In spite of the community’s attempts otherwise, the universal symbol for BDSM/bondage for most is a pair of handcuffs. In the vanilla world, handcuffs are a thing. I can’t even begin to count the number of people I’ve anecdotally encountered who have handcuffs hanging from their rear-view mirror. Then there are those who wear handcuff earrings, necklaces, and other jewelry who’re otherwise entirely vanilla.
Which is crazy because, in so many ways, handcuffs suck; certainly they’re not a very good entry-point type for BDSM restraint. I’d generally consider them advanced play, as they have many disadvantages which could well turn people away from bedroom bondage play forever.
I’m as guilty as anyone who’s begun heir bondage activities by securing a girl with handcuffs. I acquired a pair of “real” handcuffs at one those pseudo headshops so prevalent in the ’80s. I played around with them, understanding the principle of double-locks, and even figured out how easy it was to open them with a paper clip. They were fascinating, an implacable way to bind someone, securely and inescapably.
A few days later I used them on my girlfriend and she had nothing good to say about them. I’d cuffed her hands behind her, gagged her with four strips of duct tape (even then I’d figured out that duct tape gags required more than the single strip shown so popularly in movies and television) and began to enjoy some mutual fun. But, unlike the rope we’d used previously, she was not happy with these bonds.
The problem was, of course, lying down, they were horribly uncomfortable, pressing into both her wrists and back. Additionally, they had virtually zero “wiggle room”; that is, there was no way to make herself anything resembling comfortable. And escaping was impossible.
Of course, it’s precisely that utter implacable inescapablity that can be the appeal for handcuffs and other metal restraints. There’s no chance of wriggling free; you’re locked up, utterly and completely fucked. You’re going to need to dance to your top’s tune or you’ll be staying this way, forever.
If you want to start with handcuff bondage, then it’s easy and safe to start your journey at WalMart, where they sell metal handcuffs in the toy department for $3.99. While these certainly aren’t secure, they’re a good entry point as they mimic the real deal pretty well. For more fun, buy a couple of pairs, maybe even a half-dozen, and lock them all on at once.
If you find that appealing, then it might be time to move on to the real deal. While you may have any number of local merchants peddling them (those pseudo head shops still exist, and adult toy stores carry them as well; last I checked Spencer Gifts carries them as well), my personal go-to is HandcuffWarehouse.com. There you’ll find a mind-boggling array of cuffs, many of which you probably didn’t know existed.
They have the “normal” sort of cuffs you associate with police, but they also have any number of “hinged” or “solid” cuffs. Neither has the chain between them; the former have a hinge, and the latter are simply two loops which close over the wrists. Both offer a greater level of security than regular cuffs. But the fact that they’re so inflexible can offer an array of potential problems and dangers you should certainly consider before purchasing.
And then there are thumb cuffs, which can also be repurposed as toe cuffs. And any number of leg irons, waist chains, and antique-styled historical cuffs if you want to subject someone to the indignities of the past.
It should also be pointed out that they have a number of cuffs available in a variety of colors, and even offer free engraving!
There are a few basic rules for using metal restraints. First, keep keys handy at all times. The majority of cuffs use the same universal key, and you can purchase extras very inexpensively. Many of the speciality or historic cuffs utilize a unique key. Do not lose this!
Regardless of the cuffs, you do not want to have to release someone without keys. While you can, indeed, open regular cuffs with a paper clip, it can be difficult and time consuming. Meanwhile, speciality cuffs can be much trickier to jimmy. So, really, do not lose the keys!
Next, always double lock the cuffs. A regular cuff closes via a one-way ratchet; that is, it can be tightened easily, but not loosened. The double-lock prevents them from getting tighter. If someone’s wriggling around in a scene, the potential for them to accidentally tighten is great, and this will put an end to things very quickly. So you’ll want to double lock.
Finally, one of the best things about cuffs is their weight. It can be fun to collect a series of cuffs and stack them, leaving someone shackled in literally pounds of metal. It can be a heady experience, and a visually appealing one as well. But if you do this, do not leave the keyholes facing each other; stack them bottom to top. Trust me, if you leave the keyholes facing each other, you’re going to have a very difficult time unlocking them, and your sub will (wisely) never let you use cuffs on them again.
Damn, this article is already too long and I haven’t even gotten into more exotic metal restraints, such as fiddles, yokes, even gag-types such as branks or scolds bridles. Perhaps another article is warranted?
Regardless, metal restraints (or cuffs) can be a fun addition to your intimate playtime. As always, utilize common-sense safety precautions, but enjoy yourself while you explore consensual kink!
PirateStan has been involved in his local BDSM community since 2007, after having had a lifelong inclination towards it. He currently lives a contented life in Southeastern Virginia with his girl, zeirah, while working by day for a Major Metropolitan Publication.