When I first ventured out into the fetish community, I’d had no experience with impact play and very little with pain play. I knew I liked bondage, and that was about it.
That changed pretty quickly after Saskia and KinkyKittyPlayKat introduced me to impact play — especially as KKPK began asking me more and more often if she could practice on me with her singletail when we got together for rope practice. I was learning to enjoy the endorphin rush that came with being spanked or whipped, and I was slowly becoming aware of the complex emotional chemistry of consent, trust, fear and surrender that make up power exchange. But I was still puzzled when I heard of or read about “subspace” and how awesome it was.
It turned out there was a good reason for that: Trying to describe subspace to someone who’s never been there is like trying to describe dropping acid, or maybe an orgasm, to someone who has never experienced either. It’s different for everyone, but everyone who’s been there knows it when they see it happening to someone else.
One of the first times Lily and I went to an event at the RACK Room together, it happened to be my birthday. I went to the kitchen to fetch us a couple of drinks; meanwhile, KKPK spotted Lily and asked her if she could give me a birthday spanking.
I arrived with the drinks, only to be told to strip. All righty then.
Try to Detect It
Before long KKPK had me strung up by the wrists to one of the suspension points in the ceiling and the birthday whipping commenced. She started off relatively gently, snicking me with just the tip of the whip’s popper and spreading the impacts all over my back.
I tried to relax and not waste energy tensing up or flinching, working to control my breathing the way Saskia had taught me. Inhale for a count of five, hold for a count of four, exhale for a count of six. In, hold, out; in, hold, out as the deceptively quiet little cracks droned on and on relentlessly.
After just a few minutes I was mildly surprised to find that the steadily paced whip cracks were actually becoming almost soothing and hypnotic; I began to feel as if I was soaking up the pain and sinking into it at the same time. The noise in the room began to recede even as my breathing seemed to grow in intensity and power. I started tingling, feeling the clarity you get from hyperventilating, but without the panic or distress that usually accompanies it.
KKPK suddenly stopped whipping me; she and Lily came over to where I dangled, wondering why she’d stopped so soon.
Feeling my fingers for circulation, KKPK said, “Voodoo cane deer?”
“What?” I said.
“A raffle diet,” Lily said. “Jet chicken or new. Winsome otter rug?”
“Um — it’s kind of noisy in here,” I said. “I can’t hear you very well.”
“Pinky sun?” KKPK asked Lily.
“Deaf linty,” Lily replied, sounding amused. They began to untie me.
I started to protest, saying we’d barely started and besides, why were they speaking gibberish, but realized I didn’t much care.
(Lily told me later how that conversation transpired from their perspective:
KKPK: “You doing okay in there?”
Lily: “You’re awfully quiet; just checking on you. Want some water, love?”
KKPK: “Think he’s done?”
I plunked down, realizing I was wearing a goofy grin and that I didn’t care about that, either.
“I’ll get you some water,” Lily said. She kissed my forehead and headed for the kitchen.
“Wait!” I said, alarmed. “Let me get that!” Dommes simply don’t fetch things for their submissives!
I jumped up and hurried past her to the kitchen, saying —
No, wait. I was still sitting there with a goofy grin as KinkyKittyPlayKat finished untying my hands.
“You did great,” she said, unwinding the last wrap. “I think that’s the most I’ve ever whipped anyone.”
“What; five minutes?” I finally managed to say something out loud and somewhat lucidly.
“Try 45 minutes.” She chuckled.
I checked my brain’s instant replay. Yep — we’d been barely five minutes into the whipping when KKPK and Lily abruptly decided to stop. Furthermore brain sayeth not.
And yet… I looked at my wrists. They were deeply, clearly marked with the hemp I’d just been tied with. I was dripping with sweat; my shoulders and wrists ached fiercely. My body was offering opposing testimony from my brain — no way had I gotten so tired and sore in just five —
KinkyKittyPlayKat had just misted rubbing alcohol all over my back and was gently dabbing it off.
“I said, ‘I need to disinfect your back,’ ” she (apparently) repeated.
So I was sweaty, sore and ropemarked — and my back wouldn’t have the shrieking fantods over some antiseptic after only five minutes of whipping.
It would seem my brain had become a hostile witness.
Lily came back with the water and after a few more minutes, she and KKPK let me stagger to my feet and shamble into the bathroom. I looked over my shoulder into the mirror.
My back sported more red marks than a footbal player’s SATs. I stared, astonished, at the mass of raw hamburger. I was covered with bloody welts, my arms were sore from being strung up by my wrists, I ached all over, and my brain still insisted I’d been tied up and whipped for only a few minutes.
Furthermore, I felt great. I surveyed the testimony, thinking I should at least be a bit frightened at my memory’s intransigence. My back, arms and shoulders were all loudly complaining about the abuse and promising I’d hear from their lawyers. I was sweaty, shaky and woozy.
But I felt wonderful. Like I was a kid again, catapulting myself out of bed on a summer morning and racing down the street on my bike. I was young, strong and invincible; life was nothing but an unfolding series of fulfilled promises and exciting adventures.
So while my brain continued stubbornly refusing to match my body’s testimony, I decided it didn’t know what it was talking about. Or at least that I didn’t know what it was talking about. Grinning, I let Mr. Stupidhead do his business, washed my hands and sauntered back out of the bathroom. Lily handed me the bottle of water again.
“Drink up, Pet. Don’t want you getting dehydrated.” She smiled.
I smiled back and raised the water in an imaginary toast, taking a swig, missing and splattering it all over my face and chest. I was suddenly trembling as violently as a Miley Cyrus buttock. The whipping, twisting and shouting were done; apparently it was time to shake it up baby now.
Saskia was walking by at the moment; she and Lily both frowned at me. “Sit your ass down and eat something right now!” they said in unison.
Okay, so maybe my blood sugar was a bit low, too.
I scarfed down some carbs and protein and felt much better. The shakes stopped, I mean — I already felt great.
It was a big day: My birthday, a good play party, first time I really went into subspace. Oh, and Saskia and Lily also voluntold me to be the Christmas tree and stapled Christmas lights all over my chest.1
This Ain’t Your Daddy’s Star Trek
Ask 10 kinky people what subspace is and you’ll get 15 different answers. All the way from “They ain’t so sech thang” to “It’s no different from runner’s high” to “It’s the most transcendental thing that ever existed since John Lennon discovered LSD.”
Here’s my answer: I have no idea. I’m sure it’s more than my imagination; I’ve experienced runner’s high, and it’s not runner’s high; I’ve never dropped acid, so I have no idea whether it’s transcendental.
I do believe, at least for me, that it starts physiologically — but also that there’s far more to it than that. I experience the analgesic euphoria you get from a good runner’s high, yes, but it’s much more intense. There’s also an aspect that feels hypnotic to me — the steady rhythm of the impact play, the sensory deprivation of bondage, the soft but commanding voice of whoever I’m playing with.
Lily and I began to gain the reputation of being heavy players in our area that night. I’ve seen people take a great deal more punishment than I’ve ever survived, but Lily and I connect during play in a way that somehow gives us both enormous endurance and me the capacity to tolerate huge amounts of pain. We also learned I have to be very careful who I play with; I get incoherent when I’m in subspace and am unable to use a safeword or ask for help. I need to play with people who me well enough to protect me, or at least have Lily observe and run interference if needed.
All in All I Gotta Say it Was a Good Day
I was sitting on the floor shortly before we left, chatting with Saskia and Lily. “Well, kids,” Saskia said. “Did you have a good timmmmmmmmmmmKAY???” She poked my arm.
I blinked. “What?”
“For the third time, are you okay?” Lily said. She and Saskia were leaning forward, peering intently at me.
“I’m fine! Why are you staring at me?”
“Hunnybunny,” Saskia said, “you’ve been sitting there with your eyes rolled up in your pretty little head.”
“I have not!” I protested.
“I know brain rot when I see it,” Saskia interrupted. “Lily, don’t let him drive home.”
“Nope,” Lily said gravely. So I didn’t.
Yeah; it was a big day. But I still felt great.