Detective magazines, comic books and early fetish magazines
In the early 20th century, "Detective magazines" covertly provided a way of publishing bondage imagery. Comic books often featured characters being tied up and tying others up, particularly in "damsel in distress" plots.
There were also a very limited number of specialist fetish magazines which featured images of bondage, such as the famous Bizarre magazine published from 1946 to 1959 by the pioneering fetish photographer John Willie, and ENEG's Exotique magazine, published 1956-1959. These disappeared with a crackdown on pornography in the late 1950s. New York photographer Irving Klaw also published illustrated adventure/bondage serials by fetish artists Eric Stanton, Gene Bilbrew, Adolfo Ruiz and others. Klaw ran an international mail-order business out of his store, Movie Star News, selling cheesecake pinups and bondage/spanking photos. His most famous model was Bettie Page, who became the first celebrity of bondage film and photography.
Bondage magazines return
Dedicated bondage magazines again became popular in America in the 1970s. Publishers of bondage magazines included Harmony Concepts, Inc. and the House of Milan (HOM, Inc.), and Lyndon Distributors Limited. House of Milan have since been purchased by Lyndon Distributors Limited.
These magazines were not generally available through mainstream distributors, and were sold either in sex shops or by mail order. They contained little advertising content, and were therefore entirely supported by the cover price.
Typically, each magazine consisted of several multi-page pictorials of tied-up women, often with a fictional narrative attached, and one fictional story of three or four pages in length. Sometimes pictorials were replaced by artwork by a fetish artist and/or included an interview with one of the performers in the industry. In the case of House of Milan and Lyndon Distributors, the magazines were simply illustrated text versions of videos published by the same title. Such practice cut costs and allowed a streamlined output of material.
Another type of magazine was the "compendium magazine", usually consisting of a large number of individual photographs drawn from previous magazines, without any linking story.
Because of their relatively small circulation, compared with mainstream pornography, most bondage magazines were printed in black and white, except for the cover and centerfold. In the 1980s and 1990s, experiments were made with adding more color content, but most magazine content remained black and white.
The attitude of some the early magazines could be regarded as misogynistic[by whom?], in spite of editorial disclaimers that the magazines represented only fantasies, as the storylines deviated from the old-fashioned damsel-in-distress motif towards more restrictive and explicit BDSM practices. However, in reality the opposite effect often happened: as a bondage performer was cast in more material and engaged in more acts, she would often develop a stronger fan base and became a recognized star in her own right. Nikki Dial and Ashley Renee are two examples of performers who won awards for their work as subs in bondage videos, and typically endured the most punishment.
In the 1990s, as homosexuality and bi-sexuality began to be more socially acceptable, magazine publishers started to produce femdom material depicting men in bondage, as well as portraying female models as participants in mutually satisfying bondage games, usually with at least one actress performing as a dom and at least one as a sub. Sometimes, the roles of dom and sub would be reversed. Be Be LeBadd and Alexis Payne are two professional dominatrices who also found themselves on the receiving end of a whip from time to time.
As the Internet becomes more widely available as a delivery vehicle for pornographic material, the bondage magazine market is beginning to decrease.
Bondage websites and bondage imagery in mainstream pornography
As of 2003, specialist bondage magazines were mostly displaced by the availability of bondage material on the World Wide Web, and the presence of bondage imagery in mainstream pornographic magazines such as Nugget and Hustler's Taboo magazine.
However, the tradition of bondage magazines continues in the form of "art books" of bondage photographs, published by mainstream publishers such as Taschen.
Certain websites have begun providing bondage videos and photographs featuring the kidnapping roleplay, which has been largely the hallmark of 'detective' style bondage magazines. These styles are much closer to the style of bondage scenes in mainstream television.
- Bondage artist
- Bondage model
- Bondage rigger
- Fetish magazine
- Fetish photographer
- Irving Klaw
- Japanese bondage
- List of bondage magazines
- Sadism and masochism in fiction
- Sexual fetishism
- "Between the Rubber Sheets: A Look at Modern Fetish Magazines", essay by D.K. Holm