Lately I've been exploring man-to-man BDSM porn. Why? Well, my boyfriend works at night, there isn't a play party every week, and a sadomasochist has…needs.
Since I like bullwhips, I did a keyword search. A bullwhip has a rigid handle, braided thong, fall and cracker. It's more than 6 feet (1.8 m) long overall; a shorter one is a "mini bull". It takes skill to throw properly and can produce a loud crack. Think Indiana Jones. A good bullwhip scene draws a crowd in any dungeon. It's the ultimate SM tool.
To the average commercial porn studio however, a "bullwhip" is a 3-4 foot whip with no fall or cracker, that is thrown like a flogger and cannot crack. "Hot stud bullwhipped" ...no skill required!
Generally speaking, this not-a-bullwhip is thrown by one twink / muscle guy at another twink / muscle guy who is bound. The strokes wrap around his sides and hit him directly in the kidneys, sacrum, tailbone and over the shoulders (which can break the collarbone) as well as, occasionally, seemingly accidentally, places generally considered safe to hit.
These guys are usually cast for their looks, build and dick size, not their BDSM skills or acting ability. Some of the tops look like it's their first time holding a whip. Their directors either know too little about kink to realize this, or don't care.
Sometimes a collar on the bottom's neck is chained to a hard point above him, something no good dungeon monitor would allow, because if the bottom passed out, he might strangle to death before he could be released. Unlikely? I have had a bottom pass out in bondage, from a reaction to medication.
The scenario is often cheesy non-consent: the camera lingers over the bottom alone, bound and crying... then: "Why are you doing this to me?" Pick one: "Because you're a worthless faggot" / "Because I can" / No answer. "Oh! Ow! Please, no more!"
The whip strokes are sometimes clearly not hard enough to account for the bottom's reactions.
To skilled kink players, this kind of rubbish is a great disappointment that gives the wondrous things we do a bad name; we are quick to spot the dangers. Unfortunately, there is quite a lot of it cluttering up the Web.
I met the directors and models (their term) from one of these studios. After seeing them play, I offered to teach them safety and technique, free of charge. They weren't interested.
Then there are the videos where the whip throwing looks pretty good…but due to the camera angle we never see the lash land on the bottom's body. This is an old trick from pre-CGI movies and TV. Some bottoms are better at faking reactions than others.
For some reason, skilled use of actual bullwhips in porn is most often found in scenes between female Dommes and male subs. Maybe the gays are afraid they'll break a fingernail?
On the other end of the spectrum, some of the more intense videos—especially those from Eastern Europe—are pure brutal punishment, with questionable consent and little or no respect for the bottom's pain tolerance. The tops are usually skilled, and sometimes angry (a no-go zone for most experienced players). While some in the scene do play this way, it's very unusual.
There is little of the connected, collaborative ballet of action, reaction, adjustment and sensuality that the best kink play usually involves. The sensual touch and kissing that can add so much are rare. We seldom see a top encourage a bottom through a tough moment ("I'm so proud of you, boy. Can you take another twelve for me?"), a genuine endorphin trip or the bliss of cuddly aftercare. Where is the joy?
Amateur videos are much more likely to show this kind of play, so often done in our homes and at play parties.
Unfortunately, in a time when good kink education is readily available, many newbies are learning from porn instead. Nearly every time I ask an early 20something "Dom" or "Master" whose profile shows no evidence of skill how he learned to be one, he says something like "Oh, I've watched all this BDSM porn so I know how it works."
No, you don't know how it works. You know what porn producers think makes a hot movie. You probably know little or nothing about the responsibilities of a Dom or Master, negotiation, consent, safety, technique, headspace, aftercare, the range of possible reactions and what to do about them. You are likely to hurt someone – and not in a good way.
Is it any wonder that so many tops don't know what they're doing, so many bottoms are afraid to try kink, and vanilla people often think kink is just abuse?
To those new to BDSM: Porn is fantasy entertainment, not a how-to guide. Excellent books and videos on kink technique are available. Classes are offered in larger cities and at kink events. Seek out experienced players with good reputations. Many of us love to pass on the carefully honed skills that have given us so much pleasure.
To the industry: Some studios do show safe, competent, hot play. A few years ago, at least one studio added cast interviews to its videos, to show some of the backstory.
Please, take seriously the safety of your cast members, the example you set and the influence you have in our community—from which you earn your living. Train your directors and tops properly.
Too many people are likely to get hurt from bad play—or frightened into never experiencing good play—otherwise.
If you'd like to share your thoughts on an aspect of kinky or fetish life in a member article, send your ideas or a first draft to: firstname.lastname@example.org