Event review: Kinkfest UK 2014

Earlier this year, I was asked to take part and teach workshops at the UK’s largest and newest BDSM educational conference and event, Kinkfest UK. To say it was an honour to have been able to take part is an understatement and over the course of its 2 day debut, it quickly became my favorite event of 2014 and one of my favourite BDSM events of this past decade.

Concentrating more on the safety and knowledge aspects of BDSM during the day by hosting a large and very diverse assortment of workshops and classes, while during the evenings having a large environment to practice in and have fun with new-found skills, as well as having live performances of fire play and Japanese rope bondage, Kinkfest UK has it all. In fact, I think the only thing it lacked was a market.

Held in the same venue as they hold the Midland peer rope evenings at the Xtasia club in Birmingham, I ran several flogging workshops over the course of the event and I also managed to get in some very fun rope (photos below). They have expressed wishes to continue Kinkfest UK as a yearly event and I for one really hope they do. This event was simply awesome and given the chance, I would gleefully attend again.

The First flogging workshop on the 26th July:

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My playtime while attending the peer rope workshop on the 26th July:

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The last flogging workshop on the 27th July:

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My rope model and workshop partner for the event: Jitsuka.
Photos courtesy of Kinkfest UK.
Photography by Red Fox Photography.
All images are copyright © KinkfestUK 2014.

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Flogging, dragon tail and impact play workshops for 2014

Every year I tend to get many requests to do workshops where I teach people safety and techniques on various styles of BDSM play.

I do not charge anyone for doing a workshop. All I ask is that my fuel/travel expenses are covered and that I am allowed a Kabunza trade stand at the event in question.

Having a trade stand at a workshop/event allows me to earn the money for my time separately as well as allowing me to share safe knowledge as freely as possible. Essentially minimising what an event needs to charge people for having the good sense to actually do the research and learning in their BDSM interests.

My events page has been updated to include all events that I will definitely be attending in 2014.

This year seems to be filling up unusually fast and I still have several requests to consider, so I thought it might be best to publish a blog post reminding people to get their requests for workshops in as quickly as possible.

My contact details can be found: Here.

Don’t delay if you want me for a specific date or event. Once I place an event on my blog page, it is pretty much set in stone unless the event itself is cancelled.

Flogging workshop and first-time Kabunza trade stand at the BBB

Whenever I am asked to host a workshop, give tuition or give a demonstration, I always leap at the chance. It is incredibly rewarding and I truly believe that one of the best things anyone with a well practiced skill can do for the BDSM community is to pass on their knowledge to willing students safely. There are a lot of people out there who are reckless (even dangerous) but teach their activities anyway, (often simply to stroke their own egos) despite how unsafe it may be. It can sometimes be very confusing or even scary enough to put people off trying or learning new things. My recommendation to anyone taking advice from anyone on any BDSM activity is to do a little research into the competence of the person(s) giving out their information and also briefly on the subject matter in question (be it flogging, whips, shibari or any BDSM skill) using that magical tool: The internet. Trust me, for the safety of both yourself and those you play with, it never hurts to do a little research and anyone with real knowledge or skill will be apparent from the tat.

I tend to be very hands-on and interactive in my workshops; I like people to ask questions, I like people to talk to me about their own experiences so that I can explain or perhaps even learn something new myself (nobody ever stops learning) and I always try to get people out of their seats to physically practice anything I am trying to teach. Actual practice of any skill makes perfect and I think being able to actively talk people through and demonstrate safely as they are attempting new skills tends to alleviate a very large portion of simple first-time learning hiccups.

Having said that; I am happy to say that the flogging workshop at the Birmingham Bizarre Bazaar received some wonderful feedback and comments. It seemed as though everyone had a wonderful time and I cannot express how rewarding it is to watch people putting their new-found teachings into practice over the course of an event (having a room full of flying florantining floggers can be an incredibly fun thing to watch).

Even the lovely Mistress Victoria from Uberkinky (who was a pleasure to finally meet face to face) wrote a sparkling review of the experience, which you can read on her website blog: Here.

In response to the many people who have asked me to do some Youtube videos and tutorials: I do hope to get some made eventually, but it is finding someone who would be willing to film me and has decent enough equipment and software to do so. It will be done, it is just a question of time and expense (anyone wishing to participate in this kind of project, please feel free to contact me).

And to answer the question that so many people directed at me about my collection of floggers at the workshop: The straight handled floggers were from Jack’s Floggers, The ball handled floggers were from Jack’s floggers and Edgeplay and the majority of the floggers that you saw that evening (the poi floggers) were from our very own Kabunza Craftwerks (we do accept custom orders if you would like a personalised set made).

As well as the workshop, it was also Kabunza‘s first ever trade stand at the BBB. We received some wonderful feedback on our products and many people walked home with shiny new Kabunza collars, jewellery and floggers. We are gleefully looking forward to any possibilities of trading there again. The atmosphere and people at this event are simply awesome.

To sum up this post, I would just like to send out a few thankyou’s :

  • To the BBB market and after party organizers for offering us the opportunity to have our Kabunza trade stand represented at their event, for the ample support they gave us, for allowing me the honour of hosting a workshop for them and for their very encouraging and complimentary words throughout.
  • To everyone who made a purchase at the Kabunza trade stand. We know from all your lovely comments and appreciation photos that our hard work is going to good homes. We hope you get as much joy from them through their use and wear as we have had in creating them.
  • To everyone who attended the workshop. I hope everyone had fun (I know many did from the comments that I have received on Facebook and Fetlife but I never tire from hearing your thoughts and I am sure the readers of my blog would love to hear your comments if anyone would like to post any below).
  • To my ever diligent partner for pouring her blood, sweat and tears (three of my favourite things to squeeze out of her) into customising and altering almost every purchased Kabunza item at the event. She really worked hard.
  • To my Benjamin. Who, without him, none of the above would of happened and who embraced everything that I inflicted upon him at the workshop (and afterwards) with a delicious smile. As I have always said; “It takes two to play”, and in that respect I am always greatly appreciative of him and feel incredibly lucky to have him as my own.

Kinbaku and Shibari: Private tuition with Esinem and Nina Russ – 14/10/12

From the 12th October -14th October, Benjamin and I spent the weekend in London under the tuition of the Shibari and Kinbaku professionals : Esinem and Nina Russ.

Rope play has always been an interest of mine (unfortunately, having claws can make it difficult to master effectively; ergo, I have never done advanced courses), but when Benjamin was introduced to images and movies of it, he fell in love with the artform and expressed a huge desire to learn it. I, in turn, have nurtured this desire (as well as offering to be his practice model) and after several months of play, practice and research, higher learning for him was inevitably required.

When it comes to any form of bondage, especially rope bondage, safety and knowledge is paramount. I highly recommend that it is not attempted without at least being taught the basics, either by research using the internet or books, or by attaining the services of an experienced teacher. There are many aspects to take note of during this kind of play; including asphyxiation and nerve damage. Do not be an idiot; Play safely.

To this end we contacted Esinem for his offer on residential private tuition and made plans to visit him at his home and studio in London for an intensive training course to further our learning.

After copious hours of practice and training with both Esinem and Nina Russ (living and breathing rope bondage for three days), I personally have developed a great respect for the rope bondage models that you see in all the images across the internet. I make it a personal rule to experience anything that I intend to put anyone else through (this is true for all forms of BDSM play that I practice). This kind of bondage can be incredibly painful (especially rope suspension). For me, the weekend was a significant learning experience which tested my endurance and stamina to great lengths. For Benjamin; well, let us just say he has returned from the experience with a slightly frazzled brain from taking in so much information, sore fingers from extensive use of the rope and a significantly vaster knowledge of the artform (as well as his own set of Asanawa Tossa Lite 6mm Jute ropes, a birthday present from me and my partner).

We do plan on having further private tuition with Esinem and Nina in the near future, but we must first put what we have learned over this last weekend into frequent practice. This kind of skill takes a great amount of time and dedication.

Thanks to the wonderful Nina Russ, I also experienced full rope suspension. Another thing which I do not recommend unless in the hands of an experienced and well practiced individual. To quote Esinem’s website:

“As safety is a prime concern, please be aware that, like so many good things in life, there is always possibility of accidental injury. Rope suspension is undoubtedly edge play and should only be undertaken by those who are physically and mentally up to the challenge. Suspension is safe but not without risk, regardless of proficiency or experience, so is definitely RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink) rather than entirely SSC (Safe Sane and Consensual). The more extreme suspensions require a high degree of fitness and often a reasonable pain threshold, so don’t imagine everyone can do what professional models make look easy!”

Luckily, I was physically and mentally adequate, however, as I mentioned earlier in this blog post, the whole weekend experience (full suspension, partial suspension and constant floor practice) has given me a profound respect for rope bondage models. It is definitely not easy.

Despite the aches and pains that I was suffering by the end of the weekend and despite the fact that I am not naturally submissive, I could not resist the chance to be tied up and partially suspended by the man himself.

Enjoy the photos.

 

All photography is unedited.

Photos courtesy of Esinem and Nina Russ.
Photography by Nina Russ.
All images are Copyright © 2012 AemiliaHawk. All Rights Reserved.

A Velvet Thought – Mistresses Musings: What is the difference?

Recently I was asked what the difference is between a professional Dominatrix and a lifestyle Dominatrix. I thought my reply was worth posting to blog and I have thrown financial Domination in the mix as well because this has also been asked of me in the past:

A financial Dominatrix has no skill in any of the BDSM arts. They are not a true Mistress, they simply pose as one. It is unlikely you will meet them anywhere apart from online. All they will do is demand that you give them money or pay their bills. They demand cash in exchange for nothing (aside from possible verbal abuse or online humiliation).
These people tend to give professional Domination a bad name because many people fail to differentiate between financial and professional Domination as there are quite a few professional Dominants who practice financial Domination.
I personally loath this practice. In my opinion they are on a par with beggars or ‘spongers’. I believe that money given should be money earned and I class financial Dominants as lower than pond scum on the evolutionary ladder.

A professional Dominatrix is basically one who plays in a dungeon with a paying client. The client has a fetish, kink or BDSM fantasy and would like to act it out. It is a form of drama therapy and while it may be erotic or sensual, there is never any sex ( if sex is involved then they are a prostitute, not a Dominatrix).
The majority of professional Dominatrices have a normal life when they leave the dungeon (When I say majority, I can only comment on my own experiences and acquaintances. Around 90% of all I have met. And when I say normal, I mean of course a vanilla existence). They do not spend a large portion of their life studying BDSM practices. They have a very basic knowledge of the equipment, normally what they have been told by friends, played with in the bedroom, have seen on TV or what they may have had shown to them by other Mistresses or submissives at their dungeon of residence. This level of skill coupled with common sense and safety is often enough to deal with a large portion of paying clients. Most clients have a very generalised fetish (often something they have seen on television or on the internet) which tend to be very simple to do. They do not often attend BDSM events or clubs because they consider the play their job and there is no profit in attending such places.
I must stress that this opinion is based solely on the professional Dominants that I have met. The other 10% tend to be incredibly skilled because they are usually both lifestyle as well as professional. The key is, of course, noticing this before passing judgement simply on their choice of profession. The lifestyle professionals tend to do it for a living because they love BDSM so much.

A lifestyler (or lifestyle Dominatrix, if you prefer) is one who does it because they love it. It is part of their everyday life. They often go to great lengths to get high quality or specialised equipment (I rarely use the equipment on show in the dungeon as I prefer my own) and they spend a great deal of time learning the skills involved in their chosen BDSM activities. They tend to attend the events, clubs and venues because it is their passion and not simply a job.

Essentially it comes down to this: Give a financial Dominatrix a flogger and she will demand money from you to have the privilege of passing it to her hand (and she will have no clue as to how to use it or have any inclination to do so. Of course, this is if you actually manage to meet them in the flesh), give a professional Dominatrix a flogger and (9 times out of 10) she will show you how to hit someone with it for money, give a lifestyle Dominatrix a flogger (preferably someone that has a few years experience) and she will show you how to make it dance.

There is a lot of information on the internet about the differences. These are of course just my own observations and opinions. I am forever hoping to have these opinions improved upon, but this is how they stand to date.

I am both lifestyle and professional. I am of the minority. I do this for a living next to my small business (even my small business is BDSM orientated) and it has been my passion and a major part of my life for almost 10 years.

Constructive opinions appreciated if anyone would care to give their own interpretations. Is my opinion flawed?

So, you want to be a professional Dominatrix?

I receive regular emails and messages asking me questions on how to go about becoming a professional Dominatrix and I do offer training sessions in my dungeon (phone me for details if you have a specific training in mind). However, there are a certain number of base truths that anyone who aspires to get into this kind of business should know.

  1. This kind of work takes a specific type of mindset and a certain mentality. It is not the kind of thing for the faint of heart and it is not just about wearing some fetish clothing or sounding bossy. Clients will know if you are less than genuine. In my opinion, a decent intellect and a basic knowledge of human anatomy is mandatory, and if you are not naturally dominant or you do not already have an interest in fetish, kink or sadomasochism, then I would highly recommend you give it up as a bad idea before you make yourself look incredibly stupid.
  2. It is not easy work. This job can be very draining emotionally, mentally and physically. I am certain that from the observers point of view, this kind of lifestyle can look incredibly glamorous, fun and exciting. Those who are successful tend to make it look easy. But there is a lot of work to be done both in and out of the dungeon before sessions can take place. Profiles, websites, updates, advertisements, photo shoots, constant correspondence 24/7 with both potential clients and time wasters, references to check, set up before and clean up after each session, travel and any specific arrangements that need to be made beforehand. To say it can get stressful is an understatement.
  3. You get out of it what you put into it. You are directly responsible for any success or failure that you achieve. The energy and money that I invest in developing my business, equipment or skills, directly reflects my success and earnings. Quality brings longevity, knowledge brings respect, investment brings potential and all are required to bring profit. You will also find that this business is very seasonal or fickle. Certain times of the year can be incredibly busy whereas at other times you may not spank a single bottom for weeks. It is a very true barometer of the economy; when the economy is healthy, people feel that they can spend on the luxuries, when the economy is slow, the mortgage is more important than tribute for a Mistress.
  4. You may meet mentally questionable people in this lifestyle and business. Most tend to be very respectful and intelligent, however, you do get a few who look to abuse and take advantage (some are prone to violence). You learn to identify these people fairly quickly, but you must keep your wits in this kind of business and be able to handle yourself both verbally and physically. A lacking in self-confidence or being emotionally sensitive will mean this kind of work will bring you nothing but mental anguish.
  5. This kind of profession can be very hard on relationships. Family, friends or partners; not everyone will agree with your choice of work or lifestyle. This is one of the reasons why the mundane are called mundane, they will never understand. The best you can hope for is that they simply accept. Many people will make assumptions, often negative, about you, your motives or your character. I have also noticed that despite being a lifestyle Dominatrix, even other members of the BDSM scene may take an active dislike to a professional practitioner of BDSM.

These basics by no means cover everything and I am sure other professionals will have different views. They are just a few personal observations which I have learned in my years as a lifestyle Dominatrix as well as my years in the professional business and I am simply relaying to those who have been seeking my advice or to any who may seek it in the future.

I would not recommend seeking advice on practicing professional BDSM from anyone other than those who have experience practicing professional BDSM (you may be able to learn skills from those who frequent the BDSM scene, but you will not learn the finer details of how to run your business from anyone other than those who have hands on knowledge, no pun intended).

It is unlikely that this will be my last ‘advice post’. Some of my previous blog posts which have been written with the intention of giving help advice to the aspiring professional Dominatrix include:

Preventing “bounce”

Tipping the hourglass

My only hope is that this helps people to decide and accept the consequences of their own life choices.