Done right, BDSM is a gate­way for self-discovery and haute ex­hi­bi­tion­ism.

I’m writ­ing to you now from Paris, the last leg of my trip. I got back to my flat at Le Marais at around 5 a.m., from an ex­cel­lent first time at a swingers club, and it turned out to be a cul­tural and philo­soph­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence, aside from it be­ing so­cial a

Esquire (Philippines) - - THE MAN WHO BOUGHT THE WORLD - by Kara OR­TIGA

AS VI­O­LET WRITES TO ME IN SOLEMN, PO­ETIC,

verses from Paris, de­tail­ing the in­tem­per­ate re­al­i­ties of her sex life, I am star­ing wideeyed into the screen of my com­puter in Manila, as­ton­ished that the or­gies cap­tured cin­e­mat­i­cally by Stan­ley Kubrick in Eyes Wide Shut, turn out to be, af­ter all, an ac­ces­si­ble re­al­ity. Ap­par­ently, the club pri­vat or club ex­changiste, as they say in their lo­cal par­lance, is rooted on the cul­ture’s tra­di­tional pen­chant for kink (Mar­quis de Sade, I’m look­ing at you…). I mean, Yelp.com has a list of the best swingers clubs in the city.

va­ca­tion,be­fore itin­er­ary Vi­o­let her was spent passed­fi­nal filleda jaunt through­with­few in weeks oc­ca­sion­alParis. Vi­en­nain Although Europe sight­see­ing,and Ibiza her for en­gag­ing­part of the in plan: some play kinky ses­sions pro­cliv­i­ties booked was witha play­mates, fel­low BDSM prac­ti­tion­ers, who she con­nects with via the so­cial net­work FetLife.com.

“Re­cently re­al­ized that an un­com­mon kink that I have is be­ing a la­bel whore,” reads her pro­file on FetLife. “Call it ma­te­ri­al­ist, con­sumerist, or even Marx­ist, I in­dulge in

lux­ury la­bels and love to strut around and play in de­signer duds. Can’t re­sist Chris­tian Louboutin shoes, YSL leather out­fits, Kiki de Mont­par­nasse lin­gerie, Agent Provo­ca­teur lace blind­folds, Her­mès col­lars, etc. I like be­ing tied up with Chanel silk scarves and rib­bons, get spanked with Dior leather belts, slapped by a hand wear­ing Patek Philippe or Jaeger-LeCoul­tre, and fucked in noth­ing but my heels and jew­elry. I also en­joy us­ing th­ese im­ple­ments on part­ners even if they lit­er­ally don’t know what’s hit­ting them. Please leave your en­try-level Louis Vuit­ton and Rolex at home. And take this part of my pro­file with a grain of salt.”

Iden­ti­fy­ing her­self as a “het­eroflex­i­ble princess by day, slut by night,” when Vi­o­let is not crack­ing her whip on a tit­il­lated sub—she works as a sales, PR, and mar­ket­ing as­so­ci­ate six days a week, and main­tains a mod­er­ate so­cial life. Hav­ing only started with FetLife late last year, Vi­o­let says it has since be­come a great place for her to learn more about her­self and have some fun.

“I’ve al­ways been a cu­ri­ous cat and had a rel­a­tively early sex­ual de­but. I ac­ci­den­tally read a head­line about or­gasms in Cos­mopoli­tan when I was about seven, and tried to ask some adults in the fam­ily what the ‘Big O’ was! Sex and the City was on TV when I was nine; pop charts were churn­ing out songs sug­ges­tive in na­ture; and the In­ter­net was re­veal­ing it­self to be a place where you could find just about any­thing.” Raised in a girls’ Catholic school where vir­gin­ity was taught to be “the best gift you can give to your hus­band,” Vi­o­let set off to ex­plore sex­u­al­ity on her own—a re­al­ity that rings true for many teens who are left with nu­mer­ous unan­swered ques­tions. “They barely touched up on holis­tic Sex Ed in high school, so I had to re­search about pro­tec­tion, dis­eases, and the phys­i­ol­ogy and psy­chol­ogy of sex­ual in­ter­ac­tion. So at an early age, I had an inkling about the con­cepts of plea­sure (sex) and ro­mance (love), but also knew that one could ex­ist with­out the other.”

She was around 16 when she first be­gan to ex­plore her car­nal de­sires with other peo­ple. “One of the first few times I had sex in­volved cir­cum­stan­tial ex­hi­bi­tion­ism, and that was ex­cit­ing for the both of us.” In the first se­mes­ter of her fresh­man year in col­lege, she had her first three-way, and shortly af­ter that, started ex­plor­ing with fe­male part­ners. By 21, she was meet­ing up with men ca­su­ally, en­gag­ing in one-night stands. By 24, she was dat­ing some­one 12 years her se­nior, and when that ended, she had a phase of “want­ing to fuck only men who were younger.” Then that got ex­haust­ing too, so she went back to dat­ing within her age bracket and life­style. “As you may now de­duce, I’m quite lib­eral sex­u­ally and other­wise, and def­i­nitely have ex­per­i­men­tal phases,” she says. “Be­ing an only child to a sin­gle par­ent, I al­ways joke that my ‘daddy is­sues’ man­i­fests in Freudian slips in and out of my sex life—but with the ap­pro­pri­ate ed­u­ca­tion, nec­es­sary cau­tions and proper part­ners, I en­joy sex very much.”

In her ear­lier sex­ual en­coun­ters, the kinks came in the form of men­tal fore­play, sub­lim­i­nal trig­gers, bla­tant moves or to­tal per­for­mances. Some of her part­ners would be open to it, oth­ers, not so…which is why “com­mu­ni­ca­tion, re­spect, and trust” are key to the prac­tice, says Vi­o­let.

“That be­ing said, I am not im­mune to bad sex and bad peo­ple. I’ve had a few sex­ual en­coun­ters that ended com­i­cally (at best), un­com­fort­ably or even trag­i­cally (at worst). Even though you’ve known some­one for years, you can’t al­ways pre­dict the out­come of your in­ter­ac­tions or gauge their true in­ten­tions. One re­la­tion­ship turned out to be ul­ti­mately trau­ma­tiz­ing, de­mor­al­iz­ing and dam­ag­ing. As a re­sult, there was an en­tire year or so that I had com­pletely no ap­petite for sex.”

She over­came this pe­riod by re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing her­self, and slowly re­gain­ing con­trol of her sex life. “BDSM ac­tu­ally helped a bit,” she says. Sign­ing up for FetLife opened that world to her, and al­lowed her to play a power po­si­tion, which re-in­stilled an in­nate sex­ual con­fi­dence.

EN­TER THE DUN­GEON

FetLife is like Face­book for the kinky— you can “add” friends, and there are on­line com­mu­ni­ties you can par­tic­i­pate in. Once ac­tive on Tin­der, Vi­o­let traded out the in­fa­mous dat­ing app for this lib­er­tine one, pre­fer­ring it be­cause there was less guess­work in­volved. “It turned out to be a bet­ter medium to meet like-minded peo­ple be­cause of the pro­file for­mat, where you can in­di­cate at once your ori­en­ta­tion, fetishes, lim­its, etc.”

The ini­tial sign-up process asks you to de­ter­mine what cat­e­gory you fall un­der in the BDSM scale, and when I once thought there were only two (a dom­i­nant and a sub­mis­sive), I was sur­prised to click the drop­down box and see that there were 66 op­tions. From a straight­for­ward Dom, through all it­er­a­tions of “Spank” (Spanko, Spanker, Span­kee), to Sen­su­al­ist, Sissy, Leather Man, Leather Boi, Pri­mal Preda­tors, Preys, Big, Mid­dle, Lit­tle, and Pup… sign­ing my­self up, I opted for the sec­ond to last op­tion: Un­de­cided—and then re­al­ized I had no idea what the hell I was get­ting my­self into.

Vi­o­let sent me a voice note: “You are right, it’s a very in­tri­cate world. There are so many new ter­mi­nolo­gies that I didn’t un­der­stand. So again, it’s re­ally about self-discovery. I no­ticed that most peo­ple on their pro­files had the re­sults from this BDSM test...” she sends me a link to bdsmtest.org, “so I took the test as well and there are a lot of ques­tions where you have to rate how much more likely you are to do some­thing, ver­sus not [do­ing it]. I think it’s a pretty good mea­sure­ment of ex­actly how de­viant or obe­di­ent you are in the BDSM chart.”

LET’S TEST THE KINK OUT OF YOU, ex­claims the open­ing page of the link in big, bold, let­ters. I got ex­cited: am I a slave or a voyeur—I won­dered, ea­ger to see where of the 66 la­bels I fit the most. Only to find that the test it­self re­quires you to iden­tify with yet an­other string of la­bels: the choices for sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion goes up to eight, in­clud­ing het­eroflex­i­ble, pan­sex­ual, or asex­ual. While I’ve al­ways been a be­liever that there is more to gen­der and sex­u­al­ity than just black and white—when the spec­trum of col­ors are laid out in front of you to choose from in a drop­down box on a web­site—I never thought that I could be so… black and white. “Strictly het­ero­sex­ual” I click, sheep­ishly.

I like to be dom­i­nated, es­pe­cially in the bed­room, reads the first ques­tion. I click the cir­cle that’s the bright­est green: Ab­so­lutely agree.

I like re­ceiv­ing pain dur­ing sex and see­ing the re­sults of it (marks/bruises, makeup run­ning caused by tears, etc.) af­ter­wards.

Hmm… I ru­mi­nate over this thought. Dis­agree, I click.

I en­joy be­ing kept as a pet: in a cage, eat­ing out of a bowl, be­ing pet­ted/ca­ressed, etc.

I don’t hes­i­tate: Ab­so­lutely dis­agree.

I en­joy peo­ple see­ing me be­ing naked or hav­ing sex, even (or es­pe­cially) when they didn’t in­tend to do so.

I start squirm­ing in my seat: Dis­agree.

As the test gets longer, it also gets deeper and darker, and I kind of wish I made a men­tal brief­ing with my sub­con­scious to pre­pare for this. From want­ing to know if you like to be “ver­bally de­graded or called hu­mil­i­at­ing names,” to ask­ing whether “sex­ual tor­ture turns you on,”—I’m def­i­nitely no square, but this was in­tense. When my re­sults come out, I am not so sur­prised: 100% Switch (some­one who likes be­ing both top and bot­tom), and 99% Vanilla (some­one who is not into BDSM). I am also a lit­tle bit dis­ap­pointed in my­self… that was anti-cli­mac­tic. In­ter­est­ingly enough, though, the test does re­veal that I am 99% non-monogamist (into open re­la­tion­ships), 76% Ex­per­i­men­tal­ist (wants to try it all), and 47% Age­player (daddy/daugh­ter or mommy/ baby role play, not nec­es­sar­ily in­ces­tu­ous in na­ture)...still, Mar­quis de Sade is not im­pressed. I un­der­stand now why BDSM is a form of self-discovery: I don’t ac­tu­ally re­ally know what I like and what I don’t like—I’ve never tried them...the burn­ing ques­tion was: am I will­ing to find out?

Vi­o­let is 95% Switch, 88% Brat (a sub­mis­sive who acts up), and 80% Rope Bunny (en­joys be­ing tied or bound). She is also part De­gradee (some­one who en­joys be­ing sex­u­ally de­graded), Dom­i­nant (a per­son who ex­er­cises con­trol), and Masochist (a per­son who en­joys pain). “I’m a woman of many tastes and ec­cen­tric­i­ties, and un­til now, it’s still a jour­ney

for me to find out what I like and don’t like, and I’m mostly up to try new things,” says Vi­o­let. “I do have lim­its—soft lim­its and hard lim­its—but again, it de­pends on what it is and who I’m do­ing it with.”

READY TO PLAY

For peo­ple who are cu­ri­ous about get­ting into BDSM, munches are great place to start. A “munch” is a com­mu­nity event where lo­cal kinks reg­u­larly meet to talk and share knowl­edge. It usu­ally takes place in a vanilla set­ting, dur­ing the day­time, and no play­ing is in­volved. First timers are en­cour­aged to join, ac­tu­ally, to see what kinds of fetishes ex­ist, and also to un­der­stand from first-hand sto­ries that there are lines that can and can’t be crossed; that there are pre­cau­tions, too. Which is a re­lief to hear, in fact, be­cause a sub­cul­ture based on sex and vi­o­lence is bound to have its short­com­ings. Some dom­i­nant men can be­come abu­sive to un­know­ing sub­mis­sives, mostly girls who read­ily as­sume the role be­cause it is the norm they play in so­ci­ety. Then there is also the ex­treme and dark side of BDSM: gun­play (in­clud­ing ac­tual or sim­u­lated firearms), scat play (a.k.a fe­ces play) and cock and ball tor­ture (self-ex­plana­tory). Vi­o­let chimes in on her lim­its, “ab­so­lutely noth­ing in­volv­ing shit, an­i­mals, chil­dren, near death, or the dead.” I’m not even sur­prised any­more that the cat­e­gories (some il­le­gal, by the way) ex­ist. But the pil­lars of BDSM is that ev­ery­thing must al­ways be done in a sane, safe, and con­sen­sual en­vi­ron­ment—other­wise, there’s no place for it in the com­mu­nity. In which case, if all goes well, and two ma­ture, con­sent­ing, adults agree to their own lim­i­ta­tions, one can imag­ine (or at least try very hard to un­der­stand), it can be fun.

“There are many dif­fer­ent as­pects of BDSM that I en­joy,” says Vi­o­let, who be­gins to tell the story of the time she spent one week­end train­ing a slave. She has the Po­laroids to prove it: In one photo, she is el­e­gantly clad in lin­gerie and knee-high stock­ings, legs hung over what looks like a king’s throne. In an­other, a man is seen on his hands and knees on the floor, and a glass of juice is propped on his back. “FYI, I’m usu­ally at­tracted to AFAMs [a for­eigner in Manila],” she says, laugh­ing. “I don’t know, it’s a pref­er­ence that I have. I met this Ital­ian,” she says, re­fer­ring to man on all fours, “and when I checked out his FetLife pro­file, it turned out he was a sub. I hadn’t been play­ing with a male sub for a while...I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan, so I would al­ways make subs ad­dress me as, ‘my lady’ (laughs) just for fun. Nor­mally, I don’t like to go to seedy mo­tels, I like ho­tels—but then I thought, why don’t we go to the Game of Thrones-themed room cause I’ve never been, and I was su­per liv­ing the fan­tasy. He was butt-naked the en­tire time, and he wasn’t al­lowed to stand up,” she says laugh­ing. The man ac­tu­ally pre­ferred that Vi­o­let do all the de­ci­sion-mak­ing: when to go, what to eat, what to wear. She made it clear that there would be no sex in­volved. “He was there at my ser­vice only. He said the ses­sion was quite in­tense as I was ‘so cruel,’ but he de­served it and liked it… by the way, he came into his own mouth (laughs).”

“I think the fun part is the power play— see­ing this big white guy just crawl­ing in front of me, do­ing what­ever I told him to do. He wasn’t al­lowed to stay on the bed—I’d let him lie on the floor, or in the bath­room, I guess it’s a lit­tle sadistic. I think it’s ac­tu­ally more sadistic in a men­tal sense than a phys­i­cal sense.” Vi­o­let ref­er­ences come­di­enne Ali Wong’s standup special Baby Co­bra to de­scribe the rush of the men­tal power ex­change. “[Wong] likes it when a white man is eat­ing her out, be­cause she says she feels like she’s ab­sorb­ing the white priv­i­lege. And I think that’s how I feel also when I’m with white men, you know, and they’re like in between my legs, or be­neath my feet. Like yeah, that’s your place,” she snick­ers.

Af­ter play­time, which doesn’t al­ways in­volve sex­ual in­ter­course, comes the af­ter­care, or the time af­ter the scene when the two par­tic­i­pants step out of their roles, calm down, dis­cuss, and re­flect on what just hap­pened. “You try to come back down to earth and as­sess your feel­ings. Be­cause imag­ine be­ing thrown around, slapped, and es­sen­tially pun­ished—to make you feel safe and sane again, you need an af­ter­care ses­sion. There could be cud­dling, or hug­ging, ba­si­cally to make you feel nor­mal again.” In some BDSM re­la­tion­ships, af­ter­care in­cludes car­ing for the wounds that may have been in­flicted dur­ing the scene. And it is dur­ing this time, says Vi­o­let, that the hu­man as­pect be­comes most im­por­tant. “I think for BDSM, and I read on this as well, you have to have a deep un­der­stand­ing of hu­man in­ter­ac­tion to be able to prop­erly par­tic­i­pate.” To truly grasp the con­cept of BDSM with­out mak­ing it just about the sex and the vi­o­lence, “it is such an in­tel­lec­tual life­style, so you can’t just go blindly into it. And again, the as­pects of re­spect, trust, hon­esty must be there.”

EROTIC EX­HI­BI­TIONS

She ad­mits, “I’m not as ac­tive as the peo­ple who reg­u­larly do play dates or work­shops… a lot of them ac­tu­ally de­vote a lot of their time to BDSM. I’m not by any means a pro on the issue, but I like to talk about it with other peo­ple be­cause I want them to un­der­stand that we have to be open-minded to dif­fer­ent de­sires and personalities. You’re also chal­leng­ing what you al­ready know. For me, BDSM has been a gate­way into dis­cov­er­ing more of my­self, re­gain­ing con­trol of my sex life, and an out­let for me to ex­plore the dif­fer­ent sides of my self ver­sus my day-job-vanilla-self. I don’t know if I’ll be do­ing it for the rest of my life. But at this stage in my life, it’s been fun.”

It’s six hours be­hind in Paris, and Vi­o­let is just about to start to her day—she is ex­cited to wear the la­tex suit she just pur­chased from de­signer Wil­liam Wilde, who also makes the out­fits for the likes of Kylie Minogue and Ri­hanna. She has a sched­uled play date with a cos­mopoli­tan Parisian at a beau­ti­ful neo­clas­si­cal ho­tel called Mai­son Sou­quet, which used to be a plea­sure house, and is a minute’s walk away from the Moulin Rouge. They will grab din­ner and stroll along the Palais-Royal. And then, at the end the night, they will drop by Les Chan­delles, a chic Parisian swingers club that Van­ity Fair re­ported themes its Tues­days as “Po­lit­i­cans’ Night.”

I imag­ine her strolling the streets of the city in her thigh-high boots and cheeky bustier—mean­while, at the blink­ing flu­o­res­cent af­ter­glow of my of­fice com­puter, I click the link back to the BDSM test … Be­ing treated with lit­tle or no re­spect dur­ing sex arouses me. I click…

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