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Vikki Dark's Dominion

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Vikki Dark's Dominion

Hello, my name is Vikki Dark, welcome to my dominion.  I choose this noun very selectively and as you browse the website I wonder whether you can work out why…

I want to direct you as the reader to my writing which is what got me here, to this point, in the first place. I am published several times in novel form and many more in article.  I am also an academic who has degrees in media and writing and am now studying towards a PhD in the both put together. The latter provides me with the range that enables me to excavate the root of many of the shared memes that define women’s positioning in society which is very important to me.

‘Women’s positioning in society’ is a touchy subject – even amongst men – sometimes even moreso.  This is apparent via social media’s rapid adoption by the world – which gives us the capability to reach and converse with large audiences in a way that offers people protection to vent in any contentious way that they feel. People remain invisible. Quite recently I had real time experience of this when I was caught up in a Twitter fight that rumbled on for two weeks following comments I’d made about women’s objectification. Although I found these interactions informative, the levels of abuse demanded my resilience.  I done what any good writer would do and logged it in the press, seen here:  http://urbanette.com/porn-addiction/

Writing by its very nature deals with the business of words and words have a special power of their own.  I notice these distinctions markedly when I read from the masters and mistresses of prose and poetry who, thinking about Nabokov in particular, have the ability to reach one in ways that non-fiction simply cannot. I do not claim to be the best writer, and I confess that I am a work in progress, but of course any intelligent person would know that. The world spins so fast we don’t see it and the ever-changing clouds wrap around us all the while.

The jouissance I experience when traversing great books like Lolita (1922) and her complex tapestry make my writer journey most fulfilling and one that I never want to end. Vladimir, according to annotator, Alfred Appel (1970), thinly disguised central themes of personal experience through his fiction but not in the crude collation of plagiarism of life events. It’s far more complex. Nabokov himself said ‘everything (is kept) on the brink of parody…. that there must be on the other hand be an abyss of seriousness, and I must make my way along this narrow ridge between my own truth and a caricature of it’ (1966:200). We all have suffered and Art makes it sufferable.

Professor Humbert diverted the reader from his ransacking of Lolita with his enchanting words. We concentrate on the intricate language rather than on his malevolence.  The disparity of such a beautiful mind with the crime of child-rape – and our positioning as readers in the tale – alludes to the triangulation of pure transgressive fiction and its magic.

For my PhD, I’m addressing women and their construction through the transgressive mechanism.  It is my belief that in contrast to literature where we found our beliefs such as the epic, and our idea that women were mere accessory, transgressive fiction has the power to attack the Anglo-masculine centre in ways never done before. The Arts reveal truths that facts fail to.

Vikki Dark

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Why Did Fifty Shades Get So Big?

In the course of understanding why Fifty Shades of Grey became so ubiquitous in 2012, we must consider the cultural climate of the time of production such as structures of genre fiction, namely erotica, but also romance and porn which are related themes.  This will lend further understanding of representation which will allow me to explore how gender and sexuality is depicted and to decipher to what extent they are a reflection of actuality and in turn how they maintain, or even construct, dominant ideological assumptions.

Theories of performativity, which draw on the influential work of Judith Butler, argue that gender is not natural, but is constructed and maintained.   It is true to say that the economic, sexual, and social position of those who write and read is an important factor regarding any text – particularly one that has reached dizzying heights like Fifty Shades.  Culture either refuses or welcome artefacts; as Joanna Russ asks (1995; 4) “What does this book say to us? What assumptions does it draw on?” The answers to these questions can be politically loaded and it is this relation of art and literature, to the lives of people that make these questions political.

In Eve Kosofsky’s title Between Men (1985) attention is drawn to characterization and how “anatomic sex and cultural gender may be distinguished from one another in which different paths of men’s relations to male power might be explored” (1985).  This can be related to cultural institutions of masculine domination in terms of representation and ‘suppressing the subjective’ and furthermore a “place of drawing boundary between the sexual and the non-sexual” (Kosofsky,1985) What’s sexual can be translated as arbitrary and accorded to the patriarchal categories of identification.  This is digested in the current ‘multi-tricked porn-star’ identity, exhibiting specialities of double penetration and choking; this hasn’t always been around, but is a by-product of neo-patriarchal neo-capitalism – which is consequently connected to the apportionment of power.

Power has a very real tangible presence, relying on an imbalance in the gender dichotomy.  In the History of Sexuality Foucault (1985) describes the self as resulting partially from individuals “being led to focus their attention on themselves, to decipher, recognize, and acknowledge themselves as subjects of desire, bringing into play between themselves and a certain relationship that allows them to discover, in desire, the truth of their being” (1985 5-6).  Engendering of the self in terms of what we identify as sexual is an accumulation of associations imparted through hegemonic practices via such vehicles as feminine sexuality.  Feminine sexuality has been maintained through constructions in texts, written and addressed to men which permeated the erotic genre in its earliest infancy, for example, and have concretized a marketing perspective up to recent times. This function is exemplified in ‘Justine’, by the Marquis de Sade (1791), depicting the sexual misfortunes of an ‘innocent’ virgin, whose ‘virtue’ is ‘stolen’ from many much older men.’  See how these patterns form?

Historically erotic texts were written for men, at least until the emergence of erotic romances whereby women’s sexual preferences were assumed in accordance with the already well-established men’s, apparent in metaphors used universally within these texts.  Kofosky (1985) draws on the concept of re-visioning of terms; she emphasises it’s importance: “the re-perceiving of experience, not because our experience is complex or subtle, but because so much of what’s presented to us as ‘the real world’ is so obviously untrue that a great deal of social energy must be mobilized to hide that ghastly fact” (1985).

 

As a women writing for womenFifty Shades draws me to the question of whether women have renegotiated the terms upon which western erotica is functioning, or is the text an example of the dominant patriarch in implicit forms?  Brigette Frizzoni (1999) points out that “eroticized representations of the male body are a striking feature of many women’s crime novels, which are characterized by disrupting conventions, displaying a new type of character, the Adonis, the beautiful male – homme fatale, a lethally attractive male” (1999).  The Fifty Shades of Grey character, Christian Grey, embodies an objectified figure with his well-endowment, toned body and extensively healthy bank account.  This is interesting as Christian Grey seems to be cosmetically superior to that of Anastasia Steel, our protagonist, who is inferred as being mousy and clumsy.

Rosalind Gill (2001) connects these variables by drawing attention to the gay movement where sexy representations of men have been common practice for a while now, having the effect of filtering out into the mainstream media, she says “realizing these representations were also desirable outside the gay sub-culture” (2001).  It then is only natural these popular areas of the financial markets affect mainstream artefacts – as does the ubiquity of internet porn in modern culture.

Internet porn and its male targeted style has left women blindsided. It is quite recent that we declared defeat and surrendered our partners to the cheap carnival of pornography freely available at the touch of a button. It is no wonder that women ran out and grabbed a copy of Fifty Shades, as it was the first creation of sexuality that they felt belonged to them for what felt like a very long time.

On the subject of porn, Janice Radway noted: “In order to make women into objects, male pornographers give the female voices through which to express their wills, only to order a silence their voices and to erase their will, a feat which effectively denies their status as human subjects” (124.1984). A contributing factor to the emergence of an objectified male identity in the Fifty’s, no doubt.

In her book straight Sex, Lynne Segal (1994:70) features a quote from American feminist Robin Morgan (1981); “Every woman knows in her gut, that the emphasis on genital sexuality, objectification, promiscuity, emotional non-involvement was the male style and that we as women placed greater emphasis on trust, love, tenderness and commitment”. This further explains the division in textual tastes of the sexes.

In her 1999 article Esther Sonnet addresses the post feminist’s construction of women’s heterosexual ‘pornography’ written by women for women exemplified by the Black Lace imprint, suggesting that the politics of reading sex may have altered.  Fifty Shades sees Anastasia falling for the dazzling Christian Grey, becoming his submissive, to then get whipped and smacked and to have hard sex, seemingly portraying her as the passive female, but the irony of the text suggests other forces are at work.  Christian Grey embodies an archetype of what women seem to want, the same construction as that of the Adonis who almost resides within a world controlled by the female, certainly by the female reader, Anastasia effectively allows Christian to serve her with his dominance.  Sonnet (1999) claims that the feminist anti-pornography model is ‘mis-spent’ in the postmodern climate stating that “this politics of condemning the masculine ‘other’ feeds all too easily into the condemnation of the deviant sexualities of ‘perverse others’, the anti-pornography feminist reification of vilified masculinity backfires as a strategy for the furtherance of feminist goals” (1993: 59). 

Sonnet notes that the Black Lace titles are all set against a backdrop of historical and cultural domination of pornography for men by men alongside the promise that it has been written by a female author – ‘erotic fiction by women for women’.   It is worth noting that the Black Lace series belongs to the highly lucrative mass market for erotic novels, “selling two million copies of a hundred different titles in a global-market” (1999).  Research was conducted at the level of qualitative interviews starting with the series editor of Virgin Publishing, which Sonnett describes as being ‘fully aware with feminist thinking on the complexity of legitimizing sexual fantasy spaces for women” (Ibid.1999).  Background context was soon established in terms of the editor’s awareness of postfeminist culture and the ‘openness’ in which women are encouraged to express their sexual desires within particular frameworks.  Her explicit understanding of the wider pornified male dominated culture along with the increased sexual nature of media in general have been clearly digested and implemented into the creation of Black Lace.  Other industry insiders offered further insight to which Sonnett concluded that the texts fall into a domain of a reinforcement of postfeminist notions that suggest the commodity culture ultimately governs.  The authors introduce themselves in the books, purporting claims of feminism combined with a rightful approach to sex with the idea that women enjoying erotica is a ‘bold and independent’ act, making the reader/buyer feel part of a pioneering feminist movement.

An alternative stance was offered via Karen Ciclitira (2004) who conducted semi-structured interviews with women from diverse backgrounds in the UK regarding their perspective on pornography. The accounts show that women feel collectively negatively about it, so with its huge increase, reactionary discourses like the objectified male have ensued.

Vikki Dark

shades

The Slasher Experiment: Blue Eyes

The following short story is part of a wider mosaic of experimentation, belonging to the slasher genre. The characters will revisit my new transgressive work, due out next year, of the same name.

“You damned fool Pies,” Karl remarked, standing tall over his hefty friend, wearing a loose fitting black leather jacket that cut in at the waist.  He smiled, revealing a good set of teeth, his white blonde hair waving in the cold breeze.
“Not good for you to retain so much weight, and for us it seems as you’re always holding us back,” Steve remarked, blinking away moisture from the rain.
“He couldn’t even get it up the poor girl, not good for the ego, not good for the self-image of any hooker.” Karl followed the comment with a high pitched wail, before kicking hard a crushed Fosters can against the filthy, stench ridden subway wall. He winked at a crouched down Steve, who he had known since toddler age, due to him living directly across the street.  His house was demarked by the presence of a neurotic women, his short mother, cleaning minute specks of dirt from the windows at 6 am every day.
“To be elephantine in form may be one of the more tragic endeavours- and to not even be able to fuck a good looking hooker – another,” Steve noted.  You see Pies was fat, so fat that the five hours of walking the streets had seen his Adidas trainers slice deep into the bloated slabs of meat he walked on.  He, himself, looked down in dismay at the red gaping slashes, framed by hanging translucent skin. With his tobacco stained fingers, Pies rubbed the sore area around the foot. Karl shook his head, a frown on his face. For a nineteen-year-old, he was in terrible shape.
“I’ll be alright soon, I just need to sit here for five minutes.  Just stop picking on me; I didn’t want to fuck some prostitute from the Gazette– she wasn’t my type.  Anyway the pair of you should go and get a check-up, neither of you used johnnies, and if he’s caught anything you’ve got it too,” he regarded both boys as he spoke, his head twisting side to side. Pies stopped dead, his finger still pointing at Karl- before letting it fall – as he spotted Karl’s clenched fists. Steve saw too and lowered his head.
“Have you got any more e’s?” Karl asked – conscious of the situation they were in, daylight fully emerged and within Sunday morning, although the constant banging rain and thick grey sky protected him somehow, like a mask.  He couldn’t go back home, not in this state, not with everyone having a day off.  They’d all be sitting around the breakfast table, her in cream, silk pyjamas – like she did every Sunday – no make-up.  And Dad would’ve been to collect the papers, never the tabloids– the better ones – she wouldn’t stand for page three, not because she was a feminist, but because she was concerned that her husband might look. Dad would be leaning over the kitchen side sipping from a large cup of tea, smoking a roll-up and she would have her legs crossed, seated in the corner seat, lighting up a Silk Cut whilst thinking up a problem.
Karl held his hand out awaiting a pill, on sight of the plastic transparent bag Pies brought to light. It had been resurfacing all night, having originally contained a thousand ecstasy pills. Pies was meant to have sold them but could never get his act together, the fat fuck.  Karl nudged his open palm at Pies, prompting him to get a move on. He wanted to get it over with. Even touching it was too much, let alone swallowing it without a drink. The shape of it touching his palm felt as bad as being up close to chalk screeching along a black board. Karl’s heart flipped as he chucked it on his tongue, whilst Steve’s blonde face switched upside down with reaching, like he’d been windswept the wrong way.  Karl ingested the revolting, hateful taste of the chalky cylinder white thing. He was scared that it would get stuck again, like before, and lodged in his throat.  His nerves tingled, in the edge of his skin – biting him like mites crawling everywhere.
Tears filled his eyes as he felt the thing cut into his oesophagus, passing gradually down like a sharp object, feeling so much bigger than it was.
“Fucking abomination,” he screamed, echoes howling through the underground.
The rain poured heavy, drenching the tears into his cheeks, his vision was vivid as he took in the grey landscape of the moors.  The panorama was blighted, gaunt and endless – nothing to see across the barren land accept rolling, merging bleakness, and crashing rain. Everything was his, in these parts, especially the forts with the tiny black rectangular windows.  The overgrown, engorged weeds tried to pull him down, but they weren’t strong enough for Karl.  He knew where he was heading, the others just followed; he knew they wouldn’t question him.
The cows stood about, huddled together, shivering off their sorry state, tied to concrete objects by wretched farmers who didn’t foresee or even care about the dangers that would arrive, hindering their ability to escape such matters. These cows exist in a different consciousness we’re told, but they must get scared, now that was the crux of it.  Out of their line of vision they lay sight on three human shapes heading towards them, direct and undisguised.  The unequivocal nature in which the shapes approached riled the animals somewhat, sensing something wrong.  And they were right, as the tall one drew a jagged blade from his black leather jacket, whilst exposing a set of extremely clenched teeth, he started at the biggest one, cutting him relentlessly, releasing the red blood from beneath the thick leathery dermis, as it cried into the bleakness – in pain and in utter fright. Steve, with his Stanley blade delivered stabs into all three bony
behinds, as they huddled together even closer than possible; he was cautious to share out the pain.  The blood spread like a river, marbling across their white and black bodies; the grunts and screams chimed into the day. Church bells could be heard in the distance as time hit the hour.  Pies grabbed the head of the mother and with both his thumbs poked her brown eye clean out.  He forgot his blade, but he didn’t have to worry because Karl was executing a spearing style of assault, diving the cutter into the big animal so deep the bloodshed coated his face fully, like a freshly burst geyser.  At that moment, when he tasted the metallic flavour of the blood he decided to stop, letting the rain wash it away by opening his mouth to the deep sky, whilst the badly injured cow flopped to the earth with a thump. The animals’ groans started to annoy him so he decided to leave, stretching the jagged blade out in the new direction with a sharp thrust, with enough speed that made Pies run fast, which was a mean feat by any standard, but he needn’t worry – because Karl was just giving it a clean.

Vikki Dark

blue-eyes

Poetry

Long Stemmed Lady

The frozen diorama of the mountain percept,

Gargoyle prison and bleak courtyard,

Is broken by the thorny rose that sits sweetly within the conclave of my dusty window.

Its unapologetic stem,

Completed by such red.

The red of the world and its kaleidoscope of colour,

Stands like an icon of freedom.

The red I view dousing those petals is like a ray to me, a guide even. Who would have thought?

The caressing form atop this elegant flower embodies in some strange way a strand of hope,

Even amidst this unutterable darkness,

That’s rapidly devouring all that I am, all that is me.

I look at thee with longing eyes,

For you are a reminder of a version of myself, of a time before this mania.

I say this with true conviction, I fear, for my attachment to those ribbon like threads of hope, are all what’s left,

And they still linger,

Still tendentious in reflecting the old me and my eternal optimism.

Although I realize you have been watered and kept alive,

Within the enclosing disparity of my state, I fear that our paths imitate.

The pureness of your red against the grey’s and stony vistas only expose that creature’s deep and malevolent desires.

And they are too confusing to speculate,

As I fear of falling refutably into a lusty madness which seems so potent in these parts.

My blood runs cold and the sharpness of my fear’s drain me of Godly spirit,

So much so that suicide calls.

But when I inhale this natural floral,

When I touch the silky, overlapping leaves,

I visit a time borne of radiance,

A time when my heart overflowed,

For I am reminded of you, my beloved,

Who would pick such a rose to show your love for me,

Which I believe to be of the highest decree.

Vikki Dark

long-stemmed

My Books

Temptress – The Linsey Dawn McKenzie story

From late 2012 to mid 2014 was a time I spent with Linsey Dawn Mckenzie. A time that I won’t forget. She invited me into her life, to research, to find out, to meet her family and loved ones. We collaborated on this book with a view to bringing something revealing to the reader, something exciting and tantalising, but informative.  Along the journey that vision got divided.

As we all know, Linsey has been in the industry since the age of 15, experiencing life in a way that places us as the watcher in the oblique.  She was a child back then, with the body exemplar of a women. After all these years, amassing a life stream as a star of the glamour world and sex industry, she’s very different.

The Trouble with Beauty – by Vikki Dark

Eden travels along the indulgent side of life: ego-fuelled patterns of sexual behavior derived from the dark empty void which resides deep within her being – although she, being young, and isolated in her own mind, doesn’t understand how to help herself. Her unstable childhood, provoked by her jealous narcissistic mother, spreads like a plague into the mind of the girl whose insecure nature develops into an inflated sense of sexual entitlement. Eden’s debauched lifestyle and erotic preoccupations manifest into a career of striptease – and hustling rich men for thousands of pounds. Decked out in the finest sexy lingerie with tumbling blonde curls sashaying down her back, combined with laced trimmed stockings and killer heels, Eden is a sexual magnet for the men who come out at night in their droves to the naked dance clubs: havens for the rich and sexually objectified. Her union with the sly busty nymphomaniac Paula sees an electric partnership that draws in the most generous of all, but also the darkest. Has Eden bitten off more than she can chew?

Click here to buy now!

Disturbia – By Vikki Dark

A dark, affected theme runs through this collection of highly charged erotica.

The fiction is told through the minds of disturbed affected girls, touched by the unscrupulous sex industry and the overall mindset before and after coming into contact with it. The fragmentation of the piece allows for breath and to branch from one situation to the next with no fixed connection but an overall picture can be drawn.

Twenty-one short stories cover a variety of fetishes spanning from domination to pure unadulterated sensuality. The girls will take you into situations you might never visit but have maybe have met in your deepest darkest sex dreams.

Overall a disturbing yet modern sexy piece highlighting today’s sex industry mixed into themes of human fragility.

Click here to order this book

 

books

Media

Listen to Vikki’s regular slots on BBC Radio Essex and Interview with the notorious proponent of gonzo porn, Jerry Barnett of Sex Censorship. Vikki also visits UCL to debate against the legitimacy of porn as ‘freedom of expression’.

A Debate About Porn – click to read article published on the Inside The Porn blog, 24 November 2016.

Click to read PI Magazine’s interview with Vikki

media

Transgressive Fiction: Blue Eyes

In my soon to be released book, Blue Eyes, a transgressive work that parodys slasher, my anti-hero, Karl, is dark and at times enticing, and always out of control. His ultra-violence adheres to slasher convention largely aimed at ‘sexy’ women, but also represents a reaction to an abusive mother. The familial home and the abusive mother represent the conditioning, the gender appropriated conditioning of traditionally masculine constructions such as aggressiveness and misogyny. The final girl, his sister, holds the opposing feminine traits of passivity and subject to a past of being sexually objectified -so is an embodiment of the mass produced female, but in its extreme. She also a diluted version of someone who opposes society’s expectations, she’s a stripper but she has children and so there is conflict with the notion of being bound by society and its safety net surrounding children and institution for example.  It is through these abstract structures further enforced by the slasher formula, such as the ‘death by sex,’ trope and its underlying theme of punishing emancipated women, that will ground my meta-theme.  Both brother and sister characters share narration with Hazel, a young porn star. Through the enveloped form of the chapters, i.e., the brother and sister voices arranged for equivalent exposure, and the feeling that this gives of them being entwined within each other in terms of gendered polarization, reflects the deeper theme of female gender subordination, particularly in the sex industry.  Blue Eyes is also forbidden love story between a brother and sister.

A recent slasher book I’ve read is Stephen king’s Joyland (2012), whereby the narrator, Devlin, took on an altogether diverse persona when his third person intimate pov got taken over by his 65-year post cancer survivor self before returning back to his fresh faced 20 year old virginal innocent we had grown used to.  This excellent technique expands the signifying field dramatically and casts an aerial view of the situation. Recent developments in slasher have seen the sexualized women obtained more agency. She is more morally cognizant and anchors the book in favour of the more decent mindset. The blending of the two genres of slasher and transgressive fiction allow a blurring of acceptable boundaries to even greater effect, as in American Psycho whereby antagonist Patrick Bateman’s lived experience sees him engage in ‘acceptable conversation,’ and treating his murderous crimes with a quotidian approach.  Batemen treats violent murder with the same attitude as eating a sandwich.

I’ve positioned an impression of the slasher formula over the unruly transgressional world due to slasher being deeply restrictive and traditionally tightly formulaic.  These strict tropes arranged within the mosaic of boundlessness of transgressive fiction enable queering of these boundaries, and furthermore exposes aggressiveness awarded to crossing boundaries, in this case sexual and out of control women, dichotomies of “whores and chaste”. These binaries are synonymous to slasher, the women punished by the killer for exhibiting sexuality of any kind. Theory explains the backlash towards feminism in the 70’s reflective in the golden age of women hating slasher films.

Most slasher stories use the similar character archetypes such as the alpha bitch, the  jock, the stoner, and final girl. As well as being clichéd, these character types are also associated with classic slasher, which tends to be American in world. Blue Eyes includes the primal characters such as killer and final girl but in-cooperates identities that could be associated with London and South East England.  This also distances my work with slasher and places it more into recognisable features alluding to transgressive fiction. If we take Burgess’s British novel A Clockwork Orange, characters reflect those in Blue Eyes in terms of identity types; the main man, the deputy henchman, the more morally cognizant, and the slow one; which is a British trope seen in the works of British writer Martina Cole.  British iconography such as ‘A crushed Fosters can’, cold, rainy ‘British’ weather,’ and cockney slang mixed with correct English grounds my work in England.

Karl, the killer brother and his friends are reminiscent of Alex and his friends-in-violence in A Clockwork Orange, but Karl has the back story, whereas Alex is less explained, which encourages greater world-building and enhances our relationship with the unorthodox characters, ensuring greater emotional investment.  Burgess’s Alex is objectively evil whereas Karl is a product of a set of structures that have conditioned his masculinity, which in its extremeness is metaphorical.  In order to stylize the work, Karl’s character utilizes Dirman’s Copulatio which offers the character thoughtfulness, in terms of him weighing up consequences which go against his savage behaviour.  Antimetabolites are imbued which reverse the order of repeated words or phrases, creating greater depth to the character, giving him a quirky personality, intensifying his dialogue.  Alliteration has provided the sister with greater voice, akin to basic poetry at times. The visceral chapters belonging to Karl are created through the inclusion of terms that retain an aural quality such as buzz, storm, crunch, thunder etc. mixed with strong weather changing for atmosphere.

 

Genre

Many of the critical texts I have engaged with regarding the subject of genre postulate the subjectivity of it.  Perspective of what determinates any given genre or type can vary according to culture and/or historical point of classification.  Elements such as form, theme, formula and mode are sometimes replaced with the classification of ‘genre’ by theorists and publishers alike so the question of whether there is any definitive boundary in which we can recognise genres needs exploration.  Additionally the emergence of canonical genres suggests recurring situations that are decipherable by any given genre’s audience connoting a recognisable set of signs.

The mediums connected directly to popular culture such as television are subject to financial constraints and so present content within common frameworks of generic type for the purpose of efficiency, and convenience, particularly for the consumer.  TV genre theorist Jason Mittel states, ‘Audiences use genres to organize fan practices, personal preferences and everyday conversations with viewing practices,’ (2001.3) emphasising that genre is an important way to categorize the vastness of programmes available.  So it’s clear that identifying with a set of features that demark a genre is useful in terms of enabling a contractual relationship between audience and text, a relationship that assures the audience of a certain narrative, plot and/or form in terms of expectation.  The audience may assume to hear a certain voice even – evident in ‘classic’ slasher novels between the 1970s and 80s, whereby a distinctly misogynistic tone recurrently fed us the information forming an ‘exemplar’ of the genre.

Chandler (1997) states that, ‘Conventional definitions of genres tend to be based on the notion that they constitute particular conventions of content such as themes or settings and/or form – including structure or style,’ although this can be problematic when the matter of theme crosses into alternate genres, or when the content matches a set formula expected of another genre entirely.  Take the formulaic slasher subgenre for example, what with the strict set formula of plot structure which came to define it its 1970’s ‘golden age’: a knife wielding killer hunts his victims;  people get slashed and bodies then pile up; followed by the emergence of a survivor, often a female who engages the killer in the climactic struggle.  The superficial motif, such as the perpetual graphic violence committed by a psychopath, using a blade, has been replicated in other works such as within the metaphorical genre of transgressive fiction, namely in Brett Easton Ellis’s 1992 title American Psycho.

The continuous violence of the book became the focus of the public, surpassing most slashers in terms of the ‘gore factor,’ turning it into a bestseller.  Ellis remarks in an interview with The Guardian, ‘I don’t think I got a single good review – every one across the board was terrible. The New York Times’ headline of their review, which ran three weeks before publication, was ‘Snuff this book: don’t let Bret Easton Ellis get away with murder’(Mullen,J.2010).  The fact that American Psycho was written by a well-known talent and was a critique of the pointlessness of 80’s consumerism was mainly ignored in favour of the violent motif, but this was because the book was presented outside of the horror genre and therefore outside of popular identification, particularly to those who are unfamiliar with transgressional fiction, which is a relatively niche genre and not conventionally mainstream. Messier (2004) states, “sex and violence in texts tacitly assumes an inherent aesthetic quality that makes them intensely attractive and feeds voyeuristic impulses.” So by forgoing an understanding of transgressional fiction, and that it’s known for its major metaphors, the art is subjected to something that has been created for a scopophiliac who enjoys violence.

As Robert Stam (2000.14) suggests, ‘subject matter is the weakest criterion for generic grouping because it fails to take into account how the subject is treated.’ Bateman’s violence is presented so explicitly because its defining role in the book is to be unavoidably horrific reflecting the horror of the consumer trap. Publishing director of Pan Macmillan Australia, James Fraser, defended his decision to release American Psycho by stating, “to what extent does society want to hear the truth about itself, about individuals within the community and about the governments the community elects. If we care about the preservation of standards, there is none higher (book) than this” (Lee Brian. 2006).

Saunders (2006.3) points to the understanding that ‘texts are built from a system, codes and traditions established by previous works of literature but they are also built from systems, codes, and traditions of companion art forms,’ which is important when we investigate the trajectory of the slasher genre as many novels released were shaped by the presence of film such as Alfred Hitchocock’s 1960 Psycho adaptation which was credited with bringing new levels of violence and sex into films, and the hugely popular film franchises of Friday 13th series during the seventies and eighties. Psycho, the novel by Robert Bloch, released in 1959, is now seen as the forbearer of the genre.  If we compare the work to genre-defining slasher novels which appeared within the ‘golden age,’ as well as more contemporaneous texts such as Church of the Devine Psychopath by Scott Phillips (2005), they all promote a set of characteristics that fulfill what’s come to be expected of slasher, albeit in retrospect: the third person, intimate perspective with killer and the unreliability of this position from the initiation of the text, the changing pov from chapter to chapter so we get a feel of all the victims voices on intimate levels whereby vernacular is heavily imbued, the overt sexualisation of women, long shadow, graphic violence motif, the action filled plot, the lack of introspection regards characterization, the ‘final girl’ symbol, and the themes of the favorability of chasteness she represents.  Much of the aforementioned techniques are transposed cross the film and book mediums. As Neale (1980,22-3) states that there are ‘particular features which are characteristic of a genre (but) not normally unique to it; it is their relative prominence, combination and functions which are distinctive,’ which when combined, in the case of slasher, make for the primordially violent and sexually voyeuristic experience.

We can see that genres are fluid and subject to modification due to the ever-changing wider context which is evident in the state of the slasher genre in the current climate compared to earlier times.  After the successful Scream (1996) franchise openly critiqued the genre, exposing its set formula through character dialogue, slasher on an intertextual level hybridized with other genres. The exemplars only emerged through re-boots of old classics for the more compartmentalized fanbase.   John Hartley (O’Sullivan.1994) notes that ‘the addition of just one film to (the western) genre….changes that genre as a whole.’ Let’s consider the slasher/zombie/horror novel Midnight Movie (2011) written by Texas Chainsaw Massacre director, Tobe Hooper.  The book is composed in epistolary format using today’s technology such as Twitter, text messaging and e-mail.  This adds realism to a worn out formula thus allowing first person p.o.v with victims and killers giving the various voices agency. Latent elements synonomous with slasher are alive such as extreme graphic sexual objectification of women, juxtaposed with ongoing violence.  Developments are noted in terms of the only apparent final girl having some sex which could reflect womens liberation in the wider socio-context as well as a weaker mysoginistic voice filtering through, letting the first person sexualized women do there own talking.

American Psycho transgresses artistic conventions and social norms of morality, as well as the way it establishes itself as a social critique of the contemporary consumer lifestyle by juxtaposing the unknown in the middle of common sense,” states Messier (2004) referring to the shocking motif used to convey the meta-theme. Anthony Burgess’s 1971 transgressive novel A Clockwork Orange depicts glamourized rape and ultra-violence – but as a way of attracting attention to government testing trough stylized prose via a devised argot awarded to the ‘cool gang’ as well as motif lent from the finer arts.  Slashers in the most conventional sense will attract lovers of extreme, graphic horror, which I’ve discovered is not myself.  What attracted me was the female oppression theme from a theoretical sense, synonymous with the genre, although this is exactly what could be the attraction in terms of thrill to others– the promise of sex and violence, particularly through the mysogynistic male gaze. This paved the way for my decision to create a work that fell in allignment with both slasher and transgressive fiction.

Vikki Dark

 Bibliography

Bloch, R. (1959) Psycho. London. Corgi Books.

Bloch, R. (1982) Psycho 2. London. Corgi Books.

Burgess, A. (1962) A Clockwork Orange. London. Penguin.

Campbell, R. (1982) Dark Companions. USA. Macmillan Publishing.

Carson, J. (1979) Pronominalization in A Clockwork Orange. http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/literarycriticism/7727118/pronominalization-clockwork-orange. Accessed on 10/12/2014.

Carver, R. (2009) What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. USA. Vintage.

Chandler, D. (1997) An introduction to Genre Theory. Found at http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/intgenre/intgenre.html.

Cole, M. (2012) The Faithless. London. Headline.

Easton Ellis, B. (1992) American Psycho. USA. Picador.

Fowler, C. (2014) Nyctophobia. Oxford, U.K.  Rebellion Publishing.

Hooper, T. (2011) Midnight Movie. USA.Three Rivers Press.

Jaffe, I. (2008) Hollywood Hybrids. USA. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Jancovich, M. (2002) The Horror Reader. Routledge.  Stam, R. (2000) Film Theory. London. Blackwell.

King, S. (2012) Joyland . USA. Hard Case Crime.

Krzywinska, T. (2006) Sex and the Cinema. USA. Wallflower.

Lee Brian, D. (2006) The Real filth in American Psycho. Found at – http://journal.media-culture.org.au/0610/01-brien.php.  Accessed 10/12/2014.

Lowe, N.J. (2000) The Classical Plot and the Invention of Western Narrative. London. Cambridge University Press.

Messier, P. (2004) Violence, Pornography, and Voyeurism as Transgression in American Psycho. Found at: http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/15215255/violence-pornography-voyeurism-as-   transgression-bret-easton-ellis-american-psycho Accessed 10/11/2014.

Mittel, J. (2001) A Cultural Approach to Television Genre Theory. USA. Cinema Journal.

Mullen, J. (2010) http://www.theguardian.com/books/series/bookclub  Accessed 11/11/2014.

Neale, S. (1980) Genre. British film institute/London University Press.

O’Sullivan, T. (1994) Key concepts in Communication and Cultural Studies. London. Routledge.

Phillips, S. (2005) Church of the Devine Psychopath. USA. Black Flame.

Queneau, R (1947) Exercises in Style. U.K. One World Classics.

Saunders, J. (2006) Adaptation and Appropriation. USA. Routledge.

Vonnegut, K. (1969) Slaughterhouse Five. London. Vintage Classics.

blue-eyes

Dracula: In the Absence of Virtue

Dracula: The Absence of Virtue is a vignette, focusing on the early part of the narrative associated with Bram Stoker’s 1897 Dracula novel, as well as the conventional Dracula story featured in many well-known filmic adaptations released thereafter. ‘The Absence of Virtue’ alters traditional structure and plot, encompassing re-worked themes transferred to the medium of short story.  

This adaptation can be understood and enjoyed with no prior knowledge of the Dracula text, although having it would enhance the reader’s experience in terms of broadening understanding of character, extending meaning across time.  The Absence of Virtue is seen through the intimate lens of the first person singular narration of Mina Harker, who takes husband Johnathan’s place in travelling to Castle Dracula.  This allows for a politically loaded short story that highlights postmodern issues connected to feminism, emblematizing concerns with notions of feminine sexual empowerment purported through adverts and general media in the contemporary age.  This vignette can be read and appreciated within the genre of fan fiction, as the gender transferals and short story form are both very subversive to the canon, but could attract interest from a more radical perspective.

                              Dracula: In the Absence of Virtue

Mr Hawkins reclines back into his racing green, leather, studded office chair, bolstered with padding for lower back support. His blue and white pinstripe shirt pulls tightly over his ever increasing stomach.  His office is more like a lounge, carpeted luxuriantly throughout, filled with hundreds of books and a state of the art computer.  He has been in this game for many years and has acquired the physique accorded to too many indulgent business lunches.

“So it’s an important one, the guy’s worth a hell of a lot, kiddo.” Hawkins clasps his hands together, resting them on his paunch, his gold rimmed frames equally resting on the tip of his rotund nose.  A sharp glint of light captures my eye, from a gilded picture frame that sits on a mantle-piece, over the dormant fire grate; it’s a picture of a kindly looking aged brunette lady. She tilts her head to the right, against a sunny day. In that simple pose I gather that she’s submissive to him.  She has been his slave for many years.

“Mrs Willemina Harker, I didn’t hire you to look at my wife.” Hawkins sits bolt upright, his grip squeezes a personalised biro pen.  I imitate his posture automatically and push my black frames up onto my nose.

“Sorry, Sir, I hadn’t the best night’s sleep; my little girl was up late, and I guess I’m wired. Johnathan’s lucky, he sleeps through.”

“How’s his writing?”

“Oh it’s going great; he’s deeply engrossed in the creation of his latest novel.” I can’t help but smile as I think of my husband’s success.

“Ok, I’m glad home life is settled because I want you to do something for me,” he slides back sharply in his chair, wrenching out the heavy drawer to his right; he pulls out a cylinder shaped pole.  He thrusts it onto the desk between us.  I watch him unravel the barrel and notice the voracious way he licks his lips.

“In front of you lies a map of Transylvania.” He slams down a black and gold marble paperweight in the shape of a female torso, void of any appendage, in assault against the curling corners.  The map looks ancient. It is tinged by a burnt orange. The markings and language are of original hand writing formatted in runic characters.

“Where did you get this? It looks like it’s worth something.”

“Nothing compared to what we’ll make on business with this client. Here – is his habitat,” Hawkins points to a plateau of seemingly high altitude, depicted by a blurring on the map and micro strokes that resemble clouds. He flattens his large pink hand across it.  I can’t help notice his thick gold wedding ring digs uncomfortably into his bloated finger, grey hairs imprisoned underneath it. He averts his gaze, looking directly at me.

“He is rich beyond belief, pure old money.  He is looking for a property in the thick of things, which I have found for him at number 1 Mayfair; a sixty eight million pound estate no less,” he winks animatedly, taking on a foxy grin. I’m in awe at the figures, loosely calculating the massive commission to Hawkins. “I want you to travel to him to finalise the deal.  He’s after that personal touch. I’m too old. and you’re young and attractive.” Hawkins smiles, “It’s worth thirty thousand for you if we pull this off; all expenses paid, and the highest level of hospitality provided by the Count himself.”

The sharp sunset smatters over the skyline, creating searing iron reds that bleed through the last remains of daylight. I deduce from the dark shadows mirroring from my lenses, and the slither of the white moon, that this night will be a dark, cold one. The Carpathians consist of a chain of mountain ranges that stretch from the Czech Republic to Romania, I read from the pocket travel guide purchased at Waterloo station, imagining the broad linguistic lexicon.  The speed train enters the channel and runs smoothly against the bottom of the ocean. I feel an excitable blaze of adventure rage within me, and devour the enterprise of independence, as I forgo my usual motherly responsibility, kicking off my black leather court shoes under the table.

I witness the beauty of new lands on leaving Paris as I’m dragged into Munich aboard a streamline sleeper train, via the twinkling of pin point lights dotted within the surroundings of boundless forests. The Austrian Railjet train – proves a bumpier transit, but allows for breath-taking views made possible from the scores upon scores of Alpine, displayed in such intricate form, as if designed directly by God’s hand.  On entry to Brasov, I notice the sharp descent of temperature, and the synergy of that manifestation within the peoples.

The night I spend in the town is one of confusion to me. I am shocked by the scarcity of English speakers. The statuesque and hardened hotelier and his quaint wife build a sentence together, asking me my destination; I tell them Castle Dracula and they break into conversation about me, for they both look at me pityingly. There are a number of words said that stick out in my mind: ‘Pokol’, ‘Ordog’,’stegoica’ and ‘vrolok’. I address them in my polygot dictionary and am startled to discover they mean ‘Hell’, ‘Satan’, ‘witch’ and ‘vampire’. What a strange couple.

Tonight in my room I feel the burden of journey creep up on me like a listless parasite. It’s dark, and the floor boards creak; the building sits disjointed; a crooked house no less. I catch my reflection in a pentagonal mirror that reflects the snowy, dense blue twilight behind me, beyond a wide, rectangular window, offering an image of a lonely raven-haired woman void of lipstick. I want to speak to my husband, and see how things are with baby Elizabeth.

I have walked the length and breadth of this motel unable to a get signal from my mobile phone and am annoyed to find the lack of facilities here. There is no internet and no phones.  I find this very strange in this day and age.

I did not sleep well as I was struck by the most vivid dreams; I could hear breathing in my room, in a desolate corner; I walked towards it and it stopped and seemed to move to another corner, next to a rickety old wardrobe; again I walked towards it and it disappeared.

It is the morning of the eve of St George’s Day, according to the old lady who wakes me with her insatiable banging on my door. She has a letter from the Count, reminding me that I will be with him very soon. She insists I wear a crucifix- around my neck; this comes after she asks me whether I know- that this night, when the clock strikes midnight, is when all the evil things in the world are at their most powerful? She then asks me, if I know where I am going.  I fear she sees the irritation in my face as she then falls to her knees, begging me not to go.  I’m starting to feel that I’m the subject of some unfunny prank.

Following instructions, I head on foot to the domestic station, which is situated very near to the place I stayed. There is a group of people huddled together in the dusty space; the men, statuesque in form, barbarian looking, wear big cow-boy hats. They have long hair and heavy moustaches.  The women are their polar opposites – wearing tight corsets, accentuating their waists marvellously. They look pretty, with cheeks pinched pink, so much so it’s as if they have rubbed their own blood into themselves for extra effect. They appear braless, with exposed petticoats. The children play with sticks and stones, but are instructed to stop and return to their parents on sight of me.

I tread up onto the rotting wooden deck of the station entrance.  It is desolate, and I can see there is only one wrought iron track, indicating that the train only ever runs back and forth on a single line. According to the information board, there are thirteen stops before I reach the Borgo Pass. My train is due soon. I hear voices and am shocked to see that the locals have moved closer to me, hissing the same words as the ones I had heard spoken by the hoteliers. I hide myself behind the station building; there I sit frozen to the spot. What the hell is it all about?

The steaming locomotive scrapes and squeals towards me.  I am aware that I’ll be experiencing this icon of transport history.  The black cast iron configuration of shapes, which make up the machine, appears proud and combative. The engine sits at the crest of the vehicle, wrapped within a black iron cylinder. It spits steam into the fresh air as if choking through its oral cavity. It reminds me of an old army major, basking in high rank and responsibility. The black leather of my shoes becomes laced with fine dust as it churns to a halt. There are several carriages; I choose the one closest to the front, in the vein of magical thinking, wanting to be closer to the man I see in it. As I sit by the window seat I notice the group enter the station. They see me through the thin glass.

“Diabol,” a woman with red hair shouts with all the might of an angry lunatic, her face so red, it looks sore. I see no other person on this carriage, and am saved from sheer and utter humiliation. I know what the word means, as I had seen it in the dictionary, along with the other insults, although I’ve never thought myself as a devil before. God, I want my Johnathan and am sad to see above the phone screen image of my ashen haired baby and handsome husband, that a little cross sits in place of the usual white signal bars, indicating that phone service is inoperative.  I’m relieved that the train rears into motion, leaving those horrid people behind, with such a high pitched scream that would be sure to deafen their torrid thoughts.

All day long we dawdle through a country full of beauty. At every station there are clusters of people and in all sorts of attire; every now and then a passenger would enter the carriage but would soon depart. I, by far, have been the longest traveler. I flick through the guide and am startled to read that the number of wolves here is between 2500-3000.

I can see dark forests and intersecting valleys from my window. Beyond the green swellings are mighty slopes that run up the lofty steeps of the Carpathians’ themselves. They tower right and left of us, the afternoon sun falling full upon them, till these are themselves lost and replaced by grand snowy peaks. It has been seven hours, and I know, from the Count’s letter, to look for a red Dacia, a make of car I have never encountered in all of my thirty one years.

As the train closes in on the last stop, I see that I’m the only soul here; evident from the sheer silence. It’s twilight and the chill brushes my cheeks.  Even the train seems to die as the smoke falls flat into nothing. The little station building is engorged with wild and savage plant life, dotted by cardinal red roses with ferociously large thorns. The sound of a smooth engine violates my senses, along with the sight of a ruby red car, as stretched as a hearse- and as sleek as a Bentley; it nestles along the outer edge of the station, behind the overgrown grass.  I walk towards it, as no one gets out.  It’s impossible to see who’s driving as the windows mirror the outside world.

The door opens and I enter the dark interior. The car lights blaze, making the sky look black as I fall back into plush, soft leather; my bags fall to the floor as if they are pulled from me. I catch a glimpse of the driver through the centre mirror; his face is ancient looking, deeply lined and of the whitest pallor; his hair is arranged in two mounds on either arc of the head, positively ivory  and fastened back, as if very long. He looks back at me. I feel an icy tremor; his eyes are black and beady, and as the light glimmers across him, I see his mouth, fixed and cruel looking. Without a word, he spurs the car forward and we sweep into the darkness of the Pass. As I look back, through the dimmed, gleaming back window, I can see my army major in the face of the train, defeated.

We sink further into darkness and I feel a strange chill. This is punctuated by the driver’s voice, “My lady; my Master the Count bade me take care of you. There is a drink of slivovitz, a plum brandy, in front of you should require it,” he pronounces in excellent English. I like the civilized parlance of his words and the velvety depth of pitch. I see the curved, auburn bottle, with a shimmery label, embossed with the year ‘1897’. I am able to release the attached click-off cork easily – it seems like the Count has thought of everything, I think, whilst tipping the spirit into the available heavy glass bulb.

The driver is hidden behind a black screen and I can only see blankets of snow from the windows. Soon we are hemmed in by trees, which arch over the roadway till we pass through a tunnel where tiny blue lights become visible.  I had read about these, being a symbol of buried treasures left by the dead from war times. We keep on ascending, with occasional periods of descent, but in the main, ascending.

In the unlit courtyard of a vast castle, from whose tall black windows comes no light- I am confused by the lapse in my consciousness as I find myself standing at a great door, old and studded, not recalling how I got here.  I look around to see the Dacia swerve away into a greater darkness.   Suddenly there is a sound of clanking bolts being drawn back. The door swings open. Behind it – stands a tall, beautiful man with very long, black, wavy hair and a neat, black moustache. He wears a steel-coloured suit jacket, double breasted with shining buttons and a dark silver neck scarf with a monogramed diamond, which sits at his throat.

“Welcome to my house; come freely. Go safely; and leave something of the happiness you bring,” he says in a voice surprisingly similar to the driver’s. He looks at me through black eyes, offering me his hand as I step in; candle light quivers around me.

“You must eat and take rest before we discuss matters,” he advises, taking my hand luggage with a type of ease of someone strong. I watch his vigorous steps as we walk up a winding staircase, adorned in a heavy, blood red carpet.  I follow him onwards to another vast passage; he looks around at me in a sweeping glance. “I prefer to see to your comfort myself,” he explains as he pushes at a heavy door, which falls back easily. I see a well-lit room, where a table is freshly laid out with chocolate cake, tea, and an elaborately designed green bottle decorated with the swirling letters ‘Absinth’.  A fire burns brightly on a feast of forest logs, flaming wildly.

The Count puts down my bags and I hand him the sealed letter which Mr. Hawkins had entrusted to me. He accepts it and with a charming smile, assures me that he will tend to the ‘finer matter’ alone. He crosses the room, opening another door, leading into an octagonal area, lit by burning candles on candelabras; the flames sway playfully. It’s a welcome sight, this bathroom warmed with another log fire, sending a hollow roar up a wide chimney. I see the bath is ready, a rose scent leaping off of its steamy water.

“It is very hot and will be the perfect temperature very soon,” the Count informs me, an artful smile upon his impressive face.  I stand in this small room directly opposite him, and the captivating figure he imposes and I am hit by a feeling of attraction. I re-assert myself and the Count withdraws. I hear the outer door close.

I discover that I am famished with hunger, and devour the delightful cake, feeling myself replenish. I fall back into the red velvet, cushioned chair, feeling a grin cross my face; he is very beautiful. I take some tea but pour myself some Absinth at the same time; curious whether I might see the ‘green fairy’!  I watch the emerald coloured liquid engulf the glass bulb. There are hoards of books stacked atop long shelves; I see he has an interest in drugs and medicine. I notice the dark wood of my four poster bed is complemented by the arrangement of fine white linens. The strange flavoured drink is deliciously numbing and perfect to assist me with my bath.

The plumes of steam sift in and out of each other as if they are alive. The heat is suffocating and I feel lost in time. I was sure there was someone in here with me, a figure standing by the arched door. I feel re-awakened as if I was sleeping in these waters; how strange. I must get out and tend to business, the reason why I’m here.

The candle flames suddenly diminish and it’s pitch black.  I can’t find any towels. It’s cold. I pull the door open.  The bedroom is black; a cold draught runs at me like a typhoon.  I can’t make out where things are.  I remember my luggage being placed near to the entrance.  I’m sickened to find that it’s not there.  I feel like a rat in a trap as I grab at the stone walls and objects, desperately searching for my clothes, which I laid out – where – I can’t remember. The icy air hits my naked body so sharply that I feel distressed; I run towards the door.  Suddenly I can hear a long agonized wailing – of dogs, and then another and another, till a wild howling begins, which seems to come from all over the country. I pull the heavy door open and rush out into the great hallway.  I cover myself with my arms and hands.  There are many doors along the passage; I try to open them to find a blanket or something, but they are all locked and bolted. I feel the dust belonging to this strange place stick to my bare feet.  I tread the stairwell, scared and embarrassed. I am met with the sight of flickering candles within an area of darkness. Am I in trouble?  I walk towards the lights, feeling the cold stone floor meet my skin; I’m startled to see the outline of the Count, who appears to be seated at one end of a long table.

“Come – sit opposite me – supper awaits you,” he says, in a commanding tone.

“My clothes have gone – where are my clothes?” I’m shivering; my wet hair sticks to my neck.

“I will have someone find them – for now, sit – and dine with me”.

“How can I sit here with no clothes?”

“Sit,” he roars, followed by a hissing. The conviction in his tone enforces my powerlessness, and I sit down quietly —as quietly as I have ever done anything in my life—and begin to think over what is best to be done – as my gaze trails over a feast of roast chicken and fruits of all kinds. He sits opposite, shadows illuminate his face. I cover myself with crossed arms.

“I have dined whilst you bathed.” He says as he spins a red eyed stare to me. Is this is a nightmare?  Searing chills glide across my damp skin. I can barely make out my surroundings, although behind the Count, upon a high wall, sits an illuminated painting of a long dark haired soldier clad in a suit of blood red armour, displaying the shape of muscle sinews over every curve and plate. The warrior royally clasps the pommel of his sword, positioned vertically next to himself whilst in a crouched stance. The might of the thing is epitomized in the fullness of its blade. He is alive in the eyes.

“Tell me of London and of the house which you have procured for me.”

I see the extent of his face as the candlelight burns bright; he is ill looking, very pale; his eyes blaze.

“It is of an ancient structure. The estate is called Carfax. There are many trees on it, and there is a deep, dark-looking lake. The house is vast and medieval in style, heavily barred with iron. It looks like part of a keep. I could not enter it, as I had not the key of the door leading to it.”

“I am glad that it is old and private. I am no longer young and would prefer to be alone with my thoughts.”  His words did not seem to accord his appearance; he seems no more than thirty five.

I notice his fingers are long, emphasized by overly sharp nails.  He is different to the man I first encountered, more malignant. His hands open up, creating huge shadows on the walls.  He stands to a great height and I am beside myself with fear, shivering profusely. I whimper.  His footsteps tread the stone gradually.  I cannot believe my eyes as I see on him the face of the driver; he exposes vile, sharp teeth. What manner of man is this?

All of a sudden, three women stand around me, arising from nowhere.  They have long flowing hair, a blonde, red head and one raven haired. I see their ice green eyes look like those of snakes. They pull my arms viciously away from my body and lay me on the cold floor; their floaty dresses touch me. I am in fear.  They all possess long, sharp teeth. I see the malevolent figure of the Count behind them.  I feel a burning desire to be kissed. They whisper together, and then laugh—a silvery, musical laugh, so hard, as if impossible to have come from human lips.  I see the blonde looking at me; her teeth fully exposed. She stares at me through piercing eyes. I feel a sharp pain and the offensive scent of blood. I watch massive sharp shadows cross the walls, taking on a life of their own. The women’s bodies feel like cold steel. They keep fastening their teeth onto my neck.  I look and see the red-head nestled face down in my rib cage – she looks up, grinning – her mouth is blood filled. What is left of me? I can hear the churning sound of their tongues as they lick their teeth, feeling the continuous piercing of sharp teeth in their twos. My God, save me.

The Count grasps the necks of the woman, with giant’s power. With a fierce sweep of his arm, he hurls them against a wall, “That’s enough, she belongs to me; now go.” The red-head girl, like a hologram, rises up to him.

“You never loved.” The women join in such a hard, soulless laughter that it makes me dizzy. He leans over me, old and evil, staring into my face

“The heart of the hunter can love” he whispers, exposing such fearsome, long, sharp teeth. I shake uncontrollably but I cannot seem to move from this spot.

“Are we to have nothing to-night?” said one of them, hissing.  I see a bag moving about the floor as though there were some living thing within it.

“Take the bag,” the Count instructs. The black haired one grabs it. I hear wailing, from a baby. The women close in on it. I scream and scream.  A huge beast pins me to the floor. Where’s the Count? It is ferocious and heavy, breathing profusely; its claws scrape my skin; he’s mauling me; I see my own blood spurt. It hooks huge teeth into to my throat. “Johnathan, help me.” I’m paralyzed. I will die.

The white light of the sun wakes me.  I’m cushioned by the white soft blankets of a four poster bed – in Dracula’s home. Oh God – help me; what about the blood? What….. I am uninjured – only good skin I see as I look down through the neck of my white t-shirt. Who put this on me? I see a breakfast laid out and a note.

Dear Ms Harker,

 I’m away on business. A car waits for you.

Thank you

D.

I need to get out of here.

I run through the passageway. Its bleak walls are punctuated by glimmers of sunlight.

The fresh air hits me and I see the red Dacia waiting. The back door opens automatically. I wonder if he is driving. I hesitate, but realise that I would be dead by now if he wanted to kill me, so I step in. The driver is hidden behind a black screen.

The beauty from the train transfixes me; everything is so vivid, the purple of the jacaranda and the crimson peonies blaze with such dynamism. I have pains on my neck – a terrible sore throat.   I feel weak. I can’t wait to see Johnathan.

“Mina, leave that computer alone, come down, the dinner is on the table,”

“Yes Johnathan; I’m just reading something in The Metro.”

Soho prostitute claims to have been the victim of a brutal assault. Other women have come forward; all say that they may have been drugged and bitten at the throat, as well as additional foul play, although none have injuries.

This is very strange.

13th October 2004 Miss Marietta Renfield, 24 years old, claims to have been violently assaulted and bitten at the throat although no injuries substantiated this. Renfield claims to have been held captive during a visit to Eastern Europe whilst on business for P.B Hawkins Solicitor’s Ltd, Regent Street.  Renfield was sectioned in Dartmoor Mental Health Facility under the Mental Health Act ………………..

Mirrors in this elevator used to be such a bonus; now I can’t even see myself to check my make-up. Ding. That’s my floor. I see the cleaners have come and gone. That smell of polish is sickening.

Tap tap tap.

“Who is it?”

“It’s Mina – I can smell you.”

“Ha – come in Mina.”

I peer around the door at him. His glasses are steamed up; he is sweating and looking out of sorts.

“Receive the money?” he asks – as if that will make everything better.

“Did you – more to the point?”

I feel the urge so badly that I run at him; my teeth drip wet and I want to thrive. My brain and body has grown. I need to feed. I grab his head, digging my sharp nails into his skull and take a look at that fat neck. He screams like a baby.

By

Vikki Dark

dracula-story

Sex on Camera: Vikki Dark on the Porn Industry and its Effects

An ex sex-worker blogs about her experiences in the sex industry, the reality behind the videos, and the effects of such material on the younger generation

I have sampled the sex industry in its full and varied diversity. And in that time, I had taken two overdoses, been raped twice, consistently manipulated and became a functioning drunk. It’s true to say, I am a rehabilitated abuse victim who gave her consent. The turning point was recognising I had to change for my child, now children, as well as furthering my education – which awarded me the ability to see the truth of what happened to me. I wasted most of my twenties in the industry, continuously pursuing the promise of a bit more money than the average wage, only to be left with no CV, and struggling with feelings of anger from sexual and emotional violation. 

I must first point out that not all pornography is harmful, that sex on camera in itself is expression and can be artistic.

What I do have a problem with, is how easily misogynistic pornography can be accessed. This kind of porn, what I will refer to as ‘gonzo’ porn, worryingly commands approximately 98% of porn internet traffic and is the current point of reference for sex education.

Women in gonzo porn are pitted as a debased object; voiceless and used and abused by men, who mock them and subject them to degrading acts. This is expression you may think, even if it isn’t respectful. In some ways I’d agree with you – but because gonzo pornography is so easily accessed, it has permeated our everyday lives and distorted reality, with dangerous consequences…

Gonzo Porn has replaced our understanding of the natural development of sex that exists in real relationships, between two people. It has sadly carved out a new identity for women who subconsciously embody the damaging ‘slut’ persona, feeling that this is the only way to ‘impress’ men. Porn also promotes self-sexualisation in very young girls, and has brainwashed boys and men into seeing women as fodder, not the multi-faceted people that they really are.

The word ‘slut’ is a common phrase in memes seen on many young teenagers Facebook feeds and other social media, describing certain female classmates. The frequency of this unfair adjective is a new arrival, and goes hand in hand with the increase of degradation porn. Sure, when I was young there were girls who got intimate with more boys than others, but they weren’t shamed to this extent. The children who grow up in the media-obsessed culture of today are experiencing an entirely new animal.

 

Girls are encouraged to self-sexualise through expectations of boys who watch porn regularly, but are then ‘slut-shamed’ for doing so. It’s a trap, and one that society should be aware of for public health. Gonzo porn is presented as edgy, and a reflection of freedom of expression. It is never presented in truth: as one gender’s mass-scale violation.

If expression was really free in porn, then subgenres like ‘alternative porn’ would be more popular – where both genders are depicted as equal. The current porn industry is about control and humiliation of women, but boys and men are also being damaged by pornography; experiencing erectile dysfunction due to the bombardment of high speed graphic images. As a consequence, they also experience desensitisation to real sexual relationships.

The industries that make these representations don’t care for one minute how they affect people. They only care about money. To remain healthy, it is our responsibility to maintain our sense of self-respect and to not be coerced into unwanted sex, or extreme acts just because porn has normalised them. The porn stars who act in these films are only doing it for money, and many of them are damaged people who take drugs and have had problematic upbringings.

I found myself in a bad place in my teens. I had a terrible relationship with my mother and left home at a very young age to stay with people I didn’t really know. I starting seeing a man who was much older than myself, and then fell into the glamour industry. At first I thought it was fun – but very quickly I had developed a drinking habit to cope with the people who (in retrospect) used me. My world became very dark. Sure, there were some good things, like the money, but that eventually disappeared and all I was left with, were the scars of being sexually objectified.

 

I believe that sex workers should have worker’s rights that prevent them from the coerced sexual abuse that happens time and time again. There are situations constantly cropping up on social media of girls complaining of being violated outside of shoots. I also believe that porn stars should be able to buy back images of themselves after ten years so they can transition in society more comfortably. The sex industry pays women more, as it needs its object to function, and women in the industry think they are getting a good deal, until they find themselves with no way of getting out. The permanence of their appearance on film leaves them with little prospect in corporate society. Women are not people in the sex industry, they are voiceless caricatures.

We don’t know the true effects yet, as the internet is relatively new, and I’m not dismissing its sheer awesomeness for one minute, but what I am fighting against is the graphic depiction of women as fodder. Are glamour models victims of a culture that sexualises women and young girls? What effects do these identities have on everyday women? Our children need more protection – both boys and girls. Glamour models are certainly not empowered like some say they are, but they wouldn’t bite the hand that feeds them would they? If they weren’t facilitating men’s demands they wouldn’t be of interest to these men.

The glamour model is an unhealthy construction and teaches women that they are decoration. They are merely brainwashed by a culture that disregards the best interests of humanity. We need to encourage connection and co-dependency, which means real rapport between boys and girls.

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The Political Economy of Sexuality

The Fifty Shades trilogy have sold more than 70 million copies worldwide (Messitte.2012)and what with Universal Pictures creating a movie version, sales of the books could continue to surge for months. Anne Messitte, the publisher of Vintage/Anchor who discovered James, says “the success of the books is a classic example of the role that word-of-mouth has always played in the success of commercial fiction. For many readers, these books tapped into fantasy and curiosity, and those aspects started a lot of women talking to other women,” she says. “The buzz started among women in their 30, 40 and 50’s in the New York metro area but kept spreading. Soon people wanted to know what “everybody” was talking about. “All of that was accelerated by social media and by the general media attention about what was happening and who was reading these books,” Messitte adds. “It wasn’t just a genre-interested reader. It wasn’t just an erotica genre reader. It was a very mainstream, general audience. And that become a story unto itself until it became part of the popular culture very quickly.”(Bentley,P.2012).

Messitte mention of Fifty Shades entering the ‘mainstream’ is key to understanding the reasons behind its success.  Most mainstream media is profit driven and the contribution of political economy is important – particularly as the communication industries have inverted themselves at the centre of global capitalism.  As Jonathan Hardy explains (2008) “Critical political economy rests at the central claim: different ways of organizing and financing communications have implications for the range and nature of media content, and the ways in which they are consumed and used”.  This theory recognises that goods produced are both economic and cultural which entices focus into the symbolic meanings produced according to economic interests.  It is then important to consider the political economic organization of certain industries when examining the production of meaning which is a major contributor to how people identify themselves within any society.  Political economists will draw attention to ownership, government implications, as well as finance and advertising.  This also draws attention to issues of creative autonomy which begs the question of how much of Fifty Shades is authentic to James’ authorship and how much was contrived from editorial interests connected to marketing.  To understand fully any given media form, as Kellner points out (2009.96) “addressing how it is produced and distributed, and how it is situated in relation to the dominant social order” is paramount.

Let’s take a look into the book publishing industry today, which saw the 77-year history of book publisher Penguin, change with a deal to merge the business with rival Random House, publisher of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, creating the world’s biggest book publisher.  The prefigured plans for this venture will see an estimated one quarter share of the market for English language book sales and generate annual revenues in the region of £2.5billion. Penguin’s owner Pearson, which also is publisher to the Financial Times, will have a 47 per cent stake, with Random House’s German owner Bertelsmann supporting the rest.  “The venture, called Penguin Random House, will have an estimated one quarter share of the market for English language book sales generating annual revenues in the region of £2.5billion” (Bentley,P.2012)).  Random House is already the world’s largest trade book publisher and Penguin is the fourth-biggest.  The merge offers significant benefits in terms of shared resources and economic benefits that will have real life effects related to more investment in authors than standalone firms. “Random House last year sales accounted for just fewer than 15 per cent of the UK market, compared with Penguin’s 11 per cent. The other publishers in the ‘big six’ are Hachette, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan”. (Bentley,P.2012)  Although this level of merge has attracted the attention of Rupert Murdoch, owner of HarperCollins, who was reportedly interested in making a £1billion offer for Penguin.

Over the past twenty years horizontal integration has taken place through many media forms with vertical integration at its forefront consequently creating a global oligopoly from the top tier, comprising of Bertlesman and News Coorporation as well as eight other major companies, owning 80-85 per cent of the world’s film, music, satellite, magazine and book publishing industries.  Concentration allows industries to exercise major market power and for Herman and McChesney (1997), ”the emerging system is a tiered one in which a second tier of some eighty national companies, with extensive ties to the top firms, operates within a system of structural dependency”(1997.188).  Even though the current communications system is governed by an “increased number of multidirectional patterns and is subject to non-unionized decentralization”(ibid.) concentration still remains of central concern because merged ownerships can “restrict the flow of communication and information by limiting the diversity of producers and distributors”(Mosco,2009.162).  Whether the gender of those responsible for deciding the types of texts that are disseminated into the mainstream is part reason for stereotyping and ideological bias is unknown and needs more investigation according to Goffman (1979) who suggests more studies need to examine whether male bosses and editors are more likely to exercise patriarchal notions.

Living in a liberal democracy, one would expect a marketplace that reflects diversity instead studies show the opposite (Mckay, Covell. 1997), take advertising as a primary example, firstly because it’s interlinked positioning within capitalism, every day we are bombarded with texts influencing our attitudes, values and beliefs.  Ads contain messages about gender roles appropriating behaviour to women.  Erving Goffman (1979) “emphasized that ads contain very subtle clues about gender roles and may operate as socializing agents on several levels. Men and women seem to accept these portrayed behaviours, thereby perpetuating stereotyped roles.  The increase in sexualized images in ads have intercepted with wider culture as shown in Mckay’s and Covells study (1997), which showed “that after being exposed to sexually explicit advertisements, both men and women showed greater gender role stereotyping, rape myth acceptance and acceptance of sexual aggression against women.”  These same studies showed contrary to earlier findings, that women  were being shown in more professional positions, alongside men, however this was counteracted by the increase in sexual imagery depicting women and in addition, including men, subverting its patriarchal entrenchment somewhat. The connected nature of advertising with political economy means that its ability to create ideology is resounding, as advertisers “fund all but a few state run or community broadcasters, as well as the lion’s share of newspapers and increasingly worldwide web content” (Gill,R.2007) which has the effect on medias industries mainstreaming certain groups and excluding others.  Gender ideology is a concept that has always proved an efficient device for advertisers to utilize in terms of eliciting discontent within women and their rampant sexualisation enhances its ability to grasp rapid attention having the effect of saving money on airtime.

A massive expansive of the dissemination of ideas within the information age has led to complex conflicting contra-strands between the feminist movement and what is meant by femininity.  These differences are recognised through social construct, and both politically and ideologically entrenched in texts which women have had to endure in a very real sense throughout history.  Gender as a dichotomy is rechanneled and presented through ideals that have proved irresistible for advertisers, offering up women as consumables. The advanced capitalist context has re-invigorated the feminist movement as a whole collection of post critique has arrived displaying wide and varied opinion, negative and positive, but mostly mixed.  “Marketers understanding of people is collected through profiling which contains ‘psychographic insights’ revealing current trends and financial behavioural patterns that companies can consider in their compilation of the ad” (Dines,Heumez.2011), in effect, marketers will use the current consensus to build on and reverberate identity which has manifesting in such concepts as ‘reversal of gender objectification’ lead by feminist theorists such as Rosalind Gill.    Christian Grey represents the new ‘Adonis’ featured in a whole range of ‘third wave erotica’ and women’s fiction representing a time when advertisers are at the very forefront of the mediascape due to their profit driven motive and positioning as the mainstay of the capitalist agenda.  The objectification of the male is polarised against a mainstreaming awareness of female sexual desire and entitlement instrumented through advertiser’s protocol, in terms of acceptance of such a concept as the female gaze.

By Vikki Dark

economics

The House That Would Make Pornography Illegal

I was invited by the UCLU debating society of University College London to participate in arguably their most prestigious and oldest event – beginning 1893 – to debate for the proposition that pornography should be made illegal.

I will share the platform with Dawn Savidge, a theologist and minister of Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, and in opposition of the motion was Paula Hall, psychotherapist, writer and broadcaster and Vex Ashley, altporn performer and producer.

In continuation of my campaign against the dehumanization of women, I think it’s appropriate to share my argument conveyed on the night of Monday 11th January 2016 (UK):

The results from vote indicated that we managed to double our support post event and double those in abstention leaving the opposition at a loss of 35 points.

 

Pre – P: 12, O: 71, A: 23

Post – P: 24, O: 46, A: 47

Hello, I’m Vikki Dark and I’m proposing the motion – ‘That pornography should be made illegal’.  At first glance you may feel that my advocacy makes me reductive, so I want to be specific that when I am talking of pornography I am focusing on the gonzo subset, which commands approximately 98 percent of porn that makes up of all internet traffic.  I used to be a glamour model but the phrase in itself is a contradiction in terms because it’s not glamourous and you’re not a model, merely a masturbatory device for some sad bastard whose view of women is so twisted that they now believe it’s perfectly okay to treat women as an object.

I started out in the industry at sixteen having left home at fourteen, after experiencing what I call a non-relationship with my mother.  I also got with a much older boyfriend and rented a room in a stranger’s flat. One day I was spotted by a woman in a bar who gave me a card, telling me I was pretty and asked me to be a glamour model for her agency. She said I would get three to five hundred pound per shoot. This was a revelation as I was living hand to mouth.

A few weeks later I was directed to an address quite far away.  I arrived at a posh house in London, given a couple of glasses of champagne, a full face of make up by a nice lady before being told the news that I was expected to have sex with someone on camera. At first I was shocked – then defiant because I had a boyfriend, but after they informed me that I would have to pay for my own cab back to the station I realized I couldn’t get home without the cash – so I did it. This was the start of my ‘love affair’ with the glamour industry and the beginning of my desensitization and subsequent downfall. I stayed in it for a decade, having tried to leave many times but never succeeding largely because I had no other experience in any vocation – as well as the need for money. I have sampled the sex industry in its full and varied diversity. And in that time I had taken two overdoses, been raped, consistently manipulated and was a functioning drunk. It’s true to say I am a rehabilitated abuse victim who gave her consent. The turning point was recognizing I had to change for my child, now children, as well as furthering my education – which awarded me the evolving ability to see the truth of what happened to me.  My aim in life is to help the women and men who have been photographed and filmed but want to move on, by introducing a law that allows them to buy these potentially damaging images back after ten years for the price they originally paid.

The female naked body has been a site for much scrutiny. Our perceived sexuality has been shaped by masculine ways of looking for centuries and is expressed through historical dominant patriarchal structures.  It is true to say that the sexual identity of women is polysemic and cannot be reduced to a simplified status, however the social gendered divide between women and men is subject to varying assumptions. Women are characterised as decoration, sexual object and/or positioned within essentialist narratives such as nurturer/passive/ and now slut – unless they exist outside of heteronormative culture – in which case they are then unattractive and somehow negative.  This is in contrast to male representations who divert from such potent ambivalence to their sexual attractiveness and maintain far greater expressive range in all art forms.  Women incongruently being paid more within porn than other industries is merely a reflection of the need for the genre to keep its spectacle – otherwise it simply wouldn’t function without it.

Positive contribution to the prevailing cultural paradigm of what it means to be a woman is not going to be achieved by revealing more flesh in new forms.  We’ve simply been there, done it. It’s not radical, its everywhere. True emancipation is refusing to participate with the dominant form and its remanence of wider objectification. To paraphrase, women need to recognise that they are being duped by the sexual entitlement culture into thinking that this vast sexual market supports them. The context now is that women’s bodies have become hypersexualised and all expressions of female nudity exist along a male dominated axis from the less severely objectified to more grotesque forms.  Representations of female nudity is not distinct from the feminine hypersexualisation of culture. This has altered women’s experience, both in heterosexual relationships and in terms of self-identification to the wider context. Women are defined by their sex organs, not their personhood, and this is socially engineered – not biologically.

The prevalence of sex addiction and what constitutes it is in my opinion subjective but certainly an important issue. In today’s culture, with porn projected at us through the soft core mainstreaming of advertising to the hardened hardcore, desensitization is a problem. Porn has been proven to disjoin what makes a healthy sexual relationship. Studies have been done whereby children as young as eleven are regularly consuming porn and the subsequent idea that women are happy being gang banged. They are arguably the next generation of newly warped sex addicts, logging on in the small hours why their partner sleeps or avoiding relationships altogether.

Gonzo porn is presented as edgy and a reflection of freedom of expression, never presented in truth as one gender’s dehumanized mass-scale visibility. If expression was really free in porn and in accordance with our treasured liberal sensibilities, then subgenres like alternative porn would be more popular – where both genders are consumed – but it’s not because the porn industry I’m talking of is about power in the humiliation of women.  Are those that are addicted to porn really just addicted to the degradation of those women forever crystallized on 8mm? And people are losing their virginity later because of pornography – as well as accessing it to learn about sex. But who’s the teacher? It the greasy haired, violent minded pimps of women. Do you educated people here think you’ve got anything in common with them? These people who manipulate the next set of sixteen year olds into a life of mental trauma, spitting them out at the other end. If you do then you haven’t met the ones I have.

If one makes a video that accords with conventions of alternative porn, including shots of the female body in proportion to shots of the male body then harm through objectification is reduced.  I say ‘reduced’ because we must be aware that the hypersexualised female body cannot be separated from the context of which it exists within – stemming from the long and ugly history of morbid female sexual objectification. There is no doubt it occurs when one gender is disproportionately scrutinized in lieu of the other such as in the bulging gonzo genre.  By including sensual scenes that depict lovers engaging in sexual interaction with camera shots that align to a neutral gaze or even a bi-sexual gaze – both gender’s objectification is lessened. This is the crux of the pornographic issue.  The difference between gonzo porn which commands the dominant ideology – and the lesser known but healthier pornographic artistic expression that is altporn – in which she is relieved somewhat of her morbid degradation.

Alternative porn currently commands a tiny quantity of porn in terms of demographic so it currently offers very little weight to the pornographic debate but if greater credibility was awarded to this subset in alignment with the eradication of the dehumanizing gonzo genre, then we as humans would be doing a great service to both our children and ourselves. There is no place for gonzo pornography.  It is merely the graphic display of sexualized female violation.  It is the dehumanization of one gender to the misguided empowerment of another. The function of gonzo is her degradation – the primary thrill.    The point of my argument is that consent is not informed and usually a reaction to a desperate situation. The vast majority of women who’ve experienced it feel ruined by it, having made the choice low points in their lives. The only people who know what will happen are the producers who have seen it all before, who fail to remind the new naïve girls that these pictures will be out there forever. Porn doesn’t just hurt the women who get involved, it also desensitizes consumers and even the producers who pit these and all women as nothing more than sexual fodder and fair game.

Vikki Dark

ban