Monsieur Bobby

This week we go back to the summer of 1939 to sample one of the minor pleasures of Paris during those last few months of peace. I refer to the generation-gap comedy Monsieur Bobby, written by Pierre-Paul Fournier and Henry Turpin, which opened at the Theatre Michel in June and gave the actor Jean Bobillot, who played the title role, his first star part in the French capital.

The old-fashioned bourgeois couple Emile and Thérèse Le Berquier have left their Parisian home for a summer holiday in a country village, Arnay-le-Duc. They have brought with them their 19-year-old son, affectionately known as ‘Monsieur Bobby’. He’s a brilliant student who’s about to go to university, but his attitudes to life are poles apart from those of his parents: they could still be living in 1913, whereas he is very much 1939, and holds them in low esteem. If the play were written a generation later, he would no doubt dismiss them as ‘squares’.

While in the country, he has become involved with Armandine, described in memorable French as ‘une gamine vicieuse’, and played in 1939 by Liliane Roger:

Liliane Roger

She’s a scheming village girl, daughter of the local haberdasher and former mistress of Monsieur Dron, the local schoolmaster. Bobby is her willing slave and she intends to make him marry her, though when she tries to manipulate his jealousy of Dron, it nearly backfires: Bobby’s adolescent despair drives him to attempt suicide. Luckily for him, the ‘arsenic’ he takes is really only tooth powder!

His parents are understandably concerned and understandably disapproving, but they are powerless to influence Bobby. But all is not lost. The charming divorcee Gisèle Sorbier, a friend of the family, is visiting for the weekend. She was widely considered the play’s leading comic role, and was played in 1939 by the Comédie Française star Huguette Duflos. She has known Bobby since he was little and she is genuinely interested in his welfare, so when she hears from his mother what is going on, she decides to sort him out.

Bobby with Gisele

Bobby with Gisele

‘Leave me alone in the house with Bobby tomorrow night,’ she asks. Conveniently, the family has been invited to a ball being held by some friends in Besançon, around 150 kilometres away, which will mean an overnight stay. As soon as he finds out that his parents are going to be away, Bobby plans some company for himself, but he reckons without Gisèle. She gets him accidentally stuck in a closet so that it is she who answers the door when Armandine arrives. The divorcee is more than a match for the minx, who is sent away with une puce à l’oreille. There will be no night of passion for Bobby.

Or will there? Deprived of his intended squeeze, Bobby now attempts to woo Gisèle. She wasn’t expecting that, but manages to rebuff his advances and keep him out of her bedroom. (Definitely no night of passion for Bobby, then.) And with that rejection, one nail drives out another: he forgets Armandine, becomes infatuated with Gisèle, and takes to his room in renewed despair while Gisèle leaves in embarrassment, pretending an urgent appointment in Marseilles. The rest of the story winds out as Bobby’s father arranges an encounter with yet another girl, which snaps him out of it and teaches him not to be so single-minded about women: the awkward teenager has finally become a man.

But we’ve just overshot the key scene, which follows the abortive assignation with Armandine and the failed seduction of Gisèle. The morning after, the crafty coquette comes back to the house, planning to wind Bobby further round her little finger. The fact that she fails tells us how Bobby’s outlook is starting to change: the scales have fallen from his eyes, which means that at long last Armandine gets exactly what she deserves:

Monsieur Bobby 1939 Jean Bobbilot & Liliane Roger Theatre Michel

Une belle fessée,’ said the Parisian press – which also praised Jean Bobillot for managing to make it look a lot harder than it actually was. And no doubt Liliane Roger was grateful for that!

Photographer of the Week: The Doorman

The photographer known as the Doorman runs a small nightclub in Jacksonville, Florida. Or maybe that should be ‘ran a nightclub’, because he doesn’t appear to have been active for several years. And the club was central to his photographic work.

He started out simply snapping shots of clubbing patrons.

01 Doorman02 Doorman

Then some of the subjects began asking for copies of the pictures, and Doorman realized he was onto something.

03 Doorman04 Doorman

This was a club where, from time to time, the activities were on the interesting side.

05 Doorman

Naughty girls could expect to meet their nemesis!

06 Doorman

And sometimes, nemesis came in the form of the stern hand of the Doorman!

07 Doorman

If you are interested in the Doorman’s work, please visit his online portfolio.

Big Brother is Spanking You

It is well known that reality television shows like Big Brother occasionally feature a bit of playful spanking. In Britain…

Big Brother UK

In the US…

Big Brother US 1Big Brother US 2

In Spain…

Big Brother (Spanish)

Celebrity contestants are not immune, as Chloe Goodman found out across the lap of Cami Li:

Celebrity Big Brother 2015 Chloe Goodman & Cami Li 1Celebrity Big Brother 2015 Chloe Goodman & Cami Li

And here’s one of the housemates from the Czech version spanking the presenter, Eva Aichmajerova:

Big Brother Czech Filip Trojovsky spanks Eva Aichmajerova

It is also well known that, in the entire world, Brazilian television is the place where the traditional M/F spanking scene most flourishes today, especially in the telenovelas (soap operas) produced by the station Globo. Here’s an example from 2011, Morde e Assopra, with Vanessa Giacomo being spanked by Marcos Pasquim:

2011 Morde & Assopra

And since Globo is also the station responsible for the Brazilian version of Big Brother… well, we can all put two and two together!

It’s the 2009 series that has a claim on our attention, and the two housemates in question are Maximiliano Porto and Francine Piaia:

Brazilian Big Brother Max and Francine

And one of the series’ minor points of interest (or, for us, its major point of interest) was the tribulations of Francine’s bottom. It was smacked by Max, who remarked, ‘I have to take care of what belongs to me’:

Next up for Francine was a full-scale OTK spanking, in which her main worry was, apparently, that he might lift her skirt:

There was another spanking for her a week and a half later:

Then a threat to spank her again, this time with a flipflop:

And if Francine got away with it that time, her bottom still wasn’t entirely out of danger. Only a few days later, her skirt was finally raised for retribution – though now it was not Max’s hand she had to beware of, nor even his belt or footwear, but his teeth:

And after their release from the captivity of the Big Brother house, they began dating. Don’t you just love a happy ending?

The Fille Files: Lise’s Friends

2015 Ballet Eliana Cavalcanti

A spanking scene is always the better for a good buildup, and this is one of the ways La Fille Mal Gardée can’t be beat: Lise tries everything to get away, and the delay only adds to the piquancy of the spanking, when it eventually happens. We have seen elsewhere that it is alternatively possible to play the scene so that the spanking isn’t inevitable, but instead is something her mother does out of exasperation and virtually on the spur of the moment, but I think that’s not what the score itself indicates.

One of the ballet’s recurring musical motifs is a repeated pattern of phrases, comprising 8, 8, 8 and 5 notes, which seems to be associated with tension between mother and daughter. Most obviously, it starts up after Lise has been caught by the widow, when it is the musical buildup to the spanking. It’s not the ‘telling off’ music, and I think of it specifically as the ballet’s ‘impending spanking’ leitmotif – so that, when it recurs in the second act, it’s a clear signal of a danger which, this time, is averted when the widow is distracted by the opportunity to show off her clog-dancing in one of the ballet’s most popular moments.

But we’ve also heard this music before: it occurs immediately after the smacking, when Simone takes Lise sternly by the ear.

Laura Connor Wayne Sleep2012 Mathilde Froustey ear

It effectively indicates that, if a mere smacking isn’t enough, her mother has worse in store for her. It begins as a threat, then recurs when the threat is about to be realized:

2011 GMDC Brazil Douglas Gonzales spanks Michelle Saramago a

So I think Lise usually knows what’s at stake… but her head is full of other things, like her love of Colas and of life itself, which is why she can’t apply herself conscientiously to the task she was given. But as the ballet moves into the pre-spanking sequence, the really interesting question to ponder is: do her friends know?

Things couldn’t be clearer in the original 1960 production, because Lise explicitly tells them at the outset that, if she leaves the butter churn to dance with them, she will be spanked. But the ‘spanking mime’ from Nadia Nerina’s performance in 1960 morphed into something very different in later productions, which means that sometimes the friends may have only the vaguest idea of what’s in store for Lise if she should fail to escape from her angry mother. And that makes all the difference to the way they behave in the pre-spanking sequence.

It begins when Simone comes out of the house to find that Lise has abandoned her churning chore. She has come to take her daughter inside to change for the impending visit of her idiot fiancé and his father.

2015 Compania Nacional de Danza Mexico

But Lise just wants to play with her friends, and breaks away. Understandably peeved, the widow gives chase…

2013 Joan Harris Centre 12013 Joan Harris Centre 22013 Joan Harris Centre 32013 Joan Harris Centre 4

… and the buildup’s first climax is a great set-piece moment when the friends form themselves into a kind of human shield for Lise.

2015 Italy2013 Chinese

This turns into a moment of sublime comic irony as Lise creeps backwards down the lineup, crouching so as not to be seen over her friends’ heads and gesturing at them to be quiet.

2013 Ashley Ballet Arts Academy 0

The friends can see, and Lise herself cannot, that her mother is waiting for her at the end of the line. But the circumstances are such that they can’t actually say anything. And that makes it especially interesting to observe their facial performances as Lise backs her way into nemesis.

2009 Lina Penteado 1 365a

In this Brazilian ballet school production from 2009, the girls clearly know just what a disaster is about to happen: Lise is going to be caught, and Lise is going to be spanked. The one on the left is even trying to warn her with her pointing finger, but most realize that their friend is already in the trap that is only a moment away from being sprung.

In other productions, the girls look down in meek, expressionless silence: they would like to help Lise, but there is nothing whatever that they can do. Take this example from Indiana Ballet Conservatory in 2015:

2015 Indiana Ballet Conservatory mat 7a

In a good performance, the girls’ reaction will also develop as Lise comes nearer and nearer to her fate. We can see multiple stages in these pictures from a 2012 performance in Venezuela, and another in Brazil the following year. First anxiety…

2012 Ballet de la Mar Leonor Rojas Vercelli as Lise 12013 Ibipora 1

Then the awful realization that their friend is doomed:

2012 Ballet de la Mar Leonor Rojas Vercelli as Lise 22013 Ibipora 2

Here are a few more glorious stunned faces from another Brazilian ballet school in 2015:

2015 Studio de Danca Fernanda Barreto w Bianca Araujo as Lise

Despite their best efforts, these girls all know that there’s a good spanking in Lise’s immediate future!

2015 Fernanda Barreto spanking

But now let’s see a rather different interpretation, from a 2009 performance in Sarezzo, Italy. Once again, the jig is up and Lise has been caught…

2009 Sarezzo

… but her friends have quite a range of different reactions to it. Two of the girls are studiously ignoring what’s happening. The girl at extreme left watches with a slightly rictus grimace, as though she can imagine what’s to come, while the face third from left reads as sympathetic resignation to the inevitable. But look at the three girls in the middle. In different ways and to different degrees, they are all smiling!

You can see a similar range of expressive reactions in this 2010 production from the Petrouchka School of Ballet in Rio de Janeiro…

2010 Petrouchka Escola de Ballet

…and at another Brazilian dance school in 2011:

2011 Leandra Vagliatti 04

And it’s when we try to read these responses that it becomes vital to know whether the girls do or don’t know that, for Lise, the outcome is going to be:

2011 Studio de Danca Leandra Vagliatti 0

Sometimes it’s made fairly obvious from the widow’s demeanor in the chase itself:

2008 Czech

In that example, from a Czech production in 2008, it even looks rather worse for Lise than it eventually turns out! But equally, sometimes it’s just a madcap angry mother, which makes some of the girls’ amusement a little more understandable.

But when you observe reactions like these, from a Pennsylvania ballet school in 2013…

2013 Joan Harris Centre 9

… you start to wonder whether the friends actually like Lise very much, in view of the way they react to her misfortune. There are even a few productions where they nod encouragingly to Lise as she backs along the line, even though they can clearly see what’s waiting for her at the end – so in these versions, in effect, it’s her friends who get her spanked!

Sometimes, however, they are truer friends than that, and don’t give up even after Lise has been caught. In several productions they are so keen to help her get away that they end up playing tug-of-war with the widow:

2009 Ballet Royal Xalapa

And sometimes, they share, just a little, in Lise’s fate: the last of the friends to leave gets the widow’s palm across her bottom to send her on her way!

2013 Joan Harris Centre 6d

And since some of those girls are the ones we saw smirking earlier, maybe it serves them right!

Even with her friends gone, Lise doesn’t stop trying to escape. But that’s a part of the buildup that will have to wait for another time.

Photographer of the Week: André Pires

Lisbon-based photographer André Pires has a passion for the worlds of burlesque and pinup.

New Vintage Photo burlesque

In particular, he tries to recreate the ‘vintage’ style of the middle of the last century. But you could probably guess that from the name of his firm: New Vintage Photo.

New Vintage Photo pinup

And it is almost inevitable that, sooner or later, any self-styled ‘vintage’ pinup photographer is going to try a ‘Bettie Page’ tribute. André Pires is no exception. Here are his models at work being Bettie. (The blonde is Pearl von Monroe.)

New Vintage Photo Pearl von MonroeNew Vintage corset

And a Bettie Page tribute will frequently involve…

New Vintage Photo Pearl von Monroe (2)Andre Pirez spanking 2

Let’s grasp the nettle here. These pictures are such faithful tributes that they feature the signature ‘swastika legs’ that makes so much of Irving Klaw’s work so hopeless as spanking photography – but it also has to be said that André is, technically, so much better than Klaw that there’s still a lot to enjoy!

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

Spanked in the Square

The Brazilian sketch show A Praça é Nossa (It’s Our Square) has a simple format: the host, Carlos Alberto de Nóbrega, sits on a bench in a public square and watches the world go by. Characters come and go, including an assortment of regulars, usually eccentric and occasionally pulchritudinous.

For example, there’s Mina, the better-looking half of a pair of twins who are always trying to cadge money. She’s played by Renata Takahashi:

01 Renata Takahashi

And here she is with her twin brother, Mano, who seems to be getting a little manual with her:

02 Renata Takahashi in A Praca e Nossa

But the character who matters most to us is Lady Dadá, an obliging sexpot of a secretary who often tries to draw attention away from her mistakes by flashing her bottom at her boss, Chefinho (in English, ‘Chiefy’), played by the comedian Tutuca. And it’s always the way in this kind of comedy that middle-aged men like Chefinho are secretly lecherous to begin with, but ultimately perturbed by such overt displays…

A Praça é Nossa is a very long-running series: it launched in 1987 and is still going nearly thirty years later. And that means, inevitably, that the role of voluptuous young Lady Dadá has needed recasting from time to time. In the early years of the series, the role was created by glamor model Alice de Carli.

03 Alice de Carli as Dada

Later on, model and singer Livia Andrade took over. Here she is:

04 Livia Andrade05 Livia Andrade selfie

And if you were looking over her shoulder in that selfie shot, maybe you’d like to see more.

06 Livia Andrade07 Livia Andrade08 Livia Andrade09 Livia Andrade10 Livia Andrade11 Livia Andrade

Here are some examples of her work on A Praça é Nossa, which she graced from 2006 to 2010.

12 Livia Andrade in a Praca e Nossa13 Livia Andrade in a Praca e Nossa

The sketch that interests us aired in 2007. So Livia was the incarnation of Lady Dadá in question:

14 Lady Dada

This time it looks as if she’s made a bigger mess of things than usual,

15 Dada

because Chefinho and his partner have been reduced to vagrancy: they have become a couple of bums. And that could be bad news for Lady Dadá’s bumbum, as they call it in Portuguese.

Praca e Nossa 01

In that skirt, she’s almost self-prepared for the spanking, so you can’t really fault Chefhino for what he does next:

Praca e Nossa 04

But that turns out to be his undoing. Because it turns out that Lady Dadá isn’t wearing proper panties.

Praca e Nossa 07

And like most lecherous middle-aged men in this kind of comedy…

Praca e Nossa 09

… the bum is too embarrassed to touch the bare bumbum

Praca e Nossa 10

… which means a lucky escape for Lady Dadá!

Praca e Nossa 11

It was attractive while it lasted, though! And there’s one last thing that’s worth remembering. It’s not altogether unknown for this series to run essentially the same sketch more than once – so maybe she got away with it twice!

You can watch extracts from the sketch here.

Le Malade Imaginaire in Brazil

Compared with Le Médecin Malgré Lui, Moliere’s late masterpiece Le Malade Imaginaire is not done quite so often outside Europe and North America, or at least not done in a way that would be of interest to us. But happily, in the last ten years there have been two Latin American productions. both of them in Brazil, with versions of the Louison scene that are well worth looking at.

The earlier dates from 2009. There are two nice, original touches to this one: the way she tries to protect her bottom with the teddy bear, and the way the actors simulate slow motion when the spanking actually starts, which means you eliminate the risk of hurting the actress whilst getting a longer scene and a better look at Louison’s simulated reactions – or would do, if only it had been shot from closer up!

The other production is from one year later, 2010, and is an oddity because of the way the spanking is posed. Argan has to stretch over to reach Louison, and then she has to get up in order to ‘die’! And how does a pillow make an even more awesome spanking implement than the flat of Argan’s own hand? But on the plus side, there’s some very nice kicking legs as she is spanked.

Applause, please, for the gallant young Brazilian actresses playing Louison!