What’s In Store For Silk Soles

Hi Everyone

Hope you are all having fun at the moment. I wanted to take a few minutes to let you know what’s happening at SilkSoles.

It has been an odd year for us. Last autumn we got the tap on the shoulder from the then-censor-of-the-internet in the UK, ATVOD, telling us that there had been “complaints” about our bondage site Restrained Elegance and that they were going to investigate us. I’ll eat my hat if there was a genuine complaint from a genuine member of the public- they were investigating us because we’d spoken up about the censorship.

We weren’t going to go quietly but the possibility existed that we might get shut down. That would obviously have a drastic effect on us being able to make a living so we had to put contingency plans in place.

Cue Hywel frantically making preparations for converting his landscape photography in the mountains hobby into a possible business, agreeing to be in documentaries despite being a weapons-grade introvert, and generally shaking up the business.

None of this was supposed to have any direct impact on SilkSoles, which even the prudes at ATVOD could probably not find a reason to ban. But the indirect and knock on effects would have been considerable.

I’m probably not supposed to admit this in public but Silk Soles isn’t really a business. The sales have never justified the time and energy and money we put into it. The best it has done so far is to break even excluding my time and expenses. I keep shooting because I love it, and at least the site has covered the modelling fees.

I love telling stories about beautiful barefoot girls. I love the creative freedom it gives when the model isn’t tied up, which is one thing that provides the contrast with my “day job”. Fewer safety issues, faster to shoot, and I can just have fun with new ideas. If I think of a new lighting pattern to try, I don’t have to worry about getting it right while the clock is ticking on a tied-up girl who will have to be let out soon. I really enjoy shooting for Silk Soles!

But it’s probably cost me thousands of pounds over the years if one is to be brutal looking at the numbers. This is why we stopped the video updates last year- videos take a lot longer to shoot and edit than stills do. I was a bit burned out on video anyway with the increase in the amount of customs we were shooting. Silk Soles sales didn’t justify carrying on with a weekly video update, especially not in the absence of stories I wanted to tell. I love the videos we’d shot, but wasn’t coming up with ideas I really needed to shoot.

Silk Soles piggy-backs on Restrained Elegance for facilities- for example, the web hosting. Silk Soles gets its hosting for free because I run Restrained Elegance. If RE were to close down, SilkSoles would have to pay its own way, and make enough money for me to live on.

I know I’ve not spent the time promoting Silk Soles that it deserves, but nothing indicated that I was going to be able to multiply the membership by the factor of ten it would need to get to be a self-sustaining business that would let me pay the bills.

Hence the landscape photography franticness.

And hence the decision taken six months ago to stop shooting for SilkSoles, waiting to see what would happen, running down the stock of shot sets.

And also it must be admitted waiting to see if the inspiration would come back. I’d almost decided to stop updating Silk Soles completely and leave it as an archive site. A tough decision…

And a decision which I’m very pleased to tell you was completely wrong and which has as of this week been reversed in real style with shoots with Aria Wednesday, Faye Taylor, Claire Topaz, Tillie, commissioned shoots from my friend in Russia, and bookings to come with Ayla Rose, Ariel Anderssen, Sophia Smith and many more.

It feels GREAT, a new lease of life. For the site, and for me too. Really enjoyed the shoots this week, both the bondage and the foot fetish sets. I’ve got a new framing idea (stills sets as character portraits) that’s got me filling up my notebooks with ideas again. New ways of shooting, facilitated by finally owning a camera and lens combo that really works in available light. New light formers for shoots too. The latest newcomer, an octobox with fabric grid, immediately gained a permanent place in my travel kit bag and was fondly christened Doctor Octobox by visiting intern Philippa Clarke (who had a lot of fun shooting Silk Soles sets while she was here too). I’ve got shoots in the calendar which I can’t wait to get to- for the last six months I’d been dreading shoots because I was so drained of ideas.

I’m getting my mojo back after a year of what amounts to creative depression in the shadow of censorship. Never let anyone tell you censorship doesn’t matter: it bloody sucks. You start questioning everything about your work and your validity as an artist, and that’s insta-death for inspiration.

Somehow, coincidentally, there’s been an up-tick in signups to the site. Maybe it’s to do with us being on Kinky Britain, maybe some publicity posts have gone up somewhere, I’m not sure. But hello lovely new members, it is great to see you, and I hope you will enjoy the new stuff as much as we’ve enjoying shooting it for you. I’m hoping we can convince you to stay around- with a few more people sharing the expenses, we can shoot more ambitious stuff!

In celebration, I’m going to put up the first video in a long while- a very intense and sexual foot worship film starring Ariel Anderssen and Zoe Page which was commissioned as a custom video a few months ago. The first part will be up on Thursday. I do have a few other videos on disk which I never got around to editing- I’ll put them up over the next few months. I can’t promise a regular video update schedule, but right now I’m feeling very fired up and inspired, so who knows? Some of that may spill over from shooting stills to shooting more videos too.

I’m backing down the number of custom bondage videos we shoot for the next few months (because I’ve got a bunch of my own ideas I’m really burning to shoot) but if you wanted a foot fetish custom, now would be a great time to commission one. Email me if you are interested. And the more the merrier on the membership- if numbers are sustained, we can go back into at least semi-regular video production for the site as well.

I’ll leave you with a few teasers of what we shot over the last couple of weeks- these sets will be up on the site in the coming weeks!

All the best

Hywel Phillips (webmaster and photographer)

Kinky Britain

Hi Everyone,

The production company have just sent us a link to final transmitted version of Kinky Britain, so if you are interested and haven’t been able to see it yet (eg from the USA) you can hopefully watch it here:


Hywel & Ariel (Joceline)

Email mountain

Hi Everyone

I need an automated email queue announcement at the moment!

“Your email is a queue. Hywel has 63 substantive emails to get back to, dating back to 2nd July. Our lines are very busy following the TV show Kinky Britain screening on UK TV. Your email is valuable to us, please be patient and we will get back to you!”

Sorry everyone- I was still catching up after my illness, but got a bit flooded after the programme aired. Will get back to everyone ASAP.


Kinky Britain

UPDATE: now available online at http://www.channel4.com/programmes/kinky-britain/on-demand/62970-001 (at least in the UK)

Hi Everyone!

We are going to be on the telly! UK Channel 4, 10 pm on Monday 11th July.

I’m hoping that a few newcomers will find us this way- if you’re one of them, hello and welcome!

For that reason I’ve temporarily revamped the site index page (as you may have seen on your way in) to make it easy for people to find our stuff that was featured on the show. I’ll probably leave it like that for a week or two.

Check out the show if you get chance! We saw a rough cut which was pretty good- we’re just hoping Channel 4 haven’t added their trademark sneering voiceover in the mean-time… I’m going to be watching the show from behind the sofa, under a duvet with the sound turned down!

All the best

Hywel and Joceline… who is also using this as a push to “come out” completely- she’s modelled under three modelling names her whole career (Joceline, Ariel Anderssen and Amelia-Jane Rutherford) and hasn’t exactly gone to huge lengths to keep anything secret or separate, and Ariel and Amelia have taken on lives of their own as characters. Hywel took the decision to always appear under his real name right from the start of running the site, whereas models traditionally have stage names to keep a bit of distance (mostly for safety from rabid fans, in all honesty). But still, it’s a bit of a scary step to finally be on TV as ourselves!

Good News and Visual Novels

Hi All,

Well, it’s been quite a week here in the UK. Politically, we’ve just shot ourselves in the knee-cap. It’s all a bit too depressing, so I wanted to post a few bits of good news.

1) Pandora won her appeal


OFCOM, the UK regulator, over-turned the ruling by the over-zealous and now abolished UK video on demand regulator, ATVOD, banning Pandora’s site Dreams of Spanking, which is now back online and accepting sign-ups again. YAAAAY!!!!

You can read her thoughts about it on her blog. We had a chat about it with another friend producer a couple of weekends ago and all admitted that getting the tap on the shoulder from the censorious dead hand of the state is more stifling of one’s kink and creativity than any of us had expected. We’re so glad Dreams is back! None of us know what the future holds for the censorship climate in the UK- given the political turmoil this week, nobody knows.

So we’ll just have to keep chipping away and putting our points logically and rationally and make sure that we are heard (even if they go ahead and do it anyway). To this end, I’m supporting Pandora’s Patreon campaign to support her advocacy- and if you want to help kink survive online in Britain, please chip in a little too if you can!

2) I’m feeling a bit better

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a nasty attack of gastro-enteritis at the start of June which is taking a long time to get over. Yesterday I managed to walk up one the local hills- one of my fave local walks, around two hours round trip. This is much more than I managed last week, even if I was a bit tired and achy the next day. But OMG, progress! Very very happy!

3) I just discovered a whole new genre of thing!


Watch CINDERS trailer on YouTube

I’ve always liked computer games, from the first ones I played on Swansea University mainframe computer when I went in to see my Mum at work in the holidays through to modern extravaganzas. Having been ill in the last few weeks and needing some non-physical amusements, I played a few. I finally got through BioShock Infinite, which is OK- lovely visuals, intriguing if horrible racist 1900’s dystopia background, and some story.

Trouble is by the time I finished the game I felt like going and checking myself into a high-security prison for mass-murdering psychopaths. My word, but there was a lot of killing and gore and blood. And as far as I am aware, I got to make exactly one decision during the whole game that had much impact beyond the end of the scene.

So I went looking to see if there was a different sort of game out there, and discovered a whole new genre!

Parenthetically- I don’t mind the odd bit of violence in games. I just prefer a lot less of it than BioShock Infinite, which is why I don’t usually play first-person shooters. I really appreciate games like Thief where there’s at least an option to resolve things by less-lethal means when you can, or sandboxes where you can play the game with a less-murderous characters (Elder Scrolls games like Oblivion and Skyrim have good plot threads for stealthy characters, which require less slaughter than some other story paths).

A bit of a Googling and searching of Steam turning up the visual novel genre, which I’d never heard of. Apparently big in Japan, popular with female players, there’s a huge number of these things revolving around high schools and dating and a lot with pretty linear stories… but also some stuff that looked really interesting.

I like games where what I choose to do makes a difference through the game and to the game’s ending (which is why I like BioWare games very much). Add that to a non-violent storyline and GORGEOUS art-work and I settled on my first purchase of the genre: Cinders, a game by Polish indie development studio Moa Cube.

It takes a little getting used to. There’s a LOT of talking, quite a few decisions, and not much else. It’s like a Bioware game with all the running around and killing stuff and levelling up removed, and just the character interactions remaining. Since Mass Effect 2 is probably my favourite game of all time, I’m good with that 🙂 Makes a change from a LOT of killing, a few conversations and a very small number of decisions, which is what the routine fantasy and sci-fi RPG genres favour.

It may or may not appeal to you- playing Cinderella and trying to get one over on her sisters, step-mother, get the guy or get the hell out of Dodge, trust the Fairy godmother or really not. But if it sounds even faintly intriguing, I’d really encourage you to give it a go. Have I mentioned how gob-smackingly beautiful the artwork is?




It’s not a long game- I got through it in one long-ish sitting. But it will bear re-playing, trying to achieve various different endings (I gather there may be “dead in a ditch” as one ending…). And the studio have another, larger game called Solstice which they just released, which I just bought and will start on once I have caught up on RE and SS stuff as I finish recuperating. The premise is really intriguing from the first scene, though.

Visual Novels for the Future?

Of course being nerdy introvert scientist Hywel, I had to look into visual novels more. I discovered a few game engines which look like they’d help a lot in setting one up. There’s an active community building them and sharing them, and a fair number commercially available.

Sad to say though it looks like MoaCube might not be making another soon. Well, unless we all go and buy Solstice and Cinders anyway!

Sounds like the indie games industry has hit the same market maturity issues as the porn industry. The studio head has blogged about how everything seems to have narrowed down onto Steam as a monopoly distribution channel, and how hard it can be to make a ripple with an indie game there. I hear that (try making a ripple with a single long, high-production-value movie on Clips4Sale if you don’t already have a fan base or channel in that genre).

And I hear the same thing from indies on the App store and musicians with online sales channels via iTunes and Spotify. All of these things have their wild west period, like membership websites did around 1997-2001, then settle into a small number of big players. At least the games guys don’t seem to have quite the industrial levels of piracy to contend with that porn does. (If you watch something on a tube site, know that it is 99% likely to be stolen. And the thief is making money pushing tacky adverts at your eyeballs while you watch someone else’s stolen work).

But still… I love the genre, and will be checking out more.

And better yet, even as polished and glorious a project as Cinders was made by a small team in a year and half… a few person-years of effort. That means it should be possible to do something interesting on a smaller and more modest scale in one’s spare time. There are some good tool-kits like Tyranobuilder and Ren’Py around to support it, too.

At this stage Ariel is probably rolling her eyes at me. We’re wildly over-committed, as the big work backlog following my illness shows. The last thing I should be doing is thinking of future projects, especially ones outside the core business. But what can the harm be in having a little play around with these tools in the odd hour before bed? After all I’ve got quite a head-start in terms of creating artwork and storylines… maybe a BDSM visual novel (well, let’s call it a visual short story) might be fun?

4) The mega-four-hour film is done!

The mega-four-hour custom film we shot a few weeks ago is done! It’s the longest and most ambitious single project we’ve ever done, and it would totally have fallen apart without Ariel, Zoe, Natalia and cameraperson Katie.
















































I’ve still not decided 100% whether to put it up on Elegance Studios or serialise it for Restrained Elegance: it is a single story, and it kind-of sits as a companion story to Slave Auction and Pony Girl in some ways (the customer liked those films so much he wanted us to incorporate elements of those into the story for him).

But pragmatically distributing it as a single 9 GB MP4 file is going to break the downloads of anyone not on a fast internet connection, and any hiccup in the stream might see you back to square one. The shopping carts system isn’t really built for downloads that big. So I think serialising it on RE is the way to go: look out for it on the members’ area soon! It’s absolutely EPIC- Natalia Forrest sent as a secret agent into the depths of a slave-trading gang! Forced to learn how to be a perfect slave, how strip naked for her master or mistress, the positions a slave must adopt, how to talk dirty… and much, much more!

Just in time to shoot the SECOND film commissioned by the same customer this week! (Fortunately not quite such a gargantuan undertaking!) Should be fun!

All the best everyone!