Thursday, July 30, 2009

We Interrupt This Program, Part II

Once again, I'm going out of town for a week beginning this Saturday. Don't know if I'll have the opportunity to post or not, but as my longer-blogging friends have told me: post often, post regularly. Given I may not be able to post next week, just wanted to give you a head's-up.

I'm not really feeling any particular Dark Musing at the moment. I know I have a slew of "coming soon" topics to write about, I'm just not inspired.

I will say this: our country was built on the backs of the Puritans. Those prudes were so reviled they had to flee their homeland to practice their extremely right-leaning ways somewhere else. Is it no wonder a few hundred years later we're still dealing with people's shocked attitudes toward sex, homosexuality and other legal proclivities? Every time I go to Europe and some Asian countries I am both astonished and relieved by their openness to sex or "alternative" lifestyles. This country would be better off if we weren't so full of our TBS-watchin', bible-thumpin' friends. (Now if you watch TBS and thump bibles and you're voluntarily reading this, that means you're either super interesting and I want to buy you a drink or your a real perv in which case it's time to clean up your act or admit you have a "problem.") Some of the greatest hippocrytes I've ever personally known in my life are "serious" religious-types.

Short, sweet and to the point. Thank you. Type at you in a week, unless I get 'er dun whilst I'm away...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Scenes: Dark & Serious vs. Fun & Frivolous

Last night my wife and I were at our usual play place, Lair de Sade, in Los Angeles. My wife, a devout switch, played with an older gentleman I'd seen play there before. His scene had been joyous, filled with laughs and joking profanity. It had been fun to watch. I'd told my wife about this before she played, letting her know he was a fun player.

Afterward, on our long car ride home in the middle of the night, we talked about her scene. It had been intense, but filled with humor, conversation (albeit of a head-fucky nature), laughter and games. At one point, C (my wife) used a bystander to validate her mind-messing game. The bystander joined in and was enjoying himself and laughing throughout. In fact, this bystander, known more for his intense, dark and deeply serious scenes, was seemingly having the time of his life, chuckling throughout.

This got me musing about BDSM and our collective scenes. Must they always be dark and serious? Do we have to take ourselves so damn seriously in our black leather and our implements of torture? Can't we just have a little fun?

That's not to say fun doesn't happen. There have been more times than I can count that scenes involve smiles, laughter, lightheartedness and fun. But if there was a ratio between fun and serious, fun would certainly be on the losing side.

My inclination, based on my personality, is to go lighter (and I don't mean with regard to the intensity of a scene). It's good for a first-time play date (not as ominous) and makes communication easier. A fun scene is fun for everyone, the players and the audience. Of course, some scenes require a darker, seething intensity.

But I get the sense that "dark and serious" is the default, not necessarily the desire. Dungeons, by their very nature, can be intimidating places. I wonder if people just don't know how to have fun in a dungeon, or if they feel like it's not appropriate based on what they see going on around them. Certainly, I think part of it is out of respect. People don't want (and shouldn't) interfere with other's scenes, either directly or indirectly. Too much laughter and joviality could be frowned upon. Which also might be a problem in and of itself.

I, for one, have had a number of memorable "fun" scenes.

I did a fire and wax scene with my wife in subby mode and a fellow top that was helping me with my first fire scene. That drew quite an audience. Partially the fire & wax, which always a crowd pleaser, but mostly because we were vocal and having so much fun. Plus, C always, always, always has this odd reaction to fire play: she laughs uncontrollably. She doesn't know what it is, but it gets infectous. Everyone had a great time.

Another scene was predominantly a spanking scene. This one was predetermined to be light (attitudinally) and it was fun. This scene wasn't in or directly off the main play space, but in a less-trafficked area. Still, from the screams and the laughs (nearly simultaneously at times) we drew a small audience of happy onlookers, curious as to what silliness was going on at the Lair. The bottom was very bratty and I took the cue and just dished it out heavier, with lots of sarcasm thrown in. It's still one of my favorite scenes because of the joviality of it and the fact so many "serious" onlookers were having such a good time. Plus, being in this room off the kitchen, we could be as boisterous as we wanted.

Which all leads me back to the initial topic: do scenes have to be serious? Is there another "setting" on them besides "Dark & Serious" that you can take them? Is that allowed? Is laughter frowned upon in a dungeon? Can you have serious pain and hilarity in the same scene? Can a bottom reach subspace between guffaws? I think so. I've witnessed it and I've enjoyed and experienced it in my own scenes.

What say you?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Behind the Scenes of a Scene

So much of my feedback is from women interested in gaining insight into the lifestyle from the perspective of a top. I thought I'd do so again.

Just confirmed my next playdate with Erica. It's in about two weeks. We'll be meeting up for dinner--her, J and my wife and I--before going off to the Lair for our independent sessions. For me, the planning begins almost immediately. "What planning?" you say. Well, as I've said before, I liken a scene to a symphony. The Brandenburg Concerto #9 in D-minor (it's real, look it up!) wasn't created overnight. Neither is a scene (for me, anyway).

I begin thinking about my last scene with my upcoming play partner. What implements did I use? What was the arc of the scene? Was it talky? Fun? Intense? DId we have any problems or issues that need to be considered? You don't want to listen to (or play!) the same symphony over and over, after all.

I begin to plan new implements, a new arc. I work out the general structure, but I leave the mood and tone of the scene loose. Why? Because a few days before we play, I check in with my play partner: what does she need out of the scene? what catharsis might she be looking for? what intensity does she want or need? Occasionally (often, actually!) the bottom doesn't really have anything specific in mind, but I don't want to "lock in" to a scene plan until I know the answers to these questions. If there is a desire or goal for the scene from the bottom, I start to work out the mood, emotion, intensity. If there's no needs or issues brought up by the bottom then I start to think about how the scene will be tonally different from the previous one. If the last was fun and light, perhaps something darker and more intense? Were there a lot of emotions? Keep the scene fun.

Of course, this is not scripted. There's nothing rote about it. I consider the plan more a guide than a directive. I always improvise. If I planned on using an implement and the bottom isn't liking it this scene, skip it and move on. Anything I say is always, always what I'm feeling at the moment. And there's plenty of room for changing directions and seeing where the mood takes us.

As we get closer to our scene, I'll talk a little bit about how the plan unfolds, then share with you how it all worked out afterwards.

Hope this helps lend some perspective into, at the very least, my process--whatever it is.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Top vs. Dom

When my wife and I first entered the lifestyle I was reading everything I could on sadism, masochism, BDSM and every other kink & fetish (see a brief list at the end of this entry), along with gaining a greater insight into the psychology of it all. It was enough to try to figure out me let alone everyone else in the scene. I knew what felt right to me and I knew what didn't. In talking to a friend (a mentor of sorts, but I hesitate to use that word because it has different meanings to different people in the lifestyle) at the Lair de Sade in North Hollywood (a great place, non-threatening, regardless of what Erica Scott says) where we public play, he said, "...a Dom is a person and Top is what they do."

But I saw it a different way then and I see it a different way now.

To me they are both a kind of person and in my humble opinion, there is a vast difference between those two categories of people. In the world of Doms, there are subs and slaves beneath them. Theirs is a world of protocols, of discipline that goes beyond a scene and into a home. Subs wears collars, sit on pillows at their master's feet and other unique activities that are particular to that world. (I chose the most obvious and likely superficial of elements to make my point, but anyone in that lifestyle know there is so much more to it. If I do the D/s world a disservice here, I don't mean to.)

In the world of a Top, the protocols of D/s aren't there per-se. Collars and slaves likely aren't involved in the same way as they do with Dominants/submissives, if at all. A Top is a dominant in that the Top is the sadist in charge of delivering pain and corporeal punishment and whatever else and there it pretty much ends. Little, if any, of the protocols found in D/s relationships or scenes are observed. The Top is dominant in the scene, but after that scene is over, the Top and bottom likely won't observe those protocols.

I can't speak for any other Top but myself, but I believe other differences are there, too. For me, the demeaning of the bottom found frequently in D/s protocol doesn't work for me. That's a distinction I make in my mind when I call myself a Top and not a Dom. The ownership, slavery and contract aspects are also not a part of my definition of a Top's world.

Remember from a previous blog my world is not just about "Safe, Sane and Consensual" (and I always flash to my childhood with that and to the fireworks they sold in California for the Fourth of July--Red Devil Fireworks were "safe and sane" they claimed). It's also about Respect, Trust, Honesty, Compassion and Communication. (Doesn't work with fireworks.) I know that exists in D/s relationships, but to me some of those don't necessarily work in D/s. But that's just me.

It's funny. In the spanking world (what I've experienced of it thusfar) the choices when filling out your membership or party application are: Top, Bottom or Switch. Simple. Clear. In the BDSM world, it's not that simple.

Books to look into:

Sensuous Magic

These were my primers. Of course, there have been others and websites galore, but those two were a good start.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We Pause for this Brief Intermission...

I'm heading off for a few days of R&R with the fam. As soon as I get back, I'm off on a business trip for a few days. Likely won't see another blog entry until next week. I know keeping this damn thing fresh is paramount, so I wanted to let you know my "experiment" isn't over, it's just on a brief hiatus. Look for a new post as early as Monday or as late as next Thursday.

Upcoming topics:

  • Why I Hate Safewords and How Not To Use Them
  • Notes for a Bottom: How to Ask for What You Need
  • Inside This Top's Mind: It's a Mess Up There
Just a few parting thoughts for you dedicated followers, early adopters and mild stalkers:

  1. I was in a Polynesian place on business the last few days (I know, I know: tough life--but the inside of a conference room is the inside of a conference room, even when it's tropical outside). Saw one of those cultural shows with all the exotic dancing (not that kind, you pervs!) and grass skirts, etc. There was one number, Tongan perhaps, where they had these sticks that were split into almost broom-like ends and they would smack them against themselves to make this percussive "chook!" sound. As I was sitting there with all these families, I'm thinking, "I gotta get me a few of those. They'd be great to smack an ass with!" Talk about perv.
  2. Before you talk, think. Before you react negatively to someone, be ready to articulate why you're feeling that way. It's okay to feel negative, whether it's legitimate or not. I like to say, "Your perception is 9/10ths of your reality." It's true, if you think about it. So, even if you're negative about something, even if it's not legitimate, it's real to you. To be fair to the individual you may be having these thoughts about, the best thing to do is to be able to communicate why you have these feelings. Get them out on the table. Announce them. Even as you know they may not be fair, you can say that, too. Best not to leave your cloud of doom hovering over the other without clear definition on what is going on in your head. Does that make sense? If you do this, you can get quicker resolution to what's bothering you. (What the hell does that have to do with any kind of "Dark Musing" anyway? you ask, and rightfully so. Nothing. Just an observation I had that I thought I'd share. It's my blog. So button it.)
Have a great week. I'll be back next with more pithy observations and Tales from the Top Side. (Oooh! That should've been my blog's name! Damn.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Perfect Night

Last night my wife Cindy and I went to play with Erica and J. Since C and J are both switches, it was her turn to top him. Oh, the fun those two have. I need a playbook to keep track of who's going to be toppy each night. C had many exotic and dastardly things planned and was looking forward to an intense scene.

Erica and I had done our pre-scene discussion a few days earlier about we were looking for in our scene. "I just want to keep it light," Erica had said. Fine by me. Two scenes ago was a very dark, very intense corporeal punishment scene involving a lot of psychological aspects that took Erica into a very deep emotional state. Our last scene had been lighter, but heavy on the intensity of the strokes and implement usage. This time, I wanted the scene to be light, but also have arcs of intensity.

I liken a scene to a symphony. You have quiet passages, moments of abrupt staccato rhythm, surprisingly loud sections followed by a single solo. I think scenes should have an arc, highs and lows. When I plan my scenes I think them through this way. Last night was no exception.

After getting situated finally with no distractions, our scene began. As always, I kept Erica guessing. What implement would I use? I would have a paddle in my hand, then between strokes switch surprisingly to my hand and back again, always keeping her wondering what was happening and what was going to happen next.

We had fun, with light banter at first and Erica bratting in a special way she reserves just for me since she knows how I dislike typical schoolgirl bratting. (So contrived! That's a subject for a future blog post, however.) But slowly she quieted down, hunkering down to take what I delivered. I attacked her with a riding crop, flicking the tip across her back, shoulders, rear and legs. She hates that thing and yelped frequently. There's this leather tube-shaped thing with a handle (clearly I have no idea what it's called) that you crack like a wet towel in a gym. It makes the loudest, mind-fuckiest sound of all but doesn't hurt all that much. I love that implement. Then my two dastardly canes I consider "twins". They're both black and the same narrow diameter, but one is almost rubber-like and extremely flexible and whippy and the other is made of unyielding carbon fibre. Erica just despises the carbon fibre one.

I had pulled a thicker leather, braided cane out of my bag and had given her one whack with it. "Ugh. Thuddy," was her reply from beneath me. I tossed it aside. Thought it might be. But I was frustrated. So often, new implements I try are poo-pooed by Erica and dismissed. It got me angry. I pulled out a common variety wood cane and asked her how many letters were in the word Thuddy. "Six," she rasped. "You said "thuddy" three times. What's three times six?" I asked. She replied 18. And like that, I took my frustration out on her rear with 18 dramatic, stinging strokes.

I could sense the end of scene approaching. Erica's sniffles and crying resulting in my pulling out not one but two tissues for her. I knew she couldn't take much more. We had another punishment to deal with, and so I pulled out the thick, almost wood-like, leather paddle I had admired at March's SL party that Lizzie had showed me. I had liked it so much I had one made of my own (thanks, Lizzie!). I doubt Erica thanks her very much. Eight blows, almost as hard as I could muster, followed. Erica counted, screaming out the numbers after each smack of the paddle.

After, I cradled her and stroked her hair while she "came down" and returned, as I like to say, to the land of the living. She was spent. I was a sweaty heap. Together, another wonderful, intense, chemistry-laden scene in which I pushed Erica to new places she normally wouldn't go and also one in which Erica taught me again the importance of compassion and communication in a scene.

Rarely do I get the opportunity to experience that chemistry in a playmate. Erica is one wonderul play partner. It was, indeed, a perfect night.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Negotiation vs. Communication

The spanking scene is mostly a casual one, with quick how-do-you-dos followed by an OTK for a few minutes. Rarely do scenes seem to last longer than half an hour. (Disclaimer: this entry is only based on my personal experience at two spanking parties, so argue away people!) In the BDSM world, scenes can be equally short, or can go on for up to four hours or more. In the spanking world, the discussion in advance is typically, “Can I spank you?” In the BDSM world, there’s a pre-scene interview known typically as a negotiation. (And if I’m oversimplifying all this, so? It’s my blog.)

I hate that term: “negotiation.” It implies that if the bottom doesn’t like something being discussed for the scene, the Top could negotiate something similar. For example:

Top: “I want to flog your breasts ‘till they bleed.”
Bottm: “Ew. I don’t like that. NO.”
Top: “Okay. I’ll just flog them ‘till their abraded then.”

That’s negotiation IMHO. It’s like that in business:

Businessperson 1: “I’ll sell that to you for $100.”
Businessperson 2: “I won’t pay more than $70.”
Businessperson 1: “How’s $85?”
Businessperson 2: “Okay.”

See? Negotiation. It implies decisions can be swayed, opinions can be shifted, issues marginalized and altered into the grey. I don’t like this. I don’t believe in pre-scene negotiation. Instead, I like this crazy thing called communication. You know, talking. Discussing. Finding out likes and dislikes. Determining what the bottom wants or needs. Discussing medical issues, hot topics, buttons, issues, concerns. Then, modifying play to accommodate those things.

Now, some Tops/Doms will say, “Well, that’s not being very Toppy, is it? You go in, you give ‘em what you got and that’s that.” Really? Seems like a prescription for a short-lived scene or playmate relationship to me.

It’s not just “Safe, Sane, Consensual” to me. It’s also “Respect, Trust, Honesty, Compassion and Communication.” (RTHCC just rolls off the tongue, don’t it?) I think any real Top or Dom would agree that these things are not only paramount to a good scene or play relationship, they’re requirements.

So, if you’re actively negotiating a scene, you’re in a tit for tat haggling situation, not an open, respectful, trusting, compassionate communication.

And that’s where I am. I Communicate. I don't Negotiate.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Extreme Fetish

Everyone is allowed to do whatever they wish. Fetishes range far and wide. Some I agree with, others I don't. Some I get, others make me squeamish and extremely biased. For example, blood and needles aren't my thing. (When I was a kid I had crappy veins and an inexperienced Ross-Loos nurse broke a needle off under my skin whilst fishing for a vein.) I can't even watch.

I am constantly amazed by what I discover on FetLife. Just when I think I've seen it all, read about all the kinks there could possible be out there in this twisted world we live in, I discover something new. Like many of you, I subscribe to a number of groups of FetLife. One of those is Edge Play. Today, a new thread appeared and I was astonished by what it entailed and the subsequent comments in the thread.

It was about bone breaking as an intentional part of a scene. Bone breaking! I thought, as I read through the post I'd discover a lot of people reprimanding the poster for being irresponsible (as is often the case with the relatively sane folks that populate FetLife), but instead, what I read were things like, "I'd be interested in trying that" and "If you'd break a rib I'm probably cream." Really? Sure, like about 11 people I saw the movie Crash (the 1996 David Cronenberg crapfest starring James Spader and Holly Hunter about a group of people that got off from seeing and participating in car accidents. The "fuck my wound" scene was particularly off-putting) but to intentionally break bone? Ugh.

Isn't a good flogging, face slapping, needle piercing, blood letting, gut punching or some other corporeal spasm of sadism enough? When is enough too much? Sure, the very nature of "edge play" is to go beyond "safe, sane and consensual" but to inflict that kind of damage (and potentially life-threatening) is, in my humble opinion, Too Much.

A Disclaimer: I believe that if two sane people want to get together and staple gun their testicles to a park bench covered in acid they should be allowed to do it. Far be it from me to get in the way! But people! Common sense, please???

Friday, July 3, 2009

Age Perception

Allow me to go on a bit of a diatribe about age perception for a moment...

Perhaps it's because I know Erica Scott and play with her regularly. Perhaps it's because we're friends. Perhaps it's because I see more than the surface, but I have to say that she looks better in the more recently produced ShadowLane DVD spanking title "When Danny Met Erica" than "Spank Thy Neighbor," an older title. Looking at these as objectively as possible, and I have to think it's pretty objective because I'm utterly and completely not used to seeing her within the confines of a television screen (or, thanks ShadowLane!, my laptop display), I see a person capable of holding her own in a spanking video even (shock of shocks!) at her age.

Spanking videos seem, in general, to be less about the "beautiful people" of Vivid Video fame (boob jobs and six packs with Fake-n-Bake tans) and more about real folks, albeit highly attractive ones, getting down to the discipline at hand (pun intended).

Watching "When Danny Met Erica" I was struck by the notion that she looked ageless. I saw very little difference between the years of "Spank Thy Neighbor" and the self-produced spankfest in "When Danny...". What I did notice was a person alight with glee over the opportunity to play with someone she enjoyed and had real chemistry with. Far better than the stiffness of "Spank Thy Neighbor."

I would like to believe that since most of the audience for spanking videos is women that the men would need to be hunky and attractive and the woman could be more like them, though more perfect versions of real people (we all like to project, after all). So I would imagine, as long as a performer wasn't sagging all over the place, a perfectly tight bod, regardless of age, should get as much attention as some 21 year old holding a lollipop. To me, the spanking genre actually gets weird when the girls are younger.

Okay, back to my point: I don't want Vivid Video girls getting their butts swatted. It would seem so...artificial. Porn is about hot bodies doing things that look so very much better than anything that could happen in your own darkened bedroom. After all, isn't that the purpose of it to begin with? Spanking is about seeing what you wish but can't have, seeing what you have but wish you had more of, and seeing others get what you love. Age, dick size, boob job accuracy, collagen--none of these truly matter. What matters is a good, old fashioned OTK. And baby, as far as OTK goes, she's still got it.

Welcome to Dark Musing.

On a semi-regular basis this blog will focus on opinions, thoughts, anecdotes, activities and other stories relating to the BDSM and spanking communities and my personal involvement within them.

Hi. I'm Craig. Scene name: Showman 451, which is complicated, I know. I'm a Top. Not a Dom. A Top.

I hope this will be light, fun, funny, complicated, opinionated and occasionally annoying. You can say what you will. Agree, disagree, complain, rant, rave. That's fine. If I say something that offends you, go somewhere else. If you agree with me or find my musings interesting, that's cool too.