Sex talk
Speaking of Flogging

Simon Sheppard, QSyndicate.com

Few hardcore SM activities are easier to set up than a nice, brutal flogging scene.

Floggers – multi-tail whips – come in a striking variety of sizes, weights, and even colors. Basic black, bottom-of-the-line models are widely available at sex-toy shops, but aficionados will spend hundreds of dollars on exquisitely hand-fashioned floggers with perfect balance, hand-woven handles, and tails ranging from soft suede to heavy, thick bullhide.

"The kind of flogger you use makes a big difference to the bottom," says one expert top. "Thin, lightweight tails produce a nicely painful sting, while models with lots of broad, heavyweight tails provide a deep, satisfying thud. A well-made flogger is a lovely tool to use: It feels great in the hand, and does a lot of the work. Cheapies just don't move as well."

But while anybody can swing a cat o' nine tails (a flogger with knotted or weighted tails), not everyone does it well.

As with other pain scenes, starting fairly slowly and ramping up the intensity enables a submissive to endure – and enjoy – heavier, longer-lasting play. Says one pain pig, "I can tell if I'm playing with someone who doesn't know what he's doing; he just starts right in whacking the hell out of me."

When it comes to blows, "where" is as important as "how hard." As pirate movies have taught us, the shoulders and back are the traditional targets, although asscheeks, being nicely padded, can take even more abuse. In a classic scene, the willing victim stands – stretched out from a chain hooked in the ceiling, tied to an X-shaped St. Andrew's cross, or just leaning against a wall – while his obliging tormentor stands behind him and whales away.

Continues our expert top, "Position matters. If I stand fairly far back, I can sensuously brush a bottom's back, or deliver glancing, stinging strokes. Closer in and I can deliver big, deep blows."

One thing a top never wants to do is "wrap" – carelessly allow a flogger's tails to overshoot, hitting a bottom's sides, belly, or groin. For most masochists, that crosses the line from pleasurable discomfort to just plain pain. It makes a booted bully look amateurish, to boot. And avoid heavy blows to the kidney area; they're dangerous indeed.

While a simple overhand works well, many men use backhand strokes, often gathering the tails in hand before letting loose another swing. Some sadistic show-offs specialize in elaborate figure eights and the like.

Practice might make perfect, but as one dom says, "If you don't know what you're doing, learn to flog a pillow before you do it on flesh." SM parties can be great places to watch experts at play – just keep a safe, respectful distance. And if you end up doing the whipping at an orgy, make sure your backstroke doesn't inadvertently whack some not-so-innocent bystander.

Tops should talk to bottoms beforehand, learning one another's experience and limits, and deciding on a codeword that means "I've had enough." The thoughtful sadist starts out slow, builds up a nice rhythm, and stays aware of his partner's responses.

And if you're the lucky one who's on the receiving end, relax, keep breathing, and let the sensations flow through you. No two masochists are identical, you know. So if your top's favorite move leaves you cold, or he's dishing out more than you can truly take, you're allowed to respectfully ask him to back the hell off.

As with any SM scene, what can appear from the outside to be a nasty struggle between a vicious victimizer and a suffering submissive is – if the scene's done well – an elaborate collaboration, a dick-hardening dance of sensations doled out and received.

So you want to play pirate? Well, yo-ho-ho, matey!

Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Perversion

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