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Tuesday 11 April 2017

Leather Sex 101

Posted in: Safe Sex
By Chris Banks - 14th March 2004

It's sex education of a different kind – we take a look inside the Introduction To Leather Sex course held in Auckland.

Remember the old phrase: "sticks and stones may break my bones, but whips and chains excite me"? The world of leather sex and S&M is a distant one for most of us, but Jock Scott is aiming – for those who are interested – to change all that. Scott is a London-based S&M Master currently in Auckland to direct a one-day course entitled An Introduction To Leather Sex, administered by Body Positive, the NZ AIDS Foundation and Lateshift.

"I want to demystify what goes on in leather sex," he says. "It's two regular guys, who have normal lives, who just have an interest in being tied up and spanked. It's nothing more or less than that, and I want people to be really happy with knowing that that's all it is."

For those on the outside, the S&M scene may seem rather scary, with associated fears that if things get out of control you might find yourself on the receiving end of a Gibson-esque Christ-whipping, but in actual fact the mechanics are precisely the opposite of what they appear to be. "It's all done within a very controlled environment," Scott explains. "It's important that in the sort of scenes that you want to establish for yourself that you're clear what each person's boundary is. A key element of any S&M scene that you go into is negotiation beforehand, so both parties are clear exactly how far they're going to go, and at what point the scene actually stops."

Although the submissive partner seems to be transferring his power to the dominant one, it is actually he who is in control, because he sets the boundaries. Each partner has a role to play, and when the scene is over, the roles are relinquished. "Closure is very important... re-establishing yourself as individuals. At the end of it you're not any less of a person because you got tied up, and you're a not a monster because you spanked somebody and enjoyed it. It's just part of the sexual experience."

That experience heavily revolves around the transfer of power from one man to another, and how erotic that can be for some. "You're lending your power to somebody else and saying for the period of our scene, I will lend you my power, I will give you my power, I will let you take control of me, I will let you tie me up and I will let you inflict levels of pain... or levels of sensation if you want to put it that way, because pain is for them actually a turn on. Playing with nipples, squeezing nipples, twisting their balls, tying their balls up, that sort of thing... whilst it may be considered for some people extremely painful, for them there is a level of excitement in that pain as well."

Scott realises that this is not something for everyone. The vast majority of gay men are into "vanilla sex", but there are a proportion of men who enjoy more extreme or physical contact, and in a small country like New Zealand, there are few visible outlets for those who wish to explore the wilder side of their sexual desires. However, the introduction to leather sex course is about education and information, not the physical act itself. "We'll be discussing erogenous zones, and various techniques, but we're not having people getting turned on and having it turn into a group orgy... this course is to fire the imagination, to give them certain skills which they can then take outside the course to their partner, or somebody they've met."

Participants can expect a range of topics to be canvassed, starting with an overview of S&M practices, and specialist terms that are used. "You may well talk about abuse or torture within an S&M scene, but these are specialist words, not used the way they're defined in a dictionary," Scott says. "TT is an abbreviation, for example, that is often used for tit torture. CBT is cock and ball torture. We change those to tit work and cock and ball work, we take out the word torture because for many people that word is such a hot word for them."

Playing safe is also very important. If you're immersing yourself in a role, how will you stop things if they go too far? The course will cover the use of stop words, stop signals, negotiation and trust. "The key thing is negotiation, how to negotiate with somebody, how far do you want to go? Stop words... what kind of things can you use? There are some tried and tested words or methods that you can use, obviously if you're gagged, you can't speak terribly well! So there are ways around that."

Safe spanking? "There are certain parts of the body which you can work on, and there are certain parts of the body you should avoid, and again we'll be giving you an outline of the safe areas you can experiment on."

And what about the wonderful world of sex toys? Those bits of plastic with things on them that have frightened the bejesus out of you on those lunchtime excursions to the adult store are not all created equal. "We'll be looking at toys. Not all toys are good toys," says Scott. "The classic example... piss gag. This gag has a hard tube on it that goes inside the mouth, a portion of it sits outside the mouth, but the tube is too hard and you can't close your mouth. You can't swallow if you can't close your mouth, so if someone pisses in it you choke the person. So we'll be alerting people to the bad sex toys."

Even good sex toys are potential traps for the uninitiated. "We'll also cover care and looking after your sex toys. If you're using a butt plug or a dildo in somebody, how do you clean the thing afterwards? How do you make sure that the toy is good for the next person that you want to play with? How do you take away the risk of passing on sexually transmitted infection or HIV? There's a safer sex message within this course."

There's a vast spectrum of activities within the S&M scene, any number of which will be covered in the average leather porn movie. Scott is keen to challenge some of the misconceptions that people who have only been exposed to leather sex through porn might have. "It's about explaining to people that what you see in the films isn't reality. For example, you often see guys being fisted in leather sex videos. Tied down, somebody's ram-fisting them, punch-fisting them. That's a very extreme form of fisting, that only an extremely practiced player can do. Fisting itself requires a huge amount of time, huge amount of communication before you even get to the point where you can actually get your fist inside somebody... It's almost like the cartoon, it's an extreme form, but because real people are involved it seems real.

"So it's taking the mythology away from it, saying to people, you're all individuals, you all have your individual fantasies, what's really important is finding someone who has similar fantasies to yourself. Or finding a master who will engage with you."

What can people expect to take home with them at the end of the course, if their appetites have been whetted? "What we've found in the past on the courses we've run in London is that, while it's not designed as a place for you to meet potential sexual partners, there are people you meet on the course and there may well be chemistry there. What they will have built up between each other also is a certain level of trust, so although the person may not be their ideal type, they know that this person has learned what they've learned and they feel safe with this person. They have as much knowledge as they have, and therefore they're happy to experiment with this person.

"In addition, each of these people may have other people in their network that they can recommend to this person. The beauty of it is that all of you have had the benefit of meeting people who other people have recommended to you – that is absolutely the best way to start to develop your interest, because trust is absolutely vital."

The course was held at Lateshift in Auckland on Saturday 20 March 2004. It is possible more such courses, including the associated Arse Class, will be held in future.

Chris Banks - 14th March 2004

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