Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I've gotten some very nice emails lately. It gives me great pleasure when people write and tell me they like my blog/column.
Hello MM,

…(greetings and very nice compliments)…Anyway, I have a specific question: where do I buy decent quality but not bank-breaking corsets? I don't mean cheap corsets, but more like $250 than $500 (these are NYC prices.) I know you don't do that much with fetishwear these days, but I bet you're still quite knowledgeable.

Thank you for the nice things you said about my writing. To answer your question:
Well, I hate to say it, but $250 is a cheap corset. I know that seems outrageous, but - there it is. I have some corsets from Dark Garden and a few other places, and my observation is that you will have to shop very carefully to find something for that price. Have you looked on eBay or any of the other auction sites?
If you don’t want to go that way, this is a company I have been seeing around at fetish conventions for years. I am very casually acquainted with the folks that run it, and they seem like nice people. I don’t personally have any of their corsets, but they seem fine, and I think they have some options around the $300 range.
If you were in Seattle, I would direct you to my excellent friend Orion Excalibur of, who makes custom corsets. (Having sat in his workshop and watched him do the painstaking labor involved in making those things, I now understand why they are so bloody expensive. It’s a lot of work. )
But Orion is a clever man and I think if you said to him, “This is what I can spend,” he would try to create an option for you. Have you asked in your local kink community if anyone makes corsets and would work with you on a budget?
Mistress Matisse,

I have a couple questions for you. If you cannot publish them, please respond in some way still. I would greatly appreciate it. Moving on...
I am sexually experimenting with my incredible bf. Both of us are bi and into bondage. I'm trying to learn how to be more dominant so that I could be more of a switch than a sub. Any advice on how I can become more dominant?
My next question is about polyamory. My bf and I had a very short lived polyamorous relationship with new friends of ours who are both bisexual-- one being male, the other female. It was lovely, but they weren't in it for the long haul like we wanted. So, my bf and I are trying to find another polyamorous couple. I read your rules on this subject and feel as though we're ready for this, seeing as how we have excellent communication. Where should we go to meet our next couple?

Okay, I’m sure you’re a nice person, and I’d like to help you - but I have to tell you, you’ve made it rather difficult for me to do that. You may have excellent communication skills with your lover, but you’re not demonstrating them to me.
Please take note of what I say here, All Those Who Would Email Me: I have observed before that I don’t get paid to answer the questions of strangers. I’m very happy to help if I can, but a lot of people want my attention, and you are asking me to take time away from both my loved ones and my profession to serve your need. A little thought and explanation on your end makes that much easier for me, and thus you’re more likely to get an answer.
I am using this writer as an example, because it’s not the worst case of intellectual laziness I have ever seen. But I ignore dozens of emails from people every week from people who seem to expect me to read their mind, and act as their unpaid research monkey. Uh, no. That’s not going to happen.
So, my Dear Reader, let’s see what I can do for you. Not much, I fear.
No, I don’t know how you can be become more dominant. That’s a very vague phrase, and what you seem to be asking is how you can feel a certain way. Not knowing you, I’m sorry, I really can’t tell you what’s going to get you into a dominant headspace.
It may be that you’re asking me to suggest some activities? I can’t tell, and I wouldn’t know what to tell you, anyway. You speak of being into bondage. When I say “bondage” I mean “physically restraining someone” and that’s ALL I mean. I do not mean spanking, for example, or role play, or nipple clamps, or anything else except limiting someone’s ability to move. That’s the definition of the word “bondage”. But I know that some people – especially new people - lump all kinds of kinky activities into that term. So I’m not really clear what you’re doing with your partner.
(Purely subjective aside: Please don’t say sub. Submissive, if you like, or bottom. I’m on a one-woman campaign against that word. I know it’s doomed to failure, but I have to try. The word sub, to me, is like fingernails on a black-board. Hate. It.)
But, if you’re looking for general tips, tricks and suggestions for kink-ifying your sex life, I recommend this book: Sensuous Magic: A Guide to S/M for Adventurous Couples by Patrick Califia. It’s excellent – beginner-oriented, fun to read, and full both good advice and little erotic stories that you can easily steal and use in your own bedroom.
It’s also pretty straight-couple-oriented, and you did not tell me what gender you are. But I think, based on looking at your email address, that you’re a girl, so that should be all right.
Other educational venues:  My partner Monk has a bunch of video clips demonstrating rope bondage. Or, read more books. I am a fervent believer in reading kinky books.
Now onto the second part. I’m glad you hear that you and your lover feel ready to explore polyamory, and I wish you luck. But: where should you go to find a couple? Dear girl, I don’t know where you are. You didn’t tell me. Thus, I’m unable to direct you to events. What you need to do is Google polyamory and the name of your city and see what you find. If you have done so and found nothing – which you didn’t tell me – then you need to expand your search to a state level, or even search for national conferences. Look for mailing lists/communities on Yahoo, Tribe, LiveJournal, etc.
Of course, it’s possible to meet poly people in surroundings that are not specifically poly-oriented. Kinky social events, swinger stuff, any general sex-positive event is a decent bet. I’ve talked about the “How do I/we find somebody?” issue, and most of what I suggest to BDSM people is applicable to other sexual minorities as well. There's also personal-ad sites, although that tends to be more swinger stuff.
But no matter what, it's going to take time to find people for a ongoing relationship. It's not like one can just bop down to the local Poly-Couples-For-The-Long-Haul Bar. Plan on kissing a lot of frogs. And be grateful you're not trying to find a single bi female.
Now as I said, I get letters like this all the time, so this goes out to all the people who write me and ask me to do their Googling for them: Come on, kids, don’t try to make me think for you. I don’t believe any grown-up person should need me to tell them to do these things, they seem very elementary to me.
But maybe I do have a skewed perspective - I think being a successful sexual outlaw means you do have to be smarter than your average bear. You cannot autopilot your way through an erotic life less ordinary. Kink and polyamory (and sex work) are graduate-level sexuality. It's okay to ask for help, but often there are no neatly pre-fabricated answers. So when you're a new student, work on framing the most precise possible question.