Modern Pulp Aug 28 2017
ZU KEEPERS
Please don't tease the animals.


Operating on the same level of explicitness as cable softcore doesn't mean roman porno flicks can't push the envelope. Japanese filmmakers working in this genre were solidly experienced by the time Dan Oniroku aoi onna came along, and it's amazing how adept they were at implying everything while showing little. Content-wise Dan Oniroku aoi onna gets pretty far out. The film had no U.S. release, but the title would be “Oniroku Dan,” after Japan's most famous author of sado-masochist fiction, and “blue girl.” The blue girl in question is Izumi Shima, one of roman porno's truly radiant actresses, who spends most of this film trapped in a perverted private sex club in bondage-related distress. We could describe how she ends up in this place, but why bother? We could also describe the various pokings, proddings, and probings the lovely Miss Zu endures, but there's no point. She's naked and helpless is all you need to know, and that—apparently—is what drew Japanese audiences to these films in droves. Most of the time we like to provide a set of stills or screen grabs to give you an idea what to expect. For this one we're giving you only a single production photo, below. That should about cover it. Dan Oniroku aoi onna premiered in Japan today 1982.

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Vintage Pulp Feb 23 2017
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
When they say love hurts they aren't kidding.


This wintry poster for Hakkinbon bijin ranbu yori: semeru!, aka Beauty's Exotic Dance: Torture! shows star Junko Miyashita looking miserable and cold. Which actually happens in the movie. It tells the story of an artist who engages a prostitute to satiate his need for sadistic sex, which he uses to fuel his art. The prostitute, Miyashita, is a consensual partner in all this, wanting to please the artist and out-do his dearly departed wife. You gets lots of drawn out sadism involving rope bondage, asphyxiation, ice baths, scaldings with candle wax, and more. And if that isn't dark and weird enough already, matters take a really nasty turn when Miyashita turns out to have inherited something unusual from her mother. If you watch the movie, don't say we didn't warn you. Hakkinbon bijin ranbu yori: semeru! premiered in Japan today in 1977.

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Modern Pulp Aug 28 2015
WALKING A TIGHTROPE
The makers of Female Teacher: Rope Hell needed to learn a lesson or two.


Based on a bdsm novel written by the acclaimed Oniroku Dan, Onna kyôshi nawa jigoku, aka Female Teacher: Rope Hell, is yet another Japanese exploration of the pleasures, pains, and limits of sexual obsession and bondage. Frankly, this one is a bit tedious. There’s a razor thin line between thoughtful and dangerous when dealing with this kind of material. When Japanese films, in particular, end up on the wrong side of that line, you really have a mess on your hands. We understand, yes, that bad men aren’t always punished in real life. But this isn’t real life. It's just a movie, and punishment is key. In fact, for us it’s the entire point. It’s the only thing that makes these films watchable. But in this case, the abusive male ties up the two objects of his obsession and is tormenting them when one of his candles sets an accidental fire. He and the bound women burn to death. His obsession destroyed them all. That’s the end. Roll credits. Hope we didn’t ruin it for you.

The fixation Japanese film has with sexual abuse is curious. It often occurs for pretty straightforward narrative reasons—rape, or perhaps the murder of husbands and children, or often all three, are the triggers that transform women into terrifying revenants. The mostly thirty-something writers and directors who conceived pinku plots were taking swipes at Japan’s patriarchal social structure by first explicitly revealing a sexist status quo, then allowing feminine power to demolish it. Or so it seems to us. In that way pinku does not differ from blaxploitation. In those, it’s a racist status quo that is revealed and demolished. However revenge movies represent only a slice of the Japanese whole. Many films in the roman porno sub-genre feature degradation without revenge, in which case we think it needs to be very carefully done to avoid endorsing such behavior. Major fail on that account here. All respect to Oniroku Dan, but excesses such as a forced enema and subsequent sloppy evacuation are not things we can get behind, so to speak. Onna kyôshi nawa jigoku premiered in Japan today in 1981.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 1 2014
INTIMATE PORTRAIT
Naomi Tani gets roped into a weird situation.


Above is a poster for Genso fujin ezu, aka Fascination: Portrait of a Lady, aka Fantasy Portrait of a Wife, one of many S&M movies starring Naomi Tani, aka the Queen of Pink. In this one Tani plays Hisako, a bored housewife married to a conservative art professor. Hisako is beset by bizarre sexual daydreams, including one of being captured like a stray dog and stuck in a cage. Her frustrations soon center on Tachiki, a visionary art student her husband has expelled from school for being too modernist. Hisako and Tachiki soon begin meeting, and Tachiki introduces Hisako to a world of bondage and other dubious delights. The husbanddoesn't really understand the extent of his wife’s straying until she doesn’t come home one night. Not entirely her fault, though, as she’s tied up in Tachiki’s flat. In the morning Tachiki is inspired by lingering rope impressions on Hisako’s flesh to attempt something more permanent—he tattoos her entire body with a rope design. Hisako’s husband, you can be sure, is going to be pissed.

That’s all we’ll say about the plot of Genso fujin ezu. The idea of a person’s transformation taking on psychic then physical dimensions is pretty clear, but daydreams of domination and humiliation just don’t resonate for us. Bondage and rope arts occupy an important place in Japanese culture, so maybe that’s simply the default direction for bored cinema wives, the same way American movies from the period often featured women taking a walk on the wild side with hot-rodders or counterculture types. That’s our best guess, anyway. Oniroku Dan is the mind behind the literary genre that birthed these films, and if we’d read any of his books we’d have a better idea exactly why Hisako veers into S&M, but failing that we’ll just take the movie on its own merits. Genso fujin ezu premiered today in 1977.


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Modern Pulp May 23 2013
A TOUCH OF VELVET
The name’s Bondage, Kinky Bondage.


Last week we shared a few images from a new bondage collection called Strictly Bondage created by Berlin-based publishers Goliath, and mentioned that the book we received was one of two. Above you see the cover of the second collection—Kinky Bondage Obsession. How different can two bondage books be? You’d be surprised. Shot by Jim Weathers, Kinky Bondage Obsession is of course about the restraints, but more so than Strictly Bondage, it’s about color and texture. Weathers’ models are beautifully garbed—clad in metallic purples and shimmering crimsons, sheathed in skin hugging vinyl and nylon. Rubber, faux fur, PVC, and patent leather abound. The action takes place in opulent, suede-walled salons appointed with wooden accessories. In fact, the book could double as a catalog for expensive bondage outfits and shabby chic home decorations.

The press material references David Lynch and that’s easy to see. Weathers has made Blue Velvet with the lights turned up a notch, before Dennis Hopper barged in, screamed amyl nitrate-fueled filth and ruined the party. An all female party, by the way, which is another contrast to Strictly Bondage. The lack of men in this thick book may seem to bring the threat level down, but on the other hand, since most of the four-hundred-plus shots are solo—that is, they feature only a bound woman—you have to wonder who exactly is doing the restraining. Possibly it's you, you kinky devil. But some scenes do feature a dominator, always another woman, and the implicit question presented in those deals with gender expectations. Beyond the technicolor outfits and opulent interiors, do you see pure domination, mutual consent, or mere artifice?  The answer may reveal your attitudes about women and power. You can read more about Kinky Bondage Obsession at the Goliath website.

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Modern Pulp May 15 2013
BOUND FOR GLORY
Publishers provocateur Goliath release a collection of Japanese-bondage-inspired art photos.


A long while back we mentioned the Japanese art of kinbaku or shibari (we won’t get into the debate over which term is more correct) and said we’d discuss it again, but of course never did. Well, we were reminded of that promise when Berlin-based rebel publishers Goliath sent us a couple of their books. Ostensibly, they’re coffee table volumes, but of a rather provocative type, dealing with bondage as art. Today we’re looking only at Strictly Bondage, and we’ll get to the other book Kinky Bondage Obsession later this week.

Strictly Bondage, a compact volume of black and white images derived directly from the Japanese bondage arts, was shot by longtime bdsm photographer Victor Lightworship. Like the master or kinbakushi who restrains women in kinbaku, Lightworship uses ropes in some of his photos to suspend his models. He appears in many of the shots, and while he goes through the motions of dominating his models, the content doesn’t overpower the compositional beauty of the tableaux. Or put another way, while the book generates some raised eyebrows when visitors pick it up from the coffee table, they quickly become aware that they’re looking at the output of someone with talent and a finely honed aesthetic.
 
Lightworship has been at this for thirty years, even studying kinbaku under a rope master, so the sharpness and cohesion of this collection is no surprise, nor is the fact that he can walk a tightrope between the disturbing and erotic so deftly. Some of his non-Strictly Bondage work goes farther, so the effect achieved here is deliberate and is partly due, we think, to the array of expressions worn by his models—sometimes a sort of overacted b-movie terror, but other times a resigned serenity comically juxtaposed against the most elaborate of subjugation. We see the latter in the shot below featuring porn actress Jay Taylor as human luggage.

The book’s foreword asks: “What is art? What is erotic? What is porn? What is interesting?” Strictly Bondage is a little of all those, and it’ll be living on our coffee table for some time, or at least until our friends bring their kids by. We have several of the tamer images from the book’s interior below, and you can learn more about Victor Lightworship and Strictly Bondage at www.goliathbooks.com, and at the photographer’s site here.


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Vintage Pulp Jun 22 2010
TURNING OF THE TIED
Scenes from a marriage.

If there’s one indisputably true statement about Japanese cinema, it’s this: they will try anything. 1974’s Hana to hebi, aka Flower and Snake, is a bondage comedy based on a novel by Oniroku Dan, who specialized in S&M fiction. For the screen version, Nikkatsu Studios recruited reliable sexploitation queen Naomi Tani, who had already appeared in a previous version of the same film entitled Hana to hebi yori: niku no shiiku, aka Flower and Snake: Rearing the Flesh. Where that version was a mere pinku film, this new version would be a Roman porno—which simply meant Nikkatsu would spend more money in an effort to elevate the genre into something mainstream Japanese would accept. In the film, Tani plays an aristocratic wife who asks for a divorce but instead is forced into bondage and submission by a man hired for the task by her husband. She experiences a sexual awakening, the employee forms an emotional bond, and complications ensue from there. We haven’t read the novel, but apparently it’s very different from the film and its adaptation was a source of friction between studio and author. But it didn’t matter—Hana to hebi was a smash. It was the first of Nikkatsu’s many Roman porno flicks, and the first of what would become a Hana to hebi franchise. It premiered in Japan today in 1974. 

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Vintage Pulp Mar 10 2010
TOKYO BOUND
It’s a world gone crazy keeps a woman in chains.

Well, we said we’d explore Japanese bondage arts a bit more, so here’s a nice beginning—a collection of colorful SM magazines from the 1970s. We’ll show you what’s inside one of these later. 

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Vintage Pulp Dec 10 2009
OF HUMAN BONDAGE
Stuck in a moment and you can’t get out of it.


Are you getting a sense of déjà vu? Well, you’re not crazy. This does have an identical bondage theme and color palette as a poster we shared last week. The main difference is that this victim has shaved her armpits, which is good, because you always want to look your best for a torturing. The film here is Kifujin shibari tsubo, aka Noble Lady Bound Vase, and it stars Naomi Tani, who we’re going to get know real well on this site. She was Japan’s queen of bondage cinema, garnering notoriety for her roles in flicks like Wife To Be Sacrificed and Colorful Bed of Violent Desire, before retiring to become a restaurant owner. As we mentioned before, though we like pinku films, harder ones are not exactly our cup of T&A. We do realize that rope bondage is considered fine art in Japan, but as Americans—even ones who have spent years abroad—we can’t completely shake a lifetime of conditioning that makes us see something weird here. But on the other hand, we seriously doubt the Japanese can understand why we glorify violence to such an extent in American cinema. So we won’t judge them if they don’t judge us. One of the reasons we started this site was to explore how art varies from culture to culture, and so of course we’ll keep discussing these films, but we’ll also be looking seriously into the Japanese bondage arts kinbaku-bi and shibari. Hope you’re looking forward to that. Now we have to go shoot some people. Kifujin shibari tsubo opened in Japan today in 1977.

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Modern Pulp Dec 5 2009
ROPE TRICKS
I wanna hold your hana.

Hana to hebi: kyûkyoku nawa chôkyô was released with the English title Flower and Snake 4: Rope Magic, which is a very pretty collection of nouns for an exercise in torture porn. Fairly hard torture porn, too, probably because by the time this was made by Nikkatsu Studios, adult video was taking a major bite out of Japan’s pinku market. The plot here is simple: a gambler with debts loses his wife and daughter to the Yakuza, who proceed to humiliate the women in various fiendish ways. There’s an escape attempt that goes awry, but basically the story is just a framework for increasingly devilish forms of sexual degradation. You got your dildos. You got your hot wax. You got your urine. This is soooo not our thing. But what is our thing is the promo art, which is just lovely, even while evincing the film’s highly dubious nature. Experienced pinku fans, or those into the Japanese art of Kinbaku-bi (beautiful bondage) may dig this movie. All others proceed with caution. Hana to hebi: kyûkyoku nawa chôkyô, premiered in Japan today in 1987.     

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
January 23
1912—International Opium Convention Signed
The International Opium Convention is signed at The Hague, Netherlands, and is the first international drug control treaty. The agreement was signed by Germany, the U.S., China, France, the UK, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Persia, Portugal, Russia, and Siam.
January 22
1946—CIA Forerunner Created
U.S. president Harry S. Truman establishes the Central Intelligence Group or CIG, an interim authority that lasts until the Central Intelligence Agency is established in September of 1947.
1957—George Metesky Is Arrested
The New York City "Mad Bomber," a man named George P. Metesky, is arrested in Waterbury, Connecticut and charged with planting more than 30 bombs. Metesky was angry about events surrounding a workplace injury suffered years earlier. Of the thirty-three known bombs he planted, twenty-two exploded, injuring fifteen people. He was apprehended based on an early use of offender profiling and because of clues given in letters he wrote to a newspaper. At trial he was found legally insane and committed to a state mental hospital.
January 21
1950—Alger Hiss Is Convicted of Perjury
American lawyer Alger Hiss is convicted of perjury in connection with an investigation by the House unAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC), at which he was questioned about being a Soviet spy. Hiss served forty-four months in prison. Hiss maintained his innocence and fought his perjury conviction until his death in 1996 at age 92.
1977—Carter Pardons War Fugitives
U.S. President Jimmy Carter pardons nearly all of the country's Vietnam War draft evaders, many of whom had emigrated to Canada. He had made the pardon pledge during his election campaign, and he fulfilled his promise the day after he took office.
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