Love on Leave

By any standards, the 1944 comedy Love on Leave, by A. B. Shiffrin (1902-98), ranks as an extremely minor entry in the annals of Broadway. It opened at the Hudson Theater on June 20, and bad notices closed it after five days and seven performances. It was, damned one critic, ‘in bad taste, badly written, and for the most part badly acted’. Unsurprisingly, then, there’s no available script, and we are left to piece information together from a handful of hostile reviews. But, dismal as the play may have been, at least it featured a spanking for 19-year-old actress Rosemary Rice.

She played Lucy, teen daughter of Sam Wilson (Millard Mitchell), an expert on child psychology who has written authoritatively on the subject of how to discipline children.

Thanks to Lucy, his credibility takes a knock in the course of the play, before she winds up taking a different sort of impact in the end (in more ways than one). For Love on Leave is about delinquency among teenage girls in New York, and the case in point is Lucy Wilson herself. The subject had become especially topical in 1943-44, and the city’s Mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia, did a radio broadcast recommending a remedy: ‘the woodshed or garage and an old-fashioned spanking’. With a limited number of stage sets, Shiffrin had no available woodshed, only the family living room, but in other respects he evidently took the Mayor’s words to heart…

The play begins one night when Lucy puts on her elder sister’s clothes and make-up and climbs out of her second-storey bedroom window in Astoria, in quest of a night on the town. She heads for Times Square, then notorious as a place where teenagers in search of a sexual encounter could pick up servicemen on leave, but Nick Hardy (John Conway), the sailor she pulls, proves to be a great disappointment to her: his drink of choice is nothing stronger than a chocolate soda, and he’s a sane, decent, clean-livin’, home-lovin’, All-American boy.

Lucy makes the best of her chocolate soda with Nick

Why, he even has a sister about Lucy’s age, and therefore knows the ways of wayward teens. No night of wild abandon for Miss Wilson, then. He scrubs the rouge off her face and has to sock her on the jaw to stop her protests before bundling her into a taxi back to Astoria.

And that’s only the first act. Back home, Lucy spins her worried parents a series of yarns about the terrible things Nick has done to her. In particular, she claims to have been ‘seducted’. And the second act comes to a close with her shock-horror announcement that she is pregnant.

(How could she possibly know so soon? You can start to understand why the critics not only complained about the play’s ‘tawdriness’ and ‘vulgarity’, but also declared the story to be ‘fatuously unbelievable’.)

Anyway, a visit from the family doctor establishes the truth of Lucy’s condition, and she finishes the play bottom-up across her father’s knee. The critics had several things to say about that:

We do not advocate this treatment nor do we think it any solution of the problem presented, but if the author had it in mind, there are several occasions in the first 10 minutes of the play for the chastisement. If the playwright had had her father ‘do his duty’ then, the playwright, the father, the girl, the mother, the sailor and the audience would have been saved a lot of bother, for there would have been no play.

All of which rather smacks of wishful thinking after an unsatisfying evening!

But the reviews also give us some specific details about how the spanking was staged. We are told that it was still going on as the curtain came down at the end, and that it was not played naturalistically: one critic described it as ‘a fine slow-motion tanning’. That was lucky for Rosemary Rice, in view of the third fact we glean: Wilson lifted Lucy’s skirt, so she got spanked on the seat of her panties!

And that, no doubt, explains why there’s no available photograph of the scene…

Photographer of the Week: Lilly Soto

Based in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Lilly Soto of Perfectly Pinup specializes in… well, perfect pinups.

The accent is on color, cuteness and, above all, fun.

There’s always fun in prospect with a pinup Santa on the loose, especially when he’s played by Miss V. Let’s meet her, first out of costume…

… and now in:

Santa’s elf for the occasion will be Claire Marie:

And here she is ready for some elfing:

Elf, prepare to meet thy Santa:

But Santa knows what to do with a naughty elf:

If you are interested in Lilly’s work, please visit the Perfectly Pinup website.

The Making of The Golden Rod

Last year, an Austrian production company bombed YouTube with Krampus videos by way of prepublicity for its forthcoming movie, Die Goldene Rute (The Golden Rod). Many rods were wielded and many girls spanked, though it later turned out that this was all footage from the company’s previous productions, notably the remarkable and hard to come by Spanking Devils. Putting Die Goldene Rute onto the starting blocks took three-quarters of 2017: the parts were cast in September, and shooting finally got underway on October 6. Scheduled mainly for weekends, it continued with its second day on October 13, which is when two of the spanking scenes were performed.

Let’s meet some key cast members. Here’s Stefanie Heinsch:

And her key scene:

And now here’s Katharina Oberleitner:

No escape for her either:

Here’s another extract from the film, in which she gets spanked, then abducted:

Shooting continued, and the cast was joined by Katharina’s sister, Lisa Janine:

The Krampus had something for her too:

Also getting involved was Jennifer Kreijza:

We’ll see her getting spanked in a moment. But first we come to the seventh and penultimate day of shooting, October 27, and there was more in store for Lisa Janine:

And on Day 8, October 28, it was a wrap. And for the girls, it was also a WHAP!

Goldene Rute 14

(Left to right: Lisa Janine, Jennifer, Katharina. Absent and perhaps still able to sit down: Stefanie.)

What’s it all about, apart from Krampus being Krampus? No doubt we’ll discover that when Die Goldene Rute is released next year!

Kiss Me Kate: 1993

In the annals of Kiss Me Kate spanking, the year 1993 is not one that stands out. In fact, it represents a nadir. The musical was still being produced, and many a Lilli continued to be spanked onstage, but this was the point in history at which the spanking scene was least likely to be preserved: well into the period when it was felt by some to be an embarrassment, and when companies were becoming reluctant to use it in publicity, but not yet at a time when technological change – digital photography, the internet, YouTube and social media – made it all the easier to document and circulate productions so much more comprehensively.

To put it simply, there are very few KMK spanking pictures available from this year. In fact, for the longest time, I thought there was not a single one, and that all I would have to offer would be an anecdote. For the year 1993 also saw one of the strangest Kiss Me Kate productions ever mounted.

It was staged by the Phamaly Theatre Company in Englewood, Colorado, that July, and before you worry about what spelling was coming to back in the early Nineties, I’d better explain that the word ‘Phamaly’ was made up as a briefer way of signifying the Physically Handicapped Actors and Musical Artists League. They exist to create opportunities for handicapped performers, and their productions are cast exclusively from actors with disabilities, both physical and cognitive. In their 1993 Kiss Me Kate, the female lead was played by their founder member Kathleen Traylor, who has artificial legs and spends most of her life in a wheelchair.

I don’t need to tell you that meant there had to be one slight change to the script. You’ll be pleased to know that it wasn’t the removal of the spanking scene, even though I can’t show you a photo of this disabled Lilli actually being spanked. The best I can do is what she did to costar Greg Britton to get herself spanked:

The spanking that ensued was rather odd, in that it required more cooperation from Kathleen than most Lillis are likely to offer: she got up from the wheelchair and supported herself against the back of it while he spanked her. After that, it was back to the chair for the rest of the performance. And that’s where the script change came in…

Because there was no way this version could keep any of the dialog and business about how the spanked Lilli is unable to sit down!

Happily, it turns out that there was a 1993 Kiss Me Kate production that left a visual record of its spanking, hiding away in Indiana (a state that takes a special pride in KMK, because Cole Porter was a Hoosier). The Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre in Naptown staged the musical in August and September, with Steve Essler and Suzanne Stark as the two leads. It must be said that the available image showing us what he did to her leaves something to be desired:

But it must also be said that, pleasingly, the Beef and Boards bucked the 1993 trend some more and also used the spanking scene in their publicity!

And when I thought that was it, and gave thanks to the state of Indiana, what should pop up but this photo of an amateur performance from Frankfort, Michigan?

Not bad for a nadir! And in 1994, we’ll start to see the tentative beginnings of the Kiss Me Kate Spanking Renaissance!

Photographer of the Week: Vince Voltage

Vince Voltage 0

Vince Voltage is a German rock guitarist who became interested in photography while on tour. He simply picked up a camera and started shooting without even reading the manual, and he’s proud to say that he’s completely self-taught.

Unsurprisingly, much of his work is travel photography, but in recent years he’s turned his attention and his visual imagination to snapping people, and is now a respected, exhibited artist.

One of the people he’s photographed, in a way that’s especially interesting to us, is model Dani Divine.

It’s fair to say that Dani’s a good model. But in 2016, she met Santa, played by none other than Mr V. Voltage, and discovered that she’s on the naughty list:

If you are interested in Vince Voltage’s work, please visit his website.

The Not-So-Ugly Sweater

Christmas is coming, and, by long tradition, Christmas is a time for wearing garments you wouldn’t be seen dead in at any other time of the year. The custom is summed up in two words: ‘ugly sweater’. Some clothing firms have a profitable sideline in manufacturing Christmas pullovers that defy all canons of taste and might, if they’re lucky, be worn once before being consigned to the moth menu.

But here’s a Christmas sweater that perhaps not everyone will adjudge to be entirely ugly:

sweater

You may find the picture somewhat familiar. It’s a sanitized version of an iconic Santa spanking photo that has been circulating on the internet for more than a decade:

santa

And if you’re brave enough to want to wear the sweater, shop early for Christmas: you can purchase one here!

Another Love Story

‘Carnality has seldom been so purely epigrammatic,’ wrote one New York critic about Another Love Story, a late play by the British dramatist Frederick Lonsdale (1881-1954). Some reviewers compared it with the sexual excesses of Restoration comedy, others thought it a smart, louche piece of a kind that would have done well in the 1920s – which wasn’t a compliment, for the play premiered in 1943. In short, the critics turned their thumbs down – and yet Another Love Story played to capacity houses at the Fulton Theatre (now the Helen Hayes Theatre) for 104 performances across three wartime months.

The title is arguably a misnomer, since the play deals with three love stories (and the lack of a coherent connection between them was one of the reviewers’ objections). At the center of one of them is Diana Flynn, who arrives on a visit to a country house on Long Island, to find the daughter of the family preparing to get married. Unfortunately, Michael Foxx, the suave European who is to be the bridegroom, for financial expediency rather than love, happens to be Diana’s ex-beau, who jilted her some years ago.

Determined to take her revenge, Diana conspires with Michael’s prospective father-in-law, who recognizes him for the fortune-hunter he is, to trap him in a compromising situation: they will lure him to her bedroom after she has retired, enabling her successively to win him back, expose him as a cad and then jilt him. But Michael is forewarned by the drunken butler and arrives expecting feminine skulduggery. And that sets us up for what one British reviewer described as ‘a bedroom scene in which a young woman gets what she more deserves than expects’.

The bedroom set in the 1944 London production

The conversation turns to what happens to women who cheat, and Michael remarks that, in old Yugoslavia, she would get her throat cut, whereas ‘The most that would happen to her today would be three hard smacks on the backside.’

DIANA (laughs): I would rather have my throat cut.

Michael puts out one light, looks at her, puts out another, walks towards her slowly and deliberately.

DIANA: If you come an inch closer, I shall scream!

Michael turns the light out. The stage is in complete darkness.

DIANA: What are you doing? Go away, you beast, go away!

MICHAEL: Would you, Diana?

DIANA: Don’t be ridiculous – any woman would!

MICHAEL: Well, well, well! I find that most interesting! It’s a pity you never went to Yugoslavia.

MICHAEL: Scream! I tell you!

He walks slowly towards her.

MICHAEL: When you tell the story I shall be contemptible forever. But for your sake I will bear it.

He puts his hand on the light alongside the bed.

DIANA (in anguish): Go away, go away, do you hear? Will you leave that light alone?

MICHAEL: Will you stop loving me so much, you little beast?

Three loud smacks are heard. Diana is heard screaming.

DIANA: You beast! You beast! You beast!

So Diana’s plot goes awry – and in the end she succeeds in one of her objectives, winning Michael back, and no longer cares about the others.

Lonsdale, who was spending the war years in the US, got financial backing for the play from his friend Joseph Kennedy, the former American Ambassador to Britain and patriarch of the political dynasty that produced President John F. Kennedy. Rehearsals were set to begin on September 1, before the initial tryout performance in Wilmington, Delaware, on September 24. So during the summer, he had to find an actress to play Diana.

Margaret Lindsay had been acting professionally for ten years and grown to star status in Hollywood without having once set foot on the stage of a theater. She was vacationing in New York that summer, and happened to encounter Lonsdale. As she later told it:

He asked me to read the play and I fell in love with it. I realized then that this was the sort of play I came to New York to see – and there wasn’t anything like it to be seen. I knew, too, that the part Mr Lonsdale offered me was what I had been wanting to do for years, and simply hadn’t had the courage to try.

She also, of course, needed the courage to allow her fellow actor Philip Ober to give her what one first-night reviewer called ‘a resounding spanking’!

The rehearsal period was difficult, as they often are, but it’s unusual for a production to get through three different directors in as many weeks! It began with the British screenwriter Edmund Goulding in the director’s chair. He did some work on the story, and started off rehearsals, but clashed with Lonsdale and ended up fired. The next director was a playwright, Clare Boothe Luce, but, since she was also a Republican Congresswoman, she had a few other things on her plate, and was only looking after things for a few days. Finally a new permanent director was appointed – and it was none other than Frederick Lonsdale himself!

After Delaware, where it smashed box office records and filled every seat, the production played for a week each in Washington and Boston, before opening in New York on October 12. It closed on January 8, 1944, but Philip Ober didn’t stay the course: savaged by the critics for a lackluster performance as Michael, he was replaced at the end of October by Joel Ashley. But though the play too was panned, audiences still came, attracted by its naughty reputation and its starry cast, including not only Margaret Lindsay but also Roland Young, seen here together on the cover of the playbill:

After the New York production closed, the story of Another Love Story goes three ways. To the provinces, where it had some repertory productions, such as at Newport, Rhode Island, in 1944, with Robert Carleton as Michael, and dark-haired Beverly Sparrow being spanked as Diana. To Hollywood, where Columbia Pictures acquired the rights for $35,000 and floated the idea of a movie in which Rosalind Russell would be spanked by Cary Grant.

Or maybe it would be Marguerite Chapman…

But the film was never made, leaving the play with one more destination: London!

Its first British exposure came on St George’s Day, 1944, when the BBC broadcast a recorded sound excerpt from the New York production. By then, the rights had already been bought by the production company H. M. Tennent, who submitted the script to the Lord Chamberlain’s Office on November 18, 1943.

In view of the play’s ‘naughty’ reputation, and given the Lord Chamberlain’s aversion to onstage spanking scenes, it got a surprisingly easy ride from the censor. Here’s the key passage from the reader’s report:

What seems important from our point of view is that although the dialogue is sophisticated and there is a good deal of seduction and divorce in the background, what happens on the stage is harmless enough – we have had spankings off before and here it is in a blackout, the same thing, and the bedroom scene is inoffensive.

So Lonsdale’s decision to have the spanking played in total darkness saved it from being censored!

The play opened for a provincial tryout at the Royal Court in Liverpool on November 6, 1944, then played in Manchester, and opened at the Phoenix in London on December 13. Austrian actor Anton Walbrook played Michael (he was later replaced by Max Kirby), and Diana was Judy Campbell, the future mother of Jane Birkin.

The critics were no kinder than in New York, with the great James Agate lamenting in the Sunday Times that Lonsdale’s standards were on the decline:

The culminating point of the comedy was when in a darkened bedroom the romantic young man turned down the bedclothes and gave the lion-tameress three resounding smacks. Can we doubt that the old Lonsdale would have had the wit to call his piece ‘She Who Gets Slapped’?

But did Agate actually see Michael turn down the bedclothes, in violation of the Lord Chamberlain’s expectation that the spanking would be done in the dark? Probably not, for in May 1945 the production was the subject of a complaint by the Public Morality Council, which described the sequence in these terms: ‘Michael learns of the plan and fails to be enticed in spite of all the allurements of Diana, and we are left to suppose that he smacks her, at any rate we hear the smacks.’ So maybe Agate’s account of the turned-down bedclothes was equally suppositious.

In any event, the London theatergoing public were more contented than the London critics, and more tolerant (or more immoral) than the Public Morality Council. The play’s West End run exceeded that in New York: it closed on May 12, 1945, four days after VE Day, having received 173 performances. And so began the gradual diminuendo that was the fate of all successful stage plays: repertory productions followed, and the amateur rights were released in 1947.

But then, in 1990, Another Love Story came briefly back to life, thanks to Lonsdale’s grandson, the actor Edward Fox, who directed a production at the Leicester Haymarket. Michael was played by Patrick Fiery and Diana was Lalla Ward, best known as the sometimes school-uniformed companion to Tom Baker’s Doctor Who.

Here they are in the powder-pink bedroom set, dressed for what the Financial Times reviewer called ‘a passionate spanking of the ravishing Lalla Ward’:

To be precise, Lalla’s costume was a white silk nightie through which, according to one eye-witness, her white panties were visible. As indeed was the spanking itself: although Michael dutifully put out the lights as the script directed, the result was not a complete blackout but a moonlit room. And that meant that the Observer’s theater critic, Michael Coveney, could leaven a generally dismissive review with the following choice remark:

I enjoyed seeing Lalla Ward having her bottom smacked, but only because it was the least she deserved.

After nearly half a century, audiences finally got to see the spanking in Another Love Story!