One of the things that particularly interests me is the evolution of art forms, such as how stories are told, throughout the years.
I particularly recall the fantastic paintings for the macho “sweat mags” of the 50s and 60s–periodicals like FOR MEN ONLY or MEN’S WORLD or ALL MAN, that often sadistically portrayed GIs and Nazis and gorgeous women in a pulp phantasmagoria derived from World War 2. The great site Men’s Pulp Mags is the resource for these images and info, and here is an example of a femdom cover image from 1959 that they also sell as a note card:
In an interview I read at Men’s Pulp Mags, artist Mort Küntsler explained why those publications declined in popularity as “More and more advertising money was going to television rather than print, and a lot of people were getting their fiction over television rather than reading it.” (Boldface italics are mine.) The phrase “getting their fiction” stayed with me. Wisely, Künstler moved onto other venues for his considerable skills and has had great success. You can read his Men’s Pulp Mags interview here. (He didn’t do the image above, by the way, but you can see many examples of his work at the interview.)
Now, we all know that in 2015 dominatrices can express their spellbinding narratives to their admirers through websites, Twitter, video clips, and phone services like NiteFlirt; that’s how sub males are primarily “getting their [femdom] fiction” today, as well as through ebooks and hardcover works such as the British artist Sardax’s new translation and illustration of the classic VENUS IN FURS. But how did the submissive males of long ago get their entertainment thrills?
In 1937 they could enjoy the story “Tiger Cat” by David H. Keller in Weird Tales magazine:
You can enjoy it today yourself if you go here. One passage in this story of a beautiful demoness who keeps men as her prisoners reminded me of some of the things you can hear dommes say online today, especially when teasing and denying their slaves the merest touch of their alluring flesh:
“She was more beautiful that night than I had ever seen her. Dressed in filmy white, her beautiful body, lovely hair, long lithe limbs would have bound any man to her through eternity. She seemed to sense that beauty, for, after giving out the first supply of rolls, she varied her program. She told her audience how she had dressed that evening for their special pleasure. She described her jewels and her costume. She almost became grandiose as she told of her beauty, and, driving in the dagger, she twisted it as she reminded them that never would they be able to see her, never touch her or kiss her hand.” [Boldface italics are mine.]
I recently read an informative post on The English Mansion blog here, by the renowned British domme Mistress Sidonia von Bork, which discussed the origin of her unique-sounding nom de domme, from the leading character in a famous and huge-selling 19th century German novel SIDONIA THE SORCERESS based on the life of an historical figure. She also mentioned how H. Rider Haggard’s 1887 novel SHE, similarly imbued with femdom themes, was another gigantic seller in the late 1800s. It got me thinking about these other incarnations of the cruel female, like “Tiger Cat,” which must have thrilled the slave males of long ago.
So another thing that springs to mind is John Keats’ 1819 poem “La Belle Dame sans Merci,” (“The Beautiful Lady Without Mercy’) which became the subject of many famous paintings like this one by Frank Cadogan Cowper in the 1920s:
In both “Tiger Cat” and the Keats poem (which you can read here), the women have enslaved or subdued many, many men. This makes me think of the work of my colleague Sardax, who frequently portrays this classic trope of mass subjection in his art, as in his recently published image “The Stockroom”:
Be sure to visit Sardax’s Wordpress blog here for more information about his work and how he created his edition of Venus in Furs, his new translation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 classic of femdom literature.
Of course these stories and poems are not sexually explicit the way BDSM videos or, say, audio files are today–but the femdom vibe is still there, and strong.
Although I’m not into the idea myself of being enslaved with an entire horde of other guys–I really am a one-on-one kinda sexual serf 😉 –I even ended up using this trope in my own way at the climax of my supernatural femdom story THE DOMINATRIX WHO COULDN’T DIE, available on Amazon here. Perhaps mass enslavement by a few strong females is part of the collective male subbie unconscious?