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The online diary of an ethical pervert.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Crafting dominance

There's a lot of behind-the-scenes that goes on, well, behind scenes. Being a dominant is a bit like being the wizard of Oz. You rely on rumour, stage-craft and hot anticipation to contribute to your presence, which is essentially a constructed entity. Like celebrity, leadership and magic, dominance is not about what you do (or even what you say) but how it is received by the audience. In most cases the "audience" is the scene as a whole and those people within it who you decide to play with.

So, to paraphrase Mr Punch - what's the way to do it? Short answer: it varies. Better answer is to tell you what I do. For the purposes of this piece I'm going to focus on creating a scene with a new partner. BDSM 101, perhaps, but it's a good framework to illustrate how my mind works. Once you are in a longer term relationship things tend to get both more flexible and more deliciously complicated because you are able to explore together. The three things I'm going to talk about here are reputation, picking partners and deciding on scene thematics.

Reputation precedes you, and how! I'm lucky - I've been on the scene for a few years and I have played with enough people, in enough places to garner myself a reputation. My reputation is pretty much everything, in kink as in so many other things. I need to be known as a good player, which obviously takes the time and work. My reputation means that
I get invited to events to "guest star" with strangers and new people think I'm exciting because I am known but at the same time uncertain: it's that roller coaster sort of thrill which balances fear and safety. Glamour for perverts.

How do you build a good reputation? Books are written on this, many books, so I'm going to touch on it lightly. It's a balance of confidence and shameless self-promotion, which is always a little tricky when you are British and find that kind of thing alien. Again, three points (I like ordering in threes): be yourself, play with people, and get out and about. Your reputation should be a reflection of you - bigger, better and sexier, but still you. You will do much better at being an enhanced version of yourself than a pale imitation of someone else.
In the end, you do have to come up with the goods. There's only so long you can fiddle around with smoke and mirrors before people start to get suspicious. Play with people and look after the people you play with - take time to deliver good scenes and to give aftercare, people talk about dominants and you will be quickly known for doing such-and-such, make sure it's positive. Bad things will happen accidentally, but that's fine, the key thing for you is how you are seen to respond to them. Finally, get out there! You will not build a reputation in your bedroom alone. There is a big element of seeing and making sure that you are seen - go to munches, clubs, write blogs(!) talk to people and get involved.

Selecting partners is an important element to having a good scene and probably the most risky part of the mix. After all, you know yourself and you know your skills and desires (hopefully). In the case of new people, you don't know them. As a submissive this means selecting a dominant who you like the look and sound of - so you ask around, watch other people play at clubs and see who looks cute at the munch. As as a dominant the ground is less certain. Naturally you can do the same thing, but people actually talk a lot less about submissives' responses in scenes than they do about dominants' and a lot of what you might hear may well be unhelpful or coloured by someone else's play style. Watching a submissive play is hot, but whilst I can think "I'd like to get them to make that noise" I know that my play with them will be different. How someone responds to an intimate, lengthy shibari scene is not really going to be how they respond to my play given my rope skills are best termed "practical" and left at that. Secondly, the person you want to play with might be new - this is certainly something I do quite often. Mr Smith had no previous owner for example. So you need to do your homework.

Conversations over coffee are a good start. Getting people to write something down in an email as a follow up is better. I like lists, and have received many beautiful and detailed ones in my time. Read them. Ask questions. Listen carefully to the responses. Paying attention to someone else's sexual desire is flattering to them as well as unnerving. The end result is that they feel attractive but also a little nervous and self-conscious. Which plays in your favour. As does what they have actually written or said. People betray themselves when they talk about their desire, consciously or unconsciously, they want you to know what they want to do. Submissives in particularly want to offer up their desires for you, as a dominant, to take control - that's part of the power exchange.

Now to the planning - what are you actually going to do? Desire is slippery, complex and subtle. What you are looking for, at least for the first session is to get a broad overview of the edges of their desire - the things that are most waned and most hated or feared. This is why numbering systems or questions like "is this better than this?" are useful. I look for themes, recurring ideas or obvious groupings of kit, styles, fetishes and suchlike. I like to structure my scenes around a specific trope or two taken from those initial conversations and emails. First, it gives me something very clear to order what I'm going to do around, it also gives me a good insight into the mental state that someone wants to be put into, which will then help me think about the ways in which that might be done. Patterns are your friend, you may actually find that the scene is ready, waiting and obvious.

Do not worry about going for the obvious, there's a terrible tendency, especially if people are new to you and you might be nervous or keen to impress, about needing to do something "special" or that dominance should be about extremes or about always pushing boundaries. There is a lot to be said for a mutually satisfying scene that delivers what both parties want. You don't always have to be pulling people through the furthest edges of their fear, across broken glass, whilst they are on fire. Generally, this is not a good idea for a first scene with a new partner.

Wait for the second time.

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