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I spent a delicious part of an afternoon last week (Independence Day, in fact; nice way to celebrate…) being sort-of practice-topped, sort of actually-dominated by a new, switchy lover. He is about to have the opportunity to play with someone he’s had his eye on for five years now, and I always like to help a brother out.

(Insert inappropriate incest fantasy remarks here…)

It turns out that he’s not lacking much at all in the hard skills department; while I have yet to show him how to work my four-foot singletail, I received a very delicious flogging. What I found myself dipping in and out of subspace to do was to give him ideas about what might be called soft skills.

Now naturally, I was working from a place of what I was wanting in the moment, what was going to make me feel more desired, sink me deeper into trance, bring me more under control. And yes, it was a very interesting and fun dance – working from my experience to instruct, while simultaneously letting myself surrender to the experience itself. When we were planning it, I joked that he’d know he was doing well if he could keep me from instructing him.

But some of the things that came up seemed to me to be fairly generalizable for newer tops or doms, especially those playing with new partners. Here’s what I came up with:

1. Keep in control. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to this and aren’t really sure what you’re doing. Faking it – in the confidence sense – can really go far. I’m not saying you should do something that you don’t know how to do – please don’t suspend someone, or cane them, or poke them with needles, if you don’t know what you’re doing! – but rather that assuming an air of control and confidence can go a long way toward making the submissive partner’s experience more fulfilling. In my case, I have a much easier time letting go if I sense that the person topping me has the situation in-hand.

Some ways of doing this, practically speaking: use occasional sudden, sharp movements (push me down, slap me harder than I expect after lulling me with sensuality, grab me by the hair); inspect/appraise me; tell me what to do without too many words; restrict my choices; correct my mistakes with calm harshness.

There are going to be moments of hesitation and doubt, of course. The trick is to have the mini-panic-attack inside your head, then find a way to either change the activity that’s causing you stress, or express your doubt in a dominant way. Which brings me to:

2. Keep in touch. The corollary to the above is that, especially with new partners, checking in frequently is important. Some subs go non-verbal (hello!), and many don’t respond well to questions in the moment, unless the answers are a simple yes or no. Even then, sometimes the sub will be in a space where he doesn’t know what he wants; some subs go into a kind of thrall in scene and get deeply into surrendering their will.

Especially for people like this, keeping in touch is key. I mean this in two ways:

-Physical. Touch them with your hand. Check the temperature of their extremities. Press your body into them, feel their reaction, then pull away again. It all performs the triple function of teasing, cherishing, and checking on them. Watch their breathing. Is it slow and deep and trancey? You’re probably okay. Is it rapid and shallow? This could mean several things – panic, extreme excitement, about to faint. This is where the second way comes in:

-Verbal. It’s sad, but true, that the last thing a sub wants to hear during a scene is “Are you okay?” But maintaining the illusion of dominance, non-consent, or whatever you’re playing with doesn’t mean there’s no way to find out what’s going on if you’re confused. Say you’ve been hitting them for a while, and it’s escalating, but you reach a point where you’re not sure if their reactions mean they’re near their limits and might safeword, or that they’re about to have an orgasm. Stop. Put your hand on them. Make them look you in the eyes, or loop your arm around their chest and growl/whisper in their ear. “You had enough? Or do I need to beat you some more?” There are a thousand variations of this, of course. Generally, you’ll know pretty quickly. If they’re in a “wanting more” space, you might even get some begging out of it. (I love both saying and hearing “please, PLEASE…”) If you’ve hit their limit, this will be a good chance for them to breathe, collect themselves, come back to earth a little, and receive some tenderness. They may still be non-verbal, but if you’re unsure, wait for an answer. Consent is a continuous process.

3. Close the scene clearly. Not knowing whether a scene is over or not, or whether the dominant’s attention is still on me, or whether I did okay, or whatever is one of the most demoralizing things that can happen to a sub. I know I’m not alone in being extra-sensitive when I’m in subspace: everything is magnified, everything the dominant does has meaning, and very small slights can make me feel completely abandoned. All of these skills I’m talking about are about maintaining clarity, but this might be the most important one. When you feel the scene is over, let the sub know. This can be done in many ways. One thing I recognized the other day is that I really like praise and tenderness afterward, especially if I endured something difficult. “Good girl,” “It’s okay, it’s over, you did soooo well,” “You pleased me very much,” and so on. Petting along with this also helps. Some subs aren’t like this at all – some prefer to be abandoned as part of their kink; some want some alone-time to process their feelings, but many will want some kind of aftercare. And regardless of aftercare needs – which you can talk about in advance of the scene – making it clear that the scene is ending is critical. Take the collar off, start untying ropes, tell the sub how well they did, that it’s time to come down, or whatever. The clearer you make it, the easier it is for the sub to return to normal headspace.

*
What do you think? How generalizable are these? Can you think of others?

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Through Orlando’s Tumblr page, which is already hot enough to keep me distracted, I’ve stumbled across the Leathermen Tumblr page, which might be enough to destroy my productivity forever. Particularly distracting thus far are this image of a top wringing a washcloth (presumably full of his own sweat) over the bound and bruised body of his boy, who looks out at the camera with the most glorious expression of mingled humiliation and challenge; this prototypical image of a couple in an alley in full leathers, where the top’s expression is rough with power and pleasure and doesn’t seem to be for the camera; and this shot of a man in uniform, casually enjoying a cigarette while he rests his booted feet on a boy who’s worshipping his leathers.

What can I say, I’m an old fashioned kind of gal.

Still other images I love for their simplicity and beauty in what they evoke, like this one of a leather pantleg, hand, and boot on some stairs, or this sweet one of a Daddy cutting his boy’s hair.

If I haven’t mentioned it in this space before, I’m something of a leather slut. I’m not too excited by the kind of leather female dommes are expected to wear, though I’m happy to wear it because hey, leather. But the gay leather iconography gets me so hot it sometimes feels like I’m one of those fetishists I see from time to time whom I feel sorry for because they can never truly fulfill their fantasies: giantess fetishists, for example, or people into vore.

But from time to time I butch up and treat my girl nice, and from time to time I boy up and get kicked around by my Daddy a bit. And those are times when I feel my gender dissolve into something new and mythical and beautiful. It’s painful, too, though: I know the unreality of it, and I also embrace the femme side of me, and wouldn’t want to change. There’s something terribly poignant about this type of play, and something godlike to me about these images of men doing terrible, wonderful things to each other without shame or doubt.

One time, I got to go to Provincetown with my Daddy, and watch him get picked up, picked over and appraised by a number of men. We went cruising and drinking with these guys, hung out in front of Spiritus after closing, got shown the infamous “dick dock.” I felt like Goldilocks surrounded by all these warm and loving bears, and at the same time I felt like a squealing fangirl, a fag hag, the least interesting person in the room. Still, there was something freeing about it: I didn’t have to perform, only to admire. Only to wish I were one of them.

It was a night when I got to face down my high school demons at last, in a way I never expected. I was in love with a gay boy in high school, and I always thought it was because I wasn’t ready to have a real sexual relationship. My crushes on gay men continued through college – particularly when I didn’t know someone was gay. Later in college I dated a bi man, and would continue to stumble into queer space for a long time to come.

It’s only recently that I’ve come to recognize that fag haggery isn’t part of my sexuality: it’s more that I’m part gay boy. My attraction to gay men and leathermen isn’t entirely unrealizable: my own Daddy proves that, as do my interactions with other amazing bi men who see fit to draw me into their worlds. I’ll never be a real boy; I’m a bit like Pinocchio in all this. But I’m proud to be a part of what seems to be an ever-expanding definition of queer leather.

And still totally distracted by that Tumblr account.

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Saw a wonderful, sweet client today. He was terribly nervous, for all the usual reasons: not wanting to get found out, worrying that his desires were strange, not believing that he could broach the topic with his wife, constantly window-shopping pro domme websites.

It amazes me how needed the services I’m now offering seem to be. I find myself, these days, in this wonderful space of healing: of validating, of normalizing, of bringing people more into themselves.

What kills me, though, is how much I talk to people about stuff that is freely available on the Internet and in books. How little people actually research, and how much time they instead spend looking at porn, or trawling pro-domme websites for gems that only very rarely exist. They’re seeking answers for what they find hot, what keeps drawing them back, in places that are designed to draw them in commercially, take their money, keep the closet door locked and avoid self-analysis.

It’s amazing how many people come to me just because they need someone they can talk to about their fetish, or because they just want to hear someone say that what they’re into is okay.

I’m thrilled to provide this service, don’t get me wrong. And when it’s appropriate, I will still recommend some of these people to particular service providers. After all, I’m not going to get everyone to ask their wives to dress them in women’s underwear and peg them. For some people, it’s just not going to be possible.

But it continues to be my ideal. The thing I strive for: to bring people’s desires out into the light, to offer them a space where it’s even possible to explore those desires with someone they love, instead of with a stranger.

It’s a weird job, but somebody’s got to do it.

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Sorry for the long hiatus; holidays, Martian death flu, and all manner of other drama have kept me from this page. Hoping to remedy that and crank out more regular material.

Ages ago, a friend asked me how I manage privacy online. See, I have a few online identities. Some things I write are public, some aren’t. Some are under my real name, and some under this one. Some I write in a place where anyone can see it, unless I lock the post so only friends can see it. But what made this question interesting for my questioner was the fact that sometimes, I write under my real name about the same topics I cover here.

So what’s the deal? How do I decide which parts of me are public and which aren’t?

It’s probably telling that I received this question in October and still haven’t answered it.

Recently, I kind of figured out the short answer to this: as my real name, I write about topics pertaining to sexuality and relationships; as Delilah, I write about topics pertaining to my sexuality and relationships. There’s a third problem, too: there are aspects of my relationships that I consider so private and precious that I don’t even write about them here – particularly because I know that so many of my readers know me in real life. I’ve therefore published erotica under still another name, and blog in total secrecy (nobody knows the username but me) about the deepest stuff.

It’s probably also telling that I feel the need to have all of this material out there, even if nobody ever reads it or knows that it’s me writing it. What can I say: I’ve been a journaler and a maker of stories for as long as I can remember, and when I don’t write down what’s happened to me, the intensity of my experiences (which often, surprise surprise, are in the sexual realm) slip from my consciousness quickly. It’s long been important to me to have a narrative of my life, something to look back on so I can see where I’ve been and remember what’s happened to me.

My friend asked whether it ever gets weird when worlds collide: like if people I know socially start buying videos from my site, or people who have seen my writing assume things about me before meeting me. The answer to this is “sort of.” This has actually occurred a couple of times just in the past weeks. Someone who knows me socially contacted me in my capacity as Delilah for some kink consultation in person. And someone who found my writing under my real identity contacted me and seems to be assuming, because I’m poly, that I would want to meet him.

Neither of these things is “weird,” per se, but it has been and continues to be a kind of tightrope walk, figuring out what I want the whole damn world to know and what I really would rather only my friends know and what I need to write about so that someone will read it, but nobody needs to know that it’s me writing it.

I’m a great admirer of Maymay in this regard (as in many other regards), in that he has the flaming gonads to be completely out online and in every other area of his life. But even he remarks that he doesn’t write very much about the literal ins and outs of his own sex life. He’s about half a generation behind me in age, and I’m sincerely hoping that his bravery and forthrightness is a sign of things to come. For my part, though, I still can’t deal with the idea of my family finding out that I was a sex worker. I’m not sure what that says about me.

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A (half) retraction

Turns out I was wrong about the assholery perpetrated over at the This Week In Kink podcast being the fault of the Fetlife producers: apparently Rob, who made the comments in question, is from something called The Oh Team.

My confusion stemmed from this from Male Submission Art:

“the example of Rob in Episode 2 of the This Week In Kink podcast (produced by, surprisingly, the same people who run FetLife.com)”

I can see now that he meant that the podcast was run by the same people who do Fetlife, not the Rob is one of the people who runs Fetlife, but you can see my confusion.

May also notes, however, that “the entire episode was marked by shocking sexism and unimaginable gender insensitivity the likes of which I haven’t been exposed to in some time.” While I have not listened to the whole episode myself, I wonder what John’s comments were in this whole debacle, and may go suffer through it just to find out. One wants to be accurate in one’s outrage, after all.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about why I stopped doing professional domination per se, and the more I talk about it with friends and loved ones, the clearer it becomes.

So I thought I’d talk about it here a bit.

When I talk about this, I talk about a number of different reasonings for quitting: the work was no longer serving me, the work was subtly harming me, I was concerned about the effect I was having in the world. But what it all comes down to is one concept that permeates all the smaller reasons: I seek greater integration.

In the world. Reading Bitchy started it for me: an increased awareness, or rather putting words to the awareness, that the world I was involved in is fucked up beyond belief. While I often disagree with her categorical statements (which, to her credit, she spends a lot of time qualifying by reminding readers that they apply only to her), I felt something huge come together in my head when I first started reading her. I’d always had the feeling, since I started the pro work over four years ago, that there was something that felt vaguely wrong about it to me. I watched other pros interact with their long-term slaves and felt uncomfortable. I was unassuaged by those dommes’ assurances that the slaves “loved it” when they got bitched out, yelled at, treated like indentured-servant dirt. At the time I figured, “hey, not my kink” and resolved not to do things that way. But I continued to be creeped out by what I saw: pro-seeking submissive males’ total deference to all women, whether earned or not (so-called “female supremacy;” I came to call it “pedestalizing”); many pro dommes’ senses of entitlement and ungluedness from the real world (my mentors in this business were rare exceptions, which is possibly why they wanted to help me to begin with); and the overall unsexiness, to me, of the whole thing. It’s worth noting that I got fewer clients, both in-person and on Niteflirt, because I wasn’t willing to be a total bitch.

The world of pro dommes and paying submissives was severely un-integrated, it seemed to me. As a marketplace, that world divorced for me what was sexy about female dominance and male submission and consistently revealed itself to me as chiefly a monetary exchange, in which the woman received monetary gain, and the man received a simulacrum of the pleasure of true submission to a loving partner. Just another aspect of the world’s oldest profession, I suppose, but I was never fully comfortable moving in that world. I didn’t travel much, found going to parties geared toward pro relationships uncomfortable, and only really dipped my toes into creating femdom porn. I’m still wondering if I’ll ever make videos again; if I do, I’m curious to see what would happen if I did them on my own terms, rather than trying to cater to the market. Which brings up another point: it’s curious to me that the biggest market for femdom porn is also the world of forced feminization, heavy humiliation, and female supremacy. Where, I wonder along with Roberta Flack, is the love?

In my sessions. Once in a while I would have a real connection with a client – a feeling of mutual attraction resulting in a really fun session for both of us. When this happened I was often left feeling a little sad: here was someone I’d happily play with for free, in “real life,” and I’d never even be able to tell him my real name, and he probably wouldn’t want to know it.

And that was the best of times. Most of the time, I felt kind of like a jukebox. Men I mostly found unattractive would pay me to enact various scripts in the standard femdom canon, and I would enact them well and spiritedly, but leave sessions feeling drained. I’m always amused when I read memoirs that include the subject doing pro domme work, and they talk about how easy it was. Sure, if you don’t have any feelings, I guess. The sessions I had with men I wasn’t attracted to left me with various feelings: the worst was feeling totally creeped out, which luckily didn’t happen often. But most of the time I again felt sad: many of these men were afraid to reveal their kinks to their partners, were in essence cheating on their wives, or had told their partners about it and it had made them sick. While I was happy to be able to provide a service that these men could not have fulfilled elsewhere, I was frustrated to be contributing to a culture of dis-integration, to be essentially putting a band-aid on the gaping wound of self-hatred these men were often bearing. Again, the woundedness of the pro world impressed itself upon me: the availability of pro dommes props up the idea that being a submissive man is shameful and needs to be hidden away from real life.

It was always a great joy when I saw the rare client who was brand new to kink and wanted to try it out safely, or whose partner knew what he was doing and approved but was uninterested herself, or who was clearly at peace with his submissive desires and only sought a professional because it was what was practical in the moment. If only these were the norm.

But in myself. I found my true desires becoming decoupled from my actions. Things I used to enjoy: dressing up in fetish gear, receiving foot worship, flogging someone – became associated with work and desexualized. Contact I had with people at work was in fact intimate, but I knew the boundaries of that intimacy and cut it off from my heart and head. That leaked over into my personal life, where I started finding true intimacy more difficult to engage in.

Integration. Connecting the heart, the crotch, and the head. Connecting sexual desire with the rest of life. Connecting sex to intimacy, submission to respect, domination to desire.

Someone I love dearly said it outright the other night, in a way I never could have myself: “Essentially, you were doing something that was against your nature.”

Yes. I’ve never been one for casual sex. I’ve had whirlwind romances, but I’ve never been much for sex with strangers, particularly if it wasn’t going to be followed up on. I have a general rule: if I don’t think I’ll want to do it again, I don’t tend to do it the first time.

I knew the danger of this going into this work, which is why I had very strong boundaries about not having sex with clients. But I didn’t realize to what extent I was having sex with clients: this work is a kind of sex, too, at least if you’re doing it right.

And that’s why I’m taking the work in the direction I’m taking it: I want to truly help people, not just keep them limping along. I never wanted to be a triage doctor; I wanted to be someone who helps the mostly healthy achieve optimum health.

And I no longer want to have sex with strangers for money. I want to help strangers have better sex with each other.

Help me help you. 🙂

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In reading Orlando’s blog yesterday, I came across not one but two sexual terms that I had to look up. I mean, seriously, I thought I’d heard it all. Now, to be fair, I’d heard of the concepts of these words, but the words themselves were new to me. Here they are, fresh for you. (Are they new to you? Inquiring minds want to know.)

1. Algolagnia is the name of the phenomenon by which a person’s brain transmits what would ordinarily be painful sensations into pleasure. It is (supposedly) distinct from masochism in that it is purely physiological; that is, rather than seeking pain as a psychological part of sex play in the context of sex play, a person with this neurological condition experiences painful sensations in general as pleasurable, and may channel that into a masochistic sexuality.

There’s an old line about how a masochist doesn’t enjoy stubbing his toe any more than anyone else does. Someone with algolagnia, though, might.

2. Algamatophilia is a sexual attraction to statues, mannequins, or dolls, or the desire to be transformed into one for sexual purposes.

So now you know.

But before this post is over, I simply must clear up another small piece of sexual terminology that’s been bouncing around all over the place.

Bukkake is a specific term, from the Japanese, referring to the act of several men at a time jerking off and coming all over a woman’s body, so that she’s covered in it. Not my thing, but whatever.

The act that the radfems always love to bring up as OMG-degrading-patriarchy-supporting-you-are-going-to-feminist-hell – that is, the cumshot onto a woman’s face – is called a facial.

I mean, jeez. If you’re gonna throw a fit over patriarchal jizz-splattering, get it right, please.

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