The alt.sex.bondage FAQ List

The alt.sex.bondage FAQ List

This page contains sexual discussion. If you do not want to read sexually explicit material, please obtain software which allows you to block it out on your system. This FAQ Has Evolved! The soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm FAQ list is the new incarnation of this FAQ. Go there now if FAQs are what you want. Yep, it’s true; at the (ahem) gentle prodding of peh and Arrow Blue, I have finally gotten off my butt and translated the a.s.b FAQ into the s.s.b-b FAQ, by dint of some very-easy-why-didn’t-I-do-this-months-ago batch files and sed scripts. Enjoy, all, and my thanks for your patience. Thanks for reading! Hope you learned something! Remember, your sexuality is wonderful; treasure it and nourish...
I don’t have access to soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm; what can I do to get information about the scene?

I don’t have access to soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm; what can I do to get information about the scene?

A question I’ve been getting more and more often as my FAQ spreads outwards into the world is, “I can’t read soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm, but the stuff you talk about in your FAQ sounds really interesting. Are there any ways for me to access soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm, or do you know of any SM groups or BBS’es near me?” First off: unless you have access to a system which gets USENET news, and soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm in particular, there is no way for you to read alt.sex.bondage. There are no mailing-list gateways or FTP archives of soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm. There may be public-access net sites in your area which you could use to access s.s.b-b. Second: I don’t track very many local SM organizations, beyond the ones I mention at the end of this FAQ. So please don’t ask me for information beyond what’s contained here. HOWEVER: There is a way you can get answers to your questions! If you have email access to the Internet, you can use an “anonymous posting service”. A posting service is a program running on some Internet-connected computer. You can send email to the service, and it will remove your userid from the email, append a newly-generated anonymous userid, and post your email to soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm! Anyone can send you mail in response, and the service will forward it to you. So if you have questions about SM resources in your area, use an anonymous posting service to send your question to s.s.b-b (for example, “I can’t read soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm, but I’d like to know whether there are any SM groups in Vancouver. Please reply by email”). You will definitely get more responses...
I’m sick of certain topics on s.s.b-b. How can I avoid them? Also, what’s with all these ads?

I’m sick of certain topics on s.s.b-b. How can I avoid them? Also, what’s with all these ads?

s.s.b-b, like all Usenet groups, has its share of flame wars. Many of them revolve around questions of whether particular BDSM activities are healthy or not (the usual answer: “They’re risky, but it’s possible to do them safely and beneficially, and many people do”), or whether soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm is a heterosexist group or not (I’m not gonna tackle _that_ one here, yet). One common feature of all, though, is that some people get burned out on reading all the hundreds of articles in the thread. The solution? Most newsreading programs support a tool called a “kill file”, which is a list of subjects and/or authors that you are NOT interested in and never want to look at. Different newsreaders have different ways of using killfiles. I use rn, so my example will refer to it. (If you use a different program, see the documentation for that program. To add a particular subject (say, “FAQ List”) to your killfile in rn, go to soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm When you are reading the group, type ^K (control-K). This will put you into an editor which is editing your killfile for soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm. Type the following: /FAQ List/h:j then exit your editor. What that line says is “junk any articles which contain the text `FAQ List’ in the header.” Replace “FAQ List” with the subject you dislike or the user ID of the person you no longer wish to read, and presto, your blood pressure will be much happier. I’ve been told the following about the “gnus” newsreader: In gnus, from the subject buffer, on an article from the person you wish to kill: type meta-k [gnus-Subject-edit-local-kill],...
What topics are and aren’t acceptable on s.s.b-b?

What topics are and aren’t acceptable on s.s.b-b?

Back in the days of yore, the group for discussing kinky topics was alt.sex.bondage. This group was created in response to a joke, which turned serious once people actually started using the group. But there was never any charter or definition of what was and wasn’t acceptable, as with the rest of the alt.* newsgroups. So alt.sex.bondage is now completely overrun with advertising and spam. soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm was created mainly in order to set up a charter forbidding spam, but also to broaden the explicit agenda of the group from just bondage to bondage and BDSM (which as we know is a compound acronym defining a lot of different behaviors!). Thus many of the flame wars about “that’s not bondage, it doesn’t belong on this group!” have gone away forever. The s.s.b-b charter is available on the Web. (Here’s a local copy.) Now, there are still plenty of flamewars, and no little amount of flaming about how many flamewars there are and how hostile an environment is created as a result… but there’s no doubt that much more good BDSM conversation is happening on the new s.s.b-b than was happening on the old a.s.b in its dying years! What s.s.b-b has evolved into (and actually has always been) is, as the intro to this FAQ states, a group for discussing “ways to have sex that are outside the mainstream”. This is an awfully wide description. There is room underneath it for discussing everything from “how do I tie someone up?” to “how can I play with razors safely?” to “what’s it like to love someone of your sex?” The inevitable...
Are SM people subjected to political or social harassment?

Are SM people subjected to political or social harassment?

Like all alternate sexualities, SM is stigmatized in many ways by most of society. In extreme cases, SM players are prosecuted legally. or persecuted by people who would _like_ to so prosecute them. This section of the FAQ describes some of these ongoing battles. (See another question for a brief mention of one recently-vanquished challenge.) The Spanner case First, the most serious anti-SM action in years: the Spanner case. In Britain in 1992, sixteen men who had attended an SM party were convicted of assault, despite the fact that everything that happened at the party was fully consensual. The sentence was four to six years in prison. The defendants appealed, and eventually reached the highest court in Britain, which issued a judgment rife with the worst and most inaccurate popular misconceptions about BDSM, ignoring everything that is now widely known about how it is safe and consensual. This judgment is a travesty of human rights, and flies blindly in the face of medical and psychological fact, in favor of prejudicial ignorance. The men involved are now pushing to take the case to the European court of human rights. They need any and all assistance. An organization named Countdown on Spanner was formed to pursue the appeal as far as necessary. Countdown on Spanner can be reached via Snail Mail; C/O Central Station 37 Wharfdale Road London N1 Great Britain Please include a SAE. Or contact via e-mail: phas@siva.bris.ac.uk. There is also a Spanner web page. Canadian censorship Another situation demanding attention is the censorship being practiced by Canadian customs. Canada has no First Amendment, and Customs has been seizing...
What’s the deal with this anonymity stuff?

What’s the deal with this anonymity stuff?

There are many people who post to soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm through the wizvax Anonymous Posting Service, and many others who post from pseudonymous accounts. The reasons are obvious; “kinky sex” in our society is stigmatized, and being openly interested in sexuality or alternate sexual practices can result in personal and professional consequences including losing one’s job, losing one’s friends, and if child custody is involved, losing one’s children. Yes, in America today, you can lose custody of your child if it becomes known that you practice SM. (This is not merely anecdotal; people on the net have had these things happen to them.) Oral sex is a crime in some states! After reading this FAQ, it (hopefully) should be clear how twisted this situation is, when acts of love can be used as evidence of psychological damage. This is why many choose to write and post anonymously. By using a pseudonym, they can say what they want to say, while remaining free of the nastiness that could ensue were their coworkers to discover their interests. Homosexuals know what it’s like to be ostracized for their romantic and sexual preferences; SM devotees are, in some ways, in the same boat. It’s a strange world, where love is perceived as evil, and beauty as ugliness…. Anonymous posters are not cowards. The consequences I have outlined are enough to make anyone question whether posting under their own name is worthwhile. Those who choose to do so are not necessarily so much courageous as lucky–lucky to be able to be out, to declare their lifestyles openly. (Note that pseudonyms are sometimes used in real-life situations,...
I want to attend a play party, what is the etiquette?

I want to attend a play party, what is the etiquette?

The simplest way to fit in in a play party is to behave politely. There will be people right in front of you who are doing very sexual things. They are doing them for _their_ pleasure, not for yours. Stay away from the action unless invited to participate– and a glance in your direction does not constitute an invitation. The people who really interfere with the energy of a party are the people who seemingly assume that just because the scene is taking place in a semi-public context means that comments from the audience are okay fine. They’re NOT. The top in the scene is concentrating on the bottom’s pleasure, and the bottom is almost certainly in a very private mental space. Neither the top nor the bottom will appreciate being yanked back to reality by a loud suggestion or greeting. If you want to compliment them on something, WAIT UNTIL THE SCENE IS OVER and they’re circulating and being sociable again! Interfering with a scene in progress is inexcusably rude, and if I were dungeon-mastering I would throw you out of the party for doing it. Once you understand that scenes are private even though they’re taking place in public, the question then becomes, how can you watch without detracting from the energy of the scene? There definitely are people who interfere just by watching. They’ve been dubbed “energy vampires” in the past. These people are watching the action as though it was a porno movie–as though the intense magic taking place in front of them was no more than a bad fuck flick where the actress is...
I want to throw a play party, how can I go about it?

I want to throw a play party, how can I go about it?

Occasionally on soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm there is a flurry of email about some event that recently occurred (often in the SF Bay area) at which many net.folks were in attendance, and about the tremendously enjoyable things that transpired there. Then others around the country post, wishing they lived out here too. Well, you don’t have to live out here to have a play party! What is a play party? A party where your guests can (and hopefully will) play with each other! It can be as simple as a backrub circle which turns into more intimate activity, or it can be one person who gets clothespins applied to them while others watch and contribute energy before going off into their own scenes, or indeed anything at all. The idea is to enjoy each other, to communicate and share the pleasure that touching and playing can bring. If there is a common interest in SM, that’s convenient, as lots of things can be initiated with a simple pair of handcuffs or a whip that looks like it’d feel good; also, if the guests have played with SM, they will understand the need for negotiation, and they will know what it is to respect another’s limits. Some tips: Don’t encourage alcohol; make it BYOB. This makes the party safer, and the drunker you get the less likely you are to really be able to fully negotiate and communicate. Minimize video and loud music; this causes people to interact with each other, which is the whole point, rather than sit back and stay out of the action. (Good party music can help set the...
My fantasies scare me. What if I get too into SM?

My fantasies scare me. What if I get too into SM?

Sometimes people who are attracted by some aspects of SM worry that they will immediately go from enjoying spanking and light bondage to fisting and golden showers. Nothing could be further from the truth. SM is a blanket term for a huge variety of alternative ways to make love. This FAQ list has outlined some of the possibilities. No one I know enjoys _everything_ on this list; _everyone_ has their own preferences and levels of tolerance. Some like bondage but dislike pain; some like latex but dislike leather; some enjoy piercing but not whipping; some like tickling and nothing else! This means that negotiation is always important in SM; you never know what someone’s tastes will be until you ask. It also means that whatever your level, however hard the play that you enjoy, there are people out there who share your tastes. Be a dabbler or be a lifestyler, or be anywhere in between! And don’t worry; the operative word with all of these practices is _pleasure_. If you don’t like it, you won’t enjoy it, and you won’t do it! Some people have fantasies about heavier SM trips than they would enjoy in real life. To those people, I say this: fantasies are not reality. It is well documented that many women have rape fantasies from time to time; this does not mean that those women want to be raped. SM can involve playing on the edge between fantasy and reality, using that fantasy energy to create something fantastically strong and passionate in the real world; but this does not mean that fantasies are anything but imagination,...
What are the “codes”?

What are the “codes”?

Often the “hanky code” is mentioned on s.s.b-b. What is it? It’s a tradition in the scene that if you’re into certain types of activities you can indicate them by wearing a handkerchief in either your left or right back pockets. The color indicates the activity; the side, the preferred position (left is top, right is bottom). Some of the colors are gray for bondage (left is you like to tie, right is you like to be tied up), red for anal fisting (left fister, right fistee), and black for heavy SM (piercing, serious whipping, etc.); there are many many many more. I don’t have a list handy. Sometimes the same thing is done with keys or handcuffs–keys on the left means you’re a top, on the right means you’re a bottom. It’s all just a way to signal your preferences in a public place. Despite persistent rumors, there seems to be no “earring code” involving earrings on the...
Can someone really be someone else’s slave?

Can someone really be someone else’s slave?

This is the last question in another guise. Is it possible for there to be consensual non-consensuality? That is, can someone agree to be in a situation from which they cannot escape, and to live that way? This topic can inspire flame wars, as follows: historical slavery was totally non-consensual and enforced by the state; at the worst of times, the life of a slave was in the master’s hands. Our society today does not recognize such an arrangement. Does this mean that someone cannot truly become someone else’s slave, as society would always permit the slave to back out? Or is true slavery possible as a bond between one person and another, regardless of society? You expect an answer in a FAQ? Sorry, here there are only more questions. (Though see another question for more on the hazards of that pesky word...
Isn’t the bottom always in control?

Isn’t the bottom always in control?

One of the paradoxes of SM revolves around consensuality. Everything in SM is consensual; although the top is in control, it was the bottom’s choice to allow the top to _be_ in control. And since most of the time the top is trying to keep the bottom happy, and since the bottom knows that, isn’t the bottom really in control? Yes, if your definition of “in control” is “can stop the scene”. The bottom can always opt out, if it’s consensual SM. But the top can go a long way towards putting the bottom under the top’s spell, making the bottom submit to really strenuous bondages or beatings, using the bottom as the top pleases. One friend of mine, for instance, takes great pleasure out of hog-tying his girlfriend with her breasts bound and her hands behind her back and her ankles tied to her ponytail, then putting her on the edge of the bed and sticking his cock in her mouth. She has no choice but to suck it until he comes. Which of them is “in control”? Both of them would say that he is, and both of them are getting off on that fact, so the paradox in practice doesn’t matter too much. Furthermore, negotiation can involve give-and-take; the bottom can agree to endure some pain to please the top, and the top can then (say) tie the bottom tightly and tease to the point of orgasm. A particular activity in SM can be enjoyable for its own sake, or because it’s a favorite sensation of yours, or because it turns your partner on so much...
Why is SM taboo, and is SM criminal, unnatural, immoral, unethical, or unhealthy?

Why is SM taboo, and is SM criminal, unnatural, immoral, unethical, or unhealthy?

If what I’ve been saying in this FAQ is accurate, then why haven’t more people heard this? Why are the prevailing images of SM so negative? There is no doubt that they _are_ negative. Not long ago I was informed that there are some members of the Winnipeg (Canada) police department who believe that soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm is “a textbook on how to torture women for sexual pleasure. It’s obscene.” Said police were considering how to deal with s.s.b-b on obscenity grounds. In England in 1991, a group of gay men who had gathered for an SM play party in which they were using whips for pleasure were arrested and charged with battery, EVEN THOUGH they had all agreed to be doing exactly what they were doing, and WANTED to be doing it. Consensual SM is illegal in England. How can this be? The crucial distinction here is between consent and non-consent. The difference between whipping someone in a scene and assaulting them on the street is the difference between sex and rape. If everyone involved agrees to what is happening, it is not a crime. If they do not, then it is. This distinction is not in principle difficult to understand, and being involved in SM makes it very clear. SM practitioners are _more_ familiar with consent issues than most, and as such are _less_ likely to commit crimes of the sort that people confuse with SM. And NONE of the material in this FAQ advocates ANY kind of nonconsensual, criminal behavior. Unfortunately, there are many who would be arbiters of what others may and may not legally consent to...
Is SM degrading or abusive? Were most SM people abused?

Is SM degrading or abusive? Were most SM people abused?

Often people approach SM with nothing but negative stereotypes in their mind. The will-less slave dominated by the overbearing thoughtless master. The pervert who enjoys being hit because he thinks he deserves no better. These images, negatively charged with connotations of abuse, do not reflect the reality of consensual SM. First, were SM people abused as children? This is a common stereotype. Straw polls of people on s.s.b-b seem to indicate no particular pattern of abuse, and there have been very few, if any, scientific studies of the question. Some people see an increased correlation, but there is little actual evidence. This stereotype is usually just _assumed_ to be true, as an expression of SM-negativity–“Oh, anyone who likes that must have been really damaged as a kid.” Similar claims were once widely made about homosexuals and homosexuality. (As one data point, I personally wasn’t abused as a child, for which I’m grateful. And I’m very into various aspects of SM, for which I’m also grateful.) In general, in fact, no one seems to have any idea of why some people enjoy SM behaviors or fantasies, and others don’t. Rather like no one really knows what determines sexual orientation, or preferred body type, or much of anything else where human sexuality is concerned. The notion of a “normal” sexuality is widely overrated… the range of variations is incredible. Once you actually look at people who are involved in SM, and at what they do, you realize that what is actually happening is a powerful expression of love, which expands into sensual realms outside the ordinary. True SM is consensual, strengthening,...
Why am I defending SM?

Why am I defending SM?

One of the problems with SM is the social programming against it. Our culture isn’t used to the idea that sex is fun and pushing one’s limits in search of pleasure is a damned enjoyable thing to do. Moreover, there are many people who confuse fantasy and reality where SM is concerned, and who think that SM players do likewise. In this FAQ posting I have attempted to explain the ways I and my friends feel about SM. I am doing this because I used to know very little about SM; I only knew I was interested. Through s.s.b-b and lots of new friends and LOTS of wonderful experiences, I learned. My life has been enriched and my relationships deepened and strengthened by my experience with SM. Now I want to describe all that in as open and frank a manner as I know how. If you believe SM is sick or disgusting, that is your prerogative. This FAQ makes clear how it is not generally unhealthy to its practitioners; it is up to you whether you accept this information or not. You do not, however, have the right to stifle or censor those who would discuss this aspect of themselves, because of your personal opinion about their practices. If you don’t think you’d like it, that’s more than fine with me; I would just ask that you be open to what the SM community may have to teach about consensuality, negotiation, safety, and exploration. When I first started fantasizing about SM-related activities I was very young indeed–under ten years old. I don’t know where these aspects of my...
What about shaving body hair and/or crossdressing?

What about shaving body hair and/or crossdressing?

Another fetish many people have is smooth skin, with no body hair. Shaven skin is silky soft, completely and utterly naked, and very vulnerable. Shaven legs, armpits, or genitals can feel very different indeed than hairy ones… and since the name of the game is sensation, naturally shaving and SM can go together! Since shaving is conventionally a female activity, it carries an added charge when men are shaved. It can be at once humiliating and enormously arousing. Many men enjoy shaving themselves in order to play with cross-dressing (dressing as a woman); hence I mention these two topics together. Shaving first. How to shave? Consider showering, or taking a bath, first; it softens the skin and the hair. Use a sharp razor and a bowl of hot water; splash water over your leg (or wherever) and lather with shaving cream. Then shave _with_ the direction of the hair (i.e. shave down the leg towards the ankle, or shave from the navel towards the crotch); going against the direction of the hair can lead to ingrown hairs when it starts to grow back. Shave with short strokes, dipping the razor frequently in the bowl to remove the hair. If you shave only seldom, you may go through a couple of razor blades doing your legs alone. Don’t press too hard (to avoid razor burn). Some people who shave infrequently use an electric razor first to remove most of the hair, then a hand razor for the remainder and on the sensitive areas. (Electric razors tend to pull hair, and they are most annoying on genitals.) Some people swear by...
What is it about leather/latex/high heels/corsets/other fetishes?

What is it about leather/latex/high heels/corsets/other fetishes?

All these things–erotic clothing or objects of whatever type–are “fetishes”. A fetish is any object which has sexual connotations for you. If it makes you feel sexy to wear it, or to see it on someone else, it’s a fetish. There’s nothing wrong with having fetishes; in fact, it’s a rare person who _doesn’t_ have any! Some people are turned on by armpits; some by painted toenails; some by good old lingerie. The techniques of negotiation and communication that I’ve already talked about can also come in handy in exploring your particular fetishes, whatever they are. Leather is one of the most basic fetishes in the scene. Leather skirts, leather chaps, leather harnesses, leather cuffs, on and on. Likewise for latex. Much of the appeal of these two substances, it seems to me, is in their tightness and their shininess; clothes made out of them enhance your awareness of your sensual self, and restraints made out of them can cling like a second skin. In general, leather and latex are two really big categories of fetish–and a fetish is defined as something that turns some people on; if you have to ask, you probably won’t understand! Leather clothes absorb fluids; don’t get them wet. Plain water will damage the leather; blood or other bodily fluids will also leave their scent in the leather. You can use saddle soap and water to clean your leather, and neats-foot oil to keep it supple and in good condition. Latex doesn’t absorb water-based fluids, but oils will damage it, and prolonged exposure to sunlight will cause it to break down. When putting your...
Does the way I play qualify as “real” SM? What is “real” SM, anyway?

Does the way I play qualify as “real” SM? What is “real” SM, anyway?

Sometimes on a.s.b, people will post wondering if what they do is “heavy” enough to be worth talking about. How can a mere novice who just got spanked for the first time presume to post about how it felt, when there are people out there who wouldn’t even have noticed it? The answer to that is twofold. First, there are an infinite number of ways to play. This is one of the reasons I like SM to mean Sex Magick; Magick doesn’t need to involve pain, or intensity, or bondage, or role-playing, or anything at all. Sex Magick is whatever you do that fulfills a fantasy of yours. **There is no right or wrong way to do SM, as long as it is consensual.** If you agree to it, and if it feels good (during and after the scene), it’s the right thing for you to be doing. This FAQ list is really just a series of suggestions; take them or leave them, it’s totally up to you. (There are players out there who get way heavier than I ever will–into realms that I personally consider unsafe and even a little insane. Heck, for some people, being whipped is an insane idea. But the most important thing is the consensuality and the mutuality of the play–that everyone involved in the play _wants_ to be doing what they’re doing, and that everyone can call it quits if need be. What other people think is not relevant; it is _their_ play, and _their_ choice as to what risks they wish to assume.) Second, the “intensity” of a scene has very little...
What is “fisting”?

What is “fisting”?

Everyone (well, almost everyone) knows what finger-fucking is. Whether in ass or pussy, it’s terrifically enjoyable to stroke someone inside. (Fingers up a man’s ass, if aimed properly, will tickle his prostate gland, which feels AMAZINGLY good… just a little tip!) And people are generally comfortable with the idea of finger-fucking with more than one finger. But not as many people have been exposed to the idea of inserting a _whole hand_ into the ass or pussy… which is, in simplest terms, what fisting is. Yes, it’s anatomically possible, and yes, it’s EXTREMELY pleasurable. (I haven’t experienced it, save vicariously.) That said, it’s now very important to explain what fisting is _not_. You do _not_ make a fist and ram it home. Fisting is one of the most intimate and complete ways to touch another human being, and it is something that has to be worked up to slowly and gently. There have been many posts about fisting on s.s.b-b, talking about the proper technique, the safety concerns, the fantastic feeling of openness and connection, the magical plane that two people fisting can attain… it’s an incredibly intense way to make love. I can’t do justice to the firsthand descriptions others have written, but I can mention some of the safety concerns. First of all, cut and file all your nails until every finger is as smooth as it could _possibly_ be. Your fingers will be in some very delicate places–places that may not have pain receptors. You want to make sure you minimize all chance of causing damage. Use latex gloves. AIDS is a matter of life and...
Is anal sex safe? Why do people do it?

Is anal sex safe? Why do people do it?

Anal sex, practiced properly, is as safe as any other kind of sex. And people do it because it feels good–the anus can be an intensely erogenous zone. In fact, far more straight people than gay people practice anal sex! The anus contains more nerve endings than any other part of the male body, and more than any part of the female body except the clitoris. It’s no wonder that anal sex is a part of many peoples’ sex lives. “Anal sex” can range from simply stroking your or your partner’s anus with a lubricated finger, to actually sliding some fingers inside your partner and stroking them, to full anal intercourse. All these things are physically very pleasurable, and if you simply wash your butt, there’s nothing repulsive about them. The anal taboo is very old, but there is no necessary medical reason for it if you know what you’re doing. If you’re concerned about staying clean, by all means make sure you’ve gone to the bathroom before playing, and wash your ass–outside and, if you wish, inside, with an enema. If you want to feel clean in order to enjoy anal sex, it’s not hard to be as clean as you want. (It is also very important, though, to use safe sex techniques, which I describe a bit further on.) The main guidelines for anal sex are Communication, Relaxation, Lubrication. You see, your anus consists of two rings of muscle, dubbed the external and internal sphincters. Your external sphincter is under your voluntary control–you can relax it at will. But your internal sphincter is _not_ under voluntary control....
What are “golden showers”? How about “scat”?

What are “golden showers”? How about “scat”?

Another kind of play, also known as “water sports”. Basically, some people enjoy urinating on their lovers, or having their lovers piss on them. Pissing is really a very intimate thing; your urine is a part of you, it’s warm and wet, it feels good to let it out, it comes from your genitals. Some get a thrill of power from having someone bound beneath them who can do nothing but take it as the shower lets loose; others get off on being made to pee, to wet their pants, it’s naughty and they need to be punished for it. Safety-wise, urine is essentially sterile; it’s not necessarily free of HIV, so it’s not safer sex to drink someone else’s urine. Also, urine contains mostly salts that your body is trying to eliminate, so drinking it again will strain your kidneys. If you’re drinking urine, make sure to drink lots of water as well. Some people are into scat play, which is playing with shit. I don’t know any who are, but they’re out there. Scat is obviously even less safe than water sports; in particular, hepatitis and intestinal parasites can be spread by oral contact with even a tiny bit of feces. People who enjoy rimming (oral-anal contact) should be aware of this, and clean themselves VERY thoroughly at the least, although even thorough cleaning will not eliminate all risk. For more on this, see the next...
What is it about breath control? Is it safe to make someone pass out?

What is it about breath control? Is it safe to make someone pass out?

Some people enjoy playing with cutting off their air during heavy scenes. This can be as simple as squeezing someone’s neck while you kiss them deeply, or as complex as a full-head latex hood and gas mask over a straitjacket. As your air is cut off, you can feel sensation more intensely; it is also a deeply intimate thing to allow someone else to be in control of the very air you breathe. One simple explanation is that the body’s natural reaction as orgasm approaches is shallow, rapid breathing–just like in breath control. Needless to say, there are many things that can go very wrong; if you pass out and someone isn’t there to cut you loose and make sure you’re breathing, you can die. Not for novices. One simple way to start is to try squeezing your lover’s neck gently as you make love to them. If it feels good, they will let you know, most demonstratively. And you can stop instantly just by letting go. In _any_ form of breath control, it is critical that all equipment be fail-safe, and that the bottom’s breathing is only impaired by the top’s _direct_ action–not by anything (noose, gas mask, etc) that would continue to obstruct air if the top (for example) fainted suddenly. Many people die each year practicing “autoerotic asphyxiation”–wherein someone will masturbate while restricting their own breathing, and one night they wait too long to take the bag off their head or release the pressure on their neck, and they black out and die. Some think, “Well, just play with a partner, then, if you want to...
What is cutting/play piercing/burning/branding/electrical play? What are “bloodsports”?

What is cutting/play piercing/burning/branding/electrical play? What are “bloodsports”?

First questions first. Cutting is the SM practice of using a scalpel or other fine blade to make shallow cuts in the top layer of your partner’s skin. Play piercing is using very fine needles to pierce your partner temporarily, removing the needles at scene’s end. Burning is using high temperatures somehow in an SM scene; note that the goal here is to play with heat, not to actually burn your partner, since burns are not friendly injuries to heal. Branding is, well, branding–using small, shaped, highly heated pieces of metal to burn small scars into a partner’s skin. Electrical play is playing with electricity. And finally, “bloodsports” is a generic name for any SM practice that involves blood. Obviously, all these SM practices are potentially very very dangerous, as any of these things, done wrong, could result in permanent injury. Properly done, none of these practices result in any damage that requires more than minor first aid to clean up and cope with. Also, I cannot give enough information in this FAQ to explain how to do these practices safely. You need to learn from an experienced top, and you need to see it done in person, before you will really know how to play this way with your partners. That said, onward we go with a feeble attempt to cover some of the groundwork. First, cutting and bloodsports. The ground rules: cleanliness and safety. Most cutters I’ve seen use rubbing alcohol to clean off the surface of the skin, followed by Betadine to disinfect the skin area on which they’re going to cut. The top wears latex...
What is body piercing? What is “C&B” play, or “genitorture”?

What is body piercing? What is “C&B” play, or “genitorture”?

Piercings aren’t just done to ears. People on this list have their nipples, navels, eyebrows, clitoris hoods, penises, labia, and other body parts pierced, and bits of metal permanently in the piercings. These are the bare facts, but this practice, it turns out, has a lot to do with SM. Getting a piercing, first of all, is an incredibly intense rush, on a purely physical level. It’s a very powerful thing to willingly have someone push a sharp piece of metal through your body. It can be a level of sensation beyond any you’ve experienced in your life. Once you have the piercing, it can completely change the way that part of the body feels to you. One friend of mine said that his nipple piercings turned his nipples from little places that felt OK to full-fledged erotic zones connected right to his cock. He calls his nipple piercings the best thing he’s ever done for his body and his sex life, and he seems damn sincere! The same goes for all the piercings in the genital area; they can really make sex more fun. There is some medical evidence that nerves around the pierced location become much more sensitive, so this isn’t mere folklore. In case it wasn’t clear, once a piercing heals, it doesn’t hurt at all; quite the opposite! Some people get into play piercings, which are done temporarily with very thin needles, which are removed at the end of the scene. This is basically another kind of sensory trip, which some find very enjoyable. The needles don’t _hurt_, exactly, but you certainly do know they’re...
Why is whipping fun?

Why is whipping fun?

One way of thinking about whipping is as another way of touching someone. People who are just getting into SM frequently play with spanking; it’s fun to be spanked! It’s a punishment, it’s a strong stimulus, it hurts very pleasurably. But if you’ve ever spanked anyone for a long time you know that your spanking hand wears out quickly! Well, that’s what whips are for–to allow you to hit someone for a longer time, without tiring out. There are many varieties of whips (cat-o-nine tails, heavy floggers, canes, light braided switches, suede pussy whips, and on and on), all of which feel very different and which have their own individual effect. A whip-loving top will often carry a veritable arsenal of different floggers, but they are all extensions of the top’s touch. Indeed, when I whip or cane someone, I feel as though I _am_ touching them–as though the instrument is an extension of my arm and my desire. There are deeper reasons why the variety is so diverse. A whipping scene will often start off very lightly, with the top using a small whip to sensitize the bottom and get them into the rhythm of the scene, switching to heavier and heavier whips as the bottom gets deeper and deeper, more and more receptive to additional sensation. Of course, the top may choose to lead the bottom on any kind of tactile journey the top desires–switching from stinging light switches to biting canes to soft fleeces. (Yes, it can feel GREAT when your top stops hitting you and suddenly brushes a velvet cloth against your back! Or maybe...
Why is bondage fun?

Why is bondage fun?

Lots of reasons. For many people, the knowledge that they are helpless, that someone else can do things with their body and they can’t prevent them, is a powerful turn-on. “I’m going to make you come and there’s nothing you can do about it.” It’s a very strong statement of trust to let someone bind you helplessly, or even non-helplessly. How erotic, to feel yourself spread open, wanton and wet, and to see your lover kneeling between your legs, ready to use you for their pleasure–or to pleasure you unendurably…. For others, the simple sensation of bondage feels good. Tight constriction can create very intense stimulation, and lots of tight bondage can be a sensory trip, just as a whipping scene can be. Bondage can feel comforting, pleasantly confining; you don’t need to worry about anything, since what can you do? You’re all tied up, and all that’s left is to enjoy. For yet others, it’s a charge to struggle, to let your body lose control. It can really intensify an orgasm when you come with every muscle straining against your bonds, trying to get your hands free to smash your lover’s face into your crotch, your body shaking. If you weren’t tied down you’d hurt yourself! For me, it’s all three of these reasons 🙂 An especially intense form of bondage is verbal bondage: putting your bottom in some position (spread-eagled, kneeling, whatever) and commanding them not to move… and then tormenting them! One kinky variation on this is as follows: have your bottom hold their hands out in front of them, fingers splayed, each fingertip touching the...
Is BDSM sexual?

Is BDSM sexual?

This is one of those troublingly general questions that simply begs for a flame war. There is no shortage of kinky people who get turned on by kinky behavior. There is also no shortage of kinky people that don’t. And then there are the kinky people who find some kinks sexy and others not, no way, no how, are you kidding??? And then there are the kinky people who find some kinks erotic in fantasy only, but who would never like them in reality. Not to mention the kinky people who don’t think that other kinky people could possibly find some particular kinks erotic, or not erotic. And then how much plain old sex gets blended into the kinky behaviors–or what kinky behaviors people consider to be sex in the first place–is another colossal variable. So the answer is, yes, sometimes, for some people! Next question?...
How can I learn to be a good bottom?

How can I learn to be a good bottom?

It can also be hard to learn to bottom, if what you’re used to is topping. Giving up control, surrendering, can be a difficult thing, when you’re used to holding the reins in your hands. If you find yourself manipulating your top, trying to coerce them into giving you what you want, then you’re what is called a “pushy bottom”–a bottom who is not really submitting, but just trying to turn the situation around to the way they want it to go. Some tops get off on bottoms who are defiant or subtly disobedient, and use it as an excuse to punish; but for other tops, especially inexperienced ones, it can be anything but fun. Making your top feel like they don’t know what they’re doing is no fun for either of you; I know, I’ve been there, as the pushy bottom. The solution? The next time you play, tell yourself that you are the top’s property, that their will is yours, and that your deepest desire is to please them. Before, if they did something you didn’t like, you might have suggested they try it another way; now, they are doing exactly what they want to be doing, and you are grateful they’re doing it. Let go of your urges to be in control; surrender to them, and let them have their way with you. I guarantee you will have a lot more fun than when you were trying to top from the bottom–I know I did! If you are still not quite getting what you want, as a bottom, this solution may not last very long; you...
How can I learn to be a good top?

How can I learn to be a good top?

When first getting into the scene, it can often be somewhat intimidating to try playing with SM, especially if neither of you have done it before. Here’s this wonderful person, who wants you to dominate them. You tie them up, and they’re helpless, wriggling with anticipation and lust… and now what do you do? Play with them! There are all kinds of common objects that produce intense and enjoyable sensations when applied to a helpless lover. Combs for dragging across the skin, feathers for tickling a frantic foot, clothespins (use a couple or use many in artistic rows–these can be as intense as you want to make them!), ice cubes, chocolate syrup, strawberries (ever see 9 1/2 Weeks?), leather belts for slapping or spanking, hairbrushes for scuffing or beating, and of course your own fingers, mouth, genitals, and everything else. Enjoy taking your time with your willing victim; drive them to distraction, then bring them to the edge of ecstasy, then back off and make them beg for more! Remember, you can set the mood as you wish. You can be playful, amused at your own ineptitude even while your bottom is moaning with desire. You can be stern and commanding, sympathetic but nasty, jolly yet sadistic–anything you please. As long as you focus your attention on your bottom, your bottom will have a great time! Relax, go with the flow, and if you stop enjoying it, call safeword–tops can use safewords too. Of course, there’s no need to feel like you need to put all your attention into pleasing your bottom; what’s a good slave for if not...
Is everyone either a top or a bottom?  What’s a “switch”?

Is everyone either a top or a bottom? What’s a “switch”?

One perception that some people can have, looking into the scene from outside, is that people are either tops or bottoms. Either you like to dominate, or you like to be dominated. And sometimes novices become confused, because they’re excited by _both_ possibilities. The facts are, everyone is different, and everyone has their own preferences. I personally greatly enjoy topping my girlfriend, and also greatly enjoy submitting to her. Some people _are_ tops in every play situation, just as some are bottoms in every play situation–but I know people who top men but bottom to women, people who sometimes switch roles multiple times within one date, and every other spectrum of possibility! People who top are called “tops”, people who bottom are called “bottoms”, and people who switch back and forth between topping and bottoming are called “switches”. A switch can be a top in one scene and a bottom in another. Some people switch back and forth often; others switch only between scenes, but retain one role throughout any individual scene; others switch only very seldom with people that they trust very deeply; and still others never switch at all. If you do switch, and you’re not sure which role you want, you can play with that question in itself. Whole scenes can revolve around the “who’s on top?” question. Maybe you can have a wrestling match, and the person who gets pinned first will wind up being tied up. Maybe you can set a timer, and when the timer dings, it’s time to switch positions! There are as many possibilities as your imagination can dream of! Then...
What are some basics of safe SM, emotionally and physically?

What are some basics of safe SM, emotionally and physically?

SM is often play, and as such is fun! But SM can also get intense and powerful. Here are some useful tips for people just getting started. Emotional safety First of all, communicate. Let your partner know what you want and don’t want. Keep the dialogue going; watch your partner, be aware of what she or he is feeling and thinking, and respect his or her limits. Establish a safeword, and make it very clear that it will be taken EXTREMELY seriously if used. DON’T assume that your partner shares a fantasy of yours unless you’ve EXPLICITLY discussed it with them; just because someone likes being blindfolded doesn’t mean they’ll enjoy being tied up. And most important, give full permission to both people playing to stop at any time for any reason; respect each other enough to commit to call a halt and work things out if something goes wrong. Be sensitive. SM play, which can (doesn’t have to! but can) involve helplessness, intense sensation, and psychological domination, is strong stuff; it can reach deeply into someone’s soul and bring up childhood traumas or hidden fears, without warning. Be aware that you are swimming in deep waters, and be respectful, loving, and careful. Don’t let this reality scare you away from SM, though, if you want to experiment; let it make you more aware and open to what both of you are feeling. Most of all, decide for _yourself_ whether SM (or elements of SM) has a place in your sex life; don’t listen when someone _else_ tells you “SM will be OK for you” or “SM will not...
When is pain not pain?

When is pain not pain?

Often people outside the scene don’t see the appeal in any of the things SM people do that look painful. What’s enjoyable about being hit? Where’s the fun in getting bruised? Well, think about this. Have you ever had intense sex and afterwards noticed bite marks on your neck of which you had no memory? What happened was your love partner bit you, HARD, hard enough that it bruised you, and all you felt was another jolt of pleasure. If they bit you that hard when you _weren’t_ having sex, you would scream “OUCH!!!” because it would hurt a lot! But when you are sexually aroused, your pain tolerance goes way up, and stimulation that you usually feel as pain is now actually pleasurable. This is common knowledge. Another usual explanation is that the brain produces endorphins, natural opiates, to compensate for pain. You actually get high off the sensation. The “runner’s high” comes from pushing the body painfully for so long that the endorphins kick in; the rush you get after eating chili peppers comes from the same source; and that’s what makes it enjoyable for SM players to be whipped or spanked or whatever. It’s not pain, it’s pleasure! All athletes that are “hooked on exercise” are essentially masochists who enjoy stressing their bodies to get that chemical response. So your friend who enjoys being spanked may actually be a lot _less_ masochistic than your average marathon runner! For just this reason, one well-known local dominant uses pain as a reward, when she’s topping a masochist. Pain as a punishment can have the reverse effect, when your...
What is a “safeword”?

What is a “safeword”?

One of the thrills of SM is that it can stretch your limitations. If you enjoy this sort of play, you can naturally find yourself trying more and more new things, accepting greater and greater levels of sensation, doing and feeling more than you’ve ever done or felt before. But the process is slow and gradual, and people are not telepathic. It may be that you are the bottom in a whipping scene, and your top is whipping you, and suddenly it doesn’t feel good anymore!! and you want them to STOP!!! That is what a safeword is: a word that means “This isn’t working! This scene is going wrong somehow! Please stop!” A safeword needs to be taken seriously. Sometimes you may be playing with a top you don’t know that well, and if they do something to you you don’t want, it’s important that you have a way to let them know, IMMEDIATELY. Especially if you’re tied up or otherwise made helpless. Everyone has their own favorite safeword. I personally use “Yellow!” to mean “Something’s too intense; I need you to lighten up, but I don’t want to stop the scene,” and I use “Red!” to mean “I’m in trouble and I want everything to stop NOW, no more games, scene over, let me outta here!” Some people just have one flavor of safeword, and use “aardvark” or some other weird word they’d never say in the context of a scene. At many parties, the universal safeword is “Safeword!” It’s up to you. All it is is a safety valve for when things get out of control....
What is a “scene”, and what is “negotiation”?

What is a “scene”, and what is “negotiation”?

SM has definite connotations of theater. The fact that you are a submissive while you’re playing sexually does not mean you are a pushover in real life, nor does your being a dominant while playing mean that you are an overbearing egotist. These are roles that you can play; you are in some sense an actor. Hence the concept of a “scene”. A scene is a particular interaction between a group of players, usually revolving around a bottom. It’s not a formal concept, just a handy way to describe the action. “That was the hottest whipping scene I’ve ever seen!” “Our last scene really pushed me, Master; I’ve never felt like that before.” Usually a scene has a momentum of its own: you (a top) will begin fucking/whipping/sucking/whatever your bottom, you’ll both be fantastically into it, one or both of you comes/peaks/starts getting tired, and you wind down and rest for a while and talk about what worked and what didn’t, about how the scene was for you. Novice SM players may profit from actually taking this loose description and using it to structure your first scenes. If there’s something you want to try, first negotiate it with your partner; discuss what you want out of the scene (bondage? orgasm?), what your limits are (no fucking, no tickling), and what safeword you want to use (see the next question). Then get “into scene”–assume your roles (if any), put on the collar (or whatever), get into the mood to play… and play! And after the scene is over, take time to discuss what the scene felt like for each of...
What does B&D, S&M, D&S, top, bottom mean?

What does B&D, S&M, D&S, top, bottom mean?

The easy part first: B&D = “bondage & dominance” or “bondage & discipline.” S&M = “sadism & masochism.” D&S = “dominance & submission.” People who read s.s.b-b are generally interested in ways to have sex that are outside the mainstream. One of the recurrent threads on s.s.b-b is the question of “what to call ourselves”, since there is no one set of sexual practices we all enjoy or are interested in, yet there is a lot in common among all the things we talk about. Some people enjoy submitting to another person, placing themselves under the power of another, in a sexual context. It can be a very hot thing for someone to say to you, “I’m yours. Use my body for your pleasure.” This is D&S; one person is dominating, the other submitting. Slave/master, harem girl/sultan, boy/daddy, student/schoolmistress. D&S is an erotic power game, where both people are getting off–one on the thrill of controlling, the other on the thrill of being controlled. This is also where the terms “top” and “bottom” come in; the top is, roughly, the dominant; the bottom is, roughly, the submissive. What do tops and bottoms do with each other? Well, one good possibility is they have lots of hot sex. Another possibility is the top ties the bottom up in some manner, which directly and physically puts the bottom at the top’s mercy, and then the top plays with the bottom, teasing, seducing, frustrating, and hopefully finally satisfying. This is a bondage & dominance sort of game. Some people enjoy playing with punishment–“You’ve been bad and now I have to tie you...
BDSM Resources

BDSM Resources

What are some web sites/books/magazines/organizations/stores/news archives where I can get SM information or toys, or meet people in the scene? Well, time does take its toll on the kinky businesses of the world. This list was always abbreviated but lately it has become badly outdated. So I’ll no longer claim this is anything other than just one starting point for y’all.. Web sites and newsgroups Many of the books and stores I list also have web sites; I include those URLs in the book/store listings themselves. But first, a Must See Site: www.houseofgord.com is the best ultrabondage site on the Net, IMNSHAAO. Yahoo has a BDSM page! This is one handy place to start browsing, all right! I’m very happy this page exists; my kudos to Yahoo for having the guts to host it. The Society for Human Sexuality at the University of Washington has a web page at http://www.sexuality.org/; it contains a Guide to Safer Sex as well as a basic how-to of flogging. There are also various BDSM community web sites: D/S Kiosk is a damn fine site if you are into IRC (Internet Relay Chat) at all; this is where many IRC BDSMers coordinate their nefarious exploits. Steven S. Davis’s LMNOP Page is worthwhile if you’re interested in more from one of soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm’s most prolific and worthwhile posters–and the resource list there is rather better updated than this! These sites have PLENTY of hotlist links and should serve as fine starting points for your kinky netsurfing. An indispensable reference for any kinky person is the https://www.ncsfreedom.org/. Looking for a doctor or a therapist who understands what...