Pony Soldier, Funny Games and
Pimpin' Da Bondage!

Here's Penny Edwards wearing one of the TIGHTEST gags I've ever seen in a mainstream scene. Look how it's pulling her lips back. Wow!

Copyright 2008 by Pat Powers

Pony Soldier, a western made in 1952, aired on AMC recently and I taped it so I could see the rare mainstream bitgag worn by Penny Edwards. Later, I made some caps of the scene. And when I did that, I noticed that that was one hell of a tight bitgag Penny Edwards was wearing in that movie (see image above).

It was pulling her lips back and also distorting the outline of her nose. What's more, the curvature of the band holding the bit gag in place looked very much like the way straps curve on the neck of a commercial bondage model (or for that matter, wife or sweetie) when she's wearing a ballgag that's properly tight so that the ball is held within the mouth.

Here's professional bondage model Annette Schwartz wearing a strap ballgag properly so that the ball fills her mouth. Note that the strap curves around her neck exactly as the strap curves around Penny's neck. That's tight bondage alrighty!

Yeah, that was one tight bit gag Penny Edwards wore, and what's more, she wore it in several different scenes in the movie. (By "scenes" I mean different shots that would have required a certain amount of set-up for the crew while Penny waited).

There was one scene where she is found and temporarily rescued by Canadian Mountie Tyrone Power inside the tent. There was a second scene where she is standing and wearing the cleave gag while the Indians who have captured her stand around and talk about Indian stuff, like burning her alive in a fire.

Here's Penny and the gang posing by the White Woman Immolation Bonfire. Looks like a publicity still the way everyone's staring into the camera, but it's an actual vidcap. From straight on, the wooden part of the bit gag conceals the strap.

There's a third scene where she's seated on the ground, tied hand and foot and wearing the bit gag, as she scoots along and attempts to escape her fate (see: "burning alive in a fire"). There's a fourth scene where she is again rescued by Tyrone Power.

Here's one of the cap everyone uses when they do an article/publish vidcaps/publish videos from this movie. It is about the closest thing to a closeup there is of Penny Edwards wearing her gag. The guy playing the Indian, although clearly Caucasian, is well posed too -- looks like he's ready to be carved into a nickel.

I also suspect that the scene where she's standing around with the Indians talking might have required several different set-ups to get the shots just right -- for example, the shot where she's held by the chief bad guy Indian and shrinks away while looking up at him in a frightened way while wearing the bit gag was pretty obviously posed. (It's the one that just about everyone makes a vidcap of because it's the best image of Penny wearing the bitgag, though it doesn't show the tightness of the gag as well as a profile shot does.)

Here's the other cap everone uses for Pony Soldier. This one has more of a full-on portrait of Penny, and once again the Indian guy is nicely posed, but I like the other better because in it the two characters are looking at one another instead of offscreen. Both shots look very posed to me. The gag looks tight in both shots to me, especially this one.

And there's also a shot of the Indians binding her feet as well as her hands in preparation for a little white woman barbecue.

The Indians bind Penny's feet in preparation for her role in the coming barbecue. Not much of a scene, but it's another scene where Penny had to stand around wearing that tight bitgag.

And in every shot where Penny is wearing the bit gag, her hands are tied behind her back (in some shots she might just be holding them behind her back, but there are several shots of them tied as well).

Here's our damsel playing "Scooch For Your Life! as the fire roars behind her. There's a line at the bottom of the image that indicates she could be in a hogtie, but in the absence of any other evidence of a hogtie, I'm going to call it an artifact created by the bottom of the sacklike skirt she wears. Putting a damsel in a hogtie without an shots to show how she's bound would be dumb. Sorta like putting her in an extremely tight bitgag without giving her any closeups....

This leads to what I think is a logical conclusion: Penny Edwards spent at least four or five hours, and much more likely several days, sitting around tied up, or pretending to be tied up, while wearing that bit gag. Because that's the way movie making works -- you get your actors in place, then they spend enormous amounts of time waiting for the lighting and camera and set guys to get things set up just right. Then there are retakes: things don't always go right on the first take, and though there are a few directors who were famous, or more like it infamous for calling every scene a success after the first take, most directors did the safe thing and took several takes of each scene, so they'd be sure of having something usable when editing time came.

Here's the full-frame second damsel rescue scene to show you how far from a closeup the image is. And it's yet ANOTHER scene where Penny Edwards sits around tied up with that bitgag in her mouth.

Not shown: the initial damsel rescue scene, but there wasn't a lot to it.

Yeah, I think it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that Penny Edwards spent many hours over several days sitting around wearing a bit gag that was commercial bondage scene tight.

I thought that was pretty remarkable for the 1950s, an era when comfy chair ties and totally non-stringent over the mouth gags were the order of the day. That led me to think there might have been some comment about a bondage scene of such stringency, even in that distant era. By that I mean, I think it is fair to say that most people were not at all sensitized to the erotic aspects of bondage scenes back in the 50s. I thought it might merit comment in much the same way that camping out in the wilds of Arizona for the movie might merit comment, as one of the mild hardships endured by Hollywood types in the effort to make a movie.

So I checked the IMDB and Googled over 100 sites deep, using the keywords "Penny Edwards and "gag." Also, "Penny Edwards" and "Pony Soldier." Nothing. If interviews, comments, etc. were ever made concerning Edwards' bit gag, none have survived in easily accessible form, i.e., on the Web.

Rare, Precious and Beautiful: Bit Gag Scenes

That is kind of amazing, by modern standards, because not only was the gag extremely tight, it was an extremely rare gag in US mainstream media. The only predecessor for it was a 1929 movie called Mysterious Island (yes, based on the Jules Verne story, one of several movies based on the story, though this one is almost never shown on cable, unlike some others). It's notable for having what may be the evidence of drooling in a gag scene, as well as the first bit gag in US mainstream media.)

Here's a rare vidcap from the 1929 black and white production of "Mysterious Island. It's the first scene in a mainstream movie to include a bit gag. It also includes drool .. that's the dark stain at the center of the gag. It's also a close-up, indicating that these filmmakers HAD A CLUE! Also, the damsel is very thoroughly tied to the chair. Excellent scene. Many thanks to Jay L., our agent in the Great White North, for spiriting this out of Outer Bohemia or wherever, at great risk to his sanity.

There's a fairly long interval of 15 years before the next appearance of a bitgag in US mainstream media, in a 1967 episode of Bonanza called "Desperate Passage" and featuring, of all people, Tina Louise as the wearer.

Here's bitgagged Tina Louise in an episode of Bonanza. Once again, no closeups, or anything like a closeup, even though this was the first bitgag to appear in mainstream US media for 15 freaking years.

Then there's a HUUUUGE gap in time before any bitgags reappear in US mainstream TV, until Fabiano Udenio shows up in bit gag with head harness in the TV series Amazon in 2000.

Fabiano Udenio wears a bitgag in the TV series Amazon. Note that THIS time we have a close-up. After a mere 70 years, the Hollywood elite figured out what the people who made Mysterious Island knew back in 1929.

There was also a huge gap before any bit gags show up in US mainstream movies, first by an unknown actress (probably Jenna Minardi) wearing a bit gag (badly) in the 1995 Skinamax film Nighttime Lover, then by Francois Yip in the 1996 Hong Kong action/adventure film Black Mask (an import, but it did get a lot of play in American mainstream theaters, not just the art houses)followed by for Jennifer Tilly in the very bad 2001 erotic thriller Fast Sofa. There have probably been a couple more since then, but not many.

A bitgag from the movie Nighttime Lover. It's supposed to be attached by a head harness, the top part of which has fallen off, forcing the actress to clench the bit in her teeth to keep the gag itself from falling out. Absolutely retarded. What would have cost them to reshoot the scene with the head harness properly secured?

There have been quite a few images of women (and sometimes men) wearing bit gags in sexually-oriented TV series like HBO's Real Sex whenever they cover the topic of "pony girls" but I don't know if that counts as "mainstream."

Here's Francois Yip wearing a traditional pony girl-style bitgag in the Hong Kong movie "Black Mask." Apparently, that whole close-up lesson has stuck.

So when I say the bit gag is rare, I mean, it's rare, and in 1952 when Pony Soldier was made, we're talking hen's teeth.

Here's Jennifer Tilly in a bitgag secured with what may be a head harness. I'm not sure what the heck that thing on her face is. I've never seen a head harness like it. I don't think whoever put her in it knew what they were doing. But even in a movie as bad as Fast Sofa, they knew enough to give Tilly a closeup while wearing the bitgag.

(Tilly's a topnotch semi-pro poker player nowadays. Judging from her expression in this scene, I'd say she lost a bet.)

Ignoring Penny's Gag

Yet having bothered to use what was at the time a very obscure gagging technique, and having affixed it to Penny Edwards' face with commercial bondage-level tightness, they then ... ignored it, dramatically speaking -- come to think of it, they ignored it in every respect.

It's not just that I can't find any evidence that Penny Edwards or any member of the cast or crew ever spoke on the topic of the bit gag, it's also that there was not a single close-up of Edwards wearing the gag in the film.

In every single shot in which Edwards wears the gag, she's sharing the screen with either another actor, her entire body, or a whole lot of background scenery.

As the vidcap from Mysterious Island demonstrates, they knew enough to do a closeup on a bitgagged damsel even back in 1929, but in the 1950s that bit of wisdom apparently vanished. (The "Desperate Passage" episode of Bonanza had the same problem -- not a single closeup of Tina Louise wearing her bit gag.)

All I can think is that the filmmakers who made Pony Soldier and the "Desperate Passage" episode of Bonanza had no idea what they were doing, in terms of bondage imagery. The scene called for the captive to be bound and gagged, so they bound and gagged them, and when it came time to decide what kind of gag to use, they decided to use bit gags.

Modern Times: Pimpin' Da Bondage

Contrast that with modern times, where it's very easy to find women talking about bondage scenes, seemingly promoting them to attract potential viewers to the film, or as I call it, "pimpin' da bondage."

For example, Naomi Watts has been talking up the bondage scene in her upcoming film Funny Games big time, perhaps understandably since the original Funny Games (Watts' Funny Games is a shot-for-shot remake of an original German film) had the most stringent gag in any mainstream film, ever. Susanne Lothar, the actress in the original version looked like she was choking, and she probably was, or fighting very hard not to choke. When the stuffing is removed later in the movie, it's a HUGE wad of cloth, no wonder Lothar's mouth was so distorted by it.

Here's Susanne Lothar wearing the most extreme cleave gag with stuffing in any mainstream movie, ever, from the original version of "Funny Games." Look how the stuffing distorts Lothar's cheeks and even her lips. I don't think she was having to do any acting to appear distressed.

The stuffing in the cleave gag worn by Watts in Funny Games is quite large, but not even close to the stuffing in the original.

Here's Naomi Watts in the current "Funny Games" wearing a gag that isn't nearly as stringent as Lothar's but is still quite a stringent gag by mainstream standards.

You have to figure Watts put her foot down at going through the same sort of ordeal, and you know, I really don't blame her. (Interestingly, in an interview Watts said that the director, Michael Haneke, had asked Lothar to play her bondage scene in her underwear, but Lothar refused, unwilling to be that vulnerable or whatever. Watts was willing to do the lengthy bondage scene in her underwear, but couldn't swallow that huge gag, whereas the reverse was true for Lothar.)

Despite her unwillingness to choke down a gag as stringent as Lothar's, Watts WAS willing to do something Lothar wasn't -- conduct her desperate bondage escape scene clad only in underwear.

H's Did Site Treasure Trove of Bondage Talk

Other actresses have talked up the bondage in their scenes as well. Over at H's Damsel in Distress site is an interview page with over three dozen snippets of interviews given in the media in which the actress mentions her bondage scene. (There are also several interviews in which the actress responds directly to webmaster Michael Huck's questions.)

What's even more telling is that several celebrity actresses and singers at Huck's site -- Angelina Jolie, Christina Aguilera, Eva Longoria and Carmen Electra -- speak about their own personal predilection for sexual bondage, or their own sexual bondage fantasies.

This would NEVER have happened back in 1952, because in THOSE days, bondage fetishism was officially considered a mental illness, and confessing to bondage fantasies could conceivably lead to the old Frances Farmer treatment.

Eroticization of Bondage Scenes

The point I'm trying to make in this incredibly roundabout way is that bondage scenes have become eroticized in modern times. Enough images of bondage lovelies show up on the Internet, and enough sexually-oriented reality TV shows have shown bondage play, and enough people have tied each other to the headboard of their beds in the privacy of their own homes, that practically everyone understands that whenever an actress is tied and/or gagged, some people will be enjoying the scene ... a lot, and for all the "wrong" reasons.

This recognition of the erotic potential of even mild bondage imagery has led to a schizoid response to bondage imagery based on cultural leanings. For example, some feminists hate bondage imagery that involves women (bondage imagery involving men, they're OK with, imagine that). Other more sensible feminists have figured out that it's just fiction and they have bigger fish to fry.

If you're a big social conservative, your feelings are ambiguous. On the one hand, you're against the eroticization of everything and anything, and that includes bondage imagery. On the other hand, you kinda like this notion of women rendered helpless and subservient to men. It's part of your whole cultural zeitgeist. So, maybe you're for women being tied up, so long as they have clothes on. It's a tricky thing for them, really.

And if you're a regular guy, you like to see women tied up, especially if they're naked. Easy as pie. But you'd never publicly ADMIT to that, mind you. That wouldn't be regular guy behavior at all.

And I suspect that deep down, most everyone who's not a hard-core prude or feminist likes to see women bound and gagged in movies and TV shows, so long as they don't have to admit to it publicly. That's why such scenes show up so often, despite a deep collective sigh of dismay from every prudo-feminist and every just plain prude in the nation when they do.

Pimpin' Da Bondage

And because people are now aware of the erotic potential of bondage scenes, it's possible that filmmakers and actors are now promoting the bondage scenes in subtle ways.

Yes, I'm talking pimpin' da bondage, ladies and gentlemen. For example, here's a quote about Heather Matarazzo's scene in Hostel 2, where she's hung upside-down, gagged and stark naked.

Heather Matarazzo may have been pimpin' da bondage for this scene from Hostel 2 where all she does is hang around -- naked, bound, gagged and suspended upside down.

From movies online canada:

"As Lorna, Matarazzo had to work entirely in the nude for a sequence that consumed two nights of shooting. She spent every moment in the scene hanging upside down, with her hands shackled behind her back for up to five minutes at a time. Her endurance was phenomenal, but it was her performance that dazzled the crew. "Heather Matarazzo was so great in that role, she had us all a little freaked out," recalls special effects supervisor Mike McCarty."

Here's Naomi Watts talking about her scene in Funny Games, in which she has to hop about while bound and gagged, and in which she wears quite an intrusive cleave gag (though nothing like the one in the original Funny Games).

From Horror.com interview:

Horror.com: Was it physically demanding?

Naomi: Yes. The way Michael likes to work is from a very authentic point of view. The first time I was bound and gagged, he came up and went, "That looks like shit! No way! I don't believe that. Let me do it." And, he bound me up, and it was all around my neck and my feet, so if you fell or tried to walk, you could be strangled.

Here's writer-director Catherine Breillat pimpin' da bondage big time in an interview about her 1997 flick Romance:

Carolyn Ducey is one of the few actresses to wear a spreader bar in Romance. Also, one of the few actresses to wear a joyrope while naked, except for her huge, thick patch of pubic hair which most bikinis can't match for coverage. She's also one of the very few actresses to have an explicit sex scene involving penetration. Busy woman, Ms. Ducey.

From: Salon.com

Salon: One of the most shocking moments comes not during the scene in which Robert attaches Marie to a bondage apparatus, but directly afterward, when Marie -- apparently distraught at what has happened -- unravels. And Robert turns on a dime, from being her torturer to being her heartbreakingly tender caretaker.

Breillat (the film's writer/director): It's true that this is a moment where pure magic happens. Pure magic, because on the set all of a sudden there was a veil of death, [a sense of] really hallucinating. And that all of a sudden when he takes her like this, the body has no weight -- for me it was something extremely magical. Because I didn't have rehearsals, I had told myself that was [a very long time to] attach her like this. Attaching her was already an ordeal. Then there were the lights, so we had to pass the bodies [in a certain way], which was something that I had never done -- that in itself it was a scene. So I decided to film it and not to have any rehearsals, to at least catch what would happen. And evidently the magic catch happened the first time we did it. We were amazed; it is very beautiful. To say, "We did this, we did that ..." is one thing, but it's only when we see it that we believe it. And it's true, it is by far my favorite scene, this scene where there is a passage of power."

And here's what Maggie Gyllenhaal had to say about her spanking scene in Secretary:

From: Maggie-Gyllenhaal.net

"The next day, Spader's character has sex with her while she's tied to a tree. And in the movie's most provocative scene, Spader, wild-eyed with furtive pleasure, spanks Gyllenhaal as she bends across his office desk.

(Director) Shainburg doesn't show the act -- it is the sound that rivets the viewer -- but focuses on the emotions, the reactions ... If she had to do it again, she later confesses, she might wear padding. "I forgot you have to do 15 takes," she says. "I hurt myself in ways I didn't expect." (She ended up with a football-sized bruise and had to wear body makeup for the nude scenes later in the film." (Elisions mine -- PP.)

Here's how The Village Voice described Gyllenhaal's opening scene:

From: Maggie-Gyllenhaal.net

" Gyllenhaal is first glimpsed crawling across an office floor, handcuffed and carrying a letter in her mouth; with apple cheeks and a mischievous grin, the actress conveys not simple subservience but a state of bound bliss."

Here's what Olga Kurylenko had to say about her nude shibari bondage sex scene from Le Serpent:

Olga Kurylenko in a shibari bondage sex scene from "Le Serpent." She found it beautiful. Can't argue with that.

From: thehollywoodgossip.com

The actress said she was happy to be tied up, finding the art of bondage "quite beautiful."

Huck's Site Tests My Theory

The real test of my theory is to be found on Huck's interview page, with its more than 3 dozen interviews and statements referencing bondage scene. Are there any going back as far as Pony Soldier? No. All but three of the interviews reference scenes in movies that go back no farther from 1990, and the vast majority of those are from 1995 or later.1 Some of these interviews just make incidental reference to bondage in their scenes, or talk about how fake it was, but the majority look to me like they're pimpin' da bondage, talking about how exciting, suspenseful or emotionally trying it was, or how authentic it was (check out Elisha Cuthbert's interview for a great example of this).

How far back does the farthest reference go? Marlo Thomas makes an incidental reference to the bondage in a scene from her That Girl TV series (you can hardly call it pimpin') from 1967, however, the interview in which she does so in from 2002.

Now, Marilyn Burns does an EXCELLENT job of pimpin' da bondage in her interview referencing her damsel in distress role in the 1974 classic Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But there's no data on Huck's page about the source of the interview or its date, but I'm willing to concede that this interview was conducted as part of the hoopla for the movie's theatrical release back in 1974.

Burns' comments are literally the exception that proves the rule, since the only other pre-1990s quote is Martha Smith, in which she talks about how mild the bondage was in her mid-1980s TV series Scarecrow and Mrs. King. Once again, hardly pimpin', and once again, no telling when the interview occurred.

Nastassja Kinski, naked, spreadeagled, bound and ready for love in "Cat People." Hardly worth commentary.

Not content to let Huck do all the work, I searched for some quotes from films made prior to the 90s via Google. I searched for quotes from Nastassja Kinkski about her nude bondage spreadeagle sex scene in Cat People. Nothing. I looked for quotes about Annabella Sciorra's grueling hogtie in Whispers in The Dark. Nothing. I looked for quotes about Catherine Oxenberg's full suspension scene in her undies while gagged in Lair of the White Worm. Nothing.

I looked for quotes about Lana Clarkson's nude bondage spreadeagle in Barbarian Queen. Most sites that Google pulled dealt with her murder by Phil Spector. I did find one site that at least MENTIONED Clarkson's scene, i.e.:

From: epinions.com

The major notable scene among it's male followers is when Amathea is on a torture rack. Captured during a failed attempt to free her village's men, Amathea is to be tortured on the rack. Topless and defiant, our warrior hero takes punishment from her torturer for quite a long scene, with none of it being boring.

Lana Clarkson, naked and spreadeabled and bound to a rape rack in "Barbarian Queen." Hardly worth commentary.

Barbarian Queen appears to have been used to exploit the popularity of Lana Clarkson after her brief role in Deathstalker. The movie became one of the top low budget barbarian/exploitation films from the period. It even spawned a sequel that really had nothing to do with the original other than Lana Clarkson being placed on the rack again.

I had better luck when I looked for quotes about Tina Aumont's shibari bondage scene in Lifespan. I found dozens! None of them from 1974, when Lifespan was released. None of them by Aumont, all of the reviewers commenting about Aumont's bondage scenes.

Tina Aumont in the first ever instance of shibari bondage in mainstream media in the 1974 film "Lifespan." Many say it was the only film worth watching, but there WERE all those neat bicycle touring in Holland scenes.

All of the comments were the last year or two, coinciding with the re-release of Lifespan on DVD, with Aumont's bondage scene restored. (It had apparently been cut from some versions of the tape in Britain, Canada and (maybe) the US due to censorship in Britain and Canada). Clearly, the bondage scene was a selling point, in fact, some reviewers thought it was the only part of the film worth watching. (Not true, there are some very pretty shots of Aumont and her onscreen lover pedaling around Holland on bikes).

Here are a couple of sample quotes:

From: monstersatplay.com

He even sets about romancing the late doctor's saucy lover Anna (SALON KITTY's Tina Aumont) ... even indulging in the same fetishes that informed Linden's favorite rainy-day pastime - leading to the aforementioned bondage scene, in which Keller ties up the willing Aumont (in a super-sciencey "double helix" pattern, no less). This scene was apparently cut from many release prints, albeit pretty tame by today's standards. It's fun, though.

From: imdb.com (user comment)

Much has also been said about the notorious (and oft-censored) bondage scene involving Tina Aumont (well cast here): actually, it's very discreetly done and pretty short in itself!

...the censorship problems the film encountered (the director tried to convince the U.K. censors that the bondage scene was relevant to the main theme by arguing that this kinky act highlighted a woman's breasts which, by storing milk, are themselves a symbol of immortality!)

Other than that, I couldn't find ANY mention of bondage scenes from the 80s or earlier for anyone I searched for, and as you can tell, I picked memorable and powerful bondage scenes that would have elicited comment if any scenes would have.

However, I'm not prepared to say that no comments were made. Most comments from that era would have gone into that curious pre-Internet phenomenon known as magazines, magazines that would not have had online editions, there being no online to speak of at the time these movies were made.

There MAY be a huge reservoir of commentary on bondage topics in some treasure trove of mainstream media with a wealth of commentary about bondage scenes in mainstream movies, some publisher of movie magazines or men's magazines whose writers and editors twigged to bondage imagery very readily. Or there may not. I just don't have sufficient information to put forth a confident opinion on the topic.

However, I do think that if there WERE such a trove, SOMEBODY over at Brianspage or elsewhere online would have mentioned it, just as there have been a lot of somebodys at Brianspage mentioning the way detective magazines got totally into bondage back in the 70s and 80s.

The only trove from the pre-1990s era that I know of really is the work of Carl McGuire, whose "Bound for Hollywood" column was published in Bondage Life magazine and for a long time was by far the best source of information about bondage scenes in mainstream movies and television, if not the only one. It's focus however was mainly on describing what sort of scenes were in what movies and TV shows, rather than on quotes from the actresses. It is possible that he included these, I don't have a thorough knowledge of them. (McGuire at one time had a website called Cinebonds, but it is now defunct.)

There's reason to think that there was not a lot of information to be readily found on the topic of bondage in mainstream media. Here's Terry Gross, host of NPR's "Fresh Air" radio interview program talking about the difficulty of coming up with interviewees on the topic of bondage scenes in mainstream media back in the mid 70s when the show first started:

From: theroanoker.com

TG: I think show three, I knew, this isn't what it's about. And then I wanted to do a show on sadomas- women and sadomasochistic imagery in popular culture. When I was growing up in the '50s and '60s, westerns were really popular, and I loved westerns. And in westerns, women were always getting kidnapped and held hostage. And of course the person holding them hostage would always tie them to a chair with their arms tied behind their back and they'd be kind of wriggling around in such a way so that their breasts would be jutting out in very prominently [laughs]

CEM: Right.

TG: So it was this constant bondage imagery, basically. And I knew that something was going on that was supposed to be sexual, when I was a kid, but I couldn't quite get it, so when I grew up and I understand, "oh, this was the only way you could really show bondage imagery on TV," I wanted to do a show on it.

But now that I was going to do interviews, I couldn't find anybody who knew anything on the subject. I couldnÕt find anyone who had anything to say about it [laughing].

You and I and everyone else knows that Terry Gross would have had a MUCH easier time finding people to talk to on that topic nowadays.


I think I've presented a lot of evidence that actresses nowadays are definitely willing to talk about bondage scenes to the media. But I'm not sure I've absolutely made the case that they are pimpin' da bondage. I think the case falls short in three areas:

1) Proof of intent to pimp da bondage after 1990

The actresses are mentioning the bondage as part of longer interviews about their roles. These are actresses who have participated in lengthy, intense or otherwise notable bondage scenes. So it's natural that many of them would have mentioned their scenes in an interview about their roles. So they are not NECESSARILY pimpin' da bondage, they could just be explaining what their roles involved, as part of the interview process.

2) Selection Bias.

Both Huck and I have selected actresses who have participated in bondage scenes, often notable bondage scenes, for our interviews. There's a definite selection bias there, in the sense that we had a bias when we made our selections. And I don't know about Huck, but even among the actresses who had great quotes about their bondage scenes, there was another selection bias, because the actresses didn't always reference their bondage scenes in their interviews.

For example, I read many interviews of Naomi Watts about Funny Games in which the bondage was either not referenced at all, or referenced obliquely ("Some of my scenes were physically demanding," without saying why, that sort of thing). So there was some selection bias there as well. There were quite a few interviews where Watts referenced the bondage scenes in Funny Games, but not as strongly as in the interviews I cited here. So she might not have been deliberately pimpin' da bondage, so much as responding to a particular interviewers questions with varying degrees of directness.

Then again, the writers and/or editors might have cut their references to the bondage scenes out of some misguided sense that they were too sexy or whatever. But that is sheer speculation.

3) Proof of Lack of Interest in Pimpin' Da Bondage Prior to 1990

I also don't think I've proven that there was no interest in pimpin' da bondage prior to 1990. As noted earlier, there may be all sorts of comments along those lines in some trove of magazines or other publications I'm not familiar with. It would take an exhaustive search of printed media of that era to do so, something I'm not equipped to do or interested in doing (I have a life, in short).

Maybe Noel Niell talked up her bondage scenes in Superman. Maybe the actress who played Penny in Sky King did so as well. Surely Stefanie Powers talked up her bondage scenes in the Girl from U.N.C.L.E. I can't find any evidence that they did on the Web, but that hardly means they didn't.

So, What Have I Accomplished Here?

While I can't claim to have proven anything, I think I HAVE established that modern-day actresses are willing to talk about bondage scenes, and sometimes about their own predilections for bondage. Are they pimpin' da bondage? I'd say it sure looks that way to me, although I wouldn't say I've PROVED it. What does that mean? Well, you know in shows like "Law and Order" where they have enough evidence on a suspect to want to investigate him or her, but not enough to file charges against him or her? That's what that means.

I also think I've provided evidence that bondage scenes just weren't talked about prior to the 90s, for the most part. This one is much less of a sure thing, but just look at the difference between the lack of quotes from Tina Aumont in her bondage scene in Lifespan, and the torrent of quotes about it from reviewers apropos the recent DVD release of the movie. And contrast Tina's lack of quotes with the quote from Olga Kurylenko about her much more stringent shibari bondage scene. It's not proof, but it's evidence.

But the one thing I absolutely HAVE proved, beyond the shadow of a doubt, is that that was one TIGHT bit gag Penny Edwards wore in Pony Soldier. And that alone is worth it.

One thing I'm pretty sure Penny Edwards said about her scene was, "It's about TIME I got that thing out of my mouth!" But I just can't prove she said it.

Sure would be nice if she or someone had said something about it at some time.

1 Many of the interviews on Huck's Interviews page don't have data about when the interview was conducted. However, by cross referencing the scenes index on Brian's Page with the IMDB, it's easy enough to figure out what scene is being referenced. Plus, there's common sense -- an actress born in 1984 is unlikely to be talking about a bondage scene she was in occurring prior to 1990.

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