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Image (C) 2002 Fred Hatt for Lady D.

There May Be Fifty Shades of Grey, Though Only One Story of O!

Image (C) 2002 Fred Hatt for Lady D.
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The thoughtful advice and opinions of the author of this article are meant to be informative and entertaining and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Slixa.

A woman in love can -  and will - do anything for the man she desires. The idea had college students in the 1980s burning  books, as feminists burnt bras in the 1970s.  The story of awakening through subservient sojourn, O became a litmus test for scintillating contemporary cinema.  O is the story of transformation, along with the sacrifices and challenges that accompany that which few lovers may share.  Created long before Fifty Shades of Grey, there is only one Story of O!

Based on a series of love letters, the French The Story of O was  published in 1954. A young  fashion photographer – simply known as O – willingly offers herself - through her lover Rene - to a secret group of men in the most extreme ways as inspired by the Marquis de Sade’s Justine. To prove her love and loyalty to Rene, O is brought to a secret order within the chateau at Roissy, where all women are at their most absolute, sexually submissive service. The Story of O  was republished by Olympia Press, original publisher of the controversial Lolita and Naked Lunch. The book went unnoticed until it won the 1955 Prix des Deux Magot, the French prize for unconventional literature, when it became an overnight sensation. In 1965 "O" was published amidst much debate in the United States. In 1975 director Just Jaekin (Emmanuelle, Lady Chatterley’s Lover) accepted the difficult task of converting the dynamic body of work to film with writer Sebastien Japrisot. In 2000 the high brow, ultra stylized, polished production of The Story of O was re-released by Somerville House Securities, Canada.

At the start of the tale it is an Alice-in-Wonderland mindset where O  is invited into the rabbit’s hole of the fantasy.  She is seduced before the journey defines itself. She seduces us to accept her fantasy with her. We become intrigued and amazed before we realize that maybe we should feel a bit of shame. The vicarious thrill of cinema allows us to feel no remorse. We can always say we were left shocked and unaffected, “Though," Artist and dominant culture historian Mistress Salome mentioned during a recent conversation in Manhattan, “O was the first time I read something that made me wet! And I'm not ashamed to admit that.” 

"You Will Obey!"

In the luxury of the chauffeur driven motor car, O is instructed to remove her stockings and undergarments. She is to lift her skirt so that her flesh touches the seat. Her legs are to be kept open, not crossed, at all times. Once they arrive at their destination she is first to ring the door bell and do whatever it is they say; she is to obey!

In the second version her hands are tied and she is led into the castle-like chateau of the Roissy. It is dark, though warmly lit. All around her is luxurious and elegant. There are chambermaids dressed in costume similar to that worn in the 17th century, only unlike shrouds, their breasts are revealed and their loins easily accessed at all times, by any male interested in dominion. O is prepared by the ladies in waiting to meet the men of Roissy. Bathed. Perfumed. Oiled. Her hair brushed. Her make up making her even more beautiful. She is finally ready to begin her adventure. She is to prove her devotion to her lover through her obedience to a group of anonymous strangers. 

In the warm hued lighting with fire and candlelight, she is willingly taken as her lover calmly watches. She is fucked and sodomized by attractive men all dressed in the casual clothing of 17th century estate Lords. She is then prepared for the challenge. She is to be whipped to tears. Chained to a chandelier with mirror images magnifying her into a kaleidoscope of torment, she is caned and whipped until she screams without pride or reserve.  So begins her stay at the Roissy where she will be their property for an unknown length of time. All rules must be obeyed. All demands accommodated. 

You are here to serve!

 Fräulein Von B has studied psychology and human sexuality while  working at Passional Boutique and Sexploratorium in Philadelphia, PA. She serves  situational aspects of the BDSM/ fetish community, and has familiarized herself with it,  and its dialect. She describes O's subservient sojourn as an unusual act of transcendental beauty:

"As if though she was the receiving end of a beating, she was able to use that as a way of magnifying her work. For O, she realized through these ritualized activities of subservient sexuality that it was not slavery, it was truly a form of liberation. She is not abused; on the contrary she is loved. After her initiation and acceptance of this secret side of sexuality, O's work in her day to day life was suddenly more beautiful, vivid, expressive, and sensuous than ever before."

From the Roissy to Samois, O is shared with the chambermaid. Dressed in Stepford Wife style Victorian white linen under garments under the supervision of a Head Mistress, Anne-Marie, O is to stay for a length of time. There they corset her,  painfully altering her figure for her Master. O is cuffed, chained, beaten in ways and places her men never thought to access. O's labia is pierced with heavy ring jewelry bearing Sir Stephen’s name, over the course of a week going from training rings to permanent rings which boldly reveal themselves. The ladies of subservient leisure spend their days sitting naked, listening to classical music, playing flogging games, and sharing the subservient secrets. One reveals a blue embroidery-like insignia of her Master’s initials engraved into her flesh, assuming that O, too, will be tattooed. It is then announced Sir Stephen has a much different test of faith for O. She will be branded with red hot iron initials on her buttocks -- permanent brands which she will never be able to hide from any future lover. 

The film lovingly concludes with Sir Stephen and O sitting in embrace; Sir Stephen dominantly above her, looking down adoringly at O’s delicate smile. They both are smoking. The share soft words of eternal attraction. O suddenly smiles mischievously, taking her cigarillo, burning an O into the flesh of his hand.

However in the actual translation of the edition by John Paul Hand for the Book-of-the-Month Club, New York, the ending was much more true to the full cycle of such a transformation. In a final chapter, which has been suppressed, Sir Stephen abandons her. There also exists a second version, where O, seeing that Sir Stephen was on the verge of leaving, preferred to die. Sir Stephen gave his consent to her suicide.  Ah - Brutal  passion long before these tales became moralistically mainstream and politically correct. 

Anne Desclos – aka Dominique Aury aka Pauline Reage – French journalist (1907 – 1998) was born in Rochefort-sur-Mer, Charente-Maritime, France. She was secretly involved in a romantic affair with her employer, renowned scholar and publisher Jean Paulhan, an expert on the writings of the Marquis de Sade. It is rumored she wrote the letters that would become known as The Story of O after Paulhan commented that no woman could ever write true erotica, especially not BDSM erotica. 

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