Recently I was honored to be invited back to the Bondage Capital of the World, Madison, WI to teach a workshop on kink to the Sex Out Loud staff and pulling out practices. This is a group of peer-educators who make sex education their business, and damn if they aren’t an impressive bunch. They listened (and watched) me blather for three hours about everything from the neurochemical response to pain to how to tie a ball sack (using one of the most original props I’ve ever come up with).
As part of the class I stole a page from Susie Bright and invited people to write questions on paper that they were too embarrassed or simply didn’t want to voice out loud. When the time came to answer them I was running short during the presentation, and so I promised that I would answer them briefly there and more coherently here. So, for the benefit of the Sex Out Loud crew (and the rest of you), here’s the questions and my best answers. Feel free to chime in with your own views in the comments; I never claimed to be an authority.
- Fire Alarm. I’m not sure what this meant, but it was on a piece of paper. If anyone has a clue, please let me know.
- How should we approach bloodletting & other “edge” play with inexperienced college students? Veeeerrrrryyy carefully. Not that it’s necessarily more or less dangerous, there’s just a different set of risks – basically all the risks that we talk about when warning drug users not to share needles. Having information on non-sexual but relevant infections is also important, such as Staph and MRSA.However, the best thing to do is get live, hands-on training. Madison happens to be home to some of the finer piercers I know of, and going through the local Satyricon or Sabbat de Sade groups to find places to learn how to safely do it is a great start. MadTown Kinkfest also often has presenters come in who know their stuff, and that is, in my opinion, the best way to learn.
- It seems like you’ve described a lot of kinky relationships gone wrong…any concrete tips for keeping kinky relationships together? To be fair, I did describe several excellent kinky relationships I know of, but I also did describe some of the more common things that I’ve seen break up kinky relationships. Most of these can be broken down into the basic concepts of lack of clear communication and changing in directions that pulled them apart. Communication skills are an essential and often frustrating skill to develop; sometimes a person can actually be a communicator for a living (like me) and still have trouble making themselves clear. The only solution to that I know of is to keep talking, keep trying, and keep feeding back what you hear the other person saying until they agree that you have it right.Rinse, repeat, ad infinitum.In regards to the changing roles, I described happy and sad outcomes. One example was a couple who were identifying as Master and slave, and then found that they were more of a Daddy/girl pair. They both found their roles changing, and they were fortunate enough that the roles could change in complementary ways. Another example is a couple I know who are both dominant and both of whom get a lot of joy out of receiving service. They each have their own submissive, and the four of them make about as beautiful a kinky group as I’ve ever seen as they gracefully embrace who they are, allowing their needs to be met by others as well as their partner.
“Concrete tips”, though…that’s hard. While I am pretty good at the practice of kink, and pretty good at helping people figure out what their kink is, I can’t really claim much expertise on the “keeping kinky relationships together” subject. I’d recommend books like “Opening Up” by Tristan Taormino as a start. Other than that, look for people who have managed to stay together, and see what they do. One group I know has stayed together because a core couple made a commitment to be together, regardless – and everything else just kind of flows from there.
Maybe the one concrete tip I can have is: don’t expect it to be easy. That way, if it is, you can be very pleasantly surprised.
- What would be the best way to start exploring one’s kinky side or kinky desires/fantasies? How would one go about trying their first scene? Whew, finally back on ground I feel solid on! The best way I can think of to explore your kink is first to look at the things that really arouse you – the things that, as I say in my Defining Moment class, “…get you hard, make you wet, make that lizard brain in the back of your skull go ooooh, yeah…” Sometimes that can be the hardest part – accepting that yes, this is what makes you horny, and this is what really fulfills your sexual nature. It takes courage to really admit that, sometimes.But once you do, you can begin to deconstruct it, figure out what elements are the things that really speak to you. You like Mad Men? Is it the power dynamic? The clothes? The hats? The music? Maybe it’s just the formica in the kitchen…whatever it is, write it down! Then you can figure out how to feed that particular kink.If it requires the help of someone else, you may be on good enough terms to just say “Hey, can I slap you like the whore slapped Don Draper?” If not, though, your best bet is to watch that episode together (beginning of Season 4, incidentally) and look over at your friend and say “Huh. That’s kind of hot, in a way. What do you think?” It’s a nice neutral way to both feel them out in terms of reaction and also let them know your thoughts are wandering there.
You may be tempted to just jump in the sack and start trying it out. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that – the kink community’s dirty little secret is that with all the classes and training we offer, most of us tried this shit before we had a clue what we were doing. But if you can find some instruction on the subject – and there are lots of great places such as Kink Academy to do so – you can avoid some of the dumb mistakes the rest of us made. This especially goes for higher-risk activities such as rope bondage, humiliation play, or medical scenarios. It goes for low-risk activities, too; I know I wish that every woman who’d ever used a strapon with me had watched Savannah Sly’s How-To videos first. We could have avoided a lot of painful (ahem) learning curves…
- Other than Satyricon, what are some kink communities/events that interested UW students could check out, specifically in Madison? First of all, this is me shaking my finger at you, Satyricon! I was told that Sex Out Loud has been trying to contact your group via the email contacts that they have found online and there’ve been no responses. If you’re a community group, communitiate already!That being said, your best bet is to check out Fetlife in the Madison area and you’ll find groups like “Show Me the Ropes” and “SWIPE” and even the Madison Area Whippersnappers. Joining the discussion in these groups will connect you with the local munches such as First Friday or events like Sabbat de Sade, and that will get you involved. Keep in mind there is not a monolithic “WE ARE ALL KINK” group – like any subculture, there are groups, individuals, cliques, and a rich diversity of opinions to sample from as you develop your own kink identity.
- How would someone (a beginner) get into kink safely? Already answered!
- What would be some good ways to bring up kinky activities with an inexperienced partner? I answered this somewhat above, talking about the “watching movie” trick, but I think it’s worth addressing some other ways. One rather blatant and easy way is to hand them this book which might give them a clue.But the most important thing is how not to bring it up: having them come home to find you spreadeagled on the bed, and tell them “I’m yours, now, ravish me!” That’s fine after you both are well-versed in what ravish actually means to both of you. But while romance novels are full of this scenario working wonderfully (I know, I write them!) reality is far messier and far more complex. It’s better to take it slow, let it grow naturally between you two – and find out that reality is actually a helluva lot hotter than any bodice-ripper.
- What does BDSM stand for? Yes, this was a question, and I hung my head in shame; two and a half hours of teaching about kink and I hadn’t ever deconstructed the acronym! Grrr…bad presenter, no biscuit.B is for bondage. D is for discipline and also for dominance; S goes along with dominance as “submission”, but also pulls double duty by standing for sadism as well. The M is for masochism, and together they try to cover the spectrum of kink.But they don’t, really, which is why we use words like kink or other acronyms like WIITWD (“What It Is That We Do”) to cover the bases.
Those were the questions. How’d I do?