Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

September 26, 2017

Cosmopolitan follows up: "7 Signs You Might Be Hard-Wired for Monogamy"

"Relationship choice" is the theme that the poly movement's activists, movers, and shakers firmly adopted several years ago as their guiding star. Poly is right for some, monogamy is right for others; no shame. The crucial thing is to figure out what's right for you, and look for partners who actually match.

Which means telling about yourself, and asking a new person about their feelings on the matter, very early. And explain exactly what you mean by polyamory, and what version of it draws you, because people often have their own assumptions and misunderstandings of the word.

But first you need to figure yourself out. Cosmopolitan, after its story "How My Poly Relationship Helped Me Make a Difficult Medical Decision" a few days ago, posts some twists to consider:

7 Signs You Might Be Hard-Wired for Monogamy

Viktar Salomin / Stocksy

There are no hard and fast rules, but there are some hints.

By Sophie Saint Thomas

From Broad City to Unicornland, open relationships are appearing more in pop culture. There are many forms of consensual non-monogamy (CNM), ranging from “don’t ask, don’t tell” sexually open relationships to polyamory.... According to Dr. Zhana Vrangalova, a sex educator and adjunct professor in human sexuality at NYU, interest in CNM across the board is rising, but Google searches have especially spiked for polyamory.

With all the hubbub, if you’re monogamous, you may be wondering if you’re missing out. ... There are some personality traits that may point to the right relationship style for your needs. We spoke with some of the leading sex researchers to talk about indicators that can help you decide. Of course, as all interviewed were quick to add, often exploring is half the fun. ... Just remember to check in with yourself and your partner(s) as you go, and don’t feel bad if regular ole’ monogamy is what you want. I promise you can still be cool. ...

1. A lot of change makes you uncomfortable. Change is inevitable in any relationship. However, in polyamorous relationships, the dynamic between you and your partners is more likely to ebb and flow.... If too much change makes you uneasy, you may be better suited for monogamy. ...

2. You aren’t the best with jealousy. Most people get jealous.... However, the ability to cope well with the emotion, and regulate it rather than lashing out, is a crucial factor in successful polyamorous relationships....

3. You’re not huge on relationship talks.
Polyamorous relationships require constant communication around often uncomfortable topics. ...

4. You have stable attachment patterns. This one is a trick; stable relationship patterns are helpful for both polyamorous and monogamous relationships. ... What can mess up any relationship are anxious attachment patterns, when you tend to be clingy and constantly assume your partner’s going to leave you. ...

5. You’re not super organized. ...Most poly problems take place in calendars rather than the bedroom.

6. You prefer living in rural areas. “It’s easier for people who don’t have stigmatized relationships to find belonging and community,” Dr. Zhana says. ... Supportive friends are important for your mental health (and therefore successful romantic relationships). You need someone to bitch to. If you prefer life in rural areas where traditional relationships are the norm, you may be better suited for monogamy.

7. You’re simply uninterested in consensual non-monogamy.
... Go for the relationship style you desire.

Dr. Zhana teaches a webinar that can help people decide if polyamory or monogamy is right for them. Learn more about it 

The whole article (September 25, 2017).



September 25, 2017

Cosmo: "How My Poly Relationship Helped Me Make a Difficult Medical Decision"

Amid its titillating clickbait ("New App Offers Secondhand Sex Dolls"), Cosmopolitan has put up a thoughtful first-person story that goes way beyond that sort of thing. Sometimes what we do doesn't fit into cheap packaging.

How My Poly Relationship Helped Me Make a Difficult Medical Decision

With monogamy you hear couples say, “It’s us against the world,” but I don’t believe life was made for just two people to take on.

Photo courtesy of the author

By Jordannah Elizabeth

Ever since I was a little girl, I thrived in groups. I grew up in a house with two older brothers and had a wide circle of friends. ... I learned how to share my emotions and express empathy for a number of people. ... I didn’t realize how well this would serve me until I faced a difficult decision as an adult.

I didn’t come out as poly until I was 29 years old. Despite my ability to balance relationships and have honest conversations with my partners, I held on to the idea of staying in traditional monogamous relationships until an ex of mine gave me a book to read and asked me to consider having a polyamorous relationship with him. The relationship didn’t work out, but the seed was planted. ... [What was the book, inquiring minds want to know?]

Eventually I got married to a man who was open to an open relationship too, and I was free to tell certain friends and family. At the moment, I have one partner — besides my husband — who I am very close to. He has a three year old son, who I help take care of. We pretty much behave like a “traditional” relationship, meaning my partner and I have decided not to see others outside of our current arrangement at this time. ... In a poly relationship, it doesn’t always mean having more than two or three partners, it can also involve communication and having a “protocol” set up if you want to go on a date or sleep with someone else. That protocol is honesty and the ability to listen to one another.

Another wonderful thing about being poly is that I have a stronger support system. ...

When I turned 30, my doctor felt a bit of firmness in my lower abdomen. ...


If I were in a monogamous relationship, I might have felt more trapped in this decision. ...

Read the whole article (Sept. 21, 2017).


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September 23, 2017

"A whimsical polyamorous wedding joining two families in awesomeness"

Offbeat Bride ("altar your thinking") covers another poly wedding ceremony, with lots of pix. In this case the stars of the occasion were the two women in a two-couple quad in Colorado.

By Katie

We have a polyamorous family. I have been married to Ben for 11 years, Audree has been married to Allan for 11 years; Allan and I are partners, and Ben and Audree are partners. The four of us live together with our children.

Anthony Graham, Broken Glass Photography

There were very few traditional elements to our wedding. Audree and I went for a whimsical and eclectic vibe that centered on joining our two families with a commitment ceremony and a fun party afterward. The venue was a historic elementary school that has been converted to a marketplace and brewery. Our ceremony and reception were in the school's old gym, which serves as an event center.

Cocktail hour was in the brewery's barrel aging room. Our beautiful cake was made by my mom, who does the baking for our family restaurant. We chose a palette of muted rainbow colors. ... Audree and I chose to have our guests seated in a circular arrangement so we could feel surrounded on all sides by those most dear to us. We walked in as a family, first our husbands and son, then our daughters, and then us. ...

Anthony Graham, Broken Glass Photography

See the whole story. The ceremony was on August 12, 2017.


That delightful site has collected all of its stories tagged "polyamory" under the heading 20+ inspiring polyamorous weddings on Offbeat Bride (though the number of articles is not actually the number of ceremonies covered.) The photography is gorgeous. Some of my faves:

Briana, Joshua, & Tony's stories and songs love triangle wedding

Carla Ten Eyck Photography

With this wedding, we're getting a two-fer: a legal ceremony between a bride and a groom, and a handfasting ceremony between that bride and groom and their partner. It's all about the tear-y groom, the cake-saving groom, the bride in a gorgeous blue dress, and three people totally in love. And don't miss the tears-welling-like-mad triple kiss!

Angi & Bret's polyamorous backyard wedding

You may remember this bride from her post about choosing to marry her boyfriend while legally married to her husband. Now we've got the whole story of how it went down, including the bride's husband catering a vegetarian meal, the handcrafted ceremony and vows, and the true meaning of what makes a "real" wedding.

Kitten, Brynn, and Doll's rainbow garden of poly love three-bride wedding

A gorgeous forest setting, lovely Pagan symbolism, and of course, three fabulous brides in long white gowns! They may have had to find a balance between different backgrounds, religions, and preconceived notions, but the end result was a kick-ass wedding that everyone could enjoy. Just learn from these blue-tongued ladies that a rainbow cake sometimes has it's side effects…

Angie Gaul
Christine & Derek's misadventurous rainbow hodgepodge of freaks & geeks wedding

This hodgepodge of rainbows and sunny moments has lots of creative awesomeness and colorful memories! The bright rainbow dress! The boyfriend's orange vest! The quiddich robes! The skit before the vows! You guys, tune in for a team that pulled together and laughed together and serenaded the nerves away…

● And getting more serious for a minute, 5 offbeat marriages that may benefit from the assistance of a lawyer

If you thought explaining your poly ceremony to your great-aunt Rose was difficult, imagine having to explain it to a judge. This is one of the few dark areas of the law where a relationship is legal but a wedding [that purports to officialize] the relationship is a crime. There are laws against polyamorous marriages in every state, though enforcement is very spotty.

To protect who and how you love, talking to an attorney who understands the family you're building and the risks you're taking is essential. It's even more important to speak to an attorney about child custody and child support if you're planning on having kids with your partners or already have kids with someone else. There's virtually no automatic protection for all of your partners, but a creative, understanding attorney [for instance –Ed.] can help you build the protections your family needs in ways other than getting married.


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September 17, 2017

From Rolling Stone, " 'The Ethical Slut': Inside America's Growing Acceptance of Polyamory"

Another big one just came out. Rolling Stone devotes a 2,400-word feature to the publication this week of The Ethical Slut, 3rd edition. It's the 20th anniversary of a book that popularized some of the key norms and principles of the modern polyamory movement and helped to get the whole thing rolling.

'The Ethical Slut': Inside America's Growing Acceptance of Polyamory

Millennials are increasingly embracing non-monogamous relationships – and the 1990s guidebook that helped popularize them is getting an update.

'The Ethical Slut' brought new language to polyamory.
(Illustration: Brittany Falussy / Rolling Stone)

By Anna Fitzpatrick

In 1994, sexual educator Janet W. Hardy was bedridden for a month with a bad flu that had evolved into bronchitis. She was, as she recalls, "high off my ass on Codeine cough syrup" when she caught a showing of Indecent Proposal on TV. Married couple David (Woody Harrelson) and Diana (Demi Moore) are faced with a moral dilemma when a billionaire named John (Robert Redford) offers them a million dollars in exchange for spending one night with Diana. ... At the scene where the couple hesitates over the billionaire's offer, Hardy wondered if she was having a fever dream.

"I was sitting there going, 'What's going on here?'" she tells Rolling Stone from her home in Oregon. "A million dollars and Robert Redford, and they have a problem with this? It made no sense to me. I really got it at that point, how distant I had become from mainstream sexual ethics."

Hardy reached out to her friend and sometimes collaborator, the psychotherapist Dossie Easton to work on a book about non-monogamy. The pair had already coauthored two books on kink which were read in BDSM circles, but not much elsewhere. Both Easton and Hardy identified as queer and polyamorous, and Easton wanted to reclaim the word slut. They combined their own experiences with both casual sex and open marriages, navigating orgies and battling jealousy. In 1997, under Hardy's own indie sex-ed publishing house Greenery Press, they published The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities.
Dossie and Janet today. (Stephanie Mohan / Rolling Stone)

The the first usage of the word polyamory is credited to pagan priestess Morning Glory Ravenheart Zell in 1990. Though different forms of non-monogamy have presented themselves in various cultures for millennia, in Western culture in the early 1990s it was still seen as an alternative practice, the kind favored by, well, pagan priestesses. Today, polyamory is less tied to one specific subculture or identity. ...

"Twenty years ago, I used to get calls from show producers all the time, and the call would go, 'Can you point me towards a poly family that's not either old hippies or screaming geeks?'" laughs Hardy. "I would say no, because A, that's most of my rolodex, and B, that's who was doing poly back then. But these days, when I speak to poly audiences, they're young professionals, all shiny and new. It's very different."

The new, purple edition
...Hardy, 62, was married for 13 years when, in 1988, she realized that monogamy no longer appealed to her. Her marriage ended that same year. A few years later, in 1992, she met Easton through a BDSM group in San Francisco called the Society of Janus. Easton was teaching a class called "Pain Play with Canes from Psyche to Soma" and Hardy volunteered to help her demonstrate. Two years later, the pair gave a presentation on S&M in Big Sur at a Mensa gathering. ("Of all things," says Hardy.)

"Dossie went home because it was so hetero, she couldn't stand it," says Hardy. Later, she ran into another friend who relayed an overheard conversation from the conference. "She said, 'Did you hear about that S&M workshop this afternoon? There were these two women, they were talking about stuff they had done together, and one of their boyfriends was right in the room!'" Kink was no big deal to the Mensa crowd, but non-monogamy could still shock in 1994.


...Though Amber [23] has only been identifying as polyamorous for a few years – she was 19 when she asked her boyfriend if they could open their relationship – she speaks with the confidence and authority of someone who has been allowed to experiment with her sexuality her entire adult life. She emphasizes the need for communication in all relationships, particularly when it comes to hurt feelings.

"I'm sure you're waiting to ask me the big jealousy question," she tells me. "Of course polyamorous people deal with jealousy, it's just that we see it as an emotion to be acknowledged and talked about and work through." Jealousy usually comes from insecurity and fear, she says, summarizing a large portion of The Ethical Slut, and can require "self reflection and metacognition" to work through. She is active in the New York poly, kink and queer scenes, and goes to several events a week including BDSM play parties and swingers mixers. I ask her if all her partners are part of the same community, and she laughs. "Yeah, whether they like it or not," she says. "Even when you break up with a partner, you're still in each other's peripherals." There is little separation between her sex life and social life. Amber is unapologetic about this, and why shouldn't she be? The word "slut" no longer has the same connotations it did when Hardy and Easton were 23.


As polyamory is treated less like a novelty and more of a valid relationship model, modern entertainment is learning to reflect that. In the eight-episode web series Unicornland, Annie (Laura Ramadei) is trying to explore her sexuality after the dissolution of her marriage. She does this by "unicorning" – the term given to women who join couples in bed for threesomes. Every three- to seven-minute episode introduces Annie to a new couple: straight, lesbian, kinky, longterm married couples looking to spice up their sex life. It depicts one very specific subset of polyamory, but in doing so manages to explore much of the richness and complexities of modern relationships that go ignored in most mainstream media.

Gillepsie read The Ethical Slut two years ago, and started writing Unicornland about six months later.  The idea of unicorning appealed to her as a narrative device because the evolution of her own sexuality felt like such an internal, mental process. "In Annie's unicorning, she's really able to try out other people's relationships and see how they function from within," Gillepsie tells me. "I felt that the couples were sort of the best way for Annie to try out all these different facets of polyamory." ...

Hardy ... cites an episode of Crazy Ex-Girfriend in which protagonist Rebecca Bunch finds herself in love with two men and can't decide between them. "She goes and interviews a poly triad to find out how to deal with this, and finds out that what she's actually doing is just being a person with very bad boundaries."

...The 20th anniversary edition of The Ethical Slut, out September 15th, has been significantly updated and expanded from its humble debut, including sections on poly pioneers, black poly activism and yes, shifting attitudes towards polyamory within a new generation. ...

Read the whole article (September 16, 2017).


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September 16, 2017

Were the "Wonder Women" in the Marston triad sexual partners? Yes, despite Men's Health mag.

A careless writer/editor at Men's Health magazine is dismissing the idea that Elizabeth Holloway and Olive Byrne, the women in the long-term triad that birthed Wonder Woman, were bisexual partners — as dramatized in the movie Professor Marston and the Wonder Women coming out next month. Deputy editor EJ Dickson didn't read enough from the source she cites.

Here are the relevant parts of Dickson's article (Sept. 14), starting with the title:

No, Wonder Woman Is Not Based on a Threesome

By EJ Dickson

...It is true that the creator of Wonder Woman was in a secret polyamorous relationship with his wife and another woman — a situation that, while not unheard of, would be considered shocking even by today’s standards. ... But there is a distinction between polyamory and group sex, and despite the trailer’s soft-focus shots of Sapphic love and BDSM paddles, there’s no evidence in [Harvard historian Jill] Lepore’s book [The Secret History of Wonder Woman, a source for the movie] to suggest that Elizabeth [Holloway] Marston and Olive Byrne had a sexual relationship of any kind.

...So while the threesome angle might make for a good story or a steamy trailer, it’s not exactly accurate to say that Wonder Woman was inspired by a bunch of sexy early 20th century feminists going down on each other.

Jill Lepore
In fact, Lepore quotes the actual Elizabeth Holloway, who was usually reticent about her household, acknowledging later in life that among the trio there was "lovemaking for all".

There's more in Lepore's book, as Noah Berlatsky summarized in an article in the Atlantic, The Free Love Experiment That Created Wonder Woman (online Oct. 17, 2014):

Lepore reports... that the Marstons had a polyamorous relationship with another woman, Marjorie W. Huntley, before they met Byrne, and that she remained an on-and-off member of the family long after Byrne arrived, helping out with the inking and lettering of the Wonder Woman comics in the 1940s, and occasionally staying with Holloway and Byrne after Marston's death. Further, Huntley, Byrne, Holloway, and Marston all participated in what Lepore describes as a "sex cult" in 1925-26 at the home of Marston's aunt Carolyn. [Typewritten minutes of the group's meetings were kept and still exist.] Participants celebrated female sexual power, dominance, submission and love by forming “Love Units” consisting of multiple partners, including Love Girls who "do not … practice … concealment of the love organs."...

Lepore's book focused on Wonder Women's role in bridging the supposed gap in feminism between the suffragette era and the 1960s. In 2015, Berlatsky criticized Lepore's own seeming prudery in keeping the sexual content too discreet. Writing in The Guardian:

Super sexy Wonder Woman shows that violence isn't the only way to battle evil

...As more women have become fans of superheroes in recent years, this sexualization [of comics characters] has come in for criticism. Jill Lepore, author of The Secret History of Wonder Woman, repeats some of the objections in a recent review of the new all-female Avengers title A-Force. ... “They all look like porn stars,” she complains.

...Wonder Woman’s creator, though, had a different take. As Lepore notes, Marston, his wife Elizabeth, and their polyamorous lover Olive Byrne, wrote a letter together in which they explained: “This family believes [pornographic magazines] furnish splendid material with which to teach children that the most lovely and sacred thing in the world is a real woman’s body.” Marston believed that looking at women’s bodies was a healthy, pleasurable and even sacred activity – and not just for men. ... Marston referred to lesbian love as “perfect” — in his scholarly books he argued that women who slept with other women were superior lovers and mothers. ... [Wonder Woman's] lasso itself, Marston explained, was a “symbol of female charm, allure, oomph, attraction” and of the influence that “every woman has … over people of both sexes”.

[Yet] Lepore sees eroticized images as ridiculous, unpleasant and opposed to women’s interests. ... Allure is not power, Lepore insists, but “the absence of power”. When superheroines are sexy, she says, “their bodies are not their own. They are without force.” But that default assumes that the only kind of force that matters is violence, and that sex or love are automatically less valid, less interesting and less ennobling than hitting people. Superhero stories often present that as truth – but, as you’d think Lepore would know, Wonder Woman had a different vision.

As did her creators. The whole article (May 14, 2015).

Maybe that Men's Health writer has male-centering issues. Consider the assumption behind this:

...We do know, however, that Holloway and Byrne had their own adjoining bedrooms so Marston could travel back and forth between both without attracting their children’s notice — a scenario that most dudes would probably love, but seems somewhat implausible from an architectural layout perspective.

It never occurred to her that the door between the women's bedrooms allowed them to go back and forth too? No, because sex is really all about the guy, right?


It is, however, fair to say that Marston’s sexual proclivities were fascinating ... if not exactly applicable to everyday life. (You try convincing your wife to let you have sex with another woman in the name of feminism.)

Polyfamilies are waving hellooo?

And in any case, polyamory is not all about the sex.


Elsewhere, more reviews of the movie are coming in:

● From New York magazine / Vulture.com ("Devouring culture"): Finally, a Movie About the Kinky Threesome That Inspired Wonder Woman (Sept. 13, 2017)

By Jada Yuan

If you’re a comics superfan, or have read Jill Lepore’s 2014 The Secret History of Wonder Woman (Fresh Air episode here), you already knew this. You’re also probably in the minority, judging from the tittering gasps that kept erupting around the theater during the world premiere of Professor Marston & the Wonder Women ... at the Toronto International Film Festival. I can’t wait to see what happens when the millions of fans of the Gal Gadot–Patty Jenkins blockbuster accidentally (or very intentionally) stumble upon this one. It’s quite the female-on-female-on-male bodice ripper.

And what incredible timing, too. Director Angela Robinson (The L Word, True Blood) actually started working on the script eight years ago, and it took a village of extremely smart queer women (Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures is the U.S. distributor, and Jill Soloway is listed as an executive producer) to bring it to life at the perfect moment to capitalize on the momentum of this summer’s $816 million megahit. But apparently, it’s all coincidental: Robinson — a lifelong Wonder Woman fan who’d stumbled upon the story of the Marston family by accident and then dug through primary sources like Marston’s letters at the Smithsonian Museum to tell it — had almost given up on her project when the one-two of Jenkins’s film being announced and Lepore’s book coming out suddenly sent interest through the roof. Still, it’s insane that pop culture went over 70 years without a big-screen depiction of the Amazonian super-warrior, only to have two movies dedicated to her, both from female directors, coming out within four months of one another. (Marston hits theaters on October 13.)

...And, wow, is the casting perfect. Evans, Hall, and Heathcote drip with chemistry, no matter who’s paired up with whom.

Their secret, though, doesn’t stay that for long. This is the 1920s, and the consequences are severe: loss of relationships, loss of jobs, loss of prospects. And it is here that Robinson begins making the links between the throuple’s life and what Wonder Woman would become. ... William, it seems, made Wonder Woman an Amazon as a way of living out his fantasy that the brilliant women of his life could be anything they wanted to be, free from the limitations of Man’s World — a lesson he hoped to pass on to young girls. Likewise, Wonder Woman’s frequent exclamation, “Suffering Sappho!” refers to the Greek poet from the isle of Lesbos who is widely used as a symbol of female homosexuality. “Passionate devotion between women is natural,” he tells one of his lecture classes.

But Marston, the movie, is simply a love letter to the amazing people who inhabit it. ...

● A rave from We Live Entertainment: An Arousing and Emotional Origin Story (Sept. 10)

By Scott Menzel

...Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is that rare biopic that reels you in and keeps you engaged from start to finish. ...

I don’t often label a film as arousing or sexy, but Professor Marston and The Wonder Women certainly is. I love the fact that film never needed to be explicit in order to be sexy. It relies more heavily on the facial reactions and body language rather than the actual act. It is so funny to me that most Hollywood studios go out of their way to make erotic dramas like 50 Shades of Grey, and yet a film like this one is 100 times more effective in doing so.

...Evans, Hall, and Heathcoat deliver electrifying performances and some of the best performances of the year. The chemistry between these three actors is some of the best that I’ve seen in quite a long time. You believe every single emotional moment and your heart breaks whenever one of them is in pain.

As someone who believes strongly in monogamous relationships, I found myself completely engrossed in the film’s exploration of a polyamorous lifestyle. I feel like in most films whenever these types of relationships are explored they are always a phase that couples go through, or something someone tries once and ends badly. In this film, which is based on fact, they all love one another and it’s more than just sexual attraction. Sure, it has something to do with it, but there are plenty of moments where the trio are just having conversations and they even manage to raise children together.

There is a genuine love between William, Elizabeth, and Olive which is present in the film from the first 20 minutes until the very end. ... One of my top picks for the must-see film of the year.

Rating: 9.5 stars out of 10.

● The Daily Beast reviewer has an opposite view: Orgies, Psychology, and S&M: The X-Rated Origins of Wonder Woman (Sept. 15)

By Richard Porton

...Even for a biopic, a notoriously undistinguished genre, Angela Robinson’s Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival) is largely dismissible. The dialogue — the script was also written by Robinson — is often either laughably campy or earnest, the music surges heavy-handedly in intensely dramatic scenes, and the actors, particularly the bland Luke Evans in the title role, seem palpably uncomfortable throughout most of the film.

Yet despite Professor Marston’s clunky construction and cinematic clichés, it’s a supremely well-intentioned film that at least attempts to discuss the social and political context of pop culture.

...Unfortunately, the group grope between Olive, Elizabeth, and Marston that approximates an “orgy” is a demure soft-core misfire. The ménage á trois’ discovery of sadomasochism is even more risible. The shenanigans resemble a PG-rated version of The Story of O.

...Rebecca Hall’s confident performance as the exuberant, but brittle, Elizabeth Marston is the movie’s one crowning glory. Otherwise, despite an intriguing premise, this is not a particularly wondrous biopic.

● The LGBT pop culture site NewNowNext.com published one of the many interviews that writer-director Angela Robinson is giving: The True Story Of Queer, Poly Creator Of Wonder Woman (Sept. 15)

Director Angela Robinson with Bella Heathcote and Luke Evans (Getty)

By Trish Bendix

...“I kind of feel like there’s this Wonder Woman renaissance,” Robinson said. “I feel like there’s been a resurgence of interest in Marston and Wonder Woman and that is all kind of feeding each other. ... Actually, I feel like the reason she is [now] such a success is that she has really fresh ideas, and people are really hungry for those ideas. And I thought it was important to kind of honor these people who inspired her and to kind of look at how it all began, because it was very deliberate on their part to inject these ideas into Wonder Woman.”

...Elizabeth and Olive were as romantically and sexually involved with one another as they were with Marston, and they both bore his children, which led to most of their secrecy, as to protect their three sons and one daughter. But the individual strengths of the women in his life, as well as their shared affection for bondage (something also quite taboo, as well as illegal) led to Wonder Woman, the character, as traits from Elizabeth and Olive both informed the character that appeared in the earliest popular (but highly controversial) comic books.

...Perhaps because Robinson is herself a part of the LGBT community, and has both written and directed numerous queer-focused projects that have included sexually explicit material (from The L Word to True Blood to Hung), even the most erotic of moments in Dr. Marston & The Wonder Women are portrayed romantically rather than voyeuristically. Their shared interests in BDSM and group sex are displayed under the guise of a love story rather than a lust-filled menage a trois.

“I didn’t want to otherize their experience at all,” Robinson said. “I just wanted to show how this could organically happen, and I wanted the audience to feel what you feel like when you fall in love…. I wanted to really bring the audience inside what I imagine the experience would be so that you’re really rooting for them.”

And because there were no terms for identities or orientations or sexual specificities at the time, they also don’t appear in the film.

...Marston passed away in 1947, but Elizabeth and Olive remained together until Olive died in 1985. Elizabeth lived until age 100, dying in 1993. Although their children and grandchildren are still alive, Robinson said she made a “conscious choice” not to consult any of them for the film, looking for “the freedom to explore a lot of the controversial themes that you see throughout the story without any pre-convinced notions about it from anybody.”

“I did a ton of research,” she said. ” but I wanted to kind of come to my own interoperation of what I thought the story was without — I wanted the freedom to explore without feeling I was being swayed by others.”

...“I feel like the time is right to kind of honor their story, but without shying away from what their story is, and trying to ignore those aspects that I don’t think should be ignored.”

● The movie's Facebook page.

All my posts about news of the movie (including this one; scroll down).

● Again: If you're in a polygroup yourself, consider planning a response for when this movie hits theaters October 13th.



September 15, 2017

The Guardian: "A moment that changed me: turning my back on monogamy"

Today The Guardian online posts a poly story in its "A moment that changed me" series. It's another in the paper's many positive looks at the polyamory phenomenon over the years (the last one). This matters; the Guardian's site was reportedly the world's second most popular newspaper website as of early 2016.

A moment that changed me: turning my back on monogamy

Brought up believing in romantic exclusivity, relationships caused me crippling jealousy. Then my husband and I embraced polyamory.

‘Polyamorous people are not born with non-monogamous attitudes — some of us have to work at it’. The author and her husband. Photo: Stephanie Munro 

By Stephanie Munro

...About two years ago Andrew and I found polyamory becoming part of our collective consciousness in a way that is hard to explain. We are incredibly alike and often come to the same conclusions independently. ...

...But there was one sticking point: I felt sick whenever I imagined him with anybody else. And you do have to imagine these things, it’s how you prepare for big changes. ...

...I bought a couple of books about polyamory and I tried my best to get through them, though I found the sanctimony hard to swallow and gave up within a couple of chapters. I was, however, completely absorbed by a passage on jealousy. After all, polyamorous people are not all born with non-monogamous attitudes — some of us have to work at it. In order to stop feeling threatened by others and unlearn the commandment to love one person and only one person, I had to finally understand that there is no spoon. I had to reject the construct altogether and trust in love.

When I was growing up I believed that I would meet somebody special, The One, and that we would be so in love that we wouldn’t need anything from anybody else. ... I can still invoke the sense of panic I felt when I discovered texts or emails from a partner to other women. It was like something had been taken from me, I had nothing to hold on to and no ground beneath my feet. It all stemmed from the fear that if someone else attracted the attentions of the person I loved, then it was all over.

Put simply, non-monogamy is about changing your perceptions. The reality, of course, is less simple: altering how you see something that has felt so important and true for so long is hard work. ... We stayed up late, talking for hours about exactly what we would want. ...

...Opening up your relationship is a complete remodelling of partnership and of fidelity. ... Escaping jealousy and embracing polyamory is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. When I finally let go of monogamy, I realised I had so much more room for love and compassion. Not just for others, but for my husband, and for myself.

Stephanie Munro is a freelance writer working for the Guardian’s online community team.

Read her whole story (September 15, 2017).



September 13, 2017

More glowing mainstream reviews of "Professor Marston and the Wonder Women"

The movie about Wonder Woman's polyamorous creator(s) continues to sound mighty good for us polyfolks, one month before its official release. New stuff since my last post:

● A video interview at The Hollywood Reporter: Luke Evans, Bella Heathcote Discuss Polyamory in 'Professor Marston & the Wonder Women'. Also in the interview is the movie's writer-director Angela Robinson, at center:

● A reviewer in the Los Angeles Times: Angela Robinson on a superhero's hidden message of love (Sept. 8)

By Mark Olsen

Timing is a funny thing. If noted psychologist William Moulton Marston and his wife Elizabeth Marston had not both fallen in love with the woman Olive Byrne, would he have gone on to create the character of Wonder Woman?

And if writer-director Angela Robinson had not worked for years researching their story so that her film arrived [coincidentally] a few months after the Wonder Woman character’s blockbuster solo big-screen debut, would audience interest be as high?

Rebecca Hall, left, portrays Elizabeth Marston, Luke Evans is Dr. William Marston and Bella Heathcote is Olive Byrne in "Professor Marston and the Wonder Women." (Claire Folger / Annapurna Pictures)

The three central actors... evince a mix of screwball savvy, deeply felt emotions and a playful seductiveness.... and the performances bolster the movie’s unusual tone and the way in which Robinson subtly shifts the perspective of the storytelling from one character to another.

...“I wanted the audience to be on the ride of what it would be like to fall in love with these people,” [Robinson] said. “I didn’t want to other-ize their experience, I wanted to make it as romantic and accessible as possible. ... I wanted it to be, ‘I want them to be together, I could see how that could happen and in a different set of circumstances it could happen to me.’ I think the actors felt the same, and they dove in with passion and commitment and emotional honesty, and were just having fun with the love story. And that’s what shines through.”

...“Part of me just wanted to tell a love story. Wonder Woman became politicized after the fact, but I really wanted to try in the most straightforward way to tell the simplest of love stories between these three people. They have issues with the world over what they’re feeling, but their love for each other was very pure and honest.”

As for her three lead actors, Robinson cast them without ever seeing them interact. She was nervous when they first met for a table read of the script, and then knocked out by the electric chemistry they shared.

“It’s rare that you meet three people who come together who are all as committed,” Robinson said. “It’s just the three of them in so many scenes together. I wanted the drama to come from every little look or touch or thought or how they were reacting to each other.”...

Actor Rebecca Hall, left, and director Angela Robinson on the set of "Professor
Marston and the Wonder Women." (Claire Folger / Annapurna Pictures)

Slashfilm.com: A Funny, Sexy Superhero Origin Story (Sept. 10)

By Chris Evangelista

....Professor Marston and the Wonder Women’s biggest flaw is how stringently it adheres to standard biopic formulas, moving from point A to point B predictably and frequently employing montages to hurry the timeline along. Yet this flaw is easily overcome by the chemistry of its three leads.

Evans is charming and likable as William, a man wholly confident in his emotions and desires who cannot be bothered with what society may think. Heathcote, as Olive, does fine work here, playing a character who blossoms before our eyes from shy and reserved to open and adventurous. And then there’s Hall, who is astoundingly good as the brash, somewhat conflicted Elizabeth. Hall is one of the very best actresses working today; a performer who deserves far more renown and recognition than she’s received. Perhaps Professor Marston and the Wonder Women will change that. It should, because Hall commands the screen, appearing in almost every scene. We can’t take our eyes off her as she both gives in to her lusts and desires and also tries to run from them. It’s one of the best performances you’ll see all year.

The three performers have dynamite chemistry together, and their relationship feels genuine.

...A lesser film might have approached the sexual situations that arise from the relationship in a more exploitative manner. But under the sharp directorial eye of Angela Robinson, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women find just the right note, creating sensitive, passionate and altogether sexy sequences where the trio make love to each other. The very first time the three give in and act on their sexual feelings is shot impeccably, set on the stage in abandoned drama class, the three individuals exploring each other and learning what turns each other on.

As Professor Marston and the Wonder Women draws to a close, you’ll find yourself wanting more. The film seems to be rushing towards its conclusion, and some more time spent with some supporting characters, like comic book pioneer Max Gaines (played here by Oliver Platt) would’ve done the film so good. In addition, a framing device, which has William defending Wonder Woman to the head of the Child Study Association of America (Connie Britton) ultimately fizzles out.

Still, it’s hard not to fall for this film. It’s so good natured in its portrayal of the relationship between William, Elizabeth and Olive that it becomes an ultimately sweet, charming film. Here, the superheroes aren’t comic book characters, but flesh and blood humans who dared to embrace a healthy love that society saw as corrupt and indecent. That’s the type of bravery that makes heroes.

Film Rating: 8 out of 10

● The BBC takes note in a TV report: The surprising origins of Wonder Woman (Sept. 12)

Two of the films attracting the most buzz at the Toronto Film Festival — about how Wonder Woman was created and a female artist who painted Sitting Bull — are directed by women. ... Tom Brook talks to BBC Culture deputy editor Christian Blauvelt and film reporter Emma Jones about these films....

Boise Weekly: TIFF 2017: The Sexy True Story Behind Wonder Woman (Sept. 12)

...They were a testament to survival against the dark undercurrents of repression still plague society to this day. Their story is the foundation for this fascinating film. It's intellectual, provocative and sexy as hell, and it will certainly be one of the most talked about films of this fall.

All my posts about the movie (including this one; scroll down).

Once again: Let's plan our public responses for when this movie hits theaters October 13th.



September 10, 2017

The first reviews are in for "Professor Marston and the Wonder Women," the first seriously poly big-theater movie

A month before its official opening, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women just premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. The early reviews sound like it's very good.

Indiewire: The Year’s Kinkiest Biopic Packs an Unexpected Emotional Punch (Sept. 9, 2017)

As subversive as her subject matter is, Angela Robinson couches her film in familiar trappings that help present a respectful take on a wild story.

Left to right: Bella Heathcote stars as Olive Byrne, Luke Evans as Dr. William Marston and Rebecca Hall as Elizabeth Marston. (Claire Folger / Annapurna Pictures)

By Kate Erbland

The year’s other big “Wonder Woman” movie includes plenty that would never make the cut in not just a studio-issued superhero blockbuster, but the vast majority of paint-by-number biopics, including: two long-form sequences involving a threesome, a secret venture to a clandestine sex toy-selling lingerie shop, a lie detector machine used as a form of foreplay, ropes, ropes, and more ropes, and a unshakable belief in the true power and reach of feminism. Angela Robinson’s fact-based film follows the eyebrow-raising personal life of Dr. William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans) and the two great loves of his life, his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) and their shared partner Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote), and how its unconventional bent led to the creation of Wonder Woman.

...When he decides to cook up a comic book, Elizabeth and Olive are as surprised as the audience, and when he shows up at comic book visionary Max Gaines’ office to rattle of both his ideas and his accomplishments (he’s a Harvard psychologist! he invented the lie detector machine! he wants to make a feminist superhero to inspire young girls!), it’s appropriately striking and more than a little bit weird. Such was William’s life — and his life with Elizabeth and Olive, which forms the emotional and narrative center of the feature.

Kicking off in 1945, as William’s now-famous comic book is coming under major fire for its more questionable themes,.. “Professor Marston” opens with William defending his creation to a snappy Connie Britton, playing a crusader for homespun values who has taken major offense at what the doctor is selling kiddos. As William explains what Wonder Woman is really about to Britton and her lackeys, the film slips back in 1928, when so much of it began.

William and his whipsmart wife Elizabeth (a wonderfully restrained Hall) approach most things with a rigorous brand of academic-leaning chatter — it’s both foreplay and genuine curiosity that pushes them to ask each other (and others) about their innermost desires. When the observant Olive arrives at Radcliffe, an eager student who signs up to assist the Marstons (while Harvard refuses to grant her a doctorate, Elizabeth still works alongside her husband), it upends even their most carefully conceived plans. For one, she’s pretty (and she’s sick of it being her most defining characteristic). For another, she’s searching for something bigger than just that.

...Elizabeth’s first suspicions, that Olive and William are about to embark on a passionate affair, prove incorrect. Turns out, it’s the three of them that are about to fall in love. Robinson’s film hinges on not just her respectful treatment of the material — as kinky as “Professor Marston” is, and as wild as its three sexiest sequences get, the film is never salacious — but on performances from a cast just as dedicated to selling the material.

Evans, Hall, and Heathcote exhibit major chemistry (in every permutation) possible, but they also don’t wink at the storyline, playing a provocative story totally straight. And, at its heart, “Professor Marston” is a love story, just one that happens to involve three people.

While the film eventually settles into a predictable rhythm that doles out some predictable life lessons (“Professor Marston,” like so many other biopics before it, is driven by the idea that living an authentic life is the best option for the world’s luminaries), it’s hard to ignore the power of a story that can package unorthodox concepts in such readymade trappings. That might be the most clever concept of all — turning the unusual and despised into the kind of super-story that could inspire the world’s best hero into being. ...

Grade: B

Mashable: The year of Wonder Woman continues with the excellent 'Professor Marston' (Sept. 9)

By Angie Han

Can Wonder Woman's year get any better? Turns out, yes.

...Like Wonder Woman before it, Professor Marston feels both comfortingly familiar and quietly groundbreaking.

Dr. William Moulton Marston is typically credited as the creator of Wonder Woman. But like last year's Hidden Figures, Professor Marston gives the lie to the assumption that creative brilliance is the sole province of tortured and solitary assholes. Wonder Woman, in this telling, is borne of the romance and collaboration between three people: Bill Marston, Elizabeth Marston, and Olive Byrne.

...For much of its running time, Professor Marston is a love story, and a sweet, sexy one at that. Just as Bill and Elizabeth looked for physiological "tells" that would let their machine unlock the truth in a person's heart, writer-director Angela Robinson lets this romance develop through minute physical gestures – a soft sigh, a bite of the lip, a glance held too long. When these desires are finally consummated, it feels Earth-shattering at first, and then joyous.

Although Wonder Woman isn't created until the second half of the movie, her shadow looms large throughout. ...

Professor Marston falls victim to the usual biopic pitfalls at times, getting a little too cute or heavy-handed with the foreshadowing. ... Still, [it] succeeds where so many biopics fail — in showing us its subjects as more than just the sum of their accomplishments, and getting to the heart of the maddening but all-too-human contradictions that drive them forward.

This is truest of all of Elizabeth, who's outwardly brash and opinionated, but inwardly terrified. It's not that her give-no-fucks attitude is a front. It's that Bill is a man and Olive is a beautiful young woman, while Elizabeth's always been a bit of an outsider. More than either of her lovers, she knows all too well the struggle of trying to live outside of the usual societal boundaries.

Hall's performance as Elizabeth is nothing short of remarkable — you can see Elizabeth's conflicting emotions, and her continual efforts to tamp them down, playing out across her face with just a tremble of a lip. All three lead performances are marvelous, but Hall's is the one that stayed with me all the way home.

If Professor Marston feels a little bit conventional at times, that, in itself, is kind of incredible. When's the last time you saw a historical drama that involved a kinky polyamorous relationship at all, let alone one framed as happy, healthy, and loving? Or one that allowed a man to be as tender and emotional as Bill is here, or a woman as complicated as Elizabeth is?

The Guardian finds the movie too bland and earnest: Vanilla-flavoured origin story (Sept. 9)

By Peter Bradshaw

As well as showcasing the blandest and most tasteful three-way sex scene in history, this movie spreads an odd pall of sentimentality and period-glow nostalgia over a fascinating real-life story. ...

The movie is written and directed by Angela Robinson, for whom it is evidently a passion project. Yet the passion never quite surfaces in the performances nor the action. It is as if the movie isn’t quite sure how to acknowledge the obvious role of male porn in Wonder Woman’s creation and popularity, nor exactly how to match this by celebrating Wonder Woman’s feminist credentials. Nor does it acknowledge the fact that this superhero was, after all, aimed at kids. This creates a tone of forced sweetness and celebratory earnestness, where something more savoury would have been better. As for the relationship between William, Elizabeth and Olive, it may have been polyamorous, or it may have been a bit of unofficial alpha-male polygamy.

Luke Evans plays Marston, who is preeningly vain in his three-piece suit, lecturing on psychology in the 1920s to a class full of simperingly submissive co-eds. His wife Elizabeth ... is intellectually brilliant but constricted by the sexist conventions of academe; she has to look on, wryly aware that her husband could misbehave himself with any of these acolytes if he wished. It comes to pass with a smart and beautiful student, Olive (Bella Heathcote), who is, in fact, a little more in love with Elizabeth than William. They wind up having an embarrassing PG-rated three-way on the stage of a student theatre that is staging Greek drama, of all Freudian things. The subsequent professional disgrace and firing gives William time to work (with Elizabeth and Olive as his Wonder Women, his muses-slash-collaborators-slash-domestic partners) on that delirious comic-book creation, born of passion, fire, costumes, role-play, Hellenic mythology and kinkiness.

Periodically, the movie shows frames from the comic, and these absolutely pop: they are fierce, smart, funny and weird. But then we are back to the ponderous drama, which always insists on a deeply felt solemnity. The action is structured around flashbacks from evidence that Marston is giving to a glowering official committee, which is deeply disapproving of Wonder Woman and her effect on the nation’s youth. There is even a scene showing kids burning Wonder Woman comics the way a later generation would burn Beatles’ records. Marston looks on, grievingly sad at being misinterpreted and suppressed. But there appears nothing at stake: this McCarthy-ite tribunal doesn’t seem to reach a conclusion, and there is no great reckoning.

This is not to say the film shies away from the sexiness and gaminess in Marston’s past. There is a scene in which William and Elizabeth spy on a sorority pledge initiation ritual involving Olive. It includes spanking. Hugely turned on, William begins to caress Elizabeth in the shadows and has to stop only because they might be discovered. Following scenes show them earnestly discussing how and why they found it arousing. But there is no question of them trying spanking themselves. In their quaintly conceived group-sex-hugs, the only flavour is vanilla. Weirdly, that is the flavour of the film itself.

Rating: Two stars

Hollywood Reporter: Empowering and fun, too. (Sept. 9, 2017)

By Deborah Young

...This well-crafted indie, beautifully cast with Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall and Bella Heathcote as the loving trio of forward-thinking intellectuals, should stand a fighting chance of going beyond niche and LGBTQ audiences to a bigger marketplace. It is being released this fall by Annapurna Pictures in the U.S. and internationally by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, following its Toronto bow.

Prof. Marston teaches psychology at Radcliffe, where he propounds his DISC theory, that all human behavior can be traced to a form of dominance, inducement, submission or compliance. Played by the magnetic Evans (Beauty and the Beast) as a younger and sexier version of the good professor, he projects enthusiasm in front of an all-female class that has an element of seduction in it. This doesn’t escape his arch wife Elizabeth (British actress Hall, who starred as the TV reporter in Christine.) Witty and sharp-tongued, she reminds him she’s the more brilliant member of the couple (he doesn’t disagree) and that Harvard's sexist politics have crippled her own career in psychology.

...The sophisticated Elizabeth pretends she is untouched by sexual jealousy. “I’m your wife, not your jailer,” she tosses off. Alone with Olive, however, she sternly warns the girl she had better not go to bed with her husband in startlingly modern, uncensored language and a typical confrontational style that Hall pulls off extremely well.

Belying her look of waifish innocence and purity, Olive turns out to be an even more daring rebel than the Marstons. She comes from a line of notable feminists: her aunt is birth control activist Margaret Sanger and her mother fought for women’s suffrage, ironically abandoning Olive in a convent school to devote her life to the movement. She is ripe for recruitment as a teaching assistant and guinea pig for the Marstons’ research on human psychology. ...

...Olive and Elizabeth are fascinating freethinkers in a day when sex was all but taboo, and it is obvious that they were the models for Bill's super-heroine. Intercut with the story about how the threesome moves to the suburbs to raise their extended family are Bill’s adventures writing the Wonder Woman stories and their first publication in December of 1941. According to the film, the comic strip was outselling Superman at one point. ...

This may have been partly due to his generous use of sexual images that depicted the iconic Amazon binding and spanking women, which soon got him and his publisher into hot water with the censors.

...Robinson covers a lot of material here, rarely stopping to pause and enjoy the weather. There’s little poetry in the growing feelings between Elizabeth and Olive and Bill, and less passion in the hurried seduction scenes which can seem perfunctory. Many rough edges are smoothed by the strong acting and well-done tech work. ...

NOW Toronto: The story of Wonder Woman’s creation is, perhaps, stranger and weirder than the character’s own origin. (Sept. 9)

...Robinson tells their story straight, without a hint of the winking foreshadowing that defines most modern biopics. That means Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall and Bella Heathcote get to play complex, credible human beings struck by unexpected attraction, rather than cartoonish horndogs.

It’s a risky move, and it pays off in a genuinely moving story with great performances from all three leads, but especially Hall. ...

Four stars

Screen Daily: A very different kind of comic book origin story (Sept. 9)

...Robinson chronicles a complex love story ... resulting in a drama that’s far more intellectually intriguing than emotionally engaging. Guided by Rebecca Hall’s fine performance as William’s sharp, brittle wife, Professor Marston is a film about sexual freedom than ends up feeling a little too conventional.

...The filmmaker quickly establishes the three principal characters’ different personalities. Where Elizabeth is caustic and witty, William is more gregarious, and Olive is impressionable, sweet and a little intimidated by their brains and self-confidence.

...Professor Marston proves less compelling once the characters dive into their relationship. Societal scorn and the challenges of making a polyamorous relationship work — especially when the possibility of jealousy always exists — are dramatically rich obstacles, and the film helps normalise a romantic arrangement that, even now, is viewed as odd, even perverse. Unfortunately, Professor Marston slowly and inextricably drifts into biopic clichés, pummelling the viewer with bland montages, an uninspired flashback-laden structure and other on-the-nose narrative devices.

Nonetheless, Hall is superb as a woman held back by a sexist society who has used her intellect to shield herself from disappointment. Once Olive enters the picture, Elizabeth has a much harder time hiding her feelings, and the character’s journey to be more honest about her emotions is quietly affecting. Evans is broader as William, whose determination to make his name in the world isn’t expertly drawn. As for Heathcote, she’s suitably bewitching, but Professor Marston ends up reducing her to a third wheel in this relationship, mostly empowering the other characters’ agenda.

● From one of our own, at The Mary Sue: A Breathless Depiction of How An Icon Was Born of Deep Love (Sept. 9)

By Teresa Jusino

...And so, in 1930s-40s America, these three people attempt to navigate a hugely unconventional relationship. ... While it’s clear that Olive loves Bill (she wouldn’t have so much sex with him, live with him, or bear his children if she didn’t), the focus of the film is the love between the women....,Wonder Woman became [Marston's] his not-very-subtle homage to the women he loved, their life together, and the feminist, progressive ideals they shared. Bill wanted to spread those ideals to the youth and change the world. Oh yeah, and early Wonder Woman contained a bunch of bondage imagery, because DISC theory.

...What makes the film extraordinary, though, is not only the representation it provides ... but the respect with which Robinson treats these people and the way in which they chose to live their lives.

What’s truly groundbreaking about this film isn’t the sex scenes, but how normal and almost boring the Marstons’ lives are. ... When they have sex, it’s sweet and loving. It’s passionate (no really, there are some really hot scenes up in here), but grounded. It’s real. The rest of the time, they’re dealing with the kids, arguing, laughing over meals, paying bills together — the way it would happen in any family. ...What this film seems to assert is, These people are just like you.

...The three of them together are magic, and the chemistry between them is off-the-charts.

I’m grateful this movie exists. After the screening I attended, I told anyone who would listen that this film is representative of all the facets of my inner life in a way that very few films have ever been. ... It’s rare that LGBTQIA+ people, people in non-monogamous relationships, and women get treated with this much care in film. The fact that it also included some awesome comic book history was icing on the cake.

From now on, when I meet someone new, I’m gonna be like, “Go watch Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, and then you’ll understand me.”

4.5 stars

More reviews.

● Also: Angela Robinson (who is black and bi) explains herself to the leading gay magazine The Advocate: Revealing the 'Throuple' Behind Wonder Woman (Sept. 7)

Angela Robinson
By Diane Anderson-Minshall and Tracy E. Gilchrist

...If the subject matter and star [Luke Evans] weren’t enough of an LGBT draw, the film is helmed by a queer cavalcade: Transparent creator Jill Soloway, veteran producer Andrea Sperling (But I’m a Cheerleader), Clare Munn (who made headlines for her relationship with actress Maria Bello), and famed lesbian director Angela Robinson (D.E.B.S.,The L Word), who we pinned down for a few questions.

...Tell me about capturing the emotional depth of Professor Marston.

To me, this is a love story. Bill, Elizabeth, and Olive were psychologists and academics who were obsessed with studying human emotion. It was important to me to capture all of the micro-beats of their romance and intimacy. They are all tied together, both literally and figuratively — hyper aware of each other, reacting to every look and touch and tonality of voice. I think that’s how it feels when you’re falling in love and I wanted to capture the density of those emotions.

What surprised you about doing this film?

Honestly, I began this whole journey many years ago thinking Marston was kind of a crack-pot. Writing the film for me was a way for me to wrestle with Marston’s contradictory and, at times, I felt, deeply problematic theories on women and feminism and bondage and human nature. But now I think Marston was onto something very true and profound. He and Elizabeth and Olive were trying to save the world with their ideas. And he created a superhero that was about love instead of war, a warrior for peace and freedom — not just the patriotic notion of freedom, but freedom to be yourself.

All my posts about the movie (including this one; scroll down).

Once again: We in the poly movement need to plan our public responses for when this movie hits theaters on October 13th.


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September 6, 2017

When "Professor Marston and the Wonder Women" hits theaters, will the poly world be ready?

Annapurna Pictures has put up another clip: showing our triad when a boyishly excited William reveals to Elizabeth and Olive his brainstorm of a Wonder Woman and her crazy, improbable world. Says Elizabeth, “Bill, we love you truly so much, but... nobody will ever publish this.”

The clip is getting a lot of press. For instance, in Entertainment Weekly: Professor Marston & the Wonder Women clip revisits Wonder Woman’s origins (Sept. 6, 2017).

...As he explains in the clip, Wonder Woman would offer William a chance to share his radical ideas about feminism, bondage, and pacifism with the world.

“I’m going to inject my ideas right into the thumping heart of America,” says William....

But, this is the 1940s. So, the idea of a super-heroine who hails from an island populated with only women, flies an invisible plane, fights Nazis, and whose helpers are sorority sisters who have spanking parties was a weird one to say the least, and Elizabeth tells William as much....

...“It’s fundamentally a love story between the three of them,” [writer-director Angela] Robinson told EW in August. “It’s an exploration of their ideas and his relationship with Elizabeth and Olive, and their relationship with him, and then how all of that found its way into Wonder Woman.”

This is turning into a Big Deal. The clip above has had 243,000 views since it went up 13 hours ago, and the longer official trailer has had 4.9 million. The movie centers on the trio's polyamorous love story and their mission to change the world. This is going to be the first seriously poly-oriented movie to hit mainstream audiences, with the definition of "poly" being ours. It will open in AMC theaters on October 13th. There will be attention.

Folks, let's get ready for this.

For instance, I have in mind to get a bunch of us (I'm just back from PolyCamp Northeast) to go for a group viewing on opening day, and we can ask the Boston Globe if they want to send an entertainment reporter along with us to get real polyfolks' reactions.

Think of the possibilities.

All posts here about the movie (including this one; scroll down).


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September 1, 2017

New opening date announced, and more about poly biopic "Professor Marston and the Wonder Women"

That movie about the real-life polyamorous household that created Wonder Woman in the 1940s will be released two weeks earlier than announced: on October 13th, not the 27th. And it will be in AMC theaters in malls everywhere, not hidden little indie venues.

The lifelong triad relationship that was behind the scenes will not be incidental to the story but central to it, judging from the trailers. Such as this new one:

Six weeks and counting....

From comicbook.com: 'Professor Marston and the Wonder Women' Gets Character Posters and New Release Date (August 30, 2017).

...[News of the early release] came courtesy of Angela Robinson, who is directing the upcoming biopic. ...

The film will follow Dr. William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), and how his polyamorous relationship with his wife Elizabeth [Holloway] (Rebecca Hall) and his mistress Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote) inspired him to create Wonder Woman. ...

● If you're arriving late here, this piece at Open Culture will get you up to speed: The Strange Story of Wonder Woman’s Creator William Moulton Marston: Polyamorous Feminist, Psychologist & Inventor of the Lie Detector (July 24).

By Josh Jones

...Wonder Woman, created in 1941, began her career as perhaps one of the kinkiest superheroes in mainstream comic books. What’s more, she was created by a psychologist William Moulton Marston, who first published under a pseudonym, due in part to his unconventional personal life. Marston, writes NPR, “had a wife — and a mistress. He fathered children with both of them, and they all secretly lived together in Rye, N.Y.”

The other woman in Marston’s polyamorous threesome, one of his former students, happened to be the niece of Margaret Sanger, and Marston just happened to be the creator of the lie detector. ... It’s unfair to judge a film by its trailer, but in the clips above we see much more of Marston’s dual romance than we do of the invention of his famous heroine.

Yet as political historian Jill Lepore tells it, the cultural history of Wonder Woman is as fascinating as her creator’s personal life, though it may be impossible to fully separate the two. A press release accompanying Wonder Woman’s [1942] debut explained that Marston aimed “to set up a standard among children and young people of strong, free, courageous womanhood; to combat the idea that women are inferior to men, and to inspire girls to self-confidence in athletics, occupations and professions monopolized by men.” It went on to express Marston’s view that “the only hope for civilization is the greater freedom, development and equality of women in all fields of human activity.”

...Marston would go further, saying, “Frankly, Wonder Woman is the psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world.”

...The seemingly clear bondage references in all those ropes and chains also had clear political significance, Lepore explains. During the fight for suffrage, women would chain themselves to government buildings. In parades, suffragists "would march in chains — they imported that iconography from the abolitionist campaigns of the 19th century that women had been involved in... Chains became a really important symbol”....

Marston translated the feminist ideas of the suffrage movement, and of women like Margaret Sanger, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, his wife, lawyer Elizabeth Holloway Marston, and his mistress Olive Byrne, into a powerful, long-revered superhero. He also translated his own ideas of what Havelock Ellis called “the erotic rights of women.”...

● The film is set for daily early screenings September 12 through 15 at the Toronto International Film Festival (which runs September 7–17). From the actor who plays Marston:

● Director/screenwriter Angela Robinson dished a bit at ComicCon: Director Angela Robinson On Bondage And The Iconic Superhero (July 19).

...“I got interested after making my first feature with Jordana Brewster and she knew I was a crazy Wonder Woman fan, and she gave me this book on her,” said Robinson, who has worked on How To Get Away With Murder, True Blood, and The L Word. “There was a chapter about the Marstons and the story went on and on and lodged in my brain and I became obsessed with it.”

The story is not unlike any superhero origin story. In fact, it isn’t even necessarily a superhero story at all. It’s a love story between William, Elizabeth, and Olivia, but a character study of Marston, a man who was, in essence, a feminist with a very specific — and some may say controversial — slant. Robinson said that Marston had a theory about men, women and submission that runs through the veins of the film.

“Men were violent and anachronistic, while women were nurturing and caring,” she said. “[Marston] said that if women ruled the world it would be better — and he was on to something.”

● The movie's Facebook page.

● New 10-second promo:


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