Monday, May 07, 2007

Letter From A Reader

Greetings Mistress,

Consider it a newbie question - how do vanilla types who want to role play start? I guess my situation is that I would like to try to add some excitement but my other half of 20+ years doesn't really get the fantasy thing . . .so I thought, I might ask for a few tips on setting the stage...

This is a good example of why communication skills are such a highly valued trait in the BDSM community. I’m perfectly willing to help this person – but I don’t really know what they mean by the terms they are using.

Vanilla types who want to do role-play? Well, ok, role play doesn’t have to involve dominance and submission. I’m sure there are egalitarian role plays. (Don’t ask me to name one, though.)

But even a role-play with no power differential is going involve fantasy – that is the whole point, surely - so if your partner doesn’t get that, how exactly are you going to add it to your erotic life?

And the phrase “setting the stage” – to me, that would refer to objects and surroundings, not the acting out of the role play itself. Is this reader asking me about where to play and what props to use? But I can’t answer that without knowing the nature of the roles.

This is why, when people negotiate with me, I don’t allow them to say things like this. It’s that list thing I was talking about a few days ago. Words such as “spanking” have a very precise meaning. Phrases like “a fantasy role play” are so vague as to be useless.

Let me offer a possible re-write of this letter…It’s just a guess at what the person might, possibly, have meant. I may be completely off base, I don’t know.

Dear Mistress Matisse,

I’d like to do an erotic role-play with my long-term partner that doesn’t involve any intense sensation or BDSM trappings. Are there are any you can suggest? Where should we do this? And what kinds of things might we do?

My answer: I’d try a role-play where the power differential is one that’s at least somewhat familiar and non-threatening. Boss/employee is a good one. You can do it in almost any physical surroundings, it doesn’t require unusual props, and either identity can be the one directing the action. You can be the typical bossy boss with an underperforming employee. Or you can be the boss who’s been caught embezzling or leering at his secretary once too often, and who is thus over a barrel.

While you can do it at home, it’s often easier to step out of your everyday self in non-everyday settings. Consider getting a nice hotel room to add a little spice.

If doing a role-play is your idea, regardless of whether you want to be the top or the bottom, you should have a basic idea of where you want it to go, and you should communicate that to your partner, very clearly. For example: “I've called you into my office and I scold you for not doing the quarterly reports on time and threaten to fire you. You're acting all flirty, and you offer to make it up to me by giving me a blow-job. I pretend to resist for a minute, but then I can’t deny my attraction to you. While you suck me, I confess that I’ve been watching you bend over your desk and lusting after your ass for weeks, so you bend over my desk and pull up your skirt and tell me to kiss it, if I like it so much.”

That's all just off the top of my head. My other advice: Pat Califia wrote an excellent book called Sensuous Magic: A Guide for Adventurous Lovers that had a lot of really good step-by-step instructions for sexy role-plays that aren't about heavy BDSM. Unfortunately, the book has gone out of print, but you can find used copies around. Anyone who's looking to play some sexy games in their relationship would find it useful reading.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Dancing Shoes

I bet you think I would never wear a pair of shoes like this.

I'd say it depends where I get to walk with them... You should see me in my little white golf skirt and white top. I need a golf club, though.

Strange, though - even though I've never worn these shoes outside my dungeon, they seem to have some stains on the soles. Huh, how could that have happened? (Don't click if you're squeamish.)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Letter From a Reader

Hi, Matisse!

Edited: some very nice compliments…

I do have a question, if you would be willing to answer it.

In terms of a Professional / client relationship, the boundaries have to be clearly defined and respected by the (sub/bottom) client. As a client, I do have my own individual needs to be addressed and (hopefully) met. At the same time, I am reluctant to go to a BDSM Professional service provider with a "laundry list" of needs and desires, expecting a Pro-Domme to meet them without giving consideration to her needs and desires as well. We are talking about interpersonal dynamics, honest communication, and developing an energy flow that I believe to be crucial to a fulfilling session. The way I see it, if a session does not work for a Pro-domme, then how can I, as a client, expect it to work for me??

For Example: (Edited for privacy: He told me about some of the specific things he likes and doesn’t like.)

…At the same time, I do want to afford a Pro-Domme with the opportunities to experience her pleasures with my mind and body. It seems to me that while the dynamics in a Professional / client relationship involve a client having needs to be met, the consideration between the Professional service provider and the client should be mutual; yet, in wanting to do that, some things, like having my balls squeezed, of feeling a thuddy whip, or cross-dressing, would be a distraction, and detract from the fulfillment that I seek.

Would you be willing to help me gain a clearer perspective, and a better understanding here?


This guy seems very sweet, and I’m sure he’s probably charming in person. So any hint of frustration you hear in my voice here is not directed at him.

But he, and all the other people who’ve expressed similar sentiments to me, have got it wrong. I don’t want or need a script, in the sense of “first do this, and while you’re doing it, say thus-and-so.” That pisses me right off. And I have indeed had people show up with an honest-to-god, multi-page, complete with stage-directions script. Wow, I can see just how highly you respect my talent and experience. Have you thought of just buying a wind-up doll?

But a list? A list is totally different. A list is fabulous. Here’s a perfect example of how to give a hypothetical list of likes and dislikes. “So, I really like spanking and impact on my ass, but please, no crops or canes, okay? And CBT, heavy on the cock, not so much on the balls, please, Mistress. And gags are cool but blindfolds flip me out, and nipple clamps are ok, and I’m curious to try electrical, but I’m sorta nervous about it, too.”

That kind of list is great. That’s exactly what I want to know, and it’s being presented clearly and without coy little games. That’s a delightful menu of options that I can mix and match however I like, I can be creative in how I deliver them, and I’ll still know that we’re having a good experience together. I love lists. Give me a list and I’ll love you.

Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration. But you see, with new people, I hate it when I say, “So, what kinds of activities are you looking for?” And I’m told, “Whatever you like, Mistress.”

No. What the Mistress likes is not having to be a mind-reader. Tell me what works for you. Don’t make me have to do a damn interrogation scene before we ever get to the real scene!

That’s why I have a whole long list myself, on my website, of what I do, and what I don’t do. If what you like is on that list, then we’re golden. It wouldn’t be there if I didn’t like doing it, you see. So it’s unnecessary to fret about considering my needs. One of the benefits of being a dominatrix is you don't have to do anything you don't like.

It's also unnecessary to worry about how you're not taking care of my need for X activity. My kink life does not lack for variety. Whatever it is you're not into, believe me, it's someone else's favorite thing in the world, and he's probably coming to see me next week.

There’s a subtler element of this, though. I have found that most bottoms, at some point in their lives, feel some anxiety about whether their top is getting off (in any sense) on the scene.

(Tops do this too. Hell, vanilla people do it during straight sex. But we’re talking about bottoms today.)

Bottoms make themselves vulnerable, and it would feel yucky if you felt like you were offering that vulnerability to someone who was disinterested or even repelled by it. It’s true that you should both be able to feel that the other person is enjoying what’s happening. However, people do express that in different ways, and with varying degrees of skill. Sometimes two people just don’t connect well on that level, even if they have similar tastes on paper.

But if you aren’t willing to trust that what looks and sounds like yes really means yes, then the scene is sunk anyway. You have to make the leap of faith. I know it seems scary. It is scary. But bottoming isn’t just about trusting the Mistress to put clothespins on your balls, it’s about also trusting her to deal honestly with you and treat your desires with the respect they deserve. You must both give yourself, in that moment, or the magic won’t happen.

I myself am pretty good at broadcasting the woo-I-like-this signal, because I know it’s important. But still, I have done scenes where I had to expend huge amounts of energy reassuring the bottom that yes, I like what we’re doing, yes, you’re a good boy, yes, the Mistress loves X activity, over and over, to the degree where what he obviously feared became reality: I stopped enjoying it. He wouldn’t let go of trying to control our encounter. I was trying to create an experience for him that we could enjoy together, but he was too busy trying to create my experience to let that happen.

But that’s not your job, when you bottom. Think of it like painting: you give me the tubes of paint, and your body is the canvas, and I make art with you. My challenge and my pleasure is to do that no matter what colors or textures of paint you give me. So don’t try to be both the artist and the canvas at the same time.


Edited to add: Telling me about a fantasy-roleplay is not like giving me a script. So if you've turned up with a theme you wanted to act out, do not fear that you annoyed me.