Sunday, April 24, 2011

Profile Pieces: nikki Ronwood

Playing pretend in a metaverse like Second Life can teach me so many things. One of the recurring lessons is the importance of perspective. As Ben Stiller said, "There's a humor and a sadness when you see people who have a distorted image of themselves in the world. I think we all have this idea of how we want to be, and then there's how others actually see us, and the distance in between those two things is where reality exists." (Newsweek, 25 Apr 11)

Here's a sterling example, with some humor, from nikki Ronwood's Profile.

✔ Real ✖ Fake ✖ Drama

I'm a bitch because I don't let you push me around,

I'm a liar because I won't tell you everything,

I'm stupid because sometimes I'm wrong,

I'm a whore because I like boys,

I'm annoying because I'm not chill enough,

I'm a loser because I'm not friends with your group,

I use people because I do what's best for me,

I'm weird because I'm not like you,

I'm controlling because I get mad sometimes,

I'm clingy because I like to be around people,

I'm greedy because I like to be satisfied,

I'm naive because I'm younger than you ,

I'm conceited because I'm proud of who I am,

I'm rude because my manners aren't perfect,

I'm unappreciative because I don't praise you.

Don't try to tell me who I am because I already know.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Profile Pieces: Myrine Naidoo

A small piece of a profile can hint at much larger meanings. Sometimes I read the profiles of past partners, and ruefully suspect that some implied scars were cut by my hand. In my own profile, certain elements hold the traces of past misunderstandings and hurts. I could point to this paragraph or that limit, and tell you why I added it. If nothing else, our scars are a map of our learning. Learning: the consolation prize after burn up or burnout.

Myrine is a good friend of mine. I know some of what's behind this piece of her profile. But even without that knowledge, this piece speaks for itself. We're each free to define the filters between our 1st and 2nd lives according to our comfort, goals, and values. I've never had cause to express this particular sentiment, but I have had people just vanish on me for months, or suggest that I'm confusing a fiction for something more substantial. Here's how Myrine puts it:

While I love roleplay, I go to dedicated roleplay sims for that. Relationships with people here are NOT roleplay for me. If you are roleplaying in your relationships here, then please stay the fuck away from me outside of roleplay sims.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sensuality Azure: Accepting Offers

If we want to be better role-players, we can find inspiration and guidance from many sources. I've found some guidance from improvisational comedy, or improv. Ideas, exercises, and practices of improv have crossed over into many fields, from business courses (where entrepreneurs need to "think outside the box") to video game companies (where designers need to understand flow and reactivity). I bring them into RP and D/s. Here is another notecard from my Sensuality Azure training materials.

4.1 Accepting Offers

The best role-play flows smoothly. Words and poses echo and intertwine. It's like a good French kiss. Unfortunately, flow is difficult to achieve. There are many obstacles. Yet some of these obstacles can be removed, when the players practice a habit from improvisational theater ("improv").

Role-play is a process of co-creation. Books or plays are written by a single, all-controlling author. The author is allowed to smear his ego over everything, and the reader or audience only consents to be present.

In contrast, role-play emerges from multiple authors sharing the same page. This can be a delightfully intimate experience, like having sex in a narrow bed. (Remember your dorm room?) But it can also be crowded, like trying to sleep together afterwards: all elbows and knees.

Improvisational theater is a relative of role-play. The players consent to a simple sketch, perhaps a location or a brief back-story, and then together they play a scene (tell a story). They follow a basic rule, which is sometimes called Always Accept Offers. Everyone agrees to accept any new idea someone adds to the scene, rather than ignore it, reject it, or argue about it.

Always Accept Offers is kind of like prostitution, only instead of whoring yourself, you're contributing to the flow. (If the scene involves whoring, then the metaphor is doubly apt.) It's a matter of etiquette: respecting your partners' creativity. It also improves the scene. It's hard to achieve dramatic momentum--flow--if someone keeps swerving or hitting the brakes.

The rule is sometimes labeled "Yes, and..." since that's the attitude each player should have. I particularly like this label, since it suggests how to role-play: agree with the choice your partner makes, and build on it. It's also a good attitude for playing a submissive or having sex. A submissive should obey a command, and strive to do more than was ordered, like adding extra sensuality to the action. And in bed, when your partner initiates a position, it helps the flow if you say, "Yes, and I could grip your [body part] while you do that." (Or lick, suck, pinch, etc.) The point is to honor the choice by embracing and expanding it. Expanding is good, right?

There are many ways to reject offers. Two of the most common are obsessing on details, and obsessing on the “rules” of a setting. Details are essential to making a scene vivid, and a rich setting can help define roles. For example, Gor is a rich setting with lots of “rules.” Suppose your slave kneels before you and tells you that a strange Master flirted with her in the marketplace. The Master claimed to be a scribe, and he was dressed all in black. You might be tempted to criticize the slave or her player, IMing her to say that she's kneeling wrong or that all scribes wear blue in Gor. But before you do, consider the creativity she's offering you, and whether you want her to keep making such offers. As artists and lovers, our egos don't heal easily.

To be clear, accepting offers doesn't mean ignoring your preferences or kinks, or worse, risking your safety. Role-play should always be satisfying and safe for everyone. If the offer turns you off or is unsafe, clearly you shouldn't accept it.

Ballroom dancing or domination may be about leading and following. But flow in role-play depends on sharing the power.

Sharing These Materials

This notecard is part of a collection called "Sensuality Azure by Kandr Newall". This collection is licensed as Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike ( Please don't sell this notecard. Please distribute and modify this notecard freely. Please credit Kandr Newall as the original author.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Slavecraft: Surrender, Work of Slavery, Obedience

Here are more provocative quotes from Slavecraft.

Outsiders are not prepared to understand that the passion of surrender has the power to take hold of us by the throat and fire our imaginations to the white heat capable of fusing sexuality and surrender into such a lens--a tool powerful enough to comprehend anything worth knowing (p. 35)

There is a myth that D/s relationships are simpler or easier than vanilla relationships. Alas, no. On the other hand, D/s can be a powerful tool for perceiving and processing on relationship necessities and skills, like trust, communication, willingness, selflessness, chemistry, and compatibility.

Like all consensual slaves, i am a work in progress; always pressing on towards perfection with no thought of ever achieving it. Good Masters are a dynamic bunch and so, They grow, evolve and develop as people. When that happens, the definition of slave perfection shifts as They shift. For that reason, the notion of a "complete" or "finished" slave is temporary and illusory, and so must be viewed with suspicion. (p. 66)

The work of slavery, however, does not "show" for the most part because it happens in our minds, our hearts, our guts. Masters don't usually recognize that we are working at surrender because They don't really know what our "working" looks like. (p. 67)

I found this last idea worth remembering, as someone practice dominance. Both my slaves have recently had the pleasing assertiveness to remind me that there are aspects and experiences of being a submissive woman that are beyond my comprehension. I'm a smart, creative man, and I believe imagination is vast. But wherever we are on the spectrum of dominance and submission, there are some things beyond even imagining.

The slave in perfect obedience neither offers nor reserves anything. His only obligation, his concern, his evaluation criteria, his only question, his only satisfaction is from determining if he obeyed. (p. 81)

The grateful slave who wrote Slavecraft spends many words trying to distinguish a submissive from a slave. Principles like this quote about obedience are compelling reference points for making the distinction. Over time, I've become far less concerned with definitions and ontology, like "submissive" versus "slave". The women I respect and crave tend to be more complex than labels. On the other hand, it can be a valuable conversation to discuss what the labels mean to each partner, and what their desires and goals are.

It is only the slave's obedience that enables a Master to control and, therefore protect, a slave against the most damaging threat possible, the slave's thoughts. (p. 81-2)

I've heard many bottoms express this idea. Several women have emphasized the relief and freedom that comes with obedience. Vanilla sensuality and sex can be stressful, as they strive to be desirable and pleasing: to make the right choices. If they can give up some authority, responsibility, and attention to the "big picture", they can relax and indulge more. It's part of the beauty and splendor of D/s: the dom takes what he wants, the sub gives it, and both can leave some fears and anxieties behind.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Be Fabulous

I enjoyed watching the movie Akeelah and the Bee. The quote below is taught by a strict teacher to an insecure student. I encourage you to apply it to another context: to ourselves, as we practice sensuality, sexuality, dominance, and submission.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

-Marianne Williamson

I remember a paraphrase from a profile: "Most players live Second Lives of quiet desperation. Take a chance." Men and women who present as submissive often confide in me that they feel very shy and nervous in SL. They crave to be dominated in ways that liberate: ways that coax or force them to overcome their fears, insecurities, and scars. They want to be More, and they want help achieving it. At it's best, D/s is about bringing out the best in a submissive (and a dom). The bonsai metaphor applies here.

Those who present as dominant can veer too far the other way, and come across as presumptuous and abrasive. Ego is sexy in a dom, but in excess, it can verge on hysteria. We can try too hard to be fearless and self-assured, and reveal ourselves to be anything but. (I've done this.) It's hard for a bottom to trust a top who isn't even in control of himself. Needless to say, trust is essential to deep D/s.

We should all dare to fabulous, with whatever sparkle and volume is truly ours. We should seek those people who want us to be brilliant, gorgeous, and talented. People who won't be threatened by our radiance, but instead delight in it. Those are the people to whom we should submit, or who we should claim.

Our playing small does not serve SL.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Good Reads: Vox; Merry Gentry

I want to share a couple recommendations in adult fiction. The first is Vox, by Nicholson Baker. This is a "realtime" story of two people having phone sex, almost like a transcript (or log). I was drawn to it, because so much of SL is essentially a conversation. This particular conversation is intriguing and varied, as the man and woman share some lush fetishes and fantasies. The hot talk moves smoothly through both pornographic imagination and gritty realism. If the woman was a player in SL, I would be smitten. I particularly enjoy the contrast between the sexual tastes of the man and woman, and where they find overlap. One fictional character doesn't tell me all I want to know about women, but I do appreciate every lesson I can get.

My second recommendation is the Merry Gentry series. The author, Laurell Hamilton, is more famous for her Anita Blake vampire novels. (I haven't read them.) Merry, or Meredith, is a faerie princess/detective/hedonist, living in the contemporary USA. Over time, the author fills in some of the history and details of a world in which the Seelie and Unseelie Courts live openly, kind of like Native Americans on reservations (or District 9, complete with weapons you shouldn't take lightly). I would have enjoyed more about the world, but it's mostly a backdrop. For better or worse, the focus is Merry's extraordinary destiny, and the dozens of men she needs to fuck along the way. She has to be a slut, but it's for good reasons, see, and the faerie are cast as very sensual, sexually-liberated immortals. (Substitute Second Life for the Faerie Courts, and many of the lines still make sense!)

So, there is a lot of sex, including exhibitionism, multiple partners, orgasms that produce epic magical effects, and (occasionally) some sort-of force or fleeting D/s. The erotica tends more towards poetry than anatomy, and that's OK. But combined with the first-person female point of view... what should have been stimulating scenes sometimes left me impatient for the next plot twist. Or maybe I just wanted more repeat action, rather than yet another combination of hair color, latent demigod, and position. I'm being picky, but with affection. Sometimes the sex is very, very good. Overall, the series held my attention for four books. The insecurity and emo dialog of the men eventually cooled my interest. Apparently, even if we're immortal and we can have messy supernatural sex with a royal hottie, men need a lot of ego stroking. (Another SL parallel!)

I cheerfully welcome recommendations on reading, in comments here or IMs in SL. I'm currently rereading The Fountainhead for several reasons, including now being knowledgeable enough to understand and study the D/s relationship between Howard and Dominique.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Slavecraft: Being a grown up; Myth of training

I'm reading Slavecraft, written by "a grateful slave, with Guy Baldwin." This book came highly recommended by a submissive woman for whom I have great admiration and affection. The focus is deep 1L "erotic slavery", and the writer is a gay male slave. ("Erotic" is a nice adjective to add, to distinguish the glory of D/s slavery from the evils of nonconsensual slavery.) Of course, many of the ideas and arguments are useful in other kinds of relationships, in 1L and SL.

I'm not sure I agree with the slave on all things. But I find his perspective provocative. He describes the experience of being a slave in ways that help me better understand the challenges and joys. Here are some sections that stand out.

Sad to say, there are some who call themselves "Master" who are undeserving of the label. Some in need of an emotional hiding place will shield themselves behind the "Master" label. Lift the shield and one can often find those who shun real intimacy, self-disclosure, commitments of any sort, responsibility, honesty, their own vulnerability, self-knowledge, and yet, nevertheless, fear abandonment. (p. 15)

One in search of a Master (or a slave for that matter) is certain to encounter such people, and the challenge will be to discern the pretenders from the authentic. It is not enough for Masters to thrive on control; They must also crave responsibility and approach ownership with integrity, honor, honesty, common sense, and balance. There is no place in ownership for consuming rage, narcissism, viciousness, or other childish behavior. Ownership is for grown-ups. (p. 15)

The traditional slave-training myth asserts that: "Any self-proclaimed Master can teach a slave all he needs to know about surrender." (p. 39) of the great ironies in all of this is that the training myth is often responsible for impeding both Masters and slaves in the refinement of their respective callings. Masters who feel insecure with Their abilities because of their ignorance about submission, or for other reasons, will often seek an inexperienced slave precisely because he won't know much. This allows the insecure Master to hide His ignorance from the slave and be superficially impressive. The irony is that such Masters could probably learn much more from experiences with already skilled slaves because then They could see how a well-developed slave functions, and thus learn the crafts of how to enjoy and develop a consensual slave. (p. 45-6)