Category Archives: protocol

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.

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

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

The Importance of the Collar

Collars can carry as many meanings as there are people to share them, but generally they are a few well accepted archetypes within the greater BDSM community.  However, even these can be somewhat confusing and entirely open to interpretation.

From my perspective, in my experience, and in my opinion, the three major archetypes are the Slave Collar, the Play Collar, and the Training Collar.

The Slave Collar is the most common within the BDSM community, and in fact, in most cases when a person is talking about having a collar, being collared, or collaring someone, this is what they are talking about.  Symbolically, this is intended to denote ownership.

Generally the person wearing the collar symbolically becomes the property of the person who placed the collar around the slave’s neck.  If I were to collar you with a slave collar, I would refer to the collar as ‘my collar’ and I might tell others that you wear my collar when defining our relationship.

While wearing my collar, you are my property, and the moment I take it off of you or permit you to remove it, that relationship ceases to exist.

For this reason, a slave collar generally never comes off except to be momentarily replaced with another collar.  There may be more than one collar to fill this role… for instance, one might have a collar that is worn only in private or around other kinky folks but is a bit too obvious for daily outside wear – this is generally referred to as the ‘slave collar’, ‘private collar,’ or even simply ‘His collar.’  Additionally, one might have a necklace with a lock pendant or some other indicator of its true purpose but that is less obvious to the uninitiated.  This is typically referred to as a ‘day collar,’ or ‘public collar.’

The term ‘Play Collar’ can have a couple of different meanings.  Generally this is used to either mean a collar that is used for a short duration – usually only the length of a single scene.  This can either be because the collared person is not actually your property – you are assuming that set of roles for the scene only – or because that person has a regular slave collar and the play collar is different in some way that facilitates your play.

For instance, I once had a rather chunky leather posture collar with three rings on it.  It would not make sense as a regular wear collar because it forces my property to keep her chin up at all times, which would make negotiating the world somewhat difficult, but sometimes that is exactly what I want.  It also has more attachment points on it, and sometimes you just need to shackle your property’s ankles to her neck, you know?

The Training Collar is a bit more uncommon and bit more nebulously defined.  It sits somewhere between the two listed above.

Where the Slave Collar is meant to be eternal and the Play Collar is meant to be used only for a short time, the Training Collar is meant to be used until the subject under consideration is either accepted or rejected.

The Training Collar is usually replaced with a Slave Collar or discarded entirely, depending upon the results of the training in question.

During a training period, there may be an equivalent ‘private collar’ and ‘day collar’ pair, but usually at least one of the two is intended to be replaced once the training is completed.

The training collar comes off and on a lot more frequently than the slave collar, and indeed, the right to wear the collar might be considered as part of the rewards to the sub during training.

For these reasons, Slave Collars (and their corresponding ‘day collars’) are generally well made, expensive, eternal sorts of items.  I’ve purchased and used Slave Collars made from leather, stainless steel, even titanium and day collars made from silver or gold.  Though of course, they can be made from anything at all.

Training collars are generally intended to be rugged enough to wear for a long time, but will eventually be replaced and are generally good quality but not jewelry level pieces.  I’ve used leather for these most commonly, but rubber, vinyl, or neoprene are also quite common.

Play collars really run the gamut, are often more interesting or gaudy than their longer wear counterparts, might often be used by more than one person, and can be anything from a piece of string or a ribbon to a dog collar made from nylon or fake leather, or even heavy pieces of wrought iron and chain.

It is important to note, however, that nothing about the materials that are used to make the collar can be inferred to denote the type of collar that it represents.  That is entirely up to the participants and their own particular aesthetic.

The most important thing though, and the thing that brings all of this together, is that all of these collars (and possibly others of which I am completely unaware) are intended to be powerful symbols that establish Dominance.

The collar is meant to be owned by the Dominant partner, and whether it is purchased by him or not before the power exchange takes place, it is understood that he is the Owner and Controller of the collar.

When he puts it on the submissive partner, he is symbolically establishing his Dominance, and the collar itself is intended to serve as a reminder to the submissive partner of his submission.  While the collar is in place, this is intended to be an absolute (subject to negotiated parameters) transfer of power.

I used to be what one might consider a ‘High Protocol Dom.’  By this, I mean that I used to establish a set of rules and expectations that I had for my property.  While you were wearing my collar, you would be expected to carry out my instructions exactly, you would be expected to anticipate my desires and fulfill them prior to being asked, you would be expected to understand what I mean when I call, “Front!” and to comply immediately.

The days of High Protocol seem to be waning, and I am not so strict any longer.  Hierarchy and order are important, but I find that as I grow older, these things are less and less compatible with my worldview.

In fact, I’m coming to believe that Hierarchy may be harmful…  But this is not an article on Protocol or Hierarchy.

Today, for myself and most of the others that I’ve had the opportunity to witness lately, the collar is more an expression of partnering and position than anything else.  It can be used as a reminder to fulfill a role, but it’s not typically used in the way that I was originally taught, and even my own use of collars has recently been much more lax than it used to be, but the collar is still a useful reminder and tool.

As with everything in BDSM, these things are evolving.  As a former High Protocol Dom, some of these new, more relaxed ways of handling things chafe a bit.

I see something that would have been corrected in my past life and I let it pass because the current paradigm does not place the same level of importance on these things, and there are a great many things about the current paradigm that I find myself enjoying lately.

BDSM is making it’s way into the mainstream, and things like this must happen for that transition to take place.

Where once power transfer and authority were the forces that drove me, now I find that inclusion and compassion are the things that I crave most.  Devotion remains my main kink, but I am learning that it may take more forms than that to which I was most accustomed.

Still though, if you’re wearing my collar, you can expect me to point out that fact every once in awhile, and to urge you to think about what it represents or even use it for corrective action when required.

I may be taking a trip down the path of Hedonism lately, but I don’t see those things as wrong or incompatible.   BDSM is evolving, and so am I.