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It's as if I willed it to happen.

Back in April, I hosted a discussion at the 10th Leather Leadership Conference on Edge Play - Natural Progression or Dangerous Trend.

One of the things we discussed in the class was the recent phenomonen of SM players and presenters trying to leap frog one another to become known as the edgiest around. I have personally watched famous, national level presenters sit in on other "edge play" topics so see what bar they will have to beat. Every year the topics get crazier and crazier at events.

Now, I'm not one to say someone shouldn't play the way they want to. Not at all. But, what's your motivation? To have a great scene with your partner? Or to use the scene for your own fame/notoriety?

Then I get word of this. The Denver Sactuary, which bills itself as membership organization that also hosts play parties, is actually hosting a contest to see who is the edgiest.

I'm incredulous. What are the parameters? The most people turning their faces away? The tighest walk on the line between needing paramedics or not? How in the fuck is something like this going to be judged?

And for pete's sake... why?! Is there really a reason to compete to be the craziest on the block? What happened to doing SM because it is in our soul. What happened to doing SM for the shared experience with our partners. What happened to doing SM to feel a connection to the inner self. What happened to doing SM because it gets us the fuck off.

Do we really need fame and notoriety and being labeled fucking insane as a motivator???

Sometimes, I really wonder about where this scene is headed...


( 75 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jun. 14th, 2006 11:46 pm (UTC)
dear god. That's so wrong for so many reasons. I'm amazed at what people can turn into a my-dick's-bigger-than-yours contest.
Jun. 14th, 2006 11:48 pm (UTC)
this *really* concerns me. one of the things i've noticed in my local circles is the prevelance of the "i can beat some one blacker and bluer than you can" or "i can make her bleed before you can" or a game of "see who can use the least whip strokes to make someone bleed" or even "who can do the most fucked up scene"... i've been at events where people plan scenes from year to year just to see if they can "top" themselves. but the idea of an actual competition?

that seems really dangerous...and a little less than the safe and sane part of "ssc".

maybe i'm just being judgemental, but this makes me really uncomfortable.

it places the focus on the edginess of the scene and not on the connection between players. it puts the focus on the Top and leaves the bottom as a pawn in the competition...it just seems to me like this is something just WAITING to get out of hand.

I don't know where the scene is headed, but things like this really do bother me...

thanks for your commentary
Jun. 14th, 2006 11:56 pm (UTC)
I understand the draw to challenge scenes. I have been in relationships where each scene needed to be more intense than the previous one. It was neccessary for the satisfaction - the pleasure from the scene was derived through being able to prove to oneself that they can take more.

Granted, those types of relationships do tend to plateau at some point, but I understand it.

But contests for the hell of it? No.
(no subject) - pony_bootblack - Jun. 14th, 2006 11:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - boymeat - Jun. 14th, 2006 11:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pony_bootblack - Jun. 14th, 2006 11:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - boymeat - Jun. 15th, 2006 12:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pony_bootblack - Jun. 15th, 2006 12:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - trouble841 - Jun. 15th, 2006 04:49 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 14th, 2006 11:49 pm (UTC)
Pussy Willow
I find that competition scary. Personally, I would hate to be the bottom who's top decided to enter that competition. What a HORRIBLE, place to be in. There would be awful pressure to take a lot, I mean your partner will LOSE, and be deeply disapointed. If you need to stop, you fricken fail, and more than that, you cause your top to fail. I hate to think what a really sincere bottom would take to help their top save face in that kind of situation. It's a postion I sincerely hope no one will ever put me in.

For those who it is the perfect thing, play on.

Just... not sounding good to me.
Jun. 14th, 2006 11:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Pussy Willow
That is a really interesting perspective I had not thought of. Yes, this type of event is frightening on just so many levels.
(no subject) - amberkatt - Jun. 23rd, 2006 05:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - willowrrain - Jun. 23rd, 2006 10:35 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 14th, 2006 11:55 pm (UTC)
I ranted a reply in my journal... wow this is terrifying.
I vote emotional heartbreak as edgiest scene.
Jun. 15th, 2006 12:14 am (UTC)
OK, that is about as fucked up as the suggestion (that got vetoed by saner minds, thankfully) that the Wet Spot put up a "wall of fame/shame" covered with toys that had been broken or otherwise destroyed on a club member. Someone (it might have been me, I don't remember) pointed out that it would simply encourage a bunch of morons to TRY to damage toys and bottoms by breaking things in new and more dangerous ways. Um, bad idea, but given the source of the suggestion, it wasn't a surprise.

OK, that is just utterly beyond fucked up.
Jun. 15th, 2006 12:35 am (UTC)
This is just sad....and disgusting that an organization would promote something like this and be proud of it.
*shakes head*
A sad state of affairs
Jun. 15th, 2006 12:44 am (UTC)
So silly. After all, everyone knows that jaded is the new edge.
Jun. 15th, 2006 12:45 am (UTC)
I have mentioned lately that I love you?

*nuzzle nuzzle nuzzle*
(no subject) - forgelives - Jun. 15th, 2006 01:46 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lisavnyc - Jun. 15th, 2006 01:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - passionandsoul - Jun. 15th, 2006 01:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - forgelives - Jun. 15th, 2006 01:47 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - passionandsoul - Jun. 15th, 2006 07:07 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - forgelives - Jun. 16th, 2006 01:56 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 15th, 2006 12:56 am (UTC)
I read Bridgett's rant before your post, and agree with her wholeheartedly. ...I can see where this sort of thing comes from, though. It's not just a handful of reckless dumbasses; there's an element of human nature that prompts comnpetitive behavior, in some more strongly than others. One sees competitions held somewhere in the world, however sparsely-attended, in nearly every facet of human life, every occupation, every pursuit. There are contests in washing machine repair, for crying out loud (my ex's brother is a three-time national winner of that one). I recall once even seeing a television spot on a contest for butling. -And that last, I think, is a truly hopeful notion. You see, we're not going to diffuse the human urge to compete no matter how we may protest it, but we can surely shape and guide it into areas that don't put our peers in harm's way nor invalidate their varied interests. We can perhaps, for example, channel those more competitive souls toward events that are structured more along the lines of the (possibly equally demeaning, but much, much safer) dog show - where the emphasis is much more clearly on training, practice, and care. We can steal outright the format of contests that focus on types of service, as with the butlers I mentioned above.

The scene is headed (or rather, being driven by populist media) into mainstream culture. And that means we're going to see more and more permeation by the less noble elements of our nature. We're going to live to see this lovely subculture of our merge with the "Nascar Nation." And we're going to have to start planning ahead, so what we've built can survive that.
Jun. 15th, 2006 02:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, I SO wish I could compete in a Butling competition. Talk about service bottoming. The trophy could be a little statue of Jeeves. Except it wouldn't be, because Jeeves would find that unspeakably tacky. Perhaps a nice set of totally anonymous gold cuff studs or something.

Mmm. Gold cuff studs. I never realized how dirty that phrase sounds.
Jun. 15th, 2006 01:33 am (UTC)
Embarrassed to be from Denver
I hate to admit that I am from Denver. I will not be attending this event. The Denver Harbour recently transferred ownership and is now the Denver Sanctuary. I am terribly disappointed at the decisions the new owners have made and have emailed them to express my concerns. I am also discontinuing my membership.

This is absolutely ridiculous.
Jun. 15th, 2006 01:45 am (UTC)
Re: Embarrassed to be from Denver
Are you going? Can we get a report of how it goes? I am have a morbid fascination with car crashes too...
Re: Embarrassed to be from Denver - domn8dlady - Jun. 16th, 2006 05:28 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Embarrassed to be from Denver - kumasan - Jun. 16th, 2006 04:32 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Embarrassed to be from Denver - boymeat - Jun. 16th, 2006 01:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Embarrassed to be from Denver - domn8dlady - Jun. 17th, 2006 08:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Embarrassed to be from Denver - paksen - Jun. 16th, 2006 02:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Embarrassed to be from Denver - domn8dlady - Jun. 17th, 2006 12:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 15th, 2006 07:09 am (UTC)
I would also inquire into the line between "impulse to share information, to pass down practices and keep people safe" and the desire to stroke egos and make our way the one right way- how does an individual in the scene explore their own passions and fantasies before the "scene" as a whole labels them, packages them, gives them their appropriate hankies and informs them of what their path "should" be?
(no subject) - ambrose_m - Jun. 15th, 2006 10:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - emeraldliz - Jun. 15th, 2006 03:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 15th, 2006 02:26 am (UTC)
it's this sort of attitude that has lead this world to nuclear weapons, "extreme sports" and artery-clogging "super-sized" fast food.

There is no ceiling, someone can always do something "edgier", faster, harder, longer etc than you. To encourage it in a contest goes way beyond irresponsible. Let's face it, the edgiest scene out there ends when the bottom is dead. These folks should be ashamed, and should NOT be considered brethren in our camp.
Jun. 15th, 2006 02:38 am (UTC)
Okay, I can only think of one way to do this: like a figure skating competition, where participants submit their plans beforehand and are then judged first on their ambition and then on how successfully they achieve their pre-stated goals. There would be enough lead time to send back any plans judged overly dangerous or just plain stupid. That's also a good way to make sure it's clearly consensual on all parts.

If they do it any other way, it'll be a world of trouble and no mistake.
Jun. 15th, 2006 03:03 am (UTC)
When "scene" turns into "seen."

This is why I teach the basics. Over and over and over and over again. I feel it leads to a divergent approach - a place to start from, or start again from. Some of the more complicated techniques or extreme scenes really only have one "right" answer. And that answer usually isn't about connection, skill, or heart.

Thank goodness I already won my contests.
Jun. 15th, 2006 03:37 am (UTC)
this is much scarier than the usual "pissing contest". it could go wrong on so many levels. I may love edge play at the right time and with the right person... but I dont understand the need to be "edgier than thou".
Jun. 15th, 2006 03:38 am (UTC)
Just like a title contest.

Just. Like. A. Title. Contest.

I'm not surprised in the least...I suppose it was just time.

I'm glad I'm not known for my mad play skillz. If someone wants to out-boot me, they can get to it..

I'm tired of competitive leather, in all forms.
Jun. 15th, 2006 04:07 am (UTC)
Well, I just can't imagine it. It boggles me, because everyone has different edges, so I have no clue how it would be judged. The most blood? The most screaming? I dunno. I know people who purr when they're bleeding, and, well, that's not really edgy. My edgy stuff is mostly emotional sadomasochism, and there's just no way to measure it.

I know that there have been times when I -really- wanted to do something edgy and dangerous and ended up doing something simple that, to the outsider, would seem rather tame, but ended up being more intense than anything else more edgy would've been.

I, too, am tired of competition. I thought about running for a title last year, but decided instead to just try to do more education and support. I know that title holders end up doing education and support, but I can do it without having won anything, without having competed.

I guess this is one of the reasons I decided to be more "underground" about playing and stuff. The other reason was that a lot of the public stuff is becoming sanitized with too many rules. (: Happy medium, please. With fries!
Jun. 15th, 2006 04:16 am (UTC)
Seriously, when did sex/fucking/playing become a cause for competition. If you and your scene partners are having fun/getting off isn't that enough "winning" for everyone involved?
Jun. 15th, 2006 04:19 am (UTC)
Ick. Just ick.

I love edgeplay. On some level, I even love squicking people. But I don't really like competitiveness all that much, in the scene or out of it. The expectation that I buy into that whole "edgier than thou" routine is yet another of the many, many reasons I've soured on the public scene in recent years. Besides, I don't really NEED to be in the public scene -- my time for play is very limited these days, and I already have more playpartners than I really have time or energy for. Yeah, my reputation may suffer a bit. Like I care. :)

That said... how's this for an edgy scene? Tie your victim down to a chair. A straitjacket is optional. Put headphones on victim, with the Wiggles playing on endless repeat. Walk away.
Jun. 15th, 2006 01:34 pm (UTC)
You sadistic monkey! :)
Jun. 15th, 2006 04:28 am (UTC)
Still thinking about it
Well, the rules are skimpy, that's for sure. What if I wanted to castrate the boy? They couldn't say "nothing illegal," because, well, that defines a lot of things we do (though I don't know what the laws are in Denver).

It would suck, though, if something bad happened, and people were able to point to that party as an example of what the rest of us do.

Wonder if they'll change the standard waiver. (:

What I'm hoping is that, as in many local communities, the players know each other pretty well, and that's what brought about this idea. It does say that members only can participate.

So it mostly just sounds like a popularity contest. Like I said, some people purr when they bleed, and it's a staple of their play. The others watching may be squicked by blood. -shrug- Yep. Popularity contest. But, you know, I know someone who removed his slave's clithood for Valentine's Day and everything is fine a couple years later, and that wasn't even a pissing contest. They did it at home, alone. I think that's romantic. Someone else would find it horrifying. So it's still interesting to think about how it will be judged.

I'd like to hear more about it from the people who're involved, though. It might not necessarily be a sign of the trends (though I admit I've seen a LOT of pissing contests when it comes to play). I dunno. I guess I'm curious about the motivation of the leaders who approved it.

If nothing else, it's provoking a lot of thought. For example, I'm interested in the demographics of the people who will compete. I wonder if we can see any gender/orientation differences there.
Jun. 23rd, 2006 06:14 am (UTC)
Re: Still thinking about it
"What I'm hoping is that, as in many local communities, the players know each other pretty well, and that's what brought about this idea. It does say that members only can participate."

Yes, yes, and yes.

It wasn't meant to be Serious. Or, at least, that wasn't my impression, on my own or after having various conversations with the club owners.

And it was to be judged by the audience members, using a standardized "Olympic-ish" point system, if it was going to be like the one held several years ago. Points assigned for creativity, skill, energy between partners, Top's ability to draw bottom in, that sort of thing. (Grey posted the criteria for the previous contest somewhere on Midori's blogpost on this topic.) SSC and RACK applied, because since it was a club event, standard club rules were... well, standard. We all knew that.

I'm assuming that was how it was going to be judged, because as it turned out, there was only one entrant pair. And they had entered just for the heck of it, because they tended to draw an audience anyway when they played in public. (They aren't "play to the crowd" types, but they'll usually have at least one or two onlookers when things get interesting.) (("They" being me and my girl. *g*))

So the "winners" won by default.

Very extreme. *g*
Jun. 15th, 2006 06:39 am (UTC)
Other thoughts
A friend of mine has ranted in another blog about this in a different way, and I agree with a lot of what she says (though I haven't read it yet). It's GOOD to see something/anything that embraces edgeplay. I don't like the idea of competition, though, and there are workshops, and whole events, dedicated to edgeplay, but they're rare, and I've gotten flack for doing things that are mostly tame for me in public (okay, I DO live in Mississippi), but one of my rants last year was about how sterile the scene is getting. Maybe these sorts of events are not necessarily representative of dick wagging, but maybe more of ideas about how to get those of us who've been driven underground because of the sanitization of parties to come back out and play.

It's definitely another way to look at it.
Jun. 15th, 2006 12:09 pm (UTC)
No, no, no...I could win that contest. It would go a little like this, "H, I want to talk about our relationship." The judges would have to red me, out of human decency.
Jun. 15th, 2006 12:24 pm (UTC)
hehehe.... that's great. i'd just start out with "so, i've been thinking..."
that's shocking and scary enough ;)
Jun. 15th, 2006 12:43 pm (UTC)
Oh brother! *rolls eyes
This reminds me of the last relationship I was in. We ONLY played in public and each scene was like "How closely can we make adrienne resemble a side of flayed beef?" (and I'm not really that into pain!!!) Can we hit the shocked and revolted onlookers with flying clothespins or chunks of flesh then laugh when they get squicked? This is stupid and absolutely absurd. I hate that what was done to me is now a sanctioned activity...
Jun. 15th, 2006 03:06 pm (UTC)
What's the point?
(pully hair out)

What's I'd rather see are competitions on comedy SM skits...

but why this?

Would it be considered inappropriate if I pointed and chuckled at the winner that wears that sash around?


Jun. 15th, 2006 03:33 pm (UTC)
Inappropriate? Hardly. I think its just and deserved. I wish I had the opportunity.
(no subject) - amberkatt - Jun. 23rd, 2006 06:17 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 15th, 2006 03:08 pm (UTC)
whoa. contest. huh.

I'm with you all on this one. Won't repeat everything already posted. So I won't go on about all the ego, narcissism, danger to the bottom, the top, and basic obnoxiousness of it all.

But yes. Sometimes I play hard. Really hard. I'll never be the baddest freak in the room but yeah, I like to hear screaming. I like it when we both sweat. But damn, it's about the connection & the energy built and the flight we both take. I don't do it to gain status or prove anything to anyone. That just seems to miss the whole point of why I play in the first place.
Jun. 15th, 2006 03:11 pm (UTC)
er, I've pointed a couple of folks to this thread, if you don't mind. think it oughta be read. I see at least one has faster typing fingers than I do, lol
(no subject) - boymeat - Jun. 15th, 2006 03:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amberkatt - Jun. 23rd, 2006 06:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 15th, 2006 04:53 pm (UTC)
That's an excellent point... Rather like the horror stories from parties, of scenes-gone-wrong where the worst part is that none of the onlookers thought they had the right to interfere.

But I do know that one or more of the respondents above have at least contacted the Denver group and politely offered constructive input.
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