Friday, 31 December 2010


It’s been a few years now, since I discovered Angela Carter. It was on a course about adaptations of novels into film. Fairly recently, Neil Jordan had released “The Company of Wolves,” from the Angela Carter short story of the same name. It’s a strange, haunting story -- a re-telling, if you like of the tale of “Little Red Riding Hood.”

Angela Carter's re-writes of traditional European folk/fairy tales bring with them dark aspects of the human psyche that would have existed in the oral tradition, but which became sanitised when written down in the 18th / 19th centuries as parables of instruction for children.

Angela Carter said of the “Bloody Chamber” collection. "My intention was not to do 'versions' or, as the American edition of the book said, horribly, 'adult' fairy tales, but to extract the latent content from the traditional stories and to use it as the beginnings of new stories."

Helen Simpson, writing in The Guardian 24th June 2006

“Angela Carter knew from the start that she was drawn to "Gothic tales, cruel tales, tales of wonder, tales of terror, fabulous narratives that deal directly with the imagery of the unconscious". She drew a sharp distinction between what she described as "those fragments of epiphanic experience which are the type of the 20th-century story", and the "ornate, unnatural" style and symbolism of her favoured form, the tale. When, in her second collection, “The Bloody Chamber“, she continued in this Gothic mode but with narratives suggested by traditional west European fairy tales, she found she had conjured up an exotic new hybrid that would carry her voice to a wider audience than it had reached before.”

The unity of the book, and the sustaining of the literary atmosphere, is created through the varied textual forms that Angela Carter chooses to chronicle. So, for her examinations here she hand-picks legends that have the strongest roots in sensuality... so we have vampirism, werewolves, feral children, and jungle beasts beguiling and defiling a succession of young women in a series of deeply emotional narrative episodes. Angela Carter has a grasp of poetic use of language and she has deft storytelling capabilities. Needless to say, the stories featured drip with a dense, erotic atmosphere that is occasionally overwhelming... though there is also a strong underlining of horror, tension and mystery; with the reader free to read between the lines and decode the various clues that Angela Carter layers within her work.

In “The Bloody Chamber” collection, Little Red Riding Hood (The Company of Wolves) is not saved by the woodcutter, but instead tames the beast by getting naked and giving vent to her awakening sexuality. Most of the stories in the collection focus on a girl on the cusp of womanhood, who steps off the path and is rewarded with the discovery of a sexuality that is not repressively phallocentric.

“The little girl burst out laughing, she knew she was nobody’s meat.”

Little Red Riding Hood doesn’t get eaten in Angela Carter’s telling of the tale, instead, the girl fucks the wolf. She rapes the wolf. After their savage fucking Angela Carter gives us an image that moves from the erotic to the pornographic in its imagery. Can pornography be beautiful? In this passage Angela Carter shows that it can.

“She will lay his fearful head on her lap and she will pick out the lice from his pelt and perhaps she will put the lice into her mouth and eat them, as he will bid her, as she would do in a savage marriage ceremony.”

In The Tiger’s Bride, Angela Carter retells the story of “Beauty and the Beast.” This is no Disney version. There isn’t a feeling of all being well, or happy ever after in this tale. But there is a sort of contentment. The heroine, in discovering the truth about the Beast, discovers the truth about herself.

This story takes us on a beautiful, shocking and often frightening journey into realms of innocence and sensuality that few literary works can equate. Angela Carter’s writing, here merges with poetry. Her words are economic, yet still she gives us vivid pictures.

“The candles dropped hot, acrid gouts of wax on my bare shoulders.”

Here she describes the trappings of luxury, the display of rich scenery in rich language.

“The Beast wears a garment of Ottoman design, a loose, dull purple gown with gold embroidery round the neck that falls from his shoulders to conceal his feet. The feet of the chair he sits in are handsomely clawed. He hides his hands in his ample sleeves.”
This is dark, musky writing. Is it bestiality? Perhaps. Or a wish fulfilment story for Furries?

The heroine describes her encounter with the Beast.

“He dragged himself closer and closer to me, until I felt the harsh velvet of his head against my hand, then a tongue, abrasive as sandpaper. ‘He will lick the skin off me!’
And each stroke of his tongue ripped off skin after successive skin, all the skins of a life in the world, and left behind a nascent patina of shining hairs. My earrings turned back to water and trickled down my shoulders; I shrugged the drops off my beautiful fur.”
In Angela Carter’s Beauty and the Beast, Beauty is transformed by Beast, not the other way round.

Helen Simpson, writing in The Guardian 24th June 2006

“The unnamed first-person heroine of The Bloody Chamber's title story appears at first to be a Justine-like sacrificial virgin in a white dress, routinely destined for immolation; however, she changes during the narrative, and finishes by escaping her inheritance - female masochism as a modus vivendi (and morendi) - after a full-scale survey of its temptations. The story is set in a castle on sea-girt Mont St Michel in fin-de-siècle France, with more than a nod to De Sade's cannibal Minski and his lake-surrounded castle with its torture chamber and captive virgins.

This story is also a version of the Bluebeard fairy tale that appeared in Charles Perrault's collection, where a new bride unlocks the forbidden room in her husband's castle to find the murdered corpses of his former wives. Perrault drew the moral that female curiosity leads to retribution, though in the France of his time, where death in childbirth was commonplace and four-fifths of the resultant widowers remarried, the bloody chamber might surely have been seen as the womb. In Angela Carter's 20th-century version, the menace is located not in the perils of childbirth, but in the darker side of hetero-sexuality, in sadomasochism and the idea of fatal passion.

Nearly all her writing is strikingly full of cultural and intertextual references, but this story is extremely so. It is an artfully constructed edifice of signs and allusions and clues. The Marquis, as he is called (suggesting, of course, the Marquis de Sade), is a parodic evil aesthete and voluptuary with his monocle and beard, his gifts of marrons glacés and hothouse flowers, and his penchant for quoting the juicier bits of Baudelaire and De Sade.

On the walls of his castle hang paintings of dead women by Moreau, Ensor and Gauguin; he listens to Wagner (specifically "Liebestod" - "love-death" - in Tristan und Isolde); he smokes Romeo y Julieta cigars "fat as a baby's arm"; his library is stocked with graphically- described sadistic pornography and his dungeon chamber with mutilated corpses and itemised instruments of torture.

In this heavily perfumed story, the Marquis' smell of spiced leather, Cuir de Russie, is referred to more than half a dozen times, reverting at the end "to the elements of flayed hide and excrement of which it was composed". Descriptions of scented lilies, "cobraheaded, funereal", smelling of "pampered flesh", appear nine times, their fat stems like "dismembered arms". The words "immolation," "impalement", "martyr" and "sacrifice" occur, motif-like, at regular intervals but, abruptly - rather too abruptly for some critics - on the last two pages of this novella-length story the heroine/victim is rescued from decapitation by the sudden arrival of her pistol-toting maman, who puts a bullet through the Marquis' head. Her fate is not immutable after all; she discovers that her future looks quite different now that she has escaped from the old story and is learning to sing a new song.

This book takes us on a beautiful, shocking and often frightening journey into realms of innocence and sensuality that few literary works can equate. Angela Carter’s talent as a storyteller and as a poet must not be under estimated. But that very talent is something of a sad reminder of just what a great talent we’ve lost. Thankfully, this book should succeed in opening our eyes to her genius, since it brilliantly demonstrates her various creative skills mirrored within each of these separate stories.

Thursday, 16 December 2010


It’s been a long time since I saw a production of William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. That was back sometime in the 1980’s, at the Royal Shakespeare Company, in Stratford-upon-Avon. Jonathan Pryce was Macbeth and Sinaed Cusak was his Lady. But even though it’s some 25 years since I saw the play, I hadn’t forgotten about the profound effect it had on me then, and still has now. Last night I watched the film version of Rupert Goold's production on television. If anyone missed it, you can probably watch it on BBC I Player -- but only if you live in the U.K.

So, yes Macbeth still effects me, and infects me. I turned off the T.V. last night feeling just a little grubby, as if I had been a party to something indecent, sacrilegious, obscene, as if I, like the characters had blood on my hands. Yes, there's something about the Scottish play that I find really gripping and horrible, but fascinating at the same time.

Rupert Goold's production of “Macbeth” was filmed on location at Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire, and is set in an undefined and ominous country. The hauntingly atmospheric film offers a very 21st century allegory of war and the quest for power; it’s a dramatic and enthralling recreation of Shakespeare's claustrophobic and bloody tragedy.

Goold brings the action forward and the setting is a never identified central European country where things are on the verge of collapse. The production was filmed in the environs of the underground tunnels and rooms beneath Welbeck Abbey which gives the whole thing an air of intensity and unpredictability.

Patrick Stewart aka Jean Luc Godard, takes the lead role.

Adam Sweeting writes at “The Arts Desk”:

“Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth prepare for regicide.
Via the Chichester Festival and acclaimed runs on Broadway and in the West End, director Rupert Goold's Macbeth has made a sizzling transition to television. Set in an anarchic, war-torn Scotland and suffused with imagery of murder, torture and Stalin-style purges, it placed Patrick Stewart's thunderous central performance in a spinning black hole of evil, into which he is remorselessly sucked as the action develops.

We see Macbeth steadily torn apart by a maelstrom of ambition, conscience and destiny, the latter revealed in regular bulletins from the flesh-crawlingly sinister Three Witches. Nonetheless, even as torrents of spurting blood began to surge through the action like a Tsunami, Stewart never quite lets us lose sight of the brave and honourable qualities that once seemed to mark out Macbeth as a true leader, rather than a natural born killer.”

The play’s supernatural overtones make it particularly well suited to drawing out interiorised themes of damnation and delusion. Apart from some battle scenes and crumbly newsreel footage of Soviet armies marching through Red Square, the action is mostly located in a network of claustrophobic white-tiled bunkers and tunnels, which could have been an abattoir or a Victorian lunatic asylum. The scene is set with a maimed and bloody soldier being wheeled past on a gurney, just able to gasp out news from the battlefield, as the witches materialise as nurses in a hospital for combat casualties. However, rather than acting as angels of mercy, they briskly euthanise the wounded man and then rip out his heart for their ghastly black-magic rituals. The "hubble, bubble" scene was delivered as a mutated rap, with an electronic soundtrack and jerky, processed video.”

Eric Denby’s essay: “A Freudian Perspective on Lady Macbeth,” informs us;

“Three hundred years prior to Sigmund Freud, William Shakespeare wrote Macbeth , a tragic tale of where one’s unchecked and unadulterated desires can lead to. Lady Macbeth acts as a sophisticated Freudian id to Macbeth’s ego, taking action to reach her aims, with no understanding of the true ramifications of her immorality.

The concept of being the queen, and the immediate pleasure associated with it, turns Lady Macbeth into an uninhibited id, seeking only to achieve the crown with little care for the consequences. To accomplish this, she has to prepare herself; she needs to be strong, wilful, and manipulative, so that she can incite Macbeth into killing King Duncan. Lady Macbeth first appears in the play after receiving a letter from her husband detailing the witch's prophesies. There is little doubt in Lady Macbeth's mind that her husband will be King:

“Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shall be / What thought art promised” She is keenly aware of Macbeth's weaknesses, that he is;

“too full o' th' milk of human kindness”,

and though he doesn't lack the ambition, he lacks;

“the illness should attend it”.

Macbeth possesses courage, compassion, loyalty to the crown, and other traits that are not befitting a man that must take matters into his own hands. Lady Macbeth must, in essence, become the man of action. To do so she calls upon evil spirits to aid her:

“Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty.”

It is absolutely essential for her to be barren of female qualities – no compassion, no kindness, and no pity. She needs to attain a level of intense cruelty, eliminating all traces of womanhood, especially since Macbeth has some of those traits already.”

Kate Fleetwood plays Lady Macbeth with a psychopathic intensity. Without her Macbeth’s actions would have remained as an unfulfilled dream. She is the motivating force behind the tragic drama. It is through her that the seed germinates into a monster.

Macbeth contains some of Shakespeare’s most vivid female characters. Lady Macbeth and the three witches are extremely wicked, but they are also stronger and more imposing than the men around them. It is the sinister witches that cast the mood for the entire play.

Shakespeare has the witches speak in language of contradiction. Their famous line;

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair,” is a prominent example, but there are many others, such as their characterization of Banquo as;

“lesser than Macbeth, and greater”.

Such speech adds to the play’s sense of moral confusion by implying that nothing is quite what it seems. Interestingly, Macbeth’s first line in the play is;

“So foul and fair a day I have not seen”. This line echoes the witches’ words and establishes a connection between them and Macbeth. It also suggests that Macbeth is the focus of the drama’s moral confusion.

Adam Sweeting again;

“This production has suggestions of Hitler in his bunker, surrounded by trembling sycophants. But it is in his heart-of-darkness relationship with Lady Macbeth (Kate Fleetwood), her raven-black hair and harshly lit facial features these are elemental signs which emphasise her implacable willpower and ambition on Macbeth's behalf. However, while it is her tragedy to be devoured by the guilt which drives her to suicide, Macbeth finally appears liberated by the chance to revert to his warrior self and fight to the death.

Duncan is given the first word in this television version acclaimed production of Macbeth, not – as is more conventional – the witches.

We are given martial music, archive footage of Katyusha rockets and T-34 tanks, a close up of a clutching hand and then;

"What bloody man is that?"

as the king advances down the corridor of a chaotic front-line clearing station towards the stretchered figure of the Sergeant, that helpfully, garrulous casualty who brings us up to date with Macbeth's valour. And, if, on seeing this production of Shakespeare’s play you grumble at this point about Goold's peremptory excision of the supernatural in favour of applied historical concept, you probably won’t be grumbling for long.”

Friday, 10 December 2010


It’s a strange little fetish. At least I find it so. When I first heard about it, I giggled. How could dressing up as a pony be erotic? Yet for the men and women involved, it is all consuming; a raison d’etre. And to the uninitiated I think that all fetishes are strange when they are confronted with what turns some folk on.

From Wiki.

“Animal role-play may be either a non-sexual or an erotic sexual role-play (when it may also be called pet-play, pony-play, ponyism, kitten-play, or pup-play). In its erotic sexual role-play form, one or more of the participants takes on the role of a real or imaginary animal in character, including appropriate mannerisms and behaviour, and sometimes a partner will act as another animal, or, in a sexual context, may take the role of rider, trainer, or caretaker (or even breeding partner).

The principal theme of animal role-play is usually the voluntary transformation of a human being to animal status, and focus on the altered mind-space created. The most common examples are probably canids (pup, dog, wolf), felines (cat, kitten, lion) or equines (pony, horse). Animal role-play is also used in a BDSM context, where a person may be humiliated by being treated as an animal.

The origins of animal role-play and pet-play are probably various and diverse, again depending upon the participants involved. However, its origins are certainly influenced by costuming, fiction, myth and legend, role-play and psychodrama in their various aspects. The first commercial manifestation of this fetish was created by Simon Benson the founder of the website.

Like much of erotic play and role-play, animal role-play in an erotic or relational context is entirely defined by the people involved and by their mood and interests at the time of play. It ranges from the simple imitation of a vocal whinnying of a horse to the barking, panting or playful nudging of a puppy, or playful behaviour of a kitten, to crawling around on all fours and being fed, or petted, by hand. (In the latter instance, its motives may be similar to those of age play, i.e. taking on a role that one feels spiritually appropriate or which allows for nurturing, and a change from usual roles in everyday life). To the greater extremes of dressing up as a pony in modified horse tack, masks, prosthetics and temporary bondage based body modification (such as binding the forearms to the upper arms and/or the calves to the thighs).

Public participation in human animal role-play is varied. A couple could inconspicuously role-play a silly but loving pet play scene in public, but it would look like one partner is merely stroking the other's neck innocently to the casual observer. In the case of many convention-going furries and some BDSM fetishists, one partner may wear a dog collar with a leash attached.

The reasons for playing such a character or animal can vary as much as the actual physical manifestations and intensity of the play. Some people enjoy being able to "cut loose" into a different, or more dynamic personality (e.g., Were-creatures or Catgirls; see other variations). In some cases, pet play is seen as a loving, quiet cuddling time where there is no need for verbalizations and the simple act of stroking, rubbing and holding the other partner is satisfying or reassuring in and of itself for those involved. For others, there may be a spiritual side to it. Some feel closer to their animal totem, while others may identify with something akin to a deeper side or part of their own psyche (see: Therianthropy). For still others, there is the experience of power exchange set up in a context or structure which they can accept. Clearly, again, it depends on the people involved and what they bring to it or take from it.

Pony-play is sometimes referred to as "The Aristotelian Perversion," in reference to legend that Aristotle had a penchant for being ridden like a horse. Ponies (people involved in pony-play) generally divide themselves to three groups although some will participate in two or perhaps all three:

Cart ponies: ponies who pull a sulky with their owner.

Riding ponies: ponies who are ridden, either on all fours or on two legs, with the "rider" on the shoulders of the "pony" (also known as Shoulder riding). Note that a human back is generally not strong enough to take the weight of another adult without risk of injury, so four-legged "riding" is generally symbolic, with the "rider" taking most of their weight on their own legs.

Show ponies: ponies who show off their dressage skills and often wear elaborate harnesses, plumes and so on.

It should be pointed out that each type of play can focus on a certain "strength" of an animal character. Pony play often involves the practice and training that a horse owner or trainer would put their horse through to learn how to walk, canter, etc., as modified for human limbs. Puppy play often can involve BDSM related discipline. Cow Play often involves fantasies of lactation and impregnation. The usual limits of safe, sane and consensual apply to role-play as much as any other activity between humans who accept and respect their partner's interests and limits. For most, this does not include bestiality.

One group, the LA Ponies and Critters Club, takes the community idea of BDSM animal role-play further by staging a mock foxhunt in local forested areas. These events bring together pony-players, puppy-players and their respective humans for a cooperative, community bonding activity. One of the canine players volunteers to be the “fox” and marks a trail in the forest. The other puppy-players form the pack of “hounds” that search out the fox and bark/howl to bring the pony-players and their “riders” to capture the “fox”.”

From Pony play 101.

“Trigger, The Human Equine is an interesting character. His dream is to live 24/7/365 as a horse and it looks as though that dream is coming true. To each his own. I do enjoy being human most of the time. It makes those trips into pony head space so much more special for me. Nothing is more boring to me than being hitched to a post and left to wait while my trainer is working with another pony. I don't resent it and I'm not jealous of the attention at all, it's just not very entertaining unless someone is grooming me, petting me, feeding me a treat or otherwise giving me something to focus on. I'm most likely to misbehave when I'm bored. Ponies are high-maintenance creatures! I can't imagine living 24/7 as a pony, but that's me.

Check out Equus Eroticus for further information and events.

I shall be cross posting this to Frequently Felt

Friday, 3 December 2010


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

Female hysteria was a once-common medical diagnosis, made exclusively in women, which is today no longer recognized by modern medical authorities as a medical disorder. Its diagnosis and treatment were routine for many hundreds of years in Western Europe. Hysteria was widely discussed in the medical literature of the Victorian era. Women considered to be suffering from it exhibited a wide array of symptoms including faintness, nervousness, insomnia, fluid retention, heaviness in abdomen, muscle spasm, shortness of breath, irritability, loss of appetite for food or sex, and "a tendency to cause trouble".
Since ancient times women considered to be suffering from hysteria would sometimes undergo "pelvic massage" — manual stimulation of the genitals by the doctor until the patient experienced "hysterical paroxysm" (orgasm).

Water massages as a treatment for hysteria c. 1860.

The history of the notion of hysteria can be traced to ancient times; in ancient Greece it was described in the gynaecological treatises of the Hippocratic corpus, which date from the 5th and 4th centuries BCE. Plato's dialogue Timaeus tells of the uterus wandering throughout a woman’s body, strangling the victim as it reaches the chest and causing disease. This theory is the source of the name, which stems from the Greek cognate of uterus, hysteria (ὑστέρα).

It was thought to be caused by sexual deprivation in particularly passionate women: hysteria was noted quite often in virgins, nuns, widows and, occasionally, married women. The prescription in medieval and renaissance medicine was intercourse if married, marriage if single, or vaginal massage (pelvic massage) by a midwife as a last recourse.

Advertisement from 1910.

A physician in 1859 claimed that a quarter of all women suffered from hysteria. One physician catalogued 75 pages of possible symptoms of hysteria and called the list incomplete; almost any ailment could fit the diagnosis. Physicians thought that the stresses associated with modern life caused civilized women to be both more susceptible to nervous disorders and to develop faulty reproductive tracts. In America, such disorders in women reaffirmed that the United States was on par with Europe; one American physician expressed pleasure that the country was ”catching up” to Europe in the prevalence of hysteria.

Rachel P. Maines has observed that such cases were quite profitable for physicians, since the patients were at no risk of death, but needed constant treatment. The only problem was that physicians did not enjoy the tedious task of vaginal massage (generally referred to as 'pelvic massage'): The technique was difficult for a physician to master and could take hours to achieve "hysterical paroxysm." Referral to midwives, which had been common practice, meant a loss of business for the physician.

A 1918 Sears, Roebuck and Co. ad with several models of vibrators.

A solution was the invention of massage devices, which shortened treatment from hours to minutes, removing the need for midwives and increasing a physician’s treatment capacity. Already at the turn of the century, hydrotherapy devices were available at Bath, and by the mid-19th century, they were popular at many high-profile bathing resorts across Europe and in America. By 1870, a clockwork-driven vibrator was available for physicians. In 1873, the first electromechanical vibrator was used at an asylum in France for the treatment of hysteria.

While physicians of the period acknowledged that the disorder stemmed from sexual dissatisfaction, they seemed unaware of or unwilling to admit the sexual purposes of the devices used to treat it. In fact, the introduction of the speculum was far more controversial than that of the vibrator.

By the turn of the century, the spread of home electricity brought the vibrator to the consumer market. The appeal of cheaper treatment in the privacy of one’s own home understandably made the vibrator a popular early home appliance. In fact, the electric home vibrator was on the market before many other home appliance ’essentials’: nine years before the electric vacuum cleaner and 10 years before the electric iron. A page from a Sears catalog of home electrical appliances from 1918 includes a portable vibrator with attachments, billed as ”Very useful and satisfactory for home service.”
Other cures for female hysteria included bed rest, bland food, seclusion, refraining from mentally taxing tasks (for example, reading) and sensory deprivation.

Over the course of the early 20th century, the number of diagnoses of female hysteria sharply declined, and today it is no longer a recognized illness. Many reasons are behind its decline: many medical authors claim that the decline is due to laypeople gaining a greater understanding of the psychology behind conversion disorders such as hysteria, and it therefore no longer gets the desired response from society.

Thanks to Jan Vander Laenen for telling me about the uterus/hysteria connection.

I shall be posting this on Frequently Felt.

Friday, 26 November 2010


Hot off the press from SIZZLER RENAISSANCE,dazzling male-male encounters - from the depths to the sublime.Jan Vander Laenen is one of Europe's most celebrated gay male voices. This first ever collection includes stories from Best Gay Erotica, Best Gay Love Stories, Bears, Passions, Stories of Extreme Sex, and more. The Duquesnoy Trilogy is a miniature outline of the leather scene; A Glass of Cognac, a very French story about betrayal and unfaithfulness. Many of these stories are situated in Brussels, Belgium, the city where he happens to live and which, as the capital of the European Community, already displays the international chaos characterized by our present world – and that makes it the perfect breeding ground for an author with imagination.


Truth is available in the street for free (...). Bluntly stated, the
writer's mission is skilfully and lovingly to lie.
– Richard Walter

Maybe Richard Walter is right with the above quotation. It may
indeed be the writer's task to lie, or at least cover up reality, or give
it some spin.

Until now, my own life, my own reality, has certainly not been
boring. I have been through the necessary trials and tribulations in
the areas of family, friendship, love, eroticism and professional life– perhaps enough to write an autobiography – in short, a list of
naked truths with a possible central theme, one that would serve
the statement "character is destiny”

Meanwhile, the short story has become my cherished genre; it gives me the possibility to focus on one single event of my life, add some autobiographic ingredients and white lies, and elaborate these to a mini-intrigue with a plot, a beginning, a middle and an end, so that eventually this event is transformed into a meaningful experience – or so it seems.

Some examples? The opening short story, My funny Valentine, becomes a perfidious example of what sexual jealousy can lead to; The Vibrator, an amusing testimony of the symptoms of anal addiction, The Duquesnoy Trilogy, a miniature outline of the leather scene, The Corpse Washer, a romantic rhapsody on the theme of absolute love, A Glass of Cognac, a very French story about betrayal and unfaithfulness.

The number of stories I have written, in addition to plays, novels, essays and scripts, must have now grown to more than a hundred. The forty stories in this collection are those that have succeeded, for one reason or another, in becoming an English language version due to a faithful translator.

They are some what haphazardly arranged and can be read in random order. Many are situated in Brussels, Belgium, the city where I happen to live and which, as the capital of the European Community, already displays the international chaos characterised by our present world – and that makes it the perfect breeding ground for an author with imagination.

So, imagination; I would hope that this collection principally bears witness of an imagination filtered through the prism of logic, the same imagination that I so admire in the anonymous and renowned authors of the short story genre, 1001 Nights, the fairy tales by Andersen and Grimm, the dark stories of Edgar Allan Poe, the raw sketches of Guy de Maupassant, the Urban Legends by Harold Brunvand.

I hope you enjoy reading this collection!
– Jan Vander Laenen

“My Funny Valentin is a story of revenge. It is indeed an illustration of the old saying; “revenge is a dish best served cold.” So say the English, and I think the French say it too. Jan writes with humour about a love turned sour, and I am with him all the way when, he calls on supernatural assistance, to triumph over the unkindness of a so called friend.

In “A Last Cigarette,” Jan demonstrates an irrepressibly, wicked humour, a wit that crosses geographical and cultural divides. Do you need to be a Gay man to fully appreciate this story? Coming from a Straight woman, definitely not. Do you need to have been a smoker? No! No” You just need to be receptive to a playful story teller, who spins you a tale that may, or may not be true.

How many of us can honestly say that we haven’t played a mischievous joke on a friend? In Laetitia’s Curriculum Vitae, Jan is a bad, bad man, rewriting Laetitia’s history. It’s a funny, provocative tale, with an enchanting end.

Enjoy “Duquesnoy. Three Tales About A Brussels Leather Bar: Prince Albert. !Be prepared to giggle until you pee yourself at the antics of the crowd at the Brussels leather bar. Jan writes enticingly and joyfully, celebrating his orientation as a Gay man in a small area of town, where everyone knows everyone else.

Jan writes playfully about sex. The stories are enchanting; full of life and vigour. The way Jan uses language is divine, as he carves out imagery, using word and metaphor to bring the reader enthralling, bewitching pictures, that draw on our deepest, darkest desires. I cannot recommend Jan’s book highly enough. He amuses, entertains, even shocks sometimes. Read it alone, read it with one, or two partners, whatever takes your fancy, but I guarantee you won’t be able to put “Skilfully, Lovingly” down, as you beg, pleading, for just one more story.

Friday, 12 November 2010


Tom Lehrer's wonderful satire. This time it's Sexually Transmitted Infections!

Friday, 5 November 2010


There’s been so much written about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood already, that I’m hovering over my keyboard, wondering whether I should add to the thoughtful, and sometimes thoughtless, essays floating around the Web. And it’s not just the Web either, we’ve just had yet another TV series about the band of idealists. Franny Moyle sings their praises. Germaine Greer writes a particularly spiteful piece about them in the Guardian newspaper. But as I was pondering on whether or not I should add my two penny worth, it occurred to me, that no-one is talking about the paintings.

Okay, there’s a lot of stuff said about their personal lives, their incestuous love affairs and their sexual encounters with their models, but no-one says anything about the pictures; they talk about how Lizzie Siddal caught a chill, shivering, in a bath of chilly water, as she posed for John Everett Millais, while he painted her as Ophelia. Or how Rossetti dug up Lizzie’s corpse to retrieve his precious book of poems. And, of course, there’s John Ruskin’s failure to consummate his marriage to Effie Gray. She subsequently married Millais.

Yes, yes, I too am talking about the much publicised biographical details, but from now on, this essay is going to be about the paintings, I promise.

Here is what the PRB wanted to achieve. From the Web.

Before the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood formed, prominent art critic John Ruskin advised his readers: "Go to nature in all singleness of heart...rejecting nothing, selecting nothing and scorning nothing; believing all things to be right and good, and rejoicing always in the truth" The Brotherhood and subsequent generations of Pre-Raphaelites took these words to heart. They condemned contemporary British painting--indeed, all art created since the time of Italian Renaissance painter Raphael--as contrived. The art of Leonardo and Michelangelo was corrupt. These artists, they claimed, arranged their subjects more for the overall artistic effect of the composition than out of any desire to portray what one might actually find in nature. The Pre-Raphaelites also disliked Impressionism, calling it too vague to portray the natural. The art of their contemporaries, they believed, was "slosh."

Believing all forms of art to be interrelated, the Pre-Raphaelite artists often took subjects for their paintings from famous works of literature; alternately, many of them wrote poems to accompany their artwork. (You can see these poems around the margins of some of their works.) Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti (particularly Morris) took an interest in illustrating books as well; Morris produced the wonderful, acclaimed Kelmscott Chaucer later in his career.

One of the best known paintings to come out of the movement was Millais,’ “Ophelia.” I can only imagine the reaction of the public seeing this painting unveiled. Millais uses wonderful, eye catching colours. Vivid, bright, scarlets, oranges and golds. Peacock blue and jade also play prominent roles.

Ophelia has her lips parted in what is probably her final breath. Her skirts are diaphanous; already she is dissolving into the stream. Nature pays homage to her beauty; roses and tiny lilies bow their heads to her as she passes.

The Ophelia, shines with exuberance, even though the narrative speaks of death; suicide. The subject matter is morbid, yet life oozes from Millais’ canvas.

The group took the vast majority of its subjects from medieval romances or Biblical stories, possibly because of its admiration for Italian poet Dante Alighieri. Shakespeare was another popular source; Ophelia, particularly, was painted over and over again.

By painting their canvasses white before they began, the Pre-Raphaelites achieved a look of hyper-natural light and near transparency. Their poetry, likewise, used such an excess of description that it's sometimes called "word painting."

Although the Pre-Raphaelites embraced Ruskin's call for naturalistic painting, they violently opposed Victorian materialism--the tendency in their society to see things as nothing more than physical, denying any deeper meaning. Almost every one of their paintings points to something beyond what appears; the subjects of these works of art, often people, are symbols of something greater. For instance, Rossetti's "Roman de la Rose" illustrates a medieval romance in which the rose, the beloved, stands for the human soul; its lover is Christ. The Pre-Raphaelites borrowed Biblical language for such symbols, calling them "types."

William Holman Hunt paints “The Awakening Conscience” in 1853. The complex composition is loaded with symbolism.

Hunt’s approach to art was often highly moralistic. Here he shows a kept woman in a modern setting, in order to explore contemporary issues of sin, guilt and prostitution. The young woman rises suddenly from her lover’s lap. Inspired by the light pouring through the window from the garden, she realises the error of her ways. Hunt captures this fleeting moment of consciousness with characteristic exactitude. Many of the intricate details, such as the bird trying to escape from a cat, emphasise the picture’s underlying message of possible redemption.

John William Waterhouse painted “The Lady of Shalott”, in 1888.
“The Lady of Shalott" is a Victorian ballad by the English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892). Like his other early poems – "Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere" and "Galahad" – the poem recasts Arthurian subject matter loosely based on medieval sources.

The poem was particularly popular amongst artists of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, who shared Tennyson's interest in Arthuriana; several of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood made paintings based on episodes from the poem.

According to scholar Anne Zanzucchi, "in a more general sense, it is fair to say that the pre-Raphaelite fascination with Arthuriana is traceable to Tennyson's work". Tennyson's biographer Leonée Ormonde finds the Arthurian material is "introduced as a valid setting for the study of the artist and the dangers of personal isolation".

Here is the tale.

The Lady of Shalott lives in an island castle in a river which flows to Camelot, but little is known about her by the local farmers.
She has been cursed, we don’t know by whom, and so she must constantly weave a magic web without looking directly out at the world. Instead, she looks into a mirror which reflects the busy road and the people of Camelot which pass by her island.
Then, one day she sees the handsome Lancelot. The effect of seeing him is profound. She stops weaving and looks out her window toward Camelot, bringing about the curse.

"Out flew the web and floated wide-
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
'The curse is come upon me,' cried
The Lady of Shalott."

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood tell, and re-tell old, old stories. They give us symbols that speak to us in a strange, language, a language that is ancient. Because the language is buried in our unconscious we understand. The symbols are from our dreams and nightmares. Our memories and fleeting thoughts. The Pre-Raphaelites’ lucid language, expressed through canvas and brushstrokes compliment and anticipate the theories of Carl Jung by many decades.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Vanessa Duriès

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, from Amazon, UK

“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 accept and resign 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, because he told me about the enigmatic Vanessa Duriès.

Friday, 22 October 2010


Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed (Alžbeta Bátoriová in Slovak, Báthory Erzsébet in Hungarian, 7 August 1560 – 21 August 1614) was a countess from the renowned Báthory family. Although in modern times she has been labelled the most prolific female serial killer in history, evidence of her alleged crimes is scant and her guilt is debated. She is nevertheless remembered as the "Blood Countess" or "Bloody Lady of Čachtice", after the castle near Trenčín in Slovakia (formerly the Kingdom of Hungary) where she spent most of her adult life.

She has been the inspiration for horror films, and has been the force behind numerous stories during the eighteenth and 19th centuries. The most common motif of these works was that of the countess bathing in her victims' blood, in order to retain beauty or youth.

This legend appeared in print for the first time in 1729, in the Jesuit scholar László Turóczi’s Tragica Historia, the first written account of the Báthory case. At the beginning of the 19th century, this certainty was questioned, and sadistic pleasure was considered a far more plausible motive for Elizabeth Báthory's crimes. In 1817, the witness accounts (which had surfaced in 1765) were published for the first time, suggesting that the bloodbaths were legend.

The legend nonetheless persisted in the popular imagination. Some versions of the story were told with the purpose of denouncing female vanity, while other versions aimed to entertain or thrill their audience.

But what of her life, her real life? What do we actually know about the Countess? Elizabeth was engaged to Ferenc Nádasdy, in what was probably a political arrangement within the circles of the aristocracy. The couple married on 8 May 1575, in the little palace of Varannó. There were approximately 4,500 guests at the wedding. Elizabeth moved to Nádasdy Castle in Sárvár and spent much time on her own, while her husband studied in Vienna.

There was considerable intermarriage amongst the Báthory family, with some of the usual problems of this practice produced as a result. Unfortunately, beyond the 'usual problems' some extraordinary difficulties arose (namely hideous psychoses) and several "evil geniuses" appeared, the notorious and sadistic Elizabeth, the most prominent of them.

But she was an intelligent, educated woman who could read and write in four languages. There were several instances where she intervened on behalf of destitute women, including a woman whose husband was captured by the Turks and a woman whose daughter was raped and impregnated.

In 1585, Elizabeth gave birth to a daughter, Anna. A second daughter, Ursula, and her first son, Andrew, both died at an early age. After this, Elizabeth had three more children, Katherine (born in 1594), Paul (born around 1597) and Miklós. All of her children were cared for by governesses as Elizabeth had been.

Elizabeth's husband died in 1604 at the age of 47, reportedly due to an injury sustained in battle. The couple had been married for 29 years.

After her husband's death, the Countess, and four collaborators were accused of torturing and killing hundreds of girls and young women, with one witness attributing to them over 600 victims, though the number for which they were convicted was 80.

Between 1602 and 1604, Lutheran minister István Magyari complained about atrocities both publicly and with the court in Vienna, after rumours had spread.

The Hungarian authorities took some time to respond to Magyari's complaints. Finally, in 1610, King Matthias assigned György Thurzo, the Palatine of Hungary, to investigate. Thurzo ordered two notaries to collect evidence in March 1610. Even before obtaining the results, Thurzó debated further proceedings with Elizabeth's son Paul and two of her sons-in-law. A trial and execution would have caused a public scandal and disgraced a noble and influential family (which at the time ruled Transylvania), and Elizabeth's considerable property would have been seized by the crown. Thurzo, along with Paul and her two sons-in-law, originally planned for Elizabeth to be spirited away to a nunnery, but as accounts of her murder of the daughters of lesser nobility spread, it was agreed that Elizabeth Báthory should be kept under strict house arrest, but that further punishment should be avoided.

Elizabeth herself was neither tried nor convicted. In 1610, however, she was imprisoned in the Čachtice Castle, where she remained bricked in a set of rooms until her death four years later.

In 1610 and 1611, the notaries collected testimony from more than 300 witnesses. The trial records include the testimony of the four defendants, as well as thirteen witnesses. Priests, noblemen and commoners were questioned. Witnesses included the castellan and other personnel of Sárvár castle.

According to all this testimony, her initial victims were the adolescent daughters of local peasants, many of whom were lured to Čachtice by offers of well-paid work as maidservants in the castle. Later, she is said to have begun to kill daughters of the lesser gentry, who were sent to her gynaeceum by their parents to learn courtly etiquette. Abductions were said to have occurred as well.

The descriptions of torture that emerged during the trials were often based on hearsay. The atrocities described most consistently included:

severe beatings over extended periods of time, often leading to death.

burning or mutilation of hands, sometimes also of faces and genitalia

biting the flesh off the faces, arms and other bodily parts.

freezing to death.

surgery on victims, often fatal.

starving of victims.

sexual abuse.

The use of needles was also mentioned by the collaborators in court.

Some witnesses named relatives who died while at the gynaeceum. Others reported having seen traces of torture on dead bodies, some of which were buried in graveyards,

Later writings about the case have led to legendary accounts of the Countess bathing in the blood of virgins in order to retain her youth and subsequently also to comparisons with Vlad III the Impaler of Wallachia, on whom the fictional Count Dracula is partly based, and to modern nicknames of the Blood Countess and Countess Dracula.

The truth of whether she was a model for the Count will remain known only to Stoker, but certainly in the years since Dracula was published, the Blood Countess has exercised a powerful fascination on many writers and film-makers.

Friday, 15 October 2010


Martin Van Maele. 1863-1926


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

Erotic asphyxiation is the intentional restriction of oxygen to the brain for sexual arousal. It is also called asphyxiophilia, autoerotic asphyxia, hypoxyphilia, or breath control play. Colloquially, a person engaging in the activity is sometimes called a gasper. The erotic interest in asphyxiation is classified as a paraphilia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. Psychiatrist Joseph Merlino stated that it meets the criteria for a disorder "because it has the potential for lethality or serious injury."


"The carotid arteries (on either side of the neck) carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the brain. When these are compressed, as in strangulation or hanging, the sudden loss of oxygen to the brain and the accumulation of carbon dioxide can increase feelings of giddiness, light-headedness, and pleasure, all of which will heighten masturbatory sensations."

Author George Shuman describes the effect as such "When the brain is deprived of oxygen, it induces a lucid, semi-hallucinogenic state called hypoxia. Combined with orgasm, the rush is said to be no less powerful than cocaine, and highly addictive".

Concerning hallucinogenic states brought about by chronic hypoxia, Dr. E L Lloyd notes that they may be similar to the hallucinations experienced by climbers at altitude. He further notes that no such state occurs in hypoxia brought about by sudden aircraft decompression at altitude. These findings suggest to him that they do not arrive purely from a lack of oxygen. Upon examining the studies on hypoxia he found that "abnormalities in the cerebral neurochemistry involving one or more of the interconnected neurotransmitters, dopamine, 5-hydroxytryptamine, and β-endorphin had been reported in all the conditions associated with hallucinations."


Historically, the practice of autoerotic asphyxiation has been documented since the early 17th century. It was first used as a treatment for erectile dysfunction.[5] The idea for this most likely came from subjects who were executed by hanging. Observers at public hangings noted male victims developed an erection, sometimes remaining after death (death erection), and occasionally ejaculated when being hanged. Note that, however, ejaculation occurs in hanging victims after death because of disseminated muscle relaxation; this is a different mechanism from that sought by AEA (autoerotic asphyxiation) practitioners.


Various methods are used to achieve the level of oxygen depletion needed, such as a hanging, suffocation with a plastic bag over the head, self-strangulation such as with a ligature, gas or volatile solvents, chest compression, or some combination of these. Sometimes, complicated devices are used to produce the desired effects. The practice can be dangerous even if performed with care and has resulted in a significant number of accidental deaths. Uva (1995) writes “Estimates of the mortality rate range of autoerotic asphyxia between 250 to 1000 deaths per year in the United States.” Cases have also been reported in Scandinavia and in Germany.

Accidental death

Deaths often occur when the loss of consciousness caused by partial asphyxia leads to loss of control over the means of strangulation, resulting in continued asphyxia and death. While often asphyxiophilia is incorporated into sex with a partner, others enjoy this behaviour by themselves, making it potentially more difficult to get out of dangerous situations. Victims are often found to have rigged some sort of "rescue mechanism" that has not worked in the way they anticipated as they lost consciousness.

In some fatality cases, the body of the asphyxiophilic individual is discovered naked or with genitalia in hand, with pornographic magazines nearby, with dildos or other sex toys present, or with evidence of having orgasmed prior to death. Bodies found at the scene of an accidental death often show evidence of other paraphilic activities, such as fetishistic cross-dressing and masochism. In cases involving teenagers at home, families may disturb the scene by "sanitizing" it, removing evidence of paraphilic activity.

The great majority of known erotic asphyxial deaths are male; among all known cases in Ontario and Alberta from 1974 to 1987, only one out of 117 cases was female. Some individual cases of women with erotic asphyxia have been reported. The typical age of accidental death is mid-20s, but deaths have been reported in adolescents and in men in their 70s.

Autoerotic asphyxiation has at times been incorrectly diagnosed as murder and especially so when a partner is present. Some hospitals have teaching units specifically designed to educate doctors in the correct diagnosis of the condition.
Lawyers and insurance companies have brought cases to the attention of clinicians because some life insurance claims are payable in the event of accidental death, but not suicide.


Frantisek Kotzwara, composer, died from erotic asphyxiation in 1791, which is probably

the first recorded case.

Sada Abe killed her lover, Kichizo Ishida, through erotic asphyxiation in 1936,

proceeding to cut off his penis and testicles and carry them around with her in her

handbag for a number of days. The case caused a sensation in 1930s Japan and has

remained one of the most famous Japanese murder cases of all time.

Albert Dekker, stage and screen actor, was found in 1968 with his body graffitized

and a noose around his neck in his bathroom.

Vaughn Bodé, artist, died from this cause in 1975.

Stephen Milligan, a British Conservative MP for Eastleigh, died from autoerotic

asphyxiation combined with self-bondage in 1994.

Kevin Gilbert, a songwriter, musician, composer, producer and collaborator, died

of apparent autoerotic asphyxiation in 1996.

Kristian Etchells, British National Front party member, in 2005.

In Herceg v. Hustler, Diane Herceg sued Hustler magazine for the death of her

14-year-old son, Troy D., who had experimented with autoerotic asphyxia after

reading about it in that publication.

David Carradine died on June 4, 2009 from accidental asphyxiation, according to the medical examiner who performed a private autopsy on the actor. His body was found hanging by a rope in a closet in his room in Thailand, and there was evidence of a recent orgasm; two autopsies were conducted and concluded that his death was not caused by suicide, and the Thai forensic pathologist who examined the body stated that his death may have been due to autoerotic asphyxiation. Two of Carradine's ex-wives, Gail Jensen and Marina Anderson, stated publicly that his sexual interests included the practice of self-bondage.

Popular Culture

The introductory scene of The Ruling Class shows the death of Ralph Gurney, the 13th Earl of Gurney (portrayed by Harry Andrews), from accidental auto-erotic asphyxiation. Autoerotic death was also used in the Robin Williams movie World's Greatest Dad.

Cross posted to Frequently Felt.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Friday, 8 October 2010


It seems a strange notion; a link between sex and death. I think most people would agree, that life's greatest drives are to reproduce and to avoid death. The Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and the French social theorist Michel Foucault argued that the two are fused, that the death instinct pervades sexual activity. I’m not sure whom came up with the idea; Eros and Thanatos, Freud or Foucault, but that is the term generally used to demonstrate the concept. Sex and death are inextricably linked.

Our lives seem to be governed by polar opposites. I think it is helpful to think of Thanatos (death) in these terms suggested by my friend Stephen.

“But Thanatos (death) is often overlooked. I think of it as the desire for zero excitation - total non desire (which of course is death)."

And, of course, the French have given us the concept of “La petite mort”; “the little death.” A wonderful metaphor for the orgasm.”

In the Encyclopaedia of Death and Dying, the writer suggests that;

“…with the AIDS epidemic their (Freud and Foucault’s) view has become particularly poignant. A 1992 study from Amsterdam, for instance, found that about one in six U.S. soldiers surveyed said that sex without condoms was worth the risk of getting the AIDS virus. A year later a story released by Planned Parenthood counsellor offices in San Antonio, Texas, explained how teenage girls were demonstrating their toughness by having unprotected sex with an HIV-infected gang member. It seems that, for some, sexual desire is intensified in the presence of taboos and boundaries, even deadly ones."

On television, I heard Stephen Fry tell the tale of a young, gay man, being “gifted”. He had anal sex with as many HIV positive men in one night as he could; hoping to get the virus.

Are human beings inexorably drawn to what can damage, or even kill them? Is there really a pleasure in dicing with death?

The Encyclopaedia of Death and Dying again;

“Attempts to enhance one's sexual experiences can be deadly as well. In 1998 the Food and Drug Administration reported the deaths of several men taking the highly popular Viagra impotence pill. Each year, attempts at sexual self-gratification accidentally kill between 500 and 1,000 individuals, predominantly men, because of autoerotic asphyxia. To heighten their sexual orgasm during masturbation, these individuals cut off the supply of oxygen and blood to their head, often by tying a belt or rope around their neck. Consciousness may be lost, and the individual dies by strangulation.”

It seems that the sex drive and the death drive are powerful forces. But hang on a minute, we don’t all take dangerous risks, do we? Surely, most of us live quite sedentary lives. Sometimes life has a way of tripping us up. Someone lets us down, badly. Love may be unrequited. Our own bodies might betray us

From the web:

“To be betrayed feels like surrendering to a painful process of death, like being forced to experience the pain of abandonment and loss. Each death, however, seems to be a “sacred” process of transferring to new forms of existence. As Carl Jung reminds, the development of personality almost always passes from a deathly sacrifice, and if we manage to process the experience of betrayal and mourning, the result may be transformation.

Betrayal might seem abhorring to our conscienceNevertheless, without maturation deriving from the experience of betrayal, we remain trapped in the unconscious, repeated questing of a merger with another person. We remain out of the mystery of life forever. If we never change direction, we refuse to undertake the responsibility of existence as unique and separate entity, because the repetition of the miraculous discovery of the ego, according to Jung, is possible only if rupture takes place in its temporal consistency and in its beliefs.”

In other words, we have to allow ourselves to experience rupture in order to mature and grow. If we don’t we remain as children for ever.

The Eros/Thanatos equation has not been unnoticed by Artists.

Aubrey Beardsley’s ink drawing of Salome, conveys the pivotal moment of the Biblical tale in all its gruesome detail. In a rapture that is indecent in its intensity, Salome gazes at John’s severed head with glutinous glee. Beardsley’s line is perfection. Over a blank white paper he gives us a story that is grotesque, weird, macabre, sinister, in a perverse and playfully theatrical style. Salome clutches at John’s decapitated head, as if she is about to devour it. Beardsley has conveyed the tale in all its erotic glory. Salome is sex personified: John’s death is down to her lust. The viewer is repulsed, feeling that Salome is about to burst with terrible laughter.

Here is the story of Salome from the Bible. Mark 6:21-29:

“And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist.
And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. And
the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother.
And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.”

The Belgian artist, Antoine Joseph Wiertz painted a confrontation of Beauty and Death, Deux jeunes filles—La Belle Rosine in 1847. You can see it at the Musée Wiertz, Brussels.

It’s a hauntingly beautiful painting. A lovely, almost naked, nubile young woman stands before a skeleton. The young woman is not daunted by this presentation. Is it a confrontation, or is there a narrative of which the viewer is unaware? I don’t know any stories in mythology that this could have been drawn from; Wiertz is weaving a tale, but I don’t know how to read it. I have the feeling that there is more to this painting than meets the eye. Wiertz’ pictorial language is enigmatic, perhaps hinting at the Surrealist movement that was not to show its face until the following century.

Dissatisfied with the shiny effect of oil painting, Wiertz developed a new technique combining the smoothness of oil painting with the speed of execution and the dullness of painting in fresco. He has used this to effect, in this painting. It gives the work a sombre feel, even ominous. Something is about to happen to disturb the woman’s quiet contemplation. Her head is very slightly tilted, as if acknowledging the skeleton. She could be looking into a mirror, maybe admiring what she will one day become. You would expect her to recoil, yet there is no horror in the young woman’s face, there is even a hint of a small smile.

The Pre-Raphaelite painter, John Everett Millais, gives us the doomed maiden, “Ophelia.” Millais painted the picture in 1852; you can see it in the Tate Gallery, London.

Franny Moyle talks about the painting. “The model is dressed up in Shakespearean reference, it is nevertheless the depiction of a woman committing suicide and an exploration of female sexuality. Ophelia is ecstatic at the moment her life expires. The sexual charge in the picture is heightened by the abundant, competing natural world of the river bank that, portrayed with almost photographic faithfulness, surrounds this woman not only resigned to but aroused by her fate. The depiction of an offering to a greater natural order.

Franny Moyle commentating again. "The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse, draws from Tennyson’s poem, a mythical lady, cursed never to look out of her window, chooses to sacrifice her life for a glimpse of Lancelot and then float to Camelot in a barge to face her doom.
In an allegory of sexual longing and capitulation, Waterhouse freezes Tennyson’s story at the moment the lady is about to release the chain that ties her barge. And so he anticipates the abandonment of the rational self to subconscious sexual impulses."
I think that “The Lady of Shalott,” is also at the Tate Gallery, London.

The encyclopaedia of Death and Dying.

“In a 1992 book, Camille Paglia claimed that it was in the West that sex, violence, and aggression are major motivations for artistic creativity and human relationships. There is little doubt that these are qualities of audience appeal. Hollywood has long known of the attractions to the erotic and the violent, which is why 60 percent of R-rated movies and nearly half of X-rated movies contain violence. The long-term success of the James Bond movie series derives from its fusion of sex and death.

"According to Geoffrey Gorer, such seductions derive from cultural pruderies to matters of sex and death. William May observed that as sex becomes pornographic when divorced from its natural human emotions of love and affection, so death becomes pornographic when divorced from its natural emotion, which is grief. Perhaps the pornographic connotation is why designer Christian Dior chose in the 1990s to label one of its perfumes "Poison."”

Thanks to Jan Vander Laenen, Fulani and Dr. Stephen Farrier, for helping me put this essay together. And, of course, sources from the Web.

Friday, 1 October 2010


Yes, I’ve stolen the title from Mike Leigh’s great film. It seemed appropriate. If you haven’t seen it -- you really should.

Infidelity; Integrity. Two little words packed with meaning. We all like to think that we behave in an honourable manner; but often we don’t. We all have stories to tell, of friends who have broken the code of honour. We may even be guilty ourselves of behaviour, that is often despicable; lying, cheating. Carefully laid out plans, that are a calculated means to an end; folk who get what they want, by any means possible. We hold onto their secrets with them. Never dreaming of telling. The emotional and often, financial, fall out would be too great.

Long ago now, a friend of mine -- let’s call her Susan -- had an affair. Not a one night stand, not a quick fumble, a full blown, falling in love, the love of her life affair. Susan, was married to Edmund. They’d been trying hard to get pregnant; but no babies came. They stopped sleeping together, the emotional trauma of constant disappointment was too much to bear.

Susan had known David a long time. He was a colleague of Edmund’s. I don’t know when their secret liaisons started, but it seemed everyone knew, except Edmund. Susan’s co-workers had noticed the lingering glances, the brush of the hands. Perhaps Edmund didn’t want to notice. Perhaps he didn’t care. Perhaps he really was oblivious…perhaps….perhaps.

Then, it happened, Susan was pregnant. What did she do? Confess all to Edmund? No, she started sleeping with Edmund again. Edmund was delighted that they had at last conceived. They would move to a bigger house more suited to children. They started talking about having a large family. A place filled with children. At least Edmund did. Susan was having a difficult pregnancy; she vowed that she would never become pregnant again.

Then an opportunity occurred. A job for Edmund on the other side of the world. Emigration. They left and have never been back. To this day, thirty years on, Edmund believes his son is his. I don’t think it has occurred to him otherwise. They did try for more babies, but the babies didn’t happen. Susan’s body has had every investigative procedure known put upon it. She’s had her tubes blown out, she’s had her hormones tested. She can’t for a moment allow Edmund to think that the babies don’t come because of a problem with his sperm count. And Edmund has never thought to have his sperm count checked. Susan has convinced him that the problem is hers. The results of all the procedures? Of course, there is no reason why Susan cannot become pregnant. She did before and she could again.

The doctors put it down to stress.

Again, rewinding thirty years or so. I’d known Gillian a long time; since we were kids. Then we lost touch. I bumped into her at an antiques fair. She was holding the most adorable, tiny baby girl wrapped in a white lace shawl. Gillian with her huge dark eyes, porcelain skin and long dark hair. They made a beautiful image, mother and daughter.

We drank tea from paper cups. Gillian told me she’d been desperate for a child. She’d reached twenty seven. A series of failed relationships. And no partner, no baby. Gillian made a list of what she wanted from a father. He must be handsome, intelligent and healthy; preferably a sportsman. Money didn’t matter; the father would never know her secret.

Gillian found her ideal candidate. Nigel was a lawyer, extremely good looking and he played Rugby football. She’d found her ideal man and she set about seducing him. A few drinks at a party, stuff happens. And Gillian discovered that she was pregnant.

She never told Nigel, and as he left the area soon afterwards, he never knew. Gillian was financially secure; she would cope.

I’m not condoning what Susan and Gillian did. I’m not judging them either. Every generation has its secrets and lies. Some get found out; It seems Susan and Gillian got away with it.

I'll be cross posting this to Frequently Felt.

Friday, 24 September 2010


I am giddy with excitement and have a silly smile on my face! My book, FETISH WORSHIP is out, with SIZZLER RENAISSANCE

Here's the introduction;

The stories in this startling collection grew out of the author's fascination with fetish. For instance, the obsession that some folk have for feet. A different object might do it for someone else, as with the woman in "La Petite Danseuse." There's a woman being gently pointed in the direction of slavery by a wise boyfriend. There are knowing Mistresses and their willing male submissives. There's a strong, gorgeous man going slowly crazy with his need to be a Mommy's boy. A woman on the receiving end of a dirty phone call takes control. You'll also find exhibitionists and voyeurs, plus the humorous result of a Halloween prank. Finally there's a retelling of an ancient Greek myth centred around a very special bull. The author says, "My understanding has deepened through writing these stories. I've talked to people who have had their lives changed for the better, when they have finally embraced their fetish."

Thursday, 16 September 2010

BLASPHEMY: by Jan Vander Laenen

He's here; in the heathen U.K.! Pope Benedict XVI, is spreading benedictions and holy water all over us, as I write.Here's a little tribute to his Eminence to commemorate his arrival. From the pen of Jan Vander Laenen.

Check out Janine Ashbless' article on the Pope's visit.

As a convinced libertine and fervent adherent of free men’s love, Thomas had every reason to loathe the Catholic church. Hadn’t his entire behaviour been condemned in its ludicrous encyclicals, which were a downright assault on the most fundamental human rights and had an unmistakable Nazi odour; hadn’t he and his brothers been continuously chided from the pulpit by its representatives, a handful of priests who claimed to have a lease on wisdom, but knew nothing about real life, and that his sinful lifestyle could, according to that church, only lead to eternal damnation in the sulphur fires of hell?

No, it was a criminal swindle, the whole Jesus-Mary-Joseph story, and when he turned eighteen, when he was able to shake off the yoke of his traditional upbringing, Thomas had decided not to go into a church ever again.

In the meantime, he reached the age of twenty-six, and it was a sultry summer evening in Brussels, a summer evening when one can literally sniff eroticism and throw all one’s reserves and principles by the wayside.

Such as the principle never to go to church again…

As Thomas was strolling passed a dark, late Romanesque chapel near the Market Square, he came across another lad, a lad who looked at him invitingly and who looked particularly tasty with his sturdy legs and expressive dark head.

Thomas was no greenhorn anymore, he recognised immediately a member of his own, according to the Catholics, damned community, and decided to try to approach this enticing lad at once. He asked him nonchalantly the time. And whether he lived in the neighbourhood.

“I am staying in Antwerp,” answered the lad, with a strange, somewhat funny accent.
“And I do not live nearby,” Thomas had to add.

The lack of an immediately available bed could not however extinguish the urge in either to consume bodies erotically and voluptuously, so they pushed the massive, wooden door that gave access to an nearly empty church, except for an old woman who was praying.

The tiny confessional with purple curtains immediately became their love nest, a love nest where they could paw, and kiss and lick each other to their heart’s content.

And to spit on religion.

Because “repeat after me: Mary was no virgin, Mary was a traitor and had a Roman lover in secret,” Thomas panted while he sucked on his partner’s nipple.

“Mary was no virgin, Mary was a traitor and had a Roman lover in secret,” the young lad repeated in a whisper.

Repeat after me: “Joseph was no saint, Joseph was only a gullible cuckold,” Thomas hissed as he playfully bit his partner on the neck.

“Joseph was no saint, Joseph was only a gullible cuckold,” the young lad repeated.

Repeat after me: “Jesus was not the son of God, Jesus was a mentally deranged compulsive liar and the people were right to nail him on the cross,” Thomas cursed further, while he now kneeled with devotion and left a trace of saliva with his moist mouth on the hairy and curvy buttocks of his partner.

“Jesus was not the son of God, Jesus was a mentally deranged compulsive liar and our people were right to nail him on the cross,” the young lad blasphemed echoing Thomas.

At this point they both climaxed, and sprayed the wood of the confessional with their sinful sperm.

“Did your parents used to force you to attend mass every Sunday too?” asked Thomas by way of after-play when they had had their fill and were on their way out.

“Me?” asked the lad with a mysterious and somewhat indignant smile,” this is the first time that I set foot in a church. I am Jewish.”

“Shalom,” was the only answer that the somewhat surprised Thomas could think of. “If everyone,” the young lad continued, “if everyone had thought like this about Joseph and Mary and Jesus, our people would have been spared a heap of misery.” He gave Thomas a kiss of Judas on the left cheek and left the place of worship.

Thomas stood certainly twenty seconds somewhat surprised against a pillar. Then he took a step to the side, immersed his sperm-covered hands in the holy-water font, and washed them clean.

Thursday, 9 September 2010


Yes, Pope Benedict XVI is coming to England. I think he arrives next Thursday. I will not be going to see him -- I expect my Catholic friends will be doing enough genuflecting to compensate for my absence. I’ve wasted enough time, chanting the bloody Rosary, and wishing that something really would happen when I consumed the Body of Christ -- I never did experience Transubstantiation -- I really wanted to. I was constantly disappointed.

So, no, I won’t be going to see this sweet old man. Neither will the writers, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Nor the Human Rights Activist, Peter Tatchell. They might go along to throw eggs, but what they really want is to see him arrested.

What’s he done to inspire such venom? Ignite such a blazing fury? It’s more about what he hasn’t done.

The story goes back to the 1960’s. Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.

The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin went directly to the then, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.

The documents emerge as Pope Benedict is facing other accusations that he and direct subordinates often did not alert civilian authorities or discipline priests involved in sexual abuse when he served as an archbishop in Germany and as the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer.

The Wisconsin case involved an American priest, the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, who worked at a renowned school for deaf children from 1950 to 1974. But it is only one of thousands of cases forwarded over decades by bishops to the Vatican office called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led from 1981 to 2005 by Cardinal Ratzinger.

It is still the office that decides whether accused priests should be given full canonical trials and defrocked.

Jeffrey Phelps writing in THE NEW YORK TIMES 24th March 2010: tells of Arthur Budzinski, who says he was first molested in 1960 when he went to a Father Murphy for confession.

One case recalls the accusations against Father Lawrence Murphy, who was claimed to have abused up to 200 deaf children, one Italian former pupil claimed that priests had sodomised him so relentlessly that he came to feel "as if I were dead".

And Father Murphy’s point of view?

“I simply want to live out the time that I have left in the dignity of my priesthood,” Father Murphy wrote near the end of his life to Cardinal Ratzinger. “I ask your kind assistance in this matter.” The files contain no response from Cardinal Ratzinger.

In his letter to Cardinal Ratzinger, Father Murphy protested that he should not be put on trial because he had already repented and was in poor health and that the case was beyond the church’s own statute of limitations.

Great! Good for Father Murphy. What about those poor children. They carry the pain and the shame for the rest of their little lives.

The head of the Catholic church is bracing himself for a new round of allegations by victims of paedophile priests — in Italy.

But the Pope won’t be arrested here in the U.K. even though he played a big part in a nasty, sordid cover-up.

What a shame. It was never going to happen; but it was a nice try.

I’m with Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Peter Tatchell here.

The Observer's For the record column, Sunday 4 April 2010 states:

Leaders of the Protest the Pope coalition now admit that the Pontiff cannot be arrested as Britain acknowledges him as a head of state, granting him sovereign immunity from criminal prosecution.

“The Pope has sovereign immunity from prosecution under British law; it wouldn't work," said Peter Tatchell, the human rights activist who has previously tried to perform citizen's arrests on the Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe and the former US secretary of state, Henry Kissinger. "It's not for want of wishing or trying."

Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said; “We have now discovered that there is no real prospect of a prosecution being made against the Pope. Until the status of the Vatican is really sorted out, whether it’s a state or not, the Pope is safe from any kind of legal challenge.”

However the protesters did secure a promise from Archbishop Rev Peter Smith, the Archbishop of Southwark, that he would pass on a request to hand over to police secret files on sex abuse by priests that are held in the Vatican archives, having been investigated under Canon Law.

Peter Tatchell, said: “The Pope's condemnation of sex abuse by clergy will never be taken seriously until he agrees to pass to the police in countries around world the evidence the Vatican has compiled on child molesting priests, bishops and cardinals. Keeping these files secret is wrong and collusion with criminal acts.

"It is no use Benedict meeting victims of sex abuse if he is not willing to hand over his own bulging Vatican files on clerical abusers.”