Our first date was at a vegan restaurant in Echo Park; our second, at an S&M club. I’d never had any particular interest in BDSM: I hadn’t grown up with a spanking fetish, and I wasn’t turned on by leather.
But I’d seen Secretary, and the occasional S&M porn, and I’d gone to a bondage show at Burning Man — so the concept intrigued me. Surely there was something to it — I just wasn’t sure what.
I dressed in black shirt and dark pants, as the dress code suggested, and parked on an industrial street by the LAX airport. A man at the front desk collected the entry fee and asked me to sign a liability waiver.
“Remember,” he said, “always get permission before joining a scene. And blood is off-limits.”
The night’s event was a cabaret performance, themed around superheroes and science fiction; it was also a “play party”, which meant that participants could, if they chose, continue the action in semi-private rooms.
Most of the crowd was dressed up in some kind of costume or another: not the traditional leather and chains that I’d expected, but kinky space suits and superhero outfits, like a sexed-up cosplay convention.
On the stage, a man in a Severus Snape costume casually whipped a woman dressed as Harry Potter. Nearby, a scantily-clad Lt. Ripley stood guarding a shackled man resembling Charlton Heston from Planet of the Apes.
When Ophelia arrived, we each ordered a drink and sat to watch some of the show. While I knew that she had a kinky side, she explained, in a bit more detail, that she liked to tie up and dominate skinny young men like me.
“Dominate?” I asked.
She nodded. “I love finding new submissives to play with.”
I wasn’t entirely sure what she meant by that — did that mean she wanted to fuck me? — but I didn’t know how to ask without getting too personal.
We wandered about the club, poking our heads into this room and that. Some of the rooms were themed: a classroom, a doctor’s office. There was less nudity than I’d thought there would be; the scenes were more erotic than overtly sexual.
In one room, a woman whipped a half-dressed man tied to a St. Andrew’s cross. In another, a guy my own age stood above a blindfolded girl tied down on a bed. He was slowly and methodically swatting at her breasts and crotch with what looked like a miniature flyswatter. She moaned appreciatively.
Could I be that guy, I wondered? Could I learn to give pleasure to a woman in that way? Or was this what Ophelia wanted to do to me? I didn’t know which role I identified with; maybe, as Ophelia kindly suggested, I was a switch. I admitted that I might be willing to let her tie me up.
She smiled and looked me up and down, as if considering the possibilities. “I promise, it won’t hurt a bit.”
A few nights later, I drove to her apartment; she welcomed me with a glass of white wine and a playlist of Leonard Cohen songs. We lit a joint and sat on the couch for a bit. “Should I get my ropes?” she asked.
She led me to an upright chair, tied a handkerchief over my eyes, and began to loop several ropes around my arms and legs. I felt her hands tightening the knots, her full concentration and attention on me.
A wave of relaxation washed over me. This was an impulse that I hadn’t even known I’d had, a desire that had been lying dormant in me — to let a woman take control over me and take possession of my body.
She picked up a glass of wine and pressed it to my lips, forcing me to drink. Then she reversed the process, loosening the ropes and untying me.
“What did you think?” she asked.
“I felt … relaxed,” I said. “It was … meditative … ” I immediately regretted my choice of words. I hadn’t been sure, when we’d made plans, whether this had been intended as a platonic bondage lesson or a more sensual encounter — but surely relaxed was not the right answer.
She tied me up again, in a different position, with me lying on the floor, my range of motion more constrained. I felt anxious and aroused at once. It was a trance-like moment; neither of us spoke until she’d untied me again.
We sat back down on the couch, pausing to relight the joint. She looked at me over her glass of white wine. “How about if I tie you up with nothing on?”
My eyes widened. An hour or so had passed since I’d arrived, and the weed and wine had given the night a dream-like, fantastical quality. “Sure,” I mumbled.
We moved into the bedroom, where I took off my shirt and pants and then paused, aware of the hard-on beneath my boxers. “Literally everything?”
She nodded, so I took them off, too, and lay face-down on the white, fluffy comforter. She tied my hands gently to the bedpost.
I caught a glimpse of her undressing from the corner of my eye, saw a flash of her breasts in the bedroom mirror, and then felt her body on top of mine, soft and firm, as she lowered herself close to my upper back and shoulders.
She snapped the ropes against my back, running their rough strands up and down my body. I felt myself shivering, cold and naked and excited. And then, finally, she untied me and turned me over, hands on my cock, and grabbed a condom from the bedside drawer, wordlessly slipping it on.
My body rose up to meet hers, mouth reaching upward toward her breasts, hands on her sides, cock sliding easily inside of her.
We moved slowly at first, still meditative, in no hurry to orgasm; and then gained speed, my throat making sounds that I hadn’t heard in years, echoed by her own soft and rhythmic breathing.
I felt an alignment of physical and mental and emotional connection that I’d been waiting for for so long: this was sex as I’d always imagined it — rich in context and full of meaning — in a way that made all of my previous adventures seem out-dated, over-written, obsolete.
Sanctuary: My Night at an S&M Club
an excerpt from The Pansexual Labyrinth: A Polyamorous Search for Love and Connection
by Saul Of-Hearts