A phoenix is a mythical bird with gold and red plumage. At the end of its life-cycle the phoenix builds itself a nest that it then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix arises. The bird was also said to regenerate when hurt or wounded by a foe, thus being almost immortal and invincible. The phoenix is a popular fantasy creature.
The spanking magazine
Phoenix is a British spanking magazine, published between 1980 and 1991. The front cover of the first four issues bore a logo derived from the mythological bird. There were 49 consecutively numbered issues, each with 64 pages, 8 of them in colour, this being the standard format of British spanking magazines at the time. Due to a printing error there is actually no Phoenix No.15, but two separate issues labelled No.14.
Amorbourne Ltd. originally published Phoenix as a sister magazine to Roué, whose style it emulated in its earliest years. The content of Phoenix consisted of short stories, articles, photographs, drawings, occasional cartoons, and (very inauthentic-sounding) letters to the editor about M/F and F/F spanking, tawsing, and caning. The titles of some of the stories were typically listed on the cover of the magazine to give potential purchasers an idea of its subject matter (though this was often apparent from the cover illustration in any case). Four special issues were also produced: two C.P. Correspondence Specials, a collection of drawings by Hans Braun (1985), and Lady Anne’s Lessons (1989), a compendium of stories about a character called Lady Anne Mastock. The magazine never named its editor, authors, or models. Some illustrations were by Dave Carney.
Phoenix was supplied by Phoenix Bookshelf, an adult mail order business based at a succession of addresses in Islington in north London: 40 Danbury Street (1980-83), 48a St Peter’s Street (1983-88), and 40 Rheidol Mews (1988-91). From issue No.21 (1984), Phoenix Bookshelf itself took over as publisher from Amorbourne Ltd. Thereafter Phoenix generally acknowledged the erotic aspect of spanking more openly, many of its photo-sets coming to resemble more mainstream glamour photography, with models often dressed in stockings and suspenders or occasionally black PVC mini-skirts, usually shown under bright studio lighting. Among the models who appeared in Phoenix are Linzi Drew (No.17), Donna Berkeley (No.19), Sue Ellis (No.26), Sara Benachour (No.35), and Lucy Gresty (No.42). Ben Dover (No.22) and Larry Barnes (No.37) featured as spankers.
During 1981-82, Phoenix advertised a number of ‘exclusive’ spanking films, some clearly of German origin. They were silent Super 8 films, 60 metres long, priced at £25 each:
- Carrot and Stick, otherwise Zuckerbrot und Peitsche
- Punishment from a Thief, otherwise Diebische Bestrafung
- The Whipped Slave
- Her Bottom on Fire, otherwise Feuer im Weiberarsch
- The Cane Party
Phoenix then briefly produced spanking videos, priced at £40 or £45 each:
- St Rules (1984), 30 mins.
- A young woman fantasises about corporal punishment.
- The Sweat Shop (1984), 30 mins.
- A supervisor in a clothes factory deals with two lazy sewing machinists; starring Donna Berkeley.
- Spanking Interviews, Parts 1 & 2 (1984)
- The editor of Phoenix auditions aspiring spanking models; starring Louise London, Ruth Chapman, and Dawn Davies.
- Back to School (1985), 30 minutes
- Laura’s experiences as Grayhall School.
The Video Recordings Act 1984 brought an early end to this side of the business.
Phoenix held a middling position in the British market for spanking magazines. Over eleven years, the cover price rose from £2 to £8, which usually meant that it was slightly cheaper than the leading titles. Despite some good visual content, it never grew into an identifiable brand; it seemed to lack the individual character and loyal following of Janus, Roué, Kane, and Blushes. This was probably due to a lack of consistency in its approach to the subject, the anonymity of its models and authors, and the absence of genuine reader feedback. After publication had ceased for a decade, a £10 magazine entitled Phoenix No.50 appeared in 2002, but this simply reproduced material from two earlier issues.