Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #16
Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018
Just how did the book Erotic Bondage: Art of Rope come about? Basically, it was Marion’s idea. She’d been looking at my collection of books, including Tony’s Obsession, Petter Hegre’s My Wife, Ralph Gibson’s Deus Ex Machina, Lee Higgs’s Generation Fetish, and others (all confiscated by the cops, none returned, most of them signed copies given to me by the photographers) and decided she wanted The Marion Book. She was heavily into sexual bondage, said she had the most intense orgasms when restrained. She’d shown me a bunch of Polaroid snaps of her bound taken by an old boyfriend. The photography and rigging were amateurish, but she still shined. She also described the bondage sessions she’d done with a recent boyfriend, and complained that he tied the ropes too tight. So I began shooting some bondage sessions with her, something new to me. Oh, I’d played around with handcuffs and such with a few models, but nothing hardcore. I then built a suspension frame, incorporating suggestions from her dad, and built a couple of sets. It was then that I discovered rainbowrope.com, where I found nice soft 1/4 inch Nylon rope in all sorts of colors. I bought a bunch of rope from them as well as some props like an old style dental clamp that Marion fell in love with. We commenced shooting for the book each week after my other obligations were out of the way. After we had some pictures we really liked. I went looking for a publisher. I didn’t think an American publisher would be interested. so I went looking in Germany, where several of my books had been published. My main German publisher was a wing of the Vatican, so I didn’t take this project to them! After several dead ends, I found a publisher, and we began to rough the book out – and then that publisher went bust. I was discouraged, but this had happened before, and so I started over. If I had all the money publishers have gone broke owing me, I might have been as wealthy as the prosecutor thought!
I talked to Lee Higgs and he put me in touch with his publisher in Germany, Goliath. They loved the project and over the course of a year or so we put the book together. In fact they liked it so much that they decided to make it the first of a series under a new imprint, MixOfPix. In the middle of this process Marion died. I was very conflicted about going on with the project, but Marion’s best friend Samantha had seen the photos (and was in some) and said Marion would have wanted me to finish the project, and her other friends I talked to felt the same, I felt they were right, so I hired other models to do the shoots we’d planned and sketched, and finished the book. That I published under my Edward Lee pseudonym had nothing to do with Marion’s death, but had been the plan from the beginning. I had some very straight-laced clients at the time and wanted to keep things separate.
The prosecutor implied that I’d made a lot of money from the book. As photographers who have done picture books will tell you, you do not get rich from this type of book. I did not do a detailed accounting, but by the time I figured in model’s fees, cost of set building, and all the other expenses of doing the shoots for the book, I might just have broken even. I did have some quiet support from photo industry companies, and a cheering section from my dear old friend Monte Zucker, who gleefully showed me the gay bondage he was shooting and critiqued the images for me. But, no matter what the prosecutor implied, I was not rolling in money from this project. The book is out of print now, and my royalties ended long ago, but I’m told it is available from Amazon.
Marion also wanted a website along with the book. She’d been inspired by boundndetermined.com, the website owned by my friend Maria Shadoes, and wanted to call hers bound2bwild.com. I’d registered the name and Maria and I were working on the design. Maria made a good living from the websites she owned and webmastered and was to be our webmaster. All those plans came to naught, though. Marion’s website never went live. So many plans and dreams died with her.
About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Mr. Shell is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-letters-from-prison-15/