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  • The Kink Corner with Kal Cobalt: Suspension Bondage

    February 17, 2010
    The Kink Corner with Kal Cobalt: Suspension Bondage

    I'll be upfront with you, dear readers: I have never experienced hook suspension. I have read about the underpinnings of the practice, attended workshops on the practicalities, and witnessed suspensions before my eyes, but I have never gone up myself. I eagerly await my opportunity to do so, and that's why I'm excited to tell you five things about the uniquely intense practice of hook suspension.

    What exactly are we talking about here? Traditional hook suspension involves hardware that looks like overgrown fish hooks (without the barbs). Typically, the chest is pierced just above the pectorals, one hook on each side, and the individual is then raised up off the ground by chain or rope attached to the hooks. Other types of hook suspension get more intricate, sometimes involving dozens of smaller hooks deployed across the front or back of the body and then used simultaneously to distribute the weight of the body evenly.

    What's the point, no pun intended? Getting impaled and hoisted up by large sharp objects is something most of us attempt to avoid on a day-to-day basis, so what motivates hook suspension practitioners? It's the usual BDSM cocktail: two parts jacked-up play-piercing endorphins, one part rope suspension taken to the next level, one part trust in one's partner, three parts trust in one's ability to endure. Practitioners of spiritual BDSM often find hook suspension profoundly moving.

    It's not as “out there” as you might think. The practices of receiving multiple painful ear cartilage piercings and stretching one's lobe piercings to accommodate large-gauge jewelry are now common, as are full sleeve or back tattoos requiring hours of intense pain to achieve an aesthetic result. Many people who engage in these practices do so either to commemorate a major life event or challenge themselves to endure the practice itself, or a combination of both – much like the common reasons for hook suspension.

    But isn't there a difference between an earring and a hook? Is there? The only underlying difference is that hook suspension does not result in a permanent aesthetic reminder. It's experience-based, and as such might owe more to the history of coming-of-age or endurance rituals than the watered-down mainstream piercing-and-tattoo culture that now co-exists beside the piercing-and-tattoo culture more deeply entrenched in experiential, self-challenging, “urban primitive” notions. Or, looking at it from another perspective: if you can appreciate a marathon as a culmination of grueling physical and mental training, purely done as an accomplishment to prove to the participants and others that they can, why look at a hook suspension scene any differently?

    Hook Me Up, Scotty! ...not so fast. Although hook suspension is no more dangerous than most other BDSM activities, performing it incorrectly can result in serious injury (like most other BDSM activities). Do not try this at home; find yourself a reputable old hand to learn from before you get hooked (your doctor will thank me) or hook someone else (your lawyer's grateful, too).

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  • The Kink Corner with Kal Cobalt: CBT

    February 10, 2010
    The Kink Corner with Kal Cobalt: CBT
    CBT: It all makes sense until that last letter. Cock and ball...torture? Really? If you were raised on “guy gets smacked in the junk” clips on America's Funniest Home Videos, or if you possess junk that prefers a little tenderness to the crotch equivalent of Fight Club, this one might take a little explaining.


    1. What is it? Whatever you think CBT might be right now, I can promise you that some people do that. When it comes to wanting to put the hurt on the tender bits, tastes vary widely. Slapping your dick against the mouth of the person giving you head might qualify as extremely mild CBT, while driving a nail through your cockhead would be a more extreme example. (Yes, it happens. I have seen it with my own eyes, and I would not lie to you.)

    2. Are you still with me? Did you need some smelling salts after that? Not to worry – the majority of CBT enthusiasts practice something in between these two extremes. One can twist, prod, smack, and squeeze the cock plenty using nothing but one's hands. These are popular choices for CBT tools, as they're free, always at the ready, and afford maximum control over just how much pain gets dealt out. Clothespins are also popular. Crushers have a certain market share – remember how as a kid you had that device where you put a flower between two panes of acrylic and then screwed them down tight to flatten the thing? You'll never look at one the same way now!

    3. Why CBT: the masochist edition. For masochists who associate pain with sexual pleasure (and not all masochists do; some enjoy pain in a nonsexual way), CBT can be an embarrassment of riches. The direct connection between pain and sexuality can be an extremely powerful one, and some folks interpret some pain as simply more intense sexual stimulation.

    4. Why CBT: the brain edition. Then, of course, there are the fantasies. CBT goes well with alien abduction scenarios, “bad boy” punishments, humiliation scenes, and many other fantasies involving vulnerability and its exploitation. It can also be perceived as a rite of passage, a test of endurance, or a pledge of submission.

    5. The top perspective. Who are the folks actually doling out so much hurt on the bait and tackle? Just like sadists of any other stripe, there is no “type.” However, on the unhealthy side of things, it's disturbingly easy to find CBT enthusiasts who are motivated by a grudge against men. Their motivation is not to provide a mutually satisfying sadomasochistic encounter, but to punish your twig and berries for the sins of all the men who came before you. As always, it's a good idea to know who's got a hold of your meat and two veg and what their intentions are with said precious commodities. Not all torturers are created equal!

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  • The Kink Corner with Kal Cobalt: Objectification

    January 20, 2010
    The Kink Corner with Kal Cobalt: Objectification
    If you've ever filled out a BDSM checklist, chances are you've seen a question about whether you enjoy “serving as furniture.” Or you might have run across someone who gets hot when referred to as “it.” What's the allure of objectification? Let's take an objective (sorry) look at this very stationary fetish.

    The Object of Objectification

    1. That footstool looks uncomfortable. So why do some people love being one? It's not that far off from the allure of some animal play: it's a way to remove the day-to-day ennui and anxiety of being human and exist in a simpler state for a while. Objectification can be like meditation or any other abdication of self that results in a certain mental clearing of the decks.

    2. Meanwhile, that other footstool looks turned on... Sometimes it's not so much that objectification is enjoyed as a thought exercise; sometimes it's just hot. What makes being a footstool, or an ashtray, or a plaything, erotic? For some people, it may be the ultimate domination: to be reduced to an item which is possessed and used at its owner's whim. This can feel pretty intense and, most often, safe: most people tend to take good care of their toys.

    3. Is it objectification, or is it Memorex? So you're at a party, and a pretty little nearly-nude thing is on all fours with a dominant's feet propped up on its back. It's objectification, right? Well, maybe. It could be that the pretty little nearly-nude thing is being punished through humiliation: “If you can't even set up my tools properly, at least give me somewhere to rest my feet. Think you can manage that?” Or it's humiliation and objectification: “It failed to complete its chores today, so it's a footstool tonight instead of a plaything.” Or it's objectification only...which I don't have pretend dialogue for, because chatting with a footstool is just crazy talk.

    4. An object lesson in etiquette. So there you are again at that party, with the pretty young thing as a footstool. It may be a footstool, but it's still someone's property – wait for an invitation from its owner before you go kicking your feet up on it, like any good guest. Similarly, don't assume that “it” is the proper term; wait for clarification, or ask.

    5. Not all “it”s are created equal. As usual, pitfalls abound in BDSM terminology. Though they are few and far between, some genderqueer individuals aim to remove the word “it” of its dehumanizing connotations. When you think about it, they have a point: if “he” and “she” are “people,” but the non-gendered version is “not people,” it sends a strong message that gender equals personhood, and those who fall outside the gender binary are then, by default, “not people.” This is really only of interest to genderqueer language fetishists, but keeping you informed of the fringe is just another service we offer.

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  • The Kink Corner with Kal Cobalt: Consensual Slavery

    January 06, 2010
    The Kink Corner with Kal Cobalt: Consensual Slavery
    Is there happiness in slavery? When a collar isn't just jewelry but means something, what does it mean? Let's talk fact and fiction when it comes to living under contract.

    Consensual Slavery

    1. One size doesn't fit all. As with all things kink (or human, for that matter), slavery is a highly individual proposition. Slavery goes from service in a single scene to a lifetime 24/7 commitment, or anything in between. Some refer to themselves as “this slave” and write their title and name in lowercase. Some would not readily be identifiable as a slave except during interactions with their Master or Mistress. Some are micromanaged and need permission to use the restroom; others run households autonomously within broad guidelines. When someone identifies themselves as a “slave,” there's no telling exactly what that means until you get to know them a little better.

    2. Kinky slavery isn't what you find in the history books. The healthy, consensual slavery performed by BDSM practitioners has very little in common with the slavery we learn about in school. Consensual slavery does not include oppression of any kind and generally encourages the slave's strengths and personal development. Gorean slavery, based upon the societal structure explored in John Norman's “Gor” science fiction novels, is rarely well-accepted in the BDSM community at large and is sometimes considered misogynistic, but even it adheres to these basic tenets.

    3. Kinky slavery isn't what you find in porn mags, either. A typical slave's life is not the western misconception of the geisha lifestyle, filled with pampered leisure and study of the art of pleasure while breathlessly awaiting sexual service. A typical slave's life is also not the Cinderella trope of dirty work under the supervision of a demeaning, abusive dominant. It's simultaneously a lot cooler and harder!

    4. Slaves aren't superheroes (although they'd like to be). Most slaves I know are either employed full-time or work well over 40 hours a week managing their household. They have disagreements, aren't always in the mood for sex, sometimes need to be relieved of duties due to illness or a bad day, and don't have lives any easier than anyone else. Any owner worth their salt knows all of this and adapts accordingly, even if a little “slave magic” escapes their conscious attention from time to time—if your owner thinks the toilet cleans itself, that can feel like a little victory rather than a slight.

    5. So what does the slave get out of it? Now that you've let me get on my soapbox about what slavery isn't, let's talk about what it is. Slavery is a total power exchange: a willing transfer of power over one's life to a trusted, committed dominant. In the best situations, slaves can rest easy in the knowledge that their owner will make the big decisions: whether they should return to school, take a certain job, work on physical or mental improvements, or otherwise determine the slave's path through life. And by “rest easy” I mean “work their ass off” —the only other place people are typically made to “be all that they can be” is the Army, and that's not an easy life either!

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