May/June 2001
Trubled Times
Picture Herefor those times when you're having troubles

by Celeste aka BitaTruble


Hi Bita,

There is a coworker that shows telltale signs of being in the lifestyle. She has alluded to bondage, flogging and other BDSM activities. I am very interested in this woman. How can I broach the subject of BDSM to find out if she is really interested without outing myself if she is vanilla? If nothing else, I'd like to have another lifestyle friend.

Thanks in advance,

Inquisitive in Leather
*Special note: Because I have been so out for so long, this question actually had me stumped.  I tend to just ask people in a very unsubtle way if they are tops or bottoms so I turned to my Master who still takes great care in the work place not to out himself.  My appreciation for filling in my duties this month, Sir!


Dear Inquisitive in Leather:

I have run into this situation in the workplace a number of times and it can cause some confusion as to how best deal with the target of your curiosity.  The most important advice I can offer here is to go slow.  Charging into this scenario like a Dom in a leather shop can spell disaster.  First, for the moment, shelve any desirous intentions or hopeful fantasies about using your flogger on this person or offering yourself as a whipping post if they are of the dominant persuasion.  Your goal at this point is to determine whether they are, indeed, a member of the leather community or just a vanilla dropping catch phrases they picked up online.  The following presents some hints and suggestions as to how to safely proceed. 

Listen to the catch phrases and what words the person uses to allude to the activities you mentioned in your question.  A true member of the BDSM community will use phrases and words with which only such a person would be familiar.  For instance, any vanilla can allude to a whip, but hear the person make a reference to a specific type of toy such as a single-tail or tawse or refer to a specific type of material a toy is made out of and the red light should start flashing.  Vanillas will refer to bondage or being "tied up," but rarely do they use the term restraints.  Terms, very specific to the lifestyle, should raise suspicions.  Interestingly enough, vanillas never use the term vanilla.  In fact, most of them don't know what the term means.  If the person you are curious about uses this word, you might be closer than you think in meeting a fellow lifestyle member.

As you listen to the person make comments about BDSM related activities, nonchalantly play along and ask innocent questions to see how the person reacts.  For instance, a woman who worked in my company was getting ready to go home for the evening when she made the statement, "I'm going home to spank my husband".  I turned to her and innocently asked, "Why would you do that?"  She smiled and responded, "Because he's obnoxious and because I like to". 
Hello, Ma'am!  A few more well placed questions and we were talking shop in a few minutes.  Remember, if you act nonchalantly to statements, you can only be accused of being as vanilla as the other person.  However, if the person alludes to whipping and you respond with a twenty minute dissertation on the art of whip braiding, you have just outed yourself to someone who might not know the difference between a bullwhip and a licorice whip.  In another situation, a woman made a statement about finding someone that evening who would tie her up.  She said it in a way that could have been construed as joking around.  I shot back jokingly, "Really!  Do you have enough rope on hand?"  She looked at me with a more serious look on her face and replied, "I never use rope.  Rope can cut and it's not comfortable.  I'll only use leather cuffs." "Do you have your own?" I asked. "Quite a few." "Wow," I said surprisingly.  "Are they all over the house?" I joked. "No, I keep them well hidden with the rest of my toys."  Bingo!
Use your listening skills, learn what questions to ask and word them so you
receive back more information than the question required.

Once it becomes evident that your person is a bona fide enthusiast (it may take a few conversations to confirm or disprove this),  it's your turn to hold up the sign.  Again, you should take it slow, however, this part is fairly easy.  Break the ice by responding with a simple statement.  For instance, in the above example, a perfect response to the conversation would be, "I like leather cuffs also but I use the fur-lined ones".  Or maybe, "I live alone so I don't feel I need to hide my toys that carefully."  Once the other person realizes that they are in friendly territory, conversation will ensue.  Lifestylers have an uncanny radar in recognizing other kinks which is a great aid in establishing common ground.  I may start sounding like a parrot but I need to repeat myself once again -- move slowly.  Let things proceed at their own pace.

Once the two of you come to the realization that you are on the same asteroid, you have to begin replacing caution with respect.  If this is a person that you would like to play with, either topping or bottoming, you need to learn what their situation is like.  The other person may be a collared submissive or own a submissive which signals that the two of you will most likely just be friends.  You must always respect the other's lifestyle status and situation.  If they are unattached, no Dom or sub, they may be a potential play partner, but ease into it slowly.  Don't go charging them like Roosevelt up San Juan Hill. 

The fact of the matter is there are BDSM enthusiasts all around.  Because of society pressures, the majority keep a low, very low profile in the vanilla world, especially in the workplace.  Finding and identifying a community member becomes a game which can be a cross between Clue and Where's Waldo.  Keep your ears open and your mouth shut in the right situation and you may find, with some careful maneuvering and patience, that cute secretary or office boy accompanying you to the next play party. 

Master Michael