Spending an evening observing the intricacies of S&M
By Richard Knight Jr.
MAY 15, 2000:
I recently wrote about my visit to a female strip club in these pages. The experience, to my surprise, was rather benign. After considering that for a bit, it seemed to highlight my supposition that urban society seems to have become rather numb to the sight of the naked female. Male genitalia, on the other hand, still seems taboo.
Traditionally the darkest corner of sexuality, S&M has also become more mainstream. But has it lost its flavor? After visiting two events, one public, the other semi-private, it would be my guess that what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes (or private torture chambers) still far exceeds the boundaries of what the general public is ready for. Is it comforting to know that it's still possible to go too far? I would like to think so.
On the other hand, isn't it kinda fun to sample all the dark goodies that are out there? Lunacy, a Wednesday night event at Crobar, is subtitled "The Dark Playground," and it offers just that: an evening of titillation (sometimes literally). Promoter Tony Duffy has been running the night for years and, based on my experience, offers a curious public some light S&M and the promise of opening their imaginations once they get home.
Mummification, on the other hand, is a different story. As our Mummification Expert suggests, it's a practice better left to the professionals.
Upon arrival at the selected location, I see an assortment of about ten people dressed in variations on typical S&M drag: black leather chaps, vests, blue jeans, tit rings, police caps, boots and work shirts. Hanging on the far wall is a mummy completely wrapped in gray duct tape. A sign above it says "Mummification 7:30."
"This is not for little boys. This is not kindergarten stuff -- this is twelfth grade."
The Mummification Expert (ME) who will make this and other statements throughout the course of the evening, as he mummifies a volunteer, enters the room. He is dressed much the same as the others in the group.
"There's a tradition that started in Chicago probably twelve years ago of what they call bondage sculpture. I like to do public bondage -- it's the ultimate bondage. Mummification is a very rare thing -- that's why I've never done it in private. I like to do things when people are looking. I'm not interested in messing someone up. If you do it in front of a group of people you're obviously under surveillance."
The subject, a black man of medium height wearing only a black leather, metal studded G-string, steps under the lights. ME's assistants have put down a large sheet of clear plastic upon which both ME and the subject stand. In front of the two are the objects necessary for the mummification process: a box of generic plastic wrap ("200 feet oughta do'er" says ME), two boxes of Johnson & Johnson "Specialist" plaster of Paris bandages ("Like the medics use") and a bright yellow bucket filled with water.
"I guess I started doing this about seven years ago. I just got the idea after doing a lot of fire reconstruction on mannequins. The first person I ever did this on was a psychiatrist who certainly knew his mind and his body. This is not a child's game."
ME picks up the plastic wrap and starts to drape the subject, beginning at the head (leaving the face exposed) and continuing down to just above the crotch.
"I once had someone in plaster for twelve hours. The first time, however, I wouldn't recommend more than two or three hours."
ME now wraps each leg separately, and then together. He then wraps over the arms, which are placed at the subject's side, and down over the crotch. Wrapping of the face, leaving the nostrils and mouth exposed, follows. In most instances, the subject's genitals are left exposed.
"I've never left the ass exposed. Normally, I would leave the cock and balls out, but not in a bar situation, only in a private group situation."
The assistant hands ME the first roll of bandages, which he gestures with, explaining his preference for the Johnson & Johnson "Specialist" brand, which runs about $35 a box. Each box contains twelve rolls. It will take twenty-two rolls to completely mummify the subject to ME's satisfaction. Now, he rolls the bandages and, with a sure hand, dips them into the bucket of water for "about five seconds," squeezing out the excess water. He begins wrapping at the neck.
"The guy's gonna complain about being cold. He feels a cool sensation. The bandages are wet."
ME is applying the four-inch bandages to the subject. He is very careful to smooth out the bandages. The person next to me leans in and says "the thing that I notice is that he takes the time to make it look nice." In a later interview, ME agrees with this assessment.
"Mummification has a strong sort of a performing-arts complement. It's meant to look good. There's that movie with Boris Karloff, it's kind of a fantasy thing."
The group has now grown to more than twenty-five. There are couples, of many persuasions, several lone women, a young Clark Kent-type dressed for the office (who later takes off his shirt to reveal a pierced nipple). ME continues to dip and wrap, dip and wrap. He suggests starting high and working down the body, "otherwise, his knees will get shaky." ME rolls from left to right, applying three layers of bandages everywhere and five to six layers to the tension spots -- neck, knees, ankles, etc. The many layers are important: "If it's not thick enough, after the plaster's dry, the cast will crack." ME has never put a woman in a cast. The bandages take five to eight minutes to dry.
"To be out there doing things that other people only fantasize about is the turn-on for me. The concept of bondage sculpture is quite diverse -- this is only one form -- and it's not done very much."
ME is applying smaller pieces to the head. He advises the audience to make sure that the head is tilted back "5 inches or so." This will ensure that the subject's head will rest on the ground if laid down. ME puts two tiny pieces under the subject's nose (above the mouth). The subject's nostrils and mouth are left exposed. Everything else but his feet are now solidified in the plaster cocoon. ME and four assistants then lay down the subject and ME begins to layer his feet.
"Some people try to get out but most just lay there."
Members of the audience are invited to bend down and talk with the subject. One man immediately goes up and whispers to the live mummy. "Tell us what he said," ME commands. "He said that he was scared at first but he could visualize cock 'n' ball torture in this state." Another audience members approaches; another exhortation by ME. "He said he feels fine," the second audience member reports.
"For the subject it's like this: He likes to be out in front, he's a real exhibitionist, he likes to do things others only fantasize about. It's an otherworldly sensation. A lot of people get their highs on chemicals or booze, but this is a natural feeling. You can't eat for six hours before and drink nothing but water. It takes a very mature mind to deal with this."
All along, it has been ME's intention to suspend the subject. Now, a large, black homemade case is brought out. Opening it, ME begins to pull out several sets of elaborate pulleys, clamps and straps upon which to hang the mummy. A bit like the patients in "Coma" or a calf strapped to the spit at a Texas barbecue.
"Warning: This could happen. When you write about this you have to put in this disclaimer: Do Not Try This At Home. This must be done with other people present. This is not to be done by two people at home. It's done in a perfectly consensual fashion but there are all kinds of crazies out there." Earlier in the evening, ME had briefly addressed this topic. A subject in Houston reportedly died of heat exhaustion after being mummified. ME debunks that theory, and later explains to me, "I heard that he was a hustler and was put in a casket and suffocated. There are a lot of rumors running around in Houston."
With the aid of four more helpers, the subject is now laid under the pulleys. ME carefully attaches them, adjusting each strap to the perfect length, checking with the subject as he goes about his work.
"The first thing people ask about is the sexual thing. Gay men think about hard-ons and shooting their loads and cock sucking. About ten years ago I sorta came up with the term 'white cum' to describe this. As a contrast, I came up with the term 'black cum,' where your nuts don't unload at all. White cum means you're out of it for a while - it really closes things down. A man in S&M doesn't want to do that. We can have cycling highs-like a woman. To me the interesting thing is to give another man a different sensation. Typically, he feels like he has a raging hard-on the whole time. It's a real mind trip. It's kinda like being on a hang glider... like soaring."
The subject does begin to soar -- literally. ME pulls on the ropes and the subject leaves the ground. At ME's insistence, I step up and question the mummy man. "Is time suspended? Are you aware of it passing?" "Yes, because I can hear people." "Maybe next time you should have your ears plugged," I suggest. "That's a good idea," the mummy man whispers in my ear, "a real good idea."
Two mistresses stand under red lights in an open-air stall and work on a blond guy in black shiny pants (not leather). He wears a black studded belt and dog collar, and is shirtless. His arms are bound above him on both sides by what appear to be leather straps. He stands with his legs apart in an "X" formation. A cigarette is stuck in the corner of his mouth. Mistress number one looks like a dark version of Alice In Wonderland: long dark, thick, black hair with Bettie Page bangs; black dress with full skirt; black lace elbow gloves; dark lipstick.
Second mistress: long, dark blond hair; sleeveless black dress; boots. Word to describe her look: slinky. She lightly whips the milky white back of the blond guy with a riding crop. His hips undulate to the thrash dance music.
Woman next to stall in zebra cowboy hat, leopard print coat, lights candles at small table in front of her, sits behind table which contains assortment of silver goth jewelry. She applies lipstick.
Woman gets on swing, glides over crowd, taking off from DJ booth platform.
Four men stand at bar in front of S&M stall and watch Dark Alice flick lighter at the man's back.
Slinky checks out jewelry at table, returns with candle and pours wax on man's chest, dances away, laughs and bends down to move black electrical power strip from black bag. Plugs power strip into socket, takes out object that looks like a malevolent hair curler (black handle, silver rod on end).
It is a hair curler -- tests it by briefly curling her hair -- begins to run it over man's back.
Two couples stand behind stall watching, discussing and laughing. Both girls have cigarettes and look like women from 1-900 phone ads. The two men look like yuppie traders.
Girl has now swung overhead thirty-seven times.
More than fifty swings. Man in Hawaiian shirt urges Dark Alice and Slinky on-whispers something in Slinky's ear, steps back and mouths "oooh baby" to her. She laughs. "Hit me" he commands to her; and then leans into blonde man with milky white back and screams "You're a fuckin' pussy, man." Milky pays no attention.
Swinger stops at sixty-two swings. Stands at edge of platform, swigs from a beer, runs finger through her hair.
Two women delicately descend stairs in huge 7-inch heels, cocktails clutched between polished talons.
Slinky and Dark Alice now rub Milky's back and chest with some sort of lubricant. People mill around aimlessly, bouncing to the nonstop music; many seem to hear the music in their heads, nodding continuously.
Swinging recommences overhead. Milky leaves the S&M booth. Slinky chats up beige man (beige shirt/pants/hair). Dark Alice smokes, looks bored, stands with hand on hip surveying crowd. Clean cut man in white shirt, green pants, clutching beer, chats her up, obviously interested in some S&M action. She nods her head to his query.
Swinger overhead stops at twenty-one, removes safety belt, wanders over to DJ booth.
Seven screens placed overhead throughout the club display the graphic "Lunacy" and a collage of animation.
Girl in red rubber dress and huge boots klunk-klunk-klunks up stairs, chugging a water bottle at the same time.
Slinky still talking with beige man, hand on hips, trying to appear interested. Failing.
Swinger number two takes off overhead.
Man in Hawaiian shirt hugs Slinky, kisses her cheek, apparently a friend.
Slinky sticks money in her boots, prepares to whip man who has been brought up to S&M stall by tall, thin woman in black. Slinky and Dark Alice remove his shirt, tie his arms up. He is laughing, looks over at tall, thin woman. He has a hairy chest and wears black jeans.
Dark Alice begins by running her fingernails over his chest. Slinky joins in on his back. He is smiling.
Swinger number two -- more than thirty-seven swings.
Man in wheelchair glides by, shaking hands with Dark Alice. Slinky now utilizing the riding crop. Dark Alice joins, whipping man on chest, but keeping other hand on hip, by now her standard pose.
Man dances amidst the crowd on platform with blue spinning lights not unlike the type parents buy children at the circus or DisneyWorld.
Dark Alice whips man on back and butt.
Swinger number two stops, swigs on water, recommences.
Five or six people watch man being whipped, one girl obviously trying to talk her male companion into trying it out. He demurs.
Here comes the hair curler.
Twenty-one swings, another swig of water, more swinging.
The hair curler. Man in green shirt, obviously a friend, slaps at man getting the hair curler treatment from Dark Alice and Slinky. He laughs. Twenty-five people are now watching intently.
The tall, thin girl in black laughs and flicks ashes from her cigarette at the man's chest. He leans over to take a sip from the cocktail she proffers. Dark Alice rubs his back with big oven-mitt-looking glove that appears to be covered with chamois. More whipping follows.
Zebra hat writes in ledger/journal/diary. Has rings on every finger of both hands.
Swinger number two well past thirty swings.
DA and Slink make with the fingernails. Crowd now drifting away.
Milky walks by S&M booth, smacks Slinky on the butt, clutching green water bottle in hand.
More than sixty swings.
DA and Slink have finished with the man, they carefully undo his straps. He walks to the bar, friend in green shirt tries to burn him with cigarette. Man jerks back, holds T-shirt in his hand, turns to tall, thin girl and takes another drink of her cocktail.
Man puts T-shirt back on, heads for the exit with girl and man in green shirt.
More than seventy swings.
Majority of the crowd is not dressed in typical S&M drag. Of those dressed up, there are more women than men -- but is that just fashion?
Man in wheelchair goes by S&M stall, his chair carried up steel stairs by man in flaming silver shirt.
Swinger number two stops, yawns.
Clean cut man tries hard to convince his buddy to try out S&M stall. Slinky also tries to persuade him.
Zebra hat on cell phone.
Three girls dance in tiny black cage high above dance floor. They dance suggestively.
Dark Alice in her traditional pose, awaiting next customer.
Swinger number two has now done more than 100 swings. Manager signals for her to stop.
Wheelchair man zooms by S&M stall laughing.
Dark Alice and Slinky relieved by new dominatrix: a large-breasted woman in black. She binds a tiny, pretty blond girl to the straps and begins rubbing her hands over girl's back and breasts. Does not remove girl's top.
A large crowd of men immediately gathers. Men range in age from early 20s to late 30s. Some are dressed in leather, others in club wear, several in suits, the majority wearing nondescript shirts and either jeans, chinos or khakis. A large man in a muscle-T with large biceps, turns to a male companion and says "fuckin' A!" His companion ignores and stares at tiny girl whose arms barely reach top of straps.