Modern Pulp Aug 25 2022
VULVIC SYMBOLS AND PHALLIC SYMBOLS
When is a flower not a flower and a snake not a snake? In Japanese cinema.


Above you see a poster for the Nikkatsu Studios roman porno movie Hana to hebi: Jigoku-hen, known in English as Flower and Snake: Sketch of Hell. In this genre, any mention or sight of a flower is liable to be symbolic. Some call them vulvic symbols, some yonic symbols, but in either case something phallic is usually about to rear its ugly head. The movie starred Kaori Asô and Mami Fujimura, and it was second in a Flower and Snake franchise that eventually numbered eight entries, with this one premiering in Japan today in 1985. That puts it outside our vintage purview, since for our purposes we define modern as anything from 1980 and after, but we had to show you the poster art. How could we not? This amazing promo was painted by famed bondage artist Kaname Ozuma, whose work you can see with an image search. Japanese film studios were very interested in bondage, and Japanese audiences must have been too, because many roman porno films with bdsm themes did well at the box office.

Much of the interest in the subject derived from literature, particularly the works of Oniroku Dan, who wrote the source novel for this film. His books were behind about three-dozen roman porno productions. While we don't get these explorations of humiliation and bondage, we understand that every culture has its particulars. For example, if you go on Japanese Wikipedia, celebrities' biographies often contain their blood types. On the other hand, if you go on U.S. Wikipedia, celebrities' biographies often contain their political allegiances. Objectively, both types of information are completely pointless, yet they suggest—interestingly—what obsesses each culture.

What we're saying is that since we're not Japanese, we can't offer much insight into the roman porno wave that swept Japan. We can do the when, where, who, and how of it—but not the why. But we like the posters, the films are usually incredibly well shot, and the actresses are generally stunning, so we watch the movies and tell you whether we liked them. You're probably wondering if we watched Jigoku-hen. We did, and it's what we expected—longform bondage and torture, softcore style, with little shown, but plenty implied. While it stars Asô and the amazing Fujimura, we don't recommend it unless you're okay with plenty of tears and pee. Neither of those are our bag, and if they're yours, maybe talk to someone. Below, Fujimura is happy after washing off the stain of having starred in such a mean and pointless film, while Asô calls home from vacation and tells her family she's recovering fine.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
November 30
1936—Crystal Palace Gutted by Fire
In London, the landmark structure Crystal Palace, a 900,000 square foot glass and steel exhibition hall erected in 1851, is destroyed by fire. The Palace had been moved once and fallen into disrepair, and at the time of the fire was not in use. Two water towers survived the blaze, but these were later demolished, leaving no remnants of the original structure.
November 29
1963—Warren Commission Formed
U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson establishes the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. However the long report that is finally issued does little to settle questions about the assassination, and today surveys show that only a small minority of Americans agree with the Commission's conclusions.
November 28
1942—Nightclub Fire Kills Hundreds
In Boston, Massachusetts, a fire in the fashionable Cocoanut Grove nightclub kills 492 people. Patrons were unable to escape when the fire began because the exits immediately became blocked with panicked people, and other possible exits were welded shut or boarded up. The fire led to a reform of fire codes and safety standards across the country, and the club's owner, Barney Welansky, who had boasted of his ties to the Mafia and to Boston Mayor Maurice J. Tobin, was eventually found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
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