For some writers, research is a necessary evil, something that simply needs to be done to keep from giving  inaccurate information to his or her readers. For me, probably due to the content I write about, research is a guilty pleasure~ a wonderful excuse to explore things I wouldn’t normally dare to.

For writing purposes, I’ve researched topics like mental and behavioral disorders, serial killers, drug withdrawal symptoms, vampire history, the process of death and dying (as well as embalming a body and the other duties of a mortician) and various physical and psychological illnesses, just to name a few. I know more about how a serial killer thinks, and the rate at which a human body decomposes than I ever wanted to know. Nothing, however, was more fascinating than the research I did on BDSM, or as most of us know it, kink.

In 2009, before I’d even heard of Fifty Shades of Grey, I had an idea for a vampire novel I wanted to write that had to do with kink. I imagined what it would be like if vampires treated humans as their personal slaves, trading doses of euphoria-inducing vampire venom for a limitless supply of human blood. In my mind, these vampires owned their humans and kept them like “pets.” Naturally, the customs of good old-fashioned S and M seemed like the perfect place to start, and I began my search for the local underworld of kink.

It wasn’t as easy to find as one might think. Kinksters don’t tend to advertise, apparently. I’d been searching for this community for several months when a friend of mine who knew about my quest for all things kinky, gave me a call and said she’d found the local kink community. I was thrilled.

I was stunned to find out that there were classes you could take, and that before I could attend one of their kink parties, I had to go through orientation. I had no idea it was so formal.  For fear of being exposed as a fraud, the first thing I needed was a “scene name.” A scene name is what you choose to go by among your fellow kinky peers. I chose the name Angel (as it turned out, the kinksters were perfectly okay with people who are just curious, who don’t wish to participate, and who just want to watch and ask questions, but I didn’t know that at the time, and thought I needed to be a believable kinkster.) So I started going to the classes once a week, and learned as much as can be learned  in a classroom setting about bondage, domination, submission, sadism, masochism, and the like.

Once I had familiarized myself with the lingo, the general rules, and had made friends with some of the kinksters, I was ready to start attending the kink parties. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do at one of these parties, so I asked a few friends of mine to go with me. They agreed to go to the orientation and attend the party with me afterwards… as my personal pets.

The friends I took as my slaves were two women and another guy. The women I named “Isis” and “Poetic Justice.” The guy I named “Winter” after a character in the book I was working on. I wore a suit and eyeliner. “Isis” was in a bustier with a frilly skirt and high heels. “Poetic Justice” was in piggy tails tied with red silk, a long overcoat, and hooker boots. The male, “Winter,” was in nothing more than a sheer pair of mesh boy-shorts (he had a thong on underneath so he wasn’t showing everything,) and one of those massive, cruel-looking metal dog collars that digs into the pets neck if they stray too far. We’d written various lines of my own poetry all over his body with a marker and I also put him in eyeliner. He wore no shoes.

I had leashes for each of my “pets,” and let me tell you, entering and exiting rooms is a lot harder than it looks when you’ve got three people on leashes… but we made it to the party. We were greeted by some of the folks I’d met at the classes, and I introduced my “pets” to them, though the pets aren’t allowed to speak without their master’s permission, and as pets, no one spoke to them without asking me first.

We went in and sat down. Well, I sat down and my “pets,” as per the custom, kneeled on the floor at my feet. We watched several floggings, saw a woman bound and suspended upside-down from the ceiling, and watched some very fascinating fire play on a nude woman. One of the friends I’d met in the community was there, and she was having the skin on her back punctured with colorful body “pins” to create a design that made it appear that she had wings. Another one of the kinksters I’d previously befriended was also there, and he wanted to give me a beating with a wicked-looking bamboo stick. After much hesitation, I finally agreed, after laying down my ground rules: no clothes come off, no hitting me below the waist, and start out soft!

I quickly tired of the bamboo stick, and realized with no surprise, that such exercises didn’t do much to excite me in the same ways it does some people. Fascinating as it the whole thing was visually, we all grew very tired pretty early on and left the party after just a couple of hours. I attended one more party after that before considering my research complete.

Although the world of kink had little to offer me in a personal way, I made some great friends, and learned many fascinating things that have continued to feed my writing. My few months in the BDSM community gave me years worth of material, and I used every bit of it in The White Room, and in Beautiful Monster, which will be released on September 1st, 2012.

Research is, if nothing else, a mind-opener. As it’s been in all cases, I quickly learned that the truth about kink is about as far from my pre-conceived notions as it can get. I was astounded to realize how few kinksters do this solely for sexually gratifying purposes. I was intrigued by the customs and the very proper protocol. I was relieved by the safety and sanitary measures that were observed in these practices, and I was amazed by the laid-back, welcoming attitude of the group. I gained a certain respect for kink that I never had before, and although I don’t go to the parties anymore, I still have a lot of friends from that time. The psychology and philosophy of these folks has given me many things to muse about, and for me, that’s the whole point. Sometimes, when we’re stuck, we just need something new to stir our creative minds. That’s what research does, and I absolutely love it.

Since Beautiful Monster has been accepted for publication, my publisher has asked to see The White Room, which is the book I did the kink research for that was written previous to Beautiful Monster. The manuscript needs a lot of work and my goal is to have it ready by the end of this year. As I’m revising the book, I’m remembering all the things I learned about kink, and I’m grateful for the research I did on that topic. No, I don’t mind research a bit, and I look forward to doing more of it on more fascinating subjects in the future.

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Comments
  1. Kim Justesen says:

    Those were, indeed, some interesting conversations midway into Beautiful Monster when the scenes with Brenna came up. I’m glad that was YOUR research and not mine. Mine was hard enough to deal with!

  2. Linda L. Bennett says:

    A very facinating and thought-provoking blog.

  3. Katie Genoveise says:

    You wrote this very well and shed some light on the world of kink. I found BDSM to be somewhat interesting to watch but, 98% of the people I met seemed lost. I do think this is one of the safest escapes from reality as long as it isn’t taken too far i.e., a bottomless slave is mastered by a sadist and play time does not end at the kink parties.

    • Thanks for reading, Katie. It was great research and made for some good inspiration for writing. I agree, however, that anything in excess is dangerous, and BDSM is no exception, in my opinion. As it’s been in all avenues of life, I met some people there who seemed to approach kink in a healthy way, and some other folks who seemed somewhat dislocated in life and whose slavery was, as you said, bottomless ~ and boundaries, in any department of a person’s life, are imperative.

      I found BDSM stimulating and fascinating from an aesthetic perspective, and it has a very rich and interesting history. Beyond that however, it isn’t something I choose to pursue on a personal level ~ simply because it doesn’t correspond with my personal tastes. At a recreational degree, for me, the sparkle fades when I get up close to it ~ and time and effort which must be invested into a serious BDSM relationship of any kind isn’t something I’m interested in.

      Still, it’s an intriguing subject and makes for some very fascinating writing. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your insights.

  4. Sheryl Thornblad says:

    As in all things, not mainstream, certain preconceived notions develop because of sensationalism, and a generic, across the board judgement. I’m glad you took a look at this, from a “neutral” position. There sure seemed to be a lot of fascination with 50 Shades of Gray….interesting don’t you think? The world of BDSM cannot be placed in a box with parameters and looked at by “vanilla” viewpoints, and have justice done, I think….. although you did seem to respectfully do so. Many don’t “get” it…and yet lots of them live it, and don’t even realize it…cracks me up, actually. With all explorations, research can enlighten a person. Nice to see your enlightenment, on a sensative subject.

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