Monday, September 28, 2009

My life as a bottom, Part 1: The basics

Not only have I been much less frequent in posting here lately, I've largely abandoned the kinds of multi-tiered, multi-installment personal observations that I started this blog in order to share, in favor of quick and easy posts about how I can't wait to see Ryan Reynolds as the Green Lantern. (Which I still can't wait to see.) So here's an attempt to make up for lost time.

It's not just laziness that has kept me from maintaining my old level of self-disclosure here. For a while, I didn't want certain roleplaying buddies to know too much about certain other ones, and I never want to make it too easy for new villains to know too much about my weaknesses without having to work for it. But what the hell: much time has passed since the heavy duty phase of the Monk saga, and the 4 or 5 of you who actually read this blog as regularly as I write it might appreciate hearing what has happened in the meantime, possibly to shed let on your own experiences. I've been thinking a lot lately about what turns me on in batplay, and why, and wanting to put those thoughts down in words.

In a nutshell, getting unmasked (on various levels) and broken by the Monk several years ago seemed to open up a side of myself I've long been aware of but had not fully explored. While I can readily attest that nothing that has followed has carried exactly the same level of emotional intensity (after all, you never forget your first time), it's also true that I've tried to recapture that feeling many times since then with varying degrees of success. I think I've lost track of the number of men who have managed to get me (as the Batman character) to admit defeat--not just in a single scene, but on a more longterm level. I'm not talking dozens here, but it's possible I can no longer count them on both hands. I am called their "batbitch," their "batbaby," their "boi" (a spelling I hate, so hearing it applied to me only heightens the shame and pisses me off all the more). A smaller number have gotten me to the point where I have removed the mask that hides my true face, putting me in a more vulnerable position in regard to them. And an even smaller number--two, counting the Monk--have earned enough of my trust, and proven themselves skillful enough, to find out quite a bit about my "real" life, blurring the boundaries between my assumed identity and the one I show the rest of the world in a way that excites me as much as it frightens me.

Those are the basic stages of what I consider the best kind of bat-roleplay. They always happen in that order, when they happen, and although the details of each case are very different, the overall pattern is virtually identical: I come on strong in my early battles with the villain, winning a few and losing a few more. (The really inept or uninteresting bad guys don't make it past a single scene, unless I'm feeling particularly horny--but I've learned the hard way that it's a waste of my time to try to make it to the next level with an adversary who isn't up to the task.) After a few months (or weeks, or days now, depending again on how badly I want it) of this back-and-forth, the truly talented villain stages some sort of decisive showdown that I ultimately end up losing, but not before putting up the fight of my life. A short time after my defeat, if he chooses, my secret identity is revealed (sometimes this is purely verbal, sometimes it's on camera) and my old career as Batman is essentially over. This stage usually entails some degree of bad feeling, since I don't, as a real person, enjoy failure or defeat as a rule, and even though I'm perfectly aware it's all a game, the hurt is on some small level a real one. I tend to spend at least a day feeling genuinely depressed--but that passes, there is typically one last period of rebellion, and after a certain period of readjustment I come to accept and (in the rarest and best cases) even embrace my new role as a bottom to the villainous Top.

The most interesting part of all this for me is the struggle: the deeper I start to fall in the early days, the more I fight it ... and the more I fight it, the deeper I feel myself being pulled in. In essence, I absolutely love resisting as hard as I can until I am finally ready to admit that I can't resist anymore. (Even then, there is usually that one last gasp of resistance after I've theoretically already succumbed, before I accept my fate once and for all--which is the stage when I admit I don't want to resist anymore.) It's pretty much what happens physiologically, too: I work myself up, then hold back, then work myself up some more, and hold back hold back hold back until I just can't anymore, and whoosh--there's the orgasm, and the period of exhaustion that follows, then the whole cycle repeats the next time with a new roleplay partner.

I have my theories about what all this means, and why it's so powerful for me, but I will hold off on those till later. For now, I just wanted to convey what a psychologist friend of mine calls the "elegant pattern" of the fantasy. I should also note that I don't mean to suggest I am only a bottom (I intend to wrap this multi-parter up with an entry called "My life as a Top," btw), or that I go through every single phase of the pattern every single time I meet someone new online. (I should also note this all happens entirely online and entirely separate from my very happy real-life relationship--which itself does not fit the pattern at all.) The way I see it, the pattern is my way of reenacting a myth--the rise and fall of a good man, who will eventually rise (and fall) again in a new place and time--that, for whatever reason, is part of the story of my life.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Don't ask, he won't tell

Remember, boys and girls: Do NOT ask a cop this question:

It was Officer Hub who tipped me off to the site Things Not to Ask a Cop. The clip-art gent you see above appears in every installment, much like the characterless characters from the much-loved and much-missed (by me, anyway) Get Your War On webcomic.

When I first checked out Things Not to Ask, I automatically assumed it was the work of a cop or maybe a cop spouse. But the more I looked over the identical-looking single-panel comics, the more I started to wonder. Let's just say if an actual officer of the law is coming up with stuff like this, he or she (no, definitely He) surely won't keep his job very long.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Strangers in the night

A little more than a week ago a cyberfriend turned me on to the new chatrooms at (which, like GearFetish, is a social-networking site aimed at fetish-minded gay men). I'd been a Recon member for years (like GF, basic membership is free, though if you pay money you get access to more features), but largely neglected the site for weeks or months at a time.

Until this past week. Now I find myself hanging out in the "Superhero" room there for stretches of the day and night. (FYI, the main feature that distinguishes Recon's approach to chat from GF's is that public rooms are devoted to particular fetishes and interests, including bears & cubs, daddy/boy, hypnosis, and "scallies," whatever that means. One is called "Chastity," which always throws me off because it's the name of one of my female coworkers. You can also look for like-minded men by geographic location and upcoming leather events.) I haven't partaken in the chat scene anywhere much since the heyday of AOL back in the early-to-mid-90s, and I can't say it's changed much: lots of lurkers, not necessarily lots of interesting exchanges with witty and articulate conversationalists, and a whole bunch of time spent alone in a room waiting for someone else to show up and stick around longer than 5 seconds. For a while it seemed like everyone who dropped in was between 19 and 24, a demographic that didn't even appeal to me when I was in it myself; and the bottoms (generally heroes and sidekicks) outnumber the tops (generally villains) by about 4 to 1. On a good day. Still, Recon's Superhero room is a new way to meet new potential roleplay partners and to reconnect with old friends/fiends, and I recommend it, although I have a feeling I'm burning out on it fast. (It triggers the obsessive side of me a little too much--and I hate the needy feeling of sitting alone in public waiting for someone to talk to me, either online or off.)

Thanks to this NPR piece on the new book Consequential Strangers, I now have a new way to think about the men (and occasional women) I meet through online roleplay. As defined by authors Melinda Blau and Karen L. Fingerman, a "consequential stranger" is someone who occupies that gray area between intimate friend and anonymous passerby; you may interact with him or her once or many times (a barber is a perfect example of the latter), exchanging information about each other to one degree or another, and yet your knowledge of each other is typically limited to a very specific field. Blau and Fingerman cite the kinds of people we exchange holiday cards with, but lots of Facebook friends--the kind I last saw in person in high school 30+ years ago--seem like the best contemporary manifestation to me.

Well, and chatroom/roleplay buddies, too. Some of these people I interact with exactly once and it goes nowhere, others develop into something resembling close friends--albeit friends whom I (almost) never meet face to face, who (usually) don't know my "real" name or what I look like when I'm not wearing a mask, and who (generally) know next to nothing about the details of my daily existence. And yet, at the same time, many of them have earned a glimpse into my innermost self; they see a side of me I wouldn't dream of showing to my best friends, let alone family members or coworkers.

It's an intriguing theory to me because it sheds light on the current Age of Oversharing. I'm frequently accused by people in (what I insist on calling) the Daylight World of being overly private, hard to read, or just plain standoffish. Even in the chatroom setting, when I don't break character with a newcomer or I refuse to reveal my real name or hometown, I can rub people the wrong way. And yet you, gentle reader, are privvy to all manner of my fantasies--but then this is blog is pretty much directed at consequential strangers, for much the same reason that the book's authors offer in the radio interview for why women tell their hairdressers things they would never reveal to their husbands or siblings. The "consequences" of what I write here are limited if you don't know a thing about me--though if I trust you enough to tell you my name some day, then the game changes, slightly.

Blau writes:
While those closest to our heart are synonymous with home, consequential strangers anchor us in the world and give us a sense of being plugged into something larger. They also enhance and enrich our lives and offer us opportunities for novel experiences and information that is beyond the purview of our inner circles.

You can say that again! Sometimes those "novel experiences" are yoga classes, and sometimes they involve one or the other of us on our knees ready to blow the load of a lifetime.