Tag Archives: tristan taormino

Review: 50 Shades of Kink

Tristan Taormino’s 50 Shades of Kink should be required reading for anyone interested in BDSM and kink. Although 50 Shades of Grey has popularized power play and allowed many people to discover new fantasies, it also inaccurately represents kink, and the books shouldn’t be seen as a guide or a model for realistic or safe BDSM activities. Thankfully, Tristan Taormino has put together all of the basics of kink in an accessible, easy to read guide for anyone who wants to take the fantasies they’ve discovered and explore them safely with a partner. pennysblog_50ShadesofKink In 50 Shades of Kink, Tristan Taormino introduces the basic terminology and practices in BDSM as well as possibilities for play while stressing the essential themes of consent, communication, and safety. And although the book is instructional, Taormino peppers her tips and explanations with sexy images and possibilities, her guides serving as educational foreplay. Throughout the book, Taormino explores topics like sexual power games, sensory deprivation, sensation play, and more.  Below is an excerpt from one of my favorites, “Rough Sex.”

A pink handprint on a pale ass cheek. A fistful of hair. A string of gooey spit dripping down your chin. Nails dragged across flesh. A slap across the face. An order barked with cool confidence. A guttural groan or a high-pitched squeal. These are some of the sights and sounds of rough sex. Although it is obviously intensely physical, there are also strong psychological elements in rough sex. Rough sex tops get turned on by taking control of a partner’s body, using physical force, and breaking taboos. Bottoms like to explore feelings of being scared, overwhelmed, and out of control. In my work as a sex educator, I’ve talked to thousands of people over the years, and some are very big fans of playing rough but don’t associate it with kink at all. It doesn’t really matter what you call it. Rough sex is another kind of dominant/submissive role play where you can explore power, control, and surrender, and use intense physicality to push limits and break taboos. Rough sex can include BDSM activities like spanking, blind-folds, or bondage as well as smacking, pushing, grabbing, hair pulling, spitting, scratching, being held down, and face slapping. If these things sound fun to you, read on. Although some folks distinguish between rough sex and and BDSM and others don’t, what’s most important is that the basic principles of kink should always be in play: consent, communication, negotiation, education, safety and risk reduction, and after care. Telling your partner, “I want it rough,” just isn’t specific enough. You need to negotiate, talk about what activities are off limits, and constantly check in about the degree of roughness that works for you. For example, some people love to be slapped in various places on their body, but being slapped in the face is too much for them. But if you are interested in being slapped on the face, think about what will make it sexy for you. Some love being spit on, but others find it degrading; where does it fall on your “Yes-No-Maybe” list? What about having your hair pulled? If you want your partner to grab you, push you, and generally “manhandle” you, talk about how you want that to feel.

In 50 Shades of Kink, Taormino gives you the tools you’ll need to explore kink safely, stressing the most important one, consent:

Consent–explicit, informed verbal approval after negotiation, a confident and secure “Yes!”–is the bedrock of sex and relationships, and one of the most significant elements of kink. It’s what separates kink from abuse. You will read about consent repeatedly in this book. Securing consent from a partner is a necessity, and this holds true whether the person is brand-new to you, you’ve played together more than a dozen times, or you’ve been in a relationship for ten years. Never assume anything. When you ask for consent, you clearly speak your part in the exchange: I need to know you’ve agreed to this before we begin. Giving your consent to a partner prior to a scene is absolutely crucial. It establishes that you’re ready, willing, and able to proceed; you’ve discussed what’s likely to happen, shared any concerns, talked about your limits, and agreed to dive in. When you give consent, you do so willingly, without pressure, coercion, or reservation. You agree to play, communicate during the scene, and stop if you need to.

Like anything new, BDSM and kink can seem intimidating to beginners, and this book does an excellent job of explaining how to begin without sounding overwhelming or condescending. It’s the perfect stepping stone into the realm of kink if you’re a newbie as well as a great way to review core concepts even if you’re an intermediate player. If you’re already an experienced kinkster, you probably won’t find anything new in 50 Shades of Kink, but I’d definitely add it to your list of resources for newbies.

In fact, although this guide is geared towards people interested in kink, I wish I had read this book before I began having (“vanilla”) sex, because the themes and tips it presents are essential, (oh how my 16 year old self could have benefited from the idea of a “Yes-No-Maybe” list!) and even if there isn’t an explicit arrangement, power play is always present to varying degrees in sex and relationships. I long for a world where 50 Shades of Kink is featured as required reading for sex ed!

If you’ve read the 50 Shades of Grey books or other erotic novels and found the power play, bondage, and hot sex intriguing, I definitely recommend Tristan Taormino’s 50 Shades of Kink. Read it and have your partner read it, or read it together, and use it as a guide and inspiration for your exploration of kink. Thanks Cleis Press!

5 of My Favorite Moments from CatalystCon

I’ve already told you about some of the serious stuff- like the dildo related panels and others…but lots of other fun stuff happened at Catalyst! These were a few of my favorite moments:

1-      The Opening Dinner & Keynote– Experiencing the excitement and energy in the Grand Ballroom  with my new friends Beatnik du Jour, Dirty Lola, & LTtits, and listening to the incredibly inspiring Keynote speakers Jackie Strano, Shira Tarrant, Sinnamon Love, Yoseñio V. Lewis, and Tristan Taormino was the perfect way to start the convention!

2-      Hugs from Danny Wylde– Danny gives really awesome hugs, y’all. Also, I snagged a quick picture with him!

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3-      When Tristan Taormino said she likes my butt! – After the Feminist Porn panel, I had my Feminist Porn Book signed by the panelists, and when I introduced myself to Tristan as Penny she said, “Oh, you’re Penny with the butt on Twitter!” Enough said.

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4-      Bawdy Storytelling– I’ve seen sex related performances before, but I’ve never been to a show where I was so completely enthralled with every single performer! (@gramponante, @CharlieNox@ashleymanta, @QueerieBradshaw@Daneballard@Sexquire@cunningminx, & @TristanTaormino) I laughed until it hurt, I (almost) cried, and I witnessed Tristan Taormino sharing an amazing personal story publicly for the first time!

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5-      Blogger Bonding/Sex Toy Orgy– Saturday night I bonded with Epiphora, Aerie, and Queerashino Cherry. There was story-telling, wine drinking, and of course, vibrator loving! Also, now that I’ve felt the Mona2, I need one in my life!

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CatalystCon Part 2: Erotic Sensation, Feminist Porn, the “Ass Panel,” and More

Introduction to The Anatomy of Erotic Sensation (#cconerotic)

Robert Lawrence & Carol Queen 

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One of the themes that kept coming up during each panel I attended at Catalyst was that I need to keep learning more. During Introduction to The Anatomy of Erotic Sensation, Robert Lawrence and Carol Queen talked about the many forms of touch, and I realized that I don’t actually know a lot about the biology behind sensations. Did you know that when you talk about a body part (sexual or not), that it actually gets warmer? Or that vibration & cold are similar sensations, and that if you hold either for too long, they cause numbness? How about the terms proprioception or interoception? In general, the study of sexual sensation is new and not very expansive. We still don’t know much. But as Carol Queen said, we can each become an expert of our own experience through exploration, and as Robert Lawrence suggested, we can learn and do our homework (take a biology or chemistry class, or read about Receptor Theory, Field Theory, Summation, etc.)

The Politics of Producing Pleasure: Feminist Porn in Industry and Academe (#cconfemporn)

Tristan Toarmino, Constance Penley, April Flores, Sinnamon Love, Danny Wylde, and Jane Ward

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The Politics of Producing Pleasure: Feminist Porn in Industry and Academe was incredibly thought provoking and interesting. I especially appreciated it when Jane Ward admitted that she watches sexist porn, but does so in feminist ways (for example, she enjoys bukkake porn, but pictures herself as one of the men ejaculation on the kneeling woman), and that viewing stigmatized porn allows her to move into her darkest and most frightening places. I identified with this because I enjoy reading about/watching dark sex scenes (for example gang-bang/rape fantasies), and although it can be hard to admit that I like it, I think it’s important to be honest about what turns us on, even if it’s “transgressive” and to examine why we enjoy it.

The “Ass Panel”: The Ins and Out of Anal Pleasure (#cconass)

Ruby Ryder, CT Schenk, Tom Stewart, Charlie Glickman

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The ass panel was the fullest (pun-intended) panel at Catalyst. The discussion covered both the physical and emotional benefits of exploring prostate/anal play as well as the stigmas associated with it and how we can work to break through them. I loved Charlie Glickman’s answer to the initial question: what should we tell men about why they should explore erotic anal stimulation?—because it feels good. Some people can experience hours and hours of prostate pleasure, so why not give it a try? Ruby Ryder also talked about the emotional benefits of reversing the typical gender roles through pegging, and the greater understanding, compassion, and intimacy it creates. One of my favorite moments in the panel was when CT Schenk from Aneros admitted that after customers kept asking him if he’d tried their products (he hadn’t) he realized that he too had misconceptions about prostate pleasure, and that he’s moved past them.

Tristan Taormino’s Sex Eduactor Bootcamps I&II (#cconbootcamp)

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Before the trip, a few people asked me what I was going to learn in Tristan Taormino’s Bootcamp classes, and my honest answer was, “I don’t really know, but I do know that whatever Tristan has to say is probably worth it!” And I can now say it definitely was. Her courses covered everything from education and skills to marketing, branding, and networking, and although 6 hours’ worth of practical business advice would normally leave me half-asleep, Tristan made it engaging, inspiring, and at times, hilarious!  If you’re considering her classes in the future, I highly recommend them.

Building a Career Talking About Sex  (#cconcareer)

Lauren Marie Fleming (aka Queerie Bradshaw)

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During Building a Career Talking About Sex, Lauren Marie Fleming gave out advice on how to actually make money while taking into account all of the particular challenges that people in the sex-industry face. I learned a lot in her panel, such as how to create a pricing scale, how to boost my credibility (read, pod-casts, watch more porn!), how to market myself depending on the situation, and more. Though most of it was business oriented, the most inspiring part of the session for me was when Lauren talked about how she is currently making sacrifices to focus on her writing truth right now: personal grief and how it has affected her.

The 5 Biggest Myths About Sex and Aging (#cconage)

Joan Price

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The panel that moved me the most during Catalyst was The 5 Biggest Myths About Sex and Aging (#cconage) with Joan Price. I won’t go into it in depth here since I am writing a separate piece about how it affected me, but to summarize it was incredibly informative, touching, and inspiring!

Don’t forget to check out CatalystCon Part 1 (Dildos, dildos, dildos) if you haven’t already!