I have had multiple people approach me in the last few weeks about helping them plan some kind of “surprise” scene for someone. Some wanted to organize and plan abductions, some wanted to set up a first group play experience for someone, and others were simply looking for the right way to go about doing something to/with someone without explicitly talking to them about it first.
I tell all of them the same thing, every time:
Surprise scenes are dangerous, be careful.
For some of the things we do in kink, consent can be a tricky, greyish area. When you find yourself anywhere near that danger zone, you need to slow way down. I often hear something like this.
“I have this idea, but we haven’t really done anything like it before. I don’t want to talk to her about it first, because then it won’t be a surprise.”
Sure, I’ve felt this one. On some level, though, when you give into this thinking, you are saying that you trust your ability to judge what your partner would consent to without asking them. In my opinion, you need clearance from that other person to take it upon yourself to make those judgement. Many of the stories I tell at parties sound completely crazy, and don’t seem to allow for pro-active consent. But with those partners, at some point, we had a discussion where I got blanket permission to exercise my own best judgement on what things are ok to do to/with them.
But even then, I almost never exercise that power. I have to have a very good reason to not explicitly ask someone about a type of play before we do it, even when I have permission to skip that step. But that doesn’t mean they have to know that I am getting their consent or what I plan to do with it.
For instance. When I organized the abduction of my wife (Posts One, Two, and Three about that) a few years ago, I involved many other people. The way that I did that was that I told her that I wanted her to make a list for me in case I ever felt like involving someone else in one of our scenes at the club. I told her to list who she would be ok with me inviting to play with her and what she was comfortable with those people doing. That list then became the invite list for the abduction.
I did something similar when I designed her engagement ring. For about a year before hand, any time we went to a wedding or saw a commercial, I softly encouraged her to comment on it in some way. She would tell me the things she liked about them and the things she didn’t. i basically tricked her into describing her ideal ring for me without her ever knowing that she was doing it. But still, when the moment came, I only offered the ring to her, it was her choice to take it or not.
You can do the same thing with surprise scenes. Get everything in place and set up, bring them into it, then right before it happens, you tell ’em what is about to happen and give them the opportunity to refuse, with no hurt feelings or judgement.
“But you can’t very well give someone that out for something like an abduction, it would totally ruin it.”
First of all, yes you can. It might look something like this:
We were at the mall, shopping for clothes. As she was digging through a rack of shirts, she suddenly found herself surrounded by unfamiliar faces, standing far too close to be unimportant. I lean in and whisper in her ear. “Say yes, right now, and these kind folks will escort you out to car you’ve never seen, take you to a place you’ve never been, and do things to you that you can’t imagine. If you say no, they will walk away and you will never see them again.”
But even if you don’t do something like that, it doesn’t mean you don’t get permission and consent on some level. About a year before I did the abduction, I had a discussion with her about an experience like that. We didn’t get into detail, but we talked about the concept of abduction and other kinds of surprise play. So when the time came and I decided to actually go forward, I had my notes from that conversation to guide me. I knew what she was willing to do or not. And it was a year later. The conversation, for her, was long forgotten.
The other way that I get continuous consent is through a tool that I call the “Red Folder“, which provides my partner with the opportunity to share their desires and fantasies with me in a covert way, and letting me know that these are things she actively wants, even if we never talk about it. Abduction and group scenes showed up a lot in her red folder writings back then. So I felt confident in preparing the abduction scenario, that it was still something she wanted, even though we had not talked recently about it.
“But I don’t want to wait that long”
Then you shouldn’t be doing this kind of scene. This kind of grey-area consent play requires patience, discipline, and the ability to set your own needs aside and serve the needs, wants, and safety of your partner. You are not a top in this type of play, you are an event planner. And you must make sure that everything goes smoothly. This means taking your time to be sure of every choice and confident in the consent you have obtained. But more than anything, you have to have permission to surprise them, you have to have permission to consent to something on their behalf, and you have to be able to tease out enough information from them to make your choices in a responsible manner. If you don’t have the ability to take your time, then this isn’t the type of play for you.
This is dangerous stuff. You can ruin your relationship,or emotionally damage the person, or end up in prison if it is not done meticulously. The person I did the abduction with was in a relationship with me for over five years before that happened. It is not something I take lightly or do without great caution. From the outside, that careful deliberation is not always visible. People see the end result and hear the crazy stories, but don’t always get to see the intense preparation that goes into making those things happen. In that way, these types o scenes are a lot like a stunt person doing a motorcycle jump over a canyon, and it comes with that same disclaimer.
“What you are about to see was performed under the supervision of professionals. Do not try this at home.”
Every time I do one of these crazy scenes, I consult with people who have more experience with them than I do. And I will continue to do that until there is no one left with more experience than me. Because another set of eyes on your plans can only ever help you. Get advice, get feedback, get help. And never, ever invest yourself so much in one of these scenes that you are unable to make the decision to walk away from it. More often than not, I decide not to go forward with something like this, even after a great deal of planning had already been done. That healthy distance from the plan helps you keep perspective and stops you from making decisions you will regret.
Be careful out there everybody. This isn’t the playground. This is dangerous.