Doing a demo might as well not be a scene at all, in terms of my sexual arousal. It’s pure expertise, which has its own keen intellectual pleasure, but no visceral lust, no emotional involvement. One exception was the knifeplay scene at Folsom Street fair a few years ago, where I kept actually getting into it. Mmm, nice. But that was Karen whose clothes I was cutting away. Part of the reason is that in a demo, your attention is divided between the reactions of the audience and the sub, plus using whatever tricky skill is being presented.
Playing with a friend’s sub — usually done as co-Topping — is almost like a game of tennis, except that I wear a lot more clothes and am considerably better at it. It’s an exhilarating physical sport. Though of course I do aftercare, the main emotional stuff gets dealt with by the Domme in residence. It makes me feel high but not sexual toward the sub; on the other hand, Karen often gets extra on a night when I’ve helped with someone else’s scene.
Some scenes are pure emotion: deeply D/s scenes in which the thrill is exerting pure control, guiding an emotional breakthrough, feeling the sub’s surrender. Often they take little physical effort and don’t demand the sheer technical expertise of, say, Japanese bondage. But they’re high-demand scenes anyway, because by God you’d better know your sub, and yourself, and be willing to handle any landmines that come up. As the Domme, you’re not riding the emotional rollercoaster. You’re designing and building it while the sub rides it. And I do mean *while* — this requires powerful self-control, sometimes instantaneous changes of direction, and the knife-edge awareness of your sub’s emotional state.
Playing with my own sub — Karen, these days, or the Ex in the old days — can be intellectually, emotionally, and physically intense. There were watersports scenes with the Ex that were just astonishing for both of us. (Though things didn’t work out, and the final few years were sheer hell, there were some good moments.)
Playing with someone I like and care about (like the other day) is both emotionally and sadistically satisfying. . . . to a limited extent. Like a good dessert. A wonderful treat, a work of art in its own right, not good as a steady diet, but sometimes just exactly what you want.
What was really powerful for me in that scene wasn’t just the thrill of playing. It was in the tender emotional connection we established during the negotiation, strengthened during play, and expressed during aftercare. Real intimacy there: not romance, not really sexual at all (though sex can be a road to it, just as play can). From now on we’ll be good friends, but always with that invisible bond of loyalty and care that you get when you’ve taken someone through hell.
And all done while I stayed completely dressed. But this leads into the murky question of what sex is, and how a scene like that can be erotic for me without getting so much as a quick grope. Later, later.