My lover and I were at a BDSM play party recently, watching friends do a scene. The finale of the scene involved a woman having a good-sized syringe of blood drawn from her arm and then squirted into a jar. Then her partner took a small paintbrush and proceeded to paint the front of her naked, wiggling body in blood from collarbone to mid-thigh.

Max and I appreciate blood-play, and we watched this little vignette with pleasure-- especially the wiggling--and without much discussion. But it came up later, in a conversation about the difficulties of explaining certain aspects of BDSM to non-kinky people. "That scene," he said, "would be hard to understand. People can usually get it about sexy costumes and role-play and endorphin highs. But how would you explain having your lover paint you in your own blood?"

True, this isn't the clean, glossy fetish fare of Andrew Blake films. But that's precisely why it's important to me. Our culture encourages us to be disconnected from our bodies. One positive effect of all physical BDSM play is to shake people out of their heads and reacquaint them with the fleshy immediacy of their bodies. When you look down at your own blood brushed onto your skin, it's a graphic reminder of your pulsing, breathing, beating animal body. Watching you, I'm reminded that I, too, can bleed.

Then there is the rush that comes from rebelling against our bodies' perceived limits. Being covered in your own blood is a nightmare image of fear and pain. But the top in such a scene creates this experience for you within a safe setting. Defying your fears unlocks doors of perception: What else can you do that you thought you couldn't?

As I write, I'm trying to walk the tightrope between making this kind of scene comprehensible and making it sound like an executive training exercise. But this kind of scene doesn't get corporate sponsorship, and I don't want it to. Some types of kink are still for the outlaws. So if I shed my lover's blood, we'll welcome it with fierce passion, and we'll revel in its beauty all the more because it is forbidden.

My thanks to the players mentioned for letting me write about their scene!