When and how did you get into BDSM?
I was 26 years old, living in LA, and a friend invited me to a birthday party at a BDSM club near my house. I walked in and the first thing I saw was a stage where two women were tied up together. There was this man using a single-tail whip on them. It was mesmerizing to me, just beautiful to watch. I was already feeling inclined toward kink because I was a big fan of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and did a lot of dressing up and performing at showings, and that’s a pretty kinky movie. That first night at the club, someone spanked me, and I met so many cool people, I knew I had to go again. The next time I took a friend with me, and she loved it, too, and soon I was going every Saturday. I loved the community, the sense of connection between people who played together. I really didn’t have time to explore a romantic relationship at that time, and I liked that you didn’t have to have sex with someone to make an intimate connection.
I was already feeling inclined toward kink because I was a big fan of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and did a lot of dressing up and performing at showings, and that’s a pretty kinky movie.
What did you like about playing in clubs as opposed to doing it in private?
I just felt more comfortable in clubs, I felt a sense of safety. Plus, I’m an exhibitionist, so it’s just always been more exciting to me to play in public than in private.
How do you identify? Dom, Sub, Switch? Do you think you can be wired for one way or another?
In the beginning, I was usually a free-range bottom. I liked bottoming, I could just dive right in, not have to think about it too much. But I did some topping, too, things like cupping. I liked to practice on people. Now I’d say I identify as a switch, although my choice would probably be to bottom, at least if was with the right person. I don’t think that means I’m wired as a bottom necessarily, for me it’s more about how emotionally safe I feel with the person I’m playing with. Physical wounds might heal, but emotional wounds linger, so if I don’t have a good feeling of security and safety with the other person, I would rather Top.
Do you think BDSM is an integral part of your own sexual identity?
Yeah, I’d say it’s a big part of my identity as person, but not my sexual identity. I don’t feel I have to practice it all the time. I have periods where I walk away from playing, I take a break for myself. Not because there is anything wrong with BDSM, but because I need to focus on different parts of my life at that time. However, I will never pretend it isn’t an important part of who I am. I have been in a relationship in which I was kink-shamed by my partner, and after a lot of suffering because of that, I made a commitment to myself to never hide it or apologize for it.
What do you consider the benefits of practicing BDSM to you personally?
For me the most important thing is being able to connect to other people. I have made amazing friends in the community. I also like that BDSM allows me to explore things that really intrigue me. Like my fetish for blood. And when I say fetish, I don’t mean it in a sexual way. I think of a fetish as something that just hits my core. I was always intrigued by blood, even as a little kid. BDSM allows me a way to explore things that mean a lot to me, or any other inclination I might have, in a safe way. It’s also given me a lot more confidence in myself, in my sexuality, and in my desires.
Do you have vanilla sexual relationships? If so, are vanilla relationships as satisfying to you?
I don’t usually mix sex with BDSM, so most of my sexual relationships have been vanilla. It’s odd to me that BDSM is so commonly seen as something sexual, I think a lot of people don’t like to mix kink and sex. The times I’ve tried to include sex with a kinky play partner, it hasn’t worked out very well, it messes with my mind to do both at the same time. You have to have a different kind of vulnerability for each. In a romantic relationship, you have to bring so much of yourself with you, all the traumas you’ve been through, all the ways you have been hurt in the past. But in BDSM play, it’s all about the sensation you are giving or receiving right here, right now. You don’t necessarily have to deal with your traumas, you can just focus on that moment. It’s best for me to keep sex out of it.
Are you “out” as BDSM to friends and family?
Most of the people close to me know what I’m into, I don’t make a big deal about it, I’m more casually open about it. I like to play with needles and blood, which means I literally have scars all over my body, so I can’t really hide it. But I don’t really talk about it at work, not because I need to keep it a secret, it’s just not their business. I don’t think my coworkers need or deserve to have access to me like that. I’m there to do a job.
Are you part of your local BDSM community? Is it worth joining one?
Every community is different and unique, a big community in LA is a whole different scene, lots of voyeurs showing up at clubs only to watch. A smaller community has quirks of its own, and it can be difficult to navigate smaller groups as well.
What are your thoughts about feminist criticism of BDSM, that they turn women into sexual objects or open the door to abuse?
I think BDSM turns men into sexual objects, too! But man or woman, it’s always by their own choice. The bottom picks out the toys that will be used on them, sets the limits of what will happen, everything that happens is by the bottom’s choice and the bottom’s desires. And if you don’t say what you want, you don’t get anything. I see BDSM as very empowering to women. A shy girl who doesn’t know much about what she likes or wants is able to safely explore her desires in a BDSM context, and she can figure out exactly what works for her and what doesn’t, where her boundaries are. I’ve always felt that BDSM gives women a stronger voice. As for abuse, any relationship can be abusive, vanilla or BDSM. If anything, I’d say people in kink are more educated about consent, and more empowered to speak up for themselves.
What is the biggest misconception about BDSM in your mind?
That it has to be sexual in nature. It’s not just about sex, and doesn’t have to include sex at all.
What advice would you give someone new to kink?
First, get educated about it so you have the knowledge to do it safely, do it right. There are a lot of inaccurate portrayals of kink that float around the mainstream, and it’s important to separate myth and fact. I’d also suggest people be really open to exploring, and not get nailed down in any one way of doing things. Be willing to experiment, you never know what you might like until you try it!