Philosophy in the Bedroom

If you want to read a series of earnest dialogs about libertinism and atheism and politics, combined with an awful lot of sex, then you might do worse than pick up a copy of the Marquis de Sade’s 1795 novel, La Philosophie dans le Boudoir. But if you’re after some spanking, it’s the 2007 stage adaptation by Christine Letailleur that you want. She has made a name for herself in the French theater dramatizing and directing erotic classics, with Venus in Furs being another notable example of her work.

Sade’s simple story, subtitled The Teachers of Immorality, deals with, depending on your point of view, the sexual education, or the corruption, of a young ingenue named Eugénie de Mistival. She is given into the hands of the debauchee Dolmancé, who proceeds to teach her that pleasure is the one true objective of life, and that morality and religion are mere obstacles that must be put aside. It is also explained to her that genuine pleasure can only be experienced along with pain…

Letailleur’s stage version premiered at the Breton National Theatre at Rennes on January 23, 2007, and went on to play at six other French venues in 2007 and 2008, notably including a three-week run at the Théâtre National de Strasbourg. Stanislas Nordey played Dolmancé, and his equally louche sidekick Madame de Saint-Ange was Valérie Lang. Here she is:

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And here she is in the production:

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Eugénie was played by Charline Grand:

03 Charline Grand

And in character:

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You’ll also want to meet Stéphanie Cosserat:

05 Stephanie Cosserat

And on stage with Saint-Ange:

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One sequence is a series of tableaux showing different parts of Eugénie’s sexual curriculum. The curtain rises again and again to show her variously sitting on Dolmancé’s back, or fellating him, or…

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The two spankings, administered respectively by Dolmancé to Eugénie and by Saint-Ange to Mademoiselle le Chat, take place concurrently and in unison, and run to at least thirteen audible smacks. The whole thing has a studied, rhythmical quality, with no real response, or even any movement, from the girls on the receiving end. But it’s a beautifully posed ‘shot’, and strangely compelling…

Here’s the view from the wings to stage left:

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The scene also generated two publicity photographs, one for each spanking. You might like to try spotting the difference from what was actually performed:

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In the production, Eugénie wears a pair of rather non-18th-century bikini panties that are pulled down to spank her on her bare bottom… but for the publicity photographer, both she and her feline fellow sufferer wore thongs!

The production was the subject of a short video documentary, which may be viewed here. If you don’t speak French or only want to see the spankings, go directly to 10.30!

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Valdor of the Spank Statement for first drawing my attention to this play.

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