Back in 2017, many people were shocked to learn that an esteemed Danish director and his film producer regularly spanked the interns who worked in their office. People were even more surprised to learn that most of the Danish public were not upset about this revelation. I, however, was not, because I myself had experience working in an entertainment company in a Scandinavian country in the early 1980s, where I was also spanked by my director.

Some background; I am an opera singer, and at the age of 22, after graduating from a prestigious conservatory on the East coast, I auditioned for and received what is called a ‘fest’ contract with an opera company in Europe. A fest singer is the closest thing to an intern in the opera world. ‘Festers’ are hired right out of school and are given training while singing in the opera company’s chorus and performing small opera roles in the company. Truly talented singers are even given lead roles from time to time, so these contracts are very much sought after in the opera world.

After moving to my new city and getting settled with the company, I soon learned that the festers would be subject to spankings as punishment from the director, and that everyone considered this to be normal. Even those who didn’t approve shrugged it off as a type of hazing. The first time it happened to me was as a punishment for being late to a rehearsal. The director called me to his office where he sat on his couch, pulled me over his lap, pulled up my skirt, and pulled up my panties so that most of the flesh on my bottom was available to be smacked by his hand. It was painful and mortifying, as the office door was open, letting each person who passed by the office to stick their head in and giggle as I gripped onto the side of the sofa trying not to cry out, but was soon wiggling and wailing and promising to never be late again. I hated every second of it.

When it was over and I walked out of the office, I wanted to die. One of the older opera singers put her arm around me, smiled and said something to the effect of, “Come now, we were all festers once. We’ve all been through it.”

Needless to say, I was never late again!

Now, the moment that changed spanking for me involves my friend, Cleo. Most people think of opera singers as the stereotypical fat ladies in the horns, but that is not the case, and it certainly did not describe Cleo. She was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen. She was the only other American at the company, and she and I were roommates in a nearby apartment. Cleo was from Minnesota, was 21 years old, her father was Swedish-American and her mother was half Italian and half Mexican.

She got her looks from her mother’s side. She had olive skin, long dark hair, and dark hazel green eyes. She was slender, but voluptuous. She also had a beautiful and powerful singing voice, and she soon set herself apart as the star of the fest singers. For the first opera of the company’s summer season, she was cast in the lead role for the opera ‘Salome’.

For those of you who are not opera fans, Strauss’s ‘Salome’ is perhaps the most risque of all operas. It involves murder, lust, sex, and, most infamously, the dance of the seven veils, in which Salome dances for her stepfather, King Herodas. During the dance, she removes each of the seven veils one at a time until Salome is left naked on the stage at the end of the dance.

Once at a final dress rehearsal, we were rehearsing this pivotal scene in the opera. There is a momentous moment in the music between when Salome removes her top veil and bottom veil. Cleo was understandably nervous. In addition to having to remember the dance moves, at this point Cleo was completely naked except for a small jeweled veil that barely covered her bikini area. She missed the musical climax once, twice, then a third time, when the frustrated director called cut and told everyone to take a 15-minute break.

“Cleo, may I see you backstage for a moment? Now.”

Cleo knew what that meant, so she immediately rushed to pick up the largest veil from the floor, but the director grabbed her arm before she could reach it. With one arm, she was being led while trying to cover her breasts with her other arm.

“Please, wait!”  she cried. “Just let me put something on.”

But the director did not listen as he led her backstage. I felt bad for my friend, so I went to the side of the stage to pick up her large veil, and hurried backstage hoping to wrap it around her before the spanking began. I rushed backstage.

“Please, no, wait! I’ll take the spanking, but please let me put my clothes on!”

Then I heard the spanking begin. When I turned the corner to where they were, I froze. The director was sitting on a chair and Cleo was completely naked over his lap. The last veil that would have provided a modicum of modesty was on the floor. Poor Cleo was completely naked and struggling as the director spanked her with his strong hand moving from cheek to cheek. To stop her from being able to move, he held her right arm behind her back and moved his right leg in between hers so that she could not wriggle away.

I, of course, felt terrible for my friend, but I also felt other strange sensations, even wishing that I could trade places with her at that moment. The spanking seemed to go on for quite some time, and after he finished and started to let her up I hurried back out to the stage because I didn’t want to add to her humiliation by letting her know that I had seen it.

Cleo went on to triumph in the production of ‘Salome’ and went on to an international opera career. I extended my fest contract for one more year, and on the first day of rehearsals, I was purposely 25 minutes late.

SHd