Friday, November 22, 1996

The Difference Between Black and Gray

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #39, November 22, 1996)

True or false: a leatherman displaying a gray hankie in his right pocket thinks it would be fun to be tied up and beaten.

Answer: False. Although “tied up” and “beaten” may seem like a natural kinky sex combination, bondage and domination or B&D (gray hankie) are not the same as SM sex (black hankie). B&D covers a wide range of activities, some of which overlap with SM but many of which don’t. The gentleman in the above example may indeed want to be tied up or otherwise dominated, but that gray hankie says nothing about wanting to be beaten.

Being tied up or otherwise restrained may be followed by a flogging session, tit clamps, and hot wax. But it could as easily be followed by a long, slow blow job, full-body massage session, or a tongue bath—things even non-kinky types might find pleasurable. If you think of bondage only in connection with SM activities, think again; you may be missing something very enjoyable.

The theme of bondage runs through modern society, although most people don’t consciously think of it that way. A wedding ring is a symbol of being bound to another person, and the fact that one needn’t get pierced to wear one doesn’t change that fact. And a necktie can symbolize submission to a multinational corporation just as much as a dog collar can symbolize submission to a master. Many people turn to bondage and domination play as a way of understanding dynamics that the rest of society often would rather not discuss.

For a person playing the “bottom” role part of the thrill of bondage may come from being, literally, “out of control”—having turned control over to the top. The top, in turn, gets a thrill from being in total control of (and responsible for) another person. Some people even practice self-bondage (harnesses, corsets, cock-and-ball toys, butt plugs, or even tall boots laced up tight) and experience a combination of both feelings.

Safe, sane and consensual applies to bondage just as much as to SM. In SM sex the giving and receiving of pain is a major source of pleasure. Pain in bondage, however, is often a sign that something’s wrong. For instance, ropes or handcuffs that are too tight can cut off circulation; uncomfortable positions maintained for long periods of time can lead to tissue or nerve damage. Duct tape-and-Saran-Wrap devotees can cause all kinds of problems by staying wrapped too long. Being bound in whatever fashion should not mean being in physical discomfort or danger.

Another safety point: Just as a good SM scene has a “safeword” which instantly stops the action, a good bondage scene has the Houdini-like escape provisions necessary to ensure safety in an emergency. Some examples: a knife or scissors to cut rope (use them carefully!); extra handcuff or padlock keys; quick-release buckles on restraints.

If bondage sounds interesting to you, explore it. Start slowly, and take the time to learn to do it safely. There are many excellent books available on various bondage techniques and at least one magazine, “Bound and Gagged,” devoted to the subject. Finally, the Twin Cities Bondage Association is a good learning and networking resource: TCBA, St. Paul, MN.

STEVE KELSO is coming to the Twin Cities!

Are you a Steve Kelso fan? If so, then Friday, December 13 is your lucky day. You’ll be able to meet the legend himself at an Aliveness Project fundraiser to be held at Town House Country in St. Paul. Buy a calendar or poster and Steve will autograph it for you on the spot. (Talk about pleasurable Christmas shopping! And for a good cause, too.) The event starts at 9 pm. $5.00 at the door, net proceeds benefit The Aliveness Project.

If you just can’t wait that long, check out the official Kelso web site, coyly called “Hairway to Steven” at After thorough exploration of that site, you can link to an incredible universe of other leather/bear/fur sites that could keep you busy for hours!

Upcoming and Ongoing Leather Events

For quite a while now, the Men’s Room Bar at the Gay 90’s has been the one place locally that catered specifically to the leather community. Recently several other Twin Cities clubs, listed below, have started vying for our patronage.

Last Friday of the month (this month: November 29), 9 pm to close, Club Metro Underground
Leather/levi/latex/uniform dress code enforced, so the dance floor is all leather all evening. Come say hello to former 90’s bartenders Vern and Lawrence. $5 cover, free beer 9 pm-midnight.

NEW! Leather Knights
Wednesdays in December, 8 pm to close, Town House Country
Leather/levi/uniform attire encouraged. $5 cover includes free beer or $1.50 for other drinks.

Hard Mondays
Every Monday, 10 pm to close, The Saloon
Leather/levi/fetish wear. Amazing scenes and demonstrations. No cover.

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