BDSM Fiction and Authenticity

As you’re all aware by now, we write a lot of BDSM fiction. We’ve noticed a lot of concern about the non-consensual writing that’s around being a ‘poor representation of the BDSM world.’ (this came from an Amazon review of another author).

Fiction is fiction, and I doubt this same complaint would be levelled at a murder mystery or a sci-fi novel in which characters are treated badly and not as we would like in an ideal world. What is important, I believe, is that if a story is non-consensual, it is honestly marketed as such. The reason for this is so that newcomers to the scene, many of which learn through reading, (and that’s often fiction), can see the clear boundaries which should not be crossed in reality. After all, you wouldn’t really expect a zombie to stomp round your living room or a vampire bite you, would you?

I have no problem with writers or readers who produce or have fantasies of non-consensual play or sex. What is of more concern is passing those fantasies off as acceptable sex or BDSM practice.

We try in our stories to make these things clear. My fiction is always consensual, primarily because non-consensual is too far off my radar and I wouldn’t be able to write it convincingly as a result. Fulani stretches the boundaries a little more, but always makes this clear for the reader so they can make an informed choice.

What we are proud of is the inclusion in our fiction of safety awareness. I like to include some details of things to be aware of, such as characters having some way of communicating their hard limit if gagged. A safeword of course cannot be used when gagged, so characters are given a ball or something similar, which they can drop to alert their dom to stop the play. I feel it is important that anyone thinking of tying someone up, making them helpless and creating pain for them should be very aware of their responsibility to that person.

This has all come from personal experience. I know how it can feel when someone does something to you that you did not want to happen. I know how it feels for someone to try and push you to use your safeword, thinking this was the way to play. It is not. Safewords are intended to STOP play for whatever reason. For either the sub or the dom, a safeword is just that. A word to use to keep you safe. And that means safe physically, mentally or emotionally. It is used in extreme situations and not as a goal for the dom to reach. A responsible dom would set up a scenario in which he/she could PLAY at pushing a sub beyond their safe limits, but not as an aim in reality.

There are types of BDSM play a few people wish to indulge in that are not safe, such as choking, or breath play, which can result in death long after a session due to heart attack or stroke caused by the interruption to normal heart rhythms. There is no doubt that breathplay ranks among the more dangerous practices in BDSM, and infosar as you may find a little of it in a few of Fulani’s stories, you’ll also find commentaries in the text that make those dangers crystal clear.

So, reader beware. Ensure you realise that what you read in fiction is not always acceptable BDSM practice. Nor is it always a fair representation of the BDSM world any more than crime novels always accurately depict how detectives work.

Jackie Adshead. Erotic Artist Interview

Witch

Jackie Adshead is an artist with a great interest in erotic art. We wanted to know more about her, and are convinced you will too. Her work is intriguing, very individual and beautiful. There is plenty more of it on her own website, which we’re sure you’ll want to visit once you’ve read her answers to my questions.

To start with, what is your artistic background?
I’ve spent all my life painting pictures. I’ve never stopped since I first picked up a crayon as a toddler, and I had my first commission at the age of 13 for my history teacher at school, but the artwork has changed a bit since then! So I’ve always had the talent to paint within me, but I like a challenge, and love to be creative so for that reason I am probably unusual in that I will paint any subject matter, I don’t limit myself to just painting flowers, or animals, or landscapes, or people, or to a certain style. I love to paint in watercolours, pastels, acrylics or oils, and draw in pencil or ink. And do surreal, abstract, fantasy, as well as representational art. I am a painter rather than an illustrator in that I try to catch the essence and feel of the subject rather than a totally true representation. My artwork is softer than stark reality, accentuating the good bits, and lessening the bad bits. I am different to most artists in that I prefer commissions than exhibition work as I feel I have more empathy with my clients because we’ve discussed a special piece of art that they want me to create just for them.

How long have you been involved in erotic art?
About twelve years ago I started attending life drawing classes like most artists do, and I quickly realised how difficult it is, because if you draw a tree, it doesn’t matter if the trunk is a little too wide, or if one of the branches is too long, but it does if it’s a human body, the measurements have to be right, and the arms and legs need to look like they are all connected to the body and that the head sits on the shoulders. I found it very helpful for teaching me to look properly at a subject, but after a few weeks of being at the life drawing sessions and looking at the work I’d done, I wondered how I could make it look more interesting and life-like from the stilted poses that the model was in and I realised that it’s what I was leaving out that made the picture far more interesting, as it leaves more to the imagination. I didn’t need to draw all of the body of the person infront of me, for anyone looking at it to know that they had legs, or a back, I just captured where the light touched the body and found that anyone looking at it much preferred it as their brain was filling in the parts their eyes couldn’t see and it made it erotic because of that. And it evolved from there. Plus, wonderfully, I found that I got far better feedback for my erotic art than I ever did for the landscapes!

What started your interest in erotic art?
I can never get excited looking at a painting of a vase of flowers, as all you will ever see is the flowers no matter how well they are depicted so I’ve always preferred figurative art and the interaction between people. Life drawing though wasn’t enough of a challenge for me so the reason I started doing erotic art is because it’s the most difficult art to create I think; it has soft nuances, its challenging, and what I need to capture is that certain something, the essence, that will make the viewer feel erotic when they look at it. And that is such a subtle thing to do, and is something that may be different in all of us. And the vase of flowers would look far more interesting if the petals were made up of naked women, or entwined lovers!

What inspires your erotic art?
I love the interaction between lovers of both sexes, straight, bi or gay. I love the muscular bodies of fit men, and I love drawing women, as I believe all women can look attractive regardless of their age, race, or body size. I love seeing and drawing the curves of women and agree with many people that a naked woman is the ultimate piece of art.
I love it when someone contacts me and wants me to paint their passionate desires for something or someone that makes them feel excited.
I’ve always loved the dramatic strong light and darks of Caravaggio’s work and found it immensely inspirational, and use that powerful effect in my white on black erotic drawings.

What are the most important aspects of erotic art for you?
Painting other people and making them look good and feel good about themselves and their bodies. Making people feel empowered through the paintings I’ve done of them. Capturing the essence of a person and putting it into the painting. Knowing that the art I do is therapeutic and life changing in some cases.

There’s a lot of controversy about the difference (or not) between porn and erotica. How would you differentiate between erotic art and pornographic art?
Pornographic art leaves nothing to the imagination – it’s all there in stark sexual detail.
Erotic art is the sensual, and the suggestive which is far more sexy when you wonder what is going to happen in a minute…… what has that person done beforehand to now be in that position and place and time, and what are they going to do next? Or if there is more than one person in the picture then it makes it a little easier to imagine – so just think what a whole orgy could produce!!!! But I can draw an image where the woman in it is fully clothed and make it erotic just because of the look on her face or where one hand is carefully placed.

Are there messages in the art you produce?
There is always a message in art – even if it’s only a celebration of a simple subject matter. But, other than that, I love painting secrets and incorporating them in my artwork. I’ve painted erotic landscapes when the client has asked me to paint a typical scene but with an erotic couple hidden within the painting so that people viewing it wouldn’t know unless they looked closer or had it pointed out to them. And also I was commissioned to do a painting for a woman who wanted an erotic picture to hang over her bed that her four year old son wouldn’t recognise as anything other than a landscape. She wanted me to paint an erotic landscape where the couple are actually the geography of the land. And to innocent eyes, this picture is nothing more than a view of Lands End. But to less innocent people, it is far more than that. You can see the man and the woman within the picture, and you can see that they are having sex. It is both truly erotic, and an innocent landscape, and I loved the challenge of creating it for her!
But as well as that I love hiding the subject matter within my art too – like my collection of “Fantasy Fannies”- which are erotic feminine paintings that just look like brightly colourful abstract shapes, but are actually a very intimate picture although most people looking at it wouldn’t have a clue – which makes it the ultimate conversation piece as far as I am concerned! They are portraits but not the traditional ones of the women’s faces. They are currently hanging on walls in America, and England, and a woman contacted me from New Zealand in raptures over them and the empowerment they stood for. I love the fact they are affecting women worldwide. I painted one for a woman in Canada whose young step-son described it as “the sky diving picture”, because that was what it looked like to him. I just have visions of him looking at it in a few years time and thinking “Oh, that’s not sky diving at all!!!!!”
And I like to hide secret messages within my art too – like when I was asked to do a painting for a couple from London of a particular village in Southern France that they had visited a lot, and I suggested that they might like their initials hidden within the buildings itself. They loved that idea, as it made it far more personal to them, but I knew we were going to have a problem, as did they when I mentioned it. So, I had to just put in just their initials, and not the “and” part – since otherwise it would have spelt out “M & S” or better still “S & M”!

Where do you see this type of art going in the future?
I think more and more people are plucking up courage and willing to pose for an erotic artist, and I know that people like to see what they look like through another person’s eyes, and I know I have been good therapy to some of the people who I have drawn, because they’ve told me so, with emotion in their voices. So I think it will become more main stream, although some people are still worried what their family or neighbours might think if they see an erotic picture on their wall even though we all look at erotica and love it and know others do too.

Do you have any advice for aspiring erotic artists?
Follow your passion, and try to touch people’s hearts and hope that they feel more enriched through how you depict them. Leave something to the imagination. But most importantly try to bring pleasure to people through your art.

Thank you Jackie. We look forward to seeing much more of your work.

VelvetTripp

DauntedJackie can be found at

Her website www.jackieadshead.co.uk

Her blog www.jackieadshead.co.uk/blog

Facebook www.facebook.com/jackie.adshead

http://twitter.jackieadshead.co.uk

Bondage and BDSM Economy Style

One of our most read posts turns out to be from early last year, about the top ten toys for bdsm play. Velvet thought she’d add to that by suggesting, in these rather austere times, some cheap options for bdsm toys.

***

It occurred to me after a visit to the Birmingham Bizarre Bazaar that playing at these games can end up being an expensive pastime. And these are not times in which to be extravagant. So I’ve spent a little time being creative. All in the name of research, of course. There is no real need to spend lots of money to have fun. Though it’s nice to have some quality leather restraints etc, it’s not necessary, and can wait until funds allow. The good news is there’s plenty to play with in (or around) your home. Here are some free toys and ideas on how to use them.

Feathers. Look around next time you’re in the garden or out for a walk. Collect a few feathers, large and small, stiff ones and fluffy ones. Once you have your sub tied up and blindfolded, she/he won’t know what you’re using on them. And of course it’s not all about pain. Much BDSM is about mind-fucks or surprises, the contrast of sensation, and pleasure as well as pain.

Use the fluffy end or soft end of a feather on the skin or tender bits. Then try using the quill end. It pricks and scratches gently. Use your imagination!

Kitchen spatula. Useful as a spanking tool. Use a nylon or wooden one, not metal, of course! Blindfold the sub so they won’t know. The handle could be dragged over the skin or used to give a sharper twang on the skin. Just remember the usual safety rules that we’ve been over before. You don’t want to break the skin accidentally. Other kitchen implements such as wooden spoons can be used in the same way.

Credit/debit card, preferably out of date! The date doesn’t matter, of course, to the skin, but after it’s been in the freezer it might not work at the ATM. You put it in the freezer because when it’s so cold and the edge is dragged over the skin it will FEEL like a knife with none of the dangers (and any water frozen onto it will melt on the skin, giving the suggestion of wetness and the mind-fuck that there’s blood). I told you mind-fuck was important! Some sources argue that the card must be current and that the quality of the experience is directly related to its credit limit, but since Fulani tends to use freely-issued store loyalty cards we couldn’t possibly comment.

Ice cubes. Toys don’t come any cheaper. We once played at a club, and afterwards Fulani was asked just WHAT was making me squirm so beautifully. All they could see was Fulani’s hand waving above me. He was allowing an ice cube from my brandy glass to drip onto my by then hot body while I was bound, spread-eagled to a bench.

Be careful, though, about inserting ice into orifices other than a mouth. Sudden shocks of cold, if prolonged, can cause damage to more intimate membranes. Drag ice over the skin, drip icy water, then change it up and surprise your sub with…

Candle wax. Candles are cheap, and the best ones for BDSM are paraffin ones (technical note: you need to balance the melting point, the length of time the liquid wax retains heat, and skin sensitivity, which can vary greatly: there’s a short article about this on Wikipedia). Plain white ones are the cheapest, but you can buy coloured ones that Fulani thinks look great once dripped all over me. He likes red, the colour of blood! Suppliers such as Lovehoney sell specially formulated candles; many supermarket ones are only coloured on the outside. If you are unsure about candles you’ve bought, as some burn much hotter than others, test them on your own arm and gauge the distance they need to be from your sub’s skin when dripping wax onto them. You don’t want serious burns, just heat and squirms (OK and maybe some yelps) from your victim. [Edited to add: Bondara.co.uk also do specially formulated bondage candles.]

Scarf. Or scarves. Very handy little items, often available for pennies from charity shops/thrift shops. Blindfold or wrist restraint, just ensure any tie is NOT going to slip and tighten therefore cutting off your victim’s blood supply. If you have enough scarves, once your sub is restrained and blindfolded, tease with one, wafting over the skin, dragging it over their breasts, tender bits etc.

Velvet glove. The first toy I made for myself. Draw a mitten shape around your hand, cut out the shape twice on a piece of paper, cut that out) and use to cut two pieces of velvet (old cushion cover or top, or a velvet shirt from a charity shop) and stitch together round the edges, inside out. Turn the right way in, and use resulting glove to tease the living daylights out of your sub. Or soothe her/him between flogging or spanking strokes. Try a spank/flog followed by a stroke with the glove. Your victim won’t know whether they’re coming… or not.

Your mind. Fulani once gave me a great session. He knows I like to be scared sometimes. He’s a great writer, as you know. So he wrote a script, a scene. He then got his computer to read out the story in one of those weird  computer voices. The story alluded to what was going to happen to me next. When I heard this story, I was hogtied and blindfolded, so no escape! Hot wasn’t in it. Boiling more like! A very steamy session followed, including the things promised in the story, and I Ioved it. Cost? Nothing. Just an investment of time on Fulani’s part, and an active imagination on mine.

So there we are. No need for big expense. Just get creative. I’m sure now you’ve had a few ideas you could think of more. We’d love to hear your ideas to add to our own. Leave YOUR favourite home-made toy ideas in our comments and share the pain!

– Velvet Tripp

Tasty long implements – a workshop report by Fulani

My local munch organisers ran a special event yesterday: a workshop by Alex Jacob of Cobra Whips.

Given that there are somewhere over 1,000 kinksters in the area (according to Fetlife) and, last time I heard, over 600 people on the munch mailing list, it was a small gathering of just 10.

On the other hand, whips – as in bullwhips, snakewhips and other implements of a similar length – are a minority interest, not least because they require a significant amount of space to use properly. They aren’t much liked in fetish clubs for the same reason (in fact some clubs ban them). The venue, a reasonably-sized function room, was big enough for four or five of us to use whips at the same time.

I haven’t used either of my long whips for a while and I’m out of practice. So for me it was a chance to go back to basics and re-learn probably the most single important thing about whip control, which the workshop listed as ‘Whip/weapon and body mechanics, energy flow and effect on recipient’.

In other words, a whip is an extension of the person using it (or vice versa, perhaps). By that, I mean that if you want to control a whip accurately and know where and how it will connect with a target, you have to think about it as an extension of your body – or maybe more accurately, your body and arm as an extension of the whip. You’re holding it in your hand, and everything you do with your arm and wrist, changing stance as you strike with the whip, and so on, will affect what it does.

A small flick of the wrist as your arm moves forwards will often put a downward energy into the whip, which means that as it reaches its fullest extent it will begin to recoil. The tip will come back at you. A jerky movement as you pull the whip back prior to a strike can have a similar effect. Shifting your weight from one foot to the other can give a sideways impetus to the whip, with the same result. So smooth, clean motions are best.

Secondly, 99% of the time you don’t need to put a lot of effort into a whip in order to crack it. The force you put into it needs to move, in a well-made whip, a tapered bag of lead shot with as much force as it would take to flick it a few feet. That energy goes into a piece of braided leather or nylon that has perhaps a one-inch cross-section near your hand, down to a quarter-inch cross-section three or four feet down the whip; then it’s funnelled into a fall, which is probably not much thicker than a shoelace, and into a cracker (or popper, terminology varies), that’s probaby a quarter of that diameter. So at that point, it’s like putting enough energy to throw a cricket ball into moving a six-inch length of cotton thread. You need remarkably little energy to accelerate the tip enough to make the crack.

And thirdly, the crack dissipates the energy – it’s sent out into the air – so that if it the whip then hits the target a large part of its energy has gone. Which is the main reason why long whips can be used to make very impressive and scary sounds but not create the kind of injury that would require medical treatment.

That doesn’t by any means exhaust the relevant information about both technique and safety that you need to know in order to play with long whips but it was, as I said, a welcome reminder of basic principles for me and a reminder of the need to practice. And practice some more. And then practice again.

Other good things: Alex fettled one of my whips and dramatically improved its crack. And two of the other participants were a couple of writers, and we were able able to have a long conversation over dinner.

So congratulations and many thanks to the organisers.

Final thought – in the writing of this post, various typographical errors kept creeping in for some reason, of which the key one was ‘tasty long implements’…

Quote, Fulani, unquote

Had quite a long email exchange with Billierosie about bdsm – she was writing a piece about  Tennyson’s 1833 (and revised 1842) poem ‘The Lady of Shalott’, itself based on mediaeval sources. The poem is often taken to be about the process of creativity and the twin pulls of needing isolation but also needing engagement with the world, though Billierosie explores themes of dominance and submission through it.

The end result is she quotes a fair bit of the exchange, and comes up with an interesting take on the poem. And some cool fantasy material. And the pre-Raphaelite paintings she includes in the post are good as well.

Read her post on the subject here.

Fire Flogged!

Following Fulani’s post about our holiday, I’ve been asked what it feels like to be flogged by fire. I wonder how people guessed I might know the answer to that? It’s an interesting question. Of course, we take thorough precautions when playing with fire, and have an extinguisher ready, as well as lots of cold water to treat any burns with, a first aid kit and my own first aid trained Fulani. I have to strip, as clothes could cause serious burns if they caught alight. Don’t try this stuff if you don’t know what you’re doing, please. A recent domestic accidental burn has left me even more careful as the pain was ridiculously high and has left a nasty scar.
What does it feel like? Well, an ordinary flogger is quite thuddy and hard, but a fire flogger is surprisingly lightweight. When used correctly, it hits the skin very quickly, and for this reason, believe it or not, doesn’t hurt. It’s an interesting experience. You feel the flogger, and feel the heat, but it glances over the skin so fast that, although I have in the past been convinced that there would be marks or burns, fire flogging has never damaged my skin or even left a red mark. I am so confident I’ve recommended to friends to try it. One of those friends is in the pictures in the last post. He loved it! You feel a stingy glow and of course the excitement (biggest BDSM tool being the brain) work wonders. We have been known, after doing a demo, to disappear for a while on our own. Over to your imagination now!

VelvetTripp