Interlude: Kneel for me

If you know me personally, this is probably not a new piece of writing to you.  I posted this first to my fetlife profile rather than here, about a year ago, but I re-read it myself recently and thought that perhaps it should be cross-posted here as well.

It is short, and while I intended it to be akin to free-verse poetry, it’s really just a short monologue… but I kind of like it.

I hope you do too.


Kneel for me.

Meet my gaze and hold it. Do not look away.

I know it is not easy. Nothing worthwhile is.

Cry for me. Not because you are sad, not because you have lost, not because you are missing someone dear, but because I am asking you to.

Open your heart for me. Pour the blood of your emotion on the floor at my feet and let me sink into its depth.

Sing your song of sorrow until it fills my soul and covers the rough parts, smooths out the edges, fills the gaps of my emotional canvas.

Cry for me. Not because you need to, but because I need for you to.

Lift your heart and mind and soul to the sky and let my love surround you. This is a place of safety and security, you are in my Protection and nothing in the world can harm you right now.

Rage for me. Not because you need to purge the poisonous vapors of mistrust and envy from your mind, but because I feed on your ire.

Scream for me. Not because your voice needs to escape your throat. Not because you have broken through the wall of your pain and anger and the primal need for screaming catharsis is pulling apart the walls of your soul, but because I want you to.

And then do all of those things again for the reasons I told you not to before.

I will hold your heart close and keep it safe while you channel the dark things away and I will eat them for you.

And when you are ready, I will return your heart to you, clean, shiny, and new.

And any time you need me to, I will be here, and you can…

…kneel for me.

My Personal Journey : Part 2

Part 2: Lightbringer

I have an extremely complicated relationship with this next part of my story.  It examines a time in my life where I was rudderless and manipulated and took part in things that cause me nightmares today.  I feel shame for what I did in some cases, but more than that, I feel shame for allowing myself to be so manipulated and exploited.

However – despite the shame and tragedy that dogs every thought I have about that period of my life, it is also an integral part of who I am.  It continues to have a profound effect on the very way that I think and process information.  It is responsible for many of the various coping mechanisms that I have developed for navigating the normal world – some of these are good, some, not so much… but they are all very important to who I am today.

For the sake of brevity, I am going to have to leave out most of the details about the things that I learned and did, and focus instead on how these things shaped who I am today.

But I will have to give you a little bit of background so that things make sense…

Joe and Monique took me under their wing and into their family.  While I still lived at home with my parents and looked to most of the outside world like I was living a very normal teenage life, I was really leading a double life.

I was a genius, straight-A student, involved in all sorts of extracurricular activities, and because I was a little socially awkward and unfailingly polite and all of the other things listed before this, my parents basically paid no attention to me at all.  My sister was a bit more demanding of their attention, which I definitely felt the lack of, but did not have a good way to express.

This turned out to be yet another thing that Joe and Monique could exploit to control me and gain my trust… they gave me a place to belong.  They didn’t care that I was a little odd.  They celebrated my differences.  They told me that I had great gifts of insight and that my intelligence was a thing of literal divinity.

Whereas I felt misunderstood and unappreciated in my real home, I felt important and special in Joe’s home.

My parents were raising me to be Catholic, and lacking any information to the contrary, I was at first a true believer.  But at this juncture in my life, when I was encountering the things that I was with Joe and Monique and their extended family, I was also undergoing a crisis of faith.  I could not rationalize away some of the things that I was being taught each Sunday with the reality in front of my eyes any longer, and Joe seized on that and used it to mold me into his very own disciple.  I wasn’t the only one, but I was certainly the youngest, and definitely his favorite as well.

Joe was the center of a cult that wasn’t Astron Argon, though it used their initiation rites, and it wasn’t Ordo Templi Orientis, though it used their degrees and advancement rituals for the ‘outer order’ –such as it was.  There were no more than 60 of us at any given time, and most of the rituals involved far fewer.  It was a mishmash of Crowley-ist secret society nonsense along with a fair share of ‘secrets’ the were ‘only known to Frater Jubal’ – who was Joe, of course.

However, it also happens to be where I had my very first non-masturbatory sexual experiences, which is something that I feel very strangely about now – and pretty much always have.  I have very complicated feelings about what happened.  I enjoyed a lot of it.  I never really felt like I was not giving consent, though at times I did feel like I had no choice… somehow it was both of those things at the same time.

I can vividly remember the very first time that I climaxed by means other than my own hand or rubbing up against some surface, and it was as I stood on a small footstool so that I was not touching the ground and Monique knelt between my legs, rendering what may yet be the most gentle blowjob that I have ever had, and I came into her mouth furiously, almost instantly – which under other conditions would likely have caused me shame, but this was immediately greeting with exclamations of joy from the people around me, because I had an audience, and was, in fact, the central part of a ritual that I would perform many, many more times before I finally broke free.  I had almost no agency in my actions.. I doubt I could have controlled myself even if I were not being heavily manipulated emotionally and psychologically as well, but under those circumstances, I felt like a god, and they told me that I literally was one.  I was the Child of Light, but more than that, I was a special invocation of such – I was an avatar of the Lord of Light himself – I was Lucifer, reborn.

I have a really difficult time rationalizing these things.  I am generally completely comfortable with dichotomy, but this is one that my mind still struggles against all the time.  This causes me nightmares sometimes.  I have a hard time believing that I believed them.  I can objectively see how ridiculous it all is when I look at it now, but I remember that I did believe. I was naive and brilliant and awkward and exploited and I am none of those things anymore, and it feels weird.

I don’t trust my younger self to know how he was really feeling and I try to re-write how I felt at the time.  I try to make it as if I didn’t really believe them, but I was playing along because I was getting something out of it, but then that actually seems far worse than if I was just duped.  I try to make it as if I knew that it was all a farce and that I was helpless to do anything to break free because I was emotionally dependent upon these people, but that just is objectively not true, and even if it could be, it’s really no better than just being duped all along.

But I stray from my story…

I was a member of Joe and Monique’s family for years.

Joe is an incredibly charismatic man.  I suppose that’s probably true of all cult leaders, but he could make you feel things.  However – and probably like all cult leaders – eventually the mantle of leadership began to grow heavy, and he started to farm out things to different people.   He spent more and more time with me, and he seemed to be grooming me to take over some of the ritualistic aspects of the cult while others took over more of the household aspects, which made sense from several perspectives, not least of which was that I did not live in the house with them, whereas most of the other inner circle members did.  So I became a figurehead who was being given actual power, little by little.  I was the example for others to follow.  I was the Golden Boy.

Eventually, this went to my head…

…I didn’t quite make it to Beverly Hills in this post, but I promise it isn’t far away.

Next is part three, where I actually do talk about breaking free of Joe’s family and end up getting married, divorced, dropping out of school, and working the mean streets of Beverly Hills.  Or at least, I’ll get as far as a thousand or so words will take me…

My personal journey : Part 1

My personal D/s journey: A story of spirituality, conflict, betrayal, and hope

Part I : Sexual awakenings

My first sexual experiences were not normal.  As a result of these early experiences (which I will detail shortly) I live with the constant fear that I will never find a mature sexual relationship that meets my needs as they now exist.  I often feel like my lifestyle goals are unattainable or even prurient to the degree that merely giving them voice is offensive.

As far as personal struggles go – this is one that I have never managed to really get the hang of or the upper hand over, and it leaves me often feeling as if I am damaged beyond the ability to properly assimilate into collective society.  And yet… I keep trying.  Whether or not this meets the definition of insanity is something that does occasionally cause me to lose sleep.

My sexuality began to emerge relatively early for a boy… I was having my first confusing and unfocused erections at eight years old.  I was masturbating to the lingerie ads in the JC Penny catalog by the time I was nine.  So far, this is not all that unusual except perhaps for the early age, which – while on the edge of normal – still fits the Bell curve rather neatly.  However, I began to diverge from the norms pretty early on thanks to being just a little too smart for my own good.

When I was 11, I made some friends who were both older than I was and just as into computers as I was.  I was given loan of a modem and started prying my way into what was the online world of the day.  The Internet that we know and depend on today was in its infancy, and most of the networked computer world existed as islands of activity around universities, the first generation of what would later become known as ISPs, and a scattered and completely unregulated wasteland of individually run BBSes that were connected by various bridge technologies (uucp, fidonet, etc.) if they were connected to anything larger at all.

Most of the BBSes that I would dial into were not connected to anything larger than themselves, and even in a largely rural area like where I grew up, this led to some diversification of content between them so as to avoid competing for the same users – for the most part.

Within a few months of embarking into this new world, I was hooked and it took very little time for me to secure a modem of my own and begin a pattern of calling in to the same seven or so BBSes every day.  In many ways, this was an extremely primitive form of reddit or Facebook.   I made friends online who I would never end up meeting in person, but of course, eventually I wanted to meet some of the faces behind the screens with which I was interacting, and even in that time and place, there were user group meetings.

We called ourselves M.O.R.E. and thought that we were especially clever (the name stood for Modem-users Of the Redwood Empire) and in general, it was just good, clean fun.  We had BBQs and softball games and a monthly meeting in the back of a Round Table Pizza in southwestern Santa Rosa.  After attending several of these events with my parents (remember that I was just 11, maybe 12 at this time) – I made friends who were close to my own age and was eventually able to secure rides to and from these events without my parents needing to be present, which turned out to be a wonderful and horrible thing.

One of the things that I noticed early on in these events was that they seemed to be pretty heavily skewed.  Allegiances developed based on particular BBS loyalty, and we seemed to be largely split into two camps.  There was the ‘Rapture’ camp – which was made up of people who contributed to the Rapture BBS, which was an adults-only sexually themed BBS, and then there was ‘everybody else’.

Because the Rapture team was made up of exclusively adults, this often meant that in contests, the ‘everyone else’ team was wildly outclassed, and as a competitive young man, this did not always sit well with me.  This, coupled with the normal curiosity that accompanies being a young man, caused me to embark on a course of action that would later prove to be seminal to my development as a sexual being, but perhaps not in the best way possible.

I decided to break into Rapture and see what all the fuss was about.

So – as a 12 year boy, already a few years into puberty and with zero sex education from traditional outlets (my parents never had ‘the talk’ with me, and sex-education in school was a farce) I ended up being thrown to the wolves in a very real sense.  Using the anonymity that hiding behind a screen gave me, I constructed a believable persona as an early-30’s high school history teacher and began to engage with this new community.

I was instantly accepted and where my lack of knowledge concerning sex activities came through, I was instructed by my new ‘friends’ – all though text, and sometimes pictures, but bandwidth back then was extremely limited, and image files that we would now send in a text message could take an hour or more to transfer.  Without the ability to easily fact check many of the things that I was being ‘taught’, I ended up learning a great deal of bad information in the beginning, but I was being exposed to all sorts of kink and pagan concepts concerning sexuality that I don’t know that I would have otherwise encountered, ever… and they certainly colored my expectations and the direction that I would end up taking.

I found ways to become involved with meatspace events with these people that I should not have been able to attend because of my age without blowing my cover.  There was significant crossover between the pagan group and the swinger group and I was interested in both topics, so I decided to take that route to getting closer to these people in the ‘real world.’  I figured that with enough time and patience, that I could probably force both to converge where I wanted.

I had no idea how ‘successful’ I would become.

I attended my first handfasting when I was 13.  The young couple in question were both just out of high school.  It was early summer, just after the end of the school year, and we were at a site on the Russian River, and it was well-done and beautiful and helped to form the spiritual path that I would end up taking for the next several years.   It was also a travesty, but I would not realize that for years to come.

The party that followed was barely constrained hedonism, and I’m certain that my presence kept things to a much lower intensity than they would have been had I not been there.

There was a great deal of substance use – alcohol, marijuana, LSD, and something speedy… I’m still not sure if it was coke, meth, or PCP – coke being most likely given the time period.  I did not partake of any of these, but I watched with rapt attention.

There were two distinct groups forming within the party – the younger group tended to be more spiritually minded but more socially conservative, talking in lower voices and generally stationary with their conversational topics.  The older group – made up mostly of a group of adults in their late 30’s and early 40’s – was openly hedonistic and gregarious.  A couple of the women took their tops off and there was a great deal of groping, a large cuddle pile in the grass, and even some lighthearted games of chasing, cat and mouse style.

I belonged to neither but was fascinated by both, and the open hedonism of the older group really captivated me.  I found it very difficult to look away from the exposed breasts of the women who had taken off their tops.

One of the younger women decided that it was worth taunting me over, and then one of the other women in that group (who was still wearing her top) came over and ‘rescued’ me from her, asking me who my parents where.

I told her that I was there alone, that I was friends with one of the members of the ceremony group, and that I was not really all that bothered by the attention that I was getting from Skye (the woman who had been recently taunting me.)

She laughed, introduced herself as Monique (with just a hint of a Montreal accent)  and then sat beside me and motioned to her partner to come over and talk with us.  And that is when I met Joe MacReedy and began the journey that would culminate in a high degree in Astron Argon, a complete rewriting of my psychological landscape, and a life-long pursuit of the things that exist just outside of the norms of society.

Part 2 to come, wherein I give more details about my life with a sex magick cult, the emotional (and spiritual, and psychological) break that enabled me to extricate myself from that situation, and the shortly following events that would proceed to land me in a possibly even more precarious situation in the mean streets of Beverly Hills.

State of the blog

I started this blog with very little intention of continuing it for very long back in April of 2014.

At the end of every April, I get a yearly summary of my blog activity for the previous year.

It is always a little interesting to see how things change over time.

In my first few months, I got a couple of dozen hits a day if I was lucky, but I was cranking out original content.  (All of the content on this blog is my original work, by the way…) I was posting at least once a week, and most of my content was either rants about my personal experiences and how I felt like things were better in the “good ol’ days,” (even though most of those days were strikingly less good for me in reality) or educational pieces attempting to fill the knowledge gap that interest without reasonably accessible educational materials was causing.  However, the small bit of recognition that I received was enough to spur me on and do more with the blog and my community.

In the second year, things really started to sizzle.  I was getting hundreds of hits per day most days and thousands of hits per day on the busiest days.  I slowed down on content generation, but I was still getting a great deal of attention and I was getting emails from readers almost every day and responding to those took up a good deal of my free time and introduced me to some really interesting people from all over the world – several of whom remain my friends today.

In the third year, I slowed down on content creation even more, and the readership started to dwindle away.  My most frequently read post was An Imaginary Conversation With a New submissive and I was still getting emails from readers almost every day with comments or questions, but readership was starting to diminish as I started producing less new content and started revealing more about me personally as opposed to fielding questions about BDSM or writing informative pieces based on common questions that I often hear.

Now, coming out of my fourth year, and with even more sporadic writing, my readership has dropped back down to first-year levels.  I’m getting dozens of hits per day, up to a few hundred on the busiest of days, but nowhere near where I was at the height of things.  Yet… I kind of like it that way.

I still get emails and comments asking me questions, and I still try to answer all of these within a day or two at most, but it’s a much more sustainable pace for a part-time single parent and full-time tech startup employee and I don’t have to feel like I’m letting people down by not answering them in an expedient manner.  This has helped to reduce my stress level somewhat, especially since sometimes the questions that I get asked are intensely personal, time sensitive, and important.

‘An Imaginary Conversation…’ is no longer my most-read piece, being replaced by Finding subspace – which is, interestingly enough, one of the very first posts I wrote (as opposed to ‘An Imaginary Conversation…’ which was written almost at the height of my popularity.)

Most of my hits in the first year came from links from other people’s blogs – or from ‘likes’ on facebook (which continues to amuse me, since I’m not on facebook), or through some unclassified means of finding me, but now the majority of my hits come from google and bing.

And perhaps most amusingly – I think that most of the hits that I’m getting from google and bing for that particular page are not people who are coming here looking for information on BDSM themes, but math students looking for easy answers to their homework questions about linear algebra.

I have a degree in mathematics – and I can almost certainly answer your linear subspace questions as well – but I’ve only ever once actually been asked such a thing.

I suspect the person who did ask me this question was seriously confused, but I’m really much more amused by the imagined reactions that I suspect of people when they come to a site like this looking for answers to their math homework.

Today is May Day, and the start of Year Five.

I’m really curious what this year will bring… hopefully it will involve drastically fewer broken bones, but I suspect that it will still involve a broken heart – perhaps more often than once, as that seems to be the one thing that I am wholesale incapable of escaping.

Regardless – I remain…

  • Rant

Overcoming inertia

I try to love freely and without attachment.

I first posted about this subject four years ago, in the first month that I started this blog.  If you are interested in that post, you can find it easily here.

However, like any normal human, I do still get attached to things, people, and relationships, and when those things are removed from me or change in some fundamental way, I can get hurt and react in very human ways.

My life recently has been tumultuous.

I am not quite up to detailing everything here for the world to see, but suffice it to say, I have been missing from here and most of the rest of the aspects of life in general for some time as I have been processing my grief and doing some very difficult introspection.

Each time in the past couple of months that I have come here with the notion of writing something new, I have read my previous post and spiraled away into my own mind with unkind thoughts about myself and I manage to put nothing to the page.

The relationship that I boasted about being so strong has come to an end (for reasons unrelated to the content of my last post) and created this massive inertia around making even the smallest of steps back into the life that I was recently so happy to call mine.

But I still have good friends, and several of them have counseled me that I need to write something – almost anything will do – and so here I am, overcoming inertia.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, and while it may not be much of one, this is such a step.

I am still here and still on the path.

I recognize much of this scenery though and I can’t help but worry that I’m wandering in circles sometimes, but I’ve come to the conclusion that even wandering in circles is better than not moving at all.

The Value of Honesty

Anyone who knows me personally and has interacted with me in the past several months knows that I have a (relatively) new submissive whom I adore.  She is Devoted to me, and I am pledged to her, and I have no intention of changing any of that.

She and I have an open relationship and we are honest with each other about everything that goes on – and more importantly – about how those things make us feel.  We work together to ensure that we have a proper understanding of both the factual and emotional issues that surround anything that may come up – because emotions and facts don’t always correlate well until you take some time to understand how they interact with each other around the particular issue at hand.

And that was a lot of words to say:  she trusts me and I trust her – and the reasons for that are brutal and open honesty coupled with a lot of patience.

I hide nothing from her.  I don’t always tell her everything, because sometimes I don’t think to do so, and sometimes too much information can be hurtful, but I always answer all of her questions and I patiently allow her to feel what she feels and then reinforce the fact that I love her, I cherish her trust, and I am still committed to her.  It isn’t easy, but it is extremely valuable.

I have not always had relationships that ended well.  Heck, I’ve not always had relationships that proceeded well.  However, I am nearly always patient and polite.  No one manages to always be these things, but I do my best, and I usually succeed.  

Yesterday my submissive received some very strange text messages from a woman (or someone claiming to be a woman) who she has never met, but that was put into contact with her some time ago.  This woman resurfaced and started making claims about me – that she ‘catfished me on her behalf’ and claims that I derided her on fetlife and threatened her when she refused to have a skype sex session with me and tried to warn my submissive that I bad-talked my submissive behind her back and that I was a dangerous man.

Now – I am a dangerous man, but not for the reasons that she accuses me.

Anyone who knows me and has tried to get me to agree to a video chat session knows how laughable this is.  I am extremely reluctant to have a video call, and I almost never engage in any sort of sex over the wire.  I don’t enjoy it, and it triggers a few unpleasant memories for me.   If I’m doing it, it’s because I love you very much and I want you to be happy – it’s never something that I would pressure someone into, and I use words like ‘always’ and ‘never’ extremely sparingly.  I don’t even like talking on the phone.  So – on its face this was an amusingly ridiculous accusation, but even the most ridiculous accusations can destroy relationships when there is not trust there to begin with.

I’ve been in relationships where that trust was not solid.  I’ve been in relationships where accusations of infidelity – and actual infidelity – destroyed the relationship, and the reason that happened was because trust was either never fully established, or worn away.  I am certainly not trying to portray myself as always being in the right in these situations – I don’t know that there is always a right to be had – but I do know that I have never acted in the manner for which I was accused.

I honestly have no idea who this person is or what his motives might be.  It’s extremely unlikely that it is one of my exes trying to get at me through her.  It’s equally unlikely that it’s her ex trying to get at her, but the motive of anyone else in this matter just doesn’t seem to add up…

The fact that we can’t find a sensible motive is an any area of consternation to be sure, but sometimes people just like to cause drama, and maybe that’s all this is.

I’ve been in relationships that would be threatened by such a thing, but I am ecstatically happy to not be in one of those now.  

My relationship is as solid as ever, and may even be stronger now for having faced this sort of challenge and walked away unscathed, and we have accomplished this thanks to the intrinsic power and value of honesty, compassion, empathy, and trust.

I love.  I am loved.  We are strong.

I am Rant, and I’m not going anywhere.

 

Help Save Wicked Grounds!

Wicked Grounds is more than just a coffee shop – it’s a destination, it’s a sanctuary, it’s a place to meet people, a place to be surrounded by people of like mind and ambition, it is a staggeringly important venue for dozens of clubs, munches, workshops, and it is an icon all on its own.  It is also the only safe space that a lot of people have.  

And it is closing down.

This is potentially a staggering loss for our community.  There is yet some small glimmer of hope that we can save it, and you can help too if you would like.  The patreon page for Wicked Grounds can be found here.  I’ve contributed and pledged and wish I could do more.

I cannot stress how important this place is to our community.  It is the hub around which all of the other kink activities in San Francisco take place.  It is the kink equivalent of Polaris.

Oftentimes when I’m giving directions to people for various kink related place with references from Wicked Grounds as the starting point.  Need to get to Mr. S?  Go out from Wicked Grounds, turn left, and walk two blocks up 8th street.  Need to get to BaGG?  Go out from Wicked Grounds, turn left, turn left at the corner, and it’s three storefronts down.  

It is much, much more than just a coffee shop that sells some kink-themed things.  It is home to a lot of people in my social circle, and the circles that overlap with my own.

I urge you – if you have the means and the inclination – go to the Patreon page and do what you can.  If you are in the SF Bay Area, go to Wicked Grounds today – it may be the last day that they are open.  If you can’t go and support their business today, go to the party that they will be hosting at the Citadel this Saturday.  I understand that they may not have goods to sell that day, and there may actually be little you can do to help with the actual problems of keeping the business viable, but you can still offer moral support.

I am going to try my best to be there – childcare concerns would be the only thing to keep me away.  I sincerely hope that this is not the last Wicked Grounds party, and that the coffee shop can stay in business for years and years to come – providing the solace and community that it does.

I’m a patron now, and I intend to make it a more frequent place that I hang out as well, assuming that the option remains open to me.  I’d love to see you there sometime.

– Rant

 

Descending into the dungeon

In my own local scene the dungeons are either on the ground level or UP a set of stairs, so descending into them is purely metaphorical, and ‘Ascending into the Dungeon’ just sounds weird.

I get a lot of questions in email from my readers.  More than I get comments on my posts – I’m not sure why that is, but in the few years that I’ve been keeping this blog, it seems to be the trend.

One of the questions that I get with some frequency is, “What is it like to go into a dungeon?”

It’s a difficult question to answer because each individual venue is different.  I’ve been to several, but I can still count the number of public dungeons which I have attended on my fingers, so I’m hardly an expert in the field.  Some of these are labeled as dungeons but are really sex clubs, and at least one that I go to with some regularity is actually just an event at a bar with an area set aside at the back for suspensions and spankings – sex is not permitted there at all.

Generally though – that is one of the things that can be most jarring for people who are coming into this new – you will see and hear people having sex right in front of you.  There will be people walking around nude, and for people who aren’t used to seeing it, it might be shocking to see a bunch of erect penises just wandering about.

This is not to say that the majority, or even a significant fraction of people in the dungeon will be naked or having sex at any given time.  Most of the people will be largely clothed (though partial nudity is common) and not engaged in coitus at any given time.  Most of the scenes will not involve penetration, but most will involve at least some amount of nudity and sexual contact of some variety.

Most dungeon spaces have a regular dungeon floor and also some sort of social area apart from the dungeon floor itself.  There are often also crash couches – areas that are intended to be used for immediate after-scene care, but often these are co-opted by people for social reasons instead.  This is usually considered to be poor dungeon etiquette, but it is so common that people for the most part just accept it.

Surfaces of couches and beds (if there are any) are usually covered with sheets to minimize exposure to bodily fluids of others, and usually there are clean sheets available for you to change out if you so desire.  Often people don’t know that this is an option though, so the same sheets often adorn the furniture all night long.   Some dungeon spaces don’t offer either beds or crash couches though, so you can’t really depend on anything that you see at one dungeon space being present at another.

Usually there are stations on the dungeon floor or near to it where you can find safer sex options as well as cleaning supplies.  Dungeon etiquette requires that you clean any equipment that you use after you use it, but given that etiquette is not universal, it is usually advisable to clean anything you intend to use prior to using it as well as after you’re done.  The dungeon will usually provide spray bottles with cleaning solution and paper towels towards this purpose, as well as the safe sex options of condoms (usually both lubricated (for cocks) and non-lubricated (for toys)), nitrile or latex gloves, and often female condoms or dental dams.  Use these things – they are there to protect you and everyone else – but don’t grab a handful of condoms to take home with you.  I’ve seen that happen more than once, and I have mixed feelings about it… if you’re going to have sex, you should have safer sex, but stealing condoms from the dungeon for home use is kind of crass.  If you can’t afford condoms, most Planned Parenthood facilities will give them to you for free and the ones provided by the dungeon you are going to have costs that the dungeon must pay.  There are too few available dungeon venues to drive them out of business by increasing their operating costs.

As for what you can expect to see on the dungeon floor itself… the equipment can be quite varied.  Some dungeons have separate theme rooms and each room will have equipment that matches that theme, and some will have one large open space with all of the different types of equipment mixed together.

You can usually expect to see a cage of some kind.  Sometimes this will be large enough for a human to stand in, but often they will be too short to stand in and more like you might see for an animal.  People who are put into these cages will have to be lying down or on their hands and knees.

Often you can expect to see a medical scene display of some variety.  These are often kept separate from the rest of the dungeon equipment where possible because medical scenes often involve blood and other bodily fluids that may not be part of other types of scenes and sometimes people have a pretty strong reaction to the site of blood.  This will often be an examination table, usually with stirrups.  Sometimes there will be a dental chair or something similar as well.

Often you will also see pagoda-like structures that people can be tied to or suspended from.   Sometimes this may take the form of a simple arch instead.  But even where such things are not present, there is almost always a cross beam or hard point defined for doing rope suspensions from.  Occasionally you will also find pulley systems or rails that can be used for hook suspensions (where people actually hang from metal hooks that pierce their skin) but because hook suspensions almost always involve some amount of blood, these are also usually kept segregated from the rest of the dungeon equipment as well.

Often you will also see sex swings and beds.  The purpose of these things is pretty straightforward.  Don’t forget that there are probably clean sheets available for you to use on these things!  If you can’t see them, try asking a dungeon monitor.  I’m not a super clean freak, but I always get a little skeeved out when I see people fuck on a bed and then get up and leave it as it was and then see new people jump down on that same bed, with the same sheets and go to town.

Usually you will see a massage table or three as well.  These are pretty self-explanatory.  They’re about hip-height for me, usually padded, and often these are also amended from the ‘normal’ massage tables to include hooks or eyes for binding people to, though not always.  These are used for massage, but also often used for things like wax play (where it is allowed.. not every dungeon allows use of electrical elements or heat/fire) and other sorts of activities where you would have one person lying fully prone and the other doing things to or for them.

You will also almost always see spanking benches.  These look something like a padded saddle horse, often with rails near the bottom to rest your shins on and hooks or eyes to which to tie or attach restraints.  The idea here is that you put someone on the bench in a semi-prone position and then their ass is well positioned for you to smack with your hands, paddles, floggers, whips, whatever you desire.

The last remaining piece of furniture that you are likely to encounter (unless I’m forgetting something, which is certainly possible) is a cross or ten.  Usually these are St. Andrews crosses, which means that they look like a giant X standing on the floor rather than Roman crosses (which would be the T variety) and they’re almost always designed in such a way as to bind someone to them, either facing towards the cross (for flogging a person’s back, for example) or out away from the cross (for fingering or use of a magic wand, for example).  They often have binding hooks/eyes at a couple of different points on the top end of the cross (to accommodate people of different heights) as well as near the bottom of the cross (for binding ankles to).

It can get quite hot in the dungeon, and usually there is some sort of music played over the sounds of slapping, spanking, moaning, shrieking, and cursing.

Most stations are usually set apart from each other by a bit of floor space so that you don’t accidentally whip someone on your back stroke but this also serves to provide some small amount of space within which to work and that you can usually assume that people will stay clear of unless they are merely passing through to get to something else.  It’s worth discreetly  trying to get the attention of the people you might be trying to pass if you do this, both so that you don’t get hit, and also so that you don’t startle them and interrupt their scene.

Watching other people’s scenes is expected, but you should always remain quiet when doing so.  Offering advice or commentary is never a good thing to do while the scene is going on, but if you liked what you saw, letting them know after they are done with the scene is generally considered good form and might even begin a conversation.

I know that was a bit of a whirlwind tour of some of the things you might see and expect in a dungeon, but I also hope that it was helpful.

I am, as always, happy to answer any questions that you may have either in the comments or through email.

  • Rant

backlash and progress

Combatting misogyny could be my full time job, but I am glad that it is not.

The United States are currently going through a bit of a re-shuffle with regards to national identity, which is pretty obvious to everyone on the world stage.  We’re kind of like your neighbors who are constantly fighting with each other and you’re never quite sure whether or not to call the cops and report potential domestic abuse.

Just to be clear – if you hear something that you think might be domestic abuse, you should call it in.

I kind of wish someone could call the cops to get us out of our current set of problems.

Anyway – the issue that I want to talk about is the spate of recent revelations in the media about men in positions of power acting badly towards women.

The list of influential men being accused of sexual misconduct seems to grow every day, and my suspicion is that it will continue to do so for some time – at least until the backlash comes.

It seems like every politicized event in US current events eventually results in a backlash.  We’re already seeing some of it with these sexual misconduct allegations – a lot of powerful men who fear reprisals of their own are being silent for the moment, but I predict that they’ll gather around whoever has the audacity to stand up and make the claim that this is reverse discrimination or something else just as silly.

Firstly – this is not an example of reverse discrimination.  Women are not forming mobs and lynching men.  In fact, they’re not even really calling for the lynching of the men who are actually responsible for acting like perverts, which would be mob justice, but still not discrimination.  In most cases, they’re merely coming forward to tell their stories and not calling for any action at all.

Now, I do think that actions should be taken in most of these cases.  However, we’re losing sight of the most important part of what is happening.

In case you missed it – my opinion is that the most important part of this is that women are beginning to come forward and tell their stories.

This is important, because until recently they haven’t felt safe enough to do so, and that represents a huge failure on our part as men who care for women and as a society in general.  We must capitalize on the opportunity that this is affording us.  We must do what we can to prevent the backlash and keep this forward progress.  We must empower every person to tell their story so that we can all learn and grow – together.

Some of these stories are horrible to listen to.  Some of them are just plain weird, and as a self-proclaimed pervert of the highest order, for me to say that is … something.  But no matter whether they are hard to hear or weird or even just ordinary (I’ll leave that word there for a moment…) the fact is that women are finally feeling like the social narrative will permit them to come forward and speak about the things that they have had to endure.  It is long past time that we take such things seriously.

Do I think that every man who has had allegations of sexual misconduct come out is guilty of those things?  No, I do not.  I think that a small percentage of the stories that are coming out are falsified, but I think that is a rare exception rather than the rule as many of these men would like you to believe and as men have insisted is the case since society began to view women as people.

Despite a more receptive climate than in the past, I think it would be a massive stretch of the truth to say that society is open to such things yet.  There is still a strong stigma associated with coming forward with allegations of this type, and the women who do so are courageous and in many cases, desperate.

Part of the blacklash story is that these things happened decades ago and it is not fair to the accused to have to defend their actions from such a long time ago.  There is some small amount of merit to that argument – but only because human memory is fallible.  It is very likely that the facts of an event that happened years or decades ago will become distorted in the memory of those who were involved over time.  This is a proven concept in modern psychology practice – human perception is fallible, and it changes over time.  This is one of the reasons why crimes often have statutes of limitations.

That being said, I think every single case should be investigated – even those that happened 40 years ago.  I think where there is sufficient proof of misconduct that there need to be serious consequences for those involved.  This is how progress is made.  These consequences may only be a loss of social capital in some cases, but in some cases, that may be sufficient.  If you take a man who abuses his power and remove that power from him, he may not be able to continue his abusive practices, or he may learn that his actions – while tolerated in the time when he committed them – were never really acceptable and will be tolerated no longer.

Ignorance of the law is not seen as an excuse for committing a crime, and while I look at the things that some of these men are accused of and wonder how it is possible that they ever felt justified in some of these things, I can kind of see the argument that opinions on what is acceptable have changed over time.  I can maybe see where posing for a photo with your hands someplace they ought not be without consent could be mistaken for humor – because much of the purpose of humor is to make the unbearable, bearable – but I don’t know how anyone ever felt like nonconsensually locking a woman in your office while you jack off is anything but creepy and sad.

Empathy is the thing that would have prevented all of these problems.

Put yourself in the shoes of the person you are interacting with.  Try to understand her motives and fears and then think about what you are about to do.  Just because you might think it would be awesome for a woman to lock you in her office and masturbate while you sit there trapped does not mean that she will feel the same way.   You have to not only put yourself in her place, but you have to put yourself in her mind.

The fact that she is on the other side of the desk means that the right thing for you to do is to go out of your way to be respectful, honest, and engaged.  You have all of the power – don’t abuse it.

Master Rant’s 10 Day Intensive

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been host to a friend who I met through this site.  She lives quite far away, but we’ve been in contact off and on through email and other online means for well over a year at this point.  I never thought we would actually meet in person, but she decided that she wanted to take a trip to San Francisco and experience what it is like to live the D/s lifestyle for a short period under my thumb.

This is the account of some of what transpired in those ten days.

I don’t think the experience was what either of us had anticipated, but it was certainly valuable for many reasons and I am thankful for the opportunities that it afforded me to grow as well.

Let us call my friend (and I do hope that she is still a friend after all of this) Nicole.  That is not her name, but my name isn’t really Rant either, so this should not be terribly surprising to any of you.

Nicole had no experience with D/s before meeting me – but she had had some experience with kink and there were several things that she wanted to try while with me.  We got to many, but not all of them.  There were also several aspects of what I consider to be important to D/s that she had no experience with and found surprising.   Those are the sorts of things that I am going to focus on for this entry.

Foremost, and although I have tried to cover this in the past, was the assumption on her part that D/s requires sex.  This is most assuredly not the case.  I know of several D/s relationships where sex does not play into things at all, and while I would not call that sort of complete lack of sexual focus normal, there is also nothing abnormal about a relationship with deep D/s elements that contains no sex at all.

We did have sex while she was here, but I’m certain that it was not entirely what she was expecting, because sex is not the focus of D/s for me.

D/s is about power exchange.  It is about the transfer of personal power from one individual to another.  It is about choices and decisions and actions and who controls them.  Sometimes these choices and actions and decisions have to do with things of a sexual nature, but quite often they are much more mundane.

Nicole is from Europe and many of our conflicts probably would have been a bit smoother or not have occurred at all were it not for cultural differences as well as the very new nature of things D/s for her when she found herself in my space and under my control.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that she felt that I was simultaneously not controlling enough in some areas and far too controlling in others.

Everyone does D/s a little differently and places emphasis on different parts of the equation.   I was brought up under a different paradigm than is the current norm, and the key facets of D/s for me are Respect, Devotion, and Service.

Respect is the cornerstone of D/s in my world.   It is something that I expect to be in place always and transgressions are dealt with swiftly and decisively.  I am not physically violent without a tremendous amount of forecasting, but I can and often do change my body language and verbal tone to be quite severe when I feel like I am personally being disrespected, or my submissive trainee is being disrespectful to my property or friends.  Showing me proper Respect is Rule Zero.  It is something that I expect to not have to talk about, and if I do, there is a high likelihood that I will be lecturing you, not just mentioning it out of hand.

Devotion is where I get my kicks.   It is my single biggest fetish.  It is the reason why I do D/s.   I may have a big ego, but I like being worshiped just a little bit – and for more than my body or skills.  I like being thought of as competent and trustworthy, and being Devoted to me is the best way to show me that.

And last, but not least, is Service.  I expect a certain amount of Service to be rendered unto me.  This does not always have to take the typical forms, and sexual service is only one manner of service, and not nearly the most important to me.   I can be rather particular in the ways that I expect Service to be rendered, and that can also be an area of conflict from time to time.

Pain management is a constant struggle for me, and even in a short term visit like the one that Nicole and I planned and executed I can be sidelined by my physical pain issues.  There was one evening in particular while she was here with me where the pain was extreme enough that even conversation was difficult for me.  That isn’t necessarily normal, but it’s not abnormal either.  I would say that I have at least one day a month where things are that bad.

Nicole is a lovely woman, but I think I disappointed her a bit when I showed her some of the non-sexual aspects of D/s and placed those of higher importance than the sexual ones.

She asked me to be true to my older self and not to soften the edges on my High Protocol nature, so I didn’t.

It caused conflict.

Conflict in any relationship is normal, but most people are so enamored of each other and deep into the throes of NRE that they don’t register conflict right away – and Nicole and I had our first conflict within 24 hours of her arrival.  It was jarring for us both, but more so for her, I think.

I also practice ethical non-monogamy, which made for more conflict, as I had to manage the feelings of my current submissive partner as well as Nicole’s own feelings while hosting Nicole for her visit.  The three-way conflict was very minimal, but present.

All told, Nicole was able to check off some of her bucket-list items while she was here and I learned a few important things about myself:

Most surprising to me: Sex is nowhere near as important to me as it once was – even just a year or two ago.

D/s is much more in line with my lifestyle and the way I want to live my life than I’ve admitted in the past.  It has always informed my choices, but now it is much more of a lifestyle choice that I cannot turn away from.

In particular, Discipline is very important to me where it has not always been.

I’m a very physical person – and while this manifests itself sexually, it also manifests itself in other areas, Discipline being chief among them.

I really enjoy public play.  This has not always been the case.  I’ve taken part in various forms of it over the past couple of decades, but I have historically had a strong preference for private play.   I no longer feel that way.  They are balanced for me now.

I still don’t enjoy meting out punishment.  I do it, because Discipline is important to me, but I can spank pretty hard – especially when using a paddle – and I surprised myself with the ferocity of my flogger strikes this time as well.

I know that Nicole learned a great deal about herself too while she was here – but those thoughts are for her and I would do her a disservice to relay them here without her implicit approval.

I doubt very much that she and I will meet again in person – the distance and cost are just too high to make that tenable – this was more of a once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing, and while I know that things did not go exactly the way that she had planned, I do hope that she feels the experience was worth it.

I certainly do.

If ever I found myself with a similar situation in the offering, I would change a few things, but keep most things the same – so I suppose that is as good a measure of the success of things as any other.  I learned and grew and I’m certain that she did too.

I am changing and I continue to change those around me, but I remain Rant.

  • Rant

one Dom's views on life, love, and limerence