That may sound like an odd statement for a (mostly) heterosexual man to make, but it’s the truth.
Although this may sound silly, when I first became aware of the “BDSM community”, there was no community. At least not where I lived. To the best of my knowledge Davenport, Iowa never had a gay leather bar. And when you talk about “Old Guard Leather” that’s where the scene came from, it wasn’t a heterosexual community.
The very first book I ever read on BDSM was the Leatherman’s Handbook by Larry Townsend. It was far from perfect, but it gave me somewhere to go with my own ideas and explorations.
Well, other than the fact it was written for gay men. So, I had to try and translate the concepts, as best I could, to better work with the female psyche. I got that part wrong a few times, or so I was told. If men are from Mars, I figure woman have to be from at least Venus, perhaps even Pluto. Saturn’s a good guess too, most of the women I know like rings, after all. But, I digress.
During my “formative” years, in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, when I was first able to begin exploring 24/7 BDSM relationships, my favorite author was named Pat Califia, now Patrick Califia-Rice. Back in that time period, pre-sex change, Califia was a leather-woman and radical sex-positive feminist.
Some of the fiction Califia wrote is still, to this day, the hottest BDSM fiction I’ve ever read. Her BDSM how-to book, called Sensuous Magic, was a major influence on how I look at BDSM. As a queer woman, when she said that she’d rather play with a leather-person of any sex before she’d play with a vanilla woman, I took notice. That was an attitude I could understand and relate to. Given a choice between being trapped on a deserted island with a vanilla woman, or a kinky assed leatherman, I’d certainly not choose vanilla.
I’m not positive about proper transgender etiquette, so I’m on a little bit uncertain ground as to how best to say this and be correct. I believe that Califia-Rice identifies as a bi-sexual man today, certainly though, back when I first discovered her work, she identified as queer, a gay leather woman who played on occasion with all sexes.
Laura Antoniou, creator of the Marketplace series, is my favorite kinky novelist these days. In a post over at SpiritualBDSM.com, I compared her to Lou Reed (EL James is to Bubblegum Rock as Laura Antoniou is to Lou Reed) and got a mention by Laura on Facebook. When I met her at IML last spring, that’s how I introduced myself, “I’m the guy who compared you to Lou Reed.” Dapper and stylish, Laura looks better in a “men’s” three piece suit than most guys I know. And, I’m sure you’ve already guessed, if you didn’t know already, Laura Antioniou is queer.
Joseph Bean and Guy Baldwin are two more individuals who’s writing has influenced my development as a dominant. Both are gay. I’m not exactly sure how Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy self identify, but it could undoubtedly be argued that the brilliant cohabiting coauthors are queer.
my name is mary, I’m a lesbian, I can do anything
The only person I could ever truly describe as a mentor, was a wonderful lady named Mary Helen. I owe more to Mary than I’ll ever be able to properly express here, on a blog. For a number of years, until we drifted apart due to distance, she was my best friend.
Of course, I’m sure you’ve figured out the pattern and already guessed. Mary’s queer.
I’ll never forget the day I met Mary Helen. I was working as a lead community organizer. Fighting for social change, I’d risen within the organizing hierarchy to the point I was recruiting and training others. Mary walked into my office one day for an interview, and promptly announced to me, “My name is Mary, I’m a lesbian, and I can do anything.”
That’s a hell of an introduction, not to mention a pretty big billing to live up to, but Mary did it. Anything I asked her to do, she accomplished. She made my life, and my job, so much easier. At work she was like my right hand.
Then one day, she joined my ex-wife and I for a scene. Mary and I co-topped BlissfulTorment. It was flat out fucking glorious! I’d never worked with a co-dominant before, it was an eye opening experience.
Mary was vocal, she was confident, and while I’ve always prided myself on knowing my way around a woman, my friend Mary really knew her way around a woman. Blissy had never considered herself to be very bi-sexual, nor submissive at all to another woman. Not before that. Within an hour, Mary had Blissy begging to have just a glimpse of her pussy. Wouldn’t she please pull her shorts aside and give a peek? Please?
If I’d have been smart, I would have had a notepad out, I’d have been taking notes. Mary was really that good. Bliss never did get to see Mary’s pussy that day, neither did I for that matter, but we had her back to play again at our first opportunity.
Mary became our “girlfriend” for the better part of a decade. She lived with another woman here and there, but it rarely lasted any significant amount of time. Bliss and I were a fixture in her life, as others would come and go, we were the ones there to help her pick up the pieces.
I was the one she came to when she was a victim of domestic abuse, showing up at my door in the middle of the night, bruised and bloodied to the point of being nearly unrecognizable. “Mary, how could she?” I cried, determined to make the abuser pay for the crime, offering to go make her former partner look just as bad. I was enraged.
She just said to me, quite simply, “Michael, I didn’t come to you to ask you to take revenge, I came here because I knew you’d help me heal.”
Despite all the tears, the swelling, the bruising, the blood; despite her injuries, the torn clothes, and all the mess; despite the fact that there wasn’t a fucking scratch on her abuser, I wasn’t even allowed to call the police.
“Really Michael, what good would it do?” she said. “I come from a marginalized population living in a backass hick town in the midwest. Calling the goons because another woman beat the shit out of me, calling them for anything short of murder, is only going to make things worse.”
God damn I hated to hear that. Thinking about it still brings tears to my eyes. It was one of the worst moments of my life.
You have to understand that the absolute worst feeling in the world to me, is the feeling of being helpless. I wanted to do something! I wanted to do anything! I wanted to beat the crap out of the bitch who’d hurt my friend. I wanted to see her arrested and taken off to jail, and I didn’t fucking well care if I was with her! I wanted justice. I wanted something done. ANYTHING!
Mostly, I wanted to believe in a different world, a world where any woman who’d been hurt could call the police. I had to learn, the hard way, that is not always the case. That wasn’t true in Belleville Illinois, in 1991 That wasn’t true when Mary knocked on my door at 3 am before collapsing. And, I know it’s not true in some places in our country still to this day. That bothers me.
There’s that old saying, the “Serenity Prayer”.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
It was the acceptance part that was the hardest for me. A very difficult lesson for a dominant to learn, not to mention a dominant who was an organizer. Change? That’s what I do! That’s what I was brought to this earth to do! But some changes happen very slowly. Some changes don’t happen in this lifetime. There’s little comfort to that when holding a battered friend, crying together to get through the night.
And I was helpless to to anything but hold Mary in my arms. When even trying to wipe away the blood off her face with a wet paper towel was too much for either of us to bear, the pain too great, that’s all I could do. I held my friend. We cried together. The world was a very bleak and terrible place to me that morning.
Serafina has heard me say, on more than one occasion, so often that it might be called a “Michealism”‘ I say that I’ve rarely met a situation that couldn’t be made worse by involving the police. That’s a little bit of life experience and observation, and a lot of wisdom gleaned from that night with my friend Mary.
We recovered from that moment together. Life eventually got back to normal.
OK, I say that, but you know, it’s not really true. The bruises fade, the wounds slowly disappear, or turn to scars, but the memories and emotional scars remain. I shouldn’t kid myself, nothing is ever really the same after a night like that. But we went on. We lived and learned and grew, together and apart.
Mary taught me how how to read a woman’s body language. Mary taught me how to use a good pick-up line, and how to know who’d be vulnerable to it. It’s not a skill I’ve ever really used, but the information’s there, I suppose, if I ever need it.
What I truly know about the art of seduction, I learned from her. Mary taught me massage techniques for relieving a woman’s cramps during her period too. Mary taught me how to tie a cherry stem into a knot with my tongue. Most importantly, Mary taught me how to eat (and treat) pussy like I was stone cold dyke. That’s a damn fine skill for a (mostly) heterosexual man to acquire.
Yes indeed, her name was Mary, she was a lesbian. She really could do anything!
We all have within us, the ability to become God and Goddess incarnate when we make love.
We become that to each other, and for each other, through ritual and meditative practice, at least that’s the theory.
The concept works for some people, but not for others.
I find the symbolism to be meaningful, but enlightened authors like Janet Hardy find it too “new agey” to be useful.
Your mileage may vary, obviously.
It’s often said that our body is our temple, and I find some truth there too. It’s close to my belief. I believe in the here and now, and I’ve already mentioned becoming God and Goddess incarnate as a part of my practice.
But, I don’t worship at the alter of my own form, it’s not my own body that will transform and transport me to higher realms.
She is my temple. Her pussy is my altar.
To worship at the altar of self, as so many seem to do today, is not a path of transformation. To worship at the altar of our partners, well to my eyes, that’s very clearly transformative.
It’s only when our souls have merged that we can escape our existence, and can become that potential God and Goddess to each other.
The term “no surprises” is actually something I remember first reading about in a book called the The Ethical Slut.
I’m not sure if that particular wording was exactly how the idea was presented by Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton, but it was the idea of complete disclosure that the authors stressed. I think the first time I heard it boiled down to the “no surprises” concept was in a presentation by Dan and Dawn at Kinky Kollege.
In the end, it seems that polyamory is about communication as much as it is about sex. The more souls you try and fit into a relationship, the more communication it is going to take. I think that’s a law of nature somehow, it’s really inescapable.
Trust is at the core of all relationships, yet it’s somehow one of the hardest things for people to give, real trust. And, it’s far far too easy to erode too.
That’s where the “no surprises” rule really comes in handy. One of the worst things that can happen in a relationship is to have a revelation come, not from your lover but from another source, and catch you by surprise. There’s a particular sort of embarrassment that can come from that kind of surprise, and a very particular type of anger. It’s not pretty stuff.
So, at the core of the way we practice poly, is the “no surprises” rule. I am as transparent as I can be with Serafina. To assure that she’d never be hurt by some surprise revelation dropped by a friend, we have no secrets. There’s nothing about who I am, or what I’m thinking, that I hide from Serafina.
I don’t play the “Master knows best card” either, even my decisions are transparent. If Serafina wants to know why I made any particular decision, all she has to do is ask. Usually that’s not even necessary, as I do pride myself on making the reasons behind rules and decisions clear.
Of course transparency goes both ways. As far as I know, there’s nothing Serafina would care to hide from me either. It almost goes without saying, most slaves are expected to be transparent to their Master, but it’s not as common for Masters to be completely transparent to their slave. A poly relationship works best when all the streets go both ways, when transparency is a universal rule for all.
Serafina and I have this down pretty well. We aren’t perfect by any means, but our M/s relationship is as solid as any I’ve known. We are already exceptionally close, but transparency and the “no surprises” rule really does bring us closer still.
Like most kinds of alternative lifestyles, polyamory can be practiced many ways. All I can really address is how it’s done here, in my own nascent leather family. It’s the solid nature of our core relationship that allows Serafina and I to dip our toes into the murky waters of polyamory. It’s our communication skills that will prevent those adventures from biting us in the butt and causing problems.
And, it’s the no surprises rule, that’s at the core of it all.
Claiming of Sleeping Beauty author Anne Rice aka A. N. Roquelaure
Author Anne Rice announced plans for a 4th installment in the notorious Claiming of Sleeping Beauty series of erotic books yesterday, a novel way of ringing in 2014. Rice originally penned three books in the series, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty’s Punishment, and Beauty’s Release under the pen-name A. N. Roquelaure. Earlier novels in the series were released between 1983 and 1985.
Rice is the author of more than thirty books, with total sales of close to 100 million copies. Her work includes five erotic novels under two pseudonyms, she also wrote Exit to Eden and Belinda as Anne Rampling circa 1985-1986.
Rice’s most popular writings to date have been The Vampire Chronicles series, of which Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, and The Queen of the Damned were adapted into a pair of major motion pictures.
” claiming of sleeping beauty” announcement
Rice’s announcement wasn’t made in a press conference, nor did it come from a publicist. Rather than using traditional media sources to declare her newest project, Anne Rice instead made a couple of posts at Facebook announcing the new effort.
And when I was writing these erotic novels, I did indeed meet sympathetic members of the BDSM community and found them inspiring and kind. My best friend at the time of writing was John Preston, a very famous S&M erotic novelist. And he was always an inspiration. The Wikipedia article on “The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy” needs to be corrected and updated. And I will be writing a new Roquelaure book in 2014. I’m working on it now.
“The Sleeping Beauty books are causing no end of excitement, really. It’s kind of amazing. I had no idea people would care that much.”
~ Anne Rice
When it was first released, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty seemed almost transcendent. It was easily the best erotica I’d ever discovered. I found it to be better written than The Story of O, far sexier than Venus in Furs, and much more relevant to my interests than either Lolita or Lady Chatterly’s Lover. But that was then.While they were certainly exciting reading in their day, to some eyes the original trilogy hasn’t aged especially well. It’s been whispered in some circles that Rice obviously had an active and fertile imagination, but precious little (if any) real experience with BDSM. I’m not sure that the erotic retelling of a fairy-tale calls for perfect realism, to be very honest. And, it wasn’t Rice’s original ambition to be realistic, it was to write the sort of erotica she wanted to read herself.
I wrote it because I thought most pornography was 1) Victorian classics revived and repackaged or 2) Hack work by people who didn’t share the fantasy. So I decided to write the pornography I wanted to read, to prove that good S&M porn could be done without murder, burning, cutting or any kind of real physical harm; that a delicious pornography of detailed S&M games — dominance and submission, humiliation and love —- could be made, all of it with elegance, refinement, and some romance. I created a fairytale kingdom of luxurious chambers, gorgeous costumes, and handsome and beautiful royal slaves, a world filled with romance, some intrigue and a lot of detail as to sexuality. I wanted it to be fun.
And truly, great fun it was!
can it be the same?
Back at the time of their release, Rice’s books seemed to be a revelation. I once owned first printing copies of the entire series, and two of the three still inhabit my erotic bookshelf, albeit a bit worn around the edges. And, it’s true that the Claiming of Sleeping Beauty trilogy literally helped some of us to find ourselves, and the BDSM community. I used the series as part of introducing my ex-wife to BDSM back in 1989, and it was her penchant for loaning the series out to friends as a part of introducing others to BDSM that caused the loss of one of the originals.
Yet, I have to wonder, if after the passage of 30 odd years, if any return to the concept is likely to work. I’m not alone in asking that question. Once again, using Facebook as a source, here’s what sex educator, author, and publisher Janet Hardy had to say in response to Rice’s announcement:
The Beauty books led very directly to my finding the scene, and to my career as a sex writer and educator – it’s not at all an overstatement to say that they changed my life. I wonder if the new one will work for me at all, or if I’ve left that newbie enthusiasm behind me.
Yes, books like the Claiming of Sleeping beauty were once life changing, and not just for folks like myself, they had their effect on Janet Hardy too. With that said, in light of the entire 50 Shades of Grey phenomena, will simply being life changing ever be enough? I’ll never consider E.L. James’ books to be life changing works of fiction, but there’s no denying that the phenomena was an agent for change at the societal level. Never again will kink and BDSM be looked at in the same light, the vast popularity of the 50 Shades series even spawned a local billboard for an upscale eatery. Would you have imagined, just a few short years ago, an ad campaign based on “Your Safeword is Meatloaf” as a slogan?
My husband is a natural-born leader. I quickly learned that I had to find a way of honoring his take-charge personality and not get frustrated about his desire to have the final decision on just about everything. I am not a passive person, but I chose to fall into a more submissive role in our relationship because I wanted to do everything in my power to make my marriage and family work.