I get a lot of letters from people who tell me they want to be a BDSM slave. Sometimes they want to be my slave—a position I'm not currently looking to fill—but more often than not they're asking for general advice on how to find a master or mistress. I always ask them the same question: Why do you want to be a slave?

I ask them because, in spite of what MySpace profiles would lead you to believe, the word "slave" is not just a generic term for any kinky person who likes to be the one wearing the handcuffs. But the answers I often get indicate to me that this is not well understood. Most of the time, people respond to my question by telling me about their desire for sex and intense stimulation. It's the erotic fantasy of the bondage, of beautiful, threatening people in sexy outfits wielding nipple clamps and dildos.

Those are all hot things. I like them myself. But wanting to experience those things doesn't make you a slave. I do BDSM with lots of people, but I would not call any of them "my slave." (Nor would most of them want me to.)

To BDSM people, being a slave means undertaking an ongoing relationship of voluntary servitude to another person—a master or a mistress. The key word here is "relationship." Saying you want to be a slave so you can do BDSM all the time is like saying you want to get married so you can have hot sex all the time. It's not that it never works that way, but just as marriage is about much more than just sex, being a slave is about more than just doing BDSM scenes. And just as not everyone who has sex wants to get married, not everyone who wants to get tied up and spanked really wants to be a slave—no matter how hot the idea seems right before an orgasm.

(I will note in passing that some BDSM people have slaves with whom they never have sex. But nonsexual BDSM is a whole other topic.)

I also hear, sometimes, about the desire to turn over all control of one's life to a higher authority, who will then direct one's every waking moment. To those people I say: Put down your copy of Story of O and step slowly away from it. You have mistaken fiction for reality. A good slave is not a passive lump who is merely acted upon. He/she does cede some agreed-upon measure of control over how the relationship looks. But within the structure that the mistress sets out, it's the slave's job to work proactively to improve the mistress's life. And that can't happen if she has to do all his thinking for him.

Being a slave also does not mean that you surrender all responsibility for critical thought or self-determination. Slaves are not children and they are not objects; they are people with the obligation of right action toward themselves and toward others. Always.

After I tell them a little about what a slave is and is not, I also try to sharpen their understanding about dominants. There are tops in the world who can deliver a BDSM scene that'll blow your doors off and leave you in an endorphin cloud for days. But maintaining a daily mistress/slave relationship might not be something they're interested in. I would be one of those people. Having a slave brings pleasure to me, but it also brings the responsibility of steering two people in a positive and growth-enhancing direction, every day. It's like being the captain of the ship—and I don't have the energy to be James T. Kirk right now.

There are some dominants who have the emotional and psychological chops to sustain a long-term mistress/slave relationship, but they may not exactly be the rock stars of the dungeon party. The dominants who have the desire and the skills to do both are people who have honed their ability with time and a lot of self-examination. If you feel yourself drawn to BDSM relationships, you need to do the same.

So why do you want to be a slave? recommended


Kink Calendar



The Wet Spot's kinky dance party: goth/industrial music, sex, and BDSM, with a younger, more style-conscious crowd. Wet Spot, 1602 15th Ave W, 270-9746 or info@wetspot.org, 9 pm—1:30 am, $10, membership required.


Teri Ciacchi and Pan Vera create a unique fusion of neotantra and western sex magick practices which result in an evening of deep intimacy and sensual pleasure. Shangri la Temple, 6295 Latona Ave NE, 612-3511, www.terrafire.org, 7—11 pm, suggested donation $50—$150.



Tamara the Trapeze Lady hosts this sexy variety show featuring live music, aerial acts, and burlesque dancers. This week: aerialist Quyn Horton, Flame Cinders, Evelyn Sin Clair, and Matt and Vaughn the Vagabond Jugglers from Pure Cirkus. Columbia City Theatre, 4916 Rainier Ave S, 723-0088, 9 pm, $15, 21+.



Love Lounge is an "adult social club" that holds events for bi women and male/female couples—no single men, please. Lovelounge@lovelounge.net, 9:30 pm, no cover, membership required, 21+.


This gay male fist-fucking organization meets at a private location in Seattle. Trim your nails. $10 donation between 6—8 pm, $15 after 8 pm. RSVP for location: rhsea@comcast.net.



BDSM and sex-play party to celebrate the kinkier side of the FTM Gender Odyssey conference. This event is open to all conference attendees with conference badge and ID, and their guests. Wet Spot, 270-9746, www.transconference.org, 8 pm—2 am, $15 for conference attendees, $20 for conference attendees' guests and Wet Spot members, 18+.


You know what's sexy? Boating safety. Remember: Life jackets float. You don't. Brought to you by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.