Archive for July, 2012

Long before KINK and SEX TV became staples of sex “edutainment,” the prospect of a film of any genre, be it narrative or documentary, dealing with BDSM was very exciting. After all, the ground on the subject was more barren than Pat Robertson’s sex life. So in 1996, when it was announced that a feature-length documentary on the subject was coming to a theatre near you, fetish communities around the world rejoiced! Finally, a filmmaker was going to cover one of the most misunderstood sexual lifestyles and offer an objective, unflinching view on what the world of BDSM is really all about. Unfortunately, the filmmaker was Nick Broomfield.

FETISHES centers on Pandora’s Box, Manhattan’s famous upscale dungeon where clients can pay up to $1,000 an hour to indulge in some of their deepest and darkest fantasies. Pandora is run by Mistress Raven (who incidentally looks like a dead ringer for Cher), the most famous Dominatrix who’s ever worked America’s East Coast. She employs a wide array of Mistresses, each of whom specialize in different aspects of BDSM. We’re introduced to Mistress Raven and the other Mistresses throughout the course of the film via a series of interviews and filmed sessions, with the latter providing the obvious eye candy of the film.

One of the strengths of FETISHES is that in addition to the more conspicuous ones, Broomfield also devotes a portion of his film to the study of socio-political fetishes. For example, we meet a Jewish client who has concentration camp fantasies and wishes to be verbally humiliated by a Dominatrix in a Nazi uniform, an African American client wanting to pretend he’s being auctioned off as a slave in the days of plantation slavery and a white cop who beats up black men during the day and fantasizes about apologizing by submitting to them at night. While these are admittedly extreme examples of just how far the boundaries of fetishistic fantasies go, there’s undoubtedly a fascinating psychological aspect to them that warrants mention and kudos to Broomfield for including them.

Broomfield also deserves credit for showcasing Elissa Wald (a.k.a. Jessie), a woman who identifies herself as a “professional submissive.” When one speaks of BDSM in film, all too often men are categorized as being submissive and women as being dominant. In reality, the roles are reversed more often than you’d think. Mistress Raven employs Jessie as a sub for men who have domination fantasies they wish to enact. Jessie comes across as a perfectly normal woman who sees S&M as an opportunity to have complete control over her body and dictate exactly what she wants happening to it.

Broomfield, however, commits the cardinal sin of going into the making of a documentary with a preconceived notion of what his subject is all about and, despite finding evidence to the contrary, almost exclusively focuses on footage that proves his point. FETISHES is a film that was clearly made on the pretense that BDSM is a weird and unhealthy sexual activity solely based on the giving and receiving of pain. There’s a scene in which Mistress Raven asks Broomfield if he’d be willing to participate in a session to which he declines because he “doesn’t like pain.” With that admission, Mistress Raven clearly sees through Broomfield and realizes he has no knowledge whatsoever about the subject he’s documenting and rightfully chews him out for it.

Broomfield also employs a very condescending tone throughout the film, be it the use of ironic music over the film’s inter-titles, the “peep show” approach he takes in showcasing “real people with strange habits” or – perhaps the most offensive – when he actually laughs during a male client’s session with his Mistress.

Nick Broomfield’s FETISHES came out at a time when films on the subject were few and far between. Nowadays that’s no longer the case and, as such, there is no real reason to recommend this film when there are plenty of better options out there.


Welcome to the official blog of Matthew Saliba – Award-Winning Filmmaker / Freelance Writer for Exploitation Retrospect / Social Media Representative & Freelance Writer for Rogue Cinema / Soon-to-be-Husband / Cat-Lover / Vegan!

Yet in spite of all those tags, I’d venture to say that a lot of you probably have no idea who I am. I say that because almost without fail, even people whom I consider to be some of my closest friends either view me as a misogynist sadist who masturbates in his own feces or as a textbook case of a schizophrenic given my ability to go from making films about pinning a woman’s face to a wall via a bow-and-dildo to showering my adorable little kitties with love and attention.

Now, I’d like to think that people are capable of separating an artist from his art and realize that there’s more to me than meets the eye but then again that would be expecting people to think before they speak and the gulf between those who and don’t do the latter is a vast one indeed.

But then again, perhaps I shouldn’t blame some people who aren’t able to distinguish the “real me” as truth be told, I don’t have a history of opening up to people and revealing some of my deepest thoughts and desires. My interests in life vary from film, music and literature to politics, religion and food. I have a lot of things to say about a lot of different topics and I plan on using this forum in the grand tradition of self-indulgent bloggers to pontificate on said issues. It’s my hope that people will gain some better insight into who I am and what exactly it is, I stand for.

Now don’t get me wrong. While I plan on writing a lot of “heavy issue” articles, there will be plenty of silliness to indulge in as well. I think as people discovered with my recent play, DEATH SPARES NOT THE WICKED, I have a black as midnight on a moonless night sense of humor and plan on letting that show through my writing. As I also mentioned, I have two adorable little kitties named Munchkin and Quagmire and will be posting pictures and videos of them doing “cat stuff” from time to time.

I’m also about to be married to a woman who has really come to redefine who I am as a human being. Her name is Andrée-Anne Forgues and I plan on writing many pieces about her, including how we met, how her undying love and support for me has “saved me” both metaphorically and literally and what our wedding will mean to me.

So there you have it folks. An introductory piece about yours truly and what to expect on here. I’m currently covering the 2012 Fantasia International Film Festival so my entries on here won’t be as frequent for the next week and a half. But once the festival ends, I plan on updating this blog on a daily basis.

Thanks for reading and may the seed of your loin be fruitful in the belly of your woman!