Episode 6: Cleo Dubois - Conscious Kink: Debunking BDSM
Conscious Kink: Debunking BDSM
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Announcer: This is part one of a two-part program.
Beth Crittenden: Welcome to ‘A Taste of Sex - Guest Speaker Interviews’ on Personal Life Media. I'm your host Beth Crittenden and I am coming to you from OneTaste™ Urban Retreat Center in San Francisco.
We have a practice here called orgasmic meditation, which is the focus of two people putting their full attention on the orgasm that is shared between them. As part of this we research sensuality in many different forms. We have a lecture series every Tuesday night out of the Urban Retreat Center.
Tonight's guest is Cleo Dubois. Cleo is a BDSM educator. She is a ritualist. She founded the Academy of SM Arts. So in today's episode we will be hearing lots about BDSM, about Cleo's work and practices and we will tie that back into orgasm.
One of the things that I noticed on your website is that you bring together the erotic with the spiritual. That really appealed to us here and we are so honored to be hosting you.
Beth Crittenden: Join us today on ‘A Taste of Sex - Guest Speaker Interviews’ as Cleo Dubois fills us in on what is safe, sane and consensual BDSM. You will hear her describe a collaring ritual that will definitely turn you on. We also talk about how you can connect your sensuality with your spirituality.
Beth Crittenden: So Cleo, I mentioned before that you are a BDSM educator. How do you describe BDSM to people who have never heard the term before?
Cleo Dubois: Well, I think there might be a few people online who haven't heard that term before. But I also think that that term has become very, very popular. It didn't exist until the whole Internet started developing and being in people's lives. It used to be called S & M or Kink. The term BDSM was born along with the era of computers and the Internet. And it stands for bondage, discipline and sadomasochism.
But really it is an umbrella term that is used for any sensual and sexual explorer that does a little bit more in their exploration and gentle touch or regular straight lovemaking. People like to play with power. People like to play with surrender. Surrender has to do with power. Intense sensation, role-play, gender play, age play, all of these things I can elaborate a bit on. And all of it is done in the absolute necessity of negotiation and informed consent, not assumed consent, like, “I am assuming that you might like that”. But it's more informed consent.
So we as Kinksters, that's what we call ourselves sometimes, or BDSM players are very big on negotiation skills and also reading body language and being able to go together on a journey, might it be one person being more the dominant one, being the submissive. Although for me the word dominant/submissive can be a little bit too overly simplistic. It is more the concept of holding space for someone and taking them on a journey. If you connect with them you go on a journey together.
That's journey can be, again a journey involving training, intense sensation given from one of the players, the ‘top’ player to the ‘bottom’ player. It could be a situation of dominance and service. So there are two people, one of who fits into the archetype of being dominant and the other one into the archetype of service.
It could be about age play. A lot of kinky women find themselves when they are bottoming; we use the term top and bottom as a generic term that is wider than dominance/submission. It can be the very first step into a bad idea of power and surrender. So you will see in the community a lot of women, for instance, having an affinity for being schoolgirls. Well of course they are not schoolgirls. They are women over 21, often over 40 or 45 and all ages. But it's that recapturing of that place within yourself where you were young and maybe you were naughty and maybe you needed punishment or you needed reassurance or you needed daddy's tenderness, except it's played out as adults. That's just one of the ways.
One of the really common ways in the larger world out there is the man who has a female persona inside and they like to change their persona for the duration of their BDSM play to become a ‘slutty girl’. Well those are usually businessmen and really intelligent people and computer people in their 40s and 30s. They like to dress like slutty girls and be treated as such. So there is an element of gender and role reversal going on. That's an extremely common fantasy.
Then there are people who really need bondage because they are so tied up into their brain and they are so focused on to their mind. When they are tied up for real with ropes or shackles or whatever it is that is used in that sort of adult erotic play, they feel more freedom. They feel supported. They feel contained. They can let go of their hang-ups and just really relax into who they are because the bondage allows them that.
So those are just some of the ways that kinky people play.
Beth Crittenden: How do people usually find out what turns them on? How do you know that all of a sudden you want to play like a schoolgirl? How do you discover that?
Cleo Dubois: I think that people have tendencies and things that are buried inside that we are not supposed to look at. They keep thinking of it at the moment of orgasm for instance, or before the moment of orgasm when they are making love with their partner. They have these images or a world that they hear in their mind, like, “I wish you would call me or tell me ‘You are such a slut. Yeah, go baby’ or something.” But no, you were polite. Nobody uses these words.
Or maybe a man is thinking, “God I wish she would fuck me.” And he is fantasizing about her wearing a strap on or things like this. I think once you have started looking into your fantasies, there is an image but there are a lot of BDSM images everywhere. If you look at the fashion magazines, they are full of it.
Look at the movies. Unfortunately in Hollywood standard, the bad people are the kinky people, which is not so. From my own experience, the bad people are not the kinky people. They kinky people are the ones who talk about their desires, who negotiate, who set up boundaries, who experiment on themselves and their desires and their partners desires. Also there is a place and they are for the work of the professional dominant, which tend to be mainly women although there are a few male professional dominants, to hold this desire and help people realize that they are in a safe situation.
So it's not for everybody to come out. You know there are people in the middle of the country, people who are afraid of losing their children. They are living in an area that is very, let's say a non-liberated. If it was known that they were into BDSM, and maybe they have a good place in the community, their social life would be destroyed, and their work life would be destroyed. We are trying the best we can to change that. But it's not for everyone to come out in a community, but it has always been for me.
As soon as I discovered that there was a lot of energy there and a lot of growth for me in the leather community, which was in the early 80s I embraced it and I was unafraid to come out into it. I realized that just as with gay people, if people don't come out about what they are about, it stays repressed and it stays misunderstood and all that.
So for the people who cannot come out, there are BDSM groups in every major city, a communal dungeon or a community dungeon in every major city with a dungeon monitor to make sure everything is safe and classes. BDSM people take a lot of classes. They want to know how to do whipping safely. They want to know how to do bondage safely. They want to know how to do verbal humiliation in a way that doesn't degrade the person when the scene is over. People want to learn to embrace their ‘dark side’ in a way that is clean.
That's the work that I do and I am really blessed that the times have shifted enough that in San Francisco and in other major cities that work is being well received.
Beth Crittenden: You mentioned that sometimes in movies or in popular culture there is this evil tint to people who into maybe pain play or role-play or things like that. What are other stereotypes that you want to dispel about the scene that you can let people know the safety or the parameters of how it works.
Cleo Dubois: All mistresses are bitches. That's a big misunderstood thing. Actually I recall in the 90s there was a magazine that was calling themselves - they had the bitch word in the title. They wanted me to be interviewed for them. I said I would only do it if they put ‘bitches and caring sadists’, because I never identify as a bitch. But I certainly identified as a caring sadist.
Dominant men - dominant men can be wonderful people. They have all that energy of the incestuous father but in a way we are real adults and we can play with this because we are consenting and that's what we want to do, making sure that we are talking about adult play and not anything that is for people underage.
So it's a way of healing. I see a lot of healing in being able to embrace the light that comes from those practices. Others say they are bad and demonic and abusive to people but the truth of the matter is they are not, not the way that community BDSM people do it. It is not abusive and truly degrading and nasty stuff. It's playing with our dark archetype in a clean way.
Beth Crittenden: I really like that term ‘caring sadist’. In your movie ‘The Pain Game’ it seems like you're able to take people right up to that limit and then more things are possible. I want to hear from you what is it about that that appeals to you that you have learned?
Cleo Dubois: I actually learned to craft my desire for intensity. Also, I am a sadomasochist. I also like to play on the other side of the whip, because I know that the journey of intensity takes me really high. It takes me in a place where what we call it is flying. I get out of my thought process and it's a really big experience. It's very shining and very connecting with the person that is taking me there. And when I bottom and when I top it’s the same way.
So there is a place where I did professional dominance for many years until at least 1995. The reason why clients kept coming back to me is because I would not be afraid to take them on the journey. I would not be afraid to push them to a new place where they had not been before. That's where the freedom is. That's where time stopped. That's where your reality opens really big.
That's what I call the ritual space actually and I really am a ritualist so I look at the work as holding space and guiding people with a lot of energy and a lot of focus because I know for myself I have been granted the pleasure to go to these places that are orgasmic in a body sense. They might not be orgasmic in a genital sense. They are huge experiences. There is a lot of release. What I am really talking about could also be catharsis. It's a place where you have the freedom to really go and cry. A place you have the freedom to grieve or to lay out some old stuff that has been stuck inside; some old pain.
It's a place where you might be crying for a moment and then you are laughing and just embracing the world and feeling that there is a lot of love. So that's why I love to push people to their limit and shake their cage a little bit and a little bit past that.
Beth Crittenden: Would you describe specifically one of your favorite scenes in which you have played?
Cleo Dubois: I don't have a favorite scene. What I have is I look for when the energy shifts. I look for when everybody starts being not afraid, totally centered and into their quality of presence. Quality of presence is when you are really centered and you are really present in the moment, which means that you know what you are doing while you are doing it. I actually learned that from Chester Mainard from Body Electric who just passed away a week ago.
What an enormous quality of presence he had. When you walk into a room you were there in his presence. And in a scene what I look for is that quality of presence between the two people who are playing with each other.
What are some of my favorites tools? Creating a ritual, which has a beginning, a middle and an end. Using whips and floggers. Using energy on the chest, which is a heart chakra with my hands. Using nipple clamps. I am also a big fan of temporary piercing, which is not about blood or gore but it's a very precise sensation that you can travel with. My favorite scene is when people connect with each other, when the top and bottom are really connecting. That's my favorite scene.
Beth Crittenden: Nice. We are getting ready to head to a quick break to support our sponsors. Is there anything you would like to add about BDSM and what you want people to know before we wrap up?
Cleo Dubois: I would like to say that we are talking about safe, sane and consensual behavior. We are not talking about abuse. We are not talking about guessed consent, “Maybe she does like that, maybe she doesn’t.” We are talking about informed consent and again, safe, sane and consensual behavior that is erotic, for adults who want to journey with their sensuality and their sexuality.
Beth Crittenden: Hmm. Great. So this is ‘A Taste of Sex – Guest Speaker Interviews’. I’m your host Beth Crittenden, here with Cleo Dubois from OneTaste™ Urban Retreat Center in San Francisco.
We have heard about BDSM and when we get back from the break, we’ll actually hear a bit more about Cleo’s journey to this, what got her into this and more of what turns her on.
So please join us again. This is Personal Life Media. You can visit our website at www.onetastesf.com. Also, for text and transcripts of this show, please do log on to www.personallifemedia.com. You can also e-mail us with feedback or questions or comments at [email protected]. Thanks so much for tuning in and join us next time.
[Music]Announcer: This concludes part one. The interview will be continued in the next episode of this show.