From time to time, I will answer questions that I think are important to answer. Here is one of them:
“I am a newbie and recently went to the Folsom Street Fair. I saw a group of “performers” doing all sorts of body pain-related acts — like stapling things to themselves, putting needles through their cheeks and flesh hook suspensions. But it made me wonder: What does this have to do with BDSM?”
I asked a similar question at my first play party years ago. A male Dom was doing an edge play scene with two female submissives. Not only did he do needle play, but he also did insertions with huge dildos, stapling and sensory deprivation. It was quite an incredible scene. I was introduced to the Dom and said, “You just blew my mind with your two slaves.” He replied, “Thanks, but they are not my slaves.” What I learned was that there is no implied connectivity in our lifestyle. There is no compulsory linkage.
A further example, which will be very close to your Folsom observation, has to do with suspensions. Just because a person is suspended by flesh hooks does not mean that person is submissive – or even into the BDSM lifestyle. From an observational point of view, it sure looks like the person on the hooks is bottoming. But, looks can be deceiving; the “suspendee” can be directing the whole scene. He/she could be the Top. Most likely, the subject is a masochist. Thus, likely there is some connection to S&M — Sadism and Masochism — the S&M in the BDSM acronym. But this does not have to always be the case. The “suspendee” can just be a thrill seeker whose connection to S&M and/or the BDSM world is tenuous at best.
Therefore, the answer to your question, “Does this have anything to do with BDSM?” is that it might or might not. (I feel like a politician with this answer!) Which leads to a natural digression that can be of assistance — don’t assume anything in this lifestyle. If you see a person at a dungeon dressed like a textbook Domina, do not assume she is a Domme. Ask. You can respectfully ask just about any question to a fellow lifestyler. Other than approaching a collared submissive without the permission of his/her Master or Mistress, no question is off limits. This is not your local bar, where asking “Are you into fisting” might get you slapped. Or looked at like a nut. Or finding a fisting partner! (You rolls the dice, you takes your chances in the vanilla world. Sometimes they are not vanilla, but unvanilla!)
You are lucky to have attended, for your introduction into BDSM, San Francisco’s famed Folsom Street Fair. Here, the rules of public display are loosened; even the police look the other way at the crazy outrageousness. Venues like Folsom, where we can show off many BDSM-oriented activities, give us the opportunity to see many varied aspects of the lifestyle.
I might add one observation regarding Folsom. Bondage, despite all the efforts of Kink Weekly, its contributors and Folsom to portray us as “safe, sane and consensual,” we still carry a stigma to the world at large. Whenever some nut imprisons a victim in a basement, it is invariably described as a “dungeon” by the media. When I tell a stranger that I am into bondage, the response is often, “So you beat your girlfriend?” Recently the “beat your wife” response has become a bit less common – but with the latest spate of sexual assault charges dominating the media, expect these types of misconceptions to continue. Hopefully, over time, this will change.
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.