Friday, 2 November 2012

Fearful Pleasures

This article originally appeared in Radar magazine, Issue 15, October 2011

Is there are a part of you that enjoys being scared, enjoys that nervy, edgy feeling that perhaps someone, somewhere might be out to get you?

For most people this indulgence in fear might involve nothing more than watching the occasional horror movie or reading True Crime books about the lives of serial killers. But for a few it goes much further, taking them into a strange world where coercion and consent can appear to be indistinguishable.

Did you know that there are people out there who will, at your request and for a fee, 'kidnap' you and then subject you to mental or physical torture?

Today I'm meeting one such professional, fantasy kidnapper - a Birmingham-based dominatrix who has agreed to be interviewed, but asked that her name not be used in this article. The Kidnap Zone section of her website begins with the following passage -

'YOU have made the arrangements, You have paid the deposit. You know the outline of what will happen, but the menacing laugh of the women you have been talking to for the last week echoes in your mind. She has assured you that you will be returned in good order, and has reminded you that this is YOUR fantasy, something you have been dreaming of for years. But your heart is still beating fast, and you keep wiping your moist palms on your jacket.'

So who does this appeal to and how exactly do you go about abducting someone, even consensually, from a public area?

I meet the dominatrix at her chambers close to the city centre, where she has at her disposal several fully equipped dungeon rooms, a bare cellar, and a prison cell. There are no clients present this morning, and so she is casually dressed, but still speaks with the deliberate, authoritative voice of someone who expects to be listened to.

She runs through the preliminaries that must take place before the actual scenario can begin. The client must initially send an email detailing the exact nature of their fantasy. They also need to provide a phone number, proof that they are over 25, and details of any relevant health problems. Most importantly, they need to provide an email confirming that they have consented to the abduction. This email will be printed out and kept close to hand at all times.

The exact nature of the scenario varies from person to person. Some clients will come along voluntarily to the chambers under a fantasy pretext, such as arriving for a business meeting. They can then easily be detained and the chosen punishments can begin.

It is only when someone wants to be taken off the street in broad daylight that the logistics become more complicated, as she explains -

'I'm very lucky. My past employment was in security. We always survey the area first, and if there are any cameras then I'll go to the local police station. I'll tell them I'm doing a fantasy kidnapping. I give them my car registration number and basic details of the person, and I always have the email ready. I have to be careful – I don't want a squad of police cars outside with guns!'

The risk of any passing member of the public getting the wrong idea is often reduced by the fact that the clients can be so eager for their fantasy to begin that very little in the way of manhandling is required to get them into the waiting vehicle.

'Some of them even put on their seatbelts!' she smiles. I ask her what happens if the client becomes overwhelmed by the whole thing and starts to panic, and whether she employs safewords.

'People want to panic. They want it to be as realistic as safely possible. But if someone's in danger of hyperventilation or some other health problem then I'll back off. I'm not here to permanently damage anyone.'

So what does she think the appeal of it is?

'It's about an adrenaline rush, that is why people want it. The human body has its own powerful drugs. Why do people need social drugs when they can use this underrated resource that everyone has? And it is natural.

'Most of these people are also in high-powered positions. For once they want someone else to control them. They want to be taken and not have control over what happens to them.'

She has a client booked in for next week. He will arrive at the chambers, pretending to believe that he is here for an interview, before being held in one of the dungeon rooms where he will endure eight hours of dominatrix's skilful attentions. He will receive all of the extreme punishments he has requested, but due to the experience of his captor he will leave without any marks on his body. She is keen to emphasise that there is nothing sexual about the abductions –

'It's all about mind control. It's not only about the body, it's about the mind. It's not only about pain, it's about sensation. It is sensual not sexual.'

These fake kidnappings are just one of several fetishes where the perception of danger is an intrinsic part of the appeal.

Knifeplay, for instance, involves running blades or razors across the skin, either to create the fear of harm, or sometimes in order to actually make superficial cuts. Again, mind control plays a large part. Subjects are often blindfolded so that they cannot see, for instance, that the razor-sharp knife they were originally shown has now been replaced, and it is only a butter knife that is being pressed hard against their skin.

There are even dominatrixes who will, on request, blackmail their clients into parting with regular chunks of cash. This is not an activity which the domme I'm interviewing undertakes as she believes the legality of it to be questionable, even if the individual signs a contract agreeing to the whole thing.

Maybe the rise in interest in these kinds of fear-based fantasies is due to the fact that, for most of us, our day-to-day lives contain an almost negligible amount of genuine risk. While this means that we are likely to have a longer average life expectancy than any previous generation, the problem is that many people need the occasional burst of fear-induced adrenaline in order to remind themselves that they are actually alive.

Undoubtedly it is only a tiny minority who would ever want to combine this fear with fetish and end up being bundled into the back of a van with a bag over their head. But for everyone else there is always bungee-jumping.

Radar Issue 15, October 2011

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