How Far Can You Go?

Because it focuses on a private and frequently eroticized part of a woman’s body, spanking has the potential to be quite a sexy spectacle. Last week we explored some of the ways in which illustrators for mainstream publications handled the delicate area of representing… well, the spanked woman’s delicate area, and we saw that many an artist found ways of toning down or muting the overt physical eroticism, some by using tricks of composition and visual genre to mask her bottom from direct view, and others by just drawing it in as unalluring a way as possible. But we also saw that this was only half the story.

One of the tricks we looked at was of using the comic strip visual shorthand for ‘explosive impact’ to cover the part that’s receiving the impact. Here, for example, is Lily Field in a 1943 Superman newspaper strip, jealously sowing discord between an American GI and his girl back home:

She tells Lois Lane that she’d ‘just love to meet’ Superman. She changes her mind about that when she does meet him:

And my point is that the clearly inked line defining the back of her skirt disappears into the ‘impact’ of the spanking, even though in some other respects this is an overtly if mildly erotic image, with her skirt riding up to show a few inches of bare thigh. It’s just that, like the ‘see-though’ effect of her negligee in the first picture, it doesn’t go all the way up.

But impact doesn’t always conceal. In a 1942 installment of the newspaper strip Doctor Bobbs, wealthy socialite Diana Royale schemes to ruin a play’s premiere, only to find that her even wealthier father has stepped in to counteract her mischief, and then to ensure that she pays the price:

But here, far from masking her bottom, the ‘impact explosion’ only serves to draw attention to it as a focal point. And what’s more, it’s drawn with anatomical precision as two distinct buttocks.

That’s another aspect which enhances the sensuality of a spanking scene, and so proves either a challenge or an opportunity, depending on the preferences and inhibitions of the artists and their editors. At one end of the scale, here’s a 1941 drawing by Australian newspaper illustrator F. Harry Campbell (1907-?), which adorned a syndicated Dorothy Dix advice column advocating wife-spanking:

It’s an excellent spanking picture, with the wife’s skirted bottom rendered pretty much as a single graceful curve. But look at how other illustrators from the mid-20th century introduce a little more physical detail in these examples ranging from 1937 to 1965:

Sometimes it’s explicitly well defined:

And because, ultimately, spanking is centered on the girl’s bottom, some illustrations go out of their way to emphasize it: no matter how loose her clothing, everything seems to tighten around her rear – the very opposite of what Lily Field’s negligee was doing in Superman.

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And since there is the potential for this kind of physical display in a spanking scene, some illustrators seized the opportunity. Here’s a remarkable sequence from a 1960 story in the newspaper strip Mary Worth, featuring not just tight slacks but a check pattern that shows off the contours and must have been a real technical challenge for artist Ken Ernst (1918-85):

16 Mary WOrth 1960

Then there’s Will Eisner’s famous splash page from a 1940 adventure for the Spirit:

Splash

Some illustrators put their spanked girls into shorts, to show off their legs as well as the target on top:

Some go further, and feature swimming costumes, both one-piece…

and two-piece:

Roy Crane (1901-77), who drew tough guy Captain Easy for many years and often included spanking scenes, was under no misapprehension about where part of their appeal lay. Here’s a 1937 strip (with coloring from a 1938 reprint) in which Easy tries to tame swimsuited hellcat Helga:

The aftermath shows her nursing her freshly spanked bottom at the dead center of the frame:

And the panel was considered important enough for Crane to draw on a photographic source, not hitherto identified:

(It’s the dancer Maxine Jerome in a publicity shot for the 1936 movie King of Burlesque.)

But with anatomical precision, there sometimes comes editorial anxiety, something Crane encountered five years earlier in another encounter between Easy and a naughty girl in a swimsuit, this time Latina Lola Fedora:

29 Captain Easy 1932

That’s what Crane drew. But look at how the spanking panel appeared in many newspapers across America:

Someone has intervened, very subtly, to turn Lola’s bottom into the ‘single curve’ model we saw in the Harry Campbell illustration earlier.

And that’s why there was always an issue of how physically erotic an illustrator could be in depicting a spanking scene, and why some of them played safe with the kind of tricks we saw last time.

But, perhaps surprisingly, we haven’t yet defined the limit of how far you can go. And to begin to get there, we return to Will Eisner and the Spirit, to see a picture which is playing it simultaneously safe and unsafe:

This is the same story that featured the spanking splash page we saw earlier, albeit with different positioning, and once again Eisner’s depiction of Ellen Dolan’s bottom is uncompromisingly curvaceous. But what’s most interesting about the picture is the way the chosen angle, together with other aspects of the composition, invite a different way of reading, or rather misreading the scene.

We see mainly the top half of Ellen, together with a garment that has been folded back to expose her bottom for spanking. Of her legs, all we see are a stocking seam on her calf, a couple of encircling lines just beneath her bottom, and possibly another roughly at the mid-thigh stocking-top level. The splash page, with its four-square angle, tells us what’s actually going on here; but the panel in the story is drawn in such a way that it offers the optical illusion that it might be her skirt, rather than her jacket, that has been raised, and that she’s being spanked right on the shapely seat of her panties!

Now, obviously that’s not something you’d see in a family publication from the middle of the last century, is it? Throughout this article, I’ve not been talking about the kind of magazine that a man might prefer to read furtively, where raised-skirt spankings were commonplace, at least from the 1950s onwards:

On the contrary, I mean publications that he’d happily read in front of his mother or children – always assuming mom or the kids weren’t reading it themselves.

I don’t know whether mom would necessarily have wanted to read another of those 1940s news articles about a husband’s wife to spank his wife, but another Australian newspaper of 1941 offered this stylized illustration by an artist who signed herself ‘Joan’ and might possibly have been Joan Dent (1916-2002):

On her panties, and in a family paper too!

But stylization is key, right? It’s not a particularly sexy depiction, and so it’s able to acknowledge and represent the way a lot of spankings were actually being done in life – a bit like the unflatteringly drawn bottoms we saw in some comics last time. You’d never see a really sexy panties spanking in a mainstream family publication.

Well, actually…

In the early months of the hillbilly comic strip Li’l Abner, which ran from 1934 to 1977, there was a story in which the socialite Mimi Van Pett inveigles the dim-witted hick hero Abner Yokum into an engagement, but changes her mind after Abner’s mother tells her about the realities of life with the Yokum family, orders her to wash off her rouge (in case it scares the pigs) and finally spanks her for being disrespectful, in another of those illustrations where a loose dress is nevertheless drawn tight around the girl’s bottom:

By 1957, Li’l Abner had become an American institution and was the subject of a new Broadway musical. Life, the archetypal American general interest magazine, ran a feature on Abner’s life story and commissioned creator and artist Al Capp (1909-79) to illustrate it with selected incidents from the strip’s long history. One that he chose was Abner’s near-marriage and the way Mammy rescued him from it, reimagined with contemporary fashion and a new level of indignity for Mimi:

And with a willing artist and editor, that is how far you can go!

But let’s not forget: in the mainstream, a spanking scene is never merely a pleasing sexy spectacle. The girl’s bottom is always indispensable to the spanking, something without which it couldn’t happen, and that creates opportunities for voyeuristic pleasure; but that pleasure is itself incidental, a bonus rather than the core purpose of the scene. Or as one modern cartoonist expressed it, in retro style:

And that’s why the boundaries of tasteful exposure will always be a vexed and controversial issue for anyone mounting a spanking scene in the mainstream.

Kiss Me Kate: 1962

1962 won’t take us to Philly or Boston, but we are going to Baltimore. Not to Ford’s Theatre, though, but Milford Mill High School, where Steve Chiles played Fred and Cheryl Martin got spanked:

There were two productions of note in January. The first was in New Brunswick, New Jersey, where we find Sid Nadler and Eileen Finkel at the Players’ Pyramid Theater, taking direction from Vivian Paszamant on the best way to play a spanking scene:

That production was so successful that it got another four performances (and Eileen got another four spankings) in March!

And now down to Tampa Lyric Theatre in Florida, where the musical had two performances, January 26-27, starring Edmund Lydeck and Barbara Connelly Rogers:

Back in 1958, Jane Morgan toured with Earl Wrightson and famously avenged his over-zealous treatment of her posterior by decking him. The return match was at the Melody Top, Hillside, Illinois, when the musical ran for three weeks (July 9-29). In the publicity shot, Earl seems to be self-defeatingly solicitous in shielding Jane’s bottom from the spanking he’s supposed to be giving her!

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It was a different matter onstage. A few days in, the press was reporting that the feud was back on: ‘each claims the other is slapping too hard’. Afterwards it was said that, ‘despite the belting, they parted pals’, but when Earl opened again in… well, actually, Baltimore, that September, he was spanking Lois Hunt instead.

Over in California, Orange Coast College ran four performances, July 29 to August 1, and got some newspaper publicity concentrating on what the caption writer called the ‘warming touch’ of James Jay on Mary Sullivan:

Back to school in the fall, and back in particular to Broad Ripple High School, Indianapolis, where Jay Platte spanked Avis Settles in two performances on November 16 and 17:

It’s very likely that the audience for the show included two young ladies named Charlotte Henley and Kay Jones. Their significance in the history of stage spanking, which has nothing directly to do with Kiss Me Kate, will become clear another time…

Away from the theater, Kiss Me Kate was chosen as an early entry in a series of LPs entitled ‘Ed Sullivan Presents America’s Great Musicals’, sung by artists whose names were so conjurable that they were credited only as the ‘Ed Sullivan All-Star Cast’. Advertising for the record included the following:

Buy your copy today!

Photographer of the Week: Jorge Pizarro

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The cool, stylish, delicate work of photographer Jorge Pizarro finds its natural medium in monochrome. He does shoot in color, but it’s the subtle play of light on the body, captured in black and white, that is his trademark.

He’s Chilean by heritage, but was born and works in Colombia, where he has established himself as one of the most respected of fashion photographers, published in most of the top-end magazines.

The shoot that concerns us was done in 2017 for the glamor magazine SoHo, and one of the models is a lady we have met before:

Elizabeth Loaiza, owner of what is said to be Colombia’s finest bottom, who was spanked in a 2015 music video.

And the hot news for Elizabeth is that she’s going to be spanked again, at least if she’s unwise enough to go out on the town with fellow model Keidy Garcés, seen here:

She did just that – and Pizarro’s camera was there to capture the action.

Luckily, he was able to squeeze into the back of their car. Elizabeth seems fairly relaxed about it all here:

But then Keidy decided to get to the bottom of things – the bare bottom of them!

You can see the full set here. And if you are interested in Pizarro’s work, there is more of it to be seen here.

How to Handle Everyday Indecorum

Back in the times when spanking was considered a regular part of life, rather than a niche type of sexual activity, it still raised some tricky issues. We can start to bring the matter into focus if we consider a pair of candid snapshots from between the wars, both apparently taken on the same day out. Here’s a girl:

And here she is being spanked by her boyfriend:

The physical act of spanking is all about one specific part of a girl’s anatomy, and it often, quite routinely, involves making some adjustment of clothing to bring the spanking hand into more immediate contact with that area – the result of which is the exposure of garments that are not ordinarily shown to the world at large. In a nutshell, spanking may have been considered normal, but it was also inherently, unavoidably indecorous.

Obviously that’s no problem when it’s happening behind the closed doors of the woodshed, nor in the kind of pictures that, we may fairly assume, record a playful personal relationship and were destined for inclusion in a private photo album, coming to public view only generations later when the original context and participants have been long forgotten. But depicting spanking in the public media, for a general audience, raised delicate issues.

Here’s an illustration from a 1929 newspaper account of the career of the English actress Lillian Manton, entitled ‘From Papa’s Spanking to Movie Star – in 6 Jumps’. This particular step of the way shows how much her father disapproved of her theatrical ambitions and what he did in an effort to discourage them:

According to the caption, he is administering ‘a rebuke to daughter Lillian in the old-fashioned way and on the customary part of her anatomy’. The circumlocution is to the point, because it does in words what the illustrator, Lee Connell, is likewise doing visually: it’s a direct depiction of the spanking that avoids a correspondingly direct depiction of its object, Miss Manton’s bottom. What’s more, close scrutiny of the picture makes it obvious that her skirt has been raised and she is being spanked on her unmentionables. Connell has composed the picture in such a way that preserves the normality of the event but eliminates its indecorum: it’s a picture that lets the paper have its cake and eat it.

I hope I’m not merely imagining something enjoyable when I suspect that, in the middle decades of the last century, it was much more commonplace for a real-life spanking to be administered to the seat of a girl’s panties than you might infer from the way spankings are presented in the media of the time. Panties have always been the most sexualized of garments, and therefore the most taboo, so depicting a raised-skirt spanking would necessarily have moved an image into the risqué end of the field, no matter what was happening to bad girls in woodsheds across America. So the real issue for most illustrators, from the Twenties to the Sixties, was how to represent ‘the customary part of the anatomy’.

Let’s try to define the range of possibilities. Here are two spanking illustrations done seven years apart, both from comics broadly in the adventure genre. From March 1953, the unconventional Korean War sergeant Combat Casey has Torchy Finnegan foisted on his patrol, and eventually loses patience with her, resulting in the following reprisals:

On the plus side, this is a vigorous depiction by artist Robert Sale, with Casey’s oversized right forearm and the jagged impact waves showing how hard a spanking it is, and the kicked-off shoe adding its own particular touch of chaos to the scene. But has there ever been a less shapely bottom in the history of human figure-drawing?

For an instructive contrast, we turn to a long-running strip that featured a lot of spankings over the years, Zack Mosley’s Smilin’ Jack; we’ll see some more of them later on. In the September 1960 story we’re looking at now, an aviator has been charged to look after a rich girl named Sulky, and finds himself stranded with her on the wrong side of the South American jungle and only a small plane that will more likely crash than fly them to safety. She wants to take the risk, and the dialog takes a predictable turn: ‘You’ve always done as you pleased, you spoiled brat!’ he tells her. ‘You oughta be spanked!’ To which she gives what naughty girls never seem to realize is the worst possible reply: ‘You wouldn’t dare!’ And so:

That’s the color Sunday strip, and for the benefit of those who may have missed it, Mosley then offers a simplified and slightly less stylized variant of that fine, climactic panel in the next monochrome daily episode:

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And the emphasis on the customary part of Sulky’s anatomy continues into the Tuesday episode:

All of which is not only more visually pleasing but more anatomically accurate than the boxy bottom Robert Sale bestowed on Torchy Finnegan seven years before.

Now let’s reinforce the contrast in approaches with a look at two spanking panels from 1950s romance comics: Western Life Romances from March 1950, and below it, My Own Romance from September 1952:

You may have noticed that they are actually two versions of the very same script (written by comics legend Stan Lee and entitled ‘I Met My Master’ in 1950 and ‘A Man for Amy’ in 1952), in which a spitfire of a ranch owner has an argument with a passing cowboy and winds up in the predicament illustrated (and then marries the guy). But what very different approaches to spanking illustration! In 1950, her leather chaps subtly call attention to the vulnerable part they don’t cover, her shapely though underemphasized rear end; whereas in 1952, it’s effectively a sack of potatoes in blue jeans.

Of course, the 1952 artist didn’t have to choose that particular angle. Some others opt to avoid making too much of the target area by depicting the spanking from the other end on, such as in Popular Teen-Agers from January 1952:

For a more extreme example of what we might call ‘compositional reticence’, let’s take a look at a 1958 issue of the Wyatt Earp Western comic book, a spin-off from the 1955-61 Hugh O’Brian television series. Earp’s antagonist is Miss Bonnie West, a local magnate’s selfish daughter with a mania for illegally firing guns in Dodge City. She ends up in court and Earp declares that ‘she needs a hand – applied to the right spot’. The judge takes the hint and sentences her to be spanked by her father – who is more than willing to comply.

But the spanking panel itself is remarkable in its refusal to make anything of the event which is the story’s natural climax:

We are shown just enough to establish what is happening, and nothing more: it might almost be an off-page spanking.

Another option is to ‘cheat’ the positioning so that the girl isn’t flat across the man’s knee, but turned slightly to face the viewer. Here’s an example from a 1940 episode of Smilin’ Jack (with modern colorization), in which another spoiled rich girl, Joy Beaverduck, pays the penalty for reckless flying:

(The outcome is that Joy’s father is told and Jack, far from being fired as everyone expects, is put in complete charge of all Joy’s flying – which leads to several more narrow escapes for Joy, but not another actual spanking.)

This compositional approach is more common than you might expect, bearing in mind that it defies the ordinary laws of physics:

07 Teenage Romances July 1949

Its advantage, in terms of the problem we are considering, is that it turns the target area into a simple graceful curve, with no need to give it any more precise anatomical definition: the most sensitive element of the act of spanking, which also happens to be the most sensitive part of the girl, becomes just a delicate hint.

Another frequent option involves making inventive use of one standard feature of comic book stylization. The most comprehensive example comes from Modern Love in October 1949, in which yet another spoiled rich girl, this time named Toy Bassett, is speeding through town and nearly knocks down a pedestrian, who understandably remonstrates, ‘Crazy dame! You ought to be turned over and spanked!’ And when she insists the accident was his fault and threatens to have him arrested, he retorts, ‘wealthy, spoiled brat! You’re going to get what’s coming to you!’ Which is, of course:

09 Modern Love Oct 1949

A spanking so sound that the signs of impact completely obscure the customary part that’s receiving the impact! Again, this is a common and familiar approach:

What these artists really want to happen is what Sue Storm is able to do in this panel from a 1965 issue of The Fantastic Four:

(And even that wasn’t enough for Marvel Comics, for the word ‘SPANK’ has been famously censored from the panel and ‘CATCH’ inexpertly written in its place.)

All of these are just clever ways of trying to make the elephant in the room disappear. But the awkward truth is that spanking a girl is always, inevitably, about her bottom, and not everyone felt obliged to pussy-foot around that. Even some romance comics, aimed at a young female readership, were content not only to put their heroines in an undignified position, but to show it from the most undignified of angles:

And that raises a question that will be the focus of the second part of this article.

Elephant’s Child

Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories (1902) have a certain charm, including the one which tells how the elephant got his trunk.

It also happens to be a story that features a great deal of spanking, but in that respect at least, it’s of remarkably little interest to us. That’s partly because the character who is persistently spanked for asking questions is an elephant, partly because that elephant is a child and partly because that child is a boy. Bah! (Or maybe I should say it twice: Bah! Bah!)

So if you learned that the story was being dramatized, under the title Elephant’s Child, by the Indiana State University Listeners’ Theater, as part of an anthology of children’s stories to be performed at the children’s museum in Indianapolis, you probably wouldn’t give it a second glance. And that would be your mistake. For here is the scene where the title character gets spanked:

We don’t know her name, but she got it twice, in morning and afternoon performances on April 28, 1979. Just so!

Photographer of the Week: Tom Thomas

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She’s a little overdressed for a typical Tom Thomas shoot.

That’s more like it.

The fact is that US Air Force veteran Thomas mainly shoots nudes, often in entirely natural nude circumstances…

but often, too, with the kind of explicitness that you will never find here – which somewhat limits my ability to illustrate the quality of his work. Happily, however, the models are sometimes allowed some clothes.

But in the shoot that most interests us, from November 2010, they didn’t get to keep them on.

Any of their clothes…

Two lovely, bare-bottomed girls – and since it is a shoot that especially interests us, that means one of them must be destined for… a bare bottom spanking!

If you are interested in Tom Thomas’ work, please take a strong frontal nudity alert and visit his website.

Britt’s Bottom and the Best Thing To Do With It

One of the more comical near-catastrophes in the history of the outstanding, strange, wonderful and woefully accident-prone British horror film, The Wicker Man (1973), took place in 1977, when the unkempt rock star Rod Stewart embarked on a quest to track down, buy up and destroy every copy.

The reason was Britt Ekland’s bare bottom.

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Rod met Britt in 1975, and for the next few years, they were a couple. He had a thing about her seeming innocent and virginal: he even insisted that she always wore white cotton panties.

But her Wicker Man scene wasn’t compatible with that vision: it’s an erotic dance in which the innkeeper’s daughter Willow tries to tempt a visiting policeman (Edward Woodward) away from his ingrained habits of sexual rectitude and chaste continency.

‘Am I not young and fair,’ she sings, tapping beguilingly on the wall, waggling her bottom at the camera and slapping her own haunches, an action which has been misleadingly described as ‘spanking herself’.

Thankfully Rod failed in his objective and The Wicker Man is still around for us to enjoy today, bare bottom dance and all. But what makes the affair especially comical is the fact that there was no need to protect any maidenly modesty, not only because Britt was a veteran of three previous relationships, and had borne a daughter and a son to two different fathers, but also, and more fundamentally, because Willow’s bare bottom isn’t Britt’s.

Over the years, Britt has sometimes been asked to autograph rear-view photos of the dance scene, and she always politely refuses, pointing out that it’s not her. And that has led to decades of speculation about the identity of the young woman hired to be her ‘botty double’.

Some who were there on the day the scene was filmed say the stand-in was 37-year-old Lorraine Peters, who was already around to play one of the villagers and evidently had no objection to doing nude work. Others name 26-year-old housewife Jane Jackson from Castle Douglas, while Britt herself insists that director Robin Hardy went to Glasgow and found a suitable stripper for the task. Some online sources, unwilling to choose between these rival claims, indulge in a kind of pusillanimous Wikipedian bet-hedging, and claim, implausibly, that more than one double was used.

‘Whose botty?’ It doesn’t really matter! The vital point is that Britt declined to do the nude rear shots because, as she put it herself, ‘I’ve never liked my bottom.’ She described it as resembling a ski-slope, though she also said afterwards that the bottom they did show wasn’t as good as her own!

So the key question is whether Britt was right to disparage her own rear aspect. The actor Julian Holloway had a chance to find out when he costarred with her in Mate!, the comedy that pushed Molly out of the West End in 1978:

But it is also something we can judge for ourselves.

Down on her luck in the early Seventies, Britt made several films that capitalized a little more on her physical charms than she would have liked, given the choice. There was this bra and panties scene in Get Carter (1971):

And in 1974, she became a Bond girl in The Man with the Golden Gun, which called for some typically mid-Seventies publicity poses,

some scenes in practical clothing,

and a bikini sequence

in which her bottom plays a vital part in the action,

by accidentally tripping a switch that turns on a laser and is almost the death of Bond:

Britt’s bot continued to attract attention through the decades,

and she seemed happy to encourage that attention:

All this from a girl who dislikes her own bottom?

Her troubles when making The Wicker Man were not confined to the request for, and evasion of, gluteal nudity. She disliked the west of Scotland where the film was shot, and unwisely said so to reporters. The resultant storm in the local press was big enough for the filmmakers to feel obliged to apologise, and Britt’s name was mud in Galloway. One suggestion about how to deal with her came from a Mr McNeil:

‘The best thing would be for her to have her bottom spanked.’

That comes across as rather sleazy, because it’s dishonest: he obviously didn’t want Britt to be spanked because she had insulted his community – he wanted her to be spanked because it was something he’d enjoy seeing. Well, so would I, but I can do without the hypocrisy, thank you.

But as it happens, I can help out Mr McNeil, if he’s still around and still fantasizing about spanking Britt Ekland. And here we go back years before The Wicker Man, to 1964 when, at the age of 20, she wed the tortured comic genius Peter Sellers a fortnight after first meeting him.

Though Sellers’ demons made it a difficult and doomed marriage, he insisted on keeping up the public facade of a happy, romantic couple, and they were often photographed together in mutual adoration.

And that was how they came to pose for the Latvian celebrity photographer Philippe Haisman (1906-79), in a typical romantic pose of the time:

But perhaps Sellers’ body language and facial expression reveals more than he intended!

A golden opportunity squandered?