Skip to content

Growing Pains?

2015 cleo cardFakir and I returned from our journey to Southwest Leather Conference in Phoenix, Arizona full of love for the tribe that embraced and honored us as the elders that we have become. Preparing the 100 images presentation illustrating our talk was more than a trip down memory lane.  It brought our personal journeys together in a burgeoning culture that certainly has recently exploded. Amazing how kink, BDSM, body rites and modifications that celebrate personal empowerment and erotic power exchange have grown!

Look online and you will see how hook energy pulls are “in” all over the USA, Europe, and beyond.  Prolific indeed but often not focused on the BodySpirit connection like it was in Phoenix two weeks ago.  Thank you for embracing that ancient rite and for all the heartfelt feedback we received. At BDSM conferences taking photos is not permitted,  I can only share with you a pic of the altar I made as a focus point honoring the Archetypes of the Tamil culture that inspired us.

slwc altar cc

On the other hand I just heard of some pretty distressing practices in a different metropolitan community.  Shall I call it the painful price of growing too fast ?

A friend wrote, “There is this crazy competition to see who can do the edgiest things. The latest craze is floggers created with barbed wire. You can’t play unless you have a current Tetanus immunization. If you do rope then you have to do full suspensions, and those suspensions should have lots of swinging and spinning. ….. another trend that seems to go with it: the number of consent violations is climbing fast. I know several submissives who negotiated scenes with some of the better known Doms in the community. After the scenes started, the Doms pretty much just ignored the agreement and did what they wanted….I have talked to a lot of the Doms in the area, and there is definitely a culture of “Get what you want” with new subs. Many see nothing wrong with changing the scene after the sub is in the fog. A lot of these subs are new, and don’t understand what’s happening. They are unprepared, the Dom is experienced. They want to please, to not screw up, so they endure.  Afterward, they blame themselves.”

9781881943129_p0_v1_s260x420Now THAT is just wrong, damaging, unethical and it saddens me greatly.  I was mentored by a community whose motto was safe, sane, and consensual.  Later we refined it as RACK (risk aware consensual kink).  Anything less is abuse.  Broken trust has profound repercussions, leaving scars deeper than any cane marks and harder to heal.   Dominance is about control and connection, not force and coercion. The gift of submission is to be respected and nurtured.

Bill Henkin and Sybil Holliday’s excellent book, “Consensual Sadomasochism: How to Talk about it and Do it Safely” is my “go-to” reading for anyone interested in BDSM, kink: erotic power exchanges of all kinds. You can find my own docu-films on real BDSM play, “The Pain Game,” and “Tie Me Up!” on my websites.  Visit my resource list right here

I only hope this doesn’t have anything to do with the “50 Shades” craze.  I do not want anyone to get hurt!

In kink with heart, and leather pride,

Cléo Dubois

In the SF Bay area?  I’ll be at Good Vibes on Polk Street Tuesday, February 24 at 6:30pm to take you step by step through all the shades of real BDSM play!  Couples interested in dipping into this erotic pool or looking to add to their play options, visit for details and contact information.  We can even skype about it!  The only Erotic Dominance Intensive weekend for Women in 2015 is April 18-19 in San Francisco.  Find out more and enroll at


7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Karen #

    Excluding my experience at the hook pull hosted by you and Fakir, what you wrote of is the only scene I have encountered. A bunch of idiots preaching one thing and doing another is how I see it. Those Doms are protected by the community, by well known members of the community, and only the community can change how they deal with it’s own dishonorable members.

    February 1, 2015
  2. Cleo, I just emailed you and then read this post, which refers to exactly some of the concerns I’d like to talk about. Please do get in touch.

    February 2, 2015
    • Call me or contact me by email at I will be teaching an Intensive fri sat and sunday and off line until the 12. Tomorrow Wednesday is a good afternoon or evening to ‘catch me”


      February 3, 2015
  3. YIN Q. #

    Dear Madame Cleo,
    I’ve been missing you and decided to read your blog. It warms my soul to read of your thriving educational practice.
    Of the worrisome BDSM practices that are plaguing the community: I don’t go out to clubs anymore and that is one of the many reasons. But I do practice and, hopefully, pass on the lessons of spiritual connection through leather that you and Fakir taught me. That lesson saved me.
    You continue to educate and inspire.
    I will always love and serve you.
    with tender, leather heart,
    Yin Q.

    May 22, 2015
    • Thank you for posting this. Much respect and hugs to you. and yes i still believe in the magic of SM as sacred play.

      May 6, 2016
  4. Marwa Qoura #

    I am just starting my exploration in the kink & BDSM art and that beautiful article was so helping . I live in the Middle East and that life style is growing rapidly , but you should see how wrongly it’s linked to just abuse !It saddens me greatly to see that even outside the Middle East in old established communities some are people are just getting crazy about it and thinking hurting others is “cool” and creative !! …Missing all the meanings behind it …

    September 11, 2015
    • Hi Marwa, BDSM is not about abuse. In fact it is the opposite of abuse. in BDSM there is on going consent by both parties, it is about mutually satisfying erotic play. safe words are to be honored. thanks for asking.

      May 6, 2016

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: