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Everyone wants to have mind-blowing sex. We even rate partners on their sexual performance on a regular basis. But here’s the issue: Most folks don’t tell their significant others how to help them get to that toe-clenching orgasm, then they complain when the sex is, well, basic. And if people barely talk about “regular” sex, imagine how hard it is to bring up kinky shit. As someone who is exploring her sexuality and training to be an intimacy coach, I’ve been researching different erotic practices. I was lucky enough to come across Orpheus Black. Orpheus is an expert in bondage, dominance, and sadomasochism, commonly referred to as BDSM, and has been educating those interested in this form of erotica for years. This is bigger than 50 Shades of Grey mania. There are everyday folk who love and live in this world. Unfortunately, there’s still a stigma around the topic, which curtails exploration for those who are curious. So, if you’re even remotely interested in expanding your sexual repertoire, the interview below is for you.

CASSIUS: So, how did you get into BDSM?

Orpheus Black: I found the BDSM lifestyle by accident. I was dating a woman who I’d been with off and on since junior high school and another woman, who we were in a polyamorous relationship with, at the time. While [they] both said they were interested in doing some exploring sexually, my middle school sweetheart was like, “You know, I’m into the BDSM, kinky thing,” and I had no idea what it was.

C.: What did you do?

OB: When she explained it to me, I was like, “You want me to hit you? I’m a Black guy. I’m not going to put my hands on you. That’s white people stuff.” And she left me for a Dom (a dominant sexual partner who takes on the role of the superior and often controls the other participant, a submissive). And to show you how ignorant I was, I thought Dom was the guy’s name. When they didn’t work out, she said to me, “Look, I think you’re a dominant man,” which I agreed with, and she took me to a [BDSM] dungeon (an indoor space designated specifically for BDSM play). As soon as I walked in, I knew [BDSM] was the path I wanted to travel.

C.: A lot of people think BDSM is “rich white people stuff.”  What advice do you have for people who are interested in this kind of play time?

OB: First of all, my general advice is that your fantasy and desires may not be your partner’s, so you have to accept that. Phrases like “I’m your master, and you’re my slave,” can also turn people off. But you don’t have to call me master for me to fill that role in your life. You can call me exactly who I am, and I [can] still fulfill that role in your life and vice versa.

C.: You mentioned earlier that you’re in a polyamorous relationship. Is that required in BDSM?

OB: Polyamory is not a must in BDSM. You do find polygamous dynamics in BDSM, but you also find that there are monogamous practitioners and those with no primary partner. It’s what you make it. Whatever your sexuality [desires], there’s going to be someone who wants to play a role in it. The only thing that’s staunch and strict is the idea around physical safety and consent.

C.: Tell us more. How do practitioners handle consent and safety?

OB: There are hard and soft limits. Hard limits are non-negotiable and must be respected. I’m not going to do it. Say with my sexuality; performing anal play and sex on me is a not an option. It’s a hard limit. There are some soft limits, like a little bit of pain, but not too much, things that may be done under certain circumstances or with certain people as trust develops. One of the ways of negotiating safety is to have real conversations with the person that you’re dealing with. You also have to invest in this lifestyle. I’m going to make a remark that I’ve made before and people don’t agree with, but I believe that if you can’t afford to do BDSM safely then you shouldn’t do it.  If you can’t afford to go to a class to learn about rope bondage, the history of BDSM, anatomy, or negotiation, don’t engage in the practice. If you can’t afford to buy the correct type of toys, I don’t believe you should be doing it. For example, people use the wrong rope all the time because it’s cheaper—but it has pesticides on it. Why would you want to put that between someone’s legs or in someone’s mouth? A lot of people say, well money shouldn’t play a role, but tell that to the people who have been injured or died because of simple, preventable mistakes.

C.: What else should beginners know?

OB: The first thing you have to do to create mind-blowing sex is to have an amazing conversation. Everything starts with a discussion. If not, I’m guessing what you like. I’m guessing what you need. I’m guessing whether that sound you made is a good one. Be transparent about what mind-blowing has sex been like for you in the past. A lot of people end up having bad sex because they aren’t furnishing their partners with [enough] information. Next, is putting yourself second. I’m allowing someone to use my body for their sexual expression and my sexual gratification for a mutually beneficial arrangement; that is a portion of submission. The idea that we can both engage in sex and I’m going to arrive the same time as you isn’t accurate. Couples who’ve been together a long time can do that, but when you don’t know each other, someone [must] be the facilitator.

C.: What are some of the biggest misconceptions about BDSM?

OB: BDSM and sex aren’t the same things. You have sex within the context of BDSM, [but] it’s about being in the mindset. Now, if you want me to explain how to “spank your partner’s ass” I’d say have her [or him] bend over something safe to support themselves, making a cup with your hand, then pat the butt, and that’s technically correct. But have you ever been spanked before by your parents? Was it sexual? No, because there’s a frame of mind a person has to create to have you there.

You have to shape the person’s mind around the idea of the roles that are going to be played. There’s also the repetition factor. The more you learn your partner and consistently engage in sex, the more opportunities you have to have mind-blowing sex. You don’t have to be in a committed monogamous relationship, but if you want [great] sex, you should have regular sex with steady partners. Great sex happens when trust develops because people are willing to do more and experiment more. Trying to push boundaries the first or second time we meet may be jarring and triggering.

C.: We know it feels good, but what are some of the other benefits of getting into BDSM?

OB: BDSM is just as beneficial as having any healthy sex life. [But] when you identify as being a submissive, a dominant or a person who desires to engage in this type of behavior, being in that space is liberating. So, I think that’s beneficial.

CASSIUS: Okay, let’s say you’ve done your due diligence and know this is something for you. How can people get started in the BDSM world?

OB: You can go to any BDSM site like FetLife to join a community.

C.: What’s the biggest takeaway you want readers to have?

 OB: Let go of [society’s idea of] right and wrong right off the bat. What works for you is what’s important, not religious theories and dogma or practices. Figure out what is sexually gratifying for you. And learn to love and accept that about yourself, then live your life accordingly. More than anything, BDSM is about being free to express yourself, so I think that’s the most important thing because if this is who you are, then those are the people that will be drawn to you.

Chelsea A. Hamlet is a freelancer for CASSIUS.

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