Bondage. Question: How does it Feel?

hogtied

Me, hogtied

On a Pagan camp during the summer I was asked ‘how does it feel?’ right after the question ‘are you OK?’ when the audience (we were doing a demo) saw me flat out, face down, hogtied and very, very quiet.

Very good questions. Of course, I was OK. They laughed when the tone of my reply (‘I’m OK,’) was so obviously one of bliss. And that’s how it felt. My introduction to the world of BDSM at the tender age of forty+ was a bondage demo in a club. A Goth club. I watched a man tying up someone and fancied trying it. I was impressed to see he was monitoring his charge as he progressed with the tying. His approach was safety-led, ensuring no tendons or joints were under too much pressure, that arms and legs were in safe positions and his charge could breathe properly.

So I had a go while friends watched to ensure my safety, as this man was a stranger. The club was packed. Big Goth boots walked around me hogtied on the floor. Goth music blared out loudly. Weirdly in such circumstances I felt…spaced out. It was such a strange feeling. Unexpected but really good. Much better than I’d anticipated. As someone who has done a lot of meditation and has had hypnosis, this felt like some kind of trance. I was blissed out! In the middle of a busy club! I still am not sure why this should be. Is it to do with being swaddled as a baby and being tightly bound made me feel safe? Is it that I had always had to be in control in my daily life as a single mother and business manager, so here was a chance to give up control and relax? I think maybe it’s a little of each.

One thing it wasn’t and isn’t is scary. Fulani was that stranger. He is now my partner. I still enjoy being tied up. He still enjoys doing it. My birthday this year will be special, as we’ve been invited to a Rope Bondage party that very day. Fun! Scary is actually something I like when we’re playing, but bondage alone doesn’t do that. Mind-fucks do that. And they aren’t physically dangerous.

Bondage is only one aspect of BDSM, and it would be a while before I gradually found out about some of its other delights. Fulani has many years more experience than I, and has always treated me with the utmost respect. Our BDSM is a game. We do not ‘live the lifestyle’ that some choose to, but still get a lot out of it in terms of pleasure, as well as it making our relationship stronger. That’s because of the levels of trust involved. Trust is a very important issue when it comes to BDSM. As the submissive, I give my power over to Fulani whenever I put my collar on and we play. If I give him my safeword, I know that he will instantly stop what he’s doing and release me or check with me what’s wrong. This is VITAL. I might feel ill. I might feel upset. I might feel that a rope is too tight or pressing somewhere it shouldn’t. Rope can damage tendons if it presses on them for too long. Your top or Dom needs to know what he/she is doing and be able to correct a problem quickly.

So if you want to try bondage, you should trust the person who is tying you up, be certain they will respect your limits and have a safeword in case you need it for any reason at all. Communicate with your top. Tell them if something hurts when it shouldn’t. Tell them if you suddenly feel scared or upset.  Of course, if you are playing with pleasure/pain as well as bondage, ‘ow’ will not suffice. Be specific and say ‘The knot on my wrist is digging in,’ if that’s what’s happening, so he can correct if for you.

But as for how it feels, two people at that demo had a go once I’d been released. They both experienced the same blissful feeling as I did. They had never ventured into the BDSM world before. I can’t guarantee you will but how will you know if you don’t try it? And don’t forget to try something twice, just in case it was done badly  the first time!

VelvetTripp

The cover story – free erotic fiction by Fulani

As promised, here’s the story inspired by the cover image of my new story collection. The image itself is in the previous post and this story isn’t in the published collection, obviously, because I first saw the cover myself only a couple of days ago. And I should point out the collection itself is considerably more explicit. Renaissance have tagged it under their ‘extreme’ category…

And the collection, again, is Hanging Around, published by Renaissance Sizzler Editions.

***

The Cover Story

Mariska’s journal was a complex thing. It contained diary entries of places she’d been and stuff she’d done, and musings on fantasies she’d like to act out and fantasies she wouldn’t. It had rants about what was wrong with her life and what was right. It had worked-out arguments about why society was fucked-up about sex, fetish, morals and money. It even included some short stories.
And now, with names changed to protect the guilty, it was about to be published.
Which led to a question.
The cover.
“We could just go with some graphic design, or an illustration or a stock photo,” J said. “But from a sales point of view it would be much, much better if there was an actual pic of you on the cover, preferably doing something kinky enough to get people’s attention but not so kinky it scares people. I don’t suppose…?”
No. She had no such pics.
She did have pics. Tomas, for whom she was muse, had painted and drawn her often enough. The paintings were abstract, the drawings all too graphic. The kind of thing that might scare people. She had photos, shot by Felix. There was, for example, the deliberately soft-focus and grainy black-and-white of her with her hands tied, sucking off Emma’s husband whose name she somehow couldn’t remember. The photo had even been exhibited at one of the city galleries. The memory – of the event itself, and the exhibition – made her warm. But it wouldn’t work as a book cover. The other photos she remembered were far too kinky and explicit. They wouldn’t project the right image.
Mariska was amused, because it was the first time in her life she’d had to worry about projecting the right image. It was a novel situation.
J was characteristically inventive and yet pragmatic. “We need a shot of you in bondage, but clothed. The fast solution is to do it here, in my office. I know a guy who does a lot of traditional shibari work; I know a freelance photographer. The whole thing would take a couple hours. All it depends on is you and them meeting up to see if you’re comfortable working together.”

***

It was strange to be in a regular bar, the kind where the carpet on the floor didn’t stick to your feet, people wore regular everyday clothes and cocktails were served. Mariska had come to associate drinking alcohol with leather, rubber, raw brick and concrete walls, chains hanging from the ceiling. She smiled to herself. Those mental connections told her a lot about how her life had changed in the last year or so.
She’d chosen a severe, businesslike yet oddly gothic outfit: pinstripe blouse with a black tie, stretchy black skirt of a conservative length, but holdup fishnet stockings and boots with adventurous heels. She felt good. She felt like a writer. She felt like she was projecting an image. An image of a slightly skewed and individualistic worldview.
They made an odd trio. The photographer, W, was younger than her. Earnest. Dressed in jeans and T-shirt, the way photographers always are. Trying to make an impression, reach out to her. He was sweet. The bondage rigger, F, was maybe a decade older. Quiet, better dressed, with an air of Zen calmness around him. Didn’t try to play the dominant. “I see myself as an artist in rope and flesh,” he said. “My aim is to create something that looks good on camera. It’s always a pleasure to do that, but in this case it’s strictly business. I tie you up, make sure you’re safe, and take you down again when the pics are done.”
Mariska warmed to them.
“So let’s do it,” she said.

***

It felt freaky, helping F build the suspension frame in J’s office. She was helping to create the instrument of her own bondage, and it was happening in a bland office environment, a desk in one corner of the room, filing cabinets, a calendar on the wall showing publication dates for books – including Mariska’s own.
They moved the desk, set the frame up in front of a sofa. Mariska took time out while W muttered to himself about white balance, went to the restroom. Examined herself critically in the big mirror. Decided that the stockings were fine but panties would show a visible line through her skirt, and removed them. Decided ropes over her breasts would be more comfortable without a bra, and removed it. Touched up eye shadow, applied lipstick. Took three deep breaths and figured she was as ready as she’d ever be.

***

F was quick. And effective. Mariska was swinging in midair inside a couple of minutes. He hummed quietly to himself, checking the way the ropes hung, the distribution of her weight on the ropes. Suspension was tough but bearable. She had to learn a new way of breathing, almost like scuba-diving. Began to trance out.
Began to fantasize.
They were on the third floor, but there were no curtains. Evening light flooded the room. Was someone, maybe in an office across the street, looking out and seeing her exposed and vulnerable?
And what would it be like, now, in this unfamiliar place, to have these two guys rip her clothing from her? Take her, one in the mouth and one in the pussy, swinging helpless between them? Each one thrusting at her, pushing her against the other cock?
Suddenly she was horny as hell, filthy hot and shivering. Lost in a craving for contact, for sex, that was increased by the pressure and restriction of the ropes. Made intolerable by the gentle swaying that resulted from any small movement. A rope running between her labia, across her clit, would be… desirable. She became aware she was whimpering, moaning, with every breath.

***

They didn’t do it. Didn’t strip and fuck her. They were well-mannered professionals, hired to do a specific job. And she’d lost the power of speech, couldn’t articulate her need.
Later, looking back, she thought that was probably a good thing. Fucking would only have complicated the situation. Made her appear unprofessional. It wouldn’t have been the kind of fucking relationship between a model and an artist, or artists; more like a junior exec fucking hired help from the temp agency. It probably happened. A lot. But that still didn’t make it feel right.
Instead, they let her down, wrapped her in a blanket – because when the ropes came off she felt cold. Gave her coffee. Let her come round. She felt light. Ethereal. Yet desperately in need of pain, and of sexual release. In her case, the two were usually intertwined.
Taking her leave of the two men and the office, she took a taxi to Tomas’s studio. He opened the door to his muse, barefoot, wearing scruffy shorts and splashes of oil. She didn’t care.
He admired the rope marks imprinted on her skin. Some other time, he’d probably have wanted to sketch them. But her visit was urgent, and the high roof beams in his studio were ideal for her to hang from, naked and in chains. She received pain and sexual release. Simultaneously. Intertwined.
She slept peacefully in Tomas’s arms, in his bed, warmed by the welts he’d placed on her skin. And she dreamed of another time and place, and two other men.
She had the numbers for the W and F, the photographer and rope artist. Maybe tomorrow she’d make a call. Or the next day. See if they could arrange another session. A more recreational session.

***

The cover photo, when she eventually saw it, was good. Set on its side, it conveyed the impression she was flying. It captured her response to the suspension. It projected the right image. It captured her intentions for the future.

***

And to save you scrolling back to the top of this post: the collection is Hanging Around (link opens in new window).

The bondage garden

Inspired by the RHS CHelsea Flower Show getting daily coverage on the television, we thought we’d offer a design for a bondage garden. We designed it on the basis that it would be a small/medium sized urban garden, albeit with the benefit of a reasonably mature tree with substantial branches at the end of it. On a technical note, the height specified for walls is above what is now the permitted height, so installation would need to be in a garden with brick or stone walls built prior to the date of current legislation on such matters. However the effective height of the boundaries could be increased by allowing the firethorn and other coverings to overgrow the tops of the walls.

bondage garden

Bondage garden - plan

Intended principally for bondage, the garden contains a number of sets of eyebolts against the house and garden walls, two cages, a willow structure that’s usable as a cage and an old horse trough that could also contain a submissive/slave/victim with a slightly coffin-like feel. There’s also a stone arch so that a sub could be spread-eagled standing and accesible from front and back. The pergola and the tree provide useful anchor points for suspension and other ties. For spread-eagling a sub on the grass, we thought a raised bed with a camomile lawn would release a pleasant aroma as the sub struggles with their bonds (or more physical activities take place).

The mosaic table would double as a spanking bench. And there’s a fire pit because… well, just because. There’s one in our garden and we like it.

In terms of planting, the bamboo and dogwood both provide material for hitty things (and would need to be periodically pruned anyway) while rose stems could also be used as implements, echoing the title of a well-known book on SM. The rest of the planting is, on the whole, simply there to provide some colour and aroma – though the comfrey and arnica can be used to treat bruising and swelling. Oh, and we deliberately left a nettle patch in there but thought some dock, which is a natural treatment for nettle stings, could be useful as a ‘just in case’ measure.

These are by no means the only possibilities, and many other bits and pieces could be added according to taste.

What else would you like to see in a bondage or fetish garden – either planting or equipment?

Collared and Cuffed. New product review by Velvet Tripp

Purple edged restraint set

Purple edged restraint set

I promised you more in the way of product reviews and recently an opportunity came to try out this superb collar and cuff set from Freak Clubwear. Freak don’t go for elaborate product names – these are simply described on their website as a ‘Purple Edged Padded Set’.

We already have a collection of thick, hard black leather cuffs, purchased from various vendors over the last decade or so – they look great, but can rub and cut into my skin on the edges. I’m only small, and so are my wrists and ankles, so I often find cuffs are too big and clumsy, and can’t be tightened enough.

Not so with this set. They have a velcro fastening as well as buckles, making them fully adjustable and Freak take your wrist/ankle size when you order, ensuring your cuffs fit you perfectly. They are very soft yet extremely strong and will take a fair bit of strain and pulling around. I examined them after play as I feared causing any damage to them – we tend to play quite hard – but they look like new. Despite three hours of stress and strain, I cannot see as much as a loose stitch.

These are huge advantages when playing, as there was no unwanted distraction from the play itself coming from any of my restraints, leaving me to concentrate on the good stuff. They’re lined with violet suede which wraps around the trim to the front of the cuffs, so they’re good to look at, too. The wraparound means no hard edges cutting into your skin, however much you’re dragged around, strung up or resisting!

Purple edged cuffs

Purple edged cuffs

The set comprises a collar, two wrist cuffs and two ankle cuffs, but collars and pairs of cuffs can also be purchased as individual items – here’s a link to the cuffs set.

Suede smells, looks and feels good on the skin, and I was very tempted to leave the whole set on overnight. I’m sure they would be fantastic and I’d soon forget they were there. All in all they’re pretty much the best I’ve worn and would recommend them highly to anyone wanting a strong set of great looking, great functioning restraints for long nights of intense fun.

In fact I liked the cuffs so much that rather than hand them back to Freak, I paid actual money and bought them!

Go on, treat yourself.

Stunning images from Boundcon VIII

I was going to do a mundane post about the books on bondage I’ve found most useful in the past, and some stuff on safety as a follow-up to the demo last night (which went extremely well, and big thanks to the three bondage bunnies including Velvet Tripp who made it possible). But then something popped into my inbox. Have a look at these bondage performances videoed at Boundcon VIII, the European fetish convention that took place last week in Munich and uploaded to Vimeo.

They feature amazing circus-like bondage performances from Damon Pierce and Claire Adams, Bondage Tango, Tatoo, Dragonrope, MaestroBD, House of Gord, Ropemarks, and Bondage Project. The staging, the athleticism of the bondage subjects, the imaginative use of rope, the whole dynamic of the performances – this is really bondage at the highest level and done in spectacular fashion. I’ll be raving about this for months. Be prepared to sit and be entranced for quite a while, though; the performances average around 20 minutes apiece…

(PS – link to performances edited 22 May as the original link was to the blog of a fetish club where they were shown as embedded material, and the videomaker asked to have removed so they’re no longer available from that source – I’ve backtracked instead to the legitimate source on Vimeo.)

Upcoming bondage suspension demo

For the past few days, our living room has been dominated by the notorious ‘cube’ – a red-painted cube of scaffolding, seven feet on a side, that can be used for bondage in multiple ways. This is because, as you’ll have seen from this previous post, we’re doing a suspension bondage demo tomorrow. Not having done it for a while, felt the need to practice.

The cube is something I put together about eight years ago, and although it won’t be obvious from her profile pic on the left, it’s what Velvet Tripp was suspended from when that pic was shot (by Jon Wilson, more about whom will appear in an upcoming post). It has, perhaps obviously, a great deal of versatility and stability, and fixings can be attached to it at any point along any of the tubes. It’s been used in fetish clubs, with people spread-eagled in the centre and on each of the sides; people tied to the uprights; people suspended from the uppermost tubes; and, in a couple of gay clubs, it’s been fitted with a sling for… well, for things you might use a sling for. I think the largest number of people (subs and doms) playing on it at any single point in time has been 8, four tied to it and four doing nice/nasty things to them.

I thought I’d already posted a pic of it in a previous post, but evidently not: here it is, being used in a fetish performance at a goth event a few years back.

The cube

The cube

Anyway: the reason we’re using the cube for practice is partly because it’s what we’ll be using tomorrow, and partly because there aren’t many other useful attachment points in the house. Suspension bondage does require secure overhead fixings. We don’t have the luxury of a large place with exposed overhead roof beams (though contributions to our ideal house fund are always welcome!) and lights, electrical ducting, and so forth are clearly not safe places to hang people from, whatever you may see on amateur porn sites.

I’ve occasionally considered putting some fixings across the rafters in one of the upstairs bedrooms. It can be done, preferably not by screwing directly into a single rafter but fixing a plank across several rafters to spread the load, and screwing a long bolt through the ceiling and into the plank. But on the other hand – I have the cube, so why bother?

For suspensions I always use climbing gear as the suspension point. There’s a great deal to be said for throwing a climbing sling over one of the cube’s top poles and attaching a carabiner. That type of kit is well safety checked, and designed to withstand someone falling the full length of a climbing rope, 50 metres, down a mountain and coming to no harm. Force equals mass times acceleration, so these things are strong.

Safety comes first, so we’ve spent a lot of time revisiting issues like how many times the ropes need to go round V’s hips and chest to create enough spread of her body weight that they won’t cut into her or interfere with breathing. Also, of course, so they don’t become too uncomfortable (there’s a certain unavoidable level of discomfort in being suspended, of course, but that’s an essential part of the experience!). We’ve also had to work out the placement of the carabiners – and double up on one set, because it will become a pulley and two sets of rope running through a single carabiner can jam, which would be embarassing. And we’ve looked at different positions, finally deciding face up but with asymmetrical ties to legs and arms is rather pleasing on the eye (I would have said photogenic but the club we’re going to prohibits all photography, including bringing mobile phones with cameras into the building). The finished result will look shibari-like, though largely as a result of some cheating on my part because I’m not a purist about such things.

Incidentally, suspension bondage does take a lot of rope. If you think that a normal shinju-type tie or even a karada won’t usually use more than 10 metres of rope, the tie I have planned will use 55 metres – and even that’s not a big deal for suspension, I’ve done ties that involved up to about 80 metres before now. In addition, I’ve opted to use thicker ropes for chest and hips – 9mm as opposed to my usual 7mm diameter ropes, simply because the extra width to the ropes adds a little to comfort levels without needing additional wraps around the body. Nor am I using hemp – it’s certainly possible to do so and many people do, though tend to use multple suspension points etc. for safety. But I kind of like the fact that my braided nylon polypropelene, apart from being a wonderful vivid red, has a rated breaking strain of 693 kilos. Overkill, certainly. But it’s one less thing to have to be concerned about in a demo situation.

I’ll be talking through the ties as I go, but I’ve also been working on how I do that while continuously monitoring V’s breathing. If someone is suspended it’s a very bad idea to wander off and get engaged in something else, because for the suspendee, being helpless and struggling to breathe can be… well, certainly panic-inducing, and has all the obvious possibilities up to and including death. A face-up suspension is generally easier because the body is largely supported on the spine. Face-down means ropes running across the chest/breasts and without a lot of fettling to make sure not too much weight is taken on those ropes, it can be difficult for the ribs to expand while muscles are pulling against the person’s own body weight. If you’re a fit 20-something yoga instructor and bondage model without any health issues it won’t be that big a deal. But, ummm, neither of us fit into that kind of demographic these days…

[Edited to add – it should go without saying that keeping an eye out for their safety also means having an effective way of getting someone down really quickly. Like a big pair of scissors. And having a plan for what order to cut the ropes in, so they don’t come down headfirst, and remembering to support their body weight so you’re not putting additional strain on their chest while they’re coming down. Plus, since the effect of suspension is often for the suspendee to trance out, letting them lie on the floor for a while and having a blanket to cover them with is generally a good idea.]

So we’re all set.  Including, I gather, two other models on whom I’ll also be demonstrating ties that don’t involve suspension and can be used for very quick restraint.

Finally, we’ve put together a list of useful resources on bondage techniques and issues, which will be available at the demo and posted here sometime, when I have time.

***

In other news: Velvet Tripp’s latest story is, we’ve heard, to be released on the 26th and I’ve just had confirmation my own collection of short stories will be out by the end of the month. More on those as we have cover pics to crow about, and URLs and suchlike to direct you to. And word has also reached us that Velvet’s review of  the Fun Factory vibrator was not only picked up by Fun Factory but reposted on their Facebook page. Ah, fame at last…

Writing bondage, doing bondage

You can probably work out from previous posts on this blog that we actually do the kind of stuff that appears in the stories we write. Last night was an amusing illustration of that.

Leaving Velvet at home trying to finish off some work (no, I didn’t chain her to the desk!) I went to a local munch. A ‘munch’, as you probably know, is a meeting of like-minded people, usually monthly, in a public space, to discuss matters of mutual interest. They’re a common feature of the kink world and several munches happen regularly near us. If you want to know what munches take place where, most of them have events listings on Fetlife (UK, US, international) and Informed Consent (mainly UK) – both sites require registration but it’s free and quick.

This particular munch has the upstairs room of a pub, so is to that extent private.

I walked in and was immediately asked to do an impromptu bondage workshop. Someone who’d agreed to do one hadn’t turned up. I had no ropes with me but a few other people did. I borrowed them, did some basic stuff, got people to practice on each other and talked about safety issues as well. It was fun.

The stuff I did was, as I say, basic – the knot covered in the Bondage How-to No. 1 post and the karada in How-to No. 2, plus some of the safety issues mentioned in another old post.

While I’m on the topic, Velvet and I will also be doing a suspension bondage demo at After Dusk next Thurs, 19 May in the UK midlands area (the link actually covers two events, After Dark and After Dusk, both run by the same team). If you have a Fetlife account you can see more details here. We haven’t done any demos for a while, so it’ll be fun to get back into it…

Other stuff bubbling under – plans for erotic story readings and such. More to come when I’ve sorted details.

Oh, by the way – stories that include significant technical bondage info, albeit not based on the ropework I demo’d last night, include ‘Sex, Art and Aromatherapy’ and ‘Zen and the Art of Bondage’, in the Cocktales: Kiss in the Dark collection – both from Xcite. Yes, I have some more technically-oriented stuff coming out soon as well, in a Cleis Press collection – more details when I have a publication date.