Venus in Furs

“Shiny, shiny, shiny boots of leather
Whiplash girl child in the dark
Comes in bells, your servant, don’t forsake him
Strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart

Downy sins of streetlight fancies
Chase the costumes she shall wear
Ermine furs adorn the imperious
Severin, Severin awaits you there

I am tired, I am weary
I could sleep for a thousand years
A thousand dreams that would awake me
Different colors made of tears

Kiss the boot of shiny, shiny leather
Shiny leather in the dark
Tongue of thongs, the belt that does await you
Strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart

Severin, Severin, speak so slightly
Severin, down on your bended knee
Taste the whip, in love not given lightly
Taste the whip, now plead for me

I am tired, I am weary
I could sleep for a thousand years
A thousand dreams that would awake me
Different colors made of tears

Shiny, shiny, shiny boots of leather
Whiplash girl child in the dark
Severin, your servant comes in bells, please don’t forsake him
Strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart”

Lou Reed

Venus in Furs

The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)

 
 

Fanny Pistor (in furs, with whip) and Sacher-Masoch

 
 

On 9 December 1869, Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch and his mistress Baroness Fanny Pistor signed a contract making him her slave for a period of six months, with the stipulation that the Baroness wear furs as often as possible, especially when she was in a cruel mood. Sacher-Masoch took the alias of “Gregor”, a stereotypical male servant’s name, and assumed a disguise as the servant of the Baroness. The two traveled by train to Italy. As in Venus in Furs, he traveled in the third-class compartment, while she had a seat in first-class, arriving in Venice (Florence, in the novel), where they were not known, and would not arouse suspicion.

 
 

The Titian painting Venus with a Mirror (1555), from which Severin gets the idea of “Venus in furs”

 
 

Sacher-Masoch is the great-great-uncle to the British singer and actress Marianne Faithfull on the side of her mother, the Viennese Baroness Eva Erisso

 
 

The novel Venus in Furs was to be part of an epic series that Sacher-Masoch envisioned called Legacy of CainVenus in Furs was also part of Love, the first volume of the series. It was published in 1870

 
 

The framing story concerns a man who dreams of speaking to Venus about love while she wears furs. The unnamed narrator tells his dreams to a friend, Severin, who tells him how to break him of his fascination with cruel women by reading a manuscript, Memoirs of a Suprasensual Man.

This manuscript tells of a man, Severin von Kusiemski, who is so infatuated with a woman, Wanda von Dunajew, that he asks to be her slave, and encourages her to treat him in progressively more degrading ways. At first Wanda does not understand or accede to the request, but after humouring Severin a bit she finds the advantages of the method to be interesting and enthusiastically embraces the idea, although at the same time she disdains Severin for allowing her to do so.

Severin describes his feelings during these experiences as suprasensuality. Severin and Wanda travel to Florence. Along the way, Severin takes the generic Russian servant’s name of “Gregor” and the role of Wanda’s servant. In Florence, Wanda treats him brutally as a servant, and recruits a trio of African women to dominate him.

The relationship arrives at a crisis when Wanda herself meets a man to whom she would like to submit, a Byronic hero known as Alexis Papadopolis. At the end of the book, Severin, humiliated by Wanda’s new lover, loses the desire to submit. He says of Wanda:

That woman, as nature has created her, and man at present is educating her, is man’s enemy. She can only be his slave or his despot, but never his companion. This she can become only when she has the same rights as he and is his equal in education and work.

 
 

 
 

The book inspired Venus in Fur, a 2010 play set in the modern day by David Ives, which had its Off-Broadway premiere at the Classic Stage Company in New York City starring Nina Arianda and Wes Bentley. In February 2012, a new Broadway production of this play premiered at the Lyceum Theatre starring Nina Arianda and Hugh Dancy. In late 2012, Roman Polanski directed a film adaptation of the play starring Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric.

 
 

Still from Belle de Jour (Luis Buñuel, 1967)

 
 

The name of Catherine Deneuve’s character, Séverine, is a femininization of the name of the male protagonist of Baron von Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs, Severin. As the literary origin of the term masochism, Sacher-Masoch, along with his 1870 novel, no doubt presented an irresistible reference point for Joseph Kessel, the author of the 1928 novel Belle de Jour, on which the film is based.

 

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The Face of Legends

 “There are very few people that have escaped my eye. It was only when I finished my career did I realize what I’d done. I’ve done the best people ever. And there will never be people to match them. Ever.”

Terry O’Neill

 
 

Self-portrait

 
 

Terry O’Neill began his career working in a photographic unit for an airline at London’s Heathrow Airport. During this time, he photographed a sleeping figure in a waiting area whom, by happenstance, was revealed to be Britain’s Home Secretary. O’Neill thereafter found further employment on Fleet Street with The Daily Sketch in 1959. His first professional job was photographing Laurence Olivier.

 
 

Laurence Olivier, Back Stage, London, 1962

 
 

His reputation grew during the 1960s. In addition to photographing the decade’s show-business elite such as Judy Garland, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, he also photographed members of the British Royal Family and prominent politicians, showing a more natural and human side to these subjects than had usually been portrayed before. O’Neill had a longtime relationship with Faye Dunaway. They were married from 1983 until 1986.

 
 

Judy Garland and her daughter Liza Minnelli, 1963

 
 

beatles_abbey_rdTerry O’Neill rose to fame in the 1960’s in London, where he snapped this photo of the Beatles at Abbey Road, during the year they released their three classic albums, Please, Please… Me, Introducing the Beatles and With the Beatles. This image hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London

 
 

The Rolling Stones outside St. George’s Church in Hanover Square, London, 17th January 1964

 
 

“Because I used to be a jazz musician, people at the paper asked me, ‘You know about music, who’s going to be the next pop group?’ I said, ‘I’ve been watching a group called The Rolling Stones. They’re a blues group but they’re good’. I went to photograph them and they [the newspaper editors] were horrified. They thought they looked like five prehistoric monsters. They said, ‘There’s got to be some good-looking ones!’”

 
 

This stunning portrait of Marianne Faithful was taken the year she was discovered at a Rolling Stones record release party by manager Andrew Loog Oldham

 
 

a_hepburn_poolActress Audrey Hepburn, swimming in the South of France during the filming of Two For The Road (Stanley Donen, 1967)

 
 

Frank Sinatra arrives at Miami beach with his entourage (including his stand-in, dressed in an identical suit and less well-dressed beefy minders) while filming Lady In Cement  (Gordon Douglas, 1968)

 
 

American actor Steve McQueen looking thoughtful in his Hollywood office, 1968

 
 

Scottish actor Sean Connery and French actress Brigitte Bardot meet for the first time in Deauville, before the filming of Shalako (Edward Dmytryk, 1968)

 
 

French actress and sex symbol Brigitte Bardot on the set of The Ballad Of Frenchie King (Christian-Jaque, 1971), a comedy western, filmed in Almeria, Spain

 
 

Rod Stewart, Windsor, 1971

 
 

Actor Paul Newman resting his head on an actress Ava Gardner during a break from filming John Huston’s 1972 comedy western The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean

 
 

Director John Huston and Ava Gardner, 1972

 
 

elton_dodger_stadium_batting_stanceelton_john_backbendEnglish pop star and pianist Elton John performs at the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, October 1975

 
 

Singer David Bowie sharing a cigarette with actress Elizabeth Taylor in Beverly Hills, 1975. It was the first occasion that the pair had met

 
 

Singer Bruce Springsteen walking down Sunset Strip with his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket, 1975

 
 

German actress Marlene Dietrich walking on stage for a curtain call, 1975

 
 

Actress Faye Dunaway resting by the Beverly Hills Hotel swimming pool the morning after she recieved the 1976 Best Actress Academy Award. There are newspapers on the floor and her Oscar is on the table, 29th March 1977

 
 

Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin outside the famous Paris cafe, Aux Deux Magots. The pair have collaborated on more than 30 albums over a 40 year partnership, 1980

 
 

Anjelica Huston, promotional picture for Witches (Nicholas Roeg, 1990), a fantasy film based on the book of the same name by Roald Dahl

 
 

British actor and musician Sting, lead singer and bassist with pop group The Police, 1985

 
 

Amy Winehouse

 
 

“I was working on a present for Nelson Mandela, when he came here for his 90th birthday and there was a concert for him in Hyde Park. Amy was due to sing but she was in hospital. She actually got out of bed to come and perform. I only took two frames but I’m so glad I did because she was a really talented lady.”

 
 

More Terry O’Neill photographs:

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Close Connection

 
 

Wayne Mullins gives a pretty good account of Ginsberg-Lennon- Beatles connection in the article – Long John Silver and the Beats. He quotes in part (recalling their very first meeting) Marianne Faithfull‘s account – It’s London, 1965 – «Then Allen Ginsberg came in… He went over to the chair (Bob) Dylan was sitting in and plonked himself down on the armrest…John Lennon broke the silence snarling: “Why don’t you sit a bit closer then, dearie?”, The insinuation – that Allen had a crush on Dylan was intended to demolish (him), but since it wasn’t far from the truth anyway, Allen took it very lightly. The joke was on them, really. He burst out laughing, fell off the arm and onto Lennon’s lap. Allen looked up to him and said, “Have you ever read William Blake, young man?”… And Lennon in his Liverpudlian deadpan said, “Never heard of the man”. Cynthia (Lennon), who wasn’t going to let him get away with this even in jest, chided him; “Oh, John, stop lying.” That broke the ice.»

 
 

as filenameAllen Ginsberg celebrating his 39th birthday in film-maker David Larcher’s Chelsea basement apartment with Miles and Sue Miles.

 
 

Ginsberg with Barbara Rubin, Allen’s 39th birthday party

 
 

There’s also, that same year (on the occasion of that same UK visit, in fact), Allen’s notorious 39th birthday party, attended (a surprise visit, late in the night) by John and Cynthia, George Harrison and Pattie Boyd, (and, fortunately for them, no cameras!). Confronted by an essentially naked Allen (naked, except for a “No Waiting” sign hung around his penis!), Lennon was, apparently, mortified, horrified – “You don’t do that in front of the birds” (the women – sic)”, he allegedly, declared.

Legendary meetings with his heros. In subsequent years, and specifically when John moved to New York City and was politically active in a number of causes, their friendship blossomed. Here’s Allen, from his 1972 PEN Club recommendation (on the occasion of Lennon’s visa-immigration problems), citing him as being, “in the line of descent of (Thomas) Campion, (Edmund) Waller and (John) Dowland fellow language-ayre minstrels celebrated in the great tree of British poesy”. And, again, in a note, written January the following year – “So Lennon’s particularly interesting in English minstrel’s tradition – remember (William) Shakespeare wrote songs, “With a Hey and a Ho and a Hey nonny-o.. with Hey! with Hey! The thrush and the jay”.” “Dull minds observing Lennon transform himself into an angry bodhisattva of song for the masses, have mistaken his verse to be over-simplistic. On the contrary, it’s an ancient perfectly subtle, humble, artful simplicity, the condensation of common social language into hard strong human personal verse”.. “To sum up, Lennon/Ono (Lennon) is a conscious poet coherently adapting traditional poetic song devices to new consciousness, new technology electronic mass ear education; one brilliant development of modern poetry completely realized”.

Finally, this, from a letter (to Barry Miles, circa 1976) – “I was passing by (the) Dakota Apartments last month, phoned upstairs and visited John Lennon and Yoko Ono for an hour. Lennon said he was retired temporarily from the L.A. music scene, staying home with baby and extreme clean diet… Said he was lying sleepless one night listening to WBAI (radio on) earphones and heard someone reciting a long poem, he thought it was (Bob) Dylan till he heard the announcer say it was (Allen) Ginsberg reading Howl…said he’d never read it or understood it before, (he’d eye’d the page but, “I can’t read anything, I can’t get anything from print”), but once hearing it aloud, he suddenly understood, he said, why Dylan had often mentioned me to him, and suddenly realized what (it was) I was doing, and dug it…said he didn’t understand (hadn’t understood) at the time. He’d seen me as some strange interesting American supposed-to-be-a poet hanging around but didn’t understand exactly what my role was. Now he said he understood how close my style was to Dylan’s, and how it influenced Dylan and also dug my voice reciting, the energy…It sure was nice hearing Lennon close the gap, complete that circle and treat me as a fellow artist as he walked me to the door goodbye”.