Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pacing a Scene

An expert artist moves through three stages: technician, craftsman and finally master artist. Like them we begin by learning techniques, then practice those techniques to refine our craft, and one day we're doing it so well it has become an art.

Good scenes have good pacing, or timing, if you will. Like a symphony they have a variety of rhythms, moods, tones, and crescendos and diminuendos. I was recently asked to speak about pacing a scene and thought that you all might be interested in those thoughts as well.

Over and beyond the fact of "fetish" there are many facets to a scene, including speed, action, sensitivity, spontaneity, variety, rhythm, and environment. I can't really tell you how to pace a scene but I can write about the factors that contribute to good pacing. Technique, after all, isn't limited to simply the actions involved in a specific fetish. There are both physical and psychic (or psychological if you prefer) characteristics that both top and bottom need to attend to, if a scene is to become truly artful.

Each characteristic has its own importance and the "whole" of them becomes greater than their sum. While there is a possible ranking among them, to think of them in that context may have the adverse effect of ruining a scene. Room temperature, for an example, might be just as important as one's ability to read body language, even if adjusting the thermostat is an easier task to accomplish.

That said, it seems to me that the most expert players have developed their ability to "read" their partners and therefore interpret the progress of the scene in such a way as to improve it. Reading in this context combines an array of talents that includes the following:

Watching body movements, especially how one's bottom is breathing, tensing or responding. Is their chest heaving? Is she breathing deeply? Are his breaths slow or is he going to begin to hyperventilate? Can she breathe properly or is the gag too restrictive or is she forgetting to breathe?

Listen to their grunts and groans. It's not just grunts and groans either. What about sighs or vocal comments? Can we tell the difference between "No don't stop" and "No. Don't. Stop?" If we stop will they be relieved or disappointed? What I am dealing with here is sensitivity to our partner.

The dictionary helps here. Sensitive: "Capable of perceiving with a sense or senses; Susceptible to the attitudes, feelings, or circumstances of others; Readily alerted by the action of an agent; Registering very slight differences or changes." Notice that it has to do with perception, feelings, and very slight differences. To be successfully sensitive one must take care, be quiet, and act slowly, while continuing to accurately process the information.

Feel their bodies for heat and sweat, as well as to reinforce the sensation of the scene with a mixture of "sweet and sour." Among the important techniques is to use one's hands during a scene. Now that might be easily understood while spanking or fisting, but it is equally important in whipping and paddling. Caresses during an impact scene, for instance, go a long way to help the bottom continue in the scene as well as give important feedback to the top. They also afford the additional advantage of helping to improve the pace of a scene.

Maintain an inner silence or awareness that listens for intuitive clues. Some of this, in fact, is an extrasensory perception while some is also simply taking time to evaluate the external sensations we are receiving on a physical level. Too often we can become so involved in what we're doing that we fail to take the time necessary to ask ourselves "How are we doing?" or "How are they doing?"

Pace also has to do with timing. The best scenes have a natural tempo to them, generally beginning with slow and easy and progressing to quick, intense, and hard. This, of course, is not a steady climb upward but one of peaks and lulls, as in "crescendos and diminuendos." It is important to note that the diminutive parts of the scene are just as important as the intense ones. It is the variety that creates the successful play. It is the pause that underlines and reinforces the activity.

What I've written thus far seems to place all the responsibility on the top and that is not at all the case. It is quite necessary for the bottom to provide clear feedback. In fact, "toughening it out" can actually ruin a scene. If the bottom isn't sending signals, or even worse is sending false ones, the scene is destined for failure.

Actions play an important part as well. We can't forget the value of knowing good technique and using it. Likewise actions need to be varied, which is another way of looking at pacing. Therefore it's fundamental that actions need to be studied, practiced and learned.

Good pacing isn't just part of the scene. It is also found in good negotiations, good preparation of the scene's venue, and in the aftercare, which is just as much a part of the scene as the fetish play itself.

That thought leads us to consider the environment: temperature, humidity, sound (both helpful and distracting) and privacy or the lack thereof. Is there water and/or juice handy? A place to take a break in the scene, since breaks are a good way to get feedback and to diminish the action in preparation for increasing it later.

Lastly, we need to recognize the value of spontaneity. A good scene is part choreography and part spontaneous modification of the scene to fit the flow, pacing, and feedback of the scene. Be open to adjust your activity, your speed and intensity, as well as your "plans."

And in all of this, be sure to have fun.

Buying one of my books helps to pay for the cost of this email. Please visit my website to make a purchase. You can send me email at mrjackr@leathermail.com or visit my website at http://www.LeatherViews.com. You can also subscribe to my blog at LeatherMusings.blogspot.com. Copyright 2011 by Jack Rinella, all rights reserved.

Monday, June 13, 2011

What Are You Saying?

I had my first gay encounter in late 1973 and didn't get honest with myself and my family until my divorce ten years later. During that time, I was greatly conflicted, confused, and guilt-ridden. Time and again I would "repent" and promise myself that I would never again seek out men for sex. I repeatedly did so, over and over again in a cycle of lust, gay sex, remorse, repentance, quiet, and the eventual resurgence of irresistible lust for men.

It took some three or four years of counseling to "come clean." Most of that time I told my therapists (there were three different ones but that is another story) that I wanted to be hetero, save my marriage, do what was "right." Yet over and over again, when he asked me if I had been cruising adult bookstores for sex, I answered "Yes."

Finally, Dr. John, my therapist at the time, told me how he analyzed patients. "When a client," he said, "says one thing and does another, I always listen to what he does." It was that night that I was hit in the gut with the truth, the lights went on, and I had no choice but to accept myself as who I was, a gay man. That night the lies stopped, the hypocrisy and denial ended, and I began to build a new life, a life that was the real me, my authentic self.

Needless to say, my life was changed forever. I would also point out that the lightening bolt was only the first of many things that happened. Becoming truthful is a long, arduous and very painful process. It involved essentially changing every facet of my life: my relationship to my wife, my children, my family and friends; my job; my home-life and where I lived; my self-image; my lifestyle; and every aspect of my social life. The old Joe died that night and had to take years to be reborn as the man I was meant to be.

I can hardly be telling this story for sympathy. The final result has brought me happiness, contentment, self-confidence, and a large loving family. And I think it's safe to say that my children, who with their mother bore most of the pain, have forgiven me, accept me, and love me. Their mom is happily married as well.
Dr. John's lesson wasn't new. My mom taught me the cliché, "Actions speak louder than words," long before I left home at age 17. They were true every time she said them and they are still true today. Unfortunately they didn't register in my brain until I was 36 years old.

I bring this subject up now because I find myself in a kinky subculture filled with words without actions. Promises (weak ones to be sure) to call me or come for a visit go unfulfilled. We decry leaders with our words and give them no advice, no encouragement, and little assistance. We say we want education while we prefer to attend parties. We share fantasies ad nauseam and do little to find ways to make them actual.

OK. Let me be clear: The generalities in the above paragraph are just that – generalities. I can give you numerous exceptions to my bitches. Exceptions, though, are just that, i.e., "a case that does not conform to a rule or generalization."

So ask yourself the important question: "What do my actions say?" It is only then that you will find the way to live fully, honestly, and clearly.

What might your actions say? Most anything, that's for sure, but  you might want to look at these possibilities:
  • Honestly, the time's not right. Get to it later.
  • You just don't want to do it. Check your reasons for thinking you do want it as they might not be really good reasons. You may only think you do in order to avoid some conflict or to please someone else.
  • It's just not that important to you, so give it up.
  • You need help doing it. Ask for help.
  • You aren't being honest about your priorities. Make a list and prioritize it so you can do what is important and let the less important things go away for another day.
  • You are afraid of the consequences of doing what you are saying you want to do. Explore your fear and the reasons you have it. Can you overcome it? If not, admit the truth and move on to something less threatening. 
You see, we really do need to act honestly if we are going to have a healthy community, a healthy life, and healthy relationships. For yourself and for everyone else, please do so. We all have a lot to gain.

You can send me email at mrjackr@leathermail.com or visit my website at http://www.LeatherViews.com. You can also subscribe to my blog at LeatherMusings.blogspot.com. Copyright 2011 by Jack Rinella, all rights reserved.