Even in its most watered down configurations, S&M has been shaking up societal norms and providing ample fodder for our naughty fantasies for as long as we can remember (and we’re not just talking about 50 Shades of Grey). But there’s something about these black and white photographs of girl on girl S&M from the midcentury that feels extra erotic, especially when revisited decades later.
Lost in the files of history until recently, these photos were taken for the short-lived and sexually liberated magazine Bizarre between 1937 and 1961, and offer a rare peek into the scorching sexual fantasies lurking beneath the polished Stepford housewife veneer of the time. Cinematic without feeling cheesy, these steamy shots feature rope-bound and ball-gagged pin ups decked out in full lingerie looks and sky high stilettos as they are dominated by other women, a refreshing reprieve from the overproduced and inauthentic pornography of today.
The taboo nature of girl on girl S&M has always been a recipe for turning on the masses, yet there is also something empowering and downright badass about the connection between the women in this collection. They even feature a cameo from Bettie Page, the raven-haired girl next door who ushered in a new wave of liberation in the bedroom simply by being herself. Taken well before the birth of the sexual revolution, these photos serve as a tantalizing reminder that we’ve been into chains and whips since long before Rihanna started singing about them.