kinkiness of the phantom of the opera, the

I held a soft spot for the Phantom of the Opera many years before I self identified as kinky.  I was, oh, twenty-five.  It isn’t that I wanted that love story.  I’m not keen on death and destruction.  But that music—

Night time sharpens, heightens each sensation

Darkness wakes and stirs imagination

Silently the senses abandon their defenses

Like obsidian, cut sharp.  The lines stayed etched in my mind.

First, allow me to recap the story:  It is a love triangle between Christine Daae, the unobtrusive choir girl, the Opera Ghost, and the sweet mannered Vicomte de Chagny (Raul). Christine suddenly rises in position in the opera house— and she confides to her friend, Lotte, that she has been trained by the Angel of Music (otherwise known as the Opera ghost).  Lotte says she is dreaming, but the Ghost is real.  A man lives underground.  He abducts Christine to his lair.  Christine must choose between him and Raul, her childhood lover, the Vicomte.  Of course, it is a tragedy and ends as you might expect.  That is neither here nor there.

It isn’t the story I want to talk about, but the music.

Forget about the love triangle.  What exactly is it that appeals to Christine about the Ghost?  

It is easy to see what the Vicomte offers.  He has wealth, privilege, charming looks.  Everything a girl of that time could ever want, right?  Raul is honorable, as well, and will surely marry her, even if she is a lowly chorus girl.

But what, indeed, does the Ghost give Christine?

If anything?  She seems him as an angel, not hurt man trapped underground.   I can’t  help but demystify him, however, into some guy living in his mother’s basement and making empty promises.  A guy telling some young girl, “Hey, come live with me in my mom’s basement.  Tempting, right?” (After all, the Ghost IS crashing in the opera house, which is not his.  It may as well be his mom’s house.)

But, no, there is something more.

She’s young, pretty, and virtuous.  She could have anyone, but she is entranced by him.

I think about the moment when she turns away from the Ghost, and he begins to sing, softly— and she stops and turns to him.

She doesn’t move, except to turn her face towards him.  Why does she turn to him, almost against her own will, at the sound of his voice?  Is it that his voice is truly magical?  Or is there something more?

Fame, you might say.  She wants the fame and prosperity that the Ghost gave her a taste of the night she shone in the spotlight (“Think of Me”).  When he sings, he reminds her of this.  Perhaps.  On the other hand, the patron of the theater, the Duke Raoul, has taken interest in her.  I neglected that detail n describing the entire package he offers her.  Surely she is not so naive as to not realize what this would do for her career?  Besides, and feel free to disagree with me, but I don’t see Christine as power hungry.

She is scared, though, and why?

We’re supposed to assume the fear comes from a madman dragging her away from the outside world to his cavern.  Or perhaps even a fear that she might rise and achieve her dreams— and fail.  But I wonder if it could be something more.

Floating, falling, sweet intoxication,

Touch me, trust me, savor each sensation,

Let the dream begin, let your darker side give in,

Call me crazy, but what if this isn’t about the music or the voice lessons?  What if it isn’t a choice between living in a formal estate above ground with a childhood sweetheart, or with a mysterious lover underground?  What if he is offering her a whole other life? Something she had no idea even existed before?  Would that not justify the intensity of the words?

What if it is a choice between being the pure, sweet girl that being Raul’s wife demands— and exposing every dark and hidden desire in her mind, but leaving her familiar world behind?

With Raul, she’ll have to watch her words.  She’ll be a lady, and a lady must behave properly.  While the Ghost tells her, come with me and I will help you shed every deception until only your self remains.

If she is setting her mind free.  If she does possess darker desires, if she wants to be whipped and tied and spanked with various implements?  If she wants to give over her mind and soul to her partner to use as they see fit?  If she wants to be naked in her emotions and thoughts and feelings?

I know it scared me when I started down the path of submission to my master.

Does Christine feel similarly?  I know it was hard when two of my partners divorced themselves from the vanilla life their families wanted for them, and took on the clarity of the darker world.  Savoring sensations.  Falling, intoxicated on pure emotions.  It was a little overwhelming.  It scared me that I might not have anything to hide behind.

At the same time, I couldn’t ignore the appeal.  I could talk, freely, about religion and politics and sex.  About all the taboo topics I found fascinating.  I didn’t have to pretend to believe in all the bullshit romantic nonsense that made all my friends miserable. It can be a very beautiful world, when it’s what you want.

Now, I have no idea if any of this is real, or if it’s all in my head.  But, after all,

Don’t they say that kink is not about the physical, but about the mind?

If this is true, well, I can think of no words that capture it so well as the music…of the Night.

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