In the Photographer’s Studio (38)

Today the spotlight falls on Tulsa-based Liz Huckleby. Since 2012 she has run Pinup by Liz, an offshoot of her longer established photography firm Photos by Liz. She’s a fan of ‘all things vintage, rockabilly and pinup’, and says she enjoys helping women to look their best.

The woman she was helping in the shoot we’re looking at was the pink-haired Lollie Pop, an award-winning tattoo artist who had just opened a shop in Owasso, Oklahoma. Here she is:

Liz Huckleby Lollie

The shoot took place in the new shop on March 24, 2013, and drew its inspiration from Bettie Page: some of these poses were definitely out of my usual realm,’ said Liz, ‘but working out of your box is a good thing, right?’

Lollie brought along a friend, Stephanie Monroe.

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Well, I say a friend, but her role was in effect only to be a ‘prop’, though Liz took pity on her and decided she deserved a photo of her own:.

Liz Huckleby Stephanie Pinup-by-Liz-Owasso-photographer

And what did they need a human prop for?

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If you are interested in Liz’s work, please visit her website.

Spanking for Liberty

Exactly a month ago, on March 1, Manchester’s Sackville Gardens was the venue for a mass public spanking, or ‘Spankathon’. The event was the brainchild of Charlotte Rose, who was named the Sex Worker of the Year at the 2013 British Erotic Awards. And I know this article is being published on April 1, but there really is such a thing – honest! Here she is on the day, in the distinguished company of Alan Turing:

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It’s appropriate that Turing’s statue should be in Sackville Gardens, because it’s in the heart of the city’s ‘gay village’, but the ‘Spankathon’ was about different sexualities rather than gay sexuality in particular. So it’s important to say up front that, although more people got spanked there than we’re going to talk about here, that’s only because we’re concentrating on the part of the spectrum that interests us, and that omission shouldn’t be taken to imply criticism or prejudice or lack of respect.

A demonstration featuring a mass public spanking is inevitably going to invite comparisons with the great FEMEN spanking protest of 2009 in Kiev, but in fact the two events couldn’t be more dissimilar. The FEMEN event was a structured performance which used spanking as a metaphor for the abuse it was protesting. But the point of the ‘Spankathon’ was, literally, to spank – in public, and for specific political reasons.

We’ll let Charlotte Rose begin to explain:

On the 1st of December, in secret, without debate, and without wider consultation, Parliament pushed through new laws that censor internet porn, clamping down far harder on expressions of women’s and LGBT sexuality than on straight men’s.

Spanking beyond a gentle level is one of the banned activities – ironic, as we all know what MPs get up to. Face-sitting, too; fisting, female ejaculation and other sexual practices, all going back to a heteronormative stance deemed suitable in the Obscenities Act of 1958. But sexual exploration is a lot more diverse in the 21st century.

The Government is using porn as one of the first steps to controlling freedom of speech. It’s an attack on personal liberties and sexual freedom, and we will not keep quiet until something is done about it.

I’m not sure we actually know what MPs get up to (or that, if legal, it’s anybody’s business but their own), but more broadly Charlotte is making a good point about censorship. And she’s backing it up with a series of awareness-raising events across England, which seek to call attention to the issue by doing in public the things that the new law now prohibits in internet videos, and trying to set, or break, records for the number of participants in these activities. It began with a mass face-sitting outside the Houses of Parliament on December 12 last year, and the Manchester ‘Spankathon’ was the second outing.

But as an act of defiance, it has to walk a fine line. After all, there are a lot of things people do in porn videos that they’d be prosecuted for doing in public in most parts of the civilized world! In England, it’s called ‘outraging public decency’, and in practice this meant that participants in the ‘Spankathon’ were politely asked not to spank anyone on the bare bottom. As it turned out, everyone seems to have got spanked fully clothed. But then, it was a cold day in Manchester. Who knows what might have happened if it had been a summer event?!

The first order of business was a photo session for the assembled journalists, featuring Charlotte Rose herself and a glamorous assistant with pink hair and patterned jeans. Charlotte had come equipped with a carpet beater, which wasn’t going to make contact with any carpets that day…

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A carpet beater is all very well, but you just can’t beat the flat of the hand…

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Charlotte does a quick two-handed bongo imitation…

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… but for maximum effect you really need the left hand in  the small of her back, pressing her down:

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Back to the carpet beater now…

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And, as you can see, Charlotte’s finally started making an impression:

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Feeling lucky at the generous amount of photographic documentation of this spanking? Get ready to feel luckier… because somebody videoed it, too:

I particularly like the leg-fluttering on the part of Pinky, but there’s also some unintentional amusement to be had from the background mutterings of a disgruntled sadist, who naively imagined he was going to see some hard, vigorous spanking, and isn’t pleased that the photoshoot involves more pose than punishment. Watching after the event, however, we should be glad it was that way around, because it means the shoot generated some outstanding near-mainstream spanking photos!

The proceedings proper got under way, a little later than scheduled, at 12.30, with speeches, after which the sound of pop music blared out across Sackville Gardens. The song? Madonna’s ‘Hanky Panky’, of course!

A pair of nuns soon arrived, offering spankings in return for charitable donations. But these were no ordinary nuns. ‘Sister Helga’ was an obvious transvestite, while ‘Sister Vendetta’ was of uncertain genital group, but when they gave a demonstration of their services it was Helga doing the spanking.

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Helga then got to work on the lesbian activist who goes by the name of Miss Dennis Queen. There’s no doubt about her gender. Here she is:

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And here’s Helga dealing with her:

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Next up was a Goth girl who got what looks like a Batman belt across the bot:

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And look in the background: now it’s turning into a real mass spanking. Charlotte obviously didn’t make a perfect job of spanking Pinky, because she can still sit down to spank another rather pretty young lady.

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The girl in the striped gloves and denim shorts is obviously very eager to get in on the act:

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Now Pinky’s victim has turned the tables. And Denim Shorts really needs to look behind her…

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That’s a disabled activist named Sharon coming up behind. And she’s armed…

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There are two other girls waiting their turn across our bearded friend’s knee. Both times he’s going to pull a mean trick. A hand spanking?

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No, it’s the bat-belt!

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And the same for you, my dear:

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I said earlier that the ‘Spankathon’ was the second in a series of events, which will stage a range of different banned activities. So, unless you were one of the 50 people who turned up  a month ago, you’ve missed the spanking. There’ll be a mass whipping in Brighton on Sunday May 3, and four days after that, Charlotte Rose will contest the Brighton seat in the UK General Election, as an independent candidate on a sexual freedom platform.

And if you’re into caning, you should head for Birmingham next Sunday, April 5…

The Fille Files (2: Nadia Nerina)

For this second installment of our series on La Fille Mal Gardée, the ballet with a spanking scene, we go back to the beginning. The first dancer to take the role of Lise in the Frederick Ashton choreography was Nadia Nerina: Ashton devised the part specifically for her.

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The ballet had its premiere on January 28, 1960, and the following year Nerina took it on a tour of Soviet Russia, with performances in Moscow and Leningrad (now St Petersburg). Remembering these performances a decade and a half later, Natalya Roslaveva enthused that Ashton could not have achieved his masterpiece ‘without the brilliance of Nerina’s special talent’. It remained the role most associated with her. When she retired at the beginning of 1969, the Sunday Times ballet critic Richard Buckle wrote in tribute, ‘To have seen her mime and dance Lise is to have realized what joy ballet can give.’

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Nadia Nerina was a South African whose real name was Nadine Judd. (In creating her stage name, she Russianized her own first name and took her mother’s as a surname.) Ashton had spotted her talent early and began choreographing new roles for her, starting with the Spring Fairy in his Cinderella (1948). In the 1954 production of Coppélia, with Ashton himself as Dr Coppélius, she gave a standout performance as Swanilda, a part often thought similar to Lise, though not, as we shall see, by Nerina herself. And then, in the autumn of 1959, Ashton decided to do a new adaptation of La Fille Mal Gardée, and history was made.

The ballet took only six weeks to create, in a close collaboration between Ashton and his principal dancers. But there was one significant change during the rehearsal period. Ashton’s original casting for the role of Widow Simone was Robert Helpmann, whom we have already met spanking Katharine Hepburn in a 1955 production of The Taming of the Shrew. But Helpmann didn’t care for the role, and withdrew from the project: ‘It’s not really me,’ he said. ‘All I do is scold my daughter.’ So Ashton turned to a much younger dancer: Stanley Holden, nineteen years Helpmann’s junior and a man who could be relied upon not to ‘camp it up’.

For Nerina, the only misstep during rehearsals had to do with costume design: Osbert Lancaster originally presented her with stiff dresses colored in brilliant reds and greens, the type of costume often associated with Swanilda in Coppélia:

Swanilda

The designs brought Nerina to tears: ‘I felt I could not interpret the character of Lise in these very sharp colours – she should wear pastel shades, soft blues and pinks.’ So she sketched her own ideas for Lancaster to follow. And that means it’s probably because of Nerina that Lise is usually a white panty girl!

Ashton’s initial conception of Lise was very straightforward: at the first rehearsal, he told Nerina simply, ‘She’s a pretty village girl.’ After dancing her for years, Nerina herself had a very clear and precise understanding of the character:

‘I always thought of Lise as a girl with a distinct personality. She is most endearing, with a delicious and inventive sense of humour; she is immensely fond of her mother, but slightly independent; she is young, and perhaps child-like, yet there is an innate maturity and good sense about her. In her famous mime scene she dreams of the joy of having children and understands what marriage will mean. But her character is quite unlike Swanilda in Coppélia: she, too, has a sense of fun, but she is forward, mischievous, naughty, and although she has a brittle charm, she is heartless in her teasing of Dr Coppélius – she needs a good spanking. Lise is gentle in her fun, in a very feminine way. If you listen to the music for Fille, Lise’s melodies are just like her: light, lyrical, warm, tender.’

Not everyone would agree with this. For a start, as I’ve already mentioned, Lise and Swanilda are often thought to be very similar characters – and if Swanilda needs a good spanking, then so does Lise. The subject is directly addressed in this modern review by Rob Maynard:

‘There is some surprisingly effective acting going on, as well as the dancing. Nadia Nerina is very adept at conveying convincing emotions. Her interpretation of Lise – less sugary-sweet and more of a rather naughty, spoiled brat who’s deservedly spanked on several occasions during the course of the story – is a very compelling one.’

And the quality of the acting performance was central to her, and the ballet’s, enormous success. Writing in 1961, the Leningrad critic Vera Krasovskaya commented,

‘Her coquetry is so artlessly naive, her joy and sorrows so open-hearted. It looks as if the pranks of Lise-Nerina are born on the spot, and that the sun smiles through a cloud when Lise, who had just been spanked by her mother, plots new mischief, smiling through her tears.’

(Despite the English translation, I think this must actually refer to the smacking rather than the spanking.)

With this at the forefront, it is now worth addressing the delicate question of maturity: not Nerina’s technical maturity as a dancer, which the role requires, but her physical maturity as a woman. When she first danced the role of Lise she was 32 years old, already nearly two-thirds of the way through her 23-year career, and had herself been married since 1955; at the time of the surviving recording, from the end of 1962, she was 35.

‘The choreography demands that Lise should be very young,’ noted Ballet Today in 1963; ‘at times her mother even spanks her, as if she were a small child.’ (To which it is worth adding that the story demands that Lise is old enough to marry.) But nevertheless the role is often given to a younger principal dancer: the alternate Lise in the 1960 production, who danced (and was spanked) in the second performance and later took the role into the Royal Ballet touring company, was Doreen Wells, who was ten years younger than Nerina.

Doreen Wells

In contrast, Nerina was actually three months older than Stanley Holden, playing her mother. In the theater, that doesn’t matter: there have been productions of The Seagull where the actor playing Konstantin was older than Arkadina, his mother, just as there have been productions of Romeo and Juliet where, offstage, Romeo was much more interested in getting off with Mercutio than with Juliet, but skilled acting performances make such realities irrelevant. On the stage, Nerina’s Lise was young and coquettish, whatever her own age and personality off it. But it is something we need to bear in mind when we look at the surviving visual record of her performance: theater acting is seen at long range, but photography and television often work in close-up, and the camera’s eye may be less forgiving than a pair of opera glasses.

In January 1960, during the rehearsal period, Life magazine sent its photographer Gjon Mili to shoot a spread about the new Ashton ballet. What he shot was a staged selection of scenes rather than a full performance, so his pictures tell us what Ashton and his cast thought was important, rather than necessarily what happened in performance a few weeks later. And the first thing they tell us is easily overlooked. Mili took just 31 shots during the session, and two of them were of the spanking scene. This was evidently deemed to be a significant feature of the ballet, alongside the chickens, the ribbon dance, the pas de deux and the clog dance – not something to be ignored in apparent embarrassment as it is today by some ballet companies and their publicists.

Now let’s look at the two photographs themselves.

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Several things emerge from them. Firstly, Lise is actually being spanked. Simone’s hand is in motion. Lise is reacting: we can see her open-mouthed shock in the first photo, and her pained expression in the second. The ‘saved by the bell’ interpretation, where Simone aborts the spanking before the first smack lands, was not the original conception of the scene.

Secondly, Farmer Thomas and Alain are already there in the background, unbeknown to either Simone or Lise. They aren’t just there as a get-out clause to save the ballerina’s bottom: part of the core of Ashton’s idea is the embarrassment, for all concerned, of having the spanking witnessed.

We can get a fuller appreciation of the ballet in its early state from watching the surviving recording, which was broadcast by the BBC on December 27, 1962, and is now available on DVD. This features the original cast, including Nerina and Holden; but it is not just a film of what happened one night onstage at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Ashton and the cast worked with the director, former dancer Margaret Dale, to completely reimagine the performance for the medium of television, in the spirit of the theatrical original, and the performance was then broadcast live from Riverside Studios in Hammersmith. Thankfully the BBC’s engineers had the good sense to make a recording as it went out, so we can now enjoy the whole performance, even though what was state of the art in 1962 is a very low definition picture by modern standards.

But of course, for our particular purposes we’re going to look at the two scenes that most interest us, starting with the smacking. It is striking how unlike most later interpretations this is. We’re used to seeing Lise react to each slap on her bottom by springing into the air, but Nerina and Holden do something rather different. Simone smacks her bottom once, and she jumps, but forwards rather than up. Her mother pulls her back, bends her forward, holding her by the shoulder, smacks her again, and she jumps again. And then the sequence is repeated for a third smack.

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This is a lot more precisely defined than the business later became. It is, in fact, a smacking that is already well on the way to achieving the formality and repetition of a spanking.

Now we turn to the spanking itself, which in this version lacks some of the exciting elaborations that would later be introduced to the buildup, but makes up for that in its complete clarity about the logic of the sequence of events, the way Lise’s every action closes the trap on her in ever more specific terms.

From the first it is explicitly established what is at risk. Lise has been set to churn the butter, and when her friends come to ask her to play, she does the ‘spanking mime’ also seen in the 2014 St Petersburg production, though often omitted by other Lises. She is telling them, ‘I can’t dance with you, my mother is in there and if she catches me slacking, she’ll spank me.’

In Nerina’s performance, the operative word is spank. Whereas in 2014 the Russian girls gave a series of little smacks to the side of their hips, the closest they could get to their bottoms whilst remaining seated, Nerina’s Lise sits as if she is her mother and spanks her invisible self across her own lap:

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She knows that, if she leaves her task, she won’t get just a smack – it will be a full-scale OTK spanking. When her friends pull her from her work, she’s clearly reluctant and yet also unhappy not to be free to play because she’s desperately bored by the butter churning. And then she gets caught up in the gaiety of their dancing, and her fate is sealed…

Let’s re-emphasize it: Lise knows that getting caught will mean getting spanked. Now look at her face when she does get caught:

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Simone tries to pull her indoors, a moment whose significance won’t become clear until later. But she breaks away, only to get caught again:

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And as Simone shoos the friends out of the yard, she approaches the camera and we see the face of a girl who knows she’s doomed:

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One last effort to get away… but now her mother has her by the skirt.

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I mentioned before that, in this version, the buildup sequence is a lot briefer and simpler than it later became, as successive performances learned how to milk the situation for its tense anticipation and undignified comedy. Another reason is that Stanley Holden’s Simone is physically slighter than some of his successors: mother and daughter are about the same height as one another, so it’s understandable that Holden makes no attempt to carry Lise bodily over to the seat.

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For a moment, it almost looks as if she might be about to get away with just another smacking. But no, the one certainty through this whole sequence is that Lise is going to be spanked. There is one change of plan, though.

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Simone walks her backwards on pointe – away from the door to the house. Lise’s escape attempts and the widow’s physical limitations mean that the spanking won’t now happen behind closed doors – it will have to be done out here in the yard. And so, as the music builds up to a climax…

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… Simone whisks her daughter’s skirts out of the way…

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… and Lise gets what she’s been so desperately trying to avoid:

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A good spanking!

Now here’s a question: would Lise have been better off letting herself be taken indoors to be spanked? Leaving aside Simone’s additional exasperation because of the escape attempts, the fact that the spanking is now administered outside in the yard means that this can happen:

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For Lise, it’s a ‘swings and roundabouts’ situation: the spanking ends prematurely – but it is also seen by the neighbors. The cost of her hopeless attempt to avoid being spanked at all has been additional humiliation, but at least she only got three smacks before she is released, clearly pained and mortified…

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As the scene is played, there is no doubt that Farmer Thomas has seen what he has seen, and what follows is a polite, embarrassed pretence that it just didn’t happen. Simone is good at this social game, whereas Lise’s rueful look shows she is less so:

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But at least she can sit down – which wouldn’t have been the case if she had been taken inside and got the full-length spanking in private!

It’s a real privilege to be able to see and appreciate the attention to detail in this, the original version of Ashton’s great ballet. But the 1962 recording was not the only time Fille was broadcast. Regrettably the next one, from 1979 with Karen Kain in the National Ballet of Canada production, is not at present available, though presumably the television company has it in their archives, and a VHS recording is known to be in private hands. But subsequent broadcasts featuring Lesley Collier (Royal Ballet, 1981), Fiona Tonkin (Australian Ballet, 1989) and Marianela Nuñez (Royal Ballet, 2005) are all available on DVD. More recently, Roberta Marquez was filmed for live transmission to cinemas in 2012, and on May 5 this year there will be a similar broadcast featuring Natalia Osipova. Some of these productions will feature in future installments of this series.

In the Photographer’s Studio (37)

Today’s photographer is Marc Dubord, who is based in Lille, France, and whose portfolio shows a man with a keen appreciation of the feminine form, especially from behind. He specializes in digitally manipulating photos, including what he calls ‘viellisement’, retouching them to create an antique ‘deteriorated’ look. I find this produces a rather melancholy ambience, though he does say his work never takes itself seriously. I dare say some will like the faux-Edwardian quality of this spanking shot featuring the models Rita and Sarah.

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If you are interested in Marc Dubord’s work, please visit his website.

Spank the Mostess

Back in November 2005, the Sydney-based advertising agency Lowe Hunt launched a new campaign for the men’s deodorant Lynx. The concept: a fantasy airline with its own distinctive brand of service. Lynx Jet didn’t have air hostesses, but air mostesses, with the kind of uniform that launched a thousand fantasies:

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And the in-flight entertainment was original, too. You could watch the mostesses having a pillow fight:

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Or hula-hooping:

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Oh, and also…

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Two of the above featured in the airline’s first television commercial:

And to give it all that extra edge of authenticity, there was an online booking system, through which it was impossible to get a ticket – if you tried, the flights were all booked out! There was even, perhaps a little less tastefully, a mock recruitment drive for would-be mostesses on jobseekers’ websites.

The campaign attracted predictable controversy (well, it was ‘sexist’, after all), and when the agency arranged to have one of Jetstar’s fleet of planes painted in yellow Lynxjet colors, the female cabin crew threatened to walk out … whereupon Jetstar canceled the deal!

But sales of Lynx jumped sky high, and in 2006 the campaign won an award at Cannes.

No plane? No problem!

Spring Awakening

Spring Awakening, a study of emergent adolescent sexuality and a critique of sexual repression and ignorance, was the first play to be written by the German dramatist Frank Wedekind (1864-1918).

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He described it as a kinderstragödie (tragedy of children), so let’s not have any illusions about its tone. The character who most interests us, Wendla Bergmann, is eventually raped by her boyfriend Melchior and becomes pregnant. This comes as a great surprise to her because, although she no longer believes that babies are brought by the stork, her mother has recently explained to her that conception is only biologically possible within marriage and when the woman truly loves her husband. She later dies after a botched attempt at an abortion, and Melchior ends up in prison. But before all that, Wendla has a little sexual experimentation of her own, and of an unconventional kind that will interest us.

Before we think about this, there’s one thing we need to establish straight away. The German language doesn’t have the same clear distinction that English does between ‘spanking’ and ‘beating’: the words available to German authors comprehend both senses within their lexical range. So, faced with Wedekind’s use of the word schlägen, the play’s translators have to decide between two English words with slightly different connotations. Generally they opt for ‘beating’, but I’m going to refer to ‘spanking’ where appropriate: I’d argue that it’s just as relevant, if not more so, because the play’s interest lies on the boundary between childhood and sexual maturity.

It is established in the first scene that Wendla is exactly on this borderline: she has just reached the age where she needs to start wearing long skirts, though she succeeds in persuading her mother to let her continue with the short skirt for a few months more. In her next scene, however, we see definite signs of her sexual awakening as she chats with her school friends. She is especially interested in the fact that Martha is regularly spanked at home, and there’s a peculiar persistence with one rather specific question: she wants to know what implement Martha’s parents spank her with. We leave the scene with the strong impression that Wendla is a teenager who is uncommonly interested in spanking in all its details.

And we’re right, of course: Wendla later acknowledges it during a meeting with Melchior in the woods. She maneuvers the conversation round to the fact that Martha gets spanked almost every day, often very severely. This fascinates her, because she herself has never been spanked in her life. She really wants to know what it feels like, and has even tried spanking herself by way of experiment. So, she asks, would Melchior be able to oblige? She even pulls a switch from one of the trees for him to use…

As with Le Médecin Malgré Lui, much depends on precisely how the scene is staged from production to production: sometimes Wendla gets an indiscriminate beating, sometimes one more precisely targeted on her bottom; sometimes she is standing erect, sometimes lying prone on the stage, sometimes kneeling down or bending over. In general, as we’ll see from the selection of performances below, it is a scene that is more likely to appeal to those who like caning…

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… but I believe that the sexual psychology would come across most clearly to a modern audience if it were done as a proper spanking across Melchior’s knee.

I hope that’s not just me imposing my own preferences on the play. What the scene has to do is take Wendla all the way through the different shades of meaning in the word schlägen, from nursery punishment to sex play to brutal thrashing. But to most modern eyes a caning already looks brutal, and the challenge to the actors is to make the connection with the less extreme end of the spectrum. But the scene is going in the opposite direction: it’s about how Wendla’s fascination with the way other children are punished has turned sexual, so in English-language terms, it starts with spanking and graduates to beating at the end when Melchior loses control of himself.

It begins with a very gentle swipe from Melchior, whose lack of enthusiasm often draws a laugh from the audience. She complains she can’t feel it, and he’s not surprised because her dress is in the way, absorbing the impact. In Wedekind’s script, she suggests that he should whack her on the legs instead – for she is still wearing the child’s short skirt she was allowed to keep in the first scene. But some productions have her lift her skirt out of the way to take the next strokes across the seat of her bloomers:

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(University of Maryland, 2014, with Megan Morse Jans and Zac Brightbill)

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(Olney Theatre Center, Maryland, 2013, with Alyse Alan Louis and Matthew Kacergis)

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(Theatre 360, Pasadena, 2013, with Cristian Guerrero and Sarah Colt)

Also see here for a video (not on Youtube) of a 2009-10 Czech production which takes a similar approach.

She says she still can’t feel it, and pleads with him to hit harder. But pleading makes him lose his temper, and she gets more than she bargained for…

Wedekind wrote the play in the six months between October 1890 and Easter 1891. He later explained,

‘I began writing without any plan, intending to write what gave me pleasure. The plan came into being after the third scene and consisted of my own experiences or those of my school fellows. Almost every scene corresponds to an actual incident.’

Which means that there must have been a real girl who got a whacking in the woods!

The play was published by a Swiss vanity press at the author’s own expense, and for nearly ten years, says Wedekind, it ‘was generally regarded as unheard-of filth’. It was eventually staged in 1906, in a production directed by Max Reinhardt at his Berlin studio theater, the Kammerspiele, with Wedekind himself in the cast as the masked man who reveals cryptic truths to the characters at the end. It was a phenomenal success, running for a total of 321 performances before it was banned in 1908, but the actress who first played the role of Wendla, the sailor-suited Camilla Eibenschutz…

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… had only her virtue to worry about, not her bottom: the ‘beating’ was one of the many episodes that were cut to satisfy the censor.

Further productions followed, in St Petersburg in 1907 and, in 1917, in New York, where the play was banned by the Supreme Court after just a single matinee. There were a couple of private performances at London’s Royal Court Theatre in 1963, but Kenneth Tynan’s efforts to get it staged by the National Theatre, which involved much negotiation with the Lord Chamberlain (including over the ‘beating’ scene), came to nothing when the company’s own board intervened to ban it. After Britain abolished theater censorship in 1968, however, the play made its way back to the short-list, and in 1974 it was finally produced by the National in a version by Edward Bond, starring Peter Firth as Melchior and 18-year-old Irish actress Veronica Quilligan as Wendla. Here they are:

07a Spring Awakening Quilligan and Firth

Veronica was the first Wendla who is known to have actually got the ‘beating’, at least in the English-speaking world, though we don’t know whether Peter targeted his stick anywhere interesting.

Since then, the play has gone on to be acknowledged as a classic. Britain’s other national subsidized theater, the Royal Shakespeare Company, produced it in 1995 with a teenage cast, and it is now staged by universities and even high schools across Europe and America. Now we’re going to look at some recent examples, including one by a director who seems to agree with me about what sort of schlägen it should be.

In Pforzheim, 2010:

A  2013 student production by the Black Tie Theatre Company, with Tim Wagner as Melchior and Allison Andreas as Wendla:

A production at Stuttgart in 2014:

And a student production at Sarajevo, played as an OTK spanking. The camera movement is a bit slow, but thankfully it gets there before it’s too late:

More like this, please!

In 2006, the play was made into a rock musical, which won a Tony Award the following year. In some respects, Stephen Sater’s book sanitizes the play: in particular, Wendla is not raped, a change that was perhaps not made primarily for the benefit of the small minority of morons in America who believe that rape cannot result in pregnancy. But the ‘beating scene’ is extended with pertinent dialogue in which Wendla tells how she dreams of being a naughty little girl, how she envies Martha her beatings and describes more specifically how it happens to Martha: with a strap. Here are some examples of this version.

The original 2006 off-Broadway production with Lea Michele as Wendla:

The 2011 production by Cultural Arts Playhouse with Ashley Nicastro as Wendla:

A 2012 performance with Avigail Tlalim as Wendla:

A 2012 production at Orlando, Florida, with Eliza Solomon as an especially cute Wendla:

A 2014 production in which McKenna Poe plays Wendla with what sounds like a great deal of padding in the seat of her bloomers:

A 2014 showreel performance by Nina Attinello:

And a brief flash in the trailer for an Italian version:

In 2007, quite separately from the musical, Spring Awakening was also adapted as an opera by the Belgian composer Benoit Mernier. Here’s the relevant scene:

It won’t appeal to all tastes, not least because the beating is staged in a wholly stylized manner, with Melchior and Wendla on different sides of the stage. But what’s noteworthy about it is the fact that, when she wants Melchior to hit harder, Wendla pulls down her own pantyhose. Yes, she’s wearing pantyhose, not bloomers and stockings. Check it out from around 9 minutes 20 seconds: she  winds up with them shackling her ankles together. As you may already have noticed, European stagings are often not very interested in period authenticity!

The ‘beating scene’ is  now one of the things Spring Awakening  is famous for. In June 2014, Cornelia Bernoulli and Bruno Hertzendorfer staged a two-handed show, Frank Wedekind und die Frauen (… and the Women), that was publicized in the press using this image:

08 Cornelia Bernoulli

But Bernoulli’s show should remind us that there is more to Wedekind than just Spring Awakening. So we mustn’t leave him before noting that he went on to write two more famous and controversial plays, Earth Spirit (1895) and Pandora’s Box (1904), both about a promiscuous dancer named Lulu. Neither of them includes a spanking scene. They inspired the 1929 silent film, Pandora’s Box, starring Louise Brooks. It does not include a spanking scene. They also inspired Alban Berg’s 1937 opera Lulu. It too does not include a spanking scene. But when it was produced by the English National Opera in 2002… guess what? The title role is taken by the diminutive soprano Lisa Saffer…

09 lisa SafferLisa Saffer as Lulu, in 'Lulu', with the English National Opera directed by Richard Jones, conducted by Paul Daniel.  Coliseum,  London, 18 April 2005.Lulu - Opera by Alban Berg, with Lisa Saffer. English National Opera at the Coliseum, London.

… and though the period setting was updated to the 1960s, the first scene saw the stage mysteriously covered with stuffed jungle animals. Lulu tempts a painter (Richard Coxon) away from his easel for a quickie on a crocodile…

Lulu - Opera by Alban Berg, with Lisa Saffer and Richard Coxon, English National Opera at the Coliseum, London.Lulu - scene from opera by Alban Berg, with Lisa Saffer and Richard Coxon by English National Opera, at the Coliseum, London. Opened 18 April 2005.13 Lulu ENO 2002

… and she also finds herself face down over a tiger getting her bottom smacked:

14 Lulu (Berg) English National Opera 2002 Lisa Saffer as Lulu

And what’s more, Kenneth Tynan also has a little something for us. He was obsessed with Louise Brooks in the role of Lulu, which led him to pay the ageing actress a visit when he was in New York in 1978. The meeting was later dramatized in the play Smoking with Lulu … and, since it is well known that Tynan was also obsessed with spanking, it may not be altogether a surprise to learn that this is a play we shall encounter properly in a future installment of this series.

In the Photographer’s Studio (36)

Call Me Creative Web Design is a Baltimore-based photographic firm that in 2004 used its considerable talents to create an online comic strip entitled Perfection City.

The premise of the series is simple. Perfection City was an ordinary town until, one night, a mysterious comet passed across the sky. It had a strange effect on the women of the city: they became ungovernable villainesses!

The city found an unlikely defender of justice when an everyday masked man living in his mom’s basement found his entire collection of comic books had been stolen. In his quest to get them back, he adopted a secret identity and called himself the Hero ‘until I think of something better’ (but he never did). His encounters with the villainesses are often accidental, but they always end with him dispensing summary justice – which usually means a good spanking!

00

Full of mock-heroic humor and visual inventiveness, Perfection City ran for 31 episodes, 26 of them featuring no fewer than 30 spankings. It folded in 2008, with several further episodes shot but unedited and unpublished. Call Me Creative continues to shoot new episodes in the hope of an eventual relaunch. May it be soon…

The villainesses were created using talent from the worlds of modeling, female wrestling and cosplay, among others. Let’s meet some of them…

Simply Magic

01

Simply’s true identity is Kristy Kopperfield, a magician’s assistant who has been fired and who takes her revenge on the world by becoming a mistress of magic in her own right. She’s based visually on the DC comics heroine Zatanna.

02

To play her, CMC engaged the cosplayer Lindze. Here she is:

03 Lindze04 Lindze

Simply was the villainess in the very first episode of Perfection City, in which she robbed the proceeds of an annual charity benefit for the local hospital. But when the Hero confronted her, she dropped her magic wand in the fight, whereupon…

05 Simply Magic06 Simply Magic 2

Dr Prankster

07

Patricia Prankster is a top scientist who attempts to take over the city by introducing a mind control drug into the water supply. She is one of a minority of the villainesses who don’t get spanked in their first episodes (her initial comeuppance involved mousetraps), but she did make a comeback…

She’s played by the wrestler Becky Bayless.

08 becky bayless

And she later tried to get her revenge on the Hero by lacing his drink with poison. He survived the murder attempt by switching the drinks, and…

09

No, she didn’t die – she didn’t drink enough. And Becky Bayless returned in two holiday cards from Perfection City to its fans, first for Christmas…

10

… and then, perhaps less impressively, Valentine’s Day…

11

Dollface

12

She’s played by ‘Penny Dreadful’, who in real life was also the graphic designer who helped to achieve the series’ ‘comic strip’ look.

13 stephanie sacchi14 stephanie sacchi

And when the Hero catches her trying to rob the toy store…

15

As you can see, she’s not unduly cowed by spanking; as she explains, her mom did it all the time and it never had any effect on her behavior, only her bottom…

Helena Hypno

16

Psychiatrist Helena is played by model Liana Diaz.

17 Liana Diaz

The Hero encounters her when he has a crisis of confidence, and she uses hypno-therapy on him. Her evil plan is to connect a mind control device to the city’s news broadcasting system, but when he catches her at it, he discovers that their therapy session included something he didn’t ask for: she has implanted a hypnotic suggestion that makes it impossible for him to hit her. She escapes after a failed spanking attempt, but he does his research, overcomes the fluence and visits her in her office to give her something that’s long overdue…

1819

And so, in a first for Perfection City, she gets spanked with her skirt up, on her white panties! The story ends with her resolving to start coming to work in pantsuits, which means that, in a later episode, her attempted revenge goes better for her, albeit only in one respect:

20

Nurse Evel

21

‘Bad attitude and complete lack of people skills’ were Melanie Evel’s fatal weakness at nursing school. But like Dr Prankster, her first encounter with the Hero didn’t end with a spanking: instead she got a syringe full of sleeping drug in her behind. She too had a return engagement…

She is played by Paige, who is better known as a graphic artist, and whose work includes this poster for a 2012 burlesque show:

22 Krampus by Paige Pumphrey

And here she is herself:

23 Paige Pumphrey

Her revenge plot entails summoning the Hero for a medical checkup. The outcome is as expected…

2425

You may have spotted where Paige got the pose for her Krampus spanking toon!

Jordy Ash

26

Fashionista Jordy is played by Jenn Sparks. Her first encounter with the Hero came about because he was assigned to handle security at the press conference to unveil her new range of clothes. But he discovered her plan to use a ‘nude spray’ that dissolved all fabrics except those used in her own clothes, which would give her control of the fashion market. After a spanking, the Hero used the nude spray on her – whereupon it emerged that she was only wearing one garment made by herself, and she had to give the press conference in her panties.

For her revenge visit, she’s equipped with the ‘wedgie ray’, capable of reducing undergarments to half their original size. In the course of the fight, the weapon is turned against her, before…

27

Her panties weren’t large beforehand, she helpfully tells us, so we can be sure she’s feeling the Hero’s palm through only one layer!

Daniella Diva

28

Daniella isn’t a resident of Perfection City but a touring pop princess, so her problem is sheer inherent naughtiness rather than comet influence. The name of the model who plays her was never disclosed, but the character is evidently based on…

29 Britney Spears30 Britney Spears

Britney Spears!

The Hero is assigned to handle the security for her visit, which is a real responsibility in view of some recent kidnapping threats. But Daniella isn’t interested in his precautions: she just wants to go out partying. As expected, she gets abducted, but the Hero rescues her, then puts her in another kind of peril from which there is no rescue…

3132

Hit her, Hero, one more time!

Vikki the Virus

33

Victoria is majoring in computer science at Perfection University, but by night she’s Vikki the Virus, a hacker who steals from online accounts and has bankrupted companies in the process.

She’s played by model Christy Lenore.

34 Christy Lenore 35 Christy Lenore 36 Christy Lenore OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There’s a chance you might have encountered Christy before – and being spanked. Under her surname alone, she also appeared on the website Bun Beating Fun, in which models with good attitude play the roles of models with bad attitude, and wind up having their bare bottoms very soundly spanked. ‘Lenore’ shows her bad attitude by asking for more money…

39 Lenore

… so naturally she gets something else entirely:

40 Lenore41 Lenore42 Lenore43 Lenore

It’s all a matter of taste, but personally I prefer what she got when she took money without asking, by hacking into the Hero’s account:

44

Ophelia

45

And the last of our selection is an evil thespian (a word that, as you can see, somebody couldn’t spell) who’s playing her one-woman version of Hamlet at the Perfection City Theater. All she craves is audience appreciation.

She’s played by a lady who has had a lot of audience appreciation in her own person, the Pennsylvania singer-songwriter and recording artist Tiffany Apan.

46Tiffany Apan47 Tiffany Apan48 Tiffany Apan49 tiffany apan50 tiffany apan

Unfortunately Ophelia is trying to force appreciation on her audience by introducing a mind-altering gas into the theater’s ventilation system. The Hero’s response is to change to a different Shakespeare play…

5152

Yes, he’s another one who doesn’t know there isn’t a spanking scene in The Taming of the Shrew – but who’s complaining?

There – and I haven’t even introduced you to Undercover Connie the reporter, or Kathy Klepto the Mayor’s thieving daughter, or Princess Jasmine the evil royal, or Natasha the spy, or Harley Davis the biker, let alone GI Jodie the army brat and Lady Midnight the evil spellcaster, whose episodes were shot but never published. This post has been compiled using images that were to be found on free online sites (many of them now defunct), but Perfection City itself was a copyrighted paysite, and may be again in the future. So if you have enjoyed what I have been able to show you of it, consider your appetite whetted!

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