In 1870, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch publishes "Venus in Furs," an erotic novel revealing the author's desire to be dominated by a woman. After the success of the novel, a woman turns up at his doorstep and offers to take on the role of the dominant woman. He submits to her completely and they get married. Years later, Leopold has remarried and lives a quiet life, far removed from the sexual escapades of his first marriage. This is when he learns that his surname is being used, to his detriment, to describe a new sexual perversion: masochism.