Thursday, May 22, 2008

Notes About Mundane Life

Caterers: I need someone to make me a bunch of carry-out hors d'oeuvres for a party. I have had my pal Galahad do food for me on several occasions, and he’s great, but it’s time we let him out of the kitchen.

I want stand-up finger-food, nothing too messy, probably around 200 pieces, give or take. No serving required – I have that covered - just hand off the goodies the day of the party and take your cash.

I may wind up doing Costco for this, but if you’ve got a better idea, email me.


I know it’s not the weekend, but I’m going to talk about shopping anyway. Ladies, I went downtown yesterday to the Nordies sale, and actually, it was pretty underwhelming. There just wasn’t that much, and what there was – well, you could see why it was on sale. (Except lingerie. There were actually a lot of cute undies.)

I was mainly looking for a casual spring jacket, and I couldn’t find a thing I liked. It’s all short trench coats, and I don’t want anything with a belt. Burberry has some short light jackets, but I tried them on and wow, they’re very matronly looking. I may have to go for this Moncler jacket, even though I’m really not sure about that belt.


From the Slightly Overzealous Salespeople Department: I also was browsing for bedsheets in Bed Bath and Beyond yesterday. I didn’t think I was doing anything all that unusual, but... I like to throw all the options in the cart and then when I’ve looked over all the displays, look at what I have and see which ones I actually want to buy. I was doing that, and while I did so, a saleperson – a youngish guy – kept coming to see if I needed anything. Like, every three minutes. Which is not an inherently bad thing to do, although one usually doesn’t get that level of attention in a big-box store, and I don't generally like to be hovered over.

But then things took an odd turn, when he remarked, “Wow, that’s a lot of sheets.”

I had three sets of sheets in the cart. I wouldn’t have thought that was a noteworthy amount of linen. So I just shrugged, without making eye contact, and made some noncommittal remark.

“Why do you need so many sheets?”

I thought, “How am I supposed to answer that question?” I mean, why do people usually need bed sheets? You work at a housewares store and you have to ask this?

I briefly considered being a smart-ass. “I’m going to a Klan rally and I want to be the best-dressed girl there.”

Or, “I used all the old ones to wrap my late boyfriend’s body in before I threw it off the pier.”

“I’m a bed-wetter. Sometimes I piss on things in the daytime, too.”

I mean, really. Sometimes when people say silly things, it would serve them right if I did say something smart-ass. But I don’t, because I don’t want to deal with the fallout. And I didn’t want to be mean, I just wanted him to go away and let me consider the merits of Grand Percale versus Royal Sateen.

I was telling a pal about this and she said, “He wanted you to say, I need all new sheets because I just got divorced and my ex got all the bedding. And then he’d have hit on you.”

That made me laugh. I think women should try not to just assume that any guy who speaks to them has romantic intentions. But maybe that was it. Or maybe he was just competing for Salesperson of the Month or something.

But what I did was just say nothing and give him the raised-eyebrow look that usually brings boys to order in my dungeon. He went away. I settled on a nice set with 6oo thread-count, in sort of a muted plum color.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The week of letter-answering continues...

Dear Matisse,
I’ve gotten into fairly light BDSM play -- short sessions, nothing too extravagant -- and keep running into people who feel that the only way to be a good dominant is to have had extensive experience as a submissive. I'm really not into subbing, not wired that way and while I have had a few experiences, mostly it's play acting and that isn't giving anyone what they want either. I don't see myself subbing again in the future (never say never, but it seems unlikely) Do you have an opinion about this topic?

Yes, I have an opinion. I am of the opinion that you should excise the word “sub”, and “subbing”, and all other variants and diminutives of the word “submissive” from your vocabulary, forever. I hate all those terms, they are so…inelegant. They are clunky, ugly faux-words. That is my opinion.
Oh, you meant about you bottoming? Sorry, I was having a writer’s moment, there. Sure, I have an opinion about that, too: don’t do anything you don’t want to do. If you don’t wish to bottom, then don’t.
It is a rather old-school BDSM belief that all good tops spent time bottoming - I was certainly taught that when I came into the scene. But I have seen that idea fade quite a bit from the culture, so I’m a trifle surprised that you’ve encountered it. If you’d signed a female name, I’d suspect you’d run into some male tops who were making a play for you by saying this. But you seem to be a guy. (You still could be getting hit on by men, but I haven’t heard as much about gay guys using this as a come-on.)
I do think if you played with someone who was a more skilled and experienced top than you are, you’d learn something. For example, Monk is a top. Our relationship now could be described as “switchy free-for-all”. But we did some more structured scenes when we were first dating. I’m the only person he’s ever bottomed to – which flatters me - and he says it taught him a lot. I could tell. There were times when we played when a look would flicker across his face, and I could almost see him making a mental note, “Oh, yeah, that’s a really good trick she just did, I should do that next time I top someone.” And I’ve picked up techniques and style ideas from him, too.
So I think it’s often a very educational experience for tops to bottom. But it’s not an absolute necessity. I have played with a couple of tops who had never bottomed who were extremely skilled. (And some other great ones who did so few times as to be almost never.)

I also asked a dominant man I know, who has never bottomed, what he had to say about this question...
What a great question. My first thought - any statement that includes the phrase "the only way" is likely to be off base - and probably offensive to boot. Presuming that "one size fits all" is rarely a path to understanding.
Topping requires a raft of technical skills like how to handle a flogger, how to tie a knot and how to negotiate. It also requires a bunch of softer skills and attributes - communication, empathy, attention to detail, integrity. Sure - some of these skills can be learned through by bottoming. Most can also be learned through observation, education and practice.
It's valuable to know what an implement feels like. I'll often smack myself with a new crop to get its measure. And I (accidentally) hit myself plenty of times while I was learning to use a single tail. Still, every person and every scene is different. Spending years as a bottom won't tell you what your partner is feeling - only they can tell you that.
So don't let other people define your path for you. If you want to bottom and feel that it would be a useful way to gain topping skills, great. If you'd rather go to workshops and work with mentors, that's fine too. Whatever you do, realize that your skills will always need development and that you are always limited by your experiences. Does that mean you're an inadequate top? I don't think so. It just means you're not perfect.
Play within your limits, pay attention, keep getting better and have fun.
I definitely agree that if you get into intense sensation play, I think you should have the sensations you’re going to do done to you. You don’t have to do it to an extreme. But I don’t think you should be cutting someone’s ass to ribbons with a cane or a single-tail, or sticking 18g needles through their bits, if you’ve never gotten hit or poked yourself. You need to understand what you’re dishing out. So experience what it’s like to get even one stripe on your flesh. Get pierced with even one 25g needle. It’ll make you appreciate what your bottoms take for you all the more.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'm on a letter-answering kick lately...

Dear Mistress Matisse,

I'm thinking about sleeping with someone for money. I've never done this before. He posted on craigslist and we've corresponded. So far I have been really clear about why I'm considering this (money) and what my boundaries are.
1 I've asked for proof that he is STD-free.2 I'm planning on first meeting him at a safe, public place.3 This guy seems able to compensate me well (he's offered to pay back my student loans). 4 Do you have advice on a reasonable way to get paid and how much to ask for?5 Can I go about this in a way that minimizes my legal risk?6 Should I ever go to his house or should I insist on meeting in hotels? 7 Should I sleep over? 8

I'm not desperate for money and I don't want to open a business doing this, but this seems like a good opportunity - I like having sex and making some money would be nice. I'd just like to minimize the risks to myself, my health, and my future.

So, Why Not Have Some Summer Fun?

There’s something a bit off about this letter to me. It’s like it almost rings true, but not quite. I’m simply not believing in it. It may well be from a guy, because horny guys always think they’ll get attention from me if they say they’re women. And the unnecessary capitalization in the last line is odd.

Plus, it seems a bit like the writer wants to be spoon-fed. She makes no mention of any research she’s done, even on my blog, about how to manage this. That always makes me more inclined to help someone.

But, just on the off-chance this writer is sincere, I will give her and all of you the fifty-cent answer to these questions.

  1. That’s good, but count on having to communicate that more than once.
  1. That’s not something sex workers ask for. But if he’s willing to provide it, fine. It doesn’t mean you’re not taking some risk, but that’s part of game. I find it strange, though. Would you demand this from anyone you had sex with or do you mistakenly imagine having sex for money is somehow higher risk than having sex with a guy you met in other circumstances?
  1. Once again, that’s fine, but don’t assume just because the man didn’t show up to Starbucks carrying an chainsaw, then he’s a perfectly safe date and you needn’t consider the matter anymore.
  1. He’s going to pay back your student loans? Sweet Jesus, that sounds like a lot of money.
  1. A reasonable way to get paid is for him to give you the cash. You can certainly make other arrangements, from Paypal to taking a check, but that’s up to you. As for the amount, see answer number four: I think you’re doing all right there. Spoon-feeding moment: If you want to know what other call girls make in your area, Google the words "escort" + the name of your town, and cruise the web pages that come up.
  1. The way to minimize your legal risk is A) not to do it, or B) make sure you don’t do it with a police officer. You’ve chosen not to take option A. Now, teaching someone how to break the law and not get caught is not within the realm of this blog. I’m not a lawyer and I don’t give legal advice. The only quick opinion I would offer is: it just seems unlikely that a vice cop would invest a ton of time coaxing a solitary amateur into a committing a simple misdemeanor. I doubt that it would be considered efficient use of taxpayer money. But that’s a risk you take.
  1. Completely up to you. Some girls like hotels because they feel physically safer there. Others feel they lack privacy. It’s your call.
  2. It's your choice. There actually are no union rules about stuff like this, and I can't tell you what your personal boundaries are.

Amazon would be your best friend at this point. I can’t write you a whole book, but a lot of other women have, and I suggest you read some of them. Best of luck to you.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I was so busy last week I forgot to post the link to the newest column. So, a little belatedly, here it is: all about my orgasms.


I wanted to say a public thank you to loyal reader Van. Van is someone who always had something interesting to say about what I’d written, and when I decided to go comment-less, he missed that feature so much that he spent time and effort creating a message board where people could post comments and discuss this blog. That was very sweet of him and I was touched by that.

But for some reason, it never really took off. Neither of us is sure why. But since it was really not being utilized, it’s been taken down. Requiescat in pace, Matisseans Board.

Still, I’m grateful to have readers like Van. I’ve never met him in person, and since he lives in another country, I probably never will. But he’s a cool guy who made the effort to create what he wanted, and I always respect that.