I once pursued my mild but extremely titillated interest in BDSM by having a “session” with a very experienced dominatrix. She was an acquaintance from my social circle, and, as it turned out, a rather well and highly regarded member of the BDSM community on the national level, as a submissive, rather than a dom. She had apprenticed for years as a sub to a renowned dom in New York, for whom she travelled regularly around the country to various events. Our session, in the context of the above, was rather small potatoes for her.
Me, I was thinking more along the lines of an erotic encounter with BDSM fashion trappings. But in the spirit of adventure and exploration, I was willing to go along with whatever happened; I trusted she would not do any permanent damage. The first thing she did was have me strip, so I was naked and she was not. Her expressions, mannerisms and voice were are flatly neutral, pleasant enough, but without revealing much in the way of emotion. She then showed me a heavy black leather collar, and told me that it symbolized my submission to her, and that if she put it on me I would be bound by my promise of obedience to her, and she told me it was my choice to make. Of course I did, or the story would end here. She buckled it tightly enough around my neck that I was conscious of its weight and presence, without it restricting my breathing or movement. Then she wrapped and buckled each of my wrists in fur-lined leather cuffs and attached the cuffs to a chain though a stout ring over head, so I was standing now naked cuffed and collared, and could let my whole weight hang from my wrists if I bent my knees a little.
She said she thought we’d start with some nipple torture. And who was I to argue? She had already explained to me our safe words, the three words to use if I wanted her to decrease the intensity of whatever she was doing (“Yellow”), to pause and let me catch my breath (“Orange”), or to stop completely and end the session (“Red”). Safe words are used so that participants can enjoy hollering things like “No!” and “Stop, please, Jesus, you’re killing me!” etc., without having the proceedings actually stop. She told me this without betraying any emotion. In fact from greeting me the door until now she had been pretty much an emotional blank slate, quite a change from the easy warmth of our social relationship. Now that I was buckled to the ceiling, collared and naked she showed me a bowl full of various clips and clamps, and for the first time, and the only time during our session, she became animated. There were alligator clips with set screws to adjust the tension, long tweezers closed by a sliding ring that looked like early ’70s roach clips, bitsy toy clothes pins, tiny C-clamps. She smiled telling me the specially designed nipple clamps were fine but that she preferred to use every day objects whenever she could. She fished through the bowl to come up with a pair of small plastic spring clothes pins, about half the size of full sized wooden pins.
“These are travel sized — I think they’ll be just right,” she said. “Let me know if this is too much.”
She then returned to her neutral countenance. She pinched my left breast to protrude my nipple and very carefully let the transparent red clothespin close over the dark flesh of my nipple. It was, well, not quite excruciating. Not quite, but, uh, ahhh, yes, just… tolerable… in a breathtaking sort of way. In fact, as long as I didn’t breathe, or move at all, it felt kind of good, in a weird, scratching-the itch sort of way, but if I moved even slightly an arc of pain would shoot from my nipple and ricochet its way through my body. Of course, I had to endure her clamping another one on my right nipple, which necessitated some writhing on my part, which in turn jiggled my left nipple, which caused me to writhe more, now in stereo acute-and-not-particularly-pleasant sensation, which continued until I managed finally to stop said writhing, and breathing. And, breathing carefully now as she stood back to cooly survey her handiwork, I began to wonder if my shrieking-pain alarm system was really going to hold out against my need to impress her with my manly tolerance of trivial discomfort.
She appraised me for a moment. I stood still, trying not to breathe too hard or to grimace when some minute movement sparked the pain in my nipples again. Then she picked up a braided quirt about two feet long with a triangular flap of leather at the end. She stepped slightly to the side and slapped my bare ass with the end of the quirt. It stung my cheek a little, but mostly surprised me, causing me to flinch, which set off my nipple pain chain reaction again. And she slapped me again, and again, slowly, at long measured intervals, lightly but sharply, increasing the intensity until the sting was substantial, and the longer she did the more inured I became to the shriek of my nipples, until finally the sting of the sharp flick of her quirt was equal to the sensation of my nipples, eventually surpassing their pain.
At which point I was feeling pretty good about my ability to survive, and actually enjoy the whole BDSM thing, which was turning out to be more than tolerable, and perhaps something I could really shine in.
I have no clear idea how long that all took — ten minutes? Twenty maybe. Not as long as it has taken to write this, that’s for sure, though much longer than it has taken you, dear reader, to read it. Now, I was still in no small amount of pain, but it was a steady state, manageable type of pain — very present, but something I could transcend and breathe into. She paused, longer than usual between flicks, and I began to sense that she had indeed seen something in me, something worthy of her respect, perhaps even an apprentice, though obviously one who would one day surpass her.
She then slapped hard with her quirt on one of the clips on my nipple. Searing, soaring pain shot through me and caused me to shout out automatically as I crumpled my body and strained below my strung up wrists, and again she slapped my the clip on my other nipple. I barked, but I didn’t use any of the safe words. At least I don’t think I did — I’m pretty sure I didn’t, though eventually it crossed my mind when I remembered they existed, but god knows what I had babbled in the meantime — national secrets would not have been safe with me. At any rate, I can’t remember if she slapped my nipples just once each, or multiple times. I just remember the howling pain from these two tiny parts of my body as I staggered to stay standing on wobby knees. And I remember her voice quietly, close to my ear.
“I’m going to remove the clamps now,” she said in a low voice. “When I do, the blood will flow back into your nipples. That’s when it will really hurt, but only for a short time.”
I don’t know how she got them off, whether slapped them off, or just opened them, or whether they came off one at a time or separately. But the pain that came when she did was greater than anything that I had experienced yet. Rather than emanating from my nipples it seemed to be torn from every part of my body, from my feet and my knees and my testicles and my shoulders and the skin of my back. And rather than emanating from my nipples it poured through them, gushed through them, geysered through them and out of them like fountains of boiling blood. I crumpled and hung, twisting from my wrists until she helped me stand again as the gush of pain ebbed and slowed to a steady stream, then gushed again with the brush of air on my nipples as I moved.
She unhooked my wrist cuffs and led me to a divan and laid me gently on my side. As she unbuckled my wrist cuffs I whimpered. She unfastened the collar around my neck, and I began to weep. Loss. Over. It was over. I was done. Could it have be over that quickly? I thought it would never end. Was it relief? Or grief? And for some reason then I thought of my brother, of the abuse and humiliation and helplessness I suffered at his hands, four years older and stronger and more cruel than mine would ever be, of the tragedy of his unrequited love for a father who despised him, of the anger and resentment that consumed him when he looked at me, of the love that poured through the cracks in his heart, love that at times scalded and drained and frightened him, of the hardened, damaged, unhealed heart he shielded in his chest until it clogged up and recoiled and finally stopped beating at the age of 48. And I wept. For him, for myself. For his pain, for my ignorance, for my helplessness, for the hole his death tore in my being.
She covered me with a sheet and sat with me, with her arm laid lightly on my shoulders while I wept, until the tears stopped, and the sobs stopped, and my breath came slowly back into the ringing silence of my now hollow body.
And, oh, my nipples, yes, were very, very tender. They sent tiny shrieks of agony whenever they were brushed, by the cloth of my shirt when I began to dress, by my fingertips when I stupidly tested them, by the air currents swirling within my shirt. I had to bite my tongue when I pulled my sweater on, and for weeks after they were still tender and hypersensitive, though after a few days I found myself fondling them unconsciously, until they would again nip me sharply, remind me.
She made us tea, and we talked a bit quietly. She was more animated now, asking about my emotional response, what it meant for me, how I felt carrying it. She reverted to opacity when I talked about the physical process, or asked some question she declined to answer — I don’t even remember what it was. She encouraged me to email her if I had concerns or observations. But I didn’t. I was a bit tongue tied. I still am. That was about four years ago. The stuff that flooded out about my brother, that never quite got stuffed back. It has been lying about ever since, and I have been barking my emotional shins on it on a regular basis. Sometimes I tuck it out of the way for a while, and think I have it figured out, but I’m not all that thorough when it come to tidying up.
I never went back for another session. There were a variety of social obstacles making it rather difficult to pursue, but mostly I felt the dynamic was way too imbalanced. I was afraid I bored her. I assumed she would be frustrated with just how little it took to reduce me. I was deeply ashamed, though also intrigued, but ultimately I felt it would be more of a client/provider dynamic than mutual exploration. And did I mention the pain part? So it goes.