Women's Murder Club Presents

The first-ever breather gag on US mainstream TV.

Iris Braydon in her role as "Latex Girl" models the first-ever breather gag seen on US TV in an episode of .. you guessed it ... "Women's Murder Club."

Copyright 2008 by Pat Powers

Friday nights are now graced with a new CBS TV series called "Women's Murder Club." I was immediately attracted to the series because of the title alone: it sounded like the title of an anime, one of those haplessly titled animes which has no relation to the story it supposedly represents. No women, no murder, and nobody belongs to a club or even knows anybody who does.

Turns out that "Women's Murder Club" is an American live-action dramatic series about a bunch of women who work together to solve mysteries -- MURDER mysteries. Who would have expected a thing like that?

Supposedly, "Women's Murder Club" is an attempt to capture the crazy cat lady demographic that stays home on Friday nights because that's where the cats are. (Female, middle aged, unmarried/divorced and dateless on a Friday night would be a less colorful way of putting it, so I avoided that.)

Victoria Principal of "Dallas" fame models a wraparound tapegag in the Lifetime-style movie "Blind Witness." She spends a lot of time hopping around bound and gagged. Wrapround tape gags are rare because they go around the actress' entire head ... it takes a real trouper to wear one.

(The goons in the movie didn't bother to blindfold Victoria's character because she's blind. It would have been gilding the lily, or something to that effect.)

Now, the interesting thing I've noted in the past is that women's TV can be a fairly productive source of bondage imagery. Traditional women's fare like soap operas, Latin telenovelas, and the Lifetime Network, aka the Victim Network, are very prone to show women tied up in the course of being victimized by whatever man they are so foolishly in love with. Or sometimes it's just a random maniac. We men are like that: we run the full gamut from lovingly homicidal to randomly maniacal.

The Lifetime TV movie "A Friend of the Family" got edgy with images of a woman tied to a chair wearing a ballgag. This would be one of the lovingly homicidal men, we guess.

Bondage scenes in women's dramas can sometimes be absolutely great, like the one in "Blind Witness" or "Demons From Her Past" and they're sometimes on the edgy side, like the ballgag scene from the Lifetime movie, "A Friend of the Family."

"Women's Murder Club" is moving right along with that program, featuring a type of gag never seen before in prime time.

The setup for the episode, "Blind Dates and Bleeding Hearts," which aired on October 26, 2007: Angie Harmon, who formerly played one of the hottie DAs that slept with Jack McCoy on the original Law and Order series, is the star of "Women's Murder Club." She and a male cop are investigating a serial killing suspect's apartment. The suspect lets them into his apartment and they talk, but as they talk the detectives hear muffled cries for help issuing from the bedroom. Fearing the worst, and with serial killers the worst is generally pretty durned awful, they rush into the bedroom, where they find a woman chained arms overhead to the bed canopy, wearing leather cuffs at arms and elbows, a tight latex dress and a breather gag set (a muzzle gag with a hole in it, to permit breathing through the mouth, and access to the wearer's mouth (though this particular model wouldn't work for oral sex).

Harmon and her partner are relieved and disappointed at the same time. They both take a pill, I'm not sure what it was, I'd bet something for the nerves. The next shot we see is the woman stalking out of the apartment while the suspect looks regretfully at her and says, "She'll never call again." (Fair guess, I'd say.) Obviously, once Harmon and partner were assured that she was there as part of a consensual scene, they didn't press charges or anything. I'm not sure if this would have worked out that way in real life: cops generally like to press charges of SOME kind when they bust into a room -- but it was nice to see things handled in such a civilized way in a mainstream scene, in any event.

Alexandra Paul of "Baywatch" fame is bound and gagged in the Lifetime TV movie "Demons from her Past." The bondage is convincing and well done, but what makes this one especially good is the lengthy escape scene which involves much squirming, mmphing and hopping. You rarely get that kind of action from an "action" movie because the damsel isn't the focus of the scene, she's just there to be rescued.

Now, about breather gags: a breather gag is a pure-D bondage device that looks formidable and leathery and so forth, but is in fact frequently used because of its safety aspect -- there's very little risk of accidental choking, as the wearer can breath through it. That's why they're used almost entirely in consensual bondage scenes, as correctly depicted in "Women's Murder Club" -- they are safe but they don't silence the wearer, and silencing the wearer is the point for most actual criminals.

My point is, this is the first-ever appearance of a breather gag on network TV, or cable TV really, and that I'm not at all surprised that it occurred on a women's entertainment program. They aren't afraid to push the envelope where bondage is imagery is concerned -- after all, they don't have to fear being accused of sexist scummery -- they're a WOMEN'S network with stuff made by WOMEN for WOMEN. It's like black people being able to call one another "niggers" (a dubious privilege, but there it is).

With this kind of "get out of jail free" card with regard to bondage imagery, you'd think television aimed at women would be running wild with the bondage imagery -- and you'd be right.

Now, it would be premature to categorize "Women's Murder Club" as following in the footsteps of the Lifetime Network in terms of quantity of scenes, but you can't fault them for the QUALITY of this scene. Way to go, "Women's Murder Club." We SHALL be keeping an eye on you.

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