Kinkonomics – Sex Toy Pricing

Last week sex toy pricing was twice the topic on Twitter: British gay sex shop Clonezone announced a sale up to 75% which lead to a little shit storm because people felt they Clonezone would generally overcharge them. Later this week, Twitter user DiggerPup responded to my review of the Mister B Nipple Claws that you could get the barrels off eBay as diamond prongs for around £3.50 instead of the £30 Mister B charges for the sex toy. Since both topics are somewhat related and the topic of sex toy pricing is a constant one in my reader questions, I decided to blog about it today.

The Iconic Mr S Store on 8th Street in San Francisco. Maintaining such a big presence in a high-rent area is expensive.

Running a business creates a lot of costs beyond the purchase price of the goods sold: Rent, insurance, capital costs, wages, income and value added taxes and many more. When the business manufactures own goods, the prices for workshop equipment, defective work and research & development also needs to be priced into the product price. If you are a multi-channel retailer (which means running an online and a brick & mortar business at the same time), your prices have to have a mixed calculation: Being competitive towards other online retailers, being the same offline and online and still covering the costs of stationary stores (for example store rent in the gay district which – especially through gentrification – is generally higher than the rent in an industrial estate).

While all retails have to cover these costs, kinky products come with the same challenges as luxury goods: They are not essential needs but part of the self-actualization so among all the other purchase possibilities they generally speaking rank amid the lowest in priority. Furthermore, once bought, the likelihood of purchasing a similar good again soon, is low compared to other products. So all the costs mentioned above need to be covered by products which are not bought often and are marketed to a niche.

For that reason, the profit margin of most kink products compared to luxury goods which ranges between 60% and 150%. This sounds like a lot, but if you take off the value added tax (in percentage points!) and take into consideration that the average receipt is relatively low because the most common purchases are cockrings, nipple clamps and lube, the profit is not that high.

The S10 Hooded Gas Mask: A good example how Labor and Material Costs increase the Price of a Pervertable

So, how does this relate to the two opening examples? First let’s talk about the Clonezone sale. The initial tweet readUp to 75%”. The word “up” is important. I went to webpage linked in the tweet on Jan 21st at 6pm and the average discount over all offers was 26.11%. At an average cloth retailer you will get a bigger discount rate at an end of season sale. Looking at the profit margin from the last paragraph and taking into consideration the VAT, the products are not that outrageously overpriced as the 75% discount would imply but priced margin-wise in the neighborhood of average department store or luxury products.

The Mister B Nipple Claws are actually a good example to illustrate why kink products are not as overpriced as they first might appear. If you wanted to make your own Nipples Claws you would need two diamond prongs which cost £9 including shipping and chain and the two bails for approx. £2. The labor time for drilling, deburring and soldering will take about 10 minutes which will cost approx. £4. So a self-made Nipple Claw would cost you £15 – not including tool depreciation and maintenance costs, the labor costs for purchasing the materials and the hypothetical costs of defective work. Taking into consideration scale effects, the Nipple Claws will have a purchase price for Mister B of £10. But Mister B is not only a multi-channel retailer, but also a wholesaler. They need to price their products so they can sell it to other retailers with a profit and they must be able to make a profit covering all the costs of their own business.

The Mr S Four Buckel Restraints and Bishop Head Harness. Two of the probably most knocked-off Piece of Bondage Gear.

While I am on the subject, I want to address a third aspect I often get asked: Why are toys from Bad Dragon, Square Pegs or Oxballs so expensive? Why buy the original products from Mr S or Regulation when there are cheaper version of them from Asia on eBay?

  1. Raw Material Price: Premium sex toy maker use premium, but thus more expensive materials. Silicone for example needs a catalyst which can be the inexpensive metal lead. But for humans, lead is an highly toxic material so body-safe products should use the catalyst platinum which naturally is more expensive. Most leather from Asia is dressed in a way which does not satisfy European or American safety standards. Potentially dangerous chemicals and processes are used among which the Chrome-6 allergy is the most common yet the most “harmless”. Since most leather pieces designed for BDSM are worn on the bare skin, these chemicals are more easily absorbed through body warmth and sweat than when the leather is used to make a cheap leather jacket which has a cloth lining.
  2. Liability Risks and Customer Loyalty: The potential harm through cheap raw materials is only one part of potential liability risk. When selling bondage gear for extremer scenes like suspension, the production quality has to be so good, that an avarage piece being sold must be able to good enough to satisfy safety requirements even when assesed in court.
    Because established companies have become a brand of their own. The customer expects a certain level of product quality. Otherwise through the small size of the kink community, a bad reputation quickly spreads which can easily get a company into big economic troubles. This kind quality control causes higher costs through more thorough manufacturing, quality testing of samples or all products and higher cull.
  3. Lack of scale effects: Most kink products are not made in large quantities. A type of bondage gear is usually only manufactured two or three pieces at a time because the capital tie-cost would be too high to produce them in bulk and just store them. Through the large number of different color and pattern options, firmness degrees and extras, each Bad Dragon toy is individually made. Despite the basic technique of making leather or polymer toys is the same, there is no real chance of gathering much experience making the individual model so there are only little scale effects (for example increased manufacturing speed and reduction of defective work).
  4. The Prototype of the Mountain Drake Dildo, submitted by user Xan to the Bad Dragon Labs

    Labor costs: These companies are usually located in the western world and there in areas with high living costs like London or LA. Through social security systems and generally high living costs than in developing countries, the labor costs of skilled craftsmen like leather tailors are considerably higher causing higher product prices.

  5. Research and Development: The more elaborate the product, the more complex the design process is going to be. For example: Oxballs uses 3D printer to rapid prototype their new toys, Bad Dragon has an entire community dedicated to product design, not to talk about how difficult it is to create a sowing pattern for ergonomically designed bondage gear. All these efforts to design new products costs time and thus labor, sometimes required special equipment (3D printer, CAD programs, etc.) and expensive raw materials.

I know that sex and kink toys are expensive and that there are always more toys a kinkster wants than he can afford. But I hope this little blog entry illustrated well why the products we perverts yearn for are most of the time worth the price in the store.

Buyer’s Guide To Collars

ToyTorture.com has always been sort of a reflection of my own play style and my own desires manifested in toys. As authentic and honest reviews at that approach might create the flaw of it is that I am missing out on entire categories of toys. Sometimes I get asked about these categories over and over. Chastity is one of them, collars is another. Since a collar is the strongest bondage device out there yet I am not really into them I decided at the end of the Heavy Bondage Special to give a short overview of the collars out there. Especially in the paragraph about the symbolism of collars I am making a lot of generalizations. Please do not feel offended if your individual perception is different but celebrate it as the diversity that is the heart of our community. After that I briefly talk about the different materials collars can be made out of. The last and main part of this article are showing different kinds of collars. I sorted the collars into two categories: The first are decorative collars which primarily serve a symbolic purpose and through their designed are not primarily designed to be integrated into play. The latter category are functional collars which are made to be played with.

 

The Symbolism of Collars

Collars have a strong symbolic meaning in the BDSM community. They are a sign that a person belongs to someone. It is common for top who wants to establish a deeper and long-term orientated relationship with a bottom to put a collar around his neck to show him and the world that the sub belongs to him and is no longer free. This act is called “collaring”. Being collard usually implies a interdependent relationship: The top promises to give the sub something usually guidance, protection and play in exchange for the subs devotion, obedience, trust and loyalty. Due to the powerful contract which a collar symbolizes it is a very special piece of gear which is treated unlike any other. Usually only the top is allowed to put it on and take it off, most of the time also only the top may touch it. Touching the collar of a sub without asking the top for permission is considered highly offensive and even hostile by some people. In some high protocol situations it is even forbidden to talk to a collard sub because you are violating the property of another top. Also in a high protocol environment it is not uncommon for subs to walk around with a collar around his neck but with an open lock. This is a signal that he is open for a top to collar him. Closing the lock just for fun or laughs again is offensive because the sub probably hopes to get at least some of the affection listed above from the persons who closed the lock.

Materials

Collars can be made of nearly every fetish material out there. Most common are leather collars. Because the material is skin friendly and to a certain degree can absorb sweat it is best for long term wear. Rubber and neoprene lack this quality so wearing it for extended periods of time can lead to skin irritation, especially when wearing a collar out of stiff industrial rubber without deburred edges on bare skin. The last common material to mention here is metal. I have seen collars being made out of all different kinds of metal. However I would recommend only ones being made out of stainless steel or aluminum because even when exposed to sweat they do not rust. Other metals like cooper or steel oxidizes. Because a collar through constant movement experiences some physical stress corrosion prevention applied to steel like chrome or zinc wears off and the collar can rust again. Of cause noble metals like gold or platinum do not rust but you have to be quite the posh kinkster to afford such a collar. Metal collars come in form of chain, chainmail, rings or steel cable. When it comes to chain you can choose between welded and forged chain. Welded chain industrial made and thus cheaper and has a deburred weldseam. Depending on the quality the deburration is not as good as it should be so there is a potential for scratches when wearing a collar. So before wearing it check the seams of there are not rough edges.

More uncommon materials I have seen collars made out of are braided rope, jeans cloth, bike chain and tires.

Decorative Collars

Chain

Probably the most common form of the collars and thus comes in various styles (p.e. from Mr S or Regulation). All have in common that they are closed by a pad lock which is mostly worn up front. The most common pattern is the anchor chain which is made out of round links which either come in long or short versions and in various thicknesses. Even when using a small pad lock the link size is usually so large that this kind of collar can’t be worn discreetly under a shirt. Depending on the personal style the chain can be worn longer or tight around the neck. The advantage of this chain is that you can easily attach things to the collar using pad locks or carabiners. Depending on the pad lock quality you can grab and pull the sub on this collar.

Mr S Yellow Colors Aluminum Chainmail Collar

Mr S Yellow Colors Aluminum Chainmail Collar

Chainmail

Chainmail is a material where small metal rings are linked together to form a mesh-like surfaces. Collars out of this material are lighter and smaller and thus more discreet than chains. Of cause they are also more fragile and should not be pulled on. A nifty feature of the Mr S Aluminum ones is that they come in different colors so you can use them a bit as a hanky. If you can a bit more weighted feeling try out the stainless steel one.

Torquator Collar

Stylewise somewhere between a chain pattern and chainmail this collar was originally designed to restrain dogs. So this collar is popular by dog players especially of wild ones. When pulling onto this collar please be careful because serious injuries can be the result.

 

Cable Lock

Another discreet option is the cable lock collar from Recon. The collar itself is made out of coated steel but since there are no moving links the coating will probably will not rub off keeping the cable from rusting. The two endings are made out of stainless steel with colored rubber accents so again you can show your favorite kink. Unlike the chainmail collar this one is also closed with a lock which has a great psychologically effect. The lock and the collar are small and discreet enough to be worn under a dress shirt during work yet to frail to be pulled on.

Rope Collar

If a closed look is too much of a statement or you don’t like the idea of metal around your neck (after all a collar is all about the headspace), Mr S came up with a rope collar. It is made out of black braided rope and closed with a leather strap and a non-locking roller buckle. If you ask the guys at Mr S nicely the can probably make you this collar also in other colors

Tolan Collar

This is basically an ergonomically shaped ring of steel around the sub’s neck. It is nearly seamless and rather sleek so it can be worn under a business shirt without showing off or attracting attention. Since it is made out of stainless steel it will not rust.

Jougs

I am not sure if to put jougs into this category or the play category because wearing them for an extended period of time is definitely a punishment! Jougs or iron collars are made out of piece of steel, sometimes lined with leather for additional comfort. They are closed by padlocks, integrated locks or screws. Sometimes they come with d-rings welded onto them for added play possibilities. Sometimes following antic models they already have cuffs for the hands attached or even also feet welded with chains onto them. Another version are double rigid irons for the neck and the wrists for real stress bondage.

The Heaviest Parus Steel Collar Weighing 8.5kg

The Heaviest Parus Steel Collar Weighing 8.5kg

The most sever iron collars I know off are made by Parus in Munich. I already wrote a Christmas gift tip about them last year. They are really well made, almost seamless with the integrated lock and so heavy that with some models I would like to recommend consulting your doctor about disc problems before putting them on!

Regardless of what kind of iron collar you are getting when shopping for a joug please watch for deburred edges otherwise severe abrasions can happen!

Functional Collars

Bondage collar

Another quite common type of collars (p.e. from Mr S or Regulation). They basically are like a cuff style restraint just larger to fit around the neck. So very often you can get matching collars to your existing restraint set. Being made for play they come with d-rings to attach the sub to thing or restraint to the neck. Depending on the individual style some are locking which adds a sense of bondage. A pro tip: If you want to fetter a large boot, p.e. an MX boot, and your restraint set’s ankle cuffs are too small try out a collar. Most of the time they are large enough and will serve you well as a boot restraint.

Fetters Posture Collar

Fetters Posture Collar

Posture collar

A posture collar (look at Mr S or Regulation) is a more intense form of the bondage collar. It is quite wide and usually padded, sometimes it also has an anatomically formed chin rest. The effect of this design is that tilting of the head and nodding is getting extremely difficult locking the head in one place. Usually such a collar will also have d-rings and there are locking versions out there.

Chocking Collar

More a breathplay toy than just a simple collar please use this one with caution! This collar is basically a latigo leather belt that is closed by a rolling buckle tightly around the neck. On the other side of the belt is a small metal loop with a roller feature through which the belt exits. In that end a d-ring is added onto which a leash can be attached. If you pull on the leash the collar will tighten and chock the person wearing it.

Shock Collar

Shock collars were originally designed to train dogs. Onto a nylon collar a remote controllable box with two electrode pins is attached. Usually this kind of collars come with different intensity settings. I implore you to take advantage of these different settings and don’t start out too high! The shock boxes are designed to train even dogs which have thick fur and skin. On human skin they can leave burn marks or even damage the nerve system! There are fetish versions out there which are not so powerful but being a power bottom and pain pig myself I can see the temptations of “the real deal” especially when it comes to dog play. Yet still please be careful. Not sexual kink is worth losing your health permanently.

Fetters Wrist-to-Neck Restraints

Fetters Wrist-to-Neck Restraints

Wrist to neck Restraint

Not really just a collar but the leather version of an iron collar with attached restraints. It is a leather lined locking collar onto which two locking wrist restraints are riveted. These rivets allow for some movement around its axis but otherwise the head has to go where the hand wants to be. Especially with added bondage mitts this will leave the sub quite helpless.

Collars Accessories

Especially with the raise of pup and dog play in the last couple of years collar accessories have gained popularity. Most commonly dog tags are used either in their original purpose to mark the dog and write his name on it. But I have also seen a bouquet of different colored tags as hankies. Of cause a dog needs guidance and sometimes restraining so leather leashes become quite popular.

Preserving the Burning Fire – On Outgrowing and Passing on Toys

S&M stands for sexual magic

– Patrick Califia

Passing on toys and gear has a long tradition in the BDSM and fetish community. One of the reasons for that is the concept of energy transfer during a scene. What happens during play is more than just the exchange of mental or physical force between the top and the sub. An intense connection between them is formed that consists out of more than the sum of its parts (If you are curious about this more spiritual aspect of BDSM I recommend the works of Marc Thompson or Joeff Mains). For some people this connection is the origin of headspace, for some the sole reason they engage in BDSM and certainly an intense, overwhelming and mind-shattering experience when you experience it for the first time.

The First Restraints I have ever bought: The McHurt Ihsan Wrist, Ankle and Boots Cuff and Hand Suspension Restraints

The First Restraints I have ever bought: The McHurt Ihsan Wrist, Ankle and Boots Cuff and Hand Suspension Restraints

The concept of energy exchange also includes that some of the energy of the players stays in their gear and toys. For that reason some pieces of gear or toys are special and dear to perverts and not easily parted with. Most often floggers, boots or bar vests are considered to be special in that way. In my case three pairs of McHurt restraints are that way. They were among the first things I reviewed for this website and liked them a lot. It feels, they have been with me forever. But when I looked up the order date for writing this article I was stunned: I had only bought them in early December 2011. Not even half a decade felt like a life time. This illustrates really well what they mean to me. All the fun, experiments, surprising experiences and intense emotions are somewhat bound to them. Yet as I matured as a kinkster I outgrew them. While I still stand to my 3 ½ year old review and consider them a good pair of restraints to start out with I want more: More padding, more D-rings, more build quality, more features. So I choose the Fetters Padded Locking Wrist and Ankle Cuffs from Regulation to replace them.

This evaluation process happened with some toys over the last year. I looked at them and realized I haven’t been using them in a long time; saw no real play scenario for them anymore so I sold them to friends, to strangers, to anybody interested. These restraints were different. They not only represent for me the scenes I had in them but also my getting serious about BDSM: Committing to my longings, considerably investing money in this part of myself and somehow giving my desires a physical representation. Yet despite all these arguments I decided to pass them on. As soon as I would get the new ones the old ones would become an exhibition piece. Laying in my toy chest, reminding me of good times and fond memories. But like an instrument not being played anymore, they would be a dead accumulation of matter, slowly fading away, losing all the energy stored in them. So giving them away just by chance was no option! They are too special for me to see them disappear out of my life. Ultimately I decided to give them to a young pervert who is slowly exploring his desires, being just like me 4 ½ years ago willing to commit to his dreams and turn them into reality. So these special pieces will continue to live on in the BDSM scene until he outgrows them and hopefully then passes them on to someone special just like I did.

As important as these restraints are to me I am lucky that I am not parting completely from them: The set I ordered back then also included a pair of boot restraints, large enough to even fetter MX boots. A toy I have not seen elsewhere yet and thus I am keeping it: For memory sake, for current play, for future times when this mythical and mind-blowing bond between top and sub manifests again.

Hail thee who play

– Michael McClure

Bondage Hardware Special Part 1 – Rope

Welcome to the first part of the Bondage Hardware Special. You can find an overview of the different texts of this six part series here.

For many people rope is the first kinky toy they make contact with because it is widely available, inexpensive and with a little practice enables you to do quite secure and creative bondage scene. However with so many different varieties on the market I am starting out this special on bondage hardware with rope.

First a disclaimer: I am not good with ropes. I don’t have the patience (and frankly the hand-eye-coordination) to learn enough skills that I would find sufficient for a scene. Because of that I invested so much money into leather restraints. In order to get you the high quality of information you are used from my website I did extensive research and talked to experts. Also I want to clarify that I neither see any superiority in rope or leather restraints. A few decades ago people who used rope were looked down on because they could not afford leather restraints; today it sometimes feel a bit that people look down on other who “have to” use leather restraints because they cannot handle ropes. Both are valid methods of bondage which have a place in our diverse scene!

Materials

There number of different materials rope is made out of is nearly infinite. So this section raises no claim to completeness. I will cover the most common materials; if you have a question about a material I have not talked about just send me an e-mail.

Materials not usable for bondage

First I want to talk about materials that are not made for bondage. Especially after Fifty Shades of Grey a friend who works at the ER told me about a lot of injuries the resulted from using this materials. Most of them can be found in every house hold so when you are horny and nothing to fetter is around it is good to keep this list in mind to stay away from them:

  • Any kind of yarn
  • Clotheslines
  • String
  • Fishing or kite Lines
Twisted Monk Rope by Mr S

Twisted Monk Rope by Mr S

Material usable for bondage

These materials can theoretically be used for bondage and can be sorted into two groups: Natural and synthetic materials. The most common used natural material is cotton. It is soft, inexpensive and easy to care for. However through the smooth surface knots can travel and if you take one without a solid core knots can tighten. This problem doesn’t occur with hemp rope. Its rougher surface keeps knots in place and them from tightening. Hemp rope is more expensive, a little bit stiffer, when wet nearly impossible to untie and a bit complicated to care for. Natural hemp rope is too hard and too rough for play. In order to make it ready for bondage you have to boil it. After doing so it needs to dry under tension otherwise it will shrink. Once dried you need to oil it. You can get pre-treated hemp rope from Twisted Monk which Mr S just started stoking. It is one the more expensive side yet definitely worth the money. Besides hemp and cotton more or less common materials for rope are sisal, silk, bamboo, coconut husks, burlap and linen. I have seen all of them used for human bondage though they all have their different weaknesses and strength and are hard to come by in a quality that would allow to fetter a person without danger. So if you want a natural material, stick to cotton and hemp.

Besides natural materials they are countless polymers spun into rope. It is impossible to cover all so here are two variants I could advice using: floating rope used in sailing and soft nylon rope. The advantage of synthetic material is that it mostly comes certified for a certain breaking load so you can easily asses if it fits your profile. To check if it should be used for bondage please take a look at all the properties listed in next paragraph. An advantage of synthetic rope is that when you shorten it you can easily weld the ends so it doesn’t fray. Natural rope has to either be sowed properly, whipped (thin yarn spun around the end of the rope) or put a polymer shell like shrinking tubing over the end and weld it.

Mister B Cotton Rope

Mister B Cotton Rope

Rope properties

The property of rope is defined by six major factors which determined whether a rope should be used for bondage or not. I strongly advise to either inspect the rope in store before you purchase it or order a sample to check if you like the rope. As always it is wasted money to buy rope you do not really like because good cared for rope will last you a lifetime!

  1. Construction
    There are two common ways to make rope. First there is plaited rope that comes in three varieties. One of them is squareline which produces a roughly rectangular rope. It is mostly used for haswers and thus through the thickness and weight not made for bondage. I have seen thinner versions which could theoretically be used for bounding someone. However its knot properties are bad so I would not recommend using it. The next one is hollow braiding. This kind of rope is made out of weight bearing threads and hollow inside. This makes it ideal for splicing which is opening up the rope. A disadvantage of it is that knots can travel or even tighten so I would not recommend it. The last variety is core-mantel-braiding. A strong, weight bearing core is surrounded by a woven mantel that protects it from abrasion and environmental influences. The cores come in soft and hard varieties. Only the soft one is made for bondage (see: 3. Flexibility). Depending on the mantel material knots can travel with core-mantel-braided rope.
    The second common was is the one most hemp and cotton rope is made: It is twisted rope. It is made by spinning threats of alternating rotational direction under tension. I prefer this style of rope because knots neither travel not tighten with it. However it cannot be spliced.
  2. Surface
    A common problem of using “wrong” rope is so called “rope burn”. It is irritation of the skin when rough rope travels over it to quickly so through the friction it gets hot; hot enough to create real burns! In order to prevent rope burns the surface of rope should be smooth and soft. Sometimes especially with syntactical rope the surface might appear smooth but the gaps between the individual threats are large enough to create rope burn. So before purchasing grab a piece of rope and quickly pull it over the palm of your hand. If it gets uncomfortable or too warm, this rope is not made for bondage!
  3. Flexibility
    In order to wrap rope tightly around a body and place knots where you want or need them rope has to be flexible enough. It can easily be tested by tying a simple figure-of-eight knot. If you can’t tighten it without much force, the rope is too stiff for bondage. A good rule of thumb is that the thicker the rope or the tighter it is made the less flexible it gets.
  4. Thickness
    Bondage rope comes in four major thicknesses, all for different purposes.
    4mm: Best for tie off body areas, p.e. genital or breast bondage. Not really made for body bondage.
    6mm & 8mm: Made for all bondage purposes. It is kind of a dogmatic question whether you think 6mm or 8mm is ideal for bondage.
    10mm: Also made for all bondage purposes but a bit too thick for “practical” bondage in the playroom. It has more presence on the body so it is best used for pictures.
    Any thickness below 6mm will dramatically increase the likelihood of tying off limbs so only use it for controlled scenarios like genital bondage. Anything below 4mm I consider too dangerous to be used on human beings. If you go above 10mm thickness most rope becomes too stiff. While it is not dangerous to use it is in my opinion a too much pain in the ass to be used for scenes.
  5. Breaking load
    In a nutshell Breaking load measures the loads under which a certain material will break (I will talk more about breaking load part three of this series). If you stick to rope thicker than 6mm you will have no problem with breaking load regardless of the material as long as you are not using a single rope for suspension.
  6. Maintaining
    As every toy most kinds of rope need to be cared for in order to bring you long lasting joy. After having been exposed to body fluids I recommend washing your rope using a fine detergent, low temperature and storing the rope in a pillow case. While you can hang cotton and synthetic rope just onto a cloth line and let it dry, most other natural fibers need care (p.e. hemd rope need to dry under tension, pulled through a carabiner once dried in order to soften and finally being oiled) before they can be stored away.
Mister B Split Rope

Mister B Split Rope

Beyond these properties there are also ropes with added features out there which might make your bondage experience easier. Mister B offeres pre-spliced cotton rope for easier bondage. In sail stores you can find rope with metal reinforced eyelets or with shackles attached to the end.

Rope Lenght

This chapter is again a dogmatic one: Which rope length do you need to bondage? Depending on what kind of bondage you want to create different lengths are good for you. I would generally not recommend buying ropes longer than 10m because they are too difficult to handle. Better learn a simple knot to connect ropes and thus connect different tied body areas instead of trying to handle one long one. With this you can of cause incorporate different colors into your growing web. I did a little survey under my rope dedicated friends and the consensus is that this is a good set to start out with: 2x 10m, 2x 5m, 2x 3m. Because your rope collection will grow as you get more experienced and do more elaborate bondage I recommend purchasing rope from a source where you are certain that you will get the same rope even after a few years so you can maintain a set. This is the case with most sail stores, roperies and special bondage rope vendors like Twisted Monk.

Rope Storage

Theoretically you can just throw dry ropes into a container for storage. However I would not recommend it. First it is disrespectful towards the toys and second – for most people probably the more important reason – it can tangle up there. While you can just coil rope for storage I recommend daisy chaining it (here is the Wikipedia article and a YouTube tutorial how to do it). Daisy chained rope does not only look stylish but it also takes up less space, can be transported in a bag without tangling and you can instantly find the middle of the rope which is handy for some bondage purposes. It takes some practice to learn daisy chaining but once you got it you can quickly and easily store make your rope storable.

Stephan Niederwieser's "Tie Me Up"

Stephan Niederwieser’s „Tie Me Up“

Learning the Ropes

Rope bondage is not hard to learn. You don’t need to know many complicated knots; two or three easy ones are enough for most situations. There are a lot of videos on YouTube that will teach you all kinds of rope bondage from simple to elaborate. However the quality of the video content varies from outstanding good to outstanding dangerous. Also, I am not a big fan of videos because it continues running and is already two steps ahead while you still try the first knot. But if you want trusted video tutorials visit Midori’s Vimeo page.

I personally would recommend books to start out with. If you are German spoken I highly recommend “Bondage – Der Gefesselte Mann” from Tom Schmitt. It is the classic, a little dryly written but no non-sense. If you like it a bit more pornographic get “Tie Me Up!” from Stephan Niederwieser. Both are explicitly for gay men. Mr S and Twisted Monk carry a few books and even DVDs on bondage which seems to be targeted at men and women. And of cause there are Midori’s books on Japanese bondage.

Since rope bondage is the entry into the kink world, in most metropolitan centers you can find courses. In Germany I can recommend the rope bondage workshops of the MLC in Munich and Quälgeist in Berlin. If you are in the USA and really want to get into rope bondage visit one of Midori’s Rope Dojos which take place twice a year.

 

In the next part of this series “Rope Substitutes” I will talk about the means to tie somebody down without rope.

Bondage Hardware Special

Welcome to 2016! As already announced in the Season’s Greeting post I will start this year of with a special on Bondage Hardware. The series with have six parts.

  1. Rope: All you need to know when purchasing rope in a nutshell.
  2. Rope Substitutes: Not good with ropes yet want to create elaborate forms of bondage? This part is all the things you can use for bondage which are not rope.
  3. Connection Hardware: The hardware you need when you want to connect bondage hardware without knots.
  4. Accessories: All the items you need to be prepared for an extensive bondage scene – but the security items.
  5. Safety Hardware: The things you should keep in reach when doing bondage.
  6. Emergency Kit: The things you should keep in reach when something went wrong.

I hope you find this special informative and as much fun to read as I had researching and writing it. If you have any comments and suggestions e-mail or tweet me.

Christmas Gift Tip IV – Books

Only 4 days until Christmas Eve. Time is growing short to get gifts for your loved ones. So it is too late for a custom piece of gear or that play furniture you always wanted but would never fit under the Christmas tree.

One great way in order to not only benefit your and the ones close to you but the entire community is to make a donation to a worthy cause. This was last year’s last minute gift recommendation so please refer to this blog post if you are looking for a place to donate.

51DeuFibcvLThe first book is a kinky coffee table book called “Porn – From Andy Warhol to X-Tube” written by Kevin Clarke. It is a history of gay porn from the early beginning to the self-promotion of X-Tube stars. It sheds light into the change of the different genre and interviews important characters which acted before and behind the camera. While this books is about gay porn in general there is some insight into studios like Falcon and Cazzo (which by the way has its own book called the “Cazzo Story” which I think is currently only available in German) which shaped the aesthetics and way we play in our scene.

81BFZBhXQCLAnother mixture of porn and popular culture is the book “Forever Butt”. It is the second collection of pictures, interviews and articles from the (in)famous Dutch alternative gay magazine. Printed on pink paper it give insight into parts of the gay (kinky) community that isn’t as visible as other scenes. I have gotten their first compilation and strolling through the pages has always let to surprising and insightful new aspects of (gay) live.

51r95-431sLIf you are more looking for a trip back on memory lane that is easy to read like a novel take a look at Jim Stewart’s “Folsom Street Blues”. It is an autobiographical episodic novel of the life of Jim Steward. He is a photographer who came to San Francisco’s Castro district in the early 1970s just when it started to turn into the leather mecca it is now famous for. His point of view and acquaintances with many famous people from this area makes an interesting and fun read for everybody interested in that part of our scene’s history.

51758A6GwJLFor a more theoretical and thematic broader insight into this period of the leather scene I recommend Jack Fritscher’s “Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer”. I have to admit the read is sometimes hard but he covers so many different topics that like the Butt book there is always something interesting to discover between the covers.

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

An Example of the Numerous Drub Skin Motives

An Example of the Numerous Drub Skin Motives

It is just one week till Valentine’s Day and maybe there is a special kinky someone you want to show that he is REALLY special to you. This could be a Master, Sir or Top you want to give a little tribute for his time and patience or you might be a dominant yourself and have a sub who deserves a little reward. Or you just want to send a little treat to your kinky friends.

The most simple thing is sending your valentine a kinky card from Drubskin. You can either go directly to his website and order 5 high quality post cards with different motives for $20 or go to his Society6 store where you can get some of his motives as stationery cards (and a lot of other cool smut which are also great valentine’s gifts).

An Anus made out of Chocolate

An Anus made out of Chocolate

Gummi Baers in Shape of Naked Body Builders

Gummi Baers in Shape of Naked Body Builders

No valentine’s gift would be complete without some candy. Depending on what your valentine is into you can either get him a 5 piece assortment of chocolate anuses from Edible Anus for $38.95 or go a bag of naked gummi bear body builders from the Bärentreff for 3.50€ für 500g.

HML Leahter Pillow Cases

HML Leahter Pillow Cases

A really useful  gift is playroom decoration. Depending on your fetish you can either get leather pillow covers from HML in Bremen or latex covers from Demask in Dortmund. They come in a number of varieties also one side cloth, the other side latex so you can even discreetly kink up your living room.

The Map of Human Sexuality

The Map of Human Sexuality

If your playroom walls are a bit barren or you need are sometimes overwhelmed with ALL the play possibilities in your dungeon that you need some help, I recommend getting these two posters. The first one if the map of human sexuality which you can buy at Franklin Veaux’s store for $19.95 with an added little agenda at the bottom. If you are a sub simply place a pin at the stuff that you like, another one at the stuff that you want to try out and maybe a third one with your hard limits.

Uberkinky Periodic Table of Kink

Uberkinky Periodic Table of Kink

A different approach took Uberkinky: They created a periodic table of a large number of fetishes, playes, etc. and it costs £9.99. Due to having structured all terms this is probably a good poster for getting newbies into talking about and exploring their kinks.

While I already own the map of human sexuality, I still need to get the Uberkinky periodic table (just in case you are looking for a gift for my birthday next month;)). Speaking of gifts: Uberkinky currently has a give away for winning a £50 gift card to their store so if you bought the map you have another £40 to spend on toys if you win. I still hope that I win because than I can get myself the Oxballs Zap with 2 4mm electrodes I have been drooling about for a year or so.

The Wonders of Playing with a Newbie

I spent the last weekend with friends who are part of the organizing committee of the Mr RubClub contest where Germany’s MIR contestant is chosen. It was a remarkable party due to two reasons.

First it was my first contest party. The contest itself was fun despite the under heated room. I have never been at a drag show because it didn’t interest me (until now?) but the MC who was a SPI member was hilarious so I might visit a drag show this year. The contest wasn’t as interactive and complex as the ones in the US, it is basically just a series of short films where the candidates present themselves and their relation to the community and afterwards everybody can cast their vote. However, I have rarely felt such an intense sense of connection within and with the kinky and especially the rubber community. It was an awesome experience.

Second and more important was the experience of playing with a person fairly new to BDSM. I was introduced to him on PlanetRomeo prior to the party through a mutual friend. He was cute but I wasn’t really in the mood for playing. He was feeling subbie and in Germany most of the fetish community events are more about fucking than BDSM with everything that goes along with it (p.e. difficult access to toys stored at the checkroom, strange people touching you while playing, etc.). But he and my friend convinced me to take some toys with me after all. After the contest was done, I grabbed my little toy bag, took him to the playroom, bound his hands behind his back, attached two silicone loops around his balls and dick and attached them to my ET232. What followed afterwards was an incredible experience. Not only did he respond really well (he maxed my estim box on High Frequency, something I have not managed yet which was incredible hot) but I was struck by the sense of wonder, excitement and enthusiasm he was showing. The glowing in the eyes, the subtle intensifying of his breathing turning into moaning when I turned up the intensity, teaching him how to breathe and work his way through the pain, resulting into the changing of his face expression from agony to ecstasy. It was more rewarding and satisfying than some session I have with an experienced pain pig when the inner sadist comes through wanting my subs to wiggle and scream as much as they can. After he had enough you could really see the gratefulness in his eyes and the involuntary smile of endorphins rushing through his body as soon as the box was turned off.

After we grabbed a drink he was so curious about the BDSM scene, how stuff works, what can, should and mustn’t be done. And the entire 5 hour bus drive home the next day we were texting forth and back allaying his thirst for knowledge. The situation was kind of bizarre to me: I have ever thought of myself as a more or less experienced “newbie” to the scene having only been really active for about three years and there I was helping someone else discover the great world and wonders of BDSM. From what and how he is asking I am pretty sure he will become an awesome Kinkster, a greedy pain pig and maybe even a good top.

I have to admit that I am mostly trying to play with more or less experienced kinksters because the play is mostly easier and more intense – and I believe at least some people in the community feel the same way. But all it took was about an hour of my time to spark the fire in ones heart and what I got back was emotionally so rewarding and in the long term might enrich our community with another hot, creative and perverted fucker. So please see this short piece as an encouragement for a new year’s resolution: The next time you see someone standing shyly in the corner of a leather bar or someone with now experiences who just wants to try messages you, sacrifice a bit of your time and give him a glimpse into our world. You will probably be rewarded with something way more satisfying than just a great scene.

From Prison to the Market Place – a Response to one of Fossil9’s blog entries

This morning Fossil9 published a blog entry introducing the concept of the game theory to improvie scene quality. It is an interesting approach towards getting a good session for all participants. However, I want to critique it a bit: From what I know of game theory and the prisoner’s dilemma (studying marketing as a major I have only touched game theory in some micro and sociology classes) the players have to have the same goal which they try to maximize. But I see that the only profit both dom and sub want to maximize is satisfaction which I find a too high level goal because every human being is generally striving to satisfaction.

The reason why a dom or a sub engage into a scene is to satisfy a desire but in the rarest cases this desires are complementary thus both dom and sub strive towards a same effect through different actions (a session of a pure sadist with a pure masochist would be one of this rare cases). So to resolve this dilemma you mostly need to “trick” the other part into doing what you want. This leads to the argument that it is part of the prisoner’s dilemma to give in so much to the other’s need that the other person is enjoying their session enough and do what you want so you get the maximum of  you satisfaction. But I don’t like this idea of BDSM for two reasons:

  1. As much as BDSM is a (played and inverted) situation of power asymmetry, in a good scene mutual players come and work together and at least in my world view mutuality contradicts maximizing profits at the expense of the other.
  2. Sooner or later somebody will feel cheater. This undermines the trust which is necessary for a good, intense and deep scene.

Besides not liking this play style, it is outright stupid. Why play with a person you don’t have a common consent on play style with?  In order to get a better scene, I would draw upon two other economic concepts: Coordination and transformation problem solution.

Coordination means finding an offer for your demand. In BDSM terms this means finding someone who shares your likes and your play style which requires you to have at least a rough concept what you want. The advantage of this concept is that it already takes place before the scene thus ensuring a higher level of play and mostly prevents you from bad experiences. Once you have found a right partner or multiple ones the scene faces the transformation problem. This problem deals with the challenges of transforming an abstract concept into something specific, f.i. defines how much force you can apply when the other says he likes ball busting. While coordination is more or less easily achieved (e.g. through questioners, hankies or acronym lists) transformation is much harder because many factors like experience or form of the day alters what the other can take or deliver.

This is the point where you leave the economic concept and turn to good BDSM practice. As I wrote  above all players want to get satisfaction (examples would be giving or experiencing pain, humiliation, dominated someone, etc. pp.) and all have an interest in getting it for all participants as good as possible thus enabling future encounters which will be better because the transformation problems recedes further into the background as  knowledge of the partner(s) grows. But until you get to this point all partners must give feedback in order to direct each other in the right direction. How to give and to read feedback is something which would stray way to much of topic so I just assume that experienced players know how to do it and that they will teach new players how to act accordingly. The ideal form of this feedback mechanism is that before a scene only taboos are negotiated (= coordinated) and the dom(s) is (are) experienced enough to know how to get the sub(s) where he (they) want(s) him (them) to be. This ensures the dom’s satisfaction and if he is doing it right the sub will equally enjoy the scene. Furthermore both parties can enjoy the satisfaction of success: The dom of getting what he wants thus enforcing the self-concept of him leading the scene and the sub of pleasing the dom which also should enforce his self-concept.

But all theory left aside: We do not torture ourselves or others for the sake of proving a theory. This is one of many ways to ensure a great session and frankly: If you have great sessions with great doms and subs, do not worry too much how you got these. Just enjoy the intense and deep feelings you share with your partner(s).

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