Friday, 21 November 2014

THE BIRTH OF VENUS, Jan Vander Laenen

Only after four heavy-breathing phone calls, did young Madeleine realise what was probably going on: someone must have printed her phone number by mistake under the really inviting contact adverts of one daily or periodical or another.

What a difference a type, a six instead of a zero for instance, can make in a world that is constantly being reduced to digits! Somewhere in her neighbourhood, somewhere in the centre of the city, there was a lady in heat with almost the same subscription number as hers waiting in fain for the telephone to ring, while she, the rather cool Madeleine, had to reject four potential lovers already in less than two hours.

It was just a quarter past eleven. The rain was falling dejectedly on the window of her ground floor flat in Brussels, but it was promising to be a warm - and above all unusual - day.

When the futuristic ring of her telephone set went off for the fifth time, Madeleine decided to go into action. If it was another horny male on the line, she would ask in which newspaper her telephone number had appeared by mistake, and about the eloquent and erotic description that accompanied it.
“Madeleine Leroy,” she tried to say in a stringent tone when she picked up the receiver.
“Oh la la,” a man answered cheerfully, “what a resolute, but pleasant voice. I am certain that you look as pleasant.”
“Perhaps,” said Madeleine, somewhat perplexed.
“And,” continued her invisible interlocutor, “could we met tonight or do you prefer to warm me up a little over the telephone? I am alone in my office and could use a ten-minute break.”
“I think you have the wrong number, sir…”
“Sir, sir, … Mark, please.”
“You see,” Madeleine stammered as she tried to explain, “I never placed a contact advert; they must have printed a wrong number and…”
“Oh, you want to play prim and proper type, you do not want to admit that you are a naughty girl?” the man interrupted her incredulously - and with a voice breaking with excitement. Perhaps he was sitting behind his monumental desk with the grey trousers of his stylish suit unzipped, ready to stroke his member at the slightest arousing allusion from her. And Madeleine shuddered at the thought, although she, as if driven by a strange curiosity, could not decide to slam the receiver down as she had done the previous four times. The voice on the other side of the line sounded sweet and pleasant this time, and it could be so heart warming, even for her, to be able to count on the interest of a man. Even if this man's interest was limited to her body. “And, my dear Madeleine,” the man now spoke pronouncing her name, as if they had known each other for years, “what do you look like, because the advert is not very specific.”
“What do I look like?” babbled Madeleine.
“Yes, describe yourself. In as an arousing manner as possible, of course.”
Madeleine took a deep breath and stared in front of her.
“Do you know the 'Birth of Venus?'” she asked carefully.
“The painting by Botticelli? Of course I do,” the man answered.
“Well,” continued Madeleine in a light tone, “it may sound a bit conceited, perhaps, but people have often told me that I am the spitting image of her.”
“Continue, continue,” her interlocutor said impatiently.

And Madeleine now started to describe herself, lyrically, passionately, and with an abandon that she had never felt before in her young life. She talked about her white, perfect skin, the curves of her tender breasts, the soft pinkness of her nipples, the nearly unnoticeable curvature of her belly, the elegance of her slender legs, and the golden colour of her hair, her long hair that came down to her buttocks, a frivolous curly lock of which she timidly keeps in front of her pubic area. And the sound of the unknown man's breath gradually changed to a soft pant, and the panting in a thankful groan, and finally he shouted her name twice over the receiver: “Madeleine, my Venus, Madeleine!” He had climaxed. And hung up.

With the receiver in her hand, Madeleine burst out into bitter tears. She looked up to the poster on the wall in front of her, a poster of “the Birth of Venus,” which she had brought back from her only trip - to Florence. In her dream, she does look like her.

And now it was too much for Madeleine, she cried her lungs nearly out of her flat chest and felt for her crutches with her hands, because she was almost suffocating in her apartment and wanted to go out.

At the cruel sounding rhythm of her crutches on the tiled floor, she left her flat and reached the hall, where she time and again would experience the bitterest moments of her life: there was a mirror on the wall.

And she limped and hobbled near the mirror, but for the first time, in a long, long time, she dared to look at her reflection. She, Madeleine, the little monster of scarcely one metre thirty, with her hump, her crippled legs and her block-shaped orthopaedic shoes, was today, for just a few fleeting moments, crawled into the skin of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. She, Madeleine, the girl that people looked at only with horror or pity, had managed to make a man climax today. A man had pronounced her name and that of Venus in the same breath as he shed his seed.

Jan loves to hear from his readers -- you can contact him through comments on this blog post.

Jan Vander Laenen (° 1960) lives in Brussels, Belgium, where he works as an
art historian and translator (Dutch, French and Italian). He is also the
author of numerous collections of short stories, plays, and screenplays
which have attracted keen interest abroad.

A romantic comedy, "Oscar Divo", and a thriller, ³The Card Game², have been
optioned in Hollywood, while his short fiction collections, "The Butler" and
"Poète maudit", and his horror play "A Mother's Revenge" are eliciting the
requisite accolades in Italy.

His most recent publication are the tales ³A Glass of Cognac² in ³Bears: Gay
Erotic Stories² (Cleis Press), ³Epistle of the Sleeping Beauty² in the Bram
Stoker Award winning ³Unspeakable Horror² (Dark Scribe Press), ³Fire at the
Chelsea Hotel² in ³Best Gay Love Stories 2009² (Alyson Press), ³The Stuffed
Turkey² in ³Best Gay Erotica 2010 (Cleis Press),³The Corpse Washer² in Best
S/M III (Logical Lust), ³Lise² in ³Strange Tales of Horror² (NorGus Press),
the E-Books ³Skilfully and Lovingly² (Sizzler Edition) and ³The Centrefold
and other Stories of working Men² (Silver Press), the Dutch and French
version of his novel ³The housekeeper and other scabrous tales² (Œt
Verschil, Antwerp (Belgium) - Textes gais, Paris (France)), and the weird
tale ³The bat² in the anthology ³A Darke Phantastique² (Cycatrix Press).

Jan is a member of the Poe Studies Association and the Horror Writers
Association. He presented his paper "Hypotheses on Poe's homosexuality" at
the Bicentennial Congress in Philadelphia in October 2009. Since then he has
given lectures on Poe, Baudelaire, Wiertz, Andersen, Guy de Maupassant,
Grand Guignol and the guillotine at the universities of Porto (Portugal),
Gent (Belgium), Louisville (Kentucky), Madrid (Spain), and the Paris

Jan is currently working on a play/screenplay around the life of the
Romantic Belgian "horror" painter Antoine Wiertz (1806-1865), a novel called
"The Psychomanteum" around the practice of mirror gazing, and a screenplay
around the life of Lucida Mansi.

Friday, 14 November 2014

WHEN WOMEN GO BAD; the female paedophile

Paedophilia isn’t something I spend a great deal of time thinking about. I know that some people do. They probably have kids and grandkids, so I suppose they are bound to. I know when I was a kid, my mum always told me that if a strange man tried to talk to me, that I should run and find a lady and tell her. Then along came Myra Hindley, in the 1960’s, and more recently, Vanessa George.

I guess my mum was naïve, I am sure that there have always been predatory women around. You just don’t hear about them very often. But both women have become archetypes of evil, because they stepped out of the traditional role of women as nurturers, instead embracing, and seemingly relishing, doing harm to children.

It’s not good enough to say that both women were under the influence of charismatic men. They knew right from wrong. It seems that some dark, latent, fascination was drawn from them, by the compelling influence of the men who came into their lives. Without those men, maybe the two women would have led quiet suburban lives; but we just don’t know.

Myra Hindley was working quietly in an office, in the 1960’s when she met Ian Brady. He introduced her to the writings of the Marquis de Sade and Adolf Hitler. Brady and Hindley were lovers, but lovers who embarked on a spree of rape and murder. Myra’s role was to lure and abduct. Ian Brady raped then murdered the children that she procured for him. He sucked the life out of them like a greedy vampire. They buried their poor little violated remains on bleak Saddleworth Moor.

I think that it was Myra Hindley who changed the way children played in this country. When I was a kid, we played outside and rambled far from our homes. I remember distinctly, I was 10 years old and my friend Jean and I would cycle around the countryside and be gone all day, looking for fields with ponies. No particular reason – we just loved ponies. Our parents never worried, nor scolded us for being away for so long – they were innocent times.

In 2009, Vanessa George, a mother of two, and a worker in a children’s nursery, appeared in court, having been charged with seven offences, including two of sexual assault by penetration and two of sexual assault by touching children in her care. She was also charged with making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children. Vanessa George, 39, was arrested after indecent images of children taken at Little Ted’s Day Nursery in Plymouth, were found on a computer disc seized by police from a suspected paedophile in Manchester. Police said that the photographs included pictures of children’s torsos taken on a camera phone at the nursery, where Vanessa George had worked for the past two years.

So far, none of the children have been identified, and the officer leading the investigation said that some of them might never be. Parents of the 64 children, aged between 2 and 5, have been asked to complete a questionnaire and list any features that could help to identify individual children from the images.

Russ Middleton, the head of Plymouth CID, said: “At this time we have been unable to identify any images of individual children and it is right to say some images may never be identified.” The number of photographs being examined by the computer experts could eventually run into thousands, Mr Middleton said, though he could not say how many had been taken in the nursery.

He added: “We have specially trained officers looking at the images. We have a large number taken from laptops and PCs but the starting point was from a camera phone. Some of these images were clearly taken inside the nursery but it is impossible to say where others were taken.”

Vanessa George’s arrest followed that of her mentor, Colin Blanchard, who appeared at Trafford Magistrates’ Court charged with possessing and distributing indecent images.

Officers searched a caravan that Mrs George owns at Harlyn Bay near Padstow, Cornwall, in addition to the family home in the Efford area of Plymouth. Police said that her husband, Andrew, and two teenage children had been taken into “protective care”.

Police will be speaking to the nursery’s 15 other members of staff but say they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the investigation.”

Vanessa George still refuses to say which children she abused.

Paedophilia isn’t a topic that sits easily with writers. Perhaps there is a fear of being identified, associated with the crime, let alone the idea of finding a publisher to take the book on. But a paedophile with a female accomplice? Myra Hindley had Ian Brady, Vanessa George’s mentor was Colin Blanchard.

From Wiki

Then there is also the case of “Marc Dutroux a Belgian serial killer and child molester, convicted of having kidnapped, tortured and sexually abused six girls during 1995 and 1996, ranging in age from 8 to 19, four of whom he murdered. He was arrested in 1996 and has been in prison ever since. His widely publicised trial took place in 2004. He married at the age of 19 and fathered two children; the marriage ended in divorce in 1983. By then he’d already had an affair with Michelle Martin. They would eventually have three children together, and married in 1989 while both were in prison. They divorced in 2003, also while in prison."

Michelle Martin was complicit and indulged in Dutroux’ atrocities.

Henry James anticipates this type of insidious, dark exchange in 1898, with his novella, “The Turn of the Screw”.

“The Turn of the Screw”, is essentially a ghost story. The subtle indications of paedophilia are there, but in a more “creeping up behind you”, dark manner than in Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita”, which tackles it head on.

A young governess, is sent to a country house to take care of two orphans, Miles, aged ten, and Flora, aged eight. Soon after her arrival, Miles is expelled from boarding school. Although charmed by her young charge, she secretly fears there are ominous reasons behind his expulsion.

With Miles back at home, the governess starts noticing ethereal figures roaming the estate's grounds. Desperate to learn more about these sinister sightings she discovers that the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of her predecessor, Miss Jessel, hold grim implications for herself.

As she becomes increasingly fearful that malevolent forces are stalking the children the governess is determined to save them, risking herself and her sanity in the process.

Peter Quint and Miss Jessel are the bad guys in “The Turn of the Screw”.

Peter Quint had been a servant at the house at Bly; Miss Jessel was the children’s previous governess. They had an intense erotic interest in one another. Both are now dead; Peter Quint in some sort of brawl. Miss Jessel, under strange circumstances, after she left Bly.

It is much more than a ghost story, “The Turn of the Screw”, is an enthusiastic romance of children and sex. The implication that Miles, the young ward of an impressionable governess, is sexually aware, sexually experienced, and sexually hungry has its draw. Titillating in its inappropriateness, the novel suggests through metaphor and silences what was, and still is, unmentionable.

A dialogue between the narrator and the housekeeper, Mrs Grose, emphasises this;
Mrs Grose says that she was afraid of Peter Quint. “I daresay I was wrong, but, really I was very afraid.”

“Afraid of what?”

“Of the things that man could do. Quint was so clever -- he was so deep.”

I took this in still more than, probably I showed. “You weren’t afraid of anything else? Not of his effect --?”
“His effect?” she repeated with a face of anguish and waiting while I faltered.
“On innocent little precious lives. They were in your charge.”

So the new governess, has strong suspicions that Peter Quint has corrupted young Miles, in addition to seducing and corrupting Miss Jessel.

Peter Quint and Miss Jessel haunt the house at Bly, they also haunt the children’s new governess. It seems that even in death the ghosts want the children for themselves.

When Mrs Grose and the narrator next converse they speak of the children as their darlings, their little dears. But Quint and Jessel, even as ghosts are still a threat. The narrator is certain that Quint and Jessel want to possess the children.

“They’re not mine -- they’re not ours. They’re his and hers!”
“Quint’s and that woman’s?”
“Quint’s and that woman’s. They want to get them.”

Poet and literary critic Craig Raine in his essay on Sex in nineteenth-century literature states quite categorically his belief that Victorian readers would have identified the two ghosts as child-molesters.

Mrs Grose tells the governess about Quint’s relationship with Miles;
“It was Quint’s own fancy. To play, with him I mean -- to spoil him.” She paused a moment; then she added; “Quint was much too free.”

Psychoanalytically, the governess, who is alluded to as being sexually inexperienced and sexually repressed, has attached the image of raw, animalistic sexuality with the ghost of Peter Quint, which explains why she is fervent in her efforts to keep this ghost away from the young and impressionable Miles. The housekeeper, Mrs Grose, early in the novel, implies that Peter Quint, who acted as master of the house at times, and the young Miles may have engaged in some man-boy intimate contact, and thus the strange behaviour of Miles can be read in this manner.

Quint represents a scary threat: sex. We know that he seduced the unfortunate Miss Jessel; Quint is a destroyer of young ladies, and that he spent far too much time alone with young Miles. Quint is described as handsome, but dastardly, and he is seductive and frightening in equal measure. Basically, Peter Quint stands for everything the Governess is afraid of, and this sense of menace is his most distinguishing characteristic.

The narrator tells Mrs Grose about the ghostly vision that she’d had of Miss Jessel.
She describes her as “handsome, but infamous.”
Mrs Grose replies; “Miss Jessel was infamous…they were both infamous.”

But what is it that the governess is so afraid of? It seems that her entire focus is on the “corruption” of the children -- she is certain that they were corrupted by Quint and Jessel when they were alive and that they continue to be corrupted now that they are ghosts. Before she even knows about Quint, the governess guesses that Miles has been accused of corrupting other children. Although corruption is a euphemism that permits the governess to be vague about what she means, the clear implication is that corruption means exposure to the knowledge of sex. For the governess, the children’s exposure to the knowledge of sex is a far more terrifying concept than confronting the living dead, or of being killed.

In the final chapter, Miles tells the narrator the reason he was expelled from school.

“I said things.”

When asked how many boys he had “said things” to, he replies;

“No -- only a few. Those I liked.”

Then later:
“…they must have repeated them. To those they liked.”

The narrator asks; “What were these things?”

Events take over and we never find out for sure -- although we share the narrator’s suspicions.

Consequently, her attempt to save the children takes the form of a relentless quest to find out what they know -- to make them confess, rather than predict what may happen to them in the future. Her fear of innocence being corrupted seems to be a big part of the reason she approaches the problem indirectly -- it’s not just that the ghosts are unmentionable, but what the ghosts have said to them, or introduced them to that is unspeakable.

But what the hell is going on with this current governess? She is the narrator and we only ever see things from her point of view. Is she reliable? Can the reader trust her? At times her narration seems to border on the hysterical. She describes the children as “little dears”. “Our sweet darlings”. But just pages later, she hints that they are duplicitous; colluding with the ghosts. And what about her own relationship with the children, especially Miles? On their walk to the church, their dialogue reads like an adult flirtation.

“I could say nothing for a minute, though I felt, as I held his hand and our eyes continued to meet, that my silence had all the air of admitting his charge and that nothing in the whole world of reality was perhaps at that moment so fabulous as our actual relation.”

Then later, the narrator is so overwhelmed, (we would say turned on; aroused) she cannot bring herself to follow Miles into the church.

“…it was too extreme an effort to squeeze beside him into the pew; he would be so much more sure than ever, to pass his arm into mine and make me sit there for an hour in close, silent contact with his commentary on our talk. For the first minute since his arrival I wanted to get away from him.”

Let’s not forget that Miles is a ten year old boy and the governess is a woman in her twenties. Does she have an infatuation with Miles? She speaks of their relationship as if she is violently, sexually attracted to him. Is she as guilty in her secret thoughts of the sin that she condemns Quint and Jessel for? Or maybe she is just flustered around males; she is seduced by Miles -- she continually tells us of his goodness; but it is plain that he makes her nervous. She has certainly been attracted to Miles’ uncle, when he interviewed her for the position of governess in Harley Street. And Peter Quint’s raw, animalistic sexuality terrifies her. It’s as if she can scent Quint’s musky, relentless, sexual arousal. Quint is primal, feral. He takes what he wants.

Henry James clearly knew what he was doing, when he created his characters and this malevolent situation. Never is he explicit, he lets his words work on us, like burrowing maggots. What we, as readers can imagine is vastly more frightening and haunting than what he, the author, could have ever committed to the page.

Perhaps James is asking us to consider; what is the source of evil? We know that evil exists, but where does it come from? He "turns the screw" on the conventional notion of evil, by introducing the innocence of children.

Miss Jessel, Myra Hindley, Vanessa George, Michelle Martin. What are we to make of them?

Paedophilia is silenced. Okay, these days we talk a lot about it. We babble and say nothing. When we try for a constructive dialogue, we end up screaming at each other. We panic.

What is less admissible, more unspeakable than paedophilia? And what then is more silenced than the female paedophile?

Friday, 7 November 2014


I love Robert Browning’s poem; THE PIED PIPER OF HAMLYN. I love its lulling rhythms, the chanting, lyrical story that it tells.

I went to Hamlyn some years ago; I walked over a bridge, crossing the River Weser, deep and wide…

I came away enchanted; I imagine most tourists do. At the time I never gave much thought to what happened to the children of Hamlyn. If I did, it was of a Disneyfied version.

But it’s a strange story; a whole generation of kids just disappearing. Has anyone ever asked what exactly happened to the children of Hamlyn? Browning’s narrative poem is based on an actual event. Something went very wrong in that quaint German town, so many years ago.

Jack Marx talks about the narrative poem on his blog. The story of what happened to the children of Hamlyn.

Thursday, July 24, 2008.

“Most of the English-speaking world knows of the Pied Piper from the poem by Robert Browning, which itself was adapted from the tale as told by The Brothers Grimm. The story goes that a flamboyantly-attired troubadour promised to rid the town of its rat infestation, which he did by hypnotising the vermin with his flute and leading them to drown in the nearby river. However, when the townsfolk refused to pay him for his services, the piper took revenge by leading the children of the town to an unknown fate, never to return.

As fairytales go, it’s one of the more ghastly, whose moral appears to be little more than a warning about neglecting bills. But the legend seems based upon a true incident whose exact details have vanished into history, to be subsequently coloured in by centuries of folklorists. What is certain is that there is a town in Germany called Hameln and some children did go missing there sometime in June, 1284, the event so significant the early Hameln statutes measured the passing of time in ‘years after our children left.’

But there’s something about the silence in this tale - an event so terrible it remains forbidden to play music and dancing on a certain street in town, that suggests something more dastardly than an organised change of address took place.

Is it just possible that the fate of Hameln’s children was dealt with the townsfolk’s knowledge, if not necessarily their blessing? Perhaps they were sold, ‘donated’, abandoned en masse, or simply neglected, in a moment later regretted. At very least, they were lost, and nobody wants to be responsible for loss, especially a parent.

Enter the Pied Piper, with his seductive ways and other-worldly appearance. It was he who took the children, and then he vanished, an alien abduction for the Middle Ages. He is an invention, a diversion, and an absolution at once. Browning and the Brothers Grimm were probably closer to the truth than the town scribes - the Pied Piper was not so much a tragedy as a dubious transaction, and the less said about it the better.”

The writer, John Boswell, casts children as a kind of burdensome currency in the Middle Ages. All over Europe, they were frequently left to die in the wilderness, sold into the slave trade, used to pay debts, made to ‘disappear’ en masse so that rivals could be blamed and forced to compensate, or, most commonly, “donated” to the church, the return being relief from that mouth to feed and a promise of spiritual dividends.

The Holy Roman Empire turned something of a blind eye to the moral question of child abandonment, (no surprise there then) its various edicts on the matter seemingly more concerned with maintaining a fluid serfdom than protection of the children.

In 13th-century Spain, for example, it was law that “a father who is oppressed with great hunger or such utter poverty that he has no other recourse can sell or pawn his children in order to obtain food.” Furthermore…

“...a father who is besieged in a castle he holds for his lord, may, if so beset with hunger that he has nothing to eat, eat his child with impunity rather than surrender his castle without permission of the lord.”

The Pied Piper story seems to have its root in an event that happened on June 26, 1284. Hamelin historian Martin Humberg states that around 1300 a stained glass window was added to the central market church in Hamelin showing "an old figure of a man in coloured clothes and surrounded by a crowd of children." The inscription around this window has been reconstructed and reads:

“In the year of 1284, on John's and Paul's day
was the 26th of June.
By a piper, dressed in all kind of colours,
130 children born in Hamelin were seduced
and lost at the calvarie near the koppen.”

Scholars disagree on the meaning of "the calvarie near the koppen" but most agree that it refers to a place of execution near an as yet undetermined hill. There are many other references to the story in Hamelin itself, including a street named "Bungelosen Strasse," literally "the street without the sound of drums," allegedly so named because dancing was forbidden in that street in memory of what had happened to the children.”

In A World Lit Only by Fire (1992) by William Manchester, Manchester makes a passing reference to the Pied Piper of Hamelin. According to Manchester the piper was a psychopath and a pederast who was involved in some sort of mass child killing. Many of our children's stories are based on real events, many of them sinister and certainly not the type of thing you would want to lull your child to sleep with, but this seems especially grim. Is this true, and if so what's the whole story?

The quote in question comes from page 66 of Manchester's book and reads;
"The Pied Piper of Hamelin . . . was a real man, but there was nothing enchanting about him. Quite the opposite; he was horrible, a psychopath and pederast who, on June 24, 1484, spirited away 130 children in the Saxon village of Hammel and used them in unspeakable ways. Accounts of the aftermath vary. According to some, the victims were never seen again; others told of disembodied little bodies found scattered in the forest underbrush or festooning the branches of trees."

Manchester doesn't footnote this passage and although he does give a long bibliography at the end of the book, the reader can't readily determine where he got it. The official website of the German town of Hamelin makes no mention of it, which is no surprise, since the romantic version of the legend has monetary value and they have an official town "Pied Piper" to this day. Perhaps Manchester got some of the details wrong -- among other things, he appears to be off about 200 years on the date. But he didn't just make the whole thing up.

The legend of the Pied Piper has probably as many variants as it does tellers. The most popular versions derive from the poem by Robert Browning and the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. In pretty much all versions, rats infest Hamelin and the town hires a travelling rat catcher to exterminate them. When he does so, the king, mayor, or whoever decides not to pay him, so he extracts his revenge by spiriting away the town's children.

Taken at face value, the inscription suggests that Manchester was right --130 kids came to a bad end at the hands of a deviant. But there is no corroborating record of any mass execution of children in the vicinity of Hamelin, which would seem to be an important event if it really happened.

The window with the inscription was replaced in 1660 and is now lost, so we're relying strictly on secondary evidence and not much of that. There doesn’t appear to be any factual basis for Manchester's lurid tale of "disembodied little bodies found scattered in the forest underbrush or festooning the branches of trees."

The earliest versions of the tale make no mention of the piper's skill as a rat catcher--that part of the story doesn't show up in literature until about 1550. It appears that the final tale was a mixture of the true story of whatever happened to the children in Hamelin plus various European rat catcher legends. Stories of an itinerant rat catcher similar to the one in Hamelin show up in Austria, France, Poland, Denmark, England, and Ireland. Duke Froben von Zimmern (1556) was the first to put the legends together into the tale we know today. Fifty years later Richard Verstegan was the first to tell the tale in English and introduce the name "The Pied Piper" in his book A Restitution of Decayed Intelligence.

But there is still too much speculation and not enough evidence to say what actually happened to the children of Hamelin in 1284. A typical conjecture might be; the Pied Piper was a charismatic leader who, in the eyes of the ecclesiastical as well as secular authorities, misled a group of young people in a revival of pagan worship. He and his group were therefore captured and killed.

The Black Death has also been mentioned as a possible suspect, although the plague post-dated most of the legends and would have affected adults as well as children. Earthquakes and the Children's Crusade have also been mentioned as possibilities, but are far from convincing.

One currently popular interpretation comes from Jurgen Udolph and focuses on the variant that the children emerged from the cave either in Transylvania or somewhere in eastern Europe. Udolph believes that the phrase "children of Hamelin" should be interpreted figuratively and not literally. He thinks the tale may refer to an eastward migration of people from Hamelin into the area between Berlin and the Baltic. The theory has root in German historian Wolfgang Wann's conjecture that Bruno von Schaumburg, who was then Bishop of Olmutz, recruited some residents of Hamelin to settle in Moravia. This would have happened in 1281, three years before the date in question.

Udolph rejects this particular idea but thinks something along the same lines may have occurred. He uses place names to fortify his speculation, on the theory that people who relocate to a new land tend to name their new homes after the places they came from. Therefore, it should be possible to trace new settlements by establishing the origins of their names. In an article in Time International, Ursula Sautter reports:

"After the defeat of the Danes at the Battle of Bornhoved in 1227, the region south of the Baltic Sea, which was then inhabited by Slavs, became available for colonization by the Germans." The bishops and dukes of Pomerania, Brandenburg, Uckermark and Prignitz sent out glib "locators," medieval recruitment officers, offering rich rewards to those who were willing to move to the new lands. Thousands of young adults from Lower Saxony and Westphalia headed east. And as evidence, about a dozen Westphalian place names show up in this area. Indeed there are five villages called Hindenburg running in a straight line from Westphalia to Pomerania, as well as three eastern Spiegelbergs and a trail of etymology from Beverungen south of Hamelin to Beveringen northwest of Berlin to Beweringen in modern Poland.

Udolph's explanation seems likely. Like most legends, the Pied Piper story probably has its origin in something more prosaic than fantastic.
But the fantastic does make a much better fairy tale.

This blog post has been put together using sources from the Web.

Friday, 31 October 2014


As a culture, we’ve come up with a million ways to augment our bodies: tattoos, fake breasts, prosthetic limbs. Part of this trend of body modification is our fascination with embodying other people’s experiences. Another component is an endless search for new ways to feel.
Which lead me to the question: can we hack our sex lives? For many women, including myself, wondering what it would be like to own a penis has been a source of endless fascination and late-night conversation. A small group of Denver-based sex toy innovators called Orgasmatronics have (if you will) risen to the challenge of creating an experience for individuals born without a biological penis that’s very much like having a real penis — they’ve invented the world’s first bionic strap-on.

The Ambrosia Vibe, the incredibly sophisticated dildo, was first conceived by Orgasmatronic’s resident inventor, Dr. Xtreme. Up until this point, the benefits of wearing a strap-on have been largely psychological rather than physical, but the Ambrosia Vibe brings an entirely new element to dildos: vibrational feedback. With this toy, not only the pleasure of the receiver, but the pleasure of the wearer becomes a major part of the sexual experience. It’s a toy that Dr. Xtreme has been tinkering with for years and was encouraged by his friends, particularly in the queer, kink, and trans communities, to pursue. “The response was, ‘Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, you have to build this,’” Dr. Xtreme explains to Nerve.

The bionic dildo is sort of like a silicone super penis. It can respond to the wide range of human touch, including stroking, rubbing, poking, and sucking. How? There’s no sensors in it, but the silicone dildo acts as a pressure cavity that connects to a tiny hose that’s attached to a remote pressure sensor (which is about the size of a deck of cards and can be attached to the belt of a strap-on). When the pressure on the dildo changes with rhythmic movements (you know, someone is sucking it or being penetrated), the bionic dildo translates that pressure to vibrations at the base of the strap-on. So, whatever happens to the dildo during sex, the wearer of the dildo feels through specialized vibrations on their clitoris or body part of choice. The classic bullet vibrator contained within the dildo doesn’t have three generic pulse settings like other vibrators on the market, instead, the dildo mimics a real body part in that each sexual experience is completely its own. Alexandra Ars, who manages the brand, explains to Nerve that, “it basically allows you to make up your own vibration patterns. The vibrator ramps up slowly to its highest speed and then ramps back down slowly to its slowest speed when you start and stop.”

Whatever happens to the strap-on happens to the user. It’s an innovative idea that has a lot of potential for adventurers in the bedroom, whether they’re queer, straight, trans, or solo. Because the Ambrosia’s design is modular, it can easily be disassembled for cleaning, maintenance, and in the future, more sophisticated parts. Dr. Xtreme explained to me a scenario in which users wearing two Ambrosia Vibes could potentially switch hoses, so that everything that happened to one partner’s dildo is felt on your own body. “There’s no extra software for that. You can just swap hoses. We call that the 96, instead of the 69. Where you can stimulate yourself by doing something to your partner’s strap-on.” “So it’s sort of like body swapping?” I said in awe. “We like to call it body hacking,” he explains.

Body hacking seems to be the buzzword within the sex tech community, already a group of software-savvy, body-curious folks who are often early adopters of the this type of cutting edge tech. Sure, other strap-on vibrators exist, but this is the first one to respond to a partner’s actual, realtime touch. The teledildonics industry, a market that specializes in remote sex tech, has seen the rise of many unique inventions like LovePalz, OhMiBod, and Fundawear since the 1990s, but all to limited success. Though Dr. Xtreme is very interested in bringing the Ambrosia into the remote sex tech space, he says it would require the right partnership with a company that has already built the software.

He explains the boom-and-bust of the teledildonics industry: “The reason I think is that nobody wants to do anything over the internet that they wouldn’t do in the same room. So if you find you and your partner want to do this thing and you’re face to face and it’s just a few inches distance and you got 15 inches of cord connecting you, and that’s fun and cool, then you might want to do that over the network.” With the Ambrosia ready to integrate with all kinds of vibrators and sex machines, the possibilities for future relationships and a variety of sexual encounters are endless. Dr. Xtreme mentioned to me a scenario called the “Two Guys Threesome” that he could envision tamer couples trying out with the help of the Ambrosia. “It’s conceptually a comment my wife made up about [the Ambrosia]…it’s the hetero couple having pretty vanilla sex except there’s a penis in their mouth and a penis in their vagina and also a bullet vibe on the clit that’s being operated by the feedback of whatever is happening to the bionic dildo.” If your head is spinning, you aren’t alone. The design of the bionic dildo might be simplistic and “trivial,” as Dr. Xtreme calls it, but the options are complicated, as nuanced as sex itself.

The Ambrosia Vibe, which just launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, has nearly met half of its funding goal at the time of writing. Part of that powerful demand might be because the Ambrosia Vibe seeks to bring back the human touch to where it’s direly needed — the wearable tech industry. “I’d like to think it has the power to let people play with their own bodies and let people kind of figure out their sexual identity…they can kind of do a lot more stuff that they wouldn’t normally be able to do otherwise,” Dr. Xtreme explains. “When people are more comfortable with themselves, they’re going to be more comfortable with other people. So maybe someone really wants to try just having a penis, and that’s something that’s going to make them more comfortable in whatever sexual space they want to be in.”
Ars explains that the Ambrosia has also sparked a lot of transformative conversations between her and other women. “I really like being able to push the conversation about sex toys into a little bit of an unexplored space and I think just being able to have a conversation about the Ambrosia with people — what is it and what does it do and what’s a strap on? — that’s already opened up a lot of doors in talking about sexuality. I think that conversation will bring people closer together.”

Available at: $199 offer price $149

Friday, 24 October 2014

FISTING by billierosie

I have ordered him to strip, to kneel on all fours, forearms flat to the floor, his ass raised in a humiliating position of submission. I hear him breathe, short, panicky, shallow breaths.

I slide a small, turquoise rug beneath his knees.

I suspect we’re going to be here for quite some time.

I remain clothed. The act will be sexual, but has nothing really to do with me. I am an appendage, something and nothing; a facilitator.

I place a mahogany stool next to him. I take the lid off a container of moisturiser; it will soon be apparent to him exactly what I am planning to do.

He pants, quick shallow breaths.

It is the unknown that is scaring him.

I kneel and put my cheek next to his.

“Breath with me,” I say.

I inhale, exhale slowly. It’s a meditation technique to concentrate the mind. You follow another’s breathing and slowly you relax into a state of mind imperative to calming the spirit; and I need him calm.

It’s also a technique I use with a nervous horse. Just be very quiet and still; follow the tempo of the pony’s breathing.

I stroke his buttocks, gently pulling the arse cheeks apart. I blow onto his anus. His warm flesh quivers; he likes the sensation. I lower my right hand to his penis and feel the beginning of an erection. I masturbate him for a while until he is hard. I return my hands to his buttocks and digging my thumbs into his flesh, I pull the arse cheeks apart once again. My face is close to his crack; I moisten my finger with saliva and run it the length of the crack. He lets out a little moan. I return my hand to his erection; he’s harder now, aroused by what I am doing to him. I spit into the top of his crack, the saliva trickles down; I follow it with my tongue. He lets out little animalistic whimpers. I make my tongue pointed and push at his anus.

“Please…” he says.

“Please what?”

“Go inside…” he whispers softly.

I remember when a guy did to me what I am doing to him; the warmth, the tenderness. A primal, carnal feeling of being cherished. Maybe it’s the same for a puppy, when his mother cleans his anus with her tongue. She does it to stimulate defecation. Humans do it purely for pleasure. It even has a name; rimming.

I hold his cheeks apart; his skin ripples with anticipation. I blow on the puckered entry to his bowel again and I lap at his anus, feeding his desire. It tastes acrid; when I think about it afterwards, I tell him it tastes bitter, but then it tastes sweet. We have a walnut tree at the back of the house; the taste of his anus is a little like the flavour of the walnuts if you eat them when they are under ripe. I push at the tip of his anus. I have to keep going, to fall in love with it, relishing the dark power of the forbidden act as my tongue probes his bowel.

Inside I go, my tongue made pointed as I fuck his bowel going ever deeper and deeper, my tongue swirling around the circumference of his tight rectum.
I reach down and masturbate him again and within a second he ejaculates into my hand.

But I’ve not finished yet, I have promised him that I will stretch him, make him wide enough to take the circumference of the stallion’s cock. He’s relaxed from his ejaculation and I need him relaxed for my purpose. I reach for the jar of lubricant and smear a dollop down his crack; I work a further dollop into my fingers, up to my wrist. He is so slippery that three of my fingers slide in easily; his rectum is relaxed and I spend some minutes fucking his hole with my fingers.

I pull out slowly. I scoop out a handful of lubricant, smear it on my hand, then shove a further dollop into his rectum. I recall an image, a hand, with the fingers close together, the thumb tucked beneath, forming a duck bill shape.

If you go online and Google “fisting” the Wikipedia page will come up. That’s where you’ll find the image for the correct position of your hand.

I slide in.

I’m inside him up to my knuckles, the joints halfway up my fingers. He lets out a long, low groan.

He wants this, very badly; I can tell when he pushes back on me, clenching tight around my fingers. There’s crazy sensation as if his muscles gulp and swallow, like a contraction and my whole hand is in, right up to my wrist. His muscles seem to be working of their own volition, sucking me in; with each spasm and contraction I push gently, receding a little, pushing forward a little.

He is breathing quickly. “So full,” he murmurs. We remain in our positions for minutes, long minutes, maybe even hours.
I gaze at him.

Impaled on my hand.

He is panting.

“Breathe with me,” I say again.

And he does.

I retreat again, push in again, sliding ever higher. My fingers are cramping and I move them, as best as I can, within the confines of rippling, quivering muscles. I am in his bowel, past my wrist joint. Slowly, gently, I negotiate the curves of his passage.

He whimpers; little, “oh oh oh oh” sounds.

Then something gives, gives way and I slide, slide in – I am further in than I had imagined possible. My hand and forearm are inside his bowel, almost up to my elbow.

We are both, absolutely, locked in the moment.

I rest my cheek on his lower back.

The image of my arm impaling him, the delicate skin stretched wide will stay with me the rest of my life.

The little whimpering moans come from his throat.

“Oh oh oh oh…”

I reach down to his cock; I masturbate his erection with my free hand.

His bowel muscles contract, crushing my hand as he ejaculates.

The process of removing my hand from his bowel takes a long time. I’m a novice at this, but I sense that it may be dangerous to him for me to rush the procedure. Perhaps I would rip the fragile skin lining his rectum. Maybe, I would damage the muscles; I don’t know. At first, I am unable to move; I am tightly locked in. I tell him he has to push, just little rhythmic pushes, helping the muscles to contract, just as they would if he were pushing shit out of his rectum.

This would not be a good moment for either of us to panic.

I place my free hand on his buttock and use him as leverage to begin my exit. And very slowly his internal muscles relax and an inch at a time, I withdraw.

His anus gapes,an O, an open hole.

I sit in a crouch with my back to the wall. I cradle him in my arms while he trembles and sobs. He nuzzles his head beneath my sweater; he suckles my breast.

This is an extract from a new story -- I'm exploring...

Friday, 17 October 2014

THE BRANDING by Oatmeal Girl

I wrote this for the philosopher at his command. There were in fact supposed to be two stories, one about branding and one about a tattoo. In my mind, the tattoo story would have been a sweet one. It never got written. My dark fantasies about branding seized my mind and possessed it until the following story was written. Or perhaps "wrote itself" would be a more accurate description. It was so dark that I couldn't shake it for days afterwards, and the philosopher was, I think, disturbed by what had crawled out of the mud of my soul. He didn't want me to share it. This was for him alone. But he doesn't own me anymore. He sent me away. And I took my stories with me. This seems a good time to reveal what festers below.

You approach the cage where she cowers hopefully. Wordlessly, you unlock the door, reach in, and haul her out by her hair. She scrambles after you, tears springing to her eyes from the pain. There is always pain. But she doesn’t complain. This is her lot. And this is her joy. This is her safety.

“Get dressed, slave. Today you will be branded.”

There is in fact no need for words. No requirement for explanation. But you play her emotions like a freshly-tuned harp. You like the fear that springs to her eyes.

You push her towards the bed, where you have laid out the day’s clothes. A tight pink t-shirt, stretchy and clingy. Tight clingy jeans with a thick hard seam that will cut into her cunt as she walks without the protection of panties. Sandals. Once she has clothed her nakedness (damn those public indecency laws), you replace her cold metal choke chain with the black leather band embossed with Celtic knots. Hooking a leash to the collar’s O-ring, you wrap the chain around your fist and with close control almost drag her out of the house and towards the car. You know such brutality is unnecessary. Just addressing her as “slave” sends her so deeply into subspace that she would do anything. But there is something dark in each of you that needs to be nourished, and you have both become addicted to the intensity.

Unquestioningly, she assumes her place in the driver’s seat. There is an odd irony to the fact that you don’t drive, but the power is always yours as she guides the machine.

For safety’s sake, you address her as “kitten” when you give her the directions. Her consciousness is too far depressed when you call her “slave” for her to be trusted behind the wheel.

You arrive at a featureless warehouse. One of many. Again, you use more force than necessary to remove her from the car and push her towards the door. You don’t need to knock. They are expecting you.

As the door is opened, a scream of such terror and pain issues forth that you almost regret the decision to come. But you harden your heart, and your cock hardens, too. You know it is time. This is the final test.

Scream aside, you are greeted with a business-like cordiality due any customer. At the reception desk, your reservation is confirmed and your credit card taken. You have elected to perform the procedure yourself. You are given a sheet of instructions, which are reviewed as she trembles by your side. You don’t look at her. You just sense her trembling. Again, a small part of you tries to cry out its doubts, but you quickly gag it. As you will gag her.

You are ushered into a medium-size room. Something about the rough wood lining the walls gives it the atmosphere of a stable stall. It is unadorned save for the assortment of implements hanging from wrought iron hooks. You can tell that she has caught sight of the display by the way she quickly lowers her head and drops her eyes. She had returned to subspace as soon as you removed her from the car, you had sensed it immediately, and now the potential for torture is sending her even further. Good. When she is that far away, she is protected from the worst of the pain. You like to hurt her. She wants you to hurt her. But there is a line you never want to cross. The damage to her soul could be worse than to her flesh. You’re just not sure where that line is.

In the middle of the room stands something between a sawhorse and a massage table. The top is padded; the legs are slightly splayed, with O-rings at the base of each one. A rectangular space is cut out of the top towards one end.

“Strip, slave.”

She obeys with despatch. Wearing so little, she is done in seconds. You propel her towards the table and with an extra little shove push her face down. She lies still. You know that she would hold position for whatever you chose to do, and the absoluteness of her submission thrills you. But it is imperative that she remain perfectly still for what is to come, and there is something in the act itself that makes you want to see her bound in place.

From your messenger bag you take a set of four shackles. No soft leather bands today. You snap the shackles around her wrists and ankles, run short chains between the rings on the metal bands and those on the table legs, and with a sharp snap secure each limb with a lock. The locks are another excess, another symbolic demonstration of her helplessness. You are getting off on all the symbolism. Your mind is cold. Your cock is hard. Your resolve is firm.

Her breasts are hanging down through the opening in the tabletop. Sliding under the table, you adjust her tits so they are perfectly placed. You twist each nipple, pleased to find them already erect. Fear drives her arousal. In your hand you hold a set of Japanese clover clamps. Dispassionately, as if connecting jumper cables, you attach one end to each nipple, then give a sharp tug on the chain to drive the clamps deeper into the tender flesh. She gasps, but does not cry out.

You aren’t done. You want to impress on her how owned she is, how helpless, how subject to torture and invasion. Your casual claiming of her every hole will inspire the sense of humiliation which is yet another trigger for her submission.

The bag yields a butt plug, a dildo, a ball gag, and a blindfold. Silent all this time, you now accompany your actions with the words that you know will destroy whatever is left of her spirit and dignity.

“Look at you, slave. Your cunt is dripping. What a pain slut you are. Well, there will be plenty of pain for you soon enough. The only lube this butt plug will get is what it can scoop out of your slut-hole.”

You fuck her cunt roughly with the butt plug, then spread her ass checks and drive it into her anus. A few strokes with the dildo are followed by dire warnings of what will happen if she lets it drop.

You walk around to the front of the table and yank her head up by the hair.

“I love to hear you scream with pain, slave. I love to hear you scream. But today I will gag you, slave. You hate to be gagged. And so I will gag you. I will gag you so there will be no doubts. I will gag you, slave, because you are mine.”

And so you do.

There’s only one thing left. One thing left to drive her deeper inside herself until she completely floats away. And so you blindfold her.

It’s almost time. You walk back to the foot of the table and contemplate her ass. At first, you thought you’d brand her right cheek, at the fleshiest part, but then thought better of it. You want it somewhere that will be safe from your hand and your belt and the cane. So you choose a spot on the upper thigh, where it is still padded but unlikely to be struck. You eye your canvas, fixing the image in your mind before you change it forever. Then you walk to the wall and press a buzzer next to the door.

A man appears and hands you a rod of iron. It is the brand. If you strike within the next minute, it will be the scientifically determined temperature to inflict enough damage to leave a perfect impression without risking a trip to the emergency room and the dangers of the questions that would raise.

The brand was designed to your specifications. Now seen in reverse, the blunt simplicity of its form mirrors the simple brutality of the way you treat your slave. Two plain letters. One vertical line serving them both. This is your hallmark. She is your creation. But it is not purity that will be guaranteed by this stamp. Your hallmark is a sign of the depth of debauchery to which you both have sunk. A purity of sorts, perhaps, for nothing mars the strength of the bonds which, you must admit, enslave you as much as they do her.

But no time for introspection. You must, in truth, strike while the iron is hot. Resisting the temptation to soothe her hair and whisper assurances, you take your position behind her, raise the iron rod, take a breath, and press the glowing tip down into her soft flesh.

Your slave’s skin sizzles, a steak on the grill.

A muffled cry of torment issues from behind the gag as her body jerks slightly despite the tight bondage. You count off the recommended number of seconds as the odor of burning meat rises off the table. You choke back a wave of nausea.

In seconds it is done. The brand is removed. You stand there with the implement in your hand, swollen with power. Then tossing the iron to the ground, you stride around to your slave’s head. Wordlessly, you tear off the blindfold. Wordlessly, you unbuckle the gag. Wordlessly, you unzip your pants, and with cock in one hand and her hair in the other, plunge your heated erection down her throat.

You are beyond holding back. The rape is short and savage. It is one more act of claiming.

She is yours.

You hold her head to your crotch as you subside, your fingers still entwined in her hair. And as the fever passes, your grasp eases into caresses. Gently, you disengage her jaws from your wet, soft cock. Keeping one hand on her body at all time, you reach under the table and remove one nipple clamp and then the other, massaging each screaming nub as it is released. Continuing to the back, still in constant contact, you slide out first the butt plug and then the dildo, smiling with wry reassurance at the juices that drip from her cunt. Finally, you unlock the shackles from the table and remove them from her limbs.

She has started to shake. With sobs and with shock. You gather her in your arms and whisper words of love and bemusement.

“What a pain slut you are, slave.
What a cock whore.
What an obedient little cunt.

I own you, slave.
I own you.
Your body bears my initials.
Your flesh bears my brand.
There is no escape.

You are my kitten.
You are my slave.
You are my selkie.

You are whatever I want you to be.

You are mine.”

Oatmeal Girl can be found at her blog Submission and Metaphor; here.

Oatmeal Girl is on TWITTER @oatmeal_girl

Friday, 10 October 2014

THE TIES THAT BIND; Vanessa Duries

She was young. She was beautiful. And she was a slave. Not just any slave; a willing sex slave.

Vanessa Duriès, also known as Katia Lamara (1972 - December 13, 1993) wrote of her experiences as a slave in the French BDSM novel “Le lien.” Translated into English as “The Ties that Bind.”

She created quite a stir in France at the time of the release of the novel, due to her youth and beauty, and appeared on national television, in particular in the show of Bernard Pivot. She also appeared in a pictorial and an interview of the May 1993 issue of the French edition of Penthouse magazine.

Vanessa died in a car crash on December 13, 1993 in the South of France at age 21. Because of her early death, she has achieved a cult status for some BDSM communities. In 2007, five chapters of her second novel L'Étudiante, left unfinished due to her death, were published in France.

Here is a review of her book, from Amazon, UK

“After enduring years of corporal punishment by her father, a young and very much beautiful Vanessa realizes that `Not having the nature of an Amazon, not knowing how to oppose violence with cruelty, I learnt to dominate those who used me by making the offering of my submission both mystical and ambiguous' ...... and thus is born a female slave into the somewhat secretive world of S&M in France in the 1990's.

Right from the first chapter, `The Revelation' , the author introduces us to Pierre, her much `loved' master whom she meets at the age of twenty. In the book, without delving into any of the details of their introduction we find a young Vanessa, although apprehensive about her secret feelings, completely accept and resign herself to her `slave' state of mind and body when she visits Pierre at his countryside mansion. Although Pierre is her master, the author maintains an absolute dedication to her feelings, emotions, thrills and fears, as she is introduced and educated into the true and dedicated sadomasochistic lifestyle of a slave master relationship.

This is, in effect, the mastery of this wonderful young author and the point at which other S&M books totally fall apart since it's pretty well impossible for either the master or the slave to completely comprehend and, honestly write about, the erotic mindset of the other. With the precision of a whip Vanessa intricately describes her slave education in the hands of not only her master but also, of course, a small and very much secretive group of other masters and slaves, both male and female.

Vanessa unabashedly describes her relationship with an awe that she is living the life of total sexual and physical abandon with her much loved master. In her own words, `Pierre is an organizer beyond compare. Since sharing his life, we schedule usually quite eventful weekends throughout the year. When we return, on Sunday evenings, I often find myself in a state close to exhaustion. Pierre is no less tired than me. The role of the master is exhausting, because, while the slave only submits, the master must decide, organize, prepare and take action, all the while watching over the physical and psychic state of the slave that he has decided to honour through tests and humiliation.'

One very sad note, unfortunately, Vanessa Duriès died in a traffic accident in 1993 about seven months after the publishing of this masterwork, truly a loss from a very much talented writer.

Finally, the book has an introduction by Marie Isabel Pita one of today's hottest writers of contemporary erotica, and an afterword by Maxim Jakubowski where he briefly describes the discovery of the lost French edition of this book and his investigation into the last years of life of the author.

Here is Vanessa’s book; The Ties That Bind at Amazon US, And at Amazon UK