50 Shades of Kink: An Introduction to BDSM by Tristan Taormino

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[This is the text of the book review from episode 69.]

This episode’s book review is 50 Shades of Kink: An Introduction to BDSM by Tristan Taormino. I received it for free from the generous people at Cleis Press, but that’s never stopped me from being honest.

First bit of honesty—with this title, if it hadn’t been by the illustrious Ms Taormino I would have never asked to review it.

Recently, though, another sex blogger, Amy, from Coffee & Kink, wrote about how high quality 50 Shades branded things—toys and such—were important because people new to kink would no doubt be overwhelmed by the quantity of gear out there. A lot of it being non-body safe. And if we scoff at these people due to how they found the scene they’ll go away and practise kink in unsafe ways—ways that probably look like what happens in the trilogy. If we welcome them and say, ‘Here, try this other thing/book/this is how consent actually works in the scene…’ Everyone will have a much better and safer time. Let these people come in in the way they’re most comfortable.

This book is written for beginners—if you’ve read 50 Shades (or know someone who read it) and wants to know more about the basics—it’s excellent. Taormino has been writing and teaching about BDSM for years and knows her stuff. She covers a wide range of topics concisely.

It’s the precursor to a book she edited called The Ultimate Guide to Kink, which is for more experienced practitioners—there probably won’t be a lot of new ground here if you’re not brand new.

Particulars of the book. It’s 140 pages so it’s not dauntingly long. I was surprised how much was covered.

In the introduction the author defines ‘kink’ thusly:

I use kink as a catch-all term that includes BDSM, sadomasochism, kinky sex, dominance and submission, role play, sex games, fantasy and fetish.

She further defines the word:

Kink is an intimate experience, an exchange of power between people that can be physical, erotic, sexual, psychological, spiritual, or, most often, some combination. People who practice kink explore the territory between pleasure and pain, eroticize the exchange of power, experience intense physical sensations and psychological scenarios, and test and push their limits.

That’s a pretty all encompassing definition. I like it.

Something else she said in the intro that is one of my favourite things about BDSM is:

BDSM can be a lifelong learning process and way of getting to know ourselves and our deepest, and sometimes darkest, fantasies and fetishes.

I love, love, love that kink is about being encouraged to play and grow and learn about ourselves rather than stifling creativity and stagnating and being a grown up and behaving and being just one way that is defined by very dull people. I love the entire concept of seeing where certain dark (and light) paths go and being with people who will protect you and celebrate those journeys. Once we’re past a certain age we’re no longer supposed to explore our inner worlds—we’re supposed to focus on what the outer world wants of us all the time. Kink says, ‘Lighten up! You’re no good to anyone if you know nothing about yourself! Put on that Minnie Mouse frock and jump in a vat of applesauce, if you want!’

After the introduction, Taormino starts off with a chapter called Embrace Your Inner Kinkster: Myths, Truths and Communication.

Much like it sounds, it covers a lot of the myths surrounding kink—nothing you haven’t heard before if you’ve been around awhile—and dispels them succinctly. This book would also be good for a vanilla person in your life who was just confused by what it was BDSM was about and would sit and read 140 pages.

The chapter also covers how to have a conversation—whether in person or some form of writing or another way—about your new kinky desires. There’s advice on what to do if that conversation doesn’t go well.

Chapter two is BDSM Basics: Terms, Roles and Principles. It covers all the basics I’ve ever heard of so you should be set for the new people, at least.

In this section there’s consent, as well as a Yes-No-Maybe sample checklist. I read the digital version and it would be easier to make a physical copy of the physical version for you and your partner(s) to make checkmarks on than having to draw out your own version of the spreadsheet. Though with your own version you could add extra activities you had thoughts about.

There’s extensive information on good ways to communicate both before, during and after play and examples of how to incorporate communication into play if you’re doing role play or trying to maintain a certain atmosphere.

She stresses that it’s important for tops to remember to take care of themselves after scenes, as well. The focus is often solely on the person having something done to them, but tops are important, too.

Contracts are discussed in this section and a sample contract is given.

Chapter three is Dominant/submissive Role Play.

This chapter includes this quote:

A power exchange of some kind is nearly always present in human relationships. There are people all around us in power exchange relationships who don’t acknowledge the dynamic or call it anything. Consider a husband who gives his wife an allowance but not credit card in her own name. A woman who controls her coworkers, making them eager to please her even though she’s not their boss. That’s right—there are plenty of people wearing collars and others tugging at their leashes, but the gear is invisible and the dynamic unexamined.

The more I’ve embraced my submissive side, and considered it, the more I’ve noticed how power works in the world in general. I prefer the acknowledgment of unequal power and intentionally playing with it.

In this section the author talks about how Dominants don’t have to be tops—a Dominant could order their submissive to flog them, for example.

Then there was this:

But there could also be a sadistic submissive who enjoys piercing masochist bottoms.

Yes? Hello? Hi. Hellooooo.

People don’t have to be just one thing, basically. Which goes back to being encouraged to play and learn about yourself.

This chapter also addresses how, for some people D/s is role play—people exploring playing with power—and for others their Dominant or submissive side is as ingrained as their sexual orientation or their eye colour.

Chapter four is Sexual Power Games: Pleasure and Orgasm Control.

This covers things like tease and torment, forced masturbation, orgasm control (which AliceinBondageLand taught us all about a few episodes back) and sexual service. What these things are, what’s appealing about them and how to do them safely.

The next chapter is on Sensory Deprivation: Blindfolds, Hoods and Earplugs, which is what it says on the tin.

Chapter Six is Sensation Play: Massage Oil Candles, Nipple Clamps and More. ‘And more’ is right. Feathers, edible body paint, stimulating gels and creams. There was also lots of safety information here. People tend to think that you need to be careful most when using pain or hitting someone, but a too hot candle can involve an explanation at the hospital, which ruins everyone’s good time.

There are two chapters on bondage. The first is Basics and DIY.

This chapter is about what you can use around your house and the author starts off by warning not to use athletic tape or duct tape, as well as zip ties. She then goes into what are good choices and why and how to use them safely.

The second bondage chapter is stuff you purchase: Restraints, Bondage Tape, Gags, and Collars.

In this chapter Taormino discusses the hazards of the classic handcuff (keys get lost, they can close too tightly, they can cut into the wrist) and then covers the other basic types of items out there and how they might be used, as well as makes recommendations for quality manufacturers of said items.

Then we’re onto a chapter called Smack!: Spanking, Paddles and Crops. There are instructions on how to give a spanking, including how to spank genitals, in case that’s something you’d like to try. Then there’s the various implements that can be used and how and why. In this section she recommends trying a slapper if you’ve enjoyed a hand spanking, but:

…crave something more intense or with more of a ‘bite’.

The follow up chapter is Smack Harder!: Floggers and Canes. This covers the array of materials a flogger can be made of and how that effects its sting or thud, as well as how to use a flogger. Taormino always stresses education and safety and urges the reader to learn to flog properly before ever throwing it at a person.

Then we’re onto canes—she doesn’t have a great deal to say about canes outside of what they’re made of, what parts of the body they can be used on and how painful and dangerous they can be if not used properly.

Chapter eleven is Rough Sex. I learned something about myself reading this. Rough sex is triggering as hell for me—big hard limit, so that was useful. I didn’t even know what that phrase meant (it’s not exactly descriptive) and thought it meant someone likes bondage or spankings with their sex. Nope. It’s a whole thing of its own and I have a visceral reaction to it. Okay. So, the author talks about how some people don’t consider rough sex kinky—Taormino says:

Rough sex is another kind of dominant/submissive role play where you can explore power, control, and surrender, and use intense physicality to push limits and break taboos.

She talks about the various acts involved in this activity and how, though it’s incredibly intense, there are still ways to communicate and get consent for the specific ways you want to be roughed up or rough someone else up.

The rest of the book is resources. The Epilogue is Fifty Items for your Toy Bag–not all of which are physical. The first three are consent, communication and honesty, for example. Then there’s an entirely decent reading list comprised of both fiction and non-fiction books. A list of films is back in an earlier chapter, so you’ll finish this book with a nice little syllabus to begin your studies.

Overall, 50 Shades of Kink is a great introduction for complete beginners to BDSM or those who are curious about what it is we do and how we do it. It’s straightforward, inclusive and covers a wide-array of topics. I definitely give this one a 5/5.

Episode 069: 50 Shades of Kink

Episode the sixty-ninth; wherein the Pageist reveals why comedians are not to be trusted, despairs over technology and enthuses about the new shop. The book reviewed is 50 Shades of Kink: An Introduction to BDSM by Tristan Taormino.

.44 Intro and Announcements:

  • Thank you to Mark for recommending an alternative to Skype! Here’s to clearer interviews in future.
  • Several survey responses, which always makes my day. If you’d like to take the (brief, anonymous) survey, you may do so here.
  • The site’s old theme is no longer nice to look at on desktop so has been jettisoned for this one until Walter can build a new site from scratch. At least this is classy.
  • Our Zazzle shop is nearly ready to launch! Just in time for the shopping season.
  • Kate Lister (@WhoresofYore) is writing a book called A Curious History of Sex. You can help fund it here.

5.15 My Submissive Life:

  • Thanks to Arthur Chu (@arthur_affect) for reminding me of some things I had forgotten about comedy. One of his threads inspired this week’s segment.

11.24 Book Review:

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  • This episode’s book is 50 Shades of Kink: An Introduction to BDSM by Tristan Taormino. The precursor to her book The Ultimate Guide to Kink, which is for more experienced people, this one is an excellent beginner’s guide. Covering everything from common myths to how negotiation and contracts work to a wide array of actual kink practices succinctly, this one would also be a good choice for a vanilla person who was curious about what kinky people actually do.
  • Amy from Coffee & Kink talks about why 50 Shades branded materials are useful and important in this blog post.
  • AliceinBondageLand joined me to talk Chastity and orgasm control, which is covered in the book.

25.08 Closing Remarks:

  • Thank you for tuning in!
  • In the next episode I’ll be interviewing the hosts of Red Light Library about reviewing erotica.
  • Support the show through PayPal!
  • Support the show and site on Patreon and get bonus content each month!
  • Like The Pageist on Facebook, follow on Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, Quora, Medium, and Instagram and join the Fetlife group.
  • You can also subscribe to the website through the email form in the sidebar.
  • Subscribe to the iTunes feed here. You can also rate the show in iTunes, which would be much appreciated!
  • The libsyn feed is here and can be used in your favourite podcast feed reader.
  • All episodes can be heard in an embedded player on this page.

Episode 052: Decoding Your Kink

Episode the fifty-second; Wherein the Pageist seems to have become an adult at some point, meditates on the importance of finding your place and learns about her personal erotic myth. The book reviewed is Decoding Your Kink: Guide to Explore, Share and Enjoy Your Wildest Sexual Desires by Galen Fous.

.45 Intro and Announcements:

9.50 My Submissive Life:

  • ThePageist.com is two years old. When I started the site I could have never forseen where it would take me. I’m so grateful for what I get to do.

12.39 Book Review:

Decoding Your Kink book cover

(source)

35.55 Closing Remarks:

  • Thank you for tuning in!
  • In the next episode I’ll be interviewing Graydancer of Kink Sex Culture about consent.
  • Support the show and site on Patreon!
  • Like The Pageist on Facebook, follow on Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, Quora, Medium, and Instagram and join the Fetlife group.
  • You can also subscribe to the website through the email form in the sidebar.
  • Subscribe to the iTunes feed here. You can also rate the show in iTunes, which would be much appreciated!
  • The libsyn feed is here and can be used in your favourite podcast feed reader.
  • All episodes can be heard in an embedded player on this page.

Sexual Outsiders

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[This is the text of the book review from episode 34.]

This week’s review is Sexual Outsiders: Understanding BDSM Sexualities and Communities by David M Ortmann and Richard A. Sprott.

This was an interesting read. The authors are therapists who see patients who identify as kinky or who want help integrating the kinky aspects of themselves into a more whole version of who they are.

It’s the first time I’ve read a book about kinky people that wasn’t written by a kinky person. Or if the authors were kinky they did an outstanding job of writing like dispassionate observers.

It was as though the authors were trying to strike a balance between being too academic while still maintaining academic integrity. For example, transcripts of interviews were verbatim, which came across as stilted, but then they spelled come with a ‘u’, which I associate with high school bathroom walls and informal writing.

It’s priced as an academic text—the paperback is $23 and the ebook is $15.84. That’s what you charge when you expect a book to be used in a classroom. Which may be the point—something the authors talk about it how little instruction psychologists and psychiatrists get when it comes to human sexuality—forget BDSM. They get six-to-ten hours of instruction. That’s it. People need more instruction in this area if you’re providing mental health care to human beings, who do indeed have sex and care a lot about it.

There were lots of sources—I do like my sources—so those were appreciated. Notes were made on other things to read.

Let’s do some quotes and things, shall we?

Near the beginning David talks about the difference between the sexual and the erotic.

‘The erotic is conceptual in that it thrives in a world of abstraction, imagery, and symbolism. The erotic is subjective and playful by its very nature. Sexuality is the embodied, more concretized way in which people experience the erotic. It inhabits the objective, biological, physiological, and physical realms. I often see sexuality as technicality and mechanics, whereas the erotic is more about the mystery surrounding what the mechanic might do to us.’

He then says:

‘We need to make the distinction between the sexual and the erotic because in BDSM, Fetish, Leather, and Kink communities there are many practices and activities that are not sexual, but may be experienced as extremely erotic.’

I really liked this, because the idea that sex is intrinsic to kink is pervasive, but it’s not. It reminds me of the scene in Secretary where Lee’s fiance is looking at her—she’s sat at her boss’ desk because he told her not to move until he came back—and her fiance, the most boring guy on the globe—asks, ‘Are you doing something sexual right now?’
She responds, ‘Does this look sexual to you?’

Much of the book was just good advice—there’s no one way to be kinky, people who are only kinky once a year are just as kinky as people who are 24/7, etc. Then occasionally, something like this would come out of nowhere:

‘What we ignore out of fear ultimately has more control over us than what we acknowledge, honor, and accept.’

Ain’t that the truth.

One section that was particularly interesting was a section on how stigma is created. I find human anthropology and sociology fascinating so this sort of thing is always going to get my attention.

So. Creating stigma. First you name the characteristics of what makes a ‘good’ person. Or in this case, a ‘bad’ person.

Then the authors say:

‘The next step is to connect the name or label with a negative stereotype. The label then describes part of a person, and that part comes to stand for the whole person. Taking one part of a person and using it to explain or describe who he or she is, in every action and situation, is the process of marginalization.
‘But in order to create a fully realized social stigma, this dismissed or rejected person needs to be seen as part of a whole group that is nasty, spoiled, degenerate, evil, or sick. This is the third step, the creation of an in-group (the good people) and an out-group (the bad people).
‘The last step of stigmatization is for society to start creating rules, laws, structures, policies, and regulations that enforce a hierarchy of groups within the society.
‘Those who have higher social status are governed by “different rules” than those in lower social status groups, and often suffer different punishments or consequences when they break laws and rules.’

Holy crap, you guys. That’s the way the whole damn world works. You guys. (And for me, “guys” is not only gender-neutral, it applies to inanimate objects—when I want a pastry I don’t know the name of I’ll say, ‘Give me that guy there.’)

The next time someone tries to throw some stigma at you—or anyone—just be, ‘Look there, Judgerson, who put you in charge of the ‘Good Quality Squad’ Sling it, titstick!

They go on to talk about the way to combat that stupidity in order to be your awesome self:

‘The process involves separating from the mainstream, claiming an alternative identity that is contrary to the stereotyped images of that rejected category, finding others who share that alternative sexuality, and claiming goodness and pride in that alternative. The process continues as the person integrates that former “spoiled” identity, now “good” identity, into their understanding of themselves as whole people with several roles and identities.’

And they kept up the melting my brain by telling me about exactly what I did, put Miss Cleo out-of-business-you-psychic-fuckers, with this:

‘We argue that, for some people who feel that their BDSM sexuality is highly significant, they will need to go through a similar coming-out process. It may be necessary to guide and support kinky people as they “separate” and challenge the stigma, and it may be necessary to guide and support kinky people as they integrate a good, healthy BDSM identity as part of who they are as whole persons. BDSM social and educational groups, kinky art and literature, networks and channels of connecting in safe environments—all of these become important for everyone to support, as they enable and encourage the process of coming out for those people who identify their BDSM sexuality as central to their way of being in the world.’

You think you know yourself then some fuckers explain yourself to you.

There’s a whole section about disassociation that was really interesting, but I won’t read to you. I did learn a new word—alexithymia, it’s a condition where a person is unable to describe their feelings or put their emotional experiences into words.

Hi, hello, hi there.

Something else they say on more than one occasion is that BDSM is neutral—it’s neither good nor bad—it’s what people bring to it, which I think is true about many things. Religion is one of them. If you’re a miserable dickbasket then, it’s weird, but you’re probably going to wind up following the parts of whatever religion you find that says people unlike you are a bunch of useless sinners. Whereas, if you’re a generally upbeat person, somehow, you’ll wind up focusing on the parts of your specific religion that says we should all be nice and everyone can get along because we’re all brothers. And nearly every religious belief has both sides.

You get out of it what you put into it.

What they say about kink is this:

‘One of the main ideas we want to underscore is that BDSM is neutral. It can be used for healthy goals and motivations, or it can be expressions of suffering and dysfunction that can cause harm or prevent growth. Therefore, we can’t recommend that BDSM is an appropriate tool for personal growth for everyone, or for every situation.’

The book has several stories and fantasies from clients and they do indeed tell one couple that BDSM isn’t right for them. I would agree. Actually, I would have gagged both of them. They were horrible.

I love statistics, so here’s one for when you have to deal with a Judgerson who’s trying to save you from yourself. They’re just so gosh-darned helpful.

‘in 2005 there were about 152 deaths per 1 million people in the United States from motor vehicle accidents. That same year, there were almost 2 deaths per 1 million people from accidents involving autoerotic asphyxia, probably one of the more dangerous BDSM-like activities that we can get records on. This is equivalent to the rate of people killed by a fireworks mishap, and a little less than the rate of people dying from skydiving.

‘Involvement in adventurous activities like mountain climbing or skydiving, furthermore, are not classified as psychological disorders; involvement itself is not a symptom of any mental disease. Involvement in sexual adventures, however, can be classified as mental disorders, which underscores that the DSM is influenced by more than a psychological or scientific agenda. There are political, moral, religious, social, and legal influences, as well, in the assessment and diagnosis of mental illness.’

I know someone with a friend working on the DSM-V. There are some serious politics going on with that thing. I used to put so much faith in it because I love classifications, but holy hell. It’s such a product of its time and the bullshit happening behind the scenes.

The book briefly goes into particular types of BDSM like 24/7, age play, voyeurism and exhibitionism and others.

The 24/7 section was quite enlightening—it was clear the authors had a good understanding of the way the relationships worked. They called into question our culture’s assertion that individuality was more important than putting another person or a relationship first.

‘In order to maintain a power exchange, both parties make different but complementary promises. The promises are not the same, but their difference allows for the two people to maintain a polarity in power. By promising and committing to portray different roles, to be held to different standards for each other, but still promising to be steadfast and to place the other as important, the 24/7 vows are in some ways similar to vows from earlier times or from other cultures. These vows are in some ways noticeably different from the twenty-first-century Western vows that emphasize both partners making the same exact promises as signs of equality between independent, autonomous selves.’

I really enjoy the phrase ‘complementary promises’, because that’s exactly what a power exchange is. Two people whose role complement one another.

In the Age play section they say:

‘If we sound offhand about a serious topic, it’s because we write from a confusing cultural binary. Our society is alternately in states of sexual saturation and sexual denial. We face the same conundrum with age play and age-related discussions of sex, eroticism, and beauty. How can we deny or claim to not see the Eros in youthful beauty when we live in a culture and society that literally deifies it? We cannot worship it on one hand, and on the other hand pretend that it’s not really there to begin with. It’s illogical and crazy-making.’

Seriously, okay? What. The. Men. Said. Stop making everyone crazy, you big doofuses. You can start by acknowledging the fact that older women are attractive due to their wisdom and intelligence and put more of them in films and on television.

Preferably in pinstripe suits.

One of the authors, Richard Sprott, founded the Community Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities, which is a non-profit that aims to educate therapists for serving patients in the BDSM community. They say:

The project documents best practices for therapy, from the dual points of view of members of the Kink community and therapists with extensive experience with BDSM sexualities.

Which is how this book is geared—it can be read by both kinky people looking for a good therapist and therapists who want to know more about how to provide better service to the kink community. That’s probably why the tone is half academic half informal.

They still could have spelled come with an ‘o’, though.

The authors recommend the Kink Aware Professionals database, which is an excellent resource to help people find kink-friendly professionals of any sort. Support those who support us, is what I say.

There’s information for people seeking a therapist on signs your current therapist isn’t kink-friendly—that’s very helpful.

One note about the ebook version—some paragraphs were repeated. They’d be in their correct place, then roughly a page later they’d appear again. I’m guessing that wasn’t true for the print version, but it was a little jarring in terms of, ‘Well that doesn’t even make sense’. They may have fixed it by now—I purchased the book awhile ago because as soon as I saw it I went: yoink!

Is it worth $16 digitally? Some of the insights into why people are into various types of kinks were eye-opening and lots of other information was thought-provoking. Academic books take more work in terms of reading papers and referencing sources than fiction (I write fiction—don’t hate on me for saying that). If you’re looking for a therapist—or are a therapist you’ll probably get more out of it. What they’re trying to do is definitely worthy. You’ll have to make that decision for yourself. I wound up with 18 pages of kindle highlights and am certainly glad I read it.

I’ll give it a 4/5.

If someone were really interested in a crash course on BDSM I’d hand them Different Loving and this and smile really big.

50 Shades of BS: What the Media Gets Wrong about Kink

[A slightly different/condensed version of this piece is in episode 28 of my podcast. The episode covers the best portrayals of kink in film and some of the worst, as well as this writing.]

[Secondary note: I use ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ rather than saying ‘top/D-type’ ‘bottom/s-type’ every time. Substitute the title most applicable to you.]

There are certain tropes that are pretty much a given when watching or reading kinky media created by mainstream/vanilla writers. For your eye-rolling pleasure, here is a list of THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS. Perhaps use it to make a bingo card for the next time you’re watching a mainstream film containing kink!

It’s all about/Always about sex. There was a great piece of writing on Fet some time ago—I can’t recall who it was by now, but the repeated line was something like: ‘My dick doesn’t just fall out’. It was about how, when topping, remarkably, his dick didn’t work out how to unzip his jeans and join the party. Yet, in most depictions of mainstream kink: it’s penis time! You…do know people do kink for other reasons, right? Of course you don’t. You’re a vanilla writer who didn’t bother to consult any icky kinky people for five seconds.

It’s only about what the Top wants. This is particularly insidious because we learn how we’re supposed to be by seeing ourselves in the media. If the few times we—meaning bottoms—see ourselves we’re told our desires don’t matter that’s what we’ll believe. Then ethical tops have to drag information out of bottoms who think not liking pain/degradation/bondage makes them a bad bottom or submissive. This again comes from vanilla writers who take how the default world works and think: ‘Well, people with all the power do whatever they want and everyone else just has to deal with it—those people look like assholes so that must be what they’re doing, too.’

As an aside: Do you think anyone has ever done a role play where they’ve topped a vanilla writer and done a bunch of ‘non-consensual’ things to them? As an instructive sort of thing for the ‘script’ they’re writing, I mean?

Kinky people are hot. I don’t mean because every kinky person is a bajillionaire—though, that too—and can afford all the gear they want. I mean, somehow, all kinky people are the sexiest mofos outside of a Prince video. I think this is because vanilla writers think kinky people are having all the fun so they must be the most amazing humans on Earth so they can’t imagine the most amazing humans on Earth look normal. I mean, that’s out of the question, right?

Not only are they hot, but they’re kink prodigies! Everyone knows how to use every piece of kink equipment like it’s their job. Where are the mentors or the classes or people needing to retie a knot? These fuckers are born knowing how to throw a single-tail!

After I did the episode, the incomparable Tina Horn (@tinahornsass) reminded me of the common theme of people practise BDSM as a way of trying to feel anything. Because, of course, vanilla writers look at what kinksters do and think, ‘That can’t be how people naturally connect—they must not be able to have normal relations. They’re just trying to feel something.’ Mary Gaitskill, who wrote the short story Secretary is based on said something similar about what she thought BDSM was about—I wrote a whole rant about it on my site.

You know, you guys. You can talk to kinky people about why we do the things we do. We’ll tell you.

It’s only about pain. 9 ½ Weeks contained some sensual domination, but for the most part it’s spanking and handcuffs from here to the International Space Station. Kinky people know that BDSM is a veritable cornucopia of fetishes and sensations. These writers have no imagination. It makes me sad for them. (Trivia: Do you remember the name of the Mickey Rourke character? John Gray! Another Mr. Gray. James Spader was E. Edward Grey in Secretary. I addressed this on my site.)

This next one is my personal favourite.

It’s what I call Psychic Dom/me Syndrome: Now, Secretary, which is one of my favourites is rife with this one. James Spader is such a psychic Dom he not only knows it’s okay to commit assault and battery at work (and he’s an attorney!) but he does it without even knowing he’s a Dominant! This is because the majority of films and TV shows are written by men. And men don’t want to communicate. Talking is so boring and hard and you have to acknowledge the other person has feelings, which is literally the worst. Besides, if you’re the Top, you get to do whatever you want anyway and the other person loves it because you’re amazing. So, nuh.

You don’t need to communicate anyway because everything always goes perfectly. No one’s contact ever goes astray, no one ever has too much tea and needs to pee 800 times, no one ever gets a foot cramp from hell in the middle of a needle play scene when absolute stillness is really important. And there’s no such thing as aftercare because cuddling is for pussies and shit. Forget any kind of debriefing—you couldn’t learn from that scene and improve—you’re already perfect and a debrief may involve talking, which we’ve already established is the devil. Aftercare is also something a writer probably wouldn’t learn about unless they did research, which we know is really difficult what with computers containing literally all information known to mankind.

And finally, people are always in the mood. Because why wouldn’t you be? Everyone is sexy as hell, rich as the dickens, knows exactly what you like, and can give it to you perfectly.

Unless it involves aftercare. That shit’s for pussies.

Did I leave anything out? (Probably.) What else would you put on your THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS bingo card? What films are the most egregious offenders?

What films subvert these? To hear about my favourites, listen to the episode, though I must proselytize about The Duke of Burgundy. If you’re already a fan or don’t care about all the spoilers, here is a recap with hundreds of screenshots and reviews of all of the DVD extras because it’s my favourite film of all time.

Though Secretary has its issues I love it and wrote a long review/recap (SPOILERS). I also wrote a post about the differences between the short story and the film (spoilers for both).

An index of the films containing kink I’ve reviewed is here.

[This writing also appeared on Medium. If you are a member there and you enjoyed it, please give it some love.]

Life, Leather and the Pursuit of Happiness

(source)

(source)

[This is the text of the book review from episode 27 of the podcast. It includes notes in brackets of information I’ve learned since the episode aired and I gained access to internet at home i.e. internet that didn’t block certain sites, keeping me from sharing as much information as possible.]

This episode’s book review is Life, Leather and the Pursuit of Happiness: Life, History and Culture in the Leather/BDSM/Fetish Community as captured by Steve Lenius. It’s a collection of articles from fifteen years at Lavender Magazine, as well as other places.

It was recommended to me by Dan and dawn of Erotic Awakening when I asked for something to read about Leather—the lifestyle rather than the material—and I certainly got what I was looking for.

Though, fittingly, I suppose, the first essay was how to make your own leather vest from raw leather. And I mean really raw. Fresh-off-the-cow raw. I have an entirely new appreciation for what goes into that process, let me tell you.

The book is in two parts: Part 1: The Leather, which is about activities. Then Part II is: The Life, which is more about community. Within those parts are chapters and within which are essays.

Each essay has the original date it was published and notes about anything that had changed by the time the book went to print in 2010.

In the introduction, Lenius says:

…the substance of this book is observation, reportage, journalism, some analysis, some commentary, some essays. The focus of this book, like the focus of the columns and other writings collected in it, is the leather/BDSM/fetish community and the life, history, and culture of that community. It’s about what it’s like to live a life in which leather and the leather community are significant parts. It’s about shared values and ethics.

That pretty much sums it up.

There are footnotes, which are great fun and show personal growth—Lenius wasn’t afraid to admit when he had been mistaken.

At the start of a review entitled ‘Sex Machines Book Features Local Celebrity’ our author begins quoting what he refers to as a very famous bawdy limerick that starts:

There once was a young man named Gene
Who invented a screwing machine…

I was not familiar with this limerick so I had to find it. It turned out there were two versions. I couldn’t decide which I preferred so here they are:

There once was a young man named Gene
Who invented a screwing machine
Concave and convex
It served either sex
And it played with itself in-between.

Second version:

There once was a man from Racine
Who invented a screwing machine
Both concave and convex
It could please either sex
But, oh, what a bastard to clean!

Never let anyone say The Pageist isn’t the classiest show around.

The book he reviews in this piece is called Sex Machines: Photographs and Interviews by Timothy Archibald and you know it went on Mount TBR.

There were two excellent essays back-to-back about what SM is actually about—one called ‘What’s the Deal with SM?’ and another ‘SM: It’s About Respect, Not Abuse’. There’s a lot in the book that pertains to the wider BDSM culture—not just Leather—those are two such essays.

In a piece called ‘Intertwined Histories’ Lenius talks about BDSM terminology used in the past such as ‘working on’ someone rather than ‘playing with’ someone and they called implements or toys tools. This makes sense to me because if you can cause permanent damage to a person it’s not really a toy. It may be fun for you and everyone involved, but it’s an implement. Of pleasure or the fun kind of pain, but a toy? Okay. I prefer tool.

There’s a piece about the last two centuries of SM, which is about the doctoral thesis of Robert Bienvenu, PhD. His thesis is on the development of SM as a cultural style in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which covers the way SM evolved in Europe and America in both centuries—from silks and satins to leather; from flagellating only the buttocks for a good long time to having at anything that was safe to have a whack at. I’ll have links to his doctoral thesis: The development of sadomasochism as a cultural style in the Twentieth-Century United States in two versions—compact and expanded multimedia on the website when I can get copies.

He may have links on the website that accompanies the book, which is lifeleatherpursuit.com. I don’t know because it’s one of the sites that’s blocked by my coffee shop office. I’m including the link to the website at any rate, as I’m sure it has lots of other information relating to the book. You’ll get to see it before I do! Exciting!

[There are not copies of the PDFs on Lenius’ site, but the essay about the thesis itself is. It’s here.]

In an essay called ‘Fear of Leather’, Lenius talks about various types of fears people have, and, oh, are they manifold, because everyone loves to judge one another, and what their genesis might be. Also, how to confront them. In this essay he says:

What if you’re one of those people who play the ‘My kink is okay, but yours is disgusting’ game? Maybe someone else’s kink, or the way they practice it, really isn’t safe—in which case some mentoring and education is in order. But more probably this game is another form of internalized kinkphobia. If their kink bothers you that much, ask yourself why. What buttons are being pushed? One of many possibilities: Maybe you secretly want to try it but are ashamed of your desire. What can you learn from your discomfort, and what can you then do with that knowledge?

Overall Lenius is articulate and level-headed about just about everything, really.

Some of the terminology surrounding trans issues is a bit outdated, but an inclusive sentiment is there and Lenius encourages people to be accepting of all people who feel drawn to the Leather/BDSM/fetish lifestyle.

Many things in this book remind me how fortunate I am to be in this community. There’s an essay entitled ‘Even Daddies Need Daddies’, which is about how there’s greater acceptance for people of all ages and relationships with age gaps are less problematic. Praise the bingo gods and bring on the middle aged ladies in business attire.

‘The Zen of Hankies’ is a multi-stanza haiku to the hanky code—it’s too long to read here, but it’s glorious. There are stanzas for all sorts of colours and activities. Maybe it’s on the lifeleatherpursuit website. Have a look.

[Alas, it is not.]

(If this is your first episode of the show—I’m not usually this haphazard—typically I know about the sites I’m sending people to.)

There’s a section on Leather titles and contests—their history, evolution and intentions. This includes his notes on judging an International Mr Leather competition and a profile of his perfect Mr Leather.

In that section he talks about the difference between intelligence and wisdom. Saying:

The opposite of wisdom is intelligence used in the service of ego, in which case ideas are used to measure worth and to impress others; the ideas become ends in themselves.

I used to be that person. That person was an asshole. It’s no good having more information than other people if you’re going to make everyone hate you. Commute your intelligence into wisdom—you get to keep all of your knowledge and people don’t want to punch you in the throat! Try it today!

In an essay about the language we use to describe ourselves and what we do he says:

Being sexually attracted to another man comes as naturally to me as breathing—there’s nothing ‘queer’ to me about it. I like the look of black leather or a nice, masculine uniform on a man; to me that’s natural and normal, not a ‘fetish.’ To me it’s not kinky, it’s just the way it is.

Correctamundo, friend. A popular topic amongst kinky people is, ‘If everyone were into kink would you still be?’ They discussed it on Perverted Podcast at some point and I’ve seen it discussed on FetLife. And I think… It just wouldn’t be called kink then. If a person says, ‘I only do edgy, dangerous things because other people don’t,’ I’d recommend they rethink their motivations. Making any life decision that involves your body or the chemical make up of your brain, which is what kink play does, based on someone else’s choices, is questionable.

That’s not to say that if something that already appeals to you also carries the frisson of the verboten that’s not just a naughty cherry on the bad, bad cake. But if you wouldn’t be interested in something at all because everyone was doing it. Well… congratulations. You’re a hipster.

What was I talking about? Oh right, how I totally get the whole, ‘I’m not kinky, this is just how I’m put together’, thing. It would be great if that’s how everyone approached other people and their preferences. From, ‘I’m a-romantic, asexual, agender,’ To, ‘I’m a poly, pansexual genderfluid try-sexual (as in, I’ll try anything once).’ And other people would say, ‘Whatever. Are you having the tandoori chicken or what, I’m starving.’

It would be understood that people are who they are because they just are and you don’t choose what speaks to you romantically, sexually, mentally or intellectually anymore than you choose what food you enjoy or what films you like to watch. You like what you like. Rather than trying to fix, shame or bring a person into a line that changes depending on culture, time or geographic area, we could find the things we had in common and, I don’t know, be happy. You could accept yourself and accept others.

Except for people who like licorice. You all need therapy. I know you can’t help it, but… The rest of us have to see you eat it and see it in the shops and it’s not okay.

Was that the rant for the episode? I try not to have more than one per episode. Anyway. In a piece about symbols of pride there was something about how the colours green and yellow were used in Victorian England for the homosexuals to identify one another. I knew that Oscar Wilde and his cohort wore green Carnations, but I didn’t know about the yellow, as well. Lenius then says the acronym for Green And Yellow is ‘gay’. And that’s one of the explanations for how the big homos became known as gay. I don’t know if that’s true, but boy do I hope so, because it’s ridiculous.

It reminds me of one of the episodes of Ellen’s show—her sitcom—just after she came out. There was a very combative lesbian character being grouchy at Ellen about something. They were talking about language gay people use to talk about themselves—I believe—and Ellen said something like, ‘Well, what about “gay”? What does they mean? Are we supposed to be happy and cheerful all the time… though that really isn’t working for you, is it?’

It’s weird what sticks in your head, isn’t it? That was twenty years ago or something. Oh god, that was twenty years ago. I need a nap.

Also in the symbols writing is the explanation of the leather pride flag, which I didn’t know the meaning of. The black stripes are for leather, the blue is for denim, the white stripe is for integrity and the heart is love. It was designed by Anthony F. DeBlase and first displayed in the spring of 1989 at an International Mr Leather contest. Lenius stresses that the black and blue colours were not chosen to represent the phrase: beating someone until they’re black and blue.

I have to admit—until I’d read the book I had wondered if that was part of the intention though I figured the black had something to do with leather.

There’s a piece that was published in June 2000 called GLBT Pride, Leather Pride: Not Yet Obsolete. It’s about the need for pride and what it is and how so many people only know about Stonewall through history books. This piece was especially poignant after the Pulse shooting.

In the piece there’s this:

Oppression results from being hated, either by others or by oneself. To the extent I feel hated by others for being my kinky GLBT self, I am oppressed by them. To the extent I let them teach me to hate myself, what I am and what I stand for, I oppress myself. Pride can be the first step out of oppression, either for an individual or for a group. But this first step can be derailed by anger and hatred and a wish for vengeance against one’s oppressors. This is one of the justifications people use for fighting wars. It’s also why some gay people call heterosexuals ‘breeders.’ These are both examples of how anger prolongs and intensifies oppression.

Later there’s a particularly useful essay on BDSM versus abuse and how therapists can tell the difference. Another useful article is on what to do if law enforcement turns up at a play party or dungeon.

I would put money… well… I have cash since they won’t give us a bank account here… I’d put several pound coins on everyone listening to this show having at least one toy of the adult nature. There’s an article that was originally published in April of 2007 about sex toys and how some are toxic. The entire article [which is available on his site] is quotable and has a crazy-amount of important information. The title is No More Toxic Toys and I’ll eventually have a link to the website of the Coalition Against Toxic Toys or CATT. From the article:

When shopping for toys, CATT recommends using the ‘smell test’: If an item smells perfumey, or like a new shower curtain, it’s giving off chemicals. Medical-grade silicone, glass, stainless steel and stone have no odor because they are not emitting chemicals. A toy should also be considered suspect if it looks shiny or feels greasy.

They also note that just because a product is marketed as phthalate-free, which is one of the bad things that makes toys cheaper but terrible, doesn’t mean it is. There’s no government oversight to make sure companies are being truthful.

[The CATT website turns out to be BadVibes.org.]

Near the end there’s an excellent write up of an event with Cleo Dubois called ‘Secrets of Being a Good Top’. Yowza.

Topics covered throughout the book included puppy play, SM, bondage, practical leather care, body modification, rubber/latex, whips, knives, erotic shaving, fire play, how to build a leather wardrobe, the Leather Archives and Museum and the Museum of Sex. And all sorts of other things. I’m not covering a fifth of what’s in the book. It’s pretty comprehensive and because it’s a best-of-the-best of fifteen years of writing there aren’t really any weak selections.

Life, Leather and the Pursuit of Happiness provides an outstanding foundation in all things Leather for someone new to the lifestyle or someone like myself who is simply curious about the various terminology. Leather seems to be its own club with its own history, rules and codes… because it is, really. And if you’d like to learn about all of those things, as well as how it overlaps with kink, this is a great place to start. This was a 5/5 for definite.

Episode 027: Life Leather and Happiness

Episode the Twenty-Seventh; Wherein the pageist settles into her new home, adapts to a new way of life and learns all about Leather in all its forms. The book reviewed this episode is Life, Leather and the Pursuit of Happiness: Life, History and Culture in the Leather/BDSM/Fetish Community by Steve Lenius.

.51 Intro and Announcements:

  • An FB like from Jeff! Also a super nice thing from a service oriented submissive who wishes there were more episodes of the show. I’m working on it and have no plans to go anywhere any time soon.
  • A survey response from a very kind listener. The anonymous survey can be taken here.
  • The show now has listeners in Iran and Kuwait.

5.12 My Submissive Life:

  • The March 13, 2016 Ropecast episode where Gray discussed educational opportunities, as well as why having experience doesn’t make one impervious to mistakes is somewhere on iTunes and other places where podcasts are available. Apologies for not being able to link to it.
  • See if there is a GRUE (Graydancer’s Rope Unconference Extravaganza) coming to a city near you here.
  • The My Dad Wrote a Porno podcast has been keeping us entertained while unpacking. Find my review of it here.
    If you’d like to order the book the cast has written, the link is here.

12.11 Review:

  • Life, Leather and the Pursuit of Happiness by Steve Lenius. A collection of essays, reviews and articles by the author from Lavender magazine and other places, concerning Leather, BDSM and fetish culture. It’s an excellent resource for anyone curious about the history of the lifestyle and the way it’s evolving.
  • The accompanying website, Life, Leather, Pursuit is here
  • Two links to Robert Bienvenu’s doctoral thesis will appear on thepageist.com when I can locate them. There’s a physical version at the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago if you’d like to visit it in person, though.

31.13 Closing Remarks:

  • Thank you for tuning in!
  • In the next episode I’ll be talking about Kink in Film: The good, the bad and the sexy.
  • Like The Pageist on Facebook, follow on Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads and join the Fetlife group.
  • You can also subscribe to this website through the email form in the sidebar.
  • Subscribe to the iTunes feed here. You can also rate the show in iTunes, which would be much appreciated!
  • All episodes are listed and playable from this page.

Different Loving and Different Loving Too

The first contemporary book on BDSM, published in 1993. (source)

The first contemporary book on BDSM, published in 1993. (source)

In the previous episode of the podcast I reviewed the classic Different Loving: The World of Sexual Dominance and Submission by William Brame, Gloria Brame and Jon Jacobs, as well as the follow up, Different Loving Too: Real People, Real Lives, Real BDSM by Dr Gloria Brame and William Brame.

This is the text of that review.

[Full disclosure, I received both of these books for free, but I’m pretty much incapable of lying about what I think of books. Go listen to episode four for my philosophy on free books and reviewing integrity.]

When Different Loving came out it was the first book of its kind. No one had attempted to publish a survey of kinky people and what they do. At the start of Different Loving Too, the authors talk about the difficulties being taken seriously by the mainstream book-reviewing public.

‘The review copies keep disappearing at The New York Times,’ [their publicist] Sharyn said, ‘but then they act like they are too good to review you. Do you know what someone at the New York Review told me? They said it was too heavy to read one-handed!’

HA! This reminds me of Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis, which was the first catalogue of perversions written for learned men and the general populace snapped it up…and not for learnin’s sake. ‘What filth! Wait… don’t turn the page, I’m not done with this one yet.’ Except this time around the authors weren’t setting out to show the perversity that exists in the world, they were trying to open people’s minds.

The authors persevered and wound up with 525 pages of information, quotes and interviews about what kinky people got up to at just about the birth of the internet. At one point in Different Loving someone explains what having sex online is like and they call is CompuSex and go on to say that it’s not that weird. I’m in the future thinking, ‘We have books on sexting now. Don’t worry, your time will come.’

The original book is divided into sections based on activities or fetishes or interests. In the second book, they explain why they did it that way:

When we wrote the original Different Loving, we let anecdotal evidence drive the organization of material. Our findings in 1991 were that BDSM was a deeply segmented world. Fetishists in particular tended to concentrate on meeting others who shared their specific fetish, rather than, say, leather/D&S culture at large. We organized our book to reflect the small communities which operated, to one degree or another, under the umbrella of ‘The Scene’ yet whose members often had little or no contact outside of their group. Today, it is impossible to segregate the fetishes or organize BDSM according to what people do because BDSM today reflects decades of experimentation and melding of SM, fetish and leather communities.

When I was reading it, I just thought it was a logical way to organize the book. I hadn’t realized it was put together that way because people would only be interested in their little thing and look for others interested in that little thing. BDSM is about (or should be about) being allowed to look at the myriad options out there and seeing what appeals. Everyone brings their interest—like an obscene potluck—and you don’t have to try it, but now you know it’s there. As glad as I am there wasn’t an internet when I was writing all of my emo teenage poetry, I’m incredibly glad there’s one now so I can be witness to the obscene potluck and work out what I might like for myself. I wouldn’t have come up with a great deal of things I’ve learned about from other people— whether reading or seeing online.

Reading Different Loving now – besides the difference in the way technology worked then versus now — terminology has changed, sometimes radically, over the last twenty-two years. The section on transsexuals and transgender issues was the most jarring to a contemporary reader.

In the rest of the book, I enjoyed the word ‘switchable’ whereas people would say they are a switch now. ‘I’m switchable.’ It sounds like a changeling. ‘Did you used to be a faun? Can you change into a corvette?’ ‘Are you a Transformer?’

It makes me wonder how the language will change over the next twenty years.

Also, people used to go to BDSM support groups rather than munches. That sounded sort of … sad. To my mind, people need support groups when they have a problem. It doesn’t sound celebratory. And kink should be about celebrating. I got this picture of people sitting around a school gymnasium in a big circle, middle of the say, in full fetish gear, slumped over, defeated. ‘Hi, my name’s Bob and I’ve been into heavy bondage and public humiliation for ten years.’ ‘Hiiii Booooob. Dickheeeeeead.’ ‘Thanks, guys.’

The second book was released in 2015. (source)

The second book was released in 2015. (source)

Reading people’s interviews, which were generally one to three pages long in Different Loving and then catching up with them in the second book was, poignant. Seeing them at one point in their kink journeys then twenty years later was … I’m going with poignant. It reminded me of the long-running British documentary series 7-Up, where they’ve been following the same people since they were seven years old, checking in on them every seven years. They’ve done eight now, so the original ‘kids’ are now 56 years old. It’s fascinating watch people age and become wiser or simply go through the typical stages of life. It also makes you face the reality of your own progress through the years. Reading the second interviews with the people in Different Loving Too had a similar effect.

Anyway, the advice the people from Different Loving Too had for people currently in the scene was enlightening. I wanted to sit down with them and ask more questions.

There were so many excellent quotes and outstanding advice. I want to share a few.

This is from Chrissy B, who was interviewed for the first time for Different Loving Too.

The most powerful lesson I’ve learned from life as a kinky, transgendered person is that we’re all different but we’re all the same. Our kinks vary by person, and few are truly identical. But at our core we’re all seeking fulfillment on a very deep level. Some of us are simply more honest about it than others.

Another person who was interviewed for the first time for Different Loving Too was Race Bannon—listed as A proud, public face of BDSM and LGBT activism since the 1980s, Race is an indefatigable innovator, creator, author, and leader in the leather/BDSM communities, this is the advice Race had:

When you first enter the scene, especially the organized scene, you believe deeply that your BDSM identity, preferred kinks and relationship dynamics are set in stone. You truly believe, ‘This is how I am and this is how I’ll always be.’ Then the reality sets in that the only constant is change, and that applies as much to people and BDSM as it does to everything else.

This was a sentiment echoed by many people and which I found comforting for personal reasons, which I may share during a later podcast. Lots of people talked about how you can count on the fact that what will interest you will change.

Lady Elaina was interviewed for the first book. This was what she had to say:

The scene opened my eyes about human power dynamics at a level that most regular folks probably don’t consider. My advice pertains to everyone: watch out for the unhealthy people who hide among us…they are numerous and often tell a good story. Sometimes they are obviously angry people, and sometimes they are slick like a snake. Listen when people warn you that someone has a bad reputation. Don’t jump into the lifestyle with so much trust that people hurt you. Take your time, if it is any good, it can wait a minute. Just because it is on the Internet, doesn’t mean Master Moron has an opinion you should respect. Listen to respected leaders, there is a reason they are considered leaders! And get many different opinions about everything.

Patrick Mulcahey’s interview was a stand out piece for me—I will definitely be seeking out more of his writing. Some things he said:

I’m not big on ‘identifying.’ Now, I am not one of those ‘labels are meaningless’ people either. They are meaningful when employed with care and precision.

‘Identifying’ is about explaining yourself to other people: my project is about explaining me to me.

I love this concept. It’s very much like the ‘coming in’ concept from Coming Out Like a Porn Star, where you spend less time worrying about how others perceive you and more growing into your own self.

Mulcahey also said:

What we call normality is a feeling you’re in a movie everyone is watching, so you goddamn better get it right. One you stop believing (or caring) that you’re being watched and start looking inside, you can get on to more serious things. There a quality of attention you have to pay to yourself and to your partner in BDSM that’s rare, and revelatory. I kept wanting more of it.

I love ‘quality of attention’.

Eve Howard was interviewed in both books and boy howdy, this woman is hilarious. I’m interested in spanking, anyway, so I’d probably wind up reading Shadow Lane at some point, but my god… This part made me laugh out loud—this is from Different Loving Too.

How many vanillas do you know who just play with each other? What would they even do to call it play? Dribble food items into each other’s mouths? Erotic massage? Slow strip teases? You could die of boredom waiting for a straight person to come up with something new and interesting as a preface to or substitute for sex.

I love this woman. She reminds me of the bit in ‘Love Valor Compassion’ (by Terence McNally) about the straight people being everywhere. God, what do they even DO?! I had to look up the quote:

I am sick to death of straight people. Tell the truth, aren’t you? There’s just too goddamn many of them. I was in a bank the other day; they were everywhere – writing checks, making deposits. Two of them were applying for a mortgage. It’s disgusting! They’re taking over. No one wants to talk about it, but it’s true.

Eve Howard’s exasperation reminded me of that bit—it cracked me up.

There were lots of laugh out loud moments, though. And enlightening in the pants moments, too. Where your pants say, ‘Well, I hadn’t thought about that that way before, why didn’t you say?’ In the interviews in Different Loving people often explained what they got out of their fetishes and so I suddenly understood some things I hadn’t before. That was nice.

In Different Loving Too I felt seen. Or understood myself. It was rather a reverse situation. Whereas in the first book I was understanding other people, in the second, I was reading interviews either from people who’d been in the scene for many years or who were contributing to something called Community Dialogues. Those were questions Brame would ask on her Facebook page in private forums and 150 or so people in the BDSM community would answer.

Some of the responses were like they had come from myself, only put into words I hadn’t found yet. Like this one from an interview with Nigel Cross, where he talks about what he gets out of submission:

It’s because I’m most comfortable in this role. I feel wonderful when I’m doing something for woman I care about. When I see her smile and acknowledge that I was important to her because of my submissive acts, I’m at the top of my world. When I am needed by her, desired by her (not just sexually but just in a general sense of being), and appreciated by her, I can’t imagine another place I would rather be. The accoutrements of our lifestyle are great and can be great turn-ons, but they pale in magnitude to the wondrous revelation you receive when she smiles and shows how pleased she is with just being in the same room as you, and you know you exist as something that only makes her life that much better.

Do you ever read something and think ‘That person gets me? That person right there.’

Because I’m a big book nerd, I have to share this quote from Different Loving Too, where they asked the community if they’d read de Sade, what they’d thought.

One person who went by CS said:

So much philosophy… this isn’t what they said it would be… where’s the… OH MY!’ Got through Philosophy in the Bedroom, Justine seemed a little off, but Juliette was everything I heard de Sade was supposed to be, with a decent ratio of sex to pages of philosophy, long lists of exotic execution styles and the French equivalent of supervillians engineering famines just because it got them off. Whoa!

I tried to read 120 Days of Sodom years ago but it was a little too much ‘Two Girls, One Cup’ for me, if you know what I mean. Juliette is going on the To Read list, though. Thanks, CS!

In Different Loving I enjoyed learning or, more accurately, seeing what the history of the scene was like for people who were in it at the time.

Some things have changed but some have definitely remained the same. I’ll be interviewing Gloria on the show soon and will be asking her why she thinks certain things have or have not changed.

Sometimes there were assertions about how a particular activity was primarily male or was quite rare but there were no studies to back it up—because why would there be—so of course I’m curious if those things are more popular now or if their demographic has changed.

For example, forniphilia (the desire to be used as furniture) was ‘not very common’ and adult babies were mostly male. Hot wax is listed as ‘esoteric’ and electricity is listed as ‘uncommon’, though, now I think most people have at least heard of those last two if not tried them. Ah, the wonders of the internet.

One of the sections in the original book is about body modification—tattooing, scarification, piercing, that sort of thing. One of the interviewees is listed as The Doctor because he’s a doctor. He says this during his interview:

Plastic surgery has been well accepted in our society for a long time, It’s a process, though, of conformity. One has the ideal nose in mind and tries to shape many noses into that one ideal image. I think that’s why extensive plastic surgery is found to be socially acceptable and tattooing is considered to be quite radical. Tattooing is the ultimate individual expression. By the time it is done, the person looks like no other individual in society.

This is a concept I’ve long believed, but this guy beat me to it by a few decades! I think that once you go so far with plastic surgery you become an individual again and are, once again, an object of ridicule.

In the original book they talk about John Money—who clearly missed out on a promising rap career with that name—and his classification of fetishes. I mean, his name is Mr Money. MR MONEY. Johnny Money.

Anyway, he had two classifications of fetishes that were, I shit you not, ‘smellies’ and ‘feelies’. Here’s a quote from Mr John Money.

There are two classes of fetishes: the smellies and the feelies. For the fetishist, the smell or feel of the fetish is, in each instance, associated with the human body—for example, the smell of shoes or jockstraps, or the feel of hair, fur, silk, rubber (from training pants), and so on.

Then, because the authors were working from that point, they wanted to add a few. This is from the book:

We add to these the tasties and the seeies, and even the hearies, as fetishists describe other senses beside smell and feel as key to their arousal. Some interviewees believe that fetishes engage all the senses.

[I can’t believe they don’t have more clinical sounding names for the types. Good grief. But it also sort of sounds like something from a kids’ show to teach about the senses. ‘Let’s go visit the Smellies and see if they’ve sniffed anything interesting today! Ooh, roses and cake and fresh linens!’ This is how my mind works, people.]

Of the two books—they make a great pair. If you’re new to the scene and reading Different Loving the terminology is going to be a little incorrect, but it’s an education in where the BDSM community has come from, and in a relatively short period of time. There are more recent, more up-to-date books on kink, but this is the first. I think having the background on some of the interviewees from this book before reading the second one was interesting.

They were two very different books—I can’t recommend one over the other one, as they achieve different goals. I probably connected more personally with the second one because I felt I was engaging with people involved with a scene I recognized and was receiving advice I could use. But having read the previous book, I felt I knew some of the interviewees.

I highly recommend both of these. 5/5 for Different Loving Too, maybe 4/5 for Different Loving because I recognize not everyone is going to be in love with the history of BDSM.

One last thing, in regard to knowing the interviewees, in the original book one of the people interviewed was named Laura Antonio and in the back of my head a was voice saying, ‘That’s Laura Antoniou.’

But the person said they were using their real name and they were out and everything.

I started Different Loving Too and checked the list of people they caught up with to reinterview. Sure enough. I was right. It’s a stupid thing to grin about but I was very much: HA-HA! I KNEW IT.

As I said, I will be interviewing Dr Brame in an upcoming episode and I am very excited about that.

New Tokyo Decadence — The Slave

New Tokyo Decadence The Slave

Rinako Hirasawa has known she was a masochist since she was in high school when her pervy maths teacher would tie her up and make her answer algebra questions and humiliate her.

She worked in S/M clubs at university where she topped men. And she was good at it because she knew what pain and humiliation felt like.

Then she got a normal job out in the real world. Her boss (Kikujiro Honda) recognises something in her and soon asks her to be his slave.

In short order he’s dripping hot wax on her tongue (in shot) and on her body before taking her roughly from behind. She wasn’t complaining.

Their relationship grew darker–with him asking for more depraved things as time carries on. Eventually, as will happen, emotions get involved. She tries to go vanilla. Guess how that goes.

This one was unpredictable–I will say that. (No, she didn’t succeed with the vanilla, never fear.) But I genuinely didn’t know what was going to happen from one scene to the next.

‘Service-oriented submissive. Thanks for playing, though.’

Unsurprisingly, as the film is Japanese, all the bondage is shibari–no handcuffs here–including suspension and inverted suspension.

There’s some quite obviously real flogging and the previously mentioned wax-play so around the time the actress was suspended upside down I began wondering just how much preparation they’d done before filming. There’s commitment to a role and then there’s the sort of thing that will send a person to hospital or therapy.

It turns out the story is based on the lead actress’ real life–so no worries–she knows what she’s doing.

This is a pink film, which can be a few things, but I would call it soft core pornography. Except really well-written. You see everything except PIV penetration.

New Tokyo Decadence is what Secretary would have been if Lee Holloway had known she was a masochist when she was hired. And if E. Edward Grey had known he was (and had been comfortable with being) a sadist.

Though probably more hardcore than that. There was some fairly hardcore stuff. Harder than Secretary, anyway.

This was definitely an interesting watch and has made me curious about pink films. I’ll be looking for more of those. If you’ve seen any and would recommend them, please leave a comment.

4/5

30 Days of Kink Day 1: Introductions

Welcome to September! If you’re in the northern hemisphere the heat will stop trying to kill you soon. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, hang on because it’s just cranking up.

I’ll be out of town for a week or so, visiting friends in New Orleans, then recovering from being social and travelling–both activities I find exhausting to the extreme–so I’m scheduling a bunch of posts in advance.

During my trip some of my friends and I will be visiting a fetish shop or five so I’ll have pictures of goodies later.

Anyway, while I’m away and for the month of September, the blog will be off its regularly scheduled…schedule. Instead I’ll be posting responses to the 30 Days of Kink blog challenge where there’s a prompt each day for thirty days. There are loads of these sorts of things out there on various topics and I’ve never been interested, but for some reason this one caught my eye. And what do you know, September has thirty days.

That must be why. Yeah. Because I needed something for this month and it has the right number of days… Riiight.

I may also post some of my regular blog fare, as well, but maybe not. It depends on how I feel.

If you’d like to see what questions will be coming up in the next month, all are available here.

Everyone laced up and ready to go?

Everyone laced up and ready to go?

Day 1: Dom, sub, switch? What parts of BDSM interest you? Give us interesting in-depth definitions of what that means to you. Basically define your kinky self for us.

Well whomever wrote this set of questions didn’t want much on day one, did they? Is that all? Let’s take these one at a time.

Dom, sub, switch: I’m a submissive of the service-oriented variety, as documented all over this site. What this means is that I’m naturally submissive/subservient to a certain sort of person (older, confident, intelligent women) and want nothing more than to do their bidding. Mostly in a secretarial and housework sort of way.

What parts of BDSM interest you: Everything interests me on an intellectual level. The parts that most answer something within me are Domination and submission (power exchange). In terms of BDSM itself…well, a bit of bondage, a dab of discipline, a soupçon of sadism and a micron of masochism, please. Just a taste of the entire spice rack, I suppose. Not a great deal of any of it. I’d like a plateful of D/s seasoned lightly with BDSM.

I love ‘basically’ define yourself for us. Just, you know, define yourself. That’s all. Luckily, I have this site to do that for me. The best definitions I have are my essays on pageism. The most succinct is probably the second one on the post entitled The Pageist Introduces Herself.

Little Deaths

Little Deaths

Little Deaths is a collection of three short horror films—the first and third have BDSM as a main component and the middle one…the less said about that one the better.

House and Home
A well-to-do couple picks up homeless women and has sadistic sex with them after verbally degrading them over a nice meal. This could be fun as a roleplay for a threesome, until the horror part of the bit kicks in. Probably want to leave that part out. This one will possibly work for those interested in graphic rape and verbal humiliation scenes.

Mutant Tool
Nil BDSM. Nazi experiment gone stupid. Fails even in the horror department. Not even bad enough to be funny. Next.

Bitch
This one had the most potential. I actually cared about one of the characters (something I can’t say for either of the other selections). Pete (Tom Sawyer) is in a relationship with Claire (Kate Braithwaite) where they practise pet play and pegging. When he feels he’s no longer being valued for who he is Pete decides to get his own back in a really disturbing way.

I’m a big fan of horror and on that front I’d give it about a 3 overall. Also, obviously, a fan of BDSM and on that side of things I’d give this a 2.

This is one of those ‘I watched it so you don’t have to’ sorts of films.

Thoughts on Secretary: Then and Now

Secretary

When Secretary was released in 2002 I was immediately intrigued (because the idea of being someone’s secretary greatly appealed).

I remember liking it immensely upon first viewing, though for the life of me I can’t recall if it was in a cinema or on DVD. I do remember renting the DVD from Netflix and watching it a couple times in a row plus once with the commentary track.

This is one of many indicators of my pageism to which I was oblivious for years.

Initial thoughts were swoony ‘why can’t I have a dominant boss to organise and fetch for who will spank me? Life just isn’t fair! Hmph.’

I re-watched after my revelation about pageism being on the D/s spectrum and having learned a bit about BDSM and D/s.

This review will be a recap of the film including my original thoughts, current thoughts from a sub’s point of view and some notes from the commentary of the DVD.

[Commentary notes are in brackets and is provided by the screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson and director Steven Shainberg, who also helped Wilson to adapt Mary Gaitskill’s short story of the same name.]

—My original and current thoughts will be between emdashes.—

Needless to say, spoilers ahoy, Ahab.

This is also an extremely long post, as it’s a recap with commentary and so on (I do break it up with images and gifs from the film so it’s not the Great Wall o’Text) but so it doesn’t take over the front page I’m putting it behind this fancy break.

Continue reading

Kink

Kink

Kink.com is the world’s most well-known producer of BDSM pornography. It was founded in 1997 by Peter Acworth and is currently run out of the San Francisco Armory in California.

In 2013 James Franco produced a documentary about the company. (Franco had to coax director Christina Voros into making the film, apparently.)

After watching this I wanted to work for the company. Between the scene where one person asks into a walkie-talkie if someone has a straight-jacket and are informed the other person has a black or a white one to choose from and the scene where someone requests assistance and the requestee says something like: ‘I’ll be right there, just setting up a glory hole.’ I mean, who doesn’t want to say these sorts of things on a daily basis?

Then, early on one of the producers explains a plot point and adds, ‘Does it make any sense? No. But can we do it, yes. Because we’re pornographers.’ There were several laugh-out-loud moments.

There were interviews with both long-time performers (tops and bottoms) and new-comers, as well as people behind the camera.

Conversations were about both BDSM specifically (‘Why do people do things like this? Why do people fuck? Because it feels good.’) and pornography in general (‘I most worry about what I’m going to tell my kids when they ask what I do.’)

Some people got philosophical–one woman seemed to be trying to be a Martyr to Porn–and others took a more light-hearted approached. The people involved with the site seemed very down-to-earth and self-aware and enjoyed their jobs. Several talked about how they got into BDSM to begin with, which are always interesting stories.

Having seen documentaries about vanilla, heterosexual porn, the people involved with Kink.com were much more concerned with the well-being (both mentally and physically) of everyone involved. The practitioners knew what they were doing and wanted to be sure everyone was having a safe, fun time. The bottoms were regularly reminded they could safeword and the tops were watched to made sure they were topping correctly and safely. Realism is not incorporated into vanilla porn that way.

Before doing scenes with new bottoms, they discuss limits and experiences with previous scenes and reasons why they wanted to try BDSM. If things aren’t going well, alterations are made–no one is forced to do anything they don’t want to. And the film-makers don’t want anyone faking anything. (Though how someone could fake a reaction to a flogging or a Sybian is beyond me.)

One of the film-makers compared themselves to the goths at school. He said in the world of pornography Vivid would be the jocks. And the BDSM people would be at the goth table.

The kinky folks being the goths would explain the leather and all the black.

The Kink documentary is highly entertaining and informative. I definitely recommend this one. 5/5.

Here’s the trailer if you’re interested. NSFW. Wear headphones. Turn your screen away from the normals.

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