Repeat Business

We have previously observed in passing that She Wrote the Book (1946) and Captain Lightfoot (1955), both movies with spanking scenes, are the work of the same screenwriter, Oscar Brodney (1907-2008), and that James Edward Grant (1905-66) was responsible for the scripts of both Donovan’s Reef and McLintock! We have seen that the teenage heroines of the plays of Robert St Clair and Jay Tobias are at more than usual risk of getting a sound onstage spanking. We have also recently noticed that Norman Hudis (1922-2016) wrote screenplays with a higher than average quotient of spanking references. And these aren’t the only examples. Far from it…

‘Pinky’ Wolfson (1903-79) co-wrote the screenplay of Dancing Lady (1933), in which Joan Crawford got her bottom smacked. Four years later, he co-scripted Sea Devils (1937), in which Barbara Pepper plays a blonde who is thrown out of a bar for being underage, and promised a spanking if she comes back. She does, and the promise is kept:

Another four years later, Wolfson was the sole screenwriter of Our Wife (1941), featuring an unhappy ending for Ellen Drew’s rear end:

He subsequently collaborated on the screenplay of Suddenly It’s Spring (1947), which had no spanking scene in the release print but, in view of the efforts of the publicity department, may possibly have had one in an earlier version:

And in the 1950s, he went into television as the producer of a show in which the female lead was spanked several times: I Married Joan (1952-55).

Norman Houston (1887-1958) has three spanking scenes in his filmography, all belonging to the same genre, in which he specialized: West of the Pecos (1945), with Robert Mitchum and Barbara Hale,

Thunder Mountain (1947), with Tim Holt and Martha Hyer,

and The Stagecoach Kid (1949), with Tim Holt again and Jeff Donnell:

In Britain, the well-respected small screen scriptwriter Ken Taylor (1922-2011)…

… notched up at least two spanking scenes in the course of a long and distinguished career. His television play, One of Us, no longer exists, so all we have to go on is an eye-witness description from someone who saw it when it was shown, for the only time, on November 15, 1957.

Janet Munro plays Sally Mathers, and early on the character Joan Thomas (Billie Whitelaw) says that she needs a spanking. We’re not told why this judgement is passed, beyond the fact that Sally is ‘pretty, pert and saucy’, so let’s just concur contentedly that it’s something we wouldn’t mind seeing if only it were possible.

And near the end of the play, her brother Reg (Robert Shaw) does the honors: picks her up, tucks her under his arm and spanks her on the tight seat of her jeans.

28 years later, in 1985, Ken Taylor dramatized Noel Coward’s 1964 short story ‘Me and the Girls’ for the BBC. The tale, told in stream-of-consciousness style, amounts to the dying reminiscences of George Banks, a gay hoofer who spent most of his working life touring outposts of the British Empire with a troupe of dancing girls. In the television version, he’s played by Tom Courtenay, and Taylor’s script deftly reconstitutes his story into a sequence of flashbacks intercut with musical numbers and present-day scenes at what will eventually be George’s deathbed in the clinic.

The girl to watch is Bonny McIntyre, a red-headed Scottish dancer played by Tessa Pritchard.

In the relevant scene, set somewhere in British Imperial India, George overhears an altercation in the girls’ dressing room, followed by a scream, and rushes in to intervene. There has been a fight over some makeup, and Bonny has hit one of the other girls, Sue (Tracy Booth), over the head with a hairbrush. He sends Sue for first aid, orders the rest of the troupe to wait outside, and relieves Bonny of the brush.

GEORGE: I’m a League of Nations man myself, but some people are looking for trouble. Benito Mussolini may be one and I think you may be the other.

BONNY: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names’ll never hurt me. You know the cause of this, I suppose?

GEORGE: I understood it was a stick of Leichner.

BONNY: They’re jealous of me. All of them. I know that fine.

GEORGE: My, oh my. And is that a reason to break Sue’s skull, you swell-headed little bitch? There’s nothing about you so special for anyone to be jealous of.

BONNY: Och, do you tell me? Well, gee, that’s not what the audiences think. And I’ll tell you something else, George Banks. If I had a few decent costumes on my back instead of all this tatty, smelly, moth-eaten rabbit…

GEORGE: OK, my sweet little Edinburgh rock. I always knew you were the one who was going to give me trouble, and baby, was I right!

He advances on her, and her dressing gown falls off, leaving her in just her bra and blue French knickers.

BONNY: Let go of me.

GEORGE: I’m a man of peace, I don’t believe in violence to women, but sweetie-pie, you’re the one who’s going to get as good as she gave, and how!

But happily, she doesn’t get it on the same end as Sue did! He bends her forward, her head coming towards the camera before it goes down out of shot:

And so Scots Bonny gets skelped. He raises the hairbrush and lands three good whacks before we cut to the next scene, in which we learn that Bonny has left the company with loud declarations that George is ‘not a gentleman’. (She has to come back later; George has her passport…) The spanking itself can’t be said to be ideally shot, since all we see is the hairbrush whooshing up and down through the frame, but of course the responsibility for that lies with the director, Jack Gold, not the scriptwriter.

And for one last bit of spice, let’s consider ‘One Night’s Grace’, an episode Ken Taylor contributed to The Duchess of Duke Street, a 1976 BBC drama series about a swanky Edwardian hotel run by self-made Cockney Louisa Trotter (Gemma Jones). The story concerns Grace Tyrrell (Sally Osborne), an aristocratic Suffragette who tries to hide in the hotel overnight in order to evade the law.

Louisa is unimpressed by her political ideals, or methods, and forcefully tells her so:

‘Suffragettes! Load of screaming monkeys that don’t know nothing about nothing. I’d have your bloomers off and wallop you, that’s what I think!’

Throughout the series, Louisa’s least sympathetic characteristic is her habit of going off on a tirade like this, so we’re not meant to agree with her about Votes for Women – but you can’t deny that Ken Taylor managed to work in one appealing thought there!

So now we have six screenwriters in the frame, four American and two British, who return repeatedly to the subject of spanking, not to mention two prolific authors of high school plays. The phenomenon is starting to get a bit of specific gravity. But before we think about its significance, we’ll turn in the next part of this series to a comparable case from a different medium altogether.

A Little Backstage Spanking

Last year, the Indigo theater company in the Czech city of Most faced a minor casting problem. They were planning a production of Neil LaBute’s 2004 play Fat Pig, about the romantic difficulties faced by a plus-sized woman. And to play Helen, the leading character, the ideal actress in the company was Jana Trojanova.

The casting problem? She’s not fat!

jana-trojanova

No, really, look at her on stage. She just isn’t fat:

janajana-trojanova-undressed

But here she is in the Indigo production of Fat Pig, looking every inch the part:

jana-trojanova-in-fat-pig-2016

Her flab problem was solved, not by a crash course in overeating, but by the time-honored theatrical device known as a ‘fat suit’. Everyone in the company was fascinated by the unprecedented scale of her rear end, and her fellow actor Petr Mikeska was even inspired to give her a playful spanking:

2016-fat-pig-backstage-petr-mikeska-spanks-jana-trojanova

Which meant that, from Jana’s point of view, there was one advantage to wearing a fat suit…

Photographer of the Week: Greco Simone

Everything Greco Simone shoots, he shoots with panache and a characteristically Roman sense of style and sophistication.

That includes fashion, often in striking locations,

pin-up, often with vehicles,

and cosplay, often at comics conventions.

Now let’s meet our female model, Crystal Emiliani.

She’s a singer.

She’s a pin-up model and cosplayer.

And, most importantly, she’s going to be spanked.

If Francesco di Carlantonio ever finishes taking notes, that is!

If you are interested in Il Greco’s work, please visit his online portfolio.

Connect Four

Today we’re going to look at four British screen dramas, all made in the space of eight years from the late 1950s to the early 1960s. They are a diverse body of material: from the big screen, a musical and a comedy, and from the small screen, a police series and an adventure series. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find the common factor, other than spanking, that links them all.

1: The Duke Wore Jeans (1958)

This movie was a vehicle for pop star Tommy Steele, who plays the Honorable Tony Whitecliffe, a scion of the impoverished English aristocracy whose father has arranged for him to marry the Princess of Ritalla, a South American oil state. Unfortunately he’s already married, and to an ordinary girl – which is why his parents haven’t been told about it.

The solution to the Honorable Tony’s problems lies in the fact that Tommy Steele also plays Tommy Hudson, a Cockney sparrow who happens to look exactly the same. So there’s a substitution: Tommy goes to Ritalla, and the Honorable Tony goes on holiday with his wife.

The arranged marriage is mutually convenient for the Whitecliffes and the King of Ritalla, played by Alan Wheatley (best known as the Sheriff of Nottingham in the 1950s television version of Robin Hood). Among the country’s peculiar laws is one that requires the King to abdicate if the heir to the throne is still unmarried upon reaching the age of 21 – and Princess Maria has only six months to go, even though June Laverick, who plays her, was 26 when the movie was made.

The trouble is, Princess Maria doesn’t want to marry the Honorable Tony. She doesn’t even want to meet him. When the King her father telephones to summon her to the welcoming ceremony, she avoids answering, and he expresses his chagrin in these terms:

‘She’ll either obey my royal command or she’ll get a royal smacked bottom – she’s not too old for that yet.’

He goes in person to see her, to find her still in bed, certainly not ready to go to the airport. Her doctor insists that she has a deep psychological condition and must be allowed to stay where she is. The King’s response, once the doctor is dismissed, is to tell her forcefully:

‘You will get out of this bed and down to the airport, or I shall give you such a smacking that you won’t be able to sit down at your coronation.’

She does get out of bed, but she still refuses to marry a ‘chinless chump from the land of fog’ – she won’t even look at his photo, which her father tries to show her so that she can check out the chin. So he gives an order to the lady-in-waiting on the left here:

‘Will you kindly hand me a smooth-backed hairbrush.’

Maria is saved from the impending spanking only because the Queen points out that if they don’t leave right away they will be late – so they do go, and the Princess doesn’t.

All turns out well in the end: Maria is secretly working with the Prime Minister to have the marriage law repealed (even though, unknown to her, the PM is secretly planning to force abdication on the King and set up a military dictatorship in his place). And when Maria meets the decent but not really Honorable Tommy, she likes him…

2: Carry On Cruising (1962)

This was an early entry in the long-running ‘Carry On’ film comedy series, set, as the title implies, on a cruise ship. Unaccountably, Flo Castle has a crush on the captain, Wellington Crowther. It’s unaccountable because he’s played by greying, crinkled, bulbous Sidney James, while she herself is Dilys Laye, 21 years younger, blonde, not at all crinkled and only remotely approaching bulbosity in exactly the right places.

During a luxury cruise aboard the SS Happy Wanderer, Flo realizes her womanhood and decides what she needs is ‘a mature, responsible, dominant man’. As her friend puts it, she’s ‘got a Dad fad’. Crowther thinks she is just nervous in his presence, so he invites her to his cabin to make friends. Flo has a different kind of making friends in mind, and moves in for a kiss. Crowther pushes her away. ‘You naughty girl!’ he says.

‘Am I?’ she replies. ‘Well, if you can catch me, you can spank me!’

And there follows a ‘chase’ round the cabin which involves her running away and him not chasing her. Sadly for her, and us, there’s no spanking on the horizon: all he wants to do is get her out of the door.

And the ship sails on, and Sally grows out of it.

3: Gideon’s Way (1965)

The police series Gideon’s Way was based on a long run of novels and stories by John Creasey which are not known to have any connection with spanking (although Creasey did include a couple of spanking scenes in his other main novel series, about the suave and somewhat Saintly adventurer known as the Toff).

In the Gideon’s Way episode entitled ‘Subway to Revenge’, office worker Ellen Winters (Anne Lawson)

sees someone attempt to push Jimmy Lane (Donald Churchill) under a subway train. This is good news for them both in the long term, because it gets them talking and eventually leads to romance. In the short term, it leads to slight friction, because he insists that he only slipped; so she takes it upon herself to report the incident to the police.

He’s displeased by her well-meaning interference, and they have words the following morning at the chemical firm where they both work. Last night, they broke the ice and got onto first-name terms, but now he tries to mend the broken ice and insists, ‘Mr Lane to you.’ She retorts that actually he’s ‘Petticoat Lane to me’ – in effect, calling him effeminate. So he tries to assert his manliness:

‘One more remark like that, Miss Winters, and I’m going to put you across my knee.’

And as he walks away, she responds like this:

And then like this:

Raised eyebrows and the beginnings of a contented smile: it seems her man is a man after all.

4: The Saint (1965)

The Saint began as a long run of novels and stories by Leslie Charteris, dealing with the suave and not very Toff-like adventurer Simon Templar. The 1960s television version is so chock-full of spanking material that it demands separate, extended treatment another time. For now, we’re going to concentrate on the 1965 episode ‘The Checkered Flag’, in which the girl of the week is Mandy Ellington, played by Justine Lord.

She develops a flirty relationship with the Saint, whom she finds appealingly ‘masterful’. At one point the banter turns to board games. Mandy is ‘about to approach square 4’, says Templar. ‘Nothing square about me,’ says Mandy, wiggling her bottom right past the camera. ‘That too is excruciatingly obvious,’ replies the Saint, taking an eyeful.

And for further evidence of that, she’s later seen in the gym, wearing what the script calls ‘shorts which deserve the name’. Here’s how the scene begins:

And the Saint evidently appreciates it too:

Another scene sees her dressed in ‘a tight evening gown’, and still trying to get closer to Templar. For his part, he’s preoccupied with being the hero of the series and so having to carry the burden of the main plot, which this week is a case of sabotage. The brush-off is elegant:

SAINT: This acquaintance can’t ripen until I’ve got to…

He raises his right hand and it falls off screen – SMACK! – provoking a genuine:

MANDY: OUCH!

Almost simultaneous with his:

SAINT: … the bottom of the matter.

At which the script describes Mandy as ‘smack-shocked but not anti-Saint by any means’.

Later on, he finds her in his flat, ‘sunk deep and sinuously in an armchair’; the script called for her to be wearing suede but the costume department obviously disagreed.

It turns out that she’s trying to distract Templar from his investigations, and so the second brush-off follows, with a pun on her outfit.

SAINT: Sorry. I’m not that easily – suede.

Mandy looks wry and genuinely ashamed of herself.

MANDY: I’m sorry too. Time I was spanked again.

SAINT: Business before pleasure.

Except that on screen her line is delivered as ‘Time I was smacked again’ – quite correctly, of course, since in the earlier scene she was not spanked in the precise sense of the word… more’s the pity!

The Connection

So… two different media, four different genres, four different human relationships. What’s the connection?

All four screenplays were the work of prolific scriptwriter Norman Hudis (1922-2016). He also wrote three other episodes of The Saint, notching up another, more incidental smacked bottom and also a spanking threat. So his authorial imagination often turned in that direction, even if – so far as we know – he never wrote an actual OTK scene. In particular, he was evidently aware of the erotic frisson that the prospect of spanking can bring to a romantic relationship, and no doubt the spanking of the nightie-clad Princess Maria, had it happened, would have been an erotic spectacle of a slightly different kind.

And as we shall start to discover next week, there were other professional scriptwriters like him…

Kiss Me Kate: 1971

1971 might have been quite an ordinary year in Kiss Me Kate history if Samuel Spewack, the Ukrainian-American coauthor of the script, hadn’t gone and died on October 14. But what that leaves us to reflect is that Kiss Me Kate is more timeless than its creators. Productions continued regardless; Freds were kicked and Lillis were spanked. Though perhaps few found the experience so obviously distressing as Shelley Vice, seen here across Richard Robbins’ knee in the spring musical at North Eugene High School, Oregon:

Such is the range of student acting ability, however, that some Lillis seem to be distinctly underwhelmed by the experience. Take Sharon Shank, who seems to be suffering no particular outrage at the hands of Mark Schmiedebusch at Ottawa-Glandorf High School, Ohio:

And is that a smirk on the face of Cathy Morrison, in the May production at Los Altos High School, California?

Since she had five performances to get through, maybe Michael Taylor managed to do something about that!

At Jefferson High School in Lafayette, Indiana, where the musical played for only three performances (April 29 to May 1), Nanette Grims seems to better understand the unenviability of her upturned position as Philip Clary’s palm is about to descend on her posterior:

May 12-17 saw a production at the Dineh Little Theatre in Gallup, New Mexico, publicized a month in advance with this plainclothes ‘lesson in manners’ from Doug Smole to Jean Sipe:

And according to the local newspaper, the spanking became progressively more realistic as the rehearsals went on, to the extent that one cast member laid 4-1 odds that Jean wouldn’t survive to see the first night!

At Amsterdam, New York, Marilyn DeRocco shows appropriate consternation at her position across Jack Gennett’s knee:

Here’s a tabletop effort in the spring musical at Farmington High School, Michigan, with Gregory Steele’s Fred spanking Deb Watson’s Lilli:

For a more conventional OTK, let’s go to York High School in Yorktown, Virginia, where KMK was the spring musical. George Hudgins played Fred and the dubious honor of being spanked by him was shared on alternate performances between Sherry Stitt and Marilou Kelly. I think the photo shows Sherry…

Since I’m a sucker for panic and waving legs, I guess that means I’m also a sucker for Joyce Weston and the spanking Rod Eckberg gave her at Northern Montana College from June 24 through 29:

Lilli didn’t have a good time in Green Bay, Wisconsin, either, when the musical played there in August. Here’s a sign of tension between Calvin Rice and Louise Schock:

As both Lilli and Kate, Louise ‘leaps into both roles with gusto’, said a reviewer. So here’s some gusto:

For the last spanking of the year, we go to New Zealand, where the Motueka Dramatic and Operatic Society staged Kiss Me Kate November 6-9. Here’s David Lewis showing Brenda Bakie who’s boss:

And with that, we pass on to another year.

Photographer of the Week: Carmen de Vos

Dutch photographer Carmen de Vos describes her work as ‘slow’.

She photographs her ‘odd stories’ using resolutely old-school technology: Polaroid cameras and out-of-date film, with filters she made herself to give the results a bleached-out, defocussed impression.

As she puts it herself, albeit in the third person:

She’s not in control. She fights the material. She plans, stages and directs but the decayed chemistry and off-focus lenses add their magic. All by themselves. Which merrily surprises her. Or ruins her image. This battle attracts her as much as it frustrates her. She loves to create within these limitations, to try to produce the best possible image within the narrow circumstances given. Luckily, she’s a sucker for imperfections.

The results have a time-capsule quality, as if they are amateur pictures that have turned up in some forgotten attic decades after they were taken.

And those very imperfections embody what she wants to hang onto as an artist: ‘real human contact, the slowness of being and creating, the tangibility of materials’.

Fetish subjects have been known to find their way through her lens:

And here’s an encounter with lingerie designer Murielle Victorine Scherre, who has found a novel way to show off her product:

If you are interested in Carmen de Vos’ work, please visit her website.

Can You Tell Porn From Mainstream?

I don’t like porn.

I particularly don’t like spanking porn.

Obviously there must be a lot of people who do, because otherwise porn wouldn’t exist, and if it gives them some harmless and lawful pleasure, who am I to criticize them? The porn itself might be another matter… But I’m not aiming to write just a negative ‘Ten Things I Hate About Porn’ piece. What I want to explore is why I find spanking porn unsatisfying and often unpleasant, whereas I tend to enjoy mainstream spanking material, erotica included.

That takes us back to the reason spanking porn exists in the first place, the fact that there are people who have spanking fetishes and who are willing to buy the stuff. That determines many of the ways in which porn and mainstream are different from one another. With porn, the spanking is the raison d’être, because it is the thing the manufacturers are selling and the consumers are buying, whereas the typical audience for a mainstream play or film or novel isn’t only there for that one element; whether you see it as a commodity or a created artifact, it’s a much more complex thing offering many different kinds of interest and pleasure.

In porn, the primacy of the spanking distorts everything around it. The issue arises from the fact that, in narrative, a spanking is always secondary: it is a response, something done because of something else that happened first. Not a problem in mainstream material, because the spanking exists in a context, so it can arise naturally out of the wider situation. But in porn, where the first principle is that there is going to be a spanking, a pretext is all there ever is: whatever story there may be is constructed for the sole and express purpose of getting the girl spanked.

Of course, it doesn’t need to carry very much credence because it is never going to be seriously examined: after all, the buyers are there for the spanking, not the story. So porn often subjects its allegedly naughty girls to significant and extended punishments for the flimsiest of reasons. They are even, sometimes, spanked for wearing revealing clothes or for masturbating, which illustrates not only the unimaginativeness of porn’s efforts to manufacture pretext but also its utter lack of self-awareness.

The other problem arising from the fact that, in porn, the material only exists because of the spanking, is that there is pressure to get on with the show. Combine this with the perceived need for pretext, and the result is the typical porn scenario where the girl is told why she is being spanked as it is happening. This has the ancillary effect of making it easier to extend the spanking action without falling into the mere repetitiveness of hand striking bottom over and over again.

But a second consequence is that it makes the scenario completely univocal: even when the spanked girl is catechised about her punishment and the reason for it, the only point of view given any validation is that of the lecturing spanker. And that means built-in hypocrisy: it’s conceded that the girl has to do something to justify her being spanked, but she is then condemned for doing it even though the spanking is the object of the exercise.

Compare all this with a well-done ‘vanilla’ spanking scenario. Because there’s a context, both participants are distinct characters and so both have their own point of view. That means the whole question of justification becomes more complex. To take an obvious example, in Kiss Me Kate, Fred isn’t characterized neutrally, but as a swaggering egotist to match the volatile diva who is Lilli: she behaves so unprofessionally that he is provoked into spanking her, but that is itself also unprofessional behavior. There are plays – Springtime for Patsy is a good example – where the spanking is completely justified on its own terms as the retribution that comes at the end of the story; but because it has been a long time coming, so that we have seen the whole situation develop, it doesn’t seem disproportionate as it usually does in porn.

At the risqué end of mainstream, spicy cartoons sometimes handle the issue of the ulterior motive for spanking by acknowledging it and making it the basis of the joke. Take this 1957 Dan DeCarlo toon:

The joke here turns upon the two different points of view: she naively thinks there’s been a mistake over the reason she’s being spanked; he knows otherwise!

The wriest and most self-aware example is this one, also from 1957, by Kirk Styles:

And a quarter of a century later, it had become possible to be much more overt about the mismatch between disciplinary and sexual motives for spanking. Here’s a 1982 cartoon by Deacon Sematones:

That’s ‘pants’ in the sense of panties: she thinks she’s being spanked, perhaps has even been told she’s being spanked, for going commando. She finds that prudish, but a look at the boss’s lascivious face completely belies that idea.

The arrival of nudity turns our attention back to porn. The spanking fetishists who are its core market have a variety of tastes, so there is a commercial imperative for the makers to cover as much of the spectrum as possible in any one piece of product. That means a typical porn spanking will go through several stages, as the girl is spanked first over her skirt, which is then raised so that she is spanked on her panties, which are then taken down to spank her bare bottom, often with nasty gynecological camera angles. In theory, everybody thus gets some images that appeal to their particular shade of kink, and anything they don’t like (perhaps more for those who prefer the milder material) is just the rough they have to take with the smooth.

What is sacrificed by this procedure is any sense that the spanking is a coherent human act. If you’re going to spank a girl, you would put her across your knee. You might also lift her skirt, even in a vanilla context, but you wouldn’t wait until partway through the spanking to do so: you prepare to spank, then you spank, then you stop. And if she’s wearing panties, it’s rarely necessary to pull them down, because it will make little difference to the impact of the spanking; you only do it if you are deliberately aiming for nudity, which is a standard objective of porn but not high on the agenda of most mainstream material.

Spanking porn does assume that its consumers have one thing in common: that they are sadists, and therefore want to see real spanking with real physical effects. In real life, most people are not sadists (that’s even true of some spanking enthusiasts, such as me), and this affects the way spanking tends to be presented in mainstream material: the corporeal consequences of a spanking are not denied – think of the jokes in Kiss Me Kate about Lilli’s inability to sit down – but the idea is reckoned to be more interesting than the physical actuality, so it is generally handled in a stylized way. Here are some mostly familiar examples from the comics:

Li'l Abner 1934Li'l Abner 1943

In media that involve human performers, like film and theater, it’s sometimes piquant to know that a spanking was authentic, but it doesn’t actually matter so long as it seems authentic to the audience. Porn, however, is dominated by literalism: red bottoms and, sometimes, bruised flesh are commonplace. And that results in another issue.

If the main criterion for appearing in spanking porn is that an actress or model must be willing to be spanked, hard, until her bare bottom is red, then the pool of potential performers will be a subset of a subset of a subset. Not all performers are willing to do nude work. Not all of those are willing to do fetish work. And not all of those are willing to undergo real pain. The group you’re left with – really not so much a pool as a puddle – may not always be blessed with exceptional acting or modeling skills or even beauty. Of course, some of them are beautiful (and it’s a subjective judgement anyway), and there is at least one spanking model who is a competent actress (as I know from her non-fetish work). But my point is that there is a built-in limitation meaning that spanking porn is rarely made by people with the highest level of relevant talent, and its technical and artistic qualities tend to suffer in consequence. Does that matter? Perhaps not to its buyers, of which (needless to say) I am not one.

My last major problem with porn is its ubiquity. I’d like to see a lot less of it – meaning (since I also believe in live and let live) that I’d like to be able to see a lot less of it. The results that search engines return for ‘spanking’ are generally dominated by hardcore material, not all of it even spanking-specific; enable a content filter and you are left with the opposite pitfall of child discipline websites. So assumptions about the subject are such that there seems to be nothing between, on the one hand, spanking as something that some adults regrettably still do to some children, and, on the other, fullscale ‘adult’ content. Spanking equals sex: that is how the equation runs now. So a website like this, which deals only with mainstream content and tries to avoid privileging any sexual response over the original integrity of the material itself, is often misinterpreted as a sex site by those from the non-fetish world who happen to encounter it. In this respect, our sense of the diversity and complexity of human experience has narrowed.

The easy online availability of spanking porn has also started to infect the mainstream. We have seen that, when political satirists (such as in the US and Brazil) use spanking imagery and need a short-cut to bypass a lack of talent or time, they will often appropriate a porn picture. It has also gotten into media that are necessarily more creative than that. For my money, one of the nastiest pieces of mainstream spanking imagery in recent years was the 2015 spanking scene in Outlander. It has been said, with some justification, that this was played as, in effect, a piece of spanking porn; it certainly shares porn’s humorless, punitive qualities. Likewise, when mainstream erotic artists have the occasional flirtation with spanking imagery, they will often incorporate tropes from porn, like the bondage, love-paddle and literalist red bottom in this otherwise appealing piece by the Canadian illustrator Joanne Leung:

In other words, we are in an online world where it is sometimes difficult to differentiate between porn and mainstream material, a point which can be illustrated by this photograph:

Most (all?) of the people there have featured in spanking porn; but it is hard to imagine a less ‘porny’ spanking image. If it weren’t for the fact that porn’s limited talent pool means the same faces keep cropping up, it would pass completely under the ‘porn radar’. Might it even be that a group of porn performers got together and intentionally decided to produce a mainstream spanking picture?

But this blurring of boundaries isn’t entirely a recent phenomenon, and we can begin to see this if we go back four decades and dip our toes into the erotic end of mainstream. The 1970s British girlie magazine Mayfair featured in its back pages a regular artwork spread by the celebrated comic strip illustrator Don Lawrence (1928-2003) about the adventures of Carrie. She was an attractive blonde who always found herself in situations entailing the progressive loss of all of her clothes. The paintings themselves were also gorgeous, though they became much less so when other artists took over from Lawrence later in the 1970s.

In an edition from the summer of 1976, Carrie is having a picnic in the country.

There’s an unexpected interruption.

Picnics will entail encounters with country fauna, and country pursuits…

Never get between the dogs and their quarry, if you value your wardrobe:

Whose side will Carrie take: the terrified dumb animal or the horrible huntsman?

Looks like her sympathies are with nature…

An ethical decision, but possibly not a wise one…

And here we see the price of the fox’s life:

That’s from the original artwork. You may be interested in the different color balance used when the piece was printed:

Lawrence’s style, and the nudity inherent in the concept, push this final picture towards a porn-like literalism, but there is still a compromise with mainstream stylization that makes for a powerfully erotic image. It’s not only the ‘heat waves’ radiating from her bottom but also the fact that (unlike in spanking porn) the redness is so precisely confined to just that area of Carrie. It’s noteworthy, too, that this is obviously not the work of the riding whip emphasized in the previous picture: Lawrence actively opts to imply a straightforward spanking rather than a ‘fetishy’ whipping, and the image is the better for it.

And for an even clearer example of an unexpected border incursion, let’s leave erotica behind and pay our final call, to the rural village of Dibley in the mid-1990s.

The British sitcom The Vicar of Dibley, co-written by Richard Curtis, dealt with the trials of a local clergywoman, Rev. Geraldine Granger, played by Dawn French. In the 1996 episode, ‘The Easter Bunny’, she’s trying to explain to her exceedingly dimwitted verger Alice (Emma Chambers) that the Easter Bunny doesn’t exist. But Alice insists that she has seen him: indeed, everyone in the village has. Rev. Geraldine’s reaction is stern:

‘Alice, you’re lying, and if you don’t apologise, I’m going to have to punish you. And this hairbrush features quite prominently in the punishment. And your pants don’t.’

And it may be worth spelling out here that Alice is wearing a skirt, so once again that’s her pants in the British sense of the word, less ambiguously known as her panties.

In context, the moment counts for very little: the unapologetic Alice continues to insist on the reality of the rabbit but Geraldine doesn’t follow through. In other words, it’s just a bit of banter, not a serious threat. But even so, it is a reference to a panties-down bare-bottom spanking in an undeniably mainstream piece of work.

The porn, it seems, is always with us.