How many authors have used that excuse to try something outrageous or adventurous? When I wanted to take my BDSM erotic books to the next level, I decided to visit a BDSM club for some “hands-on” research, and to satisfy my own curiosity.
When it comes to BDSM erotic romance, readers want authenticity. To write this genre well, authors need to do extensive research and have a true understanding of the psychological dynamics. The emotions and motives of these characters go far beyond whips, chains and dungeon furnishings. The D/s (dominant/submissive) relationship is many-layered, and the power exchange complicated and intense. I read many BDSM fiction and non-fiction books, spoke to authors in the genre and to people active in the lifestyle. All this was helpful, but I craved more …
Along a dark, side street in New York City, I stood at the entrance to Paddles, one of the longest-running BDSM clubs in the U.S. This visit was part of a weekend-long BDSM Writers Workshop offered by Dr. Charley Ferrer, and I was having second thoughts about my “research.” No signs or lights advertised the club, just an unmarked, rather sinister-looking metal door. When the door swung open, the word Paddles was written in small black letters. Bare cinder-block walls lined the hallway leading to stairs down into the basement. I checked in at a window with our group of writers and entered the dungeon.
Paddles looked how I imagined a castle dungeon would be, with stone walls, Medieval-looking furnishings and BDSM equipment. There was even a jail. This club served soft drinks, no alcohol. Nudity was allowed, but no sex. Clubs have different rules, mostly depending on local, city or state laws.
I was concerned that club members would be annoyed by our presence. Weren’t we being rude, barging in as voyeurs and invading their privacy? But that wasn’t the case. People were very welcoming and asked, “Oh, are you one of the writers?” They were eager to ask about our books and offered to answer questions.
I observed a number of scenes and was careful not to disturb those participating. The connections I witnessed between the Doms and their submissives were intense, and I doubt I’d ever get this by reading a book. There was meticulous attention to detail as each scene unfolded, and a loving bond that never broke even during the most intense scenes.
Dungeon Masters do walk about the club, making sure members and visitors are following rules and also playing safely. In one instance, I observed a Dom bound and suspend his submissive in blue cellophane. The process was quite fascinating to watch and at the end she looked like a princess trapped in a blue spider web. After this Dom finished his cellophane scene, he backed up to take a photo with his camera. The Dungeon Master gently took my arm and asked me to step back. I apologized. I thought I had accidentally interrupted a scene and wasn’t aware of it. But, no, that wasn’t it. There was a mirror behind the cellophane lady and if I didn’t back up, I would’ve been in the picture. A member explained that the Dungeon Master asked me to move for my privacy.