By Helen “Girly” Brown
They say there’s a thin boundary between pleasure and pain, which may be why activities that blend the two can often seem so exciting.
The ancient art of BDSM (Bondage, Discipline/Dominance, Sadism/Submission, Masochism) — also known as “Sensation Play” — includes spanking, tying up your partner, handcuffing, and using various “instruments of pleasure” to create pain and other feelings of varying degrees.
“People ask me if spanking is painful,” says Babeland sex educator Cristen Kennedy, who recently started teaching a class on spanking at one of Babeland’s New York City locations. “Everyone processes pain differently. The goal is not to beat the crap out of someone.”
The practice of BDSM is said to go as far back as the 9th century B.C. Even the Kama Sutra, the ancient Indian-Hindu how-to sex book, offers instruction on four different kinds of erotic hitting to induce arousal. For many, adding BDSM introduces a new repertoire to foreplay.
On a physiological level, BDSM works because when the body experiences pain, there’s a rush of endorphins, the pleasure hormones that are released by the pituitary gland. Endorphins protect the body from experiencing a high level of pain. It takes approximately 20 minutes for endorphins to start flowing, but once they do, things can most definitely heat up.
Introducing BDSM Into the Bedroom
Doing intimate stuff outside the realm of “normal” requires plenty of conversation beforehand. Kennedy suggests you make a sex date with your partner.
But by “sex date” she doesn’t mean you set aside time for the two of you to get naked with reckless abandon. Instead, you should grab a cup of coffee or go for a stroll and an ice cream cone to discuss your interests and desires. This is really a precursor to all the fun stuff.
It may also be useful for you two to fill out Babeland’s handy sexual pleasure checklist to really cut to the chase.
It’s all about keeping it safe, sane, and consensual. As with everything intimate, communication is absolutely necessary. Eye contact — when your butt isn’t in the air facing your partner — is also key. Additionally, both of you should be in a good frame of mind, so skip the drugs and alcohol.
While in the bedroom, you can encourage your partner to give spanking a try, says Kennedy. For example, during intercourse, try moving his hand to your butt and ask for it nicely.
The following spots will get the blood flowing without risking extreme pain or injury:
– Butt (Duh!)
– Upper back around the shoulder blades
– Front and back thighs
The following spots should be avoided because they’re near vital organs that if injured can cause serious damage (and medical bills):
– Abs and ribs
– Lower back
– Head and neck
Beginners needn’t bother with the fancy flogs and paddles. Stick with the most simple and useful sex tool: Your hand.
Try cupping your hand instead of keeping your palm completely straight. This will hurt less and make an awesome, dramatic sound, explains Kennedy.
“Spanking is sort of inherently silly,” says Kennedy. “It can be as elaborate or as simple as you want.”
Begin with light smacks. It’s also pleasant to rub the area you will hit between whacks, to soothe and help keep the juices going.
Go for clear and simple communication. Try using the 1 to 10 numbers scale. For example, ask: “That spank was a #4, do you want it lighter or harder?”
Besides the classic butt-in-the-air and on the lap position, other fun positions include standing upright, standing bended at the waist, and on all fours.
But most of all, use your imagination. This stuff is fun because it’s your opportunity to pretend to be what you aren’t. For example, if you happen to be a petite 5’6” chick, this is your chance to pretend you’ve got a big strong overpowering presence.
Of course, if you can refrain from falling down with goofy laughter, it’s fun to try some classic scenarios. Think teacher and student, Catholic schoolgirl (or boy) and nun, drill sergeant and soldier, inmate and prison guard, Democrat and Republican…
Adding Toys and Other Fun Stuff
In the name of safety, it’s always best to purchase items made especially for the bedroom. That duct tape you have in your utility drawer may seem perfect for attaching your boyfriend to your bed frame, but it also sticks all too well to his hairy forearms. The pain he’ll experience upon removal is not BDSM, it’s simply pure torture.
BDSM accouterments include everything from a fur-lined paddle to the leather flog to a lollipop crop. There’s special bondage tape that only sticks to itself and soft nylon rope that won’t cause burns. There are cuffs that work well for the wrists or ankles and don’t require a key, and ones that attach to your bed frame (easy to hide under the mattress if you’ve got roommates or kids running around). You’ll find fashionable red patent leather collars, pony blinder eye masks, and vibrating and bejeweled nipple clamps. The list goes on and on.
Check out our gallery slideshow for the full tour.
All photos: Jessica Firger