S&M in Music Videos: A History [NSFW]

The way the music press has been flipping over Rihanna’s risqué new clip for “S&M,” you’d think she was the first musician ever to use bondage or sadomasochistic imagery in a music video. Of course, she’s far from it. Even before MTV, artists used whips and chains to spice up their act. After the jump, we take you from the Velvet Underground to Ri Ri in a brief history of BDSM in music videos.

The Velvet Underground — “Venus in Furs” (1966)

Before there were MTV-style music videos, there was the Velvet Underground — a band that delved fearlessly into mid-’60s taboos ranging from heroin addiction to sexual deviance. Named for the seminal masochist text, “Venus in Furs” is an ode to S&M unlike anything we’ve seen before and since. When the band performed it, they had whip dancers onstage, as captured in this video snippet by experimental filmmaker Jonas Mekas, from his movie Scenes from the Life of Andy Warhol.