Archive for January, 2015

Denver Tops Intensive ~ Feb 7

Posted: January 27, 2015 by Isaac Cross in Uncategorized


An XCBDSM Full-Day Experience

After such a great reception (and capacity audience) at the first all-day intensive, we’ve decided to offer a second.

The first intensive, last October, was focused on relationship dynamics and ethical leadership as a dominant. This time around, we will be focusing more on play. But this is not a technical workshop on how to throw a flogger or tie a knot. Instead, we will be addressing the less tangible concepts around the responsibilities of a top and the methods for achieving the most fulfilling scenes possible. Details on the specific topics, including how to reserve your spot, can be found here. 

If you are on any one of the many social networks, you most likely had to choose a primary profile image. On sites like Facebook or Fetlife, this image also serves as an avatar. An avatar is an image that follows you around on the site, showing up next to everything that you post and being your official first impression.

And that’s the problem, because people make some weird choices when choosing their avatars. The one we’re bitching about today is people who have more than one person in their avatar, especially when it’s not clear which of the people in the picture is the account owner. Or worse, their picture has only one person in it, and it isn’t them.

Who cares, right? It’s just a picture.

No, it’s more than that. Your avatar is the cover of your book, it’s your introduction, it’s the face you show the world.

If you want to make your avatar a symbol or a picture of your car or whatever, that’s fine. It’s still kind of weird, but at least people know that’s not you. And on site’s like Fetlife, you might be trying to preserve your privacy, and that’s fair. But you need to chose an image that is still reflective of you, that speaks to who you are.

When your avatar has other people in it, though, it causes confusion. It makes people uncomfortable. And that’s rude. It’s like if you are at a nice dinner and half way through you take your shirt off. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, but it’s impolite. And it makes people dislike you.

Basically, this is what everyone else in the world is seeing when you post something to a group or respond to a friend’s status:


Hi, my name is Jessica, I am a 23yo female submissive looking for doms around the same age or younger.

See, that’s weird. You think, “Wait, is Jessica just really ugly or is that the type of person she’s looking for, or… What’s going on here?”

But you might say, “Well, I’m not looking for new partners, I don’t have that problem.”

That’s fine, but you still comment and post, probably. In which case, you are still doing this.

“Obviously, blonds are a challenge to date. Most people aren’t up for it.”

Grrrr. Ok, is this the blond girl saying that or the other one? Because that will affect the response. Are you speaking from the experience of dating a blonde or from the experience of BEING one.

Then you go to the persons profile and see that the person identifies as a “49YO Male Dominant”

AAAAHHHHHHHHHH! Dammit, why?! So who the fuck are those two women?

OK, deep breath. I’m better.

Sometimes, people change their picture temporarily to that of someone else out of solidarity or protest or just to be funny. Fine, ok. But on most websites, when you change your avatar, it changes site-wide, not just on your profile. So suddenly that personal ad that you posted two months ago as a male seeking a female is accompanied by a photo of some gigantic breasts. Or how about that poignant, thoughtful response that you wrote in response to a friends traumatic experience. It now suddenly has a picture of a giant penis next to it.

The bottom line is that your avatar is your online face. And each day someone new could be looking at that face for the first time. What are you saying with it? What message are you sending? Are you losing the chance to meet a new friend or partner because of what you are displaying to the world? Are people focusing on figuring out who you are instead of listening to what you have to say or what you are trying to achieve?

Something to think about.

Someone recently asked me for advice on what they should buy as a new BDSM player. The person is in a rural area and doesn’t have access to a physical retail store and doesn’t have a lot of money to drop on toys from online shops when can be very expensive.

So I rounded up a few things on Amazon that you can get relatively cheap and easy to build your first starter kit.

Why Amazon? Well, you get some level of protection if the product is not delivered or not as advertised. The shipping is usually free, so long as you spend more than $25. It’s a little less shady than ebay or random websites. I like Amazon.


What not to buy: Avoid anything with the word “Fantasy” in the title and under no circumstances buy anything labled with “50 Shades of Grey”. Chances are that this will be cheap material meant to give the appearance of bondage, but will probably break after a minimal amount of struggling. Avoid anything with velcro or snaps, too. Finally, while fake handcuffs are a part of a lot of people’s fantasies, they are also an easy way to get injuries. Even the fuzzy, friendly looking ones can be to tight, can put pressure on nerves and joints.

Instead, go for leather or canvass, something with buckles or locking pins. It’s quick, easy, durable, and reliable. Here are a few examples.

Expensive, heavy-duty leather cuffs

Cheaper leather cuffs – You may need to replace the chain with something from home depot for strength or, if you want more restriction, use a snap hook instead of a chain.

Middle ground, good quality leather cuffs – No chain, so you’ll need to get one elsewhere or use a snap hook.

If you don’t like leather and prefer something a little more gentle looking, try these corset-print cuffs from California Exotics.

Cuffs like those above are very efficient, quick in and quick out. But if you prefer to take your time, rope is the way a lot of people go. So the thing about rope, though, is that it is a skill. Tying wrong can cause a lot of problems. Start with some books. I have several recommendation on the Bookshelf Page.

After that, you want to make sure that you are using the right tools. All rope is not equal. The nylon stuff you buy at Walmart is slippery and stiff. Utility rope from the hardware store is scratchy and usually thin, so cutting off circulation is more likely.

Natural fiber rope intended for bondage is expensive, but is the absolute best. It is comfortable, flexible, and holds a knot like nothing else. Hemp is the most popular material, but bamboo, jute, and silk are all very common as well. There are lots of great brands out there. Expect to pay about $1 per foot. deGiotto Rope is a brand trusted by many, and you can get it in a variety of colors.

If you can’t spend that kind of money on really good, fancy rope, then the next best thing is MFP. It doesn’t hold a knot quite as well as hemp, but it is strong and soft. I usually buy my MFP rope from, but if you want to bundle it into your Amazon order, you can get it here. I recommend 1/4 inch thick for wrists and ankles, 3/8 inch for full body harnesses or waist bondage. It’s available in all sorts of colors, even glow in the dark. When tying with rope, always have a pair of trauma sheers or a rescue hook in case you need to get them out quickly.

Things To Hit People With

Floggers are the most popular impact toy. They are also some of the most difficult products to determine quality for. Cheap products like these are very common. They are also very bad. The craftsmanship, the materials, and the just about everything else about them are very poor.

Look for floggers that are made from full-grain leather, meaning one side of the leather strips will be hard and shiny and the other side will be soft like suede. Here is an example. Good leather floggers can be expensive. But they will also last forever. Cheaper products fall apart after just a little use. However, there are some options.

Floggers made with chain or chain-mail are incredibly painful, but are less expensive. Suede floggers like this and this make a good, less-expensive substitute, but the important thing to remember is that suede cannot be thoroughly cleaned the way that full-grain leather can, so you may need to replace it when it gets dingy and dirty.

Another popular impact toy is a paddle. Tantus has a line of absolutely amazing rubber paddles. They feel great and material is the most body-safe stuff on the planet. It can be washed, sterilized, and shared without worry. It is incredibly durable and is one of my favorite toys. But they are expensive, at about $50 a piece.

So instead, beginners who aren’t ready to invest that kind of money usually turn to either wood or leather. The thing to remember about both is that if they get blood or skin cells in them, they can’t ever be completely clean, so if you play really rough, you probably want to make that toy unique to your partner.

Wood paddles can range in price and style depending on what you want. But I like to tell people that a sturdy wooden spoon or spatula generally works just as well and is usually way cheaper. If you prefer leather, there are lots of options for that, too.

Another common tool of pain are sticks. Canes, crops, etc. On everything else, I have told you to avoid the cheap knockoffs, but actually with this one, I haven’t found many truly bad crops or canes. Some of them break, and slight variations in the size and material can change the sensation drastically. So unfortunately, it’s really difficult to give you advice and honestly, it’s just not a good product to buy online. The shipping will kill you. If you don’t have sex shops in your area, you might have access to a place that sells supplies for horses. You can get crops there. As for canes, they are just long sticks. Dowels, fiberglass rods, even pipes and poles can make good substitutes for the things that are marketed as BDSM tools. Buy local for this one.

Other Pain Toys

Nipple clamps are a favorite. They come in a variety of styles. Clover clamps are my favorite. There are also alligator clamps, tweezer clamps, vice clamps, and many more. You can find all sorts of variations. Some have weights, some vibrate, some have bells, some have decorations. All of them are super cheap and readily available online. There is no reason to pay $30-40 for this toy in a sex shop when you can easily find it for $10 on amazon. And, of course, you can also just buy a whole box of clothespins for a couple bucks.

Another great sensation is scratching. My scratchy claws are from Hammerfell Armory. They cost $150. Most people aren’t up for that. So some affordable options include things like this or this or this or this. Get creative. Even a fork from your kitchen drawer can get the job done. A word of caution. Knives can be fun to play with, but it’s easy to slip up with big consequences. Use other things until you get confident.

Blindfolds and Gags

Taking away sight and speech is a great way to heighten the sensations and intensify the experience.

Blindfolds are pretty easy. A sleep mask works pretty well, and that one also comes with ear plugs if you want to go for full sensory deprivation. If you want something a little better, a leather blindfold like this one is a good bet. Look for something that is shaped around the nose and pushed in on the eyes for a good light seal. Something with buckles is usually better than elastic, and two straps is always better than one. It’s up to how much you want to spend and how important it is that they see nothing. Some go under the nose as well, but they are more uncomfortable. If you want to be sure they will see nothing, go for a full hood instead of just a blindfold. There are some that also come with a gag attached.

As for gags, there are some differences in styles. Ball gags are the standard. The wiffle-ball style gags make it easier to breath, but also make you drool quite a lot. Bit style gags come in firm or soft. Panel gags have a ball that goes into the mouth while the outside panel covers the outside of the mouth as well. In some cases, the ball is replaced with a dildo. For extra effect, the outside panel can also have a dildo so the dom can have some fun, too.

What Else

I have had a ton a great times with nothing more than $30 worth of stuff from the local dollar store. You don’t need a lot of expensive toys to have fun. Once you figure out what you like, then you may be ready to drop $150 on claws or $100 for a flogger. There are hundreds of sites offering top grade bdsm toys. But you should make sure you like that type of play before you go there. In the mean time, the links above can fill up a toy bag without having to leave Amazon.