Sunday, August 30, 2009

How to Ask for What You Need: A Bottom's Field Guide

I promised I'd get to this before Shadow Lane, and I've been stalling because I've been thinking a lot about this topic. First of all, I am not a bottom and I do not presume to know what goes on in your heads, ladies. But! I'm married to a switch that is highly communicative when it comes to knowing what she wants/needs. I was helped into the lifestyle by a top I consider to be very knowledgeable and in tune with the needs of bottoms and went to great efforts to understand what was going on in their heads and passed some of that knowledge onto me. And my wife was mentored by one of the better, more compassionate empathetic tops in the scene, who's guidance and advice was indirectly passed along to me. Disclaimer over.

So, without further ado (as they say) I present to you:

How to Ask for What You Need: A Bottom's Field Guide
(you may argue about this validity of this post to your heart's content)

As part of my intro to the lifestyle I was taught communication is key prior to a scene. But more than finding out if a bottom has a bad knee and can't stay bent over too long or if a leather flogger is a scene kill for reasons unclear, it was also brought to my attention to find out, if at all possible, what the bottom needs. I'm very keen on delivering the goods for my bottoms. I aim to please. I've said on this blog in the past that I'm very clear on the fact that sometimes--most times!--a bottom is simply looking to play, to feel the pain, to have a good time, to be taken to subspace. But other times, a bottom needs more. She has her own internal monitoring system that has little red lights that go off on the dashboard of her mind to let her know when the time is now for something more intense, something lighter, something different, something specific. But when I sit down for that "interview" before a scene (not negotiation, I assure you!) I discover many bottoms simply cannot articulate what they need, even when they know they need something. I hope I can help, just a little bit.

Some people's minds move at one thousand miles per hour, constantly, all day long. Others are desensitized to emotion, for whatever reason, and need to simply feel. Others are bottled up all day at work, or at home (or both!) and need to emotionally let it go and need "permission" to do so. Some need, as Erica so aptly puts it, to be "centered" (the best description I've heard for a lot of what ails some of you bottoms). Some need to feel unsafe, out of bounds, out of control to push themselves to new heights of awareness.

Here's some things to think about to help you self-assess what you might need:
  1. What makes you tick?
  2. What's driving you crazy?
  3. Do you need "emotional punishment"?
  4. Are you out of control (emotionally, control-wise)? Do you simply need to focus?
  5. Are you feeling bottled up inside and can't give yourself (or don't know how to) release?
  6. Do you need to be pushed? Do you need to go beyond your previous boundaries of "safety" to experience something more "dangerous" (likely as a means to an end relating to one of the #s above)?
I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv. I'm not a therapist, nor do I intend to sound like one. I can't pretend I know what I'm doing as I'm not a lifelong expert. But I am a keen observer of people and I believe I'm a very empathetic person. I think I can suss from a discussion where to take a bottom in a scene.

What makes you tick?
This question presumes you know. If you knew the answer to this one, you probably would be able to answer one of my very first questions: What do you need? But perhaps, indirectly, you can get to the answer by simply taking inventory of yourself. "Hmmm, what makes me tick?" you say. "Well, I'm super-organized, always in control, always on the go, never have time for myself, always thinking about others. That's my life, that's what makes me tick." Okay. Perhaps you need a loss of control, a sense of momentary chaos. This is one of the most obvious reasons why people are in the lifestyle, IMHO (aside from that whole masochism thing). Thinking about what makes you tick might lead you to one possible answer to the question, What do you need?

What's driving you crazy?
"I have so much on my plate I don't know where to begin!" or "I'm always the one in control. I have to be." Great. These issues that weigh heavy on you or frustrate you might just be simple clues to help figure out what you need.

Do you need "emotional punishment"?
Corporeal punishment is obvious (otherwise you probably wouldn't be on this, and similar, blogs to begin with). But emotional punishment? Catharsis comes in many forms. I could never suggest to any bottom that I can tell they need something along these lines. But a bottom can. Nor can I pretend to understand or explain the why of something like this. Emotional punishment is not humiliation and should not be confused as such. I personally cannot go there. It's not within me. But there are buttons that can be pushed, much like a good scolding in a spanking scene, that can assist a bottom achieve their emotional goals.

Are you out of control?
I hear this from one of my favorite bottoms. Her head becomes chaotic. She can't focus. She can't start a project. It's not motivation, it's that needing to be centered thing again. Sometimes, it seems, a good, intense session has a way of calcifying all that chaos and blasting it away. The more intense, corporeally, the better the focus (or the worse the chaos has been prior to the scene). Gaining control, gaining focus, becoming centered--whatever you call it, can last a few minutes, hours, days or weeks. But from my conversations with bottoms, it is a precious commodity that cannot be bought, manufactured or consumed in any other form than the intensity of a scene.

Are you feeling bottled up inside and can't give yourself (or don't know how to) release?

I personally get this one. I don't have to be a masochist to understand these feelings, as throughout my life I've been one to bottle up my feelings, push my emotional issues way, waaaay down in the Trash Compactor of Life. I went to a therapist to gain understanding of how to release all that shit. But sometimes, for a bottom, the only way to achieve that release is with a good whuppin'. Maybe it's as simple as that. This also seems to be a highly common reason for a scene. Simply the bliss of that release.

Do you need to be pushed? Do you need to go beyond your previous boundaries of "safety" to experience something more "dangerous"?
"I can't really explain why, I just need to go beyond my boundaries" or "I need to feel unsafe even though I know I won't be." Again, I can't pretend to understand the why of this need, but it comes up. For a regular play couple, this is often a hard one to deliver. After a while, the top begins to intuit the edge of a scene, the boundaries of tolerance from the bottom. Going "beyond" could get into scene-kill territory, so playing in this realm can be a challenge. With all things in the lifestyle, communication is key, and checking in during this kind of scene is extraordinarily important.

Some more disclaimers: I realized after writing this that it sounds like I know what I'm talking about, that this borders on some form of psychoanalysis. I don't know what I'm talking about. I'm no expert of the mind or of corporeal punishment. I shouldn't be quoted, referenced or Wiki'd. I'm dangerous in that I analyze the shit out of everything and formulate my own conclusions based on my own experience, research and observations. But in the grand scheme of things, I'm no expert.

I've been asked a number of times by different bottoms, "What do you mean by 'what do you need'?" I have been thinking about this for a few months, how to answer that question more articulately. I hope this post has achieved that goal. The rest, my fair bottom darlings, is up to you.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Getting Ready for Shadow Lane

The clock is ticking down for the Shadow Lane party in Vegas. Only days to go. My wife and I are gearing up. I noticed a garment bag on my wife's side of the closet from Macy's, so I can only assume it's a "prom dress" for Saturday night's theme party. I went out last weekend and got the final pieces for my own prom night ensemble--an homage to Mad Men. My wife has been busy prepping all her gear, as have I. Guess it's almost party time.

I certainly hope this SL will be better than the party in March, our first spanking party. A few months later we went to Tampa for Florida Moonshine and had a blast, so we decided if SL had another party we'd give it a try. We've got many new friends we've made over the past two parties we are so looking forward to seeing, talking to and playing with and look forward to making many more.

So, if you see a guy dressed like one of the retro ad agency dudes from the hit TV show with a beautiful long blond-haired woman, stop by and introduce yourself! We'll be the ones laughing, playing, having a great time and hanging out with new, good friends.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Nothing to Say

It's been a busy week and yet I've got nothing to say. Sort of mega-posted last Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday. Thanks everyone for the great feedback, comments and food-for-thought on the whole safeword thing.

My wife and I are getting ready for the ShadowLane party in Vegas. Don't know if you're going, but I hope to meet some of you there! Tonight, it's off to the Lair. Cindy (my wife) has a scene planned in which she's topping and I've got nothing on the books. I don't like to do impromptu scenes, so I'm not packing any toys/implements. Last time that happened, I ended up doing a hand spanking in the "back alley," an area between the wall and the side of the building that's dark, loaded with candles and has a metal chair in the far back recesses of the space.

It's hot and humid here. Thunderstorms are threatening. Most of the Lair's circulation/hang-out space is outdoors. Because the Lair encourages "dress up" I won't be in a t-shirt and shorts and I'd love to be tonight, so I'm wearing hot black jeans, a hot black short sleeve top and hot black socks. No, not hot as in I look good, but hot as in really, really warm. I tried on my kilt, but just didn't feel up to trying to pull of that look tonight. I didn't even think about wearing my toppy shit-kicker boots. Ugh. So, here's to hoping it keeps warm. I'll hang out in the air conditioned kitchen and munch veggies and candy (and my favorite, Reese's Pieces mixed with a super-spicy BBQ Kettle chip that drives my wife crazy when I eat them in combination, but I love that sweet-salty-spicy mixture) and chat with friends while Cindy does her thing.

Tomorrow is filled with more chores like today, but I postponed the good ones for Sunday. Hope you're all having a great weekend. I'll get back on topic next week. Coming up: "Notes for a Bottom: How to Ask for What You Need." And just in time for ShadowLane! :-)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Safewords - An Addendum

After my posting on Saturday about safewords I received an email from a friend too shy to comment on the blog. In her email she said:

An older gentleman in his sixties, having spent many years within the lifestyle and was somewhat respected emerged out a backroom at the Lair with a younger lady following suit at his heels. His tone was stern, and loud, pointed directly at her, though he was taking heaving strides forward, almost like he was trying to get away from her (which I found out later, he was). The word he spoke, I knew, it was universally known. It was "Red".

She would not back off. His voice grew louder--- "I said RED!!!" She stopped. He left. She began to cry, and disappeared from view. First time I ever witnessed a dominant (personality) use that word to stop a submissive (personality) from specific actions. Seemed odd, at the time.

Now Craig, I know this is an unusual moment in time and not one I would ever see again but it had me thinking. When a bottom pushes limits (and they can, believe me) using emotionally fueled words (because pushing physical limits usually isn't the case) could then the Top call a safeword, warning the bottom to think twice regarding a specific behavior, or to even ultimately stop it?

Communication does work, but what if it goes too far? I mean far TOO far. What if the scene reached the end of your fuse. Would you use a safeword, like Yellow or Red? Or would that be totally ridiculous to you? Humor me here. What would cause YOU to blatantly, hands-down, games-over use the word Red as a Top?

This question really caused me to pause, because, believe it or not ladies and gentlemen, I've been in that situation. Here's what I replied:

I'll tell you a story about a scene I did in which I was not in the right headspace. Everything that night at the Lair was wrong. The lighting was wrong. I was using a piece of unfamiliar furniture. I was playing with an implement I didn't have a lot of experience with. The person I was playing with I'd quibbled with just prior to play. Someone I didn't like sat down and was literally STARING at our scene. Pretty much every that could be potential pitfalls to a good scene all came together in a convergence of confusion and frustration. It made me distracted. I kept missing my mark. Intent on getting that staring person out of my mind, I thought some good solid whacks to my bottom might "beat the issue out of my head." Instead, all I did was ruin the scene. The bottom told me she knew I wasn't in the right headspace. She said she could feel it through my hand. She called the scene early. Not safeworded, just said we needed to stop.

As you might imagine, I felt horrible. I knew better, but I went ahead anyway. It was stupid. I should have called the scene before it began, but in my desire to please my bottom and give her what she wanted/needed, I went ahead anyway.

That is NOT the same thing as what you've described, but it's along the same lines.

This exchange got me thinking more about her question. Would I "safeword" if a bottom "went too far"? It got me thinking about what was "too far" and coming up with those scenarios helped me solidify my opinion. So, what's too far? If a bottom got too emotional (i.e. over-the-top reaction, emotionally "unstable" or adverse reactions) that'd be too far. If a bottom really was going too far in terms of "topping from the bottom" I would seriously think of stopping (fortunately that hasn't happened yet!). If a bottom wanted me to do things that I found objectionable for any number of reasons (i.e. cruel, dangerous, something I'm uncomfortable with or just against what I think would be appropriate for the scene/bottom) I would call the scene.

I'm not above calling a scene, philosophically. I mean, what would be the reason not to? Sheer toppiness? Ego? Bravura? Machismo (and I use that term not in the Italian guy way but in the top way--I would see a femdom having an issue of machismo as it relates to this subject)? If you're a regular reader you know I want to please the bottom as much as possible, so doing this would cause a great deal of inner strife, but in the end, after the story I told my friend, I would not want to continue with another scene if I wasn't in the right frame of mind.

When we (my wife and I) first met Erica and J, before I ever played with her, J said, "Erica's a pretty heavy player. She'll make you use your safeword!" It was a hilarious joke, one that still makes me chuckle at today. No, I haven't had to safeword out of a scene with her, nor have I with anyone else, but I could imagine I might have to at some point. As for my friend's question, the answer is yes, I could see safewording out of a scene if I had to. Of course, I don't believe in safewords, so I guess, while she was blindfolded and tied to a St. Andrew's Cross, I'd just pack up and walk away...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Behind the Scenes of a Scene - A Postscript

As I was on a long run today, my mind lost in thought (my own sort of subspace, I suppose), I wandered onto a memory from my scene with Erica last Saturday night, and I was surprised I'd forgotten all about it.

During the counting phase of our scene I told Erica to count as I bounced a cane rhythmically on her sweet spot (this, before the clothespins). When I stopped, she proudly said the correct number of hits. "Oh, when I said to count, I meant beats per minute," I said. "WHAT???!!!" Erica screamed, causing the room to laugh again. "Yes," I responded. "What was the BPM?" "How the hell should I know!" she nearly cried in frustration. Some wag behind me said something like, "I think it was about 120 BPM" trying to either be helpful or sarcastic (guess!).

I told her that since she hadn't figured out the BPM, the next set of counting was going to be worse, which led into the 25 that led to the five penalty whacks and so on.

Not much, but I thought it was diabolically fun. More than anything, I was surprised as I ran nine miles today in the blazing sun how that simple fact had been completely lost to me when I blogged about it, and how it popped back up so unexpectedly in my mind today. I do reach my own kind of subspace when I run, just as I do in a way when I'm scening--my excuse for not remembering every aspect of my scenes!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Why I Hate Safewords and How Not to Use Them

I don't like safewords. I know why they're there and I understand the philosophy behind their existence. I know there are all kinds of techniques out there for the verbally challenged when someone is deep in subspace--holding onto car keys or a red hankie (dropping them is the same as uttering a safeword). But I believe (for me, personally, anyway) that safewords aren't necessary. Why? Once again, I come back to one of my five keys to a successful scene: communication. (The five again, for the newer reader: Respect, Trust, Honesty, Compassion and Communication.)

I never just walk up to someone and go play when it's going to be a long, detailed or complex scene. Sure, at a party, a quick spank is fun and even then I'll ask a few questions first. But if I'm doing BDSM or a longer, more intense scene talking through (some call it negotiation but I hate that--read that blog entry here which also features a little more of those five keys discussed above) what works and doesn't, what a person's limits are, where they want/need to go are all extremely important. Understanding where the bottom is in her head is also very important.

"Great," you say. "Good for you. You communicate. We all do in one way or another. But what about during the scene? What then?" The communication continues. I check in with my bottom a lot. I "read" them, listen to their sounds, their breathing--how are they communicating with their muscles, their physical movements. I watch them. Typically, the combination of checking in and reading their bodies is more than enough to avoid any pitfalls in a scene that might, under other circumstances, result in the use of a safeword. But there are times, when things are really intense, when I'm really into the moment, going crazy, and the bottom is feeling like "enough is enough" when a safeword could be a good thing--at least a "yellow light" word. But still, the bottom always just says to me in one way or another, "Okay, I can't do more of that." And I change it up.

Personally, I think a safeword is a crutch. I think relying on them takes the onus off the top to pay attention, to be psychically in tune with their play partner. And I've never played with a bottom who, after I explained my philosophy, insisted on using one.

Communication. Sure, there's more to not using a safeword from the bottom's perspective. The bottom must have a great deal of trust in her play partner to know that not using that safeword will work. She has to believe the top respects her and won't ignore her signals or communication (and I know tops/doms who play on, not when a safeword is used, but when they see "signs" they should change things up but continue on because they want to be cruel).

I'm not advocating that safewords shouldn't be used with others. Everyone has their way of playing, of how to do things that work for them. I'm merely speaking from my perspective and my opinion.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Behind the Scenes of a Scene - Part IV

As most of you know by now, our scene between Erica and I happened Saturday, but not without some drama along the way. Go read Erica's blog for what transpired beforehand. As for the scene itself, it started off a little slow. For a variety of reasons, I was a tad distracted. I want to point out my head was in the game. After some sloppy mistakes in a scene early on in which I definately didn't have my head in the game, and feeling very bad about what went down as a result of that, I made a vow to myself to never play if I wasn't in it. So we started slow.

In our favorite room we set up and started with OTK, Erica's favorite way to start a scene. I wanted to ramp it up slowly that night, so the spanking was a little frivolous at first. Nothing harsh. As that was going on, some visitors came in to watch and another couple came in to scene. By that time, I was ramping up the OTK with a thin leather paddle and a short strap. I also have a neoprene workman's glove that Erica just hates, so I switch to that just to torment her. In fact, when I put it on and began spanking her with it she screamed out, "Oh, I hate that fucking thing!" Made me grin. Once she was nice and rosy I stood her leaning over the padded bench, her backside facing into the room. I felt it was time to ramp it up.

Erica was still being her patented bratty self, but I could hear a moan or a groan entering into her vocalization, so I knew the scene was starting to take effect. But more people came into the room and it became more of a show. Erica is such a damn exhibitionist, it's almost impossible for her not to play to the room. I try to ignore the onlookers, but she was getting energy from them, feeding off them. Her brattiness wento up a notch, not down. So I decided to join in. I had a new implement that had been made for me a few months ago and I've been practicing with it off and on, not really ready to play with it on a person until I felt confident I knew what I was doing with it. It's a 3-foot whip with an 18" leather double-strap at the end, so it flicks like a whip and lands with a crackling snap! I knew the sound would be more dramatic than the pain, so I thought this would be both a good mindfuck for Erica and good show. I carefully laid into her, surgically landing that 2" wide double-strap with as much precision as I could muster.

I went on to a nasty 18" natural leather strap. It's so long and so flicky that I always place a hand or arm on the far side of the bottom to avoid wrapping. Aslo, Erica is a narrow target back there, so extra caution must be taken. Though she was still quite a bit bratty and vocal, she was starting to settle into her headspace, I could sense.

Nonetheless, she threw out some loud zingers (and I wish I could recall now all the hilarious things she said). She drew quite a few “oooh!” and “oh my!” and “watch out!” kind of comments from the onlookers, which got me smiling. Knowing my “arc” and the rough outline of a plan I had in my head for the scene, I knew I needed to get crackin’ on that sweet spot (pun intended). So I whipped out my trusty wood cane, one that’s been to ShadowLane and Florida Moonshine with me, one that’s been a part of almost every scene I’ve done at the Lair. I started to really give Erica a what-for (what’s that mean anyway???) and I suddenly I noticed a change in the feel and tone of the cane. I looked down and the damn thing had snapped. Now, I’ve never broken anything on anyone. I consider it bad form. But I knew Erica would love it. She takes pride in having things broken on that atomic ass. So I raise my voice and say, “Now look what you’ve done!” and I reach around and show her the cane. She starts laughing in that adorable, throaty, full-volume laugh of hers and everyone gets a good chuckle at the same time. “That’s one of my favorite canes!” I say. “Now you’re really going to get it!” and I unleash with a double-hand, two-cheek barrage that got Erica quiet quick. (And yes, Erica. I know the grammar is incorrect there, but I like the alliteration with two single-syllable words. Good God, if I didn’t write this note I’d hear about it later, folks, trust me!)

She was getting fidgety standing there and I could see once or twice her legs beginning to buckle a bit, ever so slightly. Time to move her onto the bench, I thought. So I moved some toys off the padded, waist-high bench that I’d covered with the usual ultra soft fur blanket and had her lie face-down on it. She was wearing thigh-high stockings with garters, which is super-hot, but it’s hard for me to get to her legs. I’m a scratcher and Erica responds so positively (or negatively, depending on how you look at it) to that. I’m very careful not to snag the stockings, so I get a little frustrated I can’t scratch all the way down to the heels.

A little over an hour had gone by at this point. Time to move into the next part of the scene. With Erica face down, she was in a more passive position and there was less of a “show” to be seen, so people moved out of the room or onto their own scenes in the space. Audience gone, we could focus more inwardly. Paddles, straps, hand all were used. She was going deeper. To “punish” her for breaking my cane I pulled out a nasty whippy rubber cane that I continued to use to pummel her sweet spot.

I scratched her back from shoulders to buttocks. She moans not in pleasure but pain at this every time. She says it feels like knives cutting into her. Knowing this, I’d brought these medieval finger blades that look truly diabolical. I put them on and raked them gently across her back, her bottom, then dug them in to her sweet spot. She cried out at that. I followed it up with a fur mitt. The nice one. She breathed a sigh of relief.

There was more cropping, intense. I began checking in with Erica more frequently. “Are you getting centered?” I whispered into her ear through her now-wild hair. She needed more. More hands. More paddles. I brought out the cane she hated the most, my super-stealth carbon fiber cane. Unbreakable. She despises this one. Again, on the sweet spot, over and over without moving until she screamed out and said, “Oh, God, Craig!” This is not good. The use of my name. It’s like a “yellow light” I’ve come to learn. A pre-safe word. I leaned in again. “Too much? Are you centered?” She replied with something indiscriminate.

“You’re not going to like this,” I said, which I usually say before trying something new that I think may not work. I pulled out a bag full of brand new wooden clothespins. Someone in the group of onlookers said, “Uh-oh,” and I think that enough to get Erica worrying. “What’s that?” she inquired. I pinched a bit of skin on the right cheek’s sweet spot, clamping down on it with a clothespin. “Ow!” she yelped. I took another and showed it to her. “Oh, GOD!” she replied. But…and I’m proud of her for this…she did not say “Stop!” I applied a total of eight clothespins to both cheeks’ sweet spots. Then I tweaked them with a flick of the finger. She went over the edge.

With those in place, I pulled out the other fur mitt—the one with the bear claws. This I applied softly at first, then dragged the claws down her back to her buttocks. She groaned and moaned in displeasure all the way down. I tweaked the clothespins again, noting the time on my watch. Five minutes for them, tops. I continued with the sensation play until the five minutes were up, then I gently, carefully, gingerly removed each pin. As I unclamped them Erica screamed out, very loudly. It was torture. I put all the clothespins in my hand and showed them to her. “These are for you,” I said, putting them in her carry bag. “Are you centered yet?”

This time there was a longer pause before she replied, “Maybe.” But maybe was not a “no” and so I continued. I pulled out a zip-lock bag. “I have something else you’re not going to like.” Recently, Erica had posted a missive on FetLife about how Doms used oils like capsaicin oil on their unsuspecting bottoms as part of supposed “aftercare.” Erica rightfully pointed out this was not fun, just cruel. I had read about it and decided to use it for a headfuck in our next scene. I pulled out the bottle I had, careful not to show her the label. “I brought oil,” I said. Soon, I was applying peppermint oil (not capsaicin—what am I, a sicko?) with a cotton ball to the raw sweet spots. Having tried this out on myself after abrading my own arm at the inner elbow fold, I knew it would be cold, sensitive and later stingy. She groaned.

She was going into her headspace, so I knew now was a good time to start some counting exercises. I always start by spanking rather rhythmically, then asking her if she knew how many strokes I’d applied. “You didn’t tell me to count!” she pleaded, utter exasperation in her voice. I told her to count then, and would do my usual of changing tempo or switching without losing a beat from implement to hand to confuse the bottom into a miscount. I added five stroke penalties every time that happened, going from 25 to 40. I was really enjoying this, sensing her infuriation and exasperation. She was near collapse. This was a good thing. She kicked her legs up and I smacked her sensitive thighs, causing he to yelp again. “Keep those down!” I growled.

I went back to the cane on that sweet spot, then hand, then paddle. Erica screamed louder and more frequently. I wiped away the peppermint oil with a medicated wipe, which stung worse than the oil, I’d guess.

I’d brought one her most hated implements, a plywood paddle with wholes drilled out by my wife. I showed it to Erica. “Oh, no, Craig. Please, no!” Her pleadings were not good ones, fakery for the fun of it. I knew she was serious. “You’ve convinced me,” I said, putting away the paddle. “But you’ll have to be ‘centered’ a bit longer in return.”

I intensified the ferocity of the scene, increasing tempo and impact. Erica began crying. I knew we were almost finished. Lots of intense hand spankings to really work up the sensitivity. She was really weeping now. We had to finish, soon. “Are you centered?” I asked again, quietly, for the umpteenth time in her ear. “Yes,” she sniffled. “Yes, I am.”

“Good,” I replied. “Then we’re almost done.” I pulled out the thick leather paddle, the truly most-hated implement in my arsenal. This was always the scene-ender with her. I told her there would be 50 strokes. Typically I do eight hard ones. Some of these were lighter, but I ended up putting my all into the last 15 or so. And I’ve got a lot of “all.”

She wept, hard, for the longest time. So long, in fact, I started to get concerned about her well being. She said she just had so many emotions at the surface that night, so much about the day and J and his migraine that had made her ill at ease. Again, read her blog about that stuff. It’s not for me to say.

Needless to say, she got “centered” and I was very pleased with bringing something new to Erica’s experiences and really delivering what she needed. Hopefully you all didn’t get bored with this long dissertation and really got to see my perspective on a scene. I look forward to your comments.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Behind the Scenes of a Scene - Part III

So tonight is the night of our upcoming scene. I’ve had time to process the information from the IM session I had the other day with Erica. My most intense. Check. My most strict. Check. My most everything. Everything. Hmmm. So open-ended. So many options.

So, here’s how it goes: First I think about the emotional intensity of the scene. How will I ramp up—and then amp up—that intensity? How far will I take it? How harsh should I go? When will it be too intense? Do I draw back if she is responding negatively, or should I push it further? The importance of staying focused and paying extremely close attention to the sounds, movements and words of the bottom when enacting a harsh scene is paramount in my mind. I don’t want to kill the scene by going too far, pushing beyond her limits. I don’t actually answer all these questions, I intuit a direction and let it flow, I guess.

For this scene, Erica’s given me the green light to push. To push her limits, to push the emotional aspects of the scene and to push her physically. These scenes can be tough for me (I know, I know, imagine it for the bottom!). Often I enjoy light, playful scenes. They’re fun. The darker, more intense scenes can be very draining, emotionally and physically. I am a true sadist, but as I’ve said on this blog before, I’m compassionate, not cruel. For these types of scenes I tend to lean into the cruel, which isn’t in my comfort zone. It’s hard for me sometimes to hear a legitimate cry out of real pain that sounds distressful. I’ll have to carefully navigate this scene. It’ll be only the second time we’ve gone to this place together. Erica trusts me implicitly, which is important to me that she is willing to give of herself in this way. I don’t want to scene kill by pushing too far, going too intense, or being too strict.

As I said in the IM, the scene can be intense and it can be intensely personal. As I described in my previous blog entry, I used personal information of a misunderstanding that had happened between us as fodder for our last intense scene. I used that personal information against her—with her prior consent. I didn’t want to just “surprise” her with that level of personal intensity without her knowing about it in advance. Doing so could have come across as cruel or humiliating, and I respect Erica too much for that perception to happen.

Then I think about the implements to be used during the scene, beyond my hands, of course. What did I use last time? What works best with her? What does she love? What does she hate? What can I add that’s new that I can work into the scene? What other aspects can I introduce to her to keep her guessing, keep her on her toes?

Each new scene with Erica I try to introduce something new. Not something new to her, she’s pretty experienced, but something new between us. There’s a lot she doesn’t like. From our first private scene at last March’s Shadow Lane I learned a lot of the stuff I liked—“pokey things” as she calls them—won’t work. I've tried bondage with one scene. I've tried floggers with another. I’ve introduced a bit of knife play (more about the edge than the pokey end).

Tonight, I’ve a got a few new things up my sleeve. I’m introducing clothespins. Some people’s skin is so taut that you can’t find a grip. The last time we played, I “checked” to see if a clothespin would hold. (Trust me, I’m not suggesting there’s any flab on that fabulous body, I just did a pinch test and knew I could get a clothespin to hold.) I’m going to put them on the “sweet spot” along the edge of the buttocks where it meets the leg. That ought to be torture. And because she commented on FetLife about not understanding people’s use of certain oils to enhance the pain, I’m bringing peppermint oil as a test. That should wake her up. She hates wood implements, so I ordered a new hairbrush paddle made of a deliciously unyielding wood to try out near the end of the scene. Finally, I’m going to try some new impact play tonight.

Combine these new implements with the psychology of the scene and we’re pretty much set. The arc I plan with each scene involves implements first. I plan out, roughly, what implements I’ll use from start to finish. I always start OTK with Erica. She loves that. Then I stand her next to the padded bench we prefer and move to canes and some whippy things I love. As she gets more weak in the legs I’ll move her onto the bench and go with slappers, crops and then the clothespins and peppermint oil. Move onto the impact play and then to paddles, a dastardly crop she truly hates and wrap up with wood and my favorite thick leather paddle, a definite scene-closer. I’ll amp up the intensity and strictness at the start, focusing on the psychology of the scene and really putting it to her. Toward the middle of the arc, there will be some protocol—counting mostly, of a distinctly unique style that I’ve created that is utterly flummoxing and infuriating for the bottom. Finally, as we reach the harshest portion of the scene, I start to soften the psychology of the scene as the intensity increases. Erica needs to know she has someone to fall back on at the worst of times.

It will get intense. At the end of the scene, she’s down and out for some time. I’ll hold her and comfort her and let her know she’s secure as she comes back, very, very slowly.

In a day or two, I’ll describe what actually happened, how it changed (as it always does) to various conditions that occur during a scene, improvisational changes and last-minute impromptu decisions. Even I will be interested in comparing notes from this entry to what actually transpired.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Behind the Scenes of a Scene - Part II

Our upcoming scene grows closer. We're only four days away from when Erica and I play next. As always, the tension and anticipation begin to build. Before I left town a few days ago I gave Erica an assignment: really think about what you need from this scene. Sometimes she tells me she really doesn't need anything in particular, that the scene is free to be whatever it is or whereever I need or want to take it. Other times, albeit infrequently, she has specified certain specific needs--things she's wanted or needed because of a state of mind or an issue she's had. Other times, I've had some things for her that needed addressing, typically intense emotional and corporeal punishment based on certain behaviors. (I realize that previous sentance sounds particularly protocol-y. It's not. I knew in that particular case that she needed an intense emotional and corporeal scene but hadn't asked for it. In order to get in her head there had been a misunderstanding between us that had resulted in some hurt feelings. I knew that if I used that in the scene it would get to her. Believe it or not, I didn't just use it. I checked in with her in advance and gained her approval of my intent prior to the scene.)

So this time I had asked Erica to think about her needs a few days prior to our upcoming scene at the Lair. Today, I caught her on IM. I asked her if she had thought about what she needed Saturday night.

Erica: I need you at your most intense...your most strict, your your your everything.
Me: I'll use that as my guide?
Erica: Yes...just go with it. Show me your feelings. Show me your power.
Me: Hmmm.
Erica: I'm all over the place these days... I need centering, I think.
Me: Do you really want me to be the most intense? The most strict? Are you sure you're up for that?
Erica: I don't know. Perhaps I should be careful what I ask for. But my mood of late says yes.
Me: Then that is what you shall receive.
Erica: OK
Me: I'm thinking you may not enjoy yourself too much. I can make this intensely personal or just intense. I'm not sure you're in the mind for "intensely personal."
Erica: I don't know what you have in mind and I don't think I want to know. I want to wonder.
Me: Then wonder away. It will be what it will be and you'll just have to deal with it and I'll have to deal with the aftermath.

That settled, the wheels have been put in motion for me to begin planning the scene. I know what she needs. I know what she craves. Next, prior to our play, I'll tell you a bit about what I'm thinking about the scene (hopefully Erica won't read it beforehand!).