The Art of Burlesque

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When I was in Seoul I threw some fetish proms with my very good friend Chris Backe. We had some great performers for our events, and one of my favorites was a troupe called White Lies Burlesque. In my travels to various places and in my career in promotions, I have noticed that most fetish events and parties end up booking a burlesque troupe.

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Now I recently went to a burlesque show at The Lovecraft in Portland, and it got me thinking about why burlesque and kink are so often intertwined.

To start, what is burlesque? It can be hard to explain to the vanilla world sometimes. Yes, it is women taking their clothes off. But no, it is not strippers. I guess the main difference is that it is a more sex positive environment. It is a show, with performers who have talents from fan dance to acting, and they usually have a theme to their act. The girls from white lies had several bits that were wonderful and funny, such as the girl who would put blown up balloons all over her naked body, and then let people pop them one by one. Or the girl who did a dance with a cake that involved her eventually getting covered in it. I know, it sounds weird, but it’s a fun environment with lots of cheering and laughter and good-natured cat calls.

Think about a strip club (only North Americans know what I am talking about here but bear with me). There is loud music and a loud DJ who drones on from his booth, sounding like an announcer at a sporting event. There are a bunch of sullen looking guys and a girl on stage in high-heels, who comes out in some skimpy thing and takes it off slowly. No one cheers. The men look like wolves watching a sheep.

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Now a strip club is similar to burlesque, in that it is girls getting naked that you can’t have sex with. I know this is an American thing and I know it’s weird to my European and Asian friends who do not understand why you would pay to see a girl naked instead of paying to have sex with a girl. And I can not explain that, though I have tried over many bottles of whiskey in bars all over the world. I don’t know why we like it, but we do. And it isn’t JUST us. The Japanese have Geisha, who do NOT have sex with the men they entertain. And burlesque is originally French, so obviously at some point someone in Europe thought a brothel wasn’t the only option.

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Burlesque is about the tease. It’s about the joy of cheering while I girl does some awesome dance routine or kink routine, and laughing with your friends over cocktails. It’s not at all like a strip club, sex club, brothel, or anything else. It’s a unique and more classy experience, and it’s just a fun thing to do with your friends.

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So the highlight of my night at The Lovecraft (Burlesque show on the first Tuesday of every month, if you’re in the area) was a performer called Morgue Anne, who stripped out of a straight jacket. I’d never seen anything like it, and I thought it was a wonderful performance. But don’t take MY word for it, because you can watch her.

Burlesque is unique for this reason. Where else are you going to see a girl wiggle out of a leather straight jaket or do a fan dance? It’s just not a common thing. And it should be, because it really is good fun.

As far as how kink relates to burlesque, I can only imagine it is because kinky folks like things a little more interesting than JUST naked girls. And we also appreciate more sex-positive experiences like burlesque.

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Ron Jeremy’s Club Sesso in Portland

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I recently went to Club Sesso, which is a sex club in Portland owned by Ron Jeremy. Club Sesso is billed as Portland’s “upscale” swingers club. And I must admit, the art on the walls is nice, the walls themselves are nice, and the place is very polished and well designed. It does look very classy. I enjoyed the signs on the walls reminding people not too be creepy, since I think sometimes people at sex clubs DO need reminding of that fact, and I was very impressed with the fancy showers and the buffet of food.

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Now, I went on a kink night, which is different than their other nights. They have pajama parties and other themes, and most days it’s a black tie kind of affair that people get really dressed up for. But on Kink night I’m told the crowd is less… shall we say “fancy.” This is because it’s one of the rare nights where you can get in without buying a year membership.

The prices are steep. It’s $100 for couples, $150 for single guys, and $50 for single women, not including nightly door fees. And the dress code is usually pretty strict too. This combines to make the kink nights something of a free-for-all since the admission on those nights is only $20 and the dress code is more lax. I saw people in jeans and T-shirts, which I am told is never normally allowed.

Of course there are no cameras permitted inside, and they have lockers to keep your things in while you play. In most regards, it is similar to other sex clubs like Club Desire or The Velvet Rope. But in some ways it is very different.

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Club Sesso is like a dance club. The music is loud enough that you have to shout over it, and it was techno the night I was there. It’s also crowded. I was told that most nights it hosts about 200 people. I went on a Thursday and I am sure that there were that many people there.

It’s also a lot less secret than other sex clubs. It’s right in the middle of downtown Portland and there is all kinds of celebrity branding going on because the owner is (let’s face it) perhaps the biggest name in Pornography.

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I talked to several people who just go here to watch, so I also found that to be pretty different from most sex cubs that I have been to. That, combined with the massive crowds and the loud music, did not make it feel like a sex club. It made it feel like a dance club here sex was permitted.

There are private rooms, and a couple had sex next to me while I was plopped down on the couch relaxing because that’s okay too. The friendly DM staff keeps a careful eye on things that go on to make sure that it is all safe, sane, and consensual. You give your real name and ID at the door, and sign a form promising to accept full liability for everything you see and do inside.

I went with a date, but chose not to have sex there. Unlike most sex clubs I have been to, it didn’t seem heated. In fact, there seemed to be air conditioning going (or at least chilly night air being pumped in.) I was too cold to take my coat off, let alone all of my clothes. In addition, the rooms were mostly full and my date was not the type to fuck on a couch in front of people.

I think a lot of people have a lot of fun there every day, and that’s awesome. It’s certainly a sex-positive environment and I think the DMs were doing a great job and the bar staff was very snappy, as were the serving staff stocking the buffet. It seemed very clean and professional.

As for the loud music and the cold air; I’m sure some people like that kind of thing. Maybe I’m just getting old?

Also, I learned that Ron Jeremy has his own rum.

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Forever is About Six Months.

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BDSM is a huge and varied thing. There are so many different sub-groups and various fetishes within the kink community that it’s hard to ever sum it up. From furries to foot fetishists to hook suspension groups, the rabbit hole is deep, and it’s a long way down.

I was talking recently with a Dom friend of mine, who was mentioning how surprised he was by things that he ended up doing, which he thought he would never do. He said someone told him when he got into the community that “Forever is about six months.” Meaning, you say you’ll never do something, not ever ever ever, and then you end up trying it down the road.

I have found this to be a regularly occurring phenomenon, so I thought I’d devote a post to the most common things people say that they will never ever do.

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Needle Play: The art of needle play involves putting needles under someone’s skin. Of course one must make sure that said needles are sterile and, because bacteria like staff and MRSA can live on the skin, you must also use alcohol to clean the skin before inserting any needles. This can be a simple affair with one or two needles used only for sensation, or it can become an art form when people use many needles to make beautiful and intricate designs.

People say they will never ever do it mostly if they are freaked out by needles, and the feel of one sliding into their skin. But if practiced correctly, needle play is not like getting blood drawn, because the needles do not go in that deep. They are meant to be slid right under the top layer of skin, and pushed sideways, so as not to go into the tissue and cause permanent damage. This actually causes very little pain, and because the needles do not go deep, it lacks the sense of violation that some feel when a needle to pushed deep into a vein for a IV or something.

Yes, I have tried it. It was an experience and I’m glad I did it, but I didn’t enjoy it enough to want to do it often.

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Piss Play: I guess there are a thousand ways to describe this one, though I mostly hear “golden showers,” or “watersports.” This is the act of someone peeing on you, or peeing on someone. Most typically done outside or in a shower or bathtub, it is something that plays on a deep-seeded taboo in the human mind that one should not touch waste from their own body or from someone else’s.

Most people say they will never ever do this because it is gross, and I admit that there is an ick factor involved. It’s better if the person doing the peeing drinks lots of water first, because there is less of a smell then.

I have talked to several people who ended up trying it, and mostly there is two sides to it. The first is the side of the person who wants to pee on someone. For them, it is often described as an act of control, or the ultimate submission of their partner to their will. For the person on the receiving end, I have had it described to me as being incredibly hot because it is so wrong to them. To do something so gross just to please their master brings them joy.

I also tried this, and I don’t see the appeal myself in peeing on someone (or being peed on for that matter). But I don’t judge people who like it because I’m into some strange things myself and we should never judge our fellow kinksters.

*Side note: I have never actually met anyone who is into scat play, nor have I ever tried it. I am sure someone, somewhere does it. But I guess I feel it’s so very uncommon that it doesn’t need to be addressed. I promise to change my mind of I ever actually meet someone who likes to play with poo. 

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Bukkake: This is basically playing with cum in various ways. In some cases, it can just be a man cumming on his partner, perhaps in a more taboo area like the face. Or, for a sub of mine, he would cum on my stomach and then lick it up slowly while making eye contact with me. It can even include food; for example a man cumming on a piece of food and then making his partner eat it.

This is often a never ever for people who find cum disgusting. It does have a odd taste and consistency that can put people off, and of course it is a bodily fluid and some people are just bothered by bodily fluids in general.

For me, I think the sexist example was the sub I had in Arizona who liked to lick his cum off of me, because he just looked so damn hot doing it. I also had a Dom who would cum inside of me, lick it up, and then spit on me. That was actually pretty sexy too. I guess this falls into the category of something I like to do, though only after exchanging STD tests because one should always do that before becoming fluid bonded to another person.

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Hook Suspension: This is when a person has hooks carefully placed into various points in their skin, and then is lifted off the ground or pulled by another person controlling the hooks.

The first time I saw a hook suspension was at a concert when I was 17. I remember being amazed at how far the man’s skin stretched from his body. He was swinging across the stage and the skin on his back was stretched about 18 inches from his bones. It almost looked like he had a pair of wings.

This gets a never ever reaction from a lot of people because they expect that it would be very painful to have their skin penetrated by hooks, and then used to support the weight of their body.

This is actually the one things I’m going to tell you about today that I have never done. I have wanted to. My friends in Suspension Merriment are wonderful people (I love that they call themselves “hookers”) and they always look so peaceful when they are hanging.

My reason for not doing it is because I don’t go into shock or get endorphins when my body is injured. I broke my arm a few years ago and instead of getting a rush of adrenalin and endorphins that helped me deal with it, it simply hurt the whole time I was getting to the hospital and waiting there to be helped.  I think for me, it would not be a spiritual and amazing experience, but more of a trial that I just don’t feel ready to endure. But again, I love the folks who do it. They are great people. I respect what they do and don’t judge another person’s kink.

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Fisting: This is one of those things that sounds really scary if you’re the owner of a vagina. After all, a hand is pretty big usually, and it doesn’t seem like it would fit. People say they would never ever do this for a lot of reasons. Girls worry that it will hurt, or that their vagina will tear. Also there is the concern that if it is stretched out, it won’t go back to being tight again.

First I’ll just say that the vagina is amazingly stretchy and meant to pass a baby through. Yes, it can stretch, and yes it will shrink back to it’s original size (though the time that takes can vary from person to person.) This doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous, because not using lube or moving too fast can tear the vagina and cause infection, or even require stitches.

I have done this, and I like it. It’s one of those things that I have to be in the mood for. But I like it, and have even gone as far as trying anal fisting, which I also enjoyed, (but again, I had to be really aroused first because I feel like tissue is more pliable and tolerant of abuse when it is full of blood and aroused). I have also done it to several girlfriends, who also enjoyed it once they were into it. Some took awhile to work up to it though, as in, not on the first try. I have yet to fist a guy, but I’m not ruling it out.

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I could go on and on. I know some people find furries strange, as well as pet play and rape play. Perhaps I’ll get to those another day. For now, these are just some examples.

I promise you that my 16-year-old self who first entered a dungeon was not okay with any of these things. At one point, they were hard limits for me. And over time, they became soft limits, and then I tried them.

In fact, I have found myself doing all manner of weird things, from dental play to role play, that I thought when I was younger that I wouldn’t do.

Rough sex with a little choking or slapping is a long way from hook suspension. It has certainly been an interesting journey. But the point is that “never ever” is something that we all say about something at some point, and it is truly amazing how fast you can go from that feeling of “hell no” to that feeling of “hell yeah.”

As the saying goes; forever, for many in the community, is about six months.

Final note: It should also be mentioned that a person’s chemistry with another person is a huge factor. It takes a certain type of person and the right kind of chemistry to push and break limits. Even if you’re okay with something with one person, sometimes you’re not with another. And that is okay. One can not understate the importance of personalities matching up and chemistry between people.

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Sub Frenzy

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There is a term in the community that describes the feeling when a person desperately wants to sub. This person does not have to be strictly a submissive by nature. As some wise old Domme ladies here in Portland told me, “Everyone needs to sub now and then, just for balance.”

Maybe that’s not true for everyone. But it is true for me.

Most of the time I like being in control. Most of the time I want to call the shots, and be in charge. I like to plan the scenes, run the scenes, and make magic happen. It’s one of the moments where I get to shine.

But I am a switch.

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Of course I’m picky as hell. I have only ever been subbmissive with three guys in my whole life. I don’t trust easily l and I need a potential Dom or Domme to have that quality where they can read my mind. Sometimes, there just is chemistry. I don’t know why. But mostly there isn’t chemistry and that’s okay too. I can have all kinds of fun with people I’m equal with, or people who let me be in charge.

And yet…

I was talking to a friend the other day and she was telling me about this Dom. She was lamenting that they can’t have a relationship for various reasons, and it’s a shame because they have wonderful chemistry. She said it’s so frustrating to have this person that you love to sub for, and know it’s not going to work out.

I told her I could relate.

I had been feeling a bit of a sub frenzy anyway. But actually admitting it to another person made it so much worse. Now it seems more real. The last time I subbed for anyone was August of 2012, and I miss it!

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The worst part is that Mr. Bond just moved back here (as in- to the same house as me). I have mentioned him before. He and I dated my first year in Korea. I adored him, and we had a lot of fun together. And I trusted him to tie me up and put me in subspace. And we had amazing chemistry. It was… well… some of the most fun I’ve ever had.

For whatever reason, he’s not interested in picking back up where we left off a few years ago. And that’s fine, because I’m still glad he’s around in my universe. But seriously, it’s terrible to live just upstairs from someone who can put me in subspace, while I am feeling like this.

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So this one’s for the submissives, be they full time or only on rare occasion. That feeling when you desperately want to be at the mercy of a good Top is something we all go through, and it’s dangerous. I’ve seen subs do scenes with completely incompatible people because they were just desperate to be with someone in that way.

So, I will try to keep all this stuff in the back of my mind. But isn’t it amazing how hard it can be to get kink out of your brain sometimes?!?

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