My (own) guide to BDSM

byte_MG_8246I’ve had a few (old and new) friends ask me for advice recently about getting into (or more into) the BDSM world, so I thought I’d post some suggestions here for their benefit. And for anyone else that might have similar questions.

I did write a mini review of Bo Blaze’s book, 50 Shades of Curious, a few months ago and that’s already a good place to start. Bo is also an alternative life coach and teaches classes at The Eulenspiegel Society, which is the biggest BDSM support and education group that you can tap for classes, event listings and all kinds of resources. (Disclaimer: I’m not involved with TES and don’t claim to be an educator on the subject, but since I’ve been writing about kink and have been involved in the scene in NYC for some time, I thought I’d offer some guidance).

Personally, I’d encourage people to figure out what they want when it comes to kink. Sure, few of us know what (specific) activities we might like before trying them, but I’m sure most people already have some idea of whether they’re dominant, submissive or a switch and what their general proclivities might be when it comes to kink. But what I mean is: what are you trying to accomplish? Do you know? Are you doing it with/for someone else that’s interested in it? That’s totally fine. It’s how a lot of people wind up getting into BDSM. But if so, make sure you’re enjoying whatever it is the two (or however many) of you are doing together, not just trying to please someone else. 

“When you say yes to someone else, make sure you’re not also saying no to yourself.” –Paulo Coelho

On the other hand, if you’re doing it for yourself/without a partner (initially), then you might want to think about what your goals are, if any. Is it just for the sensation? The immediate physical effect, head rush or whatever you might get from being hit, spanked or tied up? Or is it for more sexual exploration? Do you want to learn to be a better lover or do you want to learn what pleases you, yourself, most in bed? Or is it for some deeper exploration of the self or of the human psyche? All answers are valid. These aren’t trick questions. But answering them for yourself will better help you navigate the fetish world and find what you may be looking for.

byte_MG_4709After that, I’d probably advise people to start slow, not at a snail’s pace slow or anything, but still, slow. The “kinksperts” will often tell you that there are no rules in BDSM, as long as it’s safe, sane and consensual (SSC – the kink mantra), which is true, so if you want to get straight into swinging on meat hooks, you can go right ahead. But I’d still err on the side of caution, especially if you’re brand-spankin’ new in the BDSM world. Start with smaller things, ask a lot of questions, get to know the people in your local fetish community, figure out who you can trust, get on FetLife and do some research, etc. (Pervy research is one of my favorite things! It feels so scholarly and productive, yet it’s still dirty and fun!) 😉

The kinksters are usually a friendly bunch, so don’t be afraid to talk to people, make friends and figure out what’s what. There are lots of books, online materials and local classes on the subject all over the place. A lot of them will probably advise the same things as I am doing here and drill the word “consent” so far into your brain that after hearing it so many times, it may cease to have any meaning.

Here’s what the pro-kinksters probably won’t tell you: don’t take it or yourself too seriously. Sure, if you decide to get involved in some intricate rope/bondage scene or you’re playing with potentially dangerous instruments like knives or needles, by all means, take it seriously and pay attention cause someone might lose an eye if you don’t. (not likely, but possible).

What I mean is: as you get more involved in kink, have fun, but don’t forget that there are other things in the world and to come up for air every once in a while (see also: my Beware of Rabbit Holes post). Men on the scene that walk around with this “I’m the big bad Dom/Master” macho attitude all the time crack me up. People, in general, who can’t ever drop the act/character and are constantly in some sort of dom/sub power-exchange mode are annoying and pretentious. We all have to remember to be, and relate to one another, as human beings and equals often enough, mmk?

byte_MG_8811Additionally, I realize that when you first get into the fetish world, everything is new and exciting and shiny and wondrous. So much so that it might be all you can talk/think about for a while, but, again, don’t forget that there are other things out there. Failing to do so  makes for one-dimensional (read: boring) personalities. Trying to carry on a conversation with some of these people about anything other than kink is like pulling teeth sometimes. One of them went something like this:

Me: So I really like your paintings, how long have you been doing this for?

Big Bad Dom: Oh, a few years, I dunno… so you like to get spanked, dontcha?

Me: Yeah, sometimes. So who are your influences anyway? Do you like the surrealists?

BBD: Yeah, maybe, whatever. Sooo… how hard do you like to get spanked?

FML. Don’t be that guy. Scratch that. Don’t be that person. I trust that my friends aren’t susceptible to that disease, otherwise they wouldn’t be my friends, but I’ll just leave this here for the ones that are and for your occasional reality check.

As for events you might want to check out, locally I like the monthly Fetish Tribe Suspension parties at the Delancey. There is also Powder’s monthly Powder Room party, which is usually held in a private space and allows for more… liberties, should I say? You can also get your freak on at Paddles, the friendly S&M club, which I admittedly haven’t been to yet, but have heard good things about and there are plenty of other event listings and local munches on FetLife.

Then there are many other extended-weekend-long fetish gatherings that go on around the country that people love. I went to Fetish Factory, which happens annually over Memorial Day weekend in Ft. Lauderdale, a couple of years ago and enjoyed it quite a bit. TES’s own TES Fest is great for both events and educational classes (over July 4th weekend in New Jersey). FetFest in Maryland over Labor Day Weekend can also be a lot of fun, I hear.  And many of my friends swear by Dark Odyssey’s sex camp, which goes on several times a year at different locations. Check ‘em out. Check some other things out. And don’t forget to enjoy yourself (and report back to me on what you find, of course!)

(All photos ar by the inimitable Archbishop Tutu)