Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Something Dark

Daryl Champion sent me the following press release about his new magazine, SomethingDark

SomethingDark (SDk), a new cultural webmagazine, has just been published after nearly two years in development. Issue 01 is available online for free in a format that occupies a unique space between the internet and a print publication. SDk takes full advantage of an innovative format to deliver its avant-garde mix of dark glamour and eroticism in photography, art and edgy fiction; of poignant nonfiction and criticism; and of exhibition, film and book reviews – all in the social, political and economic context of today’s disturbed world.

SDk additionally strives to be a valuable resource and, concerned with the world around us, is also a forum for re-assessing what is of value in contemporary society.
How is SDk innovative? Unlike most news, magazine- and journal-style websites, which depart from their print-published counterparts in format, look and feel because they were developed with by-now conventional website design in mind, SDk has been developed with the format, look and feel of a print magazine. Yet, being fully html-coded – indeed, pushing that technology to the limit – it also offers the full dynamism of the internet, especially in a complex system of internal linking, that flash sites cannot deliver. Feet back on the ground. If your taste in culture leads you to shaded woodlands replete with nymphs and satyrs, an expanse that must be treated with respect lest an unmindful step finds you teetering on the edge of an unimagined place, then SomethingDark is here. Or there’s McDonald’s.

I've taken a look. The picture sums up the contents quite well - if you like tasteful erotic photography and writing this may be for you. The first issue includes, among other things, a feature devoted to the work of Scottish photographer ArtPunk and a long critical analysis of Robert Mapplethorpe. The website is beautifully done and very easy to use. Read the rest of this article

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

A creative solution to hospital funding

In these days of enforced budget cuts and national austerity, any idea for raising additional cash for government departments is welcome. One intriguing possibility was raised by the Conservative MP for Portsmouth North, Penny Mordaunt, in a Commons debate yesterday on the allocation of departmental budgets. She questioned the principle that departments and public sector bodies should be able to supplement their income without losing taxpayer funding, and had an unconventional example to illustrate her point:

A second scenario might see a Department creating an income-generating activity that failed to deliver value for money or came at the expense of the statutory service that that Department was charged with carrying out. I will give the House a quick example from real life, not "Yes Minister", although it could well have been used for that. When I was a director of Kensington and Chelsea council, I discovered that one of our local hospitals was hiring out one of its closed, but fully equipped, wards to a film company to use as a film set. To add insult to injury, the movie was a pornographic one. Although I cannot claim to have seen the final picture, as I understand that these things are no longer claimable on parliamentary expenses, it was a big-budget affair and it generated substantial income for the hospital-but apart from cheering up a few of the in-patients, it could not be said to be contributing to the objectives of the primary care trust.

I don't really understand Ms Mordaunt's criticism. It doesn't appear that the "fully equipped" ward was needed for patient care, in which case it was lying idle and was a drain on resources. So its utilisation in another capacity strikes me as very much contributing to the objectives of the PCT - the money raised was presumably spent on better healthcare for patients. It sounds like an excellent idea, and it's nice to know that there is (or was) sufficient money in the British porn industry to make big-budget films and, indeed, to pay top price for the use of locations.

There must be many opportunities for such creative use of resources. Perhaps it would create political controversy if under-used schoolrooms were hired out to makers of corporal punishment videos, but what of all our courtrooms or, for that matter, prisons? The Palace of Westminster itself - no stranger to sexual hi-jinks - would make an excellent venue. Indeed, one enterprising former Labour MP, Nigel Griffiths, starred in his own impromptu Commons set photostory last year (though was admittedly unaware that his antics were being recorded by the News of the World).

Indeed, Government and the porn industry already have much in common: they're both based on screwing people for money, after all.

But which was the hospital, and what was the film? According to the BBC report (which quickly went viral) the incident referred to must have happened before the present health trust was formed in 2002. Nicholas Cecil of the Standard, moreover, has "established" that the location was St Charles Hospital in Ladbroke Grove. But I'm most indebted to "Paddy the Greek" commenting on the Standard article, who thinks that the film may have been Pirate Deluxe: Xtreme desires, directed by the pioneering female pornographer (and fetish specialist) Tanya Hyde. It was originally produced in 1998, which fits. I've no proof, but I did find the following synopsis of the production, which starred Monique Covet, Silvia Saint and Laura Angel:

Already an icon on the busy British fetish scene, newly acquired Tanya Hyde proved a timely shot in the arm for the Private porn emporium with this inaugural effort for their Pirate Deluxe line.... The first of several high voltage fetish features Hyde bestowed upon the company before she took wing with her own Harmony Concepts label, XTREME DESIRES provides half a dozen vignettes of varying intensity, albeit usually on the high end of the scales, highlighted by the director's imagination and ingenuity, which in turn seems to have inspired the female cast to perform well above and beyond the call of duty....

"Doctors" finds beautiful bespectacled nurse Silvia Saint pleasuring patient Laura Angel, in stir-ups for easy access, until medics Kevin Long and Tony De Sergio (the notorious British bisexual performer billed as "Jay Alexander" on gay projects) join in the fun.... Revisiting medical territory, "Nurses" has French John B. Root discovery Fovéa and the returning Mona resplendent in latex nun's habits, exchanging less than pious glances over supine patient Frank Major's bandaged physique, then draining his vital fluids with doc Mike Foster providing an additional appendage before death bells solemnly and irrevocably ring out.

I've omitted descriptions of the non-hospital related scenes, but the full information can be found here. And here's the rather explicit back-cover photo. You have been warned. Read the rest of this article