The DIY Porn Handbook

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[This is the text of the book review from episode 40.]

This week’s review is The DIY Porn Handbook: A How-To Guide to Documenting Our Own Sexual Revolution by Madison Young.

Before we get started I would like to say I received this book for free, but if there are any doubts about my ability to review a free book honestly, listen to episode thirty one.

The entire point of the DIY porn revolution is very much in tune with my rant earlier in the episode about not projecting your kinks onto someone else. It’s about taking control over how the female body is sexualised—or showing that there’s more than just male and female bodies in the first place and people have sex in a plethora of ways.

Young takes the reader on a journey to creating their work—step-by-step from working out their values to writing a script to casting, funding, budgeting, building a website, distribution, branding, marketing, you name it. And of course actually filming.

Though the book has suggestions for the entire process, Young encourages people to use her ideas as a springboard and come up with something entirely new. She doesn’t think her way is the only way.

She’s clearly spent a lot of time making porn and thinking about it and has this to say:

Porn has been a container to hold our repressed sexual fantasies, a container and a closet that absorbs all the shame our society feels around its sexual desires. Porn becomes the scapegoat for sexual shame.

It was about then (on page, like, FOUR) I started thinking Young and David Ley should have coffee if they didn’t already know one another.

I’ve heard before that porn was political—that making porn was a political act. And I hadn’t really understood it, but in chapter three, which is called Why Does DIY Porn Matter, Young says this:

Documenting authentic sexual pleasure grants permission and creates space for viewers to recognize, explore and express their own authentic sexual desires. It also works to destigmatize sexuality and serves as a chance for us to view sex and sexual desire outside of a shamed mode of expression.

So. The title of this book includes the word ‘documenting’. The author regularly uses that word as well. She writes scripts, but the sex is real—there are no faked orgasms. At one point there’s an example of how she discusses what sort of sex the bottom in a scene likes—what will make that person comfortable. She doesn’t make ‘films’, as in fiction. She makes—and advocates—the making of documentaries. About sex.

This is how some people have sex—so it’s okay if you have sex like this, too.

And that’s when I got extra pissed about the porn laws in the U.K. Again. Because you can’t show legal acts like fisting and that’s how some people like having sex and fuck you for legislating that.

Back to the book.

Also in Chapter Three Young says:

DIY porn expands our minds to include images, sexual stories and narratives of a wide variety of body types, gender expressions, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and differently-abled bodies.

This is a good thing. Everyone doesn’t look like the people in generic white people porn.

Between chapters there are guest writings by artists, scholars, mothers of pornographers and so on. Those are enlightening, enraging and/or fun.

In one of those: Pornography as Protest: Direct Action and DIY Porn, the author of that piece, Zahra Stardust says:

In a criminalized environment, where our bodies, desires and sexualities are deemed ‘offensive,’ DIY porn is protest. DIY porn becomes a form of insubordination, a symbolic violation of laws designed to closet and invisiblise us. When we are excluded from participation in law reform, porn becomes our protest mechanism. DIY porn becomes an act of nonviolent resistance.

There’s lots of homework—you know how I love that. You start a journal for your various ideas and projects. One of the assignments is to write out a conversation with your desire. This is the conversation Young had with her desire:

Me: Hello, Desire.

Desire: Hello.

Me: I wanted to ask you a question.

Desire: Go for it. I’m waiting.

Me: Well, what do you lust for? What really turns you on?

Desire: I want to be full.

Me: Full?

Desire: I want to be so full of cock. I want cock stuffed down my throat, in my cunt, and two cocks rubbing against one another that pump in and out of my ass. I want to be so full.

Me: Wow! Tell me more about that. Where are you when you are full of all these cocks?

Desire: Somewhere filthy. Maybe a garage. Maybe they’re mechanics covered in oil and dirt. Everything is just so dirty and it feels so good, my sweat mixed with the dirt.

Obviously, as an asexual lesbian that is not my desire. But I love that assignment and I’m working on my own. And you’re welcome to anyone who wanted to hear me say those words. I say many more filthy words for Patreon supporters.

Films don’t occur in a vacuum—particularly DIY films, so there’s much information about building community, which is where you’ll be finding talent, graphic designers, crew and every other thing you can imagine.

There’s great advice for people starting out for how to avoid mistakes others have made—Jiz Lee wrote one of the guest pieces about the variety of ways porn directors and talent collaborate—sometimes they trade clips for performances rather than pay or all sorts of other arrangements. I learned a lot about how the industry works—it was fascinating.

Young also goes into the technicals on how to tell a story with a series of shots and gives the prospective director a shot list to use a video camera or even still camera to practice with. Then there’s good info on writing dialogue and a script.

There’s a chapter on budgets and how to keep yours as low as possible, with examples of what she pays for things.

The interlude between chapters is by the Tax Domme—her site is taxdomme.com. She’s a tax preparer with a speciality in the Arts and Entertainment industry, though she also does taxes for non-adult industry people, as well. Her section had some really interesting information about small businesses in general. Thanks, Tax Domme! That site is US-based, FYI.

There’s a section on the conversation that needs to happen during negotiations for BDSM scenes—it’s too long to read to you, but the way Young remembers it is by using the acronym REAL SHAG TOP. You’ll have to get the book if you want to know what all of those letters mean.

Young provides a chapter on production flow—or how she sets things up to keep everything moving as smoothly as possible so she can shoot an entire film in one day in order to save money. She has it down to a science. A sexy, sexy science.

A guest section between chapters is by Shanna Katz and is on how to be disability inclusive. The last piece of advice there is to be ready to fuck up. Because you know you’re going to.

Chapter eleven is my favorite—paperwork, legalities and obscenity laws! Whee!

In this chapter there’s a photo of someone named Elizabeth Thorn filling out paperwork before shooting a film called Bibliophile. So I had to go look that up and now I have an account on Filly Films. Ahem.

In regard to obscenity laws, there’s this:

In some instances bondage with penetrative sex, or bondage with penis/vagina penetration, is considered too obscene. Fisting is generally considered obscene (however, four fingers or even eight fingers is okay). Pee and poo are taboo as well. But many things, like context and distribution, factor into these issues.

Will this film just be screened as a film festival? Is it part of a documentary or a fantasy narrative? Does the film have artistic or educational merit? Are you marketing the film as erotic art, erotic film or porn? Is the film on DVD and are you shipping it to Alabama or Florida? Does it contain hardcore anal fisting with a girl in bondage?

That’s very specific. You really have to know what you can show and can’t show. No wonder she recommends having a legal advocate on speed-dial for if/when you need them.

Then there’s a chapter on the mechanics of shooting—lighting, audio, shots and so forth. Know your strengths and weaknesses and play to your strengths.

The chapter after that is on editing, which sounds about as meticulous and time-consuming (and possibly crazy-making) as can be. Then again, some people feel that way about editing writing, so eh.

But then, you have a finished film! Hooray! Chapter fourteen is on distribution—how to get your filthy art out into the world. There are many, many options—find the ones that work for you and the audience you’d like to reach. In this chapter Young says:

Along the way, you will also discover people who will not be supportive of erotic film, DIY porn or outward displays of sexuality. You are entering into a realm that embraces and celebrates a part of our humanity that is still steeped in shame. Your work is brave and it might frighten some people. Your events might get shut down. You might encounter problems with venues or disgruntled parents or the police. Have a plan. Know your rights, and know that the work you are doing is important. Have a lawyer. Have legal support and allies, and follow your heart, lead with compassion.

The final chapter is on the ever important branding and marketing. It doesn’t matter how mind-blowing your work is—if no one knows it exists they won’t know how to get it into their brains.

The DIY Porn Handbook is only 231 pages long and the font is fairly large, but it has everything I can think of to get someone started—it’s pretty impressive in that way.

For me, personally, this book was a lesson in judgment. I obviously don’t judge people who do or make porn, hello, I did an entire episode on porn, but I have never had a desire to make or be in it so figured I’d be reviewing this purely for my listeners—like service-oriented reading. I’ve always wondered how they got certain shots in porn, but that was the extent of my curiosity, really. Now I kinda want to be an assistant on set. I still have no desire to be in one—it’d be dull watching me, indeed, but I’d help out around set.

Instead of service-reading, though, I learned a great deal. Similar to David Ley’s Ethical Porn for Dicks, which was also going to be service-oriented reading, and turned out to be my favourite book of 2016. As mentioned before—this book showed me how porn is political. It also introduced the concept of Visions and Values Statement, which is something Young advocates writing down to help a person work out what they’re about. I’m working on mine to add to the site.

I would definitely 5/5 recommend this to anyone interested in making their own films for distribution. The legal and tax paperwork is U.S.-based, but that takes up a small amount of space in the book.

If you’re looking for info on making porn just for yourself? There’s still good information here, though the majority of the book is on other aspects of film-making, distribution, that sort of thing rather than specifics of how to hold a camera. So I suppose it would depend on how artistic you want to be with your personal films.

If you’re just interested in the porn industry—particularly the indie side of things then this has a lot of interesting information. Young knows her stuff and has been around—she’s made over 40 films in the last decade and is articulate about what she does and why it’s important. There are also many black and white photographs scattered throughout.

Episode 040: The DIY Porn Handbook

Episode the fortieth; Wherein the Pageist discusses the impertinence of projecting one’s kinks, learns of a kinky ebook publisher and is reminded (yet again) to be kinder to herself. The book reviewed is The DIY Porn Handbook: Documenting Our Own Sexual Revolution by Madison Young

.47 Intro & Announcements:

  • Two new Facebook likes: Hellooo to Dave and David!
  • Two new countries: Paraguay and French Guiana. Making headway into South America, yes we are.
  • Thank you to the person who took the survey!
  • The show only has five iTunes ratings. 🙁 If you use iTunes, please give us some stars and rate other shows you enjoy, too. It really does make a podcaster’s day.
  • This week’s review on Monday was Oh Joy, Sex Toy.
  • All sorts of tweaks to the site, including increasing the font weight so you no longer risk blindness.
  • The Book Recommendations page is up as is the Gift Guide.
  • Circlet Press is Erotica for Geeks.
  • The Viscountess Investigates by Cameron Quintain

9.35 My Submissive Life:

  • This week’s rant is brought to you by: dudes who project their kinks onto female-presenting humans. Stop.

15.35 Book Review:

32.11 Closing Remarks:

Miss Vera’s Guide to Cross Gender Fun for All

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[This is the text of the book review from episode 31 of the podcast.]

This episode the book is Miss Vera’s Cross Gender Fun for All by Veronica Vera.

I received this book for free, but after you hear this review I doubt you’ll think I’m lying about anything.

At the start the book is billed as

‘A cross gender guide to practical transformation.’

And that does happen…around page 71. The first half of the book is about Miss Vera and how she got to where she is—when she started Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to be Girls and so forth.

If you specifically want to learn about playing with gender you can start at 71. There are some interesting statements and things to chew on in the first half, but if you’re wondering when the premise of the book kicks in—halfway through.

That’s when you fill out what would be your Miss Vera’s Finishing School Enrollment form. It includes your current gender and cross gender, current name and proposed name, measurements and questions. Questions are things like what would you like to nurture or enhance about yourself and who your cross gender role models are.

Gender play isn’t something I’ve given much thought to, but I’m game. Wow, did I not realise how little attention I paid to men until this came up. Who the hell were my role models?

I love this sort of thing, though. When you think about yourself or the world in a new way. Realising you hadn’t noticed something because you’re just living your life.

Earlier we were supposed to choose a symbol of our cross gender self. At first I thought it would be a tie. Then it dawned on me—a waistcoat. In the States it’d be a vest. I’ve always loved a waistcoat on a man or a woman and I have several.

Then it hit me. My cross gender role model is Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds. Those smart, awkward (boy can I identify), soft-spoken, well-dressed guys. He even has long hair most of the time, which I like on a guy.

Fun fact: that character was originally supposed to be bisexual and the Emily Prentiss character was supposed to be a lesbian, but the studio nixed both of those plans. Typical.

In general, I had a difficult time with the assignment, though, because I’m not feminine. In pretty much any way. I took a quiz recently and received ‘casually masculine.’ Fittingly, I got the quiz from Laura Antoniou’s Facebook page and she received the same result.

The author of the book says people tell themselves they can’t do the cross gender thing because:

I’m too much of a guy/gal to ever make this work.

For me, I’m already about 65% dude so… yeah. I’m too much of a guy to make this work the way you want, I think. I’m just like, a dude who likes to wear a skirt and riding boots and a corset on occasion. And I really like those kinds of guys, too. The guys who wear eyeliner and nail polish sometimes? Guys who wear whatever they feel like that day.

While we’re on that subject. There’s a lot of talk about the gender binary and how it’s outmoded and such and so, and I’m right there. Indeed. But there’s not really a discussion about two-spirit or agender or the myriad other options Lee Harrington talks about in Traversing Gender.

I mean, what if you’re a bio-woman and your cross gender self is a really effeminate gay guy? Or what if you’re a bio-male but your cross gender self is a really butch lesbian? Do you have to buy into nails and hair and make up? This isn’t addressed but there’s much talk about ‘balance’ and how there’s a man in every woman and a woman in every man. Is it a pendulum? Since I’m in the middle—not very girly the vast majority of the time—would my gross gender self naturally not be very masculine by our current definition?

Which brings me to a part of the enrollment form that made my eyebrows disappear right into my hairline. Under the ‘your goals’ section an applicant is supposed to choose what qualities he or she would like to enhance based on the gender icon they are crossing to. Masculine includes things like: Logical, strong, hardworking, stoic, leader, Dominant, confidant, active. Feminine included: Fragile, playful, sexy, emotional, follower/supporter, submissive, thoughtful, compassionate, desirable.

I’m pulling this podcast over for a second. Mostly because blood is about to shoot out of my nose. This is offensive to both groups because it’s saying not only, say, women aren’t naturally logical, but men can’t be sexy. Women can’t be hardworking and men can’t be compassionate. None of these are compliments! If these are things people tell themselves about themselves I have such sorrow for the average human. Everyone needs to be in therapy! No wonder the world is so messed up.

Also, looking down this list—if these traits really are indicative of typical male and female personalities, then I’m more like 85% male.

Where was I? Oh right.

The author talks about the time she cross…something. It wasn’t really cross-dressing because she remained in her dress, but she had a beard applied. Her experiences with strap-on play were interesting, though. She talked about getting the experience of being a guy after trying it a few different ways.

The stories about real peoples’ experiences, in general, were some of the most valuable parts. Reading how accessing a different part of a person’s personality—something they didn’t know was there before—was quite moving. A book of those sorts of stories, or at least more of those, would have been interesting.

So I’ve done the parts I like, which was the second half. The first half, well, I had some issues.

Well. The first half wasn’t all bad.

Technically, it includes the cover, which has photos of a series by Hana Pesut called ‘Switcheroo’ where opposite sex couples switched clothes. So there’s one shot in their own clothes, then there’s with the couple recreating the pose but in opposite sex clothes and positions. If that makes sense. My friend Bean recognized it instantly. There’s a link to a slide show of some of the pieces in the show notes—it’s pretty cool.

She had also read Miss Vera’s book Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls. Which I had not heard of until that moment.

The first thing I have to confront is a serious health risk: The author advocates binding with ACE bandages. No. No. And no. There are safety risks that include breast tissue breaking down and permanent damage to lungs and ribs. This is a link with more info, and here is yet another one. Short version: bandages like ACE bandages are designed to get tighter with movement. This is not a thing you want!

This is one of my favourite quotes of the book. I stared at it for thirty full seconds:

My school and I have helped to change the face & the figure of society.

I know individual lives have been changed radically and for the better—that is obvious from the few stories that are included—but the whole of society? Steady on, there, Ozymandias.

There were things in the first half that were thought-provoking, though. For example:

Clothing has always been connected to the way in which we experience and identify gender. The act of cross-dressing, wearing clothing of the opposite sex, changes what we project as well as what we interpret about others. Never just a fashion statement, nor only about pleasure, cross-dressing is about liberation, expansion and a shift in power.

Also, what is defined as appropriate for men or women changes over time. High heels were originally designed for men. And of course everyone used to wear robes. When I was converting to Judaism my rabbi asked me how I would respond to the proclamation that women shouldn’t wear men’s garments like trousers. I said that if the trousers were made for women they were women’s trousers. He said right on.

As a sidebar can we stop calling them pantsuits and just call them suits? It’s also marriage not gay marriage, fuck’s sake.

Back to what the author was saying about the shift in power that comes with cross-dressing. She’s certainly correct there. We imbue clothing with such power and not just male or female but blue-collar versus white collar, as well. And then the colour of the skin of the person wearing those clothes plays into what power we give…just fabric, after all.

Our society, though, has decided that transwomen of colour have the least worth. Someone with a certain skin tone, designated a certain sex at birth decides to wear a certain type of fabric and our society finds that so intolerable that person’s life is worth less than other people’s.

I can’t help but notice that all of the photographs in this book are of white people. The Finishing School has had thousands of people go through, I believe, so I’m sure some have been people of colour, but it’s interesting that there’s no representation of that here. Maybe it’s because no one was comfortable being photographed when the call went out. Maybe there are other factors of which I’m unaware.

But there have been twenty-five trans and gender nonconforming homicides this year and at least 21 were either black or Latinx so it seems like, perhaps, there are others in our society who need to feel seen and worthy and beautiful.

Maybe I’m just sensitive to seeing white people everywhere right now because all we seem to be doing is screwing things up and dismissing people who aren’t white.

Anyway. I mentioned before about the project of creating your cross-gender other. In the first half, the author mentions your iconic other—the person you’ll be creating.

This iconic other will serve as your guardian angel, your personal champion, your inner slut—whatever you need to feel balance in your life.

As a submissive I’ve often thought of this as finding your inner Dom/me. Finding the person in your brain who will get you to do the thing. Whatever ‘the thing’ is. The washing up. The essay. Your exercises. ‘If you had a D-type right now she’d be giving you The Look.’ Subs will know what I mean. No sub wants The Look.

So if you’re not on the Dominant/submissive scale this could work for you. Find that other side of yourself find your inner Dom/me. Or your personal champion, which is sort of what a good D-type is—someone who wants you to be your best and can help you get there.

There’s a resource guide in the back that’s solid. It’s one of the best parts of the book. Kevyn Aucoin books for makeup-yes and yes. Those books are works of art. There’s a makeup guide in this book for men trying to hide a five o’clock shadow, but YouTube probably has step-by-step guides that are easier to follow and pause and such.

She also recommends The Very Short Introductions guides to anything, because there are who knows how many of those. If there’s something you want to know about—check one of those out. They’re pocket sized and accessible.

Then, if you want to be more in control of your finances, she recommends Suze Orman. That woman scares me. She’s very intense. But she’ll get your finances in order. She’s a whole different type of findom. She’ll scare your finances into order.

The font is large and the margins are wide—there are also several full-page photos, which are great. I loved seeing people in their various incarnations, but it has less content than a typical 145 page book. On the other hand, it took two days to read. You could read it in an afternoon, easy.

Overall, it’s a mixed bag. This book made me think about some things I hadn’t before. It certainly made me break out my waistcoats and ties. It could have benefited from more personal stories and explanation and less about the author.

If you’re looking for just fun gender play, especially female to male: 3/5

If you’re a middle class white male interested in exploring his female side, you could probably find more practical information online, but this is still more geared to you: 4/5

Spanking for Lovers by Janet W Hardy

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In the most recent episode of The Pageist I reviewed Janet W. Hardy’s Spanking for Lovers. Per usual, here is the text version.

Hardy also wrote The New Bottoming Book and the New Topping Book with Dossie Easton. Those two are must-reads for anyone in the scene.

As is this one if you’re into spanking, which Hardy defines in Chapter One as:

striking the buttocks and sometimes upper thighs with a hand or other implement.

This was originally published as The Compleat Spanker, it is now published as Spanking for Lovers.

In Chapter Two: Who Spanks Hardy talks about something she calls ‘pleasant pain’.

The experience of pleasant pain is familiar to many, perhaps most, people. (Not you? Think again: ever enjoy the pleasant muscle ache of a good day’s exercise, or the challenging burn of a spicy curry?)

I’ve always related it to scratching a mosquito bite. First it feels good, but then, if you keep scratching, it still feels good but it also hurts, but in a good way. I hope that’s not just me.

This book introduced me to a phrase I will be using for the rest of my life–”sexually relevant”. It was originally coined by Staci Newmahr and refers to:

activities that are not genitally sexual but nevertheless plug into participants’ erotic selves.

In this chapter there is a list of ten types of spanking or reasons to spank that come from C’s Loving Domestic Disciple. Oh Lord, sign me up. Fantasy fodder, ahoy. New to me was the introductory disciplinary spankings, which is a

ritual at the beginning of a discipline relationship to reinforce the new relationship dynamic and to learn the spankee’s emotional and physical reaction to discipline.

Also mentioned is one of my favs: Maintenance spanking.

to be given as a reminder of the relationship dynamic and also to fulfill the spankee’s spanking desires so that they don’t need to act out in order to get spanked.

Chapter Three: Why Do We Like Spanking, has this paragraph:

For many spankees, the script of spanking has to do with being controlled. They may or may not like the physical pain of being spanked, but they do like knowing that their spanker is administering the spanking as a symbol of her control.

YES Sorry. That was loud wasn’t it? Sorry. I mean, yes. I agree with this.

Earlier I was talking about why I love reading and how it affirms who you are when you find yourself in a book well this part is referring to submissives who are being spanked.

They are rarely resistant or mouthy; instead they get their script from gamely doing their best to please.

I’m not sure I’d use the word ‘gamely’ to describe my approach to submission, but obedience is my thang.

This book isn’t just geared toward bottoms and their bottoms. I am so sorry, but it had to be done. There is a lot of advice for tops, as well.

There’s a bit about catharsis during spanking scenes and includes this paragraph, which is directed at bottoms, but it’s with the safety of the top (and yourself) in mind.

Catharsis can be scary for all concerned: pity the poor top who thought he was just administering a nice simple straightforward spanking, and who suddenly has to contain and comfort a sobbing, incoherent wreck. If you suspect that you have a lot of pent-up emotion which is just waiting for a nice spanking to explode out of you, it’s essential to warn your top first—to ensure that they give their consent to be around such strong stuff, and that they’re willing to support you as you release it.

Speaking of tops, I didn’t know that endorphin highs were transmittable. Hardy says she’s given heavy spankings and ended up with a contact high. That is fascinating. I wonder how that works.

Then there’s this:

When we find that within the clear boundaries of the spanking scene these personae are not just accepted, but lusted after and loved, a tremendous sense of healing and wholeness can result.

And let’s face it: the sounds and sensations and sights of spanking someone—the whimpers and moans and cries, the writhing and wiggling and clenching, the skin turning rosy and warm—are very, very sexy. It’s not really very surprising that so many people are erotically attuned to an activity that involves so many sexual cues (in fact, it’s sort of surprising to me that there are people who aren’t.)

Word, my friend.

The first part—about being seen for who you are and accepted is a big part of the appeal of kink for me, and I assume for other people. We live in such a culture of shame and pretending to be who we’re not—or to only be one thing—that to be with someone—or around a group of people—who say, ‘You can explore all of these difference facets of yourself and that’s okay and that’s really sexy.’ is enormously freeing and ‘healing’ to use a fuzzy-wuzzy term.

The second part. I mean. Come on. Yeah spanking is sexy as hell.

Safety is well-covered in every section of the book. Hardy addresses harder-players thusly:

If you are one who craves the edge, allow me to share two points from my own experience. Point one: it is essentially impossible for ethical players to dispose of safewords or do ‘consensual nonconsent.’ There is always a way for a bottom who is truly in trouble to communicate withdrawal of consent, and an ethical top will act on that communication. Impasse.

Point two: the passage of time will naturally and effortlessly resolve the impasse. As partners play together, and trust evolves, the top’s ability to read signals will evolve, as will the bottom’s ability to relinquish control and to go into the realms that formerly seemed unattainable, the red-misted territory that lies beyond ‘I can’t stand this any more.’

Chapter Four: Anatomy of a Spankee includes an illustration of what Hardy calls (and I’ve heard it referred to this elsewhere) the sweet spot. It’s the best place to spank for pleasure. It’s sort of where the butt meets the leg and just inside the thigh. The illustration as a dotted line to show you where to aim.

While on the topic of the illustrations—they’re done by ‘Barb’–Barbara O’Toole and they’re excellent. Done in grayscale and photorealistic I wouldn’t mind having a few as prints. The subjects range from men spanking women to women spanking men, to men and women spanking members of their own sex. Bare-handed or with toys. And in a variety of positions.

I enjoyed the illustrations. Ahem. Sniff.

But back to the Anatomy of the buttal region. This chapter focuses on nerves and tissues what is most exposed in which positions so everyone can have a good time without needing an extra trip to the doctor. Marks are covered, as well as advice on how to deal with them.

Chapter Five is about Communication and Mood. Man, us kinksters love communicating, don’t we?

I mean, the non-psychopaths who want everyone to have a good time, anyway.

This book is funny. Hardy definitely has a sense of humor. She tells this story in the margin of chapter five:

I once negotiated a whole scene with a friend at a play party. We walked out into the middle of the dungeon to set up our toys, then stood there staring at one another. Turned out each of us thought the other one was going to top.

Look. If you don’t think that’s funny you need to get right outta town.
I would give anything to have heard the negotiation. Was it like that Jeanette Winterson book where the narrator’s gender is never revealed? From the conversation neither of them could tell? It was open for interpretation? That must have been a brilliant conversation.

I love it because it’s the sort of thing that would happen to me. I am that kind of, ‘I was paying attention… to what I wanted to hear…’ I felt closer to the author after reading that.

Anyway, back to the book. Chapter five has great advice for what should be included in negotiation including how you will communicate during a scene.

This chapter also includes the one to ten technique, which I’ve heard called ‘calibrating your bottom’. This is how it’s described in Spanking for Lovers:

In this technique, the top delivers one extremely gentle stroke, hardly more than laying the hand or implement onto the bottom’s skin, and explains, ‘That was a “one” on a scale of one to ten. “Ten” would be the hardest I’m willing to hit you. For the next few minutes, I want you to use that number scale to tell me how hard a stroke you want to feel. I wont hit you anyplace but on your butt, and I won’t hit you until you tell me to.

After a few minutes of this type of communication, the top has some idea of the bottom’s desires, and the bottom has had a chance to relax into the idea of being spanked. Both partners can decide together when it’s time to stop one-to-tenning and to turn over more control to the top.

This is obviously the chapter that includes safewords and over in the sidebar Hardy says she’s heard some people use ‘411’ for information and ‘911’ for emergency. That’s a creative way of yellow or redding.

In Chapter Six: Spanking Fantasies. Hardy divides scenes into two types—Losing Scenes and Winning Scenes. In the former, the bottom eventually gives in to the spanking or whatever is being done to them. In the latter, the bottom prevails over whatever is being done. Erotic or sexual spanking falls into this category. I thought that was an interesting way of looking at scenes—or a good question to ask during negotiation—what do you want to accomplish? Do you want to prevail or do you want to be conquered?

Chapter Seven is addressed to bottoms—pain processing, how to care for different types of marks, that sort of thing.

Chapter Eight is geared toward tops. It includes information about warmup, tips on turning the both of you on, skin-watching (for different types of marks) and aftercare.

The warmup section included this:

To take your bottom to bliss, you have to start slowly, with a nice warmup—bringing up their circulation, letting their endorphins rev up, helping them relax into the sensation.

I’ve seen tops linger for as much as an hour over warmup, starting with gentle caresses, escalating slowly to little pats, then to light smacks, then to harder spanks…progressing to the intense stuff only when the bottoms are so thoroughly blissed out that they’re pushing their backsides out to meet the paddle, and laughing ecstatically as the strokes fall.

I’m fine. I’m totally fine. Just leave me with my pain.

The next section is turn-ons, or the things that really get people going. I think my favorite part of this is the word ‘denuding’. As in, to remove clothing. ‘Denuuuding.’ That is a glorious word. A glorious word for a glorious action. In this context, it’s when the bottom’s pants are taken down to reveal their oh-so-vulnerable hindquarters.

‘Denude yourself, slave.’

I did not like this book at all, I don’t know if you can tell.

Then Hardy gets into the skin watching section so tops know what to look for when it comes to marks and normal skin reactions. I’m not going to read it to you because it can get a little stomach-churning. I didn’t know so much damage could occur from a spanking, but this part also covers how to minimize and avoid damage as much as it possible. I haven’t yet had my first spanking, but I’m so white my inner wrist can be used to hail passing ships and I bruise easily so I’m sure I’ll be a rainbow even though I’m not madly in love with marks. Oh well.

And of course this chapter includes information on the all-important aftercare.

Chapter Nine: Implements.

I have heard that there are primarily two types of pain: thuddy and stingy. Well, in this chapter, Hardy defines those two more precisely:

Stingy toys are felt mostly on the skin, with a sharp sensation; thuddy toys echo down into deeper structures of muscle and even bone. As a general rule, the heavier a toy is in proportion to its breadth, the thuddier it is. Stingy toys tend to leave welts and, with extreme use, can open skin; thuddy toys tend to leave bruises and can, with extreme use, cause damage to nerves and bones.

Y-yeah… I should start getting more comfortable with the idea of bruises. Thuddy sounds good to me.

The chapter on implements also has information on how to aim properly.

And in addition to what to expect and how to handle various sorts of toys, there’s this about the ever-popular hand-spanking:

You can spank with fingers only, with the palm, or with the heel of your hand; with the hand flat or cupped; with a glancing blow that slides along the skin, or a straight-smack; with a popping motion that snatches the hand away from the skin almost on contact, or with deep follow-through; with many quick little smacks covering wide areas, or with slow, hard spanks with long pauses between. Experiment with keeping your hand and wrist rigid, or leaving them floppy. What does it feel like when your fingers are held tightly together, or spread loosely apart? Try drumming with two hands, like you would on bongo drums… using the heel of your hand to deliver a heavy jolting blow upwards against the base of the butt…alternating hard strokes with caresses to keep your bottom off-balance and guessing.

Holy moly. A round of applause for hands, people.

Chapter Ten is Positions. This chapter taught me a lot about myself. Mostly that I am not creative in this way. I find something that works for me during my adventures in wankland and stick with it.

This chapter was an introduction to all sorts of new spanking positions—the most… interesting of which were the diaper position and the wheelbarrow position. The diaper position is achieved by the bottom lying on their back and the top holds their feet in the air as though changing a diaper. This looks as though you’d get a looot of upper thigh, which is a little more owie than I think I’d be up for, perhaps.
The wheelbarrow has the top sitting and the bottom’s legs either side the top’s lap while supporting their own upper body weight on the floor with their arms like a wheelbarrow. It’s probably a good thing that that particular one didn’t necessarily appeal to me because I have the upper body strength of a pillow.

I would not object to seeing a really buff dude getting spanked by, like a burly Leatherman while in this position. Just, like, all glistening and oiled up. Maybe being commanded to hold that position while he’s taking his punishment… Maybe having to count off the strokes and thank his top every time. Mmmmm that’d be all right.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah. Most of the positions, once they had been pointed out to me, were fairly obvious, but one that I simply would not have come up with was this one:

Some bent-over positions work well when the top helps provide support. In the head-between-legs position, the spankee bends over as though they were going to grab their ankles. Then the spanker stands in front of them with legs spread slightly, and with the bottom’s head between their legs.

Dear sweet lord in heaven, I thank you for these gifts.

Hardy divides positions into three types—weight on feet (or positions where bottoms support all of their own weight on their own feet), partially supported positions and fully supported positions. She gives advice for each position, as well as multiple variations with regard to height and weight disparities between tops and bottoms.

Chapter Eleven is about Spanking Relationships, which are examples of some D/s style arrangements some people have and a note about how you don’t have to have anything like that to enjoy a proper spanky-spank now and again.

Chapter Twelve is Troubleshooting or the random things that can go wrong because humans are involved and humans are fallible.

Emotional problems, physical problems, Hardy shares what she’s learned over her decades of experience so both sides of the equation can come out the other side with as little long-term injury of any sort as possible.

Chapter Thirteen is called Tips, Tricks and Fun Things to Try, which includes some ways to enliven your spanking sessions. This includes figging.

Start with a fresh ginger root of an appropriate size, and peel off the skin and any branches or protrusions. Whittle it down to the approximate shape of a butt plug, with a flange at the bottom and a narrower neck.

I presume anyone listening to this show understands how a buttplug works. What I thought was useful info was this bit, which was in the sidebar:

If you whittle the neck too narrow, it could possibly break off in the bottom’s ass—but this is not a medical emergency; the root will almost certainly pass with the next bowel movement.

So, save yourself some embarrassment if you ‘lose’ your DIY ginger buttplug. Just relax and wait it out.

Another sidebar piece of info was this:

My sources assure me that organic ginger is hotter than conventional, and that freshness matters.

So, there you are. Saute your nether regions with some fresh, organic ginger today.

There are other suggestions in this chapter, but I particularly enjoyed the entry for ice:

Trailing an ice cube across hot reddened buttflesh is guaranteed to get a gasp from your bottom. You can spank for awhile, then use ice to wet down the butt, then spank some more. Whee!

The ‘whee!’ was in the book. I told you she was funny.

Then there are Appendices.

Appendix A is how to find others who are interested in spanking—this section includes how to vet Pro Dominants.
Appendix B is how to clean spanking implements properly.
Appendix C are the very basics of combining bondage with spanking.
Appendix D is a special section set aside just for caning. The same length as any of the chapters, it covers history and appeal and other information about the thing that shan’t approach my backside. It originally appeared in the Toybag Guide to Canes and Caning which Hardy also wrote.

And everything is wrapped up with a Resource Guide that includes a list of BDSM groups, spanking clubs, non-fiction books (not fiction because, as Hardy says “there are about three zillion hot erotic novels that are either entirely or mostly about spanking, and I wouldn’t dream of trying to list even a fraction of them here.”)

Spanking for Lovers is 167 pages long, but with a larger font and wide margins for the notes in the sidebars, along with the occasional illustration, it’s a fast read. It’s also a must-read for anyone interested in learning how to spank or be spanked safely without skimping on the hotness.

This book definitely gets a 5/5