Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Change of Heart

There was a time when I thought less of long-distance relationships (LDR) than I do now. It’s not that I didn’t have them, because I’ve had them since the earliest days of my kinky life.


When I lived in Ft. Wayne, I had a part-time slave in Akron. Later I had one in St. Louis. I’ve had a few part-time relationships with guys in Chicago as well, though I tended to call them “fuck-buddies” rather than slaves. The local part-time slaves were more of the “temporarily part-time until they could move in” variety, though to be honest, none of them ever moved in.


While searching for a blog topic for this week, my new slave James suggested that I write about long-distance relationships. The reason for calling this blog “A Change of Heart” is that I find myself actually enjoying the fact that I have two slaves who live somewhere else. James, a slave of some five months, lives in Manhattan and Craig, who has served me long distance for more than three years, lives near Sioux City, Iowa. Patrick, of course, my slave of nearly 15 years, and I live together.


Although I’m prone to thinking that living together is the ideal, there is part of me that actually doubts that idea. Most LDRs are such because of some necessity. Craig is the primary care-giver for his 85-year-old mother, and James has a career in Manhattan that can’t be easily left behind. Both of them, therefore, have reasonable constraints that prohibit their moving in with us, though there is at least one spare bedroom waiting for either of them.


Considering the fact that there is always slave-sleeping-space available on the floor, finding room here in Chicago isn’t a problem. That said, the dungeon doesn’t have a view so dilettantes among the slave-wannabes might complain, albeit to no avail.


LDRs work for many reasons, accommodating necessity being only one of them. For me, they offer variety, since I believe in the maxim “The more, the merrier.” Since every relationship varies from couple to couple, I get to have three completely different master/slave experiences. Nice work if you can get it, isn’t it? Of course monogamists wouldn’t agree with me on that point, but that is their right.


Patrick enjoys the fact of my having other slaves as well. First, it gives him “time off” to pursue his own projects and to relax without having to cater to my every whim. Last week, James feted me to five days in Manhattan, leaving Patrick home alone to sleep and to finally do some household renovation that he has wanted to do for nearly seven years. Needless to say, he was pleased to have the time to himself.


Just as importantly, a visiting slave often gets assigned chores that take a few things off of Patrick’s to-do list, such as vacuuming the stairs or folding laundry.


The genesis of the multiple-slaves idea obviously arose from the fact of my high libido and my inability to be a one-man man. There is an added dimension to it, though, that I discovered only later. Some point in time, I realized how much I enjoyed being a master. I also came to the conclusion that I wanted to be more masterful, more controlling and more sadistic. More of a good thing, I concluded, could only be better.


It was clear to me that any relationship has limits. There was some amount of mastery, of control and of sadism that transgressed lines of reason, safety and health. For example, one can only beat a slave so hard before what is pleasurable becomes dangerous. The solution I arrived at was to beat two slaves, thereby expressing twice as much sadism while only inflicting half as much pain on the individual slave.


Craig and James, therefore, afford me the pleasure of increased mastery without the danger that would affect Patrick if he had to bear the full brunt of my desires. The fact that their physical services are limited by time and distance, also means that they can “enjoy” a weekend intensity that is impossible to maintain on a 24/7 basis.


There are, I should point out, practices that make a LDR work. Each slave has protocols that remind him of his servitude even when he is absent from Chicago. Primarily these have to do with his own sexual freedom, such as needing permission to masturbate or to play with others.


Each has developed the habit of frequent phone contact. James has been ordered to keep a journal. Another LDR applicant is under orders to send a daily email of devotion.


Though there are some LDR couples who have never had physical contact, I do expect that we meet and that we do so on some regular basis. With James, this has evolved into a once-a-month practice, while Craig has been averaging six-to-eight weeks between visits. The regularity of physical service is highly depended upon the constraints of distance, cost and time.


In the final analysis, I have to agree with my mother who said “Half a loaf is better than none.” Having James and Craig in my life is certainly a case of “Having my cake and eating it too.” Now I only have to ask “Where are the other 14?” — and when I have an answer to that question, all will be well.


Have a great week.


Jack

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Ancient and Primitive Connection

An applicant asked me recently, “Sir, if you don't mind me asking, I was wondering if you would explain to me Bacchanalian celebration and Dionysian initiation. I am vaguely familiar with the celebration and the gods, but not as it would relate to slave training.”

To translate this into a broader BDSM context he is asking “What do primitive cults have to teach us today?”

Though it is true that my educational and religious background, beginning in early childhood and proceeding along right into seminary and Christian ministry, colors (to say the least) my kinky life, my more recent studies of primitive societies, ancient mystery cults and Jungian psychology have shown incredible similarities between those three topics and what it is that we do (WIITWD).

Of course WIITWD varies from group to group, scene to scene and locale to locale. Nevertheless the basic similarities such as hedonism, altered states and sadomasochism remain wherever kinky people play or Leathermen work or whatever appellation you want to use.

So whereas in most public play spaces alcohol is forbidden, there are a few where it is not. Therein lies at least one Bacchanalian connection. Its use is significantly more tolerated and even at times welcome in private activities, as is the use of recreational drugs. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

There, I’ve gone and said it. Yes, there is some illegal drug use in our subculture but that is merely a reflection of the greater society in which we live. One of the few things more prevalent than illegal drug use in America is the hypocrisy that denies its prevalence. But I digress.

So then what are some of those similarities? Fertility rites; initiatory practices; worship; theater that leads to catharsis and/or an altered state; altered states themselves; inspiration aka revelation; bonding; and the transference of cultural values, to name the ones that come to mind most quickly.

Fertility rites

Though there is a minority in the BDSM community who deny that their BDSM is sexual in nature, for most of us kink and sex are inseparable. Now I admit that most of us don’t have sex in order to procreate so fertility in its strictest definition may not be appropriate. On the other hand, if we understand the word in a broader context, then it applies, as in developing a fertile imagination or freeing us to become more creative.

We can also simply look upon the physical similarities between what happens in the dungeon and what might happen in ancient and/or primitive fertility rites. My readings suggest a great number of similar events. Might we not learn from those rites in order to improve and perfect our own?

Initiatory practices

The same can be asked about rites of initiation. It is probably true that initiatory rites, in that they are generally more trauma-producing, sadistic, and physically dangerous, are even better examples for our instruction and edification.

It is my opinion that whipping, needle play, and impact play may be found, in one degree or another in many cultures that initiate. Even the Roman Catholic sacrament of Confirmation involves the Bishop slapping the face of the initiate, though the slap is only the shadow of a real one.

Our initiations are generally not recognized as such but certainly have the effect that the ancient and primitives ones have, namely, greater bonding with the community and a sense of personal achievement that leads to “adulthood” within that community.

We can also look at the more recent (within the past 60 years) practices in the Gay SM subculture of Leather clubs. Though in many ways the practice has declined, men who joined such clubs usually had to undergo a period as a pledge (six months to a year) during which they were taught and tested. That experience ended with an initiatory experience, such as the bestowal of a vest, being tied to a motorcycle and being pissed on by the members of the fraternity. Hence the phrase, earning your leathers. Welcome to the club!

Worship

OK. Many of us don’t want to mix religion with our sex. It is my conviction that sex and spirit, and therefore spirituality, cannot be separated, pretend as we might that such is not the case. Look at the face value of our language. Cock worship? Goddess worship? What do they mean if they don’t mean worship? Differentiate as much as you like between the worship of God in the traditional Judeo-Christian sense and the worship of the dominatrix or the master in the BDSM sense you still have those similarities .

You can, and many do, make those distinctions but I wonder if at some point the distinctions don’t get blurred. When the newly-wed man says to his bride “I adore you,” does that make God jealous? I don’t think so, but maybe. Is adoration akin to worship? I think so, as is praise and devotion.

Theater that leads to catharsis and/or an altered state

It may appear dismissive to call WIITWD “theater” but if we recognize it as the best of what theater has to offer, then I think the name applies. When the actor’s acting is excellent, he or she ceases to “act” but becomes the character being portrayed. When the cast is excellent, the script well-done, theater-goers find themselves transported, perhaps even transfixed by what happens on stage. That is when true catharsis takes place and the play becomes not merely a show but a deeply meaningful experience and a close identification with what is happening on the stage.

Altered states themselves

What we most closely share with ancient and primitive societies is the experience of having our consciousness altered, subspace if you will. I came to this conclusion when I realized that a childhood experience after taking communion, my experience as a Pentecostal believer, and a very powerful SM scene all had the same result on my consciousness. I was transported, albeit only temporarily, into a powerful realm of light and peace, perhaps infinity, the void, or bliss.

Inspiration aka revelation

Our best experiences lead us to various forms of intuited knowledge, most often of oneself but in other areas as well. Much of what we learn, of course, is experiential, but there are times when we transcend the physical to discover the infinite and eternal.

Bonding and the transference of cultural values

Just as primitive societies rely on initiatory experience to both celebrate and induce changes in a member’s place in that society, so does our “play” in the dungeon create deep inter-personal bonds and deeply transmit the unique social values of WIITWD. We can, you’ll admit, talk about a flogging all we want. It still remains that experiencing the flogging is the only true way to experience its possible life-changing effect.

Those, my friends, are the reasons I see that knowledge of whatever our Dionysian and Bacchae ancestors did has some thing, if not a lot of things, to add to what it is that we do. We may not know much about their actual rites and ceremonies, but I bet they’d feel right at home in any BDSM party that we’d host.

Have a great week.

Jack

Monday, December 13, 2010

Do I Care?

Not only do I write as a career, I write to seduce men into my dungeon. As I cruise, I’m very liable to suggest that a potential sex partner read one of my books or (more often) give them something I’ve written that details my desires. I recently sent a potential slave applicant an essay that characterizes me, the kind of slave I am seeking, the rules he will live by and the fetishes that will be part of his service to me.

Now this guy holds a higher-than-usual level of attraction for me because he is a professional freelance editor and therefore can relocate relatively easily (all his work is done with a computer and his client interactions are most often done online). He has just the talents I need to take care of my ever-demanding clerical chores.

The editor-in-him wrote: “it is having difficulty fully squaring the following two statements: ‘I am in multiple relationships each of which is clearly defined. We are a leather family of respect and care. [and] I am self-centered and can be a mean and demanding son-of-a-bitch. Though I am generous and protective, in most cases I don’t care about a slave’s feelings.’”

The word “care,” used in two different ways, caused problems for him. If he had picked up the same dictionary that I did, the “American Heritage College dic-tion-ar-y,” he would have seen that there are 15 definitions for the word. So get your dictionary, and look them up —or if you want to take it from me, then I’ll use the two that best explain the seeming discrepancy that he pointed out. The first is “A burdened state of mind, as that arising from heavy responsibilities; worry.” The second is “Caution in avoiding harm or danger.”

In the sentence, “We are a leather family of respect and care,” I mean that we use caution in avoiding harm or danger. We care for each other in a supportive and protective way.

On the other hand, I mean it when I say: “I am self-centered and can be a mean and demanding son-of-a-bitch. Though I am generous and protective, in most cases I don’t care about a slave’s feelings.” My slave’s feelings are not important to me.

I say that because one of the most important tasks that a slave faces is to align his (or her) will and desire to those of his (or her) owner. It is exactly this synchronization of mind that facilitates the creation of a deeply intimate bond between master and slave. Of course the same can be said of any human relationship. When two people agree, they become like-minded, of one mind. The deeper the agreement, the stronger the one-mindedness.

This requires surrender on the slave’s part. Without surrender there is no possibility of voluntary servitude, which is what we masters and slaves practice. Remember, our “slavery” is not the chattel slavery of enforced servitude, imposed by the threat of punishment and/or death. It is the true surrender of one to another that transforms the slave’s feelings into alignment with the master’s feelings. Hence the slave’s feelings become a reflection of mine. The feelings he has are mine. When that happens, I care how he feels because he feels as I do — and I care about my feelings.
I guess I don’t worry about his feelings because I’m too busy worrying about my feelings, which, because we share them, are really our feelings.

In regards to the phrase “a leather family of respect and care,” I am merely reaffirming core principles of the master/slave dynamic. Masters must be responsible. In other words, we have a duty to protect our property. What owners don’t want to do so? We wisely invest our dollars; we make sure our homes are kept in good repair; we feed our livestock and manage our businesses so they prosper. How can we not do the same for our slaves?

Also, as my New York slave James notes, there is a “mutuality of interest.” Unless I care for my slave as I would for any other piece of property or any relationship, I will quickly lose the property and therefore the benefits that the property affords me. In that regard “taking care” is simply a selfish act since it ensures the continuity of the service and pleasure that I get from the slave.

I want my BDSM to be fun but I also want it to be intellectually satisfying, rational and healthy. In order for that to be so, we must spend time on the essentials. There is an important need to consider these two important definitions of the word “care.”

And without giving “care” its full range of meaning,  our play will cease to be fun.

It is as simple as that.

Have a great week

Jack

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Discernment


One of the perennial problems that we kinksters face is the question, “How can I tell?” —especially when it comes to the reliability of a potential playmate. This is directly related to last week’s column on Gnostic BDSM in that “private revelation” also needs to  be vetted as reliable.

The theological answer is that we need to use discernment in our decision-making processes, that is “the act or process of exhibiting keen insight and good judgment.” On a more mundane level, this process can be looked at as a combination of several things to do, namely: get references; trust your gut; check out your past; interview the player(s); research; reflect; pause; watch; and listen.

Get references

In the good old days I was taught to get references. In fact, what might have been called the “S&M” subculture was based on a rather dependable and covert network of references. You didn’t get in without someone vouching for you.

There were several ways to get a reference. Among gay men, the leather bars of their time were the easiest venue. You’d go to the bar, meet someone, gain his respect, probably by playing with him and then he could become a reference for you.

That meant that you could (with permission) ask to use him as a reference for yourself or ask him whether others whom you might meet were reliable. The Chicago Hellfire Club still uses that system today. No one is allowed to attend a party unless a member serves as his sponsor. No sponsor means no invitation and no admission. No exceptions.

The lack of referencing in today’s scene is an important loss of a very helpful tradition. Referencing might not be perfect, but it sure adds a margin of safety rarely equaled.

Trust your gut

Our materialistic and scientific culture has done a great deal to trivialize our “gut feelings.” That still small voice that speaks to us from within is too easily and too often ignored. It takes practice to regain the art of hearing and heeding that voice, but as Pinocchio learned the hard way, listening to Jiminy Cricket has its advantages.

 Check out your past

What does your experience tell you about the situation? Over the years I have adopted a number of rules for my own life. I don’t mind saying that they were taught to me in the school of hard knocks. The sad truth is that failure is often the best teacher, i.e., go home with a trick who is drunk once and you’ll learn never to do that again.

This suggestion is based on my belief that there is no such thing as failure. What we might term failure is in fact an opportunity to learn what not to do, a strong indication to do something differently. By analyzing our lack of success we become more capable of succeeding the next time. In other words, while two wrongs don’t make a right, they just might show us how to do it right the next time.

Interview the players

Be bold, even (especially!) if you are a sub, to ask questions of your partner, host, or enquirer. The idea is to get to know him through meaningful dialogue before you find yourself emotionally involved  or, worse, in trouble. Getting all the particulars of the scene is hot and probably important, but not nearly as important as getting to know him as a person.

In this regard consider his veracity; i.e., is he telling you his real age? We often asked about a person’s experience but do we ask enough? When doing so, the questions should include descriptions of what happened and with whom. Who taught him and when and where?

Go further with this and ask some or all of the following: What is his educational level and career path? His family situation and a short history of his relationships? Who are his references? Check them! What clubs is he a member of? What events does he attend and does he volunteer? What is his health status and financial situation? What are his hobbies and favorite pastimes? How does he approach the use of cigarettes, alcohol and recreational drugs? Now you might not need details, but an overview of answers on at least some of these topics will shed  a lot of light on the character of the person you are contemplating for play.

Research

Do your homework. Read up on the fetishes and relationships you desire to have. Attend seminars, and when you do, ask questions. This presumes that you are doing research in reliable venues. The Internet may be an easy place to do so but is the source you are checking a reliable source? How can you tell? How credible is the presenter, the website, the chat room typist, or the book? Be able to answer those questions if you want to use the information you’ve gained.

Reflect

None of the above is in any way helpful unless you think about it. How does it all fit in with what you want to achieve, and can you trust what you’ve learned? Only you can answer those questions. So do your damned best to answer them well.

Reflect also means to analyze. Does it all make sense? Fit together? Feel right? Think about it, because if you don’t you’ll be the fool rushing in where angels fear to tread.

Pause

Simply put, “Haste makes waste.” Take time to do it right. A good decision is never a rushed decision. Be very wary of partners who demand you decide now “or else.” If there is the potential for a great scene now, there’ll be an equally grand opportunity after you’ve done your homework.

Watch

Actions speak louder than words. So watch, be alert and pay attention.

And Listen

It is your responsibility to care and protect yourself, so do it well and take both the time and effort necessary to discern the right from the dangerous or erroneous. It really isn’t all that hard if you simply take the time to do it.

Have fun and a great week.