How Did we get from 120 Days of Sodom to 50 Shades of Grey?

Radical Desire £9.99 from

How Did we get from 120 Days of Sodom to 50 Shades of Grey?

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Renowned occult and rock music writer Gavin Baddely, an ordained priest in the Church of Satan, was kind enough to interview me for his site. Where this interview looks much better with his dark background and graphics plus Ruth Ramsden’s illustrations.

So, Mark, how did we get from 120 Days in Sodom to 50 Shades of Grey?

Maybe it would have been better if more people had remembered Sacher-Masoch’s woman-worshiping consensual vision rather than the transgressive cruelty of de Sade, but Krafft-Ebing put them together and unfortunately it stuck. At least the recent mainstream acceptability has finally wrenched public perception away from horrific tortures. All you need now is a skyscraper, a fortune and a helicopter…

Have you read 50 Shades of Grey? Do you think it represents a new level of tolerance for fetishism or a new nadir in S&M’s descent into mainstream banality?

I can’t read a book with 86 repetitions of ‘Holy crap!’ – some of which are the more elegant ‘crap!’ – London expressions such as ‘Laters’ transposed to Seattle, plus numerous other false notes, even before we get to the very weak mash up of Kink and Mills and Boon. It may be true that there’s no such thing as bad chilli but it seems you can actually make spanking boring. But then I can’t get turned on by improbable Masters of the Universe or shy virgins. It’s amusing that a fan fic based on Twilight has succeeded, when that book was written by a woman hoping to promote chastity among teenagers.
The secret may well be a lot of unresolved sexual tension then gradually escalating intimacy towards eventual marriage – oh dear have I defused the explosive surprise? – which has been a popular template for centuries. Like The Da Vinci Code it doesn’t say much for a lot of our fellow humans but then the film – also like The Da Vinci Code – will be much better. The upside is that a lot of toys that were once unthinkable are now mainstream plus a lot of people are having a lot more sex, indeed much more varied sex. Plus the man as hero has been restored. (Are you listening misandrist television advertisers?)

GB As a Satanist, but not a fetishist, I attended the memorial held by the Torture Garden club for Anton LaVey of the Church of Satan several years back. I remember being struck by the countless ‘official’ film crews and photographers. It all seemed rather crass and commercial somehow… Though there was at least one room where they weren’t playing terrible techno… In general has the increasing slickness and fashion chic involved in the fetish scene been a boon or a disaster?

It remains a struggle if we’re talking about clubs. Plus there was this insane court case recently where a barrister nearly lost his career over some fisting videos. Venues and organisers have more and more legal problems, the recession has been hard. The struggle is by no means over even if you can watch what you like in your own home. Twenty years of heavy public involvement was enough for me but there will always be another generation. I was in any case always more interested in real people not conforming to stereotypical roles of Sub or Dom, and I was never really part of the rubber haute couture scene, although I wrote for the upmarket scene magazine Skin Two.

Is a hint of the forbidden a crucial element in fetishism’s appeal?

Yes. Naughty but nice, if we may reference the old cream-cake advert…

I get the impression that you’ve come more acquainted with the darker side of
the occult-fetish axis over the years. Is this true and how common is an interest in Satanism and such among fetish folk?

If you’ve already broken the taboo that sex can only happen in the context of a loving heterosexual relationship and indeed expanded what constitutes sex then it’s not much of a step to embrace Left Hand path spirituality, confronting the darkness within us all. Scourging and bondage crossed over from fetishism into magic, as defined by Gerald Gardener mid-20th Century, but as practised by folk since time immemorial.
GB I’ve always thought that there’s a lot more black humour in Sade than generally
recognised, and your book Radical Desire is frequently very funny. Yet fetishism overall appears kind of humourless. How do you see the relationship between comedy and kinky sex?

Fetishism is full of crashing bores arguing like trainspotters or DIY enthusiasts as to correct practice, indeed arguing extremely abusively as many of these people have personality disorders and some are playing their role as ultimate Dom or Domme too faithfully. Many are seeking revenge for old wounds by attacking other people using the privilege of a Top. It’s best just to meet like-minded individuals online or at a munch then abandon the herd as quickly as possible.

Could you say a little about the illustrations in Radical Desire? I gather they’re taken from a tarot deck…

Some are from our Dark Tantra Tarot pack, the only fetish pack as far as I know, Ruth Ramsden has more of her fetish illustrations in her new Cutting Edge Press novel Blue Murder at the Pink Parrot and a wider selection of work on her website.

Do they still play terrible dance music at fetish clubs?

Well, it would be a shame to waste all that MDMA… If you don’t fancy the usual ‘50 shades of dance’ – generally Hard House rather than Techno these days – then the Rock/Industrial/Gothic music at Club Antichrist is a splendid alternative, plenty of depravity, fashion and startling performance art. Well established and very popular. They also have a good comprehensive forum the Alterium where you will find lots of interest to yourself. Books, movies, Dark Culture however it is manifest can be accessed there. Also highly recommended is the Gate a much smaller club run by scene legends Master Keith and Mistress Demonic where one can actually hear any indecent proposals. They’re hosting a Vampire Fascination night on October 22nd at the Resistance Gallery in London for everyone from beginners to serious players.

Radical Desire is available from all the regular book outlets, particularly Mandrake of Oxford. For more on Mark’s other books, plus his music and other endeavours, check out his site

The Legendary Gate Club is now at The Flying Dutchman, next events are Sept 22nd and Oct 27th
Radical Desire £9.99 from

Written by prospero13

August 31, 2012 at 12:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with 50 Shades of Grey, Fetishism, GavinBaddeley, MarkRamsden, Satanism
The Journals of John Fowles vol 2 Amis, grass and bare breasts

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The Journals: Volume II: 1966-1990The Journals: Volume II: 1966-1990 by John Fowles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘She hates the country, she hates the house, she hates me, she hates my life as a writer and, of course, she hates herself into the bargain.’

John Fowles on his wife Elizabeth, diary entry December 18, 1965.

Craig Brown put this in the Mail the other day which inspired me to dig out the Journals once more, very well written diaries from a great writer who had an interesting life.

Despite seeming unassailable critically and commercially some of his work didn’t get published, his wife wasn’t always a fan and a lot of his fortune eventually vanished through some tax avoiding scheme which went wrong. (Tax was nineteen shillings in the pound for high earners at one point.) He was refreshingly humble, for a successful guy who had once been head boy of his Public School.

“He also agrees that his second novel to be published, “The Magus” (1966), was not very good. He even goes so far as to call it a failure. “I hadn’t the technique. The form is inadequate for the content.”…

I particularly enjoyed the one sentence verdict on Martin Amis, (p271) ‘voguishly bitter (if not actually sick) Martin Amis, who makes his father seem like a warm hearted humanist by comparison.’

He didn’t like the rest of the 83 Granta promising writers, ‘waspish’ etc but MA was the only one summoned to his study by name. Amis was needlessly nasty about Fowles’s work and, despite the glorious soul music of Money, he is unlikely now to achieve anything which speaks to as many high, low and nobrow readers as The Collector, The Magus and The French Lieutenant’s Woman. He hasn’t even come close.

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Written by prospero13

August 28, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with Bare Breasts, John Fowles, Marijuana, Martin Amis, The Magus


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