Saturday, 28 November 2009

Another Janus Reader's Letters Scan

I hadn't really planned to post an update today, but having harbored a suspicion that the opportunity might arise I took the precaution of emailing myself one of my more recent scans from my desk computer before leaving home yesterday. Right now I am in a coffee bar in Muswell Hill, North London and quite close to Alexandra Palace which I will be visiting tomorrow at some point in order to look around the antiques fair being held there (I collect American Depression Glass, you see - quite apt you might think, considering that I suffer from depression). I have a couple of hours free which I intend to dedicate - once I have completed this - to working on the new volume. I am presently working on a piece provisionally entitled 'The Spiral Stair' which revolves around (revolves around - spiral staircase - get it? Ha, Ha,Ha!) a woman 's visit to a the not-so-humble abode of a certain clergyman in order to get some idea of the workings of his charity offering shelter to young women thought in danger of falling into moral peril. Later i have to go off and earn a crust doing a little paid work - oh well!

Meanwhile, I thought many of you might appreciate this scan taken from the reader's letters pages of a 1980s Janus magazine. It is another example of how that mag so often helped formulate and develop my interests and the direction of my writing. Bear in mind as you read through it, though, that I was never very happy with the idea of the involvement of parents (at least genuine biological parents - by proxy seems fine) or other blood relatives then or now. In my mind's eye I would change the circumstances to involve step-relatives of various flavors - or later and better still, as my ideas developed and I became more widely read - a court appointed legal guardian or strict governess in the employ of a grasping stepmother.


Anonymous said...

I always loved admission procedure stories. Why is the young lady being institutionalized? Is she a hardened criminal? An innocent victim of circumstance? A reporter? An heiress wrongly framed by her greedy Uncle? The new female warden, determined to get the “inside scoop” by entering the establishment for a few weeks in the guise of a prisoner? A visiting police officer who surrendered her purse, badge and gun at the gate, only to be accidentally misdirected to the admissions area by an indifferent guard too engrossed in her private phone conversation with her boyfriend to route her correctly?

No matter! First, her identification number is assigned, and her mugshots and fingerprints will be shared with various credit bureaus and law enforcement databases that will (even if she is there by accident) remorselessly tag her as a criminal anywhere she goes for years to come. Then she will be stripped birthday bare, tip to toe, and forced to watch as her stylish clothes are boxed and cataloged.

Jewelry, watch, ring? In the box, dear. Contraband is not allowed. Her hair will be cut to regulation length, and her nails will be trimmed short and the nailpolish roughly scrubbed off.

The cavity search will be embarrassing, particularly with the Warden and several of his male guards watching, but any hiding places must be thoroughly probed. Her silky purse is now the property of the state, and as such it can be exposed, examined, disinfected, and even rented out to cover the costs of the young lady’s incarceration, all at the Warden’s discretion.

A gang shower, under the close watch of the guards and numerous security cameras, is next, followed by a thorough delousing. Such procedures, unthinkable a few short minutes ago when our newest guest was a proper and well respected young woman, are now absolutely essential. For whatever her former status, our blushing princess is now just another filthy criminal, and her randy little twat must be trimmed, scoured out and thoroughly disinfected.

Finally, she will be issued her ID and uniform. The plain, institutional knickers are a stark contrast to the silky unmentionables she was wearing when she entered the establishment, but no matter. She is a convict now, and fanciful stories about an imagined former identity will get her nothing but the lash.

As she marches in her new uniform out of “Reception” she is horrified to see her reflection in a passing window, the last window without bars on it that she will see for sometime to come. For a moment she doesn’t even recognize herself, for with her identity so thoroughly submerged into her new persona she looks like all the other girls.

“Processing” has done its job. A once powerful and independent young woman is now just another delinquent, powerless, alone, and thoroughly institutionalized.

I have some links to some stories like this, if anyone is interested. Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

Well yes, I am interested, and probably also all those who read this blog, so don't be shy and give us the links. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the response! :-)

Frankly, I didn’t know. Sometimes there will be links to stories with no response at all, leaving me to wonder if the link was offensive, of no interest, or of interest only to lurkers who for various reasons did not respond. So yes, I was wondering if anyone was out there.

One of my favorite examples of the transformative effect of “processing” is Tyra Banks (the Victoria’ Secret/Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model) “reception” into a woman’s prison in California for her talk show. Tyra’s producers arranged for her to be processed (in her words) “like ANY other prisoner.” Unfortunately for Miss Banks, in addition to the normal indignities of a mugshot and fingerprints, this also meant stripping down to her birthday suit, in full view of the matron, several other prisoners, and a male officer (clearly visible in the background at both 1:40 and 2:05).

Although Tyra is both a celebrity and a multi-millionaire, once processing begins she has to squat and cough, repeatedly, until the butch guard in charge of her “reception” is satisfied. One can easily imagine the lowly civil servant being secretly delighted to use the bureaucratic ‘processing” routine as an excuse to put the smug supermodel through her paces.

The purpose of “reception” is to institutionalize the offender into the role of a helpless, hapless inmate. Judge, celebrity, police officer, housewife, heiress: her past life is irrelevant. Her clothes, identification, jewelry, and money are taken from her as contraband. She is a convict, a criminal, a delinquent, same as the rest.

The photograph, and Tyra’s stunned, deer-in-the-headlights gaze as she stands before the camera naked, clutching her new uniform and prison ID, says it all. Now she is just another con.

Here’s the link to the Katie Smith archive, which contains a number of fictional “processing” stories, including Tracy’s Prison Visit, and Tracy’s Mexican nightmare, where she’s processed in as a new prostitute at “Boy’s Town.”

I have some more links to these sorts of stories if you’re interested. Let me know!

Anonymous said...

Sorry -- here's the link to Katie's stories:

Anonymous said...

Do you mean you got no response on this blog or elsewhere? Because I don't remember you ever having given links here but I may be mistaken.
Now I dutifully and excitedly went to see those links. I don't know who Tyra Banks is but I enjoyed the videos.
I'll read Katie's stories ASAP and thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Orage!

A few posts down I sent in a link to THE DELINQUENT, a story about a proper Victorian lady fascinated with corporal punishment and frustrated that her boyfriend, who heads the local reformatory, won’t allow her to witness a judicial spanking.

In desperation she takes some of her servant’s clothes and goes into town slumming as a commoner, in the hopes of getting to learn some of the juicy details that no one will discuss with a lady. She is arrested, and gets to experience a punishment firsthand.

I thought this story would be right up the group's alley, but there was no response. So yes, your really don’t know if people are interested unless they post.

THANK YOU for your feedback, and if anyone lets me know their thoughts on THE DELINQUENT and the Katie Smith stories (likes and dislikes) and I'll try to steer you to more stories!

Anonymous said...

So that was you steering us to The Delinquent! As I haunt the site it was posted on (and as I enjoy Imreadonly's stories),I had read it before you mentioned it so I didn't comment.
I liked that story very much but the two endings made me uneasy; I think it would have been much better rounded up with no options offered. Actually I preferred the second ending which gave the author the possibility of a sequel. Pity!
I'll comment soon about Katie Smith's stories.
By the way, couldn't you find yourself a pseudo, it'd be more convenient for everybody :)

Toyntanen said...

Hi folks, I will not have time to update the blog today as it happens to be one of those rare occasions that I have been given the opportunity to earn a crust. But I had to intercede just to say that where a flagged-up link has been contributed - always assuming it to be appropriate of course (as in this case) - I always add it either to the blog list, the 'useful resource' list or the YahooGroup list (which I really must add more to, soon - note to self)as appropriate. At least I endeavour to do so. Admittedly there may, at times, be a delay if I am busy with other projects - as in this case - but generally I will flag up a contributed link in a post, in addition to adding it to the appropriate list. I also often flag up comments and at one time I used to repost some longer comments / contributions as a main entry and perhaps I should return to this policy, as I not sure what proportion of visitors read through the comments attached to each page. What do you think, folks? Let me know. My thanks to 'Orage' for 'holding the fort' there! And yes, I must agree that a synonym is more useful than 'Anon' whether giving a mention on a posting or replying to a comment - referring to several different (one assumes) Mr, Miss, Mrs, Ms 'Anon' can get somewhat confusing.

Madmonkey said...

Well I'd say if you think the comment is interesting and relevant you should go ahead and re-post it in the blog. I doubt many people read the comments section after all.

Anonymous said...

Garth, I disagree with Madmonkey: logically all those who read the posts also read the feedback.
If they don't it's up to them but they know they may miss interesting comments, so IMO there's no need to flag them up.

Anonymous said...

But I like being anonymous! :-)

The Delinquent had two ends because I made a poll to let the readers decide which way the story would go. I'm partial to the ending where her CERTIFICATE OF DELINQUENCY is properly filed. It is an official document, after all! I assume that's the version you meant?

One of the inspirations for THE DELINQUENT, was AFFINITY, the novel set in a prison by Sara Waters. The heroine of the novel is a very proper, stifled, and uptight Victorian LADY who visits the prison to help “mold” the women’s characters.

At the beginning of part 2, our proper lady arrival corresponds with the arrival of a new batch of prisoners. Our prim and proper lady looks quite shocked as she watches the prisoners stripped and get their haircut. She even accompanies them into the shower!

At the end of Part 3, the matron warns her about, “pals... sweethearts, if you catch my drift.” You must watch to make sure no one tries to make a pal of you, Miss."

In Part 4, our lady watches them throw a prisoner in the dungeon. When she complains, the wardeness summons her to her office, to discuss her “concerns about her progress.”

In Part 5, one of the matron asks our ladyship if she wants to see any particular part of the prison. “I’m in your hands,” she replies cryptically. The matron takes her to show the property room where the prisoners street clothes are stored. Holding up a pair of prison boots, she says, “These would just about fit you!” as our heroine shoots her, stunned at the idea!

There’s a lot of references like this sprinkled throughout that suggest that our proper lady, for all her virtue, is just this side of the line, and soon it might be “Time for you correction” as one of the matrons slyly puts it. An intriguing premise…

Let me know your thoughts on this, and Katie Smith, too!

Anonymous said...

Well, you aren't anymore now! I just wanted to tell you "Payment in full" is the most hilarious story I've ever read!
As for Affinity, I duly signed in but I can't see least this morning. Better luck later, I hope.

Anonymous said...

I meant "anonymous anymore", sorry!

Anonymous said...

The little bugger in PAYMENT IN FULL got tons of comments and feedback. It's the oddest thing!

Yes, the entire logononline website appears to be down now. Sorry about that. Didn't mean to send you in a circle.

45 minutes of it seems to be here, too, with the advantage of Japanese subtitles! :-)

Rewatching it there's a lot of good stuff, if you're into mental power games.

The warders really treat the oh-so-prim-and-proper lady visiting like they can't wait for her to screw up, so they can throw her in the clink. About 5 minutes in, one of the guards makes a point of CLANGING the cell door behind her, and then responding v-e-r-y slowly when the suddenly claustrophobic visitor asks her to "Please open the door!"

"Processing" begins about 13 minutes in. This is actually a better version; the previous scene is truncated.

"Batch of new prisoners, Miss. You'll see how we deal with 'em!"

"Oh! I hadn't intended...uh..."

Intended or not, our curious lady follows them through the entire proceedure (and even into the showers!) The actress does a wonderful job of conveying the characters mix of emotions: shock, embarrassment, fascination, and a secret voyeuristic delight.

I think this story really understands the "mental" game, which is what is missing in most stories. The post above this one, for example, describes the mechanics of the intake, but doesn't describe who the young woman was, or how she felt about it, aside from a few tantalizing hints "I knew no one, and no one knew me."

I hope you enjoy the clip, and Katie's stories! Let me know what you think...

Anonymous said...

Nothing odd in the number of comments about "Payment in full"! You obviously underestimate your imagination and your talent!
Thank you for telling me the logonline website was down, as I always think it's my fault when I can't get access. And thank you for the new link. I don't care about Japanese subtitles, I just ignore them.
If I wasn't interested in mental power games, I wouldn't relish this site... and Garth's awfully chilling "Institutionalised". I'm currently reading part 2 and it's much worse than part 1.

Madmonkey said...

When you say "worse" do you mean "better"?

Anonymous said...

I can't say better as it would imply that part 1 is less well written, which it is not.
I just thought cruelty had reached a peak in part 1 but I was mistaken.

Anonymous said...

Yes, sometimes worse is better. :-)

I think these sorts of stories thrive on power reversals. I think Payment in Full got so much attention because of the idea that a tiny and utterly insignificant flying pest whom the young lady ordinarily could have swatted away or smashed into oblivion suddenly became her tormentor, lord and master. She was quite literally subject to the whims of an insect.

Let me know what you think of AFFINITY, and the Katie stories!

Anonymous said...

AFFINITY: I was very disappointed: the images are much too dark to begin with; worse still, the film stops every ten seconds or so, and it's impossible to hear a whole sentence at a stretch. So I finally gave up.
Kathie's stories: I read four of them and I think that will be that. They are so far-fetched as to be quite unbelievable.
I'll stick to sites and writers I have appreciated before.
As you know, so little time and so much to read...

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you didn't like Katie's stories or AFFINITY, although I'd suggest that your feelings about the latter have more to do with the connection than the film itself, which is quite good.

A shorter film, then, about a reporter who voluntarily chooses to be "processed" in order to show the terrible conditions at the local prison. An interesing scenario, I think...

There are also a number of stories that deal in this library that dea with strip searches, incarcerations, slave markets, etc. You can go back to the root to see the entire list:

I hope you enjoy some of them -- best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! I had read "Justice for Judge Tracy" but couldn't for the life of me remember where...and I had also forgotten the author's name.
So now you open a new goldmine.
The only criticism I'd make, both for this story and for "Repeat offender" is that he gets repetitive; he should cut out about a fourth of his text.