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Out with the old, in with the new

Posted at 21:09 on 2 Jan 2010 by Pandora / Blake

Happy new year! I hope 2010 has been good to you all so far, and that the coming year brings you joy and satisfaction.

Graham has raised the question of kinky resolutions, and although I hadn't really thought about it, I realised I do in fact have some. Like Pixie, I don't like the false custom of new years resolutions, but I am a bit of a self-improvement nut and I put huge amounts of energy and determination into pursuing my dreams. So the new year isn't the only time I make resolutions, but it's a useful time to take stock and look back on what I've achieved.

2009 has been a massive year for me in some ways, and low-key in others. I've put most of my energy into work and creative projects - both kinky and vanilla. This has left less energy for socialising, meeting new people and lovers, and spending quality time with my partners. (I suspect I'll be chasing after that elusive perfect balance all my life.) I've managed to squeeze in more than I thought I could, but it's been a draining year as well as a successful one, and it would be nice to use 2010 to rejuvenate rather than drive myself further into exhaustion.

Still, it's been worth it. In the past year I have:

  • filmed with Pain4Fem in Slovakia, which included taking the most severe cold caning of my life

  • been a petgirl, and modelled at BoundCon - including doing a stage show, and playing with someone I'd only met that evening

  • experienced the bullwhip (not hard) and watched it used on someone else (extremely hard...)

  • played with some wonderful new people, including kinky sisters Graham and Caroline Grey (not at the same time, alas)

  • written and produced a film for Roué, which involved casting one of my all-time favourite spanking models in one of my all-time favourite fantasies (words cannot describe the buzz I got from this!)

  • started filming content for my own spanking site - a process which was slower than I'd have liked thanks to my heavy workload, but I'm pleased with my progress nonetheless.

  • modelled for explicit sexual content ('hard b/g') for the first time, also for my new site. This consisted of D and I doing what we normally do, while Tricia and her camera made herself invisible in the background. There was much giggling. It was extremely hot, and the pictures turned out way better than I expected.

  • edited video for the first time

  • met and made porn with Zille and Malc, people I have been wanting to meet since I first started reading Zille's blog

  • joined Zoe Montana as an "extra" in her private sessions, as her plaything being punished alongside her clients, although the gentlemen themselves weren't allowed to spank me. This was a thrilling and rewarding experience, not least because of Zoe's and my electric connection when we're working together. It's reinforced my impression that 1-2-1 sessions are not my thing, and there are probably very few tops/switches I would be comfortable doing this "cheat" with, but the experience was very worthwhile, and all the more precious because I knew it wouldn't last long.

  • invested my own hard-earned money on my new site, including buying cameras and related gadgets, hiring tech people and actors. Financial independence is a huge deal to me; being able to spend my own money on a new business even more so. It makes me feel thrilled and grownup and excited, and I wish I could afford to do it more often.

So what's in store for 2010? Well, although I'm a compulsive planner, in some ways 2010 is a big unknown. There's some stuff in the pipeline which, if it happens, will dramatically change my life, but which I don't want to talk about until it's confirmed. Some things I can be sure of, though:

  • One way or another, Tom and I intend to finally move in together this year. This is a source of great comfort and joy to me: living alone has been massively important and significant, but more and more I find myself thinking life would be so much easier if I could come home to him. Given how much I cram into my weeks, and his chronic illness, time and energy to play is hard to find, and both of us feel this would be much easier if we didn't have to plan and travel and schedule time together, we could just seize the moment when it arose. If and when this happens, I hope that domestic spankings will become a much more regular feature of our lives.

    Related to this is the fact that since our relationship has become less angsty and more settled, we haven't tried to rejuvenate the domestic discipline which was a feature of our first passionate fling. I'm older and prouder now, and less inclined to take instruction, but I still feel an urge to be submissive to my partners in more than just the bedroom, and I could certainly still benefit from a little instruction now and then. In particular, I think D/s has the potential to really help with my anxiety, and I could always use a little assistance with exercise and time management. (My problem these days is working too much rather than not enough, but balancing work and leisure continues to be an area I need to focus on.) I don't think either of us has grand ambitions of a sudden lifestyle upheaval, and I don't think I'll ever be a lifestyle slave, but we both accept there isn't space in our lives to develop this aspect of our relationship at present, and we would both cherish the chance to do so.

    Of course, with all these changes it is just as important to me not to compromise my relationship with D, and to remain as committed to him as ever. He's not as interested in this sort of formal domestic power exchange, but our connection is equally powerful. I love him deeply and he improves my life more than I can say. Whatever happens, I don't want to lose what we share.

  • My main professional ambition this year, of course, is to launch my new site. I don't know if this is achievable - everything is dependent on my vanilla work, which I depend on financially, and which (because I'm self-employed) is so unpredictable. If I don't have time (or funds) to invest in developing my site, such is life - there's nothing I can do about that except work hard, save as much as I can, and be patient. My effort and focus is not the issue so much as opportunity. I trust myself to do my best, and I understand that if it doesn't happen, it will not be for lack of trying. But I would dearly like to see all my work so far come to fruition this calendar year.

  • Despite working with many wonderful women over the years through shoots, I have never successfully developed a private D/s connection with a woman. My play with Zoe has all been professional - despite the intensity of our connection, it's never crossed over into the personal sphere. My girlfriends have, almost without exception, been submissive, and while I've dated some switches, I've never seriously played with a female lover. (The one exception is the beautiful and impressive Olivia Manners, but although I admire her a great deal, our first attempt to play somehow didn't really click, probably because my head was in a strange place at the time. I like the idea that we might try again at some point, but so far I don't think it quite counts as successful D/s.)

    All this is by way of build up to the fact that for the last few weeks, I have been enjoying an intense flirtation with a gorgeous toppish woman I have fancied for some time. We've done lots of flirting at group social events, stayed up late talking, stolen some tantalising end-of-the-night kisses, and we've even done all the sensible negotiation stuff by email (including my wibbling about how I've never subbed to a woman and ARGH what if my head is BROKEN blah blah, in response to which she said all the right things). In fact, so far we've done everything except actually play, but we have a date next Wednesday and I am ridiculously excited. She's as inexperienced with CP as I am at subbing to women, so we're going to be learning together, and our connection seems honest and playful and open, and all the omens so far are good. I will hopefully let you know how it goes - after checking that she doesn't mind me writing about it, of course. So hopefully I will be able to fulfil that ambition very soon in the year indeed, and spend the rest of the year basking in my success. We'll see!

So there you have it. How about you? Was 2009 a good year for you, kink-wise? And what do you have in mind for 2010?

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Tags: Amber Pixie Wells, Boundcon, bullwhip, cane, Caroline Grey, dominance and submission, Graham Grey, kink, learning curves, Pain4Fem, pet play, Photos, porn production, SM Circus, Subbing to women


gaming industry in sexism shocker

Posted at 15:01 on 26 Jul 2009 by Pandora / Blake

The weekend just gone was San Diego Comic Con, the annual international gathering for geeks and gamers. EA Games ran a competition to promote their new game, Dante's Inferno; I found out about this courtesy of top geeky news site Ars Technica.

So EA Games had a booth at Comic Con launching the game. The booth was staffed by "booth babes" (what's wrong with "model")? EA Games distributed flyers to Con attendees explaining the rules: to win, you have to "commit an act of lust" with any of the "booth babes" at the Con (i.e. not just the ones staffing the EA Games stall). You take a photo of this "act of lust" and send it in. The "best" photo wins "dinner and a sinful night with two hot babes". The same babes who were staffing the stall? Well, presumably, unless EA Games are stupid enough to offer other companies' models as a prize, as well as bait.

Got that? EA Games are offering the female models in their employ as a sexual prize, with which they reward the sexual harassment (and potentially assault) of not only their own models, but any other unlucky women happening to be staffing booths at the same con. Not only was the most "sinful" photo likely to be rewarded, encouraging contestants to up the ante without reference to the feelings of the anonymous "babe", but each contestant was encouraged to enter as many times as possible.

I've been a "booth babe" (let's leave aside the demeaning qualities of that term for the moment, shall we) - most recently at BoundCon. It's a slightly different job from studio modelling. It's hard work; you're basically a sales rep, in role 24/7 for a whole weekend. Whether you're at the booth or wandering around, you represent your stall and are a portable advertisement. You can't do anything without people gathering to stare and point cameras. You can't go to the toilet without people stopping you to take photos and ask questions, some more polite than others. It's a lot of fun, but being "on" for a whole weekend without a break is demanding, exhausting work, and by the second day you are desperate for some privacy and some comfy, casual clothes.

Modelling does not equal prostitution. I have this argument in endless emails with guys who don't get it - I'm a model and an actress. You hire me to pose and act. Sometimes, posing and acting involves physically interacting with other models and actors. That's cool - they're professionals, and I wouldn't agree to work with them if I didn't trust them, or they didn't have a pile of trustworthy references.

If you hire me, you do not buy the right to touch me. You do not buy the right for your friend to touch me. You do not buy the right to give me to a room full of drunk people and invite them to touch me.

I already have problems with enforcing this boundary. A lot of people still seem to think that "model" is a euphemistic way of saying "call girl". As if the fact that I'm comfortable revealing my body means that I have no right to define my own boundaries; as if looking was the same as touching.

Thanks very fucking much, EA Games. Not only did you sign up your models to a weekend of harassment by leering guys pawing at them and competing for who can create the most "sinful" photo, but you signed every other model at ComicCon up to the same fate. That must put you in a hell of an interesting legal position. Not only that, but by encouraging attendees to objectify and paw your models, you increased the chances that the female attendees of BoundCon would be the victims of harassment.

40% of the gaming market are now female, in a world where women in technology are still massively underrepresented and the objectification of female bodies is endemic in advertising. Even in a best-case scenario where all the models hired by EA Games knew about the contest in advance, consented to it, and were able to enforce their own boundaries during the Con and had the support of EA Games in dealing with any unwanted sexual attention - even if this were also true of every other model working the Con - this is STILL unacceptable.

It sends a message that women are objects to compete with, and prizes to be won. It sends a message that EA Games considers the only audience worth having to be heterosexual males - you know, the male "YOU" in the flyer. Female gamers and queer male gamers don't exist in the misogynistic world of EA Games. Women only exist in the gaming industry to be the scantily-clad sprites on console packaging, the hyper-sexed female characters in the games themselves, or the generic, permanently available "booth babes" who exist only to help male gamers get their rocks off.

Sexual harassment is already a huge problem at Cons - look at the experiences of women at last years' Comic Con, or the Open Source Boob Project at ConFusion. This contest was launched into a culture that is already, famously, not female-friendly. EA Games couldn't have sent a clearer message to women telling them they aren't welcome at conventions unless they're happy being treated like this.

Well, they've lost me as a customer, but since (according to them) female gamers don't exist I'm not sure this news will affect them much. What they do care about is their reputation. If any of you agree with me, you can help by spreading the word about their attitude.

The day after the contest was announced, the games team published a statement on Twitpic, bleating that the competition was "just tongue in cheek" and "it was all done in the spirit of good-natured fun". Anyone fancy a game of misogynist bingo? Not only is this statement not remotely good enough, but you only need to look at the stream of sexist bile in the comments to see why I can't see this ending well.

This contest is insulting to gamers, it's insulting to models, and it's insulting to women. This requires more than a half-hearted "clarification" on a social networking site - it requires a company policy statement apologising for the offense and damage caused by this contest, and detailling the action EA Games intend to take to avoid such overt sexism in their future marketing.

Most of EA's UK PR team are women. If you think there's something wrong here, you should write to them and say so.

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Tags: Boundcon, Gender politics, making a scene, other pictures, Politics, rant, Sex worker rights


BoundCon VI: teaser

Posted at 20:04 on 26 May 2009 by Pandora / Blake

I have a three or four-part series of posts on BoundCon VI planned, but I don't want to overwhelm you all with too many good things at once, so I'm taking a little break today. I'll start filling you in on all the juicy details from the con tomorrow, but in the meantime, here are some tasters from a friend I made while I was there:

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Tags: bondage, Boundcon, other pictures


filthy gorgeous things

Posted at 17:49 on 19 May 2009 by Pandora / Blake

Well, I'm back.

BoundCon was difficult and tiring and amazing by turns, and I have about 5000 words of personal journal on my netbook about it, which I will sort through and turn into something postable when I get time.

This week is all about the kink, but I don't have much time for writing. Yesterday I got home from the con and spent hours telling Tom all about it, showing him my photos and the new toys I bought. Then we sat down and watched the working edits of the first two films we made with Roue (one in 2006, one last year), which neither of us had seen before. Today and tomorrow I'm working flat out on last minute preparations for the shoot, Adele arrives on Wednesday night and we're spending the next two days in 1911.

Then this weekend we've been invited to a kinky party, where we intend to spend time with lots of lovely people and try out the new toys I bought at BoundCon. We may be exhausted after the shoot but after two days in character we'll both be raring to play as ourselves. Play is like buses: you can wait for weeks without a spanking, and then lots come along at once. Anyway, by next week I should be even tireder, covered in pretty marks, and with many many stories to tell you all, but I can't promise I'll find time to write much before then.

In the meantime, I want to recommend a beautiful new website: F/lthy Gorgeous Th/ngs. It's a new artporn/postmodern porn magazine created by Kasia Xavier and debauchette. Its first edition launched today, and is available for free; future issues will work on a subscription model.

Kasia calls it "haute porn with a heart". debauchette writes:

Our interest was in creating a space for expression thats too explicit for mainstream media channels and too experimental/creative/beautiful/challenging for the adult industry. Our thinking was that if we built a space for it, then maybe wed see more inspiring sexual content in the future, the sort of content that turns us on, makes us think, and leaves an indelible impression. Or to use Kasias words, to house a space that gives permission. To publish kinky shit, beautiful cunts, dirty thoughts and unspeakable fantasies.

The first issue is beautiful. Combining photography, articles, stories, poetry and video, it presents an evocative, arousing, intelligent meditation on the theme "voyeur". The site design is elegant, coherent and visually rich, although somewhat inaccessible if your browser/OS doesn't support Flash.

It won't please everyone. I don't like all of it: some of the content (like Chip Willis' "Strip Noir" video) is a bit self-consciously 'arty' for my tastes; some of it strikes me as the politically uncomfortable kind of objectifying more than the kinky fun kind, although heaven knows there's hardly a clear dividing line. But for the most part it is beautiful, intellectual, fascinating and hot. I was already a fan of the creators, so it's not surprising that I loved The Client Voyeur by debauchette and Throatfucking by Kasia, both ridiculously erotic pieces of writing. If photography is more your thing, I recommend Nude Interlude: Katie by Seyma Bayram: a shiveringly delicate study in sunlit skin which makes you feel like you're in the same room as the model, comfortably naked together, enjoying each others warmth. I also keep coming back to look at Beholder, Beheld by Cynthia Cortes, a self-portrait series pulsing with tension.

Apart from this endearingly playful photo by Mofo, there's not much in the way of spanking in Voyeur, but given the kinkiness of its creators I wouldn't be surprised to see our favourite topic in future issues of FGT. (Hey, they're looking for contributors; maybe I'll submit something myself.) Anyway, go, feast your eyes and your brain on this celebration of stylish hedonism while it's still free, and tell your friends.

Keep reading »

Tags: Boundcon, fetish art, other pictures, Roue


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