By A.C. Rose
As fans get ready for a peek into the Red Room of Pain with the release of the film adaption of Fifty Shade Darker, seems like a good time for a little sneak peek into the life of a real dominant. I located such a man in San Francisco and asked him to, um, enlighten me.
Danarama, as he is known in BDSM circles, is not a billionaire who looks like Jamie Dornan, but he is an experienced Master who has lived the BDSM (Bondage & Discipline, Sadomasochism) lifestyle for over 25 years and now teaches kinky sex techniques in instructional videos. Part of his mission is to show people how to act out their favorite parts of Fifty Shades of Grey via a collection of instructional videos called 50 Skills of Grey.
A former VP of Marketing for small companies, Danorama went from working in a vanilla corporate world to teaching about kink and pleasure. His rope skills originated in his rock climbing days and grew over 12 years as part of the rope bondage instruction duo Two Knotty Boys. These days he considers himself a BDSM generalist — instructing on everything from the importance of a woman’s g-spot (and how to find it!) to how to learn Fifty Shades of Grey impact play — which may include a riding crop, a flogger, a belt, and a spanking.
I interviewed Danarama for CafeMom about the life of a dominant and his thoughts on Fifty Shades of Grey when the first movie came out.
What exactly is a male dominant?
A male dominant — or the female equivalent, a dominatrix — is someone who takes the “top” role in a consensual power exchange relationship or play session, usually between two persons where one is dominant and the other submissive or “bottom,” or one is sadistic (enjoys inflicting pain) while the other masochistic (enjoys receiving pain). At the upper end of this dynamic, one is the Master and the other enjoys serving as a slave.
How does one decide to become a Dom, anyway?
People discover their desire for this type of interaction and decide on their role through any number of ways. Many in the BDSM lifestyle can point to a seminal moment in their lives when they realized that kinky or dominant/submissive concepts appealed to them. Whether it was a scene in a movie they saw, or while playing role-based or physical games, or dreams and fantasies, or even through the suggestion of their lover, there is usually a moment or series of moments that the person found distinctly arousing. It may take them years to explore those feelings and seek more, but once the genie is out of the bottle, many find their wishes come true if they find a compatible partner in the complementary role.
So, did you actually read Fifty Shades of Grey?
Yes. I’ve read the novel Fifty Shades of Grey … I wanted to compare its fiction to the reality of BDSM, educate its readers about the techniques depicted, and correct any misconceptions or inaccuracies the book puts forth. In fact, Kink University created a 14-part video series that specifically explains these skills and concepts.
We’ve heard a lot about ‘vanilla sex’ as compared to kinky sex, do the twains ever meet for you? Do you only enjoy BDSM or do you splash in a little vanilla romance from time to time?
BDSM is simply part of the entire spectrum of lifestyle and romance in my life. That’s how it is for most people. Sure, I like a good, hard, kinky sex session — but making sweet, tender love with my partner is equally awesome. That’s the nice thing about BDSM. It only adds to your available repertoire of sensuality. You don’t have to give anything up — even vanilla sex in the missionary position and the lights off, if that’s what gets you both off.
Maybe you can enlighten us on some of the sex play in the book, such as blindfolding, spanking, handcuffing, getting tied up, using a riding crop, sex toys, and of course, silver balls. Are those items you have or would use with a submissive?
These are all pretty basic tools of the trade, so yes, I have used all of these — sometimes in the same session. You can see how these very tools and toys are used in actual BDSM encounters by watching our new how-to tutorials on 50 Skills of Grey. The wonderful thing about these items is they add a whole new dynamic spectrum to sensuality. The more of these tools you can enjoyably use in an encounter, the more diverse your passion can be. That’s one of the nice things about BDSM. It gives couples more to do. It makes things less boring because there’s always something else to share. And if you or your partner winds up not liking one tool, toy, or game, there are so many other things to try. BDSM takes the ceiling off of passion.
There have been some complaints from the BDSM world that Christian Grey misrepresents the true role of a dominant. What are your thoughts?
I don’t think he misrepresented being a dominant. It’s just that most dominants are more passionate about their dominance and would not settle for a partner who seemed as tentative about submitting, especially in a city like Seattle where eager submissives abound. For someone who claims his “tastes are very singular,” he certainly sells himself short — and that’s a rare trait for a dominant.
In your world, what Fifty Shades-inspired kink are women and couples seeking to learn?
That’s as widely varied as the women themselves. In my experience, most of the women who are drawn to the submissive role in BDSM are very strong, intelligent individuals who control a lot in their lives. They are career women, mothers, health care workers, even teachers. What they get from a submissive BDSM dynamic is the release — or the challenge — of relinquishing control to another. Couples should always be looking for ways to keep passion and sex fresh, and Fifty Shades of Grey makes a good starting point for exploring ways kink can add to their romantic repertoire.
One of the ways Christian kept Ana on the edge was she never knew what he would do next. How much is the creation of anticipation part of a real Dom’s experience?
That depends on the encounter. Sometimes a couple agrees to do a specific type of scene, be it a rope suspension, needle play, or spanking. In these cases, surprises are not always safe or even welcome. However, building anticipation can be a wonderful part of a free-form scene, where improvisation — within the submissive’s limits — creates a very dynamic experience. This is especially easy to do using sensory deprivation techniques, such as blindfolds.
For the unenlightened, what does it feel like to dominate someone?
Dominants experience different rewards or feelings from engaging in BDSM. For sadists, some find a cathartic and physical release of stress by taking out aggression upon a consenting partners who enjoy experiencing pain for their own catharsis or other reasons. Good BDSM is always symbiotic like that. Other dominants are more service-oriented, playing their role or plying their craft as a form of expression, approval, or even for the fulfillment of their submissive. Still others enjoy the power they feel at being able to control another’s sensations, actions, lifestyle choices, or sexuality — in a way that’s desired by their submissive. That consensual quid pro quo is what makes BDSM different from abuse. It’s honestly enjoyed by both.
Have you ever had a contract with a sub? How do you make agreements?
Yes, I have had such contracts, but usually a contract indicates ownership, such as the terms between a Master and slave. In typical arrangements which are less formal, couples negotiate on the activities, toys, and their limits. Negotiating can be as simple as a brief conversation before a scene, or as thorough as completing a long negotiation form where each topic, item, and limit is spelled out.
Does sex play in your role as a Dom usually culminate in a penetrative sexual experience? Or oral sex? Or an orgasm? In general, for your or your partner, is that a final goal?
In BDSM, sexual contact, like any aspect of the play, is negotiated and consented to beforehand and even during the encounter. When I do BDSM with my lovers, it usually involves sex. However, when I am doing BDSM activities such as rope bondage or impact play, in a more public setting or with a new partner, this almost never involves any type of sexual contact.