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BDSM Film Review: Dogs Don’t Wear Pants (2019)

The visually and thematically stunning Dogs Don’t Wear Pants (Helsinki Filmi, Finland/Latvia 2019) directed by J.-P. Valkeapää has been universally applauded by critics, as it’s easily the finest Finnish film of the year, and not just because of it’s realistic handling of BDSM and the psychology therein, but for the high production values and cinematography that is so often lacking in Finnish cinema.

BDSM gets a bad rap in media. It’s either a backstory for horrific deaths (in style of C.S.I.) or an abusive, superficial pastime (in style of Fifty Shades of Grey). Very rarely do we see it set in its rightful context — an exploration of the dark side of the human mind, with people who have real and normal lives when they are not wearing skintight latex.

Dogs Don’t Wear Pants breaks this stereotype, by showing us vulnerable people, leading normal lives, enriched and interrupted by short moments of absolute pain — or pleasure. The banality of the daily grind, in this case a surgeon and a physiotherapist, is juxtaposed with the dark underworld we choose to enter, either by choice or by obsession.

The hallmarks of a good screenplay are non-predictability and not reaching for too much. Written by Juhana Lumme and the director, Dogs Don’t Wear Pants excels in both, for its plot outline is rather simple and when written out, not that interesting. It deftly avoid all the usual cliches, keeping you guessing what will be the endgame for the two characters involved. This is not a movie for a sequel or promotional tie-ins, it’s a one-time affair. Like many great movies, there is no reason to see the movie again once you’ve gone through the rollercoaster.

From a BDSM and kinkster standpoint, the portrayal of BDSM is above average in realism. While some minor details irritate an experienced kinkster (a $10 Aliexpress dog mask makes an appearance in the background; a fetish party is filled with extras in gear you wouldn’t really see in a real party), the activities are fleshed out in detail with remarkable realism, including hardcore breath control with some intelligent safety controls depicted.

Pekka Strang (previously having excelled in Tom of Finland) and Krista Kosonen deliver top-notch performances full of nuance, understatement and desperation. Pietari Peltola’s cinematography makes each shot an unique composition, and leads you to its dark undertones with selective focus, migraine-inducing visuals and tight close-ups.

As a final piece of unintended irony, me and LeatherSamFin went to see the film on its opening night in Finnkino’s Tennispalatsi while wearing our awesome dog masks. Of course, this being Finland, the country of the bland and context-free rules, the security at the theater asked us to remove our masks. After this, the director publicly tweeted that yes, you can watch this film with a dog mask on.

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Situational Awareness in BDSM

Situational awareness is perceiving, understanding, and predicting the situation you are currently facing. While traditionally used in fields such as aviation and emergency response, most of its principles are easily adapted to the special needs of a BDSM session as well.

First Part: Pay Attention

The human sense system, while adaptive and quite resilient, is also fairly limited. Especially in stressful situations, our focus becomes narrower and concentrated on the most threatening thing we observe. While this evolutionary trait is useful in the jungle, it can be dangerous in a complex situation requiring rational action.

Maintaining attention of your surroundings is hard work, which is why most of us drift through routine without thought. This is dangerous in BDSM, as a lot of scenes have a potential to turn lethal fairly quickly. While we are unable to see everything all the time, some key thoughts should be going through your mind on a repetitive cycle:

  • Is my sub alive? Is he breathing? Is he moving?
  • Has anything changed in my sub’s behavior seemingly without reason?
  • Has anything changed in my environment, even slightly? Do I smell smoke? What is that noise outside?
  • How long have we been playing? What’s my energy level right now? Am I losing concentration?
  • Am I affected by feelings? Am I pissed off about something that has nothing to do with my sub?

Perceiving is not just using your five senses. It’s also using your intuition from past experience. If something doesn’t feel right, there’s a good chance it isn’t.

Second Part: Understand What You See

Seeing is nothing without understanding. Once you notice something unusual, you must interpret what you see and judge it in the context of a session. You must use your experience and rational thought to pick out the important from the noise. Some examples of this are:

  • Did my sub stop moving because he fell asleep, or because he stopped breathing?
  • Is that sling creaking normally, or is it about to break?
  • Am I so pissed off about work that I can’t concentrate on my sub?
  • Is my sub making all that noise because he loves it, or because something is wrong?

Third Part: Predict And Act

As a top in a BDSM scene, you have ultimate control and usually no-one to negotiate with. This also means that you are obligated to act decisively based on your understanding of what is about to happen. These decisions can be for example:

  • Something is not right with my sub. I’ll untie him and we’ll figure out then what’s going on.
  • I feel I can’t concentrate on this session, so we will take a break right now, regardless of what my sub thinks.
  • That sling sounds like it might break. I need to stop fucking and get my sub out of it.
  • I don’t know where this smoke is coming from, but it’s getting hard to see my sub. I’ll untie him.

Playing with multiple people at the same time

Situational awareness becomes a lot more difficult when there are more people in the scene, regardless if they are dominants or submissives. This also applies when you play in social situations, such as parties. You must maintain a clear picture of everything that is happening around you, including what other dominants are doing.

To maintain control of a situation, there should never be more than one person in charge of a sub at any given time. While multiple people can of course handle a sub simultaneously, only one person is in charge of the scene and safety. This is not usually automatically clear, so it should be pointed out explicitly while having a scene.

Case Study: Interrupting another top’s scene

While attending a fetish room party in a group of about 20 people, I noticed a sub, immobilized and gagged, seemingly dominated by multiple people on the hotel room bed. As the party went on, and people came and went, several times I noticed I was the only person in the room along with the sub. As it was not my scene, I inconspicuously monitored him while people were coming and going.

Eventually, as I was having a chat with another unrelated person, I noticed the sub making gagged pleading noises. As there was no top in the room, I went to the sub, removed the gag and asked if everything was alright. He said it wasn’t, and he wanted out. I proceeded to untie him, and finally found the top in another hotel room, unaware of his sub’s plight. The top was under the assumption that someone else was in charge of the sub, which clearly wasn’t the case.

Leaving a person unattended while gagged is always potentially lethal. This was highly unprofessional of the top.

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Writings

Gearblast USA 2018: Event Review

A few participants chilling at the pool

Executive Summary: Gearblast US is a unique gear-intensive weekend, straddling nicely between social and sexual, and providing a wide variety of gear interest to cater to most gearheads. While the venue is a bit out of the way, it’s perfect in size and layout for an event of this nature. Strong, professional volunteerism provided excellent practical arrangements from good food to an excellent play space.

Gearblast US, one of the three Gearblast event franchises in existence, took place May 3-7 in The Dunes Resort in Douglas, Michigan. Being the fourth incarnation of the US franchise, this was my first visit to it. Having previously done both the UK and EU versions of the event, I was curious to see how this 4-day event compared, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Venue

The Dunes is a gay-resort, hosting other sexual events as well, so the venue and staff are well-equipped to deal with special clientele. As the venue itself did not have capacity to host all 150+ participants, some were in overflow motels within walking distance. While there’s nothing luxurious about the Dunes, the rooms were clean, housekeeping efficient, and security present; that’s all you need for a great weekend.

Concept

Gimp waiting for lunch

The concept of Gearblast is somewhat loosely defined: get together in gear. This is probably intentional to cater to the fact that not everyone goes to it for sexual purposes, and you can get a lot out of the weekend purely on a social basis. Also, due to US legal issues, genital exposure is forbidden in public; however, bondage play and other mild forms of touching took place all around the venue. It’s also perfectly fine to wear any gear at any point during the weekend.

Talking about gear, all forms of gear were present during the weekend, from American football to full-on furry costumes. There’s no reason to fret your particular fetish isn’t compatible with the weekend.

The volunteers paid particular attention to the non-sexual aspects, with add-on events ranging from a gear walk and lacrosse match to Pup Olympics. 

Playspace

Me getting into some trouble at the playspace

The playspace was well designed, with some unique pieces of furniture, providing ample facilities and space for bondage play, or just sex in gear if that’s your thing. It was also continuously monitored by volunteer Dungeon Masters, providing an additional level of safety. I volunteered for a DM shift, and the training was thorough and professional. Also, several workshops, from saline play to electro, were organized in the play space, providing an interesting educational aspect as well.

Arrangements

This is technically not public genitalia exposure, but I’m not a lawyer…

Registration, food, and information flow were all professionally organized. A Telegram group kept everyone up to date. It’s a sign of heavy volunteer effort that you don’t really notice that everything just works. Food was standard American fare, with enough calories to keep you energized for the whole day.

GBUS also has a no-nonsense photo policy: just don’t be a dick and ask everyone in the photo before you take one.

Comparison to GBEU and GBUK

It would be unfair to really compare Gearblast US to its UK and EU counterparts, the latter two being essentially club nights in city clubs. What was truly remarkable about GBUS is the fact that being stuck in rural Michigan for 4 days forces you to chill: there’s no rush to do anything, so you end up socializing and having deep, philosophical late night discussions in the parking lot, which would be impossible in the other franchises. Also, the venue is perfect to stay in gear all 4 days, though this is by no means obligated: the only place with a dresscode was the playspace.

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FAQ: Poppers and Eye Damage

This is a follow-up to the original article about poppers and their ability to cause permanent eye damage. If you haven’t read the original article, please do, as it details the actual medical way the damage is being done.

Isn’t this all just because of Europe using isopropyl nitrite after 2007?

No. Isopropyl nitrite is not solely to blame for the eye damage. While it’s true that after 2007, isobutyl nitrite was phased out due to it being a suspected carcinogen in Europe, damage has been linked to other members of the alkyl nitrite group as well.

The first well documented case is from 2004, with isobutyl nitrite identified as the agent. This was before isopropyl enteted the market in Europe: Transient visual loss after amyl Isobutyl nitrite abuse (Seminars in Ophthalmology. Volume 31, 2016 – Issue 5)

Why is this happening now?

Poppers have been used for decades, but all well-documented cases are from recent years. One explanation may be that the damage is elusive in a sense that it’s generally not easy to diagnose in a normal optical test. The golden standard for poppers-related eye damage testing is optical coherence tomography, a relatively recent diagnostic procedure: invented in 1991, modern OCT high-resolution machines didn’t enter the medical market until 2000. 

I’m only using Jungle Juice from Canada, so I’ll be safe?

No, you won’t be. The contents of poppers vary widely and they are not subject to the same kind of strict quality control as medicines and food. They are often vaguely labelled, and in reality may contain a mixture of several chemicals.

I only use poppers very rarely, so I’ll be safe?

No, you won’t be. There are several documented cases where usage has been very infrequent.

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How To Stop People From Stealing Your Photos

  • The only way to stop people from stealing your kinky images and other media is to never put it online, ever.
  • If you destroy your awesome media by using intrusive watermarks, or remove your profile because you’re upset, terrorists win.
  • Most people don’t really care whose picture they are currently masturbating to.

 

One of the strangest points in your online career happens when you are popular enough that you start to see your pictures circulating online without your help. You feel a fuzzy feeling of accomplishment — you’re famous! Then you start to notice some of the pictures are mysteriously missing the precious watermark you spent hours figuring out how to do in Photoshop (or Microsoft Paint, if you don’t want to support Evil Corporations).

It feels like stealing. People are stealing your effort and brand, and use your media as their own. Of course, we don’t care about this when we get our movies or music from PirateBay — that’s just easy and fair, because Quentin Tarantino is swimming money anyways. But you are putting your media out for free — the least you deserve is some credit.

How do we react? Maybe we’ll put a bigger, more annoying watermark there. Put it in the center of the picture, so people can’t take it out without destroying the whole thing. This actually works: you will notice less people are retweeting your pics, because nobody wants to jerk off to your huge logo, with a rubber guy hidden in the background.

Maybe we’ll get upset on Twitter. Because the people who follow you on Twitter love the pornography, but even more, they love seeing angry people complaining about the unfairness of life. That’s an instant retweet.

Maybe we’ll delete our profile. But wait, that doesn’t help, since the pictures are already all over Tumblr. And it makes it a bit hard to claim you’re the original source, if you’ve just destroyed your online presence.

What do to then? Embrace it. Embrace the fact that your content is so good that out of a billion images available online, they took the time to actually Photoshop your image a bit. Realize, that there’s nothing you can do about it, and by putting out more original content, they’re not stealing your attention.

And let’s be fair: when was the last time you lost a hard-on while jerking off to internet porn because the picture lacked a watermark?