Issue 17: For Absolute Beginners
by Pamela Emmons
Photos by Kim Dench
Before the internet, we used to have something we called “going to the store.” This meant leaving your house and entering an establishment where goods or services were sold. Since everyone did it almost everyday, it was never a particularly challenging undertaking, unless of course you were looking for something you could shove in your lover’s ass.
Thanks to the anonymity of shopping on the internet we can flip through pages and pages of pervy products without having to look a stranger in the eye, or uttering the phrase, “Can you direct me to your locking ballgag department?”
What is the downside?
You can’t handle an item to gauge its quality. You can’t examine it up close, or even really know if the item that will show up on your doorstep will actually be the item you are looking at in the picture. Also, you don’t have the advantage of a personal sales assistant who can explain the purpose of an item and, of course, demonstrate the care and cleaning routine.
So where do absolute beginners go for quality gear and how should they equip themselves for their expeditions into kinkdom? What are the essentials?
Of course that all depends on the expedition you are setting out on. Will it be a gentle, scenic drive along Lovetap Lane? Or a high-speed, long-distance, white-knuckle tear on Badly Bruised Boulevard?
Let’s assume for this discussion you just need the basics.
Securing Your Sub
While ropes, scarves, and belts are low tech and available everywhere, if you don’t know how to safely tie someone up or down, you can easily ruin your session or cause bodily harm. Beyond the discomfort and distraction of tingling hands and feet, denying blood flow to any extremity can result in permanent nerve damage.
If you are just dabbling and looking for a basic way to anchor wrists and ankles to bedposts, numerous kits for kinky couplesare available at most couples’ boutiques with cute names like “Kathy’s Cuffs” or “Fuzzy Cuffs.” These usually consist of nylon cuffs and straps with velcro closings. They can effectively do the job, and are typically very affordable, but are not likely to give you the feeling of using real bondage gear.
Graduating to leather restraints is recommended if you want to feel authentic. But buyer beware. The quality of leather bondage gear varies greatly and price is rarely a good indicator of quality. Couples boutiques and adult bookstores are usually not good places to buy leather gear. It is usually mass produced, poorly designed, and frequently not actual leather.
If you are looking for good leather gear, find a store or website that specializes in BDSM equipment. But still be wary. If it is not a reputable outfit like Mr. S, Subshop or JT’s Stockroom, you could be getting shabby goods.
I’m not going to get into gags. That is a whole other article with serious implications in the comfort, effectiveness and safety departments.
Recommended: A pair of wrist cuffs, ankle cuffs and a fleece or fur-lined blindfold
Optional: Cuffs with hasps that can accommodate a padlock
Crops and whips come in all shapes and sizes. The sensations they deliver vary greatly as well. Riding crops deliver a sharp slap, and, if used carefully, can be effective without causing anything more than redness to the skin. They are also easy to control, because they don’t require a full wind up and follow through. If necessary however, a crop can deliver a crushing blow. After all, they are designed to get the attention of1200-pound animals.
Proper whips are generally more severe and much more difficult for the novice to control. They can however be quite sensuous and add a level of danger to your play. A cat of nine tails for instance can be dragged across the body ever so gently and ever so slowly resulting in a delicious tease. The knots at the ends of those tails can deliver just enough sensation to arouse, or deliver a formidable and damaging whack with enough velocity.
Single tail whips are generally not for use on humans unless the punishment is to be harsh and the operator is skilled. A single tail used improperly can easily slice right through flesh. This is not a tool recommended for use by the novice.
Canes like crops are also easy to control, but deliver a sharp and concentrated crack to the flesh. With little effort you can start raising some serious welts on your plaything. The whooping sound they make as they cut through the air can be very threatening and an effective tool in getting your point across without ever impacting flesh.
Recommended: Start with a well-made crop and be gentle. They are available at stores that carry BDSM equipment as well as establishments that specialize in equestrian gear.
From here you can go in any of a million directions depending on the nature of your play. Things that pinch the skin, compress body parts, or deliver a focused jolt of electricity. All of them are certain to get and retain your sub’s attention.
If you are well matched with your sub or domme, your play will develop and you may be compelled to procure additional equipment.
As with any improvement project in life, choose the right tool, for the right job.