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Why Consent Still Matters: ‘No is No’, and ‘Yes is Yes’!


1 Minute Read

“To exercise power costs effort and demands courage. That is why so many fail to assert rights to which they are perfectly entitled – because a right is a kind of power but they are too lazy or too cowardly to exercise it. The virtues which cloak these faults are called
patience and forbearance.” (Nietzsche: Human, All too Human)

There are names flung at women like me. When I was younger, men could hardly make up their minds as to whether I was a cock tease or an easy lay. It didn’t bother me at all. I grew up in a very liberal town in South Africa, where the boys were sweet. They were happy to kiss for days and days, spent hours pleasuring their girlfriends with their hands and, I think, took pride in just taking their time about things. No-one ever came near to forcing me into doing anything I wasn’t ready for.

As a teenager, I got dumped by a boy I really liked because he wanted to have sex and I didn’t. He was gorgeous. Older than me by a few years and I adored him. We weren’t ever really ‘in’ a relationship. I used to go around to his house and lie on his bed with him and chat. He was madly handsome and very gentle and sensitive. I realised that it was getting impossible for him when his mum took me aside and told me that I should stop leading him on. He contacted me recently on fb. We had the best memories of each other. I sent him a private message. “Thank you for never forcing me to do anything I wasn’t ready for.”

Shortly before my sixteenth birthday, I discovered that I was falling crazily in love with another ex’s best friend. I couldn’t bear all the fuss around, ‘giving away’ my virginity. So, I slept with someone else. Someone I wasn’t crazy about, but liked a lot. I mean, we ‘got on’. Then I left him. To pursue the young man, I was deeply enamoured with. The first night we were ever together, he refused to do anything but lie next to me. It was utterly marvellous and romantic. If, when we did have sex, he felt disappointed that I was no longer a virgin, he didn’t say. He certainly never asked me who or when or why. Nor did I venture the tell.

Unfortunately, for all concerned, I found that I enjoyed sex rather a lot. I also discovered I had a bit of a wandering eye. A lot of a wandering eye. And hands. Sixteen was tumultuous for me at any rate. I left home, went to a cram college and had three or four intense relationships. I behaved appallingly and carelessly with people’s hearts, following my own without remorse. Yet, I am still one of the few women I know of any age who is able to say: “I have never had sex with anyone that I didn’t want to.”

Given the appalling number of people I know who have been sexually abused – date rape, childhood abuse and sexual abuse even within relationships: this appears to be somewhat of a feat. I feel fortunate that at an early age, I fell in with a crowd of artists and intellectuals. Socialists, feminists, queers, rule-breakers, who made it clear that ‘No is No!’ The worst sex I ever had, was with someone out of this circle was a drummer in the pub band where I was bartending. His ego was as big as his 80s hair, and he seemed to think it was my duty to give him a blow-job without him taking part in any reciprocal pleasuring. It is as close as I have ever come to feeling abused in bed. I made sure to keep as wide a berth from both him and his hair afterwards, despite his superb drumming.

As someone who has recently started ‘dating’ again, ie thinking about having sex with people other than people I have either already known for years, or who are generally within my circles, the question of consent is really important to me. I would hate for there ever to be a situation in which my ‘No’ was construed as anything other than clear refusal.

I am aware of my own sensitivities around sex. When I was younger, I loved hook-up sex. In my late 20s, I prided myself on running a small ‘harem’ – I had a few men who I had regular casual sex with. We were happy to hook up at the bars/clubs we used to frequent and I found it perfectly acceptable for them to ring up or pop over. I have no idea if any of them knew about each other, and we never discussed what it was. It was clear. Hot sex. No relationship, little chat, just sex. Still, I would never have referred to any of these men as ‘fuck buddies’. They were, in the main, artists and performers like myself.

People with whom I had that elusive ‘chemistry’ that can tip an acquaintance into an object/subject of desire. We had chemistry and mostly were not interested in forming long term relationships. They were people who were part of the small, alternative art/political circuit in South Africa. Left-wing, socialist and in the main, influenced by feminist ideas. They were friends in the wider sense of being ‘comrades’ or ‘fellow travellers’. There was a marked absence of hostility or misogyny. I was never called out for my promiscuity, which was, at the time, probably quite refreshing. “No is No!” was never questioned and non-consensual sex was certainly viewed as uncool. It was perfectly acceptable to request non-penetrative sex if one desired. It was sex with all the openness and willingness of youth, innocence and gaining experience. As we all came from a small circle where we were bound to bump into each other, it was unlikely that anyone you had sex with would follow up an encounter with shameful freezing-out or non-acknowledgement, whether or not hook-ups turned into longer term arrangements. The artificiality of shame had not entered our lexicon. I liked to have sex as a fast way of getting to know someone. As Julie Burchill has claimed of her youth, it made sense to have sex with someone to see if I wanted to get to know them better.

Whenever I strayed too far from that circle, for example when I was doing a lot of meditation/self-development work in the 90s and meeting people from a much wider circle – hook-ups often became fraught. Men distanced themselves after the act. I became aware of the phenomena of ‘vagina dentata’, the toothed vagina. Apparently, some men are terrified that they can be addicted to someone via an attachment to their vagina. I found it curious. How could some men be so cool and others so fucked up? I mean, what was it about some men that they assumed as you had slept with them that you would automatically cease to be a person? “What? You used to look me in the eye and now all you can see is my needy vagina?” I had to ask myself, did feminists make better lovers? There were the men who hung out and if you had sex managed to keep their shit together; others didn’t, one lover went into meltdown the morning after and I had to pull him up short by saying, ‘Please behave yourself or I shall have forgotten you entirely by mid-morning.’ But there was still a sense of negotiation and I was never, thankfully, sent an unsolicited dick pic or experienced the assumption that I would welcome having someone’s cum all over my face.

Now, of course, I am talking about the pre-digital, pre-app age. Hook-ups were negotiated in meat space. There’s an awful lot you can tell about chemistry when your potential shag is four inches away from you and making eye contact. There is a lot of accountability when you know you will frequently run into that same person again and again and, within the confines of small circles of friends, you would most certainly know some of their ex or future lovers.

Love in the megacities throws up a whole host of possibilities for both instant gratification and anonymity. I am not particularly into hook-up culture now. As far as I am concerned, it is just another great thing that cis-gendered people have appropriated from queer culture and fucked up. Hook-up culture within queer culture may have been driven by utility and instant gratification, but was circumscribed by the nod and wink of counter-culture. Cis-gendered hook-ups can feel like the utility without the camaraderie and cordiality of acting against the status quo. It’s unsexy. There’s an odour of entering into sexual liaisons in bad faith, ie with the same mindset formerly employed for paid for services in prurient societies. I can’t be the only person to find it galling to be treated as if one had been bought on the marketplace rather than having entered into a free and fraternal exchange.

Perhaps I have been ruined by marriage and an unhealthy interest in creating intimacy. What does it mean? What happens if someone touches me and I find myself repulsed by the quality of their skin? How close can I let people in?

London, is a smorgasbord of opportunity. One must assume that it all works only because people have figured out consent. My friends who are into BDSM tell me that the most consensual sex they have had is within these relationships. There is an agreement around what will or won’t be done. Sexual chemistry and attraction is down to having a relationship of trust and where boundaries are respected.
Vanilla relationships, like the ones I have blundered into all my life, have far more blurred lines. Even as I write, I can’t help thinking of that fucking awful song. The misogyny that accompanies some internet posts – ‘Well you shouldn’t have been dressed like that’, ‘Shouldn’t have drunk like that’, ‘Shouldn’t have gone home with a strange man’. Fuck that. They should have heard their ‘No’ as ‘No’.

My friend who performs at the Poetry Brothel as ‘Wild Iris’ has a poem about it. She asks, ‘How many times did I have to say no?’ Well, the answer should be ‘once’. Just once.

I’m horrified by reports that young women are being sexually groped and assaulted at school, that often they are having anal before kissing, that they are being slut-shamed if they choose to be as open about sex as their male counterparts. That the rise and accessibility of porn means that young men think it is ok to come on someone’s face without permission, or to have penetration without preparation. In this arena, it is not just young people who have to be educated about what it means to have a live person in front of you. Almost everyone I know who has ventured into online dating or apps has, at some point, received ‘the unsolicited dick pic’ or been faced with inappropriate sexual content. The lines between instant access internet porn and instant access sex are not always clear. One person’s ‘date’ is another person’s ‘prelude to sex’. Ewwww is our most common expression.

There is, as antidote, a lot of discussion about consent. A re-invigorated interest in asserting that, ‘No is No!’ and beyond that, to moving the discussions to a more communicative, co-relational, ‘Yes is Yes’. I’m uncertain about the dynamics of that. I’d like to try it, though my soul shrinks at the thought of asking someone. ‘May I touch you?’ ‘May I kiss you?’ I’m embarrassed when I think of how I may have accosted men in my past. The assumption that ‘All men are up for it.’ I wonder what it would be like to take the lead, and ask, ‘May I……?’ It strikes me that maybe men also struggle to find the words to ask for what they want.

I was shagging an old friend. It was great and then out of the blue, he suggested anal. I said, ‘No’. ‘What?’ he replied. ‘You’ve never done anal?. It was early in the morning. I didn’t feel like explaining. The only anal I had ever had, had been consensual and spontaneous, but it had hurt for days after and I was sure I had been torn. It was not something I wanted to try again without lots of lube, analingus and condoms. And time. Lots of time. So I just said, ‘No. Not without lube and condoms’. So, bless him, he stumbled to the kitchen. I saw the light of the fridge reflected in the window. He came stumbling back, pleased with himself, with a great big blob of butter on his hand.

Immediately, I said, ‘Fuck you and your Bertolucci fantasies!’ To his credit, he sat down and flicked the blob of butter out of sight. I think that is the first time I felt anything near love for him. We continued to have hot, consensual sex, but if that had that happened with a complete stranger, I am not sure if I would have felt confident enough to make my ‘No’ clear and would more than likely have cleared out immediately in embarrassment.

How do you negotiate consent with a complete stranger who assumes that as you are over 50, you have either done everything there is to do already, and therefore, why wouldn’t you do them now? How do you explain to a complete stranger, that yes, you liked snogging them 5mins ago, but they have just dived for your clitoris and it all feels a bit ‘smash and grab’? I honestly can understand that it must be very frustrating for men to think that they have a chance of having full penetrative sex only to be fobbed off at the last moment. In the vast pool of unreserved sexual conquests, it must be tempting to see every date as a bona-fida sex partner. I wish I felt the same. I certainly know women who are so in charge of their own sexuality that they feel they can have sex with anyone. That it does not matter. I am way more repressed that I thoughtI was. I have a zillion gate-keepers measuring everything from the temperature and humidity of your skin to the woolfishness in your eyes, to the colour of the buttons on your shirt. I am capricious, not because I am holding out, but because I already know that I want something deeper, stronger and more interesting than straight utility. I have been ruined by age, self-awareness and deep feeling for things that bubble under the surface of the skin.

Sex is a lot like dancing. Some people are good at it. Intuitive. Some people are good together. Personally, I prefer dancing by myself to dancing with anyone really clumsy or anyone terribly formulaic. But each to their own. Some people like being led. Some people like to follow. There is an exercise we do in drama groups called ‘The Mirror’, it’s an exercise in leading and following. First one leads and then one follows. Then you swop around. The facilitator calls when to make the changes. As the exercise advances, the facilitator says, ‘Ok, now change by yourself who leads and who follows, without my instruction.’ In some partnerships, the change is seamless. It’s beautiful and tells us (the audience) a lot about the way energy can move between two people. It becomes a beautiful dance of shared power, shared leadership. It can also expose the power dynamics in relationships. Who holds on? Who must dominate? Who is afraid to lead? Who hates to follow? At the end of the session, you ask the participants to reflect on their own feelings. ‘What did you enjoy? Why? What made you feel uncomfortable? Why? For some people, following is wonderful, they can relax, not make decisions: for others, the power of control is the thing. The mirror exercise, dancing, life – it’s all about power. Who has it. Who wants it. Who surrenders theirs? How they share it? What they will do to keep it?

Speaking to some of my female friends, of all ages, who are having regular hook-up sex, it has become apparent that the sexual freedom that was so liberating and celebrated for adventurous women in the 80s, has now turned into something where women are once again being subjected to double standards. Slut-shamed by their more conservative friends and treated badly by men who move through them with the same respect they would give to a late-night kebab take-out. Tasty but forgettable. Or just disrespectful in a myriad of ways that reveal a lot about the disjuncture that many men have between the needs of their penis and their ability to connect at a meaningful, human level once their penis has entered the conversation. I am hearing, from multiple conversations, ‘Just show some respect’. What does that mean?

Here’s the thing – I honestly think that I can’t have sex with fascists, neo-liberals or conservatives, but the surprise is people who I vaguely consider to be ‘on the same side’ coming at you as if your body is another commodity that they can ‘have’. That they can move through in the same ‘rapey’ way that you can travel through the city. In fast lanes and elbowing people as you go. The city can be an alienating space. Your body is the last point of defence. The final space where you can circumscribe a boundary. ‘This far and no further’. In this context, the replacement of ‘No is No’ , a reactive, protective measure, with ‘Yes is Yes’, a proactive, relational discussion becomes really sexy. Resistance to the status quo is sexy. Creating intimacy as a counter-weight to fast-food, fast-sex, immediacy. What would it be like to create a slow sexual intimacy with someone who I don’t know, but who is unafraid and unguarded? Can we deepen our human accords through the act of sex? Can we leave the intimacy of the sexual encounter and still keep the integrity of relationship, whilst still not placing currency on their ability to create intimacy? Can we create intimacy and cordiality even within the potential anonymity of the city? Can sex be a gateway to intimacy between friends, or are we just moving parts of pleasure? As capitalism kills the city, and the environment and equality are fucked, can we help create intimacy as an antidote?

So maybe, ‘No is No!’, is not enough. Beyond the politics of refusal, perhaps the only way to maintain a defence against utilitarianism is to create spaces for intimacy. For consent. For slowing down. For moving less expediently, less hastily. For treating everyone as lovers and friends, not temporary objects. Maybe in that context, consent is powerful. Consent is sexy. Is there something beyond ‘fuck-buddy’ that isn’t a commitment to monogamy or sexual currency? ‘Yes is Yes’, in a time where there is so little one can say a fulsome and hearty, ‘Yes!’ to?
Moral meaning and the creation of morality starts with ‘No!’ but surely we must find ways to evolve this negative into a meaningful ‘Yes!’. Let’s consider how we could do that…

Debra Watson is a participative theatre, media and arts facilitator, performer and poet. Her blog page is www.debrawatsoncreative.com.

The next Poetry Brothel is on March 18th at the Betsy Trotwood upstairs from 8pm.

She performs as Bibi Snythe at The Poetry Brothel London. You can purchase her book of poems ‘Be Loved’ for £10 by contacting her here: https://debrawatsoncreative.com/poetry-performance/

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Stroking Naked Men


6 Minute Read

I started stroking naked men for money in 2007. It feels light years ago. Not so much in linear distance, but more in the sense of understanding from this nine years later perspective, what it was I was doing. Back then it was simply a call to heart that sang out clear and true, even as it challenged the heck out of my mind.

I’d come out of a period of extreme grief. As that first ravaged year turned, I needed a project. I was interested in men, having spent most of my adult life identifying as lesbian. I didn’t want a relationship in the orthodox sense of it, but oh, how I wanted relationship. Stroking Naked Men was born from this place. There I stood. A middle aged, professional woman, with a strangely compelling idea.

I fretted for a bit. I worried about what other people would think and whether the ‘psychotherapy police’ would get me. I tried to talk myself out of it for good and logical reasons. Dear Reader, I had to do it. In the end it was simple. It was one of those things that must be done, even if they don’t wholly make sense.

I bought a second phone and distilled an invitation into a twenty-word classified ad. I told myself I would stop the moment anything felt off key. I hung out my shingle and started work.

This is what I knew. I wanted to create and offer intimacy within a structure. To use what I’d learned over two decades as a therapist about how to hold space and attention. I wanted to touch rather than handle people, and lovingly offer pleasure rather than mechanistically get them off.

Men started rolling in. I learned how to use the telephone as a portal and to pick up the attitude underneath the words. I said ‘no’ a lot. I was weeding out anger and contempt, and the colour palate of misogyny. I could hear it crouched and hiding in the most charming and articulate, as palpably as its more obvious counterpart. The men who ask ‘how much to come on your face’ as soon as I pick up the phone.

This is how it goes with my naked men: a phone call leading to an appointment. Leading to a man on my doorstep at a designated time. Leading to him being invited in, being welcomed and settled. I take a little time to say ‘hello’ to let him take me in and to breathe him in too. I check if there’s anything he’d like to ask or say before I get him unwrapped and up on the table. Over and over again, over these years, I’ve stood in this beginning moment with many men. It always pulses with vulnerability. Always. And I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of that vulnerability. It takes courage for men to walk into erotic tenderness, and it’s a different kind of courage than that required for combat.

In my book, there’s getting undressed and then there’s being naked. They are quite different things. I like the naked place. My erotic work is situated in that mysterious landscape. It’s simple. I show up. I welcome you. I am in service to your session.

I have pleasured and loved a lot of men since I began this chapter of my life. More men than most women have through their hands in a lifetime. I now know my brothers in a way I can’t imagine getting to in any other manner. Gratitude is a drumbeat in my blood. My thank you is a prayer.

I am generous by nature and it’s easy to be this, within the structure and form I created. I love this work. I am in my best self when I do it. I have witnessed and held so much embodied, naked soul, in these sessions. I have been touched over and over, not by complicated stuff, but by the simplest of human stuff. Seeing so many men, in the beauty and vulnerability of orgasm has blown a place in my heart right open. Maybe, it’s because I am there in this very particular, devotional way and it’s a ritual, and because he is so exposed rather than buried deeply inside the woman, that it has such Grace. I take the holding and the showing up, very seriously. I’m there in service. It is for him. It is all for him. And, I don’t mean by that, that I’m cut off or absent. It’s the opposite. I am so utterly, absolutely there. I am with him. With me too, or it wouldn’t work.

I suspect that my naked men like, value and even love me, because I can give such an ‘it’s all for you’ experience, without disappearing and making it mechanistic and empty. I’m right there, so it’s intimate and real. And yet, I don’t need to be attended to or gratified. In fact, I’ve come to understand that this is my very favorite sexual position. I reckon it’s my unique selling point. Authentic devotion. That’s all.

I seem to be tailing off my naked business these days. I am more word of mouth than out there in the shop window of sexual services. I’m writing more and baking more. And when I am called to the massage table, I step up there smiling.

I am full of my naked men. I have been told many secrets, shown wounds, battle scars, triumphs and a world full of libidinal joy. I have learned a lot of things about men and about myself. My men have been generous, and even if they didn’t know they were helping me, they have.

I am now quite sure it’s nakedness that turns me on, rather than just the stripping off of clothes. So, vulnerability is sexy. Radical or what? Recently, a rather anxious man got preoccupied with what was it I was doing to him? I wasn’t ‘doing’ to him as much as I was meeting him. I believe that every one of us, each in our own way, longs for that. I knew that when I started this project, but I didn’t know it in the beat of my heart, in the breath of me, the way I know it now.

I have been asked more than a few times, in the heat of a moment: ‘do you like cock?’

‘I like cock’, I say back.’If it’s attached to a man I can like.’

I have to like my naked men, in order to accompany them, to uncover and discover them, to hold not only their cock, but also their heart, in my hands. In a nutshell, I can tell you, I have liked a lot of men. I consider this a blessing.

You can find Caroline at her website: Carolina Cooks for You

And her musings about depression: www.postcardsfromthewindowledge.com

I Went Back to Rio’s


6 Minute Read

I went back to Rio’s this week, the naturist sauna club, in Northwest London. I’d spent half a decade there, hanging out, getting laid, getting warm and then suddenly stopped five years ago when I met a guy who didn’t like me going there. I’d said, “OK, I won’t go back,” because I loved him and figured I’d had enough of being a swinger; it was time to settle down.

I’d thought about it often over the years, especially on the days when the weather was so cold and miserable, that it felt like my bones were freezing over. On those days, I missed Rio’s steam room and of being able to lie in there, often alone, for hours, until I was so warm, I could walk outside with my jacket half undone on a 5-degree day.

Other times, I thought about going back for the sex and the camaraderie. I wanted to be with other like-minded people, naked and free. Rio’s was a place I could always count on for a chat with a stranger and a fuck on the side… if I wanted it. I could have a steam, a sauna and go home. I always thought of it not so much as a swinging club but an erotic leisure centre. Even standing next to a naked man with a semi-hard on, showering, was a turn-on. How many other places could provide so much for the £8 entrance fee?

From time to time, I’d find myself in Kentish Town and I’d pass the place and I’d wonder whether it had changed. Would there still be a tin of McVities digestive biscuits at the bar? Could I still order a tuna sweet corn sandwich? I’d wonder they’d tarted it up, got a new steam room, whether there was still fake grass in the garden to lie upon. I’d reminisce in my head about the fun times I’d had, the laughs, the horny sex, and all the people I’d met.

For some long, it was my refuge. I’d pop my clothes and mobile phone in the yellow locker by the entrance and then forget about everything. It was like being dropped onto an alien planet where I could be and do just what I wanted and everyone was accepting. OK, maybe not the woman behind the bar, that always seemed to be wearing Marigolds, but all the rest didn’t seem to mind what did. For the few hours that I was there, I wasn’t anyone’s mother, or boss, or friend; I was just a naked middle-aged woman, usually amongst a sea of men.

Admittedly, the place was not for everyone. I tried to bring a girlfriend once and she wasn’t having any of it. “I get why you like it here,” she said, sitting in the steam room in a bikini while a guy opposite us leered at her. “But it’s not for me.”

In any case, now I’m single again, I figured, why not? I’d know soon enough, once I got inside, whether I really had moved on. I checked the weather report and it looked like being a glorious, hot day. I wanted to lie naked in a garden, soaking up the sun, and I couldn’t think of anywhere else in London where that was possible… besides Rios. Maybe I was looking for an excuse to go back too.

I checked Citymapper and it said I could be there in 40 minutes. A bus was leaving in 5 minutes. That was all the reason I needed. A small part of me was scared so I grabbed a bikini bottom before I left. In the past, I’d always gone completely naked because, after all, it was a naturist club but this time I didn’t feel so bold; I wanted some protection. And I’d taken one further precaution by enlisting someone to come with me, a local guy who was on a swinging site and seemed nice and attractive enough. I knew, if worse came to worse, we could ditch each other.

I went up to the door and paid the entrance fee, grateful that the woman taking my money was not the same one I remembered from my past. That woman always used to give me the up and down with her eyes as if to say, “I know what you get up to here.” Despite being five years since I’d last passed over that threshold, I half expected everything to be just as I’d left it.

I grabbed my towel, was buzzed through the door, noticing the new shiny, black mirrors in the changing area. Then I saw the familiar lockers with their key on a wide elastic strap. There was the same bin in the corner for our wet towels and the one, lone chair in the other. The rest was familiar too, although now in the garden there were rows of green plastic chairs where none had been years earlier, many of them broken. Some building supplies were tucked in a corner too like they always had been. Funny how some things never change.

I met my new friend and it turned out we had a lot in common, both being media folk and from North London. We were grateful when it turned out that our children, around the same ago, did not know each other. Conversation flowed easily. I went out and brought back a couple of beers from the shop across the street. A Hungarian guy came and sat down next to us and told us about the swinging club he used to run near Budapest. A guy opposite heard my American accent and asked my views on Trump, of course. Later, a man came round with some ice cream he had bought nearby and offered us each one. ‘What’s a hot day without ice cream?’ he said. My companion was smiling from ear to ear. “I can’t believe I’ve passed this place every day and never been inside.”

We struck up a conversation with a nice couple and, before too long, we were all playing together in one of the small side rooms. Sweat pouring off our bodies (the room was very small), we kissed and licked and fucked until the heat became unbearable. They were cute and fun. I hadn’t kissed a woman in a while; I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed it. How soft and small a woman’s mouth always felt compared to a man’s. Her boyfriend was well hung, horny and hard.

“I guess you’re back on the horse,” said my new friend. “Yes, I guess I am,” I said.

Something tells me I’ll be going back again soon.

The Frenchman: Dinner and Dungeon


4 Minute Read

The next time I saw the Frenchman he was holed up in luxury at Blakes. He’d thoughtfully and firmly requested I join him for two days. The morning of his arrival from Paris I was standing at my lingerie drawer, wondering what vibe I wanted to convey. Pink would be wrong. He had already found my inner slut. I couldn’t go backwards so I opted for expensive whore. It wouldn’t last anyway. He liked naked. A lot of naked.

He sent a text from the hotel.

“I may have a surprise for you.”

At that point my imagination boarded a fighter jet and did a 360-degree roll. Off I went into erotic meltdown for a couple of hours, distracted and dreamy to the point where lifting silk lingerie from a drawer felt ponderous. When I re-entered the world, I thought he’d organised a threesome. I hoped he wasn’t going to surprise me with a woman though. I have no idea what the point of an extra woman is in sexual liaisons. I find an additional man far more beneficial to my needs. Anyway, I turned up and the room was empty except for him.

“You missed the surprise,” he said. “There was a man here I wanted you to meet.”

Damn.Had I been too tardy for my threesome? Did our third have another more pressing engagement?

He led me over to the Zen seating area. On the table was an assortment of leather floggers, whips and various instruments of discipline, all just waiting for the perfect collective noun.

His eyes shone with the expected delight of a man who had just purchased new tools.

“The guy who makes these just delivered them to me. You could have met him.” He sounded extremely disappointed that I hadn’t sighted the craftsman of pain.

He picked up something that looked like a whip but was much shorter and came to a thick, short point at the end.

“Zis one is very arrsh.”

“Harsh?”

‘Yes.But it is not for you. Too arrsh.” That one was for his Japanese slave. She was a pain slut. “Slaves are such hard work, ” he remarked. They’re so needy and selfish.” I made a note never to have one. From lunchtime into the evening, at least I think it was evening, it became a hazy, erotic blur. We had sex: well actually we didn’t have sex, he fucked me. We didn’t leave the room. I couldn’t anyway since I was tied up. At some point, mid-evening we napped. Then we fucked again. He finally let me have an orgasm which was good of him and in my Zen surroundings, suitably transcendent. Room service arrived and he kept me tied up, naked. They were young waiters, two guys, who were very happy to see me and when he said “Thank you,” they quickly shot back with “No, thank YOU sir.”

“You bastard.”

“Most ungrateful. You should thank me like they did.”

He had a meeting off-site the next morning so I was allowed to leave the lust nest. Just as I was on the verge of remembering who I was in real life, he called. “Where are you?”

“South Ken. Down the road. Aren’t you at lunch?”

“I came back to have lunch with you. See you in a minute. I am in the restaurant. Hurry.”

I didn’t want to miss the school bell. The Frenchman is strict about that stuff.

We sat in the restaurant at Blakes where he managed to casually eat noodles, while putting his other hand up my skirt. “Tonight I have a surprise for you. Something you have not done.” Only the week before I’d ticked off another must-do when I went to Legoland with my godchildren. Anyway, it was just your average date. We went to Honey & Co where we ate wonderful food, debated falafel recipes and he bought me the restaurant’s cookery book. After that he took me to a dungeon owned by a former pro-domme, told me to remove my clothes, put a dog collar and leash around my neck and tied me up. I looked rather good. Then he led me to a cage, indicating that I should get in. Unsure what the modus operandi was, I assumed a suitably feral pose while he gave me a highly informative running commentary about the dungeon, in the friendly manner of a tourist guide. Then he let me out, tied me face down on a bench, blindfolded me and spent the next couple of hours doing beautiful and terrible things that made me shiver. He scooped up my ravished body, dressed me and said, “Let’s go back to the hotel. I have not finished with you yet.” Indeed he had not. Five denials of orgasm later and I was almost in tears until he finally let me have it. Then he invited me to Paris. Because of course I wanted more.

The Wife with a Double Life


1 Minute Read

Go wherever your impulse leads you. Take whatever Fate offers, unless you feel a strong dislike for the gift. Casanova

For years, by choice, I sawed myself in half emotionally. This condition resulted from my double life: daytimes a married academic, nighttimes a Greenwich Village free spirit. Being happily wed to Michael yet free to see other men required connivance worthy of a Borgia. A coterie of friends were hip to the masquerade; strangers knew me as a librarian-scholar engaged in research on Women’s Studies.

One self-displayed a bookish facade, its shadow (aka Belladonna) craved adventurous travel plus gobs of hanky panky. Since each face was fed a nutritional diet, neither felt deprived. The bourgeois and the anarchist lived together amiably. Civilized French women like George Sand and Simone de Beauvoir inspired me.

Before marriage I suffered from mental and physical constipation. Once my soulmate appeared with all the bells and whistles to whisk me away from a stark parental home, the flow started. Not that I was beaten or abused–just bored to death in Philadelphia. Marriage brought me an expansive love out of a Russian novel. Monogamy, the first stage in our romantic cycle, gave way to a “tolerant marriage.” In the seventies, love was in the air along with pot fumes at parties apt to start one day and end whenever. Our sexual horizons expanded along with our consciousness.

Some years later a menage a trois evolved that incorporated Letha, our significant other, whom we met in Paris. Married young, a devil-may care morality suited an inveterate Bohemian like myself apt to dye her hair rainbow colors. The ring on my left hand did not tame the rebellious streak held over from my repressive youth.

Providentially, a menage re-parented me with a family of choice akin to my heart of hearts. Let the world couple off, an odd numbered combination suited me; so it did the Greek philosopher Pythagoras who considered three the most mystical number. A triad gave me a solid base from which to explore the Byzantine complexity of male-female relations.

Often my “nice girl” side clucked her tongue at the hussy whose skin she shared. Quelles frisson! I dared sample pleasures traditionally denied the married woman. If wounded, I crept back to my nest for healing. Instead of a jealous husband, mine understood and gave advice. If the travel bug bit me, Letha moved in temporarily (our menage did not live together for lack of space).

Being the “other woman” put Letha in tricky situations at parties or among friends certain she was being exploited by a greedy couple. Why would an attractive woman in her right mind settle for half time with another woman’s husband? Well meaning or not, outsiders challenged her position with the subtlety of a battering ram. Self-confidence, wisdom and maturity enabled her to beat them back. And a savvy analysis of her own needs after an angry divorce that made her reluctant to sign up for another walk down the isle in the near future.

Our trois synergy produced and published Three in Love; Menages a Trois from Ancient to Modern Times in which we identified the “inevitable inconsequential fourth” drawn to the electricity threes generate. This extra person can torpedo a menage if he(she) pushes from the periphery to center stage. My partners preferred not to stray outside the triad.

Since I lived with my husband in a smallish apartment – dating others required finesse plus consummate consideration. Two problems nagged: where to entertain a beau, if one came my way? Second, how to balance a lover with a full time job, triadic activities and a writing career? Perpetually worn to a frazzle, somehow I juggled my day and night personas.

Altar expectant men were off limits. Instead, I sought out those unconcerned about finding a lifetime partner, also prepared to wine and dine me. I cooked at home for my husband (sometimes the three of us) so going out provided a holiday from domesticity.

On a few occasions, in the wee hours, my libido made off-the-beam decisions. One winter night, I found myself on an unfamiliar street in an outer borough after a casual romance soured. Luckily, I convinced a taxi driver to take me home C.O.D. My nervous system also recovered from scarier interludes. These early explorations convinced me to limit my erotic hemisphere to New York, New York.

Not that opportunities for romance abound in the Big Apple. A woman over forty (my favorite in age) is as likely to be hit by a car as find a significant relationship. The men I connected with, had a sense of humor plus stratospheric charm. With lovers I went to particular bistros, bars, theaters and restaurants. My menage haunts were purposely elsewhere. The twain crisscrossed but seldom met. This split made every day a juggling act.

Most consider the West Village a quaint neighborhood notable for its Bohemian history. To me its streets are more charming than Paris. On them I’ve enjoyed hugs, kisses and more intimate expressions of affection. I stroll a lot, an excuse to conjure up memories. How can I forget a blissful Halloween night spent in Paul, my one time lover’s Sixth Avenue walk up. As we watched the parade from his window, he sipped champagne from my slipper. Afterwards, we devoured a steak tartar and chewed pieces of each other.

For a few years Paul and I put out our utmost into an affair, which registered off the Richter scale in intensity; that it could never lead to marriage might have been the aphrodisiac? Certainly, every time we met our bodies, if not our minds, connected blissfully. Fresh from his bed, I wrote poems to seal in nights of wonder which made me understand why the French call orgasm petit mort (little death).

Looking back, I must have been “mad about the boy” to sleep in Paul’s icy apartment with the oven turned on full force, windows closed. His landlord, mean with heat in the New York tradition, acted like a skinflint because Paul paid rock bottom rent. In “heat” literally, I went along with the program and survived to tell the tale. Safe in a long term menage, I embarked on this and other excursions along the “wilder shores of love.”

Favorite benches in St. Lukes garden where we gazed at seasonal flowers were the site of menage epiphanies. Our triad welcomed every season there–winter included. Strolling under St. Luke’s cherry and apple trees added a bucolic note to discussions about loaded topics: jealously, scheduling problems, ego inflations, the world misunderstanding or interfering with our menage .

Worshipping outside the church of coupledom and daring to write a book about it, put us diametrically at odds with our peers, not to mention the values drummed into us from childhood. If we risked excommunication from the society we depended on for social verification and employment, our path brought an emotional enrichment that comes from following one’s “bliss.”

We have flourished two decades, longer than most marriages. Nothing lasts forever, not even the world according to the Millennialists. Our threesome has changed, grown and survived the rock and roll that wears down an emotional connection American society frowns on.

Unlike most women, I’ve lived out my fantasies on several continents; I may not have had it all, but I’ve sure had a ball!

These Boots are Made for … Licking


1 Minute Read

“Would you like to have your boots licked?”

Ummm. Hmmm. Maybe. Umm. These high, black leather motorcycle boots? Yeah, ok, I guess.

He knelt on the floor. He was balding, 40-ish. From Malta. I was at Pedestal, the Female Dominants and Male Submissives monthly gathering at Fire in Vauxhall, in London. It was my first time.

I’m not exactly a Dominant Female. I’m not NOT dominant, I just don’t identify as such. I’ll tell you one thing, I’m definitely not submissive. I don’t submit to anyone. I can’t stand girly-girl shit: those singers with their wispy voices, begging boys to love them. I refuse to relegate myself – or be relegated – to second-class status. I balk at any restrictions or proscriptions of who I am. Mostly, I grew up in mid-Century America, and I remember, vividly, what it felt like to be forced into a “female” role. Fuck that. So yes, you can lick my boots.

But I was not prepared for how hot it would be.

Here’s this guy I don’t know, carefully, devotedly licking my boots, up and down the leather, licking and kissing. Not slobbering. Cleaning them good, with his tongue. Damn, my panties started to get wet. I didn’t want to fuck him, but I didn’t want him to stop, either.

There’s something about having someone worshipfully groveling at your feet that is bizarrely, undeniably sexy: the power of it, the knowledge that the least part of you, the dirt on your boots, is being worshipped. The guy wouldn’t dream of any further physical touch. He wouldn’t presume to be allowed to touch my bare flesh. I was his Queen.

There was something so “fine” about it; something so perfectly reasonable. Of course I should be worshipped. Of course men would want to lick my boots. What could be more obvious and normal? I’m 57 and amazing. He’d be lucky to have the honor.

There were other guys there, better looking maybe, or younger, wandering around hoping for action, but this one had the grace and tact to ask, to behave with the utmost respect, to offer a service without a demand, to make himself useful (every girl needs her boots cleaned), and to know enough to never raise his head above mine.

If I don’t want to be subservient, why should I want anyone to be subservient to me? Here’s the difference between being female and being male, in my experience: no one is expecting him to submit. He’s not being pressed into it. He doesn’t have to submit to me, he wants to do it. He longs to be a second to my first. And that feels real good to my kinky, female-empowered self.

Talk about safety! That’s feeling safe. That’s feeling respected. That’s being in control, being in charge, calling the shots.

I deigned to show him some largess. I bent over and stroked his head. “Good boy,” I said, thinking “Good dog.” Wow. There I was, sitting along a wall with my three friends. We were nonchalant. We were sipping wine, and I was getting serviced by this stranger.

My pussy is reserved for my husband. But you? You can lick my boots.

The next Club Pedestal event is taking place on Thurs 24th Nov at Fire, 9pm to 5am. South Lambeth Road, London, SW8 1RT. You can book tickets here.

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