It took me a while to get into the pet headspace. Marlin had injured her knee, so was only going to take part in a minimal number of scenes; I wouldn't be able to follow her example the whole time. I'd never done petplay before, never even seen an SM Circus clip, and I felt completely thrown in at the deep end.
This would have been fine if we'd shot sequentially, but we started halfway through, with a solo scene in which I had to be an aggressive watchdog. It was just me and Director Sands, who doesn't speak much English, and I have no German at all; I had no clue what I was meant to be doing. I had to guess, warring with my own awkwardness, and trying not to feel humiliated when I got it wrong. I tried to stay calm, ask for clarification when I didn't understand, not beat myself up about it. But barking aggressively at a camera is enough to make anyone feel self-conscious, and I really don't have a dog kink. Without clear instructions or reassurance, I couldn't help feeling uncertain and out of my depth.
The next clip was more my style; Marlin and I were catgirls, playing with a computer mouse, and I could follow what she did until I was comfortable enough to start improvising. I found the cat play much easier than the dog play; I just imitated my own cat. So much fun! I ended up gnawing the 'tail' of the computer mouse as I pinned it between my paws. What can I say: my cat has a weakness for cables.
Next the petgirl was taught to do tricks. We started with juggling oranges. I can't juggle, which is of course the point. Herr Sands was impressive as the strict Director, and I felt very small and vulnerable kneeling beside him. I was allowed to start with one, then progressed to two, which was fine but every time I tried to add a third, I dropped it straight away. Each mistake was immediately punished with smacks either on the paws with a riding crop, or on the bottom with a heavy leather glove. The CP was measured in increments; so the first mistake is six strokes, the next twelve, then twenty-four, forty-eight, sixty.
The glove wasn't particularly harsh, but it was humiliating to have the practice interrupted for another walloping every time I dropped a ball, especially when when it's inevitable that you'll drop them dozens of times before you manage your first proper catch. Part of my brain was revelling in how deliciously unfair it was; but my in-character pet self was sullen and resentful. I wanted to learn to do the tricks, I wanted to do well. How could I learn if I kept being interrupted, and if I was never actually shown how to do it, just forced to make the same mistake over and over again? On top of all of this was the deep-seated feeling of gracelessness and self-consciousness I get whenever I try to learn a new physical skill. Part of me still feels like a gangly teenager avoiding sports at school. The tests were designed to be impossible, but even though I knew that I still let them get to me. I felt unfit, I was aware of my own inflexibility and back problems. It's a hot kind of shame, too deep and real to be safely toyed with.
I thought that perhaps the pony training would help. I love the aesthetics and psychology of pony play. I've never played it before, but I've read a lot of ponygirl porn, and it strongly appeals to my proud, well-behaved style of submission. I like the idea of being a noble, well-groomed, well-trained creature; of being shown off as a status symbol. My vanity and dignity had both been stripped away during the dog play and circus training, but putting on the beautiful plumed pony head-dress returned some of my usual confidence.
Three different animals in as many clips; my body language didn't know which way was up. First we had to set up the obstacle course, which involved lifting the wooden blocks between your teeth, carrying them on all fours and dropping them in place. Biting the wood made my teeth hurt, but carrying something in my mouth felt precious and pleasing. We had to balance the bamboo on the wooden stands, also with our mouths you can't see both ends of the bar from such close quarters, so it's tricky and you miss the first few times.
Before the pony training, Director Sands said to me that I should get angry during the scene, and rather than obeying the command to high-step over the bars ("Trab!"), stomp on one of the bars and break it. Then I would get a punishment with the bamboo rather than the leather glove. He suggested that I should do it earlier on in the scene, as sixty with the cane would perhaps be a little too many.
By the time I was in harness, plume in place, being told to Hoch mit den Hufen! and Zu mir! and Und zurck!, learning how to Trab in my rather wobbly 4 spike heels, and how to step over the bars without stumbling, I was completely immersed in the experience. The harness, the heels, the limited vocabulary, the repetitive exercise it all combined to put me so successfully into the headspace that I couldn't conceive of disobeying. I was given ever more difficult commands, and although I felt shaky and graceless, every nerve in my body thrilled at the challenge.
When I was blindfolded, when the commands were coming ever faster, when I was shouted at for not understanding German they had no reason to expect me to understand the injustice of it was exhilirating, and I found a sense of purpose starting to crystallise around it. I became, without thinking about it, determined not to let them trip me up. Sure, it was unfair, and so you might think that angrily refusing to do as I was told would be easy. But having a strop would have been giving in to provocation, rising to the bait. I was too proud for that. It was obvious that they were setting me up for a fall; that was the point of the exercise. Well, I wasn't going to give them the satisfaction. I'm a perfectionist, and a stubborn one at that: I had been set a physical challenge, and I was damn well going to obey every command to the letter, for as long as my body could stand it.
Of course, it was desperately unprofessional of me. I'd been given clear instructions by the producer, and I failed to follow them. By the time the camera ran out of tape the clip was 25 minutes long and I was flushed all over, sweat streaming off me, trickling between my thighs and into my boots. My quads and ankles were shaky from lifting my weight again and again on those ridiculous heels. Director Sands was bewildered had I forgotten what he'd asked me to do? It was difficult to communicate my state of mind through the language barrier. I felt guilty for failing as a model, an actress but defiantly, fiercely proud for completing the test. I didn't know when I should do it, it wasn't the right time, I said, trying to explain. Marlin nodded. She understood how I felt.
When we restocked the cameras and started filming again, my instructions were clear. I had to have a tantrum, and storm through the bars rather than high-stepping over them. We were already at sixty strokes for the next mistake, so they would be with the glove rather than the cane. (I think I may have got a small number with the cane as well, but my memory is a bit blurred.) When the time came, I gazed helplessly at Herr Sands. My mind went blank. For a long moment I wondered if I was going to refuse to do it. And then Pandora took over from the pet, and I shook myself and went through the motions of wilful disobedience. I was punished for it, the scene ended, and then I could get on with the inevitable angst about my unprofessionalism and trying to work out what had gone wrong. But even as the actress belatedly did as she was told, the pet mourned the loss of the pride and security that she had build through her own defiant obedience.
The rest of the shoot involved being given to the Circus by my despairing boyfriend Ludwig, trained to sit and beg and fetch, limbo, games with ropes and guns and balloons, and the dreaded bullwhip. But for that, you'll have to wait until my next post.
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