The Cure

At the time of writing, the most recent play known to include a spanking scene is The Cure, a comedy about attitudes to minorities, including not only people with disabilities but also people with unusual sexual tastes. Australian dramatist Bruce Hoogendoorn (born 1968) originally wrote it as Spank in 2010, but retitled it in 2013. The play hasn’t premiered yet, so there isn’t even a single picture to show you; but there are plans…

The central character is a 19-year-old paraplegic called Sarah, who is confined to a wheelchair after an accident. The play starts with a confrontation between her and 53-year-old Bill, who tells her that her x-rays show there is no physical damage. Her inability to walk is merely psychosomatic, he says. ‘I just think you’re a spoilt little girl who’s seeking attention.’ Having run out of patience with her, he orders her to get up and walk over to him.

BILL: Sarah, this is your last chance. Get up and walk to me, or I will punish you.

SARAH: I can’t! I can’t ! I can’t!

Sarah bursts into tears.

BILL: That’s it. My patience has run out.

SARAH: What are you going to do?

BILL: I’m going to spank you!

SARAH: You can’t do that!

BILL: I most certainly can. Then we’ll find out if you’re paralysed or not. My bet is you’ll be screaming for mercy after the first stroke.

She tries to scoot away in her wheelchair, but he stops it.

BILL: If you really want help, help yourself and run.

Pause.

BILL: I didn’t think so. (beat) Now get out of that wheelchair.

He tries to pull her up, but struggles. She fights back.

SARAH: Help me! Help me!

Bill finally manages to lift her up. He sits in the wheelchair and puts her over his knee.

SARAH: You can’t do this. Remember the medical motto: first, do no harm.

BILL: That’s not my motto. My motto is, the end justifies the means.

He roughly pulls down her pants revealing her bare buttocks.

BILL: Now let’s see how paralysed you are.

He raises his hand high and theatrically, ready to spank.

SARAH: Please, don’t! Please! Please!

Bill is about to spank her when there is a scream from a woman. Both Bill and Sarah look around, shocked, and see Alex and Michael watching in horror.

Yes, it’s her parents, come home unexpectedly. Alex intervenes physically, slapping Bill. He gets up, so that Sarah falls to the floor with her pants still down. Bill is forced to explain himself: ‘Sarah and I met online in a chat room. After we got to know each other we decided to act out a fantasy which would end in… would end in me spanking her.’ He meets the parents’ shocked incredulity by pointing out, ‘Spanking is a perfectly normal sexual practice.’ And then it’s his turn to be shocked, upon learning her condition isn’t part of the fantasy: she really is disabled. And he would never spank a true paraplegic…

Alex, the mother, takes it all a lot harder than her husband. She calls in a counsellor, Bev, and in the meantime tries to activate parental controls to restrict Sarah’s online activity. Checking the internet history, she and Michael discover Sarah has been looking at a site called ‘Spanker’s Paradise’. It evidently contains some action shots. ‘Look how red her bottom is,’ says Michael, apparently getting turned on.

MICHAEL: Come on, look at them. It doesn’t look like they’re evil people. They’re just having a bit of fun.

ALEX: Yeah, right.

MICHAEL: If I’d suggested it to you when you were in your prime, I bet you would have been up for it, wouldn’t you?

ALEX: I doubt it.

MICHAEL: You would’ve loved it, wouldn’t you?

He smacks her on the bum playfully.

ALEX: Ow!

MICHAEL: Don’t pretend you didn’t love it. Not hard enough for you, was it? Here, try this.

He stands and gives her a few more smacks, quite hard.

ALEX: Ow! Stop it!

Sarah rolls in.

SARAH: Oh my God!

Michael stops.

ALEX: Oh no!

MICHAEL: It’s not what you think. I was just having a joke.

SARAH: You’re spankers, too! It’s hereditary!

When Bev arrives, Sarah tells her, provocatively, ‘I came out here to go on the ’net only to discover my father spanking my mother.’ Bev’s feminist radar is instantly activated: Sarah must be living in an unhealthy environment, dominated by a patriarchal father who uses violence to subjugate women. There’s nothing for it: Sarah must get out of the family home.

Bev, who is taking a Gender Studies course at university, involves her tutor, Catherine, who backs up her interpretation of Sarah as a victim of degrading male violence – Sarah’s protests to the contrary only confirm how brainwashed she is. When Sarah calls Bill and arranges a meeting, Catherine follows her and confronts Bill: ‘Does it make you feel like a real man, putting a woman over your knee and bashing her?’ He protests that he wouldn’t spank anyone from a minority, but, faced as he is with radical feminist inflexibility, nothing he can say is right. Catherine challenges him:

CATHERINE: How about me? Would you spank me?

Silence.

CATHERINE: You would, wouldn’t you?

BILL: You bet I would!

CATHERINE: Of course you would. There’s nothing you’d love more than to get hold of a strong, independent woman and cut her down to size.

BILL: No, I’d like to spank you because you’re a bitch!

It turns out that they recognize one another: he’s an administrator at the same university, and his real name is Dave. And now Catherine has it in her power to ruin his career: as Alex later puts it, ‘A man who spanks women shouldn’t be dealing with young female students.’

In the second act, Sarah has been indoctrinated by her feminist captors, but she’s also annoyed with Dave for his scruples about spanking a paraplegic. The women attend a Reclaim the Night rally where they plan to ‘out’ both Dave and Michael as spankers (even though Michael was only playing around when he smacked Alex), but the men intervene to rescue Sarah. All does not go well: Sarah protests her ‘abduction’.

SARAH: Why do you hate women so much?

DAVE: (pause) Look, I’m really sorry for –

SARAH: Don’t bother! No matter what you say I’m still going to say what I have to say. Whether it’s today or tomorrow, or next week.

DAVE: (pause) Well, there’s only one thing left to do then.

SARAH: What?

DAVE: Give you what you want.

Dave grabs her and tries to pull her out of the wheelchair.

SARAH: Get your hands off me!

DAVE: But it’s what you want, isn’t it?

SARAH: You animal! Let me go!

Dave sits in the chair and drags Sarah over his knee. He starts to spank her viciously.

DAVE: Giving you a thrill, is it? Does it feel like you imagined it would? Can you feel anything at all?

He stops. Sarah lies over his knee like a rag doll. Dave stands and puts her back in her chair.

DAVE: Happy now? I’ve never spanked anyone like that before.

Sarah admits that she didn’t feel anything, and goes on to explain where her fascination with being spanked came from:

‘The most alive I’ve ever felt was the only other time I was spanked. It was on a school camp when I was fifteen. We were hiking through Namadgi, and the PE teacher put me in charge of leading the group, so he gave me his compass. But I was flirting with one of the guys, pushing each other, that sort of thing, when I dropped the compass and stepped on it. It broke. The teacher was furious, especially when we got lost for an hour.

That night he called me to his tent and told me off for being so immature and for putting lives at risk. I just rolled my eyes. He said if I was going to act like a little girl then I should be treated like one. Then he grabbed me, put me over his knee, and spanked me. I was in total shock. But before I could complain my groin started to burn, getting hotter and hotter until something in me burst open and it felt like this hot liquid surge through my whole body. It was heavenly. He stopped spanking me and I was just flopped over his knees like a rag doll.

He said, “you loved that, didn’t you, you little sicko?” I couldn’t answer. So he stood me up and looked me up and down, and said, “it’s a pity you’re my student. The things I could do to you.” And he could’ve. I wouldn’t have stopped him. Then he said, “go back to your tent. And tomorrow I want to see you acting more maturely”. But I couldn’t move, I just kept staring at him. Then he yelled, “Go!” and that snapped me out of it, and I ran out. I thought about reporting him, but I was really confused. I knew he shouldn’t have done it, but I thought I really was a sicko because I loved it so much. And I wanted it to happen again, but I didn’t have the guts to do anything about it.

Then I had the accident, and I…I cried for two months… Then one day I stopped. No more pain, just nothing. It was like I was dead inside. (pause) Then one day I started fantasising about the spanking again. And my chest would just swell with heat. It was the most alive I’d felt since I’d stopped crying. I started to fantasise that if I was spanked again, the feeling would be so strong that…that my legs would come back to life.’

In the end, Sarah comes to accept that spanking isn’t a cure for paraplegia. But she may yet find another way to feel alive…

A full-scale production at the Canberra Theatre’s Courtyard Studio was planned for December 2015, but fell through. Hopefully the play will not languish unperformed for much longer. When it is eventually produced, anyone planning to go not because it’s an amusing and moving comedy, but primarily to see the spanking, may wish to be advised (or warned) that there is also some F/M action near the end of the first act when the feminists turn the tables on Dave. But the two OTK scenes are Dave/Sarah. Let’s hope they go well!

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