"HARNESS" column for Beefyboyz.com - September 2003
How can you tell if a Top can be trusted?
"You're new to the leather scene and meet a hot man in a leather bar. He says he wants to take you home, dominate you and do 'bad' things to you. It's what you've always wanted, but you don't know if the 'bad' things he wants to do to you are things you'll enjoy. How do you know if he can be trusted?"
There's always a small risk involved when you meet a stranger in a bar
and agree to go back to his place for sex - but the risk is greater if
you're also planning to let the stranger tie you up, or get off on
dominating you. How do you know if this Top can be trusted? Here are
some good and bad signs to look out for, (with thanks to G.M.F.A. for providing some of
- Does the guy who wants to dominate you (the "Top") know anyone
else in the bar? Does he have friends there or do the bartenders know
him? If the Top is a regular then you can ask around for a reference
or two. Guys with bad intentions tend to be loners, so the more social
your man is the better. On the other hand, good Tops are rare and
their reputation often precedes them. If this man is any good then the
submissive guys in the bar will probably know about him.
- Have a long enough conversation with the guy to enable you to
assess him. Is he interested in you or just on a power trip? Has he
asked you what your previous experience is, what your limits are, or
if you have any health problems he ought to know about? I'm not
talking about your HIV status here, but he does need to know if you
have a bad back, asthma, poor circulation, claustrophobia, a hernia, a
fear of being left alone or having your mouth covered, for example. Be
honest in your answers - if you pretend to be more experienced than
you are he may take you further than you can cope. Don't worry if it
seems that you're laying down conditions, if he's a good Top he will
tailor the scene within your limits or suggest that he's not right for
you. If he doesn't ask these questions or isn't interested in your
answers you should move on and find someone else.
- Is either of you high on drugs or alcohol? If so, then it may be
best to wait for another night before you embark on a night of bondage
or SM (BDSM) with a stranger. Alcohol and drugs do a good job of
changing the way you respond to pain - if you can't tell if you've
been injured how is a stranger meant to know what your limits are?
Excessive drugs or alcohol can also make you feel ill during a bondage
- It's common to agree a "safe word" or "stop word" before a BDSM scene, which stops the action straightaway. It could be the Top's name, or some other signal you devise to let the Top know that something is wrong. Does this guy want to use safe words? If not, how does he plan to recognise when you have something important to say during the scene?
- Don't be afraid to ask if you can make a date for the session
another day. This will give you the chance to think with your head
instead of your sex drive. It could also lead to a more satisfying scene,
as the Top can give you instructions to help you prepare for your
encounter. The thrill of anticipation can be a wonderful thing.
- Spend some time apart from the guy you're about to go home with.
If the bartenders or other people in the bar wish to warn you about
the Top, they aren't going to do it while you're stood next to him.
- Is he willing to tell you his address and telephone before you set
off? If so, you should pass those details to a friend and let the Top
know that you've done so. As a last resort you could phone home and
leave the details on your own answerphone, pretending that you're
leaving them on a friend's voicemail. A stranger is less likely to
harm you if he knows there are people who will follow you up.
- Similarly, if you leave with your date for the night then speak to
the doorman or security guard on the way out. It doesn't matter what
you say: you could ask the doorman if the club is open on Wednesdays,
or if the dress code allows black leather sneakers. The Top is less
likely to harm you if he knows that people have seen you leave
- Err on the side of caution. Trust any negative instinct you or
your friends have. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
Before anyone panics, I have to say the chances of you meeting a
psychopath are extremely rare. I think I've only met one dangerous guy
in all the hundreds of nights I've spent in leatherbars, and in the
time it took for the guy to go to the toilet a number of men had
come over and warned me about him. However, it's more likely you will
meet a guy who misreads your body language during a scene, wants to
expand your limits but doesn't realise he's beyond them already, or is
just on his own personal trip and isn't thinking about you. The more
knowledge and experience you have, the more confident you'll be about
saying "no" to those people and having a great time with the rest of us.
Have fun, and look after yourselves and the people you play with.
International Mr Leather 2003