Next up in our acclaimed 101 series is sensation play and sensory deprivation. Experimenting with the senses – and eventually denying your sub the privilege of using hers – is an exciting and heavily psychological aspect of a BDSM scene. In general, there is less outright, deliberate pain associated with this form of play than with some others. Relinquishing control to your partner and allowing him/her to transform your entire psychosomatic environment truly enhances the partnership.
Sensory play involves tactile sensations, often incorporating tantalizing tools and instruments to heighten responsiveness. Tickling can be a playful way to begin, recalling the innocence of childhood flirtation; but it can also be a surprisingly evil method of light torture. When you’re ready to amp it up a bit more, there’s always spanking, flogging, caning, and the like (check out Spanking 101).
Some additional miscellaneous pieces to experiment with include nipple clamps, clothespins, electro tools, teeth, fingernails, and the ever-menacing Wartenburg wheel.
Get things really hot (or cold!) by integrating items whose temperatures immediately inspire a strong physical response. Lightly dragging a chunk of ice across your sub’s skin (especially around the nipples and nether regions) until it mercifully melts is one sexy, chilly way to go. Or take the opposite route and break out the wax play. If you want things to heat up slowly and gradually, hold the candle higher up; this allows the wax to cool on its way down to your supple sub. While you can choose candles with your specific ideal features (colorless, odorless, low melting point), there are also candles specifically created for such play. Should you want to avoid the wax stubbornly sticking to the skin it is melted upon, kick things off with a soothing silicone lube massage. Not only will this eliminate the need for lengthy cleanup, it can also serve to gently set the mood. Then again, sometimes peeling the wax off can be as sensual as dripping it on!
Fun fact: Spanking on wet skin causes a more intense sensation and a more stingy pain than spanking on dry skin. Two reasons – 1) If with warm water, the skin dilates, sending more blood flow to the surface, making skin more sensitive. 2) Water causes adhesion. Water molecules are attracted to other molecules. When they come into contact, it makes the water seem “sticky.” Have you ever found it difficult to lift a cookie sheet off a wet counter? It’s the same deal with a wet butt and a paddle. Try spanking or sensation play in a warm shower or after ice play for added effect!
Sensory deprivation takes the general tenets of sensation play and essentially cranks it up to 11. As with every other lesson, it’s important to first remind you to start slow and simple before accelerating too far down the fetish freeway. A simple blindfold coupled with your choice of gag is a perfect way to begin. The restriction of sight and speech tend to be the most common, but earplugs or headphones can go a long way too. And there’s also taste and smell to interfere with, if you’re into that.
Blindfolds and hoods are the most common accessories for mercilessly taking away your sub’s sense of sight. For beginners, try out a blindfold first; if you want to move up to kinkier dehumanization scenes, a hood can be a great addition. Make sure to tie the blindfold on securely, but not too tight! While her sight is restricted, whispering compliments or commands into her ear and watch the pleasure swell. All other senses are heightened, so the most delicate (or rough!) touch will be all the more exciting. Once you’ve got the hang of blindfolds, try out a hood. Hoods are available in a plethora of materials – such as latex and leather – and can be decked out with various fun hardware and ornamentation.
In order to take away your sub’s power of speech, gags are a worthy investment. You can even simply stuff her soaked panties into her mouth for a humiliating (and cost-effective) twist; this option is also easier on the jaw than some of the more rigid gags. These less soft offerings include ball and spider gags. If you want her mouth fully incapacitated and stuffed, a ball gag is the way to go. But if you’d rather have access to her mouth and throat, then a spider gag allows for easy, teeth-free insertion of fingers, dildos, or any other diabolical tools!
The ears may be less of a sexual destination than the mouth, but fitting your sub with earplugs or using headphones with specific music or sounds can certainly contribute to a carefully composed atmosphere of anticipation.
Dehumanization often goes hand-in-hand with sensory deprivation. After all, how human can you be when your most basic functions have been forcibly restricted? Before going ahead and deciding to verbally and physically diminish your sub to a mere “thing,” you should discuss any fantasies involving objectification and humiliation to make sure no lines are crossed. Some comparatively simply bondage techniques and restraints are a practical way to get started; our Restraints 101 page will tell you more.
If you’re ready to take sensory deprivation to its extreme, mummification is the ultimate in this genre. Vet wrap is a fun little product that you ought to consider incorporating into play; it’s deal for experimenting with mummification because it only sticks to itself and not your skin, so it’s ouch-less as well as highly versatile. A variety of specialty suits, cases, and boxes are also available – for both the entire body and individual body parts (the head box is a personal favorite) — for subjecting your sub to the highest level of sensory deprivation.
The last thing to keep in mind is that when your sub is restricted of her senses and speech, it may be hard to communicate especially when approaching a “red” area. A simple hand gesture such as thumbs up or down can communicate a “go ahead” or “stop”. A goofier but more fun way to communicate is a squeaky dog toy vet-wrapped to the hand. One squeak for “yes”, two squeaks for “no”. Who says BDSM can’t be silly?
Now put your new knowledge to the test and get started!
*BDSM can be dangerous and cause injury to yourself and others if not practiced safely. Don’t play hard if you don’t know what you are doing (ie. the likes of electric tools, asphyxiation, bondage, wax play, sensory deprivation and augmentation, etc.). Please do your research and contact a professional (ahem…come visit us!) to learn more before you act!