Playing in public at clubs means that you are going to be watched. There are those who find this a distraction. I realised early on that I didn’t and remember an occasion, early on in my domming career when I was so absorbed in the scene that I didn’t notice that a dozen people had gathered round, in silence, to watch. It was only when I turned round to select another toy to hit my sub with that I saw them, totally absorbed in what I was doing. But I was more absorbed still and pleased that only my play partner existed fort me in that hour. That is as it should be. We play for each other and not to put on a show. Or do we?
I find that at the big public events, such as the Birmingham Bizarre Bazaar or Cirque de Chaos play primarily is about putting on a show. The noise and general business make it difficult to get into the required headspace, on the one hand, and I also found it difficult to read the verbal and non-verbal signals from my sub that I need in order to pace the scene properly. I think I tend to err on the side of caution in these circumstances although my slave would probably beg to disagree. I also worry about losing equipment as has happened a couple of times over the years.
I think that, in a sense, all play is performance, even private play without an audience. I once had a conversation with a highly experienced pro domme who told me that domination was all in the head and that she could dominate any one of her regular clients in sweatshirt, jeans and Uggs. Allowing for the possibility that there are people out there with an Ugg fetish, I don’t entirely agree. When we play we are taking ourselves out of the drab real world for an hour or two, we are creating our own theatre and the costumes we wear are part of the fantasy we create. The aesthetics of BDSM have become increasingly important to me over the last year or so. I have a range of traditional fetish out fits in PVC and latex and so on, but have also played in a schoolmatronly skirt suit, in my lovely Vivien of Holloway repro vintage. The latter can be quite disconcerting. Latex, PVC and boots are the sartorial language of sadism and dominance. Feminine 1950s repro vintage isn’t. It can be hard to come to terms with a girly girl in a cerise rose circle dress and pink petticoat who smiles as he wields the cane and the whip, who hurts and humiliates with genuine relish. It is, as they say, a mindfuck.
The dressing up, the make up, the attention to detail are as important as the planning of the session, the skill in using the toys. It is an act of self giving to turn myself into the Goddess that my slave needs me to be, to help him into the headspace, to lure him into the theatre where he can be his true self, where he and I indulge our fantasies and where the pain and the marks I inflict are balm for the stresses of daily life. Let the curtain rise!