Taking Pictures

Yesterday I nearly finished writing all the texts I want to have online for the lunch. There are one or two small pieces I might have to write, but overall I am done and it feels good to have gotten something done. Awaiting the work vacuum (well… since I have procrastinated on the technical implementation, I can’t really call it a “vacuum” :D) I ordered a lightning cube and asked the seller if the item would be shipped the same day which he confirmed. Well… I have gotten the mail and it isn’t here. But I got my new “photo light” aka an LED array which is dimmer than my desk lamp. So I’ll send it back leaving me to worry how I will light the light tent. Three new flashes (a master and two servants – no pun intended) would be the perfect solution but is way out of my already exhausted budget. But since this not (yet?) the CNet of BDSM toys I hope that despite the inflation of expectations due to the internet the picture quality will be sufferable.

Anyway: It is Saturday, so I would have to postpone the photo stuff at least until Monday. So I probably will go out and buy myself another one. This might actually make sense anyway since the ordered one is really huge and a smaller one for smaller objects light clamps might be easier to lit.

On Social Media

This is a very delicate topic and I have given it a lot of thought which I would like to share with every user in order to enable them to understand why certain things on this website are the way they are.

One of the initial things some friends have noticed when looking at this site was “Where is Facebook?”. And the second question was “Why going through all this trouble of setting up an own website when you could just paste a custom skin on blogger and have it the easy way?”

The quick and easy answer is: I am a privacy obsessed, probably paranoid continental European.

The long answer: Despite working and marketing, I am actually afraid of the potential which big internet companies have to trace our life, our desire and our dreams. I probably should get liquid dreams by the marketing potential, but instead it gives me goose bumps – the bad kind of them. I know, I live a kinky lifestyle and google knows way too much about it and me, but in the end, I want to know and control what information to share with whom. So until now I successfully resisted Facebook and Google+. I even sort of closed down a Gmail mailbox just to keep as much private of me as possible. And as a webmaster I take the liberty of enforcing this quite political point of view on the user. Of cause, this website would get know way faster if I had a like button, but I want people to think before they get active regarding BDSM. If you copy and paste the link of this site on Facebook, great. If not, the people who are interested will somehow find their way to this domain.

I am aware that denying Facebook is getting more and more difficult. A couple of month ago I read an article in Mate that Facebook is becoming the next gay dating portal and someplace else I read that some people are already setting up fetish profiles there in order to date. Maybe at some point in the future, people will not use Recon, Gayromeo or what else to date anymore. But as long as I can find session partner there and take advantage of the more or less useful search engine for this task, I will NOT use a social network which avidly tracks its user. This also causes a couple of problems for running this site. For instance, I got the impression that Mister B only publishes news on their Facebook website which I refuse to use (please correct me if I am wrong). So if anything interesting is happening at Mister B, you will probably not read it first on this site.

But there is one social network I am using: Twitter. In my opinion it is a use- and powerful way of distributing information and getting in touch with people without selling ones soul. I know, Twitter has to make money and thus it is uncertain for how long they can stick to their more or less open concept. But as long as they are as open as know, I will use Twitter and will implement Twitter on my site. I am not sure if I will manage by the lunch but sooner or later you will find Twitter buttons all over the place 😉

Being a controversial topic I hope I have not offended anybody too deeply and hope that everybody can enjoy this site as much as I would like them – despite lacking certain web “standards”.

Testing Modus

A few days have passed, the exam went quite well and the texts I wrote about the last time have been written. They are not brilliant I have to admit, but they will do. I don’t want a Pulitzer Prize I just want to get as many people as possible good information about BDSM toys. And if they are a little bit interested in the origin of this project or me, fine. If not, I am also cool with it.

In order to provide useful information I need a system to judge the toys I will be testing. As you can see from the picture over the last month I have collected quite a lot of thoughts on that matter. The first draft included different rating systems for pain and restriction gear which at first made sense because regarding usefulness you can’t compare a clamp with pair of handcuffs. But these drafts also included criteria which I find difficult, like the pain strength or the tightness of the restraints. I know from my BDSM speech that pain is a very complex matter.  Every pain has an affective and a sensory component which might be measurable quite objective. But due to pain memory, training, situational factors, etc. pain will be felt different every time somebody gets exposed to the pain source. Not to talk about that not every pain at applied at every part of the body makes everybody equally horny. So writing that a “clamp provides a mild, jet prickling sensation” might be ludicrous at best, at worst putting an eager beginner into agony harming his pain memory badly. Same works for the tightness of restraints. What one person finds pretty harsh and making his extremities fall asleep is just a slow start for a true bondage sub.

Another, quite technical approach was to measure how many Newton a clamp provide and how much force can be applied to restraints before they get torn apart. This would be very intersubjective and scienecy – and probably useless because nobody knows how many Newton one can bare per square millimeter clamp-skin-contact or how much force a sub develops. Also: This testing would mean the destruction of at least my bondage gear. If I would be rich, I might do such stuff even though I won’t provide practical information. But being a student with a very limited budget, it is impossible. Not to think about the investment in the testing facilities.

So, when doing groceries today (I know, I have weird thoughts at even weirder place), this system of criteria came to me:

Build Quality (10%)

Is the toy flimsy, does it feel cheap or has it a quality feel.

Security (15%)

It there anything which might cause a severe harm when handled badly or even worse when handled right.

Flexibility (10%)

In how many ways and on how many different body parts can the toy be used.

Being up to the Task (25%)

Basically: Can the toy do what it promises.

Handling (10%)

How well handles the toy? Does it have a good grip, is easy to understand and can be released quickly in a case of emergency. How does lub, gloves (if anybody want to get me leather, latex and industrial rubber gloves in order to get a wider array of testing gloves, just contact me ;)) or sweaty hands effect the handling.

Glamour/ Coolness (5%)

We are all queers to a certain extend and love showing off at the Vanity Fair. So having a cool toys might just be the right mean to score a certain hot looking guy thus it influence the decision for a toy.

Long term Potential (10%)

How long can a sub be exposed to the toy. I know this is also an experience thing but sometimes pure medical factors speak against long term use.

Marks (15%)

Does the toy leave a mark? If yes, how heavy is it? I know that this is an important factor for newbies, people in non-SM relations and for hard players who have daytime jobs and who might get in problems when a welt is across their forehead. But on the other hand, some tops are looking for toys that mark their subs and leave them with something to remember the session for a couple of hours or days. So I am not yet sure if a toy should score high or low when leaving a distinctive mark for a long time. UPDATE: I Decided to award high scores when the marks are low.

I will probably use this system for the first couple of weeks and will be waiting for the feedback of the reader. Maybe it will prove useful maybe everybody else but me it is complete crap. We will probably see.

Design

After having finished my current book surprisingly early tonight and since I wasn’t in the right mood to stark with Walden, I sat down and developed an overall design for the website, developed categories und under categories and tried to set the tone for the entire project in Photoshop. Currently I am a bit ambivalent towards the color scene: The dominant colors are black and grey with red as an accent color. It is very fetishy, pseudodungeon and looks light nearly every BDSM shopping website I know. This might be good for recognition and instant associations but on the other hand I don’t want this website to be and maybe look like every other BDSM site. But since in my opinion content is more important than looks, I might settle for this “classic” design until the next relunch.

There are three major issues left:

  1. The text background color: Currently the background is white which is good for readability due to the high contrast. But this is also bad because the overall contrast between the navigation elements and the text element is too harsh. I might change the background to a light grey and wait for the feedback over the first few years.
  2. Font: I know I am mental about this and probably nobody cares. However I think the font is one of the most important factors of a written medium. It sets the mood, conveys an initial message and with factors light wellbeing and readability vitally influences how long people stay on a website. I have to admit after 6 hours of looking at fonts I haven’t found the right one yet. Neither for the texts nor for headlines, logos, etc. I might stick to Arial because it is clean but yet again: I don’t want to be that boring.
  3. Protection of minors: I want this website to be as accessible as possible which of cause might get me into problems. Even though this website should educate and provide information one might think that at best that it is erotic at worst pornographic. I have talked to a friend of mine who is a lawyer and read dozens of laws and I am pretty sure that I have found the right compromise between interestingly presented information and obeying to the law. So when you wonder why certain elements of BDSM are not shown here explicitly, you know why. Hopefully despite that inconvenience, everybody will enjoy the website.

Starting to Write

Starting to write is always the hardest things. Most authors were so terrified by a blank sheet of paper that they had to be drunk in order to start writing. I however don’t have the privilege to booze myself. There is still an exam ahead and I take writing this blog entry to take my mind a bit off the stuff which hopefully will help me to get a new perspective in the matter afterwards.

For month I have made notes, jot down thoughts and sketched design ideas and I know: If I don’t start now there will be enough excuses with working fulltime and the semester abroad that I will probably not start at all. So today is as good as every other day to start. In order to provide some content at lunch of the site I will write every couple of days about the process of working on the project.

When reading this or every other piece on this website, a word of warning: Despite having lived in the USA and consuming a lot of Anglophone media, I am not a native speaker. Furthermore I am suffering from dyslexia. So if you find any weird wording or spelling mistakes, don’t get mad but be kind enough to send me a notice. I will correct the mistake as quickly as possible.

But back to the project: Tonight when I have finished learning, I will start to write the “frame” texts: Something about me, about this website and maybe a short introduction to my toy collection. Even though I have been doing creative writing for quite some time, I am not sure how quickly and how well I will make progress. At the end, there will be enough judges to tell me.

McHurt Light Suspension Bar

Vendor: McHurt

First Impression and construction

The 80cm and 100cm bars

The 80cm and 100cm bars

When I first picked up this suspension bar, I was surprised that how light it is. Otherwise there is not much to write about it: It is a metal tube (probably chromes steel) which comes in length of 60cm, 80cm or 100cm with shackles on the ends. They are attached to the tube with rather short butterfly nut like screws. Sadly the ankles of the ears are quite thin and thus the screw thread is very short.

These restraints have a minimum diameter of ca. 10,5cm and a maximum of about 16cm.

Playing with it

Despite being light, I haven’t had any problems concerning stability. What’s more of a problem are the screws and the short screw threats. Just through movement of the sub the screws got loose. At best the entire shackle gets off. But I have times when it was half off. I haven’t tried it out but the metal seems not to be strong enough to withstand large force when being hold on a small area thus leading to bending and trashing of the bar. Also the shackles could be a bit larger. Especially when you work with professional carabiners it can get a bit fiddly getting them through the loop.

Using the spread bar with McHurt restraints

Using the spread bar with McHurt restraints

Furthermore, keep in mind that these are light bars and week shackles. So when it comes to hanging people using the bar or really heavy action I would not rely on them. In the end it comes down to the simple question: Do you want something light and cheap (maybe for travelling or just getting to know the kink) or something really professional.

Conslusion: A very basic and simple suspension bar which need a bit of attention when playing with
Pro Cons Where to get Price
Light weight A bit shakily McHurt  (Manufacturer) 60cm: 19,40€

80cm: 21,60€

100cm: 23,50€

 

 

McHurt Ihsan Boot Restraints

Vendor: McHurt

Restraints put around a boot

Restraints put around a boot

First Impression and construction

Basically they are the same as the hand and ankle Ihsan restrains I reviewed here.

Playing with it

The main difference when playing is that they are not only longer but have a fold which makes them as long as the normal hand restraints storage wise. Also this fold makes them easier to handle and put on a sub. That is if the sub has a very thick ankle or is wearing boots, otherwise the restraint is way too loose. But even if you don’t play with boot wearing subs, they can serve as a collar substitute.

Restraints folded together for easier transportation

Restraints folded together for easier transportation

Conslusion: Useful addition to every restrain set when playing with booted subs
Pro Cons Where to get Price
Fairly cheap Hole distance to wide for tight bondage McHurt  (Manufacturer) 64,50€

 

Thick padding Piping can lead to unwanted injuries
Good overall quality

McHurt Ihsan Hand and Ankle Restraints

Vendor: McHurt

First Impression and construction

Ankle and wrist restraints next to each other

Ankle and wrist restraints next to each other

When picking up one pair of the restraints you instantly get a good feeling: The swine leather is soft, the padding has generous 12mm thickess, the leather strap 3,5 mm thick and even though the used metal doesn’t appear to be stainless steel (I think it is chromed steel)  it seems to be up to the task. On the outside is a little McHurt flag and at the inside one which indicates the size which both can be cut off easily without damaging the restraints.

The size M restraint has a minimum diameter of ca. 4cm and a maximum of about 8cm. The size L restraint has a minimum diameter of ca. 5,5cm and a maximum of about 10cm.

Details of how the d-rings are hold in place

Details of how the d-rings are hold in place

Playing with it

Due to the thick padding and leather, the restraints don’t bend as easily as other ones I had in my hand. The same effect comes into play when you want to tighten the restraints. You will need a bit of force and a hand to squeeze both ends together in order to get the buckle in a tight position. So fettering a sub who struggles is not easy. Also, this “inflexibility” can cause problems when you need to get a sub free quickly. You might want to rely on panic carabiner instead of loosening the restraints. If you are a fan of really tight bondage, this might not be the right pair of restraints for you. The whole distance on the belt is 1,5cm which is standard. I have seen belts with 1,2cm or even only 1cm but it is always a compromise between sturdiness and tightness.

Detail of the roller buckle

Detail of the roller buckle

But once fitted, the restraints are performing very well. The buckle and the one D-ring sit safely between two riveting under the strap. After a few sessions the leather will get a bit loose due to being a natural material which expands. But I have tried the restraints with beefy ex-soldiers under heavy torture and the restrains never let me down so they will not fail you if cared for properly.

Padding and piping of the restaints

Padding and piping of the restaints

Because the padding is quite thick the restraints are good for long time bondage. Even after a few hours there were no sore parts or pressure marks. However this very much depends on the pair you are getting. The two leather covers and the padding are held together with a rugged leather piping. On the upper side on all my Ihsan restraints the single seam stitching creates a smooth transition to the leather cover. On the inner side of the restraint the piping is loose and thus sometimes creates a sharp or scraping edge which can lead to nasty scratches and even wounds when heavily twisting while being tortured. I can only guess that the “better” stitching is on the outer side for good looks but in the end this is a toy not an accessory. So carefully try out whether you can life with the inner part of the piping when you get yourself a pair.

Conslusion: A pair of basic restraints which do the work properly
Pro Cons Where to get Price
Fairly cheap Difficult to handle McHurt  (Manufacturer) Wirst: 59,50€

 

Ankle: 59,50€

 

Thick padding Hole distance to wide for tight bondage
Good overall quality Piping can lead to unwanted injuries

Black Silikone Gag Ball

Vendor: Chinese Manufacturer via eBay.co.uk

First Impression and construction

Because I ordered this gag ball via eBay from Hong Kong, I had doubts about the quality especially I was about to put this thing in my mouth. But after unpacking it, I was pleasantly surprised: The leather of the strap is a good standard quality for BDSM toys. The buckle material seems to be a bit thin but since there are no D rings on the strap there shouldn’t be too much force which might break it. Other than the buckle the rivets make a very good impression just like the silicone of the 3,9mm thick ball itself. I am not a chemist and I actually don’t want to know what nasty stuff can be put into silicone. But until I know, I just assume that silicone is a fairly safe material as long as you let your toys rest for about a month so they can lose all volatile substances. A real weak spot of gag is the whole distance at the strap: 2,5cm is just too much, especially considering that the toy is used at the head and must not be loose. On the bright side: there is enough space between the wholes to make one or even two on your own.

The strap has a minimum diameter 14cm of and a maximum of 18cm.

Playing with it

Despite having the opportunity to adjust the wholes nearly to your desire and thus make it a night fitting gag device, I wouldn’t recommend it. The leather strap cuts pretty badly into the corners of the mouth making it a quite short pleasure. I haven’t had a chance to try other gag balls out. Maybe softer leather or rubber could fix the problem.

Otherwise it does what a good gag ball should do: Muffle the sounds a bit and make the sub produce lots of saliva – an own kind of torture and sensation. What it doesn’t do and what I think is a common misconception: It is not a gag to make a sub silent. Of cause, having a silicone ball in your mouth prevents the sub from articulating and muffles every sound but he can still scream pretty loud.

Conslusion: A simple gag ball which does the job ok but has a lot room of improvement
Pro Cons Where to get Price
Light weight Uncomfortable to wear for a long term eBay from some Asian manufacturer About 8€ including shipping from Hong Kong
  A bit shakily
  Not really made for hard games

McHurt Clover Clamps

Vendor: McHurt

First Impression and construction

The first impression of the clover clamps is a bit ambivalent: On the one hand, they are kind of cool looking. Due to being bigger than most other clamps I know, they have great presence. Also the complex mechanical part between the push points and the sturdy curb chain adds to the cool technical flair. On the other hand, the complex mechanism looks and feels a bit fickle. The metal is quite thin and flexes a lot when pressure is applied. Also the ring which links the chain to the clamp sometimes gets in the way of the opening mechanism.

Playing with it

Despite the bad feelings concerning the sturdiness and functionality, the clamps perform pretty well in real life.

The grip surface

The grip surface

The pressure points are large and have a rippled texture which provides good grip. Even with lube at the finger tips or gloves on operating the clamps was fairly easy. Furthermore the spring isn’t too hard so not too much pressure is needed to open up the clamps. To keep the clamp from slipping the tips have a spiky rubber pad which sits firmly; even after nearly three years of using them they have not gotten loose. But sadly the pads are not really going their jobs. Especially when you have been wearing rubber, lube has been come onto the part of the skin or you nipples have been twisted with other gear so that they started to weep the clamps tend to get off very easily or worse will not stick at all. This is partly due to the light spring pressure and the clamps get advertised with increasing pressure when the chain is pulled. Sadly, it doesn’t work. I tried it with weights and manual pulling, with wet skin, with dry skin, even with talcum on in it, they clamps get loose. This can get nasty when the clamp moves forward uncontrollable and by this increases the pressure on a decreasing area and so getting pretty intense unintentional. If you want to increase the pressure intentional there is an area behind the first hinge which seemed to be made for gripping and pressing it.

This is pretty sad, because these clamps are actually great. They open up fairly wide compared to others so a lot of material can be put between the tips making the clamp very flexible regarding the area where they can be put. Also the pain is not too harsh which makes them ideally to start a session or to start at all with clamp play when you are an ambitious newcomer. For experienced pain pigs the light spring pressure is interesting because the clamps can stay on your body nearly indefinitely long making the taking of an interesting experience.

Besides the pain the texture of the tips provide a light prickling sensation which distinguishes them from other clamps and adds a nice sensory experience especially when the sub is blindfolded. Another nice feature of the texture is a pattern the clamp leaves in soft tissue. It goes away after a couple of minutes but it is a nice way to scare a new sub or mark an old one at least for a few moments.

Conslusion: A great clamps for newbies and pain pigs – when you can get it to stick to your skin
Pro Cons Where to get Price
Easy and reliable to handle Get off easily McHurt 11,50€
Distinguishable sensory experience Strong flex in the material Regulation £21,99
Large opening Mr S $17,95
Good looking Mister B 17,50€