With the entrance of younger kinksters into the traditional BDSM Community (before you assume anything, I think this is good!), there is now an alt/ink/kink/bondage faction that is championed by these millennials. The “traditional” slave/slut tattoos have been joined by neck, face, breasts and even “black ink” tattoos. Many of these new lifestylers are pushing the boundaries of both ink and kink. And even though my lightly tatted slave said, “It looks like everything has been done” – this is far from the case. Still, the days of shocking people with a sleeve are long gone. (Maybe that wasn’t a good reason to get tattooed anyway.) Tattoos, like marijuana, have gone mainstream.
Yes, we have come a long way from the “Property of Master So&So” tattoo (the kiss of death for relationships according to professional tattooers). Since pushing boundaries is integral to our kinky lifestyle, there is one option for permanent marking that is, by definition, truly edgy – branding. The final frontier!
Branding, simply put, is burning the skin’s surface to make a mark. This mark can be either temporary or permanent. The temporary kind is often referred to as a “surface burn.” A skillfully done surface burn will usually begin to fade within a few months; after a year, the most that will remain is a residual redness – depending upon the skin type. Extreme masochists love this type of play, which has no shortage of pain.
The danger in surface burns lies in the cavalier attitude people have in both giving and getting them. As they are not intended to be permanent, most do not use branding professionals for this. They bend a copper wire into the desired shape, heat it up and brand away. Even assuming that the temperature was correct for the temporary effect, professional levels of sterility and aftercare are often ignored. This can lead to blistering and infection. I suggest having a branding professional do the surface burn and supervise the aftercare – just as if it were a permanent branding. Failing that, you should have someone skilled in the art of surface burns and its aftercare present when the branding is done.
Although there are those who get permanently branded just for the thrill of it, permanent branding is usually reserved for the most serious of BDSM couples as a mark of ownership. It demands the highest level of trust — the submissive must have total trust in the Dom/me’s branding skill or judgment in choosing a brander. It entails extreme pain – both during the actual branding and throughout the healing process. And it demands commitment – a brand is for life. It is not a temporary surface burn that fades in time; there is no “laser removal,” as in tattooing. In its totality, branding is the heavyweight of all markings.
Permanent branding is quite a bit more complicated than one would expect. Most experienced branders work in 316L stainless steel sheet metal and shape it into different parts of the brand. They build their designs using sequential “strikes” of thin metal pieces to make the complete brand. Heated by a propane torch, the temperature is critical. Too hot, you can injure muscle tissue or ruin the brand with too much scarification. Too little heat, the brand will look weak. And all the strikes must be applied with equal pressure and identical heat or an uneven brand will result. To properly brand a person takes a lot of skill; we are, after all, not cattle.
Issues of skill aside, the major concern for most people is the permanence of the brand. “What if Master/Mistress were to release me and I have a brand on my butt?” This would seem to be a legitimate question. Since few things last forever, the real question should be, “Can I live with this mark if the relationship were to end?” Framed in this context, the decision seems to be simpler. If the mark is esthetically pleasing and you think, were you to break up, that you can still wear your mark with pride, then branding just might make sense. On the other hand, if the relationship does last forever…wow!!!
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.