I’m a BDSM minimalist. My play isn’t flashy, I don’t have a rolling castle full of whips and chains that I drag to each kink event. I find beauty in simplicity.
The term came up organically with another presenter at Rome BDSM Conference, because that is always how magic happens. Get a few weird-ass kinky creative people together and the terms start rolling. I had an interview with Desade Magazine at the end of the weekend (when I was tired, hair pulled back and a few stumbling steps away from my flight back home) that was an “aha” moment where I described in detail how I do kink.
YOUR BEST TOOL IS YOUR BODY
I don’t lay out a table full of floggers when I start a scene. I don’t need 30 minutes to set up all of my equipment. I don’t even use a cross or a table most of the time. I find a nice place on the floor, maybe throw down a blanket or some mats and I have my scene area. I will never get bored of play using pressure points and body weight.
BDSM is a conversation, play for grownups. For those of you who didn’t study animal behavior in university like I did, play is one of the most important mechanisms for animals (mammals specifically) to develop important life skills and learn their own bodies. So, the same holds true in our kink play. The most important play and conversation I can have with another person is with my body. Touch brings about a connective interaction so much more than when there is an implement in between you and the person. The most powerful bonds I’ve formed in my life have been through some sort of play. BDSM is the most clear example, but think about any romantic relationship you’ve had. One of the biggest ways that we bond is by being silly together, or doing an activity together. That is our play. Touch is a huge part of our needs and our play, so neglecting touch is leaving out one of the best chapters in your book of kinky you.
I find it much easier to have a connective scene with someone when I am hurting them with me instead of a flogger or another implement. I think that sometimes we get lost in all the flashy tools of the trade, and we forget that we are the one doing the touching and hurting, even if a tool is involved. When you hit someone with an extremely painful paddle you are hurting the bottom, not just the paddle.
I put a large amount of energy into playing with a partner. I want to make the focus of that 20 minutes – 2 hours to be our relationship only. When I see other people play that way, those are always the scenes I stop and stare at and say ‘wow’. When I’m at a play party and I’m observing instead of playing, I let me eyes wander and find whatever I’m most drawn to. I often find that it isn’t the coolest scene with the most crazy implements that will pull me in, but the one where I can see that everyone involved is connected at the time. The ones where they are lost in the moment in a way that can only happen when you have complete control and mastery over the tools you’re using – even if they get a rope caught around toes or drop a paddle it doesn’t break their concentration. We’ve all seen those moments, where we stop and stare.
THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF MINIMALISM TRANSLATED TO BDSM
1. Eliminate the unnecessary
When I show up to a scene, I try to keep my play bag light. Only the tools that I need for the scene are included. I have a collection of toys at home, but I find that if I put everything out I’m more overwhelmed with choice and I’m more likely to hesitate when I’m picking out my next implement. I might make the wrong decision and use something that doesn’t further the enjoyment of the scene. Especially when I’m playing with someone for the first time, I start simple. I find it makes negotiation and the play itself much more enjoyable when we negotiate about a few tools and moves and go from there.
I am a fan of negotiation. Anyone who has been my partner knows this. I like to negotiate everything about relationships, and I think you only get what you negotiate for in life. I also think that to execute a scene with someone, you should cover the necessary. Absorb all of the relevant information, and build from there. If you’re going to do a simple rope scene with someone, you probably don’t need to have an extensive conversation about their experience with whips. I also have been in situations where a negotiation becomes so long winded that by the end of it I’m not sure what we exactly consented to, and there were so many things mentioned that I don’t know what will happen during the scene. That might be appealing to some, to me I like to know what will happen in a scene, especially with a new partner. I want them to feel secure in my care and be able to relax and open up to me.
Could you create a scene only using your hands and two clothespins? Have you ever tried? Especially with BDSM we don’t actually need tools at all (think of a bare handed spanking scene, how would that be improved by adding something else?)
This includes your ego. As a dominant or a top you are choosing to take some responsibility for another persons well being. Lose the worries about how your play looks to someone else, fuck what other people think for that time. If you are playing with someone that play is about them, and you, and the two of you. Believe me, your bottom will thank you for it.
Finding balance in your play comes from the basic structure of a scene. First, there is the negotiation phase, where you are getting to know the person and their wants and needs for that play. Next is the play itself, and you follow with aftercare. Aftercare is like the unwinding of the negotiation, where you reinforce positive feelings and make sure that you right anything that you might have thrown out of balance during play. Finding this balance is especially important when you are playing with emotions and mental spaces.
Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. As corny as it sounds, finding symmetry in your play will result in some amazing connections. Your negotiation is you asking, the play is the conversation that follows, and aftercare is you listening to each other and understanding what you need. If you have an intense scene, the balance will take longer. Understanding the weight of your decisions and adjusting your attention to your partner accordingly is a great principle to follow.
I’m not a great rope top. I might not have every tie perfectly. What I do is stay within my limits and refine from there. I won’t try a brand new tie during a scene with someone, I have refined my ties so I have a few things that I do well. I don’t mean that my wraps sit perfectly and my TK is a glowing example that would make any shibari snob proud. I mean I have tried to refine what will get a reaction out of my play partner. I pay attention to what makes them comfortable. I continue to practice the basics of ties over and over again, I continue to practice how I move around my partner. I would rather be able to do a simple tie perfectly every time, than know 100 fancy ties and not be able to execute them quickly and with feeling.
4. Live in the Moment
I think one of the most beautiful things about BDSM is how it pulls you into the moment. What we are doing is creating a ‘headspace’ that we are allowed to enter and play with in a safe, consensual environment. So living in the moment in BDSM comes quite naturally. Letting go of all the outside worries and focusing on the now. As a dominant, if you can truly let go of the stream of daily thoughts and be present it will show in your play. You will command a new energy that will enable you to get more responses and connection from your partner.
I’m not perfect, and I don’t always live up to my principles. I have found that the relationships I have and the connections I make have improved when I focus on building from simplicity. My way isn’t the only way, but if you’re wanting more in your life you might want to think about looking for less.
Fox is the newest member of our team. She just represented XCBDSM teaching four classes at the Rome BDSM Conference. She lives in Denmark, where she basically makes up the entire European branch of XCBDSM. Her writing and educational offerings are primarily featured on her website, KinkySprinkles.com.