John Willie

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John Willie
Born John Alexander Scott Coutts
(1902-12-09)December 9, 1902
Died August 5, 1962(1962-08-05) (aged 59)
Occupation Photographer, artist, comic strip cartoonist

John Alexander Scott Coutts (9 December 1902 – 5 August 1962), better known as John Willie, was a pioneering fetish photographer, illustrator, comic strip cartoonist and bondage artist. He is best known for his comic strip Sweet Gwendoline.

Life and work[edit]

Coutts was born in Singapore and grew up in England; contrary to some claims, he was not related to the Coutts banking family.[1]

In 1921 he entered Sandhurst and in 1923 was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Scots. He was forced to resign his commission in 1925 after marrying a nightclub hostess, Eveline Fisher, without the permission of his regiment, whereupon he moved to Australia; the marriage ended in divorce in 1930.[2]

In the mid 1930s, he began working for a Sydney-based fetish club as an illustrator and photographer; around this time he began a relationship with Holly Faram, one of his models, and they married in 1942.[3] He was an early enthusiast for the writings of Jorge Luis Borges and invited the Argentinian to Australia in 1938 to give a short series of lectures in Melbourne sponsored by Bohemia magazine. Jorge Luis Borges never came to Australia. His fictional lecture was described in a hoax article, "A Surreal Visitor" written by Guy Rundle and published in The Age newspaper 22 April 2002.[4]

Around 1945-47 Coutts moved to New York City via Montreal in order to publish his bondage and fetish magazine Bizarre; Holly chose to remain in Australia, where she died in 1983 at the age of 70. When he moved to America, Coutts adopted the name John Willie.

Bizarre was published, somewhat irregularly, from 1946 to 1959 (compare with ENEG's work in Exotique magazine, published 1956-59). The magazine included many photographs, often of his wife, and drawings of costume designs, some based on ideas from readers. There were also many letters from readers; he was accused of inventing these but insisted that they were genuine. The letters covered interests such as high heels, bondage, amputee fetishism, sadomasochism, transvestism, corsets, and body modification.

As a bondage artist, he is best known for his character Sweet Gwendoline, which he drew in a clear, anatomically correct style that influenced later artists such as ENEG and Eric Stanton. Other characters include U69 (censored to U89 in some editions), the raven-haired dominatrix who ties up Gwendoline, and Sir Dystic d'Arcy, the only prominent male character and probably a parody of Willie himself.[5]

The comic strip was published by Irving Klaw, who forced Stanton to paint clothes over the whip marks on the originals of "The Missing Princess".

After publishing 20 issues of Bizarre, he moved to Hollywood, California. He developed a brain tumor in 1961 and was forced to stop his mail-order business. He destroyed his archives and returned to England, where he died in his sleep.

He was portrayed by Jared Harris in the 2006 movie The Notorious Bettie Page, which featured a (fictional) meeting between Willie and Page.

G-string tie[edit]

Step by step G-string tie instructions

The g-string tie method of bondage was popularised by John Willie.[citation needed] He regarded it as exceptionally difficult to escape from, claiming that even Harry Houdini did not like trying to escape from it.[citation needed] His published description is available online.


"Unless a model is a good actress, and has 'that type' of face, it's difficult for her to look sad and miserable when working for me. My studio is a pretty cheerful place, and quite unlike the atmosphere that surrounds Gwendoline when the Countess gets hold of her." - John Willie, The Art of John Willie, Sophisticated Bondage - Book Two (Page 1)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Willie, John (1999). The Adventures of Sweet Gwendoline. Belier Press. pp. v–xii (introduction by J.B. Rund). ISBN 0-914646-48-6. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Glenn Daniel Wilson, Variant sexuality: research and theory, Taylor & Francis, 1987, ISBN 0-7099-3698-2, p.15

Further reading[edit]

  • A John Willie Portfolio, n.1 (a cura di Carl McGuire), Van Nuys, CA., London Ent. Ltd., 1987
  • Bizarre: The Complete Reprint of John Willie's Bizarre, Vols. 1-26; ISBN 3-8228-9269-6 Taschen. Edited by Eric Kroll.
  • Plusieurs possibilités. Photographies de John Willie, Paris, Futuropolis, 1985
  • The Art of John Willie - Sophisticated Bondage (Book One)
    • An illustrated biography edited by Stefano Piselli & Riccardo Morrocchi (128 pages)
  • The Art of John Willie - Sophisticated Bondage (Book Two)
    • An illustrated biography edited by Stefano Piselli & Riccardo Morrocchi (128 pages)
  • The Bound Beauties of Irving Klaw & John Willie, vol 2, Van Nuys, CA., Harmony Comm., 1977
  • The First John Willie Bondage Photo Book, Van Nuys, CA., London Ent. Ltd., 1978
  • The Second John Willie Bondage Photo Book, Van Nuys, CA., London Ent. Ltd., 1978
  • The Works of John Willie (a cura di Peter Stevenson), s.l., s.e., s.d.*
  • The Adventures of Sweet Gwendoline (Second Edition, Revised & Enlarged) New York: Bélier Press, 1999. 368 pp. ISBN 0-914646-48-6

External links[edit]