Sexual Outcasts

Yesterday night as every Tuesday I attended a meeting of my university’s Queers and Allies group. Being guest at a Christian university I knew that some things will be different and not nearly as progressive as at my German university’s gay interest group being one of the oldest ones in Germany. So I was more than surprised when the topic of this year’s Queer Fest, a week of informing people about non-heterosexual sexuality, came on the agenda. Because this group prides itself of trying to not exclude any form of sexual orientation (the current target group is LGBTQQAAP: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Asexual, Ally, Pansexual) and tries to promote diversity and acceptance on campus I offered my BDSM 101 speech when they called for educational event suggestions. What followed afterwards first shocked and later on outraged me. I heard things like “What is BDSM?”, “BDSM is rape porn!” or “BDSM degrades women!”

I was shocked by the ignorance because in my opinion in the year 2013 a person who is exposed to the internet and other sources of media should have at least have a rough concept of what BDSM is. Of cause I can understand how someone can come to the conclusion that BDSM is mostly rape porn or degrades women because of the way most commercial porn works (over dramatization of the acts in order to generate faster and more intensive stimulation) (1). But taking a niche of the porn industry to judge about an entire field of sexual interests is like saying the US society promotes child labor because girl scouts sell cookies. Induction from an extreme manifestation taken out of context must lead to the wrong impression of the whole picture. What really got me going was that they were reluctant to enlightenment but quickly move on the agenda in order to leave this unpleasant topic behind.

Back in my dorm I thought about this incident: Discrimination always originates from fear of the unknown mostly facilitated by twisted or misinterpreted messages. From the way BDSM is portrait in the main stream media I can to a certain extend understand that vanilla people think that we are (a bit) weird. But settling with the image can’t be the right answer because constantly fighting or hiding takes up way too much energy better invested in personal or professional development or hot scenes. So the solution is to educate, to be out, to be proud. Not like we currently are as gay men because a too offensive approach will just make matters worse by evoking reactance. But the question is: How? I could think of small steps to be taken like wearing a black leather or rubber wrist band and not making up some excuse when asked what it stands for. Like coming out to close friends in a careful and empathetic manner. Like inviting friends to come and join you when you visit a BDSM exhibition or when a sex educator holds a speech in your community. We have all these great resource to promote and educate about our lifestyle but mostly it is just a closed system serving just the members in our community. But sadly with the current Christian influenced sexual moral there is a high risk of putting people further off. Ideally opening up step by step will not only slowly wear down bad stereotypes and thus improve the life for all members of the BDSM community, you might also be pleasantly surprised who is interested in some deeper “conversations”. Sadly most of the time things don’t develop as ideally as hoped.  As a small community we don’t have the resources and can’t create the lobby like the gay liberation movement did in the 60s and 70s. And despite that resignation is the wrong answer because there is a great reward waiting for us.

Like the issue of gay marriage it is a struggle of equality and freedom. Nobody will be forced to be open about his sexuality like no gay couple will be forced to marry. Quite the opposite: It is the struggle of keeping my sexuality as private and casual as I want it. If I get a new whip for Valentine ’s Day I don’t want to have to lie about it, I want the same superficial shared joy like a colleague who got new pair of cufflinks. And if I come back to work a bit exhausted after a weekend full of scenes I want the same right to be a bit off track like the guy who spent the last two days running a marathon. For me freedom is being able to do what I want with whom I want without having to fear bad consequences as long as I do not harm others. I don’t want praise or recognition outside my peer group, I want indifference. In my opinion that is not too much to ask for in a democratic society of the 21st century.

Of cause, a lot of people will now argue that this kind of fight and level of freedom doesn’t affect them. It is only a problem for the hard core player who is in agony after a weekend because his starched shirt is irritating his sore nipples and bruised back or who can’t think straight because after a week of chastity and edging his horniness is driving him crazy. Let me tell you: It is your issue. How quickly do rumors come up like “I have heard he likes so lick sneakers, isn’t that perverted?” or “I have been told he submits to his boyfriend, I always knew he didn’t have the guts for the managing position.”

So sadly sooner or later every person into BDSM will run into some kind of discrimination. Because of that it is important to start the education, liberation and finally indiffereation better sooner than later. Not only to improve the quality of life for the people who suffer from discrimination at the moment but to maybe keep yourself from experiencing them yourself in the future!

 

(1) For some weird reason a quick and superficial research on the major porn sites I know showed that there are more straight male dom than fem dom videos out there even though the ratio of doms to subs should be the same as in the gay BDSM scene thus the market for both scene should be equally large. I recall Gaddam and Ogas discussing this matter in their research but sadly my copy is in Germany; I am grateful for any input clarifying the matter.

Amazon.com acquires ToyTorture.com

I am delighted to announce that after weeks of negotiation Amazon.com is acquiring ToyTorture.com per April 1st 2013.

With last year’s success of “Fifty Shades of Grey” BDSM has entered the cultural main stream making more and more people curious of kinky sexual activities. Through its success the book was one of the best selling items on Amazon’s websites throughout the world drawing attention to the newly developed market of kinky items for the average person. In Amazon’s strive to deliver the customer a wide selection of products satisfying the most discriminating demands they looked for an expert source on BDSM toys not only to improve their purchasing competencies but also to give their customers a source of orientation.

In the few months after its launch ToyTorture.com has become one of the internet’s premiere websites testing BDSM toys. It attracts readers from all over the world serving them with reliable and independent reviews and thus making itself a perfect addition to Amazon.com’s portfolio of special interests sites. I am proud that so shortly after its lunch ToyTorture.com joins the ranks of famous and important websites like IMDb, dpreview.com or goodread.com belonging to Amazon.com.

I will remain editor of this website but look forward to benefit from the knowhow and resourced Amazon.com has to offer in order to improve the quality and experience on this website even more. It is still yet to determine how ToyTorture.com will be integrated into Amazon’s network. Please visit this website for further updates.

McHurt Long & Mini Bat

Vendor: McHurt

Construction

Long Bat and Mini Bat compared to each other

Long Bat and Mini Bat compared to each other

The bat is one of the more classic paddle forms with round ends and increasing width towards the top. It is made out of thick bull hide and has a metal inlay to keep it stiff. The inlay has a bit of a flex so  after a sever spanking using only one site of the paddle, you have to bend it into shape a bit. On the bottom you will find a loop made out of soft leather.

I own both versions of the paddle: The long bat with the measurements 41cm by 4,5cm at the widest part and 7mm thickness and the mini bat which is 28cm by 3,5cm and 6mm thick.

Detail of the stitching and the embossed logo

Detail of the stitching and the embossed logo

Playing with it

The paddles are very flexible: Depending on how you use them the pain sensation can range between a light thud to a sever sting. While the large paddle is more for spanking an ass or for lighter bastinado (depending on your subs feet size), I tend to like the smaller a bit more. First of all: It is handy, fits in most briefcases or even the inner pocket of your jacket. Also the stiffness of the inlay at the mini bat is just right so that you can snap it precisely against small areas like nipples, single balls or the glans.

Apparently both paddles have been balanced to fit a hand of my size (European glove size 7 ½). Holding and swinging them are effortless and even after long spanking sessions my wrist didn’t get tired.

Leather loop

Leather loop

Speaking of getting tired: As with every good impact toy, the character of the toy changes a bit over time. The leather gets softer over time so the sensation shifts a bit from sting to thud. If you want to create the same sensation over time you need to alter your movements a bit and/ or increase force.

If you are into coloring your sub’s skin this toy is good for it. Even after some lighter hits the skin turns nicely red but not as quickly as with for example a rubber prisoner strap. So this toy is good if you want to engage in a longer spanking session with nice coloring but not wearing your sub out.

Conslusion: Basic yet versatile paddle
Pro Cons Where to get Price
Versatile Deforms easily McHurt (Manufacturer) Mini Bat: 16,50€

Long Bat: 27,50€

Good coloring  
Wide range of pain sensation  

Mister B Non-Adjustable Aligator Clamps

Vendor: Mister B

Construction

Clamps without and with rubber cap

Clamps without and with rubber cover

The initial reaction to these clamps was “The are handy”. They are quite small yet sturdy built. The tips of the clamps are covered with a small rubber covers which you can take off and find aligator teeth under them. To connect the two clamps a robust chain is connecting them. The chain is connected to the clamps via a movable bail which is mounted on side of the clamps. Sometimes the bail gets between the two sides and thus jams the opening mechanism. Because the bail is rather large compared to the opening between the sides it can be hard to get it out of the way which is extremely annoying especially when you need to take the clamps off quickly. A better way to mount the chain onto the clamps probably would have been holes in one side and a direct connection.

Testing if the clamps can damage rubber

Testing if the clamps can damage rubber

Playing with it

The size of these clamps is a curse and a gift. They are very handy, can easily be worn under normal clothes or fetish gear like rubber and don’t take up much space so you can carry them around basically everywhere. The drawback is that the pressure points are very small and don’t have any texture. When you are wearing thick rubber gloves, have lube on your fingers or generally have large fingers they can be hard to handle.

Detail of the teeth when the rubber caps are off

Detail of the teeth when the rubber covers are off

Another ambivalent point are the rubber covers for the tips. When the skin area you are putting the clamps on is dry the rubber through is stickiness keeps the clamps in place very well. But as soon as the area is getting moist like through sweat the rubber slides of easily. This is especially annoying because due to their size they are perfect for wearing under tight fitting rubber. If the clamps start to get off, you can take off the rubber covers and unveil the heart of the beast: The aligator teeth which will keep the clamps in place. They are not as sharp as on other aligator clamps and they didn’t leave a permanent mark in my test rubber and leather. But I wouldn’t put them on such surfaces anyway because in order to feel something through the material you have to add pressure which will damage your fetish gear.

Testing the grip with the caps on

Testing the grip with the covers on

This brings me to the big advantage of these clamps: The flexibility. The spring isn’t too hard so they are great as beginner’s clamps, for really long term wear, a session start or if you feel a bit under the weather and want a lighter grip. But when you take the rubber covers off you are in for some real ouch and some nice marks after you have taken them off. As the spring isn’t so hard they are actually pretty comfortable for long time pain pig use.

Testing the grip with the caps off

Testing the grip with the caps off

Sadly increasing pressure by pressing on the sides is a bit difficult because yet again of the size and the tight fit on the body. This tight fit in combination with the round rubber covers and the quite small opening sadly limit the applicable areas to ones which stick out like nipples, tongue or earlobes. Yet again, as soon as you take the covers off the available possibilities broaden starting from the lips and end at the rim of your poor sub’s glans.

Pressure marks of the clamps with the caps off

Pressure marks of the clamps with the caps off

Conslusion: A versatile clamp with some handling problems
Pro Cons Where to get Price
Versatility Small opening Mister B (Manufacturer) 14€
Small size Handling problems
Inexpensive

Mr S Bishop Head Harness

The harness with the blindfold and gag put in place

I have explained at length in this blog entry why I want the Mr S Bishop Head Harness. When I first was put into this head harness I was thrilled with the sensual and session entry potential of this toy.

Besides that it is practical and versatile: It comes with a cover for the eyes so you can use it as a blindfold, a pecker gag and leather mouth cover so you can silence your sub. Furthermore there are D rings on the collar and if I understood the people Mr S correctly a custom D ring can be added to the top of the harness so you can tie your subs in various positions. And I haven’t even started to think about tying clamps, ball stretcher, etc. to it. I haven’t had enough time to play around with it to discover every possible use but I presume that with a little alteration it can also be used as a tight muzzle.

The two different options to cover the sub’s mouth

I am aware that at a price point of $379.95 at the date of publishing it isn’t an inexpensive toy and more expensive as if you would buy gags, blindfold and collar together. But the unique combination and versatility makes it definitely a worthy addition to every collection or play bag of serious players.

Sensualtables

Usually this website focuses on the functional aspect of BDSM toys: How do they perform at doing what you bought them for. And to a large extended that makes sense being the only “hard” way of judging a toy even though because pain and restriction is felt by everybody else differently the verdict is a bit spongy. Because of that I have adjusted the ways reviews are written.

Last weekend at a party of the Chicago Hellfire Club I consciously experienced  for the first time another quality of a toy: The sensual aspect. Before a flogging session the top asked me if I needed to be blindfolded which I confirmed. He told me to kneel down and put the Mr S Bishop Head Harness  (and you wonder why it is today’s Desiderate) with just the blindfold on. From the practical point of view I was a bit disappointed because my cheap basic blindfold from SlingKing performed better at blocking out all light (or perhaps the harness was not adjusted perfectly). But what followed intrigued me:  The top spend a couple of minutes adjusting the leather straps, putting the harness in place, asking me if the collar wasn’t too tight. At least for me it had a great level of intimacy; it felt the top cared for me and caressed his precious torture toy. After the harness was fitted he told me to stand up and guided me to the St. Andrews Cross holding me on my shoulders which added to the deep feeling of trust an intimacy. So even before the main party of the session had started I was already half way in headspace which felt great.

After this experience I went through my toy collection and instantly discovered several toys with a sensual value. So maybe after returning to Germany I will write an article about “sensuatables” –toys with sensual potential.

P.S.:
If some rich admirer of my website is still looking for a birthday present: I wouldn’t say no to such a head harness… 😉

Back to editorial content

For about two month I have kind of taken a break from running this site as I should. Of cause I have posted blog entries on my life in the US and other things but the main point of this website – reviews – has been neglected. But this is about to chance. I have spent my Spring Break writing new editorial content which hopefully should get me to Germany without having to write new one in between. So you can enjoy some reviews and desiderates and I can enjoy the second half of my exchange year. However, since most of the stuff I review I currently don’t have at hand some measurements will be missing. I will add them as soon as possible. Also, I have suspended writing articles because I don’t really have an inspiration for stuff I could do with my limited means in the US. But I have great stuff planed for the future so look forward to the second half of the year.

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).

Flogged by Flogger

Four weeks ago I was introduced to flogging. And honestly: I have never thought that after a really bad spanking experience last spring I could ever enjoy being hit by a top again. But, boy! What… not fun but deep spiritual headspace experience I had. Haven’t felt so deeply and intimately connected to a master in a long time and am already looking forward to enhance this experience.

Anyway you should know me well enough by now that I am like a little boy who envies the other boys’ toys. Also: I like to have good toys which I know at hand when the right master is close by. So suddenly without expecting it, I am into the market for flogger (My wallet is already weeping. Maybe I should ask Mr S in San Francisco to ban me from entering the store when getting to SF in May to prevent me from ruining myself). Being a quality maniac who also appreciates craftsmanship I spent the new gained freedom after my last midterm tonight to search the web for companies who’s website made the impression that they make good flogger. And I have to admit: I am a bit overwhelmed. Flogger.com offers not less than 16 different hides plus rubber and metal as tail materials. Add to this all the different styles handles can be woven, tail width and length and color options, for the first time in my activity in the kinky scene I am clueless what I want. Sadly all companies I have found operate on the internet only and still having limited insight in what I like and need from a flogger I don’t really feel comfortable ordering them only. And since I won’t be in town for IML (I earn the money to buy flogger while the event processes) there is very little chance to try some models. So it will be interesting to see how, what and how many first flogger I will get. Look already forward to review my first flogger for you.

P.S.: My birthday is coming up in 11 days. So if you are still looking for a gift, I would appreciate a flogger 😉

The American perspective on communication

Last week I had drinks with a fellow American Kinkster and talked about my communication problems. He told his American point of view on the issue and it is a valuable addition to my last blog entry emphasizing the cultural differences in communication.

First of all, regarding Recon there is a technical problem when it comes to the display of read messages. Apparently the Recon iPhone app marks messages as read when you acknowledge the incoming message. So when somebody is only with his iPhone a message is marked as read even though he hasn’t actively read it.

But the major difference is in the communication culture. While Germans usually only open messages when they think they have time to read and also answer messages. Apparently in America a message is read and then evaluated if it needs immediate or later answer.

Since knowing both facts communicating has become way less stressful and more enjoyable.

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