A quick taste of 2022… and we’re on TV again!

Hi Everyone

With the COVID situation here being much improved because of the vaccines, we’ve been powering through trying to shoot as much of next year’s content as we can in the last month or so. Here are a few quick tasters plucked from the back of the camera to hint at some of the awesome bondage videos and photosets you’ll be able to enjoy as a Restrained Elegance member in 2022.

As always, thank you for your continuing support. For the last 20 years we’ve been able to build a dream and a place to share that dream – the only reason we can do it is your kind support.

Ariel and I are in the very fortunate position that we are both professional BDSM performers and producers, we don’t have kids in school or day jobs and our friends and families are very liberal and supportive. So when the call comes around to represent the BDSM community in various TV shows and so forth, my feeling is “If not us, then who?” (Ariel’s feeling is “Pick meeeeeeeeee! I want to be famous!” of course!)

Which means we’re on TV again tonight: “Sex Actually” with Alice Levine, UK channel 4, 10 pm. It’ll doubtless be available on-demand too. You may have to use a VPN to pretend to be in the UK to stream it from other countries. I’m going to be peeking out at the TV from behind the sofa, hoping the program makers have been kind to us… and I dare say Ariel will be live-tweeting along to it. Join us!

Cheers, Hywel

Ariel’s Blues Reinstated and General News

Hi Everyone

Ariel’s Blues

Somehow I managed to create a duplicate of the “Ariel’s Blues” set in the RE archives last week when I added the link to the shopping cart page for the set. this resulted in a php error trying to access the set. Should now be fixed, apologies, many thanks to John for drawing it to my attention!

The first cake Ariel even ate in my presence. Far from the last, it turned out.

OnlyFans

In general news, you may be aware of an upheaval going on in the internet adult industry at the moment. Mastercard, under pressure from various less-than-honest “anti-trafficking” groups, have put in place restrictive new rules. Fortunately, this should not affect us here on Restrained Elegance and Silk Soles – as luck would have it our record-keeping and model release system is already largely compliant, and we don’t have the issue with third-party posted content that platforms like Clips4Sale and OnlyFans have.

(On a strict reading of the rules, they would have to employ human beings to check EVERY bit of content and in particular EVERY live stream to make sure it was not in violation of the rules – something that’s obviously impossible unless they are going to hire 10% of the population as full-time porn watchers. This is a standard not demanded of any other platform – YouTube or Facebook can’t manage it with some of the biggest businesses in the world, so sites like Clips4Sale and OnlyFans clearly cannot.)

Clips4Sale have behaved pretty well during this. PLENTY of information, lots of support, clear guidance for producers and performers and reassurance on things like privacy policies (because we don’t want to be uploading the full ID’s of every performer we’ve ever worked with without some assurances that their data security is up to it- in fact if producers in some countries do that they’ll probably be in violation of their local data protection laws). I’m spending this week uploading all the recent content to Clips4Sale before the deadline to file ID and model releases for each new clip, so that I will have a sensible workflow going forward without a huge overhead for legacy stuff.

OnlyFans on the other hand have catastrophically blown it in terms of their handling of the situation. Creators found out about it from OnlyFans announcing stuff to the press, not to them. They then issued some contradictory statements, finishing with an amazingly gas-lighting tweet about how they value sex workers – which is pretty hypocritical given that they have NEVER promoted any sex workers on their twitter feed, ever. Their new rules are also much more stringent when in comes to sexual content – masturbation will be out, for example. Needless to say, that nukes a hell of a lot of models’ OnlyFans content. So there’s a huge upheaval going on – Ariel is deciding which platforms to transition to whilst making sure she delivers everything she promised to her current OF subscribers. I know many of our other regular models are doing likewise.

Please support the models while they make these transitions- if you subscribe to their OnlyFans, please stay as a subscriber until they know what platforms they will be transferring to, then follow them there.

One thing that IS positive about this is that I think MasterCard, OnlyFans, and the dishonest evangelicals pushing the “trafficked women” narrative have been taken by surprise by the fact that 95% of the press coverage is supportive of the sex workers. That’s not what happened when they pulled the plug on PornHub’s billing and I don’t think they were expecting it. There are a few differences this time around. The first is that PornHub facilitated piracy on an industrial scale with notorously poor standards for getting it taken down, no requirement for verification for uploads (because they pretended we were all coolz uploading our own personal sex lives, rather than it mostly being pirated stuff). OnlyFans on the other hand has been requiring proper verification for all content uploaders since day one. Second, PornHub was rightly synonymous with the tackiest uploaded pirated porn, whereas OnlyFans is all about empowered sex workers sharing their own content – and everybody knows it. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the journalists writing about this stuff made contacts with sex workers during the PornHub push, and so have people to talk to to get our side of the story. The evangelicals are not getting it all their own way this time, because everyone can see that what they are doing is nuking the safe space that sex workers have built into a multi-BILLION dollar platform. OnlyFans is famous for girls getting their tits out and getting paid for it, frankly, which is VERY different from the cesspit of PornHub. Let’s hope we can fight back this time.

https://onlyfans.com/arielanderssen

Hasselblads plural

For the last decade or more, my Hasselblad has been the workhorse camera for the site. It perfected the “RE look” with very clean, crisp images, studio lighting, and bold colours. For the last five years or more I’ve been experimenting with adding other looks to my armoury, but the core aesthetic of the site is definitely the one that culminated in the Hasselblad (after 15 years of trying to perfect it with Canon dSLRs).

A couple of weeks ago I did a REALLY STUPID THING: I shouldered the Hasselblad’s rucksack without having done the zips up first. The camera landed nose-first on a concrete floor, and the 120 mm macro lens BOUNCED. Shudder. This kit originally cost me more than my car. Amazingly, it seems to have survived apart from a badly bent metal lens hood which took most of the impact.

But it made me realise that I no longer had a backup for the core RE look: I’ve sold all the old Canon dSLRs, and the Sonys excel at stuff like available light and shallow depth of field but just never quite achieve the crispness and purity of colour that the Hasselblad manages effortlessly. Realising this properly gave me the shakes – if that had happened on day one of a location trip, I might have really been in trouble.

Fortunately, there’s a happy ending. Hasselblad kit lasts forever (even if you drop it onto a concrete floor, seemingly) but its value does not. So I was able to acquire second-hand an H3Dii-50 (50 megapixels to complement Dave the Hasselblad’s 31 but with a faster sensor because of microlenses) and 80 mm and 120 mm lenses. It cost me £4000 which is a lot – the same as a new Sony mirrorless body- but which suddenly seems like an absolute BARGAIN compared with the original retail cost, which would have been ten times that! I must say, if you are a photographer and you like the crisp-clean-saturated look for studio work, go buy a second-hand Hasselblad kit. It won’t do what your modern mirrorless will do (eg Autofocus is really slow by comparison and you need to use focus-and-recompose – no fancy face recognition here) but for this one job, it still reigns supreme. I’m very much happier writing my kit list for our next location shoot knowing that this time I will have a proper spare.

First shots with the backup Hasselblad

Shoots!

Amidst all this upheaval, we’ve also tentatively resumed shoots with external models. We’ve just shot with Charlie Ten and Kitty Quinzell, and have more shoots coming up, COVID permitting.

Site revamp delayed

One thing I must apologise for is that all of this has delayed RE’s much-needed site revamp. I have a working version of the members’ home page in a new layout, but to be honest I’m not happy with it. It solves some of the current issues but to my mind introduces some new ones, and I stalled, not knowing how to solve those.

So plan B, once the current upheaval calms down a bit: I’m going update the current layout to remove some of the most egregious problems like the limited full-width display where content gets lost in the middle on a really big screen, and streamline and simplify some of the menu options. That will give me time to experiment with other layouts and see if I can come up with something that feels like an all-around improvement, rather than something which swaps current limitations for a bunch of new ones.

Right. Back to work uploading stuff to Clips4Sale before the deadline there.

Cheers, Hywel

Not restarting custom video commissions just yet

Hi Everyone

Just a quick message to explain why I’m not restarting custom video commissions just yet.

One thing I really hate is not delivering something I have promised. It stresses me out to have money in my account for a shoot that hasn’t happened, even worse if the shoot then has to be postponed.

Therefore I don’t want to take on even the most relaxed of custom video commissions until I’m more confident that I will
be able to deliver them. The COVID situation in the UK is still uncertain. England is due to open up completely
next week, but if the experience of the Netherlands is anything to go by, they might be forced to reconsider in short
order. Welsh regulations are remain more cautious.

Many models are in the partially-vaccinated age group, and even in double-vaccinated people if you get COVID you can be ill for a while. All of which means that I think it is wiser not to take on the additional stress of custom videos until we have the general production shoots running smoothly.

In the meantime, most of the models are taking on customs themselves – they may not be able to do full Restrained Elegance bondage videos, but you might be able to commission something fun directly with them.

I’d like to be able to welcome the new commissions with open arms and get back to shooting fabulous stuff for you. (It does feel daft to be turning down money!) But it is more sensible to concentrate on shooting regular RE and Silk Soles content while the situation remains so unpredictable and will save me stress if shoots do have to get rearranged.

We are of course happy to shoot customs with me and Ariel, as we have been doing throughout the pandemic. Please contact us via https://www.askarielstudio.com to commission something!

Cheers, Hywel

Celebration in a sombre time

Hi Everyone

Today marks the 19th birthday of RestrainedElegance.com.

Given the global pandemic it feels a bit weird to be sending out a cheery message about what a wild ride it has been, celebrating our harmless little funny kinky fantasy photosets. I wasn’t even sure whether to post, let alone what to say.

I decided that I should because what is keeping me going is in large part light-escapist-fantasy books, films and TV shows. So we hope that our light-escapist-bondage and barefoot fetish fantasies will help keep you going, too. Art is important because it can keep us sane and raise our spirits, perhaps especially when it is looking a bit bleak outside.

I was going to do this anyway but it seems even more important while so many of us are on lockdown- we’re running a SAVE 50% OFFER on all purchases on our Classic Restrained Elegance and eStore shopping carts. I was going to run it for 24 hours, but instead I’ll leave it running for a full week.

Now is a great chance to catch up on sets of favourite models and themes you may have missed from the 1150 videos and 4500 photosets we have produced over the last 19 years. Go stock up and enjoy with 50% off and our immense gratitude. We hope things we make cheer you up and help you get through.

If you want to see all our latest updates on release day, memberships at RestrainedElegance.com and SilkSoles.com remain the most economical way to support us and see everything we produce. The three-month membership for RestrainedElegance.com in particular is fantastic value.

Thank you for being with us for the last 19 years, and we look forward to sharing our kinky escapist fantasies for a long time to come!

Lockdown

The UK is heading towards lockdown, and not the sexy sort.

Ariel has just cancelled her next modelling tour. RE shoots with anyone except Ariel (and at home) are on hold until further notice.

We’ve just finished a long run of shoots and have over 18 months of video and two years of stills on disk. We were planning on a working holiday in Ireland for a month which we’ve cancelled. We’re going to have the same thing, but at home. We’re going to catch up on editing. So updates on RestrainedElegance.com and SilkSoles.com will proceed as normal. I upload the updates a month or two in advance anyway so if one or both of us gets ill the site will update as normal, so long as we don’t get it really badly.

We hope to avoid getting coronavirus, or if we do get it that we’ll have a mild case and recover. Obviously we hope the same for all of our lovely friends, colleagues and customers too! Please stay safe, follow health/government advice especially to protect vulnerable people even if you yourself are not particularly at risk.

We will be filming customs starring Ariel (and me as on-camera dom/rigger if you need me) – contact her at askarielstudio.com if you have an idea you’d like us to shoot for you.

I hope we can avoid panic-cancelling of luxury things like website memberships. Obviously we’ll completely understand if you are ill or have lost your job! But for the rest of us, the closer we can keep things to normal during the pandemic, the less the economy will collapse and the quicker society and the economy can recover afterwards. I’m going to chip in a bit more to my favourite artists and creatives for as long as I can to support them and I urge you to do likewise.

Models are likely to be switching to platforms like OnlyFans and Clips4Sale and web-camming for the duration, since they won’t be able to go to many or any photoshoots. Please consider chipping in to help your favourites if you can afford to do so. Be kind as people find new ways to work. And be patient with these big platforms if a sudden influx of newbies makes their systems a bit unreliable for a while – remember that they will be operating with reduced staff on lockdown too, and data centres and internet service providers don’t run themselves. If stuff is a bit patchy and unreliable for a bit, be kind, you don’t know what sort of stress the operators might be working under.

And I guess that’s my message to everyone: be safe, be kind to each other, support the people you can support, obey the medical and government advice, and I hope everyone stays well. We’ll do our best to cheer you up with some glamour and sexiness in the meantime.