copyright 2007 by Pat Powers
Most film genres contain bondage scenes. As a practical matter some are a lot likelier to contain bondage scenes than others. Some have elements that are more likely to produce bondage scenes. Some genre appear to have been less lucky than others in terms of producting bondage scenes. We'll cite examples of the good films in these genre as of the bad as well, just to give you an idea of a range. This article may not have any deep intrinsic meaning or lead to any useful conclusions, but one thing is for sure -- it's fun to think about all these great bondage scenes.
Here they are:
A traditional damsel looks distressed in the movie "Teen Knight." The nice, tight cleave gag is not common to these dramas. Mostly, it's damsels hanging around in chains a lot. Yawny stuff, for the most part.
The term damsel in distress didn't come from nowhere. It came from all those stories about knights in days of yore rescuing fair damosels from dragons, varlets, villains and other knights. Most of the time when you have such a film what you'll get is a weak scene of a damsel chained by her wrists to the wall of the dungeon, and all you'll see of her in chains is a brief shot just before she's rescued by the good knight. Dragonheart is an exception, with strong, dramatic acting in a dungeon scene by Dina Merrill, and a second scene where she bound by the wrists and elbows (very unusual) to a pillar. Some mostly European exploitation films set in medieval Europe like Mark of the Devil, did do a lot more with the whole dungeon/torture theme, but the emphasis tended to be on torture rather than bondage.
Dina Merrill tied to a post in "Dragonheart." She also gets chained to a wall in a dungeon. They re-used damsels in those days, it's not like modern damsels who spend two seconds tied to a chair and that's it for the whole movies.
(Little known historical sidelight -- in England during the times of the witch hunter Matthew Hopkins, they had relatively progressive laws which forbade torturing people into confessions. So Hopkins tried binding his suspects in uncomfortable ways and leaving them that way for prolonged periods of time, while depriving them of sleep as well -- but not actually TORTURING them by legal definition if you will. Call it the Alberto Gonzalez approach to torture. It succeeded in extracting confessions as readily as more traditional forms of torture, but Hopkins didn't like it because it took too long -- and because he was a fucking sadistic psychopath with a license to torture and kill. Kind of an early Ken Starr. Still -- a lot of potential for bondage here, without all the SM.)
There aren't that many traditional damsel in distress scenes owing to the lack of medieval-themed movies and TV shows. But the meme has morphed very neatly into most other genres.
Carolyn Lowery is bound and subjected to the Wazooifier in "Vicious Circles."
In this exciting genre, women are kidnapped by evil men (or women) or groups of men and women, or on rare occasions, bands of high-strung squirrels, to serve as their sex slaves. Bondage element: women who are kidnapped must be restrained during the kidnapping and imprisoned afterward to prevent their escape. Also, women must serve as sex slaves while under duress, so their wills must be broken, possibly by torture or bondage, in order to make them submit. Formal sex slave training is a necessity here. Probably the highest-potential plotline there is for bondage and dominance action, but almost always missed completely in favor of simplistic DiD search and rescue plot. Vicious Circles, the best of the white slavery films to date, is an exception, with women volunteering to act as sex slaves for $2,000 a day. Includes training scenes, bondage, fetish wear and a mild bondage scene, as well as a scene where a prospective sex slave is given "medical' exam prior to being hired.
In "Where Evil Lies," you'll see plenty of this, but no actual bondage, and not a whole lot of sex or slavery.
More typical are Desert Passion and Where Evil Lies, two films about women kidnapped by white slavers that contain no bondage and precious little in the way of submission and dominance behavior. Desert Passion sidesteps the whole training and willingness issue by introducing a drug that makes the women perform sexually for the men while in a dreamlike state, awakening with no memory of what they've done. Training and bondage scenes would have been a lot more fun, if you ask us. Sadly, when I say "more typical" I mean, it ... there are almost no slavery training scenes in mainstream films.
Here's a rare gag scene in a prison movie, from Troma's "Lust for Freedom" which is otherwise a fairly unexceptional mishmash of lesbianism and catfighting.
Bondage element: Women are imprisoned, generally on trumped-up charges, sometimes for crimes they've committed, by the authorities. Often cuffed and shackled while being transported. They're kept in cells of course, sometimes whipped, beaten, etc. for breaking rules. Sometimes raped. Women must submit to dominance of guards. This genre offers enormous possibilities for bondage and dominance scenes. While cuffs and cells are almost always part of such movies, they're rarely played up for their bondage and dominance elements. Nude shower scenes, lesbianism and sometimes sex scenes are the big payoffs here, along with jailhouse riots and catfights. Like white slavery films, WiP films often fail to live up to their potential, dumping all the psychologically interesting elements in favor of badly paced rescue/escape stories.
Some of the best psychological elements in Women in Prison stories comes from Lifetime Channel sorts of films, like Bambi Bambenek where the lead character is cuffed and shackled in the middle of a busy airport by the cops and then lead through it while the passers-by stare at her. Most of the movie details the way Bambenek was set up by the crooked cops and District Attorneys in Wisconsin, but they focus on the humiliation and frustration of Bambenek's imprisonment very nicely at times, especially the scene where the judge sentences her to be cuffed and shackled whenever she leaves her cell.
Bambi Bambenek gets shackled at a busy airport. Before Homeland Security this used to be an unusual sight, so it was very stressful to her. Nowadays you feel lucky if you aren't told to remove your clothes and bend over.
Most Women in Prison stories have even less bondage than occurs in actual prisons, where cuffing and shackling prisoners is routinely done under many circumstances, with hands cuffed in front without a waist chain a rarity. Whereas in Women in Prison movies it's more of a commonplace to have the woman's hands cuffed in front and not otherwise secured, in the few scenes where she's cuffed.
Still, there's hope as the most recent entry in the genre, "Bikini Chain Gang," a good-natured Skinamax spoof of women in prison films, included a full-blown sex scene with the female protagonist in handcuffs (hands cuffed in front, sadly) during a conjugal visit with her boyfriend, and a second sex scene involving two bikini-clad women shackled at the ankles and one guy. Somebody out there is paying attention.
Wynona Ryder is bound, blindfolded and fondled in "House of the Spirits" but somehow government-sponsored bondage isn't a bit of fun. Too much like the real thing..
Most of the political prisoner stories that are well known deal with male prisoners rather than female prisoners -- 1984 being the leader here, not to mention the Brit TV series The Prisoner -- but there are a few with female prisoners. Bondage element: the typical plot runs involves a government agency or other organized group taking a woman captive and interrogating her, often using torture to some degree or another. Lots of opportunity for bondage, often realized, but only because it's unrealistic to have someone lying around voluntarily being tortured and mutilated. All the torture and mutilation tend to be off-putting for those who don't like that sort of thing, such as me for instance. It could be regarded as a variation on WiP stories, except that the victims rarely have contact with one another and there is that emphasis on torture. And with a government agency involved, we might all ask, "Where's the love?" i.e., very little or no sexual element here, even when rape is involved. There is strong emphasis on humiliation, pain and fear, but none on submission. I can't think of any films in this genre I'd recommend to pure-D bondage fans, though Closet Land and House of the Spirits do have scenes. Its' a different story for those who enjoy torture of course.
Lucy Lawless and friends experienced some of the wildest bondage ever seen on TV in this groundbreaking Gorean series.
This form would also include sword and sandal flicks and sword and sorcery flicks. I call 'em Gorean flicks, not because they're directly modeled on John Norman's Gor novels -- that would be far too intelligent a course for Hollywood to take -- but because they share the same general theme of people from ancient, often slave-holding societies which vary in sophistication from something on the level of ancient Rome to Stone Age nomads. Even if they aren't directly modeled on Gor, many films and some TV series have obviously been influenced by the Gor novels.
It's no accident that the Gor novels, probably the high point for mainstream fiction with bondage content, are fantasies. Norman undoubtedly recognized their potential. That potential has to do exactly with the fact that fantasy and science fiction dealt with societies and technologies that do not exist. Norman understood that he was free to morph chattel slavery into his particular favorite brand of sex slavery, resulting in a hugely successful melding of sword and sorcery fantasy with bondage fantasies. Of course, no exact analogues to Gorean cultures have ever existed on Earth, but by taking historical Earth cultures and ramping up historical slavery into sex slavery, he was able to create powerful stories that ring true even if they're about cultures that never existed.
Image from the cover of a Gor novel -- "Slaves of Gor" if I'm not mistaken. Norman understood that you could take all the "good" parts of historical slavery and sexy the hell out of it in a fictional society, and his cover artists went right along with him. But no one else did.
Fantasy films (and some TV series, such as Xena and Hercules -- most especially Xena, the most productive TV series in terms of bondage since The Avengers) have historically been the strongest bondage scene producers, and especially the strongest sexual bondage scene producers in mainstream media. Xena the TV series is clearly inspired by Norman's alternate vision of barbarian sexuality. Although Xena's feminist leanings are just the opposite of John Norman's sexual leanings, Xena did wear a leather bustier throughout the series, and Xena and Gabrielle and various other damsels managed to get tied up more often, and more severely, than any other femmes on television.
Sword and sorcery B-movies that have produced some of the best bondage imagery in film, include Lana Clarkson's scene in Barbarian Queen, or Barbi Benton's brief but tasty scene in Deathstalker 2. (In fact, Barbarian Queen contains some surprisingly sophisticated scenes relating to slavery and bondage, as noted in our review of it.)
Deathstalker 2 clearly shows the influence of the Gor novels as well, as explained in my review of Warrior Queen, yet ANOTHER film influenced by the Gor novels. (In fact, the writer for Warrior Queen went on to write the scripts for the two Gor movies, which is where they went wrong.)
A bound slavegirl waits to see which of the men fighting over her will have sex with her. Her wishes on the matter will not be consulted. Very Gorean.
I had hoped that the box office success of Gladiator would produce a new round of sword and sandal flicks and TV shows that would take a postfeminist approach to sexual bondage imagery, especially where slavegirls are concerned, but that has not happened. HBO's Rome TV series recently produced some imagery of a bordello slave engaging in some rough sex with one of the male leads, and holding a whip in her mouth while being fucked as a quasi-gag, but it wasn't really a gag, and the series doesn't have much at all in the way of bondage imagery considering it's set in a society where slavery was commonplace.
Even B-grade ripoff sexploitation flicks like Roger Corman's Arena have been disappointing. Arena featured the worst slavegirl auction scene ever made and practically no bondage. Although I've not been able to catch every sword and sandals and sword and sorcery movie and/or TV series since Gladiator, I know of no such scenes, and I know the people who would know of them.
Somehow, the lessons provided by the immensely successful Barbarian Queen and Deathstalker (in relation to their pathetic budgets) have not been learned. Since I know of no current ongoing censorship or repression of bondage imagery, I can only figure it's a matter of Hollywood stupidity. We can only hope that maybe somebody will eventually figure out that the Gor novels are the mother lode for box office appeal when it comes to sword and sandal movies and give us something better than the pathetic, bondage-free Gor movies Harry Alan Towers wrote and Golam/Globus produced.
Some of the very few futuristic bondage devices on film and involving women. Futuristic collars from (left to right): Timecop (a little-known TV series), Deadlock (a little-known movie) and Sleeping Dogs, another little-known movie. Sleeping Dogs is also the biggest mass-branking and chastity-belt scene in movie history, with eight babes so confined.
We go from one of the most productive genres to perhaps the least productive, at least in terms of its potential. Science fiction could be, and should be, just as powerful and frequent in its bondage imagery as fantasy, for like fantasy it deals with societies that don't actually exist, so it has a free hand with its bondage imagery. With such a free hand, most SF series have been pitifully weak in their bondage imagery.
In fact, modern penal bondage has already greatly outstripped most of what's seen in the movies and on TV. Electronic collaring devices with remote sensing capabilities now not only keep non-violent criminals confined at home, but keep stalkers at bay from various celebrities and loved ones.
This huge metallic stock (note it can hold as many as three prisoners) really makes the women locked in it look helpless and vulnerable. A rare example of competence in SF bondage from an otherwise weak B-grade parody film Star Slammer.
There are exceptions to this rule: the huge steel wall yoke in Star Slammer, for example (a film that misses many other opportunities for powerful bondage imagery but does hit it out of the part in this one instance).
Lexx is a defunct SF TV series that took good advantage of futuristic bondage imagery, with prisoners cuffed to huge steel slabs while the slabs are floated it about, their prisoners as helpless as Han Solo in the carbon freezer unit, in the premier episode. In the "P4W" episode similar slaps are used to confine potential suitors for Xenia Seeburg's character, who's also secured to such a slab.
Xenia Seeburg's character Xev lies bound practically naked and spreadeagled on a bed while a suitor -- one of many -- is bound spreadeagle to a huge metal slab, about to be lowered atop Xev to experience some true love, futuristic women in prison style. How the HELL did they manage to slide THAT past the censors? Oh, that's right, it was the SciFi Channel. The censors just figured, well, "who's watching, anyway?".
Cleopatra 2525 is also a defunct SF TV series that had a scene with gagged slavegirls in a nightclub that is unique and powerful, simplay because the slavegirls walked about in their gags, unbound. Showing slavegirls gagged in public as a nurmal part of their bondage is something that has not been imitated in any other mainstream film or TV show, which is a shame, because a gag powerfully namkes bondage visually evident.
A bound and GAGGED and practically naked slavegirl wanders around a futuristic night club in "Cleopatra 2525." It wasn't so much the nature of the bondage tech that made this episode so remarkable, but the fact that slavegirls were actually gagged just because they were slavegirls, something I have seen in no other mainstream TV show or movie. Looking at the costumes, I gotta figure the produers were using members of LA's kink community as extras. It must have been their idea.
Other than that, I can only recall three really futuristic items of bondage gear on women in mainstream movies and TV shows: the cheesy LED collar in an yet another defunct TV series called Timecop, the collars worn by Rutger Hauer and Mimi Rogers in Deadlock which blow up -- along with the wearer's head, if they get more than 100 yards away from one another, which is not all that erotic, and a third really ground-breaking piece of imagery -- the really nifty black metal collar and gag sets (with matching chastity belts) worn by the beautiful female jeweler/slaves in Sleeping Dogs and Fatal Beauty.
There have been a couple of others, but they've almost all been worn by men. Frex, and perhaps most famously, the retro-futuristic decapitation collars worn by Will Smith and Kevin Kline in Wild, Wild West (used mostly in the service of the film's gay humor, which there was an awful lot of for a family film) which were pretty dull-looking silvery pieces of plastic until they blew up, along with the wearer's head, much like the collars in Deadlock.
Leather and laces adorn Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in the Avengers, a show that clearly knew which side of its leather was oiled.
After the Barbarian genre, the Spy genre is probably the most productive genre going, in movies and on television, but most especially on television. At its height in the late 60s and early 70s, the spy genre brought us The Avengers, the Man from U.N.C.L.E. and the Girl from U.N.C.L.E., to name three of the more influential series in a lot of 13-year-old's wet dreams.
These shows were unusual in that they were often actually funny, with fine writing characterized by wit and intelligence, most especially in the case of the Avengers.
In the movies, James Bond is the leading proponent of the spy genre and the only one to continue an unbroken chain of movies right into the 2000s, with plenty of damsels scattered through his movies.
In the show "Alias" Jennifer Garner wore a tape gag as seen here, a dental gag as seen in our article on "Smallville" a bit gag, and in a promo that never aired, she work an oversized pink ballgag. Yes, spy shows are what we call productive.
Because spies are people who operate in secret, whose job it is to extract information from others and who occasionally have information extracted from them, and they're constantly sneaking into forbidden places, the incidence of DID scenes is naturally very high. The genre's potential has been well exploited in terms of frequency, from The Avengers in the 60s, to La Femme Nikita, and Alias, and right up to current series like 24 (which produced some nice scenes for Eliza Dishku), but it's no longer nearly as popular a genre as it once was. And it can be argued that although it outstrips other genres in terms of imaginativeness of bondage, it still has a lot of unrealized potential.
Heather Locklear struggles in a rare prime-time scene involving a hogtie and a gag on "T. J. Hooker."
Shows about cops and private eyes vary widely in how productive they are. The so-called "police procedurals" like NYPD Blue and Law and Order have been relatively unproductive. Shows in which the cop is a private eye or a maverick who "plays by his own rules," like T. J. Hooker, Walker: Texas Ranger and others have been quite productive.
In the movies, the greatest series of mainstream scenes ever produced occurred in the Ginger movies, a series of three movies about private eye Ginger MacAllister, starring Cheri Caffaro as the private eye whose investigative technique involved asking the bad guys questions until she winds up naked, hogtied, and gagged.
Captured by the bad guys and bound naked and spreadeagled in the classic 70s sexploitation film "Girls Are for Loving", Ginger has sex with a captor in order to make him overconfident. It's her standard investigative technique, really. Later, when she's had enough sex, and learned a few things, she'll strike back.
Certainly puts Heather Locklear's fully clothed scene in perspective, doesn't it?
With occasional exceptions like Ginger the private/eye cop genre hasn't been all that productive, considering that in most cases they end up with a suspect, often female, held in bondage and carted off to captivity. This element is generally treated as an unimportant afterthought by many filmmakers and TV producers, and for that reason often misses out.
Typical consensual bondage in a mainstream sex film, in this case, "Lady In Waiting." The hands are tied to the headboard, there a blindfold (no gag) and the legs are not bound.
OK, just based on the title alone, this genre ought to be by far the most productive of the very best quality and quantity of damsel and distress/sexual bondage scenes. If any genre name clearly implies "sexy damsel in distress" it's "erotic thriller."
Yet despite the promise of its name, erotic thrillers have been, well, not thrilling. "Disappointing" would be a better term.
Erotic thrillers, where they have damsel in distress scenes or consensual bondage scenes -- it is the only genre that easily accommodates both, which is a fair indication of its promise -- the damsel in distress scenes tend to be weak and the sexual bondage tends to be sloppy.
Still, it is the most productive genre among movies -- the heavily censored general access television medium really has no equivalent. (Premium cable channels, on the other hand, are probably the most common venue for erotic thrillers.)
It's also a genre that has a broader range than almost any other. Erotic thrillers move seamlessly from top of the line mainstream movies starring A-level actors like "Body of Evidence" and "In the Cut" to B-grade films that still attract lesser "name" actors, like "Bound By Lies" (Kristy Swanton and one of the Baldwin brothers) to softcore movies that are almost nothing but sex and, well, sex, like "Over the Wire," "Striking Resemblance," and a whole raft of others.
In fact, some hard core bondage films that have bit of storyline like ZFX's "The Hitcher" could arguably slide in just under the wire after films like "Over the Wire, which was made in 1998, and brief though it is, is still the raunchiest bondage sex scene in mainstream, despite some heavy competition.
Over the Wire's brief but very nice consensual bondage scene, with Griffin Drew cuffed hands behind, gagged with her husband's tie, and taken from behind doggie style. Most scenes, however consensual, don't even come close to this.
But look what has actually happened with erotic thrillers. Consensual bondage scenes are fairly common presentations in the subgenre of erotic thrillers, the late night TV fare that's light on penetration but heavy on humping.
Most Skinamax bondage scenes are quite tame. They involve the woman lying on the bed either face down or face up with her hands tied apart or to the headboard, or together to the corners of a headboard. Sometimes her feet are tied together. Cases in point would include Sins of Desire, Shadow of A Doubt and Lady In Waiting.
Her legs are never tied apart even for consensual sex. At most, they are tied together , most often they aren't tied at all. I mean, what is bondage about if not at least in part, helplessness and vulnerability? Doesn't a spreadeagle increase those? And why is a consensual bondage actress' arms are almost never tied behind her back during sex OR foreplay?
It would make her look too helpless, you see.
This scene of a damsel bound with her hands tied to her headboard and her ankles tied together from "Sinful Intrigue" is more typical of erotic thrillers. Flash -- if you want to have sex with someone, you don't tie their ankles together. You tie them apart..
There are a few rare exceptions like Over The Wire's nude kneeling hands cuffed behind back sex scene, and Striking Resemblance, which features a female cop in a submissive relationship with a murder suspect. But for the most part, it's weak stuff, very weak stuff, when compared with what you see Internet
Bend over, Barbie! O does the thing that she does best, while blindfolded and bound, in the 10-part miniseries that leaves no bondage unshown.
Contained within the set of films involving consensual bondage scenes is a very important subset, films in which consensual bondage is the subject, or at least a key element. Such films range from great to awful, in the nauseating sense of the word.
The best of the bunch are fine films that understand their characters and deal with their subject matter in a thoughtful and intelligent way. The best of the bunch may well be the episode of Women: Stories of Passion entitled "The Gigolo." As is so often the case with films that have bondage as their subject matter, the title has nothing to do with the content.
A scene from "The Gigolo" which has some surprisingly intelligent and sophisticated fun with the notion of "topping from below" for part of a Skinamax series.
"Women: Stories of Passion" is a series of raunchy half-hour films made for the Showtime premium network. The films are executive produced by a woman, Eliza Rothschild, and in "The Gigolo" episode directed by a woman, Mary Woronov (of "Eating Rauol" fame. The story was obviously written by someone who knows bondage play well -- it's about a wealthy single career woman who has hired a gigolo to act out her tightly scripted sexual fantasies, which tend to have her surprised, tied up, and made love to. In short, the story is the well-known tendency of some submissives to "tip from below," dominating the relationship with demands for strict adherence to their sexual fantasies, fantasies in which they just happen to play a submissive role.
In the movies, the best example might be the ten-part adaptation of "The Story of O" produced in Spain. Little known here in the United States, it is a faithful adaptation of the novel, almost scene for scene. Like a lot of other bondage themed work, it suffers from lack of character development, but is absolutely faithful in providing a visual representation of what happens to O.
At the stinky end of the scale, we have the usual apparently limitless supply of crap. Perhaps the worst is the movie 8 mm starring Nicholas Cage, in which a private cop investigates a runaway girl's apparent death in a snuff film. It's bad-faith attempt to capitalize on the sex appeal of BDSM topics while at the same time decrying BDSM as something only serial killers and prostitutes do, was so phony and so ugly that even mainstream critics derided the film for this and many other flaws. Mercy and Jill The Ripper are also pretty much in the same boat.
The movie "Scream Bloody Murder" is basically mindless tripe, but it does have this nice scene where the psychopath demands that his captive paint beautiful pictures for him while leashed at the neck and wrist. She, for some reason, doesn't feel very artistic.
When psychopaths go shopping for girlfriends, all sorts of bad things can happen, and in the movies, as in real life, most of them do. Mostly what happen is kidnapping followed by imprisonment, sometimes followed by rape, torture and murder, depending.
There's one movie and one novel that stand head and shoulders above the rest in this genre, and that's "The Collector" based on the novel of the same name by John Fowles. It's the story of Ferdy, a mild-mannered psychopath who wins the lottery one day and has to think seriously about what he wants to do in life. So he buys a country house, has a secret room built into it, then he kidnaps Miranda, a lovely arts butterfly of a woman and locks her in the room.
The bulk of the novel is about the power struggle between Miranda and Ferdy as she struggles to get free and Ferdy, not nearly as imaginative and cultured as Miranda, but bigger, stronger and more obsessive, struggles to keep her. It's a story filled with psychological depth that hits few if any wrong notes, unlike just about every other film in this genre.
The Collector: superficially an obsessive lvoe story, it's actually a monster flick.
At the bottom of the barrel we have films like Quake, in which Stephen Rea kidnaps a married woman during an earthquake and keeps her tied to the bed in her apartment. All the subtle psychological interplay of Collector is replaced with lots of hitting and screaming and maiming, which detracts considerably from the fine psychological interplay of the movie.
Karl wonders how he'll ever get a good relationship going with Dawn after kidnapping her and chaining her up in the basement and making her wear a head harness gag in "Kiss the Girls Goodbye." Those first encounters are SO important.
There are a LOT of movies in the obsessive love genre, and they range everywhere from movies like Kiss the Girls Goodbye which would be as good as the Collector in its own way, save for a bad character development flaw, to medium-interesting stories like Object of Obsession, to brain-damaged swill like "Scream Bloody Murder."
Beautiful models get tied up a lot in this episode of MTV's "Spygame," which uses bondage themes for some sly humor.
Comedy, like science fiction, is a venue that doesn't see much in the way of scenes, but which has enormous potential for them. After all, one of the most successful ventures in commercial bondage prior to the 1970s had a rich, comic tone -- John Willie's "Perils of Gwendolyne." The depravity of the villains were played for laughs, as was Gwendolyne's helplessness.
Although there has never been a film that could be called a "bondage comedy" there have been films which used bondage imagery to good comic effect. Frex, the British comedy "Whoops, Apocalypse!" in which a situation much like the Falkland Islands war leads to a nuclear holocaust.
A great comedy bondage scene, as the British royal princess is kidnaped and hidden in plain sight as a model in a travelling sex toy exhibit that features bondage gear..
In "Whoops!" terrorists kidnap the British royal princess and smuggle her through the American south. In one instance, they disguise themselves as a traveling sex toy display, with a booth featuring a gagged model chained inside, wearing nothing but bondage gear and mmmphing furiously and writhing. It's the princess, but passers-by think she's just a model at work and walk on by.
In Jake Speed Karen Kopins and Mr. Speed are captured and tied up by the white slavers who've kidnapped Karen's sister. The only way they can escape is for Karen to gnaw on a knot located right over Jake's crotch, while later Jake must gnaw at a knot located between Karen's breasts. It's played for fun and for laughs and works very well.
Bondage scenarios in comedies often show a sly awareness of the sexual aspect of the scenario. Frex, in an episode of "The Spy Game," an MTV cartoon series parodying spies, in which the hero is a super spy whom the villain packs into a giant sushi rolling machine along with a group of naked supermodels. The spy escapes by advising the models to writhe and wriggle against one another as the sushi machine slowly wraps them tighter and tighter with strands of seaweed. Eventually, all that writhing by naked supermodels gets everyone so sweaty that one of the models is literally squirted out of the tightly compacted groups of naked, sweating bodies, and she's able to turn the machine off and free the other models.
The bondage is serious and extensive, but also comedic, in this scene from the 1965 farce Viva Maria, as Brigitte Bardeau and Jeanne Moreau are bound adn gagged in some sort of torture device by evil monks. Not to worry, no French actress beauties were harmed, even fictionally, in the making of this film.
Most often, when bondage is used on TV, it's very sloppy stuff indeed, as in the episode of "Caroline in the City" where a burglar manages to restrain half a dozen people by sitting them in a circle and running a rope around the lot of them two or three times. Most of the humor comes from mugging by the actors and from sly references to sexual bondage. In fact, sly references to sexual bondage are probably the most common sources of humor in bondage scenes. Really imaginative stuff like the scenes in the MTV cartoon and Jake Speed are very rare. And given the wealth of unexploited bondage lore that's out there, there's a huge vein of humor that remains to be mined.
Progress runs backward in the Arabian bondage scenes: in The Desert Hawk from the 1960s, slavegirls hang around the harem in chains -- you know, just 'cause they're slavegirls and all. You won't see that in MODERN Arabian films.
Arabian Nights bondage is much like white slavery themes, except it tends to come within the context of Western viewpoints of older Arabic cultures, especially the Western fascination with harems, belly dancers and sex slavery, which really existed unlike white slavery. It tends to be set in the past, contemporaneous with the stories in The Arabian Nights. This is one genre which runs counter to the general trend for bondage scenes to become more frequent and more intense with time. The 50s and 60s were the heyday of scenes in Arabian Nights films. The Desert Hawk for example, had scenes of captive women chained, sold at auction while chained, and lying around the harem, still chained. Try getting away with that kind of thing nowadays. Adventures of Hadjii Baba featured an authentic scenes of a woman suspended by her wrists, as well as other bondage scenes.
At the rotten end of the scale, we have modern but not at all improved movies like Paradise and Harem, both of which contain scenes of white women captured by Arabs and put into harems, but in which there's absolutely no bondage. Who says you can't stop progress? You can not only stop progress, you can run it backwards.
While mainstream American soaps futz around with missed opportunities, loosie bondage and clunky OTM gags, foreign soaps forge ahead with cool scenes like this German soap scenes (left) and this scene from Reyes y Rey, a Spanish-language soap opera.
Soap operas tend to be productive of bondage scenes and to produce extremely prolonged scenes, sometimes involving repeated shots of a scene stretched out over weeks at a time, in the manner of soap operas. Unfortunately, in order to see such scenes, you have to watch soap operas, which can be slow even in double fast forward mode. And most scenes in soap operas tend to be lame bondage -- over the mouth gags, hands tied in front, that sort of thing.
In fact, a U. S. soap opera is responsible for the stupidest missed opportunity in film and television history. Get this: in Days of Our Lives sisters Sammi and Carrie are kidnapped by a man who puts them in a hotel room, informs that he is going to go pack and will return and kill them, and instructs them to sit and wait, (not tying them up in any way) then leaves the room, shutting the door behind him. After a brief debate they attempt to sneak out of the room. The villain returns just in time to catch them. He tells them in no uncertain terms that they are really, really not to leave the room, and he will be back in a jiffy to kill them just as soon as he finishes packing, so they have to sit on the bed and just wait for him. He does not tie them up in any way, then leaves the room a second time and closes the door behind him? What the HELL is that all about? Of course the sisters escape. But just what kind of alcoholic, drug-abusing moron of a director do you have to be in order to think THAT's a plot?
Much more powerful are scenes from foreign soap operas, such as Reys y Rey, a Latin soaper that features one of the very few mainstream scenes ever to produce a scene involving a ballgag head harness. And a German soap opera produces a dynamite damsel in distress scene in which a villainess leaves a damsel in a free-standing, claw-footed bathtub, her feet tied to the piping at one end of the tub, her hands tied behind her back, her mouth gagged with a scarf, dressed only in panties and a thin cotton top, while the tub slowly filled with water.
U.S. soap opera makers really need to look outside their borders to see how it's done. They should be ashamed.
Mexican Soap Operas
The thing about the future is, you can't predict it. If you could, it would be the past. A few years ago I would never imagined myself writing this particular sentence: "It appears that by far the most productive genre for bondage imagery currently is Mexican soap operas."
A scene from Entre El Amor Somethingsomething, a Mexican soap opera or telenovela or possibly a movie. I don't really know. I do know that in this scene she's thinking, "Oh, god, a bondage three-way! I have hit the jackpot!" Her tears are truly tears of joy.
It's not that it's so unthinkable that Mexican soap operas would be a rich source of bondage scenes, it's just not something I would have anticipated.
Yet it's true. Those who follow such things (I have never been able to stomach American soap operas, even back in the bondage drought of the early 90s when American soap operas were not just the richest, but about the only source of bondage scenes on many occasions. Watching soap operas in a language I couldn't understand would be, not just sleep-inducing, but coma-inducing.)
Still, they are by all accounts by far the most frequent producers of bondage on TV right now, and they produce very nice scenes on occasion. Absolutely weird, but, um, viva la Mexico!
Reality shows, that bane of scriptwriters, are an extremely unproductive genre of television programming, if not the most unproductive genre going. Especially if you are a "gag snob" (one who feels that a DiD scene must include a gagged damsel in order to be a proper DiD scene) reality snobs disappoint: I do not think any reality show has ever produced a gag scene. Hell, even cooking shows (such as Alton Brown's "Good Eats" on the Food Network) have produced gag scenes.
A hottie with huge breasts, dressed only in a skimpy bikini, dangles over a pool in three-point suspension, exhibiting her butt like a baboon in heat. A moment earlier, she was in four-point suspension. A moment later, she was in two-point suspension, then one point suspension, then she was plummeting toward the pool.
That said, one reality program produced many bondage scenes, frequently involving women in bikinis, though no gag scenes, of course. Fear factor, as part of the athletic contest element, frequently would have women cuffed and shackled to various objects. It was Fear Factor and it was the top-rated reality show for a long time, for some reason.
All other reality shows offered a fraction of the scenes that Fear Factor did. Maybe two or three for the lot of them.
An underwater spreadeagle by a bikini-clad hottie in chains, and it's a beam shot! Fear Factor went where no network prime time tV series went before.
Coupled with the decimation of action-adventure shows (highly productive of scenes) the near absence of scenes in the reality shows that blossomed in the early 2000 meant that for a couple of years there was a marked decrease in bondage imagery on television, which was noticed only by the folks who like bondage images in mainstream scenes. But they noticed it a lot.
Oh, yes she will.
Oh, yes she is.
And when she does, there'll be (literally) hell to pay by the freaks who are so mistreating her.
A great bit of plotting from Imma Youjo 4 shows why hentai, while it isn't exactly mainstream, isn't exactly porn, either.
I was going to leave hentai out of this listing of genres, on the grounds that it's not mainstream, but the more I thought about that, the less I liked it.
My problem with excluding hentai is that even though they feature strong sexual content, they're not exactly porn, either. Well, a lot of them aren't porn. They have something porn doesn't have -- strong plots and interesting characters. Characters like the incredibly twisted gymnast Tomomi from "Princess 69," or the hapless but hopeful female innkeeper in "Swallowtail Inn" and her amnesiac charge. Or there's the absolutely incredibly nice plot in Imma Youjo IV, which is one of the nicest cases of ratcheting up the suspense bit by bit I've ever seen in ANY genre, mainstream or otherwise. Or there's the central plot concept of DNA Hunters, which deals with a group of attractive women whose job it is to collect male DNA for the highest bidder, in the ways attractive young women are best at, which has a layered, wheels-within-wheels plotline.
Oh, and there's the bondage. The nude bondage, and the nude sexual bondage. Lots and lots and lots of sexual bondage. Far more, and far more explicit than you will ever see in any other genre. And far better done.
When we said the bondage and sex in hentai is explicit, we meant it. A scene from Behind Closed Doors. We put that question mark there to keep us in R-rated territory.
Yes, hentai is in-fucking-credible (and here's a site that explains why) and even if it's not exactly mainstream, it's not exactly porn, either. And since it ought to be mentioned everywhere DiDs are discussed, and as much as possible, I've mentioned it here.
This is why I kinda HAVE to cover bondage in horror films, even though I don't like them. Ted Bundy, in the 2002 horror flick Bundy, about the serial killer of that name, puts his wife in Russian split bondage, tying her feet as well as her arms above her head, and leaving her bottom really hanging out there. So far as I know, this is the only image of Russian split bondage in any mainstream film or TV show.
My feeling about horror films are not at all ambivalent. I do not like them. I am not at all interested in seeing people maimed, tortured and/or killed. It is not sexy to me, despite the popular misconception that everyone who likes bondage also likes torture and SM generally. In point of fact, a lot of people who like bondage don't like SM at all.
Still, horror is a very productive genre when it comes to scenes, though curiously unproductive when it comes to extreme bondage scenes, until quite recently. And it is certainly very possible to turn off the VCR before any nasty torture starts. I've done it a lot. So even though I personally don't care for the genre, it should be included.
A rather prosaic Joan of Arc burning at the stake re-enactment from the 1996 comedy-horror flick "Head of the Family" makes good use of a new cinematic technique that adds considerable impact to such scenes -- nudity.
Currently there are some movies in theaters and making the rounds on TV that feature very intense bondage scenes that also feature torture scenes ending in death. The "Saw" series and the "Hostel" series, to be exact. Supposedly, Hostel II, not yet released, will feature a B-level "name" actress who will be suspended upside down and naked, prior to being snuffed. I'm not at all crazy about the snuff part, but the suspended upside down and naked part sounds good.
Older horror movies of course didn't show so much blood and gore, and often had the damsel rescued before being maimed/tortured/killed. I much prefer that kind of horror movie, but the problem with them is that the bondage was often curiously lame. Manacles so big the damsel had to keep her hands bunched up in fists to keep them from falling off were the worst offenders, as Hayes era horror movies generally used dungeons as their settings for horrible stuff.
Another EXCELLENT example of ramping up the drama by having the damsel bound, blindfolded and naked as a jaybird. I'm not even sure whicxh movie this is from ... but it's SOOOO good, and it's sure as hell not from the Hayes Code era.
I call bondage in Hayes days "curiously unproductive" because, with explicit torture and mutilation scenes banned but bondage scenes still "under the radar" the obvious thing to do would be to use more intense bondage scenes to ramp up the dramatic tension without invoking the censors' wrath.
Movie directors and producers did something very like that when the Hayes code was in effect, with regard to issues of nudity and sex.
Remember the hourglass figures on the movie stars of the 50s? Jane Russell? Marilyn Monroe? Jayne Mansfield? Mamie Van Doren? There have been a lot of reason why American culture got so interested in women with big breasts and round hips and butts got so popular back in the 50s. One said it was a craving of men, ravaged by World War II, for some maternal comfort.
I like another theory better. It says that directors of that period were looking for ways to ramp up the sexy in their movies, with the Hayes Office opposing, not just nudity but skimpy costumes.
One of the methods directors came up with, according to the theory, was to hire women whose bodies were so bodacious that they insistently imposed themselves on viewers,' attention, right through any clothes they might be wearing.
Here, Jayne Rusell REALLY pushes the envelope with her enormous talents in a promotional shot for "The Outlaw." You can't SEE her breasts, but you can almost FEEL the weight of them through the tortured fabric that tries valiantly to restrain them. It's what directors of the day were able to do, so it's what they did.
Those fifties hotties with their ripe breasts and asses pressed relentlessly against the sweaters and skirts that confined them, desperate for escape, are the products of movie producers who were desperate to get some sexy in their movies at a time when the Hayes Commission was totally whaling on everything sexy.
And that wasn't the only thing that directors tried. They used to have a rule under the Hayes Code that in any scene in which two characters are smooching on a bed, at least one of them had to have his or her foot on the floor. The intent was to prevent scenes in which a delicate, sensitive movie audience of the time might interpret what the couple were doing as fucking, rather than just making out. So some directors created scenes in which a couple would engage in very vigorous, lengthy sex scenes intercut with shots to demonstrate that that foot was right there where it was supposed to be. (The rule was very nicely parodied on Saturday Night Live in the 1970s, with guest Hugh Hefner presenting a film entitled "The First Mrs. Kimble" which features an image of a foot planted on the floor by a bed while the sounds of a couple making hot monkey love in a VERY vigorous fashion accompany it.)
Alfred Hitchcock, for example, in The 39 Steps, had the male and female leads handcuffed together for a lengthy time during the film, just so they could be forced to touch each other in inappropriate ways (by Hayes Code standards) throughout the film.
So, if directors were willing to go to such lengths to get around the sexual censorship of the day, why didn't they ramp up the bondage scenes to make up for all the gore they weren't allowed to show? They clearly did not, in fact, imaginative bondage imagery didn't really occur until the late 60s, early 70s when nudity and gore appeared for the first time, really, in American movies, and appeared with a vengeance. It seems to me that if directors weren't able to use the nudity which I have so well documented to ramp up the intensity of bondage imagery, they could have at LEAST done some imaginative bondage, or at least some EXTREME bondage.
If you can't bind an actress nude, fine, bind her in a bikini -- in a Russian split. Or bind her in shorts and a halter top -- in a butt-up wrist ankle tie. If you have her in a harem girl outfit that still covers most of her flesh, at least bind her in a spreadeagle that leaves her legs spread really wide, hence looking very vulnerable and helpless. Or come up with some really dramatic bondage device like they did in "Viva Maria" (see above) altough, come to think of it, it was a French production by Louis Malle, not a US production.
Would it have KILLED mainstream filmmakers and TV producres to come up with bondage imagery like this great wrist ankle tie, even if the women were clothed? MUCH more dramatic than a comfy chair tie or a limp manacle scene.
But no, mostly what the movies of the 50s delivered were women standing in dungeons manacled limply to the wall, and on television, an unending procession of comfy chair ties. You have to figure some kind of censorship was in effect as far as dramatic bondage imagery of the sort I've described goes, possibly self-censorship by filmmakers seeking to avoid conflict with the Hayes Office, because it was only with the advent of the nudity that dramatic bondage imagery would have substituted for, that you saw actual dramatic bondage imagery.