VenusinFur - high res from brochureOn Centre Stage  By Douglas Kennedy 


                   Whatever Gets You Through The Night?       


There’s nothing like a bit of juicy sex – yes, I do mean the kinky stuff – on a cold winter’s night in frost-bitten Queensland.

It’s like the emotional equivalent of comfort food.

Soul food.

A nice piece of rump – medium raw….. (Pause).

So, okay, I am a bit of a beat-up merchant but, who wouldn’t be after a lifetime of going to the theatre and writing tabloid nonsense.

I would have been better off jotting down a sexual chronicle – it wouldn’t have to be brilliant prose – like Fifty Shades of Grey or The Story of O or Venus in Furs.

That might have made me a billion-or-so-aire, like Grey author E. L. James, or left me a gibbering mess like Venus in Furs writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.

Venus in furs magesCAQUQE7LThe O author, French writer Anne Desclos, had the good sense to stay in the shadows after her book was published in 1954 and only came out of the ‘literary closet,’ many years later.

By now – dear reader – I suspect you’re asking yourself why is the wholesome Mr. Kennedy  dabbling in all this erotic howdy-do and where on earth will he go to next?

The answer of both counts is simple as I have been inspired to check out life’s physical hot spots by the Queensland Theatre Company’s pending production of David Ives’ highly acclaimed play Venus in Fur (note the book is Furs and the play Fur).

The Broadway hit, which earned a Tony nomination but didn’t quite cut an award, is coming to the Queensland Theatre Company’s Cremorne Theatre for a June-July season.

Ives’ play uses Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 exploration of a man’s need to be dominated by a woman as a springboard to tell his own story of theatre playwright-director Thomas’ (Todd MacDonald) search to cast a theatrical adaptation of the classic.

He has had ’35 misfires’ in the auditioning process – yes everything going to sound like a sexual innuendo from now one – when vulgar Vanda comes along for the part late and, seemingly, inappropriate.

Let the battle of the sexes begin.

There’s more to Vanda than meets the masculine eye.

Thomas’ wish list for his Venus includes ‘beautiful, sexy, articulate, young and blessed with a particle of a brain,’ but it seems kinky sexy isn’t that straight forward.

Apparently, Sacher-Masoch, who thanks to leading psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing  gave his name to masochism around 1886, wrote his semi-autobiographical story as part of a real-life fascination with being dominated by a woman in furs.

The novella’s basic premise is that a nobleman has the same desire, but at first the object of his desire isn’t too keen on the idea of beating up on him, until she begins to warm to the task.

Sacher- M imagesCASCSET6

The situation gets a little complicated when she decides she’d like a bit of domination herself and stumbles across some Byronic hero romantic type who is happy to dish out the dirt.

(It would appear that the desire to be slapped around is catching)

This really pisses off the noblemen who eventually – I have not read the book just a plot description – has a dummy spit and takes his bat and ball home.

After all there’s humiliation and humiliation.

In real-life Sacher-Masoch signed up with his mistress – Baroness Fanny Pistor – as a slave for six months and she made him travel third class when they took their holidays.

Of course she went first class.

Not very sexy.

It would appear that this drove poor old Sacher-Masoch, who had all sorts of mental health problems, crazy and he died in 1895 at the age of 59.

It all sounds like a pain in the butt to me, but then I guess it is supposed to be just that.

The book, however, does appear to have a moral message in part as the nobleman observes at the end:

‘That woman, as nature has created her, and man at present is educating her, is man’s enemy. She can only be his slave or his despot, but never his companion. This she can become only when she has the same rights as he and is his equal in education and work.’

Personally, I have always taken the view that the only sex life less interesting then my own is someone else’s, but that might be a little shortsighted.

The interesting thing about sex – in all its forms – is that despite what people insist most folk like to discuss and think about it – even if it’s only in the negative.

I remember years ago interviewing Lord of the Dance, Michael Flatley, and being warned he wouldn’t talk about his marriage or his intimate personal life.

I’d just caught the opening of a new TV series, Medivac, in which a young female doctor being swept away in a rescue helicopter screamed out, ‘this is better than sex’ and used it as an interview prop.

I recounted the scene to Flatley and asked him innocently, ‘is dancing better than sex’ and he went off like a rocket on the fourth of July.

We talked about nothing but dance and sex – but mostly sex – for the next 30 minutes so I quietly confident that the subject is much of a magnate for most folk now as ever.

Finally some trivia.

There have been five films based on the Venus of Furs book since the 1960s as well as Roman Polanski’s 2012 film version of the play Venus in Fur starring Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric.

Don’t know how you feel after reading this but I could lean back, think of England, and have a calming cigarette.

If only I smoked.

Boom- Boom

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