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Authors: Tristan Taormino

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BOOK: The Ultimate Guide to Kink
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—Dan Savage



“Tristan Taormino has gifted us with a magnificent collection of essays from kinkdom’s finest educators: consider it required reading for every kinkster who lives life on the hot side.”

—Dossie Easton, co-author of
The New Topping Book
The New Bottoming Book



“Tristan Taormino has created a perfect compendium of kink that covers the nuts and bolts of spanking, bondage, role playing, rough sex, and much more, as well as the philosophies, motivations, and deeply personal experiences of an array of BDSM players. If ‘Brutal Affection’ sounds like an oxymoron to you, read on. Keep a copy in your bedroom—and your toy bag!”

—Rachel Kramer Bussel,
editor of
Best Sex Writing 2012



“Finally, a smart, comprehensive, and brave book on kinky sex for this generation. Tristan Taormino’s
The Ultimate Guide to Kink
is the first really good new book on the subject in years. BDSM and kink aficionados are lifelong learners, endlessly fascinated with their own sexual and personal growth. I expect this to be the BDSM bible for the next decade.”

—Felice Newman,
author of
The Whole Lesbian Sex Book


This book is for everyone who dares to expand their erotic horizons beyond the ordinary. For all those who like to give and receive intense sensations. For the people who eroticize power and cultivate consciousness in sex and relationships. For anyone who loves to dance on the line between pleasure and pain. For folks who nurture naked creativity and make fantasies come to life. This book is about kink.

Kink is an intimate experience, an exchange of power between people that can be physical, erotic, sexual, psychological, spiritual, or, most often, some combination. I use the word
as an all-encompassing term to describe the people, practices, and communities that move beyond traditional ideas about sex to explore the edges of eroticism. Kink is meant to include BDSM, sadomasochism, kinky sex, dominance and submission, role play, sex games, fantasy, fetish, and other alternative erotic expressions.

Whatever you call it, the popularity of kink has soared in the last 25 years. The Internet has changed the landscape dramatically, and it’s no surprise that kinky folk were early adopters of electronic bulletin boards and Listservs. Today, we have access to information, resources, and other like-minded people as never before. What used to be a covert world with its own symbols, traditions, and underground gatherings, where people were afraid to use their real names, has become a visible, accessible subculture. When someone expresses an interest in kink, I always give the same advice: find your local community. Want to know where the kinksters are in your neighborhood? Google BDSM and your town, city, or county, and you’ll come up with social events, workshops, support groups, conferences, and, for lucky folks, play parties, dungeons, and clubs.

There are hundreds of gatherings of kinksters throughout North America—whether it’s a local organization’s annual conference, a camping event for pervy people, or a BDSM retreat—and the majority of them have a strong educational component. On any given weekend, you can learn how to: safely set someone on fire, be a good Daddy, plan the perfect gang bang, do bondage without rope, or channel your inner shaman. As a group, people into kink devote a lot of time, resources, and energy to learning.

I first heard the phrase
lifelong learners
when a friend of mine who works at a public radio station told me that marketers use it to refer to NPR listeners.
Lifelong learners are people who are self-motivated to continually seek out new knowledge and skills, through informal and formal education, to constantly develop and improve themselves.
The concept really resonates with me, as it aptly describes so many of the people I meet at sex and kink events—we are lifelong learners. That’s what’s so ironic about the conservative backlash against BDSMers. With increased visibility comes increased bigotry, and conservatives continue to rally against kinky events by local groups to get them shut down. What the anti-kink fanatics don’t understand about us is that we’re geeks. Sex nerds. SM intellectuals. We pay money to spend a weekend going to

Of course, we do manage to get our noses out of the books to have fun, too. In the process of having a good time and getting off, we also strive to create alternative utopian worlds, even if only for a weekend. The kink community is built on the radical notion that people can express their erotic needs and desires and have them met. We believe that dreams do come true, and not at Disneyland, but in our bedrooms. Kink events are not just about getting together to have fabulous erotic experiences. We learn skills that we can translate into every part of our life: how to claim our desires, negotiate for what we want and need, set boundaries, communicate limits, acknowledge power dynamics, celebrate sexuality, and accept each other’s differences.

I envisioned this book as a compilation of the work of some of the best educators in North America, and every piece was written specifically for it. You don’t have to attend dozens of regional or national events to hear these experts speak—they are gathered here, in one place, taking on topics about which they are truly passionate. Their expertise in these subjects is tremendous, yet some of them have never had their writing about kink published for a wide audience. As you turn the pages, I want you to feel as if you’re at one of these gatherings, spending time with the teachers as they share their wisdom, experience, thoughts, opinions, and personal anecdotes. Unlike books about BDSM only, the chapters in this book explore different areas of kink with a specific focus on sex. After all, sex is a big part of what motivates and manifests our kink, but, until recently, it was often left out of the equation in our educational offerings.

The book is divided into two sections. In “Skills and Techniques,” pieces feature nuts-and-bolts, how-to tutorials, sprinkled with lots of creative ideas and examples. You’ll learn about topics from bondage and spanking to piercing and rough sex. This section is beautifully illustrated by queer artist Katie Diamond, who created the images expressly for this book. There are a variety of role-playing fantasies as well as personal manifestos in the second section, “Fantasies and Philosophies.” From masochism to age play, these pieces cover some of the edgiest and most taboo and controversial elements of kink in depth. The subjects, which have long been a part of kink, are too rarely discussed outside closed circles or in print. It’s time to shine a light on what is often only perceived as darkness.

I wanted the collection to capture not only the incredible exchange of ideas at kink conferences, but the magic that happens at a gathering of a kinky tribe. I hope you learn a lot from this diverse group of writers and you are inspired to find them, and other educators, at an event near you so you can supplement this education with mentoring, hands-on demonstrations, and interactive learning.

Exploring kink provides us with an opportunity for self-reflection, challenge, and personal growth. Where many people are content to just sit back and let life happen, we’re not: we constantly engage our identities, sexualities, and relationships. Sometimes, it’s about testing ourselves. Rock climbing aficionados, competitive triathletes, or ambitious innovators in the business world: there are those who strive to go farther, faster, deeper. Some of us don’t do it dangling from a mountain; we do it through intense—what some would call extreme—erotic experiences. Kink can be a private (or semipublic) laboratory—a sacred space where we feel safe enough to try new things, push our boundaries, flirt with edges, and conquer fears. Because it combines the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual, it has the potential to heal old wounds and generate spiritual renewal. It can deepen our connections and relationships, bringing a new level of intimacy to them. Kink is a crucible for creativity, vulnerability, perseverance, control, catharsis, and connection. Kink is a unique space where there is room to experiment and see what bubbles up.


Tristan Taormino
New York


Some elements of this introduction, including the concept of kinky people as lifelong learners, are adapted from my 2009 keynote talk for Winter Wickedness in Columbus, Ohio. My thanks to Barak and Brat Sheba of Adventures in Sexuality for inviting me to give that talk.

The roots of the phrase are in the concept of lifelong learning, defined in a statement by the European Lifelong Learning Initiative and the American Council on Education: “Lifelong learning is the development of human potential through a continuously supportive process which stimulates and empowers individuals to acquire all the knowledge, values, skills, and understanding they will require throughout their lifetimes and to apply them with confidence, creativity and enjoyment in all roles, circumstances, and environments.” Norman Longworth and Keith W. Davies,
Lifelong Learning: New Vision, New Implications, New Roles for People, Organizations, Nations and Communities in the 21st Century
(London: Kogan Page, 1996), 22.

Skills and Techniques







Like other subcultures, kinky folks have developed (and continue to develop) a vocabulary to describe the unique elements of our world. This chapter will define the most common words and phrases used among kink practitioners and throughout the book.

In addition to a specific vernacular, members of the kink community have adopted a set of principles that represent its core values: consent, negotiation, safety and risk reduction, communication, and aftercare. These values are the foundation of the work of all the educators in this book, and they apply to each of the chapters and all of the activities discussed here. To avoid repetition, most authors will not define basic terms or tenets covered here, although they may elaborate on them or define other terminology as it relates specifically to their topic.



In this book,
is used as an inclusive term that covers BDSM, sadomasochism, kinky sex, dominance and submission, role play, sex games, fantasy, fetish, and other alternative erotic expressions.


is an acronym and an umbrella term that was first used in the late 80s and early 90s in Internet discussion groups, including one of the early newsgroups, soc.subculture. bondage-bdsm. It did not become the umbrella term of choice until the 2000s.
is a combination of several shorter acronyms that reflect the history of our kinky vocabulary and the wide variety of practices that it incorporates:

B & D
stands for bondage and discipline. It is an older term that first appeared in personals and magazines in the 1970s and became widely used by kinky folks in the 1980s to describe their interest in kink. It wasn’t necessarily meant to denote
bondage and discipline, but rather a range of activities that revolved around power exchange. Today
B & D
is much less frequently used as a term on its own.

S & M
) is the common abbreviation for sadism and masochism or sadomasochism. (Definitions of these and related words appear later in this chapter.) These terms were coined by Richard von Krafft-Ebing in 1886 and have appeared frequently since then in psychoanalytic literature to describe sexual pathologies; however, kinky people reclaimed them beginning around the 1970s, and
was the most popular term until
gained widespread use by the 2000s.

Embedded in the acronym
), which represents dominance and submission or Dominant/ submissive (defined in detail below). These terms have been around for a long time; people began using them in the context of kink in the 1980s to describe the power dynamic within a scene or relationship. People used
to reflect the power exchange in SM activities or to communicate their interest in roles like master/slave or daddy/boy, for example. Today,
is most often used to denote relationships that are built around a dominant/submissive power dynamic where power exchange is always or very often present (and may exist without other elements of BDSM).
In those D/s relationships where the power exchange is always present, partners inhabit their roles and reinforce the dynamic through various rituals, protocols, and behaviors all the time; these relationships may be referred to as
24/7 D/s
(as in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week),
lifestyle D/s
(total power exchange), or
(absolute power exchange).

can be used as a noun (“I’m interested in BDSM”) or an adjective (“I went to a BDSM event”). Some people use other terms interchangeably with BDSM, including SM, kink, and leather. The use of the word
(as in “I’m part of the local leather community”) originated in post-World War II gay male biker clubs and bars and continued in leather bars and sex clubs from the late 50s all the way through the 2000s.
is still used today, especially by gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer folks, to signify kinky interests, identities, and communities.

BOOK: The Ultimate Guide to Kink
4.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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