Bondage pornography specializes in the depiction of sexual bondage or BDSM activities, as photographs, stories, movies, or drawings.
Detective magazines, comic books and early fetish magazines
In the early 20th century, "Detective magazines" covertly provided a way of publishing bondage imagery. Comic books often featured characters being tied up and tying others up, particularly in "damsel in distress" plots.
There were also a very limited number of specialist fetish magazines which featured images of bondage, such as the famous Bizarre magazine published from 1946 to 1959 by the pioneering fetish photographer John Willie, and ENEG's Exotique magazine, published 1956-1959. These disappeared with a crackdown on pornography in the late 1950s. New York photographer Irving Klaw also published illustrated adventure/bondage serials by fetish artists Eric Stanton, Gene Bilbrew, Adolfo Ruiz and others. Klaw ran an international mail-order business out of his store, Movie Star News, selling cheesecake pinups and bondage/spanking photos. His most famous model was Bettie Page, who became the first celebrity of bondage film and photography.
Bondage magazines return
Dedicated bondage magazines again became popular in America in the 1970s. Publishers of bondage magazines included Harmony Concepts, Inc. and the House of Milan (HOM, Inc.), and Lyndon Distributors Limited. House of Milan have since been purchased by Lyndon Distributors Limited.
These magazines were not generally available through mainstream distributors, and were sold either in sex shops or by mail order. They contained little advertising content, and were therefore entirely supported by the cover price.
Typically, each magazine consisted of several multi-page pictorials of tied-up women, often with a fictional narrative attached, and one fictional story of three or four pages in length. Sometimes pictorials were replaced by artwork by a fetish artist and/or included an interview with one of the performers in the industry. In the case of House of Milan and Lyndon Distributors, the magazines were simply illustrated text versions of videos published by the same title. Such practice cut costs and allowed a streamlined output of material.
Another type of magazine was the "compendium magazine", usually consisting of a large number of individual photographs drawn from previous magazines, without any linking story.
Because of their relatively small circulation, compared with mainstream pornography, most bondage magazines were printed in black and white, except for the cover and centerfold. In the 1980s and 1990s, experiments were made with adding more color content, but most magazine content remained black and white.
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