Everything You Wanted to Know About BDSM…But Were Afraid to Ask

So, thanks to the recent popularity of a certain novel that we all know I hate, some myths have been created regarding a certain sexual culture that I believe need to be dispelled.

You might be surprised to hear me say this, being Essa on Everything, but sometimes, even Ms. Everything doesn’t actually know, well…everything. That is why I have enlisted the help of one of my favorite bloggers to answer some questions regarding BDSM, or as it is frequently referred to, the Leather Culture.

You all may know Alejandro De Le Garza as one of our resident experts on politics and news. However, this sexy, flag wearing, mustached man is also an student of something a little darker and a lot more interesting. The Leather Culture, AKA BDSM.  Recently, he has been kind enough to help me answer some questions I’ve had regarding a whole underground sexual culture that has been recently brought to light thanks to 50 Shades…regardless of how inaccurate.

 

 

First off, can you tell us a little background about your experience in the leather culture? How did you first get introduced to it?

I have to be honest and tell you that I’m not too steeped in the leather / BDSM lifestyle.  But, I got introduced pretty much on my own.  I just saw some erotic magazines and adult films where it was displayed prominently.  It’s interesting, but the leather lifestyle often is linked to 2 subsets of American society: the gay/lesbian/bisexual community and pornography.  I think this is why some people have an aversion to it; they view it as perverted and obscene.  In reality, the leather culture just allows for sexual freedom.  The primary rule is safe, sane and consensual.  Safe in that no one’s physical, mental or emotional health is placed in jeopardy.  Sane in that everyone involved knows exactly what they’re doing and understands what’s going on in that relationship or setting.  If they’re a novice, it is up to the veteran to explain matters to that person.  Consensual in that everyone is an able-minded adult who gives full and total consent to the situation.  No one is forced into it or forced to stay in it, and no one is forced to do anything where they don’t feel comfortable.  Trust is the essential element in the leather culture.  But, it’s actually essential to any relationship; it’s what stabilizes that union – whether it’s a friendship, a romance, or a business interaction.  Trust is always paramount.  But, I think the outlandish appearance of the leather culture pushes the element of trust to the forefront.  People assume a level of trust in other relationships; sometimes to a fault.  But, because leather is such a fringe lifestyle, people involved in it want to assure newcomers that they can be trusted.

Trust, of course, is also tied in with respect.  And, respect is mutual.  You have to show respect, if you want to receive it.  No one rightfully can expect someone to respect them, if they’re not willing to respect others as well.  As with trust, if that level of respect is violated, then the relationship is compromised.

Is there a structure to the lifestyle? Do submissive always stay submissive, dominants always stay dominant?

This depends on the individual, or the individual couple.  Many people retain their respective dominant or submissive roles simply because they feel comfortable with it.  You’d be surprised, though, who’s either dominant or submissive in their private lives.  Someone can be very meek and humble outwardly, but assume the dominant role in more personal settings.  The opposite is true for a submissive.  Some are actually very powerful public figures, but they may relish giving control to someone else in their private lives because they’re tired of having to make decisions all the time.  This is true for many people across the spectrum; whether or not they’re into the leather lifestyle.  But, once again, the BDSM leather lifestyle allows people extensive personal freedom.

In gatherings of people involved in the leather life, there are, indeed, certain rules.  If you know of a couple who is in a dominant/submissive relationship, you address the dominant first when speaking to them.  If a couple is involved in a “scene” during a play party, you don’t interject yourself into it unless invited.  You don’t mock or laugh at someone involved in a scene.  If you don’t understand what’s going on, ask someone.  If you don’t like it, remove yourself from the area.  During any setting, you don’t physically touch someone, unless invited.  If someone prefers to be called by a certain name, you address them by that name.

What do you think leather offers that the vanilla world of relationships is lacking?

As I stated above, leather offers people more personal and sexual freedom.  It allows them to step outside the boundaries society often imposes upon them.  They can experiment with all kinds of physical or psychological pleasure, although not necessarily sexual.  Much of the leather / BDSM experience is more mental or psychological.  Many people don’t realize the brain is the biggest and most sensitive sexual organ in the human body.  BDSM sex isn’t always physical; meaning intercourse or masturbation.  Many people enter into role-playing games.  The frisky cheerleader / bashful quarterback, naughty schoolteacher, etc. roles may seem comical up front.  But, many people play games of this nature to enhance the sex in their relationships.  It can be healthy and fun.

The leather accoutrements people possess and / or wear are just individual pieces of expression.  They signify boldness or personal freedom.  Leather is really just refined animal skin, which gets interesting if you have BDSM / leather aficionados who also claim to be vegetarians.  But, leather has always been a prime source of clothing among humans for eons.  Even now, leather invokes a certain mystique; people rarely wear leather clothing outside of social settings, with the exception, of course, of jackets, coats, shoes or boots.  Leather slacks or skirts, for example, aren’t considered proper business attire and may even be banned in some work places.  But, people can enter that same space carrying a leather-bound briefcase or purse.

Some people often wear or carry certain mementoes that indicate their ties to the leather community.  It can be a piece of jewelry or a lucky charm-type item.  A while back I knew a woman who was an attorney and heavily into the leather lifestyle with her then-fiancée.  Often she would practice in front of a judge who banned most forms of jewelry from the courtroom so as not to prejudice the jury.  She carried a heart-shaped locket made of red leather laid into silver in her purse, which signified her ties to her partner and their involvement in the leather culture.  No one else knew she had it on her person, of course, but she carried it merely as a private and personal statement.  That’s what the leather / BDSM lifestyle often signifies: personal freedom and personal relationships.

The recent popularity of 50 Shades has made the sales of sex toys and bondage equipment skyrocket. Do you think it’s as fad, or do you think bondage is going mainstream?

First, the “Fifty Shades” phenomenon has been met with disdain from the leather / BDSM community.  Its author clearly didn’t do much research into the lifestyle, or if she did, failed to include actual specifics into it.  For example, in the first novel the dominant male takes a flogger to the abdomen of his submissive female.  Any leather veteran knows this is wrong on 2 levels.  A flogger has suede or leather tails, often capped with beads of metal or plastic.  These produce a stinging sensation when flung against the skin.  But, it’s very dangerous to flog someone’s abdomen, which has less muscle than the upper back or buttocks where a flogger is traditionally used.

Second, I feel that “Fifty Shades” is more of a fad.  I can’t say that the leather / BDSM lifestyle is becoming more mainstream because of it, or in spite of it.  I would hope it’s the latter.  But, I don’t think the leather / BDSM lifestyle will become mainstream anytime soon; it still exists in the pantheon of fetishism, which encompasses a lot.

Explain some of the precautions you put in place to make sure BDSM play doesn’t go too far (i.e. from BDSM to snuff film)

For the record, snuff films, like pedophilia and bestiality, have absolutely nothing to do with the leather / BDSM lifestyle.  Pedophilia and bestiality are psychological perversions; they both violate the safe, sane and consensual edict.  Children and animals obviously can’t give consent to anything sexually imposed upon them by an adult.  People still link them all together, which is why true leather aficionados are more than willing to clarify and explain their lifestyle to anyone.  They always want to eliminate any misconceptions.  On a side note, the alleged snuff film thing sprang from rumors that the Charles Manson gang photographed their brutal crimes.  No evidence has surfaced to substantiate this.

BDSM play can go too far if the participants aren’t careful.  In most settings, one person (usually the submissive) will call out a designated or predetermined “safe word,” which is simply a term an individual used to signify when that person feels uncomfortable.  This all goes back to safe, sane and consensual.  One person may say, ‘I want [X] done to me.’  If the other person is a veteran, they will explain what happens when [X] is done.  If the other person is a novice, they should ask questions.  But, if the submissive is the veteran, they must explain what will or should happen.  For example, with flogging the submissive has to understand that the tassels could generate a sting and leave red marks on the back, shoulders, or buttocks.  Veteran BDSM people always should realize their role is not just as practitioner or dominant, but as educator and, to some extent, caretaker.

Do you think that people outgrow BDSM or is it a lifestyle that really lasts a lifetime? Why or why not?

I think once people get into and understand the lifestyle, it becomes part of their psyche or personality.  In a way, you could say they become addicted to it; mainly because it grants a certain level of personal freedom and expression they may find nowhere else.  But, someone may grow tired or frustrated with it for a number of reasons.  They simply weren’t “into” it from the start.  Their personality may change, and they no longer find any pleasure in it.  That presumed level of trust and respect may have been breached by the other person in the relationship.  People change their lifestyles for a variety of personal reasons.  Part of the freedom inherent with the BDSM / leather life is the freedom to leave it altogether; once more – safe, sane and consensual.

I have to say I’ve never met anyone who’s an ex-leather person.  I suppose it has to do with the personal freedom and respect that often goes with it.  It’s unlike, say, the military, which is more of a career and a particular means to a particular end; people join the military to get away from their families, or earn money for college.  It’s definitely unlike most religions, which often preach blind loyalty and command respect and trust from an individual without allowing that person to demand the same in return.

Can couples who share this alternative lifestyle still have the same family experience as those who don’t? Is it a healthy environment for children?

I’ve never met or known anyone involved in BDSM who also has children.  I think it’s possible, though, since people generally like to keep their leather / BDSM predilections private.  No, I don’t feel it’s a healthy environment for children, in that I don’t believe people should let their children know about it.  It’s such a specialized lifestyle, which requires too much emotional and psychological involvement and understanding.  Many adults can’t even comprehend that level of human interaction.  But, I’m quite certain most adults involved in BDSM who also happen to have children would be able to keep their children away from it in the same manner most parents keep their children away from alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, firearms, etc.  Most people in the BDSM lifestyle are more responsible with their personal behavior.

You’re pretty open about your lifestyle in the blogging community. Are you open about it in your daily life as well and if so, how do people usually react?

Yes, I’m pretty open, but I don’t shove it in people’s faces.  If people don’t like something I write on my blog, they’re welcome to make a comment, as long as it’s not threatening.  Once people understand what my blog is about, they pretty much know what to expect.  If they decide they don’t like it, they can then choose to stop following it, or just not read a particular piece.  Since I’m very opinionated, I’ll often speak out about certain subjects that I feel passionate about, such as religion or animal abuse.  I have a great deal of animosity towards religion, for example, since I feel it’s too restrictive and judgmental.  As an animal lover, I hate anyone who abuses an animal.  I don’t just despise them – I hate them.  I’ve revealed these feelings to people in conversations, as well as on my blog.

In your time in the culture, what are the most common fetishism you’ve seen? For example, I’ve heard that spanking is one of the more popular fetishes. Why do you think that appeals to people?

I don’t think spanking is as popular in the leather culture as some people believe.  It certainly happens, but not as much as flogging, which is the most common fetish I’ve seen.  Spanking and flogging may be popular from a submissive standpoint because the recipient receives some kind of physical or emotional pleasure in being struck in such a manner.  Spanking is usually associated with child discipline, so some people may have an emotional or psychological connection to it.  I don’t know why, since I don’t like either practices.  I become very angry if someone I don’t know pops me on the butt as a greeting or form of flirtation and I’ve often reacted harshly.  I can play a dominant or submissive role, but my primary demand is that people ask to touch me.  The leather / BDSM lifestyle generally allows for that.  Some people don’t understand that mentality because they figure, if you’re in a bar or nightclub dressed in a certain way, you’re inviting physical attention.  One of the most popular fetishes I’ve noticed actually is role-playing.  As I mentioned previously, people engage in this type of activity for personal or emotional satisfaction.

What was one of your more unusual experiences? What did you like or dislike about it?

The most unusual fetish experience I had was a sounding rod or dilator inserted into my urethra.  An older man who was experienced in that practice performed it on me at a play party several years ago.  He also attached the other end of it to an electrolysis device, which looked like a CB radio and generated electrical pulses into the metal rod and therefore, into my body.  I had asked him to do that.  Since I was new, he slowly inserted the rod, asking me constantly if I was okay.  When he started up the electrolysis device, he let me control the amps – again because I was new.  I enjoyed it because of the intense physical sensations it generated throughout my body and because I was ultimately in control.  I did not have a physical orgasm, but I had something of a mental orgasm, which is difficult for many people to understand.  As I stated above, many people often think the leather / BDSM lifestyle involves strictly physical sexual activity.  But, the physical attributes are merely bridges or conduits to the mental or emotional aspects of a person’s overall well-being.  The human mind is very powerful, and people still often underestimate its capacity.

I want to thank Alejandro for participating in my interview…I also want to thank the entire BSDM community for hating 50 Shade of Grey as much as I did.

If your looking for more info regarding the subject, please see these recent articles and the website for the National Leather Association.

http://lil.nla-i.com/

http://www.dallasobserver.com/content/printVersion/2292804/

http://www.dallasvoice.com/controversial-bdsm-themed-bestseller-fifty-shades-meh-10116353.html

If your looking to cyber stalk Alejandro (like me) you can find his web page here:          http://chiefwritingwolf.com/


9 Comments on “Everything You Wanted to Know About BDSM…But Were Afraid to Ask”

    • essaalroc says:

      No problem. Thank you for agreeing to do the interview and being so eloquent in your answers. This is a subject that a lot of people are interested in but are usually uncomfortable asking questions about and I think your incite helped out a lot here (much more so than 50 Shads of Eyeroll). I really appreciate the fact that you were willing to take the time out to do it and I know a lot of other people will as well. :)

  1. Reblogged this on Slave 4 My Master and commented:
    Thank you for this. It’s well written!

  2. bossymoksie says:

    Ha ha. Yeah BDSM community hates this book, same with writers, same with romance writing genre.
    The author didn’t even research Seattle, Washington, where the book was set. But Seattle isn’t mad because their tourism has increased.

  3. [...] I wrote a Q & A about BDSM with one of my favorite bloggers, Alejandro De La Garza. To my delight, a sexy little site called [...]

  4. [...] that I’m not a prude. I’ve done posts about my pubic hair. I’ve done in depth interviews on BDSM.  I once game my phone number to an entire Brazilian soccer team. There are a lot of words people [...]

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