Since Dreams of Spanking launched, I've been impatient to edit and release The Victorian Brothel. I chose the image of me over Tom's knee, wearing bloomers and a corset, as the homepage header image back when I designed the site in the summer of 2011. I always intended to create a rotating gallery of images on that header, showing a wider variety of scenes, but somehow I never found time.
I was incredibly proud of this film when we shot it. This was my second ever shoot as producer/director, a day with Zille Defeu, her husband Duncan, our friend Jay, Tom and me. The first Dreams of Spanking shoot had just been me, Jay and Tom. Those early shoots were a steep learning curve for me.
Until The Victorian Brothel, every scene was a crash course in new aspects of filming that I had to work out from scratch. There was a lot of stopping and starting. Trying to juggle the mental demands of directing with the physical and emotional challenges of bottoming on camera, I found it hard to avoid getting stressed. But The Victorian Brothel was our final scene of the day, and it was the first scene I'd produced that felt like it went well at the time. With Duncan, Zille and Jay behind the camera, Tom and I got into character and the roleplay flowed. It felt as natural as the roleplay scenes we played in private. Trusting our friends to capture our live improvisation, I was able to immerse myself in the scenario, get fully into character, and surrender to the beating without having to balance that headspace with other, more technical concerns. As a result I was able to take a much harder spanking, paddling and caning than I usually can while performing/directing, and I was really happy about it.
That was over seven years ago, in early December 2009. The reason I didn't edit this film before the site launched, along with the other two scenes we shot that day - Caned in Jodhpurs and Liberated Ladies of the Jazz Age - is simple. The Victorian Brothel was originally written as part of a series of films entitled The Adventures of Molly Brown. I'd written several episodes of it; this was the fourth chapter in the story. I hadn't had a chance yet to shoot episodes one to three, but the shoot with Zille and Tom was a perfect opportunity to shoot the episode in which my character meets his for the first time. I very much intended to shoot the others at some point, however; and I wanted to wait and release them in story order.
Sadly, I never got a chance to film the backstory. Episodes one, two and three fell by the wayside. And when I realised that the age verification policy in the Digital Economy Bill was going to put a cut-off point on my ability to keep the site alive in its current form, I finally accepted that I wasn't going to get the chance to shoot them any time soon. Meanwhile, I'm trying to release as much of the content I care about while the site is still legal in the UK.
So Molly Brown's story starts here: with her first appointment with a new customer in Mrs Slater's brothel. An urchin who grew up in the streets and the workhouse, Molly was sent out to work for various undesirable trades, but somehow always found herself sent back to face the the steely glare - and the hard leather strap - of the beadle. When Mrs Slater turned up to see if he had any new girls for her, he packed her off to the brothel - and Molly's life entered a new chapter.
Scrubbed to within an inch of her life, Molly began her transformation into a girl Mrs Slater's customers might find appealing. She earned her share of licks from the madame, too; but it was nothing compared to the beadle's strong right arm. When Mrs Slater saw how well Molly took her punishment, she thought to send her to one of her more eccentric clients, a gent with a predilection for administering corporal punishment to the plump bare bottoms of comely wenches. Molly lacked the elegance and accomplishment of other girls, but she was resilient and quick-witted, and Mrs Slater saw the potential to train her up to please her more unusual clientele.
Molly took well to Mrs Slater's training, and was finally declared ready to meet her first customer. But although Molly is no stranger to taking a beating, she still is not particularly inclined to behave submissively. Sparks fly between her and the gent as he tries to bend her to his will, and her quick tongue and stubborn nature get her into more trouble than she'd bargained for.
So that's Molly's backstory. You never know, it's not impossible I might be able to shoot the previous episodes sometime in the future - although perhaps I'll look too different by the time the stars align, and I have affordable access to the venues and cast I need. In the meantime I think this scene stands well enough on its own. Although I can tell you now that the next chapter has also been shot, and will be released in the coming weeks, starring myself, Tom, and a new character played by Leia Ann Woods...
Coming back to this film to edit it, seven years after it was filmed, was a weird experience. Tom and I split up three years ago, and it was very strange to watch us on camera. I almost felt like I was watching someone else; and yet in other ways seeing us together all those years ago felt very real, and very personal.
I remember writing this scene for us to play. Although Tom plays a very overbearing, bullying character, and to the uninitiated perhaps this scene might be edgy enough to seem non-consensual, I can tell you for certain that this scenario was my fantasy, and performing it was an authentic act of self-expression. But it was fascinating and somewhat dissonant to watch this recording, a piece of my own personal history, and reflect on how much has changed since then.
There are some aspects of this film that I would definitely do differently nowadays. For instance, the way that Tom's patriarchal character throws around the word "whore" makes me wince, now, as an advocate of sex workers' rights who is fighting against stigma and whorephobia. These days I would seriously consider before I took on the role of a historical sex worker, but back then I didn't think twice.
Editing this, I had the opportunity to reflect on how far Dreams of Spanking has come - not only politically, but technically. The Victorian Brothel was shot before I knew to record audio separately from the cameras, or to use face lights. It was a frustrating edit in some ways, as I struggled to salvage a legible soundtrack from two cameras that both had audio isses - one picking up a lot of wind noise (from where I have no idea, given we were indoors), the other plagued by mechanical clicks and whirrs from the operation of the camera. But I feel like I've managed to massage it into a shape that communicates my vision, hopefully without too many technical distractions. I hope you'll forgive any that remain.
For me, the power of this film comes from the interaction between the characters. It's a hard corporal punishment scene, both physically and emotionally - the intensity brings me/Molly to tears towards the end. But not only is the spanking itself severe, the atmosphere of the scene is rife with tension. The scenario unfolds as a battle of wills between a cruel gentleman with particular tastes, and a spirited wench who doesn't know when to keep her mouth shut. I certainly took more strokes, and harder, than if Molly Brown had been submissive than rebellious. But I loved it.
Life has moved on since Tom and I filmed this scene. We are no longer together, and there have been many changes for both me and Dreams of Spanking. But this film holds a special place in my heart. It shows what Tom and I did best - hard, accurate spanking that pushes me to my limits, quick-witted dialogue, sparks flying between two strong characters, and Tom's trademark brand of elegant, articulate dominance.
When I filmed this scene, it seemed to encapsulate everything I wanted to achieve with Dreams of Spanking: immersive roleplay between real life partners, lush costumes and locations, and imaginative historical settings with a quirky sense of humour and a rich attention to detail. That was why I chose a still from this scene as our banner image - and why, although much has changed since then, I'm still very pleased to share it with the world.