Shrew Survey: Another Ballet, Perhaps

On November 3, another ballet version of The Taming of the Shrew, this one choreographed by Robert Balogh to music by Edward Elgar, premiered at Olomouc in the Czech Republic. As is common in professional ballet, the leading roles were split across the run, so Kate was danced sometimes by Yui Kyotani, with Ivo Jambor as her Petruchio,

and sometimes by Emily-Joy Smith, alongside Paul Oliver:

What can be seen of the ballet online shows that it contains, as might be expected, a lot of rough-and-tumble between the lovers. Here’s Emily at work:

And here are Yui and Ivo:

shrew ballet 2017 Yui Kyotani & Ivo Jambor Moravia choreographed by Robert Balogh poster a

But it’s the advertising that most catches our attention – though, as always with theatrical publicity, you have to remember that what you’re seeing is an image selected to epitomize and symbolize the show, not necessarily a literal representation of anything that happens in it. What the ballet company’s publicists opted for, and what photographer David Prosvic shot, was imagery that’s typically associated with Shrew, so the poster featuring Ivo and Yui looked like this:

Something different was needed for Paul and Emily. Bad luck, Emily! Here they are with Robert Balogh at the poster shoot:

And the outcome was:

Applause, please, for Philip, and especially Emily!

Photographer of the Week: Paul Needham

Paul Needham is a British photographer based in Karlsruhe, Germany. He’s rightly acclaimed for his shots of live music and sport, especially roller derby.

Paul Needham Roller Derby

But what we’re looking at today are two glamor shoots featuring a pair of burlesque dancers. Meet Talulah Blue:

Here she is in an interesting position:

In the shoots with Paul, her fellow model was Aurora Toxique.

And here’s Aurora’s business end…

The first shoot took place in May 2011, and I dare say it won’t be much of a surprise if I tell you that Aurora is going to wind up over Talulah’s knee.

But she’ll have to be tied up first.

After finishing her tea, Talulah brandishes a menacing hairbrush.

But when the moment of truth comes… it seems Talulah’s far too busy to do her duty!

Paul and the girls got together again at a publicity shoot for corsets manufactured by the Bedford firm Lady K. And at this point, Talulah had to face one of the grim truths of ‘Bettie Page’ pinup photography: if you put a girl across your knee, she will thirst for revenge.

And if you fail to spank her soundly enough (or at all), she’ll still be able to sit down to take that revenge!

If you are interested in Paul Needham’s work, please visit his website.

No Bottoms Were Harmed in the Making of These Pictures

The Ice-Bucket Challenge and the Mannequin Challenge are the most famous examples of the social media phenomenon in which people are challenged to do bizarre things and then post pictures and videos showing themselves in action (or, in the case of the Mannequin Challenge, inaction). In the spring of 2017, the French thought up a new one: the Fessée Challenge!

The objective was to get together with a friend and be photographed in a position that looks as if you are giving her ‘the hardest spanking in the world’. Though the organizers do make it clear that it’s all in fun and they’re not encouraging anyone to commit any actual bodily assault!

The response was relatively lukewarm, and largely confined to France. And for purists, not much actual spanking resulted, but there were a number of inventive bottom-smacking poses, like this quadruple-decker:

The prize for diligence and stamina goes to this one:

Come on, world: take the Fessée Challenge!

Postriziny: Another Trim

This week we return to the popular film and stage musical, Postriziny, which ends with a memorable husband-and-wife raised-skirt spanking. Productions almost invariably stay half-true to the original novel, and wholly true to the film: the spanking is included and the skirt is raised, but it’s not usually done OTK as in the novel. And if you take a close look at this photo from a 2014 performance of the musical…


… and this one from 2016…

… you’ll notice that the actresses have taken the precaution of ensuring that they will be spanked not only through the character’s period panties but also their own modern ones!

So iconic is the scene in the Czech Republic that the exhibit of props and costumes from the 1980 film at the brewery in Dalesice includes the following:


It’s another picture where a close look will reveal something unexpected – that these are not in fact the original panties that graced the bottom of Magda Vasaryova in the movie:

Postriziny 04

On the contrary, they appear to be the pair worn by Libuse Jonasova in the 2016 reenactment at the brewery:


I said productions ‘almost invariably’ raise Maryska’s skirt for the spanking, and there was a good reason for using the word ‘almost’:

Though it is worth adding that sometimes there seems to be almost no skirt to raise – as if it’s not only her hair that she’s cut short!

Postriziny‘s popularity within in the Czech Republic means that there are now two ongoing productions that are revived year after year. You may remember that last year we had cause to observe that one of them suffered from the somewhat too obvious appearance of the actress’s own panties under Maryska’s period pair. That seems to have been solved in the 2017 version:

The other version has now been partially recast: veteran Jiri Petris (seen in the photograph at the top of the article) has left and the role of Francin now alternates between two younger actors, Ondrej Babor and Lumir Olsovsky (the latter of whom had just finished in a Czech production of Kiss Me Kate when he joined the cast). However, Maryska, the role with more casting turnover year by year, is again played by Adela Cervenkova – but in a new costume that includes, I think, prettier panties than in 2016:

But the Czechs aren’t the only ones in Eastern Europe to hold Postriziny and its spanking scene in high esteem.  There have been Hungarian productions of the musical, like this one at the Zsigmond Moricz Theater in Nyiregyhasa, over in the east of the country, in which, just for once, the spanking is OTK:

And for those who still can’t get enough of Francin and Maryska, head for the Bohemian restaurant in Budapest, where patrons and tourists can pose for their own Postriziny pictures:


Photographer of the Week: Robert Laska

Warsaw-based portrait photographer Robert Laska is fascinated by human character,

and in particular by the way photography freezes character in a single moment of its existence.

But he sometimes pushes against those limitations with multiple-exposure images which give a sense of the motion that has been arrested at the particular photographic moment – something that adds dynamism to the shoot that particularly concerns us.

It was done on December 18, 2002, to illustrate an interview with the rapper Liroy in the Polish celebrity magazine Viva. We’ve met Liroy before, onstage, smacking the bottom of his girlfriend Joanna Krochmalska. And Joanna joined him for the portrait shoot.

The consequences were pleasing:

If you are interested in Robert Laska’s work, please visit his website.

Smack Rock

How unsafe are rock concerts?

I’m not talking about the major risks that we all hope will never happen, like a collapsing stage or an overfull auditorium. I mean, how safe are a girl’s glutes at a gig?

Take it from one band member to another. Here are the girl group the Saturdays, performing in 2012, and Frankie Bridge has something for her fellow singer Mollie King:

Back in 2005, the Polish rapper Liroy was appearing with his girlfriend, Joanna Krochmalska:

And continuing eastward, here’s Russian singer Sergey Lazarev in 2007, dealing with one of the dancers in his show:

And sometimes the dancers smack the star, too, as Jennifer Lopez found out in 2014:

But whatever might happen to those onstage, a girl can feel safe if she’s just there to enjoy the music, can’t she? Though she might be taking a bit of a risk if the music comes from Spanks, a Floridan band not to be confused with the Floridan band Spank – there’s one letter difference, guys! The logo on the Spanks drumkit might be taken as a warning:

And if there should be a birthday girl in the audience…

But it’s all in fun, of course – even when the drumsticks come out! In truth, a girl can expect her bottom to be as safe at a rock concert as it is anywhere else. Unless, of course, she’s been really naughty:

And if her friend has been even naughtier…

In other words, girls, enjoy the music, and be good!

Kiss Me Kate: 1964

Bardic anniversary years tend to be good for Kiss Me Kate: Shakespeare is topical, and people who wouldn’t venture near an undiluted Shakespeare play may nevertheless be more willing than usual to try a Shakespeare musical. So when the quatercentenary of the Bard’s birth rolled around in 1964, there seem to have been more KMK productions mounted than ever before. This included two television versions in two very different Atlantic countries, though sadly no trace can be found of the spanking scene in either of them.

We begin the year in New Jersey, where Hamilton High School staged the musical on February 20-22. Here are John Grilli and Eileen Popkin in the leading roles and the key scene:

A few weeks later in Illinois, March 12-14, Davis Hall was to be seen spanking Karen Rivard at Maine Township High School in Des Plaines:

Our next call is at San Rafael High School, California, where Sue Henderson is over Ralph Murphy’s knee for the production of March 20-21:

At this point we’ll break off the chronological survey to slot in a series of high school and university productions for which we have no precise performance dates. First, Lorain High School, Ohio, with David Meek and Linda Gonzales:

Still in Ohio, Fairborn High School, and a Lilli seemingly blinded by the binding of the yearbook:

In Oklahoma, McLain High School in Tulsa, with Mike Law and Brenda Gensicke:

In Wisconsin, Badger High School, Lake Geneva, with Dan Deignan and Crystal Boufford:

And in Colorado, at the University of Denver:

Back in chronological time, April brings us to Shakespeare’s birthday month and, in Britain, to the launch of a third television channel, BBC2. This was to be marked with a gala opening night on April 20, including a centerpiece production of Kiss Me Kate that united two significant figures in the musical’s then short history: Howard Keel, who had played Fred in the 1953 film version, and Patricia Morison, the original Broadway Lilli from 1948.

In the event, the launch was marked instead by a blackout because of a power cut in London. But the inaugural events were simply held over for 24 hours, and the recording of Kiss Me Kate was broadcast on April 21, with a spanking scene that was enjoyed by those who saw it. And indeed, we might yet be allowed to see it, because the recording still exists in the archives – and to prove it, here’s a (sadly, non-spanking) screen grab of Patricia Morison as Lilli:

Howard Keel flew back to the US for his next engagement, of which we shall hear more anon; but for now we’ll follow him only as far as Pennsylvania, where we pay our next call. May 2 was Alumni Day at Susquehanna University, and it was customary to stage a musical. One of the alumni, Wallace E. Gordon, had played Fred in a production in Scranton the year before, so it was natural that he should be asked back to his alma mater to spank current undergraduate Arlene Roberts:

And now it’s back to Britain and up to York, where KMK was produced May 11-16 by the local Light Opera Society, with Beverley Jones as Fred and Hazel Day as Lilli:

Meanwhile, back in Illinois, the Edmund Players of Oak Park were at work on May 15-23. It was a tough job for Tom Collins, but perhaps even tougher on Felice Mooney Madda:

And while all this was going on, Howard Keel was embarking on a tent tour of Kiss Me Kate and Camelot, with venues stretching from Milwaukee to Virginia, costarring with Constance Towers as his Lilli. Here she is, not in the role of Lilli:

Connie took the opportunity to drum up a little publicity with what had by now become a familiar tale:

‘I found out that Howard Keel bribed the wardrobe mistress one performance to forget my “spank pad” – the pad they put between you and your dress to protect you when you get spanked. Thanks to the wardrobe mistress “forgetting” to put in my spank pad, Howard Keel left his mark on me in a very large way. It is things like that which make the summer tent season very, uh, lively.’

Howard Keel also took a similar opportunity to drum up publicity when the show came to town ready for their June 9 date at the Melody Top in Milwaukee. He and Connie had a photocall, in their regular clothes rather than in costume, and the outcome showed just how well upholstered Connie was even without the spank pad:

Meanwhile, in Cuba, five years after the revolution, Besame Catalina was the Spanish title of the American musical produced for television on June 19, with Jose le Matt as Fred and Rosita Fornes as Lilli. As I mentioned earlier, there’s no photo of the spanking scene, so you’ll just have to put your imaginary powers to work using this picture of Rosita:

While we’re on the subject of KMK‘s international penetration, let’s pause to note that this year also saw the first production in Czechoslovakia (in Prague, to be precise). We’ll also have a quick hop to the Netherlands, to witness Lia Dorana being spanked by Rob de Vries:

05 1964 Dutch

(They later recorded a soundtrack album, and Lia won an Edison Award for her performance.)

Like many an anniversary year, 1964 seems to have fizzled out early for Kiss Me Kate. The penultimate production I have for you ran in Ohio from August 3 to 16, and starred Harry Theyard and Joan Kibrig:

Joan was another of those actresses who graduated from Lois to Lilli: she’d been Lois in the 1952 production at Lambertville, New Jersey, at Indianapolis in 1959 and most recently at Palm Beach in March 1964. But now she took a step up to the leading role, and here are the consequences:

And finally we leap forward to November, when the musical opened at the Marshall Civic Theatre in Battle Creek, Michigan, on Friday 13. Was it Dottie Brown’s unlucky day? Jim Clevenger did his best to oblige:

If 1964 was a good year for Kiss Me Kate because of a significant birthday, it became a sad year in the musical’s history when, on October 15, Cole Porter died. His legacy lived on.