Bondage pornography

Last updated
Bettie Page is tied and spanked for Bizarre Bettie Page in Bizarre Magazine.jpg
Bettie Page is tied and spanked for Bizarre
Illustration by Gene Bilbrew for Exotique. "Women of History Dominating Males" series. "Women of History Dominating Males" 3.jpg
Illustration by Gene Bilbrew for Exotique . "Women of History Dominating Males" series.

Bondage pornography is the depiction of sexual bondage or other BDSM activities using photographs, stories, movies or drawings. Though often described as pornography, the genre involves the presentation of bondage fetishism or BDSM scenarios and does not necessarily involve the commonly understood pornographic styles. In fact, the genre is primarily interested with the presentation of a bondage scene and less with depictions of sexuality, such as nudity or sex scenes, which may be viewed as a distraction from the aesthetics and eroticism of the sex scenario itself.


Historically, most subjects of bondage imagery have been women, and the genre has been criticized for promoting misogynistic attitudes and violence against women.

Detective magazines, comic books and early fetish magazines

In the early 20th century, bondage imagery was available through "detective magazines", and comic books often featured characters being tied up or tying others up, particularly in "damsel in distress" plots.

There were also a number of dedicated fetish magazines which featured images of fetishism and bondage. The first of such magazines in the United States was Bizarre, first published in 1946 by fetish photographer John Willie (the phallic pseudonym of John Coutts), who developed the concept in the 1920s. Willie was able to avoid controversy in censorship through careful attention to guidelines and the use of humor. Publication of Bizarre was suspended completely from 1947 to 1951 because of post-War paper shortages. By 1956 Willie was ready to give up the magazine, and in that year he sold it to someone described only as R.E.B., who published six more issues before Bizarre finally folded in 1959.

Willie is better remembered for his Sweet Gwendoline comic strips, in which Gwendoline is drawn as a rather naïve blonde "damsel in distress", with ample curves, who is unfortunate enough to find herself tied up in scene after scene by the raven-haired dominatrix and the mustachioed villain "Sir Dystic D'Arcy". She is rescued and also repeatedly tied up (though for benevolent reasons) by secret agent U-69 (censored to U89 in some editions). The comic strips were published largely in the 1950s and 60s. The story was published as a piecemeal serial, appearing usually two pages at a time in several different magazines over the years. [1]

Though Bizarre was a small format magazine, it had a huge impact on later kink publications, such as ENEG's fetish magazine, Exotique , published 1956–1959. Exotique was entirely devoted to fetish fashions and female-dominant bondage fantasies. The 36 issues featured photos and illustrations of dominatrix-inspired vamps (including Burtman's wife Tana Louise and iconic model Bettie Page) wearing exotic leather and rubber ensembles, corsets, stockings/garters, boots, and high heels. Gene Bilbrew contributed illustrations to the magazine. The articles, many written by Leonard Burtman, using an alias, covered various aspects of sadomasochism and transvestism, with men depicted as slaves to imperious, all-powerful women. Exotique had no nudity, pornographic content, or even sexually suggestive situations. Nevertheless, much like fellow publisher Irving Klaw, in 1957, Burtman would be targeted as a pornographer. He was relentlessly pursued by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (acting as a censorship agency under the Comstock laws) and local law enforcement (which functioned in coordination with Postal Inspectors and the Catholic Church). Eventually, he was arrested, his magazines and materials confiscated, and brought to trial. This led to the demise of the magazine in 1959. However, starting in 1960, Burtman (under a different imprint) would go on to publish many more fetish magazines that were nearly identical to Exotique such as New Exotique, Masque, Connoisseur, Bizarre Life, High Heels, Unique World, Corporal (a pioneering spanking-fetish magazine) and others well into the 1970s.

New York photographer Irving Klaw also published illustrated adventure/bondage serials by fetish artists Eric Stanton, Gene Bilbrew, Adolfo Ruiz and others. Klaw is best known for operating an international mail-order business selling photographs and film of attractive women (sometimes in bondage) from the 1940s to the 1960s. His most famous bondage model was Bettie Page, who became the first celebrity of bondage film and photography.

These publications disappeared for a time with a crackdown on pornography in the late 1950s.

Bondage magazines return

Dedicated bondage magazines again became popular in America in the 1970s. Publishers of bondage magazines included Harmony Concepts, the House of Milan and Lyndon Distributors. House of Milan have since been purchased by Lyndon Distributors.

These magazines were not generally available through mainstream distributors, and were sold either in sex shops or by mail order. They contained little advertising content, and were entirely dependent on sales.

Typically, each magazine consisted of several multi-page pictorials of tied-up women, often with a fictional narrative attached, and one fictional story of three or four pages in length. Sometimes pictorials were replaced by artwork by a fetish artist or included an interview with one of the performers in the industry. In the case of House of Milan and Lyndon Distributors, the magazines were simply illustrated text versions of videos published by the same title. Such practice cut costs and allowed a streamlined output of material.

Another type of magazine was the "compendium magazine", usually consisting of a large number of individual photographs drawn from previous magazines, without any linking story.

Because of their relatively small circulation, compared with mainstream pornography, most bondage magazines were printed in black and white, except for the cover and centerfold. In the 1980s and 1990s, experiments were made with adding more color content, but most magazine content remained black and white.

The attitude of some of the early magazines could be regarded as misogynistic [ by whom? ], in spite of editorial disclaimers that the magazines represented only fantasies, as the storylines deviated from the old-fashioned "damsel in distress" motif towards more restrictive and explicit BDSM practices. However, in reality the opposite effect often happened: as a bondage performer was cast in more material and engaged in more acts, she would often develop a stronger fan base and became a recognized star in her own right. Nikki Dial and Ashley Renee are two examples of performers who won awards for their work as subs in bondage videos, and typically endured the most onscreen punishment.

In the 1990s, as homosexuality and bi-sexuality began to be more socially accepted, magazine publishers started to produce femdom material depicting men in bondage, as well as portraying female models as participants in mutually satisfying bondage games, usually with at least one actress performing as a dom and at least one as a sub. Sometimes, the roles of dom and sub would be reversed. Be Be LeBadd and Alexis Payne are two professional dominatrices who also found themselves on the receiving end of a whip from time to time.

Bondage websites and bondage imagery in mainstream pornography

A bondage porn shoot for in USA, 2011 Kink porn shoot 09.jpg
A bondage porn shoot for in USA, 2011

From the late 1990s onwards, specialist BDSM pornographic websites such as Insex and the various websites of appeared. As Internet pornography became more widely available, the bondage magazine market began to decrease. As of 2003, specialist bondage magazines were mostly displaced by bondage material on the Internet, and bondage imagery is to be found in mainstream pornographic magazines, such as Nugget and Hustler's Taboo magazine.

However, the tradition of bondage magazines continues in the form of "art books" of bondage photographs, published by mainstream publishers such as Taschen.

Certain websites have begun providing bondage videos and photographs featuring the kidnapping roleplay, which has been largely the hallmark of "detective" style bondage magazines. These styles are much closer to the style of bondage scenes in mainstream television.


As the availability of free pornography on the Internet has increased, its possible effects on microaggression towards women have been discussed. [2] The concern has been raised that since bondage pornography mostly depicts women (who are portrayed primarily in situations of female submission), such pornography may promote an attitude legitimising violence against women. [2]

The book series and film 50 Shades of Grey has been said to perpetuate misogyny and portray BDSM/bondage subcultures in a patriarchal and misogynistic light. [3] In this view, to properly reflect the BDSM/bondage subculture it is necessary for pornography to "focus on mutual consent, mutual power, and communication," as in the film 50 Shades of Dylan Ryan. [3] BDSM is an initialism for "bondage and discipline, sadism and masochism" and can also include other D/s (dominance and submission) practices. [4] Since consent, communication, and equal power exchange are fundamental in the BDSM subculture, pornography that is made can ultimately be used as educational for the inquiring practitioner.[ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

Fetish model model who models fetish clothing or devices that augment his or her body in a fetish-like manner or in fetishistic situations, though he or she may not work exclusively in that form of modeling

A fetish model is a model who models fetish clothing or devices that augment his or her body in a fetish-like manner or in fetishistic situations, though he or she may not work exclusively in that form of modeling.

John Alexander Scott Coutts, better known by the pseudonym John Willie, was an artist, fetish photographer, editor and the publisher of the first 20 issues of the fetish magazine Bizarre, featuring his characters Sweet Gwendoline and Sir Dystic d'Arcy. Though distributed underground, Bizarre magazine had a far-reaching impact on later fetish-themed publications and experienced a resurgence in popularity, along with fetish model Bettie Page, starting in the 1970s.

Eric Stanton American illustrator

Eric Stanton was an American underground cartoonist and fetish art pioneer.

Bondage (BDSM) practice of consentually tying, binding, or restraining a partner for erotic, aesthetic, or somatosensory stimulation

Bondage, in the BDSM subculture, is the practice of consensually tying, binding, or restraining a partner for erotic, aesthetic, or somatosensory stimulation. A partner may be physically restrained in a variety of ways, including the use of rope, cuffs, bondage tape, or self-adhering bandage.

Fetish fashion Extreme or provocative clothing

Fetish fashion is any style or appearance in the form of a type of clothing or accessory, created to be extreme or provocative in a fetishistic manner. These styles are not usually worn by the majority of people on any regular basis. They are usually made of materials such as leather, latex or synthetic rubber or plastic, nylon, PVC, spandex, fishnet, and stainless steel. Some fetish fashion items include: stiletto heel shoes and boots, hobble skirts, corsets, collars, full-body latex catsuits, stockings, miniskirt, crotchless underwear, garters, locks, rings, zippers, eyewear, handcuffs, and stylized costumes based on more traditional outfits, such as wedding dresses that are almost completely see-through lace. Fetish fashions are sometimes confused with costuming, because both are usually understood to be clothing that is not worn as the usual wardrobe of people, and are instead worn to create a particular reaction.

Leather subculture

The leather subculture denotes practices and styles of dress organized around sexual activities that involve leather garments, such as leather jackets, vests, boots, chaps, harnesses, or other items. Wearing leather garments is one way that participants in this culture self-consciously distinguish themselves from mainstream sexual cultures. Many participants associate leather culture with BDSM practices and its many subcultures. For some, black leather clothing is an erotic fashion that expresses heightened masculinity or the appropriation of sexual power; love of motorcycles, motorcycle clubs and independence; and/or engagement in sexual kink or leather fetishism.

A fetish magazine is a type of magazine originating in the late 1940s which is devoted to sexual fetishism. The content is generally aimed at being erotic rather than pornographic.

Irving Klaw American photographer

Irving Klaw, self-named the "Pin-up King", was an influential American merchant of sexploitation, fetish, and Hollywood glamour pin-up photographs and films. Like his predecessor, Charles Guyette, who was also a merchant of fetish-themed photographs, Klaw was not a photographer, but a merchandiser of fetish art imagery and films. His great contribution to the world was to commission fetish art and sponsor illustrative artists, and to indirectly promote the legacy of Charles Guyette and John Willie. Irving Klaw is a central figure in what fetish art historian Richard Pérez Seves has designated as the "Bizarre Underground," the pre-1970 fetish art years.

Eugene "Gene" Bilbrew was an African-American vocal group singer, cartoonist, and "bizarre art" pioneer. As noted in the biography, GENE BILBREW REVEALED: The Unsung Legacy of a Fetish Art Pioneer, he was "the first black career fetish artist in history." Starting in the mid-1950s, he was among the most prolific illustrators of fetish-oriented pulp book covers. In addition to signing his work under his own name, he produced art under a range of pseudonyms, including ENEG, Van Rod, and Bondy.

Exotique was a specialized fetish magazine published by Leonard Burtman under his Burmel Publishing Company imprint in New York City between 1955 and 1959. The magazine's femdom theme, photos, and artwork mark it as a direct descendant of the first major fetish magazine Bizarre (1946-1959), produced by John Willie.

Outline of BDSM Overview of and topical guide to BDSM

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to BDSM:

Sweet Gwendoline Main female character in the works of bondage artist John Willie

Sweet Gwendoline is the main female character in the works of bondage artist John Willie, first published as a serial, usually two pages at a time, in Robert Harrison's mainstream girlie magazine Wink from June 1947 to February 1950 and later in several other magazines over the years.

Glove fetishism

Glove fetishism is a sexual fetishism where an individual is sexually stimulated by another person or oneself wearing gloves on their hands. In some cases, the fetish is enhanced by the material of the glove. Often, the actions of a gloved hand are as arousing as the glove itself, because the glove provides a second skin, or in other words a fetishistic surrogate for the wearer's own skin. Medical gloves and rubber gloves provide not only a safer sex environment, but also give a latex glove fetishist great pleasure. Subtle movements by the gloved fingers or the hand as a whole can provide the individual with a great visual stimulus and ultimately sexual arousal. The act of putting gloves on, or slipping them off the hands, can also be a source of glove fetish fantasy. Smell is also a factor when it comes to latex, rubber, and leather gloves.

Boot fetishism

Boot fetishism is a sexual fetish focused on boots. Boots have become the object of sexual attraction amounting to fetishism for some people and they have become a standard accessory in BDSM scenes and a fashion accessory in music videos. Boots are seen as perhaps the most fetishistic of all footwear and boots may be the most popular fetish clothing attire.

Fetish art

Fetish art is art that depicts people in fetishistic situations such as S&M, domination/submission, bondage, transvestism and the like, sometimes in combination. It may simply depict a person dressed in fetish clothing, which could include undergarments, stockings, high heels, corsets, or boots. A common fetish theme is a woman dressed as a dominatrix.

Omorashi, sometimes abbreviated as simply "omo", is a form of fetish subculture originating and predominately recognized in Japan, in which participants experience arousal from having a full bladder or wetting themselves, or from seeing someone else experiencing a full bladder or wetting themselves. Outside Japan, it is not usually distinguished from urolagnia, though they are different things. Westerners who do make the distinction commonly use phrases such as "bladder desperation" although a number of fetishist communities in the West have also adopted the more specific Japanese language terminology. The term "omorashi" means to wet oneself. The word is also occasionally romanized as "omorasi" in the Kunrei-shiki romanization system.

BDSM in culture and media

BDSM is a frequent theme in books, films, television, music, magazines, public performances and online media.

Index of BDSM articles

This is an index of BDSM articles. BDSM is a variety of erotic practices involving dominance and submission, role-playing, restraint, and other interpersonal dynamics. Given the wide range of practices, some of which may be engaged in by people who do not consider themselves as practicing BDSM, inclusion in the BDSM community or subculture is usually dependent on self-identification and shared experience. Interest in BDSM can range from one-time experimentation to a lifestyle.

Charles Guyette was a pioneer of fetish style, the first person in the United States to produce and distribute fetish art, and regarded as the mail-order predecessor of Irving Klaw. Later known as the "G-String King," he is best remembered for his bizarre photographs, some of which featured sadomasochistic content.


  1. The Adventures of Sweet Gwendoline, 2nd Edition, by John Willie. ISBN   978-0-914646-48-8
  2. 1 2 Makin, DA; Morczek, AL (2016). "X Views and Counting: Interest in Rape-Oriented Pornography as Gendered Microaggression". Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 31: 2131–55. doi:10.1177/0886260515573572. PMID   25724876.
  3. 1 2 Stevens, Sarah (2014). "Rope Sluts, and Bottoms, and Subs, Oh My: 50 Shades of Grey and the Shifting Discourse on Female Submission in Feminist Kink Porn". The Communication Review. 17 (3): 256–268. doi:10.1080/10714421.2014.930602.
  4. Gavin, Brown; Lim, Jason; Browne, Kath (2012). Geographies of Sexualities: Theory, Practices, and Politics. Ashgate. pp. 89–99. ISBN   9780754684787.