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The Agony & the Ecstasy 

Charlotte's fetish underground

Page 5 of 6

Different Strokes

If you're not into this scene, you're no doubt wondering: what's the attraction? What is it about this lifestyle that some people find so alluring? Realize that like in any subculture, there are varying degrees of intensity and commitment within the BDSM community. Some, for example, simply like to dress the part and perform on stage, whereas for others, it's truly a lifestyle, and they derive pleasure from giving or receiving mental or physical pain, from dominating or being dominated.

"There's just something about giving up power and control to someone else; to be at someone else's mercy," says White. "I like pain mixed with pleasure."

Indeed he does. If you remember, White is the guy who got his penis zapped with the electric flyswatter. (He later tells me it was the third time he'd had it done, and gave it a 7 on a pain scale of 1 to 10). Apparently he's now particularly into CBT, or Cock and Ball Torture. "I use clothes pins, floggers, and even a rat trap," he says. "I'm also into knife play; no cutting or blood, just kind of a threat. And I'm slowly but surely getting into needles. But I refuse to do anything anal." Hey, thanks for sharing.

"The mainstream public probably sees us as just a bunch of freaks dressed in leather beating on each other," says Raven, the guy who got worked over with the violet wand at the FFP party. "But it's so much more that that. A dominant and submissive have a very trusting relationship that I would almost equate with that of a marriage. A lot of times there isn't a romantic involvement between the two, but it's as close as it gets."

Conversely, the dominatrices talk about enjoying the feelings of control and power. As any good dominatrix will tell you, one can't simply decide to be one. As a general rule, you must first experience being a "bottom" (submissive) before you can be a "top" (dominant). This helps you learn the ropes (sometimes quite literally), as well as better understand what the other person is feeling.

"I like to take my clients to the edge, then bring them back down," explains Mistress Sapphire. "I know the kind of head space it puts you in. After a session, I hold them, wrap blankets around them, and make sure they feel safe. The last time I did a session I ended up cooking him food, and we were laughing by the end of the night."

While not all, most of the folks interviewed for this story had a few things in common. One was a broken heart, and the other was a somewhat rudderless childhood, where they spent years feeling lost and looking for something and someone to connect with. Of course, who hasn't had a broken heart or felt lost at one time or another? Are these folks punishing themselves? Did something happen in their childhood to make them act out sexually in such an unorthodox way? The popular psychological take on the whole S&M lifestyle is that it's a way to avoid intimacy — all the whips, costumes and extreme behavior help fill the void created by a lack of healthy relationships. Proponents of the lifestyle say that's a bunch of nonsense, and seem to agree that it's simply about expressing their sexuality a little differently than most people — OK, maybe a lot differently than most people. But that's OK, self-expression is a good thing. Different strokes, as they say, for different folks. But if you're curious, grab a cat-o-nine-tails, maybe a dog collar and a pair of cuffs, and always remember the BDSM mantra: "Safe, Sane and Consensual. Anything else is brutality."

BDSM Starter Kit

Curious? This should get you started:

Books and Films:

¨ Fetishes: An HBO documentary on the famous house of domination in Manhattan called Pandora's Box.

¨ Preaching To The Perverted: 1997 film about a minister who employs a young computer whizkid to infiltrate the London S&M scene.

¨ The Secretary: 2002 film about an executive's (James Spader) kinky relationship with his secretary (Maggie Gyllenhaal).

¨ The Story Of O: A classic BDSM story.

¨ Screw The Roses, Send Me The Thorns: The Romance and Sexual Sorcery of Sadomasochism, by Philip Miller.

Websites:

¨ www.purgatory-theshow.comPurgatory is scheduled for Saturday, April 9 at Amos' Southend

¨ http://groups.yahoo.com/group/funfreakypeoplePromote yourself, your talent, business or organization. Network and socialize with people that have the same artistic interests as you. Currently patrons include people from the following communities: Witch, Artist, Music, Movie, Writer, Performance, LGBTP, Goth, Industrial, Fetish, etc.

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