John Coutts aka John Willie
As a visual artist and publisher, John Coutts and his wife, muse and inspiration Holly Anna Faram realized their fetish fantasies during a time when expressing sexuality was narrow and binary. Anything else spelled trouble.
They belonged to a clandestine community of enthusiasts with a richly diverse and liberal view on consensual erotic pleasures.
With pen and lens, he set about realizing his cast of fetish-inspired characters.
Coutts took on the nom de plume “John Willie”, and launched a magazine to publish his illustrations, photography and articles, as well as letters from readers.
He called his “fashion” magazine BIZARRE providing the clandestine fetish community a resource to savor consensual pleasures in –as he would often write, their “own sweet way.”
Between its covers John Willie buttoned up ideas of the fetish aesthetic.
“The magazine of fashions and fancies fantastic!” he dubbed it. He knew first hand that wasp-waisted corsets, sky-high stilettos and oil-slick gloves are charged with erotic appeal among enthusiasts.
As a cheeky snub to sexually-repressed “polite society,” John Willie turned the stifling restraint on its head by devising cheerful, willing characters in his erotic scenarios.
An inspiring example of how the effects of having your pleasures frowned upon can be reframed as an expression of self-actualization.
Today, John Willie is feted as a visionary artist, his work influencing creatives throughout the visual arts, fashion, performance and more.
But, perhaps, his greatest legacy is his dogged defense of liberty.