Upcoming event: ROPECRAFT! Feb, 19-21

For those of you who are looking to refine your skills with rope bondage, or maybe rope is something you never understood because it seemed like one of those types of kink play that simply ‘takes too long’, I want to tell you about an exciting event coming up in Austin TX, called ROPECRAFT , presented by my awesome friend Graydancer. It’s a unique rope bondage conference where there will be a wide spectrum of techniques, intentions, and skill levels. You’ll find internationally renowned performers and bedroom players and Western fusion and Kinbaku. There will be people who have raised their craft to the level of art tying right along with those who don’t give a damn how you tie them as long as you tie them tight and tie them now.

This is also the con to attend if you really don’t understand what the big deal is about rope is, or think it “takes too long,” or is too complicated. It is the con for people wanting to improve basic skills and people working on the really fancy stuff. It’s the place where you can meet and learn from some of the best rope enthusiasts in the world.

There will have three nights of sex-positive play space RIGHT IN THE HOTEL. The producers are partnering with the amazing people at Bondage Expo Dallas and Bonds of Steel to bring you rock-solid suspension frames, tripods, crosses, benches, and a few surprises, too: BoS is creating equipment that will be premiering at ROPECRAFT. That means you can be among the first to use it! There will also be all-day access to a practice room in addition to the Ropenspace Sunday afternoon. We’re also making sure that there is plenty of room for floorwork, self-suspension, or even non-rope play if that’s what you’re looking for.

I am very humbly honored to be slated as a guest of honor for this event, alongside my dear friend and kick-ass rope teacher, Midori, and we will be joined by 17 world-class presenters offering classes of all forms and skill levels. I myself will be teaching are infamous Predicament Bondage class, as well as the Dynamics of the Switch and a brand new class, Bondage for the Male Body (’cause it’s just not the same as tying up a woman).

The event is on February 19-21 in Austin TX. and you can find more information about it and purchase tickets here:

ROPECRAFT!

The link also has information regarding the host hotel and booking rooms. I’m very excited about being included in this upcoming con and I encourage all rope enthusiasts – novice to expert – to check it out! It will prove to be a very fun time for all!

Sir Dart

Kink Alchemy

Back when I lived in Toronto I was in a relationship with a man who deemed himself a FOODIE. For those of you unfamiliar with this label, it’s more or less a person who has become a connoisseur of food to the point of ‘fetishizing’ the flavors and the way they interact with one another. These are people that have taken the act of savoring taste and texture of food to a heightened degree, and relish the ways the flavors come together to create a whole new experience on the palate. It’s not uncommon for wine to play a vital role in said exchange, and for some of us, it’s a required component. Indeed I used to marvel at some of the unique culinary combinations my ex would present for me; things that I would never imagine would complement each other in the way they did. Perhaps the most unique experience I had was the evening he served me a homemade french vanilla ice cream, topped with what appeared to be a very satiny dark chocolate syrup. In actuality, it was a reduction of balsamic vinegar, and before you all grimace, I must tell you that it was absolutely amazing! Certainly, it was nothing I would ever expect but was enough to give me a greater appreciation of mere mastication, and even risk adopting the ‘foodie’ identity for myself – at least without taking on the pretentiousness that can sometimes be found in this dining sub-culture – I do remember being at a party of gourmet event planners who were all engaged in a heated discussion about fleur-de-sel.

*insert eye roll*.

What foodies experience in the culinary realm is the exact same dynamic we kinksters experience in the playroom during a power exchange. (At least a really GOOD power exchange). It’s two or more individuals housing a particular energy and intention….along with a healthy dose of hormones, endorphins, and creativity…coming together and creating what is hopefully a mind-blowing nuclear reaction. A reaction that causes all parties involved to go beyond limits and perceptions – a reaction that alters all players for the better. (Or at least enough to make their toes curl and their heads spin). In other words, it’s chemistry.

One thing I absolutely LOVE about BDSM PLAY is that so much of it is not meant to be understood in words. It’s something that is experiential, not linear. You can try to explain the components of a power exchange and kinky intimacy with as much intellect as you can muster, but ultimately one doesn’t truly ‘know’ until they have experienced it for themselves. And chemistry is the backbone to this experience.

So what constitutes this cathartic reaction between players? Well for one, there’s the obvious – which would be a sexual attraction. And before you all jump on me I’m not saying that play always has to have a sexualized component present to be cathartic. Sometimes it has nothing to do with sexual arousal as we all know. But, I am always leery of players who fall into the belief that their skill or expensive toys are enough to bring me into the playscene with them. Years ago I remember being ‘shamed’ for turning down an invitation from a rope top that I simply had no attraction to. He scolded me, saying “Well the truth is, it’s what’s being DONE to you that matters…not whether you think the Dom is pretty or not.” Clearly the gentleman did not take rejection well. But I was young and it left me confused about power dynamics for quite some time. To me it has always been a combination of the two; it is simply part of the human design that we will naturally give ourselves into a stronger connection if there is an element of arousal present. You see this everywhere. Perhaps that makes me superficial but it’s one of the reasons why I don’t just randomly offer play for the sake of the experience to the other. I want to FEEL something with the person I’m tying up. Otherwise, as my friend Midori puts it, it makes you feel like a ‘public utility’.

Sometimes the connection is based on an attraction that is NOT easy to explain in words. Maybe the playmate(s) are not of the archetype that would tend to sexually draw you in, yet they possess a quality or trait that still presents something appealing. Many of us can attest to those times when we’ve felt drawn to play with someone and said, “There’s just something about them or who they are that I’m drawn to.” One of the most honorable things I experience is when a Dominant asks to explore a submissive headspace with me. They may feel that I’m simply a safe place to be vulnerable with – or perhaps I present something that speaks a lack of judgment for going there with me. Whatever the case, we both emerge with a greater understanding of ourselves and each other.  And trust is heightened. It could also be that most of them are bigger than me and could easily whoop my ass. One of my classic directives is, “I am Sir Dart. Now put me down, boy.”

I recently conversed with a young man and his Dom about expanding their experience level together. The boy shared his remorse of rope demos and videos he had participated in that felt very ’empty’. His story reminded me of the first bondage party in California I was ever invited to, way back when I was a more inexperienced Dom. Although it was a pansexual gathering, I was assured there would be plenty of male rope enthusiasts present who would love to submit to my binds. Off I went dressed like a member of the Village People with my packed bag of cotton clothesline from Home Depot, duct tape, handcuffs and a couple of bandannas. What can I say, it was early on in my experience level! I was greeted at the door by a gentleman clad in what appeared to be a cotton kimono from Pier 1 Imports, and was instructed to bow before entering the space. “There will be some very traditional Japanese bondage here this evening.” I arrived to the space to the sounds of a unique and ethereal musical piece I had never heard before…and was very captivated by its carnal tone. I asked the host what it was, and after a very judgmental scan of my attire (everyone was wearing kimonos and kilts….I was in chaps and a wifebeater) he arrogantly told me, “well it’s an import, and you probably won’t ever be able to get it here in the US. But it’s a new band called Enigma. Very rare.” I then decided to peruse the unique space, and was drawn to a large display of ropework activity happening in the largest room in the space.  There was a gaggle of spectators all mesmerized gazing at several women trussed up in what appeared to be extensive macramé and hovering above the ground with lifeless expressions on their faces. One of the voyeurs turned to me and whispered, “They have such poise in their stillness, don’t they?” I had no response so I merely nodded. It was very beautiful and impressive. It was also incredibly BORING. The only connection the dominants appeared to have was with showing off to the room. The subs were equally disengaged.  I actually spoke with one of the women afterwards and she stated, “when I feel his rope on me, it’s like I go somewhere else…I completely leave my being and all thoughts and concerns and I just go away from everything for a while.”  She reminded me of what I refer to in my classes as a “lima bean bottom”. Cooked lima beans are unique in that they will soak up however much butter you put on them and still be completely dry on the inside. There are subs out there that do the same thing with the energy you exude as a Dom….and it robs of the connection. So what I had witnessed were pairs of people that were never relating to each other to begin with. This was NOT chemistry…it was a display of ego.

Chemistry does not exist in the toys themselves, or in the extensive knowledge you may have of its use. A skein of rope or a thousand dollar handcrafted bullwhip are merely inanimate objects until we infuse them with our character, our spirit. When I teach a rope class I try to convey to the tops that if you are in the ‘zone’ with your sub, they are not going to care in the slightest WHAT kind of knot you’re using or how pretty it is. Chemistry is generated when you the toys and your afflictions become an extension of what you want to say to the sub…and in turn if they are connected to you they will return the energy with a loud moan or delightful squeal inviting more.  The connection is with the people; the toys are simply the conduit.

Sometimes chemistry has to be reignited or reinvented in the moment, because an unreasonable expectation was projected onto the other person or the play itself. Or sometimes the players are too ‘familiar’ with each others’ dynamic and they are falling into a routine. The other day my husband and I were about to engage in a bondage scene that I was very excited about, as I hadn’t played freestyle with rope in quite some time.  Shortly before the scene began, I was suddenly pulled into a phone conversation with my mother. I don’t think I need to elaborate on this…but needless to say I was not in the same aroused state of mind at the end of the call. Yet, I went forward with the scene, thinking that somehow my ‘edge’ would be there once I started handling the rope. Instead my mind was completely stuck on my mother’s bridge game anecdote and her latest conspiracy theories. And no matter how much I drew and cinched and tied, I couldn’t focus. Gently my husband said to me, “I see you attempting to play with the rope, but what I would like is for you to play with ME.” It was a gentle and kind indicator to step back…clear my mind with a quick chat…and go back in fresh. And then the play was wonderful!

As you all continue in your various experiences of leather and BDSM, never lose sight of the amazing catharsis that occurs in the dynamic of chemistry. Never forget that there are always connections to be had in play and relationships that ignite amazing shifts for one another. There are always new exchanges to be had – some of which are as unexpected as vanilla ice cream with balsamic vinegar. And of your existing connections, there are always new horizons to open up as your relationships grow and evolve together. Never stop discovering, never stop learning.  And above all, never stop playing! 🙂

 

 

Play, Dammit!

I’ve spent a great deal of time over the past year being a good listening ear for my friends as they navigate their way in the community. A great majority of them are either producers of contests and events, or titleholders…and sadly, there appears to be an abundance of seriousness and resignation with all of the ‘political’ crap that comes up for them.

Plain and simple, the most important component of my leather life is the PLAY.

It’s not that I don’t care about the politics…it’s just that, I lose my hard-on when they come up.

As my husband and I wind down from the intense whirlwind of the various events we have attended the past few months, and get the suitcases reorganized and sorted for teaching at the next gig, I always get a little childlike glimmer as I look at all the toys we incorporate into our ventures. I look at some of the larger items that he built that exist in our playroom..such as our bondage box..and always say, “think it’ll fit this time??” I always continue to be amused at some of the overtly complicated postings of political disarray on the various leather and kink sites; the ongoing debates of what “traditions” are or should be…the various allusions to feuding among titleholders and Machiavellian individuals they have to contend with in their communities or circles. Then there’s the inflammatory reactions to published works …many of which have titles with the word ‘handbook’ or ‘manual’ in them. And let’s not even delve into the debates
around exclusionary playspaces. Where’s the fun??

Leather and kink, to me, is and always has been very simple, yet so many feel an inherent need to bring complication to it. To me, the core element is the dynamic of PLAY.

Think about it. Your greatest transformation and growth occur when you’re in the domain of playing. Think about that connection you have with someone in the dungeon…the intensity of their gaze, sadistic and evil..yet so incredibly arousing your heart is pounding and your body is weak and your breathing is heavy..the way their hand touches your bound body, letting you know that they have full control of what happens to you…what you FEEL or allowed to feel. Think about the endorphins, the hormones….the adrenaline….your chemistry being altered and surging just by the experience of the afflictions, intense….yet hypnotic. There is no past…no future….only the now…the moment by moment of every exchange of power, of energy..increasing with each lashing, each punch, each drop of wax. You hear the Dom’s voice, their breathing, their laughs of evil….perhaps you feel their mouth or tongue…you register their unique scent , mixing with yours. And most of all…the “you” that has been so familiar all this time…the identity you believed yourself to be…all suddenly changing. Reaching what you proclaim to have been your limitations and yet, the trust you feel is immense, and the power of what is happening is so exhilarating that you give a nod to your captor…and together you go further that you imagined you could do. Maybe you’re the one controlling the scene, feeling the incredible catharsis that is occurring as a result of the parameters you’ve orchestrated. A person or persons have enabled you to create an incredible moment…perhaps several…as a result of your skill, your prowess…and most of all you’re ability to instill trust. You feel a surge happening in the dominance you have over your sub, your prisoner, your pup. The game is
in motion…there is a point of arrival….but the journey is just as amazing. The scene concludes…perhaps with an orgasm or an outburst of tears. The trajectory has been reached … the aftercare ensues. And we reflect on who we’ve become as a result of going there. We are changed. Complete.

Or…perhaps you’d rather talk about fundraising…?

I have always found that my greatest growth happened as a result of what went on in the dungeon. What transpires in there is profound and non-linear. It is there that I have found my deepest bonds with others. It’s the kind that takes you beyond the threshold of standard one-handed masturbation and puts you in the context of bliss. I know when my husband/boy and I play…if he can still form full sentences at the conclusion of the playscene, I’m off my game.

So what are the components of play?

Well, Psychology Today sums up play as having the following characteristics:

-It is self-chosen and self-directed, with no pressure to engage or quit.
-It is conducted for its own sake, not because there is necessarily a ‘goal’ to be reached
-It is carried out in accordance with self-directed, mental rules.
-It is non-literal, imaginative, and marked-off in some way from reality.
-It involves and active, alert, but non-stressed state of mind

Now I understand that this approach may seem a little too simple. You may be reading this thinking “there is SO much more to what leather is about…there’s honor there’s traditions there’s a feeling of brotherhood and families and guidance, community work and charity …”

*Shudder*….I’ve been a titleholder twice….I remember the language I had to put in my speech in order to survive the scoring of the judges.

All that is mentioned above, I accept, and have experienced, and even strive to uphold. I am a presenter and when I educate I make a point to be true to our history for the most part. But, I firmly believe that there is a strong element of sexualized play that lays underneath this that we seem to deny. And I believe we would have a lot less negativity in the culture of leather if we embraced this more. We have new generations expressing an interest in what it is we’re doing and they want to be a part of it. But then they see the cattiness and drama and say, “no thanks”. We have to remember that for most of us, the first thing that had us being our venture into leather was the arousal we felt when we saw it on someone sexy.

If you’re having a negative reaction to what I’m saying, take a little closer look….as PLAY is a wonderful thing. Back in the 80’s I was a Theater Arts major at UCLA – I know, BIG surprise right? – and during my time there I had the pleasure of taking a course in Children’s Theater and Creative Dramatics. I will never forget the day we met our professor, who I had envisioned would be a kind of matronly “Miss MaryAnn” type, who instead turned out to be a very stern-looking Twyla Tharp clone with eyeglasses that made her look like a bee. She walked in, scanned the room, and opened the semester program with a warning: “For those of you who have come here with the immature belief that you are going to have it easy because you are playing to an audience of children, I shall tell that you will be broken here.”  Yikes…John Houseman was kinder in the Paper Chase. “A child is perhaps the toughest critic you will ever face as a performer. And they will let you know it, right then and there…and you will never be given another chance with them.”  Well I can’t say
this was a surprise to me – I knew kids were brutal…I had read Lord of the Flies after all. She continued: “However, what you are about to embark on here is paramount…because theater, and playing in theater or any kind of artistic endeavor, speaks to a child in a way that an authoritative figure cannot. And when done well, you provide a space for the child to grow in infinite ways”.

It was incredibly inspirational. And it dawned on me how true this was.

As children, we would throw ourselves into a world of play with complete commitment, a hundred and ten percent. There was rarely any consideration of where the “moment of arrival” was..the key was being IN it. The “means” were more important than the “ends”. Sandboxes suddenly became fortresses to protect. The sofa cushions would be arranged to create an ornate secret hide-out where we could gather to discuss world espionage. And the intimidating tree in the back yard…normally too high for us to climb…would suddenly become a beanstalk, and we would push ourselves to climb higher with the hopes of reaching the giant’s house. The “space” was sporadic, free- flowing….and perfect for nurturing our development. It would promote creativity,autonomy, and socialization. We became better children as a result of going there. And we always had new found energy to come back for more.

This is what is so wonderful about being kinksters and leatherfolk. We still have access to that domain. We can still engage in those “worlds” where cathartic exchanges occur, and grow as men and women as a result. And we have the added bonuses of hormones, endorphins, developed language, and intellect. Not to mention some degree of street wisdom. I think all too often, we forget this…or neglect the importance of it. Maybe we get caught up in things we believe are so serious…that we lose sight of the very thing that brought
us here initially.

Never underestimate what engaging in play can do for you and others in leather. If you have reached a point where you are feeling a sense of negativity or resignation with your leather journey, I invite to go back to that ‘root’ where it all began for you. Seek out the playmates you trust, schedule those flogging, cutting, or bondage sessions. Get back to that freedom you had to feel the power exchange. And when you are at an event or contest or fundraiser, and you see others suddenly engaging in play…SUPPORT it. It’s vital to who we are.

Remember everybody….this shit is supposed to be FUN!

 

Teaching in Ireland

Early in the year I had the unique pleasure of presenting in Dublin for Ireland’s gay men’s leather BDSM organization, RULE (Rubber-Uniform-Leather-Event). As the group is slowly establishing its place in the international community, they are expanding their endeavors by conducting educational demos and workshops. The event consisted of a 3 hour introduction to bondage workshop during the day, followed by their monthly dress code event that evening at a local venue.  The workshop focused on rope bondage basics and safety, explored some very fun predicament scenarios, and was followed by hands-on practicing and plenty of time for Q and A. The guys were wonderfully enthusiastic and hungry for the information, and it was awesome to teach to a group that was so engaged and eager to learn.

RULE has had quite an extensive history in its creation, and has evolved over the years as a result of  perseverance and community support.  At the helm of the group is a man named Karl Haydn, who has been actively involved in bringing an established leather scene to Ireland since 1993.  Karl shares his story of discovering his leather self when he befriended an older man named Don Wood back in the early nineties, who was very much into leather and BDSM and recognized the same in Karl. He allowed Karl to ask all kinds of questions about what leather and fetish were about. He describes it as “coming out all over again” as it was not something that was regularly accepted even in the gay community. Karl eventually became involved in changing the Irish laws in 1993 so that gay men would no longer be criminalized; and in his pursuits began to have a better understanding of human rights and the right to be one’s own self. Karl writes, “There was no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed by who and what I am. I have the right to be open and be with other guys who share my leather BDSM interests.” But, the issue of course was there needed to be places to meet those guys.  He and Don teamed up with two other gentlemen to create a regular leather club night in a bar in Dublin.

I personally found it very exciting and a real honor to be included in this event with our leather brothers in the Emerald Isle. The members of RULE have a great enthusiasm and passion to keep the leather and BDSM scene in Ireland growing and expanding. They are hungry for experience and education, and take great pride in the endeavors they have created. The members definitely seek more demos and workshops from outside presenters, and are also working diligently to sustain their regular monthly club nights in Dublin. There is even talk of creating a RULE leather title to represent the country at IML. These are awesome (and SEXY) gentlemen and what they have created deserves international recognition. It was a great priveledge to be a part of their growth, and I encourage the international leather community to support the strides of this organization.

Please enjoy the accompanying photos 🙂

Éirinn go Brách!

Houston, Tribal Fire and more…

Whew!  This schedule looked intense on paper.  Now that I’m actually doing it I feel like I’m running a leather marathon.  So much to catch up on and a lot of upcoming stuff.  This is my life.

Tomorrow I head to Oklahoma City to present at Tribal Fire for my fourth time.  I’ll be presenting my Dance of Rope Bondage class, Intro to Puppy Play, and Genital Bondage. . .and word has it there will be a suspension performance from me sometime Saturday night as well.  The event is one of my favorites. . .the group in OKC is excellent and I feel they’re family to me.  And speaking of family, joining me this time will be my cub Dan, pup Argo, and Mistress Victoria.  We decided to make a lil’ “Canadian invasion” this year.  I’m very much looking forward to sharing these awesome people in OKC.

Two weekends ago I presented at Houston’s Spring Iniquity, the resurrected leather conference for NLA-Houston.  Fantastic event.  The organizers went all out in taking care of the guests. . the line up of presenters were top-notch. . .and the participants were enthusiastic to learn and expand.  It was truly an honor to have been included in this awesome event, and I highly recommend it next year to anyone thinking of venturing down there.  One interesting facet – all the men I tied up that weekend, were straight.  *shrugs* … just happened that way…

And finally, YES we have more podcasts coming!  I’m just finishing up editing them and they will be posted very soon.  Among the names of upcoming interviews are Sir Olivier Pratt, International LeatherSir 2007, pup Sparky, International Leatherboy 2007, and Graydancer. . .whom some of you may know through the Ropecast.  Stay tuned 🙂

*Deep breath*

Alrighty… time to go pack the rope.