Released in 1965 on the Bondage Records label, Tortura is one of the most bizarre LPs you will ever hear. Calling itself “a factual living record of discipline and punishment”, it eschews music for the most part, instead concentrating on 21 tracks of slapping, spanking, whipping and groaning – all of which are presented in a fairly realistic manner.
Of course, BDSM is not exactly the most aural of kinks – with no dialogue to entice the listener, and no visual stimuali beyond the rather marvelous cover, I suspect all but the most dedicatedly masochistic listeners will find this to be a rather unerotic experience. The tracks all blur into one, but just as you least expect it, a touch of background music appears.
Certainly, Tortura seems a work of some dedication and devotion to the cause. It’s hard to imagine someone coming up with this as a commercial project. Where the album was sold, who bought it and what they made of it remains a mystery. But it was successful enough to spawn a sequel, which presumably (I’ve yet to track a copy down) is more of the same.
Bondage Records were, in fact, BDSM publishers Flag Publications of Los Angeles, who were the publishers of The Spankers Monthly around the same time that this record appeared, covering “adult and juvenile discipline, transvestism, home movie and Polaroid hobbyists, exotica, sunbathing groups, male models, leather and rubber apparel, restraint, male and female domination and bondage.” In 1969, Tortura was convicted – alongside assorted print magazines and books – in an obscenity trial relating to mail order distribution, possibly by Flag Publications themselves.
These days, copies of Tortura go for up to $200 on the collectors market – a price high enough to make anyone cry out in pain.