Master & servant
by Jim Piechota
Boots Bondage and Beatings by David Stein; Perfectbound Press, $17.95
Ask the Man Who Owns Him by David Stein with David Schachter; Perfectbound Press, $19.95
Believe it or not, author David Stein states that he "started tying himself up at age 5." After a young adulthood filled with varied publishing jobs, he co-founded several S/M groups in the New York area in the early 1980s followed by a stint writing a column for Bound & Gagged magazine and the publication of many of his bondage-themed short stories. Several of these stories can be found in his latest collection, a book produced concurrently with another release about Master/slave relationships. Both are distinct in theme but unified in scope.
The erotic stories in Boots Bondage and Beatings are definitely hardcore, and they by no means skirt the essential details of the intensive S/M dynamic. "Becoming Real," one of the best entries, opens the compilation from the perspective of a prone slave who awaits his Master on bended knee in padlocked cuffs in a windowless, gray room. Their arrangement is "open-ended," and the routine he follows is a strictly-adhered-to regime, reinforced by friendship and mutual respect. When a Master-in-training arrives on the scene, their interplay as a threesome incorporates themes of jealousy, vulnerability, protection, and solidarity, and becomes a unique and delicate intercourse. A card game decides the fate of the two men in "Games," an intensely sexual bondage story that ramps up to a terrific climax, and ends after the two men have brunch and part ways. The Sir/Boy stories like "In Service," "Political/Personal" and "Positions" are magnificently rigid, and flow with the push/pull vitality of genuine bondage and discipline relationships.
The stories contained in Stein's anthology are written in highly erotic, calculated prose charged with an electric pulse that ignites the reader's imagination to want more, or perhaps to go out on their own to discover how it all works in real life. Striking illustrations by Axel (artbyaxel.com) introduce each story with a sexual flair, and are both beautiful and carnal. But most of these tales play on the balances of power between a top and a bottom: the sweet surrender at the conclusion of a flogging scene, or a bottom's capitulation at the hands of a seasoned Master, who can both express love and devotion to his charge, or exhibit stoicism as if to demonstrate ultimate domination devoid of emotion.
Boots Bondage and Beatings is a hands-down work of brilliant fiction, greatly satisfying a
The real lives of Masters and slaves in the gay community are where Stein (and co-author David Schachter) direct their attention in Ask the Man Who Owns Him. Loaded with photographs and verbatim commentary from the men involved in long-term Master/slave relationships, this comprehensive examination profiles 16 couples whose tenure ranges from three years together to 16. Among the local San Francisco men highlighted are Master Jeff and slave sparky, together 15 years, who generously detail both of their own strengths and weaknesses, and offer advice to anyone involved in or contemplating a relationship akin to their own. Master Mick and slave link, both in their early 60s, attribute "good time management" to the success of their relationship, which incorporates several different partners, making them "poster boys for polyamory." Daddy Ken Thomas and slave Tim offer an enticing model of trust and respect spliced with sex and kink.
Many couples adhere to unorthodox rituals and protocol to ensure fidelity or to avoid disastrous mishaps that could doom their arrangement. Master Frank and slave mr_h from Los Angeles are monogamously "fluid-bonded" so both remain HIV-negative, while Washington, DC's Master David and slave dave don't place sex in such high regard, opting for the base pleasures of their S/M partnership. Mark and Eric from Boston stumbled upon their somewhat suppressed BDSM desires after they'd fallen into a "comfortable suburban lifestyle" (a photo of their signed contract is included).
The concurrent theme running through each of these intricate, caringly orchestrated relationships is love; love for each other and love for the lifestyle they've embarked upon. One of the best things about this book can be found prefacing the profiles as both Stein and Schachter provide personal introductions that are interesting, enlightening, and, best of all, rooted in reality.
These books pull their own weight (with or without shackles) and make great reading experiences for both veteran S/M players and for those curious about how the dominant/submissive bond and associated roleplay could possibly become a part of their own daily lives.