"HARNESS" column - July 2005
The Ten Dollar Dungeon
"I recently visited a leather store and was shocked by the prices of some of the items. Floggers and hoods that cost several hundred dollars are way out of my price league. If this is what you need to buy to be a good top then SM is only for rich people! Is there anything you can suggest for players on a budget?"
It's true that some items of SM furniture or hand crafted toys have high prices that reflect the love and care that went into making them. But there are also lots of SM activities that cost no money at all, can be enjoyed using standard household items or use products that can be purchased for under $10. Here are just a few ideas with two disclaimers:
- Please don't use any of the following items on someone who hasn't consented. That's not SM - that's abuse. (If you're unsure of the difference click here for more information.)
- Just because you own an item does not mean that you automatically know how to use it. Please attend an SM workshop or have one-on-one tuition from an experienced SM player to learn the necessary skills yourself.
SM that costs nothing
- Taking on Dominant and submissive roles
- "Bondage without restraints" (i.e. telling the submissive to stand against a wall, grab the edges of the bed or hold any position for a period of time because you tell them to.)
- Boot licking
- Breath control & carotid artery play using your bodies
- Playing with their nipples with your fingers and teeth
- Pressing on pressure points (make sure your fingernails have been filed down or you might damage their nerves)
- Punching muscle groups
- Role Play
- Wrestling/ rough housing
SM using household items
Almost anything can be used in a kinky way. Here are just a few examples:
- Use a pillowcase as a hood. I find this is even more humiliating for the submissive because so little thought needs to go into it. You don't have to carefully lace up an expensive leather hood checking all the while that the nose holes are in the right place, you just grab a pillow, remove the cover and shove it over their head in one move. The fact that it's baggy and lets in a little light makes it even more frustrating!
- Scarves and ties make good blindfolds and gags. Once the submissive has been blindfolded it doesn't matter how much your toys cost - only what they feel like.
- Earplugs can be used for sensory deprivation scenes.
- Hairbrush: you can use the brush part on sensitive parts of their anatomy and the other side as a paddle.
- Cheap household candles. The cheaper the better. (Expensive candles might be made from beeswax, which burns too hot for human skin.) Just hold the candle up high to begin with and then gradually lower it until the submissive has reached their limit. If you haven't done this before use white candles to begin with. As a general rule, the darker the colour of the candle the hotter it burns.
- Ice cubes. Excellent for temperature play, especially once the submissive has been blindfolded.
- Clothes pegs (UK)/ clothes pins (US). The longer you leave these on the more they will hurt when you take them off.
- Boot laces. Just the right thickness to tie up sensitive parts. Why not use the laces to hang the boot from them as well? You can even fill the boot with other household items if you need extra weight!
SM items which cost less than $10
I've found it's best when you're on a budget to avoid sex shops and stick to pharmacies, pet stores, army surplus, hardware stores and home improvement centres. All of the following items can be bought for under $10:
For bondage: rope, bandage scissors, broomstick, pillowcase (as a hood), scarves and ties, Scrim net scarf (from army surplus, has multiple uses), earplugs, bootlaces, padlocks, chain, hooks, cling film (UK)/ Saran wrap (US), tape (be careful if applying tape directly to the skin, some tape - like gaffer tape - will remove skin when you take it off. Sports tape is better for using on skin), elastic bandages, horse bandages (such as "Vetrap" - sticks to itself and nothing else).
For nipples: clothes pegs/ pins (wooden and plastic), snakebite kit, food tongs, crocodile clips, anything that clamps.
For puppy play: dog collar, lead, blanket, beef jerky (or other treats), dog bowl, chew toy (ball chew toys can also be used as a gag), socks placed over hands and held on with tape made good puppy mitts.
For temperature play: cigars, tube of "Deep Heat" cream (UK)/ "Ben Gay" (US), baby bottle full of iced water, cheap household candles, tea lights (remove any foil covering and the metal base to the wick if you're laying the tea light straight onto the skin or you'll cause burns), ice cube bags or trays for making ice (don't place ice against bare skin for more than a few minutes).
For percussive play: wooden spoons, spatula, paint stirrer, steak tenderiser, chopsticks, coat hangers, electric fly swatter, leather belt, riding crop, dowel rod, wooden barbecue skewers, and almost any plastic, wood or metal implement from a hardware store.
For skin sensations: feather duster, hairbrush, toothbrush, nail brush, sheet of sandpaper, honey/ cream/ chocolate or other foodstuffs, cuttings of hardwood plants from the garden, stinging nettles.
Shaving scenes: shaving cream, credit card (blindfold your partner and pretend to shave them as a mind trip), disposable razors (for real shaving), tweezers.
Other items: condoms, lube, latex gloves, antiseptic wipes, kitchen roll (UK)/ paper towels (US), and cheap shower curtains are a substitute for rubber sheeting.
There are many more possibilities out there but hopefully this column will give you some inspiration. In the end, it's not the number of toys you own that makes you a good top, it's knowing what to do with submissives while they're in your care.
Have fun, look after yourselves and the people you play with.
International Mr Leather 2003