[Toy Review] Fifty Shades Freed ‘Lavish Attention’ Vibrator

First, let’s address the elephant in the room.

I thought long and hard (stop snickering at the back!) about whether or not to request, or accept, any of Lovehoney’s new Fifty Shades Freed line of toys for review after attending their recent affiliate product showcase. In the end, I made a balanced decision that yes, I would review this line. Let me tell you why.

A close up of an elephant. For a review of the Fifty Shades Freed Lavish Attention vibrator.

To say I have issues with the Fifty Shades franchise is an understatement. I believe those books are not just poorly written and questionably researched portrayals of bad BDSM – I actually believe they’re really harmful. The way they’re written, and marketed, passes off stalking, psychological abuse, disregard for consent and even rape as romantic. Check out Jenny Trout’s series or my friend Christine’s blog if you would like to learn why more and more sex-positive feminists are speaking out against this series.

However. A terrible first introduction though it is, more and more people are finding BDSM and the kink and sex-positive communities via this franchise. They read the book or watch the film and get turned on by all the kinky sex. “I want to do that!” they think. Okay. So where do they go? Maybe they search online. If they’re lucky, they’ll find brilliant educational blogs. If they poke around for any length of time in the internet kinkosphere, they’ll probably land on Fetlife sooner or later. They might come to a munch. And they might go and buy a sex toy, possibly for the first time ever.

The seasoned kinksters among us may roll our eyes each February when the newest film brings the influx of “the Fifty Shades crowd” to our online spaces or our local munch. But if we do not welcome these people, we are doing them a great disservice. If we push them away or look down on them, we’re completely failing to live up to our purported values of inclusion, respect and community. Not only that, but pushing them away means they’re more likely to practice kink in unsafe and uninformed ways, imitating what they’ve read in that trilogy. If we welcome them in, they will have access to tremendous resources of knowledge, experience and education. I’ve seen plenty of people who came to kink via Fifty Shades grow into fantastic, skilled, responsible kinksters.

People who come to kink via less-than-ideal source material deserve resources and information. They deserve support, a loving community and the same access to education that every single one of us needed when we were new, regardless of our route into the community.

They also deserve safe and quality toys.

The way I see it, the majority of people who are likely to gravitate towards Fifty Shades branded toys will probably fall closer to the “new/inexperienced” end of the demographic spectrum. They may never have purchased a vibrator or dildo before in their life! They’ll probably be completely overwhelmed by the sheer quantity and variety of toys on offer. If Fifty Shades was their way in – or even if it wasn’t, but it’s still the main current cultural touchstone for “kinky sex” – they may well gravitate towards these branded toys. People feel comforted by the familiar.

This, in a nutshell, is why I am glad that Lovehoney have made this Fifty Shades Freed line in the way they have. Having seen most of the products in the flesh (um, as it were,) I feel happy to say they’re a body-safe, user-friendly and just flat out good quality line of toys. I’m glad that inexperienced folks, new to the world of sex toys, are going to get quality products and not some shitty jelly-rubber, phthalate-ridden piece of crap when they Google “Fifty Shades sex toys”. (And yes, this is the first link that comes up when you do that search. I checked.)

With that out of the way… what did I think of the actual toy?

The |Lovehoney Fifty Shades Freed Lavish Attention vibrator. A half moon shaped vibrator with a handle in a lovely plum colour;.The Lavish Attention vibrator is a dual clitoral and G-spot toy. Its shape is like a half moon on top of a handle. The internal part is nice and slim, with a circumference of about 4 inches at the widest part, and flexible. When this is inserted, the external part – which is more rigid – rests against the clitoris. Both vibrate. The Lavish Attention has 3 constant vibration speeds and 7 patterns. It’s USB rechargeable, waterproof, travel-lockable, and comes with a handy – and stylish – purple storage bag.

I loved using it. I wasn’t sure I would, as dual-stim toys often aren’t very effective for me, but I like to broaden my horizons and expand my preferences. Personally, I found the shape and size of the Lavish Attention perfect to comfortably stimulate both my G-spot and clitoris without much weird maneuvering required.

Unusually, I enjoyed the vibration patterns on this toy. I think having internal stimulation slightly changes how my clitoris responds to things, though I am still figuring out exactly how this works. There are some caveats – read on for those! – but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Lavish Attention to anyone looking for a good quality dual-stim toy.

My Ratings (all scores out of 5★)

Price: ★★★★
This toy retails at Lovehoney – currently the exclusive carrier! – for £54.99. This puts it squarely into the mid-price bracket, and in my opinion it’s reasonable value for the quality. I note that Lovehoney have a stellar returns policy.

Materials: ★★★★★
I can’t praise this enough. It’s premium quality matte silicone and feels absolutely gorgeous. It’s the kind of toy you just want to stroke again and again because it feels so lovely.

Appearance: ★★★★
One of the big plus points for the whole Freed range, for me, is how pretty they are. They’re all the same plum silicone with rose gold accents. The look is classy, sensual and sexy as fuck. If it didn’t have the Fifty Shades logo emblazoned upon it, it would be the perfect aesthetic for a sex toy in my opinion.

Ease of Use: ★★★
I generally find dual-stim vibes take some practice and some experimentation to find the best position to use them. This was no exception. I also found it slightly awkward to hold due to the positioning of the handle. It is nice and light, which is a big plus and particularly relevant for anyone who struggles to hold heavier toys due to disability or injury. My biggest gripe is that you can’t turn the speed and pattern settings down – if you want to get back to the previous setting, you have to cycle alllllll the way back through.

Ease of care & cleaning: ★★★★★
You can clean the Lavish Attention, as with any silicone toy, with a sterile body-safe wipe. These are available cheaply in bulk from medical suppliers. This toy is completely waterproof which means you can submerge it to clean. The internal piece can easily be covered with a condom, but it’s not so easy to use with a barrier externally.

Versatility: ★★★★
The Lavish Attention has 3 speeds and 7 patterns, making it nice and versatile whichever you prefer. One feature I would have liked would be the option to control the internal and external vibrations independently of each other. The shape makes it safe for anal use, and I imagine the external stimulator could feel really nice against the perineum during anal play if that’s your jam. It is fully waterproof, so safe for bathtime play.

Intensity:
★★★★
As ever, please remember I am the biggest Power Queen who ever Power Queened. The vibrations were more than adequate and got me off, but I would have liked one or two higher settings. Considering that my preferred power level is “Doxy on speed,” though, I might be an outlier here. The vibration quality is a little buzzy, but not numbingly so.

Overall Score: ★★★★
A very solid dual-stim toy which I enjoyed using. Not perfect, but perfect doesn’t exist anyway. I’ve marked it up for being body-safe, fully waterproof, gorgeous looking and relatively quiet. It lost a few points for the annoying lack of a “down” control.

I don’t recommend this toy to lovers of girth – it’s definitely slimline – or those who can’t stand their vibrations being even slightly buzzy. But if you’re looking for a good quality, mid-priced clitoral and G-spot toy from a trustworthy retailer, and don’t mind the Fifty Shades branding, I suggest giving Lavish Attention a try!

The good folks at Lovehoney sent me the Lavish Attention vibrator in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinions which are, and will always be, entirely my own. Buying your sexy products through Lovehoney helps support me with a small commission and keep the blog going.

Elephant image is courtesy of Pixabay, a fab source of copyright-free images. Toy image belongs to Lovehoney and is reproduced here with their kind permission.

Six Benefits of Going to a Munch (Apart from Finding Partners)

Munch: a social gathering of BDSM enthusiasts, usually in a setting such as a pub or restaurant.

Today’s post is, once again, inspired by Kayla Lords’ 30 Days of D/s and is part of my #KinkMonth series. Kayla and John ask:

Today, think about whether you think you’ll find a munch, a club, or a party. Have you done it in the past? What was your experience? Are you nervous or shy? Explore your feelings and consider whether the local community is a viable option for you.

Two pints of beer on a pub table. For a post about the advantages of going to a munch

Kinky communities are awesome! I’m thankful constantly for all the things that BDSM community has brought to my life – “finding partners” really being the least of it. So today, in no particular order, six things you’ll find when you venture out into your local kink community.

You’ll make friends

Everyone likes friends! I’ve got friends I think will probably be lifelong who I first met at munches. Kinksters, generally, are a friendly bunch and we love helping newbies find their feet.

The key here is to treat it like you would any other situation with new people. Ask people about themselves, their work and hobbies, even whether they’ve seen any cool films or read any interesting books lately! Be prepared to share a little of yourself, too. Overly intrusive sexual questions are not acceptable, even at a munch, but you may find the conversation goes into sexy or kinky territory quicker than it might at a different kind of gathering. Take your cues from the room.

You’ll build a solid reputation

So much of kinky social standing is built on reputation. People want to play with, and be friends with, people who are well thought of. Be friendly, be kind, be open and honest, respect others, respect consent in all things, and be a safe player! All these things get noticed and the next time that cute person at the Club wants to play with you, they’ll ask around and be told you’re a solid person who others trust.

You might get invited to better parties

The key to getting invited to the awesome private parties is to make friends with people, and be a genuinely cool person who others want to be around. This one isn’t going to happen overnight, but be your shiny self and make friends, and you may soon have an awesome new kinky social life

It’s a safer way to vet people

If you’ve met someone you might like to play with, meeting at a munch or going to one together is a safe, low-pressure way to get to know someone. And if you haven’t met anyone but would like to, getting to know people on the scene gives you a pool of local people to ask if your Mr or Ms or Mx Right really is as great as they seem!

You’ll learn things

They won’t even all be kinky things! Broadly speaking, kinksters are a smart bunch and geekier than your average bear. We love to enthuse about our “thing” and share our knowledge. Open your mind, listen, and you might just have some amazing conversations.

Kink-wise, too, a munch is a great place to access a wealth of information from your fellow kinksters. If someone mentions something they’re into or knowledgeable about, and you’re intrigued or curious or just exploring that thing yourself, ask them about it!

It’s a safe place to be yourself

As kinksters, we often live on the fringes, which means we’re super accepting by and large. With us, you don’t need to hide your geekery or your nerdy hobbies or your slight social awkwardness or your passion for XYZ niche topic or even your penchant for getting suspended upside down and flogged!

You can wear whatever you want (within reason – keep it acceptable for public!) and present your gender and sexuality however you like. You can be you, and you’ll be accepted.

What have you found to be the benefits of kinky community, dear readers?

Kinky item of the day: A subscription to Loving BDSM! It’s a fantastic community and you’ll be supporting an amazing educator and activist at the same time.

The image featured in this post was offered for use via Creative Commons Licensing.

Was this post useful to you? How about buying me a coffee to say thanks? <3

Self Care for ‘Con-Goers

Mr CK and I are off to a kinky Convention for the weekend tomorrow, so it seemed like a good time to revisit this piece I wrote last year on taking care of yourself at a Con(vention/ference,) update it with some new things I’ve learned and share it with y’all.

A white cat with black patches on its face sleeping upside down in a patch of sunlight looking blissed out. For a post on con self-care
Kitty says: take a fucking nap!

‘Cons can be an intense time, as anyone who has been to one will know. All the fun things to see, do and learn, plus the late nights and the heady feeling of being among Your People can be quite a potent cocktail. (And that’s before you mix in a few actual cocktails, which many of us do partake of when at events.)

Things can also go from “Awesome” to “Burnout” really fast, and I’ve been doing this long enough now to learn a few tricks to come out the other side still physically and emotionally intact. Follow these seven easy steps for your best ‘Con ever.

1. Biology Comes First

Sleep. If you know you need six hours of sleep to not be a walking zombie, don’t try to get by on three. Take a freaking nap if you need to.

Eat. A lot of events provide food, so you really have no excuse – but even if food isn’t laid on there’s bound to be a lunch hour. Don’t forget to make time to have dinner between the day’s activities and the evening entertainments. Carry snack bars, nuts, fruit or chocolate in your bag for a quick pick-me-up. And for the love of all that is kinky, eat breakfast.

Hydrate. Beer doesn’t count. This is especially important in the hot weather we’ve been having lately!

Carry any medication you need or think you’re likely to need (more on this in point 5.) Find out who the First Aiders are and who to go to if you need urgent medical help. In an emergency, any passerby can run for help for you.

In short, take care of your body and your physical wellbeing first. The rest will follow.

2. You Don’t Have To Do Everything

You know how it’s better to leave a really awesome scene going, “wow, I would have loved to go further!” rather than, “holy shit, I went too far?”

‘Cons are the same.

You do not have to go to Every Single Session. Promise! You do not have to scene with every hot person you meet. If you’re there with a partner, you do not have to do every single scene idea you’ve ever come up with or try every single piece of kit the venue has to offer. You do not have to be the first to arrive and last to leave each day.

There’s always other events. There’s always next year.

By all means, immerse yourself and experience your event to the max… but know your limits and don’t try to push yourself beyond them in service of “Must Do Everything.”

3. Have Someone Looking Out For You… And Look Out For Them In Turn

If you’ve come with a partner, partners, friend or group of friends, you’re in luck here as you’ve got a ready made support person/network. Look out for each other. You don’t have to be glued to one another’s sides, but check in and say, ‘hey, how are you doing? How are you finding it all?’

If someone’s struggling, ask what they need. It may be a hug, a snack, a chat about what’s bothering them, a nap, or even just some quiet time. If you’re struggling, ask for what you need.

If you’re there alone, never fear! You’ll soon make friends and if you click with someone, don’t be afraid to ask if they’d like to agree to look out for each other and maybe check in later to see how you’re both doing.

If nothing else, make yourself known to an organiser or crew member as a nervous newbie and/or solo attendee. Any good event staff member will help you find your feet and look out for you as best they can.

4. Think About Your Boundaries Before You Come

You know how you shouldn’t renegotiate established boundaries mid-scene? The same is true mid-‘Con.

If you’re coming with a partner, discuss beforehand the kinds of play you might like to do together and anything you definitely DON’T want. Is play with other people on the cards or not? Under what parameters? Are you going to do everything together, or go to separate workshops and compare notes later? You don’t need to structure your weekend super rigidly, but even a basic game plan can help you feel prepared.

If you’re coming alone, think about what you might want to do and not do. What workshops interest you and which are a “FUCK NO?” Which are a “maybe, if I’m in the right headspace?” Do you want to play? With specific people? Are you open to casual play? Casual sex? Nudity? Hugs, physical touch?

And, crucially, stick to these boundaries. Don’t suddenly change your mind in the heat of a moment that you could very easily regret. Again, you can always push yourself further next time.

Honour your own limits the way I hope you’d honour anyone else’s.

5. Carry The Things You Need (Or Might Need)

Bottled water or sports drink? Healthy or sugary snacks? Medication? Simple painkillers in case of a headache? Notebook and pen for journalling? Cuddly toy or other comfort item? Favourite blanket?

Whatever it is, if you know you will need it or feel safer or more comfortable having it on hand… have it on hand! Or at least know where it is and how to instruct someone on where to find it.

6. Have An Aftercare Plan

‘Con drop is real, y’all. When you get back from a fantastic, physically and emotionally intense time, you’re likely to feel tired, drained and possibly even a bit fragile.

Just like you’d make aftercare provisions for a big scene, do the same thing for the ‘Con.

I always take the Monday following a weekend event off work – I know there’s no way I can be fully functional again so quickly and my job requires me to be on top of my game. I typically sleep late, take it easy and possibly do some nice or fun things for myself and my partner.

If you can, don’t be alone straight after the event. Try to be with a friend or partner who understands and with whom you can decompress and talk about your experiences. If you must be alone, reach out on FetLife or Twitter as it’s very likely others will be experiencing the same things.

Eat nice food, cuddle your partner/friend/pet/stuffed toy, have fun things on hand that you enjoy doing. Relax.

7. And finally… HAVE FUN.

Try not to worry – everyone’s at a ‘Con to have a great time and the organisers and crew should be on hand to help with any problems you may have.

Breathe, pace yourself, and ENJOY.

Go forth and be kinky, y’all.

When Consensual Sex is Punished More Harshly than Rape [or: Smutathon – the Reason Why]

[This post comes with a HUGE trigger warning for sexual violence from intimate partners. Please feel free to skip this one or step away to care for yourself if you need to. It also carries a hefty dose of vulnerability and exposure of my personal traumas. Victim-blaming or doubt-casting comments will be deleted and the commenter permanently blocked. This is a one-strike-and-you’re-out deal.]

The Rape Crisis England and Wales logo for a post about Smutathon and rapeThe Backlash UK logo for a post about Smutathon and rape

I was sexually assaulted for the first time by a classmate when I was twelve. It was “only” breast and crotch grabbing through clothing, but I was deeply troubled by and ashamed of it. It was three years before I could even begin to find words for what had happened, let alone how it had made me feel.

More than one of my early relationships were sexually violent. By the time I was fifteen, I’d been coerced into sex acts I absolutely did not consent to and was not ready for by a much older boyfriend.

At nineteen, I pushed a man away seconds before he penetrated me – penetration that I had explicitly said, repeatedly, was not on the table that night. On the second date with the same guy (yes, there was a second date) he pushed me to drink and drink and drink, before telling me he wanted me so black-out pissed that I wouldn’t remember anything in the morning. Later, our previously sweet online chats took a turn for the dark as he described his violent, graphic fantasies of raping me (fantasies, he made very clear, that were not about CNC but about Actual Genuine Rape.

A year or two later, a boyfriend threw me out of the house for not acquiescing to sex. And on and on and on it goes. Sex became about obligation, pressure, coercion and survival. I became divorced from my own body, my own pleasure. They took me years to reclaim.

The point of all of this is to say that I didn’t understand until years later that sex under duress counts as rape or serious sexual assault, even if there was little or no physical force involved. I didn’t understand that as a minor, what happened to me at fifteen was statutory rape as well as sexual assault under coercion.

I didn’t seek any help until I finally got a counsellor, long after it was all over. I dimly understood that places like Rape Crisis existed, but I thought they were only for people who’d been raped at gunpoint or assaulted by strangers in dark alleys. “My boyfriend uses the threat of the roof over my head to make me have sex I don’t want, and my other boyfriend tried to rape me once and is weirdly obsessed with getting me drunk and telling me graphic fantasies of raping me” just didn’t seem serious enough, somehow, especially as I’d also had consensual sex with both of these men and others.

I wish I’d known then what I know now – that Rape Crisis would have listened with sympathy, love and support, given me resources to help me get out of those relationships, and told me that in no way in the world was it my fault.

That’s why #Smutathon2017 supports Rape Crisis.

In all but one case, I didn’t even report because I knew I’d be putting myself through hell for a less than 1% chance of justice. None of the men who assaulted or abused me have ever suffered consequences of any kind.

The same, alas, cannot be said for the not-insignificant number of people over the years who have been punished (legally, financially, employment-wise and more) for engaging in completely victimless fringe sexual practices with other consenting adults. From 1987’s Spanner Case (in which a group of gay men were prosecuted for participation in consensual sadomasochism) to the infamous ‘tiger porn’ debacle, to those who have been fired or had their kids taken away for participating in BDSM, sex work or pornography, sexual freedom is constantly under threat.

I cannot sit back and be okay with innocent, good people being prosecuted for consensual sex while only 0.6% of rapists ever see a day in jail.

And that is why #Smutathon2017 ALSO supports Backlash UK, an amazing organisation that defends freedom of sexual expression for consenting adults.

Please donate and support these two brilliant charities if you can. I hope none of you will ever need them – but if you do, they’ll be there for you.

Announcing: Sexy Summer Book Club

I met Jenny Guérin on the Sunday morning of Eroticon and we hit it off straight away. On Monday afternoon, she found me in the Starbucks at St Pancras, waiting for my train home. At the time, I was devouring Girl On The Net’s How a Bad Girl Fell in Love. A delightful conversation about all kinds of things followed, including our favourite sexy books and those we’re desperate to read. Out of this conversation we decided to create a “Sexy Summer Book Club” and we’re excited announce that the website has lauched today!

An open book on a sandy beach in the sun. For a post about Sexy Summer Book Club .

As Jenny says: The Sexy Summer Book Club is a celebration of new erotic writing. Each month of summer we’ll be discussing, and writing about, a recent publication from memoir, self help and erotica.”

How to join in:

All you need to get involved is an internet connection and the ability to get your hands on the 3 texts. You can take part from anywhere in the world. To get involved, email sexysummerbookclub@gmail.com and we’ll add you to the mailing list to receive prompts, links to others’ work, announcements of the forthcoming books, and other sexy literary bits and pieces. If you tell us your Twitter handle, we’ll add you to the discussion chat too.

We’re also pleased to announce that the book for June is the one that sparked this whole conversation: Girl on the Net’s How a Bad Girl Fell in Love. There are prompt questions and suggestions for response pieces on the website under the ‘June’ tab. Send us your responses and we’ll publish them online in June.

We will announce the books for July and August at a later date…

For now, sign up, tweet this out to you friends, and don’t forget to share your thoughts at #SexySummerBookClub.

The image featured in this post was offered for use under Creative Commons licensing.

Ten Things I Took Home From Eroticon 2017

The amazing Jenny, who I met on the Sunday of Eroticon 2017, started this lovely meme and I just couldn’t resist taking part. In short: it was utterly wonderful and may even have changed my world a little bit.

So what did I bring home from Eroticon 2017?

My Swag Bag from Eroticon 2017. A purple tote bag with the Eroticon rainbow lips icon on the front.

1. SO MUCH SWAG

Thanks to the amazing sponsors, I came away with a bag full of fabulous free stuff including two mugs, two very NSFW t-shirts, a notebook that has already been heavily scrawled in, a goodly amount of condoms, and a pamphlet of mini erotic stories perfect for reading on the Tube.

2. Friendships

There were people at Eroticon 2017 I’d previously considered ‘internet friends,’ who are now real-life friends. People who were strangers on Friday and friends on Monday. People who I met only briefly, but who gave me so much. Conversation, advice, business cards, their beautiful words or even just a smile in the corridor. And there are people, many people, with whom I want to keep in touch and build on our new-found friendships.

3. A renewed sense of community

The thing I love the most about a good ‘Con is the sense, however fleeting, of being not alone. I often feel isolated. I live far away from almost all the people who really get me. Eroticon has reminded me that there are people like me out there. Miles separate us, but something much more powerful joins us together – Community. (And also Twitter a little bit.)

4. An exciting new toy (actually, two)

I picked up the new Ruby Glow this weekend. I’ve only tried it out very briefly so far but what I’ve seen (well, felt) I liked. I’m looking forward to settling down for a nice long wank with it and some good smut, and then reviewing it for the reading pleasure of all you lovely pervs. I was also lucky enough, right at the end of the ‘Con, to win a cordless Magic Wand from So Divine. I doubt any vibe will replace my beloved Doxy, but the cordless Wand will be perfect for when we’re playing at the Club or other places where there isn’t a power point nearby.

 5. A new name

I’m not quite ready to reveal it just yet, but after thinking long and hard (heh) about it, I’ve decided not to use either my kink scene name or my real name (duh, right?) as the name under which I will write and hopefully publish erotic fiction. I took some advice from the incredible Kayla to pick a name that feels right for me to use and answer to, and which has some kind of personal relevance, and I think I’ve found the one.

 6. Story ideas

SO MANY STORY IDEAS, you guys. Article ideas too. And probably poetry ideas, but they won’t go any further than my notebook and possibly Fetlife page. (The poor unsuspecting world does not need my attempts at poetry unleashing upon it!) Seriously, I have like a whole page in my notebook just listing smutty stories I want to write, and another page listing possible article or blog post topics.

 7. Contacts

Two people from the weekend have already asked me to guest-write for their blogs (thank you Kayla and Exhibit A!) I’ll certainly be taking them up on these lovely offers and I’ve also come away with business cards, names of publishing imprints and more – in other words, contacts I hope I can utilise to get my work out there and hopefully, eventually, make some money in this game of ‘writing about sex.’

8. Revitalised ambition

There’s nothing like a weekend around other people on a similar path to kick-start your own ambitions. Mine have been sleeping recently, as I cope with the realities of a complicated relationship and a demanding day job. But now I’m feeling more motivated than I have in years and I’m ready to go out there, kick ass, take names and WRITE SOME SMUT. I don’t ever expect sex writing to be my full-time job (especially as my ‘vanilla’ (ugh) writing career is also really important to me,) but for the first time I’m looking at this as something that might be more than just a bit of fun and a way to entertain the three people who read what I post on Fetlife.

9. Confidence

This might be hard for you to believe of the girl bouncing around in kitty ears and a t-shirt with the word ‘FUCK’ emblazoned across it (thanks, Fuck.com) and reading porn on the Tube, but… I’m actually quite shy. Shy, plagued by anxiety and lacking in self-esteem, to be entirely honest. I went into this weekend jittery with nerves, not just at the thought of socialising with new people but also worrying I’d be seen as a fraud, a fake, an amateur, not a serious or ‘real’ writer. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only did the people who have read my work say absolutely lovely things about it, those who are much further on in their sex writing journey were also totally validating and amazing to those of us who are just starting out. I thought I’d find elitism, but I found a supportive and loving community.

 10. Words of affirmation

There were so many great things said over the weekend, and lots of the most quotable parts were live-tweeted (check out #Eroticon for just some of the fun!) But the pieces that really struck home for me, I scribbled in my notebook – partly for the joy of writing beautiful words by hand, and partly so I can come back to them any time to remind myself.

I leave you all with the words of affirmation, love and community and are immortalised in ink in my jumbled set of notes from the weekend:

You are not alone. You are not broken. (Formidable Femme)

RELAX. (Alix Fox)

No-one does what you do quite like you. (Girl on the Net)

Stand firm with your boundaries. (Sorry, I can’t remember who said this.)

See you all next year x

The image featured in this post was taken by me and I own the copyright. It must not be copied or reproduced without my express permission.

The Reality of Event Organising [or: You Will Do a Lot of Work, and a Lot of People Will Shout at You.]

Look, I love organising. I do it personally, I do it professionally, and I do it kinkily. I don’t know if it’s the service submissive in me (or, sometimes, the masochist…) but I love nothing more than standing back and watching people enjoying an event I’ve poured my heart and soul into creating. But I’m here to give you the reality check if you’re thinking of organising something for your kinky/alternative sexuality community.

The Expectation: how hard can it be!?
The Reality: Very Fucking Hard

There will be a million things to consider you hadn’t heard of, and the bigger the event the more things you’ll have to juggle. At absolute minimum, you need a suitable venue and effective publicity to get the word out. And that’s before you start thinking about what you’re going to feed your guests if it’s an event of more than a few hours, and where they’re going to sleep if it runs for more than one day, and how you’re going to transport the ten tonnes of gear you will inevitably need, and how you’re going to pay for the damn thing. Which brings me to…

The Expectation: I can make money, or at least break even.
The Reality: Maybe. If you’re lucky. And probably not for a few years.

I’m going to be absolutely frank: my current event project took 3 years before there was anything at all in the pot at the end. The first two years LOST money. Guess who picks up the tab for the difference? The organisers. Luckily it didn’t lose a lot of money, which is why we decided to keep going, but we had to make some changes to make it financially viable. Unless you’re independently wealthy, you need to really think through the financial side before you embark upon something like this. And don’t lay out any money you can’t get back until you’re absolutely sure.

Crowdfunding (we recommend IndieGoGo) is a great way to check out the viability of your event and get people to put their money where their mouth is and buy tickets, with the option to refund everyone in full and not go ahead if you don’t hit your goal.

And if you’re going into kink events hoping to make a living out of it, all I will say is don’t give up your day job just yet. For the vast majority of organisers it’s a labour of love and they make nothing.

The Expectation: I’ll get to go to cool events if I make them happen!
The Reality: Well, yes… but it’s not like being a guest at someone else’s thing.

You will be stressed. You will be exhausted. You will be ON all the time for four hours or a day or three days or however long your event runs.

I get to enjoy a good chunk of events I organise – I variously go to workshops, I sit in on discussions, I socialise with friends. But except those precious times at the play party when I’m actually scening, I will have a radio earpiece in or my ‘Staff’ badge on, and that gives anyone who needs something permission to come and approach me about it.

And that’s the way it should be. I helped put this thing together and I’m responsible for the smooth running of it as well as partially responsible for the safety and comfort of everyone there.

It’s brilliant. But it’s not like walking into someone else’s event, where you can switch your mind off and just relax into your kinky fun.

The Expectation: Everyone will love me for putting on this great thing!
The Reality: A lot of people will be very grateful for your work, and a lot of people will yell at you.

Look, some people will never be satisfied. There will always be complaints – the venue was too warm, the food wasn’t up to par, you didn’t run a workshop on my specific kink, you had too many workshops on this kink I’m not into, you won’t give a platform to this abusive/problematic person I really like…  and sometimes, those complaints will get really out of hand and people will stop communicating their feedback reasonably, and start calling you names, calling for boycotts, slamming you on FetLife and generally being dicks.

There’s a place in organising for constructive feedback and it’s vital in helping an event grow to the best it can be. But you have to remember the truism that you cannot please all of the people all of the time, and trying will drive you mad.

You have to grow a thick skin. You have to look at all feedback and decide which bits are useful, which bits you can reasonably implement, and discard the rest. And sometimes you have to just look at all the people who are tremendously grateful for the hard work you do in putting on a community event, and let their appreciation hold you up until the storm passes.

The Expectation: I’ll get loads of play partners if I’m an organiser!
The Reality: Eh. Don’t hold your breath.

I won’t lie: being known on the scene does open up your options as far as play partners go, because a lot of people will (entirely reasonably) only play with someone with recommendations and a solid reputation. And organising is one way to become known on the scene. But if you’re doing it solely or primarily for the pussy (I’m generalising, but this phenomenon is most common amongst straight men, it seems), then firstly, you’re doing this for all the wrong reasons and you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Secondly, it’ll be really really obvious.

People who lead with their ‘credentials’ as a selling point to potential partners generally come across as doing so because (at best) they don’t have anything else to offer, or (at worst) they’re trying to hide something. You still need to be polite, interesting, engaging to talk to, and a safe and respectful player. Organising doesn’t make you any of these things. I could probably name, off the top of my head, at least five known organisers who are also known consent violators. If I’m thinking of playing with you, the fact that you’ve run Club KinkTastic (not a real club) every Friday night for the last ten years tells me nothing about you. Seeing you play, interacting with you, and hearing what others in the community – especially former partners – say about you is what will give me the information I need.

Organise because you love your community and want to give back. Do it because the kind of event you want doesn’t exist, so you’re determined to create it. Do it because you love the process and seeing the final result gives you a buzz. But don’t, for the love of all that is kinky, organise because you think it’s a fast-track to having everyone gagging to play with you. It’s not.

…and even if it were, by the time you’ve waved the last guest off and cleaned up, you’ll be too bloody tired to play anyway.

In conclusion, I’m not trying to put anyone off organising. Goddess knows we need more people willing to do it! But I believe in informed consent in all things, and I want you to know that organising is wonderful, rewarding, huge fun, and the buzz from seeing your event coming off perfectly is like nothing else in the world… but it’s also exhausting, time-consuming, potentially expensive, and a lot of responsibility. And sometimes, people will yell at you.

How to Get Started in BDSM

It’s New Years Eve, the time of new beginnings and new adventures. This is the very first post on this blog. So how better to get started than with some handy hints and tricks on… getting started? That is, of course, dipping your toe into this thing we call kink, BDSM or ‘The Lifestyle.’

First: Get a Fetlife Account

If you have not yet stumbled across it, Fetlife is absolutely the place to be for all things kinky. It’s not a dating site, though people do use it that way for better or worse – it’s a social networking site for kinksters. The ‘Facebook of kink,’ if you like.

It’s free to join Fetlife and you can give as much or as little information as you like. I’ll do a separate article on getting the most out of the site soon, but for now:

  1. Do not, for the love of all that is holy, use your real name or give out any details more personal than which city you live in. (You can even lie about that if you’re really cautious, though I don’t recommend it because finding local people and events is a big part of the purpose of Fetlife.)
  2. Put up a profile picture. It doesn’t have to be a face pic, but something that speaks to you or represents you is good (don’t steal other people’s work, though – that’s not cool.) Your genitals are NOT a good profile picture, however proud of them you are.
  3. Join some groups related to your interests. Read lots. Listen. Learn. Don’t believe everything you read – the only One True Rule of Kink is that there are no True Rules of Kink beyond “informed consenting adults.”
  4. Reach out by message to some people local to you, particularly if they run events or seem very active and respected in the community. Remember: the goal is to make friends and find community at this stage, not hook up.

Okay, you’ve got a Fetlife account. Good. Next step: READ READ READ.

Read posts on Fetlife. Read as many articles, essays and blogs as you can find (on kink in general or on your particular areas of interest.) Read books – check out The Bookshelf and my favourite resources list for some recommendations.

This isn’t a “one shot and done” homework assignment. I hope you will keep reading, listening and learning for as long as you’re doing this thing we call Kinky Fuckery.

If you’ve already got a partner/partners

If you’re single, you can skip this section as this is written for folks already in a relationship (or several – we’re poly friendly here!)

Firstly, if you haven’t already, you NEED to talk to your partner about your interests.

I know how tempting it is, if these desires have been burning inside of you for months or years, to go out and explore them on the sly. We have a word for this, however, and that word is cheating. Most folks in the BDSM community take a dim view of lying and cheating, because they go against the central ethos of informed consent.

It doesn’t need to be a big sit-down drama-filled conversation. How about just, “hey, honey? I was thinking it would be really hot if you could be a little Dominant in bed sometimes/if you let me spank you/if we explored tying each other up/-insert your interest here.- How do you feel about that?”

Hopefully, if your partner is communicative and sex-positive, they’ll be happy to have a conversation about it. That doesn’t mean the answer will be “yes,” necessarily, but you’ve opened up a dialogue and that’s a huge step.

If they seem curious excited to know more, talk to them about some of your fantasies and encourage them to have input with things they fantasise about. Explore this through sexting/cyber-sexing if it’s too scary or embarrassing to do it face-to-face at first. Read some erotica or watch some porn together that ticks your kinky boxes. Show them Fetlife, blogs, books and any other material you’ve found helpful. Go to a munch, talk or workshop together. Explore a few light things first – always with a safeword, of course – and see how you go. Moving slowly, with lots of check-ins, negotiation, love and care is the way to have some really positive kinky experiences. Everything you want to try will still be there weeks, months or years down the line. You don’t have to do everything now!

Get out into the community and make friends and build a kinky support network. More on that coming up shortly…

If your partner isn’t open to exploring things with you, don’t push or pressure them. Give them time and space to process, ask open-ended questions and express yourself honestly. If they’re not interested, is there any other way you can get your needs met? Perhaps with other partners, if you’re non-monogamous, or through opening up your relationship in some limited way if you’ve been monogamous until now? Perhaps with a professional?

If they are insistent there is no way your kinky needs can be met while in this relationship, I’m afraid you may have a very difficult decision to make – one which no-one else can make for you.

If You’re Single

If you already have a partner or partners, you can skip this bit as this is written for the single curious kinksters out there.

If you’re single, it can be really tempting, when you discover this kinky thing, to dive right into trying to find a partner to explore it all with. However, if you do that, you’re missing out some really important steps.

Hopefully you’ve started off your explorations with joining Fetlife and doing plenty of reading and learning. Perhaps you’ve even reached out to some local people. Brilliant!

Remember: your goal right now is to make friends and build a community. Partners and opportunities to play will follow. A bit of patience right now will set you up well in the long run, I promise.

Go to a munch, class, talk or workshop (more on this coming up in a minute!) Ask a trusted friend to go along with you if you’re scared.

Get Off the Damn Internet – Getting Out There In Real Life

Yep. After extolling the virtues of Fetlife and all the great material you can find on the internet, I’m now telling you to get off the web and out into the world.

Find an event near you. A munch is ideal – a munch is an event held in a vanilla location like a pub, in acceptable-for-general-public dress, where kinksters meet up to socialise, hang out and make friends. Most major cities have at least one, and many small towns have them too. Search Fetlife with the name of your city or town to find out what’s going on. If you’re nervous, message the organiser – their Fet name should be listed – and ask if they’d mind introducing you to a few folks. Munch organisers typically do what they do because they love the community and want to give back to it, and most will be delighted to help you find your feet.

Other good events to go to are talks, workshops and classes on your area of interest, or even a kinky conference like Kinkfest in the UK or ShibariCon in the US. These are often a greater time and financial investment than a simple munch, though, so you might want to wait a while before making this leap.

Going to your first event is scary. The golden rules, though, are simple. Follow these and you’ll be fine.

  1. Dress and act appropriately. Basically, at a munch, if it’s okay for a generic pub it’s okay here. Leave the whips and the leather corsets at home. A t-shirt and jeans will be fine in most places, as will a nice shirt and slacks, a cute dress or skirt, or whatever you’d usually wear to meet people in a pub. Don’t try to play at a munch unless it’s specifically advertised as one where that’s okay. If in doubt, most events will have a dress code and possibly a code of conduct available online, or you can ask the organiser.
  2. Don’t be a creep. Don’t latch on to that one cute young just-barely-turned-18 girl. Don’t only talk to people of the age, gender and body type you’re attracted to. Don’t ask people to play immediately or ask overly intrusive questions. People will notice and I promise, it’ll piss them off.
  3. Be yourself! Talk about your hobbies, your work, your family, how you came to kink… take your cues from others and just make friends the way you would in any other setting.
  4. Don’t get too drunk.
  5. Don’t touch anyone without permission. Kinksters are often a touchy and huggy bunch, but remember there may be relational contexts you’re not familiar with. Always ask before hugging or otherwise touching anyone.
  6. Don’t be a dick. This covers so many bases. Be friendly, open and welcoming to everyone and don’t be afraid to admit you’re new, nervous and not sure what the protocol is.

Most of all, remember to have fun. If you can, gather the Fetlife names of people you talk to and ask their permission to friend them. (You can always follow up with a PM – “Hey, we met at the ABC Munch. I really enjoyed our conversation about XYZ. Would you like to be friends on here?”

Et voila. You’ve got the beginnings of a kinky community and circle of friends. Now – rinse and repeat. You’ll soon learn who your people are, who you really click with and who you don’t much care for. You don’t need to like everyone but you do need to be polite and civil to everyone (unless, of course, something serious like a consent violation occurs, but that’s beyond the scope of this particular post.)

And there you have it – you’ve made your first steps into Kinkland! Doesn’t it feel great? Now go forth and be kinky, my friends.

Happy New Year.