The knife’s edge
This blog post is about a workshop we did that created a lot of feedback. The workshop was called FEAR and was about a sub being broken using various kinds of fear, with the fear of bodily harm being the most prevalent. We heard from several people that this was too extreme for a workshop and many were shocked by what they saw, doms and subs alike. This is not a defense of the workshop but my view on extreme play. However, to give this post context, I should give some salient point about the workshop:
A quote from the workshop’s description :”Are there limits with this play, can you go too far? Come explore with us, the sublime to obscene, the overwhelming to silent. Not for the faint of heart, or sensitive of soul.”
at the beginning of the workshop it was clearly stated that concepts like SSC and RACK did not apply here. This was consensual non-consensual for players that know each other extremely well and this should not be tried with someone you just met.
The participants were consenting adults who have engaged in this kind of play before and it is well with their limits.
A hunting knife was positioned dead-center at the subs eye-ball.
The sub passed out 3 times for a second.
The sub was repeatedly punched and sensory deprived
The sub was incoherent at the end.
Maybe we should have made it more plain by saying “we are going to break someone, if that bothers you, please leave. We’ll give you your money back.” (although with one attendee, he’d want his money back after attending the workshop)
The workshop had 3 main characters: Master Olivier, his partner Pup Sparky and their friend Master Mason. All 3 of them engage in extreme forms of play. I remember when I met them for the first time, Sparky proudly showed off a burn mark on his ass by an iron (like for clothes) from a scene a month ago. In fact, I’ve never seen Sparky without one or more bruises. Mason told us his favorite toy for BDSM is a hammer. Master Olivier, wearing a shirt with Satan on it, told us with a glint in his brimstone eyes that he fucked a priest in the priest’s church, on the priest’s own altar. ( and he was the one chasing Sparky with the iron) I’m going call them by their first names from now on. Because I’m family, unky O and unky M will forgive me. (*runs*)
Sparky and Olivier both have degrees in psychology. (Not that I’m impressed by that, since I have one as well.) They also were title holders and later organizers of the International Leather Sir/boy contest (ILSb). Mason is a redneck biker ( think sons of anarchy un-disneyfied) with a wife that’s (apparently) scarier than he is (She comes next year, so… love you Auntie. Kiss Kiss).
All live in the same town and teach classes in the US on various subjects. I say this to point out that they have the brains to know the risks of what they are doing, they KNOW each other and they play HARD.
I wasn’t particularly bothered by what I saw, I WAS caught up by the intensity of it and the juxtaposition between the aggression of Mason and the cool, almost detached, running commentaryfrom Olivier. I would never do such play because I would go nuclear and a wailing and gnashing of teeth would ensue after my acid tongue scarred souls forever (I’m the sub in this scenario).
So, not every kink is for everyone. Everyone has a different idea of what is extreme and how far you can take it. Take gun-play, for some it might be exciting just to have a nozzle put to your head or in your mouth, for others things get interesting if they’re not sure if it’s loaded or not…. Or take daddy-play: you can call your Dom daddy and have him as a mentor or you can rump about in diapers throwing your baby bottle across the room.
The idea of breaking someone or being broken is a rather common fantasy. However, the workshop took that fantasy and showed you the raw quivering reality of how someone can be broken. Theoretically it may be horny to be so completely and utterly all-in in the exchange of power but the visceral reaction to actually seeing it, is quite another.
In this case violence was the primary factor but I believe that people wouldn’t be less shocked if a more psychological/emotional approach would have been taken. In fact, people might be more shocked I think. Everyone can relate to a threat of bodily harm, but to see a sub mentally destroyed with his flaws/fears exposed and his mental supports torn down until there is a gibbering pile of despair. How would you feel about that?
I think the core issue with con non-con is that you consent to play in a way that doesn’t need –or want- your consent during the play. So, you might regret having said YES when saying NO now might mean nothing. (not that a “no” was heard during the workshop). I can argue it is RACK( since all parties knew what they were getting into) and more moral than going out looking for a random fight like a hooligan( since at some point consent was given)
We definitely turned some people off from this kind of scene. Good, they learned that this is not for them without too big a scar or risk. Some people had a glint in their eye. Good, they saw it done and hopefully picked up some techniques and heard the warnings.
This kind of scene needs to be so extremely tailored to the participants, that a playbook is hard to give. Other than it’s dangerous to play with the inner weaknesses of the sub without a thorough plan for afterwards. Mason and Sparky both needed aftercare after this. For Sparky it’s obvious why, but also Mason needed time to retreat from the place they both went. Don’t think it’s easier for the dom to descend and claw out of the mental abyss that is needed for this. To stand in your darkest place, accept this is you, revel in the malicious tendencies within you with sadistic glee, and somehow extricate yourself again to be fit for human company.
tips & tricks:
I think the only mistake we made in this workshop was the consent of the participants. The play was well within the limits of Sparky, Olivier and Mason. We didn’t take into account the limits of the people watching this and we clearly went over THEIR limits.
Would I do this workshop again next year? Yes, I would. It’s extremely rare to see something so intense and intimate as a non-participant and for the curious it’s a chance to examine feelings they didn’t know they had about the subject: good and bad. I would however make it more clear on how far beyond normal play this goes and that the workshop is perhaps more about your fear than Sparky’s.