In our quest to cover all fetishes and play styles in KINK WEEKLY, we were surprised to find out that tickling, according to at least two surveys, is the second most popular fetish (after feet.) Thus, it is surprising that so little is written about it. Well, it is time to change all that.
The most popular form of tickling is not BDSM related at all – it is called “erotic tickling” and is quite codified. Generally done as foreplay, it is not play in and of itself. The key, according to some aficionados, is to find the ticklish spots and be very light in your tickling – and never go into the pain area, as in BDSM. There are books on erotic tickling and, done “by the book,” its proponents claim tickling can stimulate the nerve endings to such a degree as to make the subsequent sex much more intense.
Sometimes erotic tickling strays into the world of BDSM. A popular approach is to tickle a subject whose wrists and ankles are restrained. In this scenario, the “tickler” stops short of inflicting pain, aiming instead for a session of light, teasing yet sensual tickling – with a taste of bondage thrown in.
The next step in the tickling continuum is true BDSM tickling. As in all types of BDSM play, toys can be used. The hand, of course, is the tickler’s tool of choice. But feathers come in a close second, followed by feather dusters, toothbrushes, soft makeup brushes, silk cloths and other inventive tickling implements.
What about safety? There is a tendency to overlook safety concerns when participating in a BDSM tickling scene. After all, can you die laughing? When have you ever heard of a serial tickler or a tickling rapist? (A tickist?) Humor aside, any BDSM activity than can cause a submissive to be unable to breathe and empty his/her bladder should be taken seriously! A tickling scene can be very analogous to any other BDSM scene. Keep in mind, the soles of the feet (where much of tickling is done) are incredibly sensitive; the “bastinado” torture of the feet during the Spanish Inquisition is considered one of the most extreme – out of a panoply of extreme tortures! That said, if you are going to have a serious tickling session, set up a safeword and safe signal. (A word to the Tops: if the sub is in the extreme throws of a serious tickling session, he/she might not be able to utter the safe word – or even give the safe signal. Always keep an eye on her/him.)
Most times a BDSM tickling scene is done with the submissive (or the “ticklee”) in restraints or some form of bondage. Tickling can produce pain — much like spanking, flogging, or caning. The pain/sensation scale can be quite high – a ticklish submissive can be driven almost mad by these sensations. A skillful Tickling Top (clever title, eh?) can play this sensation palette like a violin. There is really no other form of play where you can go from full bore, almost unbearable mega-sensations to zero sensations so quickly – and vice-versa. There is no doubt that submissives can be put into a tickle-induced form of sub-space.
A very popular type of tickle play is time-limit scening. Tickle parties, like those promoted at some dungeons, are set up for this system. Here you tickle the submissive for ten-minute intervals. You can then discuss it with the submissive and go for another ten minutes. Or not. This is a great way for beginners to practice their tickling techniques. Ten minutes may not sound like a lot, but it can be quite intense for both the tickler and the ticklee. And the screams you hear can often rival those of a full-blown BDSM torture session. The more you understand about tickling, the more you will comprehend why it is so popular.
Tickling is another tool in our BDSM play arsenal. We recommend, to our fellow Tops who have not tried it, giving your submissive a serious tickling the next time you have him/her in restraints. You might find you can explore another set of sensations you had not tapped into. If you are a submissive, you might negotiate a tickling scene with your Top – an introduction to see if you like it. (Although, some positively hate tickling. Period.)
The beauty of tickling is that it requires little equipment, has a shallow learning curve and is very sensation intensive. I guess you might call that win-win-win activity!
After a ten year run as head writer for the legendary bondage.com, and an equally long run as the host of the hit internet show “Baadmaster’s Dungeon,” we are pleased to welcome the one and only Baadmaster to KinkWeekly. His thoughts about all things BDSM will now appear regularly on these pages. From the mental aspects of D/s to the nuts and bolts of S&M play, Baadmaster will cover every facet of this ever expanding lifestyle.
For some reason since i was a kid watching a girl get tickled or tickling a girl was always the most extreme turn on. Especially, the girls who laughed hysterically loud. As I got older I began tying and tickling willful partners. I’ve always found as long as you respect their limits they enjoy it. It is a grest game when the girl is tied spread eagle and I take my time exploring and finding the most ticklish spot!
I hope to see more follow-up on this. I’m not sure this really captures the fetish or the community. Maybe you could do some interviews?
Dr. Molotov says
Nice and different topic! Why hurt a masochist when you can tickle them!
Regarding safety, apparently laughter (and thus excessive tickling) can kill if there are underlying medical conditions. Not an exactly scientific source but here are some examples:
I also remember reading in a book called “Phantoms in the Brain” about the case a person who after a some brain damage (pseudobulbar paralysis) couldn’t stop laughing and eventually died after one and a half hour of continuous laughter. So indeed, timing, breaks and variation of intensity are of the essence!
A more practical safety concern for me is the matter of restraints. A person being tickled will be moving their body uncontrollably, thus putting extra tension on their tied joints and ligaments (wrists, ankles,…). Of course in this case the restraints should be quite comfortable, but I am not sure in what way this is best achieved for such an extreme situation. Any suggestions?
i loathe receiving tickling so very much but it’s fun to use as punishment on my sub who also HATES it! it’s borderline a hard limit for him but we’ve negotiated it can be used as a light form of punishment.