Going Deep - Part 4
Topspace, Bottomspace, And Sado-Erotic Ecstasy

by Chris M

So let's explore some of the pleasures accessible to us through the rituals of SM. Instead of discussing the "how" of SM technique I want to focus on the "what", the inner experience of SM. As most practitioners know, SM is a rich cuisine offering many tasty delicacies ranging from basic comfort foods to the exotic. They taste different to everyone, and people's SM tastes are as eclectic and exacting as their taste in food. The physical action of the SM encounter can be intensely physical, deeply psychological, or both. It can be agonizingly painful, indescribably erotic or both. Here are a few of the delights the dungeon has to offer:

For the top, SM can mean:

  • The simple joys of craftsmanship, responsibility, and service. Helping someone else expand limits, explore, and grow.
  • The ultimate power trip: taking control, doing what you want, getting what you want from someone else.
  • A form of symbolic vengeance on persons or things that have wronged you, of venting anger, anxiety, or pain.
  • It can be the experience of witnessing hardship and helplessness in others to overcome feelings of helplessness in yourself.
  • Creating distress so as to have the power of relieving it, thus exercising mercy.
  • Correcting and training an errant and helpless pupil, thus exercising judgement. It can mean pushing someone down, thus lifting oneself up.
  • The sexual power of having another to do with as you please. (An aside: a tiny and slight dominatrix once told me after our first scene, in which I played the bottom, that her primal experience had been one of total safety, of having this big strong guy naked, bound, gagged and at her utter disposal. Having me in the safety of a friend's dungeon, she felt more relaxed, more "equal" than she would have had we been on a vanilla first date in Georgetown.)

SM presents a whole different palette of experience for the bottom:

  • Being helpless, exposed (yet safe) in the clutches of someone who wants to turn you on. The suspense, fear and
  • excitement of not knowing what will happen next.
  • Eroticism liberated from guilt and worry, because you're being made to do these wonderful horrible things.
  • Freedom from responsibility and confusion, the joy and simplicity of surrendering to another's will.
  • The feeling of worship, of expressing your devotion in the thrall of a knowing, loving, powerful, force.
  • Empowerment, resulting from physical ordeal. Becoming strong enough, brave enough, worthy enough to take it.
  • The unbearable thrill and exhilaration of embarrassment, or the physical invigoration of pain.
  • Physical ordeal and the sparkly chemical cocktail of adrenaline, endorphins, and dopamine.
  • The joy of punishment, penance and absolution.
  • The joy of sacrifice, the reward of sacrificing your pain, power, and dignity to exalt someone else.

Some SM experiences are shared by both top and bottom:

  • The joy of connection, of communion and of sharing an experience with your partner.
  • The joy of being at the focus of your partner's attention.
  • The almost magical joy of alchemy transformation, of turning suffering into pleasure and illumination.
  • The joy of being able to get what you want, even if it's very peculiar, shameful or scary.
  • The vicarious enjoyment of your partner's pleasure, of knowing you serve a useful purpose and bring pleasure to them.
  • Emotional release.
  • Taking control of your life, doing what you want/getting what you need.
  • Love and fusion between you and your partner.
  • Scars and blood are a real turn on for some (especially for real vampires!).
  • The sacrifice of placing your partner's needs before your own.
  • Sexual fulfillment and release is part of many scenes.
  • Transgression, the freedom of being outside it all.
  • Sexual excitement or fulfillment.
  • Exploration of fetish, to explore a ritual of behavior and imagery you feel compelled to engage in.
  • Engaging in a ritual.
  • Role play and identity, revealing hidden sides of yourself and finding yourself accepted even at your most naked and exposed. In some ways, the roles of top and bottom do not matter. To make someone beg - to be made to beg - are not necessarily opposites. They are both ways to participate in the ritual of begging.

While far from complete, this little overview hints at the fiery rainbow of flavors that SM can encompass. As practitioners of our craft it is our job to induce these pleasures and to savor then ourselves. I check back to this list every couple of weeks to make sure my play is sampling from as many of these flavors as possible. SM is like good wine, in that the more you concentrate on savoring its richness and beauty, the more subtle and magnificent you discover it to be.