The Most Important Toy In Your Bag.... YOUR BRAIN
The most important toy in your bag… YOUR BRAIN!
(Originally from a workshop by Master J at Summer Bash 2000)
Floggers, paddles, ropes, whips, clothespins!! They are all lovely fun, but if you don't learn to communicate with your partner, get into their head and find out what they really want and need, you're missing the best part of SM/BD! Negotiation is a LOT more than just finding out someone's limits. It's the beginning of a wonderful journey.
A Dom/Domme is always thinking… A Dom/Domme is always communicating… A Dom/Domme is constantly playing an exciting game of cat and mouse with their partner. They are always looking for an angle, a bit of info, a word, a fear, an interest, an EXTREME. In other words, we are always looking for INFORMATION. We may not act on this acquired information for days, weeks or even years... We may not even understand how or why we might use it in a scene or otherwise… Some of the information we discover may uncover important phobias and medical information we need to know about our partner to insure their safety. For many different reasons we are in constant, relentless pursuit of information.
WHY? Because information is the foundation of SM!
How many times have you bumped your toe on the corner of the bed and been in terrible pain? Was this fun? NO! You literally think you might kill someone for a few seconds you're so angry.
Now take that same person and beat them until they are taking 10 times the pain, and magically, they are in heaven.
WHY? Because it's all in your head… SM is ALL IN YOUR HEAD!
You can become an expert on every toy on earth, and you should certainly attempt to become an expert on any toy you use with a partner, but if you don't marry the fantasy to the physical -- if you insist on scening in your pajama bottoms, whilst eating a chicken leg and passing gas -- the beating is going to feel like the person stubbed their toe!
You may say, "Hey, my sub is so into me, that I can look and act like anything and they will instantly be in 'head space'"
Quite possibly true, although don't push your luck (LOL), but that is because your sub has ingrained mental images and feelings about you already imprinted in their brain! (Either that or they have quite an interesting bevy of fetishes!)
So what are we saying here? Are we saying that toys don't matter??? Of course not! We are saying that toys can, and are, usually an important part of the overall playtime…. BUT, although a scene can happen without toys… it can't happen without your brain, without the psychological interplay between a top and bottom.
If a stranger comes up to a sub and starts beating them with a flogger on the street, they are not going to be very excited… as a matter of fact, hopefully, they'll call a cop! Yet, a Top could casually walk over to that same sub in a crowded room and do nothing more than say just a few words to them in their ear and if that Top knows them well enough, and if they've taken the time to do their homework, they should be able to make them melt instantly!
WHY? Because the brain is mightier then the flogger!
So many people get into SM and never grow. They are stuck in a rut. They see all these toys and they assume that the TOYS are the scene. The floggers, the single tails, the paddles, the ropes… it's all so yummy!!! And they start out in the scene FIRST worrying about their toy bag and not the interaction between themselves and their partners. They are like golfers who go out and buy a $2,500 dollar bag of clubs, some cool clothes and spikes, and assume they are now great golfers…
The problem is that the dynamic of being a Top is cruely in direct opposition to being a newbie. How can you look all masterful and dominant when you have no idea what you are doing? Quite understandably, a new Top can often get a little rattled and they are afraid to look bad. So their first instinct is to buy toys instead of using the one tool completely familiar to them, their brain!
Let's face it, even an experienced Top sees someone like the great single-tail master, Bob Deegan play, and basically comes to the disappointing realization that "even if I practice for the next 15 years straight I will NEVER come close to his grace and precision."
The reality is…SO WHAT?? Even an experienced player like myself has many toys that I will NOT use in a scene, because I don't really know how to use them properly. How many people know how to use a TENS unit properly? How many people know how to properly catheterize someone??? Do you know enough to do a heavy caning session??? Does that make you less of a Top? No!!! No!!! NO!!!
It does make you a Top who is lucky enough to realize it's OK to go at your own pace. Learn how to use toys as you have the time to master them, because you can have amazing, hot, fantastic scenes with partners with whatever toys you feel comfortable with using. Whether it's two or 2,000… even if it's only your hand and your brain…You can be the McGuyver of SM!
- Workshops - You are already smart enough to be here reading this and educating yourself. It's obvious you are eager to learn. This is a great start. Go to all the great events you can. On the East Coast where I am from you can go to Black Rose, TES 2000, Summer Bash, DsDesires Weekend Getaway and many more. Go to meetings of local organizations like TES, Black Rose, etc etc.
- Read - There are some absolutely wonderful books out there that will help you learn a great deal about the scene. My all-time favorite, and personal Bible, is Screw The Roses, Send Me The Thorns by Phillip Miller and Molly Devon. I cannot say enough good things about this book. It is truly a masterpiece of Safe, Sane, Consensual and loving SM. It is always the first gift I give a new play-partner. But there are many other great books out there, and I strongly suggest you read everything you can get your hands on. Try SM 101, or The Loving Dominant, The Leatherman's Handbook etc etc…
- Mentors - Believe it or not, and I know this is hard to believe, most Tops are natural-born show-offs, and our most favorite topic to talk about is ourselves. Although we are very busy looking cool and aloof, most of us are only too happy to help. Find someone knowledgable and be politely persistant about picking their brain. Even if you are sure you are a Top, bottoming is one of the best ways to learn exactly what's going on. Ask a Top to demonstrate things on you… I promise they won't bite… well, maybe, but that's a whole different thing!
Yea, yea… I know oh great Top pooh-ba, your subs don't need safewords because blah, blah, blah… BULLSHIT! If you're a bottom, and a Top ever tells you that you don't need a safeword, RUN!!! If you have time, maybe kick them good and hard once first…BUT RUN AWAY! This person is dangerous and doesn't understand. Safewords are so much more then a way to stop a scene. They are a way for a bottom to feel comfortable. A bottom can "take" SO much more when they can relax, knowing deep-down inside they can stop or cool down a scene if it goes too far. Using a slow down word like "yellow" and a stop word like "red" is usually the best way to go. Using safewords also allows experienced players to safely play on the edge and to push or find limits.
There is nothing better then good old communication between a Top and a bottom. Talk to each other… let each other know what it is you like or don't like. Tell each other about situations you've been in before which were great or terrible. Tell each other about scenes you've seen or fantasized about that were Hot or just plain awful…that were Scary… that were Scary and Hot… that were…. Ok you get the idea!
Now that we're talking and are getting a good idea of what we like… I want to know ALL ABOUT YOU so I can liberally use it against you … I want to know what scares you, what you love, what you hate, so that I can alternately GIVE and NOT GIVE it to you as I see fit. So that I can create scenerios and play safe with you. To do so, I need even more information. I need information that you might be to embarrassed to admit to me in conversation. I need info you wouldn't even think of surrendering to me. I need you to fill out a Negotiation Form!
A NF is simply a form that lists a whole bunch of questions and gets your reaction to them. Usually, most have a series of scenes and related interests. The form requests that you rate them (ex: 1-5) on your interest and/or prior participation. I have seen many forms, and basically any NF that gets you and your partner talking is a good NF. BUT the best NF also asks the following VERY IMPORTANT questions. So if your NF doesn't have the following, please add them on a separate piece of paper.
- Physical Concerns - Do you have any medical conditions, chronic or otherwise, that the Top should know about? (Epilepsy, weak shoulders, skin allergy to latex, etc.) Are you on any prescription medications? Etc.
- Mental Concerns - Do you have any phobias or mental conditions that the Top should know about? (Fear of heights, Claustrophobia, MPD, etc.)
- Limits - Are there any specific scene-related things you will not do?
- Fetishes - Are there any specific scene-related things that you really like?
I know a great deal of people think that negotiation forms are just way too sterile. That's understandable and I "feel your pain". If I meet one of you out and about, and we decide to play, I promise I'm not going to whip out my trusty negotiation form… not "yet". However, I will be very careful and play very lightly with you, and even if we play a bunch of times it's possible I'll only know you casually and won't have you fill out a form. BUT if I'm at all serious about playing with someone, they will fill out a form, because I want a ROADMAP!
Also, it's important to remember that NF's change…subs change…many don't even know what half the things on the form mean when they start out in the scene so they fill out an NF form very cautiously with serious trepidation! So, always respect a negotiation form… but don't get depressed if your partner puts a low number for boot worship and you happen to have a major fetish for having your boots licked. Maybe they just never thought about it??? Maybe they think it's disgusting and unsanitary, and maybe that's an OPPORTUNITY!!
We, of course, have to be very careful here, because we don't want to screw with any phobias or deep-rooted problems, but as long as this isn't the case, an obstacle like this can become an opportunity for fun! Getting your bottom on their knees to lick your boots may become a very enjoyable project for the next year or so! It's a beautiful game! Sure you could just pull rank and say "You WILL lick my boots slave" and that's such a lame way to do it. What fun is that? Isn't it a LOT more fun to actually break your sub down to the point that you get them to BEG you to lick your boots!?!?!? Now that's FUN!!! HEY! Safe, sane, consensual, always… but no one ever said we can't be evil!!
Okay, so we've educated ourselves, filled out a NF, went over safewords and we are playing. Things are great. We are having fun. We are using our brain, making up all kinds of great escapades and really having a rewarding SM relationship. So is that it? Are we done? NOPE!
Now comes the best part.. now we refine it, we work on it, we have even MORE fun!!! Now we start with the homework.
Have a bottom keep a diary for you. This is not your bottom's diary. This is the Tops possession. However, the bottom should write in it as if it's their private diary and be totally frank about everything and anything. They should, at the least, write in it after every play time, at most, every time they have a thought/concern about SM or any other topic they would like to write about. With the advent of the Internet, the "virtual" diary is probably the easiest and best way to go. I like to have my subs send me an e-mail diary entry as often as possible, which I can keep on my computer or print out into a book form.
These diary entries are incredibly cathartic for the bottom and it allows them to work through their feelings to find out about themselves. Making a sub remember everything about a session is a hot and fun way to find out how the sub felt about the session. Moreover, you'll find out some VERY important things. You may have thought your fabulous scene with the riding crop made their bottom shiver, when, in reality, they may not even remember it. But just one little word--you forgot all about--put them over the edge!
Use the diary to gauge your growth together, to refine your scenes. AND NEVER PUNISH A BOTTOM FOR WHAT IS IN THEIR DIARY!! Or you'll never get anything out of them again. If your sub says, "I wish my Lord and Master would stop wrapping the cane every time he hits me with it." Don't get mad, be glad you've learned something and now have the opportunity to improve yourself. Your bottom probably never would have known any other way to tell you that, but through the diary, they can. Sure, they know you read it…but if you don't directly confront them, the diary becomes an anonymous entity that you can learn so very much from about your relationship.
In conclusion, this is just what I believe, the way I personally practice SM. If my notes help you find a greater and/or safer enjoyment of "the scene" then I'll feel that I've paid back a small piece of the huge debt I owe to the many wonderful people who have been, and remain, my teachers. Remember SM can be so many different things to so many different people. Whatever it is for you, my wish is that it brings you much joy! As long as it's Safe, Sane and Consensual it's "all good!"
Master J is the Patriarch of our Family and can be reached at MasterJ@leatherfamilyonline.com - Sovereign House