Pictures From the Black Dance
Year Released: 1988
Director: Roger Earl
Cast: Tony Starr, Mike London, David Allen, Dick Johnson, Mark Adams, Kiernan Stevens, Paul Stevens
The first of the Dungeons of Europe Trilogy. Shot entirely on location in London, Marathon Films takes you into the basement of one of England's most famous leather establishments. These Englishmen know the ropes! Hot & Heavy action.
Pictures from the Black Dance is the first film from the gay S/M classic Dungeons of Europe Trilogy that was shot in 1988, fourteen years after director Roger Earl and producer Terry LeGrand made the BDSM classic Born to Raise Hell.
Earl and LeGrand shot Black Dance in London's most notorious underground leather dungeon. They were taking a huge risk at the time they shot this film for the English laws on S/M were the most restrictive in Europe.
Pictures from the Black Dance reveals a mystical depth in the tradition of the S/M world of gay leather.
The video opens with a canvas image, an obvious connection with the title, hinting that the action could be seen by the viewer as a series of pictures, a gallery of various BDSM scenes. (The scene is kind of like the time-space unit of BDSM action, which doesn't necessarily include sex.)
The viewer first glimpses an outdoor scene of a theatre, with Andrew Lloyd Webber on the marquee. The scene is London, as the video was filmed there in a particularly notorious leather dungeon; the image of the theatre could perhaps hint at BDSM play as erotic theatre, a type of play with scenes, as defined above.
The viewer first sees Tony Starr, the pivotal figure in the film, at first kind of like the distant impresario orchestrating the dance of leather scenes, but also a voyeur who becomes a participant. The tall, angular man watches the pictures and becomes part of them, perhaps the audience's fantasy, who they want to be and what they want to do in the scenes. His spiky gauntlets add a hint of 1980s bling, that era of big hair, shoulder pads, and conspicuous yuppie consumption.
But in this case, an important context for this video, this era was also the time when the AIDS crisis made many gay men to reevaluate and reimagine their sexuality. BDSM play became a safer expression for gay men, and those into BDSM began to emphasize safe, sane, and consensual play and offer more out and open social and educational programs.
In the first picture or scene, Mike London finger fucks Dave Allen, a bottom writhing in suspension bondage. The rugged-looking London munches his smooth bottom's ass; the camera work gets jumpy, perhaps to accentuate the fluidity of the dance between these two players here. There's an interesting close up of hands in restraints, and an upshot of top and bottom's ass, perhaps an attempt to emphasize a couple of pictures for fetishistic stimulation.
During this are some weird sound effects, interesting but potentially distracting; in fact, the viewer could watch this silently, as a picture without sound, also because dialogue and even nonverbal grunts and groans are minimal throughout.
In the first dick shot, the viewer sees some stretched balls, and a finely formed uncut cock. London pulls on restrained balls and chain attached to a restraint on the dick. Tellingly, he places his gloved hand on Allen's mouth. In this scene, one can see more of a rhythm visually and actionwise developing, founded on a tense power dynamic, especially when the spanking with the gloved hand begins and and the camera moves to more focused close-up.
One can see the hands, restraints, the top's coldly focused expression; the top is concentrating as the chain is pulling on cock and balls. The camera can't seem to take in this complexity using many quick jumps and odd close-ups, such as the sudden shot of a leg.
In the second picture or scene in this evolving black dance, the viewer sees a shot of Tony Starr jerking off; this action is significant, for this action occurs when he sees one of the other tops in the scene, Dick Johnson, definitely a stern moustached beefy daddy type. (He could be the centerfold in DADDY Magazine - remember that publication?) Johnson is binding another luscious bottom, totally hooded Mark Adams, into an elaborate harness and bondage chair.
The action here is basically that of a more realistic dungeon scene, like what one would see at a dungeon play party, as the viewer can see how Dick Johnson carefully binds the bottom. Johnson is tactile; slapping, kissing, moving the chair up, and he pushes the bottom into a reclining position.
In the next picture or pictures, a Mediterranean-looking top, Kiernan Stevens, more verbal than the other tops, arrogantly dominates a guy bound in a head harness; the viewer again sees that omnipresent hand on the face. Tony Starr then moves to the first scene with the suspended bottom (now the players are all introduced), and starts doing some ass munching, but why the sudden shot of a foot?
Tony sucks off the bottom, perhaps a reward for the bottom from the top. The camera moves to Kiernan's bottom; Kiernan slaps, flogs, and whips with brio; the hands tied shot is really hot, and is integrated quite well into the overall rhythm of the black dance at this point as the top begins tit punishment and tit slapping.
The view then shifts to daddy top Dick Johnson and the and hooded bottom, as Johnson jerks off guy in a bondage chair. Meanwhile, the suspended bottom (Dave Allen) is getting whipped on the ass. The various pictures are beginning to move toward a more complicated dance. The intercutting going on gives the effect of the various personae dancing around each other as they perform so parallel activities, part of the complicated moving toward the final, climactic dance at the end between Tony Starr and Dick Johnson.
The viewer is then treated to a shot of Starr's lovely dick, as Johnson unbinds the guy in the bondage chair, who possesses a long schlong, big balls, and a cute moustache. Johnson jerks the bottom off, accompanied by an effective camera angle that focuses the eye on both players equally. In a stunning move, Johnson sits on face of his bottom, changing the rhythm of the dance, slowing it down; this scene is hot and the dynamic very natural.
Next there occurs a rather unfocused, fluid transition to next scene or picture in the dance: What the hell is Tony Starr doing? Preparing to fuck ass? The viewer then sees a boot on ass of suspended bottom and some particularly nasty-looking tit clamps. What could be going on? In the next picture or pictures, one sees that hooded bottom again, as Johnson wields a flexible crop on leather clad legs and codpiece. There's a hot shot of ass in chaps, but one doesn't see the crop, perhaps to add some suspense at that point.
Suddenly, Dick Johnson pulls the guy's head back, an intensely dominant action which seems very natural in its presentation. Once again, the power of the hand is essential to the complex rhythm of the dance. The camera moves to a cocksucking shot, as the suspended bottom jerks off as he licks his top's tit. The top reveals a narrow cock; the cocksucking is very intense after-scene interaction between these two close-ups, especially the slapping (again, the power of the hand) of head. The rhythm here is literally the motion of the hand, slow, the thumb and dick moving at same time.
One then sees Johnson jerking off over the hooded guy, and again the rhythm slows down, with the hand slapping on Allen's cod piece. Johnson uses the crop again; stimulated by his dominant action, he begins pressing and holding Allen's balls tightly.
Where is Tony Starr? Dancing in and about these various pictures even though he is now where he started, looking down at these pictures from a balcony. Now the long haired bottom in the head harness is taken down by Ken, who gets on this guy and fucks him on the floor. Tony pulls his pud watching this; his dick is wet, moist ... but, is the fucking real or simulated? The top is clothed, and the viewer doesn't see his cock; the bottom does reveal a tight ass. Tony continues to jerk off his wet, moist cock, in sync with the scene.
As a kind of coda here to this picture, or perhaps even an intermezzo transition to the climactic dance, Dick Johnson puts his boot on the ass of that guy who was in the bondage chair; one sees more ball squeezing and hands grasping. Tony Starr erupts in thick, gooey streams. Johnson looks up at the spiky top. What is fascinating here: Johnson comes up to Starr; he doesn't order him to come down to him. Johnson is here the hunter, the predator. The look in his eyes is riveting ... I've got you. You've seen the power of my hand and what I can do with it.
The last picture of this black dance: Johnson is leading a hooded guy in bondage/body suit. This is Starr! The last dance, the climactic one. The slapping sound is its rhythmic accompaniment. They are still in the dungeon, but the wall look like fall foliage. After what looks like a whiff of poppers, Johnson powerfully creates total submission by pulling bottom up by hook-on bondage suit. He barks one command that seems to pull most of the action together: SIT!
Johnson then attaches Starr to the board, and one hears a stomping and slamming sound with his powerful boots. He then, with amazing confidence, picks up the guy and places him on the floor.
This lying down position, especially when contrasted with a standing position, is one of stripping away of conventional social norms, which often occurs in BDSM role playing. Johnson now has his bottom in this position of total submission in order for him to wield his power, by pulling the cock and balls on a triangle attached to his cock and balls; this tension shows that Johnson himself actually reciprocating once he has shown his power.
The dance moves to its climax as the camera moves to distant shot and then a close up. At this crucial point in the action, things move a bit too quickly as Johnson jerks off over Starr, putting his substantial cock and balls right on bottom's balls.
At the end, one sees a close up of restrained cock, the ball pushed up next to cock, an image of both symmetrical repose and distorted tension. Both cocks are bound together; the dance is complete, until another dance of dominance and submission begins.
All in all, Pictures from the Black Dance offers the viewer, at times inconsistently, a kind of ut pictura poesis of BDSM and leathersex.
Rather than, as defined by the Roman poet Horace, a poem resembling a painting that teaches and delights the viewer, this film is kind of a canvas which resembles both a poem and a dance through its complex uses of imagery and movement.
The viewer can of course enjoy the film as hot leathersex; it can also teach the viewer not only about some of the specific activities of gay BDSM participants, but about some of the fundamental power dynamics of the human condition.
According to the famous Fledermaus, aka Tony deBlase, "the action is much closer to Born to Raise Hell than to Chain Reactions, and is still all safe sex! ...Like Born to Raise Hell, this trilogy will be one of the major contributions to the erotic media for S&M men."
"Pictures' offers a segment for almost every basic kink: CBT, nipple punishment, immersive restraint and mild-to-wild assplay."-- Gay Chicago
Directed by Roger Earl; produced by Terry LeGrand.
This installment is followed by two more videos in Roger Earl and Terry LeGrand's Dungeons of Europe trilogy: Like Moths to a Flame and Men With No Name.