The number of artists who could be classified as a “femdom artist” is quite small, so when one of us passes it is fitting to mark it in some way. Namio Harukawa died last month as I reported in the previous post . So I wished to draw something in memory of him and, much as a composer might take a theme of another late composer, and write his own set of variations on it, I took a representative drawing of his and without copying it, redrew it in my own style. It is important to emphasise that I was not trying to make it look like his art or pretend to make it one of his artworks.
It was simply taking the theme, and re-interpreting it in my own way.
For the model I asked permission to include the likeness of
Ms Ryoko Kitagawa 北川繚子女王様, founder of Kitagawa-pro films, who was for many years associated with him.
Well, the result was rather strange-quite different from my usual work, but I was pleased with the experiment.
I hope he would be too.
Namio Harukawa, who has recently passed away, was always one of my reference points for femdom illustration. In my younger years I was drawn to his art as he was one of the few artists almost totally dedicated to the femdom theme, so I tried to find as much of it as I could. By then his style had developed a distinctive look and in the sex shops of the 80‘s you could occasionally find collections of his art, shabby bindings of photocopies from legitimate Japanese magazines (yes, it happened even then!)
I once found his art published in a more reputable collection of Japanese erotica and wrote to him via the editor to introduce myself. A short friendly correspondence by letter ensued but we then lost touch for many years.
Astonishingly, especially to younger people, I don’t think Namio ever came on the Internet – unless he lurked incognito – so if he knew of his developing fame it must have been only indirectly. I tried to connect with him again a few times in the 90’s but I only really heard about him through the Japanese blogger Homer, who knew him directly, organised an exhibition and produced a DVD devoted to his work. As a tribute to him he asked me to draw my own face-sitting art for the cover.
Harukawa’s range was somewhat limited, it has to be said, but magnificently obsessive. Facesitting was his universe and he rarely strayed from that. If he drew whipping or shoe worship, for example, it would seem forced as if he had little interest. Moreover his women were very much of a bulkier type, unusual amongst Japanese, and maybe for that very reason so attractive to him. It is interesting to track his development of this. When he started drawing for the SM magazines of Japan in the 1970’s – either by choice or because it was requested – his women were normally proportioned. The line drawings were proficient and charming but unremarkable. As the years progressed the Namio Goddess developed. The buttocks became larger and larger, the settings more confined and claustrophobic, the light and shadow more haunting and the dreamy atmosphere more intense.
They are still recognisably Japanese for all that; this was before the anime cartoon style ruled that every female character had to have huge Western eyes and childish faces.
By contrast the men in his pictures remained largely homogenous and uniform, pathetic and passive in their adoration at their “altar”. Rather than work under commission for portraiture as I have done, he seemed to be in the enviable position of supplying like-minded patrons with his vision and selling to SM magazines in Japan, a vibrant market which eagerly promoted bizarre artwork and amazing photography (so different to Britain!)
In latter days he supplied Megami-no-ai with previously published works but I understand he was too ill to produce anything new.
Namio stands remembered for his unique vision. I know he would have liked to pass from this earth suffocated underneath one of his goddesses but of course that never happened. He lived to a good age though taken by cancer, and leaves behind a substantial legacy which will remain one of the pinnacles of excellence in femdom art .
As you are no doubt aware if you have followed this blog closely or thought of commissioning, I am now on a sabbatical from commissioned work.
This does not mean that I am idling, lounging on my yacht and guzzling champagne like a spoilt billionaire – as if!
For some years I’ve felt the need to get back to the sort of work I made when it wasn’t commissioned, such as the Venus in Furs book. An artist steers a course between work that his inner inspiration compels him to produce, and work he does to satisfy others – and incidentally feed himself! Ideal if he can do both at the same time, but that too rarely happens. Through a combination of circumstances I have now the opportunity to pursue the former and though no artist likes to refuse work offered, especially when it is as pleasant as the commissions I have undertaken, I felt it was now or never to take some time off. Though I cannot show too much you can rest assured that I am fully involved with femdom art projects as much as ever and the finished work will be revealed later on.
For now though I will show the occasional sketch on this page to whet your appetite.
I decided to take this sabbatical last year. Now with the current situation afflicting us all taking on commissions would actually be much more difficult, not least the difficulty of meeting clients and the headache of delivering any completed work .
One final request.
Many professional mistresses whom I have drawn in previous years have been adversely affected by the lockdown as their work relies on personal interaction now denied to them. To varying degrees online income has become important and so, if you can, please take the time to go though my portraits, follow the links to their sites and give them your support. Almost without exception they have been supportive of my art and so I’m trying what I can to help in the current situation.
Iʼd better preface this post by saying that I am not well qualified to write it as my own few attempts were so awful I simply gave up and despaired. I never dreamt then that meeting mistresses would one day become part of my work.
So how in pre-Internet days did you go about meeting a mistress? and we mean here a professional mistress as the thought of meeting anyone who was happy to be dominant without charging for it was almost inconceivable. This is my own experience so if your experience differs from mine feel free to comment.
So night clubs existed of course and even fetish club nights. Personally I hated dark clubs and their kind of music but it seemed then that to gain entry into a certain lifestyle that was one of the few options. I never understood why I had to dress in a certain way and listen to the right music to find that sympathetic mistress. So I never took that avenue.
Failing that there appeared to be two main methods:
Cards in phone boxes
Meeting your mistress commando-style. Probably not recommended for a lasting ongoing relationship. Adrenalin required.
Find a telephone box and look for the illegally placed cards conveniently at eye level. Ring the number on the card next to the photo/drawing of the mistress. Speak to the “maid”, usually an elderly sex worker who would describe the lady in question -inaccurately of course. Bust size, height, hair colour. Within an hour or so you could be there waiting to be processed after another customer. Where? a dingy basement near to the phone box maybe. Cash only. Explain to the mistress just what you wanted and hope she’d understand. Usually disappointing – from others too so I hear.
The contact magazine
For those who preferred a more measured approach to meeting a mistress there was the contact magazine. This small A5 magazine, cheaply printed in black and white, was sold in Soho sex shops and if you were lucky – newsagents. With names like Superbitch or Real Mistress the purpose was to provide an introduction by means of personal ads. Unlike today where you are blasted by websites and social media heaving with video clips and all the photos you could ever desire, the magazine would allow you a grainy low-res photo of the mistress which let the imagination weave its own fantasy of how she might look. Seeing these tiny grey photos not just once, but over and over the imagination in the head would supply a glamour which reality would render disappointed. Sometimes it wasnʼt even the face, for people were cautious of revealing themselves even then. A glimpse of a boot, maybe. Equally evocative would be the copy. Very terse and to the point but with enough salaciousness to get you to write the first letter.
That would be sent to the publisher of the magazine in an envelope with the number of the advertiser written outside, not forgetting a stamp addressed envelope back to oneself. It would be then forwarded on to the said advertiser.
And wait for the reply, sometimes weeks. And sometimes no reply to your letter at all. But if a reply came -oh joy! (I heard from one of my contacts his reply letter was opened by a flatmate and considerable hilarity ensued in his college)
The reply would generally be business-like and a point of contact established, maybe even a time of meeting was arranged with a landline number – no mobiles remember.
Did you even dare pick up the phone to make a call?
Once an appointment was made it was definitely kept. After so much effort made in securing the meeting the only thing preventing an appointment from being kept would be death itself. Even a relative’s funeral or a countrywide blizzard would not have prevented the appointment from going ahead.
Trusting to luck
Any sort of verification in either of these was too cumbrous to be considered and people just trusted to their luck, client and mistress alike. Unbelievable the risks taken but the youthful urge propelled you through.
The risks of indiscretions were localised. A mad letter written feverishly at night with all kinds of confessions would merely be discarded in the bin by the other party, not indiscreetly splashed all over social media for anyone in the world to read for ever and ever.
Moreover you could not hope to meet someone who would cater to your exact fetish as easily as today so you hoped you found a mistress flexible enough to understand what you desired. Most were trained to take on all “comers”.
The great difference was that there was so very little information to go on whereas nowadays there is just too much info, with a race to the bottom to provide as much content as possible about the mistress, resulting in jadedness and half heartedness. But that was just how it was..nobody thought it an effort .
This memory of the past is not nostalgia for the good old days but rather the opposite. In a way they were the bad old days. In spite of all the current laws now hemming in free communication on the Net, people can and will communicate so much easier now and are more likely to meet the right people who respond to their own interests. However threatened one might feel these days the Internet has made communication possible in a way inconceivable in the days of my youth. Will those dark days ever return?
I personally donʼt think so.This may be the end of a golden age but not the start of a dark age.
Unless the whole internet disappears?
I have now made it a rule that I will take the last month of the year off from commissions, as much as possible, and make some paintings or drawings just for my own satisfaction. These might be strange ideas that have come to me that would just never be commissioned or revisions of previous artworks that I felt I could improve on.
Last December I returned to an old Leg Show illustration which I thought was a great idea but had always felt it did not hang together well and looked unfocussed.
There were too many elements vying for attention that I felt it needed recomposing and sorting out. So I asked the stunning Ms Rebecca Knox to pose for the profile one day when she was here in London.
So this is the revision. You may wonder why bother if it is already done – and half-way through I did to – but I do think it is an improvement on the original now. There are quite a few small changes but the most significant is the main light is on her face and human flower pot stand in the background is brought forward for contrast.
I found a buyer for the painting almost immediately.
Well, you choose which you prefer – both have their own qualities.
There is a simplistic idea going round in erotica marketing that women respond to words and men to pictures. This sounds true, judging by the sales of erotic novels to women and videoclips to men, but I think the truth is more complex. From some conversations with dominant women who had taken it upon themselves to tell me what I ought to be doing (bless them), I learnt that they aren’t generally interested in femdom photos or videos simply because it had no “eye candy” for them. Instead of focussing on a good-looking male this media tends to linger on the dominant female actress, which is off-putting for them, and any males in the scene are secondary, certainly not chosen for their looks or acting ability. There are notable exceptions, but as most visual content is produced for men any content designed for women tends to get ignored and women seem to stop even looking for anything appealing. So it was initially surprising for me but on reflection quite logical that for them gay porn was their choice of viewing. I understood this but could not see how I could do anything to affect the disparity.
But these ladies could be persuasive and so, at their instigation, I tried to address this with a few pieces for what has come to be called “The Female Gaze” – that might appeal to this untapped female market and give a few new subscriptions to the member-site I was running at the time (2004-14).
Drawing in this way was an interesting process, like driving on the opposite side of the road – familiar landmarks and same direction but a different focus and view, through guessing what the female might prefer rather than just knowing. This series was one such -“Down Below”
Down Below 1
Down Below 2
Down Below 3
Down Below 4
My friends expressed satisfaction with this series – they particularly liked the suffering eyes – but I felt no immediate desire to continue working this way. I knew my core market was men and straying too far from that would alienate them. I put up a few pieces now and then “for the ladies” such as this -“Moonlight”, but let the matter rest as I felt it was for a female artist to develop it further.
So I was pleased recently to get to know about a new venture called Dreams Made Flesh run by a Canadian lifestyle domme. It is run on the patreon system whereby the contributions fund artists and writers who are developing this field. As you can see it’s not just Female Gaze then but Female Ear too, but I believe it’s not just for women anyway. Men can enjoy this focus equally and if they care anything about what women like (I mean-isn’t that the scene ?) then it is something that should be sponsored.
here are a few thumbnails of previous drawings – there will be more in coming months.
Update 2020: In spite of best efforts subscriber numbers were insufficient to enable “Dreams made flesh” to continue, so it is now closed.
Patrons -those who commission artwork – are the enablers of the professional artist.
Increasingly in the age of instant gratification on the Net we lose sight of the fact that behind many professional images and videos there has been someone, somewhere to finance it happening . This has become obscured by the freedom with which anything now is stolen copied.
Before the web this was self evident. Patrons paid for the services of creatives – not always well – but understood that expenses were necessary or nothing would happen. Throughout history if an artist was not paid, there would be no culture, so princes, popes, etc. would dip into their treasure chests to finance creative projects. Sometimes they paid huge sums to secure the services of the best artists in Europe, like Rubens or Bernini. Others like Vermeer were largely neglected, and had constant money problems. Yet still there was the general understanding they needed to be paid. But still now some do not recognise that artists have bills to pay like everyone else and if they can’t make it pay then the art won’t happen.
I grew up in a creative family and money – or rather the lack of it – was the root of many problems. Our human needs were the same as everyone else, shelter, food, bills to pay and yet art was not considered “real work”, presumably as it didn’t make a profit for any shareholder. Constantly around us our family was met with the same incomprehension. Art was considered a leisure activity, and not expected to earn anything. You’d be right in assuming I was encouraged to do any work but art!
In my own career I have been paid to contribute to magazines (remember them?), femdom member sites, my own member site (sardax.com 2004-2014) and now mainly working on bespoke portraiture. In all we were reliant on people making a financial contribution. I have been fortunate in mostly having a public (often creative themselves) who understood this. Generally artists do not become professional to earn a fortune. If that happens – fine …but I don’t think many start with that in mind. They soon discover it’s not that easy.
So as a farewell to 2017 this post is a thanks to all patrons who have tried to keep me afloat financially however much they can manage, so I can concentrate on what I do best – doing the artwork.
This is not a post about my own work but here is a photo of the Last Judgement from the Sistine Chapel for which have to thank not only Michaelangelo, but also Pope Julius II who had the vision to commission it.
(In this post I use the term arts but it could apply equally to any creative endeavour)
It is not a play of the book. Well it is, indirectly.
This is a stage play – and a film now – about a stage director who is auditioning actresses for his own adaptation of the book “Venus in Furs”, and almost in despair of never finding the right one, allows a final audition to an outwardly trashy actress, who not only surprises him by her amazing acting as the play progresses , but also completely turns his life around.
Confused yet? I was when I first heard of the play. Like many outside the theatre-going public it was when film director Roman Polanski announced he was going to produce his own adaptation in a French translation, with his wife Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric in the lead roles. I naturally assumed it was a dramatisation of the book itself. In fact there are only two actors in the entire play so when I first read about it and then later saw the stills from the movie I was admittedly cool about it.
After all, how could the whole of Venus in Furs be dramatised on stage with only two actors?
Of course I did not make the distinction.
But people kept asking me what I thought of the film (because of my translation and illustrations I was now thought of as some authority, maybe) so in the end I relented, thinking I had to base an opinion and so I sat grimly through the first few minutes. Rather like the director on stage Thomas Novachek (not the director of the play itself, by the way) who gradually warms to the personality of actress Vanda Jordan, I warmed to the script as I realised that the play’s author David Ives really understood the book itself and I started to enjoy the way the two characters reacted to each other and was thoroughly won over as the film ended.
So when the play finally came to Theatre Royal Haymarket in London I was enthusiastic to see it. In company with Mistress Tess and her admirer, we saw Natalie Dormer as Vanda and David Oakes as Thomas in a production directed by Patrick Marber. I was pleased at last to hear it in English instead of subtitled from the French film and it quite lived up to my expectations. Lots of great comic and insightful moments that really reflected the whole dynamic between Severin and Wanda in the original book. On speaking to other mistresses I learnt how it had affected them:-
Mistress Harpsichord “Venus in fur genuinely moved me to tears. There was something so powerful about the performance that I struggle to put into words. It was honest, relateable and devastatingly beautiful.”
Lady Lola “I adored Venus in Fur, it came as no surprise as I am a big fan of the movie.Incredible performances and overall tone. Close to the bone on many occasions but all done with a playful dialogue.”
Marti “A teasingly plotted entertainment with plenty of pleasing eye candy for the Dominant Woman.”
The throne is a recurring motif in much of my art.
One of the first line drawings I made as Sardax was this goddess on a throne. This was actually sold as a limited run of postcards at the Skin Two shop back in the early nineties – if you bought one then you’re lucky ! Throughout the years the depiction of the mistress in her throne has been a useful way of displaying her regality and authority, raised up above her slaves , looking down . In this selection of portraits there are different types-some elaborate, some simple:-
This nostalgic post will not mean much to most people – except perhaps to men of my generation who had to live through such a deprived era and have seen how the Internet has changed everything we know.
Now in my sixties I am sitting outside a cafe on Old Compton St in London’s notorious Soho district. Or it least it was notorious. Today, much like Times Square in New York – as I understand – it is completely cleaned up and un-notorious with only a few shops remaining of the once prevalent sex trade, now mostly catering for the gay pound. It changed not through any heavy legal crack-down but, like a lot else, through the changes brought by the onset of the Internet removing the need to go out to buy porn magazines, books and movies.
Over thirty years back it was completely different. Then I would never have sat outside a cafe and would have been very cautious of even coming in by daylight – but then I had a guilty conscience. A shopping trip to Soho was a furtive affair usually made under cover of darkness, armed with a shoulder bag, and planned with a clear itinerary so as to quickly move in and out of doorways.
My own particular interest here was for books, magazines and the predecessor to DVDs and videos – Super 8 films.
Moving swiftly inside the shop you’d be pressed against a heaving mass of tightly pressed male flesh with barely enough room to jostle your way through to the shelves. Many men – it was always just men- were simply browsing with no intention of buying. Occasional ineffectual calls from management failed to shift them. Of course I always bought something – even at the outrageous prices they changed. Kink commanded higher prices with 10 pounds being usual for a magazine -a lot for a young man in those days.
With my burgeoning interest in kink and the bizarre I had my own favourite haunts:- 1. Swish publications
My main port of call. CP with a femdom bias selling their own “Madame” magazine, “Sadie Stern” magazines and even a few ripped-off and pasted together collections of Namio Harukawa drawings.
2. Janus Bookshop
Mostly catering to CP erotica with more of an emphasis on subfem, stocking its own magazines including Janus, Roué and others.
Commanding a presence along Charing Cross Road, the ground floor was nominally a book shop but a discreet staircase downstairs led to a wonderful treasure trove. Not so much kink but best stocked general erotica.
4. Unnamed I cannot remember the name of this one. Cut off in an alley in Chinatown it was one of the first I discovered and may have been Swish before they moved. Can anyone enlighten?
5. Original Soho Bookshop One of the last bookshops now standing, stocked mostly with DVDs and a few magazines or books. Very little fetish and most gay-oriented. In the spirit of “research” I bought one product for old times sake but without much enthusiasm.