders for the removal of six spanking scenes on grounds of ‘indecency’, including the one from A One Night Stand (plus ‘Toto fanning girl after the spanking’, of course).

It isn’t entirely what it seems, however, for there is some evidence that the officials who demanded the cuts, or those who compiled the records, were imprecise in their use of vocabulary. The last movie to be censored for spanking was the melodrama Registered Nurse, released in April 1934, just two months before the start of systematic enforcement of the Hays Code: ‘Eliminate view of Vince Barnett spanking Virginia Sale on her posterior’, say the censors’ instructions. The two actors were playing comedy relief ‘lower orders’ characters, but for the benefit of any disappointed old-timers in Kansas, it must be revealed that the so-called ‘spanking’ was actually only:

Spanking in the proper sense of the word was in fact more likely to be acceptable because it was the formal administration of justice; smacking was problematic because it was a hand-to-bottom sexual act, albeit of a very mild order.

But my central point is that there were recognized local prejudices, even if they weren’t always acted upon consistently or comprehensively. Eventually the studios began making movies in multiple versions tailored to the known preferences of different state censorship authorities, and while that may have made life easier for all concerned, it also made it theoretically possible for those local limitations to reach across state lines, and into the future. There may be several different cuts of a movie in existence, but how many of them do you need to archive? It was a real issue in the era of physical media, and it meant that sometimes the version that was kept might not be the one with the spanking. For a long time, the ‘official’ version of Prisoners of the Casbah (1953), starring Turhan Bey and Gloria Grahame, lacked the following scene:

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Researchers eventually unearthed an uncut version, but the chances of that diminish as you go farther back in time; some movies, such as The Primitive Lover (1922), only survive in censored form. You may have been unlucky to live in Kansas, or Manitoba, or wherever, unable to enjoy the simple pleasures granted to the rest of North America; but the archival lottery means that local censorship boards still have some residual power, beyond their jurisdiction, over what you and I are able to see today, more than half a century after America finally abolished movie censorship in 1966.

There Shouldn’t Have Been a Spanking Scene in… Jest in Fun

‘Let us keep spanking off the stage.’

That was the declared policy of the second Earl of Cromer (1877-1953), who as Lord Chamberlain from 1922 to 1938 was responsible for, among many other things, the censorship of British stage plays.

In fact, things weren’t quite so simple – are they ever? Spanking of juveniles was admissible, and during the mid-1930s at least three other plays were licensed with their spanking scenes intact: Full House by Ivor Novello and Happy Days and Till Further Orders, both by Wilfred Massey. The common factor there is that all three plays feature F/F spankings. What Lord Cromer objected to, it seems, was what one of his staff referred to, with slightly pompous precision, as ‘spanking of the adult female by the adult male’.

And even then it wasn’t so simple. A management that dared to submit a script with a M/F spanking scene would usually find itself arranging rewrites before his lordship would deign to grant a license – if not to remove the spanking altogether, then at least to move it offstage. (You can read about an example of the practice here.) But at least two M/F plays managed to escape such measures, one in October 1937, apparently because the script’s lack of explicit stage directions made the spanking easy for the reader to miss, and one in May 1938 for no obvious reason. So the bureaucracy of censorship was inconsistent and probably inefficient.

And though ‘Let us keep spanking off the stage’ seems as clear a policy statement as may be, it was also the last quack of a lame duck: Cromer made it at the start of his final week in office. On July 3, 1938, he was succeeded by the sixth Earl of Clarendon (1877-1955), who didn’t take long to form his own opinion about spanking in the theater:

‘Quite harmless, I think.’

And it still wasn’t so simple. Clarendon passed a spanking scene in October 1938, three months into his tenure, but such business continued to cause reflex responses in his officials for years afterwards: a scene was cut in 1942, another was moved offstage in 1945 and the reader was still reaching instinctively for the blue pencil as late as 1954. Nor should we forget the potent but less measurable effect of the censorship in discouraging playwrights from writing spanking scenes in the first place, and managements from submitting them. (See here for an uncommon case in point.)

And all of this was backed with the formidable power of the English law, which would descend upon any management, and any performer, so foolish as to introduce anything onto the stage that hadn’t been in the script passed by the censor. That was what Lord Cromer visited upon the music hall comedian Freddie Forbes (1893-1952) after he made some unauthorized alterations to the sketch Jest in Fun, written specially for him by the American vaudeville comic Joe Hayman (1876-1957) and licensed on February 3, 1936. The particulars of the crime were three-fold: Forbes pronounced the name of a certain proprietary article to make it sound like a rude word; he said a line that wasn’t in the licensed script; and, most serious of all, he put in some bottom-smacking business involving his 28-year-old co-star, Angela Barrie.

When word of the outrage reached the Lord Chamberlain’s office, an assistant secretary named Albert Titman was sent undercover to Shepherd’s Bush to see for himself; what he saw was business ‘of objectionable nature’, and his evidence was the cornerstone of the prosecution. Forbes was tried at West London Police Court on August 10, 1937, for ‘acting a certain part of a stage play which had not been licensed by the Lord Chamberlain’. His co-defendants were Sir Oswald Stokes and John Christie, respectively the licensee and manager of the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, the theater where the offense had taken place. Sir Oswald was let off, but Christie was fined £10 and Forbes, £20. (For approximate modern values, multiply by sixty.)

It’s a little tricky to work out exactly what the unlicensed business was, not least because the press reported the case in three different ways. The ‘quality’ British papers printed a cold single-paragraph report of the hearing, concentrating on the fines and saying nothing at all circumstantial about the offense itself. The Daily Mail, however, ran the story under the headline ‘Is it Done to Smack A Woman?’, referred to ‘a stage bedroom scene’ and specified that ‘Forbes chased a girl onto a bed and smacked her with his hand’. And when the news reached America, the Chicago Tribune headline read, with helpful currency conversion, ‘An Actor Spanks British Actress and is Fined $150’.

The main point at issue is, of course, whether Angela Barrie was spanked or merely smacked, which is perhaps of more vital interest to us than it was for many newspaper readers in 1937, on either side of the Atlantic. And things only become more confusing when we refer to the sketch itself. The noted theater critic Ivor Brown saw it in June 1936 and wrote of Forbes’ and Barrie’s performance, ‘Their fun is usually broad, but not too long, and probably qualifies for the epithet, “fruity”.’ But there is nothing in the licensed script that could properly be described using the Daily Mail’s epithet, ‘bedroom scene’.

The two-scene, two-person sketch concerns a commercial traveler who meets a farmer’s daughter in the street and unsuccessfully tries to chat her up.

All he manages to get out of her is the information that she is on her way to see a doctor, after which she jumps on a bus to escape his attentions, inadvertently dropping a letter. This is addressed to a Harley Street physician, Sir Frederick Berton – which means he now knows exactly where she is going and has a chance to meet her again.

In the second scene, he arrives at Harley Street and learns that Sir Frederick will be away for the next hour, but he is given permission to wait in the surgery. He puts on a white coat and a false mustache and impersonates the doctor. Having taken on this identity, he now feels he can open Angela’s letter of introduction, since it’s addressed to his alter-ego. It explains that she is a hypochondriac who does not require treatment: the doctor is asked to give her the ‘once-over’ and charge her ten guineas.

Angela arrives, apologizing for having lost the letter and failing to recognize Forbes thanks to the power of the fake tache. He reassures her that the letter was brought in by a young man who met her in the street, and she describes him in very uncomplimentary terms: ‘Face like a dead cod, and his tongue hanging out.’ She then undresses behind a screen (causing alarm bells to go off at the censor’s office) and comes out to be examined. He invites her to sit down and a stage direction reads, ‘Business of slapping her on the back. Pushes her into chair.’

He then examines her comically, and while she’s getting dressed again behind the screen, he takes off his disguise, then contrives to walk into the screen and knock it over, revealing Angela still half-dressed. Realizing who it is, she tells him, ‘Keep your feet where they belong,’ to which he retorts, ‘If I put my foot where it belongs, you wouldn’t sit down for a month.’

End of sketch. License issued on one condition: no undressing!

Maybe that starts to shed some light, especially in conjunction with the photo (which shows a performance in 1938, the year after the prosecution). The chair in the surgery looks more like a couch, so it could have been Chinese-whispered into a bed, leading the Mail reporter to infer that ‘bedroom scene’. The ‘business of slapping her on the back’ is specified in another copy of the script as ‘a vigorous slap on the shoulders’ – but if it moved in the other direction, downwards, you’d have something not too far off what the Mail described.

That’s all very plausible as far as it goes, but it doesn’t sound like the account of the business that the defense counsel put to Titman at the trial: ‘He was chastising her, wasn’t he? It was not a sexy act?’ The back-slapping can’t really be described as an act of chastisement of this kind, even if the slap did land low: counsel seems to be talking about something more formal and defined. And that might also be supported by this exchange:

COUNSEL: Isn’t one allowed to smack a lady on the rear on the stage? One can kick that part of the body. I have seen it.

TITMAN: Does a gentleman kick a lady?

COUNSEL: They are not all gentlemen on the stage.

Counsel was obviously thinking about the very end of the sketch, in which (as licensed) Forbes raises the possibility that he might kick Angela on the bottom. So could that be where the offending business was inserted? It seems at least possible that, during the year and more since they first performed it, the two actors developed that ending, building on the reference to Angela being unable to sit down for a month by adding business of chasing her across to the couch and spanking her. It might make a more satisfying payoff to the sketch, a fitting chastisement for the doc-bothering lady patient. And it would also better justify the gravity of a prosecution than a trivial piece of business that might have been defended in court as nothing more than an ill-aimed slap on the back.

But then, if Lord Cromer really hated M/F spanking so very much, it’s always possible that a mere bit of unlicensed bottom-smacking was provocation enough. As always in charting the history of an ephemeral medium, there are some things that we will never know for sure.

Photographer of the Week: Andriy Yanushevskiy

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Andriy Yanushevskiy works in Lviv, Ukraine, and talks about his photography neither in terms of skill and craftsmanship nor creativity and self-expression, but rather in terms of breakfast: it’s something he needs in life rather than something he merely does, in the same way regular people need to eat in the mornings.

And so he shoots: bread-and-butter commercial work with weddings and babies and frisky lovers enjoying each other’s company.

He shoots backstage at fashion shows.

He shoots glamor.

His best work often captures a still, easeful beauty in his models,

but the work that earns him a place in this series presents a more fraught situation for its female subject, Oksana Kozak:

She’s being spanked with a ruler, and the exercise book seems to show that she has scored 2 in a test. Hmmm, I have a feeling I know what that photograph was inspired by – and if I’m right, Oksana can count her lucky stars it didn’t go worse for her!

If you are interested in Andriy’s work, please visit his Instagram account.

Atomic Barbara

Atomic Barbara is the stage name of a popular singer, Barbara Bow, the title character of the 1952 Argentinian movie Barbara Atomica, directed by Julio Saraceni. The film begins with her throwing her weight around in a nightclub, and ends with her getting her bottom soundly smacked. In between is a long interlude of comic mayhem.

The screenplay was developed from the French comedy Barbara by Michel Duran (1900-94), which premiered at the Theatre Saint-Georges in Paris on February 7, 1938, with the Hungarian actress Zita Perzel in the lead.

(It was later produced for television, with Geneviève Fontanel, best known around here for being spanked in Laure et les Jacques on both stage and screen.) But the movie makes a number of major changes, not the least of which is the wholesale transfer of the setting from Europe to South America. Not surprisingly, therefore, the lead went to a Latina, the Cuban star Blanquita Amaro.

Atomic Barbara’s nightclub behavior so irritates an animal scientist (Juan Carlos Thorry) that he stands up to her, and even renames her Signorita Bomb. But this treatment has an unexpected effect: it makes her want him, on the basis that he is the one thing she cannot have. She foists herself on him at his home, and gets one of her man friends to feign a sudden grievous illness that prevents him from being moved, thereby giving herself an excuse to stay. This is not good news for the sick man, who is diagnosed with terrible ailments and prescribed awful treatments, including leeches. But it gives Barbara the opportunity to exploit her charms to the full, beginning with a visit to her reluctant host wearing only her negligee.

Much of the movie is a battle of wits and wills to get her out of the house. Thorry proves immune to her various sexy costumes, some of them pretty daring for 1952, even judging by Blanquita Amaro’s typical work clothing.

(The costumes provoked protest riots in Buenos Aires, and the Catholic Church tried to get the film banned.) On the other hand, Barbara proves susceptible to his scheme to scare her with one of his laboratory rats, but its effect is not what was intended: instead of moving out, she calls in the pest controller to have the house fumigated.

In short, it’s a love story about a difficult, annoying woman, and in the French original the harassed man, played by Daniel Lecourtois, is provoked into threatening violence: ‘Je vous flanque une paire de gifles’ (I’ll give you a couple of slaps) – unhelpfully failing to specify whether the intended target is la joue or les fesses. Barbara retorts, ‘C’est moi qui vais vous gifler’ (I’m the one who’s going to slap you), and does, aiming (of course) for his face. But things don’t escalate, and she finally gets her man by persistent kissing. Whereas in the film, she stoops to conquer…

But not literally. She throws a tantrum and starts to wreak mayhem in the laboratory, and this causes him finally to lose his temper. This is bad news for Barbara’s bottom, but arguably not the worst: it’s an extended reprisal, but she’s upright all the time, so technically it’s a smacking rather than a spanking.

But it is what ultimately wins him over, and once again a smacked bottom means romance blossoms!

The Original Kiss Me Kate, Part 4: Changing the Show

Wright & Harris

By April 1950, it had been agreed that Broadway’s Kiss Me Kate was headed for a shake-up at the top of the bill. Patricia Morison was to leave the show after the 666th performance on June 3, and Alfred Drake was also on the way out, too sick to continue. So farewell to them, at least for the time being.

The choice of Pat’s replacement was a no-brainer: Anne Jeffreys had aced the role in the national company. It took a little more management mulling before they decided to continue her successful pairing with the touring Fred, Keith Andes, and in a seamless transfer from the old team, the pair opened together on Broadway on June 5, with Anne showing, said one reviewer, ‘enough enthusiasm and vigor for two Kates’.

One reason for the hesitation over Andes was that he wasn’t available for long: he was due to have an operation later that summer, and gave his last Fred on July 29. The following week, starting July 31, saw not only a new leading man but a transfer from the New Century to a different theater, the slightly smaller Shubert a few blocks to the south.

The new Fred in Lilli’s life was already very familiar with the part:

Ted Scott, the long-standing, hard-spanking understudy to Alfred Drake and Keith Andes. And one element of his reputation may explain a curious incident at the end of the year.

That December, celebrity weight loss expert Al Roon favored Associated Press with his list of the top ten most beautiful women in America who could lose ten pounds. One of the ladies concerned was Anne Jeffreys: he called for ‘a reduction in the gluteus muscles, both maximus and medius’. In other words, he thought she had a big bottom. Anne, who had in fact already lost ten pounds in the course of the California and Chicago run, retorted that she must have made the list by mistake:

‘Mr Roon is looking at my bustle, not me. I wear one in the show because in one scene I get a violent spanking. I am spanked eight times a week. It’s well pounded.’

The extra protection seems to have been adopted when Ted Scott took over as Fred: at least, she doesn’t appear to have been bustled for performances with Keith Andes. In the wedding scene, which happens later in the first act after the spanking scene, there was some business in which Petruchio goes for Kate with his whip, and makes contact with Lilli’s already well spanked bottom. They rehearsed it so that Anne was never actually touched by the whip, and merely simulated Lilli’s yelps. But each time they went into a different theater – in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, St Louis and New York – she found she had to adjust her dance moves to suit the differently shaped stage. But Keith Andes didn’t change his own moves accordingly, and so, explained Anne, ‘several times he caught me for a sound whiplashing on a tender spot’ – a spot that was evidently both unprotected by any bustle and made even more tender by the spanking it had already endured!

Anne Jeffreys notched up 887 performances as Lilli, in both the national and Broadway companies, and kept her proud boast of never missing a show. Well, almost. When Holly Harris joined the company to understudy Lilli, she got the spiel about how Anne would always go on no matter what. But the management had other ideas.

With Frances McCann leaving the national company in July 1951, Anne was asked to step aside for one performance on June 13, so that Holly Harris could play Lilli as a kind of public audition. Anne made the best of it, reflecting that this gave her more time to spend with her fiancé, Robert Sterling. She did attend the performance that evening, but didn’t stay long: what she wanted to hear was the announcement that she wasn’t going to appear, and the audience’s sigh of disappointment in response!

But Holly was impressive – so impressive that she was booked, not just for the tour but, before that, six weeks on Broadway while Anne Jeffreys took a holiday, with plans to return to the show in the fall. So on July 16, for the time being, Holly Harris became the spanked star of the Shubert:

By now, Robert Wright had taken over from Ted Scott as Fred, but whether or not Anne Jeffreys retained the protection of the bustle against his spanking hand, he now had to cope with a markedly more petite Lilli, seen here giving him what we might call, in homage to Cole Porter’s lyrics, a ‘Harris pat’:

And here he is patting Harris – low and hard!

Like every other Lilli before her, Holly found that an energetic show and regular sound spankings had an impact on her weight: she lost four pounds in the first week alone, and worried that, given her smaller stature and trimmer figure, she couldn’t afford to lose much more than that!

But she may in part have been sweating off the pounds, rather than having them spanked off. The hot summer weather had already started to bring audience numbers down to one third of capacity. Mere days into Holly’s run as Lilli, it was decided to close the show on July 28 after 132 weeks and 1,077 performances.

But that wasn’t the end of the line for the original Kiss Me Kate. What had happened was that, in effect, the Broadway and national companies simply merged into one: Wright had come to Broadway from the tour and Holly Harris had been engaged for it and got Broadway as a bonus; and come the fall, the tour continued as planned, opening at the Shubert in New Haven on September 17 and continuing into early 1952. The advertising still emphasized the spanking scene – using the same piece of artwork showing Frances McCann!

Even at this late stage, the show was still evolving, and an epoch in KMK history came towards the end of 1951, a month in which the tour played Dayton, Rochester, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. We’ll let Robert Wright tell the story:

‘Hanya Holm, who did the choreography, had an idea we could improve the business in the scene where Petruchio spanks Kate. Hanya felt if Holly Harris (that’s Kate) wore pantaloons under her costume, we’d get more laughs if I took her over my knee, tossed her skirts over her head, and whacked away at the pantaloons. It sounded like a good idea, but when we tried it, it didn’t work out as we expected. Maybe the pantaloons (red) didn’t have enough contrast with Holly’s costume. We dropped the idea after several tries.’

And that was the first ever raised-skirt spanking in Kiss Me Kate! But, as Robert further explained, they had ‘quite an evening’ one performance:

‘We began the scene this one night and were working to the climax when Holly passed close to me and whispered, ‘Haven’t got ’em on.’ Shortly after that I glanced at the wings and saw the stage manager holding up the red pantaloons. He was waving them and shaking his head with definite and violent negative implication.

‘In the next few minutes it seemed everybody on stage managed to come close and whisper, ‘She hasn’t got ’em on!’ Somehow we managed to finish the scene without any hilarious letdown, or with the audience becoming aware of our imminent but happily avoided catastrophe.’

And so they didn’t end up presenting the first ever KMK raised-skirt spanking on modern panties! (That didn’t happen, so far as we know, until the 21st century – unless you count the subsequently censored poster artwork for the 1953 movie.)

By then, things were really starting to fizzle out. The next plan was to take the production back to New York for four weeks at the Broadway Theatre, with budget-price tickets, starting January 8, 1952. The New York Times saluted the show’s return with a piece headlined ‘Shrew Gets Spanked Again’ (the associated picture is reproduced at the head of this article), but the houses were disappointing and even the spankings proved lackluster: Wright had recently wrenched his right arm during the spanking scene and had to go easy, which didn’t go unnoticed. The run ended early after just one week, and there was only one more tour engagement, another week in Rochester at the end of the month. The management had spent the previous fall trying to get a tour of al fresco performances for 16 weeks from May through August 1952, still starring Robert Wright and Holly Harris, but this came to nothing. The original Kiss Me Kate had finally played itself out.

But, in other forms, the show went on, and on, and its original cast proved extraordinarily loyal both to it and to each other; for years afterwards, until at least 1974, they held an annual reunion at Sardi’s Restaurant in New York. Patricia Morison (1915-2018) became a long-standing Lilli, getting her last spanking in the role in 1978; Cole Porter also left her, as a legacy in his will, the rights to the song ‘So in Love’.

Anne Jeffreys (1923-2018) returned to the part less frequently, but last played it in 1983; she also got a couple more spankings from Robert Sterling, now her husband, in the television sitcom Topper (1953-55).

Alfred Drake (1914-92) had further musical success in Kismet (1953), and was Fred again, alongside Patricia Morison, for the first television production in 1958. His successors, Ted Scott (1922-?) and Robert Wright (1910-90), went into stock productions as Fred, with Wright starting almost as soon as he’d finished in the main show: one of his first bookings was for a 1952 summer stock Kiss Me Kate in New Jersey in which he spanked the Metropolitan Opera soprano Annamary Dickey.

(One night, he suffered a knee injury, and was therefore unable to put Annamary across the said knee, so his understudy Robert Patterson went on in his place.) Scott last played Fred in 1963, and Wright in 1977, after more than a quarter-century associated with the part. In contrast, Keith Andes (1920-2005) went to Hollywood and never kissed or spanked another Kate, and so far as we know, neither Frances McCann (1922-63) nor Holly Harris (1931-?) ever played Lilli again.

But in seventy years of production, lots and lots of others have!

Photographers of Past Weeks

Photograph a spanking once – hurrah for you, and you might be honored as our Photographer of the Week. Photograph a spanking twice – double hurrah for you!

If we were awarding medals, this would be the ‘bar’: our annual return to see the further work of artists who have already been Photographer of the Week, but have earned the honor a second time, or in some cases a third, or more…

A case in point is Don Cross, whom we first honored in 2015, and who has featured in the annual update every year since. This year, he’s helped by Whitney Pernal, who’s been spanked quite often in his work, but now gets to handle the other side of the job:

A big hurrah for Randy Allen of Powder Puff Vixen Photography and his spanking monkey:

Nicole Roberts has not a monkey but a monster in her life, and thanks to Mandy Little of Bombshell Pinups, we get to see a little of their holiday fun:

Terry Mendoza continues to do stylish work:

So, in a different idiom, does Tyler Shields:

The imagination of Alexander Mavrin brings us a naughty girl being (wait for it) chastised by a chicken:

Tara Leavitt of Brooklyn Brat recorded an encounter with a more conventional, and evergreen, spanker:

And we wind up with another outstanding image by the brilliant German pin-up photographer Miss Giggles:

Long may her work continue to grace our updates!

Slappin’ Rappin’

Formed in 2011, the Russian rap band 2rbina 2rista (pronounced Turbina Turista) produce music that’s full of busy rage and iconoclasm, and videos that, if not full of spanking, have a lot more of it than is the norm for music videos.

Here are two of the band members, Ranis Gaisin and Anastasia Serebrennikova:

But while she may be dressed for it, you won’t be seeing her the other way up (alas).

Never mind, there are plenty opportunities during their act:

And these opportunities are sometimes seized… with the flat of the hand!

But the evil bishop isn’t the only one who gets to have fun.

But let’s be realistic. Bottom-smacking is a simple, ad hoc thing that’s easily incorporated into a stage act: bend, smack, disengage. Actual spanking is a more complex procedure that takes time to set up and more time to strike (in the theatrical sense of the word) before and after the part where the girl is across the knee being struck (in the spanking sense of the word). And that’s why it’s more straightforward for the band to incorporate spanking into their videos rather than the live show.

Those are stills from the set of a short sequence in their 2012 video, Voodoo After Party. And when I say short… well, see for yourself:

The imagery is rather stronger in the 2015 video for a song whose title translates either as Iron or Steel Balls:

You might think the young lady with the (hopefully not steel) ball gag endured rather severe handling for the sake of a few insert shots. And that is confirmed by the following ‘making of’ footage:

For nicer imagery, albeit still bizarre, we turn to the 2017 video, Feel, featuring Maria Zakharova, who gets her bottom smacked so often that it even features on the cover:

And happily, this then develops into full scale spanking:

Here’s the video:

And here’s some more behind the scenes footage, though this time there’s only a snippet of the spanking being shot:

To feature spanking once in your music video is great. To feature it twice might be a coincidence. But three times and it’s clearly a trope they enjoy. So it’ll probably be well worth keeping an eye on 2rbina 2rista in future!