How to Tie a Star-Shaped Body Harness

Note: This is part 8 of an occasional ongoing "how to" series on BDSM.

Part 1 of the series, How to Tie a Rope Harness Part I, is here.
Part 2 of the series, How to Tie a Frog Tie, is here.
Part 3 of the series, How to Tie a Shinju, is here.
Part 4 of the series, How to Make a Custom Dildo out of Ice, is here.

Part 5 of the series, How to Make a Spikey Decorative Collar, is here.
Part 6 of the series, Theory and Practice of Ginger Figging, is here.
Part 7 of the series, Rape Fantasy and Resistance Play, is here.
As you can probably figure out, most of these tutorials are really, really not work-safe.

This particular tutorial is not work-safe, photographically or in text. It shows and describes an unusual rope harness shaped like a five-pointed star. If it sounds like it’s up your alley, clicky the link!

Onward!

Fragments of Frolicon: Operation Wifebeater

I first started hearing rumblings about Operation Wifebeater weeks before I headed down to Florida. Little hints, tiny suggestions of some dark and dire plan being cooked up by joreth and emanix, as vague and insubstantial as a rustling under the bed filled with implications of an unseen monster.

So on the first night of Frolicon, when emanix told me that joreth was already down in the dungeon and it was time for Operation Wifebeater to begin, I…

Hang on, let me back up a bit.


During my time in Florida pre-Frolicon, I did manage to accomplish a bit more than being abducted by emanix and modifying a MindFlex to act as a makeshift EEG. Hidden away in the suitcase I brought, tucked between the floggers and the rope and an abundance of clean socks, was a Clone-a-Willy kit. These things, in case you’ve never seen one, are do-it-yourself dildo kits designed to be used to take a casting from, and make an exact replica of, one’s penis.

joreth had given me this particular kit two (or was it three?) Frolicons past, and somehow we’d never found the time to use it. That’s not as surprising as it might sound; Frolicon can be a very busy time, and this year we were so busy we didn’t have time to schedule an orgy.

She wanted to make a point of cloning me this year, though, so the night before we were to leave for Atlanta, we set aside time to use it.

They’re actually pretty difficult to use. The mold material is fussy and extraordinarily temperature-sensitive, and I’ve experienced sexier things than sticking my you-know into a tube filled with gooey lukewarm mold material and holding it there for several minutes. Even with emanix‘s help, it was a complicated undertaking that was really only marginally successful. Nevertheless, it was successful enough, and the next morning, as we made our way north, we brought with us a replica–a bit misshapen, perhaps, but a replica nonetheless–of my willie.


Once we arrived in Atlanta, I had expected to start the debauchery with alacrity. Fate had other pans for us, however. As it turned out, the first six hours or so of our stay was spent running repeatedly to Wal-Mart and dollar stores in search of things we’d either neglected to bring with us or had deliberately not carried with us, thinking that they’d be easy to procure once we got there.

Two of those things were “a big sheet of foam core board” and “a whole bunch of pins with different-colored heads.” One of the plans I had for Frolicon was to put a poster of the Map of Human Sexuality on the motel room door with a bunch of pins, and let folks stick pins in it showing where they’d ventured.

The foam core was easy to find. The pins took three runs, two to Wal-Mart and one to a dollar store. The result ended up looking a bit like this:

We stuck it up next to the door with a handwritten color key (purple pins for things that folks had tried and liked, yellow pins for things that folks had tried and didn’t like, green pins for things that folks really wanted to try) and left it in the soft, gentle hands of Fate.

Between the late arrival and the bajillion runs to Wal-Mart to get yet another thing we’d managed not to have on hand, it ended up being quite late by the time we settled into the hotel. I stayed in emanix‘s suite as her captive, and joreth went off elsewhere to prepare.

emanix did some preparations of her own, before telling me “It’s time” and leading me down to the dungeon.


The name “Operation Wifebeater” was, as I discovered, more literal than figurative. joreth had dressed the part exactly like you might expect. I don’t know that emanix actually owns a wifebeater, but she came close, in a polka-dotted kind of way.

You can’t tell from this picture, but when I was dragged into the dungeon I soon was made aware that both of these lovely ladies were wearing strap-ons under their clothes. (How emanix managed to hide hers is a mystery still unsolved by your humble scribe.)

What followed was something out of either a B horror movie or a really interesting porn, depending on how you look at it, and gathered quite a large audience quite quickly.

Or so I’m told. I wasn’t watching. And it probably would have been impossible for me to have seen the audience anyway, given the fact that my face was buried… *ahem* Moving on…

The two of them had their way with me for a while, which was fun, and made just a bit surreal by the fact that joreth was wearing in her harness the clone of my willie we had produced the night before. I’ve heard the expression “go fuck yourself” on many occasions, of course, but I’d never seen its application in quite such a literal way before.


The rest of the con is still a bit of a blur to me.

A few bits stand out. The pet lesbians that zaiah and I had inadvertently acquired shortly after I moved to Portland, though a strange set of circumstances too complicated to go into here, were able to make it down to Atlanta of a visit, which was lovely. zaiah and I are both quite fond of them, and don’t get to see them nearly often enough.

Aren’t they cute?

emanix hosted the Frolicon Darkroom Party in the suite we were sharing the same night that the pets came down, and they helped run it for a while, which was totally awesome of them (and definitely counts as service above and beyond the call of duty).

At some point–I think it was the next afternoon–I had the opportunity to use joreth and emanix as victims lab rats test subjects for another round of EEG sexual arousal testing. The EEG setup exactly fit into a round metal tin, thoughtfully decorated with an Aperture Science logo courtesy of datan0de.

We do what we must, because we can.

For anyone who wants to see what an orgasm looks like from the perspective of Science, the complete data set from joreth‘s session is posted here, just in case you missed it.

emanix looked particularly fetching all wired up and ready to do Science.

joreth managed to squeeze in just enough time at the con to sweep up the top award in the costume contest, in her role of her alter ego, Miss Poly Manners.

There’s a corset under that dress. Yes, she looks hot in it. Yes, I have pictures.

Now, in all honesty, I’ve been going to Frolicon for years and I literally did not know that they even had a costume contest, which might say something about my priorities.

By the end of the con, the poster of the human sex map had been rather heavily used, and was bristling like a porcupine on crystal meth. I wasn’t able to figure out a way to get it home in one piece, but damn did it have a lot of pins in it. I got a crummy low-resolution picture from my cell phone, and some pictures from my real camera that turned out even less well, which is a pity…I’d love to have an accurate record of all the pins, you know, for data-mining.

Which reminds me, at some point I should rprobably do a statistical analysis of all the custom maps people make at the Web site for the map. Might be interesting.

emanix suggested making another foam core mounted poster for next year’s Frolicon, and putting it up in one of the con’s public spaces with instructions to stick pins in all the things that folks did while actually at the con, which sounds like a lot of fun to me.

The trip back from the con was almost as much fun as the con itself, but I have forms to go fill out, so I will leave you with one more picture of joreth in her wifebeater. Enjoy!

Fragments of Frolicon: There and Back Again

It is a fact of life universally acknowledged by sages and fools alike that the best candy in all the world is to be had from strangers.

And emanix is stranger than most.

As long-term readers of this blog will no doubt remember, I first met her at Frolicon in Atlanta in years gone by (well, three of them, at least). Frolicon, for those unfortunate enough never to have been there, is one of the high points of the year; a weekend-long festival of depraved, kinky debauchery the likes of which to make the Marquis de Sade blush and the Pope kick a hole in a plate-glass window. It is also one of the relatively few times of the year when I can count on seeing my sweetie joreth and the various members of my Tampa family.

Lon-term readers of this blog are also no doubt aware that I generally chronicle the various goings-on in my life weeks, or even months, after the fact. So it is with this post.


I didn’t expect to make it to this year’s Frolicon, truth be told. My finances have been a bit of a shambles lately, and it’s rather more expensive to get there from Orlando than from Tampa. However, a certain bunny named emanix, who as I may have mentioned before is rather strange and also has rather good candy, stepped in at the last moment like a leporid angel from on high and volunteered to fly me out there, in exchange for (ahem) certain services to be negotiated later (ahem). Best still, she had opted to arrive Stateside from the distant and exotic land of London-town early, and would be staying with my Florida peeps while enjoying all the hospitality that the United States has to offer (which, this being a declining late-stage civilization, means rather a lot, hospitality being one of the few things that declining late-stage civilizations in general have left to offer), and so offered to bring me out early as well.

Tales of my various exploits concerning mad science with modified EEG toys and sexual stimulation having preceded me, it was decided by joreth (with, I believe, some input from datan0de and emanix and perhaps others) that rigging up an EEG for Frolicon was in order.

So, once I arrived in Florida, I was tasked with soldering…

No, wait, I take that back. Once I arrived in Florida, I was kidnapped from the airport, blindfolded, bound, and tossed in the back of a car by emanix with driving assistance from datan0de, and brought in a severely sleep-deprived and jetlagged state to an undisclosed location, whereupon I was subjected to the most appalling of sexual torments which I shall not disturb you with, Gentle Readers, on account of the fact that they might…disturb you.

I was then transported, also with emanix, to joreth‘s place, whereupon I was tasked with soldering together another Arduino/MindFlex toy EEG setup for doing a bit of Mad Science.

Having had the experience of doing this once before, I opted to make some changes to the hardware, by rigging up a switch which could be given to the victim guinea pig experimental subject to depress on the occasion of orgasm, which would write “Orgasm Switch Depressed” into the datastream upon such event and “Orgasm Switch Released” upon its conclusion, the better to have exact markers which would tell us later exactly at what point said orgasm occurred.

I have, as a side note, now made exactly two Arduino projects myself, the first of which has an orgasm switch and the second of which has a sexual torment LED. That probably says something about me…but I digress.

When the Mad Science rig was tested and known to be working, it was time to be off to Frolicon.


There is a Christian group in the United States which has several times in the past predicted the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus. The destruction of all creation in the final battle at Armageddon have thus far failed to materialize, though that has not prevented that particular group from continuing to predict its exact date.

This time around, they were certain enough of their predictions–which, as near as I can tell, are based in equal parts Bronze Age mythology, numerology, marketing hucksterism, paranoid schizophrenia, and interpretation of Sarah Palin’s fame as one of the signs of the End Times (that last of which, I do have to admit, is hard to argue with)–to spend a huge bundle of money on a billboard campaign advertising the end of the world, though what one is supposed to do with the information is a mystery which escapes your humble scribe.

One of the billboards in question was located in Orlando, near to joreth‘s house, so I snapped a picture of it for the lulz.

I have no doubt that it will keep getting funnier and funnier as time goes on. zaiah and I actually hosted a party on May 21, which is in fact the second end-of-the-world party I’ve hosted (the first in 1988), and it just never gets old.

Picture taken, we were well and truly on our way.


The drive up to Atlanta is pretty grueling under the best of circumstances.

The best of circumstances don’t generally involve a high-speed blowout on interstate 75 in the rural north of Florida. This particular trip, which emphatically was not the best of circumstances, did.

We replaced it with the little Go_kart thing that automotive manufacturers laughingly refer to as a “limited service spare” and were soon back on our way, searching for a service station that was still open and staffed with folks who wouldn’t kill and eat sexual deviants such as ourselves.

We found such a place without a great deal of fuss and with no casualties…

…whereupon we learned something new and unfortunate. Well, two new and unfortunate things…no, wait, three new and unfortunate things, now that I think about it.

The first was that another tire was quite frayed and ready to explode with little provocation, rather like any Middle Eastern country with Internet access these days.

The second of those three things was that the size of tire on joreth‘s car was exotic and not easily available in the backwoods of rural Florida.

The third of those three things was that such tires, which could be procured in a few hours’ time from a nearby town which had such newfangled amenities as electricity and running water, were hella fucking expensive.

The fourth of those three things was that small service stations in rural Florida are not generally the normal habitat of the European carnivorous candy-bunny.

But such ordinary garden-variety trials are not to stand between a gang of seasoned, veteran perverts and debaucheries the likes of which to make a Roman emperor weep, so we bucked up, walked to a local fast-food establishment, and waited.

The fast-food establishment in question, whose name is now long forgotten by your humble scribe, offered tea, which evidently is a beverage quite popular in London-town, so the bunny was soon in (moderately) better spirits.

It was also connected to a small store where one could buy a wide range of goods of dubious merit, such as police radar detectors, small plastic novelty items designed to be affixed to one’s dashboard, and inexpensive DVDs of movies that came and went in the theaters in less time than it takes a B meson to decay into J/ψ mesons in the Large Hadron Collider.

The store also sells Southern Pride stickers, which I was quite amused to note are made in China. Guangdong province, I reckon.


There is a rule of the Internet, called Rule 34, which says that if anyone anywhere is interested in something, there exists porn of that thing on the Internet. (There is another, lesser-known rule, Rule 36, which states that if anyone anywhere is interested in something, there exists a knitting pattern for it on the Internet.)

Rule 34 has let me down, though, for it would seem that there is in fact no Viking kazoo porn on the Internet.

However, datan0de and femetal own both a Viking hat and quite a startling number of kazoos, and I own a camera, so we resolved that we would make use of the London candy-distributing carnivorous rabbit and these things to fill this much-needed gap.

Alas, this photograph is the closest thing that exists to Viking kazoo porn, as we simply did not have time to do as we had planned to do. We arrived at the convention rather later than we had expected, and scarcely had time to settle ourselves before it was time for joreth and emanix to put Operation Wifebeater into effect…

…but more on that later. I would write more of Operation Wifebeater, a carefully-choreographed conspiracy of obscenity the like of which would make a Greek god shudder, but I have four-week-old kittens to play with.

Adventures in Europe, Chapter 34: Too Many Monkeys!

The day after our nocturnal traipse around London’s gristly but sadly amber-free sites-of-historic-horror-cum-tourist-attractions and equally livestock-free Tower Bridge, your humble scribe awoke and, after tea and eggs (marred only by the horrifying sight of seinneann_ceoil‘s flatmate digging into black pudding with gusto) travelled to the House of Joy, the domicile of emanix and company, for a stretch.

The House of Joy has since, I’m told, relocated to a different house, and seinneann_ceoil is now a resident therein, so it would be rather an easier journey to make now. As it was, it required some faffing about on the London Underground, which is interesting from a Yankee perspective on account of its efficiency (relative, at least, to Portland’s public transportation system) and for its maniacal and almost reckless disregard for the safety, well-being, and limbs of its many passengers.

Here in the US, where we prefer not to dismember the public in public (but prefer instead to starve them to death and deny them medical care so that they die in private instead), we build subways that have little folding stair-step things that extend when the cars stop, so that folks don’t fall down between the car and the landing and end up getting run over on the tracks or something. On the Underground, they will have one of that highfalutin’ engineering; instead, they leave a gap between each car and the subway platform that’s just about the perfect size to devour one’s leg, one’s child, or one’s Jack Russell terrier, and play a recording of an English gentleman saying “Mind the gap. Mind the gap.” over and over again as the train arrives. Presumably, folks who don’t heed the warning and fail to mind the gap are removed from the gene pool, for the greater good of the Kingdom or something.

Along the way, I passed the long-disused Battersea Power Station, an old decommissioned coal-fired power plant that was the inspiration for the design of Allied Advanced Power PLats in the real-time strategy game Command & Conquer: Red Alert. It was a beautiful sight to behold, and made me long for the days when I would hear the oh-so-British computer tell me “New Construction Options” or “A-Bomb Ready.”

Once at the House of Joy, seinneann_ceoil left me in the tender merciless hands of emanix for a time.

Her bedroom is, or rather was (in the old house) on the top floor, rightly lit by large skylights. I say this because I quite like skylights, and I have been lobbying zaiah to install some in our house, which we are currently remodeling into a dungeon (as those of you who read my Twitter know). zaiah believes that skylights inevitably leak in rainy climates–something that the skylights in emanix‘s room do not. Apparently, it’s all about the engineering, or something.

We spent the day lounging around, having slinky hex and faffing on the Internet. I got to learn what it’s like to be the object rather than the perpetrator of needle play, which was…interesting. Interesting, and more than a bit scary.

Which reminds me, I still have the story of the lemon drop at the lesbian Halloween party to write about at some point. I’m not quite sure why I tend to end up surrounded by women who enjoy scaring me, but it seems to happen quite a lot.

I also met emanix‘s tiny stuffed unicorn Herbert.

I’m not quite sure exactly how it happened, but we ended up talking about creating a cartoon character based on Herbert, named Herbert the Rape Unicorn. The original conception involved creating a Web site that would mock common rape-culture ideas (like “if she dressed that way, she obviously must have wanted it” or “If she led him on, then it’s her fault”), but we quickly realized that no matter how obvious or over-the-top the mocking was, someone somewhere would probably take it seriously and walk away with precisely the opposite of the intended message.

emanix drew this cartoon on my arm, which is quite likely the only Herbert the Rape Unicorn comic that will ever see the Web.


Every city has That District. You know, the one where all the cool happening stuff…err, happens. In Atlanta, it’s Little Five Points. In Tampa, it’s Ybor. In San Francisco, it’s San Francisco. In London, apparently, it’s Camden.

After the slinky hex, needle play, and other miscellaneous goings-on which involved sounding and you probably don’t want to know the details of, seinneann_ceoil rescued me and whisked me back to her flat. Some amount of slinky hex, a great deal of cuddling, some British television, and another meal in which her flatmate put something horrifying beyond the measure of man into his mouth later, we opted to venture to Camden.

Which was pretty damn cool, really.

We met up with emanix in Camden, in a sort of Gibsonesque ramshackle assortment of repurposed shops offering T-shirts with political slogans, cheap sunglasses, jewelry, posters, and the opportunity to have your feet nibbled by fish in large tanks of water.

I’m serious about that bit about the fish, by the way. One of the shops we passed had big tanks filled with small fish similar to the ones that tend to cling to the undersides of sharks. For a few pounds Sterling, you could stick your feet in the water and let the fish “exfoliate” your skin. Apparently, it’s all the rage amongst people for whom it’s all the rage.

The place is a weird mix of Victorian-ish sculpture, most of which seems to concern itself with maidens and horses, and neon signs…making it, really, quite like a perpetual steampunk science fiction convention.

She has a gaze that suggests she’s seen it all, and a complexion that suggests quite a lot of it involves pigeons.

Or maybe those are tears, one for each pigeon she has KILLED AND DEVOURED DURING HER UNHOLY ANIMATED RAMPAGES IN SEARCH OF THE SECRET TO ETERNAL LIFE. I don’t know.

The horse sculpture is kind of cool.

It’s always nice to see some commemoration of the life and toil of the essential working man. The working man depicted here would probably have preferred a pay raise to a bug relief erected in his honor, but one takes what one can get.

Maybe I used…

…but isn’t it enough to know that I ruined a pony making a gift for you?

At one little booth, we found a series of prints of grafitti art by the British artist Banksy, who does some really mind-bogglingly amazing stuff. seinneann_ceoil bought me a print of his “There Is Always Hope” piece, on account of ’cause it totally makes me cry.


Exploration of Camden complete, we went off to a university in London-town which was evidently hosting a series of lectures on sexuality and society called Critical Sexuality, or CritSex for short, which sounded like quite an interesting way to spend an afternoon.

The timing of my visit was fortuitous, as it turned out, because apparently they host these things only once or twice a year or something.

We traveled to the university (mind the gap!), whereupon I saw two things that struck my attention.

The first was in the foyer of the lecture hall, before we’d actually got as far as the room where the CritSex lectures were to take place. I saw, for the first time, a woman wearing a full burqa. Not just the head shawl and cloak, but the whole, top-to-toe deal, that even included the chadri that totally obscures the face, including the eyes.

And it was, if I may put it delicately, profoundly fucked up. Seriously, deeply fucked up beyond any rhyme or reason.

Now, I have heard it argued that one can not impose the value system from one culture on another culture. I have also heard that the burqa is ennobling and liberating to women, because it frees them from having to compete in the arms race of sexualization in order to feel that they have value.

To both of those things, I say bullshit. Absolute, unmitigated piles of fresh, steaming bullshit.

First, to the cultural argument: The notion that human beings are persons inherently worthy of being treated with dignity and respect is not a cultural artifact, like a style of watch or the design of a sofa. It is absolutely possible, without resorting to appeals of invisible sky-beings or the trappings of tradition, to construct a rigorous moral framework that demonstrates the benefit of this idea. One need only look at history, at the fact that people of all kinds have tangibly and materially improved the lot of the human race as a whole, to see that any society which deprives itself of the contributions of entire classes of its members harms not only the groups so discrimated against, but itself as a whole as well.

The first surgeon ever to perform open-heart surgery, Dr. Daniel H. Williams, was black. Alan Turing, the man who arguably won WWII for the Allies, was gay. Double Nobel Prize-winning physicist Marie Curie, who not only developed the first understanding of radioactivity but also pioneered radiation treatment of cancer, was a woman.

Any society that cuts itself off from some portion of its members, deprives itself of the benefits, innovations, and discoveries those people might make. Women can fly fighter jets, lead nations, explore space, build buildings, design bridges, fight fires, create art, and discover new medical techniques. The notion that one society can utterly quash the most basic and essential of all human liberties for half its population, ad then claim it to be merely a “cultural value” neither better than nor worse than any other society’s values, is absolute rubbish of the highest order. “Cultural values” are not and can not be the excuse for atrocity, the justification for oppression.

The same goes for the notion that wearing the burqa is somehow empowering or liberating to women. Leaving aside for the moment that the whole purpose of this garment is to dehumanize women, on the grounds that the sight of a woman will drive men to sin (and how many shades of fucked up is THAT notion?), let’s be perfectly clear on one very important key point here:

You do not, BY DEFINITION, empower someone by saying ‘If you don’t do what I tell you to do I will stone you to death.’

That is, in fact, precisely the opposite of empowerment. Empowerment lies in giving people greater control and more choices in their lives, not in killing them if they fail to wear what you want them to wear. Remember that should anyone try to argue that the burqa represents empowerment; You do not, BY DEFINITION, empower someone by saying ‘If you don’t do what I tell you to do I will stone you to death.’ That includes any rationalization of the ‘do what I tell you to do’ part whatsoever, whether supposedly handed down by an invisible sky-being or not. It certainly applies to any reasoning that concludes with “No man should see a woman nor hear a woman’s footsteps lest it excite him. Women must not speak loudly in public as no stranger should hear a woman’s voice.”

It’s difficult for your humble scribe to even conceptualize in the wildest flights of fantasy the sort of topsy-turvy, up-is-down universe in which any of this could be called ’empowering’ by any person with even the slightest modicum, however small or insignificant, of sense.

The other bit was cooler. One of the presenters that the CritSex lectures we attended used my map of human sexuality in her presentation. So, yeah.

And that, save for a flight out of London the next day and a miserable 20-hour layover at the airport in Copenhagen, brings me to the end of my travels in Eastern and Western Europe. I arrived, after a total of eighteen hours’ travel time, back in my home town of Portland, on a cramped flight with my knees in my nose and no power outlet at my seat for my laptop; my luggage, which had somehow ended up flagged for a hand search at customs in Atlanta, arrived approximately seven hours later. (It was, according to a Delta representative, somewhere over Wyoming as I was arriving at my house, having opted after being searched to take entirely a different route home.)

Adventures in Europe, Chapter 32: All Good Things…

It turns out that you can’t actually make a living at staying in a castle with a whole bunch of kinky poly folks and having orgies all the time. Not unless you’re, I don’t know, Hugh Hefner or something…and to be quite honest, judging from the outside, I think my sex life is probably better than his.

So it came to pass that the last day of our stay at the castle was upon us, and rather sooner than I would have wanted. After the morning’s slinky hex–err, kinky sex, I spent a good bit of the afternoon running around the castle grounds and exploring the nearby village taking pictures, many of which you’ve already seen.

Later that afternoon, I was joined on the castle grounds by Emily, who suggested we take advantage of the opportunity for more photos. This seemed like a most excellent plan to me.

NSFW. Click on this link only if pics of nakedness in front of a castle won't get you fired or, y'know, make you explode or something.

Adventures in Europe, Chapter 29: What Rhymes with “Slinky Hex”?

It’s a trick question. There are many things that rhyme with slinky hex, like blinky rex or tinky dex or linky necks. The answer that’s probably on your mind, though, is “kinky sex,” at least if you’re a veteran, seasoned pervert like I am.

Choose about a score and change of smart, creative, sex-positive folks, make sure they’re all veteran, seasoned perverts, make ’em all members in some sort of capacity of the same amorphous poly network, and put ’em in a 14th century castle in the south of France, and a certain level of slinky hex is the inevitable result. And just to clarify, when I say “a certain level,” I mean “rather a lot.”

Now, had I had my wits about me, rather than being addled by a day-long ride in a van with more than a dozen other folks and all their various and sundry bits of luggage, musical instruments, computers, sex toy bags, and other assorted implements of destruction, I would have photographed every room of the castle immediately upon our arrival, before the debauchery began. As it was, I barely managed to get any shots of the castle’s interior, and had to rely on the fact that another of our entourage was more proactive in that regard and kind enough to dump her camera’s card onto my laptop.

This is the main downstairs living area of the castle. This room, like the upstairs turret room, was soon converted into a play space, a process which had already begun by the time this photo was taken:

That’s a king-sized mattress; the fireplace is bigger than you think.

It’s also weirder than you think. There’s a big metal plate in the back of the fireplace, which is adorned with a relief sculpture that looks to me like a bunch of heretics being burned at the stake, which is rather grim decoration if you ask me.

There are also a bunch of big iron chains hanging down from the chimney, ending in a wide assortment of different hooks, some of them very large. I assume they’re probably for cooking or something; I’m sure I wouldn’t know about such things.

The odd religious imagery wasn’t going to deter such a group of seasoned perverts, though, and soon there was a roaring fire going in the fireplace. Not long after that, there was a roaring orgy going in front of the fireplace, though I didn’t attend that particular event as I still hadn’t met many of the folks there, most of whom had long histories with one another.

As the week progressed, though, I had the opportunity to engage in rather a lot of slinky hex, and to get many wonderful photos, some of which are quite lovely and one or two of which are quite sweet as well.

Most of those photos, you won’t see, as the folks involved chose not to have them posted. This is an unfortunate loss, but think of it like cell phone service to a Bronze Age tribesman: you can’t miss what you’ve never seen.

There are, however, some pictures which I do have permission to post. If you’re reading this at work, or you have delicate sensitivities easily offended by carnal images of the human form, or if you are living in China or Australia or any other place where sex is strictly forbidden by law, you might want to consider not clicking on the cut below.

If, on the other hand, pictures and descriptions of orgy in a castle seems your cup of tea, click here!

Adventures in Europe, Chapter 27: Welcome to England! Now piss off.

So there I was, in the middle of a busy London Underground station, blindfolded, wrists bound, with an Oyster card that didn’t work, and…

Okay, hang on. Maybe I should back up a bit.

I am a bit of a naïve traveler. Prior to the adventure I’m chronicling here, I’d never been overseas at all. I had traveled to Canada, which doesn’t count because (a) I was three years old or something at the time and (b) Canada’s basically an unofficial US state anyway. I had traveled to Mexico as well, but that doesn’t count because (a) it was a high school senior trip, and (b) it was before the War on Drugs, and so at the time Mexico was almost an unofficial US state anyway. An impoverished US state that bore a depressing resemblance to Lubbock, Texas, only with fewer firearms and more ancient Mayan ruins, but still.

So I will freely confess that some mistakes were made.

For example, I expected it to be easy to get through British customs. I don’t know why I expected that, except insofar as I had expected it to be difficult to get through Russian customs and had been warned, in the most dire of terms, to keep at least 57 forms of identification on me at all times and to say “Don’t shoot! I am American! I have passport and American dollars!” in Russian in the event that anyone pointed weapons at me…and despite all that, it turned out to be a walk in the park. A long, slow walk in the park, where everyone stood in a long line for half an hour and then handed a passport to a severe-looking woman behind a bulletproof shield, perhaps, but a walk in the part nonetheless.

So I wasn’t quite prepared for the level of institutionalized, xenophobic, near-hysterical paranoia that is the British customs service.

I walked up to the man and gave him my passport. There were no bulletproof shields and no automatic gated man-traps, so I figured things would be easy. That’s when I learned the cost of my naïvity. When the man asked me why I was entering the country, I smiled and chirped, “To see my girlfriend!”

In my own defense, I didn’t realize that this is something you never, ever, ever tell any customs agent in any country EVER. As datan0de pointed out to me later, answers like “Because after the virus I just released, the Western hemisphere is pretty much toast” and “Because your citizens are unarmed and I am so very, very hungry” are better than saying “To see my girlfriend!”

That’s when I got The Sigh. It was followed in short order by The Look. And after that came The Questions.

Lots of them. Twenty minutes later, I was still being grilled. How long had we been seeing each other? When did we meet? Was she a UK citizen? Did she have a job in the UK? Where did she work? How much did she make? How long had she worked there? Was she taking time off work to spend with me? How much money did she have in the bank? How much money did I have in the bank? How much money did I expect to spend in the UK? How serious was our relationship? Would she be financially supporting me to any extent during my stay? How many credit cards did I have in my name? What were the limits on them? What did I do for a living? How much did I make? When did my girlfriend first enter the UK? Did she have a passport? Did she travel abroad? What countries had she visited? What countries had I visited?

And those were just the warmup questions. Thank God he didn’t ask how many girlfriends I have.

He finally let me go, about half an hour later, after inspecting my return ticket and warning me of Dire Consequences if I remained in the country any longer than my alloted stay. After that, I felt that very little could be worse, and I was right. Even when I was gang-raped by…

But that’s a story for another chapter.

I didn’t take that picture above, by the way. The picture above came from the Heathrow Airport Web site. To really get an accurate feel, it would have to be jammed with about 26,374,211 angry, tired passengers and a row of grim-faced men determined with the fastness of Hell to make every one of those passengers as grumpy and angry as possible, for King and country. The picture also doesn’t show all the signs warning that anyone taking photographs of British passport control is subject to immediate arrest and incineration. I can only wonder what happened to the airport’s photographer, poor bastard.

seinneann_ceoil rescued me on the other side, and we ran off through downtown London, as I talked about before.

Apparently, she had other Pressing Matters to attend to that evening, so she decided to leave me in emanix‘s tender mercies for the evening.

emanix‘s tender mercies are usually neither tender nor merciful. When she expressed her delight at the thought of being able to kidnap me for the evening, I should have taken that literally. Very, very literally.

seinneann_ceoil took me on the Underground to drop me off with emanix, with the plan being that she would take me on the Underground to a kink social that she was hosting that very night. I didn’t realize that bondage played into it.

The London Underground, for those of you who have never experienced it, is a huge, sprawling system that’s part mass transportation and part sociological experiment. It’s a bit like a subway built by a strange race of subterranean Morlocks with a reckless disregard for basic human safety, permanently crowded to capacity with a most astonishing variety of examples of the human condition, all of them perpetually grumpy.

emanix took charge of me, seinneann_ceoil went off to attend to her errands (leaving me with an Oyster card, the electronic smart cards that are used to navigate the Underground), and off we went.

It wasn’t until I was trapped on the train that emanix informed me that she’d intended the kidnapping bit seriously. And that she had come equipped for the task.

Shortly after that, I was bound and blindfolded.

Some time after that, we arrived at our station, whereupon it was discovered that the Oyster card in my possession was flaky and did not work reliably, and also had only a few pence left on it.

So there I was, in the middle of a busy London Underground station, blindfolded, wrists bound, with an Oyster card that didn’t work, and nothing to do for it but to seek help with a customer service representative, a member of London’s finest civil service personnel. Who was, it must be said, visibly startled to be confronted with a customer in need of service with his wrists bound together, but who summoned up the dogged stoicism the British are famous for in parts of the world where they aren’t famous for being ruthless, genocidal, slave-trading imperialist bastards and who straightened out the situation with the card quite smartly.

Situation sorted, we headed out to a cafe to meet other kinky Londoners, of whom there are rather a lot, the bitter northern winters leaving little to do for three months out of the year save for either practicing being dour or stringing one another up for kinky sex. (The same, it must be said, is also true of Portland, where kinky sex is what serves in place of a state religion.)

The Coffee, Cake, and Kink (or, more accurately, Tea, Little Pastry Things With Fruit On Top, and Kink, though it has less of a satisfactory flow from the tongue or lilt to the ear) was quite lovely, and was followed up by a return to the Underground (sans bondage, but still just as recklessly hazardous to life and limb) to retire to emanix‘s house, known on several continents as the House of Joy.

This was, as it turned out, a part of the cunning plan all along, for early the next morning we were to rise, pack ourselves into a small van with a startlingly large number of other people, and drive for ten hours to a castle in France. And this is precisely what did indeed happen, though that bit will have to wait for the next chapter.

Fragments of Frolicon: Surprise figging!

There are probably folks reading my blog who don’t know what Frolicon is. There may even be folks on my blog who aren’t familiar with cons in general, which is a damn shame, and those folks should definitely see to that sometime soonest.

For folks familiar with cons in general but not acquainted with Frolicon, imagine Dragon*Con. Now make it a lot smaller and get rid of all the folks in stormtrooper outfits and all the folks wearing Katamari Damacy T-shirts.

Got it? Okay, good. Now, with the remaining folks, make about half of ’em wearing a whole lot less. (I know it’s hard to imagine folks wearing less than they do at Dragon*Con, but work with me here.) Now, add a lot more corsets, and replace most of the geek shirts with leather fetishwear.

Still with me so far? Excellent! Now replace the panels on UFOs, Star Trek, and how to make ice cream with liquid nitrogen with workshops on flogging, figging, and needle play. Finally, imagine a huge open space filled with all manner of dungeon furniture, and picture an open play party every night.

And oh, yes, we played.

Saturday night, we Cut for kinky sex

Objectification: ur doin it wrong!

One of my particular kinks I’ve quite liked for quite some time now is sexual objectification. Put most simply, it’s the creation of a psychological environment in which I’m using my partner for sexual gratification, or she’s using me for sexual gratification, without too much concern for the state of the other person’s sexual arousal or response (within whatever limits my partner and I have set out for the encounter).

I was talking about this with figmentj over the course of the last weekend, and she raised some interesting points that lead me to believe that I’m not really doing it right.

Now, to me, there is very little in the world that’s hotter than grabbing my partner, pushing her against the wall or down on the bed, and whispering in her ear “I’m going to take you now. It’s okay if you don’t want it; you can scream if you like.” Unless perhaps it’s a partner grabbing me by the hair, throwing me on the bed, and saying something similar.

And to me, that’s what I’d consider objectification–the taking of my partner for my own sexual gratification.

And hers–which is where it kind of breaks down. For, as figmentj rightly pointed out, it’s only objectification if the person is reduced to the status of an object–that is, if the person’s feelings, experience, and humanity don’t enter in at all to what’s going on.

For me, the hottest thing about this kind of scenario is savoring the emotional state tat it creates in my partner, and seeing how my partner responds to being treated as a sexual object. If she’s not into it, on some level, it doesn’t work for me, because it’s precisely her responses that most get me hot.

Which is, when you get right down to it, not objectification. Her feelings and experience do enter into it; in fact, they’re precisely the point of the whole endeavor. It’s seeing how she reacts to being objectified that gets me off.

Which means, in the final analysis, I’m not really objectifying her at all.

Which is quite a conundrum, really. figmentj argues (cogently, I might add; I rarely prevail in a discussion like this with her) that what I’m doing may look like objectification, but it isn’t–not really. It’s something else. In order to be objectification, I’d have to have the same attitude toward her that I have toward an object, like a sex toy or something. Obviously, if I use some kind of sex toy, I don’t care at all about the experience from that sex toy’s perspective; it truly is an object. But since the central focus of the objectification I do with a partner is savoring her responses, and thinking about what’s happening from her perspective, then she isn’t an object at all, almost by definition.

So I’m clearly not doing it right. (Okay, that part is tongue firmly in cheek.)

That brings up another argument, one that was indirectly touched on by some of the folks who commented in the post on tattoos, porn, and respect for women, about what it means for porn to “objectify” women.

figmentj also argues, cogently, that much of mainstream porn is in fact objectifying (both to men and to women), but not for reasons that many folks of an anti-porn persuasion might think.

The standard objections to porn–at least the ones I hear most often–don’t really hold up to close examination. “It disempowers women.” Well, surely, if a woman has power, if she has control over her own body, then that control must extend to where, when, with whom, and under what conditions to have sex–including the choice to have sex while a camera is running, yes? “It degrades women.” This is an argument rooted in the notion that certain acts of and by themselves are inherently degrading, when nothing could be further from the truth. Degradation is contextual; it’s in the intent of the folks involved, not the act. Simple PIV intercourse? Not degrading when it’s mutual and consensual; degrading in the context of rape. Coming on a woman’s face? Not degrading when it’s mutual and consensual (yes, there are women who enjoy it, honest Injun); degrading if it isn’t.

And so forth.

The argument that figmentj raised, though, that standard, mainstream porn is objectifying not because sex is objectifying and not because sexual depictions are objectifying, but because the way it is scripted and filmed, with its surrealistically-proportioned actors who are as biologically implausible as a Barbie doll and its over-the-top, phony sound effects that make clear to anyone who’s ever actually had sex that the folks involved are not enjoying it, seems contrived and indeed even psychologically constructed to maximize the emotional distance between the viewer and the people involved.

In other words, much of mainstream porn–if there is such a thing–appears to be calculated to separate the depiction of sex as far as possible from the genuine responses of the people involved, and to be shot with folks who scarcely even look human, increasing that emotional distance still more. It doesn’t draw the viewer in; it doesn’t create an emotional connection between the scene and the viewer; its inauthenticity actually encourages the viewer not to empathize with the actors or even, really, consider them as human beings at all.

The objectification, then, takes place at the point at which the porn is consumed, not the point at which it is made. The real experiences of the actors becomes entirely irrelevant.

Now, this line of reasoning opens up several potential cans of worms–a whole bait factory of worms, in fact, not the least of which are

  • At what point do the feelings of the people involved cease to be relevant, and the experiences of the viewers become most relevant? What if some viewers identify with the folks involved, but other viewers do not?
  • If the people who produce a depiction of sexual activity, and the people who are involved in the sexual activity, are fully engaged in it, but the people who watch it are not, does the viewer’s experience or the experience of the people involved define the caliber of the experience?
  • Is objectification even a bad thing? I would argue that, like everything else, it’s contextual; after all, examples of objectification abound. A professional basketball player is valued by his fans for his skill at the game, not for his humanity; ditto for the Colgate commercial model. Hell, one could even argue that the stars in a conventional Hollywood movie are being objectified; sure, the audience is engaged (if it’s a good movie), and sure they’re identifying with and connecting to the characters on the screen–but the expressions and feelings of the actors aren’t real. The audience is connecting with the actor’s character, not the actor himself…though I fear by this point I’ve distorted the original argument all out of shape.

But those questions are not the real interesting part.

The real interesting part is the implication for porn in general.

Now, I’m not that big a consumer of porn. The mainstream stuff in particular does little for me, for (among other things) exactly the reasons figmentj was talking about–the inauthenticity and the bizarre, weird-looking people in it.

On those occasions when I am interested in porn, my tastes tend to run to things that are a little more…umm, unconventional. I’m quite fond of the sort of stuff that kink.com produces–you know, bondage, S&M, humiliation play, that sort of thing.

Kink.com takes a lot of heat for the movies they produce. Take all the standard arguments against porn and crank them up to eleven; as a society, we’ve always been just fine with violence but a bit less OK with it when it’s combined by sex. A movie of a woman bound on all fours in an iron framework being simultaneously spanked and sodomized is, in short, bound to get folks talking, and not in good ways.

Yet the one thing you can say about this particular species of porn is that the reactions of the people involved are authentic.

Which is why I dig it. It works for me because the responses of the folks involved are authentic; it works for me for exactly the same reason that objectification play works for me.

And that means, at least for me, that this tied-down, cock-up-the-ass objectifying porn…isn’t objectifying at all.