Saturday, July 4, 2015

Public Kink Scene Etiquette

Welcome to the BDSM scene! It's a wonderful place, but here's some good stuff to know before getting too far. The BDSM scene has a set of culture, rules, and etiquette that help make this stuff safer and more pleasant. Kinksters have created awesome systems to communicate well, stay safe, and keep our private lives private. Here's some stuff to keep in mind.

Intro Vocab

For a full (ever evolving) glossary, check out the...glossary. But for this document, here are some of the important words.

  • The Scene: The public set of events and parties and groups that make up kinkdom.
  • A Scene: A kinky encounter.
  • Play: The verb to do kink. Play does not imply sex. Play can involves sex, but more often does not.
  • Aftercare: The discussion, snack, cry, cuddle, etc. after a scene has ended to help the players get back to typical headspace.
  • Dungeon: A large-ish play space that can be a public club or private place.

Going To Events

  • Ask Before you Touch People...At All
    In the vanilla (non-kink) world, a hand on the shoulder or a pat on the back or a touch of the hand can be considered normal and acceptable. In the kink scene, pretty much all spaces default to the "absolutely no physical contact without verbal affirmative consent" rule unless otherwise specified. Even if you think you've gotten to know somebody a little and you want to be affectionate, ask before any kind of contact. It is acceptable to verbally establish standing consent for physical contact. "May I give you a hug? Is that always okay?" "Yes, you may do all of the regular-world stuff." People actually talk like that. I mean it.

  • Ask Before You Touch People's Stuff
    Partially because it might have been up someone's ass, and possibly because it's extremely expensive and/or sentimental or needs to be extremely clean. Even if that whip looks really fun to mess with or that rope's just sitting there in a chair you could be sitting in, ask first.

  • Introduce Yourself With Your Scene Name and Preferred Gender Pronouns
    Even if -- especially if -- you run into someone you know, introduce yourself, and ask how they would like to be addressed.
    A lot of people who have unique names in the real world choose to go by a "scene name." This can be anything from a simple real-world name like "Allie" to more kink specific names like "Goddess Xantha." There's also nothing wrong with your regular name if you're comfortable with it.

    People in the kink scene also should introduce with the pronouns that they would like others to use for them in conversation. I say "Hi, I'm Allie and I use she/her pronouns." This is in order to be inclusive of people with lots of different gender presentations and preferences for how people talk about them. Even--especially-- if you think it should be "obvious." There are a lot of people who present one way, and prefer something else and much of the kink scene is trying to remove the idea that pronouns can be assumed.

  • Ask for Other People's Pronouns
    If someone does not tell you their pronouns, it is always polite to ask. "I didn't catch your pronouns. I use she/her. What do you use?"

  • Questions to Avoid Asking
    Many people go to kink events to get away from their regular lives and do something interesting. Many people in the kink scene would rather not have their employers or students know what they're doing on Saturday nights. Thus, it is impolite to ask questions about where people work, where they go or went to school, or whether they have kids. A lot of people might not want to tell you they work for the government while they're strapped up-side-down wearing nothing but cat ears.

    If someone asks you a question that you don't want to answer, it is polite and expected to remind them that questions like that aren't a good idea in kink spaces, or to simply tell them that you do not want to answer.

  • Topics that are Great
    On the other hand, there are a bunch of questions you do get to ask that you might not get to ask at a family BBQ. It is actually perfectly polite to ask how someone got into the scene and what their kinky interests are. You can ask what kinds of events they like to go to, and how long they've been in the scene.

  • If Something Grosses You Out...
    Keep it to yourself. The motto is "your kink is not my kink, and that's okay." Avoid shaming people for their kinks. Think... "no, thanks. I'm not into that," instead of "ew."

  • NEVER Take Photos or Recordings
    Unless you are at a specific photography event and you have specific consent for all people who could possibly be in the photo frame, do not take photos or videos or audio recordings of anyone. Most venues ban photography. This is not your own personal porn shoot.

  • Complement People Politely
    It's also actually perfectly acceptable in most places in the scene to give complements that might come off kind of weird in the vanilla world. For example, if I witness a hot scene between two people at a dungeon, I can go up to those people after their scene AND after I'm sure their aftercare has ended, and say "caught a bit of your scene. That was really hot" --and then walk away or engage in conversation depending on their response. Do not offer suggestions of other things they could have done or tell them how you would have done it.

    It can also be okay to say "wow, you look really hot" to someone at a dungeon event as long as it's said in the same way as one would say "nice haircut" and not in the way someone would say "hey baby, get into my car and touch my gear shift."

  • Solicit People Politely
    Do not go to a dungeon expecting to get laid or have a pick-up scene. Go to a dungeon with the hope of making new friends and hanging out with cool people and seeing some cool outfits. That being said, if you've had a nice conversation with somebody (like, longer than 30 minutes) and you think you might have some kinks in common, it can be okay to say "hey, it seems like we have some kinks in common. Let me know if you'd like to scene some time." If they say "okay, I will let you know" and then they never mention it again, do not bring it up again. It was a no. If, on the other hand, they say "yeah! When?" you can start negotiating or scheduling or discussing or whatever. Just remember that consent is time specific and can be retracted at any time.

    Do not solicit people within the first 30 minutes of meeting them. Do not walk up to people and start spouting "do you like strap ons? I want to get fucked by a young woman with a strap on. You're a young woman."

  • No "Miss," "Sir," "Slave," or "Slut"
    Treat people as equals, even if they seem to be obviously presenting as a specific role. Just because somebody is a submissive does not mean that they're your submissive. Do not call someone "Miss" or "Sir" or any titles without specifically negotiating that with them first. Do not treat them as superior or inferior, serve them, or demand service from them in any way without explicitely discussing it first.

  • Learn to Negotiate Consent
    Consent is super complicated and awesome in BDSM and kink. Learn to do it right. Don't renegotiate in the middle of a scene. Here's a link to an outline.

  • Do Not Interrupt Scenes
    If someone is playing, do not walk through their space, touch their stuff, touch them, or engage them in conversation unless specifically invited. Do not give suggestions, nor bring the Dom water because she looks thirsty. The only exemption from this is if someone is screaming the actual house safeword and nobody is coming to the rescue. Otherwise, even if someone looks like they're doing something unsafe, it is not your place to step in. If you're truly concerned, talk to one of the Dungeon Monitors or supervisors of the space. A lot of times, though, people are doing stuff that looks super dangerous, but they're doing it on purpose and very carefully.

  • Do Not Interrupt Aftercare
    Scenes can be really intense, and aftercare is an important part of coming back to the real world and being okay with some of the crazy stuff that we do. It's personal and different every time and sometimes involves snacks, and other times involves crying, and unless you are invited, it does not involve you.

  • Don't Whine About Not Finding Someone To Play With
    If you didn't find someone to play with, that's fine. If you wanted to but you didn't, that's also fine. It is not fine to be butt-hurt because no one would play with/cuddle with/fuck you. You are not entitled to play. You aren't even entitled to a conversation, really, so be grateful when you get any attention at all. If someone talks to you for a long time and it seems like you're hitting it off and then they don't play with you, that's okay. You had a good conversation. Under no circumstances should you complain about it and say the person was 'leading you on.'

  • No Wanking
    Don't masturbate in a space unless you're in scene with somebody that involves masturbation. Watching and wanking is creepy and often explicitly against the rules. Save it for your computer.

  • Clean Up Your Play Space
    Most spaces provide towels/sprays to make sure you the next person has a sanitary place to play.

  • Ask About Specific Space Rules
    Some places allow some forms of sex, and others don't. It's usually related to insurance and local laws. Things to ask about are fluids (blood, cum), sharps (knives, needles, etc.), breath play, suspension, fire, and food.

  • Alcohol and Drugs
    When in doubt, if you're in the United States you can assume that play spaces do not allow alcohol or drugs or anyone who is intoxicated. (That being said, every single dungeon in Germany or the UK, for example, will sell alcohol). There are some exceptions, and lots of munches will serve alcohol, but drugs and alcohol get in the way of consent and physical and emotional safety, and thus aren't allowed.

Guide to Fetlife.com

  • Fill out your profile
    The more you fill out your profile, the more people will trust you and know that you're a real human being. List some fetishes! Talk about what you're looking for! You don't need photos of yourself, but it can be fun to have a photo on there of something you like or something that represents you. Feel free to avoid personal details like work or school or family.

  • Avoid sex organs in your profile picture
    Fetlife is a social network, not a hookup site or a dating site. You don't have to put your face, but it's also polite to have something that isn't a dick or hole.

  • Friend people when you meet them
    When you meet people in the real world, ask "May I friend you on Fet? What's your handle?" Having more friends also makes you look like a real person, and will help you in the future if you want to see if someone you've met is good to play with or a known serial creeper.

  • Always Message Someone with your Friend Request
    Half the time I get friend requests, I no longer remember who that person was. They don't have a face pic, and I don't remember where I met them. When you want to friend someone, send a message like, "hey, it was great meeting you at the Citadel on Friday. I was the one with the lace tights and we talked about Mission Burrito. Hope to see you soon! -TheNameYouWentByWhenWeMet"

  • Don't Message People You Haven't Met Unless...
    unless they're the host of an event you're going to or the leader of a group. Remember, FL is a social network, not a dating site. You're there to find events and keep in touch with people and read interesting stuff, not to hit on people.
    And even then, read their profile first. Some event/group leaders prefer to be emailed or messaged through a different account.

  • Use Fetlife to "Vet" People
    So you've met some new friend and you want to play! But they might be a terrible person. Check out what mutual friends you have and ask about them. "Hey, I'm considering rooming with this person at the upcoming rope conference, and I see you've met. What do you think of them?" "Hey, do you know anyone who's played with this person? We were talking about doing a needle scene next week. Do they know their shit?"

  • If someone does not have a fetlife...

    or doesn't know what fetlife is, that's a red flag to people in the kink scene. Having a fetlife is a form of accountability and a sign that you're actually in the community instead of a predator trolling by for some tail. People who have fetlife accounts are more likely to have been to events that explain etiquette and safety or seen posts like this one explaining how to be respectful and safe. If you don't have one, you should get one as soon as possible. Fetlife only requires an email address and an age and location, but they don't show the email address and I'm pretty sure there aren't as many 94 year olds from Antartica in the scene.

Friday, January 16, 2015

XX Erotic Hypnosis Peershare

The XX Erotic Hypnosis Peershare is a monthly hypnosis munch in San Francisco. It happens on the second Sunday of the month in the Wicked Grounds Cafe (which is accessible and has free parking on Sundays), San Francisco's awesome kinky cafe from 3 PM until 5 PM. At 1:00 before the munch, the leaders Allie (I) and Felix teach a Hypnosis 101 class to bring anyone new to hypnosis up to speed so that they can comfortably participate in the discussion.

Each month, the peershare discusses a different topic in depth. The level of discourse is high because even people who are new to hypnosis and the munch have enough information from the pre-session to engage with hypnosis vocabulary and concepts. The group discusses the topic of the month, often demonstrates and practices techniques brought forward by attendees, and socializes afterwards. To date, the munch has discussed how to best bring new people into the Hypnosis community, inductions, fun suggestion and play ideas, suggestion building, and rapport.

The peershare is a high-consent space for physical contact and any type of play. We welcome all races, orientations, ages, genders, and levels of experience. The munch is free, though we ask that attendees purchase something to support the cafe.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Emergency Rope Cutting

When doing rope, always have safety shears or another safe way to cut rope.
EMT/Safety Shears

Here's a rope cutting hack that probably won't work. Imagine trying to do this with somebody suspended. You will likely make the original problem worse and then accidentally spin them a lot and make them super dizzy.


If you have to ever use this, you could probably be doing other things better in your rope play:

  • First of all, have safety shears. They're cheap. Here's a link to buy them online. They are as important as rope. Buy three pairs. Put one in your toy bag, one by your most typical play space, and keep one in your underwear at all times.
  • Secondly, bottoms in scene should give and be solicited for five minute warnings before they need to be out of rope. This isn't always possible, of course.
  • Sometimes bottoms aren't able to speak. In this case, create other signals. Bottom squeezes top's fingers. Weak squeeze might mean rope is too tight or in the wrong place. Possibly give the bottom something to hold in their hand or mouth like a bell or light-up ball that they can drop to safeword.
  • Then again, sometimes bottoms need to be out of rope suddenly if they are dropped or something external happens like a toaster oven exploding and the room or the rope catching fire. If you don't get the bottom out and they survive, they will leave you for the firepeople.

I would.


  • Tops should stay within their capabilities, and do new, advanced projects with advanced supervision. Rope is edge-play. All rope play is inherently dangerous. EMT/safety shears are cheap. Cheaper than Julian Richings' acting fee.

Which is what I assume everyone needs at or before their funerals. This dude *always* plays funeral directors. Or death.
But that cutting rope with rope thing could work.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Rapport (Courtesy of XX Erotic Hypnosis Peershare)

What is Rapport and Why is it Important?

A hypnotic relationship requires trust and comfort. Only after those are established can a kinky hypnotic relationship build on that trust and comfort to craft intentional, consensual mistrust and discomfort.

Rapport is the subconscious or conscious connection between one or more people. This post talks about what kind of rapport to establish for a hypnotic relationship, and how to do that.
Rapport is not binary, nor is it a spectrum. A hypnotee might have rapport to do character play with one hypnotist, and not with another, but might be able to do memory play with the other and not the first. Rapport for hypnosis can affect overall comfort, trance depth, states of consciousness, suggestibility, submission, and the out-of-play relationship. 

A good goal for rapport is to have the same energy and mood, and have the same intentions. Good rapport is often enough to begin creating trance and altered states of consciousness on its own.

How To Establish Rapport

Here's a play-by-play of what to do when.

To be clear, none of these things should be used to make people want to play with you. These are things to improve rapport with people with whom you have already negotiated consent! Otherwise, you are being a creepy pick-up artist. Do not groom people as subjects. It's gross. The BDSM equivalent is calling people "pet" or "princess" when you first meet them. The vanilla equivalent is staring at someone's breasts for the whole first conversation. 

Sighting

The rapport process begins at first glance and never ends. Here's what to do when you spot your play partner across the room.
  • Appearance and Hygiene: Hypnotists should cultivate a "look." For some, this is a power-suit and shiny shoes. For others, it's crystals and dangly earrings. For others, it's all about the cleavage or chest hair. What ever your hypnotist look, be clean. Smell doesn't come into play at first sight, but it really really does later. 
  • Body Language: Emit confidence with open, strong body posture. Stand up straight, keep shoulders back and take up some space. Keep arms and legs uncrossed. 
  • Eyebrow Flash: Humans in most cultures (except Japan) subconsciously flash their eyebrows when seeing or making eye contact with someone familiar or friendly. Cultivating an eyebrow flash can accentuate those feelings, even in someone you've just negotiated with for the first time. An eyebrow flash is a slight perking of the eyebrows upon eye contact. Spot your play partner across the room? Try an eyebrow flash.
  • Smile:

Rapport-Building Conversations

  • Handshake: Practice a good handshake. This is not subjective: there is a right and wrong. Maintain eye contact the whole time. Meet hands web to web first before clasping to ensure the correct positioning. Keep hands vertical--do not put your hand palm down or up. Clasp firmly but with a soft, warm grip, like a vagina. Do not shake the hand; sort of lightly jerk it once, and then let go. Practice this. You will get a job and your grandfather will be proud of you. That being said, some people don't like handshakes. I sometimes verbally ask "can I shake your hand?" while I'm reaching out to give the other person the ability to say "my hand's all sweaty. Let's bump elbows instead."
  • S.L.A.N.T.Sit up, lean in, ask questions, nod, track what the speaker is saying. 
  • Ask Real Questions: Ask a question that is pertinent to the situation. Bonus points if it's a person-specific question. Ask questions that may elicit real answers, as opposed to automatic answers like "how are you," which elicits "doin' pretty well. Doin' fine." Try asking "have you been to this venue before? How do you know the host?" or even "tell me something cool about you."

    Remember that in BDSM and kink contexts, it is not polite to ask about work, school, family, or other personal identifying items. It can be polite to volunteer such information about yourself, but not to ask. Most people don't want to talk about their kids at a dungeon, and most people don't want to reveal in public that they work for the government while wearing leather and a tutu. 
  • Listen to the Answers: Show that you are actually interested. If you aren't interested, you probably shouldn't play. 
  • Laugh: It's validating and creates positive associations. And you probably look good when you laugh.
  • Body Language: Keep the open posture. Square hips towards the other person to indicate that they have your attention.

Mirroring

  • Energy: Match the other person's energy level. Interpret "energy" loosely. It can mean a lot of stuff.
  • Body Language: Match body language like head-tilt and arm positions. You can even match their breathing. Do not imitate them gesture for gesture, but if they sit with their legs crossed, you can, at a time that isn't weird and noticeable, do the same. For best effect, this will be an easy mode to slip into without thinking about it.
  • Speech Patterns: Match the formality of their speech and the tone. Match pace and flow. Do not do that cool-dad thing of using words that are clearly out of your lexicon...groovy, -izzle, hella hyphy. Do not imitate accents or speech impediments or anything noticeable that might sound like you are making fun of them.
  • Modality: Listen and look for their modality and try to match it in your speech and when in scene. 

Negotiation

Negotiation should precede specific efforts to build rapport, but a good negotiation builds rapport on its own. Negotiating good consent and sticking with that negotiation builds trust. A good conversation about consent takes a while and makes sure that everyone's limits and interests are heard and respected. Here's a sample negotiation for erotic hypnosis. 

In Scene

  • Consent: Remember and respect the negotiation. 
  • Validation: Use validating language. "Good, you're doing great." 
  • Check in: Check in frequently. Acting like you can read someone's mind does nothing for rapport building even though you might think it makes you look omnipotent. It makes you look...overconfident and bad at communication--like that guy who's sure you're about to cum when you're sort of feeling soggy. Ask for check-ins frequently. "Tell me about that." "What are you feeling?" 
  • Suggestions: Suggestions themselves build rapport. Listening to and following out suggestions is a form of communication that requires and reinforces trust. Rapport builds as a scene goes on. 

Time

Some rapport just takes time. Don't force it. Longevity is the best test of trustworthiness. The value of collecting and internalizing many social data-points is enormous. Do nice things for each other. A hypnotic relationship improves as the social one does.

Rapport goes both ways.

Often, rapport conversations are about how a hypnotist can establish a hypnotee's trust, but the inverse is equally important. Trust in the subject is imperative in order to confirm that the consent is genuine and well-informed on both sides.

Hypnotists shouldn't feel comfortable playing with someone who may or may not understand the play and/or potential risks. A hypnotist needs to be able to vet a potential hypnotee to decide whether or not they should play. With good rapport, the hypnotist will more easily be able to sense red flags for subjects who may be dangerous candidates for mental health reasons, dependency issues, poor current mental state, or are under the influence of substances that shouldn't be mixed with hypnosis.

Rapport improves a hypnotist's ability to read a hypnotee to create effective suggestions, notice what's working and what isn't, and to notice if something's going wrong. Rapport is also tied to desire; the more two players know about each other, the more inspiration there is for interesting, specific play.

Rapport can be created or destroyed. 

There are a lot of times when rapport or certain levels of rapport are undesirable. When a friend of yours walks into your space while you're in scene and you want to ignore them. When someone is being predatory and creepy. When that Hummus Lady at the farmer's market offers you a sample of her over-packaged, overpriced hummus for the eighth time. 

There are also situations with someone you like and want to play with where limiting rapport can be a good thing. Keeping a scene light, exploratory, and friendly can be unintimidating and easier with new play partners.

The XX Erotic Hypnosis Peershare meets on the 2nd Sunday of the month at 3PM at Wicked Grounds cafe on 8th and Folsom in San Francisco. People who are new to hypnosis should come at 2PM to get the Hypnosis 101 language, terms, and practices.