A long time ago, when I worked at a fetish/leather store, a customer who liked me brought in some of his old fetish magazines. I think he was having some trouble with his wife, and he didn't want her to find them, so he gave them to me. I was little disappointed he had said they were old I had been hoping they would be from the 1950s. Instead they were all from the 70s, with inartistic covers, and poor photography. I was flipping through "Domination Annual" (1972), which was a combination of photo stories and contact ads, when I saw my first image of Cora. Underneith the photo it said: "If you enjoy crawling, contact me." I suddenly felt completely lovestruck and desperate. Who was this severe looking woman with the white hair, tiny waist and drawn on makeup?! This image stood out so sharply from the amateur snapshots that filled the magazine. I had always loved trashy glamour fake hair, exagerrated makeup, and over the top outfits. If a woman looked so womanly that she was suspicious as a woman then it was my kind of look! But THIS woman looked like science fiction an ultra cruel villainess where was the planet she was from? Could I get an invitation to go there? I wasn't interested in crawling for anyone but that all changed when I saw her photo I would crawl for someone so fabulous but who was she ?!?
I used the photo of this mystery woman on Valentines and photocopied letterheads for years to come. I accumulated older fetish magazines searching for more images of her to no avail. Before the internet was widespread, with no Ebay, it was a daunting task to find older fetish magazines. I asked at several of the more likely used book and magazine stores. The genius IQ but poorly socialised male clerks laughed in my face and told me those vintage fetish magazines never turn up. (Subtext: If they ever did, they would take them home, never to see the light of day again, alone in their bedrooms at their parents house with their 50,000+ comic, etc. collection).
One day I was looking through the local Buy and Sell magazine. Under the Adult section there was an ad that said something like Rubber clothing, adult baby wear, used fetish magazines, etc. with a fax number. I faxed a note there wasn't even a number to call with a brief description of what I was looking for. At 11:00 p.m. that night I received a long fax with the titles of what this person had, many of which sounded amazing, with a phone number. I phoned immediately the next day and went out to a plain house in the far end of an older suburb. A person in their late 50s, who was transitioning from male to female, led us into their rec room bar. Piles of magazines were all over the floor, and racks of bitter smelling rubber clothing hung in the small room. This person explained that a good friend had recently passed away, and that his wife wanted nothing to do with this, so he was selling off his friends collection. He left us alone in the room to look through what was there, and went upstairs with his Siamese cat. The deceased had different tastes than what I was searching for there were many MacKintoshes and 60s style latex dresses and big rubber bloomers but no ultra high heeled boots from the 1940s! It appeared that this man had kept everything fetish related he had ever acquired. I made piles of Must Have, Maybe Have, and a Buy-If-Its-Cheap magazines. Between two of us we spent a couple of hours going through all the magazines. There were a few dozen smaller format magazines, including two copies of Bizarre, but a bunch of them were a German magazine from the 70s I had never heard of, called Club Caprice. Initially I bypassed them, but then on my second or third go around I opened one up and there was THAT woman. I started leafing through them all in an excited panic. There were many pictures of Her! She was in colored wigs, in fancy outfits! I bought everything I could afford. On the long ride home I felt like a complete degenerate having spent that much money on old fetish magazines, and sadness at what I left behind.
Club Caprice was completely in German, so I couldnt understand the text. I did understand that her name was Cora, and that I wasn't the only person who was amazed by her. There was an interview with Her, and stories about Her, and drawings of Her by other enthralled fans. The only person I knew who read German was my mother, but she would not begin to understand or appreciate Cora's greatness, so I did not ask her to translate. I showed Cora's picture to everyone. A friend of a friend claimed to read German. My friend and I got all dressed up, and we had a date for this person to come over to read us the Cora Scriptures. However, he smoked too much dope, and the best he could do was offer a loose translation, with a bunch of gaps and digression. Years later a client of my partner finally did a written translation of two of the Cora articles that seemed the most illuminating.
I know Club Caprice magazine is still around, and still completely in German. There was a small piece in Marquis #10 about Club Caprice. Apparently Club Caprice started in Germany in the early 1970s, as a private fetish social club. Initially the magazine was for members only, but it seems that many copies made it to North America, so perhaps it had a magazine distribution deal as well. I have seen images from the magazine reprinted (stolen?) in many U.S. publications from the 70s and 80s, which is where I found my first Cora image. Early Club Caprice was an odd mix of amateur photos, soft core porn/ fetish stories, historical images of fetish interest, and fetish and surrealist artwork, all filtered through a certain German angst. Many of the photos of Cora and others have been retouched by the artist, Tom, who did many paintings for the covers and stories. Sometimes the retouching is slight, and other times Cora has been airbrushed into even more fantastic proportions and expressions. Club Caprice Magazine was edited by Sylvia Berte, a woman of whom I know nothing. She appears in the interview photo with Cora.
What I know about Cora: Not much. In the interview image of Cora meeting Sylvia, Sylvia appears to be a petite woman, perhaps 5' 3" or under. Cora is standing in the foreground, and I dont know if it just camera distortion but in her heels, Cora appears to be over 6 feet tall ! Cora looks to be over 30 years old but whether she is 35 or 55 I cannot tell. In the "Cora In Paris" piece there are a few references to Cora looking very womanly but this may also be an effect of the translation. I find it difficult to believe that Cora was a man with those hips! The apartment pictured in the interview looks modest but perhaps it is not Cora's apartment. Was Cora married? Did she have a job? How did she afford her fabulous creations? Who was her corset maker? Did she have children? In the interview she seems aware of her wonderfulness, without seeming pathological. She seems bright, and witty, with good humor, but perhaps that is what I want to think.
I had a prospective client who claimed to know about Cora, in fact to have even been at a gathering where she was. He claimed Cora had been murdered. This man had a German name, and was the right age, so he could have been telling the truth. However, he also claimed to have been a secret agent, an assassin, a surgeon, and had about 20 different fictious personas online, so his claim was suspect...
The Cora effect: She had a big influence on my personal ideas about style and persona. At one of the very first fetish nights I ever attended (1991) there was a woman (who looked nothing like Cora!) wearing the same strappy outfit as Cora. Her dumpy master made it for her. At the time I thought he was pretty original for such a boring guy but now I know it was under the influence of Cora! Leo Zulueta (tribal tattooing pioneer) used the same strappy image of Cora (and others) on San Francisco area punk flyers in the very beginning of that scene in the late 70s. From the volume of drawings of Cora that Club Caprice printed it was obvious that Cora seared the pysches of many who saw her!
If you have other images of Cora I would be thrilled to see them. Please send a note prior to sending them, as I will not open attachments from strangers. If you have information about Cora I would like to speak with you. I am not interested in disclosing private or personal information about Cora but I would like to know more about this mystery. Please contact this website if you can be of any assistance.
Copyright Information: This text is copyright Andrea Johnson/LCA 2004, and is not to reprinted without explicit written permission. Images and photographs are copyright of their respective(unknown) holders. If there are images that belong to you as the holder of this copyright that you wish removed, please contact Lovesick Corrective Apparel, with proof of your copyright.