Tag: Review

Book Review: The Leatherboy Handbook

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*disclaimer: 1) This review is on the 1st edition of this book which is no longer in print. An expanded version is now available under the new title The Complete Leatherboy Handbook. 2) I am not a gay male.

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The Leatherboy Handbook (1st ed.) by boy Vincent L. Andrews published by The Nazca Plains 2008.

I had very high hopes for this book as it came strongly recommended from a number of leather people in my life. Unfortunately, I may have set the bar a little high for this book. Very clearly in the introduction Andrews lets readers know that this book is written from his experience primarily for gay males interested in the leather lifestyle. The book is divided into eighteen chapters which at first glance look very well thought out. Andrews is very repetitive throughout the book, not just of major concepts but all minor details, and I found my self thinking “didn’t I just read this.” Additionally, a large portion of the book is really focused on cruising without coming off like an ass and finding yourself a Daddy. While I can absolutely appreciate the need to help new people not look like an ass this made up the majority of the book became a bit tedious. While these were annoying points I could read around them and still get some good information from the book.

The serious complaint that I have with this book was how Andrews chooses to treat the rest of the BDSM community. I understand that the kink and leather sides of our community do not always meet eye to eye. Many “just kinky” people don’t take the protocols, power exchange, or rituals beyond their play. This does not mean they are lesser than those who chose to live in these dynamics full time. There is a beauty in the fact that we can choose our level of depth within these dynamics our partners. At least once per chapter Andrews blatantly shames those who are not leather or D/s 24/7 and regularly says that they are a prime reason for the demise of the leather scene. It becomes pretty elitist and may be a turn off to many who are interested in the leather lifestyle but also enjoys other kinks.

Overall, this book is ok. It does provide some good information for those who are interested in starting a leather journey of their own but readers will need to take much of what the author shares worth a grain of salt.

Pros: Quick read, some good chapters on service, written from a submissive’s POV

Con: Repetitive and somewhat derogatory towards non leather BDSM communities

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Better than the book: Things 50 Shades the movie did well.

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We know the negatives of the 50 shades books. The writing is atrocious. The author doesn’t represent the “real” BDSM lifestyle. They don’t warn about the extra dark side. We could go on. Honestly though, the fact the series has become so popular isn’t entirely bad! Here are some reasons the 50 Shades movie isn’t as terrible as you’d expect.

Let’s Talk

If nothing else 50 Shades absolutely got people talking. Most of us in the BDSM community did not stumble upon a billionaire with a dark side but some of us did stumble into “red rooms of pain” whether in the privacy of a home or in more public dungeon. The books got people thinking about what got them wet. In turn it got people talking to EACH OTHER about what got them wet. Suddenly we’ve got couples exploring new ways to please each other, book clubs talking about getting their kink on, BDSM communities doing outreach events, & public libraries talking about the rights of patrons to read what they want and have the privacy to do so. The movie continues this conversation. For a lot of people it’s easier to talk a partner into watching a movie for two hours than reading an entire book (or listen to the horrible audiobook!) This means that the movie gives people who may have been hesitant to bring up the subject a new jumping point for the conversation.

Consent!

I have to say thank you to the screenwriters on this one for actually doing a bit of research while writing the script. Through out the movie the concepts of consent are repeatedly and expressly discussed. When the pair sit down and negotiate the contract Christian might raise an eye brow at Ana removing fisting from the list but he doesn’t force her to leave anything in. He also gives some too in offering the one non D/s date a week which she mentions earlier in the story. Give and take between the individuals to reach to an agreement they are both comfortable with. Sounds like a pretty reasonable representation of D/s contract negotiations to me. When it came to play again Christian very much requires consent, not just a head shake but in words, even without the contract being signed. Prior to all BDSM play he asks her for verbal consent and goes over the safe words. Even in the infamous ending he asks her at least twice “are you sure” and explains EXACTLY what the punishment will be. She insists, consents, and doesn’t call red. She might not have liked what he did but there wasn’t any abusive behavior or manipulation in it.

We’re not all traumatized abuse victims!

This was a BIG problem for a lot of BDSM communities members when the book came out. Christian has a pretty dark and questionably abusive history. Due to this many outside of the kink community came to the conclusion that only abused and traumatized individuals are drawn to our deplorable desires. While mental illness does occur in the kink community many studies are putting this assumption to rest. The movie handles this fact much better than the book. “Mrs. Robinson” is brought up a few times but only one scene has the really negative undertone regarding that relationship. Christian handles it well and the focus doesn’t immediately become “oh, he was sexually abused as a teenager and that’s why he’s just so fucking broken.” Additionally, more then once Christian tells her that BDSM is just a part of who he is not because he’s broken or damaged. Kink is in his blood.

Kinda Hot

For a mainstream hollywood movie there were some potentially steamy scenes particularly for those mostly in the vanilla world. It is really tame, light sensation play for the most part but for a wide audience even that is racy! They try to show passion and connection between the two characters both in and out of the red room of pain. Christian isn’t just merciless beating Ana but providing aftercare and checking in with her. That’s a good thing. That’s how scenes should work within the negotiations of the Top and bottom.

 

So yes, for those of us who live kinky lives more fully this is rubbish but we have to remember where it came from: Twilight fan fiction from someone who may never have been erotically spanked in her life! However horribly written and edited the books were the movie addressed a lot of the blatantly inaccurate information.

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Hitchin’ Bitches Tampa Intensive with DespoenaCalypso

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Last weekend the Tampa Chapter of Hitchin’ Bitches had the opportunity to host DespoenaCalypso (DC) for a two-day intensive. Across the seven couples the class had a mixed range of abilities coming into the weekend. The group was across the skill spectrum and honestly this made me a bit nervous. I’ve been to other intensives and the instructors either flew through leaving people in the dust or took so long helping the beginners along that the rest almost fell asleep. DC was able to find a great balance to her teaching though making sure that EVERYONE brought something home with them.

Day One

The first day we took a bit of time to see where everyone was with some simple but critical ties. Once DC felt comfortable that we were all at a safe place to learn the curriculum for the weekend we jumped right in with TKs and variations. The bottoms were all awesome and patient as the tops worked through the ties. We also worked through hip harnesses and talked about energy through rope play, and Ichinawa vs. Muganawa. The night ended with a trip to the monthly party, Circuit, in Ybor.

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Day Two

Day two we started with a class focused on bottoming and prepping our bodies. Rarely do we get time to talk about this kind of thing so I was really happy to start the day out this way. It was also a great way to get everyone’s bodies awake and moving after a long first day/night out. We spent the rest of the day working through partials,  suspensions and again ended with a fantastically hot scene between DC and Optical pulling all the skills from the weekend together.

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The ties we were working through were ones that I’m familiar with so for me it was the little things, variations and the precise details, I got to focus on. Things like adjusting the tension on my wraps and making my frictions hard like “little pebbles”*  The fact that I never got bored/distracted was due to DC’s approach in teaching. Everyone got a little one on one throughout the day blended in with our class time allowing her to make personalized suggestions and notes.

 

There were so many great moments during our two days together and I was happy to see so many Hitchin’ Bitches, new and old, make leaps and bounds in their rope work. A HUGE thank you to both DC and Optical for sharing your time, knowledge, and passion for rope. We’re already planning next years event!

 

*DC contributes this phrase to Gorgone when she gave an intensive earlier this summer and it absolutely stuck with me too.

**Disclaimer: I’ve known DC for a several years and have had the opportunity to work with her over the last two. She’s influenced and helped form my personal rope style and philosophy.

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The Real 50 Shades of Grey E! Documentary

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Thanks to falling down a random internet rabbit hole I came across The Real 50 Shades of Grey an E! documentary from 2013. I was hesitant at first since a lot of the mainstream 50 Shades coverage is pretty terrible but figured what why not.

To my pleasant surprise this was a really well executed representation of the life I and many others enjoy every day. While I was expecting some sensationalized practitioners I was happy to see the couples were “normal.” While there was at least one pro Domme there were also engineers and nurses. Though they were all heterosexual they did include female dominance, mono and poly households, and those who live 24/7 vs those who keep it just to the bed room. The couples appeared natural as they discussed how they came into the lifestyle and how it has become part of their life. To support this they had a variety of credible experts including Midori and Tristan Taormino. The issues of consent and abuse were also addressed well. Overall The Real 50 Shades of Grey did a great job at not sensationalize or demonizing BSDM but rather gave viewers a real, educationally supported, representation of what it means to be part of the in the lifestyle.

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Book Review: Erotic Slavehood

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es

Focused: 5/5
Informative: 4/5
Accessibility: 4/5
Pro: Quick read, helpful for either side of the power exchange
Con: Needs a second round of editing, training is very formal and could turn off to some readers
Recommended for: Power Exchange, Dominant, submissive, D/s, M/s, solo submissives, TPE

First recommended to me by Master Cecil & Serving Wench of The Woodshed Orlando I was excited to see what Erotic Slavehood: Miss Abernathy Omnibus had to offer. Combining Miss Abernathy’s Concise Slave Training Manual and Training with Miss Abernathy, this book offers both Masters/Dominates and their submissives a good foundation for learning. Miss Abernathy’s Concise Slave Training Manual was written with the Dominant or Master in mind with sections such as identifying your desired type of service, how to approach contracts, and how to design a training program that works for you and your submissives. The second section of the book Training with Miss Abernathy is a series of fifty assignments, grouped by type of service, to guide learning. For a Dominate this part can offer a groundwork for creating your own assignments. For the unattached submissive it can give you a guided plan of personal growth and reflection. My one big complaint was that there were a number of typos and grammar errors. While I am far from perfect on those points myself the errors were frequent enough to bother me. Overall I think this book is excellent and is on the top of my recommended reading lists for anyone exploring D/s, M/s, or power exchange relationships.

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