Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Friday, November 16, 2018


Young, talented and kinky


How a sophomore is making waves in the BDSM community.




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BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism) is an acronym that might conjure up ideas of leather-clad dominatrixes in velvety lounges but they might not be the four letters that people associate with a sophomore college student.

Think of a typical college student’s night out. There might be basement fraternity parties, drinks at Sign of the Whale in Dupont or a quiet night watching Netflix. College of Arts and Sciences student Gwen, who asked that an alias be used to protect her privacy, does some of those things. Although on any given night she might also be suspended from metal hooks attached to a pendulum of thick ropes, arms behind her back, not very clothed and taking orders from a top, or dominant partner, in a dungeon. The Crucible in NoMa, Maryland served as D.C.'s primary dungeon for local kinksters, including Gwen.

Gwen is an up-and-coming bottom, or submissive partner, in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia's BDSM community. Her involvement in the scene started after she joined a social networking site for kinksters. Later, her friend invited her to The Crucible.

It's taken Gwen only two months to get invited to a DMV fetish ball and Philly kink convention.

There is a range of people who participate in the scene and make it their own. BDSM is a normal part of life for all kinds of people that you wouldn’t expect: Wall Street types, professors, bosses and students.

Courtesy of Gwen

It's a scene that's often misunderstood. Despite what a majority of people might think, BDSM is not entirely sexual. Fifty percent is sexual and 50 percent is therapeutic release, according to Gwen.

For Gwen, playing is usually therapeutic. Before getting involved in the community, she worried her age would be a distracting factor. Most of Gwen's partners are much older than her, she said.

“I thought my age would freak people out. I really thought that, me being in college, they would either obsess over my age and be like ‘I have to play with her’ or ‘She’s way too young she reminds me of my own kids or my niece or my nephew,’” Gwen said. “But people really don’t care about the age.”

People who want to “play” with Gwen want to do so not because of her age, but because of her attitude when it comes to putting her trust in a partner holding the whip.

“One of the most common things I’ve gotten is people really want to play with me because, apparently, I have this energy that is super positive and open and whether you are believer of energy or play or not, it’s a factor,” Gwen said. “It’s an amazing thing to feel and to be the recipient and the cause of.”

One of her partners mentioned that her smile alone changed the energy of whichever scene they were doing at the time, according to Gwen. That excitement and happiness isn’t frivolous, she said.

“I’m not going to go willy-nilly, pell-mell jumping off the deep end and burning out,” Gwen said. “They say I’m pretty level-headed and I know what I want.”

Gwen’s attitude has led to her rise in the local scene. Well-known people in the BDSM community have wanted to play with the AU sophomore since her introduction, and her first partner turned out to be well-connected.

“I’ve been very blessed to have been brought into it at such a level,” Gwen said. “I’ve just been very lucky and very thankful for that and [it has] opened a lot of doors for me.”

One of those doors opened at the Annual D.C. Fetish Ball held by Metro Underground, which is an adult alternative community. With floor-length gown and heels, Gwen went to the ball for the first time. Demonstrations, fashion shows and performances were all a part of the semi-formal event.

Gwen did two rope scenes, one fire scene and one cupping (suctioning skin until it swells and reddens) scene that night. A fire scene can include anything from flaming whips to flammable flash paper that burns in seconds after being lit against the skin.

Courtesy of Gwen

“I wasn’t even paying attention but I could hear them, like, ‘Oh my God, how is she doing that?’” Gwen said. “I got so many compliments afterwards and it was so worth it.”

She also says she learned a couple of lessons that night.

“The guy who convinced me to go is known for being a very extreme, hard top,” Gwen said.

Because this particular guy was known for being so extreme, he was someone that Gwen’s protector, or guide in the scene, did not want her playing with.

“I just remember after the ropes were being taken off I was spun around towards the crowd and I looked down and I was like shit,” Gwen said.

A protector in the BDSM scene screens people that would like to play with a new member and helps guide them through knowing her/his limits. Breaking her protector’s trust is something that Gwen deeply regretted.

Gwen also learned the importance of pacing herself during performances and preventing “drops.” High dopamine levels and euphoria are often a result of playing in the scene, according to Gwen.

“That was the weekend where I dropped really hard afterwards because I played for three days in a row,” Gwen said. “As much fun as it was, and it was worth it that one time, there are some lessons you have to learn the hard way. ”

As far as what Gwen’s "vanilla,” a term for non-kink, friends think, they are completely welcoming of BDSM as a feature in her life and wouldn’t expect anything less.

“They’re just like, ‘You would not be the same any other way,’” Gwen said. “I have friends who are like, ‘You know, it’d be kind of weird if you didn’t do all of this,’ and I’m like ‘You know, you’re probably right.’”

jsmith@theeeagleonline.com