The Lightbulb Moment

How did it all start? For some it started it very early but for me it was a ‘lightbulb moment’ at the old age of 18 – a shiver down the spine that made me feel all wobbly, something strange but delicious at the same time. Browsing the top shelf in a London newsagent (news dealer) and seeing a specifically femdom magazine for the first time.

People under 30 must try to conceive of a world without digital imagery. These days you innocently think you might enjoy an obscure fetish, you Google it and a vast array of arc-lamps spring to life, illuminating you with huge quantities of information. We had to catch sight of candle flames flickering in the distance and wandered stumbling towards them, not understanding ourselves what it was we wanted. The problem then was starvation of information, whereas today it an indigestible surfeit.
You were really at the mercy of what your newsagent felt might be saleable or what you might find on a furtive trip to a sex-shop in Central London. Femdom was very much the Cinderella of kink back then (is it still?) and it was an occasion for rejoicing (by yourself usually) when a new magazine came out that hit your spot. Up until my eyes met this magazine I’d never seen one specifically devoted to femdom, nor did I even know that word.

Sadie Stern’s magazine . One of very few femdom magazines in the U.K. during the ’70s

So this is the magazine. I saw it in 1979 somewhere in North London. My memory played tricks on me. I could swear the cover girl was wearing a tiger skin print dress, though it was in fact a model on the inside who was dressed that way. The models were rather tired-looking and disengaged from the current vantage-point, but it didn’t matter, it was all so new, rare and I was just younger – what I saw then was cherished so much more. You had to wait a month to get another issue so you’d actually re-read the copy … again and again.

I never in fact worked for the magazine. It was too early, before I even got into drawing femdom. By the time I was beginning to look for openings it had descended into a graveyard of phone-sex ads, with minimal photo sets and hardly any text. But my memory holds its importance as a spark that set off something. I wonder if people these days remember their first google-search ?

Together with “Madame” magazine, my interest in femdom was sustained and developed until I felt confident enough to start producing my own artwork.

“Madame in a world of fantasy” Entirely B/W mostly writing with pirated photos, but still popular and one the few specifically femdom magazines.


Reminiscences of Wicked Old Soho

Meeting a mistress pre-Internet

15 thoughts on “The Lightbulb Moment

  1. I think we can all remember these landmark stages in our Femdom journey, Sardax.

    I too can remember the walks around Soho as a young adult in the late seventies and the fascination with the phone-box adverts offering a peak into a world we wanted to be part of but somehow couldn’t reach. The top shelf browsing – by-passing the journals which depicted nakedness, legs and boobs until you found the treasured magazine with the Ladies in leather or rubber inviting holding a whip. The fear of embarrassment as you swiftly presented it at the till, hoping the other customers wouldn’t observe you were a perve. The short journey to your accommodation and the frantic masturbation to the “staged” unreal pictures of femdom scenes. The phone calls to the Dommes – inserting money in a coin box – and the randomness of the session experience, without pre-screening or pre-communication at any reasonable length in advance. The landmark experience the first time you lay hog-tied at her booted feet, full and content in your bondage, and knowing your journey for life had been mapped out.

    Oh, how different an experience and effort it was then when compared with the open access there is now via the net, the main-streaming of fetish and the proliferation of service providers. We worked really hard in those days to pander to our submission and masochism. But you know what – it was worth it and the nostalgic look-backs are dear to us. Oh, those classic magazines hidden on the top shelf.

    Thanks for the memory-provoking post.


    • You’re welcome -thanks too for your memories.The whole shabby process of getting a session right from the clunk of coins into the phone box (forgot about that) would make a good post itself as it’s another world that has also gone forever-thank heavens.


      • What actually I did enjoy was the first communication by phone – when you spoke to the mysterious Dominatrix for the first time – I can still recall the nerves. Also an abiding memory, particularly of sessions in NYC, was of receiving and following instructions to call her from a phone box on the street corner to receive the location details. The thrill of finding the box, walking up and back repeatedly until the pre-determined call time and wondering whether she as able to look down on you as you called – perhaps pulling on her boots as you fumbled with the coins and her phone began to ring.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I so agree about the formative experience of reading “Miss Sadie Stern’s Monthly”. It was where I first learned the expression “put to the cock”. I’m always reminded of that when my Mistress takes me. Thank you for the heady nostalgia. S

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post Sardax. On the other side of the coin, I did not have a lightbulb moment of coming into domination, it was more a travel through a thick fog. I walked and suddenly “happened” on things that were always there, just obscured until I got up close. Thanks to your post I have finally begun to give voice to my own experience. Thanks for an important prompt.


  4. Always of interest to hear of others ‘lightbulb’ moments and to remember just how difficult things were back then, it makes me take my rose coloured specs off and recall how grim things really were in the UK at that time.. My own moment(s) came through seeing Valerie Leon as ‘Tanya the Lotus Eater’ in the Revenge of the Pink Panther’ in 1978, ( I was only entering puberty) then there was a bit of a hiatus until ‘ The Worm That Turned’ was screened in ‘The Two Ronnies TV series (UK) 1980 – which starred Diana Dors – whom I was always a great fan of – strange for someone just taking his final school exams at the time I suppose, and more attracted to Debbie Harry and Patti Smith but then….. 18 months later, in 1982 a friend had to ‘get rid’ of some porn mags his older brother had given him from his bedroom at home, and of course I took the bundle wilingly. Amongst all the usual soft core UK glamour mags at the time – Playboy (UK), Fiesta, Club International etc was the latest issue of Sadie Sterns Monthly – Vol 3 Number 9. I’ll never forget it. Ping! It all came together – those earlier strange arousals in the cinema and on TV, now here it was in print to study and ‘understand’. I was hooked-and I realised I was not alone, what I had seen at entertainment to be laughed at earlier on the screen I realised was a lighter side of a serious exisitng ‘thing’ that obviously enough people were in to otherwise this magazine would not be being produced! Result! it just hit the spot instantly, and went on to gave early form and shape to what I was trying to come to terms with – remember I was a 17-18 year old raging pot of confused hormones at the time! It was invalauable and I kept this copy for many years after moving on to ( thankfully) the Introduction of Skin Two shortly afterwards in 1984. ( learned of it’s existance through the style bible ‘The Face’ revieweing it! and my second copy included a review of a certain artist called Sardax with his fine hard pencil drawing of a radio controlled airship..the controlls being the Woman’s nipples of course; ( what else) the magazine stated they would have liked to show more BDSM content of Sardax’s works but the then UK Obscene Publications Act forbade it in a magazine avaialble in a mainstream newsagents/stationers shop!) By which time I was old enough – though still teribly nervous, to buy my own magazines -from the ‘ specialst bookshops’ – thankfully living in the suburbs on the edge of a large city (Manchester) there were no shortage of these places tucked away in seedy back streets of the city centre (thank you the original Paramount Book Exchange and ‘Under the Arches’ book stall in Victoria bus station you are fondly remembered, thanked and saluted) These including the wonderfully xeroxed A5 sized Fem Dom contact mags and the rather better A4 glossy ‘ Doms & Subs ( whatever happened to that?) Looking back however on that Sadie Sterns moment,, the terrible domestic settings of brown draylon furniture, mustard carpets and nylon curtains, the awkward poses the cheap basques and unconvincing acoutrements, and the sheer amount of unruly pubic hair and confused and bored looking ‘ Dommes’ all I can say is thank heaven for the Internet….by whose magic I can still call up all these memories for real at the click of a mouse..As for sadie sterns Vol 3 No9??.. currently £6.99 + p& p on specialst collectors corner of e bay!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes the contact mags were well inspected. Funny how the grainy photos allowed you to weave a baroque fantasy around the poster in a way that all the clear photos you see today could never do. Only led to total disappointment though! As more people turned to the Net so the mags lost sales and disappeared. etc,etc.


  5. One weekend a month as a teen would be spent furtively visiting out of town newsagents which had a more exotic selection of porn. Despite the grubby photography MSSM’s stories were of very impressive if I recall. There were a few US imports and then Vixen, Goddess and Cruella came along. My first domme encounter was via an ad in Forum, not an edifying experience. With DDI and some other specialised contact magazines it became easier in the mid 90s to meet dedicated dommes.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I know we’ve often discussed this together in depth before, but I think you are dead right about the scarcity of this kind of material. Actually getting your hands on a copy of a magazine was an electric shock which left a lovely, long, lingering buzz of appreciation that felt deliciously illicit. We’re very much spoilt for choice on the web nowadays.

    The first magazine I bought was ‘Rubber Maid’. Many of the images from it are still embedded in my mind even though I’ve long since lost the copy itself. I eventually moved onto ‘Cruella’ which was always good, especially later on when more of the photos in it were printed in colour. ‘OWK News’ was the best of the lot though as far as I was concerned. It may have been through ‘OWK News’ that I first became aware of your artwork?

    It all seems so long ago now!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nostalgia! I well remember the thrill of finding a male relatives I’ll concealed stash of Sadie Sterns and having my mind blown. The tales of finanicially well heeled and high heeled Dommes and innocent young couples stopping at the wrong (right?)country hotel for the weekend..

    In time the fiction became repetitive and I suspect the same hack was writing everything but by then it was to late for me.. Happy days.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes we all
    Had lightning moment or 2 or 10.

    The Wild West of printed penthouse letters on dads nightstand is among the bolts in my past. That and a girl at camp that simply couldn’t stop pinching me and digging her nails into me and I didn’t try to stop her.

    Thanks for the memory lane moment


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