Friday, February 24, 2006

This week's column - hopefully the last one that won't be entirely run in the paper....

And, in a sort of stunning example of kink working it's way into the mainstream, Ms. Claire Adams, a lovely lady with whom I have the pleasure of being acquainted, rigged actor Peter Sarsgaard into a rope-bondage suspension for this month's Vanity Fair magazine. (Here's a link to some other images, also.) I mean, wow - fucking Vanity Fair! Amazing. Good for her, and good for all of us, I think.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Pick and Choose

Today on a local escort-review board, a new escort was apologizing for not being able to answer all of the hundreds of emails and many dozens of phone calls she’d been besieged with every day since she began offering her services. She was so overwhelmed, she said, she was considering quitting.

I’m not surprised she got that reaction. Her pictures show a pretty young blond girl, and ladies like that always get a huge response, especially when they first appear on the escort scene. And it can be really overwhelming. As a pro domme, I do not get the same enormous volume of calls and email that a lot of escorts do. But I remember what that was like, and I still get quite a lot even now. I don’t know this young woman, and I tend not to proffer unasked-for advice. But if I were a friend of hers, here’s what I’d say:

Darlin’, you really don’t need to answer every single phone call and every single email you get. Yes, in a perfect world, you’d at least give everyone the courtesy of a, “No thank you,” and if you have time to do that, go ahead. But the truth is you could spend hours on the phone and the keyboard only doing that, and it’s not a profitable use of your time. What you need to do is categorize them into “Yes, Answer ASAP”, “Maybe” and “No”.

The No category will be big. I have mentored a few sex workers and I usually tell them they should be turning down at least half of the new clients who contact them, and sometimes more. There are just that many not-right guys out there.

Here’s who goes into the No category. Anyone who isn’t polite and appropriate when communicating with you. Anyone who says anything about sex. Anyone who flips you shit for not answering email instantly. Anyone who sends you a one-line email that says something like, “hey sxy wHen RU availbe?” Anyone who claims to be a pimp. Anyone who mentions drugs. Anyone who pressures you. Anyone who sounds like he’s drunk and/or calling from a bar. Anyone who says he wants to pay you with an iPod or a computer or a diamond ring. Anyone who acts like you should jump when he snaps his fingers. Anyone who calls and you hear a lot of other voices in the background. Anyone who elicits the response, “I don’t think I like this guy,” after listening to his message or reading his email. Boom, straight to the curb. Don’t return the call, don’t answer the email.

Does that sound mean? Hey, baby, it’s a survival skill. A lot of the unsuitable guys will take it as a challenge if you call/email back to say no, and they’ll keep coming back, trying and trying to change your mind. You don’t need that.

Besides, if you don’t get a good vibe from the guy, don’t take his money, because you won’t be able to give him a good experience if you don’t like him. If he’s a genuinely okay guy, he’ll move on and meet someone else who’s a better fit for him and have a better experience with her anyway, so you’re doing him a favor in the long run. And if he’s not a genuinely okay guy - well, then…

The Maybe list is composed of guys who you had a mixed reaction to. First-time clients are often nervous and can sometimes come off badly when in fact, they’d be fine if they just relaxed a little. I suggest stringing out the screening process with guys like this. Get a few additional calls/emails from them and see how your response to them evolves. Don’t be afraid to say, “You know, I’m new at this and I get a little nervous sometimes. Would you might just chatting with me on the phone for a few minutes so I can kinda get to know you a little bit?” And then ask him where he’s from, what he does for fun – just make innocuous conversation for five minutes, it’ll tell you a lot about him. If he reacts to this like you’re being hugely unreasonable, then he’s a No.

Also on this list: anyone who says he wants something you don’t provide: incall or outcall, or overnight dates, or half-hour dates, whatever it is you’d generally prefer not to do. If they seem okay in other ways, it’s worth trying to steer them towards your preferred method, but be prepared to let it go.

The Yes men are guys you’ve seen before and liked, and guys who you liked in the initial communication and who’ve gone through whatever screening method you’ve chosen: references, personal info, gut instinct, whatever. Answer them as soon as you can, but I don’t consider a few hours to be an unreasonable length of time before returning voicemail/email. I often take longer even with guys I really like, just because I’m so busy. Fortunately they’re all pretty patient with me.

I recommend you don’t use instant messaging or text messages to process appointment inquiries. Calls and emails are enough to keep track of.

Now gentlemen, I know how sensitive you all are, but I don’t want you to get your feelings hurt by anything I've said here. If you’re a nice, honest guy who treats ladies fairly, then you shouldn’t take any of this as a slight to you. And just to keep things in balance, I will be writing a follow-up piece for the gentlemen about how to choose an escort who will provide a safe and satisfying experience, because I know that it’s challenging for the guys to find reputable and un-flaky ladies as well. All the more reason for me to give a little guidance to the professional women who you’d like to stay in the game.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A number of people have asked me to comment on issue of Travis Frey and his wife's "slave contract". But frankly, I don’t have a whole lot to say. I’m aware of it, yes, and I do see that some people seem to think that BDSM folks should be all over this, either supporting the guy’s ‘right’ to create a sex contract for his wife, or verbally tar-and-feathering him for making all us right-thinking kinksters look bad.

But unlike some people, I have a hard time getting terribly worked up about it either way. Do I think the contract as it’s written is rather petty, adolescent and trite? Yes, but that’s probably because contracts aren’t my kink. I think clear communication about one’s expectations is a good thing. To me, though, slave contracts in this style seem about as erotic as a tax form.

However, do I know people who’ve happily signed rather similar documents? Not in my immediate circle, but yes, I’ve met folks who had and enjoyed this kind of arrangement with their partners, and I get people writing to me all the time asking me to create not-very-different contracts with them. It’s not uncommon.

Are they legally binding? Not for a minute. There’s been a lot of back-and-forth on Metafilter and elsewhere about whether the wife actually signed a copy of this or not. We don't know if she ever did consent to these rules, but it doesn’t matter one little bit. Even if she thought this contract was the sexiest thing in the world on a Tuesday and signed it in her blood, she could change her mind Wednesday morning, and she has the absolute right to do so. You cannot sign away your right to withdraw consent, ever.

Let’s remember, too, that the guy hasn’t actually been convicted of any of the charges yet - it’s still all he-said/she-said at this point. So while it’s quite possible he’s a criminally abusive rapist asshole, it’s also possible that he’s just a juvenile twit with bad relationship skills. This document reads to me like the guy would be happiest having a relationship with a blow-up doll, but that’s just my bias and doesn’t prove a thing. There’s the always-icky child porn charge, but that’s unrelated to the “slave contract” issue.

To some degree, the imagery, culture, and vocabulary of BDSM has become part of mainstream consciousness. Bad people are going to use it to create a frame and a justification for doing bad things, just as they’ve used other cultural institutions. If I, as a kinkster, start taking every instance of that really personally, I’m not going to get much sleep at night.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

So I celebrated Presidents Day by spending a thousand damn dollars on a new washing machine and dryer, and I have to say, I’m a little flipped out by the experience. I’m not sure why – I’m all poised to buy a couch that’s going to run me nearly that much, as soon as I can make time to get back to Ikea.

But somehow slapping down a credit card at Sears for all that white porcelain seems so terrifyingly homeowner-ish, especially when I don’t know diddly about major appliances. Yeek. Max, as usual with this kind of thing, sort of steered me through it. He’s done it before, and plus, he’s just so generally clever about such things. (Even though he confided to me, as we were standing at the cash register, that just having testicles does not mean you automatically know everything about everything. I was aware of that, really. But Max often knows things I don’t, which is, of course, one of the reasons why I love him. Yay, smart people.)

But the appliance-buying is done with now, thank god, and I’d much rather think about the evil things I’d like to do to, say, Roman. I’m definitely feeling like being evil, evil, evil lately. More than usual, I mean - I have no idea why. And since I don’t get to be terrible to Max, well, the burden falls to Roman, poor man.

Plus, Roman and I have a new bed that we have yet to have a date on, because we were both too insanely busy last week. Hopefully that situation will be rectified soon. It seems like I’ve been spending a lot of time in various department stores with my two partners lately, and not enough time in less public surroundings. I think that needs fixing.

Monday, February 20, 2006

So, I had a really good time this weekend at BodyBound. Max and I drove down Friday afternoon and arrived in time to catch Midori's opening talk about sort of the myths and the realities of Japanese bondage. She's a very entertaining speaker. Max and I chatted with her for a few minutes after the class, but she was only at BB Friday night, as she had the Bang For The Buck party here in Seattle to host. Amusingly enough, she and her partner actually stayed here at our house this weekend, even though we were down in Portland. She’s a great houseguest and she’s stayed here lots of times, so we were fine just handing her the keys to our house and asking her to feed my cat. I’m sure the Bang For The Buck party was cool, and I’m sorry I missed it. Hopefully some of the women who went will blog about it.

But BB was fun. Max’s class went very well. I know I’m biased, but he is such a good instructor, and I'm so proud of him when we teaches. We did see some other good classes, though, and we also got to see and catch up with people we don’t see all the time, like James Mogul, and Claire Adams, and Eddie T. and his wife. I enjoyed that.

Monk was there, of course, and sold a ton of rope - there was such a crowd of eager people around his booth all weekend that I swear, I hardly got to talk to him and Tambo, but I'm glad they did so well.

Saturday night at the play party, I was entertained to note that a lot of the women present – and two of the men – were attired in the Imp Of Satan’s clothes. I, of course, was one of them. A PVC catsuit is a boon to the traveling girl, as it’s a complete outfit in itself and it packs down to about the size of a hardback novel. Easy.

I did not get to go to Powells, which is sad for me. But we’ll be back in Portland next month for Kinkfest, so I’ll definitely go then.

Aside from my other pals, I saw two different individuals this weekend that I’d really like to top. (Separately, not together. They aren’t a couple or anything.) There were moments this weekend when I looked at them, and thought about what I’d like to do to them, and I felt a little electric shock run up my spine.

I’ve wanted both of them for awhile now. Trouble is, I don’t think either one of them would go there, for different reasons. I haven't ever strongly pursued either of them, so I don't really know for sure, it's just a feeling. I've known them both for some time, and I have nice social relationships with them both, and most of the time it seems better not to jeopardize that.

But sometimes, oh, sometimes when I think about it, I feel my hands flex slightly, and I feel my lips draw back from my teeth in what would probably not ever be mistaken for a friendly smile. I swear I can almost feel my fangs lengthening. It would not be slap-and-tickle, the things I’d like to do to them.

(I'm not talking about a relationship, you understand. I'm just talking about us spending several hours in an alternate universe where deep respect and friendly affection are expressed in rather different ways than they are here on Earth. Like, with needles, and canes, and rope, and certain types of electrical devices.)

It's not likely I'll ever get the chance. But then again, you never know. Sometimes you have to wait for things. Patience isn’t my strong suit in day-to-day life, but for some things I can wait, if waiting is what’s needed. I once carefully wooed someone for ten years before I got them to bottom to me. Yeah, that’s right, I said ten years. It’s a good thing they held out all that time, too, because the raw novice top that I was when I first met them would never have been able to deliver the experience that I successfully created for them a decade later.

And I do feel quite certain I could create something fiendishly good for these two people as well. So while I think the answer would probably be a polite, no thank you, it does seem like a shame not to ask at all. So perhaps I’ll just drop a tiny whisper of possibility into certain ears sometime and see what happens.