The Pitt News

Q&A: Asami_fox talks about safe BDSM practices

Asami_fox+of+Swissvale+spoke+to+The+Pitt+News+about+BDSM+safety.+Jordan+Mondell+%7C+Contributing+Editor
Asami_fox of Swissvale spoke to The Pitt News about BDSM safety. Jordan Mondell | Contributing Editor

Asami_fox of Swissvale spoke to The Pitt News about BDSM safety. Jordan Mondell | Contributing Editor

Asami_fox of Swissvale spoke to The Pitt News about BDSM safety. Jordan Mondell | Contributing Editor

By Amanda Reed / Assistant News Editor

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Note: The Pitt News is using Asami_fox’s online fetish name for privacy reasons.

When Asami_fox of Swissvale was a senior in college, she was interested in the BDSM scene but didn’t know how — or who — to talk to about her burgeoning interest.

Five years later, the 27-year-old now teaches classes in Pittsburgh and travels across the country telling curious would-be tops, bottoms, doms and subs how to safely practice BDSM with others.

Asami_fox told The Pitt News the basics of BDSM safety, starting from safewords all the way to proper handcuff usage. Here’s what she had to say:

The Pitt News: Why is using a safeword important in BDSM and how do partners establish them?

Asami_fox: Actually, I saw a picture with some text on Instagram the other day ––  I have a kinky Instagram as well as a vanilla Instagram –– and one of the pictures said, “The only difference between abuse and BDSM is a safewords.” Safewords are immensely important because at any point  in the scene, if something happens, or whatever it is you’re doing and you feel uncomfortable, if it gets too intense, that scene can stop at any moment, and that’s incredibly important.

It could be a made-up word, it could be due to circumstance — I know when kids are in college and they may have roommates that are really close by, but they don’t want them to know what’s happening, something as simple as “yahtzee” could work really well, because then the other roommates are like, ‘Oh, maybe they’re just playing a board game.’ That way, it’s very kind of inconspicuous. It could literally be anything, but it’s usually something that you wouldn’t say in a normal conversation.

TPN: What sort of tools or toys should people use to practice BDSM safely — because I have heard horror stories of people using cucumbers and carrots to pleasure other people and it going badly.

A_f: Well, to do it safely, because you can go to any sex store and see another other toys[object or device that is primarily used in facilitating human sexual pleasure], but if you’re going to pick up those things, you’re also going to need to pick up things to clean them, like any anti-bacterial soaps. There’s also a lot of specific cleaners for different kinds of toys, because you don’t want to use a silicone toy and a cleanser — you’d want a water-based cleanser because you’re going to degrade your toy if you don’t use the right kind of cleaner. You want to keep your things hygienic and you don’t want them deteriorating over time.

A really popular thing right now is rope, and I wouldn’t recommend it for a newcomer coming into the scene because rope is really dangerous. It’s a form of edgeplay and it’s a form of edgeplay [something you could be seriously hurt doing in BDSM] because you’re bounding your arms, legs and torso, and that can restrict blood flow. I also don’t recommend for a newbie to try a suspension scene [a bound person is hung from one or more overhead suspension points with rope, cables or chains], but someone could fall, they could lose circulation and have nerve damage if you don’t do it correctly. It’s highly recommended you are trained in doing those things by people who are in the scene who are professionals. When doing things like rope, having rope cutters — like those heavy duty shears that paramedics have, you can get those anywhere — definitely have those, because, worse-case scenario, if someone says “ow, this really hurts,” and you don’t have a moment to yourself to untie, you just cut that rope. Don’t worry about your equipment, because it’s the person that matters.

TPN: How do you go about doing suspension scenes safely?

A_f: Practice makes perfect, but being well-educated about what you’re doing — really anything that we do — the Pittsburgh [BDSM] community is fantastic because we have classes and we have events all the time. For instance, with rope, we have a Rope Bite, which is a specific group where you can go and learn how to do this in a safe and understanding environment with people who have been doing this [practicing BDSM] for years. You get all of that hands-on experience with people who understand what they’re doing and how to do it safely.

TPN: Is practicing safe sex — using condoms, for example — an important part of BDSM?

A_f: Absolutely. Not all that we do in BDSM involves sex, but it can definitely turn into sex. Or, a lot of people in the scene came from there — it wasn’t necessarily that they jumped full-force right into it, but they started with sex because their sex became more erotic, more BDSM-oriented and then once they turned around and identified with this, a whole new world was opened up to them in which all of this other stuff could have happened. Absolutely, that is the basis, the foundation, you need that to move onto anything. Safe anything is where [BDSM] starts.

TPN: How would someone go about using whips and floggers [used in BDSM, it is made up of a handle and several straps which are attached to it. Can be used to whip or to caress] safely?

A_f: First off, it depends on what kind of flogger you’re using. You can have a really low-impact safe flogger, like a rabbit fur flogger, where the falls — or the tassels you see at the end of the flogger — are made of rabbit fur, and that’s more for sensation play, for feeling the fur onto your skin and getting into a headspace. It’s not really going to hurt you since the falls are made out of fur.

But whips are actually a little bit scary to me. I was trained first on how to use floggers by a friend of mine. And with both of these, safety is essential. If you don’t know how to use this equipment, practice makes perfect. If you don’t know how to use the stuff, then don’t use it. And these could be dangerous. If you’re hitting their back, and you’re not practiced and not skilled enough, then you could hit their neck and damage their face. You can cause damage if you hit them on the spine. Really, the two prime places you want to hit if you were hitting on the back are on the shoulder blades, but there is a lot of danger there, though. The spine is right there, the kidneys are close-by. You could seriously hurt someone if you don’t educate yourself enough about how to use the equipment

TPN: What about handcuff safety?

A_f: I would recommend using softer things before using metal or fuzzy handcuffs. If you’re playing with a new partner or your significant other, people don’t necessarily think to check first if circulation is good. One of the things you want to do periodically if you have someone tied up is to feel their hands. If they’re hand is getting cold, you want to unrestrain them immediately, because that means blood flow isn’t going to their hands, and that could cause some serious damage. I hate “Fifty Shades of Grey,” but in the book he uses his tie, and ties are good since they’re not going to cut off blood flow as quickly as handcuffs would. If someone doesn’t use handcuffs properly and tightens them all the way, you’re going to slump onto that cuff, which is going to decrease of blood flow to the hands, and that can be really dangerous because you could lose permanent feeling in your hands. You could use scarves and underwear if you wanted to be really humiliating, but any kind of cloth works. I would recommend that first until you’re practiced.

Put [handcuffs] on loosely since their hands are going to be above their head. I wouldn’t recommend [having them] behind their back, especially if they’re lying down because they’re going to lose circulation quicker because they’re laying on their hands, but that way they’ll have a bit of wiggle room. If they get uncomfortable, they don’t have to tell their top “I’m losing circulation in my hands, can you take these off?” they can move their hand up and get a little breathing room.

TPN: What advice would you give to someone who is new to the BDSM community or they want to get into it?

A_f: Do your research. If you’re literally brand-new and you saw some porn and thought ‘that looks amazing, how do you do that?‘ — look into what that is you’re watching. When I first came into the scene, I was a senior in college, and I would travel to Pittsburgh just to find like-minded people to talk to about this. And I just started by looking for events and people and going to classes that talked about what it means to be a dominant, what it means to be a submissive, what it means to be a dom. My first event ever was a three-class workshop all about power exchange, and what exactly it means to do it properly and safely. Some of those friends I met there are still my friends five years later.

It can be sort of hard to talk about out-loud, and it can be weird to tell someone you have a foot fetish or you want to crawl on the ground and eat out of dog bowls. Some people have a really hard time talking about that, and I really want to encourage people to start talking about it, because that’s how you educate yourself, and that’s how you’re going to find people that understand you and want to participate in these things with you. Consent is a beautiful thing.

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Q&A: Asami_fox talks about safe BDSM practices