A.B. Gayle's Reviews > Chainmale: 3sm: A Unique View of Leather Culture

Chainmale by Don Bastian
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it was amazing
bookshelves: bdsm, non-fiction, shelf-32

I've often wondered what makes a good Dominant. Are they just sadistic control freaks? Most BDSM m/m books that delve into the psychology and not just the mechanics are told from the perspective of the sub, with a few notable exceptions like Syd McGinley's Dr Fell series.

Hence, when I discovered that there was a non-fiction book written by a well known Dom in the Leather scene I was intrigued and then ultimately satisfied. "Chainmale" is written as a stream of consciousness and in it I found the answers to a lot of my questions. It's a book that you have to stop and think about as sometimes just two paragraphs may contain a whole strand of thought which needs consideration.

As many readers don't have access to a Kindle, I'm including some quotes to give you an idea of the sorts of things I'm talking about that put the whole thing into perspective. There is a hard copy version, and you can get Kindle as a free download to your PC.
(The Dungeon Master)becomes director, psychologist, props manager, and scriptwriter, all in one. This fully rounded individual enables the bottom to explore a full range of experiences, emotions, and fears with total support and confidence. Mentor and student. And maybe that is why I feel that my education as a Top is never complete. There is always some applicable piece of information cropping up to spark new approaches and explanation
The fact that I actually cared about my bottom's well-being and acknowledged it drew various negative responses from the audience. To some, I became 'too-real', meaning that my ability to 'feel' got in the way of their fantasy. Some wanted truly sadistic scenes in which the bottom viewed the Top as an uncaring power figure. A valid point too. These fantasies are needed by some and, I admit, there are times when I enjoy them also.
A "mean, tough, cream-puff" is a rough exterior with a marshmallow center and a great analogy of most Leatherfolk in my opinion. I have never met more passionate and caring people in my life.
I could provide a safe and trustworthy place to explore their fantasies, within the confines of their submission. A place to let go knowing they might trip but I would catch their fall.
I value a bottom who is creative, spontaneous, and objective. I do not wish a doormat. After all, someone who can think for themselves also pushes my creativity and limits. It is the respect shown me as a Top that carries weight and has the most value emotionally, in or out of the playroom.
It is the respect shown me as a Top that carries weight and has the most value emotionally, in or out of the playroom. Not time out, but just a toned down period that allows readjustment or re-evaluation of the contractual needs.
For example, a weekend of intense bondage and the ability to play for a lengthy period, for me, requires tremendous focus.
Even through clenched teeth, a difference can be intimated just by volume. The exception to this being if the bottom displays a "this-is-a-test" attitude to discover what it takes to make a Top abandon the scene. The 'you-couldn't-get-a-response-so-I-win' attitude that some bottoms exhibit. Well, they usually get a response from the Top they were not expecting. Translate that anyway you wish. I have two words for pushy bottoms - duct tape.
Some of the boys I have played with repetitively use this tactic to see what my limits are. Well, boys, it’s not nice to test Daddy's patience. And to be fair, if I am not getting the responses I expect, maybe our needs just aren't meshing. Mood swings and expectations are influenced by many factors both before and during a scene. The trick is to know when it is not working and call it off rather than perform a mercy-fuck just to save face.
There are times when the bottom just puts out and shuts-up, especially if Daddy is in the mood to mete out some long-remembered act of retribution. "Forgive but never forget" is my motto, and it comes in very handy.

Then the classic story he describes when he comes home unexpectedly and finds his boy curled up in bed instead of doing chores. He made up an excuse for being there, left without acknowledging he’d seen the boy and then lets him stew for days before he brings it up in a scene.
“Ah, sweet fate. I'll let him squirm for a while. He'll relax eventually. I’ll bet he tip toes around his duties and the conversation for a few days though. Besides, time is on my side and I never forget.
I know better now. I know what to ask, how to ask it, and how to deduce the subtle answer about what was not said as opposed to what actually was said.
Mistakes generally occur because of eagerness to be part of a scene. In this case, I had been thinking with my dick instead of my head. Experience is the best lesson.
The language we all use to communicate is borrowed, adapted, and labeled with special meaning to become applicable to the Leather culture. Words are still words, but some have dual meanings and carry more power under circumstances for which the original meanings were not designed.
My Leather taught me one very important fact: communication is not just talking, it is also observing.
Good communications skills - more to the point, good listening skills - allow me to disseminate information and express ideas that ultimately lead to my objective, whether that objective is buying a car or negotiating my way into someone's pants. I remember scolding a bottom and telling him that there was a reason he had two ears and one mouth. His wrong reply was, so that I had something to hold onto while he gave me a blowjob. He was difficult, but he got over it - with a little help from the welts on his back.

The book also shows that there’s a lot of philosophy as well as psychology at play. At one stage, Don the Dom discusses the concept of listening:
Too many people like to hear themselves talk because it makes them feel important. Listening allows me to change my mind about a willingness, or unwillingness, to advance the conversation with someone to whom I am attracted.
Many scenes have gone awry because of misinterpretation. For this reason, the ability to listen, as well as the ability to ask the right questions without tipping your hand are crucial to success.

I could list more examples.
Despite the weighty thoughts behind it, the writing is lyrical and easy to read. This is a good example of the bits that lift the book from the mundane to the extraordinary:
"The looks on those faces swirling around the bar are enough to entertain me all night. The music seems to increase in volume, rhythms guiding the gyrating masses, the din of conversation lowering under the weight of the music, communication becoming eye contact only. The hunt has started. Needy eyes, glazed eyes, come-fuck-me eyes, eyes that were begging just for that masculine touch against their skin at any cost. The want was so evident that it scares off most with its pleading and eagerness. Few eyes make contact with mine. It is the honesty in my eyes, I think, that is intimidating to most. Nothing superficial about the questions in my eyes, "What are you really looking for?" and, "Are you prepared to be honest in return?" No hidden agendas here. Naked trust questioned at a glance. "Are you willing? Will you bare your throat to the wolf with the red roses?" They glance away."

I am indebted to Teddy Pig for leading me to this book. He mentioned it in a blog he did back in 2005 http://www.leatherflog.com/2005/11/le... and then repeated part of it in his current "Naughty Bits" blog. I'll leave it up to his experience to comment on the validity of the content, I'm happy just to share and recommend it to those looking for a fuller picture of the scene.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
August 25, 2011 – Shelved

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