Although the small picture was quite innocuous compared to the adjoining color spreads, Michael was intrigued. He kept sneaking peeks at it, even when his parents were in the next room. Michael's mother and father never spanked him. Few of his friends had parents who spanked them. California in the '70s was just not a place for a young kid with a budding spanking fetish.
The schoolgirl picture seemed like a genuine scene of the corporeal punishment he'd often fantasized witnessing. "I wondered for months what these girls had done wrong and what school they had gone to," he recalls on his blog, www.thespankingblog.com, where he's posted the photo alongside a nostalgic account of rediscovering his first spanking picture. "I knew the picture was old, but I thought it was the real thing."
Today he can tell that the scene was staged by the positioning and postures of the women in the photo. But he still praises the photographer for being "way ahead of his time."
And now the time has come. Real Spankings, the Denver-based media company that the pseudonymous Michael Masterson -- Mr. M -- owns with his wife, is one of the world's largest producers of online spanking adult entertainment, a multimillion-dollar-a-year industry catering to tens of thousands of spanking fetishists, both male and female. The couple's mini-empire includes some of the Internet's most popular spanking websites, with titles like Spanking Teen Jessica, Spanking Teen Brandi, Bi Spanking, Women Spanking Men and The RS Institute, as well as the flagship site, www.realspankings.com; they've also recently expanded into video and DVD releases.
In a review of Painful Summer -- their film about two eighteen-year-old girls who are punished with spankings while visiting a relative's mountain house -- David Pierson, of Consumer Spanking Video News and Reviews, celebrates "the interplay between submissive and dominant performers." A professional psychoanalyst and self-styled spanking-media critic, Pierson calls Real Spankings "the leader of the new-wave movement in spanking video erotica."
With over a thousand hours of locally filmed videos, a massive database of pictures and a strong customer-service approach, Masterson has earned a loyal following in the spanking world. In addition to satisfying the more than 5,000 members who pay a monthly fee ranging from $17.95 to $24.95 for access to the original content on each of five subscription sites (or $59.95 for the Real Spankings Pass, which covers admission to all five), Masterson and his twenty employees maintain twenty free websites, including a directory of the "Top 100" Internet spanking websites and Mr. M's frequently viewed blog. They also run the forum site www.worldspankingforum.com, an "online community for spanking enthusiasts" that has over a thousand members. A hundred or so active posters contribute to discussion threads about paddle markings and their favorite models, as well as requesting specific spanking scenarios from the Real Spankings staff.
From their four-level studio in a converted turn-of-the-century house in central Denver, Masterson and company quietly whack out 24 to 30 scenes a week, spanking two or three models a day. But there is nothing muted about the actual sessions they film: Realspankings.com advertises that its videos and photos are of "spanking discipline and corporal punishment from real discipline sessions." Masterson says his sites specialize in "severe" spanking, and in an effort to re-create for his audience the same sensation he felt when he first viewed the black-and-white schoolgirl photo -- the excitement of observing a painful punishment -- he strives for only the most realistic spanking portrayals.
Depending on the model's pain tolerance, spankers use everything from hands and belts to leather straps, paddles and canes. While other spanking-fetish producers create content that's more violent, if a web surfer is looking for presentations of playful pre-lovemaking spanks, Real Spankings is not the place. The company's massive electronic archives contain no actual sex outside of a few examples of girl-on-girl play and maybe some female masturbation followed by naughty-girl punishment by an authority figure. What the websites do show is lots and lots of red asses, which also run the scale of severity. Some of the models opt for only a light spanking and walk away with a pinkish behind. Others go for the gusto, and the spankers -- sometimes played by Masterson or his wife, other times by a heavy-hitter from a selective stable of "highly experienced spankers" -- whale on the paid model's ass for up to ten minutes with an implement that can produce welts, swelling, temporary marks and, in the most extreme cases, a dark purple, even brownish, hue. It wouldn't be much of a real spanking if the person being hit didn't experience actual pain, Masterson points out.