Saturday, 24 August 2013


In February 1893, Wilde's scandalous play Salome was published in its original French version. An illustration inspired by the drama (reproduced in Joseph Pennell's article, "A New Illustrator: Aubrey Beardsley," in the inaugural issue of The Studio) was admired by Wilde and Beardsley was commissioned 50 guineas to Illustrate the English edition. This assignment was the beginning of celebrity but also of an uneasy, and at times unpleasant, friendship with Wilde, which officially ended when Wilde was tried and convicted of sodomy in 1895.

Beardsley's fame was established for all time when the first volume The Yellow Book appeared in April 1894. This famous quarterly of art and literature, for which Beardsley served as art editor and the American expatriate Henry Harland as literary editor, brought the artist's work to a larger public. It was Beardsley's stark black-and-white drawings, title-pages, and covers which, combined with the writings of the so-called "decadents," a unique format, and publisher John Lane's remarkable marketing strategies, made the journal an overnight sensation. Although well received by much of the public, The Yellow Book was attacked by critics as indecent and obscene. So strong was the perceived link between Beardsley, Wilde, and The Yellow Book that Beardsley was dismissed in April 1895 from his post as art editor following Wilde's arrest, even though Wilde had in fact never contributed to the magazine.

This blog post was compiled using sources from the web.

Saturday, 17 August 2013


His name is synonymous with the very worst that human beings can be. He plumbs the depths of depravity in his quest for mere titillation; Bad people celebrate his birthday; good people shudder at the mention of his name. He is the Marquis de Sade and I’ve just finished reading “Justine”.

It really is time that I confront de Sade. I call myself a writer of Erotica; indeed, I blushed and trembled with dizzy, giddy pride when the Christian right slammed a “Danger Pornography” notice on my tweets.

But de Sade. He was a French aristocrat, 2nd June 1740—2nd December 1814. A revolutionary politician, famous for his libertine sexuality. His works comprise novels, short stories, plays, dialogues and political tracts. In his lifetime, some were published in his own name, while others appeared anonymously and de Sade denied being their author. He is best known for his erotic works which combine philosophical discourse with pornography, depicting sexual fantasies with an emphasis on violence and blasphemy against the Catholic Church. He was a proponent of extreme freedom unrestrained by morality, religion or law. The words ‘sadist’ and ‘sadism’ are derived from his name.

He was incarcerated in various prisons and in an insane asylum for about 32 years of his life. Many of his works were written in prison. His ethos is focused absolutely on pain and pleasure.

“It is always by way of pain that one arrives at pleasure.”

“I have already told you; the only way to a woman’s heart is along the path of torment. I know none other as sure.”

“When she’s abandoned her moral center and teachings…when she’s cast aside her façade of propriety and ladylike demeanor…when I have corrupted this fragile thing and brought out a writhing, mewling, bucking wanton whore for my enjoyment and pleasure, enticing from within this feral lioness…growling and scratching and biting, taking everything I dish out to her…at that moment she is never more beautiful to me.”

“Justine,” with the subtitle, “The Misfortunes of Virtue”, is an extraordinary book. The philosophy is that of the merits of vice vs. virtue. The protagonist (a virtuous woman) falls prey to a series of libertines who use and abuse her in whatever ways they deem pleasurable to themselves.

We join the narrative at the point where Juliette, aged 15 and her sister, Justine aged 12 have been orphaned by the death of, first their father and then their mother. They have been educated at a convent, a private establishment, where they had access to the finest minds of their generation.

Their relatives deliberate about what to do with the two girls.

“Since no one cared to take care of them, the doors of the convent were opened to them, they were given their inheritance and left free to do whatever they pleased.”

They were harsh times.

Juliette is sensitive to the pleasures of freedom, while Justine, with her serious and melancholy nature, is aware of the full horror of her situation. Juliette intends to use her pretty face and beautiful figure to her advantage and become a great lady. Justine is horrified by the course her elder sister intends to take and the two go their separate ways.

The story is told at an inn by “Therese” (the name that Justine adopts for the purpose of the narrative) to Madame de Lorsagne (who is actually Justine’s elder sister Juliette. They do not recognise each other) There is irony, in that Juliette,who went briefly for a life of vice, is now in a better position to do good than Justine, who refused to make concessions and so is plunged further into vice.

Justine’s tale begins. On departing from the Convent and leaving her sister, Justine goes to the house of her mother’s dressmaker and asks to be taken in. She is turned away.

A tearful Justine goes to see her priest. De Sade describes her beauty. A perfect picture of innocence.

“..she was wearing a little white close fitting dress, her beautiful hair carelessly tucked beneath a large bonnet. Her bosom could just be discerned, hidden beneath a few ells of gauze, her pretty complexion a little pale owing to the troubles that weighed upon her. Her eyes welled with tears, making them even more expressive..”

The priest does not have Christ, the Holy Spirit or the Rosary on his mind. He drools over the pretty girl.

“God’s spokesman slipped his hand into her cleavage, kissing her in a manner far too worldly for a man of the church.”

When Justine rebuffs him, he throws her out.

In prerevolutionary France, the Church is corrupt and the rich and powerful can get away with more or less anything; Justine’s ideas on how to live a decent and good life are hopelessly out of time. Her tale follows an odyssey of misadventure as she moves from place to place, determined to lead a good and honest life, but encountering abuse after abuse. Always, she is taken in and promptly imprisoned. She takes refuge in a monastery, hoping to claim sanctuary and it is in the Holy place, inhabited by Holy men that she is degraded, abused and defiled to a hideous extreme; all described in explicit detail. She is witness to, and has inflicted on her, every sexual depravity you can think of. Child sex, rape, sodomy, coprophilia, endless whippings, orgies and multiple partners. Every encounter follows the same pattern, followed by an exercise in, quite remarkable, lengthy sophistry as the lecher explains his own version of the Libertine’s credo with passionate intensity and the certainty of experience. This is in contrast to Justine’s assertions of Christian principles which are expressed pathetically in the moment, stubbornly, and with the certainty of blind faith.

So what does de Sade’s novel offer BDSM today? Does what de Sade describe have any relevance to BDSM as we know it in 2013? Probably not. The world is a very different place, we have different values and different ways of understanding.

I wasn’t expecting to find fun in de Sade’s work, neither was I expecting to find anything like joy, there is certainly no sense of playfulness in any of the sexual acts that he describes. What he does do, I think, is to touch on many common fantasies such as the need for pain, inflicted or inflicting that brings to the foreground the means for some of us to celebrate our sexuality.

Is de Sade onto something when he talks about pain and pleasure? He wouldn’t have known about endorphins; the mysterious little opioid peptides released by the pituitary gland at times of great excitement, pain, stress and orgasm. We only know about that sort of stuff because of 20th century research methods.

A friend, whose sexual orientation is submissive, tells me that the rush of endorphins, when the pain of a whipping is almost too much to bear, is almost exquisite. “Better than morphine…”

Freud wrote about the pain pleasure principle. He understood that ‘something’ happened, he just wasn’t sure what…

“When pleasure and pain occur together, a certain amount of confusion may occur, which itself may be pleasant or painful and hence determine what happens. Simultaneous pain and pleasure is a basis for masochism.”

(Author unknown.)

In The Sadeian Woman and the Ideology of Pornography, Angela Carter suggests that de Sade is perhaps the first writer, and in this respect he is surprisingly modern, to see women as more than mere breeding machines, as more than just our biology.

And that, I think, is liberating.

Perhaps we are wrong to take de Sade so seriously? Is he actually talking about an achievable, or even desirable philosophy? de Sade didn’t just write about sex; he had very serious things to say about life, oppression, equality and power. But he said them in such an uncompromising, aggressive way, laughingly indulging himself in his most extreme fantasies and perversions that we recoil in horror. His particular proclivities have a place in his argument and his refusal to excise them, using them and himself as examples, shows, I think, that he is not lacking in integrity.

Still I’m not happy. Let me just throw this in; something to contemplate. I haven’t looked at intent. What is de Sade trying to achieve with his pen? Is he just a dirty old pervert, masturbating into our faces sniggering and sneering at our self-righteous disgust? Or is he laughing at our naiivity, our inability to see through what could be considered a sophisticated piece of satire?

We are so busy being shocked, we miss the point.

It is neither inappropriate nor inconceivable to interpret de Sade’s work as a biting parody in the same tradition as the satirist Jonathan Swift, or the great satirists of today. How many times have you watched (the show that keeps me sane) South Park, with your gut clenching, cringing, as you wonder how the writers dare put such corrupt words into the mouths of children? Nothing is sacred in the hands of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Even the Sacred are a target. God, Satan, Christ, the Virgin Mary. As is the President, sex, age, sexual orientation, social media, popular culture, child abuse, paedophilia. Nothing is off limits: make up your own list from these scatological writers. With wonderful belly aching laugh out loud hilarity, they prick the bubble of pomposity of anyone who takes him, or herself too seriously; no one is exempt. No one escapes.

We know that it’s funny; we give ourselves permission to laugh as Cartman directs yet another totally anti-Semitic ranting tirade at his Jewish friend Kyle. The writers put into the child, Cartman’s mouth, all of the old nonsense of why it’s right to hate the Jews. There is even an episode where Cartman talks enthusiastically and chillingly about “his final solution.” The Nazi euphemism for the total annihilation of the Jewish people.

Is de Sade’s work a brilliant, way ahead of his time, piece of satire? Or is it gratuitous porn; porn for porn’s sake?

You know what? I still really don’t know..

Friday, 9 August 2013


She was young. She was beautiful. And she was a slave. Not just any slave; a willing sex slave.

Vanessa Duriès, also known as Katia Lamara (1972 - December 13, 1993) wrote of her experiences as a slave in the French BDSM novel “Le lien.” Translated into English as “The Ties that Bind.”

 She created quite a stir in France at the time of the release of the novel, due to her youth and beauty, and appeared on national television, in particular in the show of Bernard Pivot. She also appeared in a pictorial and an interview of the May 1993 issue of the French edition of Penthouse magazine.

Vanessa died in a car crash on December 13, 1993 in the South of France at age 21. Because of her early death, she has achieved a cult status for some BDSM communities. In 2007, five chapters of her second novel L'Étudiante, left unfinished due to her death, were published in France.

Here is a review of her book taken from Amazon.

 “After enduring years of corporal punishment by her father, a young and very much beautiful Vanessa realizes that `Not having the nature of an Amazon, not knowing how to oppose violence with cruelty, I learnt to dominate those who used me by making the offering of my submission both mystical and ambiguous' ...... and thus is born a female slave into the somewhat secretive world of S&M in France in the 1990's.

Right from the first chapter, `The Revelation' , the author introduces us to Pierre, her much `loved' master whom she meets at the age of twenty. In the book, without delving into any of the details of their introduction we find a young Vanessa, although apprehensive about her secret feelings, completely accepts and resigns herself to her `slave' state of mind and body when she visits Pierre at his countryside mansion. Although Pierre is her master, the author maintains an absolute dedication to her feelings, emotions, thrills and fears, as she is introduced and educated into the true and dedicated sadomasochistic lifestyle of a slave master relationship.

This is, in effect, the mastery of this wonderful young author and the point at which other S&M books totally fall apart since it's pretty well impossible for either the master or the slave to completely comprehend and, honestly write about, the erotic mindset of the other. With the precision of a whip Vanessa intricately describes her slave education in the hands of not only her master but also, of course, a small and very much secretive group of other masters and slaves, both male and female.

Vanessa unabashedly describes her relationship with an awe that she is living the life of total sexual and physical abandon with her much loved master. In her own words, `Pierre is an organizer beyond compare. Since sharing his life, we schedule usually quite eventful weekends throughout the year. When we return, on Sunday evenings, I often find myself in a state close to exhaustion. Pierre is no less tired than me. The role of the master is exhausting, because, while the slave only submits, the master must decide, organize, prepare and take action, all the while watching over the physical and psychic state of the slave that he has decided to honour through tests and humiliation.'

One very sad note, unfortunately, Vanessa Duriès died in a traffic accident in 1993 about seven months after the publishing of this masterwork, truly a loss from a very much talented writer.

Finally, the book has an introduction by Marie Isabel Pita one of today's hottest writers of contemporary erotica, and an afterword by Maxim Jakubowski where he briefly describes the discovery of the lost French edition of this book and his investigation into the last years of life of the author.

Thanks to Jan Vander Laenen for telling me about beautiful Vanessa Duries.

For more reviews go here

Friday, 2 August 2013


Back when I first started keeping this blog in 2009, I put together a post about pornography. It wasn’t long before I got into a helluva muddle, floundering through the legislation -- confusing hard core porn, with its disgusting images of children being abused, with violent porn, soft porn and erotica.

I returned to the debate over the last two weeks when my friend Jan Vander Laenen sent me an essay, written in 1930, by D.H.Lawrence, entitled “Pornography and Obscenity.” Lawrence’s essay makes interesting reading and it seems that even as far back as the 1930’s, people were asking the same question that we still ask today.

What exactly is pornography? I asked that question in my original post; I am still asking it today. I still haven’t had a cohesive answer.

D.H. Lawrence says in his essay;

“What they are depends, as usual, on the individual. What is the pornography of one man is the laughter of genius to another…”

And what is the meaning of the word ‘obscene?’

“What is obscene to Tom is not obscene to Lucy or Joe…’Hamlet’ shocked all the Cromwellian Puritans, and shocks nobody today, and some of Aristophanes shocks everybody today, and didn’t galvanize the later Greeks at all, apparently. Man is a changeable beast, and words change their meanings with him…”

Well Lawrence appears to know what he is talking about; he thinks that porn is subjective to the individual. A matter of cultural taste and depending which epoch you’re living in. But Lawrence doesn’t give me the definition that I’m asking for.

Some porn is illegal; some isn’t. Why is that? We can view the topless girls on Page 3 and the “adult” film channels on Sky. Do they come under the heading of porn? Who decides what should be legal and what should be banned? Who decides what is pornographic?

I want to know. Are my little tales erotica or pornography? Is there a difference? There must be.  
Should be easy to find out; surely the laws of the land are clear? I have to find a legal definition of Pornography, here, in the U.K. Perhaps in the U.S. too. Discuss where I’m coming from. Find out a few celebrated opinions; for and against.

But is not straight forward. I can’t find anywhere that provides an absolute definition for Porn.

In the “Obscene publications act 1959” they have a “Test of obscenity”.

“For the purposes of this Act an article shall be deemed to be obscene if its effect or (where the article comprises two or more distinct items) the effect of any one of its items is, if taken as a whole, such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it.”

The Americans say more, but they don’t seem any clearer than the Brits. From the “Free Dictionary, on-line.”

“The representation in books, magazines, photographs, films, and other media scenes, of sexual behaviour, that are erotic or lewd and are designed to arouse sexual interest. Pornography is the depiction of sexual behaviour that is intended to arouse sexual excitement.”

Are you any clearer? I’m not. I’m not getting it. Considering the law in the U.K. is celebrated for its plain and unequivocal use of language, this surprises me. The only phrase that stands out to me is “deprave and corrupt”. Whom is being depraved and corrupted? Are pornographers proselytising folk out there? Dragging innocent people off the street to make them a part of their depravity?

And the Americans aren’t much help either. I know that some of the stuff that I write “arouses sexual excitement.” The same with my writer friends. I remember reading THE BRANDING by Oatmeal girl. It seemed to come from a cold, dark place; as did DARK GARDEN by Remittance Girl. Janine Ashbless’ stories too, M.Christian, Fulani, Velvet Tripp, George Pappas, Jan Vander Laenen. Are we all unwittingly writing Pornography? Breaking the law? Or is the phrase “intended to arouse sexual excitement”, a get out clause? If it isn’t our “intention to arouse sexual excitement.” It’s certainly our intention to write a good story. We just happen to “arouse sexual excitement” as well.

I still want an absolute definition for Pornography. No-one’s giving me one.

I found this on the web.

“There is no legal definition of Pornography, which is very confusing. The law applies to the Internet in the same way as it would apply to any other type of media. What is illegal off-line is illegal online.”

“Pornographic material is considered legally ‘obscene' if it is judged to have ‘a tendency to deprave and corrupt' the intended audience. (Obscene Publications Acts 1959 & 1964, as amended). This normally applies only to the most violent and degrading adult pornography. It is currently an offence to ‘publish’ obscene material. The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 has introduced a new offence of being in possession of 'extreme pornographic material'.”

There’s that phrase again; “deprave and corrupt”. But at least the article is going a little way further, talking about; “the most violent and degrading adult pornography.”

They still don’t say what. It’s left to my lurid, dirty imagination.

Then I found this;

"Pornographic material which depicts necrophilia, bestiality or violence that is life threatening or likely to result in serious injury to the anus, breasts or genitals has no place in a modern society and should not be tolerated," says a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice. (BBC News 2008)

At last, some words I can understand. I mean, this is important. Some stuff I want spelling out.

But even though I’m being given some guidelines, I still feel insecure. I may not write stories about necrophilia, but I have written a story about bestiality. I haven’t written a snuff tale, or stuff that is life threatening, but some of the stuff I write could cause serious injury if put into practice. That must mean that I am writing pornography. I do write intentionally, very deliberately to allure and arouse sexual excitement. That’s what the Woman from the Ministry is talking about. 

That’s right, isn’t it? Well isn’t it?

There have been a number of high profile cases brought against various individuals over the years, brought by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

From the Web again;

·         1960: the “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”, obscenity trial (found not guilty)
·         1971: the “Schoolkids’Oz” obscenity trial (found guilty, overturned on appeal)
·         1976: the “Inside Linda Lovelace”, obscenity trial (found not guilty)
·         1984: the “Gay’s The Word”, prosecution (charges dropped)
·         1991: David Britton’s "Lord Horror" prosecution (not prosecuted - banned under the act, but later overturned)
·         2009: Darryn Walker found not guilty under the Obscene Publications Act for posting a story entitled "Girls (Scream) Aloud", a fictional written account on an internet erotic story site describing the kidnap, rape and murder of pop group Girl’s Aloud.

“A defence against the charge of obscenity on the grounds of literary merit was introduced in the Obscene Publications Act 1959. The OPA was tested in the high-profile obscenity trial brought against Penguin Books for publishing “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” (by D.H. Lawrence) in 1960. The book was found to have merit, and Penguin Books was found not guilty — a ruling which granted far more freedom to publish explicit material. This trial did not establish the 'merit' defence as an automatic right; several controversial books and publications were the subject of British court cases throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s.”

Times change, as D.H. Lawrence says, and now it seems rather ridiculous that Lawrence’s LADY CHATTERLY’S LOVER, could have been the subject of such a high profile case. Even in amending the law in 2008, we aren’t given any real guidelines, as this only states that we are breaking the law if we are; “in possession of 'extreme pornographic material'.” Probably, in the future, it will seem prosaic that the law failed to give us any real guidelines as to what is permissible. 

They continue;

“There is a substantial overlap between legal erotic literature and illegal pornography, with the distinction traditionally made in the English-speaking courts on the basis of perceived literary merit. Purely textual pornography has not been prosecuted since the “Inside Linda Lovelace” trial of 1976. In late August 2005, the government announced that it plans to criminalise possession of extreme pornographic material, rather than just publication.”

But what’s really going on here? These are surely just fantasies; stories that we tell ourselves. Images and words to allure us and arouse. We’re grownups, we know the difference between illusion and reality; don’t we? What is the government so afraid of that they need to censor our dreams -- and our nightmares?

Well according to the law, we do need to be shielded from certain types of Porn. Some people apparently can’t separate their dreams from the real world. The vulnerable do need to be protected from predators. Eminent men and women, report that viewing extreme, explicit Porn, can influence minds that are already disturbed.

Everyday news reports are loaded with stories of violent attacks, brutal rapes even murders. Whether the paedophile Roy Whiting, had viewed Porn before sexually assaulting and murdering little Sara Payne, we don’t know. Neither do we know if the Soham killer, Ian Huntley, had ever viewed Porn, before he murdered Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. We do know that Mark Bridger, murderer and sexual abuser of five-year-old April Jones, was addicted to child sex-abuse videos on the Web. 

And children have to be protected from sick minds, as do women and men from the perpetrators of domestic violence.

Is there any proof that Porn aggravates the urge to do harm? That viewing it, or reading it, can make folk forget that they are right thinking human beings? That they are unable to distinguish between right and wrong? There’s a lot of opinion that Porn is an unhealthy trigger and can push people over the edge into a dark world.

There are also opinions that state that viewing Porn does not act as a trigger at all. The urges to commit sexual and violent acts are innate in these people. Already in the psyche of the potential perpetrator.

Fulani remarked “…it would be an interesting experiment, wouldn’t it -- to actually set out to try and “deprave and corrupt” someone? And, I agree you certainly wouldn’t set about it by writing erotica…”

Several years ago, Jane Longhurst, a teacher from Brighton, was murdered. It later emerged that her killer had been compulsively accessing websites such as Club Dead and Rape Action, which contained images of women being abused and violated. When Graham Coutts was jailed for life, Jane Longhurst’s mother, Liz, began a campaign to ban the possession of such images.

Supported by her local M.P. she found a listening ear in the then Home Secretary, David Blunkett, who agreed to introduce legislation to ban the possession of “violent and extreme Pornography.”

“This was included in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill which will get its final reading this week and will get Royal Assent on 8th May (2008).”(From BBC News. 2008).

I think that’s all enough to be going on with. At least I understand now what people mean when they talk about “extreme porn.” I had an idea, but I didn’t really know when I started out writing this.

Was I naïve? I don’t know. And, as Janine Ashbless said to me when people talk about Porn and how it should be banned. What they usually mean is; “Erotica I don’t like.”

Perhaps the laws do need to be tighter -- perhaps, in the name of democracy the laws should be relaxed. As usual, as with any passionate debate, I find myself agreeing with the last person who has spoken.

One thing I did learn very early on, when I first started writing Pornographic stories, is that there are areas which I will not, cannot venture into. I remember reading a castration story on the Literotica website. It made me want to throw up. So did a lot of things I’ve read putting this post together.

But a lot of stuff makes me want to throw up. Some years ago I read Joseph Conrad’s novel; HEART OF DARKNESS. That made me want to throw up. So did the film; PLATOON. Neither the book, nor the film are Pornographic.

Still made me want to throw up.

Clearly, we can’t add “what makes billierosie wanna throw up” to our still, much needed absolute, definition of pornography.

Sometimes all I can say is; “I don’t know”.

And there is a glaring double standard. Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. It has everything that the Woman from the Ministry asserted was pornography. Rape, explicit sex, violence.

 I don’t think that theatres need to get permission to perform it. And I don’t expect the director issues a cautionary warning of sex and violence in the programme, or anywhere else.

Here's a summary of the play. It’s graphic and horrible.

Titus Andronicus, Roman general, returns from ten years of war with only four out of twenty-five sons left. He has captured Tamora, Queen of the Goths, her three sons, and Aaron the Moor. In obedience to Roman rituals, he sacrifices her eldest son to his own dead sons, which earns him Tamora's unending hatred and her promise of revenge.
Tamora is made empress by the new emperor Saturninus. To get back at Titus, she schemes with her lover Aaron to have Titus's two sons framed for the murder of Bassianus, the emperor's brother. Titus's sons are beheaded. Unappeased, she urges her sons Chiron and Demetrius to rape Titus's daughter Lavinia, after which they cut off her hands and tongue so she cannot give their crime away. Finally, even Titus's last surviving son Lucius is banished from Rome; he subsequently seeks alliance with the enemy Goths in order to attack Rome. Each new misfortune hits the aged, tired Titus with heavier impact. Eventually, he begins to act oddly and everyone assumes that he is crazy.
Tamora tries to capitalize on his seeming madness by pretending to be the figure of Revenge, come to offer him justice if Titus will only convince Lucius to cease attacking Rome. Titus, having feigned his madness all along, tricks her, captures her sons, kills them, and makes pie out of them. He feeds this pie to their mother in the final scene, after which he kills both Tamora and Lavinia, his own daughter. A rash of killings ensue; the only people left alive are Marcus, Lucius, Young Lucius, and Aaron. Lucius has the unrepentant Aaron buried alive, and Tamora's corpse thrown to the beasts. He becomes the new emperor of Rome.

Thanks to Jan Vander Laenen for sending me the D.H.Lawrence manuscript.