A corseted mistress struts about her shackled subject before applying a razor-sharp wheel to his testicles. Elsewhere, a self-described pain slut displays little reaction as an electric current is applied to her genitalia.
Welcome to the world of BDSM, where boundaries exist to be pushed and pleasure is often at one with pain.
The apparently thriving subculture ranging from bondage and discipline to sadomasochism is the subject of Australian documentary Liberty In Restraint.
Screening at the Chauvel Cinema this weekend, the film intersperses interviews with BDSM devotees with the personal narrative of fetish photographer and sometime master Noel Graydon.
But it took an epiphany on the part of director Michael Ney to help kick-start the project, which screened in working form at this year’s Mardi Gras Film Festival. Basically I have been going to Hellfire Club for probably 10 years, Ney said.
But I didn’t actually participate very much for quite a few years.
Being flogged for the first time in 1998 at a Sydney club transformed Ney’s perspective I suddenly realised: why have I been wasting my time? You can’t glean anything, really, from just watching it.
An early script about the BDSM scene ensued, but Ney was disappointed with a draft that was just an academic expos?f a freak show.
Graydon, whom Ney met while working on the initial script, provided the missing link.
In 2002, the photographer invited Ney to see an exhibition he was working on in Canberra.
It was suddenly like: -˜Yes, that’s the way to go -“ through his eyes we can see everything that’s going on as well as him having a fascinating personal life story.’
Ney hoped the interviews that accompany Graydon’s story in Liberty In Restraint would shed light on a commonly derided pursuit.
Subjects including the 2004 president of Sydney Leather Pride, Greg Bloye, speak of the sexual liberation BDSM brings.
My initial urges about exploring the whole topic were that the public perception is so tainted with the media stereotypes: that it’s violent or abusive to women, hurtful in all sorts of different ways, Ney said.
So very clearly I wanted the interviews to state how much they enjoy it.
Liberty In Restraint screens at the Chauvel Cinema from 23 to 25 September at 8:30pm. For more information visit the Liberty In Restraint website.