I have been a regular blood donor for a quarter of a century so am used to having needles stuck in my arm. Despite this I still shiver at the thought and, when I give blood, cannot look as the needle is inserted. I turn away, should me eyes and imagine myself on a palm fringed beach. At times I think I should just give up but, having a rare blood group, I know this wiould be selfish. So I carry on giving and, in truth, it is an excuse to have a full English breakfast before I go.
When I first got involved in BDSM the idea of needle play never really got on my radar. Humiliation yes, CP yes, and one or two more exotic things, but, before my first visit to the after party at The Birmingham Bizarre Bazaar I had never even heard of it, let alone seen it. So I watched. This was a most interesting experience particularly as there are one or two people on the scene in the West Midlands who are both highly skilled and highly creative with needles. As with many BDSM activities, you can stand back from the physical sensations and just admire the aesthetic. This is something I wrote about here.
Even so, this was a purely detached interest. The idea of participating myself, either as top or bottom, left me cold. I simply couldn’t see what enjoyment the participants got. This was until earlier this year when my slave and I went to a kinky house party. He has enjoyed needles for some time and told me a lot about his enjoyment. I felt that, as his domme, I really ought to find out more. I watched closely as he played with a mutual friend who then guided me as I inserted some needles myself before later removing them, some slowly and sensually, some more quickly and painfully, which, of course, appealed to my sadistic side. But what most impressed me was the deep deep subspace my slave was in after removal of the needle and the gentle washing of his back that formed part of the aftercare.
Why, I wondered, does it have this effect and why has needle play found its sway into the world of BDSM? I think it shares with other activities the self-abandonment and freely entered vulnerability of the sub or bottom, and the trust he or she has in the top. It is an activity of incredible intimacy and must create deep bonds between those who play regularly with each other. It is also, I think, a parody of a power relationship. Think needles and think medicine, the patient doctor dynamic, and, at the extreme, the death chambers of many US states. Inserting a needle is to exercise real power and dominance, even to be master of life and death. BDSM subverts this power dynamic by turning pain into pleasure.
I discussed needle play a few months ago, over breakfast actually, with sex writer Remittance Girl. She argued that needle play can be seen as even more transgressive than other BDSM activities because it involves an essential violation of the bodily integrity of the bottom, the penetration of the skin that forms the container of the things that make up his or her physical existence. Other things, even the harder CP essentially don’t do this. Transgression is, surely, what we seek, it is the locus of our deepest pleasure.
Whilst I will never, I think, be a particularly hardcore player, it is something I want to explore further. It is not just metaphorically that I like to get under people’s skin.