So, change was coming, and it came during the Victorian Era of all times – a time when being a prude was awesome.
In the 1700’s, a guy known as Marquis de Sade came along and tried to liberate sexuality. He wrote stories, plays and novels that was very pornographic in nature. He was a believer of extreme freedom and didn’t want to be in bondage (pun intended) to religion or the law. Eventually, he was be killed for his writings.
About a hundred years later, another fellow by the name of Masoch gained publicity for his writings. He wrote about a number of fetishes, and like any good author, it’s understood he did his best to live them out with his mistresses and wives.
Of course, not everyone thought these practices were okay. In 1905 (same year Einstein wrote E=MC2) Freud described sadism and masochism as physiological problems (apparently we’re not right in the head – I’m okay with that, btw).
And other people were okay with it too. Strip clubs and pole dancing became popular as the burlesque dancers brought new erotica to the prostitution business as early as 1830 – they’ve been a hit since, and are best scene in Motley Crue’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” video!
As motion pictures began to be developed, it didn’t take long for eroticism to make it’s way into the picture. In 1899, the world had it’s first porn star, Louise Willy. There were even interesting steam engine fuck machines – whoa! Did my great-great grandfather use one of these steam powered vibrators on my great-great-grandmother??
The Victorians took BDSM to new levels as dungeons, leather, pony-play and naughty school girls entered the scene (I’m full of puns today). Short run magazines filled the streets with erotic tales and new devices for bondage and flagellation were dreamed.
By the mid 1900s, modern BDSM began to find its identity.