According to Cléo
by Cléo Dubois




Dear Kinksters,

What a glorious month August has been! I am at the eve of leaving my cozy home for the wonders of the Playa, the desert magical experience that BurningMan is…Freedom of personal expression, acceptance of diversity and community on a grand scale in the desert of Nevada for over a week. Take a look at Julian Supersnail photographs of the people of past BurningMan. or go to if you are unfamiliar with this modern tribal phenomenon.

Yes there is a big SM camp in the desert every year there.. It is named the Temple of Atonement, created, controlled and staffed by BDSM community members. We are everywhere!!!

August 10 was the last day of the Intensive 4 day training Sybil Holiday (co author of Consensual Sado-Masochism and how to safely talk about it, Daedalus publication) and I offered. Women traveled from as far away as Connecticut and Utah to attend the course. It was an honor to work/play with each of them. Each participant faced their fears, pushed their own limits, and expanded their sense of self. It was also a challenge for me as well as an exciting learning experience.

We will offer the training again in the Spring. See for more details on these intimate seminars.

This evening I wish to share with you some of my "Secrets of Topping" , being a good bottom or even a good brat. Clean negotiation and understanding of how the dynamics of a Scene works is essential for satisfying play, regardless of which side of the whip you are on!!

  • Consider Scene time as sacred time and sacred space.
  • BDSM is playing with control, power, vulnerability, trust, responsibility, turn-on sensuality, sexuality ,exploration of the unknown, risk-taking, fear, shadow, secrets, roles and personae, healing
  • The connection we make with each other as consensual players are to be honored and treated with respect, might you be a Dom or a sub, or a switch
  • A Scene has a beginning, middle, and an end and is filled with peaks and valleys. Be sure to have a flight plan before you take off!
  • Begin your Scene by Centering! Ground your energy. Bring yourself really present to the moment.
  • Tuning In to your partner. Slow down. Notice how you feel, breathe. Be aware of your body language, the tone of your voice, the speed at which you move.
  • Tops: Observe and touch/ connect with your sub. Take control: establish the rules and safewords. Teach him/her a ritual position. To Collar or not, that is the question!
  • Find the Rhythm of your Scene. Are you flowing with ease in your Dominant mode? This is a dance of erotic power exchange.
  • Pay Attention to Details. Is every order you give, clear and precise? Is every caress of the flogger landing on her/his skin right were you want it to? Is the service you are receiving to your liking? If not, can you communicate it to your sub for a win-win result?
  • Transitions during play: Blindfold? Rest period? Change of Bondage? Contrasts? Use humor? Surprises? Show that you care? Did he/she please you? Did you tell her/him verbally or by touch or by rewarding her/him? Mix the intensity to keep it HOT & SEXY!
  • Allow yourself to cause pain. Watch your sub’s body language and announce your intention to cause pain. How many do you want to take for me? It will please me. State your appreciation and give them a reward like a soft touch, tease, worship privilege.
  • To take your partner to a limit and push it, go slowly-stay connected -breathe together. That is hot!

Hard Limits: Know what is a hard limit or phobia and what can be challenged. Be ready to back off without shaming her/him. Most Players want to be pushed to new places if trust is there. Avoid panic-fear. Remind of safeword and honor them if your sub needs to use them. There is a BIG Difference between a hard limit and a " I don't like it activity". If you should choose to play without safewords and follow your intuition, please know each other well and do not break the precious trust you share.

  • End the Scene: Climax of energy or sexual Reward? Masturbation game or sex ?
  • Find closure. Cleo's ritual: rewinding the scene mentally. Each partner spontaneously shares his/her bliss. Bottom needs to know if they pleased. Remove collar. SM works on our subconscious: know the possibility of crashing and self-blame. Allow time for the energy to settle back. You are probably both high from playing.
  • Aftercare is important. Tops and bottoms: If you need nurturing, especially when the play has been intense and/or when you've pushed your own limits or if you are not so sure the scene was good take time to process the scene the next day. Get the nurturing you need, but remember that your bottom probably is not an appropriate source for this. Call a friend in the scene, talk to your mentor.

How to Save a Scene that Isn’t Working:

  • You feel bored, angry, frustrated or manipulated- the energy feels stuck. Your partner is also annoyed. Stop the scene and address the issue. Remain calm.
  • Use I statements like: "I feel that we are not connecting and we are not enjoying our scene. I need to know where you are at. What is going on with you?”
  • Take a break. It is not the time to blame each other. Process later.
  • Perhaps, the negotiation you were going by was not accurate to the needs of your partner, your boundaries and skill levels, your desires. Watch the mood. Is it better to stop or start again? Communicate with each other.
  • Perhaps it is a medical emergency that scares both of you, like fainting. Use common sense, be gentle with each other.
  • Sometimes your partner may suffer from internalized shame, and lack of understanding and respect of their own needs and can challenge your relationship.

If the problems keep occurring related to BDSM or a repercussion of BDSM play in your relationship, you may want to consult a counselor.

While BDSM can be therapeutic, it is NOT therapy!

May you know the sweet taste of the Magic of hot S/M Play!

© Cléo Dubois, all rights reserved. 2003