What's Up With That?

What accessory would have made these costumes complete: Clockwise from top left: 1) Dawn Wildsmith in a kinksuit in "Warlords; 2) Darryl Hannah playing a Betty Page clone in "Last Days of Frankie the Fly, in kinksuit 3) Unknown actress in an H. P. Lovecraft-based film -- note leash ring on end of collar 4) Dian Miller in "The Big Hustle." Answer: a ballgag, worn either in the mouth (preferred) or around the neck.

copyright 2005 by Pat Powers

< Seinfeld mode >"So I'm watching mainstream movies and TV shows, and I notice that in the thousands of bondage scenes they have, there's only half a dozen or so scenes that include ballgags."

"What's the deal with that? Is there some kind of weird anti-ballgag cop out there, preventing innocent film directors from using ballgags in their films? Do they say, "I'm sorry sir, you can't use a ballgag here, it would be too sexy, too exciting, too ... dramatic for modern audiences."< /seinfeld mode >

Seriously, while it's true that there are lots and lots of scenes where a ballgag wouldn't work, you have to figure that the number of scenes where they WOULD work number a great deal more than a dozen in U.S. mainstream movies and TV shows.

For example, what about ALL the scenes where a female character dresses up in kink gear? Such scenes are surprisingly common in erotic thrillers and horror flicks. I mean, if you're gonna put an actress in leather cuffs and anklets with O rings, and a leather boustier with a matching collar that has a leash ring in the front, why not complete the ensemble with a ballgag? If not worn in the mouth constantly, making dialog difficult, at least dangling around the neck when not in use?

It would make perfect sense in films like Electra and Lowball, but for some reason, the ballgag is the bondage accessory that Dare Not Show Its, um, Ball.

And the weird thing is that the ballgag has HUGE potential both for comedy and drama. As noted in a review of Plump Fiction, Julie Brown's ballgag scene demonstrates the comedy potential of ballgags -- when worn outside the mouth, they make the wearer look very, very silly.

But when worn inside the mouth, ballgags make the wearer look both sexy and vulnerable. Her mouth has ben invaded by this huge (often red) thing, and there is nothing she can do about it. The ballgag also forces her mouth into an "O" shape generally associated with surprise and horror, or in the case of an erotic scene, sexual arousal.

Furthermore, when the ball is held in place with what's called a head harness or trainer harness, the effect is to visually suggest that the damsel's face has been placed in bondage. The straps running along her cheeks, under her chin, and alongside her nose to the top of her head form a cage for her face, at the same time drawing attention to her eyes and mouth.

The matter of visually suggesting bondage should be very obvious to TV producers and filmmakers -- these are visual media, after all. If they understood how powerfully they can bring home the severity of a DiDs bondage and her helplessness via a ballgag head harness in a close-up of her face, they'd use head harness ballgags constantly, and to hell with whether or not it makes sense or not.

What's more, ballgags make damsels drool, which can be erotic but which can also arouse sympathy in a dramatic situation -- say, two kidnappers grill themselves up some burgers while their formerly haughty, dignified captive watches helplessly, bound, gagged and drooling from hunger.

If a ballgag is worn around the neck via its strap like a necklace ornament, it at least implies that the wearer might be gagged at any moment. A woman who wears one in a social or consensual situation is signalling her agreement to the whole concept of being gagged. A woman who wears one in a DiD situation is in constant peril of being gagged. The villain might tie her hands behind her back or to some object and use the ballgag as a sort of on-off switch for her mouth. It's all good.

Thus, ballgags have all sorts of dramatic and sexual potential in any scene, and they are vastly underused. Hell, with just half a dozen U.S. scenes and a couple of dozen mainstream scenes worldwide, they're practically unused. Why? We don't know.