Tuesday, April 24, 2012

John Willie, a Founder

There have been April showers, and the wild jasmine growing on my back fence has burst out in a profusion of sweetly scented flowers.  I'd say that makes it time for another review!

Evil Dolly's Featured Fetish Artist of the Day:  John Willie.
It could be said that John Willie, or John Coutts, (1902 - 1962) was a worldly man.  Born in Singapore, raised in England, lived in Australia, New York, and Hollywood.  A self-taught artist, he did fetish photography and illustrations from the 30s up through the 50s.  I think it is fair to say that he is another artist who had a big influence on fetish art later in the 20th century.  He was a contemporary of Irving Klaw... though I don't believe in reality he ever met Bettie Page as depicted in the movie The Notorious Bettie Page.  I'd say the bulk of his known work came from his comic series Sweet Gwendoline and his own periodical publication, Bizarre magazine.

Here's my chunky Taschen collection of Bizarre.  I found it in a kinky shop (I think it was Stormy Leathers) while I was in San Francisco for the Folsom Street Fair... must have been around 1996.  I snatched it right up.  The magazine does feature a lot of Willie's artwork and bondage, though the bulk of it is fashion fetish photography (heels and boots, corsets, gloves, stockings, that kind of thing), some articles and stories, and lots of kinky reader mail.  All in all, it's pretty innocent.

Among his favorite subject matter were corsets, heels, restrictive clothing and costumes, and tear-filled eyes.  I like the detail on those gloves up there, with the outlines of fingernails.  For the most part, he seemed to put more focus on a more realistic and simplistic sort of bondage, as opposed to some of the more contortionistically extreme bondage machinations of Stanton and his peers (some of whom I've yet to feature).  Simple ankle hobbles, basic wrist ties, a gag... you're all set!  And it never hurts to have an exposed back or bottom to cane and whip.

One thing I appreciate about the style of his painted works are their softness.  The black and white ink washes have a very watercolory air about them.  And that up there on the right... bound to a tree and stinging red welts on a nice summer day... refreshing!  Of course there were a variety of gags, bridles, and branks.

And, naturally, there had to be ponygirls!

John Willie's work isn't too hard to find, if you're interested.  Both Sweet Gwendoline and the Bizarre compilation can be found without too much difficulty, both used and reprinted.

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