Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dan, Tsujimura Together in 1971 Documentary

I had the good fortune to see this film by Nakajima Sadao. They seem to be calling it Twisted Sex in the West.

Nakajima was a prolific director at the Toei studios. According to IMDb, he made two other documentaries. I have seen one of those as well but it didn't have any bondage in it.

Twisted Sex, which came out in 1971, does have bondage but it is relegated to about the last third of the movie. Before this, Nakajima takes a look at underground gay life in Japan, transvestites and even the parte superior of a sex change operation. He then aims his cameras at a bunch of scary dudes with colorful full-body tattoos.

Once he begins his study of the practice of SM in Japan, then things start to get interesting. First, there is a montage of classic Ito Seiu drawings and paintings.

We then get a few angles of a nude woman bound with rope. This might seem a bit mundane to the jaded aficionado in the 21st century, but given this was 1971 and everything was shot on glorious film, even this rather pedestrian segment is alluring.

Next, we see a bloody sex act performed live on stage; nudity and lots of fake blood all over the performers and the white sheet upon which they writhe in agony -- and ecstasy.

Cut to another live show of two women in bikinis, one of whom is chained and also threatened with a knife. She is then stripped and whipped.

The cheery musical accompaniment here is out of place but the scenes are nevertheless enticing. I found myself wondering what back-alley theater promoted these degenerate shows back in the day.

The next part amazes with a rare recorded conversation between Dan Oniroku and Tsujimura Takashi, two icons of the SM world actually in the same room together discussing their favorite pastime.

I had been used to seeing Dan as the silver-haired elder statesman but here he was only around 40 years of age. Tsujimura, who was about 10 years older than Dan, seems to be the senpai in this meeting. Interestingly, this documentary came out three years before Nikkatsu's seminal film, Flower and Snake, which brought international renown to both Dan and actress Tani Naomi.

The director does seem more interested in Tsujimura and the next part of the film follows him as he inspects a large collection of bondage photos in his home study. He also has a reel-to-reel video tape machine and is shown watching a bondage video on a small black and white television. I shudder to think how much that machine cost back then. This, combined with the scenes around his home (he even had a large backyard), leads me to believe Tsujimura was doing quite well for himself as a result of his various SM activities.

Lastly we are taken to a room that has been purpose-built for a good bondage workout. You would not mistake this for a western dungeon. It has a distinctly Japanese aesthetic; subtle yet foreboding, with wood apparatuses, straw mats and rough rope dominating the setting.

Here Tsujimura and a young apprentice bind and torment two women in a way that recalls the bizarre tastes of Ito Seiu (surely not a coincidence). They even use their victims as human dartboards.

Even though the SM part plays a lesser role in the film, there is enough to give this DVD a very high recommendation. For anyone interested in the history of SM in Japan, it is essential. 

DVD available at Amazon Japan

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