Noir Fetish

I’m going to digress from hypnosis a little bit and write about something else I find irrisistable: noir*.

Lately, I’ve been preoccupied with watching as many noir classics as possible (The Big Sleep, Casablanca, Gilda, Vertigo, etc (and yes, I know I NEED to see The Maltese Falcon, but it’s not instant watch and it’s far down on my queue)). I’ve realized that something about noir resonates with me in a specifically erotic way. I know that noir as a genre implies a certain amount of only slightly veiled eroticism, sometimes in the dialogue (there is a fantastic example of this in The Big Sleep where Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart banter about “playing horses” (tee hee)), and sometimes in the women themselves, which I’ll get to in a bit.

As far as the veiled eroticism goes, I know I’ve always found sexy things to be more sexy when they’re slightly hidden. Much as I looooove the boobies, I find a revealing dress on a woman to be a lot more erotic. I like being teased, and when there’s an implication as opposed to an outright reveal, that’s far more tantalizing because it exercises my imagination. And with the tease, naturally, there’s denial. In most of the films thus far, once the lovers come together, that’s it, film’s over. Or one dies. Or leaves on a plane, after crying a single, perfect tear (how does Ingrid Bergman DO that?!). The buildup, where they hate each other, or want each other, or are torn between the square-jawed private eye and their husband is terribly exciting.

I think this relates to why the 40s aesthetic has become majorly fetishized. Think about it. For example: why are garter belts automatically sexy? They’re a pain in the ass to get on, and totally unecessary, but an essential part of lingerie or “fetish” wear. But they’re one more step between you and a nude lady that you get to fuck, and therefore end your boner/the film. They’re undergarments that were once as common as anything, but now are purposefully donned as a tease.

Now: the women. Specifically: the Femme Fatale.

Yes, this TOTALLY counts shut up

I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way

I’ve always had it bad for femme fatales in a BIG way. The slinky dress, the cigarette**, the throaty voice, all those little signifiers just KILL me.

T&D obviously plays a big role in this archetype, as she uses her IRRISISTABLE sexuality to seduce men, but withholds anything overt in order to CONTROL them to her own, dangerous ends. Dingdingdingding! At it’s core, this is along the same lines as mind control and D/s and all that great stuff that turns my crank. So before ever even watching an actual noir film, this kind of character has always been the kind of person I desire.

Watching all these films now, however, I find myself torn between my desire of the femme fatale and identifying with her, which is slightly confusing to me, and the reason why I’m writing this out in the first place. After watching Gilda today, I think I’ve hit upon it. Femme Fatales are strong, sexually aware women, who, by the end of the film, go totally gaga for the swarthy PI and thus loses all her power to him (usually in a kiss of unbridled passion contrasted with soft lighting and soaring strings). And there’s something really hot about that too.

I’ve lately been mentally grappling with my sexual fantasies of submission and control and how they fit into my everyday personality. When I go to public BDSM parties, I get all naked and sassy, and I take great offense to anyone who would dare treat me like a submissive, even though that’s what drew me to the scene in the first place. I’m not saying I want to FIND THE DOMINANT WHO WILL TAME ME GOOD AND PROPER AND OH HOW I WILL SWOON IN HIS EMBRACE, because that’s just silly, but that I think power over someone is a lot sexier when the person you’re controlling is incredibly powerful in their own right. More often than not, the femme fatale falls for the leading man because they are intellectual equals, and she falls because he’s the only one who can keep up with her. Ultimately, what I want from D/s, is a person with whom I share an equal relationship, who takes all power from me as a sexual act (the “end of the film”, as it were). I want the femme fatale, and I want to BE the femme fatale at the same time. And that idea is kind of cool.

I’ve always used the creative works of others to tease out my own identity. My sexuality isn’t just chemistry, but a blend of all the films and TV shows I’ve seen and the books and comics I’ve read. It’s funny that watching film noir now makes me realize things about myself that have always been there, but have been difficult to put into words until now. I guess that’s what being a sex nerd is all about.

*NERDY CAVEAT: I am aware that the term “noir” is overused as hell, and only applies to a certain kind of film with a very specific visual language, plot structure and character types, and that all other movies are just “made in the 40s” or “crime thrillers” blurr bla bloo, but for the sake of simplicity, I am just going to say noir and I’m fairly certain you’ll get it. Also, any observation I make is drawn from speculation based off the handful of films I’ve seen or a cursory Wikipedia search.

**Smoking is totally gross, guys.

1 Response to “Noir Fetish”


  1. 1 Jack Stratton February 20, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    So The Curse of the Jade Scorpion must be your favorite movie ever, right?

    Sigh, oh how I love noir. Chinatown, The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye.

    I was much more into the books, but the movies are wonderful as well.

    Boost Maltese Falcon up on your list! And Chinatown! And LA Confidential and even Brick.


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