Dave Simpson, R.I.P.?

Addendum: according to at least three separate sources now, this is not the case. I am leaving the original post up, as I don’t have any personal knowledge and as someone posted in the comments it is worth alerting people to. Damn, that’s a bit of a dodgy way to conduct oneself if it is indeed true.

Here is the original post

Today I heard that fellow UK bondage producer Dave Simpson recently took his own life because of the collapse of his business due to piracy. Rob from Rope dreams posted:

This message from one of his models was posted on a forum:

“I was a close,close friend of Dave Simpson for several years. He was responsible for me being introduced to the wonderful world of bondage. Last year we lost touch, He drifted away from me and fell into a state of utter despair as a result of seeing his website business destroyed by the whole nature of the internet stealing everything he’d worked on. In the last months of knowing him I saw him slowly being torn apart by the thieves who thought it was OK to ruin his hard work.
Last week I got a call from his sister who told me he had taken his own life. ”

Nobody goes into the business of producing kink niche erotica for the money; any serious business-person would look at the potential market and go straight into mainstream porn instead. So you can guarantee that anyone running a little bondage website is doing it because it is their passion and their love. And that they are doing it as a tiny cottage industry on razor-thin margins. If there ever were days when bondage websites raked in millions, they’re VERY long gone.

The world has changed in the 15-ish years since Dave Simpson started his sites (and I started mine). Censorship is certainly a threat, but the threat of endless fucking piracy in one we’ve just had to get used to. As I posted recently in my cupcake analogy, stealing porn isn’t a victimless crime. And nor is watching stolen porn. If you like it, pay your fair share to the people who created it, so they can make some more, and pay the rent. And eat.

So thank you again to everyone who has been kind enough to support the community of small cottage industries across the world that is the online bondage community. It is you, the honest people who have made it all possible.

And the pirates? You can fuck right off. R.I.P Dave Simpson.

Hywel

ATVOD, OFCOM and UK censorship: Myles Jackman at the British Fetish Film Festival

GREAT NEWS!

Myles Jackman (the UK’s foremost legal expert on matters of censorship, obscenity law and sexual freedom) has kindly agreed to come along to the British Fetish Film Festival!

He will be leading a session on Sunday morning and will talk about the recent abolition of ATVOD and the absorption of their role back into OFCOM (their parent regulator).

What does that mean for UK producers and film-makers? Myles will give us a talk and take questions at the festival.

There is still time to book, you can see the full program and sign up online right now: BritishFetishFilmFestival.com

We need to know number for catering THIS WEEK so don’t miss your chance to find out the latest developments!

Oh, and we’ll be having a great fun weekend shooting and editing a Bondage Film Noir fetish film together, and chilling out watching some great kinky films at the Festival too. Be entertained! Be informed! Be there! 🙂

It’s good to wonder

You’ve probably noticed some hand-wringing about the rights and wrongs of using real-world inspiration for our BDSM stories. I’m probably a bit hyper-sensitive at the moment, as the UK authorities have placed considerable restrictions on some aspects of BDSM art. If I’m going to stand up for my work, I want to make sure I feel that I am on defensible ground, morally. Here are a few more thoughts about that.

As you’ll see from our stories, inspiration for our bondage and BDSM games can come from many places. One of those places is the real world, from events which in and of themselves were horrible.

And as you’ll also see from the “Hywel’s notes” attached to many of those stories, I often wonder whether it is OK to do that. It’s good to wonder, to cross-check ones thoughts and moral choices and make sure one continues to be happy with what one is doing, but I’m aware I’m worrying about it a lot more than usual just at the moment. I guess I want to make sure of my moral grounds in my own head in preparation for possibly having to defend our work.

I’ve just typed up a story for January which is a perfect example- an aristocratic French noble tied up by a mob led by her own servants during the revolution.

In my opinion there’s no black and white for something as messy and bloody as a revolution, but as revolutions go, the revolt against the feudal system in the late 18th Century was one of the more necessary ones. There were doubtless nice people and nasty people on both sides, bad stuff was done by people on both sides, and it would be wrong to make too light of that because real people died and that’s no laughing matter.

But equally comedy has long recognised there’s a rich vein of inspiration to be mined in the French revolution: Blackadder, Mel Brooks and the Carry On team just for starters. The French aristocracy was SO decadent that it lends itself to farce. And also to BDSM- check out the stylings of Eyes Wide Shut and the Story of O and tell me that they’re not drawing inspiration from that time.

Ariel and I are introverted and introspective by nature and we can’t help wondering about these things. Ariel has a note pinned to her board reminding her to ask “is this desirable behaviour in a human being?” We talk about this stuff a lot, especially when it comes to BDSM. Both of us were troubled by the moral implications as being kinky as teenagers, and still feel the need to wonder and cross-check that we feel OK with what we’re doing.

As always it boils down to play, to intention and to personal taste.

To play: because it is vital to bear in mind that BDSM is a consensual game, for fun, played by responsible adults. The community has evolved things like safewords to make sure that the line between play and reality can be blurred for experience during a scene but is kept there in absolutely sharp focus by the existence of the safeword to immediately snap everyone back out of the game. Many other games have a stop signal too- like a referee’s whistle.

To intention. It is possible to place so much burden on oneself for always being moral and upright that one can no longer take any pleasure from anything without feeling guilty. It’s not actually possible to be alive without causing consequences- negative or positive. (Even vegetarians have to eat, which might be a bit of a bugger for a plant killed in the process). But intention counts. Asking a married gay male couple which one is the husband and which is the wife is different if the question comes in all innocence from a child as opposed to being asked with venom by a bigot who in insisting on making life difficult for the couple in question.

To personal taste. For most kinksters this sort of thing isn’t much of an issue. It is different for us as we make a living from transforming our personal tastes into art for other people to read, watch and enjoy. If you and your partner(s) want to dress up in school uniforms in private, that’s a matter for you and only you.

It is a bit different for us because we share what we think. The inspiration for every story we feature comes from me, or from Ariel, from the model, from a member of the site or from a friend helping at the shoot- but it is personal taste laid out for the whole world potentially to see. I guess that’s why we’re a bit nervous about it sometimes. I don’t want to give uncharitable people a stick to beat us with, but even more so I don’t want to make charitable people feel like we have done something immoral or distasteful – at least not without thinking about it.

Of course, we won’t always agree. I disagree with the poster some while ago who considered a white girl in a kimono to be distasteful. I am more comfortable drawing on things which happened a long time ago for inspiration than things which happened in living memory, but I know that this is just personal taste. Viking raids were probably every bit as horrible for the victims as the events of World War Two, but I’m more comfortable making silly little stories making light of the vikings.

Anyway, I hope my frequent soul-searching on “Hywel’s notes” isn’t too annoying. I think it is good to wonder about the probity of one’s work and keep challenging oneself.

Hopefully once the period of examination by the UK authorities is over I’ll be able to concentrate more on the playing and having fun with the ideas and less with the soul-searching again! I’m looking forward to it, as if I’m honest it has had a bit of an inhibitory effect since we got the tap on the shoulder from the censors. I’m really looking forward to feeling the inspiration flow and just having fun with it all again!

Tutorial Video Requests

Hi Everyone,

We’ve just started shooting a new round of tutorial videos, drop by on the forum thread to let us know of anything you’d particularly like us to see.

How to handle stills in post production, doing the colour correction and other tweaks that give shots the final polish is a very popular suggestion. I’ve just shot one on focal length choices and will do one of depth of field and aperture choices as well soon too.

Are there tutorials you’d like to see on the bondage, rigging or modelling sides?

What about the video side? Is there any interest in a video showing how and why we do the colour grading for our films? It’s the same process as stills in some ways but the tools are rather different, would you like me to cover the basics of how I approach it in a tutorial video?

Cheers, Hywel & Ariel