Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Floating World Part II



Note #1 from Cris: Last week I posted Part I of Minoucurieux's experiences at The Floating World, a weekend-long fetish event. Here is Part II.
Note #2: The photos were NOT taken at Floating World and are NOT of the author; they were posed at photo shoots and taken by me. 
 
Saturday Morning
I slept in later as I wanted to have lots of energy for the evening.  Showered and dressed before wolfing down a pint of blueberries for breakfast. I then headed to a conference room in the hotel to assist in WiseProtector’s Communications Workshops, Connections Putting Emotions into Play, and What to say after you say ‘hello’. I really enjoyed interacting with everyone in the classes and made several new friends. Unfortunately, I missed an opportunity to serve at The Goddess Tea (perhaps next year), and missed the Kinky Carnival because of workshops, but I heard that they were great events!

Then I grabbed an old friend and a new friend in the hotel lobby to experience Harold’s – the amazing Jewish Deli across the parking lot next door. Super-sized doesn’t begin to describe the portions – you have to bring two or three friends to share a single serving. Yum!  And lots of good protein to help us get through the day. 

Soft flogger
Back to the convention center for classes and workshops (always armed with a sweater). There were some really great presenters and interesting topics. I would recommend taking some basics classes in communication, safety, and perhaps some practical skills like flogging, and avoid the more advanced topics until you have some basics under your belt. You can always observe the more advanced play in the dungeon. There was a great flogging demo with an accompanying light show. Don’t hesitate to make new friends and ask lots of questions. People are always willing to share information. One more stop at the vendor fair for banjo picks which will be sharpened into Vampire Nails. Oh, they are so wonderful!

Apparently, I needed to speak with one of the official photographers to get a card that would allow access to the photo site when it was posted, but I did not know about this until a week after the event. So, if you are interested in photos, find out what is required. We were so fortunate to have top-notch photographers covering the event.

Back at the hotel, everyone tried to get dinner, but the hotel was doing a miserable job handling the crowd. Food was late, if it ever arrived, and no more hamburgers to be had.  I was glad I had packed healthy snacks. The rooms had refrigerators, coffee makers and microwaves, so you could save time and money by bringing your own fare.

Saturday Evening
Dressed in my newly purchased Fetish Dress, I headed back to the convention center. There was a lot scheduled for that evening. Eric Pride’s workshop Mind Fucks was eye-opening. The demonstrations, even with demo bottoms experienced in his methods, looked shocked. Wow! The Rope Rodeo had bottoms competing to escape from rope bondage (eels), and then a final eel-off between the two top riggers and winning eels. Lots of fun and laughter!  Then, there was another rigging competition that really demonstrated that we have some skilled riggers in the room. Lee Harrington did a wonderful job hosting the event and there were great prizes for the winners.

Finally the dungeon.  Dungeon Monitors were present in number and alert throughout the space. There was so much going on at once. The Pony Competition on one side, boot blacking and PrettyMom’s Foot Party were available. More wonderful new friendships! I watched SiRoberto create a spider web of plastic wrap to capture ScrewtheRoses for a photoshoot. Then PrettyMom and her husband/slave thorvinsnw showed up with her fire – naked fire spinning! Naked fire hugs – so warm and cozy. He is a superb creator of elegant metal cages and artistic on many other fronts. Then PrettyMom was joined by other fire spinners and you could just watch it all night. I enjoyed watching more scenes, and as it got late I sat and talked with a new friend. I asked Rob19462, who was on stage demonstrating Blow Darts, if I could try. He was reluctant, but I persuaded him. It was really kind of neat. It felt more like a thud initially, though the later ones stung a little and seemed to splash. Perhaps it was the alcohol on the darts. I was glad I worked up the nerve to try it.

Tied to a chair
My new friend and I decided to walk around and enjoy some more of the scenes, and came upon a Domme tying her two slaves to the metal framework and receiving rope instruction from a Top on the rigging. He asked if he could use me to demonstrate some rope work so that she could try to duplicate it on her slaves. Somehow, that turned into a scene with me tied to a chair. Apparently, I did not express my limits very well and he did not believe that I had a Dom because I was not wearing a collar. He pushed my limits further than I was comfortable with.

First, he tied me to a chair and then started in with a riding crop on my breasts and nipples. Then I asked him if it was a whip and told him whips were on my prohibited list. So, he stopped and started looking for something to brace the chair against, since it looked like it might tip backwards. He couldn't find anything, so he untied me and took me to a frame where he secured my wrists and legs. He asked if flogging was permitted and I said “yes”. I didn't know floggers could be so painful! He was wrapping them and the tips really hurt. Then he tied one leg up at an angle - I had told him no suspension permitted, so I guess one foot on the floor kept it technically within the limit. I Yellowed twice and then called Red.

There was some aftercare, a lot of pressure to scene again and a push to get me to take him back to my room. This was a very aggressive Top who seemed to take “No” as “Push harder for a positive response”. I was glad that I was comfortable enough to communicate my limits, safe word out when I needed to, and turn down some very pushy invitations (I have heard this persistent and manipulative behavior called a violation of “Social Consent”). 

They threw everyone out of the dungeon at 3:00 am. The security volunteers must have been very tired. It is not an easy task, but many attendees volunteered in various roles to ensure that the event was a success.

Take a class on negotiating a scene, and know your hard and soft limits by rote. Don’t be unsure of yourself – it makes you a target. At least now I know I can successfully “safe word out” – that is not as easy as it sounds, and I would recommend that you practice. It is very easy to go non-verbal when you are overwhelmed. Also, I have recently read an article that states my thoughts concisely; “‘No’ is a complete response. If you keep asking, you are disrespecting social consent”.

Note #3 from Cris: Please send some love to Minoucurieux for sharing her experience by commenting on her post.

~~ Cris Anson


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Floating World 2013 – From the Perspective of a Relative Newbie Sub



Note from Cris: My deepest thanks to Minoucurieux for sharing her experiences at a weekend-long BDSM fetish event. Readers may recognize her writing style from a prior blog I posted, Flogging, A First-Timer's Experience. Minou has obtained permission to use all the names mentioned in this article.

Note #2: The photos were NOT taken at Floating World and are NOT of the author; they were posed at photo shoots and taken by me.
 
With a whole 6 months under my belt in the lifestyle, I was attending my first major Fet event, The Floating World 2013. The anticipation began weeks in advance – what to expect, what to pack, nervous, excited, curious…

I was happy that there were at least a dozen people that I already knew attending. There would be a few familiar faces and a couple of “protectors” since my new Dom was unable to attend due to major responsibilities elsewhere that weekend. He gave me a list of Hard Limits for the event. I was scheduled as a demo bottom for one class and helping out at a couple of other workshops. 

Friday Morning
I finally arrived at the hotel and checked in before rushing over to the convention center to register. Security was tight and a First Aid Station was manned – so reassuring. That first day, one of my kind protectors met me at the entrance to the event and showed me where to register. That really helped ease my anxiety. The next stop was shopping! There was a large, bright vendor section with a selection of everything you can imagine BDSM- related. I bought a beautiful fetish dress that I planned to wear Saturday night. Oh, I felt so pretty in it!
Armed with my “photos-OK “wrist band (you can wear a band indicating no photos be taken of you), I ventured into a group of strangers. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. All ages, races, sexual preferences, gender identifications, and BDSM roles were represented. What an interesting group! People straggled in all afternoon.
 
Next, I was led to my first class, Lee Harrington’s session Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional; techniques for erotic pain processing. He is such an engaging, passionate speaker, and the most fascinating individual. It gave me a whole new perspective on pain and plenty to think about in the days ahead.

I attended a session on impact play safety called Rack ‘Em and Smack ‘Em” taught by BaraknSheba, who asked for three volunteers for demonstration. Since I was a newbie, I was only asked if they could “put a few marks on me”, and asked to undress and put my hands on the St. Andrew’s Cross. Apparently, behind my back, the rest of the participants were shown a set of colored markers. So, as the instructors began to discuss where one should or should not impact a body, they ‘marked’ red circles (off-limits areas) and green circles (appropriate for impact) all over my body, back and front, as indicators. This provided a great deal of entertainment, but also provided an excellent safety demonstration. I was anxious to get dressed again. Fortunately, a masochist volunteered to take the punches and kicks. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to remove the marker from my white shorts and lingerie. And, it took an hour and a bottle of alcohol to remove the marker from my body before I could dress that evening. It was all for a good cause and I learned a lot. The only negative was that some of the rooms were freezing cold – I was so glad that I packed a couple of light sweaters. August – sweaters – you know how conventions centers are!

The Dungeon
Let me tell you about the dungeon – it was huge, OVERWHELMING!  I have never seen so much equipment in all my life. It was spread out over a huge warehouse area with a combination of bright overhead lighting and moody lighting from colorful Chinese lanterns strung across the ceiling.

A massive metal pipe structure for sophisticated suspension dominated one side of the space. There were beautiful St. Andrew’s Crosses and spanking benches in a variety of polished wood finishes. Other benches for purposes I could not guess. Beautiful wrought iron cages (by the artistic George a.k.a. Thorvinsnw), mats, massage tables for fireplay, needleplay and waxplay, medical tables, a chain web, a beautiful wooden pergola for expansive suspensions, a viewing area for special presentations, bright spaces full of toys and stuffed animals for Littles, a pony area with coaches and wagons lined against the wall. Open spaces for whips and fire spinning. Bootblacking was available, and the results I observed were fantastic. A shadow tent with viewing area, glory holes. Plenty of chairs, sofas, futons and coffee tables, and even some rugs set up at regular intervals between the equipment for aftercare and general socializing. I am sure there was more there that I cannot even recall. It was amazing!

Friday Evening
So, after shopping, workshops and a tour of the dungeon, it was back to the hotel to take my luggage up, find some dinner and then dress for the evening. I decided to go with my corset and ruffled skirt, but I couldn’t lace it up by myself. What to do? Open the door a crack and see who is out in the hallway (our group had the entire hotel), then state my dilemma, and lo and behold, a corset expert appeared who laced me up tight.  Her husband heard my comment and brought her over. What a wonderful couple– and a new friend.  Off to the Convention Center!

I watched some of XavierDom’s Violet Wand Basics, but the seats were fully occupied, so I did not stay for the advanced portion. I was really looking forward to Kinky Karaoke because I knew Rob19462 and Barbarella4U had some great songs with new Kinky lyrics. But, I did not stay as long as I would have liked – it was like sitting in a refrigerator and my sweater was totally inadequate to shield me from the frigid temperatures. I missed the Mixer at the hotel because I did not notice it on the schedule, or I would have attended.


So, I headed to the Dungeon which was not at all crowded Friday evening. People were straggling in after work and play was at a minimum. The room felt huge and a little empty until the music started.  Di and Dee created such a splendid atmosphere for the event, as always. Hauntingly beautiful, sensual music. I made friends with the Fire Marshal, who was present and patrolling throughout the weekend. 

A new friend scruffynerf spent some time demonstrating the differences in floggers so that I could decide whether or not I like the “thumping” types or the “stingy” types. I vote for thumpy. It was very kind of him to take the time to scene. Then, I spent some time walking around to more closely explore the environment, watched some scenes (enviously), talked to a few people and then decided to head back to the hotel and catch some sleep so I could be up at a decent hour for the morning workshop sessions. 

Another note from Cris:  Next week I'll post Part II, the Saturday sessions. Please feel free to comment and thank Minou for sharing her experiences with us.

~~ Cris Anson

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

ROMANTICON JUST KEEPS ON GETTING BETTER!


Ellora’s Cave’s fifth Romanticon™ is now history. And it was historic! Hundreds of erotic romance authors and readers gathered together, taking over the entire Grand McKinky (oops, I mean McKinley) Hotel in Canton, Ohio, to celebrate what EC T-shirts say: the Bad Girls of Romance, Refuse To Behave, No Need to Behave When You’re in the Cave, Cave Chaos, Clickie for a Quickie, Ankh if You’re Horny, and the original, Got Sex? We even had our own EC-themed key cards!
Alpha Caveman 2014 De Angelo with trophy / photo credit Cris Anson
And what would Romanticon be without our gorgeous and hunky Cavemen? Congratulations to the deliciously handsome De Angelo, who was voted Alpha Caveman for 2014. Look for him on the cover and centerfold of EC’s 2015 calendars. This dude is HOT! And sweet. And spicy.
Ace, Heidi Lynn Anderson, De Angelo, Axl at Thursday's Meet 'n Greet / photo credit Cris Anson
Rodney, Cathy, Ace, singing about pussy cats at Meet 'n Greet / photo credit Cris Anson
Rodney, De Angelo, Axl, Justin at Meet 'n Greet / photo credit Cris Anson
Thursday evening’s Meet ‘n Greet started the party, with the Cavemen giving sneak previews of their sexy dance moves. Mornings started with Zumba classes by reigning Alpha Caveman Nick Soto, belly dancing and sexy yoga classes. Workshops on Friday and Saturday trended to the fun and outrageous: using life-size blowup dolls whose handlers had to demonstrate outlandish sex positions; or Sexy Charades where participants acted out titles of Ellora’s Cave books; or naughty confessions, where the audience had to answer intimate questions for prizes (yes, I won one). 
First-timer Lori learning to belly dance / photo credit Cris Anson
Zumba class led by Alpha Caveman Nick Soto / photo credit Cris Anson

Blowup dolls workshop / photo credit Cris Anson
The party concluded with the beloved and funny Caveman Rodney hosting a Pizza and Bingo pajama party where the Cavemen worked the room distributing baskets of sex toys and books to prize-winners. Did anyone else notice that not once did he call his favorite number? Oooooooh 69..... And husband and wife Joe and Kathy Kulig both won Bingo prizes. Should we call it fixed?
Caveman Ace gives Kathy Kulig her prize / photo credit Cris Anson
Alpha Caveman De Angelo gives Joe Kulig his prize / photo credit Cris Anson
But the themed dinners took top honors. Both evenings saw Rodney ad libbing with his co-host, the incomparable drag queen Diamond Hunter. We laughed until our sides hurt. Friday evening a buffet was served for New Bollywood night. Shimmering saris were in abundance and the Cavemen were (un)dressed like Arabian Nights just conjured up from the djinni bottle. Yum! Saturday, for the formal sit-down dinner, gowns and glitter of the ladies matched the top hats, tails and canes (no shirts, thank you very much!) of the Cavemen. Imagine all that male pulchritude dancing on stage for a most appreciative audience… swiveling pelvises and rippling abs. *sigh*
Cris with Cavemen at New Bollywood Night / photo credit Lexi Post
Alpha Cavemen De Angelo (L) and Nick (R) with Kristyn Warren / photo credit Cris Anson
Eyes closed, I'm in heaven.... De Angelo + Cris, Old Hollywood (don't know who focused my camera)
Co-hosts Diamond Hunter and Caveman Rodney, Old Hollywood / photo credit Cris Anson
EC Media guru Susan Edwards, Caveman Taylor / photo credit Cris Anson
Cavemen performing Hollywood dance routine / photo credit Cris Anson

Saturday was Awards night as well. Publisher Raelene distributed awards to Ellora’s Cave authors for various milestones and thoughtfully provided a zealously guarded handout afterwards so folks didn’t have to scramble to scribble down names in the dark. Great idea! Congratulations to all the authors and staff who received awards.

Diamond on Rodney's lap, SEXporium / photo credit Cris Anson
Let us not forget the SEXporium, which included reprises of both Cavemen revues, belly dancing by the Cleveland Exotic Dance troupe, and a startlingly real reenactment of what might turn out to be future book covers. Imagine Rodney sitting on a chair and Diamond slithering all over him…. 
But, the most important part of the SEXporium is what all the authors look forward to, the Book Fair. Cavemen notwithstanding, this is what feeds the authors. Talking about BOOKS, meeting readers, and autographing our books for fans old and new. This year seating was arranged by the authors' FIRST name. I'd love to hear comments, pro and con, about this change from alphabetic surnames.
A. S. Fenichel, Book Fair / photo credit Cris Anson
Isabelle Drake and Heidi Lynn Anderson, Book Fair / photo credit Cris Anson
Cristal Ryder (I sat to her right) and Dalton Diaz, Book Fair / photo credit Cris Anson
The one and only Jaid Black signing at Book Fair / photo credit Cris Anson
On a personal note, I had the misfortune to make a fool of myself when I tripped UP a step and fell splat on my face in the Publisher’s Parlor. I do NOT recommend such a grand entrance. Let me publicly thank the EMT who graciously rushed up to her room for her emergency kit and administered TLC and a large bandage to my raw-hamburger knee. If you’re reading this, please tell me your name. I was too shaken up to write it down. The worst part of the incident (aside from my embarrassment) was that I couldn’t dance Saturday night. (But that didn’t stop me from standing on the dance floor taking photos *heh heh*)
Lori, Axl, Liza dancing / photo credit Cris Anson
Justin and Sharel twerking / photo credit Cris Anson
De Angelo celebrating on the dance floor / photo credit Cris Anson
I’ve been to every Romanticon since our beginning at the Quality Inn in Richfield, Ohio in 2009 (where we were all introduced to the original Alpha Caveman, the late and sorely missed Angelo Riguero), and I can’t wait for next year’s! Where do I sign up?  

~~ Cris Anson