Monday, August 25, 2008

Pretty Ugly

"Les Folles" (1970) by Bernard Buffet

Mr. Williams found this image in The New York Times under the headline "Pretty Ugly," a review of an NYC gallery show of the same name. The show features 75 artists across two galleries, and is summed up by Times writer Holland Cotter as merely weird for weirdness's sake, and therefore a waste of time.

The painting remains of interest because it should be erotic, but it is not. A painting of a group of nearly naked red-haired women, one of whom lies over the lap of another, ought to be a favorite of mine, but the description hardly fits the tableau. I am instead reminded of John Lanchester's fictional memoir-cum-cookbook The Debt to Pleasure, in which the narrator explains the "erotics of dislike:"

"To like something is to want to ingest it, and in that sense is to submit to the world. To like something is to succumb, in a small but contentful way, to death. But dislike hardens the perimeter between the self and the world, and brings a clarity to the object isolated in its light. Any dislike is in some measure a triumph of definition, distinction, and discrimination--a triumph of life." (Lanchester, The Debt to Pleasure, pp. 6-7)

I dislike this image, especially the girl turned over another's knee. The dislike truly is a physical reaction, a knot tightened in my belly, an active response. It's not that I simply do not like the painting, I actively dislike it.

The core of my dislike is my perception of the image as mirror. In this case, art imitates life. The women portrayed are withered whores, weary of their wantonness. They extend their tongues, not in lasciviousness, but as if they are dogs gasping for breath. Their wrinkles deeply set; this world, the world of the beautiful unclothed woman, the dancehall, the cabaret, is no longer theirs.In their blank eyes I see myself, or the woman I was about to become. In disliking their image, I separate myself from them, I defy commiseration. By defining myself as other, my own life triumphs.

I don't think anyone will be surprised when I note that I am closing down the Naughty Abby website. It was an utter joy while it lasted, and I can honestly say I am more myself for having that experience. It could return, in another form. To those who contributed to its modest success, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and from the bottom of my bottom. You have a piece of me that I am happy to have shared. The moment I began to feel that filming was required of me and that my heart was no longer in it, we stopped filming. There are no Naughty Abby videos extant that are anything but honest and joyfully experienced.

The day I looked in the mirror and saw one of those withered women was the day it ended for me. That day came early in the summer, when I was worn out with work, with writing, with the demands of being anyone other than a woman curled up with a glass of wine and a good book. Knowing that I could not allow myself to be a painted shell of a voluptuous and sensuous creature, I began instead to explore the parts of me I had ignored. My quest for my individual spirituality and sense of bodily self returned. I also began to explore new perspectives on my fetish, although the explorations so far have been more theoretical than physical. My day to day life has changed as well - I began a new job, albeit within the same company, two weeks ago, and while I finally have my own office, I am completely out of my element. There are even changes within our family structure. I'm not pregnant, but a course of events has occurred that finds me in a distant but distinct motherly position, and I am not ready to be both porn star and parent.

I am, however, ready to continue writing. I am keeping this blog, for when inspiration - ahem - strikes, but I also started a new blog today. It's called (link defunct), and my intention is to write about the rest of my internal and daily life (i.e. those aspects that have nothing to do with my own naked arse). I'm keeping my pseudonym. Much as I don't want to be Abby the fetish film star right now, I do want to continue on with this course of writing and adventure that I began in that naughty Puritan's name.

Abigail Williams: Writer. Spankophile. Seeker. Philosopher. Woman.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Torture for Fun and Profit

Issue #4 of Raulo Cáceres' erotic horror comic, Elizabeth Bathory, in which the infamous countess is portrayed (quite logically) as a demoness from Hell

Every Wednesday night, I watch a television show on the Sci Fi Channel called Ghost Hunters, in which skeptical plumbers use their logic, home improvement skills, and New England accents to try to capture paranormal events on film. I appreciate their understanding of the difference between an orb and a dust particle, between an apparition and a finger in front of a camera, or between an EVP and a cameraman in the next room. Their goal is to disprove claims of paranormal activity, not celebrate the mere chance of ghostly happenings. For that reason, when they do capture something inexplicable, it's all the more interesting and exciting.

This past week, they didn't capture much in the way of the paranormal, but it was one of my favorite episodes to date. The reason? Every other word was "torture" or "whip" or "punish." References to a torture device called a Spanish horse were made a number of times. I misheard the phrase every single time.

The reason for the erotic magic words? The team was investigating two Slovenian castles, the first being Predjama Castle, which contained the equivalent of a corporal punishment courtroom, as well as its two verdict options - a giant pit and a torture chamber. The second was none other than the ruins of Cachtice Castle of Elizabeth Bathory fame.

If you, dear reader, are not familiar with Vlad Dracul's spirtual sister, vain torturer and mass murderer extraordinaire, get thee to a copy of Andrei Codrescu's The Blood Countess immediately! This novel is the most erotic novel I've ever read - and that includes any actual spanking fiction. It is the story of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, a sadistic Hungarian royal who believed she had found the secret of cosmetic beauty after slapping a maidservant so hard that blood landed on her cheek, only to discover that the skin beneath the blood had a more youthful appearance after the human stain was removed. Cleopatra's baths of ass's milk was no match for the blood of virgins! So, naturally, Elizabeth went on to have approximately 650 women killed over the course of 25 years, in order to bathe in their blood. Like any good sadist, she couldn't just kill the women - she had to main, torture, and coax the blood from their flesh. Nonetheless, Codrescu tells a sensual tale of historical quest and iron maidens, untouched round bottoms and woman's eternal struggle for beauty. And if it sells the novel any more, I got off to it when I was seventeen. So there.

I always have had a fascination with suffering, with torture, with man's connection of body to soul. I've been reading up on the early Christian hermits, the Desert Mothers and Fathers, as of late, as well as a brilliant novel, Liz Jensen's Ark Baby, on evolution. I've been struggling to find my place in the society of mankind, and of spankingkind. It's interesting that this episode featuring torture chambers was aired at this of all times. What if what I find erotic isn't spanking, pain, punishment, discipline, girls' bottoms, or any of our favorite subjects? What if the true heart of my desire is suffering?

What does that mean for me? And if that is the direction my writings will be taking, reader, what does that mean for you?

Here's Elizabeth getting ready to take a bath.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

She Served

France was once overrun by dragons. I know this because last Tuesday heralded the feast day of Saint Martha of Bethany, dragon-tamer and patron of servants and cooks. That morning, before heading off to slay my own daily dragons, I read about her commitment to hospitality in her small home just west of Jerusalem, where she was overshadowed by her siblings' ostentacious foot-perfuming and rising from the dead. She was often chided for her diligence to the hearth rather than contemplation. While Jesus proseletyzed to the rest of the family, Martha bustled about the house, the consummate hostess.

At the after-party following the resurrection of her brother Lazarus, you know what Martha did? Did she celebrate? Did she borrow some fancy foot perfume from her sister Mary and toast to the newly undead? No. Everyone else got to party, but Martha served. (John 12:2) Is it any wonder that later in life, she ran off to evangelize France by vanquishing it of mythological beasts?

The story goes that after the Resurrection, Mary and Martha traveled to Gaul in order to spread the good word. However, the people of Provence were spreading another word, Tarasque, the name of a dragon-like beast tormenting the countryside. Martha, who apparently liked to clean up messes, thought that a dragon sounded like quite the messy way to keep house, so off she went to see the beast. Upon meeting him, she sprinkled him with holy water, explained that his behavior was not to be tolerated, and looked upon him with love. Naturally, the dragon realized the error of his ways and became docile, whereupon the Tarasque was either kept as a pet or torn apart scale from limb, depending on the tradition.

Of course, depending on the tradition, this feat was not accomplished by Martha of Bethany at all, but by a Phoenician goddess named Martis, or in other versions, a Syrian prophetess named Martha, who accompanied the Roman general Gaius Marius in his campaign against the peoples of the north. At this point in human history, most of us know that early Christians often begged, borrowed, or stole mytholigical traditions in order to assimilate entire cultures into the new patriarchy. But why take Martha, servant of God, and turn her into Martha, slayer of the Beast? Why did Christian tradition turn the perfect submissive girl into an action hero?

I wonder if Martha watches us from her place in the pantheon of saints and cries out, "Why? Why wasn't I good enough? Why has my broom been exchanged for a staff? My dust bunnies exchanged for monsters? I served, but you held out your bowl and wanted more."

In every spare moment since her feast day, I've been considering the dichotomy of Martha in Bethany and Martha in Provence. I have been relating to her story in my own identity as a submissive, dedicated wife and my invented identity as Abby Williams. I've been taking a break from blogging and filming because I have become so comfortable in my own skin that suddenly, I don't have the drive to expose myself or my internal search for meaning in my fetish because I can see myself fully, as I am, for perhaps the first time in my life. I am Martha in her humble home, serving as I serve, allowing those with fancy perfumes and attentive contemplation to shine while I do those things that make me whole in the background.

But the dragon of the blogosphere still looms. For a while, my actions were based on its existence. Martha demonstrated the power of her faith when a dragon was put before her. I demonstrated my adoration of spanking and receiving discipline when a camera and the Internet were put before me. Perhaps the story of Martha and the dragon was meant to prove just how powerful her faith was. A faith so strong that it doesn't just serve bread, it slays demons! And perhaps my exhibitionism was meant to show that I had a fetish so strong, I didn't just submit to my husband, I submitted to computer screens across the world!

But the story of Martha is no less admirable when we remember that there were no dragons in France 2000 years ago. After all, she served. And I serve. And some days I want to continue to build on the story of Abby, the trials and tribulations of her bright red backside, her battles with the twin dragons of Cane and Strap. But sometimes I just want to clean my house and bring Mr. Williams milk and pancakes in bed. There will be days when there are dragons. But on the days when I'm just reading a book and baking muffins, don't worry that I won't come back to slay your beast. I find it wonderful and sexy that you want me to slay your beast. And I will. Right after I get those dust bunnies and refill that glass of milk.