Announcing: D/s Playground! Summer 2019

D/s Playground is a course for dominants, switches, submissives, folks who are curious, folks who aren’t sure where they fall, and anyone in between.

You only have to want to study consensual authority exchange — dominance and submission — in depth from a trauma-informed, queer, nonbinary, intersectional perspective.

Here are the details!

What is D/s Playground?

D/s Playground is an online course. It doesn’t teach you how to be a dominant or a submissive, but rather offers tools, resources, texts, and experiments to explore your own relationship to dominance, submission, and authority exchange, so you can articulate your interests and explore your edges. After these explorations you will be able to better communicate what you’re looking for and desire — which greatly increases your chances of having it!

There is an introduction video & article for the basic agreements and concepts of the course, and then there are four units — Bondage, Discipline, Service, and SadoMasochism (that spells the acronym BDSM).

Each unit has some or all of the following:

  • How-to videos by sex & BDSM educators
  • Dirty stories to read
  • Nonfiction how-to articles to read
  • Additional fun, like quizzes & checklists
  • Journal prompts to reflect on each of the materials
  • An experiment — something for you to do, in person, alone or with someone else, to try out the concepts of the unit

When is this happening?

Each unit will be available LIVE and included with $5+ patrons benefits through Patreon:

  • May 25, 2019 – Unit 1: Bondage
  • July 20, 2019 – Unit 2: Discipline
  • September 20, 2019 – Unit 3: Service
  • November 25, 2019 – Unit 4: SadoMasochism

The units on Patreon will be recorded, but only the parts with rife and myself will be made public; none of the parts from other participants will be included later.

Yes, it will be available for everyone — not just through Patreon!

Each unit will be available for everybody the following month. (This will give us some time to edit videos, set up the payment systems, etc.)

  • June 30, 2019 – Unit 1: Bondage
  • August 30, 2019 – Unit 2: Discipline
  • October 30, 2019 – Unit 3: Service
  • December 30, 2019 – Unit 4: SadoMasochism

How much will it be?

Each unit will be $69, and all four units can be downloaded for $200. You can preorder them this summer, or wait until the end of the year when they are all available.

A few more questions … ?

Do I have to be in a partnership? Can I do this solo?

Absolutely, you can do this solo, in partnership, with play partners, long distance — in any kind of structure of a relationship. The experiments are all built to be adapted to any scenario.

I’ve taken Submissive Playground before, should I do this one too?

Sure! You will recognize some of the materials, but some of them are new. We had many people take Submissive Playground more than once, and because we are always growing and changing, our relationship to D/s is always growing and changing, so they found new things in the activities. Plus, there are many ways to adapt the experiments and do it differently the next time.

What’s the difference between doing it through Patreon or paying for it later? Is it the same material?

Yes — mostly. All the materials are the same. The difference is that through the Patreon, you will have a community of folks going through it with you, and downloading it later will be more of a solo experience.

Signing up through Patreon also gives you access to a private Discord server, which is like a chatroom. The only people in there are signed up through Patreon, so it’s a small, intimate group of people I trust. There are ongoing conversations in there about dominance and submission, and we’ll have a dedicated space to talk about the materials in the course, have accountability buddies, and share the homework.

How do I sign up?

Go over to patreon.com/mrsexsmith and sign up as a $5+ patron, and you’ll automatically get access to the live webinars starting in May.

If you want to download them after and not through Patreon, sign up for the mailing list and you’ll get notifications when they are available. (Keep an eye on my social media, too!)

You can be your strongest self AND a power bottom

From the moment I met Casey*, it was clear that they were a powerhouse. They ran a non-profit, were involved with leather community events, managed a Facebook group for queer survivors that had thousands of members, and kept up an amazing vegetable garden. I saw them work a room at a kinky happy hour, and I was impressed. They were charming, funny, generous, and so welcoming — and it wasn’t even their event. Casey just naturally exudes confidence and ease, and it’s infectious.

I immediately thought they were a top.

“Everybody always thinks that,” Casey told me later that night, sitting next to me at the bar, both of us waiting for another drink. “I can’t tell you how many times bottoms have tried to pick me up. But I’m not. I’m submissive. But people don’t see that in me, because they expect submissives to be cowering in the corner waiting for a dominant to tell them what to do.”

Casey was so eloquent, speaking about their desires for submission. (And you know me, I’m a sucker for somebody who can use words to articulate what they want and how they work. Yum.) But still, I went away from that thinking, Casey is absolutely right … there is a huge difference between having a submissive personality and having the desire to submit to someone in bed. And I played into those social expectations, too, by assuming their outgoing behavior meant that they were a top.

(I try really hard not to assume people’s power orientation, though it’s pretty much human nature to speculate and put others into categories we understand. I try to lead with questions, rather than assumptions, and to keep any surprise to myself, as best as I can.)

I’ve heard this complaint about being assumed to have passive personalities from lots of other submissive folks, too: from leather girls who are worried that their job is too high-powered, that daddies are all scared off by it. From subs who are convinced that no one can ever tell they are submissive, because they are in charge of too many social groups. From bois who believe deeply that their masculinity will always be read as dominance, and that they will always have to explain that they’re not a top.

I call it …

The Bad-Ass/Bottom Paradox

Based on kinky stereotypes, it seems like being a bad-ass and being a bottom are contradictory. But they’re not — just like being a sweetheart and being a top are not contradictory. Having a core of concern and emotional care for someone else makes that person even better qualified to be a top, just like having a strong sense of self, direction, and desire makes someone an even better bottom.

Submissives are often seen as weak, passive little creatures who don’t have a brain of their own, and whose head gets filled with their dominant’s every whim. Or, perhaps worse, as doormats who are being taken advantage of, controlled, and manipulated.

While this might be true for some folks — toxic relationship behavior and abuse can and does happen in D/s relationships, just like any other — most submissives I know are actually bad-asses. They aren’t empty vessels; their heads are full of managing their own lives — car payments, asking for vacation time off, calendaring the next social events, keeping up with knitting trends on Pinterest (and often, parts of their dominant’s lives, too).

On the other hand, I heard from Jake*, a queer boy who took Submissive Playground, that he was pretty sure he was submissive, but he’d never done much psychological play, though he craved it, because he thought he’d have to give up parts of himself, or make himself smaller in order to be “good” at it.

No. On the contrary.

I actually think submission can help make someone even more of a bad-ass than they already are. Healthy, functional submission requires knowing oneself, holding boundaries, communication, being vulnerable about desires, having good recovery skills when things go wrong — and so many more advanced communication skills. Folks who do have submissive personalities can find themselves gaining inner strength, self-worth, and fortitude after exploring submission deeper.

Submission does not require someone to make yourself small, to turn off your desires, to cater to someone else’s every whim (you know, not unless you negotiate that — but that’s way down the line. Or, way up the power escalator**). It really is possible to be a total bad-ass, and turn your ass up to get spanked, or turn over authority to someone you trust and love. In fact, it’s not only possible — it’ll give you a leg up.

* Not their real names

** As related to the relationship escalator, I use the term “power escalator” to mean that in relationships based on authority exchange or power play that often, both parties assume that as trust builds, they will play with more and more power exchange, but that is not always what the people ultimately want. Stopping anywhere along the ‘power escalator’ is valid, and going all the way to total power exchange 24/7 M/s is not the most “real”, or better, or any more valid than any other place.

Thanks to Crash Pad Series for the image, from Episode 149 with Alani Pi and Nikki Darling


Like this? Want more? Submissive Playground registration opens Monday, September 19th. Download the free Submissive Starter Kit for a sample submissive journal prompt from the course, as well as a video and kinky desire map.

“Submission is mine to define for myself.” Interview with Miss Piggy

Miss Piggy was a player in Submissive Playground in 2014, and is signed up to join us again. She is the Social Activities Director of the Society of Janus in San Francisco.

What did you like about the course? What parts of it stand out?

There were a lot of things I liked about the course, but the first that stands out for me is that I felt like Mr. Sexsmith led me through a lot of pondering that I hadn’t done yet, about a variety of topics. I was still/am still very new, and it gave me an organized, thoughtful approach to my own kinks and interests. The quality of the materials was very high – the videos were very informative and entertaining, and I haven’t seen that caliber elsewhere. Mr. Sexsmith and rife are also “informative and entertaining” – you can really see how beautiful and thought-out their relationship is and how that shapes their perspectives.

The other aspect that was very special was the camaraderie with subs from all over the world. Everyone was so different in terms of their dynamics, orientation and interests, but each person was more fascinating that the last! Having people video chat and tell their stories was so cool. I might pay to do the class again just so I can learn from all the next group’s stories.

What drew you to Submissive Playground? Where were you before you took the course?
I was a fairly new submissive when I found out about the Playground. I was reading everything I could get my hands on, taking classes, and getting involved in the local scene. But I needed more, and everything I read pointed me to the Submissive Playground (especially the idea of homework).

What was your favorite part of the experience?
Hearing from submissives of every gender and orientation from all over the world. Having someone share a deep, dark scary secret and several of us all piping in “ME TOO!”

What did you learn?
I learned that I am ok as the submissive I am, and I can strive to become the submissive I want to be. It’s not about the end game, it’s about the journey. The Playground was an important part of that journey.

What kind of skills did you build?
Discovering what kinds of service are important to each of my partners and following through on those things, instead of making myself crazy trying to be perfect with things they couldn’t care less about. And flirting with Tops and Sadists and Dominants (oh my!) while still feeling submissive.

What changed with your relationship to submission?
Realizing it was mine (and my partners) to define for ourselves – there isn’t a right answer.

What changed with your relationship to your dominant?
Watching the assigned videos with Him, or sharing specific readings, was the best part. Further opening lines of communication – me finding my voice to say that something wasn’t working for me (bad pain versus good pain, suffering for His pleasure versus being miserable). Even for a strong, alpha submissive like myself, those are hard things to say aloud to a partner.

What in you feels stronger now than it did before the course?
My trust in my own gut to know when a relationship or scene isn’t right for me. My confidence that as a fat, middle-aged masochist submissive cis-woman, I am a hot catch for the right people and anyone who earns my service or submission better be damn worth it.

How & why would you recommend this to other submissives?
While I got lots of answers to my unresolved questions from this class, I felt more focused on the wonderful questions it brought to my attention. I found myself wandering my neighborhood caught up in a question that came up on a phone call or in one of the videos.

If you are intelligent, thoughtful, submissive (or might be), curious and ideally witty, I think you’ll get a lot out of it, even if it’s not what you think you’ll get out of it. It’s really a bit of a journey – I’m glad I took it seriously.


january-subplay

Submissive Playground
registration is open!

There are only 4 Star Package spots left! Registration is open until September 18; course begins September 24.

Click here to reserve your spot now!

You’ll Never Find the Perfect Dominant

You’re right: You won’t ever find a dominant who is your most perfect match.

If you listen way down deep, there’s a voice telling you that. You have very particular needs, desires, cravings, and your submission is demanding, sometimes feeling endless. You want and want and want, and who can fill that up with anything that leaves a mark? You won’t ever find someone as good as your ex. You won’t ever find someone as good as the person who introduced you to submission, who whispered those most perfect dirty things in your ear and told you to get on your knees. You will come on too strong to the next sexiest person you’ve ever seen and they will whisper to their friends about how much you “aren’t a real submissive” or are “topping from the bottom.” You are too much. Too big. Too thick. Too mouthy. Too bratty. You will never get your needs met. You will never find someone who matches your particular specialties in submission, your unique perspectives on service and masochism and giving over your body and will and all the dirt under your fingernails. Your dirty hands are too dirty. Your dirty mind is too dirty. Your next dominant just wants to sit on the couch and have you pour more wine, and where does that leave you? You have to wait, to beg, to crave touch, to sit still with skin hunger that may feel like it will devour you, to be disappointed.

You won’t find the perfect dominant for you.

Unless you Do The Work.

Look at the parts of yourself that are yours and only yours. Excavate some of those unknown places until you can see around them and know why they’re there. Acknowledge what it is that you want and what it is you just won’t settle for, and you will have a much better chance to find (and be) the right partner. Until you know what you want, you may not find it. Until you look deep at your part in your patterns, you will probably keep repeating them. Until you fill your own holes, you may continue to have a bottomless pit of desire and need that you think can only be filled by another person. Define your own cosmology of icons and worship and desire. Define your own dictionary of touch and connection and intimacy. Write the perfect love letter to the universe detailing all of the amazing things you secretly wish hope dream for in a lover and mail it off on the wind to fall and float down a waterfall. You can do it. You have wells of untapped strength.

Submissives are the strongest people I know.

Your demands are reasonable. Your desires are reasonable. Your wants are reasonable. Your unique particular weirdo gender is reasonable, and beautiful. Your too-much-ness is exactly the reason why you will be wanted, why you will be craved when you are not around, why someone who doesn’t even know you is craving you right now.

There is nothing wrong with you, or with the kind of submission that you most secretly, way down in your bones, seek.

I do actually believe that. But you have to believe it, too.

And then you have to go after it, with such vigilance that you won’t accept no for an answer, and your own no is an eager blade to get anything not serving your journey out of the way. Take up arms. Take up protest. Take up your favorite friends as armor, as council, as confidants. Take up your rightful space in the room. Take more dessert than you were served. Take the most amazing gift of yourself to the person who really could use it, right now, today.

Take the next step.

Turn Your Rough Fantasies into Responsible Reality

unsplash5225-2
Everyone has them: Those rough fantasies that involve some sort of thing that you aren’t sure you would ever actually do, but that really, really does it for you. And maybe, just maybe, you would like to explore some of them.

Maybe you even feel a little guilty for liking it so much.

Maybe you really have to shove aside your inner feminist that tells you that the force play and the kind of rough, degrading sex that fill up your rough fantasies are bad and wrong. But there are ways to play with these rough desires that your mind keeps circling around to, and to play with them in responsible, ethical, contained, and safe ways.

Here’s some things to keep in mind.

1. Everybody Fantasizes!

It’s true. Men, women, genderqueer folks, trans and cis folks, lesbians, gay guys, dykes, queers of all flavors and stripes—pretty much all of us have some sort of inner erotic life where we fantasize. I’m of the opinion that anyone who tells you they don’t fantasize is either lying—or, of course, asexual. And it is really, really common to fantasize about things that we might not even want to do, or might not be possible to do.

Still not convinced? Here’s your homework: Read this book—My Secret Garden by Nancy Friday came out in 1973 and details hundreds of women’s fantasies. It’s totally eye-opening, and will help you see how common rough fantasies are.

2. Fantasizing about rough, dangerous things is normal!

Why do we love rough fantasies? Because power. Because the inner wild sexy animal beast isn’t necessarily tamed, and you don’t necessarily want it to be. Because playing deep in your physical body makes us feel really alive, which is really, really sexy.

3. Comfort Your Inner Feminist With Consent & Agency

Consider these concepts: Agency is the ability to have control over your own self, and to decide what happens for yourself. Consent is usually taught as the ability to say no, but it also includes the ability to authentically say yes. And if you buy into these two feminist concepts—which I most certainly do, and which I believe are the foundation of good rough fantasy enactment—you gotta believe that when someone is authentically saying yes to something, authentically and resoundingly consenting, and you trust their agency, then the things the two of you are doing together are not wrong or anti-feminist, but are in fact deeply within a feminist framework. (See what I did there?)

4. Get Brazen & Bold

If you want to turn more of your rough fantasies into reality, it’s really important to figure out how to communicate openly about sex and desire. You gotta be able to talk about what you fantasize about in order to make it happen. If you don’t do this at all right now, start slow—go to a kinky class at your local sex toy store, or read an erotica book aloud.

5. Get Further Involved with the Kink Communities

It helps to feel like this is a normal things to crave, desire, and pursue when the people around you have similar fantasies. And let me assure you: No matter how rough or dirty or perverted or “wrong” your fantasies might be, there is somebody out there with much more rough dirty perverted and wrong fantasies. It is much more likely that you are in the middle of the bell curve, and that your rough fantasies are quite a bit like everybody else’s.

6. Sharpen Your Kick-Ass BDSM Skills

Take it from Napoleon Dynamite: “Girls like guys who have great skills.” (Substitute “people” here and that’s more what I mean cuz I am a queermo like that.)

You can actually do some damage when you’re doing dangerous rough fantastic sexytimes play. Don’t use impact toys that you don’t know how to use, don’t do dangerous play that involves breath or cutting the skin without getting some training. People out there in the kink communities are very, very skilled and experienced, and they can teach you.

If you’re a bottom, and fantasize about wanting to receive some of those dirty dangerous things: Play with trustworthy tops. Build trust slowly before doing extremely risky scenes, or play in public.

7. Don’t Forget Aftercare!

Especially when you’re playing with rough, risky (emotionally or physically), or edgy fantasies, make sure everyone feels good afterward. Check in with each other, schedule some cuddle time or chatting time or casual fun time to connect and bring things up if anything needs talked about. Talk about ways to comfort each other and how best to

Rinse, Lather, and Repeat!

Keep experimenting with your own pleasure. Follow the heat. You may not know where it leads ultimately, but you can usually figure out just the one next step. Listen to your body and your mind and that special inner place in you that knows stuff.

If you learn how to do these rough fantastic things you fantasize about, and communicate openly with folks who will be willing play partners and collaborators in your fantasies, you’ll be responsible AND have some fun hot sexytimes. It really is possible!

Photo from Unsplash


Bonus PS … I am still jerking off to Lust Cinema, my December sponsor on Sugarbutch. Did you find any good ones over there yet?

Follow your own Kinky Desire Map

This past summer, while rife and I were running the Submissive Playground ecourse (which is open for registration for the January 2015 session, btw!), we kept talking about the path that folks take to discover and enhance their kink identities. For example, what sparks the pursuit of kink? How do we go from a dabbler to a connoisseur? How do we make it a priority in our lives in order to get and keep deeply satisfying erotic relationships? Why do so many people struggle to prioritize it? What is the process that happens?

Always the visual processor, rife drew and took notes and drew some more, until he came up with this: the Kinky Desire Map. It’s a map of the process—to the best of rife’s and my ability to express, anyway—of developing a kinky identity and coming into prioritizing kinky desire. This isn’t the process everyone takes, of course, and it’s not necessarily linear, or exhaustive—but I do see a lot of common progressions with all the folks I’ve talked to about identity and kink, so we’ve tried to capture that here.

So how does it work? Let’s break it down! Start at the lower left corner, and follow along.

Subplay kink_exploration
[Download the big version of rife’s image here]

1. Interest! Spark!

This is where it all begins. For so many people, their way into kink is witnessing some sort of kinky act in a book, or a film, and it gets our erotic wheels turning. Sometimes it’s a partner who sparks our interest in something, by making suggestions for ways to play. Or it could be our own mind that comes up with something dirty—who knows where it came from, but it’s just always been there. This is the part where we’re saying, “I’m curious about _____.” The interest could be a secret desire that has been held for a long time, or could have just happened this morning like whoa. The interest and curiosity leads to …

2. Experiments!

This is the time where you play play play, and follow your desire. Sometimes called a “slut phase,” the newness of everything is part of the appeal, and trying even more new things can be a thrill. Experimenting can make more sparks of interest happen, and then you get to experiment with the new spark. Once you’ve done a variety of experiments in a variety of situations with a variety of people, they can lead to actually making conclusions about our desires, what we like and don’t like, and how we’re wired. So this is the phase when we start making declarations: “I like _____.”

3. Pursue your interests!

Find the right tools for the right job.
This is where you know what you like, so you start building your skills and experience. Watch porn. Go to workshops. Take an ecourse. Read erotica. Practice. Find the right tools for the right job. Find a mentor. This is when we can start saying, “I’m pretty good at ____.”

4. Become yourself!

Sometime in here (though not necessarily in this order), some of us start realizing that this isn’t just a thing I do, it could possibly be a thing that I am, and start forming some identity around it. So this is when we start telling others about it in new ways, explaining that I’m not just a weirdo who likes rough sex, I’m a dominant (for example), and I am actually part of an entire rough sex community. Figuring out how you fit into the kinky communities that are out there is part of this. Then, we also start integrating this kinky aspect of ourselves into our identity as a whole. We start saying, “I am _____.”

5. Prioritize your preferences!

This is when we start saying, to ourselves and others, “I need my partners to be ___.”
This is hard, but completely necessary if you’re going to stop dating in the general population and start filtering specifically for your kinks. You’re not nearly as likely to find a submissive girl at the gay bar, for example, as you are if you go to a kinky D/s meetup for queers. If you are prioritizing your preferences strongly, you’ll have to start making some choices about who you want to be playing with and who you’re looking for in the long run. (Of course, some of us are in open relationships, so that “long run” thing applies a little differently.)

6. Pursue it!

Life happens. We don’t stay the same. While we might have one very well-formed kink identity for a while, it might shift. Your partner’s might shift.
If you keep prioritizing your preferences, pursuing your interests, and building your skills, you will find people who can meet you. Don’t settle. You can If you’re going at this kink thing solo, ask yourself: What will I pursue? What will I say yes to? What will I turn down? If you’re in a relationship and trying to pursue more kink, ask: How do our kinks fit? How do I find the overlaps? What do I do about the places where we are incongruous? Talk to each other about what’s going on. Express and share fantasies and keep experimenting and stay open and watch for the changes. Because of course, life happens. We don’t stay the same. While we might have one very well-formed kink identity for a while, it might shift. Your partner’s might shift. Integrate change as best as you can and keep going.

7. Practice, practice, practice!

Life continues, and your Kinky Desire Map does, too. You might have a big breakup—go back to identity and prioritizing yourself and your preferences. You might spice it up with more experiments. You might reach some stagnation and have the identity, but not enough play. Add more experiments! Go back to pursuing interests and keep learning. You’ll find new sparks and start all over again, but this time with more resources, and more foundations. You might fall in love again. You might uncover a whole new slew of kinks you want to pursue. Keep practicing, and advancing your practice, and studying yourself and how you work. Only you are the expert on all of this in your own mind and body and energy, and if you continue to prioritize it and use it as a muscle and a skill, you’ll keep it healthy, and keep growing.

So … Where are you on the map?

Where do you want to be? Where have you been in the past? Maybe it’s time for you to make your own Kinky Desire Map. Figure out where you’ve been, and where you are, and that can help you get to where you want to go.

Secret PS … Thanks to Lust Cinema, my December sponsor on Sugarbutch. If you’re into beautiful feminist women-centric erotic films (cough*porn*cough), go check ’em out.

Happy Pride! Last Chance Submissive Playground Sale

It’s pride weekend! Right now as I type this from the warmth of my sunny bedroom, hundreds and hundreds of gender radical folks are gathering in Delores Park in San Francisco for the pre-Trans March gathering, and then the Trans March, and then the Trans March afterparties. And then tomorrow’s the Dyke March (with a similar schedule), and Sunday is the big ol’ mother-of-em-all, the Pride Parade.

I get a little weepy around Pride, just like I get weepy around my birthday or other Big Events that mark the passing of time and cause me to reflect on community and friends and chosen family and survival.

Being an introvert with misanthropic tendencies, I usually don’t attend big Pride events. After a few times of going and being just pretty miserable and waiting for them to be over, I learned that it’s better to stay home and have an Introvert Pride all by myself (or with a few friends).

I also remember that Pride marks the anniversary of Stonewall, which was a riot started by drag queens and trans folks against police in New York City. It might be a commercialized, commodified celebration now, but it has radical, marginalized, and empowering roots.

“Hey wait, I want to hear about the sale!”

Yeah. Let’s do this thing.

So because I love community (in my introvert-misanthropic way), I want to invite you and a friend to sign up for the Submissive Playground—this weekend only!—for $200.

That means: YOU + your friend who is also into submission = take the course for only $200.

The course is much more fun when you can make study dates or compare homework!

What do you get? The DIY (formerly and lovingly called the Broke Ass) Package includes:

  • Materials! Videos to watch, erotic stories to read, how-to articles,
  • Submissive Journal worksheets (like the one in the Submissive Starter Kit, except more elaborate)
  • Experiments! Every module has guided experiments for you to go try—on your own, or with whatever resources, doms, or play partners are available to you
  • Calls every other week to reflect on each module’s tasks, report your progress, and ask Mr. Sexsmith questions
  • Access to message board to discuss the homework and tasks with other submissives, for continued group feedback, discussion, connection
  • Submissive community, and deeper connection to the kink world
  • Digital certificate of participation

Are you unsatisfied right now? Become insatiable. Become delectable. Become confident in your submission to go after what you want.

This is the way to figure out where your heat is, and what really gets you going. Maybe it’s more dirty talk in your sex life, more spankings, more humiliation, more rules/procedures … or maybe just more play. Submissive Playground will help you start being a more conscious sub. You’ll start saying yes’ consciously instead of being taken advantage of (you know, without your consent, in the bad ways). You’ll begin to create healthy submissive patterns that don’t leave you tired, uninspired, and unsatisfied.

Registration for Submissive Playground summer school in July & August closes on Monday, June 30th! This is the last chance sale to sign up!


Sorry! This deal is no longer available

And hey, if you’re out there right now, having a great time in the grass and sun with all the eye-candy of trans and genderqueer folks all around you, I hope you have a wonderful time.

What you should know about privacy, secret identities, and kink communities

Welcome to the kink worlds of BDSM and reclaimed sluttiness and sex toys!

I see you there in the wings, lurking a little bit, shy and nervous, and possibly fearful of revealing too much and putting yourself or your life in some sort of “danger.” Danger is of course what you are coming here looking for, in a safe and risk-aware context: more edge, more bite in your sex life, more intensity of feeling, more cracking yourself open and seeing what’s inside.

But taking the first steps into the kink communities are a challenge, and you’re almost immediately faced with the question of anonymity. Should you stay anonymous, or be transparent? Create an alter ego, or use your legal name? And what about … pictures?

There are a lot of fears about being “out” as kinky in a world that sees all kinky things as deviant, dangerous, and out of control. Kink is in the mainstream more than ever these days, from Fifty Shades of Grey back to “The Secretary,” but there still can be real consequences to working in sexually explicit fields, or being out as kinky.

Here’s a few examples from my own version of struggling with being out—Just last week, I put up a sale for enrollment into the Submissive Playground ecourse, and after about five hours of it being live, I got an email saying that it had been pulled and I wasn’t allowed to use Gumroad for this project because it violates their terms of service, which excludes any adult content. Fuck. Cue sad trombone.

I was also turned down for a Twitter business ad recently because my business is sex related, and denied entry into the Audible.com affiliate program because my work is too explicit (got some leads on resolving that one, but no guarantees).

Sometimes, this is Just The Way It Is and I can kinda let it go, but other times, it feels like I’m being shamed for being explicit about sex and I get all righteous and pissed about it. I get mad, and then I write furiously, and then I try to formulate these writing furies into actual useful pieces of writing that you get to read, too!

Of course I’m the only one this happens to professionally—there have been a bunch of headlines recently about Chase bank closing porn actors’ bank accounts. It’s not just Chase: Paypal has been making headlines lately too as freezing funds and strong-arming businesses into flagging any “adult” content. My friend Andre Shakti recently crowdfundraised over $500 to travel to the Feminist Porn Awards, but the bank processor Wepay wouldn’t let her collect what she’d raised.

You might be see these headlines around, on your usual Internet wanderings, or on the Facebook feed of that one friend who always shares kinky shit. (Hey, maybe you’ll see this from them, too!) And it makes you wonder … so what about me?

Is it risky to be out as kinky?

Maybe. It’s generally agreed upon that you’re going to have a much, much harder time being any sort of elected official if you’re an out kinkster, so most folks who want to go into politics are really careful about any sort of identity in the kink communities. Some people who have kids are very strict about their kink identities, particularly if they are adopting or going through legal battles—but I’ve also heard that it’s becoming more common for kink to be disregarded in court as related to the safety of children or the capabilities of the kinkster as a parent. But I am not a lawyer! Nor do I work in law—I’m just a kinkster who likes to stay informed. This is just what I’ve heard.

There’s no easy answer here for what to do and how to deal with your new budding kink identity, but there are many, many kinksters who have come before you, grasshopper, who have deliciously happy lives and who do dirty things in consensual privacy. Kink producers—folks who actively work to produce spaces for kinksters to learn and gather and play—work with you to keep you safe and disclose the level of identity that you want to disclose.

Here’s some strategies for you to think about.

Most commonly, people do one of three things to keep themselves as safe as possible and not in a position to be threatened or “outed” as being kinky. They either 1. retain anonymity, using no identifying information about themselves in places that could be used against them, or2. create an alter ego, using a different name and separating their kinky communities from the rest of their life, or 3. go for complete transparency.

Let’s look at each of ’em and see what might fit you best:

1. Stay Anonymous

If you are extra nervous about consequences from being out as kinky, you might want to consider remaining completely anonymous in the kink communities. This usually means taking some sort of non-identifiable name when you are involved in kink events or on Fetlife, but not necessarily building a whole persona behind it—just using it as a screen in front of the “real you.”

[columns width=”1/2″]

Pros:

  • Most protective of your legal identity and any identifiable characteristics

[/columns]
[columns width=”1/2″ last=”true”]

Cons:

  • The more you hide, the more you have to hide
  • Some folks end up craving the validation and community that comes with sharing more, and this anonymity isn’t enough to build those deeper connections that are possible
  • Many people won’t recognize your Fetlife avatar, photos, or name if you introduce yourself at an event as one thing and then use a different name as your smokescreen
  • Often there is a big risk of being outed as kinky, which can cause anxiety and stress
  • Sometimes you might really want to a) take photos of you doing kinky amazing things and b) share them, but this option shuts that down

[/columns]

2. The Alter Ego

This is super common in the kinky worlds—for people to basically have two names, one that they use outside of kink spaces and one that they use for kink. They often use this name as their Fetlife profile, on their badge at kink events, or introduce themselves as that at the local munch or BDSM workshop.

[columns width=”1/2″]

Pros:

  • Nobody who googles your name will find your connections to kink
  • Generally very safe to show up at events, wear a “no photos” marker, and go by your other name—no one will ever know you were there
  • Easy to erase all trace of your alter ego, just by deleting your alter ego’s accounts
  • Relative ease to keeping your other self separate from your kink self
  • Can still put up a variety of identifying things (photos of your face, photos of your tattoos) and be relatively sure that your name is not attached to them. If someone you know is at a kink event or on Fetlife and sees you, well, then in order to out you, they’d have to out themselves, so you are relatively safe.

[/columns]
[columns width=”1/2″ last=”true”]

Cons:

  • It can be lots of work to maintain two selves. You have to be very diligent about what you post where, who sees it, and where (if ever) you cross post.
  • The lines start to get blurry. Sometimes your alter ego becomes more you than the rest of your life (see: Sinclair Sexsmith, myself, for example), or sometimes you become your alter ego.
  • It might sometimes feel like fragmenting your Self, if people know you as many names, and can lead to a lack of integrity or a lack of intimacy for friends because they only know parts of you
  • Being “exposed” as this alter ego is a real risk that can sometimes be incredibly scary

[/columns]

Full Transparency

This is where you end up either merging your legal identity and your alter ego, if you started there, or you just always used your own name (or a variation thereof) and used your personal accounts to connect with the kinky communities. Very few people start from here in the kink scene, but it can be liberating and empowering to

I heard a story just recently from a man who used to work at a high-up government office, and as he came into the kink community, he realized that was a potential spot for blackmail. Rather than cease his kink engagement, he called a meeting with his boss and his boss’s boss, and came out as kinky. “I want you to know that I’m a gay man, and I participate in BDSM activities—” he started. They cut him off. “We don’t need to know that!” “But you do,” he persisted. “Because if you know, then there’s nothing for anyone else to blackmail me with.” “Fair enough. Great. Thanks for telling us. Now go back to work.”

(I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea.)

I’ve been pretty shocked at how few issues being almost completely out as kinky has been in my own life. I began publishing erotica under my legal first and middle names when I was 27, in 2006, and because my legal name is very specific, it’s easily findable via Google.

[columns width=”1/2″]

Pros:

  • Integrity! Being who you are!
  • Making your own unique way in the world without apology
  • Significantly reduced shame (Potential for, not guaranteed)
  • Reduced potential for someone to attempt to use something against you as a threat

[/columns]
[columns width=”1/2″ last=”true”]

Cons:

  • It’s really, really hard and scary and challenging, and you may sacrifice some relationships, professional contacts, your job, your standing in the community, your career ladder, or other things. It’s more and more rare, but it is still possible.
  • It’s not for everybody! It isn’t always possible (because of perceived/feared consequences or known consequences) to be out as kinky

[/columns]

Most of the folks I know in the community do some sort of combination of these things. I’d say I have an alter ego (“Sinclair Sexsmith” isn’t the name my parents named me at birth, if you didn’t already figure that out), but that I am completely out in my life in general. Pretty much everyone who knows me via my birth name knows that I am Sinclair, and it isn’t hard to find out my legal name if you know my work through Sugarbutch (there’s even a post in the archives for “coming out day” from a few years ago where I come out as my legal name).

When my boy rife and I were talking about this article, he said, “My alter ego is pretty transparent.” Which I think is a very accurate way to describe what both he and I do with our kink worlds.

As a producer of kinky events and a facilitator of kink education in general, I am always interested in and concerned with people’s privacy. I don’t take photos of my classes (unless I get permission from the audience, which I sometimes do). I don’t use anyone’s names or identify anybody who was in attendance (unless I either get permission or know their level of out-ness and transparency). Note—just because I have my own policies that I follow around this doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes fuck up. I have posted photos on Sugarbutch of people I didn’t have permission to post before (and subsequently apologized and taken them down). I have messed up. It happens. I do my best to apologize, reflect, and fix it, if possible.

Take the Submissive Playground course, as an example—many people have had challenges attending because they are not particularly out as kinky. Some folks don’t want to use any sort of credit card or payment linked to their name in order to pay. Some folks have been very concerned with their name and email, worried that their identity would be revealed to the group.

But let me reassure you: We can work around that.

Payment challenges? No problem. You can send me a check—or, even more anonyously, a money order! You can use an anonymous email address. You don’t have to give me your address.

Any information you give me will be protected and for my use to make the course better, and will never be released.

In this particular course, you can be whatever level of anonymous that you feel comfortable being. You can use a pseudonym and an alternative picture for your avatar, no problem. You don’t have to ever go on record and say where you live or what you do. You do have the option to share photos, to go on video to chat with me with the group, or to speak up on our live calls, but you don’t have to.

You might not know about the variety of options that are available to you to keep your identities from being outed as kinky if you are new to the BDSM and fetish and sex toy and slutty delicious worlds, but there are quite a few. Producers of kink events work hard to make the spaces as safe as possible, and for many people to attend, regardless of their anonymity, alter egos, or transparency.

None of these options are better or worse than the others, they are all weighing risks and mitigating the circumstances as best as possible, and everyone has different risks. You are the best gauge of what is right for you—nobody else can make the decision for you.

Think about which of these options feels best for you, and remember—at any time, you can change it. Problem is, it’s much harder to change to more anonymity than it is to change to more openness about your identities. And certain things (like publishing erotica in a Best Lesbian Erotica 2006 anthology under your legal name when you’re 27) don’t really go away, though they do have the potential to lead you to an integrated, kink-forward and well-lived life.

Submissive Playground Winner!

Announcing: The winner of the Submissive Playground giveaway for the summer session is: Yasha!

winner1

random1

Thanks to all of you who wrote notes and about your submission and why you’re interested in the course … you may’ve thought you were just writing “blah blah blah” but actually I read every. Single. Thing and I am really curious about your stories. Every time somebody commented, I would say, “Oh! I wish they could come play too!” Seriously I want you all to join me/us in this course, it would be way better if you were here.

Here’s a few of the things you wrote:

This is box title

Hmm…dreadfully curious about this class. I was the first time around as well.

I have been looking for ways to expand my skills!

I am a poor college student that would love to learn about the nature of submission and how to become a better submissive. This is something I have been interested in for a very long time and I would love the opportunity to explore it in a safe and instructive environment.

I would love to hone in on my skills as a submissive within a queer context! I want to connect my queer identity with my kinky identity!

I’ve been dying to take this course and was so thrilled to see you’re offering it again!

The biggest thing I’d like to learn is how to express that I’m nearing my pain threshold without being bratty.

LOVE this website! I’d love a spot in the Subplay Course, if only to find a more local (not just virtual) sub network.

I’m a long-time bottom who’s had mostly non-bottoming experience. I am now in a relationship with a dom who wants to push me to be the submissive I envision myself being. I would like to get deeper into understanding how I can be a better service bottom and daddy’s boy, as well as how to make my dom feel well-taken care of. I’ve always wanted to go deeper into understanding the nuances and the give and take. I think this course would bring me much deeper into the world of submission, as well as help me examine why and how I want to be an effective submissive.

As a queer, submissive girl I would relish in the opportunity to expand my submission and my understanding of what makes me tick, so to speak. I would like to delve more into my service oriented nature.

In my everyday, vanilla life I am a dominating force to be reckoned with. I love submitting to my partner because I am able to get out of my head, forget about life responsibilities and just revel in offering myself to another. I would love a spot in your ecourse because I think learning about the intellectual/theoretical side of submission sounds fascinating and I would like to see how to apply that to my own submission.

See what I mean?!

I want you ALL to come. Hrm. Now I just have to figure out how to invite you.

Congrats on the win Yasha, I’m looking forward to working with you!

There’s still room in the Submissive Playground course, but spots are being filled up quickly. Sign up today to join us!

Ask Mr. Sexsmith: Didn’t you mention a marketing or business ecourse recently?

Dear Mr. Sexsmith,

This is a terribly mundane and sadly unsexy question but I swear I saw you post a link or a mention in the past few months of a marketing/PR/development website you had taken an ecourse with and I remember being really interested. Today when I went to scour the sugarbutch archives I couldn’t find it.

Am I making this up? And, if not, could you send me the information or maybe any sort of other similar information about ecourses you’ve been taking that inspired Submissive Playground? I’m particularly interested in those related to building branding or business at the moment but other suggestions are welcome. I am a big fan!

Ziggy

Hi Ziggy—

Sometimes the mundane and unsexy questions are the easiest to answer!

I think I mentioned the course on Twitter/Instagram—it was the IttyBiz “Fast Track to Fully Booked” course at ittybiz.com. They’re pretty amazing, definitely recommend signing up for their newsletter (and reading past issues) and keeping up with their blog—all of that is a ton of free content.

I have been studying ecourses for a few years now, partly with the idea of building my own eventually. I haven’t taken a “how to build an ecourse” course, but two things were massively influential:

Jennifer Louden & Michele Lisenbury Christensen‘s course Teach Now was highly influential for my identity as a teacher

and

I bought the Puttylike “Multipassionate Must Haves” bundle. I mostly bought it because it had so many different examples of ecourses in it, but many of the courses themselves are really good, and I recognized a lot of the teachers. I definitely recommend looking up the teachers included in that course, I’m sure many of them would be good examples of ecourses, and have ecourses themselves that would be inspiring and awesome.

Jennifer Louden also has a course in there called Creating Your Own Mastermind Group, which I took and then implemented last year. I’ve been part of an amazing queer creative business group, meeting since August, including Jen Cross of Writing Ourselves Whole, Sade Huron of Cariad Healing, and Amy Butcher of Amybutcher.com (you may recognize her as the author of Paws for Consideration or from, you know, around).

Other folks whose work has influenced me:

  • Tara Gentile – highly recommend for building your business things
  • Susannah Conway – love her photography and writings on grief, she has some courses but I haven’t taken them. she also has a “Unravelling the year ahead 2014” ebook that just came out which is really great
  • Jennifer Lee – Right Brain Business Plan is awesome, and she’s got a product launch course which is great too
  • Marketing for Hippies
  • Heart of Business

I don’t know of ones that are specific about branding, mostly because I’ve been a brand consultant in the past, and a designer, so those don’t catch my eye, though I’m sure those are around. But marketing? Ittybiz is the best, hands down.

Hope that’s helpful.
Sinclair

Masocast podcast features … me! Also: Fancy Package on #subplay!

I’ve been spending most of my time lately working on Submissive Playground. It’s kind of shocking to me how much time it’s taking to set up—I didn’t have a very realistic sense of the time involved on the back end. The past two days, I’ve spent close to 10 hours writing the main course landing page, and today, rife has already spent at least three hours designing it.

And that’s not even the curriculum! That’s just the copy describing the curriculum.

The course is getting close (pre-course materials launch in ten days!) and so I’m spending a lot of time thinking about submission, writing about assumptions, getting clear on what I want to know from the Players, and strategizing learning styles and games and tasks and fun things for people to do in the course.

I talked to an old friend from New York City, Axe, about the Playground and also my breakup, and D/s and M/s, and what it’s like to have left New York, on his Masocast recently. You can download it or stream it here:

The Masocast is community-run, so go donate to keep it going strong. I think Axe is an excellent interviewer, and a deep thinker about lots of kink things. This is my fourth time being a guest on his podcast, all the old ones are still available to download & stream too.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my motivations for putting something like this together, too. It was basically rife’s idea, and we brainstormed about it and bantered about it for a few hours before massaging it into the concept as it currently stands.

I think a big part of wanting to explore submission with people deeper is from the ways that the D/s in my relationship with Kristen went badly. The last two years, both as she and I were struggling to improve things and in the year since we split up, I have helped many people sort through their own struggles with D/s, and I know my perspective on these topics have really helped them come to a better place. In some ways, I don’t have a lot of range, having had only two major D/s partnerships, but I have a significant amount of depth in my studies of D/s.

And, when I floated around an idea of a Dominant course, the interest of learning to dominate from a dominant wasn’t as great as practicing how to submit with a dominant. I’ve been moving away from the me-as-know-it-all-teacher style of teaching anyway, so this experiential workshop is a good start to that.

Amazingly, the Star Player packages are sold out!, and I’m considering adding a few more slots to let the folks on the wait list in. (Want in? Email me, [email protected]) I allotted time in my calendar for three Fancy Players, who would meet with me every week, but those aren’t currently full …

Which brings me to …

There are still slots available for people who want to be “Fancy Players,” aka The Super Star Package. This package has some special things in it! The major thing, and the reason why it’s more expensive, is because it has FOUR one-on-one sessions with me included in the package, one during each week of the course.

Here’s what you get:

you_deserve_it

  • Four 1-on-1 sessions with Sinclair (via Skype or phone)* — $500 value!
  • Customized Submissive Playground dog tags*
  • A letter to your current or future dominant, outlining your strengths and suggestions for further training*
  • A paper certificate of participation, mailed to you
  • Submissive meditation worksheets
  • Weekly tasks/assignments
  • Erotica to read!
  • Porn to watch!
  • Tasks for and feedback on your personal submissive journal
  • Weekly all-player sessions to discuss your experiences with the current topic of study

* Exclusive to the Fancy Package

Go ahead & sign up!

If you’ve already signed up, you can upgrade! (Or, perhaps your partner or Sugar Daddy or Sugar Mama or Sugar Butch (haay! See what I did there?) or Sugar Femme or WHOMEVER would want to upgrade you as part of your dark-time-of-the-year holiday gift? Have them contact me!)

Alright … I’m off to pack (no, the other kind, you pervert), and fuck my boy and probably go to the grocery store to bake cookies so we can be all ready to catch a plane tomorrow morning. We’ll be spending the next two weeks with family, and off on a retreat by ourselves.

All you Submissive Playground Players: I’ll be in touch!

Everybody else … thank you, for all of your wonderful support and comments and shares and clicks and for reading this year.

What’s in our sex den? Books, of course.

“I wonder if anyone will notice that our videos have the same background?”

“Well, I mean, we do live together.”

“Right, it’s not like it’s scandalous. You’d just have to be really paying attention to the details.”

“I love that we keep all the books in the bedroom. It’s such a sex den.”

“Haha yes! The reading nook, the alter, the huge bookshelf, the meditation setup, the sacred objects storage shelves, and then the sex toy shelves and the bed. Sex plus den.”

“Exactly.”

Welcome to the Submissive Playground! from Sinclair Sexsmith

the GENDER book Fundraising Update! from the GENDER book