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Just A Little Harmless English S&M


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Just A Little Harmless English S&M
Thursday, Jul. 10, 2008 By WILLIAM LEE ADAMS / LONDON
 
FIA President Max Mosley, center, arrives at the High Court in central London.
Lefteris Pitarakis / AP
Revelations of kinky sex leave many prominent celebrities blubbering abject apologies. Not Max Mosley. The British multi-millionaire and Formula One boss insists there's no shame in a little hanky-spanky, and he has sued the tabloid News of the World for suggesting otherwise. This week he has been testifying with remarkable sang-froid in his defamation and invasion of privacy suit before London's High Court.

Last March, Mosley invited five women to a posh Chelsea apartment to engage in what he readily admits was a sadomasochistic orgy, replete with canes, prison uniforms and old-fashioned spanking (a true Englishman, Mosley served the women tea after their session). To his ultimate distress, though, hidden cameras were rolling. The tabloid posted the footage online, accompanied by an article that described the event as "a depraved Nazi-style orgy in a torture dungeon." Mosley's wife of 48 years learned of her husband's sexual predilections for the first time, Formula One racers and sponsors called for his resignation, and Mosley faced accusations of finding titillation in Third Reich scenarios — a particularly piquant charge since his father, Oswald, was Britain's top Nazi sympathizer.

Mosely, 68, denies that the encounter had any Nazi connotations and, since Monday, has delivered candid testimony in his bid to win punitive damages. His testimony has openly challenged the idea that BDSM — that's bondage, domination, submission and sadomasochism — is an unwholesome pursuit. "I fundamentally disagree with the suggestion that any of this is depraved," Mosley told the court. "I think it is a perfectly harmless activity provided it is between consenting adults who want to do it, are of sound mind, and it is in private." Testimony from the women involved make the sexcapade sound even more mundane. According to Woman A, who cannot be named for legal reasons, "I would rather be doing CP [corporal punishment] a long way over going to the dentist."

The British have a reputation for being colder than dead fish on ice. Perhaps that's why the News of the World video so enthralled the public, drawing 1.4 million views within a day of going online. But if Mosley is any indicator, British frigidity may give way to something much livelier in the bedroom. No one has exact numbers, but small-scale BDSM surveys estimate that 10-15% of the British population indulges in the behavior. And BDSM may actually be therapeutic. "We all have to manage certain kinds of feelings linked with aggression," says Susan Abse, a psychotherapist and the director of the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships in London. "And having a sex life in which some of those feelings are played out does not seem problematic."

In fact, those involved with BDSM say the behavior may be linked to success. Mistress Kimberley, an experienced dominatrix in London, says well-paid professionals make up the bulk of her clientèle; they fork over between $300 and $500 per hour for services ranging from a "sensual tie and tease" to "severe bondage and domination torture." Her clients' high-powered lives make them eager to submit. "They're running multimillion-dollar companies and make decisions all day, every day," she says. "They genuinely want to be submissive. They want somebody to treat them like s---."

Nascent research suggests the dominatrix may be on to something. David Mirich, a psychologist in Colorado, measured the intelligence of 220 BDSMers and found that they posted above-average IQ scores, "which is very unlike the criminal population of sex offenders and criminals," he says. Furthermore, their behavior doesn't appear to be a response to an unhealthy upbringing, nor correlate to psychopathology. Researchers have a long way to go to understand the phenomenon, but it seems clear that the desire manifests early in life. "When they were playing cowboys and Indians as children," Mirich says of the BDSMers he interviewed, "they liked to be the person who was tied to the tree."

Fantasies vary by the individual, but many Brits appear to draw on the legacy of their days in boarding schools. Kimberley says her most-requested role-play scenario involves men pretending to be naughty schoolchildren. "They will have been caned in their school days," she says. "There's something stuck in their brains that goes, 'I'd like to do that again.'" Another commonality? Men tend to schedule appointments after a Monday holiday, seeking release following a long weekend with their families.

Whatever the outcome of the Mosley suit, BDSM will live on in England. As James Price, Mosley's attorney, told the judge: "It's not a surprise to me or to others who don't live in an ivory tower or a monastery, or, I am sure, to your lordship, to learn that quite a lot of people, men and women, have a fascinated interest in this sort of thing." On this island where manners mean everything, one takes one's whipping with a stiff upper lip — and one never says sorry.

—With reporting by Camille Agon


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Dec/23/2008, 8:59 am Link to this post  
 


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