In Defense of Demos and BDSM as Performance Art

There has been quite a bit of talk lately about the nature of kink education, both in articles like this and this (to just take a couple prominent examples) and in general “on the street” chatter. There’s a lot I could say about kinky education- I think there are bad classes out there, and GREAT ones, and I’ve been to plenty of both. However I want to try to focus on the issue of performances and demos, which both of these articles reference.

I deeply respect Patrick Mulcahey, and enjoyed reading his Leather Reign speech. In the last part of his speech, he states: “What It Is That We Do is not performance art.” (The context specifically references demos between people who don’t know each other, but in my reading, that statement stands alone- I encourage you to read the source article linked above.)

Is WIITWD performance art? Can it be? Why not? I think wrapped up in this is some judgement about what is “real” BDSM with “real” players and what somehow is less genuine. This excellent article on what is “real” or “fake” in the sex industry has some interesting parallels.Singletail 10 B

The most intense scene that I’ve ever had the privilege to watch was a class demo that “played” with deep abandonment issues- it went to a place of deep despair and then joy as the bottom was reunited with her daddy like the sun bursting through the clouds, and the class rode the energy right along with the participants. At Dark Odyssey: Surrender, Lee Harrington did an amazing suspension performance- it was a tightly choreographed piece (he told me at the start that it was “19 minutes long”), and it was heartfelt, genuine, transporting, and inspirational to watch. These are just a couple of examples.

In my experience, flat skills demos with partners that hardly know each other are the minority of what I see in kinky performance and education. Even those can have plenty of value- if I’m at a class on sounding, a technical demo that simply covers HOW TO DO IT is more than adequate to meet my educational needs. Some skills are not that technical, and certainly many people choose not to delve into such technical areas. Still, when I came into the public scene it was in a small community with almost no formal classes/education, and I’ve seen firsthand what happens when someone who has never been taught a technical skill like cutting decides to just go ahead and do it anyway. It’s… less than ideal, to say the least.

DOWF16 02632Education and demos can and do work, and even technical demos have value for those who have a desire to learn such technical skills. Yes, mentoring is often ideal, but finding a quality mentor is (in my experience) often not realistic. Sadly, I don’t have the time and energy to personally mentor 20 people on cutting techniques and safety. I can, however, teach a class, do a demo, and at least try to give them some tools to safely get started with this type of play. Because having some basis in doing kink safely is not, in my opinion, “trivial” at all… and maybe some of us are gifted enough to figure it out on our own, or fortunate enough to have a skilled mentor, but for the rest… classes and demos can be a fantastic resource.

This all comes from the perspective of an exhibitionist playslut who does rather a lot of demos and performance… For me, the experience of doing kink in front of a crowd is a process of taking the energy of the audience, putting it into my partner(s) and I, and throwing it back. Almost like involving the audience as another participant in the scene. It doesn’t diminish my focus on my partner(s)- in some ways, it sharpens it. Sometimes it falls flat… but then, sometimes the scenes I do in the dungeon or in my bedroom fall flat, too. You can’t hit a home run every time. (At least I can’t!) I have personally gotten a lot of inspiration and enjoyment out of many performances and demos of WIITWD. So, to those who perform, please continue to display and be vulnerable for us. I like to watch you make magic.