The Smacking of Penelope Pitstop

‘Hay-ulp! Hay-ulp!’

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The distinctive Southern distress call of Penelope Pitstop echoed through the 1968 Hanna-Barbera cartoon series Wacky Races and its 1969 spin-off, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop. But Penelope’s perils never, alas, included any danger to her rear end (except insofar as it was connected to the rest of her). Or, putting it another way, she was never prevented from sitting down in the driving seat of the Compact Pussycat!

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It seems that many a young viewer fell slightly in love with the damsel-in-distress racer, with the result that, in maturer years, those few with talent reinvented her in terms of the pinup genre.

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But the most unexpected reboot came in August 2016, when DC Comics launched a comic book version of the series. But one in which Penelope Pitstop looked like this:

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And, from the reverse angle:

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Wacky Raceland is a bizarre hybrid of the cartoon series and the apocalyptic sci-fi genre best known in the form of Mad Max. The familiar characters now have much more human personalities, and their mission is far more serious than the mere winning of a race in their improbable automobiles. Even Dick Dastardly seems to buckle down to his share of saving the world, though he still has a few dirty deeds in his repertoire.

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But the new Penelope’s not the shrinking violet of old: she retaliates forcefully, and so the initial smacked bottom never proceeds to consummation in the form of the threatened sound spanking. What a pity!

Nasty Woman

Jovan Sterija Popovic (1806-56) is revered as the father of Serbian drama, and is especially renowned for his comedies, even though he mainly earned his living as a teacher, educationalist and intellectual. He was already an experienced playwright when he wrote the play that gives him a claim on our attention, Zla Zena (1838), which might be loosely translated as Nasty Woman.

The title character is named Sultana, who has been married to Count Strific for a fortnight and finds herself deeply dissatisfied with her new wifely life – a dissatisfaction that manifests itself as aggression towards all and sundry. Her servants and her husband feel the rough edge of her tongue, and she also insults the proud, dignified bootmaker Sreta. The comic action really gets going when her chambermaid tries to get some peace by putting opium into her lemonade, to make her sleep. But a complicated sequence of events means that she ends up swapping places with Sreta’s wife. So when Sreta arrives home, there follows a case of mistaken identity concerning the woman asleep in his bed. When he asks her to clean a pair of boots, Sultana behaves in her usual disagreeable way, and discovers that the bootmaker is less inclined than the Count to let his wife get away with it.

In a 2015 production, Andjela Rajic discovers that the role of Sultana has its down side as Novi Tvrdava turns her bottom-side up.

The script specifies that Sreta beats her with his razor strap, but it’s not always done with quite such elegant OTK positioning. Here’s an example from Vitez in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2015:

The play continues to be produced in Serbia, as witness this version at a 2016 village festival in Backi Gracac:

And here’s another production from 2016 with Ljubica Milinovic as Sultana, being spanked by Nikola Pistalovic as Sreta:

And in case you’re wondering, the ending sees a less shrewish Sultana restored to her real husband.

Photographer of the Week: Nicolas Guérin

An art photographer based in Saint-Denis, France, Nicolas Guérin divides his time between Cannes, Berlin and his studio in Ile-de-France, shooting portraiture and fashion for a wide range of magazines.

As well as nude girls, he draws inspiration from the classic cinema of yesteryear, so he often shoots in monochrome, or muted tones.

In fact, he says that his favorite color is gray, and this is reflected in the shoot that interests us, a fashion spread for a 2016 edition of Fifty 8 magazine. It also reflects his fascination with men sporting white beards: the male model, Jean, is headed in that direction.

But maybe we’d rather be introduced to the female model, Léa Joyce, even if it is courtesy of a different photographer.

And now for a closer look at the far end:

The shoot for Fifty8 took a business theme and was entitled ‘The Meeting’:

You might think that there’s no place for nudity in a fashion spread: the point’s to show off the clothes, right?

Right.

Clothes or not, it seems the meeting didn’t end all that well for Léa:

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

Spankings at an Exhibition

‘Homework’ is a long-running project of the Galerie La Femme in Prague, whereby, every year, working Czech artists are assigned a topic for pictures to be included in an upcoming exhibition. Nobody gets spanked for not doing their homework, but conversely, the homework occasionally involves spanking…

The 2014 exhibition was to be a tribute to the great Czech novelist Bohumil Hrabal, whose centenary was celebrated that year. He was the author of the novels later adapted for the screen as Closely Watched Trains and Postriziny, and three of the contributing artists found inspiration in the iconic spanking scenes.

In Closely Watched Trains, you’ll remember, the spanking is done by the unusual method of marking the girl’s bare bottom with an ink-stamp. Jiri Tylecek (born 1948), who now lives and works in France, and paints under the name Tylek, presented a painting showing the outcome:

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Josef Mzyk (born 1944) chose to depict the scene itself:

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For reference, he used a photo of the scene from the 2006 Prague production with Lucie Pernetova:

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The quirkiest contributions came from Rudolf Brancovsky (born 1980), who creates his distinctive work not only with paint but also more unconventional materials such as sculpted cardboard. Here’s his take on the Trains spanking:

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He also handled Postriziny,  describing it as a tribute not only to Hrabal but also Magda Vasaryova, in gratitude for everything she did in the 1980 movie, and especially for being spanked:

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If you wanted to buy the Postriziny picture, it would set you back 29,000 koruna, but you can get it on a T-shirt for a much more modest sum.

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Visit Rudolf Brancovsky’s website for details!

Meet Me in St Louis

Dateline 1904. The Smith family, residents of St Louis, are looking forward to the opening of the World’s Fair. But Mr Smith comes home with some bad news. He’s been given a promotion. He’s been given a raise. Bad news? Yes, because he’s being sent to run the company’s offices in New York. The whole family will be moving away from their friends and their familiar life in Missouri. And they will miss the World’s Fair!

That is the plot of Meet Me in St Louis, Sally Benson’s 1942 novel which was dramatized as a film musical in 1944 and then, in 1947, as a non-musical stage play by Christopher Sergel, whose other work included the stage version of Men are Like Streetcars. The book was later adapted for television twice, in 1959 and 1966, and the film became a Broadway musical in 1989. So there have been a lot of different Meet Me in St Louises over the years!

It is Sergel’s 1947 version that concerns us today, for two reasons. Firstly, because it includes an onstage spanking scene. Secondly, because, being a stage play, it’s bound to be to some extent less naturalistic than a movie or television version, and, being a stage play written specifically for high school production, the characters will, irrespective of their ages in the story, all end up being played by performers in their late teens. And that’s important because, of course, the one who gets spanked is the youngest daughter of the family, Tootie Smith. We won’t inquire too far into exactly how old she is supposed to be, just enjoy the fact that in production the scene tends to look like this:

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Sergel describes Tootie as having ‘a slightly macabre sense of humor’. She also has a fixation about biting people on the legs. ‘Sometimes you go too far, Tootie,’ her grandfather tells her. ‘You’re all right until you go too far.’

How far is too far? During the first act, Tootie is prevented from playing a prank that involves passing off a dummy as a hit-and-run victim, but towards the end of the same act she tries it again with the ‘body’ in the path of an oncoming trolley-bus – which gets derailed as a result. And for Mr Smith, that settles it: no more argument, the family is definitely moving east. ‘The children just run wild here,’ he says. ‘Maybe in a more civilized place like New York, they’ll settle down.’

You might expect more immediate consequences for Tootie that will stop her settling, or at least sitting, down for a while; but in fact, when we next see Tootie later the same day, she is seated and obviously unspanked. On the other hand, the derailing incident could have repercussions that might make Mr Dodge, Smith’s boss, change his mind and not send him to New York after all: ‘if a man can’t manage his own family, he can’t manage anything’. For his other daughters, that would be good news, but not unequivocally so for Tootie: if the New York job falls through, her father warns her, ‘I’ll paddle you so hard it will more than make up for all the times I’ve missed’.

Tootie is unabashed by the prospect. What matters is that she has discovered the way to forestall the move east. All she needs to do is make things worse with the boss. She considers burning Mr Dodge’s house down, but fate saves her from embarking on a career of criminal arson when Dodge learns of the family’s strong reaction against the New York posting and comes round to talk it over with Mr Smith. All the daughters turn themselves into a practical illustration of how poorly their father manages his family, but the most outrageous action comes from Tootie: in one of the play’s comic highlights, she elaborately tries to creep up on Mr Dodge and bite his leg, and after several frustrated attempts, eventually succeeds.

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The outcome is that her mother ‘jerks her up, pulls her to right center and spanks her several times hard’. She ‘wails sharply and loudly’ as she is spanked.

Barbara Engstrom spanks Phyllis Anderson at Roosevelt High School, Virginia, Minnesota, on November 5, 1954

Barbara Engstrom spanks Phyllis Anderson at Roosevelt High School, Virginia, Minnesota, on November 5, 1954

And because of all that, Mr Smith is not going to New York. He’s not even going to work on Monday. Dodge fires him.

Don’t worry, in the third act, a week and a half later, Dodge realizes the St Louis branch can’t function without him: he’s taken back at an increased salary, he doesn’t have to relocate to New York, and the family gets to see the World’s Fair. A happy ending for all who deserve it…

You’ll have noticed that Tootie is threatened with an ultra-hard spanking by her father, but when the time comes, it’s her mother who spanks her. That’s fitting, because part of the point is for Dodge to witness a scene of domestic anarchy which Mr Smith is unable to control, thereby motivating the firing. So it’s important that, at this particular moment, he shouldn’t be the one seen to impose the final sanction on his ankle-nipping daughter. But it’s interesting that several high school productions through the years appear to have demurred.

Here’s part of the cast group photograph for the senior play at Wheeling High School, West Virginia, on April 1, 1955, with Tom Grundy as Mr Smith and Carol Niedermeyer as Tootie:

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That wouldn’t be the only time a group of high school students staged a photograph showing something they felt should have happened in a play, but didn’t. (See here for another example.) And they weren’t the only ones who seem to have believed that spanking is more the father’s prerogative than the mother’s. Nearly twenty years later, here’s a picture from the 1973 fall play at Harrisburg High School, Illinois, with Phil Edwards spanking Pam Estes:

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And that seems to be the business they actually used in the play, despite what the script says!

Photographer of the Week: Dan Sadoski

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Art photographer Dan Sadoski, who’s based in Toledo, Ohio, signs his work ‘backwards’ as Nad Iksodas.

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Many of his pictures are female nudes, often in black and white, with striking use of chiaroscuro.

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In 2006, he shot a set called ‘An Evening at Home’. And there’s really no accounting for what people get up to in their own homes!

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If you are interested in Iksodas’ photography, please visit his website. You can also buy his book, The Beauty of the Moment, here.

Mama Spanks Nana

One of the standards in the Greek pop repertoire is I Mana Mou Me Dernei, which translates roughly as ‘Mama Spanks’.

It’s about a young woman who is spanked by her mother when she comes home late. When she protests, mom says she’s being spanked out of maternal love. But as the song continues, it emerges that the lateness arose from a different kind of love: she was with her boyfriend, and lost track of time. How sweet!

Nikos Routsos composed the music and wrote the lyrics in the late 1940s, and it was recorded by the singer and left-wing activist Sotiria Bellou,

whose performance can he heard here.

Since then it has been often covered, notably by the internationally known Greek singer Glykeria.

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Another cover version was recorded early in the career of an even better known songstress from Athens:

Nana Mouskouri!

At the time of the recording she hadn’t yet adopted her trademark spectacles, so naturally they didn’t feature in the advertising associated with the release – neither the photograph of young Nana nor the drawing showing her in the central situation of the song:

You can hear her version of ‘Mama Spanks’ here.