Tuesday, September 04, 2007

History in the Making

You want to learn about BDSM?
Most folks start with "technical" learning- how to throw a flogger, tie a knot, toss a whip. They want to get their hands on the pain of it all. They want to make a partner sweat and scream.

Going back in time to know the history of what it is that we do is also important. There's lots of great fiction and graphics to be had, and learning where human sexuality has been- and who has felt the need to suppress it and US- is a very interesting trail.

Adult porn- with or without the spice- really came into it's own on the east coast, and the fashionable place for the average stranger to pick up trash was TIMES SQUARE.

A world of adult material awaited you there, just under the edge of "respectability"- and the counter.

" During the 1950s and early 60s, the most notorious pornographer on the Deuce was Edward Mishkin. He owned outright several stores (Harmony, Midget, the Little Book Exchange, Kingsley Book Shop, Esther, and Main Stem), and was silent partner in others.

His headquarters was Publisher’s Outlet; at least, that is where, in August 1962, a sailor from the Queen Mary arrived with a key to a Times Square IRT station locker. He asked for Eddie, who wasn't there. He gave the clerk the key and said “Here’s something for you from the boys in England.” The locker, Customs agents determined, contained twelve copies of a British magazine entitled Thrashed in Many Ways.

Sadomasochistic and fetish books, photos and magazines were a facet of erotica which Times Square democratized. Before World War II, the material was available in booksellers’ back rooms, and of course to the wealthy, trusted customers of Manhattan’s high hat dealers.

The Mishkins, the Browns, the Shapiros and the Finkelsteins made it available to the hoi polloi–through the mails, despite the risk of federal prosecution-- not just in bookstores. So did Lee Brewster at Lee’s Mardi Gras, a large second-floor store on 10th Ave. between 41st and 42nd.

Thus the swelling moral indignation from the clergy at Holy Cross Church and from Operation Yorkville, an influential East Side organization. "

" The Kefauver subcommittee investigating the effects of obscenity on juvenile delinquency subpoenaed Mishkin in 1955, as they did Irving Klaw, a publisher whose fetish photos included thousands of those of the era’s super model, Bettie Page. Both men’s photo sets and booklet-sized illustrated stories, with their themes of flagellation, bondage, transvestitism, and passive men forced into women’s clothing, were alleged to “get into the hands of small limited minds, and they . . . [get] worked up to a fever pitch, and some poor soul is the victim. Do You get what I am saying?” The words are those of those of the judge sentencing Mishkin for smuggling in those copies of Thrashed in Many Ways."

" Mishkin, Klaw, and other booksellers to whom they distributed their materials, not only in New York but throughout the East Coast, did not get it. In 1957, Miskin’s Nights of Horror booklets caused a major outbreak of indignation in Mayor Robert Wagner’s New York."

"Five bookstores were forced to surrender their copies. In 1960, powerful D. A. Frank S. Hogan,whose boiling point regarding erotica was just above absolute zero, prepared a 198-count indictment against Mishkin, calling him “the largest producer and purveyor of pornographic material in the U. S.” After that, most of the retail outlets to which Mishkin and Klaw distributed may have restricted sales of the materials to trusted adult customers.

Mishkin was convicted in 1962, but he persisted. Klaw did too, albeit only for a few more years."

( One of the side-stapled, typewritten booklets used (with over 70 others) as evidence in People v. Mishkin, 1960 (over 70 were cited). This one is about flagellation and female domination; others featured lesbianism, bondage, and torture, and clothing fetishes. The prosecuting attorney argued that such material "deal[s] with the most vicious type of physical abuse in which human dignity is completely besmirched; all morality is done away with.")

Most kinksters are aware of Betty Page- but not much more, and they dismiss her as a sweet model that did some light bondage. But the underground adult publishing industry kept alive the fetish and kink side of sex, giving thousands outlets that were no where else to be found in squeeky clean America between the wars and into the 60's.

From the Gertzma pages:" In the late Forties, Allan Wilson and his partner, Aaron Moses (“Moe”) Shapiro, were the editors of the Jack Woodford Press....(books) sold especially well in drug stores and near army bases, as well as in general shops in Times Square and other cities. The titles alone--How Rough Can it Get (Weiss), Pawn (Nichols), Illicit, Here Is My Body, Savage Honeymoon".

Well, that will get you started.
Inquiring minds can google their way through history and follow the sordid, righteously WRONG paths that reformers, parishoners, parents, judges, and a host of other cliques have forged in attempts to stop adults from thinking about and wanting to see sex acts, BDSM, and fetish erotica.

Most of the time, they have made false correlations between something they find objectionable and some social trend and illegal activity (marijuana and rape, comics and juvenile delinquency, fetish and pedophilia, bondage and homosexuality, SM and abuse of women, etc).

We just ask that you think for yourself, grow as a sexual being, and enjoy yourselves without harming others non-consentually.

Web sites quoted include



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