I was listening, the other day, to Dorothy Allison talk about truth, fiction, and making your own genres. I realized just now that the core reason I have been stuck with so much of the stuff I have to say is that I need Bigger Ideas and Stranger Canvasses than one normally sees in order to talk about my insides. I need Bollywood movies and 5 act Operas and anime and tone poetry and a little bit of that old Ultraviolence to get through, perhaps a bit, to others what I am feeling. I need to blow it up big enough to overwhelm and sicken and blow away folks so that maybe you get the tiniest dry rind of the fruits my heart grows.
The idea of a savant – someone who exhibits a particular exemplary skill while somehow presenting with a seeming deficit in other areas – is fascinating to me. I’ve an affinity for those who are outliers, removed from the standard, separate from the mainstream. And that attraction slipped naturally into place when I came out on the BDSM and Leather Communities. I felt that I was finally coming home and had found “My People.”
Well, not so fast, rabbit.
There are factions, fragments, fickleness and fissures within the “Community” up to and including those who won’t even use the word “Community” to refer to the loose confederation of alternative people who practice Kink / Leather / BDSM. IN fact, I’ve taken to calling it The Pervert Confederation. Closer to accurate, methinks.
I wear this necklace in daily life, and sometimes it sparks conversation. I am quite adept at opening up conversation without creating any pressure. People who ask are curious, and I find it a lovely way to conduct outreach, even as I’m buying my favourite cupcakes, waiting for a flight overseas, or riding the 7 home to Queens.
I am out. As out as out can be. Whether I am telling a story about very edgy play for the RISK Podcast, or being quoted in the New York Times, or any other number of places, I use my full name. I’m me on FaceBook…twice…on FetLife, Twitter, my blog is my name. I know that it is my choice, and I am comfortable with…well, no. Past comfortable. I am happy and proud to be able to do so. Most kinky folks cannot. The risk to income, family, job, career, reputation, what have you, is often too great for folks to be out. The risks are very real. And I believe that, as I can be a representative for those who cannot be out, so I oughtta step up to the motherfucking plate.
People are often curious as to why a particular play-style, pervy activity or kind of kink appeals while others leave you cold. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I’ll tell you about why I so love bottoming to rope bondage, and submission via rope.
There are forty-two reasons, on any given day, why kinky stuff gets my tingly bits tingling. For the most part, what I love most about BDSM is the connection with the person (or people!) with whom I’m playing. I’m one of those bottom/submissive/slave types who occasionally frustrates top/dominant/master types when negotiating play. Oftentimes, when asked “So! What do you wanna do when we play?” I’ll respond, “Well, what really makes YOU hot and horny?” I’m not trying to shirk responsibility for my pleasure, really! But my gut-level response is whatever truly pleases them will go a long, long way towards pleasing me.
“But why? Why do you do that kinky shit?” Not only do I get asked this question quite often; it’s one I asked myself while I was trying to figure out if I was actually going to go through with exploring BDSM. There are plenty of whys.
Mo here, talking about being (mostly) mono in a poly world. And by “poly world” I mean the BDSM community as I experience it.
I’ve been around a while, and I am not a shrinking violet when it comes to hopping around the country chilling with my Leather and Kinky and Sex Positive and Freaky Peeps. And due to this, many assume I play all the time, everywhere.
This is not the case.
I don’t have people banging down my door. This is just the fact. Why? Lots of reasons I suppose. But since I’m in a bit of a gutwrenching funk, I’ll focus on the one contributing factor I can process without it becoming a festival of self-deprecation.
I’ve been around and publically doing my thing with kinky folks since I walked into my first Munch in San Francisco around 1996. Prior to that, I’d spent three years figuring out why this One Guy had managed to dig the fuck inside me and turn my head & heart all the way around. In those three years, I’d spent some time on this newfangled internet, on message boards, reading books, trying to see if could trust myself to walk with the lions & tigers & bears (oh my!) and take care of myself in the wilderness of an underground community of outlaws drawn together under the thinnest of pretenses: we all like some kind of freaky sex.
One of the things I have trusted all of my life is my instinct. I grew up in New York City in the 70s and 80s. By the time I was five, I had committed to my mind and my bodymemory countless rules & regulations & guidelines & hints & tips & tricks for navigating the urban landscape. From how close I walked to parked cars to how long I’d maintain eye-contact with strangers to how much distance (both physical and metaphysical) to leave between myself and the person seemingly pressed right up against me on the Uptown 6 to how to determine whether or not the person walking behind me is a harmless drunk or a potential perp. It might seem like a strange childhood, but I was fiercely proud that, by the time I moved from The City at age 21, I’d managed to navigate my way through some tight spots and emerge victorious.
Trust is something that is sometimes earned over years and sometimes assumed in a heartbeat and eye-to-eye connection and gut instinct. I have trusted my life to people I’ve known for mere moments, and I have had my deepest trust violated by people with whom I have shared a bed.
And so it goes.
In the midst of some pretty intense discussion of d/s and M/S stuff, a friend asked -
Her: So, who IS TheDominantGuy, really?
Me: His actual fake name is [REDACTED]
Her: OhMyGod I met him at ___ a few years back! [Insert titillating recounting of a fairly standard smoking hot TheDominantGuy breathless encounter] He’s really hot…
Me:I wouldn’t argue with that.
Her:…aaaand this probably isn’t making you feel any better.
Me: No, but its a familiar owie.
It is funny how you can have a shared experience, a moment that seems like a funny passing coincidence and then it has an oddly deeper resonances. I mean, hey, it is a small subgroup, the kink / Leather / BDSM/ swinger / AltSex / Tantra wide world umbrella, right? We are bound to have people in common. And I don’t mind it, except, sometimes, I do.
And I wish it didn’t feel so strange to me to have people I know having had intimate moments with people with whom I have been intimate. But, it is. The friends I tend to play with tend to be prolific in their love and appreciation of the pleasures of the flesh. Or they’re just really slutty. Some days, I wish I were back in one of my sluttier phases. Enjoying playing and fucking and not limiting myself by needing to have deeper connection in order to get it. That would be cool…wouldn’t it?
Because right now I’m a little icy and cold with the loneliness thing. Which is ironic, because I am surrounded by so, so much love and warmth and awesomeness.
And I am grateful for it, because it keeps me from freezing over.
One of my friends who is also, secretly, someone I adore without boundary is Patrick Mulcahey. Not only is he one of the most thoughtful people I’ve ever met on pretty much any topic involving Leather and BDSM, he’s also someone who walks the walk and talks the talk and steps up to the plate on many issues that other Leatherfolk decline to address. While I will never, ever forget how he took a stand, unlike so many other gay white Leathermen, in the face of the flagrant racist blackface act that was booked at the Portland Eagle. I won’t forget that, even as hundreds of other Leathermen belittled those of us who pointed out the hateful underpinnings of this act, he not only spoke to he spoke to his peers, calling out some pretty ugly truths.
Over the years, Patrick and I have had conversations about our lives, and about Leather, and about power exchange and so when I learned that he was doing a keynote at a Leather convention known for a very strong Master / Slave presence, and even more specifically aligned to certain beliefs that have become cannon on the M/S community, I was intrigued. And then I was hopeful that he might actually step up and share some of the more troubling realities of modern consensual m/s relationships And, of course, he did not disappoint.
Below I am, with Mr. Mulcahey’s permission, posting the complete text of his speech. I cant read it without goosebumps and tears an…well. A broad palate of emotional reactions.
I’ll be talking, a bit more, in another post, about my own struggles and thoughts on love within the Master / Slave dynamic. I have very strong opinions on this topic…and my opinions don’t align with the social climate of ”slaves are property and love will spoil, degrade and denigrate the purity of the master / slave relationship.” I have some very dear friends on all sides of this debate. And they’ve come to their own conclusions based on their experience, and their desires. It is less comforting to know that many come into the community see how others behave, and simply pick up on those beliefs without examining the level of resonance that they carry personally.
I invite you to read Mr. Mulcahey’s words, see where they resonate, and open your heart for a few minutes.
Today, it has been six years and a day since I took my last drink.
If you’re on FetLife, you can join today’s event if you’d like, and share in the virtual party :-D
It is an amazing walk thus far…bumps and bruises and loss and so many beautiful lessons I have learned. Most wonderfully, I am alive.
And a handful of years later, I found myself still sober and sharing our story and journey on National Public Radio, of all places.
We have come far in not so very much time.
I am inspired and grateful for the example set by those who have gone before me and continue to walk a beautiful, clear, sober path. Thank you for leading the way.
I am inspired by and grateful to all of the people who have reached out and all of those who were pushed away by my poor behaviour, neglectfulness, ugliness. Thank you for doing what you could.
Courtesy of my Evil Jewish Lesbian Landladies, Laura and Karen, I was treated to some badassery in the form of a full body scrub in a Korean style spa today. The nice Chinese lady scrubbing and thumping me asked what my Bubbles ink was. She inhaled sharply when I said a hyena. “Very strong animal. Very strong. Its good. You strong, too.” Then she laughed.
And my demon…dude, we are walking.
We are above the earth. And walking.
And not just walking…shining.
Ain’t that some shit?
I love presenting on kink, teaching classes, and leading discussions. But not every day is me striding in there all “YEAH LET’S DO THIS!!” Some days, it is tough. And I feel shaky and not confident. One of the “tricks” I use when I am feeling insanely shy, my self-esteem is circling the drain or I’m just plain off-kilter is I introduce myself to the class. Individually. I will wiggle though the aisles or go around the circle, shake hands with folks (provided they’re OK with that!) hug the huggy types, and make sure I make eye-contact with each and every sentient being in the space. Once or twice it has cut into class time because there were so many people. But that will not stop me, because my coping mechanism then becomes a teaching moment.
If I make eye contact with people, the sea of anonymous eyes pressuring me to be smartfunnywiseenerrtainingseriousbrilliantallknowingandtotellthemeverythinggoddammit goes from a monolithic creature to a bunch of people with whom I am hanging out for an hour or two. I can breathe. I can focus on that one person who seems about to cry or that other person who feels defensive and bored but then runs up to me after class to share with me that they’ve had an epiphany and wow, that’s a big fucking deal.
Eye contact turns enemies into friends. Or friends into enemies, or strangers into threats, or the unknown into the known, or the intimately known into a total stranger. It is powerful and scary and sexy and perverts sometimes know this and strenuously avoid it, because holy shit, it is too much. For me, it really can be too much, because some people aren’t aware of what happens when you look….really look…at someone else.