Jacqui, dressed in her “work clothes” – a black cotton garter-tank that covered all but her most private real estate (which still bore traces of O’s recent dressage work) and opaque black stockings to match – dug her black stiletto pumps into the carpet and strained at pulling O’s already compressed waist in a bit further.
“That’s it if you’re interested in breathing,” Jacqui declared.
Jacqui posed her in front of Marie’s tall rolling mirror, a big smile spreading across her face as O stared at the transformation.
“I think it’s pretty spectacular myself,” Jacqui said.
She wasn’t wrong. The corset took O’s narrow middle in a good three inches, exaggerating her breasts, hips and buttocks even further. With only the faint contrast of her brown leather collar and cuffs and her nude high heels, O appeared to be sculpted entirely of gleaming flesh, Jacqui having oiled her exposed areas lightly before wrestling with the cincher.
Her proportions were so extreme she resembled an unpainted mannequin. O was going for that effect. Though never fully satisfied with her appearance, she was at least grateful for her rigorous exercise, light diet and regular lacings. In profile, the impact was even more arresting.
“Well,” O conceded, “at least it’s comfortable.”
Jacqui threw her hands in the air. “You’re insane! I’d be passing out about now.”
“You just have to breathe from your diaphragm,” O explained, “and it’s good for you in reasonable doses. Helps take the weight off your spine.”
Unconvinced of the practical benefits, Jacqui admitted that the look was, literally and figuratively, breathtaking. To underscore the point, she stole a kiss and copped a feel.
“Steven’s going to want to fuck you the minute he walks through the door.”
O smiled wickedly. “That’s just what I’m hoping.”
–From Master of O by Ernest Greene
If there’s a single object more directly associated with fetishism than the stiletto heel, it has to be the tight-laced corset. A stern bulwark of steel (originally whalebone) boning and sturdy laces, it not only configures a woman’s appearance, but also constrains her movements, making it a wearable instrument of bondage. Limiting flexibility at the mid-section, it imposes an upright posture that presents the chest in full glory while thrusting the backside outward.
As men and women alike became obsessed with reduced waistlines, corsets became more extreme. They increasingly constricted breathing, producing dizziness and even fainting during carnal exertions. Thus, they function in this form as both a mobile bondage device and an instrument of erotic asphyxiation. At the height of the corset’s most punishing period – the end of the Nineteenth Century –waist reductions of four inches or more were not uncommon. The legendary Ethel Granger tightlaced her waist down to a gasp-inducing 13 inches by the early years of the twentieth century. To this day, The Guiness Book of World Records lists her as the smallest tightlaced waist every recorded, while the record for the smallest waist on a living person now belongs to Cathie Jung, who can lace down to 15 inches.
Predictably, fashion appropriates fetish just as fetish appropriates fashion. Corsets can be seen adorning the youthful figures of style vamps who have adopted them as outerwear in various colorful fabrics, not to mention leather and latex, on the dance floors of nightclubs all over the country.
However, a thriving sub-culture of old-style corset enthusiasts persists. Models like Dita von Teese — who can get down to a sixteen-inch waistline doing up her own laces — have been elevated to iconic status. Thanks to them and their admirers, the modern practitioners of the corsetiere’s traditional art remain very much in business.
Just like the skyscraper heels and seamed stockings with which they’re often paired, genuinely constricting corsets that give no quarter to comfort or convenience continue to enjoy a secret life as fetish confection. The public more often sees the less severe forms in music videos and on the racks of trendy retailers. However, many a fetishist owes their interest to a first glimpse in such a seemingly vanilla setting.
While they may wax and wane in popularity as club wear, the corset’s position in the bedroom remains as secure as the garment itself, ever a totem of femininity and the passions it inspires.
His first novel, Master of O, is available in trade paperback and illustrated editions from Stockroom.