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Fetishes: Whips, Chains and Other Family Entertainment by Otto Luck


If you have a few minutes to kill and you think you might be interested in watching a man being interviewed while his head is lodged in a toilet bowl, then Fetishes might be just the ticket for you. This and plenty more entertaining family fare are brought to us courtesy of director Nick Broomfield.

Broomfield spent two months at Pandora’s Box, a Manhattan-based "legal fetish and S&M house of domination." He points out that Pandora’s Box is "cheerful," relative to other places of its ilk. This may well be, however, Disneyland it is not. The beatings were real, as evidenced by the welts left on some of the patrons’ backsides, and so too was the pain – although, I should add, the clients seemed all too grateful for this and generally walked away much the happy customers.

Broomfield explains the purpose and point of the documentary by telling us that while we often hear about the underworld of S&M, few of us actually know what goes on inside these places. It was high time that someone brought this information to the public at large. (In other words, it was a dirty job, but he just had to do it.)

Our introduction to the establishment comes from Mistress Raven, who runs the show at Pandora’s. She takes us for a tour, pointing out various accoutrements as we stroll from room to room: a guillotine ("unfortunately, only mock"), a cage ("for naughty little birds"), a doctor’s office for nurse-patient role play, etc.

Mistress Raven doing that
Morticia Adams thing

Soon, we grow privy to the interaction between mistresses and slaves. We hear a phone conversation in which Mistress Beatrice tells a client that she will arrange for him soon to be happily munching away on her soiled tennis sneakers. "I’ll send them Federal Express right after I work out," she assures him.

A moment later we meet Slave Jeff, the human ashtray. "He’s very unusual," explains Mistress Raven, as she flicks ashes into Jeff’s mouth. Jeff kneels at the mistress’s side like a puppy, clad in black rubber mask. Think what you will, you have to give the fellow credit, when the Mistress disposes of her lit cigarette on his tongue, he nary even blinks.

Fetishes is a macabre mix of pathos and humor. As sad as some of the behavior may seem, the film has more irony and bizarre twists than anything that could ever be cooked up in Hollywood. The slaves pay good money to get the shit kicked out them and then revel in euphoria at the end of their sessions. The mistresses, on the other hand, explain that they are providing an alternative therapy of sorts to the clientele and besides "it’s kind of nice to be able to beat someone every once in a while."

In one scene, a mistress instructs a slave to wave his penis right and left (without the use of his hands, of course). When the slave fails to perform this rather difficult task, he is whipped and scolded: "You don’t even have control of your most basic muscle."

During another scene, a mistress takes the liberty to bite a client while engaging in a paid wrestling match. The man immediately becomes enraged. "I didn’t come here to be abused," he exclaims, as he beats a path for the door.

Unfortunately, when the beatings get more fierce – as in the case of one particularly disturbing session with a young female masochist – some of the film’s humor begins to wane. Regardless of what the clients profess, one can’t help but wonder about the human condition while witnessing some of this stuff. The toilet bowl fellow is dragged to his destination like a dog and informed that the bowl has seen plenty of action, during the course of the day, from clients and employees alike. It is at this point that he begins to clean it with his tongue.

I suppose it is not for us to judge. After all, the client gets satisfied, Pandora’s turns a buck, and the toilet gets cleaned. Still one wonders what ever happened to a good old canister of Ajax and a nice clean sponge. Hey, what can I say, I guess I’m just old-fashioned. I can’t see paying good money to get beaten. Then again, I’m fortunate, my wife does it for free.

May 1997

More S&M on NY Rock:

  • Interview with Erotic Photographer Misa Martin.
  • Interview with Mistress Dakota: Some People Call Us Goddesses.
  • Photo of Mistress Dakota (© Misa Martin) featured on our July '99 cover.
  • Review of the SMack party in New York City, including photo of Mistress Dakota (© Misa Martin).
  • A Chat with Mistress Raven of Pandora's Box.
  • The Erotica Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in NYC.
  • Review of NYC's premiere S&M restaurant, La Maison de Sade.
  • Photo of Mistress Katie featured on our December '98 cover.

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