Somehow, in the madness that was two weeks ago, we managed to record our regularly scheduled episode of our Kinky Queer Revolution podcast. Ishmael and Mir rapped about extreme and fringe kinks.
This content is quite obviously NSFW. ;)
We hope you'll send us your questions and suggestions for future episodes! We livecast every other Wednesday live from Wicked Grounds.
If you listen closely, you can hear exactly how shaky Mir was while we did this livestream, and unfortunately Mir's mic was a little off probably because they were shaky. Thanks to our Patreon subscribers for returning us to our usual exuberance starting with this week's episode. ;)
For this experiment in live podcasting to work, we are going to need your questions!
Here are a few ways to take part:
We encourage you to ask us anything, and we will answer as many questions as we can during this special podcast.
The project started the day after the 2018 election. Several of us were honestly in shock, and figuring out how to mobilize to support and protect our local community. Some baristas and patrons wrote signs of support and hung them throughout the cafe. (You can still find them on our political action wall near the bathroom.) We were desperate to think of more tangible means of support.
Azalea Pony (whose Patreon you can check out here, and who later became the 2017 Ms SF Leather) said they wished there was a way to buy free coffee for folks who might need a safe space but couldn't afford it. As Mir struggled to figure out how that would work, Azalea and our friendly espresso robot hashed out details on a simple way to ring up and track the drinks. The first seven "support coffees" were added to our whiteboard wall with little hearts, and the movement was started.
Word got out quickly, locally and around the country. Wicked Grounds customers started buying pre-paid drinks for the wall in person, via PayPal from Texas and Oregon, and even by grabbing us in the hallways at the Dark Odyssey conference the following weekend. The wall began to fill with so many pre-paid drinks, we couldn't imagine giving them all out.
That changed quickly. Over the last year, we've given out literally hundreds of drinks through the generous support of our customers.
Many are to regular customers from the LGBTQ/ kink communities who are having a rough week or just struggle to make ends meet in the difficult SF economy. Many more are to our local SOMA neighbors who are homeless or housing insecure and just need a hot or cold beverage to get through the day.
The support coffees allowed us -- quite unexpectedly -- to participate in a Bay Area general strike on January 20th, 2017. As you may already know, Wicked Grounds has a policy to stay open every day of the year to ensure that our community always has a welcoming environment to be with friends and chosen family. The general strike posed a challenge: how to stay open and closed at the same time? The support coffees made it possible. Our owner, cafe manager and previous owner volunteered to serve just support drinks all day -- no money exchanged, no staff scheduled, but we met our mission to keep the doors open throughout a day when many really needed the space.
As we come up on the first anniversary, we want to give a huge shout out to everyone who made this possible -- to Azalea for the idea, to the baristas who created the system, to the community who bought and consumed the drinks, to the Trans and Queer Bay Area Free Pile group which allows the local community to share resources, and everyone else who has made this small gesture of support possible.
In honor of our first anniversary, we will donate one support coffee for each and every Patreon subscriber at the end of November. If you're already a subscriber, thank you. If you are not yet a subscriber, consider joining now to make your support even more valuable to the broader community.
And everyone: we love you, ok?
Mir and the team at Wicked Grounds
PS: Do you want to contribute more drinks to the support wall? You can help by either asking your friendly barista to ring up a community support drink on site, through our online store, or sending funds by PayPal to Mir@WickedGrounds.com with a note specifying that they are for community support coffees. (Each coffee is $3.05.)
PPS: This post was made possible by the magic of Patreon. Want to support the kinky, queer revolution? Join us there!
Hi L -
Thanks for your questions, and for taking the time to write me!
As the old joke goes, you could probably ask 12 kinksters about these words and get 14 answers! And there are certainly nuances about how these words get used in different sub-cultures within kink land. That said, I'll give you my answers based on what you can expect to hear most often.
Bottom/ Top tend to be the most all encompassing terms. The bottom is generally receiving the action; the top is generally guiding the action. The top flogs; the bottom gets flogged. The top spanks; the bottom gets spanked. The rope top ties; the rope bottom gets tied. Often you'll hear this in a BDSM context, but you also hear it a lot to describe sex roles in the gay community. The top fists; the bottom gets fisted. The top fucks; the bottom gets fucked.
You can think of the bottom and top as participants in a dance where both roles are critical and need to be in sync -- no matter what type of dance you're doing. You can think of Fred Astaire as the top, directing the choreography. But as the old Frank & Ernest comic put it, "Sure he was great, but don't forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, ...backwards and in high heels."
To sum up, bottom/ top in most usage are very inclusive terms that can be used to describe the leader and follower in a variety of dynamics -- including the sexual roles in relatively vanilla relationships, active/ passive roles for bondage and domination play, dominant and submissive in D/s dynamics, and giver and receiver of sensation in Sado-masochistic dynamics.
One cautionary note from my personal perspective: Because these terms are relatively inclusive, they also have their limits and can get confusing if you don't know what type of play we're discussing. You may also be a bottom in some contexts and a top in others -- even within a particular relationship. For example, I might be a dominant, and still order my girl to beat or fuck me. Even though I'd be technically a bottom for the sensation or sexual play, that doesn't change the fact that I'm the Dominant giving the orders. Because of this, I like "bottoming" and "topping" more as verbs than I like "bottom" and "top" as nouns. It's more useful for me personally to think of bottoming and topping more in terms of what you do than what your general role is.
For more on these dynamics, The Topping Book and The Bottoming Book by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy are excellent.
Submissive/ Dominant (or sub/ Dom) describes these roles within the context of consensual power exchange. In D/s, the submissive willingly cedes some form of agency to the dominant through their dynamic. The dominant is calling the shots in some specific way and the submissive is giving their trust, willingness, and vulnerability for that to happen.
For me, D/s is all about the mental and emotional play between the submissive and the Dominant. There is a deep power and energy for me as a Dom in holding a strong container for vulnerable and hot play, and bringing a submissive's desire and actions in line with my own. No matter what else we're doing -- rope or canes, sexy times or watching a movie, or just getting my toenails painted while we lounge in bed -- I'm the one calling the shots and my submissive is the one trusting me to do that.
There are probably as many styles of building D/s dynamics are there are dominants and submissives. Some submissives only submit during scenes or playtime; others cede control over some or many aspects of their day to day lives.
You asked specifically about service submissives as well. Service submissives give acts of service as part of their submission. A service submissive might take on specific duties or chores for their Dominant. Those acts of service might be fairly kinky -- perhaps bootblacking or serving as a sissy maid in a frilly outfit. Or, they might be relatively vanilla tasks that become an act of service because the Dominant wants it. For example, I once had a service submissive who helped me with large garden tasks for my permaculture design work.
Not all submissives are interested in acts of service. I've dated submissives who specifically did not want to engage in acts of service but were submissive in other ways. If you're into service, it's a great way of deepening your submission. If you're not . . . it will probably annoy you. No submissive "has to" do service to be a "true submissive." There are no rules about how to structure D/s relationship -- only agreements.
Anton Fulmen's The Heart of Dominance is my current favorite book on D/s from a Dom's perspective. There's also a great book called Conquer Me by Kacie Cunningham that explores submission from a woman's perspective.
And then we come to Master/ slave dynamics. This one gets a little tricky, because there are a few different usages going on.
I personally don't engage in M/s dynamics, and when I was less involved in the kink community, I thought of slaves as some kind of uber-submissive. As I've learned more, I've been surprised to learn that's not always the case.
Some folks use Master/ slave to refer to a 24/7 power exchange dynamic -- but otherwise they're basically in a Dominant/ submissive relationship. I've also noticed that I tend to hear this usage a lot in the gay leather community. Jack Rinella's The Master's Manual and The Complete Slave explore M/s dynamics within that context.
Some folks use the terms as a specific kind of role play, particularly exploring the taboo of historical slavery.
What I've personally seen most often in an M/s dynamic is a specific kind of ownership and service which goes well beyond the bedroom or D/s. Often, Masters (or Mistresses) and their slaves form kinds of power couples and power households that Really Get Shit Done.
International Ms. Leather 2010 Mollena Williams-Haas comes to mind as an exceptionally powerful slave. Wife to a world renowned composer, she manages world travel, public appearances and press while also continuing her own work as a kink educator and public figure. From a New York Times interview published Feb. 23 2016 : "The fundamental feature of their relationship is not obviously sexual, Mr. Haas and Ms. Williams-Haas, 46, said in an interview at their airy apartment near Columbia, with expansive views of the Hudson River. 'It’s not caning,' he said. 'It’s the fact that I need someone who is with me when I work.'"
Owned slaves might be responsible for a family business, managing a leather house, running a leather contest, or a variety of other high-end tasks. The more I see these kinds of slaves in action, the more in awe I am of their sheer strength and initiative. In contrast to many submissives, the slave's task is not necessarily to submit. To manage the Big Picture of improving their owners' lives, many slaves need to manage upward, strategically push back, and take full ownership of many of the tasks that have been delegated to them. It's impressive -- and not at all what I expected when I was new to all this.
Just one last thought on dynamics of all kinds. Because there are as many ways to do BDSM as there are people, it's a good idea to use any of these terms as a discussion starter. Don't assume that because someone is a "bottom," or "submissive" or "slave" that it means what you think it does! Brad from the Society of Janus always suggests that you follow up that descriptor with a question: "What does that mean for you?" It's really good advice. (And one we should always be asking ourselves as well!)
I realize that this is very long, but I hope that it's helpful!
PS: Do you have a different perspective? Share it in the comments below!
PPS: Do you have a question for Wicked Mir? Send your questions to AskWickedMir@gmail.com
I'm currently awaiting new questions for the column. If you have one, please send it to AskWickedMir@gmail.com!
So without further ado, and with minimal editing, we present this flashback from 2007:
Things Not to Do
When it comes to the scene, I'm a relative newbie. I am still learning the ins and outs of etiquette, and am often very grateful to run in low-protocol circles. But there are a few things I've learned which apply to both the magickal and kink communities, from which I can begin to assemble a short list of Miriam's Things Not to Do at Events. And since I apparently woke up on the snarky side of the bed this morning, I will happily share.
#1. Do not touch my tools without asking. More specifically, ask first and actually gain permission before touching. Usually if polite people ask about my different kinds of rope, I will hand some over for them to touch. But do not walk over, pick up a hank of rope, and then ask if you can touch it -- particularly if you are a complete stranger at your first Rope SIG. I may forgive you, and even be nice to you later, but you have just gained yourself a nice little lecture. Really, do you want me on my soapbox? The next time someone does this, I'm going to tell them I last used that rope for ass play.
#2. Do not distract the scene. It may look like the scene is very low protocol; knowing my darling Misfit Bottoms (tm), it probably is. It may also look like I have several folks already involved in some way. Again, I'm betting you're right. But if this is a scene (i.e., not an instructional SIG where I've asked for feedback), do not interrupt. Things are not always as casual as they appear to be. That guy you see consulting me on how to apply and take off the wax? I negotiated with him to teach me. The other guy helping out? We came here together, and he is the hotness. Our victim? Well, you know she's in. You on the other hand are a complete stranger telling me how to get the wax off my girl, and how my hot new knife that I came here to play with is tedious and inefficient. I am quite certain you did not mean to do that.
#3. Ask before giving feedback. This should be rule number one of the magickal and kink communities. In fact, it sort of is in the magickal community. I am particularly fond of Donald Engstrom's rules for feedback, which are (in paraphrase):
Feedback should be:
There are several dozen right ways to hank rope, many of which I've gratefully learned from feedback at SIGs. The time to tell me yours is not immediately after a scene, as I have just gotten my girl out of suspension, when you haven't even introduced yourself.
Oh, and then there's the fun corollary:
#4. Don't assume you know everyone's roles, or that they are static. I once had the fantastic experience of having a gentleman rigger come up to me while I was in a partial suspension. "When I met you at Austin Rope Symposium, I could have sworn you were a top!" he said. "I am," I said, and flipped around in the ropes. My darling submissive? She becomes an evil top on a dime once I get her out of the ropes. Anyone who's been around for a while will quickly figure this out, especially any girl she wants to torture. Underestimate her at your peril. (And don't think that collar keeps you safe; I'm a rather indulgent Daddy.)
The latest funny came when I was teaching my boyfriend to bundle the ropes after a scene last week; he asked if he could help and I was trying to teach him how I do it. He tried a couple of times, didn't quite get it, and I took over. (No lack of credit to him; it was 4 in the morning, and we'd been playing all night.) J. Random Person from the sidelines (see #3 above) said: "You should order him to do it again." Ummm. "He's not my submissive, and I don't give him orders. He's my top." I wish I hadn't been so busy with the rope; I'd have loved to see the look on that guy's face.
And finally, and very importantly:
#5. Don't try any of these assy tricks just so Miriam will give you the hairy eyeball. I know the hairy eyeball is fun and all that, but if you want me to be mean to you, just ask. Violating any of the above rules is one of the easiest ways to ensure you don't get play. Seriously.
Dear Wicked Mir –
I’m new in town, but not new to BDSM. I was really active in my hometown’s kink scene – I practically helped build it.
I’ve just moved to San Francisco. The scene here is big, and it’s kind of overwhelming. In my old town, I didn’t have to think much about how to connect with community. Even though there’s a lot happening in the San Francisco scene, I’m not quite sure how to plug into it. Any advice?
(she/ her pronouns)
Hi New –
Welcome to San Francisco! You’re right that there’s a lot going on here, and it can be hard to plug into it all.
I remember when I first moved to San Francisco. Making friends back in Austin and Houston seemed easy, especially since a friend of mine was already active in the Houston scene. I didn't have to think much about how to make new friends. Here, I didn't know anyone in the kink scene, and despite a few tentative trips to Leather Alley and Pride, it took me a while to get brave enough to connect with all the groups and resources here.
The advice I’m going to give you, my big secret, applies to nearly any local kink community.
The single best way to make new friends and get an insider’s perspective into a new kink scene is to volunteer!
Volunteers are the unsung heroes of the kink community. Whether it’s setting up a dungeon or house for the night’s play party, helping with classes and workshops, or putting on a huge kink convention, volunteers are the engines of every local kink community.
Most play parties, classes and conventions offer free or discounted admission to volunteers. That can help you to check out more of the scene in your new town without spending a lot of money on classes and events. And if you're anything like me, volunteering helps by giving you a sense of place and belonging at the events you attend. You'll have a chance to make new friends, meet great people, ask questions, and also build a sense of real investment in your local scene.
My first few parties were at Mission Control, where I would put in some time cleaning, or setting up, or (after a while) helping newcomers get oriented to the party's rules. I got to chat with my fellow party attendees, meet the other volunteers, and felt instantly welcomed. Before very long, I felt like Mission Control's Velvet party was home.
Barista Asher offers one cautionary note: when volunteering, you might find that a specific organization, party or venue just isn't a good fit for you, which might feel like a waste of your time. The way to make the best of this is to go slowly. Volunteer for individual events or classes, and hold off making long-term commitments too quickly. Treat it like dating. Just like early dates, your goal at first is to get to know the group, see if you're a good fit, and hopefully have a great time doing it. If a particular group, venue or event isn't a good fit for you, that's good information!
Welcome, and good luck!
PS: Hey readers! Have other suggestions? Make ‘em in the comments below!
PPS: This post is made possible by the generous support of our Patreon subscribers. Thank you!!! Want to help make content like this happen? Bebop over to Patreon and find out more!
In regards to the discussion groups and/or meet ups around is there any one that you might suggest or even someone that I could speak to a bit more about the Dominant thing, as while it is very new to me two ex-boyfriends and a whole slew of my fraternity brothers and rugby teammates keep telling me that I'm quite dominant. On that note, yourself even, as I believe you mentioned that you'd become Dominant over time. If so, wonderful. If not, no worries; I thank you for your point in the right direction.
Many thanks for your continued time and help,
P.S. It really was wonderful to meet you and hear you speak so passionately about something that you're genuinely excited about - keep it up!
Dear Dominator –
Thank you very much for your questions! I’m so glad you found the Kink 101 class useful.
You’re correct in remembering that I didn’t start my kink journey as a dominant. I did a lot of sensation play throughout my adult life, and entered my first D/s relationship as a submissive in my late twenties. Several years later I apprenticed with a Dom woman I admired, and slowly began to get my sea legs as a dominant.
I’ll be honest – it was hard at first! I felt self-conscious in the beginning, and it took time to build my confidence. What finally got me past that hurdle was getting over my internalized idea of “what a Dom should look like,” and instead exploring the things that personally excited me. In the beginning, I was hung up on what I thought a “real” dominant needed to do – make my own toys, for example, or build expertise in flogging. And honestly, I wasn’t very good at those things. (I have terrible depth perception, and over a dozen years later rarely use a flogger!) Once I discovered my own passion for rope bondage and canes, I developed the skills and confidence that formed a foundation for my own style of nurturing, sadomasochistic dominance.
In your letter, you mention kink as “something that I should explore both for my own pleasure and the good of the community.” That may be true! But based on my own experience, I’d suggest starting with the parts that give you pleasure. This may sound selfish, but it’s truly the opposite. Once you figure out what excites and pleases you, you’ll be able to build a style of dominance which is truly your own. And that’s what’s good for the community!
There are several excellent books that I really like for dominants, including Dossie Easton & Janet Hardy’s The Topping Book and the new Heart of Dominance by Society of Janus mentorship director Anton Fulmen. Both of those are written from a pansexual perspective, meaning that they attempt to be inclusive of a variety of gender pairings. There are also several books written from the gay leather perspective. I’m a big fan of Jack Rinella’s The Master’s Manual. I like these books because they share a sense of humor and a light touch about the path the dominant walks, and they all center relationships, connection and mutuality as core to Dominant/ submissive relationships.
There are also a few discussion groups and meet ups for dominants in the SF Bay Area, which you can find listings for on Erobay.com or FetLife. Check out the Dominant Discussion Group on the fourth Monday at the SF Citadel as a great resource for mixed groups, or the Leathermen’s (or Young Leathermen’s) Discussion Group for a wide variety of discussion topics relevant to the gay leather scene.
The Society of Janus also have a mentorship program. You can connect with dominant mentors by attending one of their events - including the one we host at Wicked Grounds every third Tuesday at 7:30pm. One of the things I really like about the SoJ mentorship program is they always pair “like with like” – so as an aspiring dominant you’d be paired with another dominant. The focus is on pairing you with someone who has walked in your shoes and can give advice from that perspective.
Thanks again for your questions and good luck on your journey!
PS: Hey readers! Have other suggestions? Make ‘em in the comments below!
PPS: This content is made possible by the generous support of our Patreon subscribers. Subscribers at the $5/month or higher level also get early access to each column. Want to become part of the movement? Subscribe here!
As we roll out our new kinky advice/ Q&A column via Patreon, we wanted to set a few guidelines for how the column will work and how to ask questions.
We expect to answer a new question every week or so, as they come in. This might change as our volume of questions changes -- we expect fewer questions at the beginning (and maybe some general columns to fill in), and more as the word gets out.
Patreon subscribers will always get early access to the column, and priority to ask new questions. We will cross-post columns to our WickedGrounds.com blog about two weeks after publishing them to Patreon subscribers.
Ask a question!
Have a question? Here are a few guidelines for what to expect when you send them. (The email to send questions is after the guidelines.)
1. Your questions will remain anonymous. If you have a preferred nom de plume, let us know; if not, we will assign one. It would be great if you can also let us know your pronouns.
2. Please also protect the identities of others involved in your question by changing their names. We will assume you've done this.
3. We reserve the right to edit your question for clarity and length. The more you can provide a tightly focused question, the easier it is to answer.
4. By sending a question, you are granting us permission to publish your question in this column, our blog, our videos, and any future places where we may use that content (such as book projects), for commercial use or otherwise, without us seeking further permission.
5. While we'll answer as many questions as we can, we reserve the right to answer the questions that are a best fit for this project and community. Not all questions will necessarily be answered.
6. Just a reminder that we are kink concierges, open-minded baristas and "accidental sex educators" -- we are not therapists, and writing in is no substitute for therapy. If you need therapeutic or medical help, please reach out to professionals that can help you. Mir is just this queer dude writing their opinions on the internet. Seriously.
Okay, got all that? Your email to send questions is AskWickedMir@gmail.com. Easy! Send away!
WickedMir and the friendly baristas of Wicked Grounds
WickedMir is a rope nerd, bibliophile, coffee roaster and a proud Wicked Grounds owner.