The Fille Files: 2017 Roundup

Fille‘s year got started in Chile, with a dance school production in Antofagasta on January 10. Sofia Lopez Rodriguez was Lise, and was smacked:

And now for the main event:

Here’s Gabrielle Chenard being smacked by Daniel Langlois when Fille was produced at Quebec’s Ballet Classique du Haut-Richelieu on June 3 and 4:

Meanwhile in Monterrey, on June 24:

During August, Queensland Ballet mounted a joyous production with a 1950s setting, for a regional tour of Australia. The design closely followed the 2015 production by West Australian Ballet, but with an all-new new cast including the Argentinian ballerina Laura Hidalgo as a terrific Lise.

On to November, and the 17th of that month, when the ballet was staged at Lake Area Ballet Theatre, Lake Charles, Louisiana. You can guess what happened to Lise:

And on November 26, here’s the production at the Estudio Terpsicore in Fortaleza, Brazil. First the smacking:

And the spanking:

What’s interesting about this Lise is that she doesn’t seem the slightest bit worried about the fact that she’s going to be spanked: her reaction when caught by her mother isn’t one of shock or fear – it’s irritation!

And now we go to Los Angeles. No, not that Los Angeles – the one in Chile, where the Municipal Ballet staged Fille on December 1 and 2, with Hugo Zarate and Gladys Henriquez. Here’s the smacking in long shot:

And closer up:

Now for the smacking:

Now back to Brazil, where December 2 also saw a performance at the Ballet Bahiano de Tenis in Salvador. Here’s Leonardo Cavichiolli smacking Mariana Carossa:

And that was 2017!

Photographer of the Week: Ariel Martin

01 Ariel Martin

Pennsylvania-based Ariel Martin, of Sticks and Stones Photography, attributes to herself ‘an infinitely unsatisfied desire to explore and capture’. Her best work evokes a melancholy sense of decay: crumbling buildings and rusting machinery, with nature encroaching back on a world that humanity had once thought its own.

But there’s room for the human virtues of glamor and studiousness too:

And here’s a beautiful specimen from the animal kingdom making its own attempted incursion upon humanity:

As always, kitties don’t quite have the equipment to do the job… so we’ll have to rely on a boyfriend instead. But first, let’s meet the other half of the shoot in question, model Leeja Fox:

Here’s Leeja with Paul Sutt, in a characteristically Ariel juxtaposition of beautiful people and a run-down environment:

Time now for Leeja to meet her fate:

If you are interested in Ariel Martin’s work, please visit her Instagram account.

Slappy Valentine’s Day

Anyone walking through Central Melbourne shortly before Valentine’s Day 2013, or for a few months after it, had a treat waiting for them on the corner with Rutledge Lane. The district is famed for its street art, but it’s not often that you see a mural of a pin-up nun getting her white panties spanked by a pin-up lady devil…

The piece was a collaboration between two significant figures in contemporary Australian art: Sofles and Deb. He’s from Brisbane. She’s from Melbourne. And they both draw on walls. Here’s Deb at it:

Her admirers often receive a gift for Valentine’s Day, usually with a cheesy pun in the greeting. For example:

In 2013, it was ‘Slappy Valentine’s Day’ – hence the spanking.

Sofles did the she-devil, and Deb did the nun. Here they are creating the piece together:

(You may have noticed that Deb hasn’t yet decided the nun should be wearing panties!)

‘Slappy Valentine’s Day’ is playful, witty work that repays attention, full of clever little touches. The artists were rightly proud of it, their fans duly appreciative.

And then someone else got in on the act. Days later, the mural looked like this:

To save you squinting, the she-devil’s saying to the nun:

05 commentary 1

And the nun replies:

06 commentary

Deb was outraged, as much at the interference with her work as with the imputations of sexism and selling out. Luckily the offending speech balloons were only paper, which would peel off easily. So Deb peeled them off. It later emerged that they were the work of a third street artist, known as CDH, and he intended them as a review…

Street art is ephemeral. By July, the mural looked like this:

And no doubt it’s completely painted over by now. Sic transit gloria Melbourne.

You can find other examples of spanking in street art here and here. And if you’re interested in their work, please visit the websites of both Sofles and Deb.

Kiss Me Kate: 1966

1966 saw another step forward in the growing international penetration of Kiss Me Kate: on February 3, the musical opened at the Takarazuka Theatre, Tokyo, in a production mounted by the Toho Company – best known in the west for its improbable monster movies, but a giant player in the Japanese entertainment scene. The production used a translation by Ken Kurakashi which he initially entitled Kate Watashini Kiss Shete – which translates back into English as Kate Me Kiss Please. This amused co-author Bella Spewack, who pointed out that Kiss Me Kate deals with a kind of wooing that has absolutely no use for the word please. What the  Japanese ended up seeing was, instead, Kisumi Keito, the title the musical still bears there to this day – even though it’s meaningless in their language. What they also saw was Akira Takaradi doing this to Chiemi Eri:

Moving on to May, the Theatre 7 company of Decatur, Illinois, invited New York professional Jack Eddleman to come and direct the musical, and also play Fred. There were three ladies for him to spank across the rehearsal period and the May 13-22 production: Joan Alongi and Roberta Vest alternated the role of Lilli, and the thankless role of Lilli’s understudy – spanked in rehearsal but never rewarded with onstage applause – went to Nita Dale. The lady in our photo is Joan:

Now off to South Carolina, where the stage of Aiken Community Playhouse was graced by Kiss Me Kate for three days, June 9-11, and the upturned bottom of Mary Ann Barclay was spanked by Paul Parks:

Summer brings us summer stock, including a production at the St Louis Municipal Opera that ran June 27 to July 3. The program for the season represented KMK in an obvious and pleasing way:

The show was advertised as ‘ a spanking new production’; ‘You won’t want to miss the hilarious spanking scene,’ punters were told in a bid to encourage them to buy their tickets early. So when the two stars, Bob Wright and Patrice Munsel, arrived in town, one of their first duties was, naturally enough, to pose for a publicity picture of the spanking scene. A local reporter described what happened:

‘While photographers adjusted their lenses, Miss Munsel draped herself across Wright’s lap, propped herself up on one elbow for comfort, and sang scales. Wright looked down at her with avuncular amusement, and the publicity shots probably suffered for it. Wright pulled his punches when the cameramen asked for the spanking to get under way.’

Oh, I don’t know, I think it’s rather effective:

After St Louis, the two stars went straight on to the Starlight Musicals production in Indianapolis, which played for seven straight days, July 11-17. Another state, another theater, and different costumes, but the same job and pretty much the same publicity pose:

From July 27 to 30, the musical was staged at Littleton High School, Colorado, with Farrell Dyde and Kathy Bush in the leading roles. Here they are in costume, and fighting:

And here they are out of costume, and rehearsing:

Kathy had been an enthusiastic amateur actress at Littleton, but this was her last production. So her school career ended with her getting a good, sound spanking!

While we’re on the subject of high schools, let’s now round up the productions of the 1965-66 school year to which I can’t put an exact date. Here’s the production at Summit High School, New Jersey, with Jeff Fitzwilliam and Nancy Wyman:

At Miamisburg High School, Ohio; Dave Waters’ Fred and the middle of Lynn Dunker’s Lilli unfortunately disappeared into the yearbook centerfold!

And at Doane College, Crete, Nebraska, here’s Jeannie MacLaren being spanked by Bill Kleinkauf:

There’s some uncertainty about whether they’re appearing in Kiss Me Kate or The Taming of the Shrew, an important distinction that’s too often elided – but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a nice picture!

Back in the summer months, August 4-13 saw seven performances at Cabrillo College Theater, California, starring the lovely Sandy Voris as Lilli:

We are told that Allen Praefke ‘really whaled her’. Here he is doing it:

And while Sandy’s situpon was being made unsittable in California, up in Michigan the Players’ Guild of Dearborn were busy rehearsing their production, starring John Vicich and Nina Caputo-Smith. It ran August 12-21, but the costumes weren’t ready when they the customary spanking publicity photo was taken:

Down we go to Texas now, where KMK opened at Abilene Christian College on November 2. Here’s Gary Hood spanking the indignant Claudette Spain:

And that wraps it up for 1966!

Photographer of the Week: Devin Glasere

The story of Tat2Devin Photography, based in Tracy, California, is also a love story. Photographer Devin Glasere met model Brittany Lynne at an event, and their eyes locked: it was love at first sight.

OK, maybe that wasn’t the actual first sight. But let’s take a better look at Brittany.

The couple connected romantically, and they also connected as photographer and model, giving them to chance to shoot more than just the usual weddings and family portraits that are the staples of commercial photography. They could also shoot scenes from a shared life.

But Christmas isn’t the only holiday in the calendar. Don’t forget Valentine’s Day!

That was shot for Valentine’s Day 2017. And another picture from the same session shows that a love story doesn’t always have to begin with a spanking.

If you are interested in Devin Glasere’s work, please visit the Tat2Devin website.

Spank the Screen Flapper

Hollywood cottoned on quickly to the flapper phenomenon, but was a lot slower on the uptake when it came to newspaper recommendations about what to do with them. The earliest known flapper in a movie was Ginger King (Olive Thomas), a senator’s daughter sent to a strict boarding school who ‘flirts her way into a life of sin’ according to the publicity for the 1920 film entitled simply The Flapper.

But the first flapper to be spanked in the movies, so far as we know, was the nameless one played by Judy King in Harold Lloyd’s comedy Girl Shy, which wasn’t released until April 1924, a good two years after the American fourth estate had decided that the best way to deal with flappers was…

And Girl Shy isn’t even a ‘flapper movie’ in the strictest sense. Lloyd plays the central character, Harold Meadows, who is shy with the ladies in real life but is writing a book purporting to tell The Secret of Making Love. The foreword declares:

‘It is very easy to win the heart of any woman, provided you know the correct method to use. I have therefore written this story of my love affairs – that you may learn about women from me.’

By way of illustration, the film stages two self-contained vignettes from the book representing Love Affairs nos. 15 and 16, showing the different courtship techniques supposed to be effective with two particular feminine types. First, Harold takes on the ‘vampire’, or vamp as we would now say: method – indifference. Then it’s the turn of the flapper, who gets rough treatment culminating in…

… and the instant result is her complete and unconditional adoration.

It’s all total fantasy, of course, and one of the European posters wryly underlines that the spanking is entirely in Harold’s mind’s eye:

For the premise of the film is that bashful Harold is not a successful lover at all, and the story is about how he eventually finds the courage to woo his first ever girl, wealthy Mary Buckingham (Jobyna Ralston) – which does eventually entail carrying her off from her wedding to another man…

… but does not require him to tame her with a spanking.

So this isn’t a film about a flapper in any meaningful sense: the flapper character is incidental, simply a stereotype in an inset sketch that’s only loosely related to the central concerns of the picture. The sketch itself draws on the association, by then well established in the press, between the flapper and the spanking she is deemed to need; but the story has much more to do with recent Hollywood spanking scenarios than it does with the core concerns of the flapper spanking craze.

Prior to Girl Shy, the handful of early 1920s film spankings we know about take place in the context of courtship and marriage: they don’t deal with the generation gap and the taming of headstrong, irresponsible youth, but with how to handle a wife. In The Primitive Lover (1922), a husband wins back the affections of his estranged wife through ‘primitive’ treatment that climaxes with a spanking.

primitive lover

And in Don’t Doubt Your Husband (1924), released the month before Girl Shy, Helen Blake (Viola Dana) does doubt her husband Dick (Allan Forrest) when he invites an attractive lady painter to decorate their home. Ultimately she realizes her jealous mistake and ends the picture by asking him to give her a spanking that reviewers of the time variously characterized as ‘vigorous’ and ‘playful’:

(We can’t see for ourselves, because the film is lost, as is the spanking scene in The Primitive Lover, not to mention all of the other movies I’m going to talk about from here on in…)

So in Hollywood, it was wives rather than flappers who were being spanked, a point that may be underlined by this scene from Painted People (1924):

On the right is the quintessential flapper actress, Colleen Moore. But getting the spanking is her mother, played by Mary Alden.

And Girl Shy, although it features a character who is explicitly identified as a flapper, and who gets spanked, doesn’t really change that pattern, because the spanking is the culmination of the process of courtship; it is almost, in fact, the story of The Primitive Lover in miniature. The true flapper spanking movies made their debut the following year, and the key debutante is Constance Bennett:

That’s her in the role of the city flapper Betty Smith in My Son, based on a successful stage play by Martha M. Stanley and released in April 1925 while the play was still running on Broadway. In the movie, Betty arrives on vacation in a fishing village in New England, where her satin bathing costume causes a sensation. She encounters Tony Silva (Jack Pickford), breaks up his romance with a local girl and induces him to steal jewellery from her own mother (Dot Farley) to fund their elopement to New York. The core of the story is how Tony’s mother (played by Alla Nazimova, the top-billed star of the picture) saves him from seduction and a life of crime: it’s a mother love melodrama in which the flapper is the antagonist rather than the central character.

Betty Smith was much enjoyed by those who saw the movie: ‘Constance Bennett looks unusually attractive in the role of the flapper, and plays this part very lightly and convincingly,’ wrote one reviewer, while another called her ‘hard, slim, pretty, sensuous, with that disturbing hint of decadence with which she so subtly invests all her flapper roles’. One critic even extolled the unparalleled beauty of her rear aspect as displayed in her scandalous swimsuit. No doubt that added something to the appeal of a scene towards the end of the picture, which is succinctly described by another contemporary writer:

‘Constance Bennett meets the worst possible fate for a flapper. Her mother spanks her.’

Because this flapper isn’t at the center of the story’s appeal and doesn’t carry the weight of its emotional complexity, this is pretty straightforward stuff: she’s a bad lot, and she gets what she deserves, from the person best qualified to administer it. It’s a very different matter in the true ‘flapper movie’, where she is the principal character and so has to be sustainably likeable rather than merely attractive like Betty. And to see how that might fit with a spanking scene, we turn to a pair of flapper movies released on the very same day, November 15, 1925.

The more exotic of the two was We Moderns, based on a not notably successful stage play by Israel Zangwill. Set in London, it deals with the tension between the modern-minded flapper Mary Sundale (Colleen Moore) and her old-fashioned parents. She’s a member of the Blue Bohemians, a group of young sophisticates who mock and despise all conservative and conventional attitudes.

The movie is famous for its scene of a jazz party aboard a zeppelin which crashes at the climax, something Zangwill unsurprisingly did not attempt to achieve onstage. And it also features another scene of particular interest to us that isn’t in the original play: as one critic put it, ‘Her father puts her over his knee and smacks her.’

It happens because Mary is pursuing a modernistic writer, Oscar Pleat (Carl Miller), in defiance of disapproval from not only her titled parents but also her salt-of-the-earth boyfriend John Ashler (Jack Mulhall). On the whole, they are in the right, because Pleat is a married man and regards her as just a bit of incidental sexual amusement. Her father, Sir Robert (Claude Gillingwater), threatens to tweak Pleat’s nose, and Mary is confined to her room in an effort to prevent the liaison. She escapes, but gets caught, and the upshot is that she ends up getting some old-fashioned treatment across her father’s knee.

Meanwhile, Don’t! brought the generation gap story to home-town America. Sally O’Neil plays Tracey Moffat, a flapper who jibs at the petty prohibitions placed upon her by her parents, as summed up in the one-word title.

‘She couldn’t follow every rule – so she broke them all! She drove her parents back to good old-fashioned spanking – but she’ll give you the most hilarious time of your life with her mile-a-minute escapades!’

At one point in the movie she goes off for a joyride with a boy in a car, but they have a crash and she has to walk home. And when she gets there, her mother (Ethel Wales) has something for her:

03 Don't

The entire cast gathered round to watch this scene being shot, and, we are told, they ‘obviously enjoyed the spanking much more than did Miss O’Neil’, no doubt because the scene was, said a contemporary, ‘probably the most realistic performance of home life and duty ever screened’.

Realistic it may have been, but reviewers arguably erred when they called the spanking ‘effective’, for its actual effect is to provoke Tracey to an ultimate act of rebellion: she absconds from the parental home.

And that is the fundamental difference between these two flapper movies and My Son. When Betty Smith gets her reportedly gorgeous rear spanked, it is the picture’s last word on her: justice is done. But Mary and Tracey are both spanked in the middle of their respective movies, and they then go on to further comic adventures, which the audience continues to enjoy.

The American press, firmly believing its own stance that flappers should be soundly spanked, tended to take the side of the parents when they reviewed these pictures. Here’s a Utah paper’s take on the relevant scene in We Moderns:

‘Claude Gillingwater is seen as her father and the best thing he did was spank his silly daughter with his shoe in a manner very much in vogue, we understand, in the mid-Victorian period. It was the only sensible thing he did.’

And here’s how Don’t! came across in Indiana:

‘To her, her father and mother were conveniences to enable her to have a good time, but her parents thought differently, and administered an old-fashioned spanking to dismiss all doubts as to their attitude.’

And to a degree, that’s fair comment, because the ultimate end of both stories is that the flapper is converted to a more conservative view of the world: Mary marries her steadfast John Ashler, and once she gets her freedom from rules and restrictions, Tracey realizes that she doesn’t actually want it after all. But even so, they don’t come to this epiphany through being spanked.

Here’s a somewhat less dogmatic press comment about We Moderns:

‘The moralization of the piece is not all directed to youth. Parents also receive a spanking, as they should.’

That’s a metaphor, naturally – it’s only Mary who actually receives a spanking in the movie – but it makes the point that the films are less one-sided about the rights and wrongs of the situation than other reviewers liked to think. That’s because in the end, a flapper movie will only please if it allows us to enjoy the central character’s escapades, rather than asking us merely to be outraged by them. We may also enjoy the imposition of conventional morality, both in the interim descent of hand, shoe, or hairbrush and ultimately in the flapper’s achievement of a more mature attitude to life; but the important thing is that the films don’t play to only one point of view.

Newspaper attitudes were more likely to fall on the parental side of the argument, simply because the people who bought newspapers were more likely to be parents themselves, or at least older than most flappers. But the movies catered to a broader clientele, including a lot of young women who were themselves flappers. Many a newspaper, after running a ‘flappers should be spanked’ story, received aggrieved letters from flappers whose parents had taken the advice. These girls might not care to support films that advocated the same treatment, so Hollywood had a commercial incentive to be just a little more liberal than the press, and try to accommodate different takes on the phenomenon. And that’s why Hollywood was slow to follow the papers’ lead and start spanking flappers.

Big Hits

01 Big Hits poster

‘Unwatchable and unmissable’ is how one critic described Big Hits, a ‘provocative’ and ‘challenging’ revue devised, written and performed by the British experimental theater troupe collectively known as Getinthebackofthevan (yes, all one word). The show premiered in 2012, and they describe it as being about their love-hate relationship with pop culture.

The principal performers are Lucy McCormick and Jennifer Pick, playing Lucy McCormick and Jennifer Pick – they introduce themselves to the audience by their real names. Lucy is dressed in a sexy black minidress and heels. Jennifer is dressed as a giant rabbit, having (we are told) misunderstood her instructions to wear a bunny costume.

The third member of the cast is Craig Hamblyn, playing a taciturn stage hand who is ordered around by both women.

Lucy is said to represent the audience, while Jennifer stands for everything that makes them feel secure. The stated objective is to teach self-improvement, which means in practice that the revue works towards the rabbit’s death, once the audience is deemed to be sufficiently self-improved to relinquish their security.

Forget any idea of narrative or conventional comic structure: this revue overtly doesn’t tell the audience where it’s going or how to respond, and it develops through a series of apparently random interpersonal situations which mainly turn on Lucy’s loss of dignity,

not to mention many of her clothes.

Performing as a sexual object for the audience’s gratification, she finds herself in a range of raunchy moments, which include being humped by the rabbit:

And at one point she wins the show a place in this series by ordering the stage hand to spank her.

To avoid disappointment, we must enter a disclaimer here: he doesn’t spank her, in two senses. What happens isn’t a formal OTK spanking, just bottom-smacking. And he doesn’t even give her that properly: he makes the motion, but the slaps don’t make contact.

But that’s not good enough for Lucy, so she gives him a demonstration: sticks out her bottom, pulls down her panties and smacks herself hard, again and again.

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The audience laughs, but begins to feel uncomfortable as it becomes obvious that her bottom is going red – very red. This was genuine, self-inflicted pain.

And as the revue continued its run, Lucy became progressively sorer in the sitting area: no faked stage violence here!

So give her a well-earned round of applause!