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’…

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!


What we did on our holiday

We’re back.

We spent some time a week or so ago at one of the few contemporary stone circles in the UK – it was a pagan gathering at a circle Velvet helped build, about 10 years ago. Those present included quite a few of the others who helped built it and some of our friends. Here’s a picture of the circle, and the roundhouse also on the site:

Stone circle

Contemporary roundhouse

Various pagan-type things happened at the gathering – drinking, mainly (the ‘temple drink’ that made its way repeatedly around the group was a potent vodka/blackcurrant mix) but also drumming in the roundhouse, making flutes (we didn’t), supurb guitarwork, sitting around fires, a couple getting handfasted, and just hanging out and talking about stuff. And drinking. Beyond that, we discovered various little-known provisions of English law, such as that you can legally bury up to two bodies in your back garden – it’s only a third body that makes it technically a cemetary, which requires a licence.

Various other things that you read in some upcoming fiction might or might not have happened. Professional writers do employ a certain amount of creative licence.

The other thing that happened was fire. The previous post showed you the implements of fire. Here are some of the results. Below is what you can do with six feet of kelvar rope:

fire with a 6-foot rope

This was on a time exposure, obviously, but it was still quite hot. That’s Fulani spinning it. And also him with a fire-flogger, about to beat some poor victim with an ass hanging out invitingly…

fire flogger

The pics (while much reduced) are courtesy of a professional photographer who was there, Chris Cafferkey, who has some of our previous fire art available in much higher resolution in the fire gallery on her website.

There are some other pics of the firewhip and suchlike but they’re on Fulani’s other blog, Fulanismut – along with Part II of a completely unrelated story about sexual encounters in the course of a music festival. Yes, the point is to make you check out the other blog as well. But go with it, the Fulanismut blog has some interesting weirdness on it.

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.