Magazine Mania, SM Safari Ensues
I'm not exactly sure why, but I'd always just assumed that finding Japanese SM magazines from the Golden Age would be a difficult, if not impossible, undertaking. So I never bothered.
Then I found out that Zetsu had got his hands on several of these collector's items during his recent trip to Tokyo. He and Master "K" had been taken to some shops by Urato Hiroshi, the fellow who used to rig actresses for Nikkatsu bondage flicks.
Suddenly, I realized it was time for another SM Safari.
It took awhile. This seemingly interminable heat and humidity we've been experiencing have, for the most part, put the ol' kibosh on any thought of a day-long foray into the nooks and crannies of Tokyo's second-hand bookshops. But finally, I could wait no longer. Sure, I got back home drenched in sweat, but I had scored five magazines from the 70s and 80s which made the muggy excursion quite worthwhile.
I decided not to pick up any old copies of Kitan Club this time around although I will certainly get at least one or two at some point in the future. Two of the stores I went to had large collections of Kitan Club.
There are some issues of Kitan Club I am particularly looking for but didn't have the exact dates with me at the time.
Back of SM Genso
One interesting tidbit: Kitan Club started up a long time ago and had a long life and, today, is recognized as perhaps the most important SM magazine ever. I'm no spring chicken but I think if I had been so inclined, I might have found a copy of Kitan Club from the month and year of my birth!
I don't think the prices were unreasonable but most of the magazines I saw were going for around 3,000 yen. That can run up your tab quite rapidly.
One early issue of SM King was going for 5,000 yen.
Back of Kinbaku Hietsu
I passed over some of the more well-known magazines such as SM King and SM Fan this time around because I found some cheaper ones (1,000 to 2,000 yen) that looked interesting to me precisely because I hadn't heard of them before.
Next time around I'll be going for the more famous titles but this time I got the following magazines:
1. SM Play
2. SM Genso (SM Fantasy)
3. Kinbaku Hietsu, Secret Pleasure of Bondage
4. S&M Frontier
Oh, I did get one famous mag. -- the one founded by Minomura Kou and of which Nureki Chimuo became an editor:
5. Uramado (Rear Window)
Speaking of Nureki Chimuo, somewhere around here I have a vintage VHS tape of an early Art Video production which, if I'm not mistaken, also has Sugiura Norio in it as an actor. I know the two appeared together in at least one early Art Video production. I'll just have to get a working VHS player to confirm if the one I have has them together.
Back of S&M Frontier with model Azuma Terumi
Art Video is known as a worthy competitor to Cinemagic in the production of bondage videos. But they didn't start out that way. They started out publishing what are known as bini-hon.
What were bini-hon? They were photo magazines covered with a vinyl wrapping and had their heyday in the 1970s. I'm not sure if any of these magazines I got would fall into the bini-hon category. I have seen some examples online but they were not SM magazines.
In some of the above photos you will see Western images, including artwork by John Willie and photos of Bettie Page. The East-West exchange was a two-way street.
Origin of the term SM in Japan
I've been wanting to talk about this subject for a while now. This seems like as good an opportunity as any.
Spicy Mystery, Sept. 1942 -- Did they know about SM?
The abbreviation SM means sadistic/masochistic in both the West and Japan. However, some in the West have interpreted SM as slave/master as well. There are other terms (BDSM, D/s, etc.), but we will stick with SM for the time being.
The following information was published in a group on FetLife. I got the author's permission to reprint it here:
"I'd like to introduce the origin of the word SM in Japan for your interest.
"Once we had lots of magazines, the titles of which contained SM.
"The first one was Mondai SM Syosetsu (Abnormal SM Novels) published in May 1970, which was followed by a historical SM Select (Nov. 1970). After that, SM Fan, SM Collector, SM King and S&M Sniper were published.
"So, did we have a magazine titled SM in the 1960s? Actually, we did. The magazine Suspense Mystery Magazine that was first published in 1968 had a big logo of SM on its front cover. At the time, people knew a secret code of SM, but they hesitated to use it in publicity.
"When I investigated issues of Kitan Club, I found the following articles:
1952.8 "M and S"
1953.12 "MS Band"
1954.5 "MS Play"
1962.2 "SM and Harakiri"
"Goichi Matuzawa, who researches the history of kinky culture in Japan, gave me his comment that we can find the abbreviation "SMF" where "F" means feti in reader correspondence in the very early issues of Kitan Club (I have not yet identified the dates).
"Also, I had a personal communication from Koji Yamagishi who is a writer and contributed to Kitan Club in the 1950s. He told me about the history of the term SM.
"According to him, he put up an ad for his kinky club in a newspaper in the summer of 1953. At that time he used MS as brevity code. But, soon after he changed it to SM because SM looked better than MS when it is printed in columnar writing (note: Japanese paper is written vertically.)
"As shown, in the 1950s, people used codes of SM, MS and SMF among kinky groups. SM was somehow selected and fixed in the 1960s. And, in the 1970s, SM was publicly accepted as a symbol to mean kinky play. Of course, it means sadism and masochism."
So there you have it. I'm not even sure when the abbreviation SM became popular in the West. However, that magazine up there, Spicy Mystery from 1942, looks awfully suspicious.
I like going on these SM Safaris, hunting down such items as rope, traditional Japanese candles, tenugui, posters, videos, etc., etc. I thought I'd run out of quarry to pursue -- until I found out it was possible to get Golden Age SM magazines. All it took was knowing where to look.
I still have a few pics left, so below are the remainder.