Dear Mistress Matisse,

There seem to be two schools of thought in the BDSM world. One is, "everyone should switch roles at some time or another," vs. "figure out what you are and stick to it." What's your opinion?

"To switch" in BDSM parlance means "to alternate between both the dominant and the submissive roles"--usually in different scenes, but sometimes within a single scene.

I am generally in favor of people switching. How will you know what you like if you don't try new things? When I was just a little baby kinkster, I bottomed about as much as I topped. My tastes have grown more specific over the years, but I will sometimes switch with a few select people. I think that the majority of BDSM people I know have tried the other role--whatever that is for them--at least once, and lots of people like both roles pretty equally.

Besides, I have a fear of being one of those moss-backed perverts with a corncob up their ass--not in a sexy way--about their role as a "real and true dominant" (or slave, or whatever), and I think the best way to make sure I never, ever become one of them is to keep coloring outside the lines.

That said, my lover Max is a top, and he's never bottomed. He definitely doesn't have a corncob up his ass (I've checked), and I think he's fabulous. So it's possible.

Hey, Mistress: What do you think about Nazi roleplay?

When I play, I like to step out of the real world, not bring it in with me, so that's not something I find erotic. But if you want to do it in your bedroom, hey, I have no problem with that. Sexual fantasies don't thrive on political correctness--in fact, they usually go to the places we try to forbid ourselves most. That's what makes them hot.

But from a practical standpoint, culturally edgy scenes are best done in private. I've seen some seriously non-PC BDSM games--mock queer-bashings, "KKK member and black activist" roleplays--done in public dungeons. But if you do that, you will definitely piss off the people around you. And depending on the feelings of the event organizer, you may get your scene shut down, or you may even get bounced out the door. I've met people for whom upsetting the onlookers was part of the naughty thrill in doing the "forbidden" scene. I myself would question the consensuality of messing with people's heads in that way, but that's a murky issue.

What is clearer is that if you don't want the curtain dropped down on your controversial scene, you need to talk to the folks in charge before you get out the stormtrooper uniforms, or the white robes and hoods. Ask nicely, and get their blessing, or else don't do the scene. And don't come whining to me about how that's not fair. If you go to someone else's event, you accept their rules. If you don't like it, throw your own party, where you can stage your interpretation of the Abu Ghraib Follies (Starring Lynndie England!) for a handpicked audience.

Mistress, please help! My lover and I are flying home to visit my parents for Christmas and we can't bear the idea of a kink-free holiday! What toys can we (a) smuggle through the airport and (b) use in a bedroom next door to my parents?

I've packed all manner of BDSM gear in my checked luggage, but if you'd rather be safe than sorry: clothespins are silent and airplane-friendly. A wooden paint-stirrer, a wooden spoon, or a ruler won't take up much room in your suitcase, and will arouse no interest at the airport, although be careful of the whack noise if your parents are light sleepers. Some rope is always handy for tying down a frisky bit of baggage, and if your toy budget runs to it, a TENS unit is a noiseless electrical toy that would pass a baggage check without incident, since it's actually a bona-fide medical device. But I think the most important toy in this case is going to be someone's hand, pressed firmly over an audibly appreciative lover's mouth. Control Tower