“Have you ever thought about a woman having sex with an octopus? The Japanese have, in fact they have been thinking about it for almost two hundred years or more. They have painted it, carved it in wood, made elaborate cartoon porn about it. It is known as Cephalerotica, and it is different to say the least” (from online essay Cephloerotica/Octopus Sex by Monkee Armada)
In a previous blog, I examined ‘tentacle erotica’ in Japanese anime and manga cartoons. Today’s blog is arguably a continuation of that article as it examines ‘tentacle erotica’ in real life rather than cartoon fantasy. Over the last year or so I have been collecting bizarre sexual stories from around the globe. A number of these have involved humans watching other humans have sex with cephalopods (e.g., octopus, squid, etc.).
- Case 1: In January 2008, Rodney Scott McLagan, a 48-year old Australian single man from Tasmania was arrested and pleaded guilty after he admitted downloading over 30,000 videos and “depraved images” including video clips of humans engaged in sexual acts with an octopus. (He had also downloaded other videos and images including sexual acts with children aged 5-15-years old, as well as other zoophilic sexual behaviour involving dogs, ponies, tigers and snakes). McLagan’s lawyer David Barclay said his client had no interest in child pornography and that the paedophilic material had been downloaded as part of a larger bundle of zoophilic material (that his client was more interested in – and had actively searched online for – bestial acts). The Supreme Court in Hobart was also told that McLagan, employed as an office worker, had very low self-esteem, a personality disorder, and described himself as “some sort of beast”. McLagan avoided a jail sentence because Justice David Porter said McLagan’s personality disorder had “caused him to avoid interpersonal contact and gave him a pre-occupation with being criticised or rejected…Without the opportunity for normal sexual relationships fantasy is often indulged . It also emerges from the report that [he was] particularly self-conscious about [his] teeth”. McLagan was sentenced to four months in jail (wholly suspended), fined 1500 Australian dollars, and placed on the sex offenders register for four years.
- Case 2: In March 2010, Andrew Charles Dymond a 46-year old Welsh man from Swansea (UK) appeared in court accused of possessing an “extreme pornographic image” of someone “performing an act of [sexual] intercourse with a dead animal, namely an octopus/squid, which was grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character” (along with other zoophilic images of someone having sex with dogs and horses, and of making 14 indecent photos of children and possessing a further 57 photos). The court also heard that five allegations involved images that showed sexual acts that were likely to result in serious injury to breasts or genitals. Dymond was given a conditional discharge, banned from using the internet, and banned from having any contact with a child under the age of 16 years.
- Case 3: In September 2012, Robert Peter Moore, a 31-year old man from Ribblesdale, Yorkshire (UK) pleaded guilty at Bradford Crown Court to possessing child pornography and hundreds of zoophilic images including an octopus, horse, and a dog. Moore admitted 15 charges of possessing pornographic pictures of children and animals on February 17 this year. Moore pleaded guilty to ten offences of possession of indecent photographs of a child, and admitted four allegations of possession of images and videos of bestiality. In court, the bestiality videos were described as “grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character”. Moore was immediately signed on with the police as a convicted sex offender.
There are clear overlaps in all three of these cases. All were middle-aged men, all were found to have videos and images not just of humans having sex with cephalopods, but zoophilic material more generally, as well as varying amounts of paedophilic material. All these similarities point to a global disturbance in normal sexual functioning rather than a specific interest in cephalopods.
There are no reported case studies in the academic or clinical literature of humans having zoophilic sexual relationships with cephalopods although in the name of research I came across five video clips online that I would rather not have seen. (Rather than me provide the links direct, all of these can be found very quickly simply by typing in ‘human zoophilic sex with octopus [or squid] video’ – but you have been warned. I never want to see another clip of a small octopus being placed into a woman’s vagina ever again). There is also a fair amount of ‘erotic fiction’ about human-octopus sex (such as Tentacle, My Tentacle and Octopussy, both on the Zoophilia-Story.Info website – again be warned these are very sexually explicit).
Less blatant (and decidedly less pornographic) are the various literary writings and artworks depicting human-octopus couplings and dating back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Arguably the most famous painting (actually a woodblock print) is The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) and depicts a young female ama diver (i.e., someone who dives for pearls) sexually entwined with two octopuses. The Wikipedia entry on the image notes:
“The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife is the most famous image in Kinoe no Komatsu, published in three volumes from 1814, during the Edo period. The book is a work of shunga, a form of erotic art popularized by the ukiyo-e movement. The image, Hokusai’s most famous shunga design, depicts a woman, evidently an ama (a shell diver), enveloped in the arms of two octopuses. The larger of the two mollusks performs cunnilingus on her, while the smaller one, his son, assists on the left by fondling her mouth and nipple. In the text above the image the woman and the creatures express their mutual sexual pleasure from the encounter…The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife is often cited as an early forerunner of tentacle erotica, a motif that has been common in modern Japanese animation and manga since the late 20th century. Modern tentacle erotica similarly depicts sex between human women and tentacled beasts; notably, however, the sex in modern depictions is typically forced, as opposed to Hokusai’s mutually pleasurable interaction”.
I also recommend checking out the Wurzelforum website that has some ‘interesting’ human-octopus photographs which appear more aligned to the work of Hokusai than being overtly depraved and pornographic. There’s also a well researched article entitled ‘Bert Cooper’s Freaky Octopus Picture’ that’s worth two minutes of anybody’s time (especially of you are a fan of television drama Mad Men). A number of different websites also make references to Joshua Handley, an English nineteenth century artist travelled to Japan and developed an obsession with tentacle erotica and inspired a short online essay Tentacles of Desire: The Man Who Loved Cephalopods that can be found on Dr. Kilmarnock’s website The Obscure World of Victorian Erotica. Here are a few excerpts that caught my eye:
“Joshua Handley was a minor artist who made a living by producing a seemingly endless stream of engravings for the publishers of erotic literature, an occupation which demanded some nerve as one could at any time be arrested on charges of obscenity…In 1882 Handley was invited to travel to Japan as an illustrator and photographer, by Sir Neville Thripp, an ardent Japanophile and a distant cousin of Handley. Sir Neville was determined to explore and document the less well-known aspects of Japanese and culture…But what particularly caught his attention was a 3-volume ukiyo-e erotic book Kinoe no Komatsu (Young Pine Shoots) by Hokusai, published around 1814, and most particularly the several woodblock prints of octopi and female pearl divers in intimate situations contained in the work…Handley had discovered the great obsession which was to dominate the rest of his life…Handley, dissatisfied with the erotic literature that he had previously illustrated, and at the crest of his obsession with octopi, began to write and illustrate erotica of his own, but erotica of a most unconventional nature…His tales invariably began quite unremarkably, and the first pages could almost be mistaken for an adventure novel of the period: a female pearl diver, a shipwrecked gentlewomen, or an unwary (lady) bather would fall prey to a wily octopus, and become enmeshed in its vigorous tentacles. But what’s this? Can it possibly be that the ladies in question are not struggling against their cold-blooded captor’s rough advances as wholeheartedly as might be expected? That they are, in fact, succumbing to the rude blandishments of tentacle and sucker?”
The most recent mainstream cultural reference to human-octopus sex that I can think of was in the 1981 film Possession where the actress Isabelle Ajani (playing the dual character of Anna/Helen) has sex with an octopus. The only article that I have come across online that discusses ‘octopus fetishes’ is a December 2012 blog at the Pizza Clubhouse website. The article is a little non-politically correct in places and I don’t want to repeat the author’s speculations here (you can check it out yourself here, if you’re interested). The article does say that:
“Perhaps the most amazing thing about the octopus fetish is how much of it there is in real life. I can somewhat (sadly) understand a fetish with tentacles. It’s kind of a mixture of bondage and a gang bang. That still doesn’t explain a real life octopus. Still, people are turned on by two girls making out with octopuses on both of their heads, and that is pretty mild compared to some other stuff you can find”.
I’m not convinced that there are many (if any) people out there that genuinely enjoy sex with cephalopods although as the cases I highlighted show, there are some people who certainly like to watch others engaged in human-cephalopod sexual acts.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Daily Telegraph (2008). Octopus sex man gets off. July 18, Located at: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/weird/octopus-sex-man-gets-off/story-e6frev20-1111116951246
Pizza Clubhouse (2012). Weird fetish of the day: Octopuses. December 28. Located at: http://pizzaclubhouse.com/2012/12/28/weird-fetish-of-the-day-octopuses/
Rae, M. (2008). Man caught with octopus sex images. [Australian] News.com, July 4. Located at: http://www.news.com.au/news/man-caught-with-octopus-sex-images/story-fna7dq6e-1111116822419
The Sun (2008). Man admits to octopus. July 5. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/1380865/Man-admits-to-Octopus-porn-Octopus.html
Telegraph and Argus (2012). Man in court for possession of child porn and bestiality images. September 11. Located at: http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/9920762.Man_in_court_for_possession_of_child_porn_and_bestiality_images/
This Is South Wales (2010). Swansea man accused of possessing image of someone having sex with a squid. March 4. Located at: http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/Swansea-man-accused-possessing-image-having-sex-squid/story-12399534-detail/story.html#axzz2Xo1cTx8C
In a previous blog, I examined toonophilia (i.e., a sexual paraphilia in which individuals are sexually and/or emotionally attracted to cartoon characters). I also mentioned in the same blog that some toonophiles are very specific in regard to what they find erotic and that one particular sub-type of tooniphilia involves those individuals who find Japanese ‘anime’ characters particularly erotic. While researching that blog, I came across the lecture notes of an unnamed academic (posted by one of his/her students) that I found interesting (although I don’t know what the primary sources for the notes were). I’m aware that Japanese comics are known as ‘manga’ and that cartoon pornography is highly prevalent (inside and outside of Japan) and is known as ‘hentai’ (but I can’t claim to have known much else before researching this blog).
“Enthusiasts [of anime/Hentai/Manga] are technically known as otaku (Japanese for anime fan), and most of these cartoons have a hardcore, bondage, or rubber/latex flavor. Erotic art has been around, of course, since antiquity, but anime and hentai are more like the adult versions of ‘new animation’ cartoons (like Sailor Moon). The Japanese government requires censorship (blotting out) of genitalia in any picture showing penetration (with the toon showing that ‘look’ of painful enjoyment), but easily downloadable programs like G-mask can remove the censorship masking. Other cartoon images range from Betty Boop, Disney, the Flintsones, and Jetsons to highly erotic fantasy artwork (sometimes featuring penetration by laboratory devices, aliens, or cephalopod squids). Manga art is the most popular American variant, coming from the underground comix culture of R. Crumb and followers. The mutant alien (with tentacles) space theme is probably the most popular, followed by a vegetation or animal fetish, and then only about 30% thoroughly enjoy that degrading ’look’ on the victim’s face. A higher percentage enjoys something of the same ‘look’ in hardcore cumshot photos”.
As I said, I have no idea where the claims made originate (particularly the percentages given), but they appear to have good face validity based on my own anecdotal reading of the popular literature that I have tracked down online. Unsurprisingly, the most popular consumers of hentai are men. The Wikipedia entry on hentai also adds that:
“Eroge games [erotoc games] in particular combine three favored media, cartoons, pornography and gaming into an experience. The hentai genre engages a wide audience that expands yearly, with that audience desiring better quality and storylines, or works which push the creative envelope. The unusual and extreme depictions in hentai is not about perversion so much as it is an example of the profit-oriented industry. Normal sexual situations don’t sell as well as the more unusual situations, such as depicting sex at schools or bondage. Dr. Megha Hazuria Gorem, a clinical psychologist says, ‘Because toons are a kind of final fantasy, you can make the person look the way you want him or her to look. Every fetish can be fulfilled.’ Dr. Narayan Reddy a sexologist, commented on the eroge games, ‘Animators make new games because there is a demand for them, and because they depict things that the gamers do not have the courage to do in real life, or that might just be illegal, these games are an outlet for suppressed desire’”.
Another aspect of hentai that I kept coming across was ‘tentacle porn’ and ‘tentacle rape’ (or ‘shokushu goukan’ as it is known as in Japan) that a number of articles I read says it dates back to the eighteenth century although the more recent tentacle rape genre is generally attributed to Urotsukidoji, manga created by controversial erotic cartoonist Toshio Maeda who emphasized the elements of sexual assault. Maeda claims to have introduced tentacle porn as a way to circumvent Japan’s very strict censorship laws. These laws didn’t allow the depiction of penises but at the time (in 1986) didn’t forbid sexual penetration by anything else (such as tentacles or robotic appendages). In an online article on “depraved fetishes that are older than you think”, the author Nathan Reed reported that:
“For men, the [tentacle rape] fetish appeals to those who enjoy seeing women humiliated and subjugated by something that isn’t even human. While [Toshio] Maeda may have created the modern tentacle rape, he wasn’t the inventor – not even close. Maeda was preceded by Katsushika Hokusai, an artist from the late 18th and early 19th century. Hokusai was the artist of the ‘Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji’ an internationally recognized series of prints that earned him fame both locally and globally…Hokusai’s ‘The Dream Of The Fisherman’s Wife’ is speculated to be the first instance of tentacle erotica…[Also] check out ‘Tentacles of Desire: The Man Who Loved Cephalopods’. Contained within is the story of Joshua Handley, an English artist in the late 19th century whose travels to Japan resulted in an obsession with tentacle erotica. Handley attempted multiple times to publish some of it in England, even coming up with some of his own to add to the table. People were appalled – not by the tentacles, but at the notion that the women in the stories were actually enjoying themselves, because for some reason rape would make it much less disgusting”.
A 2001 paper by Dr. Danielle Talerico in the academic journal Impressions showed argued that although Western audiences have usually viewed Hokusai’s painting as rape, “Japanese audiences of the Edo period would have associated it with consensual sex”. This is also echoed in the Wikipedia entry that claims ‘tentacle erotica’ can be of a consensual nature “but frequently has elements of non-consensual sex”. It also notes that it has become much more popular outside of Japan and Asia and has found an audience among people in both Europe and the US but “still remains a small, fetish-oriented part of the adult film industry. While most tentacle erotica is animated, there are also a smaller number of live-action movies featuring this theme”.
Some academics believe that tentacle rape – even in animated form is a step too far. For instance, a 2004 book chapter by Dr. J.P. Dahlquist, and Dr. L.G. Vigilant asserts that:
“The experience of hentai is morally distancing. Tentacle hentai offers the telegenetic signs of the most perverse and debased sexualities. It opens for fantastic examination a sexuality that transgresses all ‘simulated’ moralities of the ‘real’ world, where tentacle sex between nubile girl-women and cloned boy-men monsters are the order of the day – a monstrous sex-feast of the most abnormal acts: pedophilic bestiality, sex with machines, sex with cyborgs, sex with dangerous protruding tentacles, and, of course, an endless stream of the most debasing, brutal, and humiliating rape images”.
Whether animated pornography is less ‘harmful’ than non-animated pornography is something I will leave to others more knowledgeable than me to debate. However, there is clearly a market for hentai more generally, and tentacle porn more specifically as evidenced by those who sell it commercially. The whole area raises interesting moral questions which I hope to return to in a future blog.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Absolute Astronomy (2013). Tentacle rape. Located at: http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Tentacle_rape
Dahlquist, J.P., & Vigilant, L.G. (2004). Way better than real: Manga sex to tentacle hentai. In D.D. Waskul (Ed.), Net.sex: Readings on sex, pornography, and the Internet (pp. 91–103). New York: Peter Lang.
Ortega-Brena, Mariana (2009). Peek-a-boo, I see you: Watching Japanese hard-core animation. Sexuality and Culture, 13, 17–31.
Reed, N. (2010). 6 Depraved Sexual Fetishes That Are Older Than You Think. Cracked.com, March 30. Located at: http://www.cracked.com/article_18472_6-depraved-sexual-fetishes-that-are-older-than-you-think.html
Talerico, D. (2001). Interpreting sexual imagery in Japanese prints: A fresh approach to Hokusai’s Diver and Two Octopi. Impressions: The Journal of the Ukiyo-e Society of America, 23, 24-42.
Wikipedia (2013). Hentai. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hentai
Wikipedia (2013). Manga. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manga
Wikipedia (2013). Tentacle erotica. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tentacle_erotica
Wikipedia (2013). Urotsukidoji. Located at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urotsukidōji