Writing a story to the paintings of Sardax in homage to the great fetish artist John Willie

02 Aug

Every once in a long while, if one is lucky, there comes along a special project which seems to capture the preoccupations of one’s entire career. Thus it was for me when my British friend and colleague Sardax, the formidable master artist of femdom fantasy and erotica, asked if I would like to write a story to go along with paintings which were inspired by the works of John Willie, the pioneering fetish artist who in the 1940s and ’50s created the great damsel-in-distress comic Sweet Gwendoline. Sardax’s approach, of course, was to turn the tables and make the Gwen in his paintings a dominatrix, along with her friend Secret Agent U-89.

These are the first John Willie magazines I ever saw. I purchased them instantly! 

Besides being a terrific artist, Willie had also been a fine writer, whose witty and sexy copy accompanied his paintings, drawings, and photographs in the pages of his self-published magazine, Bizarre. I liked Willie’s words as much as his art–I loved his satiric, arousing, and also compassionate take on the many aspects of kinky behavior, from crossdressing to bondage–and so I relished the opportunity of paying my homage to him by transforming his dastardly creation Sir Dystic d’Arcy from a mustachioed “villain” putting the helpless Gwen in bondage, into a closet submissive male who yearns to experience femdomination instead.

John Willie’s Sir d’Arcy captures Sweet Gwendoline with the help of the Countess.

And so, with a few tweakings I gave to the names, our heroine became Adorable Gwen aka Mistress Gwen; Agent U-89 became Agent 399 aka Mistress Carlotta; and Sir d’Arcy became Sir D’Evious Dalrymple. On a visit to a unique femdom resort in the Carpathian Mountains, which Sardax dubbed “Masotopia,” off went my imagination along with Sir D’Evious to see what happened in a castle compound full of dommes ruling over those members of 1930s English and European male society who craved the firm hand of Feminine Rule!

Sardax turns the tables on Sir d’Arcy, who’s revealed as a not-so-secret subby!

Although I am as far from being a British aristocrat as one can get (Chicago-born of Romanian and Ukrainian Jewish ancestry), I found myself getting deeply into the head of Sir Dev, as I grew to call him, because like myself, I saw him as both attracted to femdom, but blustering in eternal embarrassment by his desire for it. This conflict has been a central theme in my femdom fiction for decades, both serious and humorous, and I was able to explore through the story of Sir Dev in Masotopia, under the control of Mistresses Gwen and Carlotta, the absurd yet understandable ambivalence of the sophisticated man who fervently wishes to feel himself, as he was brought up to be, the master of all situations–but nonetheless, with a stubborn and therapy-resistant persistence, erotically craves being under the sweetly shod feet and sharp potency of the disciplinary devices and whips of damnably commanding women. “Blast these hussies!” as Sir Dev might say. And let us kiss their arses and whatever adorable vistas are permitted the devotions of our yearning lips.

So–lest my approach sound “heavy,” I want to emphasize that it is not, and I had a great deal of naughty fun writing the story, inspired by the incredible costumes and predicaments Sardax put Sir Dev into under Gwen’s guidance. Using the opportunity to indulge my pleasure in richly descriptive yet understated prose in homage both to John Willie’s style and kind of sly humor I enjoy, I found it ironically amusing as well as exceptionally stimulating to visit Masotopia in the company of Sir D’Evious Dalrymple. More than once during the writing of the story I envied the curmudgeonly gentleman his proximity to these masterful ladies, especially when he was bound in weird attire or posed in deliciously degrading situations for the amusement of the amazons of this small but potent nation!

All this is to say that YOU can take a trip to Masotopia via the fabulous femdom paysite The English Mansion here. Helmed by Mistress Sidonia von Bork, who is a terrific writer herself as evidenced by her blog here, The Revenge of Adorable Gwen has been serialized in eight chapters since April in a section dubbed “Sardax’s Garret,” with a new story chapter accompanying a new painting by Sardax uploaded on the first of each month. The fifth chapter has just gone up for August 2022.

I can remember what I was doing on the day John Alexander Scott Coutts, aka John Willie, died–August 5, 1962–but only by default. Marilyn Monroe’s death had hit the Chicago papers on Sunday morning August 5 (she’d died late the night before) and it was a big event, even for a kid like myself who didn’t know much about her other than she was a super-famous and beautiful movie star. I can’t recall now if I’d even seen any of her films yet at that point–maybe I’d seen The Seven Year Itch on tv, but I can’t be sure; but her dying so young, and presumably by suicide, was so shocking I can remember where I was when I heard it: standing in the bathroom, listening to the news on a transistor radio. I called out to my mother, who was in the kitchen, “Ma, Marilyn Monroe died!” Why would someone so famous and beautiful kill herself? One of the great mysteries of life was thus first introduced into my consciousness.

John Willie died at 59 in England on that same Sunday, but I wasn’t to discover him for approximately another eleven years. By 1974, I was living in Manhattan, and discovering my taste for Times Square and the great informal museum of porn that was 42nd Street. One night I walked into one of the seediest shops in the area–it was located on Seventh Avenue around the corner from 42nd Street–and it was basically a small but cavernous store with tables of magazines and nothing on the beige walls. After looking through some typical photo magazines, I came upon a cardboard box of items on one table that looked different from the usual ’70s smut pix of grungy chicks and hairy studs, and took into my hands elegant digest-sized periodicals wrapped in plastic with artist-rendered covers. One cover had a pretty girl in heels and chains with a devil leering behind her. Another cover was a painting of high heel shod feet with the ankles bound together with decorative ribbon. The title on both magazines was Bizarre, and I didn’t have to look inside to know that these items were worth purchasing sight unseen (the cranky looking clerk probably wouldn’t have let me open them anyway). They were $3 each then, or $18 in 2022 money; so although they sound cheap now, they weren’t: to put it into perspective, I could get two eggs, toast, potatoes and coffee for breakfast at a diner in 1974 for 79 cents, and my weekly rent for a room in a residential hotel was $23 a week, or $92 a month. In any case, I didn’t have much dough to spend from the temporary office work I did at the time, but I had to have these magazines. In the budding stages of my collecting habit, I bought them. I’d been introduced earlier to the work of Gene Bilbrew through reprints of his femdom imagery in Nugget magazine in 1973, but the creator of these Bizarre magazines was new to me, and it was the beginning of an admiration that continues to this day. I still have those issues, too. And it’s odd to me also that I can so distinctly remember the way the store looked, wherein I purchased them. I guess in a way it was a kind of momentous event! πŸ˜‰

So I was very happy to come full circle, in a sense, and pay a modest literary tribute to one of my personal heroes of erotica. I hope you’ll join The English Mansion to enjoy Sardax’s gorgeous paintings and my story, and peruse too the other many delights of the site, which you can read more about here. For more info on Sardax, visit his website here.

UPDATE: Sardax just did his own blog post today (9/1/22) about the series and you can find it here!


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4 responses to “Writing a story to the paintings of Sardax in homage to the great fetish artist John Willie

  1. Mistress Sidonia πŸ”ž (@EnglishMansion)

    August 16, 2022 at 2:59 am

    Thank you for writing such a great story to accompany Sardax’s wonderful femdom illustrations in our new series – The Revenge of Adorable Gwen. Pitched perfectly, with such a melodramatic flourish, your tale is so dastardly, fitting for a magnificent turn of events πŸ˜‰

    • irvoneil

      August 16, 2022 at 7:28 pm

      Thanks so much, Mistress Sidonia! I enjoyed writing it so much. And, as you can see from my new post, I enjoyed “wandering” through your English Mansion as well! Like a very real “Masotopia,” in its digital way! πŸ™‚


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