Cloudcast: going your own way

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Cloudcast: Essence and Personality

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Cloudcast: introducing Ecstatic BDSM (interview on Night Moves)

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From Nowhere to Elsewhere: sex-positivity for burners

The odds are stacked against us when it comes to sexual liberation. Everywhere we look we are told that there’s something wrong with our sexuality: too much, too little, too weird, too kinky, too normal. This is our collective expression of shame – the feeling that we are not enough – and when it comes to sexuality we have plenty to work against. And as with most things we can’t quite feel in ourselves, we turn it outwards: making each other wrong and limiting what’s possible.

Then along come people like Ruby May and I, inspired by our teachers Dossie Easton, Barbara Carrellas, Fakir Musafar, Joseph Kramer and others, with a big sign saying “You can”: as long as it’s consensual you can do anything, be anything, feel anything you want. It’s all about permission – living in a world where we are so constrained, it’s vital that people feel they are allowed, that they are welcomed as they are.

This is why I was so attracted to the burningman culture, which seems to be all about saying YES to who we are and breaking free of individual and collective limitations and constraints. So after many years of flirting with the idea I finally got my shit together and made it to Nowhere (a European regional burn) in 2012.

Faerie at Nowhere 2012

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the desert but I was struck by the attitudes to sexuality I encountered there. Like everything at a burn, there was a broad spectrum, from the wonderfully switched-on and sex-positive Touch & Play (who I camped with) to young folks who only seemed capable of sexual contact when thoroughly bladdered – and quite a bit in between.

I recalled my friend Katie Sarra‘s distinction between shame-free and shameless sexuality. Those who are shame-free are considerate, mindful and conscious with their sexuality – aware of the power it contains and in control of how it’s used and directed. By contrast those who are shameless have to be bold and brash to push through their unconscious shame. This often expresses itself as ‘really going for it’ – usually with drugs and alcohol as a support. The extreme of shameless behaviour is something like Ibiza Uncovered, which is uncomfortable and a bit painful to watch.

Overall there seemed to be more shameless people at Nowhere than shame-free ones. It was a pretty hedonistic, let’s-get-mashed kind of event anyway – but it was striking how little ‘action’ happened during the day, when people were more sober. I noticed that my frank, direct approach – “I’m really enjoying hanging out with you, would you like to play?” – was met with surprise and limited success; whereas the more traditional approach – “let’s talk about anything but sex while shuffling up to each other” – seemed to do much better.

I’m useless at that so I ended up without many playmates during the festival. When I arrived at Schwelle7’s Xplore Festival a few weeks later, where my direct approach was met with considerably better results, I realised that the culture at Nowhere and I were not compatible. It saddened me a bit, since I had wanted to go to a burn for so long – and at the same time I recognised that there was potential for rapid change within this alternative culture.

So you can imagine how excited and happy I was when Ruby May told me about her project Elsewhere, combining what we’ve learnt as sex-positive teachers with the playful, dynamic, co-creative culture of the burners. It seemed to me that this was exactly what we needed to bridge the gap between these two compelling sub-cultures, so I jumped at the chance to co-facilitate the first two Elsewheres (London & Berlin) with her.

Since then Ruby has taken Elsewhere to Prague, Copenhagen and Vienna – and in a couple of weeks’ time we are back in London to do it again. It feels like an enormous gift to help people overcome shame around their sexuality and then create a space where they can be free to express themselves in all their shades and colours. With this beautiful double-whammy of permission in place, amazing things can happen – and we know from previous Elsewheres that they often do!

Would you like to discover what’s possible when you are given permission to express yourself without shame – sexually or otherwise? If so, we’d love you to join us for Elsewhere London. Be part of the co-creation and find out what can happen when you are allowed to be more of who you are.

| Find out more and apply to attend |

Why I love needles: guest post by Violet Rose

I am excited to publish this beautiful article about needleplay by my good friend Violet Rose, an old-school courtesan with thoroughly modern values.

Ahhhh, needleplay. I dream about playing with tiny sharp pieces of metal the way that other people dream they soar like birds or gallop like wild horses. So it’s sad that I so rarely see needleplay being practiced on the various BDSM scenes and when I do, I generally feel totally ambivalent about the practice. I have just once read a description of the kind of needleplay I want to discuss here (as related by Barbara Carellas) and I only know by actual experience less than a handful of other practitioners actually practising it this way.

Needleplay as a top
If there is something better than the feeling when my needle effortlessly enters the skin, that unrelentingly physical barrier between person and world, and makes of that barrier a tiny bridge between souls, I am yet to experience it. From the first second the edge of my first needle sliced the top layer of epidermis, I fell wholly in love with needling. Hard, dense layers of meat and flesh become as butter under a warm knife. I have never experienced any bodily resistance to a needle given from a totally concentrated practitioner to a totally present receiver. DK Leather said of needleplay “I am making another hole in you. And I am going to fuck you with my needle in that hole.” Probably anyone who has ever met DK will now need to go for a short personal interlude but the meaning should be clear even if you haven’t had that great pleasure. The intense intimacy formed from the gift of your flesh to my needles is incomparable: it is literally ecstacy. One of the quietest, gentlest kinds of ecstasy I know, which is perhaps at odds with how it must seem to people who have never experienced it.

Needleplay as a bottom
To further speak to people who haven’t experienced it, I should first say that receiving the needles doesn’t actually hurt. Ok, well, it doesn’t hurt the way an injection hurts, or having blood taken hurts, or even the commonly pleasurable tattoo pain. When the needle enters me, if done well and I am ready for it, it is a delicious orgasm, simultaneously small enough to be happening solely at the head of the needle, and large enough to envelope me in its totality. I often see blue light during good needling, and experience the wave of energy, head-rolling back warmth and joy of a good drug experience or an intense erotic peak. I have already mentioned the importance of intention but good needling will be as much or more about the intention than the action, and the intention may be more strongly or earlier felt than the needle itself.
-“I haven’t put the needle in yet. But I have /thought/ about it.”

This exchange happened between a first-time needle recipient and an experienced practitioner and demonstrates perfectly how strong the intention can be: perceptible before penetration. Which is a phrase that appeals to me because I enjoy consensually applying it to other kinds of penetration. After all, the mind is a great sex organ. The other reason for attention and intention is that of course, needplay, like many BDSM practices, is not without risk. Giving my trust to keep me safe during a needle scene is the warm comfort blanket of childhood, nestling in the warm hands of a knowledgeable and responsible top.

What pisses me off so much about needleplay is that it’s so often subsumed under the heading of ‘medical play’ both by providers and by the fetish scene in general. To me, there’s nothing in common between a carry-on style naughty nurse themed roleplay and a needleplay ritual. I am not at ALL dismissing medical play in general, nor roleplay: Kinky Alex, a foremost provider of roleplay services, is a good friend of mine and I have witnessed the transformative power of role-playing with her. At the top end of medical play provision, there are exclusive dommes with museum-quality collections of historical medical artefacts and Harley Street practice addresses. I am sure there are also plenty of very enjoyable naughty nurse interactions between providers and clients –but it still isn’t the same thing as needleplay as I mean it.

I also feel alienated from needleplay that is done just because it’s pretty. I actually feel this way about all BDSM done for the way it looks, just as I am not into having social interactions seemingly just to document them on Facebook. Needleplay often is very beautiful, as are bruises or any other kind of bodily interaction. For me, thinking about whether my positioning is perfect enough for a photo detracts from how I interact with my body. I also don’t believe the impact of an experience on the people involved can in any meaningful way be evaluated by external viewers, which is what the endless Fetlife photo parade seems to involve. A needle scene is NOT “better” the more needles you use and the more scary places they are inserted.

I hope I have given you some insights into why I adore needleplay. One of the great sadnesses of my working life is that I have been advised that needleplay is a legal grey area with my clients and so I err on the side of caution and rarely discuss my love of it and so share it less regularly than I would like. If you feel called to learn this beautiful practice and/or experience it for yourself, Faerie and I are teaching a workshop on needleplay (and fabulous fireplay the day following) in Berlin next week. Both of us offer solo coaching and rituals in this discipline and where possible can offer recommendations to other local providers should find yourself out of the reach of our tiny sharp implements.

Would you like to join us for classes and rituals in needles and fireplay? We are in Berlin next week and would be delighted for you to attend. Find out more >>


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