Table of Contents

The Bondage Book

Much has been made of the bondage book by the prosecution and my detractors. Here are the facts.

Although I had written many books about photography, I had never done a picture book of my photography, and had always wanted to do one. I wanted to do a fine art book, a coffee table book. Not because such books make a lot of money (they don't), but for the personal satisfaction that having my work widely appreciated would bring. I had been searching for some time for a theme to build such a book around. Not long after I first met Marion in the spring of 2002, she was in my studio one day looking through my collection of books. She had picked up Tony Ward's Obsession, Ralph Gibson's Deus Ex Macbina, and then picked up Petter Hegre's book My Wife. She said she wanted to do a book like Hegre's featuring her as the model.

Marion had been into bondage before I met her. She had shown me a bunch of Polaroid photos of her tied up in several different bondage ties, photos she said were taken by her former boyfriend Jackson: She had also lived for a while in the summer of 2002 with a Boone, NC, tattoo artist who had been tying her up (she complained that he made the ropes too tight). I had never taken a bondage photo before being urged into it by her, but once I had done some with her I realized the artistic and erotic potential. of the ropes. At that point I didn't know how long she would be available to me as a model. So my first shoots with bondage as a motif were with Elkie Cooper, Julie Simone, Maria Shadoes, and PJ Myst, all experienced bondage models that I knew. Later, when it became clear that Marion would be around for some time, I began building a body of work with her.

I showed some of these photographs to a publisher of art books when I was in Germany in the fall of 2002, and was very encouraged by his positive response. I also showed some of this work to my old friend Monte Zucker, and was surprised when he,in turn, showed me some gay bondage photos he had done.

Monte encouraged me to move ahead with the project and find a publisher.

After Marion's death I was uncertain what to do on the book project, and talked with friends of hers. All of them said that they were sure that Marion would have wanted me to finish the book, and that she would be very proud and excited for it to move to completion. Later in 2003 I again began work on photos for the book project, continuing into 2004. In the meanwhile, Lee Higgs, whose book Generation Fetish had become a cult classic, suggested that his publisher, Goliath in Frankfurt, might be interested in the project. He put me in touch with them and they likes the images very much. So much that they decided to publish the book as the first in a new series under a new imprint, Mixofpics. Since the book carne out in 2004, they have added a number of other books to this series, which seems to be going strong. Our book, which came out as Erotic Bondage: Art Of Rope, has become somewhat of a cult classic, selling out the first printing and going into a second printing. But the accusations of the prosecutor that I was making money off my notoriety from Marion's death is way off base. I have not yet earned back anything near to the money I invested in models, sets and props for the book. As I said earlier, you do not do a book like this to make money.

The book has been generally well reviewed, but the "hardcore" bondage media have criticized it for being much too mild. The book is far from explicit, revealing no more in its images than you would see today in Playboy. We did much digital "airbrushing" of the images to insure that they were not too revealing to allow the book to be sold in all countries. The book is sold by mainstream book sellers like, Barnes & Noble, etc., who do not sell pornographic material.

Many of the images from the book were also made into large digital prints and exhibited in a gallery show in Chicago in 2004-2005. Some of these prints have been bought by collectors.

Many people gave me input on which images to use in the book, particularly on the cover. Billy Name and I picked one image in particular, but the publisher chose another, but later used the original cover choice for a promotional postcard.

Throughout my trial the prosecutor liked to wave a copy of the book around like it was something I should be ashamed of. That was ridiculous. I am very proud of the book. He also tried to insinuate that there was something wrong with me using a pseudonym. In spite of the fact that one of my publishers who testified brought up Mark Twain and a number of other pseudonyms, he didn't get the point. Edward Lee is not so much a pseudonym, since it is my two middle names, and this book was not the first use of it. I've used Edward Lee and several other pseudonyms since the early 90s.

To continue from the wikipedia page, it reads "On June 3, 2003, his model (and, in his account, girlfriend) Marion Franklin died of a morphine overdose during a bondage-theme photographic session. Shell was prosecuted in connection with her death". I The facts: This account tries to insinuate that Marion was only my girlfriend in my story, but the fact was known to a number of our friends, photo industry people, and is substantiated by her own words in a number of e-mails. Marion did not die during any photo shoot, but in the evening long after the last photo of the day had been taken. Unfortunately, because the EMT people could not take her temperature (they do not even carry thermometers, incredible as that may sound) and no one at the hospital had the common sense to do so, we will never know exactly when she died. Equally, we will never know with any certainty just what she died from, because the Medical Examiner destroyed all tissue and fluid samples from the autopsy at some time in 2003 (amazingly, no records of such destruction are kept). This destruction was only revealed to us after the judge had ruled that I had the right to have independent testing done and I had retained National Medical Services in Pittsburgh to do the tests that should have been done. The Radford Police actually shipped a box of empty specimen bottles to National Medical Services when ordered by the judge to send them the samples. Destruction of these samples was in violation of several Virginia laws, one of which provides for their preservation for up to fifteen years.

The one blood test that was done (on heart blood only) could not distinguish between morphine and other opiates, and the man who admitted to being Marion's drug supplier said that she had told him that she was using heroin. When asked why his report did not indicate any needle marks on Marion's body, Dr. Massello said that he had not been able to find any. When informed that the EMT people had put IV lines into her arm and the side of her neck, he had no explanation for why he did not find them, and admitted that there could have been other needle marks he did not find.

And a major point, the wikipedia page says " ... the jury agreed that Shell had administered the lethal dose of morphine." This is a complete fabrication. The prosecution had charged me with Felony Homicide, which is an accidental death that occurs during the commission of a felony, in this case giving Marion morphine. The jury soundly rejected that charge and reduced the charge to Involuntary Manslaughter, a simple negligence charge. No one ever claimed during the week of testimony that I had given Marion the lethal drug, or that I was even present when she overdosed on whatever it was that killed her. Those are the hard facts.

One newspaper headline said that I apologized for my photos but not for the death. That's far from correct. I made an apology to anyone who had been offended by my photos, which were projected to giant size on the courtroom wall by the prosecutor. Many of the images projected were private images taken for Marion and me, and never intended to be shown to anyone else, much less published or publicly exhibited. I would never willingly display my images to anyone who might be offended by them, and was outraged that the prosecutor chose to misrepresent the photos and exhibit them in a public venue. Of the hundreds of photos he projected in this way, the vast majority were totally irrelevant to the case. He tried to claim that some had been taken on a particular date, when the EXIF data clearly showed that none of them were taken on that date. I did not apologize for Marion's death for one simple reason; I had nothing to do with it.

Recently, someone has added a paragraph at the end of the wikipedia page saying that I lost my appeal. Appeal of a criminal conviction is a multi-layered thing. The first stages are almost invariably denied. That's how the system works. There are many more levels and layers to go, plus many parallel legal actions. So don't count me down and out just yet. I will fight this injustice as long as I draw breath.