Improv Indoors

I have said before that spanking often happens in a domestic context, which accounts for the frequency with which hairbrushes are used. But homes are full of different objects that can be reapplied to that secondary purpose, and it seems there really is no end to human inventiveness.

We’ve previously encountered the case of a Kansas flapper whose mother spanked her with a coat hanger in 1928. The choice of implement was uncommon enough for it to take a prominent place in the widespread press interest in the incident:

Some seem to have been persuaded of its salutary effectiveness:

But another angle is hinted at in this splendid illustration:

Many details emphasize how extraordinary this is. She’s being spanked with her skirt up, something not often seen in scenes featuring older girls. She’s kicking her legs with exceptional vigor, and her copious tears provide a watery counterpoint to the fire being kindled at the other end! It’s remarkable, and powerful, but there’s also the slight suggestion that maybe it’s just a little excessive. And what makes it so is the coat hanger. Half a century later, the public shuddered and cried abuse at the revelation that Joan Crawford used a wire coat hanger to spank her adoptive daughter. Likewise in 1928, the judge in the flapper spanking case ruled that the mother should never again spank her daughter with a hanger – she should use her hand instead!

So some domestic items are beyond the pale when it comes to spanking, but not all – and I don’t mean only the hairbrush. For another possibility, we turn to the 1962 Danish movie Den Rige Enke (The Widow), a light rural drama about conflict between a mother and her daughters over their choice of men. The most relevant of the beaus is Erik (Ebbe Langberg), and his belle is Elin (Kirsten Saerens):

At the key moment, he encounters her engaged in a particular kind of domestic task, and repurposes the tool she’s using:

In the middle of the last century, and perhaps earlier too, carpet beaters got a good deal of use in spanking, from the German silent film Der Provinzonkel, with Lotte Lorring as the cook,

to this candid shot from 1961:

That may seem surprising, but perhaps that’s because fewer people beat their carpets nowadays, whereas back then the carpet beater was a standard piece of household equipment; and since its function was to hit something, it’s only a minor change of purpose to use it for hitting a girl’s bottom instead of a rug.

The same principle explains another option:

You don’t only have to use it for swatting flies, as is also illustrated by the first of the two spanking scenes in the 1966 Egyptian comedy, Saghira ala El-Hob (Too Young for Love).

The story is a loose and unacknowledged revamp of Too Young to Kiss from fifteen years earlier: Samiha (Soad Hosny) wants to become an actress, and enters a contest to find the next big Egyptian star, which presents the difficulty that the entrants have to be of a certain age; so she invents a new identity for herself as 13-year-old Karima,

and acts the part so well that her mischief earns her…

the fly swatter!

Just in case you’re wondering, she gets the second spanking later in the film, back at her own age and in her own person (and, incidentally, in her nightie), and this time it’s done with the flat of the hand:

After all she’s done she might just be due the indecorum of a little palm-to-bottom contact, but it’s also true that this particular bedroom offers him no real alternative; there isn’t even a hairbrush lying around. In contrast, one room in the house that’s always full of possibilities is the kitchen.

Reach for the skillet!

It happens more often than you might think. In the MGM comedy short How to Hold Your Husband – Back (1941), Greta Granstedt plays a series of wives who try to help out their husband in a variety of manipulative ways, only to find that they have actually been a hindrance. The one married to Vince Barnett sets up a poker game for him in their own home, but it turns out so badly for him that he decides to make it turn out badly for her too:

And when the sanitized 1964 comic book adaptation of McLintock! does away with the first of the two spanking scenes, the consequence is that there is no longer any need for the second (and now only) spanking to be administered using a coal shovel. But Kate McLintock still has to be spanked with something, so…

Mclintock comic 1Mclintock comic 2

But maybe don’t try this at home. In F. Hugh Herbert’s play, The Moon is Blue (1951), David Slater’s efforts to seduce Patty O’Neill lead to a discussion about the end of his marriage:

DAVID: She divorced me. Extreme cruelty. I hit her with a skillet.

PATTY: You didn’t.

DAVID: A stainless steel skillet. Still warm from popovers. Right across the behind. Raised a welt that lasted for weeks, according to her lawyer. I was never privileged to see it.

It was a memorable moment that led to some piquant publicity for the Chicago production:

Even so, it ended differently only a few years earlier when, in the small hours of New Year’s Day 1948, a Canadian husband named John Spicer also resorted to skillet spanking and found himself facing prosecution for assault. A syndicated newspaper account of the case offered an artist’s impression of the incident:

Mrs Spicer had not only stayed out drinking until after midnight and refused to explain herself, nor only neglected to do the washing up, but also, when the matter was raised, sulkily told him to do the dishes himself. When Spicer told his story to the court, E. C. Awrey the prosecution attorney (yes, the prosecutor) declared, ‘She got what she deserved,’ whereupon Judge Angus W. MacMillan rejected the ‘guilty’ plea and threw out the case.

So it looks as if using a frying pan to heat up a girl’s rear end is the kind of spanking that hovers around the borderline between what is and isn’t acceptable to the collective mores of a civilised society: you might get away with it, but you might get divorced. Better to try something else… a butter pat, say.

Well, I don’t know how that compares to being spanked with a coal shovel, but no doubt Stefanie Powers would be able to say. (It’s a publicity still for ‘The Danish Blue Affair’, a 1966 episode of her spy series The Girl from UNCLE, with Mark de Vries wielding the pat; and it should be added that she doesn’t come anywhere near being ‘patted’ in the program itself.) But maybe it’s best to use one that’s a little smaller?

That’s Vivi Bach about to be ‘patted’ in the 1967 Danish sex comedy Elsk… Din Næste (Love Thy Neighbor).

And even if you don’t make your own butter, the kitchen should still have something to offer. A spatula, perhaps?

Or a rolling pin?

Or a metal cake slice, as used in Cock of the Air (1932), in which Billie Dove plays Lilli de Rousseau, a coquettish French opera singer who pursues a World War I pilot, Roger Craig (Chester Morris),

and is spanked by him after slapping his face:

Miss Dove was very reluctant to submit herself to the cake slice, but was persuaded that it was necessary to achieve an authentic sound effect; she found the spanking painful and undignified, and then, ironically, they damped down the sound in the finished movie.

You could also try a spoon, here put to use on Florence Rice in a publicity still for Vacation from Love (1938):

62 1938 Vacation from Love 4 Florence Rice

But perhaps it’s better to avoid anything made of metal, which brings us to the most traditional of all kitchen spanking implements:

But what about spanking when you’re not at home? Won’t that be a challenge to your ingenuity? To see how spankers through the decades have risen to that challenge, come back next week!

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