Review:  Antiqued Copper and Brass Spreader Bar from Mercury Design

Review: Antiqued Copper and Brass Spreader Bar from Mercury Design

Are you ready for something special?

Check this out:

il_570xN.622374356_7m1q

Those of you into bondage may recognize this little beauty as a spreader bar.  A spreader bar is a fun and simple little piece of equipment to which you attach cuffs, rope, etc.  For example, you could tie someone’s wrists to the ends of this pole and then tickle them!  Or your could cuff someone’s ankles the the ends of this pole and then force them to have orgasm after orgasm.  Or you could use it as a hanger for some beautiful fiber art!  (Though that would surely be a waste.)  Point is, it keeps you spread- and it is unyielding.

When I was contacted by Mercury Design to see if I wanted to review their wares, I was really excited.  The Mercury Design shop offers a kind of toys I have yet to see elsewhere- canes, spreader bars, cuffs, collars, ice locks, etc. that are something beyond the typical BDSM stainless steel.  They’re quite beautiful, and sturdy as well as aesthetically pleasing.

il_570xN.622329862_8uas

Here is another piece from the site. I’m not a collar girl, but that gorgeous lion piece might be enough to turn me! I keep just coming back and looking at it!

Back to my spreader bar.  Ahem.

038I loooove the look of these pretty loops.  They remind me of old nautical fixtures or drawer pulls or something.  To me, the copper/brass combo feels warmer and more gentle than steel- which could be deliciously misleading!  I was worried that the end pieces would be flimsy but so far my (quite strong) leg flailing, kicking, squirming, and wiggling hasn’t done a thing to them.

041

The loops are affixed but can swivel freely, allowing for maddening fruitless struggle.  Delightful 🙂

042

The copper has a copper-y smell and shows fingerprints, which I like a lot.  I’m looking forward to seeing how this metal ages over time.  There’s something kind of nice about imagining the way it might gain patina over time, documenting experiences in a way that other materials don’t.

043

Another thing that really delighted me about Mercury Designs is their mission statement.  From his website:

” I aim to open an expansive online boutique offering unique, sophisticated, top of the line and totally custom, BDSM, Fetish,and Kink gear. People in the kink community deserve to have a high end alternative to the plastic, synthetic, and sometimes toxic materials used in cheap, mass produced gear.”

In general, I try really hard to support small businesses.  I haven’t seen many small sex toy businesses, and I’ve seen even fewer who offer a product that looks safe, looks unique, and looks usable.  In my process of deciding which product and which size worked best for me, I was able to email directly with the craftsman and get a really personalized and custom shopping experience.  It was really great and definitely a level of connection you just can’t get elsewhere. I really liked it.  I also like the steampunk-ish look of these toys and think they’d be really sexy to show off during public play.

I look forward to to seeing what else Mercury Design comes up with next.  One thing I’d love to see on their site is some thuddy floggers with big, thick, soft falls- the ones on the site look like the sting-y kind, which are too scary for me.  But man are the handles sexy!

5 out of 5 stars.  Thank you, Mercury Design, for sending me this bar for review!  Readers, I encourage you to pop over to the etsy shop and have a look around.  There’s some really neat stuff there.

Advertisements

Madison Young’s “Daddy” is articulate, authentic, disheartening.

I love Madison Young and what she stands for. I met her first through Rough Sex #2, which was incredibly hot and in which she was phenomenal. I like to watch her because she seems like a real person- she attains real pleasure, and engages in real eye-communication with other performers- rather than the forced into-camera eye-flirt that so many others do. Madison is a self-identified feminist and highly accomplished BDSM educator, director, and actor- among other things.

tumblr_mk83mz8haE1r7c8a1o1_250

Perhaps my hopes were too high- or unfair. I hoped that this memoir would be a holy grail of How To Do Daddy Stuff Right. It was not. In fact, it ended up making me more afraid that Daddy play may ultimately prove risky or even harmful to those of us who have trauma histories or are especially vulnerable to powerful people who take advantage of us. I was hoping that this book could be a resource for mental health professionals who are trying to understand how a little girl/ Daddy dynamic, which makes many people have a knee-jerk squick reaction- can be played out lovingly by two well-adjusted, happy people. This book is not that. Truthfully, it made no claims of being so. Madison herself is only 34 (according to a likely-unreliable web source.) She is an actual human being who is every bit as entitled to making mistakes and bad choices as any of us. At no point did she claim that this book was a how-to guide. That expectation- or hope- is on me.

“Daddy” begins with a happy family- giving us a pristine snapshot of “after.” Madison is letting us know not to worry too much- that everything here turns out ok. She takes us on a journey of explaining how she came into her own sexuality- of the how and why she enjoys submission. It was well-written, even-headed, and sweet. I related here. I thought, “Finally- I can give this to people and they will understand!” Everything looked healthy. Dynamics were ultimately mutually caring. Things were good.

Some vignettes did make me worry for her- the initial pattern of trying intense BDSM for the first time in front of a camera, instead of on her own where she was able to have her own reactions without fear of losing a job. The time when she severely injured her rectum, continued with a scene, gushed “about a cup of blood” and then, rather than going to the ER, flew back to where her partner was before seeking medical attention. This, to me, was the first sign of dependency that seemed harmful. This is where I began to worry.

As the story progresses on, Madison develops a deeper relationship and connection to James Mogul, who we know from the beginning is her current partner. James seems to care for her sometimes- but frequently violates the terms of their poly relationship and treats Madison like she’s being unreasonable when she discovers and voices her hurt.

Madison tiptoes into wisps one hopes will turn into self-aware insights as to how she utilizes kink to heal old wounds, but she never quite gets there. She seems like an approval addict who will do anything for a fix. By three quarters of the way through the book we watch our heroine endure lying, cheating, drug use, emotional stonewalling, being abandoned in times of concern and crisis. Madison is surrounded by gentle, loving, and supportive friends and still focuses solely on the meager crumbs of loving from her Daddy. It is heartbreaking. You cannot blame Madison, but you want so badly to help her move forward from this seemingly endless repetition compulsion.

Ultimately Madison doesn’t explain much about how James came around. It seems like he did his own thing until he grew tired of it, never acknowledged or apologized for the enormous hurt he caused Madison, and quit the industry. We zoom forward into a birth scene- which chronologically could only be a few months away from the days when he was ignoring her entirely- and then snap right into the present.

My heart aches for Madison. I am deeply disappointed to report that this book gave me the sense that for her, the Daddy play significantly contributed to an extremely harmful dynamic wherein the powerful party abused and took advantage of the other, who was too lost in subspace to realize what was happening. Madison’s trust, love, and faithfulness were used as weapons against her by the man in whose hands she decided to place her well being. I found myself rooting so hard for Madison. But where she appeared willing to forgive her Daddy on faith without explanation or understanding of what had happened- and I felt like she invited her readers to do the same- I simply could not get on board. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch porn starring James Mogul without feeling disgusted and turned off.

Though she is an educator, Madison makes no claims that this book is intended to tell people how to do things. It is not fair for me to fault her for being imperfect. But I was hoping for some lesson learned from all of this- some way in which she grew or progressed or learned how to care for herself, or thought about how to talk to her daughter about how to identify healthy relationships. There was none of that. Perhaps the painful parts of this book struck me with such force because I related to them and saw myself in them. (This is more than a “perhaps.”)

So is this book true, and authentic, and descriptive of the submissive experience? Yes. But overall I found it troubling and sad. I hope that Madison is able to treat herself with love and respect, and someone with whom she can play with Daddy dynamics in a way that is truly safe and loving and caring. I hope that people outside of the scene will not take this memoir as proof that all Daddy/little girl relationships are abusive, manipulative, or harmful. And I hope that those who do read it will both have compassion for Madison and also try to look for something better.

I thank Madison for sharing her story and for not whitewashing it. Books like this help us gain an accurate perception of others’ experiences so that we can relate to their struggles and mistakes. It takes bravery and love for others to choose to open ourselves in that way. Madison surely knew that some readers would look down on her for including the less- than-pretty, not-perfectly-empowered pieces of her story and she included them anyway. This was a very conscious choice, and one that comes from the queer, feminist, radical Madison I know and love.

I can’t rate this book because it would feel like I am rating someone else’s life. So instead I will say: this is a worthwhile, if uncomfortable, read. This is a work of bravery, strength, and love. This is the beginning of a conversation.

Thank you, Madison. And good luck.

So You Want to Experiment with Sensations: Pain, Pleasure, and Everything In Between

Sensation play is great.  By adding and removing sensation, you can heighten your awareness and perception.  Sensation play can be a great way to connect with a partner too!  It can be a sexy, romantic way play with trust, patience, power play, and limit-pushing.  And don’t worry- it’s not all 50 Shades of Grey!  (FWIW- I think that book is atrocious.)

Not all sensation play is painful- at all.  Some people like light, gentle touches- like silky fabrics or fur.  Some like light stings, or things that have a worse bark than their bite.  There are LOTS of toys in this category!  And some people really like a nice good sting, thud, or pull.  There’s certainly a lot for that too!  With all body play, there are varying levels of risk.  I’d be an irresponsible sex blogger if I sent you out to try more intense body stuff without making sure you’re doing it safely, so promise me you’ll use your noggins.  Sterilize if there’s broken skin or blood.  Before you try anything that puts strain on breath or circulation make sure you read SM 101 or another comprehensive guide like it.
6-3-SE-BE17
You know this, but just to refresh- for any kind of potentially physically or emotionally vulnerable play, establish a safeword beforehand.  A good, universally known system is “Yellow” for “slow this down, I’m getting near my limit” and “Red” for “stop right now.”  A good nonverbal safeword (if you’re unable to speak, e.g. with a gag) is to have something noisy to drop to the floor like keys or a mumble pattern- like an “UH-uh!” that the dominant partner will be looking out for.  Safewording is not a sign of weakness.  Rather, it is a sign that you’re in touch with your own body and psyche and are invested in having a positive experience together.  Help your top help you, and safeword as needed.

On to the fun stuff!

A great way to start with sensation play is with a blindfold.  It’s low-risk, comfortable, and easily removable.  This one is cute, comfy, and inexpensive:
18EL05-2
A blindfold heightens your senses and builds anticipation in a way that many find erotic.  A light touch of a fingertip down the arm becomes amplified and extra ticklish.  The warmth of a partner’s body becomes more perceptible.  The slap of a crop becomes unpredictable.  This is the first toy I recommend to any friend looking to add a little pizzazz to their relationship- above any vibrators or oils or dildos.  A blindfold can do wonders.  Highly recommend.

Next up:

The Tantra Feather Teaser by LELO.

18EL18-2
LELO is a fabulous company that makes some really great, high quality toys.  This feather toy is little- about the size of your hand- and comes in a really pretty, gift-worthy box.  (It’s also nice for storage!)  This teaser feels just lovely, especially when paired with the blindfold above.  You can also flip it over and use the cold metal ball on the other end of the handle for cool smooth contrast.  These teasers are nonthreatening and flirty.  They’re obviously not sterilizable so if you’re intending to share it between partners, steer clear of any bodily fluids.

Also from LELO is the Sensua Suede whip.

18EL17-2
If you want to be adorable, this whip and the feather teaser make a really attractive pair.  This whip is small too- 14″ in total.  As a relatively inexperienced whip-wielder, I find it takes some pretty focused effort to get much more than a light sting out of this toy.  It’s nice on breasts, bums, and backs.  It feels fantastic slowly dragged across a nipple.  This is a great toy for someone who is new to impact play, as I think of it as one of those toys whose bark is worse that its bite.  If you want it badly enough and get in some practice, though, you can get some sting out of this one.
This next toy is a really great example of how you can use psychology to your advantage with sensation play.  This Pinwheel BDSM toy looks like a terrifying medical device.
p2387b
And it is!  This tool is something doctors use to test nerve reception.  Scary as fuck, right?  We can work with that.  See, this toy only hurts as much as you want it to.  Depending on the angle of the toy, the body part, and the pressure of your hand, this little lovely thing can be anything from a light pokey tickle to a sharp sting that leaves a little pink dotted line on your skin.  It’s sterilizable too, which is nice and important as this is a scratchy/pokey toy.  I don’t know if they all do this, but my Pinwheel toy has this delightful ominous squeak when used.  I love watching a toppy partner bring this slowly to my skin, not knowing if they’ll choose to be nice or mean with it.
Getting into some more serious sensation, may I introduce the Butterfly nipple clamps:
p6587b
There are gentler nipple clamps on the market for sure.  These are, in fact, some of the most painful ones I’ve ever tried- and I love them.  Butterfly clamps (sometimes called Clover clamps) have this neat mechanism wherein they tighten when pulled.  These are pretty intensely tight anyway, so when the chain connecting them gets pulled, you’ll feel a pretty intense shock of pain.  There is no way these are getting pulled off.  Personally, I LOVE nipple pain.  I’m very sensitive in some other places- like backrubs, for example.  I never imagined I would like play like this, but I tried it and found it really heightened my pleasure.  Try to keep an open mind when you’re trying new sensation play.  You might be surprised by what your body responds to!

Last but not least, one of my very favorite toys:  the Under The Bed Restraint System.

1-8-EL-0601 (1)
Being tied up is a really fun way to do sensation play.  You’re basically forced to stay still and trust your partner with your body.  It can be very intimate, and very lovely!  It can also bring up some unexpected emotional reactions, so communicate if you need anything- a drink of water, a break from a position, a check-in snuggle.  This thing is basically shaped like a capital H and goes under your mattress so that you can be strapped up with arms and legs.  It’s super simple to install (have a friend help place it while you hold the mattress up!) and tucks away discreetly between uses.  The straps are easily adjusted and the cuffs are comfy.  I did have an experience wherein I broke one of the split rings on the leg cuffs (sexy tickling when tied up = strong leg contractions!) but was able to replace it with a sturdier one from a hardware store for less than a dollar.
All for now!  All of these toys are available at your friendly (internet/)neighborhood Good Vibrations store for purchase!  Good luck, be good, and have fun!

Kate