Aug 282014
 

From a commenter from Fetlife on my “How to (Almost) Not Go Broke as a Kink Presenter as a Kink Presenter “:

Unfortunately, there is no magic money tree for kink conventions (or no one is sharing it), so organizers constantly have to (or at least should attempt to) balance accessibility, costs, and fair compensation. This creates a system where folks with the most disposable income & time (often white men) do the majority of presenting in the kink scene. It’s a shitty outcome of a flawed system, but it’s what we currently have to work with.- Boondoggle (quoted with permission)

Challenge Accepted

Perhaps it’s my Irish nature, but when faced with a “shitty outcome of a flawed system”, my response is not to simply sit there accepting shitty outcomes. I either want to change the outcome, or fix the flaw, or get out of the system altogether. What I absolutely cannot accept is the idea that “that’s just the way things are, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Even if that’s true. I’m usually the guy who’s gonna break his head pounding against the wall. Which is why I get so frustrated by the idea that the current system of compensation for presenters at kink conventions can’t be improved.

Let me save you some reading, though: some people feel that If we can’t pay people what their worth, offering them less is insulting. If you feel that way, then go find something else, because this is not going to solve that problem. If, however, like me you feel that something is better than nothing – then read on!

My Credentials:

Why I can talk about event finances at all: I have created my own.

Graydancer’s Ropetastic Unconference Extravaganza (more popularly known as the GRUE) as of this writing has had fifty-six incarnations in five countries over the past eight years with four more either scheduled or in the works. Most GRUEs end up putting money in my pocket, money in the hosting organization’s pocket, money donated to charity, and also money donated randomly to some presenter who meets the criteria of not attending the GRUE.

Yes, you read that right. I know it’s strange. It’s called the “We Think You’re GRUEvy” Award.

At the same time, GRUEs get overwhelmingly positive feedback and are among the cheapest kink events out there (usually costing $50-$75 per person). And that’s with lunch and pancakes provided.

On the other hand, I also am lousy with finances. I am wealthy in love, friendship, in having what I actually want, but money? It’s a huge struggle for me. No investing, no credit cards, I barely have a bank account. So what business do I have telling anyone anything about how to make money?

Well, none, except for that bit in the first paragraph: I found at least one way to make an event profitable. Yeah, you say, the event where you don’t have ANY presenters! True enough. Except there is that last part about the GRUEvy Award: we use the event with no presenters to raise money to give to presenters.

It could be argued that GRUEs are the most profitable for presenters, because they literally don’t have to do anything to get paid. The point, though, is: why can’t your group have a no-presenter event to raise funds to pay a presenter? What’s stopping you?

The First of Many Ideas

The argument I hear, over and over, goes something like this:

Because we don’t have the same resources as the professional conferences, we cannot provide compensation. That’s it! Why try?

courtesy Bradley Gordon via Flickr CC

courtesy Bradley Gordon via Flickr CC

“Why try?” Because it prevents burnout. Because it provides more diverse perspectives. Because it gives back. Because - ok, look, if you don’t think presenters should be compensated, just go look at something else on the internet.This article is for people who think they should be but don’t think they can be.

To paraphrase the Captain, what we have here is a failure to imaginate.

Rather than say “We can’t do it the way the Big Conventions do it, so why try?” why not look at it as “We can’t do it the way the Big Conventions do it…so how can we do it? How have others done it?

Idea one:  the way I do the GRUEs. But that is certainly not the best way. There are many more ways to raise a few hundred dollars to pay for presenters. Like:

  • Kinky Bake Sale
  • Community PinUp Calendar
  • Cake Auction
  • Dunk Tank
  • Book Fair
  • Talent Show/Concert
  • IndieGoGo
  • Flog-Off (or Needle-Off or Spank-Off or Ash-off – basically the same as a Dance-Off but with kink. People pledge, fundraisers do something, people give money).
  • Passing the Hat (during class) or having a big fishbowl for people to leave tips.*
  • Sponsorships! “Senor Awesome McBottomly was brought to This Great Event by Parker’s Peculiar Penetrables, makers of the finest wasabi lubesicles in the Western Hemisphere!”**

There’s nine, and my non-financially-minded brain came up with them in less than two minutes. Any one of those would provide a small group with some funds outside of their normal operating expenses that they could use to pay presenters, or pay travel, or hotel, or whatever.

If you’re saying “but the members of our community wouldn’t pay for that” then frankly, you have a bigger problem in terms of entitlement and the expectation of getting something for nothing. There needs to be some educating going on about the value of knowledge and experience and people’s time.

There! Now you have the topic of your next meeting!

But Gray, That Won’t Work for Big Events

Will you be able to pay top presenters thousands of dollars, like they do in the tech/media/sports/whatever conventions? Probably not. But the idea of “We can’t pay them what they’re worth, so let’s pay them nothing” doesn’t make sense to me. In my experience the places that say “We can’t pay you as much as we’d like, but here’s something” make me feel much more valued than those who say “We can’t pay you.” Because I know that the real statement is: We don’t feel like paying you.

I don’t think they’re being malicious – they’re trying to put on a big event! That’s a complicated thing. It involves many, many meetings and paperwork and deposits and ticket sales and – I know, I’ve been on the staff for a few of these Big events.

How about this:

  1. The next big event has a checkbox on their registration form, right next to the “click here to order a t-shirt” or pin or whatever. But the checkbox says: Click here to donate $10 to the Presenter Compensation Fund.
  2. On the presenter application, there’s also a checkbox: Click here to re-invest your share of the PCF to the other presenters (or charity of your choice). See? You can still do the whole “give back” thing – but it’s actually voluntary, not assumed.
  3. As usually happens, event staff will count how many heads are in each class for each presenter.
  4. Through math that is beyond me (I think it’s long division) the event takes the total of the Presenter compensation fund and finds out the Unit of Presenter Compensation. If there are 10 possible class periods and every attendee donates $10, the amount would be $1 (see, I can’t do complex math, but keep it base 10, I’m ok).
  5. So Awesome Presenter Guy has 73 people in his first class, 24 in his second, and 13 in his third. On the other hand, Surprise First Time Presenter Lady turns out to be immensely popular and has 134 people in her one class. Local Guy We’re Kinda Tired Of has 12 of his buddies in his class.
  6. Each of the presenters gets an envelope with cash according to the number of people they had in their classes at the end of the event. The event knows that they were right to pay travel for APG, because he had a good big draw. They know they want more from SFTPL. And LGWKTO realizes, in very concrete terms, that he needs to up his game.

BOOM.

There you go. A six-step plan that would take minimal administrative effort (most of which is already being done) and no extra cost to the event that results in a meritocratic system of compensation.

Would there be popularity contests that put certain people in big classes with little good content or shitty presentations? Sure. Would some people start to do really extreme stuff to try and draw a bigger crowd? Of course. How is that different than what’s happening now?

On the other hand, you have a way to encourage more presenters to become better as well as a way to let presenters know they aren’t doing well. 

As I said, I am not a financial wizard. But it took me about five minutes to come up with that scenario while my lover was undressing me, and to the best of my knowledge, nobody’s tried it By all means, tell me all the reasons this wouldn’t work. I’ll listen.  And then I’d say “Try it anyway.” Because every new thing couldn’t possibly work until it did. I’m still told what a waste of time my GRUEs are by people who have never been to one.

I just smile and nod and prepare to go to Seattle for the next one.

You’re a Greedy Overrated Ego-Driven Attention Whore, Gray

Entirely possible. As long as we agree on the “whore” part and I get paid.

In all seriousness, I didn’t write this for me; I’ve got my “nut”, as Dov calls it, and after a decade of working on presenting I am pretty confident that the events I go to are getting good ROI.

I write this because when people talk about how bad presenters are, I agree, something needs to be changed. Part of that is presenting – and yes, there will be articles here about that as well. But the presenters are only one part of the ecosystem. There’s also the events, and there’s also the attendees.

You want better presenters? Create an environment good presenters would thrive in.

Seriously, folks: it’s not that we can’t figure it out. It’s that we (with some exceptions) are not even trying. I know there are better ideas than these. Can people with bigger brains than me give it a little thought?

Please?

* What, you find that humiliating? For who? Since when does “how to stick stuff in someone’s ass” have more dignity than playing Me & Julio on a streetcorner?

** Yes, you’d wear their T-shirt and pimp their product at your classes. Maybe record a promo for them to distribute to some podcast. Again, how is this is different than how things are already? 

Aug 232014
 
Teaching in NYC at Fontana's with Tenamorette

In light of a recent fetlife writing about how presenters need to raise the bar of professionalism, I decided to finally flesh out this writing. It is based on a private email I wrote to a friend who asked me for some advice on how to not go broke as he presented to more events.

This is entirely my own personal experience, opinion, and should not be used in any form as a “True Way.”

I have been presenting on kink now for about eleven years, perhaps a bit more. Like many presenters I quickly ran into the issue of being asked to present, saying yes, and having it drain my bank account (not to mention put strain on relationships, family, and my own stamina). For the latter parts, I really can’t offer advice. Well, except for the stamina part:

Sleep.

As for finances: I have almost figured out how to not lose money when I present. Or, at least, to lose a minimal amount, and occasionally come back with more money than I spent.

The Simple Script

I used to be very nervous about negotiation – I hate haggling. In conversations with many other presenters who I wanted to emulate, though, I found that it’s really not so hard a conversation after all. For me, it goes something like this:

Event: Hey, Gray, can you come present your Water Bondage & Cigar Play class?

You: Sure! What is your compensation package? (note: you just assume they have one. That tells them that if they don’t, they should).

Event: Um…what did you have in mind? (this is them remembering that “whoever talks money first, loses” from Sales 101. Which isn’t always true, but it’s familiar territory.)

You: Oh, nothing unusual (again, declaring victory before the engagement). Travel and accommodation, a per diem for meals (especially if this is at an expensive hotel). My teaching fee is $150 per class with a two-class minimum, but that adjusts if you want me to teach more.

Event: Oh…um…I don’t think we can do that. (note: You’ll be surprised how many times they say “OK, sounds great!” instead. It falls in the category of “if you don’t ask for what you want, you won’t get it”). Do you have any wiggle room?

You: Hmm…well, I know you’re just starting out as an event, and I want to support you as much as I can…so how about I cut my honorarium in half and pay my own meals? (note: You should also be prepared to say “Nope, sorry.” More on that later.)

Event: Ah…that is probably doable. I’m just not sure that we’re paying any presenters.

You: Really? Huh. Who’s presenting?

Event: Well, there’s Name and Name and Name. (Note: Often they are respecting the Name’s privacy when they say this, because most Names do actually get some form of compensation. Event producers don’t like talking about it, sometimes out of the fear that every presenter will stop “paying their dues”. More on this later, too.)

You: Ah, yeah, I wish I had Name’s travel budget. Oh, well, I really wish I could come – I was also hoping to (mention a special event, or other service you can provide. For me, it’s often “produce an evening showcase” or “facilitate an open space.” Depending on your skills, it could be “work a shift or two on medical” or “organize the abduction crew” or “be an event photographer”)

Event: Oh! You could do that? Hmmm…OK, we can make that work! (or) Let me take that in to the next board/planning meeting and see what they say.

You: Awesome! Let me email you the presenter contract and as soon as it’s signed and I get the deposit I’ll ice the date.

Event: Contract? What…

You: You know, the basic liability that gets you off the hook if I kill someone in my class, lays out exactly what’s going on in case the event gets blown away in a hurricane, refunds your money if I get sick, that kind of stuff. It’s just to make sure everyone’s on the same page – you know, communication.

Event: Oh…ok.

Worth the Paper It’s Printed On

We live in a litigious society. I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. The contract I use with events could likely be torn up nine ways from sunday by any fairly competent prosecutor if an event decided they wanted to prosecute me.

That’s ok – they can do that anyway. The paper is less of a protection and more a means of communication, making sure everyone understands what is expected and what is delivered. It prevents misremembered phone conversations and lost emails.

It’s not confrontational or demanding, it’s just making sure that things are clear. I can tell you from experience that the only thing worse than not getting what you expected from an event is not getting it when a friend is running the event. Even when it’s an honest misunderstanding, having it written down is essential.

Plus, the liability stuff doesn’t hurt either.

Two lessons I learned: one, don’t “ice the date” (reserve it) until you are sure you are going to the event. More than once I’ve said no to an event because another one thought they might want me…and then ended up missing out on both. By asking for a deposit before you reserve the date, you are providing security on both sides that you’re in this for a deal.

Two is something I learned from a world-class fetish model: book your own travel. If you don’t, the event or organization tends to feel they “own” your time from the minute you take off to the minute you land. It’s not always the case, but it often is, and if (like most freelancers) you’re always hustling for work, they might feel cheated somehow if you do more than just their event.

That is a subject for an entirely different post. The fact remains that I’ve found it preferable to ask for travel stipend (or, if you can afford it, reimbursement) rather than having them book the flights for me. This means I control where and how I travel, not them, and it gives me the ability to find additional work by making my flights flexible. Some event producers are reading this and saying But, Gray, you had us book your travel! Like everything else in this article, it’s something that changes on a case-by-case basis.

Another thing to make sure is in the contract is the right to sell your wares. My DVDs and books make me about a 100-150% profit margin based on cost. Usually that’s still only “going out to dinner” money, but it helps keeps events from being a loss for me. More on that later.

So: you send the contract and, like most contracts, it may have to go through a few back-and-forths before everything is set. Decide if you want to ask for any money in advance (I usually ask for travel money in advance and 1/2 the presenter fee). Be careful using PayPal, because they can arbitrarily suspend your account and seize your funds for “moral” causes. Also, be careful if you are presenting internationally – countries are funny about letting foreigners steal kink jobs from their native populace.

Revenue Neutral Isn’t

There is a phrase (apparently coined by Dov) used in conversations about presenter compensation: “revenue-neutral.” There was an event recently that I really wanted to attend that offered me a generous (in comparison to previous years) compensation package based on their calculation of travel, food, etc. so that I would not have anything out-of-pocket.

I had to say no. The reason? I am a freelancer. I don’t get paid for showing up – I get paid for what I do. While I consider myself moderately successful, I’m not yet to the point where I can give myself a paid vacation.

This means that the Thursday-Monday period that covers the usual events is a time when I am not earning. Therefore, while it is true I’m not paying “out of pocket” for the event, I am actually losing income.

There is more to this idea of “out of pocket”, but as I want this writing to focus on pragmatics we’ll leave the philosophy to another writing and get to the reality

What About Paying Yer Dues?

Yes, for most new presenters there’s a “dues-paying” period when you’re doing it for free. And yes, I do mean free – even if they are comping you into the event. Free admission to a place where you’re expected to work! That’s awesome! I actually can’t recall a time when I’ve had a job where the employer said “One of the benefits is that I won’t charge you to come in the door!

The argument, of course, is that you get access to the rest of the event and activities in exchange for your work. That is definitely valid assuming you were going to that event anyway. I have done this model for most of my presenting career to date, and it’s what enabled me to increase my skillset, see many examples of various teaching techniques, get to know the community, and become a visible member of the community.

There’s a strange uncertain period between “amateur/pro” when you’re convinced you have to quit because you just can’t afford it to do it the way you have – but on the other hand, you don’t feel good enough to ask for money. “I’m not as good as they are, you say to yourself, looking at the people who (you think) are “professionals.”

You may be right. The way to find out is to start charging what you need. If you’re a good presenter, you will get invited to more and more events. On the other hand, you might not; I know of some people who have made the leap to “professional presenter” and discover they have overestimated their own popularity and demand. In fact, the jury is still out as to whether I’m one of them.

Either way, you’ve learned something. The thing is that there is a point in your life as a presenter when you either burn out or you ask for what you need. And if you’re going to go with the latter, there’s something else you need to do:

Learn the Word

The word is: No.

That’s the first and most important thing, and it’s hard for presenters. Say no. Say no to events, say no to private groups, say no to even just going out to dinner after an event.

Let’s be clear: this is my strategy for almost not going broke. There are many presenters who don’t need to do this kind of thing because they are well-off financially and can afford to subsidize this as a hobby. They see it as “giving back” to the community, and I respect them for it.

However, I’m not wealthy in a monetary sense. When people say “let’s go to dinner” that may be a drop in the bucket for them but for me it could be my entire food budget.

It doesn’t mean you have to be anti-social – you can just say “Not in the budget. How about coffee?” or, if you are embarrassed about the budget, say “I’ve already got plansat Taco Bell…how about we meet later for dessert?

You can also say “Sure, if it’s your treat!” Money is a form of energy and appreciation, as Lee Harrington has written. It’s totally ok to give someone the opportunity to express their appreciation of you in the form of paying for meals, travel, housing, equipment, whatever, if you’re comfortable with it. It’s just another expression of appreciation. Think of it as a hug – and like a hug, you are entitled to say “No, thanks” if they creep you out somehow.

Or if you’re just too tired.

Back to That “No”

If you want to almost not go broke, then you have to start setting boundaries. For example, in my case one of the boundaries is the cost of travel. I am a professional presenter, and I do not pay my clients for the privilege of walking in their door.

I’ve heard the argument “My employer doesn’t pay me to drive to work.” True enough – but you work wherever you do because you can afford to get there. If they need you to work in a different city, you expect your employer to pay for your travel expenses.

So do I present for free in Madison, WI, the Rope Bondage Capital of the World? You bet, because I can walk to the venue. But if it’s more than an hour’s drive away, I will need gas money or bus fare.

It’s a fair exchange of value. If an event wants you to present, it’s because you and your classes are a draw for the kind of people they hope will pay to attend. You are adding value by showing up and offering your knowledge, your experience, and your ability to convey them to the attendees. Basically, you are making them money (either individually or organizationally). The amount of value-added is certainly variable, but I’m positive it’s greater than zero.

If it turns out not to be, odds are you won’t be invited back. Ain’t the free market system grand?

Embrace Death

What do you do if they say “No, we can’t afford that“?

You say thanks and you say no.

Here’s the hard truth: you’re not a special snowflake, essential to the existence of the event. There are always other presenters who will say yes. If they’re worse than you, it will show, and if they’re better than you, they deserved all those perks anyway. If they are saying yes to all the events and spending their own cash…well, it’s likely they’ll burn out just like so many do.

The thing to remember is: the event is not a special snowflake, either. There are many events. More all the time. You can even create your own; I did.

Once I was discussing the idea of selling my stuff in my classes with an event producer. They were not happy with the idea, since I had not paid a vendor fee. I pointed out that none of the other events I’d done that year had a problem with it. The response was “Well, (My Event) isn’t just any event.”

I understand that the producer honestly believed that. It was true – for that producer. For me it was just another event out of about 23 I did that year. Every client wants to believe that they are your only client, and the best freelancers have the ability to make them feel that way. But it is rarely true, and when it is true, it is not a good idea.

You have to be willing to walk away from the table. When you set a boundary, it is possible it will shut some people out; that’s what boundaries are for. You to have the ability to embrace the idea that: saying no might mean I never present again. And that’s ok. It’s scary. Hell, writing this essay is scary for me for the same reason.

You will have to be prepared for people to call you a whiny money-grubbing scam artist. They’ll say you only present so you can get laid and get “free” air fare and luxury hotels. You have to be prepared for people – sometimes people who taught you, who you thought of as friends – to accuse you of being an over-rated ego-driven attention whore or worse in public and private.

That says far more about those people than about you. You know your reasons for doing what you do. Integrity is cold comfort, but it is comfort, nonetheless.

But How Much Should I Charge?

Exactly? I don’t know. That’s a hard one. It’s a much more complicated topic. Short answer is: you’ll figure it out by how the events respond to your offer. If they say “Is that all?” you’re undervaluing yourself. If they require resuscitation or can’t stop laughing, you might be overpricing. I know my price, I’m comfortable with it, for now.

In my opinion, at the very least, if you want to be considered a professional you should be asking for travel, lodging, food, and a comp for your partner (and the events that say no to that last one are another of my rants).

At the very least, by asking for these things you’re letting the event producers know that you value your skills as a teacher at least that much. Eventually it will improve the presenter/event/attendee experience for everyone.

Forget Everything I Said

I will be honest: I don’t go through this negotiation process for every event. There are some events that I simply want to support, and I will do what I can within my own means to support them – my own version of “giving back”. Usually that means events in my own back yard, or events near places I’ll be traveling to anyway.

I am not saying everyone should charge all the time. Volunteering whatever skills you have is part of what makes the world go around. If you choose to support an event by changing your terms, more power to you! Part of good business is over-delivering, and it’s a great habit to get into.

But another part of good business is managing your resources. I know that as a presenter I did a very bad job of that the first several years, and it caused physical illness, financial stress, relationship problems, and more. I still don’t have a perfect system. but it’s getting better. I would like to see fewer presenters go through similar situations.

Got better ideas? I’d love to hear them in polite and civil discussion. Meanwhile, if you found this article useful, how about supporting me with something from Amazon? Or maybe you want to support my work via Patreon?

No? Well, then, I still hope it was useful – and I hope we all can continue to support each other almost without going broke.

Jul 312014
 
Naiia showing her media whore skills

Naiia showing her media whore skills

I’m a gourmand. Cigars, coffee, whiskey, wine, food, my range of palate choices are basically “yum“, “yuck“, with a few adverbs like “kinda” and “totally” thrown in there. When people talk about “cedary” or “earthy” or any kind of “notes” in their reviews, I just nod my head and know that I’m not going to be there.

Rope is that way for me too. So I’m not going to be able to sit here and compare M0co jute with things like tossa or golden or 9-strand vs. 21 strand or etc. Sorry. Thankfully, there’s a whole bunch of other people who have a much more distinguished feel and experience for such things.

That’s ok. Thing is, I am going to paraphrase my friend Andrew, who, when asked what the “proper length” of a rope is, said on the Ropecast: “It’s whatever length of rope is in your hand when the naked girl in front of you asks you to tie her up.” The right rope to use is the one that’s in your hand at that time.

Which is why I have my m0c0 jute at the top of my bag.

“Energy” = Focused Attention

Here’s the thing: I watched M0c0 make this rope, at least some of it. I talked with him about his concerns about the new kind of twine he was using (spoiler: it turned out to work just fine). I saw his rope “run”, with the taped-down markers for other customers like Lochai and Hammer. I listened as he explained for Kink Academy how he came to be making rope, and the tools necessary.

What I heard in those words was the voice of a craftsman in the true sense of the word. Someone who has taken a tangible product and infused it with his own style in the same way a jazz musician makes a run-of-the-mill instrument sing with a unique voice.

moco logoThen I saw something else. I watched him use the drills to wind the rope, to make the threads magically come together into a beautiful golden cord. I watched his face and his eyes and his hands as he gauged the tension, slowing the speed, watching the rope, testing the tension, strand upon strand. He was careful. It was like watching a chef add just the right amount of cardamom – there was an ineffable sense that he was tasting the tension, until it got just right.

That was the moment that stayed with me. We finished the shoot, he gave me a set of ropes for review purposes (note: these were not predicated on a positive (or, as it turns out, timely) review; it was predicated on me using them and talking about them. But I’ve only ever seen one other person put that much attention into their rope: M0co’s sort-of competitor, Twisted Monk, when I visited the Abbey. Incidentally, I do not think they are competing. If you’re going organic, you should have both hemp and jute in your rope bag.

I know of other passionate kinky craftspeople. Bob from MauiKink, may he rest in peace, put that kind of energy and care into his toys. I hear it in Angry Bunny Man or Lily the Rope Ho when they talk about his dyeing processes. I see it in a few other vendors I know, glimpses. But that hands-on coiled-order-from-tangled-chaos creation of rope right in front of me will remain etched in my brain.

You could say that he focused his attention on the rope. You could also say that he put a lot of energy into them. When I say that, I’m saying the same thing.

Perceived Value

It’s been proven time and again that we pay for the idea of a thing and also enjoy it for that idea far more than any actual material qualities. In other words, if I tell you the wine cost $120 a bottle, it will taste better. If I share a bottle of Menage a Trois with my lover, we’ll both feel sexier.

And when I reach for my M0c0 jute, yes, it’s just another rope – but I remember that energy he put into it. I recognize the care and expertise that went into creating it. That not only makes that rope feel better in my hands, it also instills in me a responsibility to do something good with this rope. I have to be worthy of the rope – not in the skill or the flashiness of the tie, but simply in the attention and care I give to whatever I’m doing.

Blah Blah, Gray, How’s It Tie?

(sigh) OK, fine, here’s my best “actual” review of the stuff:

S_PRS5

A suspension with M0co Jute at Akron’s Purple Rose Society

If you don’t like fuzzy, this rope is not for you. As it happens, the people I’ve used it on (such as MissAli, EmberBliss, Curious Zee, and my slave Naiia) have all liked the feel of it a lot. It’s got that lightness that attracted me to jute in the first place, but not to the point of being uncontrolled. My particular jute set has what M0c0 calls a “tight” weave, which some don’t like. I feel it makes jute last longer, and as I’m not a wealthy man that makes a difference. One of the very few complaints I’d heard about M0co Jute was that it wore out – though the example they gave was Murphy Blue needing to buy a new set every few months. That’s kind of like criticizing the tires of a NASCAR driver because they need changing more than most.

The rope just feels good. My next set, whenever I get it, will be a few feet longer (I was spoiled with 30′ linen and hemp ropes for many years, so 26′ is just a little short for me). One thing I really like about this jute as opposed to others I’ve used is that there is no kerosene smell to work out of it. It has good bite for the suspensions, but not too much to make knots unwieldy. It also shows up nicely against a wide variety of skin colors and leaves gorgeous rope marks.

See what I mean? I really can’t say more than “I like tying with this stuff. My partners tend to like it to.” I’m relatively late to the party, though, so you can find lots of other people who will write about the technical stuff.

Me, I got tyin’ to do…

Jul 262014
 

Michael sitting in the common hall with the crumpled figure of Tony mercifully unconscious on the table in front of him. The Australian’s face was an unrecognizeable ruin of flesh, and Michael looked down at him dispassionately as he waited for Jane. Other IncuBikers lounged about the room doing various makework, but they all gave off a tension as they waited for their leader to tell them their next move.

Jane was still fastening a buckle on her chaps as she approached him. Michael looked up, his expression unchanged as his eyes focused intently on her. “I learned some…interesting things from our friend here. So interesting, in fact, that I think I might just trade him back to Kitten. Assuming that withered cunt has anything worth trading for his sorry ass.”

He pushed at Tony’s shoulder, one of the few places not smeared with blood. The beaten man let out a semi-conscious moan. Michael nodded at Jane. “Seeing as you have had a prior and, shall we say, special relationship with them, I believe you would be the perfect person to go over and – ” he gave an ugly smile to Tony’s body, ” – negotiate.” His voice sharpened. “You know what I’m want from her, right?”

Jane nodded slowly. “Basically, you want them gone.” She paused, head tilted. “I’m guessing you want the hired help to stay?”

Michael laughed harshly. “Their stable? Sure, whatever’s left of the whores after six months locked in there with each other, nothing but cam work. That will be entertaining.” His eyes remained darkly locked on Jane as he chuckled. “I’ll put them into a zombie sex flick or something.” He shifted his gaze down again at Tony, voice softer as if he were speaking to himself. “Still can’t figure out why he held out so goddamn long.”

Jane tsked in surprise. “What do you mean held out? He cracked faster than Theo could say ‘I wanna cum on your tits.’ I’m not sayin’ your boys ain’t all that, of course, but, well…” She looked over at BeeCee, who was alternately shoving billiard balls around a pool table and glaring in her direction. “Then again, your boys ain’t all that.”

Michael looked back up at her, eyes narrowed suspiciously. “No, it’s just that the Incubikers and T.S. Enterprises were in detente for a long time. I actually thought of him as quite the worthy opponent.” He shook his head. “I’m almost sorry that he had to lose so spectacularly.”

Jane tried to keep her face impassive at the impossible site of the amoral leader expressing empathy. Michael’s eyes had a far-off look now, speculating. “Now, in so short a time, he’s losing everything…and I still don’t quite understand what kept him going so long.”

Jane shrugged, turning to go. She froze as she felt Michael’s hand grasp her shoulder, leather creaking under his grip. She hadn’t even heard him get up. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed that it all changed when you got here, Jane.” He leaned down and hissed in her ear. “You bring chaos, bitch, but I ride chaos like it’s a Russian whore. You’d best not forget it.”

Jane didn’t turn anything but her head, looking up into his dark eyes. “I know that, Mr. Doukas. You are the most dangerous man here, and I suspect a few other places as well. That’s why I’m working for you, and not for that.” She dipped her chin slightly, indicating Tony’s bloody form. The Australian was starting to move, slowly coming back to a painful consciousness.

Satisfied, Michael nodded and released her jacket. As she strode towards the exit he called out, “Hey, Jane! Aren’t you going to ask for another $1500? Surely you’re not going to do this for free?”

Jane reached the door and paused, flashing a smile back at the gray-haired man. “I’m feeling especially generous tonight, Mr. Doukas.” She gave a wicked smile. “You have your brother to thank for that.” The door swung shut behind her.

Making her way across the street, she skirted the goopy mess of flame retardant mixed with the grease that was all that remained of the Jason’s diversion. Most of the firefighters were gone save for one small truck. The Barista stood in front of the glass doors of the Hellas Café arguing with a firefighter holding a clipboard aggressively in her hands. Jason caught Jane with an inquisitive as she walked towards the T.S. stronghold. She gave him a confident smile and circled her finger and thumb in an “OK” sign. He responded with an eye roll, still loudly declaiming his innocence to the fire inspector. Jane continued towards the dark slab of a door.

It opened as she approached, revealing the same man who’d escorted her before. She gave him a friendly smile. “Schmuckballs! So glad to see you. I was worried you might have gotten hit along with your boss. It’s always nice to see a familiar face.” As she walked past him she saw the clear red outline of a hand blooming on his cheek. Tsking, she said “Oh, dear. Mama Kitty wasn’t too happy with you for losing her husband, was she? Don’t worry, little brother, Big Sis is here to make it all right again.”

She patted his shoulder consolingly and was was rewarded with a dirty look as he motioned her up the stairs towards Kitten’s bedroom. This time there were no camgirls or boys peeking over the third floor railing, and the entire building had the ambience of a mausoleum. As they approached the bedroom door, Jane heard some snippets of a phone conversation. “Yes, padre…more than valu…much stronger. He will…ess you, too, Padre.”

As Jane walked in with a soft knock on the door, Kitten looked up. Her face was composed, but with dry streaks of tears running down through the makeup on her cheeks. She put down her cel phone quickly, and took a breath, as if to gather herself. Jane decided to take a chance and spoke first. “Getting some spiritual guidance?” she ventured, gesturing towards the phone.

Kitten glared at Jane. “Padre Innocente has been a great comfort to me and many of our girls during the past six months. He’s come here to minister to them many times.”

I bet he did, Jane thought, and must have let some of the sentiment leak to her face, because Kitten raised her voice.

“Don’t you fucking disrespect a man of God, you filthy pagan slut!” Jane looked surprised at the epithet, and Kitten continued her tirade. “Don’t think I was that out of it, bitch, you aren’t that good at giving head. I saw that…that design on your back. We had a girl in here almost a year ago with the same thing. ‘Green Dude’ or some new-age shit like that, I don’t remember exactly, but we got rid of her fast, before Padre ever noticed –”

Jane’s eyebrow arched and Kitten cut herself off, suddenly aware of what that scenario implied. She stood, changing the subject. “So? You over here to gloat?” Some of rancor drained from her voice as she tried to ask the worst question in the world. “Is…is Tony…”

Jane held up a hand mercifully. “He’s alive, Kitten.” The older woman seemed to deflate a bit as her greatest worry left her. She suddenly looked small and old, lost in the long flowing evening gown. Jane continued quickly, not wanting Kitten to lose it entirely. “But he’s in bad shape! Gonna need a hospital – more than the clinic can do, I suspect.” She let a note of comfort belie her words. “Mr. Doukas sent me. I’m supposed to tell you to just leave, to come get Tony and just leave your front door open.”

Kitten looked at the floor, not responding for moment. Then she spoke without looking up. “You’re supposed to do that?”

“Yeah. Supposed to. I guess…” Jane paused, as if regretting the way things had turned out, giving Kitten time to remember her original deal. “I guess I thought I might get a better deal working in front of their cameras, or something.”

Jane reached out to touch Kitten’s shoulder and the woman’s head snapped up angrily. Her glare faded as she saw the worried look on Jane’s face. “Kitten, I should have listened to you. After hanging with them for a while…well, Theo has a nice cock, but as for the rest…I really don’t care for the way they do business over there.”

Jane looked over her shoulder at Schmuckballs for a moment communicating harmless intent as she reached slowly up to her shoulder pouch. She pulled a small USB key from the folds. “So I’m not exactly doing what I’m supposed to. Instead of demanding your surrender, I’m giving you something that I’m hoping gives you a little bit of leverage.” She made to hand it to Kitten, who reached out. Jane stopped before the memory stick touched the older woman’s fingers. She smiled softly. “Of course, it’ll cost you…”

Kitten’s glare returned, but it was tempered with a greedy hunger at the slight hope Jane offered. “Fifteen hundred, yes, I know,” Kitten snapped. “What the fuck is on it? How is it going to help Tony?”

Jane smiled. “It’s the footage from the truck. The footage Tony tried to get when the Incubikers grabbed him.” Kitten and her guard both opened their mouths in shocked O’s. Jane went on. “I had a hunch that there might be an automatic upload through the satellite nav, and so – ”

Schmuckballs recovered first. His mouth snapped shut and he laughed contemptuously. “You expect us to believe you hacked a satellite?”

Jane looked at him levelly. “No, fuckwad, I don’t expect you to do anything. ” She turned back to Kitten. “But I expect you to believe that there’s a hacker out there who happens to appreciate some of the little shows I put on just for him.”

Kitten nodded slowly, and held out a hand again for the memory stick. Jane hesitated a moment, as if still considering, and sighed and gave a little shrug as she placed it in the woman’s hand. “Fine. I trust you. But I’m not asking for $1500. You’re going to give me $3000, because after I don’t think there’s not going to be much money left for a girl like me, regardless of my talents.” She smiled sweetly at Schmuckballs as Kitten quickly plugged the stick into her laptop, pulling up the video file. It showed the dark-haired Russian sex worker descending the ladder directly into the waiting arms of Theo Dukas. While the video was grainy, his face and the others was unmistakably identifiable.

Kitten closed her laptop with a click and didn’t move for a moment. Then she said in an even tone, “Give her the $3000. Cash.” The guard left to get the money, and Kitten turned to Jane. “I don’t trust you. I don’t like you. I want you gone, and not just because you make me feel like a fat cow.” All traces of her cute persona were gone from her voice.

Kitten continued. “So you go back to your pet bikers and tell them we’ll do the exchange at St. Antoine’s. Padre Innocente will open it for us.” She pulled the USB stick out of the computer and held it tight in her fist. “Tell Michael that we’ll trade Tony for this footage. Make him believe there’s no copies, or at least that we’ll keep it from the police as long as things calm down.” Kitten took a deep breath, looking past Jane’s shoulder at some future only she could see. “As long as we go back to how things were.” Her voice stayed even, but there was a pleading earnestness to it as she looked back at Jane. “I just want to make porn, make money, and live with my husband. We don’t need to push the IncuBikers anywhere. We could just…” her voice trailed off.

“‘Get along?’” Jane suggested, and she couldn’t help a little sarcasm in her voice. “Babe, you know as well as I do our boys ain’t ever gonna ‘get along.’” She lifted a hand to pat Kitten’s shoulder in comfort, but thought better of it. Jane stepped back. “I’ll tell them. I’ll get them to St. Antoine’s. At the very least, you’ll see Tony. What you all do after that is up to you.”

She turned as Schmuckballs walked in with the money, and took it without counting. “Frankly, I’m beginning to think you’re all psycho.” Again tipping that imaginary hat, she smiled. “But it sure is a pleasure doin’ business with you, ma’am.”

Kitten didn’t look up as she left, just sat there looking at her clenched fist around the data stick. Thinking.

Jun 172014
 

I suspected the young woman before me, petite and demure, was expecting just to be thrown over my knee cave-man style, skirt flipped up and panties pulled down before the walloping would commence. That approach has merit, to be sure, and while I’ve never embraced the full Daddy/girl dynamic there is a certain frisson of sexiness to the domestic disciplinarian. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be domestic. John Wayne teaching Maureen O’Hara the error of her ways on the streets of the wild west, that’s enough masturbatory fodder for years.

I know this for a fact.

However, that was not what I had in mind for her this evening. Our times together were too infrequent, her alabaster skin too pure and precious a thing to hurry the experience. No, it needed to be savored, and that meant, at least for now, that we would move slowly.

I saw her eyes flit around the room, not so much looking for escape – she’d invited me here, after all – as much as dealing with the nervous energy that seemed to vibrate from her. She was still at the door where she’d let me in, bolts fastened, lights out so that the curtains could stay open allowing the moon, street, and automobile lights to shine and flicker across the room and each other. Her self-imposed captivity had transformed into an erotic, nervous excitement.

“Turn around,” I commanded, not so much because I expected obedience but more to see how she would react.

Two things happened – there was an involuntary twist to her body, as if her first inclination had been to obey. This was followed by a flush of blood to her cheeks, a slight pursing of her lips in defiance as she caught herself. I could almost hear her inner monologue saying that she wasn’t going to be that easy, she was going to make sure I had to work for it.

I sighed theatrically at her defiance, inwardly delighted. I love having to work for it; truly a labor of lust.

I can’t speak for others, but my own erotica writing is not so much trying to turn on other people as much as trying to express and explain why I like doing the things I do. I’m a nice guy! Equal rights, equal pay, I just signed the “Ready for Hilary!” petition at Boston Pride Village. So what am I doing writing stories about imposing my will and my hand on the spirit and body of a lovely young woman?

That’s a good question. It’s what I try to answer, in part, with this story.

I’ll Tell You a Little (not-so) Secret…

SlaveGirlsCover200x320Most of my erotica works are based on real experiences. “Savoring Little One” is no exception – it was a delightful evening with a delightful woman, full of sensuality and all the promise that is hinted at in the story. When I read the call-for-submissions from D.L. King, I thought I’d be writing about that. But the more I wrote, the more I felt that to focus on the activities – the spanking, the licking, the kissing, the moans and the breaths and the oh-my-god-I’m-cumming – would be to miss the point. Yes, all of that is well and good – but that’s not what keeps me coming back to this kind of situation. It’s not the actions, it’s the aura, the circumstances, the flavor of the interaction that feeds some dark part of us both.

I wrote the story, and immediately (as authors do) assumed it would never get published. It couldn’t be anything like what D.L. had in mind for this. Or else it would be too tame for Cleis Press. Happily, neither was true. There’s plenty of collars and whips and chains and skin and “greasy basement slave”-type material in this anthology.

But D.L. King is a master of her craft, and intermixed in these tales of submission and conquest are tastes of that feeling, that sensation, that makes this oh-so-politically-incorrect genre so fucking delicious. Check out what the other authors have to say as part of the blog tour, and pick up a copy yourself. It’s ok; they’re just stories…right?

June 2 Rachel Kramer Bussel http://lustylady.blogspot.com
June 4 Valerie Alexander http://www.valeriealexander.org
June 5 Nina Fairweather http://ninafairweather.com
June 6 Sommer Marsden http://sommermarsden.blogspot.com
June 8 Victoria Behn http://kdgrace.co.uk
June 10 Teresa Noelle Roberts http://www.teresanoelleroberts.com
June 15 Giselle Renarde http://donutsdesires.blogspot.com
June 16 Lisabet Sarai http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com
June 17 Graydancer http://www.graydancer.com
June 18 Deborah Castellano http://deborahcastellano.tumblr.com
May 272014
 

There’s a class I’ve been wanting to create for a while now – ever since I saw Rigger Cannon hook up a Prussik-type knot on a pole at an event. It occurred to me that it might be useful for strippers to have some fast bondage skills to play around with during their sets. Among other things, if you’re wearing rope then you are both naked and also have more places for the clients to tuck the dollar bills, yes?

Other sex workers – sexological body workers, escorts, pro-dommes – certainly could find some use for certain ties. It doesn’t have to be artistic kinbaku – a simple single-column tie can be used any number of ways. Most people want more of the fantasy than the reality of bondage, so a big “tie ‘em up & fuck ‘em” rope (that’s 15 ft of 5/8″ or bigger nylon, or 3m of 30mm or thicker for you civilized folks) would do just fine. Throw in a quick Texas Handcuff and you’ve got a tie that’s visually striking, easy to manage, and even somewhat effective.

I know there’s a market for it…I’ve given some training sessions to pro-dommes, and been the “designated rigger” in partnered sessions. I’ve also talked with friends who strip who seem enthusiastic about the possibility. They say that they’re always looking for that one gimmick that will capture the clientele’s attention, and bondage could be it.

I’m also sure that it’s possible – back when I was in a burlesque troupe, I remember hearing some people talk about how certain ties couldn’t possibly be tied in the amount of time given for a song. I proved that wrong time and again, and drew on my dance and stage training to also make it a bit more visually fun. Take a look, if you have a spare 1/2 hour or so, at my performance at the London Festival of the Art of Japanese Rope Bondage.

20140527-063608-23768809.jpgI also know that it can be taught – my partner and fellow performer at the time, Ms. Behavin, started out as my bottom, and then learned to tie and began using the techniques on other dancers. She came from zero rope experience and got to performance level, and was even able to do it, shall we say, “under the influence”.

Thing is, I’m not a client at a strip club. I can count the number of strip clubs I’ve actually been to on one hand. Ditto the number of sessions I’ve been part of (well, maybe two hands for that). But I come to it with rope skills already, so that when the moment comes to tie something I don’t have to break character and scratch my head and go “was this where the bight goes?

I certainly don’t want to “mansplain” the class, offering a bunch of ties that I think the performers would need but that they actually can’t use. What I’d rather do is hear from my target audience – burlesque dancers, exotic dancers, escorts, body workers and pro-doms and subs – about what kind of “kink” their clients might be asking for. I’d like to hear what kind of safety concerns their environments include (time, space, etc). Ideally I would workshop it so that after learning some basic ties we could try the stuff out and give each other feedback on how to improve the performances.

What do you think? Are you in my target audience? Or are you a client of theirs? What kinds of feelings of bondage would you like to evoke during that kind of event?

May 232014
 

Update: I have been in touch with my podcast host, Libsyn, and they informed me that there is a ‘bot from Apple that now scans the RSS feed for any profanity. Sure enough, from some podcasts in 2008 and 2010 there were 7 instances of the word “fuck”, 2 instances of the word “shit”, and 1 instance of the word “goddamn” in the podcast feed. I also used the phrase “Cock-loving pussy”. The prior instances have been replaced with “f**k”, “stuff” and “gosh-darned”, and the translated phrase changed to “Phallus-loving Vulva”. 

I have contacted Apple asking for my podcast to be relisted. We will see. But at least I know that you, my listeners, have ears that are now safe from my youthful indiscretions.

I can’t say I’m exactly surprised – Apple is notorious for arbitrary and random censorship. So when I got this email:

Dear podcast owner,The following podcast has not been included in the iTunes podcast directory.

Name: Graydancer’s Ropecast
Feed URL: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/ropecast/

Submissions may not be included in the directory for a variety of reasons. For more information, please see the podcast technical specification at http://www.apple.com/itunes/podcasts/techspecs.html.

Regards,

The iTunes Store team

…I wasn’t exactly shocked.

Except I was. I’ve had the podcast now since 2005. Seriously, it was one of the first sexuality podcasts on the web, and it is (or, was) the longest extant one. I’ve got three episodes in the can now waiting for release, so there was no sign of stopping.

Was It the Content?

Perhaps it was this little wrinkle from their guidelines:

Why was my podcast removed or not approved?

Unauthorized copyrighted material, profane metadata, erotica, illegal solicitations, and hate speech are prohibited in the iTunes Store.

Got that? “Erotica”. So I guess that the 483+ episodes of podcasts that come up under the search term “erotica” on the store will be removed too? Or perhaps it is this:

  • Strong prevalence of sexual content.
  • Use of explicit content in the title, description, or cover art of the podcast.
Oh, no! Not sexual at all!

Oh, no! Not sexual at all!

I confess, there may be one or two episodes with some cover art that is possibly explicit. I’ve got several hundred episodes over many years, and it’s hard to say. I know I’ve tried not to, and I’ve tried to make sure everything is labeled “explicit” where needed, and “TV-MA” and such.

But, the fact is, I suspect this is going to be much like my dealings with PayPal when they banned me for life due to one image of boobies on the page that also happened to have a donation button. That is, since I am small fry, they can just ignore me.

If anyone knows some larger fries – like Dan Savage, or Susie Bright, or somesuch – I would appreciate it if you’d pass the word on that this is pretty silly. Because I suspect there was no actual thought in this decision. I suspect that somebody at a desk gave a cursory review to the content metadata, decided “That’s porn!” and pulled me.

But there’s no way for me to find that person and point out that there’s nine years of history to this ‘cast, and that iTunes has much more salacious offerings. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind their guidelines if they were simply consistently applied.

Not sure what’s going to happen to the Ropecast now. I mean, I’ll keep publishing it – iTunes is not the only podcast directory, of course – but it’s kind of like saying “I don’t need to sell my books on Amazon.” Of my 1000+ listeners, most got me through iTunes.

I wish I had a way for you to write Apple and complain. You could try “removals@apple.com” but I doubt that gets much attention. I feel sorry for the hosts of the now-defunct RoPeCast (a German-language podcast from a couple of professors named Roger and Peter). They and I worked out how to differentiate the names (“Graydancer’s Ropecast” vs. “RoPeCast”) and even cross-linked on Wikipedia.

Now, however, if you look up “Ropecast” on iTunes, since you ONLY get their podcast, the lovely search engine associates only one other podcast with them: “In Bed with Susie Bright”, in an episode where she talks about BDSM.ropecastWallpaper

May 122014
 

Want some more Gray Matter?

cropped-GrayPainting.jpgAfter over a decade of presenting, traveling, and being a general malcontent, I’m having trouble keeping track of my stray thoughts, my ideas, my next few events, or what happened at the last few events. Then it hit me: I could centralize the information, put it all in one place, and that way if I ever woke up behind some nymphomaniac’s liquor store with an AK-47 in one hand and a good guard dog slobbering on the other, I could just check the newsletter and figure out, in a moment, exactly what’s going on in the wacky world of Graydancer.

Then again, if I’m talking about myself in the third person, I’m likely too far gone already. But you are not! There is still hope for you, because you’re actually still reading. Allow me to direct your gaze to the right side of the page, where a handy MailChimp-powered signup form sits. Enter your email and the name you prefer to use and once a month you’ll get a personally crafted newsletter.

I will do my best to keep it both interesting and informative, including things like:

  • Amusing anecdotes from my travels
  • Excerpts of my works-in-progress, i.e. hot smut.
  • Exclusive photos of various kinky subjects.
  • An up-to-date schedule of those aforementioned travels, along with a preview of what I’m teaching there.
  • Occasional useful information gleaned from my work in sex & kink education, including exclusive previews of Kink Academy content.
  • Answers to your questions – that’s right, newsletter subscribers can “Ask Me Anything” and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll invent one.

I also promise to never to use your information for anything but the newsletter – well, and to make myself feel loved and appreciated on those cold nights here in the Bondage Capital of the World.

You’ll always be able to sign up there on the side of Graydancer.com, or send your friends this link: http://eepurl.com/T4HNT

May 092014
 

Jane followed Theo up a set of stairs across the room from the golden door. It led up to a hallway filled with more doors, and Jane realized she was looking at the barracks for the IncuBikers. Theo pushed open a door at the far end of the hall with “T.D.” on the small brass nameplate, revealing a small apartment furnished in modern bachelor.

A double bed was pushed into one corner, covers rumpled, with a utilitarian desk facing the opposite wall. There was an open laptop on the desk flipping through a pornographic screensaver. Jane recognized some of the models from the IncuBiker DVDs. One wall was covered floor-to-ceiling with shelves of books and several more lay haphazardly open next to the bed, on the desk, and pretty much everywhere there wasn’t some article of clothing. There was also a large flatscreen TV mounted on the ceiling over the bed.

Theo looked at Jane with a guilty grin. “Sorry about the mess. I wasn’t expecting company.” He kicked a path through the books and clothes to the bathroom.

“You kidding?” Jane laughed, and waved a hand at the room. “It’s just like my old place.” She dropped her rucksack in the corner, laying her leather jacket over it. Stretching her arms overhead to give Theo a good look at her nipples pushing against the thin cotton babydoll t-shirt. She waggled her fingers towards the suspended plasma TV. “Doesn’t that make you nervous?” Before he could answer she grabbed a large book from the pile on the desk. “Ooh! House of Blue Leaves! I keep hearing about how great this is, and I can’t ever quite finish it!” She dropped the book back to the desk and saw the remote control laying near. Quickly she grabbed it, jumping and turning so that she landed face-up on his bed. She pointed it with both hands like a pistol, aiming up, and pressed some buttons. With a loud click the screen flickered to life revealing a DVD menu for a popular cable series about a family-owned ambulance business.

Jane frowned. “Huh,” she said, looking disappointed. “Here I was hoping for Fashionistas.”

Theo had been watching her antics with an amused look on his face, but he suddenly winced as he inadvertently moved his shoulder. “Sorry to disappoint your porn addiction. You were gonna help me with this graze, remember?”

Jane smiled. “Yeah.” She dropped the remote and bounded out of the bed. “Yeah, I am.” She pushed Theo towards the bathroom. He opened the medicine cabinet, revealingan alarming number of medical supplies, and leaned wearily against the sink.

Jane started by ripping open a gauze pad to stop the oozing blood. The bullet had torn through his T-shirt at the trapezius and the white cotton was stained with blood and sweat. Jane caught Theo’s eye in the mirror as she cleaned the wound. His face was tired, but the strong lines and dark trimmed beard made him look like some mythic Athenian hero. His eyes were dark and searching as he met her gaze in the mirror.

Jane lifted the gauze when the bleeding had mostly stopped and used another to start cleaning around the wound. Her other hand rested lightly on his chest. “I was wondering,” she said softly, ” if you wanted this to be just a patch-and-go.” Her fingers traced their way across his well-defined pec. “Or something more full-service.”

Theo grinned wolfishly. “Oh, I’m all about the service.”

Jane smiled. “Glad to hear it.” There was a metallic schnick-thwack-click and a knife appeared in her hand. In less than a second the edge rested against his throat. Theo didn’t move. He continued to smile at her in the mirror, even when the blade ever-so-gently touched rocked across his throat to press slightly against his jugular.

Jane watched him in the mirror for a moment, then chuckled. “Yeah, I didn’t really think you’d be freaked. But isn’t it pretty?” She held the blade in two fingers, still pressed against his throat, revealing the cherry wood of the hilt. He nodded very carefully, watching her in the mirror, and she continued. “I traded it for some jute rope I wasn’t using any more. I’m pretty sure I got the better end of the deal.”

She lifted the blade from his throat and pushed the tip under the collar of his t-shirt. The sharp edge sliced through the material with little effort, and she quickly cut through the other sleeve. The top of his shirt fell away to reveal a scattering of freckles and older scars patterning his muscled shoulders. Jane put her knife between her teeth and impatiently ripped the rest of the shirt away.

She touched a patterned scar down his side gently with one hand. “Rote raff?” she murmured, and seeing his puzzled look, took the knife out of her mouth. “Road rash?” she asked again, and he nodded.

“Laid down my bike to keep from being killed by a Lexus asshole on his cel.” He grimaced as she poured hydrogen peroxide over the wound, watching the white hiss of bubbles. She waited a moment and blotted it with another pad of gauze, then poured again. Finally satisfied that the wound was clean, Jane soaked a washcloth in warm water from the sink and began slowly wiping the grime and sweat off his back with slow, deliberate strokes.

“Is this what you mean by full service?” he grinned, turning as she prodded him around, so that he was resting his ass against the edge of the sink.

Jane kept intensely focused as carefully drew the warm cloth over his hairless chest, apparently oblivious to the way the dripping rag was soaking through her babydoll. Theo grinned down as her hard nipples and breasts were outlined by the transluscent wet cotton.

Jane wiped the washcloth slowly across the skin between his belt and belly button, and then suddenly looked up at him. “You like my tits, boy?” she asked in an aggressive tone, and he looked up with surprise. “Want a better view?” She reached behind him to the sink and grabbed her knife. She put the tip under the edge of her own shirt right over her sternum and sliced up through the low neckline. She grabbed each side of the ragged V-cut and ripped downward. The thin wet cotton became two ragged strips of cloth held in place by her shoulder harness. Her chest and taut stomach were bare, nipples hard and pink, the aureolae a darker rose.

Jane arched, breasts lifting towards Theo like a gift. He accepted her eagerly, dipping down and he taking her left breast deep into his mouth. Jane moaned as his lips enveloped her in warmth. It deepened into a satisfied purr as he lapped at her nipple deep in his mouth. The rough texture of his beard and moustache were delicious counterpoint to the silken wetness of his lips. She dropped the knife uncaring to the floor and tangled her fingers in his hair, burying her face in the dark curls. He smelled of smoke and gasoline, and she felt a tremor go through her pussy as he continued to suck and lick.

She felt him undo her belt and chaps and barely managed to heel her boots off before he was slid the denim and leather down her legs. She kicked them away, naked now but for the leather shoulder harness and shredded babydoll t-shirt. She pressed against him, humming happily as he slid his hands around her ass. Jane tensed her glutes against his tight grasp, pressing hard into his hands. He worked her muscles with the inexorable pressure of a masseur and Jane breathed out a long indulgent sigh and sank further into him. Theo finally released her breast just long enough to take the other into his mouth, and Jane threw her head back with wanton joy.

She cried out as she felt his teeth lighltly bite the nipple. “Fuck, yeah, harder, Theo, make it hurt!” He bit down and her voice echoed strangely in the bathroom as she let out a long “Fuck yessssss…” She disentangled from his lush hair to reach for his belt, loosening it with clever, confident fingers. She unbuckled and unsnapped and unzipped and then his cock was bare, pressed hard between them. She gasped as she wrapped both of her small hands around the unyielding hard shaft. Jane squeezed as hard as she could and he moaned around her nipple.

Reluctantly she pulled free of his mouth and knelt before him, lowering his jeans a little more until she could cup his balls in one hand, the other grasping the base of his cock. She looked up at him, mouth open, lips poised a millimeter from the glistening tip. “If you want, you can fuck my face the way you did that Russian whore, Theo.” Her tongue darted out to lick the underside of the glans, and he gasped. “But you might want to see if you like what I can do by myself, first.” She took him deep into her mouth with hungry abandon.

She traced wild spirals around his cock with her tongue, mouth stretched around his girth. She relaxed her lips soft at first, then suddenly clamped firm around his cock as she slid it in and out, fucking him with her mouth and throat. She coated his cock with saliva until it glistened and then began moved her hand up and down the slick rod, fingers tight. Her other hand flickered tiny taps and scratches just under the base of his shaft, occasionally massaging and lightly tugging on his sac.

She quickened the pace until he was pulling away from the sink to thrust up into her mouth. Jane suddenly tightened her grip on his balls, freezing him mid-arch, her mouth wrapped around just the head of his cock, lips suctioned tight. He was panting, looking down at her, but her eyes were closed as if she were savoring a fine meal. Theo’s eyes widened as he felt her tongue flicking at the tip of his cock, an echo of his own ministrations to her breast earlier.

She extended a finger from the clench of his balls, then, and pushed up against his prostate, eliciting an “Oh, FUCK!” from him as he bucked. Opening her eyes and mouth, she gripped the base of his cock hard, and he felt the impending orgasm stop like it had slammed into a brick wall, leaving him quivering with desire.

“Not yet, big boy,” she teased him, pulling him down towards the floor, nudging him onto his back on the plush bathmat. She turned so her ass was facing him and straddled his chest, peeking playfully over her shoulder at him. His eyes burned with lust but he didn’t say anything. Jane wrapped her fingers around his cock again, holding it tight as she watched his face, seeing his eyes flit from her gaze to her ass and back up again.

“I’m gonna ride your face, Theo, you fucking gorgeous hunk of man. What do you say to that?” Theo didn’t answer, just grabbed her ass with both hands and slammed her hips down towards him. His lips wrapped entirely around her vulva as he furiously attacked her clit with his tongue. He let out a muffled growl and Jane laughed, gasped, and moaned all at the same time. She bent down and wrapped her mouth around his cock, letting it slide in and out. As she relaxed her throat his thrusts pushed deeper, until her face was buried in his dark curls with every stroke. Jane felt his body tense, and she pulled her mouth off of him, pulling his balls up. Her fingers wrapped around the base of the sack and she dug her nails into his skin.

“Oh, no, Theo my boy, I’m not some willing bitch like Ksenja. You’re gonna make me cum, boy, before I let your little soldiers run free.” She ground her pussy down against his face, and he arched his neck, pushing his chin up against her clit as his tongue pushed deeper. “Oh…yes…” she moaned. “Deeper, yes, don’t change that, deeper, goddamnit, fuck me with that tongue, I’m gonna push your whole fucking head into my cunt it feels so good!” She started slapping his hard cock with her free hand, feeling him buck with the sensation, knowing it didn’t really hurt. She raked her fingernails over the taut skin of his balls and slapped even harder as she rode his mouth.

Her own thighs began to tremble with her impending orgasm, and she murmured, “Oh, yes, sweet boy, that’s what I’m talkin’ about…” The rest of her words turned incoherent as she collapsed down on him, his cock pressed up in between her breasts. As she came she began fucked him with her cleavage, pushing her tits together hard as she slid up and down his body. She kept grinding hard against his chin as the she rode the orgasm through screaming release. Finally Theo stopped moving his mouth and she lifted her hips slightly from his slick face.

Jane continued the smooth rhythm of his cock sliding between her breasts, pushing them harder together to give him a tighter fuck. She dipped her head forward with a happy humming noise to lick his balls in long sensuous strokes that made his eyes roll back with pleasure. She felt his cock thicken between her breasts. “Yeah, Theo, baby,” she murmured between licks. “Shoot that cum all over my tits! Cover me, baby, cover me…YES!”

With a savage roar he grabbed her hips and pulled her back onto his face, screaming into her pussy as he filled the space between their bodies with hot spurts of cum. His muffled roar subsided into low growling noises as he relaxed, and Jane let out a low, satisfied chuckle as she felt his cock softening. “Babe, I think I’m gonna have a bruised sternum from this monster.” Rolling off of him, she sat up, looking at his glistening body, glazed with both of their cum from crotch to forehead.

Theo looked at her, looking almost innocent in the afterglow. His mouth opened, and he seemed about to say something, then changed his mind and set his jaw. “Fucking hot!” he growled as he sat up. He winced as he moved his shoulder, and he looked grimly at the blood that had seeped through during the sex. “I think you’ll need to do that dressing again,” he said. Jane wasn’t looking at him anymore, but up past him at the bathroom door.

Theo turned and saw Michael standing there. His brother was frowning the two of them, the slender blonde in nothing but a shredded tee and leather harness, Theo even more naked. Michael’s voice was low and even, highlighting his bitter sarcasm. “Glad you guys had fun. While you’ve been playing I had a very meaningful discussion with Tony. It seems he’s about as thoroughly acquainted with Jane as you are, dear brother.” He waved a hand dismissively. “Don’t worry. It’s not quite sloppy seconds- she didn’t let him dip his wick in her either.” Theo looked away, embarrassed, and them up again, suspicious eyes focused on Jane

Jane didn’t look at him. She watched Michael as if he were a dangerous predator, waiting to see what he would do next. Theo scowled, confused by the dynamic between his brother and the woman sitting naked, still covered in his cum.

Finally Michael broke the silence. “Clean up and come downstairs, Jane. I have a job for you.” Without waiting for acknowledgement he turned and strode out of his brother’s apartment and down the hallway.

“Yes, sir,” Jane called after him. Theo’s scowl turned confused for a moment, and then he forced a playful leer, trying to bluff past his confusion. He reached over and tweaked her nipple, which had gone flat against her breast. Jane slapped his hand away.

“Hey!” he protested. “What’s up with the sass? I think a ‘Thank you, sir‘ would be more appropriate, don’t you?”

Jane looked at him with an incredulous look. “No, that would be for your brother.” Theo frowned, and she patted his head condescendingly as she stood up and grabbed a towel to wipe his jism from between her breasts. “But I do thank you, Theo, for a much-needed tension reliever.” She tossed the towel at him and unbuttoned her left shoulder pouch. She pulled out a tightly-folded black lump of cloth which shook out to reveal a t-shirt identical to the one she’d ripped off earlier. As Theo looked on disbelieving Jane shrugged the shirt on with an easy motion. “Hey, a girl’s gotta be prepared. Too bad we don’t have more time, dear boy.” She patted his cheek. “The other pouch is full of condoms.”

Leaving him there naked on the floor, she grabbed her boots and jeans and was gone.