At Burning Man 2017, my partner and I attended a demonstration called “Dinner and an Interrogation”, hosted at the theme camp Brûlée.

Two BM contributors (names withheld until/unless I get their blessing) allowed an audience to watch one of their “rough body play” BDSM scenes. The general scenario was that S had a four-digit number that M had thirty minutes to “interrogate” out of them.

Before the scene began, there was some lengthy description of what was going to ensue, so that anyone in the audience had ample opportunity to decide this was not their cup of tea (and potentially triggering) and excuse themselves.

There was an explicit discussion of consent and the absolutely essential role it plays in ethical BDSM.

M displayed a table of tools that might be used during the interrogation, and S had the opportunity to review the table and remove three items that they didn’t consent to that evening. No argument, no wheedling, no debate; bam they were off the table.

The actual scene was incredibly intense to watch, even hard to watch at times, but I was mesmerized for the entire event. There was punching, wrestling, dragging across the dusty playa ground, pressure points, paddling, tying to a chair, and even waterboarding! Somewhere around the 20-minute mark, M got the final digit from S and the scene ended and the pair immediately departed for aftercare.

There was a lot in the scene that didn’t work for me. Not that I’m being at all judgmental about someone else doing it, but a lot of it wasn’t my particular kink. For example, I have a tough time figuring how I could conduct waterboarding in a way that felt arousing. However, I was absolutely fascinated by the rapport between the two participants, their commitment to explicit and enthusiastic consent. It was a thing of beauty.

So when I saw the pair was returning for Burning Man 2018, their events were circled in red in my “What, Where, When” book. First we attended a “Rough Body Play” workshop where the same pair talked through a lot of the thinking and planning that goes into that sort of scene. As they talked through and demonstrated punching, kicking, grappling, judo throws, they spoke at length about some of the risks involved, steps to minimize those risks, alternatives for people with physical challenges. I was absolutely delighted to see the same (or even higher) level of emphasis on consent. There was also a fascinating blend of professional and serious presentation with the playful affection and obvious respect between the two of them.

Two days later we saw the “Dinner and Interrogation” scene again, this time with M and another partner, P. I was astounded to see P last the entire thirty minutes, yielding only two of the four digits to M. The difference between how S participated in the scene in 2017 and P in 2018 was night and day, and it was educational seeing the range of experiences. Once again, the entire scene was breathtaking to watch.

The very next day there was a “Fetish Friday” party at the same camp where M and S were chatting with people one-on-one and tutoring them through some specific moves. Melody and I approached them, gushed in a hugely fanboy fashion for a while, then started asking for some pointers on grappling and punching. Both M and S were enormously gracious and generous with their time, and the next thing you know we were piecing together foam grappling mats on the playa dust and stripping down for business. Melody learned a couple of ways to throw me, as well as a position where she could almost completely immobilize me. We got some pointers on how to punch more safely and then… we started talking about breath play and choking. I got some essential pointers on what to avoid, the proper places to apply pressure, different positions to try, and safeguards to follow. In the process, I admitted that I had never been choked out and and was curious about it. My rationale is that I don’t want to do something to anyone else that I hadn’t experienced myself. Asking if I really meant it and wanted to experience being choked out, M offered to oblige me.

I dropped to my knees in the dust (*ahem*) and M stood behind me with one arm wrapped around my neck, my throat in the crook of his elbow. He applied gentle pressure on the back of my head and … we stayed there for several seconds. I waved to someone in the crowd watching (I was later told we had an enormous audience), and then began to think it wasn’t going to work and even felt a small bit of sadness for M. “Aww, it’s gonna be embarrassing when the big ole dommie top can’t choke me out.” Then… something happened… and the next thing I knew my brain was rebooting. I was on all fours. It was dusty as all fuck. Flashing lights. Noisy thudding bass. I looked up and made eye contact with a human it took me several seconds to identify. Melody said it was quite disturbing to look in my eyes and not see any glint of recognition for several seconds. My first rational thought was “What happened? Did… did I just pass out?” Then I glanced to the side and saw M and recalled that I had asked him to choke me and… it all kinda popped into place. It was incredibly bizarre feeling all my systems slowly come back on line and to reconstruct what happened based on such disjointed data. It was an amazing rush!

Melody and I left for a while after that so that I could collect myself and integrate the experience. Every thirty minutes or so I would exclaim aloud with shock and wonder, “Holy crap, M choked me the fuck out!” Mind. Blown.

Oh, and I want to point out; the entire hour we spent with M and S getting tips and techniques and demonstrations, every single time either M or S was going to lay a hand on either me or Melody (to demonstrate something), they asked for consent. Every. Single. Time. Melody tells me that when M choked me and I finally blacked out, M cradled my head with great tenderness and very carefully lowered me to the ground.

Those interactions were the highlight of a really amazing burn! When you admire someone from a distance (as we did after watching last year’s scene), there’s a little apprehension about getting closer to them and finding out the reality doesn’t match the expectations. Instead, our expectations were exceeded. M and S were kind, gracious, generous, incredibly thoughtful, and I cannot thank them enough. If you at at the Burn next year (and this is your kind of kink), I strongly encourage you to look for future events with the names I listed below.

Summer 1983

During the Summer session at my town’s art college, my highschool girlfriend’s mother taught art classes on the campus to local elementary school students. Occasionally, Paula and I would go to the classes with her, ostensibly to help, for a very loose definition of the word. Paula and I had just started having sex a couple of months prior, and were going at it like we had invented it.

On one such occasion, we snuck away to a bathroom near the classroom, locked the door behind us, and had a frantic, urgent quickie. We fucked with the kind of brevity only teenagers can manage, then composed ourselves, and snuck back into the bustling classroom with what we imagined was smooth subtlety. And not even a half hour later, we repeated the trick. And again. And… Before the day was over, I’m sure we visited that bathroom over ten times. Hey, we were teenagers! At the time, we thought we were being terribly discreet, but in hindsight I cannot imagine it was not blatantly obvious to her mother. I can only imagine what she must have thought. Later that same day, Paula and I wandered off to stroll through a nearby art museum, where I seem to recall finding a quiet nook and enthusiastically fingering her. I am truly fortunate that my first serious girlfriend was easily as sex-crazed as I was. Those were some good times.

Fall 2017

Though I left town over 30 years ago, my family still lives in the same area and I return occasionally to see them. On the latest visit, I brought my current partner with me. Melody is an amateur artist, so one morning when we had no other plans, I took her to that same art museum to spend a couple of hours looking at paintings and sculptures. As luck would have it, the museum was very lightly attended that morning, and when a suitable opportunity presented itself, I slipped my hand under Melody’s dress, pushed her panties to the side, and stroked her clit attentively for several minutes while she pushed back against my hand and stifled her moans. After a furtive but enthusiastic orgasm, she composed herself and we resumed our art appreciation. We left the museum with some time to spare, and so… I led her to the nearby college of art. As we headed that way, I told her the story of my teenage adventures with Paula at that site. We spent some time admiring an exhibit of student art in the atrium, then wandered upstairs and found a bathroom much like the one Paula and I used (perhaps the exact one). We entered, locked the door behind us, and I fucked her from behind with all due enthusiasm. The facility was as tiny and grotty as I remembered it, though it had been updated with automatic sensors for flushing the toilet and dispensing paper towels. We managed to accidentally trigger a release of paper towels at a climactic moment, to some laughter.

Again, I am truly fortunate to have a girlfriend who is easily as sex-crazed as I am. These are some very good times.