Leo Ravenswood is one of the most important bondage artists. Leo was much in demand in the heyday of magazines like Drummer. His importance lies not so much in the quality of his drawings but their subject matter. He covered the more exotic byways of bondage fetish such as pony training, lace up restraints and body bags, head harnesses and suspension.
His captives are forced into restraining sleeves and made to adopt awkward positions which are both painful and humiliating (see Ranch Fun). This picture is not completely convincing at a technical level but it's a great idea!
This type of bondage derives from corsetry and has long been used in female bondage imagery. Given the era in which Leo came to the fore it's possible he was influenced by that and took it as his lead. His characters are shown with the standard indicators of maleness popular at the time - long hair and bushy moustaches, but they have also a slightly feminine air which becomes more exaggerated as their bondage ritual proceeds.
They frequently are made to wear boots with high heels - albeit chunky Cuban ones. (see Pony Escape) Perhaps he liked that duality or perhaps he was simply adapting the glamour art of his day which was exclusively based on women.
Pony Escape comes from Leo's long story - 'The Estate' which is the story of a character who is drawn into a secret organisation which recruits men and keeps them in captivity to serve wealthy clients. The main plotline is a simple love and jealousy triangle, but Leo's exploration of the hierarchy and functioning of the Estate and it's repertoire of unusual punishments is fascinating.
These two supporting characters in the story are unusual for Leo in that they do not sport long hair nor moustaches and for me this is a frustrating glimpse of what might have been! (see Roy and Ray)
Leo - Bedtime Bondage
Leo's pictures are cartoon-like and the anatomy and perspective is patchy. Likewise the level of detail varies but he always pays great attention to the detail of the bondage devices.
Probably it is the inventiveness of his subject matter which is most impressive and the very personal exploration of his subject - like the Bedtime Bondage picture from 'The Estate'. This simple image is un-sexual in some ways, the characters are even separated by the bed cover! You can read Freudian conflicts into this if you like, but maybe it's trying to express something deeper than pure sex. 'The Estate' storyline is full of yearnings for love and companionship. I think this picture tries to depict what bondage signifies in a real relationship - something the porn factory ignores.
I could have chosen many, many pictures to illustrate Leo's abilities, a luxury I have rarely enjoyed in this series and that is tribute in itself. Sadly, to modern eyes the appeal of Leo's work is hampered by his choice of masculine stereotypes (which haven't stood the test of time), the flavours of femininity and the lack of visual sensuality in his technical style. This does not diminish his achievement or his status as a leading proponent of exotic bondage.
Read Leo's full story of 'The Estate'
I can't ID a link for this artist but a search of gay art groups should turn up more examples.
I welcome link info from readers of this blog
For other articles in this series click on the A-Z label below.