Be a Judge, Not a Bully

In late July I will have the honor of being one of the judges for the Southeast Alliance of Leather Weekend. It’s especially exciting because my husband Sir Bart has been selected as a backup judge, and it would be the first time we judged a contest together. We were discussing the types of questions we would ask and what each of us would look for in the contestants, and it all brought me back to the couple of times when I was a titleholder and what I encountered from my various judging panels. They often say that becoming a titleholder can be one of the most cruel and grueling experiences of the leather community. I’d like to assert that in some cases, that can begin with be subjected to a douchey judge.

In 2002 I had won the title of Pistons Leatherman in Long Beach. This served as a feeder contest for the American Brotherhood Weekend in DC where I would compete for the American Leatherman title. I was still new in my experience of leather and had little to no community involvement. But like many contestants, I was wooed in with being told that I would be a good candidate and that they “really needed contestants and I had a good chance”. Okay, sure why not. I was naive at the time and hindsight is 20/20. I wound up winning and thus the adventure of the national title ensued.

Now I want to preface this with saying that ABW is a fantastic event and I recommend it highly. It’s just that my personal experience of competing in it was horrible. I did meet some great people there, had a really fun time doing my fantasy on stage, and scored surprisingly well among the other contestants who had considerable more experience than I (second runner-up for those wondering). All that aside, participating in that contest was a very negative experience, all because of the nastiness I received during my interview from a particular judge.

I will not divulge his name, but I tell you that when it was his turn to ask questions, he took off his reading glasses and wiped them dramatically saying, “I just want to understand something. I want to know what the big deal is that you have to use the name ‘Dart’ and not your real name in this contest? If you have something to hide I suggest you tell this panel what it is once and for all.”

I looked at him quizzically and said, “well, I’m not hiding anything it’s just the name I go by in the community. My real name is David – you all know that.”

The guy made no eye contact with me. He just stared off in the distance and continued.

“Well all I know is that your real name was listed on a publication and a whole lotta stink was raised about changing it to ‘Dart”. Don’t know what you’re doing in the contest if you gotta use a fake name.”

I just want to add that the two gentlemen that were interviewed before me were named RTB and Jazz. I digress…

Again I responded that I was not aware of any ‘stink’ that had been raised as I had no interaction with the editor of said publication. I suggested that perhaps it was my title’s producer that had said something. This all went on for 20 minutes, and the rest of the judges had to be quick with their interview questions with me as a result. I walked out of there having been purposefully embarrassed and humiliated, and I had considered dropping out. Later that evening there was a cocktail meet-and-greet with the judges, and I will never forget the interaction I had with the man. He looked at me and laughed jovially and gave me a big hug saying “Aw you know I think you’re cute as hell Dart! I was just having fun giving you a hard time and it was good for ya! I just loved watching you squirm in fear! You were adorable!”

Seriously?

I would like to tell you all that this is embellished but it’s actually how the interaction was. And I thought, I want nothing to do with this title if this is how its judges are conducting themselves. This man’s questioning had nothing to do with whether I could represent the title or not. He was simply deriving pleasure out of being a bully.

Being asked to judge a contest is not an invitation to be a prick! You have been asked to volunteer your time because your are held in high regard by the community and the producers feel you would have good insight in finding the right candidate to represent the title. This is not your opportunity to make yourself feel powerful by making somebody else feel bad. Yet sadly, I see this left and right, both from what I hear from friends who have competed and from what I’ve observed from fellow judges.

I can remember my former boy Leon participating in a boy title contest and receiving second place. When he shared the judges’ notes with me I was aghast at some of the things I read as they seemed to be so petty. One particular judge – a bootblack – kept coming back to the fact that my boy’s laces were not tied as tight as they could be, and every single note made mention of them:

“Decent speech, but dammit you need to lace those boots up better!”

“You present yourself well, except for your laces!”

“Good answer to the question but I’m going to spank you if you don’t fix those laces!”

Um …they’re laces, not laurels. I get there’s an importance to appearing neat, especially to a bootblack when it comes to footwear. But what does this have to do with the bigger picture? I mean, I have a fetish for facial hair but it doesn’t mean I’m going to dock the guy points if he can’t grow a full beard. I can always use Photoshop later…

As judges we need to keep our questions relevant to the present, and that less is more. How many of us who have competed were asked things like ‘who was the first runner-up of the year 1985 and what was his platform and blah blah blah? Ultimately is this answer important for what the person does with the title now?

I also get fed up with judges who when they ask a question they preface it with a little mini-documentary about themselves and what makes them ‘important’, usually in the form of a diatribe that goes on for several minutes and takes up everybody else’s time. Honestly, just pour yourself a glass of ‘shut-the-fuck-up’, and ask your question. Your merits are all going to be read off by the emcee so we don’t need to go into it here, and the contestant has already put you in high regard because they want to impress you and win the contest. Don’t take extra advantage of being boosted up. As my friend Pug would say, ‘when you put someone on a pedestal you get a really good view of their asshole’. All the more reason not to put yourself up on one.

When I judge a contest I want to know what makes the contestant real. I’m not looking for a superhero, I’m looking for someone that openly expresses their ongoing trials and tribulations. I respect a contestant that readily admits that they’re human and not perfect. I want to know what they get passionate about, even if it’s not leather or kink related. I certainly don’t wear my leather 24/7 and I don’t want a title represented by somebody who claims to. And most of all, I want the contestant to feel relaxed and connected to me. Personally the only way I believe I’m going to see this person’s true spirit is if they feel that being themselves is okay. It’s certainly the message we preach in leather, so we need to walk that walk when it comes to a title. The victor is certainly going to have their hands full with what they take on for their title year; it’s up to us as judges to be a positive gateway for that person’s title journey. Let’s not forget this.

Oh and one last thing. Please don’t feed contestants that crap about ‘leather is not what you wear, it’s in your heart’ – because we all know we’d dock their scores if they came in wearing tennis shoes…

😉

 

The Symbols are Not the Arrival

When I began exploring leather in my early twenties I was of course very drawn to becoming a collared boy to someone. Yes, I was having an abundant amount of play experiences, but I was really hungry for something more secure. I wanted to feel like a Sir’s property, to be owned and cherished. He would help me grow and learn, and provide structure and balance in a life where I desperately needed it.  The photos and Tom of Finland drawings I saw depicting men in their collars gave me a sense of longing, and I thought one day I will be fortunate enough to earn a Dom’s collar myself.

There was a good friend of mine back then who was a great support for helping me start out in all this. He too was a boy and I remember the day his Sir finally presented him with his collar. I was so congratulatory to him (if not quite jealous) , and I remember commenting that it must feel like a great reward for his hard work and devotion. His response had a great impact on me,

“Actually Dart, now the work begins.”

At the time I didn’t understand what he meant by this. I remember his attempting to explain it all to me, but being needy and inexperienced, I didn’t truly hear it. When you have your mind set on a certain concept, even if it’s a false one, you can become quite selective in the information that comes through. When I started in all this, I naively saw a collaring as a ‘point of arrival’.  It was a symbol of reward for doing all kinds of hard work and proving oneself to be worthy of a Sir’s ownership. To some degree that’s true, but the problem was that I was seeing it as a security blanket. I had this idea that if only I could prove myself worthy of actually becoming a collared boy, I would feel worthy as a person. The collar would be proof that I was important to someone, and I didn’t have to feel insecure or lonely anymore.  Once I received it I could finally feel good. In other words, I was making the symbol mean something that it wasn’t, almost like it was a panacea for the negative feelings I had about myself.

Now I have been a collared boy several times, and each experience has been monumental in helping me grow and mature as a person, and as a Sir. The very first time I earned a man’s collar was in my late twenties, and I will tell you that that was when I really learned what my friend meant about the work ensuing. This is because at the time I DID put all of this inaccurate meaning on the collar I received, and admittedly fell into the mythology that “all will be well” now. The truth was, Sir and I had new issues that had to be worked out. There were new parameters and boundaries that had to be explored and set. Expectations had to be communicated more astutely; expectations that I had assumed were already in place because after all, I was now a man’s property. Certainly we’ve already done a majority of the foundation setting. Admittedly I became more careless and sloppy with the way I conducted myself as a boy. I might also add – and I wince as I share this – I became very childish. I acted out because the ‘demons’ of my neediness were not being assuaged by the collar. My first run as a boy lasted less than a year. Was it a disaster? No. It was painful, but I also woke up and realized what these symbols truly mean. And of course, what they do not.

Leather has all kinds of glamorized rituals that we often put far too much meaning into. Some of these rituals don’t actually have any basis in history but we have turned them into meaning-making events that cause us to draw false conclusions. I’ve used the collaring as one example but the same can be said for earning a title, or a pin, or being covered. I remember being at an event in Toronto and being surprised by receiving my Muir cap and being proclaimed a Sir. I was there with my leather family at the time and my own Sir, and together he and one of the community leaders presented me with the honor of becoming a Sir myself. Again, here was this amazing symbol that was being given to me,with all kinds of amazing fanfare. I was blown away.

And I had to say to my ego, “NOW the work begins mister.”

Wherever you are in your experience of leather and kink, remember what my friend said about remaining vigilant about the ‘work’. Just like with a marriage or a commitment of any kind in life, there isn’t really a true arrival point. The process is ongoing and never ends, and that’s actually what makes it beautiful and extraordinary. The evolution and change is infinite. If you fall into the false belief that a symbol or ritual allows you to ‘ease up’ on your diligence, you’ll fall into a trap of stagnation or resignation. Don’t rob yourself of the experience of growth. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can experience in leather.

*Deep breath*

Okay. Back to the grind.

Dart

 

 

Choose and Cherish

I know how the majority of us feel about this holiday and if you’re like me, I despise it. The amount of insanity and chaos I see just in the people travelling and purchasing and cooking all for an audience that they don’t really care to be with and don’t get any kind of gratification from is very sad, really. But the one thing that most kinksters and leatherfolk like us embrace around this time is the company of who we choose to be with and call ‘family’, in whatever capacity that may be. Most of us are already given the label of ‘black sheep’ by our biological families, and then on top of it we have lives and connections and play that sets us apart even moreso. But we are blessed in that we can choose to spend our holiday with those that we are loved and accepted by, or simply enjoy the company of, and call them family.

I haven’t spent the holidays with my bio family in over a decade. I don’t ‘hate’ who they are, it’s just that the majority of the interaction when I am with them is in the form of put-downs and ridicule. My mother stopped including herself in the gatherings for the same reason and used to tell me, “only surround yourself with people that fan the flame of your spirit.” Yes it’s a trippy saying but I love it and it holds true. So more times than not I am either with the company of friends or leather family, or I chose to work. And I see to it that I feel the blessing of whatever connection I chose.

With these holidays, or really any day for that matter, please keep something in mind when it comes to ‘chosen family’. This is a term that is thrown around in leather a great deal and unfortunately there are some that forget one important aspect of it – the emotional responsibility that comes with it. In other words, if someone has chosen you to be family to them, it is up to you to cherish that they did so. This person has informed you that you are special and important to them. They enjoy your company and feel lit up when they are with you. You provide something for them that makes their life a little better and a little happier for whatever reason. The only reason you have connected is because you chose to do so, so don’t shit on it. Don’t take it for granted, don’t treat it as an emotional dumping grounds, and don’t be one-sided. Honor the sharing you have and nurture it. Remember, you can always be un-chosen as well.

With whatever connections you make this holiday, please take the time to cherish the person you chose to connect with and vice versa; whether it’s extended leather family or a co-worker stuck at work with you, or even the neighbor you don’t really know but they took 10 minutes to stop by your house to deliver a nasty homemade fruitcake that you’re not going to touch. The bottom line is, someone took the time to let you know that you are important to them for whatever reason, and we need to do a lot more of that to counteract the cruelty this holiday brings.

To all the people I consider ‘family’ in one form or another, thank you. I love you immensely and you all fan the flame of MY spirit  🙂

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Now, back to work, and enjoying the awesome company of this really fun flight crew….

 

The Ridiculous Lexicon

I understand we have an obsession for labels.

You point to your shoes and say the word “Prada” and some people simply treat you differently. You tell people the area code of where you live, and you might get a reaction of “oooooh!” or just the opposite. Even when I take out a set of locking fistmitts the person may joyfully react with, “Mr.S?”, and I’ll nod proudly. We have assigned a perceived importance of labels to instigate how we shall continue our interaction. It’s as though they are touchstones to how things will proceed.

Sometimes we appear to have to do this in leather and kink, and frankly the words have gotten out of control.

Someone will ask you, “how do you identify?” Okay, I understand if you respond with ‘top’ or ‘bottom’ or ‘gay’ or ‘bi’ or whatever. Maybe you need to say something like “I’m more old guard” or “I’m a pain pig” to appear more enticing. Great! Ultimately we just want to know if a connection of some kind is going to be possible or if there might be chemistry. So, these words can indicate if it’s a go or not. Maybe you’re a submissive who is seeing being collared to a dominant, and what they are looking for is someone who sees themselves as a ‘slave’, where you might be more ‘pup’. Okay, both parties know to keep looking. Words like this can be useful to economize finding what you are looking for.

But I remember being at a large event where I heard all kinds of crazy labels that really told me nothing:

“I am biologically male and my inner prowess identifies as a feminized boy, but as a power switch I lean more toward an internalized she-wolf and so I take on a woman’s name when I Dom. I’m a service-oriented pain servant as well with pup-like tendencies and lean more toward being someone else’s beta when I do so. How about you?”

Pause.

I shrugged and simply said, “I’m Dart.”

I was blown away. I had NO idea what any of these words really meant or what I was supposed to do with this information that was provided. Does this mean we won’t play? Are you even interested? Is there something I’m supposed to do when it comes to our interaction based on these terms…?

I understand that I am being judgmental here, and it deserves some grace.  Truth be told the fact is that these labels provided some means of identity for this person. It was as though taking them on gave them permission to express themselves they way they wanted to. So, it’s not completely fair for me to not understand them because obviously they are they to enable the other person to be who they want to be. But ultimately, an overuse of the English language isn’t going to add to the power exchange we’re hoping to have. When you get deep into it, the words are just ‘noise’.

Sometimes the use of a label on someone can be a hindrance, because it doesn’t illustrate the totality of the person. I have a dear friend at work who survived a bout with breast cancer, and she absolutely detests being called a “cancer survivor”.  Her reasons are simple – she doesn’t want to be called a survivor, she wants to be seen as a person who survived. Subtle difference, but one gives her an identity all around the breast cancer, the other treats her as a whole person who happened to have breast cancer at one time. It’s something she had, but it isn’t who she is. “If people interact with me based solely on what I went through with the cancer, they are missing out on all the really awesome things about me!’ she says. I absolutely adore her by the way and I find this approach to be very inspiring. It has made me wonder how I am missing out on the labels that I have taken on.

Personally, I think we need to back off on all of these BDSM/kink labels for they have reached a ridiculous level of jargon. A connection is a connection and ultimately the dynamics reach a level that cannot be understood on a linear level.  If we need these words as a way “directing our spirit” I can certainly understand that, however we want the focus of others to be on US, not the labels.

Next time you’re at an event and someone asks how you identify, try saying “I’m ME”.

For many of you the connection that follows will be utterly amazing 🙂

 

Our vulnerabilities, our filters

I always love when people tell me that communication is the key to relationships, especially when the advice comes from someone who is not in one and doesn’t have a good track record with them. While the advice is certainly true, the art of exchanging words and genuinely being heard and understood is not an easy one. No doubt I have my challenges in trying to master it myself.

We all like to think that we are stronger and wiser as a result of our past, and in many ways we are. We try things, we fall down, we make mistakes, learn, get back up and proceed again or take a different approach – it’s life. We figure out what didn’t work previously so we don’t let it repeat itself. We take something negative and turn it into a useful tool for the future. However, when it comes to communication and expressing yourself to someone, or being on the receiving end of it, the past can be a hindrance.

In life we have all kinds of experiences that make us draw conclusions and form ‘filters’ that we perceive things through. I will give you an example of this with something I deal with at work (I’m a flight attendant for those who do not know). It is said that one of the most challenging domestic routes a crewmember can work is New York to Miami. I don’t really know how to describe it except that it’s just a LOT. It’s always a very busy flight, very full, and there’s a lot of – passion shall we say. And it’s not necessarily always full of nasty people; I have often said that even when the flight is perfect and all the passengers are happy it STILL wears you out. It’s just a very aggressive ‘people experience’. Well, all of what I have described is now a filter that I perceive the NY-Miami flight through. It’s just subconsciously in place and other flight attendants have said the same thing so there is agreement. So now if I have a particularly demure, calm and pleasant customer on that flight – yet I have this filter in place, there’s going to be limitations to how we communicate.  They may ask for something as kindly as possible, and I’m still going to be defensively thinking, “okay what’s the catch? What are they really trying to get out of me?” It’s not necessarily the truth, it just my perception that makes it seem like it is.

The same can be said with D/s relationships – or any relationship really. You have the experience of one person, and it may not go well or there may be negative things that occur in the connection. Consciously or unconsciously, that becomes part of your filter that you experience the next person through. And the next. And the next. And suddenly you’re not truly experiencing the person you’re with, you’re busy reconciling all the inner dialogues created by the previous connections. As are they! All parties involved are attempting to communicate with one another based on the past, and not being truly present to one another. We are trying so hard to avoid a previous experience that we are living in the future created solely from the past. AND WE ARE NOT IN THE MOMENT.

Here’s the really tough part. In order to be authentic and speak truthfully, we have to risk vulnerability, and that’s terrifying. As kinky Sirs and boys and slaves and pups we have what we believe to be a built-in means of protection in that we are ascribing to being archetypes. In other words, if we look like a menacing mean Sir nobody has to know that we’re really terrified and needy underneath. Nobody has to see any of my imperfections or flaws as long as my biceps look good. You may laugh, but I will tell you that at any given moment at MAL there is a gay man in his hotel room doing last minute pushups because he’s about to enter the lobby. It’s what we think we have to do to survive. But alas, that exterior only goes so far. Sooner or later if there is to be a connection and one based on trust, we have to lower that guard and risk being real. We have to expose all those things that we believe the other person won’t like about us, because somebody previously said they were a problem.

There is a young man in our life that if I may speak bluntly, Bart and I have lusted after for quite some time. Very recently, he has expressed that he is interested in serving us both as our boy. Personally I am WAY excited about exploring this, but in chatting with him I am also very aware of just how much our barriers and filters have gotten in the way of feeling an intense connection previously. From a personal standpoint, I always had this filter of not being good enough or sexy enough that this boy would even be interested. Previous flirtatious exchanges were met with a certain reservation, and I drew the conclusion that he was looking for something in a completely different ‘league’ that was not us. However, in chatting with him recently we have found out that just the opposite was true, and that what we perceived as hesitation or disinterest was actually his being overly protective of himself and trying not to appear ‘needy’. We said, “you don’t appear needy at all boy! In fact we’d rather see how you really feel!” He explained however that previous relationships had told him that the way he was coming across was unattractive, so he was trying hard to not be that way in talking with us. Thus we had an exchange that had been stilted for a long time because both of us were communicating from untrue belief systems. And because we’re TWO Sirs that would be taking him on, we also have to contend with Bart’s filters and the inner dialogues that he’s contending with.

Being a Sir or being a collared boy can be an invigorating and rewarding experience, but also very challenging. We create these enticing yet protective exteriors to get the attention of others, and then an opportunity for relatedness opens up and we have to risk being real in order to establish trust. For a finite evening of play or sex the exterior serves its purpose, but for genuine nurturing relationships where there is to be love and growth and protection, eventually that facade has to be dropped and the human side revealed. The side that is imperfect, scared, insecure, and quirky.

Essentially, it’s the side of us that truly is perfect!

I think my husband probably had the best communication approach when he proposed to me four years ago. He asked me to marry him via text.

“Text? Really?” I said.

He responded, “Yes. This way you can keep reading it over and over and know that it’s true!”

Okay. Gotta admit he’s good.

I might also add that later that day when I came home, he got down on bended knee to solidify the communication 🙂

ROPECRAFT Class: Cause and Effect Bondage

If you’re coming to ROPECRAFT in Austin Feb. 19-21 you’ll have an opportunity to come to one of our favorite classes to teach: Cause and Effect Bondage – The Joys of Predicament.  Sir Bart and I love teaching this class because well, it’s evil and fun, it always gets a great response from the audience (at the expense of the demo bottoms of course), and it opens up the channels of creativity for people who are stuck in doing bondage a rigid particular way every time. For people that want to learn the beautiful art of Japanese rope tying – um, this ain’t that.

The basis of the class is simple. It’s about putting the sub into a compromised bondage position where there is a consequence of some kind if they move or try to escape. As we Doms all know, nothing gives us pleasure than being able to look at the sub and say, “you did it to yourself.”

There are some bottoms that feel a very calm, peaceful state when they are put into bondage,and perhaps you’ve experienced this for yourself as a top. You put forth a concentrated effort to truss them up tightly and make their situation completely inescapable – and their eyes close and they disappear into a blissful state. All cinched up and they don’t put forth any attempts to struggle or fight because they so relaxed and feel so safe in the binds. The expression on their face may even look as though they are in deep meditation, and as the top you have to basically sit there and babysit and they venture off into their world of deep serenity.

BORING.

I don’t know about you, but as a Dom I don’t want to be a ‘spa’. I enjoy the play a lot more if there is a constant back and forth with the sub and it’s in the form of taunting and frustration.  If I’m going to be putting someone in bondage, I don’t want them to go their happy place, I want them to go to mine. I’d prefer they not keep their eyes closed – I want them to stay wide open and focusing on ME as if to say, “please no! You’re in control! I’ll do anything Sir!”

And you can smile back saying, “That is correct boy. You WILL.”

We will be using some rope in the class, along with all kinds of toys and pervertables that we’ll incorporate to create some very devious and creative ‘booby traps’. One we did recently involved securing a big musclebear (de-lish!) naked and spreadeagle on the floor of where we were teaching. We took a fat alter candle and pared out the bottom of it so that we had a usable wick at both ends. We then hung the candle sideways directly above the victim, and attached part of the rigging via parachute cord to tarp clamps that were biting on his nipples.  So when the hot bear struggled even slightly, it would pull on the candle and cause it to spin. The only thing left was to light both ends 🙂 Thus, bits of hot wax would drip onto him causing him to wince,which in turn made the candle twirl and throw more hot wax onto his hairy body. It was delightful. It reminded me of an old spy movie scene, and I pictured myself sitting in a chair with shaved head and petting a white cat saying, “no Mr. Bond I expect you to die. Mwahahahaha!”

But I digress. The class is very light-hearted and there’s usually a lot of evil laughter from the participants. If you’re coming to ROPECRAFT please come by and take part in the fun!

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PrEP-shaming

Real quick, for those of you unfamiliar with what PrEP is, here is a basic explanation. The initials stand for Pre-exposure Prophylaxis, and it refers to an HIV prevention strategy where HIV-negative individuals take anti-HIV medications before coming into contact with HIV to reduce their risk of becoming infected. The medication works to prevent HIV from establishing infection inside the body. It does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy and it is not a cure for HIV, but it has been shown to reduce risk of HIV infection through sex for gay and bisexual men, transgender women, and heterosexual men and women, as well as among people who inject drugs. Currently the only drug that has been approved for PrEP is a pretty blue pill called Truvada. Recent studies have shown that when the drug is taken consistently on a daily basis it provides 92%-99% reduction in HIV risk for HIV-negative individuals. And of course I have to be responsible in saying that it greatly reduces risk but does not eliminate it, and should be used in addition to other safe-sex protocols.

Now the point of this article is not about the cash cow element of the pharmaceutical industry making billions off of keeping people like myself alive rather than curing them, or how people mistrust the findings of scientific studies and find them inconclusive, or how expensive these drugs are – and Truvada is certainly not a cheap date…

I get it. And I actually do ascribe to some of those beliefs.

What I want to talk about here is the interesting phenomenon that has taken place with the advent of PrEP use among gay men: the judgement of one another.

You see, sex is fun. And one thing that many gay men including myself greatly enjoy is barebacking. But with many sexual acts, there is an exchange of bodily fluids and therefore a risk for sexually transmitted diseases. For a very long time, the act of barebacking was considered absolute no-go red flag behavior. It was a surefire means of contracting HIV which for many would lead to AIDS and eventually death. The viral medications that we have now were not available back then and the few treatments that were available like AZT would lead to more complications and toxic side effects. Barebacking would also lead to other STDs which compromise the body’s immune system and make it more susceptible to contracting HIV. Basically, fucking without a condom was treated like a social abomination.

The landscape is different now, and what is happening through PrEP use is that many gay men are ‘re-embracing’ their sexual expression by enjoying barebacking again. There are men on hookup sites like Recon that include in their profile that they are HIV-, but on PrEP. Some even take it to a celebratory hilt by referring to themselves as ‘Truvada Whores’. Leather boys that are under consideration for our collar have taken steps to get on PrEP as they want to enjoy being sexually intimate, which includes enjoying my fluids. Inside of them. Sorry for being graphic but let’s call a spade a spade – when you are sexually charged up with someone, the experience intensifies when you taste their cum in your mouth or feel them unload inside you. The use of Truvada is allowing a lot of men to feel free doing this again, and other gay men are feeling confronted by that freedom.

For decades our community was being tragically affected by so many people dying of AIDS coupled with a lack of available treatments and an unsympathetic government. People were losing their jobs, their families, and their grace by the travesty of this horrible disease and the lack of education. The oppression and the struggle became a part of our identity. When the anti-viral cocktails became available, the environment changed and suddenly people were not dying left and right. My own friend Drew actually got kicked out of hospice because he was suddenly going to live! There was finally the hope and breakthrough that we were fighting for. But I remember there were those that didn’t know what to do with themselves because they’re ‘fight’ wasn’t the same anymore. It was an integral part of who they were, and they would try to keep it alive. We are at another new phase of the landscape of HIV, and plain and simple, it’s a game-changer. Those that are embracing it are being harshly judged by others for doing so. We are essentially sabotaging ourselves within our community.

I talked of this dynamic with my doctor recently, and she was fascinated as she is a huge advocate for PrEP usage. She was saying that something very similar occurred in the sixties when the Pill became available as a means of birth control for women. She was saying that many Pill users were being harshly judged by other women for this new birth control means, with accusations of being irresponsible and promiscuous. Women were embracing a new opportunity to enjoy their sexuality, and other women were shaming them for it. Jealousy of one another was being expressed in the form of ‘false concern’. I see the exact same thing happening with gay men currently.

Regardless of how you may feel about PrEP, the fact remains that it is a new breakthrough approach to effective HIV prevention and is laying the groundwork for future medical advances. To go on PrEP is a personal choice and one that every individual should educate themselves about when they do so. But let me just remind everybody that a person’s decision to go on PrEP and enjoy their sexuality ISN’T ABOUT YOU. Yes you may express your concerns about other STI’s or a false sense of security and all that, but ultimately what this person elects to do with their body and their sexuality is their business and not yours. If that makes you angry, that’s something going on with you, not them. Perfectly well-meaning strangers will readily express their concern about the safety of somebody’s sexual actions, yet would never say to the person, “you’re obese and that’s unsafe. You should lose weight.” or “smoking’s bad for you. You should quit”.  Also, if you have lost a friend or a loved one to AIDS – and almost all of us have – think about what they are saying right now as they are observing the shaming going on. Mine would say, “stop being stupid bitches to each other and take the damn blue pill.”

By the way I must share something ironic that happened recently. A friend of mine responded to my opinion on this with a tremendous about of vitriol, saying “you are promoting stupid, careless behavior that is justifying people to be unsafe and irresponsible.”

….he sent that to me as a text. While driving.

 

 

Additional resources:

Prepfacts.org

My Life on PrEP

My PrEP Experience Blog

 

Aftercare – Not an afterthought

Occasionally it’s bound to happen. You’re going to hook up with somebody off a kink hookup site whose level of experience is a bit less than what is publicized in their profile. So be it – it just means you get the opportunity to provide a mind-blowing first time for someone and that can be great fun.

My husband and I had this occur about eight months ago. We invited a young man over to be tied up and beaten on, with a focus on suspension coupled with some caning and percussion play. Okay, so he claimed to have had some history doing this in his online description but alas when he arrived he fessed up to be more of a newbie. We could certainly work him into it slowly. What was intriguing about this particular play date though was that the boy was quite tall – 6 foot 5 inches to be precise! Sir Bart and I love a challenge, and this was proving to be an enticing one, especially from a physics standpoint.

After some ground rules were laid out and a foundation for communication was established, we stripped the boy down and proceeded to rig him up in our suspension layout. Because of his size it was definitely a two-man effort and yes, we actually had to acquire a small step ladder to accomplish half of the restraining.  Laugh all you want, but the boy was moaning with pleasure. After we were satisfied with his mid-air positioning, we blindfolded him and buckled a thick gag into his mouth. Again, more moans of pleasure ensued. We continued with chaining his limbs out so he was completely helpless, and solidified the fact by inserting one of the ass toys he brought into his hole. He shook with delight at all that was being done to him.

When we were satisfied that he was alright in his airborne predicament, we asked if he was ready to play with some pain. He nodded his head with great enthusiasm, and Bart and  I looked at each other excitedly, ready to afflict. Bart attached a pair cruel tarp clamps to the boy’s nipples which caused him to writhe and swing, and I proceeded to snap a ball parachute on his jewels. Then we brought out the canes, and rhythmically hit his chest with them.

“How are you doing boy?” I would ask after each set of thumps. “Ready for a little more?” He would respond with a nod and I would continue, increasing tempo and impact. Sir Bart busied himself with the boy’s balls, progressively smacking them harder and harder as my caning continued. The boy was excited and moaning louder and louder and nodding his head inviting even more…

…and then, his head dropped, and he gave the verbal signal that he suddenly needed to stop. We promptly removed the leather gag and asked, “you alright boy?” He shook his head and was breathing hard.

“Sir..I – I can’t breathe. I’m -I ..oh god…” he said as he broke into a clammy sweat.

We knew exactly what was happening. He was basically having an overload of stimulus and endorphins, and was panicking himself into a bad headspace. I immediately took off his blindfold and gently grabbed his face. “It’s okay boy. We’ve got you. Slow your breathing down. You’re fine.”  Bart applied a cold wet towel to the back of the boy’s neck to alleviate any nausea as I gently stroked the sides of the boy’s head. “Calm boy. Slow breaths. We’ve got you. We’re going to bring you down.”

The boy focused on steadying his breathing as we unlocked the restraints and eased his tall body back to the ground. He was shaking and sweaty, and above all scared and what he was feeling.  So we brought him into the bedroom and laid his naked body out on the bed (again, a two-man job) and administered some aftercare. I laid down next to him and pulled his body in close to mine with his head on my chest, and ran my fingers through his hair to relax his mind and make him feel safe. At that point, he began to cry.

“Sirs, I don’t know what is happening to me. Why am I crying?” he said.

Reassuringly I responded, “Shh. It’s alright boy, you just experienced something very intense and it gave you a release. You don’t have to understand why.” Sir Bart then covered the boy with a blanket and just let him come down from the journey he took with us. I held onto him and allowed him to feel whatever he felt. His breathing slowed down and his body reached a calm state. We then brought in some cold water to hydrate him and some grapes to help his blood sugar back up. Frozen grapes to be precise – they are like crack if you’ve never tried them.  Eventually he felt like himself again and as he was getting dressed him said, “that was the most intense ride I’ve ever been on! Thank you Sirs, especially for taking care of me.”

The incident was a perfect example of why aftercare is such an important component of play. You are taking the sub on a journey where their breathing and heartbeat and ‘wavelengths’ are being brought up to a peaked level of intensity. To simply end without bringing them back down would leave them feeling ‘jarred’ into a kind of negative shock, and it’s not healthy in play. In fact, you could execute a brilliant scene as far as your skills and technique are concerned, yet negate all you created by not bringing the bottom back to a stable ground. This tall boy had never experienced this kind of intense play before. Had we not taken the time to actually take care of him and enable him to process what was going on in his body and mind, conceivably we could sabotage his desire to explore any kind of future kink play. That, would be a tragedy.

Incidentally, I feel very strongly that Doms need aftercare as well. We put a lot of energy and attention in taking the sub on a journey while being vigilant about their headspace and their safety. When the scene is complete, the Dom has worked very hard. I find it makes me feel ‘whole’ again to have my own means of coming down from a scene. Most anyone who has played with me knows that one of my favorite things after topping in a scene is having my back rubbed by the bottom. I know it sounds tame, but it really makes me feel connected to the person I’ve embarked on the journey with. It’s a non-verbal way of saying “thank you” for the awesome scene that was created.

And yes, the tall boy did offer to rub my back once he felt like himself again. And the best words came out of his mouth when he offered to do so:

“It will be my pleasure to massage you Sir. Did I mention I’m a chiropractor?”

It’s times like this where I LOVE being me 🙂

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Photos of Sir Dart and Delano by Michele Serchuk

Divide by 7

The title of this article refers to a term my husband created. It’s a particular approach he takes when somebody shares an involved kink fantasy they are propositioning with us.  My husband has a Tumblr page that many of you have seen; and if you haven’t, please have a NSFW look: Sir Dart’s PitBull . There you will find many pictures of our own scenes in our playroom, as well as some reblogged favorites from other sites. We have all kinds of fun with the things we have come up with and it’s been an awesome challenge crafting new devious things we can do to subs or each other there.

But it never fails. We will get a message on Recon from a fan of the Tumblr page, and they will seek to have us play out an intense long-term bondage scene with them. Now THAT’S an honor and very flattering, and many of these guys we would actually love to be the perpetrator of captivity for. So we engage them and find out the details of their scene, and what ensues is more on the lines of an epic 3-part film directed by Ridley Scott (which come to think of it would be a really hot theatrical experience). The person will cite the intense bondage drawings of Leo Ravenswood and the accompanying stories of men being kept at the Estate in strict 24/7 imprisonment, with an IV to provide necessary fluids and a catheter to dispose of body waste. “That’s how I want to be kept, Sirs.”  They will say things like, “I want to be turned into more than a slave, I want to be completely stripped and objectified and given no rights or privilege – caged and chained up and hooded and just be a piece of furniture with a barcode tattooed on the back of my neck showing your ownership of me, and kept like that for weeks…and I’ll gladly relocate from Belgium…”

Hmm.

Well, I mean, it does sound hot. In one’s head.

Now, let’s apply a little logic. Or as my husband would say, “take this scenario and divide by seven, and you’ll get what’s really feasible”.

I know of some guys – particularly younger ones who are more flexible and quite frankly have more energy – that can withstand a much longer bondage scenario, even overnight.  We’ll chat with guys online or at parties about things like mummification or some kind of sensory deprivation play, and they’ll tell us that the longest they’ve been wrapped up is 23 hours, and they want to break their record.

Hmm.

One of the devices that we have in our playroom is a bondage box that my husband built. It’s very confining and has multiple means of restraint both inside and out. It’s great fun to play with but the longest I have ever lasted in it is an hour. My husband holds the record of three hours. It’s not that it’s not constantly arousing or secure, it’s just that sooner or later, your body cramps up from being in the same immobilizing position. Or a limb starts to itch and won’t stop. Or you have to pee. Or…the novelty passes, and suddenly the hotness of the fantasy isn’t matching the reality.  We’ll tell guys of the duration of time that we’ve spent locked up in the box and they’ll come back with something like, “Oh I would last far longer” or more often “I don’t want to be given the option of being let out. I want to spend the night in it and be locked up for at least a day!”

Hmm.

Now take that desire and divide by seven, and you’ll get something that is a lot more doable for everyone involved, and in the end just as hot. I mean, I have no issue trying something like this, but bear in mind that as the top, I want to feel engaged with the captive sub. These proposed scenarios basically set us up to be more like babysitters, and after a while I’m probably going to get bored. It’s possible the sub might actually too eventually, and then feel disappointed that they aren’t going to last as long as their mind thought.

I can tell you of a few times where friends of mine have actually played out their detailed long-term imprisonment fantasies to the hilt, almost following their desired ‘script’ verbatum. What they describe is of course amazing, but they have also said that something odd occurred during the course of the play. They didn’t get hard. At all. Like, even when they were allowed to be aroused with absence of chastity, they didn’t. They said it was as if their mind was so blown away that they got to finally play out their ultimate dream that the synapses were in overdrive and they couldn’t process it – and thus not get aroused. Apparently this is quite normal. In fact one kinkster friend of mine described it perfectly with the analogy of getting married and all the anticipation leading up to the momentous ceremony. She said, “ask anyone who has gotten married how much they remember about the wedding itself. Most will say they hardly remember it.”  I would agree accept I remember my wedding very well, because I was clad in tight head to toe leather and cried like a big ol’ girl…

Know the limits of reality. They are okay. If your scene suddenly gets cut short because of them, it doesn’t have to be seen as a FAIL. Fantasies and the in-depth creations in our kinky minds can be boundless and infinite, and they should be. It’s our twisted imaginations that keep our desire to play ignited. Just remember though that an actual playscene doesn’t have to live up to the expectations created by our imagination in order to be fulfilling. Often when it comes to play, less really can be more. And this way the players are left with the rush of the exchange and not disappointment.

And that being said, below is MY favorite story by Leo Ravenswood, The Great White Hunter  🙂

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Tonight – Toy Drive with Kinky Klaus

Tonight we’ll be heading out to MJ’s Tavern for the Knight Hawks toy drive benefiting kids and families serviced by Access. All participants who bring an unwrapped child’s toy will receive a raffle ticket for a chance to win an adult toy  🙂 There will of course be Jello shots as well as photo opportunities with Kinky Klaus. The event begins at 10pm tonight.

Sir Bart and I have been getting to know our local community through events such as this, and the Knight Hawks are not only an awesome group of guys, but very gracious and welcoming as well. We’ll be heading out with the new boy under our consideration – but of course, that’s a future blog entry as it unfolds!

Knight Hawks of Virginia Facebook page

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