By Tobly McSmith
Bondage and beatings not your cup of soup? Well don’t burn down the house to kill a mouse, my apprehensive friends. SM and supplication of fetishes doesn’t have to be hardcore; it doesn’t even have to be softcore; it just must be your core. The fetish and BDSM worlds have been around for years and are ever-changing ways to act out sexual fantasies, no matter how freaky. The colorful potpourri of fetish interests are endless. They include corsets, shoes, any body part you could think of, leather, even tickling. A Gas-Cat is a dominatrix that, for the right amount of money and right amount of gas-inducing foods, will actually fart in your face. Smoking fetishes are believed to be on the rise due to the banning of smoking in public places making the act more alluring because of its taboo quality.
BDSM has comfortably lived in the shadows of seedy dungeons and CSI episodes for years. The kink is there if you want to seek it out, but maybe you are the type of person that would call out your security word before a dominatrix even enters the picture. You engage in strictly vanilla sex, which in the pain game is a reference to regular, straightforward sex, and are happy with just that. BDSM has not received so much of a bad name, but with its aspects of extreme play (think electro-shock) it sure has carried the stigma of being creepy and dangerous, making experimentation less appealing to the vanilla world. What gets lost in the images of men hanging from hooks and smelly people in leather getting flogged are the emotional aspects that are the foundations of SM play. Through domination and submission play, unconscious and conscious emotions from current life situations and childhood experiences can be worked through as responsible adults.
In her book The Art of Sensual Female Dominance, Claudia Varrin prefers to be called a Domina and talks about SM play going on “behind the veil” in the “midnight purple.” This most informative Domina states “top or bottom, before one can surrender to one’s desires, one must first accept them.” First things first, dear reader, how could you know the pleasure of licking a high heel until you admit that closeted shoe fetish to yourself? Ms. Varrin reminds us that “we cannot use our regular and rational thought processes to delve into our fantasies.” She encourages us to look at a variety of our fantasies and fast-forward though the “window dressing,” such as certain clothes or physical surroundings, to find the overall theme which she calls the “Prime Erotic Theme.” Once you have come upon your PET, then it’s time to explore it through play. Well, that seems easy enough.
Just like a committed relationship is based on trust, an SM relationship would not work without it. The fighting and cheating of a married couple is one thing but when whips, chains, and even fire is involved there better be a clear path of communication. To differentiate itself from “criminally abusive or neurotically self-destructive behavior popularly associated with the term 'sadomasochism,” the BDSM community operates under a simple philosophy of Safe, Sane, and Consensual. Not everybody that engages in SM agrees with this motto. For example, the mighty Baroness, who has been around the whipping world for 15 years and counting, questions the aspects and boundaries the statement may create. She finds safety a vague issue and “Sane? What’s sanity? If you have a relationship and a rapport where you can go is consensual, and that’s the only thing that actually matters, and that’s the most invisible.” The world of bondage and dominance could be considered the grey area of the sex world, or midnight purple if you are Domina Claudia.
The Baroness exudes classiness in a charming, old-school manner. The elegant way she carries herself places her, in true dominant style, on the queen’s throne in any situation with others merely holding court around her, quite possibly from fear of her spot-on bull whip skills. She is a pioneer of latex fetish clothing, having the only all-latex boutique and manufacturer, retail, wholesale and Internet. “I brought color to the fetish world.” The Baroness maintains that she “changed the sizing. I changed the styling. It was really my responsibility and I changed how fetish looks today in the world because of that.” Judging The Baroness on her refined looks and successful business endeavors alone would be a painful mistake as she asserts, with her gentle yet striking voice with remnants of her English descendants, “I could hurt you and you could take it. It’s a great thing to me, I love it. Personally, I’m a sadist, I love hurting people.” And that she does, in the best way, at her monthly Fetish Retinue Parties that have latex-infused themes like medical, stomping, gift-wrapping, and hot wax. The Baroness calls these soirées “a safe place to do dangerous things.”
When speaking with The Baroness, she deliberately leaves out the “and” when referring to S&M, possibly to suggest the yin and yang equality to the play. Could you have a sadist without a masochist or vise versa? She considers herself among the “old guards” of the BDSM world and contributes the changing of the guard to several things. “Nowadays,” The Baroness confesses, “what you find is a bunch of 18 to 25-year-old girls who look cute in practically nothing, working in a veiled house of prostitution agreeing to do things for somebody else’s pleasure, not being adequately knowledgeable about it, looking at it as a way to make money as opposed to a lifestyle, and because they are new and because people are expecting different things they are going further and further than what dominance and submission is.”
The Baroness has a different view on slaves as well. To her, it’s not just a servitude; it’s “a relationship. There is communication, it is knowledge, it’s time-sharing, it’s commitment; it’s all those things that people are not prepared to do. And that’s a big difference, it’s a major difference, it’s destroyed the scene as far as I can tell.” Slave loyalty and dominatrix’s monetary ambitions could contribute to the decay of the old-school way of BDSM but the Internet is also playing a large part in the morphing of the SM world since dommes now maintain MySpace Web pages.
When queried about fetishes, which The Baroness lectures on, she described them as something that “affects you in a private way. It is a chemical thing that happens and it is intense and inexplicable and private and embarrassing and it exposes you and you want to luxuriate it.” Sadly, she believes fetishes have become bastardized. “Originally, it was an item that has magical powers then it become something more like sex then it became nail varnish for [teens].”
The Baroness’ fetish du jour are whips of all lengths and styles. In our interview, the ceaselessly strong Baroness became slightly, and I mean minutely, vulnerable when she recounted a whip she received one “fabulous Christmas.” She was entertaining a good number of guests and upon opening the bull whip she got so washed with emotion she was forced to leave the room. In her words, “I get up and go into my bedroom by myself and fondle the whip because I am too embarrassed or too focused on that whip to be in public. That is a fetish. That is what it does.” Magical powers, indeed.
When asked what SM does to a person emotionally, she confidently remarked that it “takes them someplace. And sometimes it’s just the ability to let go of who they think they are, who they think they need to be, who they think somebody else needs them to be, to disassemble to be built again.” Nothing helps you disassemble better than a six-foot bull whip snaking around your body repeatedly, and if you think you can take it, The Baroness isn’t so optimistic. “Statement of fact, you can be broken, period. For you to accept that, that is the hard part. It’s not hard to be hit, harder for you is to take it and go with it, that’s good SM. That’s good SM”.
A trip to a dungeon not in your foreseeable future? Understandably so, but don’t make SM the red-headed step child of your sex life. To be able to admit what you want and face your fears makes you a stronger person.To submit and to accept the moment can make life a treasure chest of discovery. Don’t let a couple of overweight men being trampled on by four-inch heels make you miss those aspects of the BDSM world. Giving your body as a subordinate helps to understand how to trust and accept, and dominating somebody can facilitate power issues and teach you how to read people and learn how to touch their buttons. Public humiliation can only degrade you if you care about what people around you think of you. One word encompasses the entire SM process, and that is honesty. Being honest to yourself as to what you crave and being honest to those you engage in play with to their limits and expectations. Ask yourself what makes you hot and have the courage to get out there and turn the heat up. I dare you.
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