I asked for all this pain

I experimented in the S/M scene to cede control and test my own limits. What I never expected was to feel safe

Topics: Sex, Love and Sex, S&M, sadomasochism, fetish, New York, Editor's Picks,

I asked for all this pain (Credit: DoctorKan via iStock/Salon)

There aren’t many men who can control someone just with their eyes, like some sort of Batman supervillain with an extra-sensory ability to throw anyone they look at into a hypnotic trance. Master Avery, however, is one of them, and as I sat across from him in a Manhattan bar, talking about the S/M scene we were going to have the next day, I would have done anything he told me. It’s not just that I wanted him sexually (and as a lithe 5-foot-10 with distinguished graying hair and classically masculine features, he’s everything I want to have sex with for the rest of my life), but it’s like I wanted to be a part of him, as if I wanted to become him by becoming his — a strange shift only possible through the crucible of heavy pain, bondage and submission. Either that or evil superpowers created by a toxic waste spill. Both could work.

I first discovered Master Avery this January at the Sundance Film Festival as one of the costars in James Franco’s gay sexploration pseudo-documentary “Interior. Leather Bar.” He was showing actors how to flog, tie up and otherwise torture each other in what was supposed to be a late-’70s gay leather bar. From the first moment I saw him, in chaps and a leather cap like a Tom of Finland drawing come to life, I knew I wanted him. It’s not just that he was attractive, but also dangerous – the leather daddy who will push you to your physical and sexual limits, an archetype that lives in the collective gay fantasy as much as a locker room romp with Jake Gyllenhaal.

We met in the bar before our session to address the particulars, and he asked me a simple question, “What do you want?” and I really had no answer. I wanted to give S/M a try, to blow past the doldrums ordinary sexual encounters (as easy to come by as ordering chicken pad Thai from the joint down the block) and try something 50 shades of new. As a fairly controlling person in my personal life, I wanted to be completely powerless, overcome by another man in a way that erases my own free will.

But when he asked, I responded, “I don’t know. I just want to try it.” My desire buried so deeply, like one dirty gem at the bottom of Scrooge McDuck’s treasure bin, I wasn’t sure how to locate it or express it. I wanted him to tell me what I want. I wanted him to make me want what I want. I didn’t want to give a wrong answer. I was sitting there thinking I was the dom, but I was already the sub.

When I arrived at his dungeon the next day, he was immediately in charge and I instinctively did as I was told. I put my hands behind my back and winced in pain as he repeatedly twisted my nipples, I was undressed and turned around, my ass smacked repeatedly, not with flat hand, but with a cupped palm, so that the hollow clapping sounded worse than the actual pain.

That wasn’t the worst of it. Soon he had me standing up with leather cuffs on my wrists attached to chains hanging from the ceiling. He placed something over my eyes that looked like swimming goggles made out of leather. Nothing is scarier than being tied up and hearing someone rummage around a wall of torture devices (which looked something like your father’s old tool shed in your basement) trying to figure out what sort of fresh hell he’s going to introduce you to next. I couldn’t believe this is what I wanted, this is what I asked for, because as soon as the pain started, I wanted it to end.

He got real close to me so that I could feel his body lightly pressed against mine, a moment of tenderness that was very attractive after the abuse he just meted out with various flogging implements. He told me to pick a number between 1 and 10. I said 4 without even thinking about it.

“I’m going to give you four whacks with this paddle and after each one you’re going to count and say, ‘Thank you, sir.’ If you mess up, we’re going to start over again.”

Every time I was about to be inflicted by a new device, there was a moment of introduction. He’d either lift the blindfold to show it to me, like a cat dropping a dead mouse at your feet, or he would rub it gently on my bare skin so I could brace myself for impact. He smoothed the paddle on my ass and then he told me to get ready.

The pain never really hurts at first, sort of like eating a spicy chicken wing. It tastes good for a minute and you think it’s going to be fine until you’re blinded with the intense sensation of burning. That is what the paddling felt like. When I heard the thwap I didn’t think it was that bad, and then, in a bright flash, I was overcome and my body convulsed forward. “One. Thank you, sir,” I gritted through my teeth, afraid of having to start from zero again.

The whole session creates an intense and interesting dynamic between the dom and the submissive. I wanted him to stop, but I also wanted to make him proud and show him that I could endure and even enjoy anything he would dish out. Against my natural inclination, I wanted to please master. It was a little bit of Stockholm syndrome, and I was cast as Patty Hearst in chains.

After my beating with the paddle, that’s when he strapped something around my nuts. It looked like a conical collar dogs wear after surgery, but had three chains dangling from it where he attached to a two-and-a-half pound weight. That doesn’t sound heavy until it’s hanging off the most delicate part of a man’s anatomy. Then two and a half pounds feels something like a water buffalo trying to yank you limb from limb. I groaned and breathed heavy trying to take the pain, wishing I could move my arms to make it stop, but I couldn’t. They were fixed behind me. “Come on,” he said. “I know you can take it. A little bit more. Come on,” he said, like some sort of kinky personal trainer, trying to get me to my limit, knowing that it was further than I was willing to go myself. And just when I was there, he lifted up the weight and the pain stopped. “Good job,” he said, and I didn’t know what was better, that the searing pain had ceased or his affirmation.

He got behind me. He put his arms around me and jerked me backward. It felt like I was falling into an abyss and I cried out, expecting my naughty bits to be pulled off by the weight and my chest shredded by the clamps.

But nothing came. “See, boy. I’m going to take care of you,” he said, acknowledging that he had unrigged me from the apparatus. We were both seated on a couch and he was holding me in his lap like it was Friday night and he was my boyfriend and we were curled up with popcorn and an episode of “Fashion Police.” It was tender and sweet. I felt safe and, yes, this man who had just pummeled and abused me was really taking care of me. In fact, the beating made it even more sweet, somehow more real because of the adversity.

Master Avery put me down on a futon and chained my hands to the bedpost. I heard him making a phone call. I could hear a woman answer on the other end. “Hey, come over and help me break in my new slave,” he said. She squealed with delight, but I couldn’t hear what she was saying. Now I was petrified at the notion of being outnumbered.

The door opened and a thin, attractive redhead entered the room. “Mistress Margot Rose is here,” Master Avery said. She went into the bathroom and came out in a sheer lace camisole and a pair of chic, high-waisted satin shorts and a pair of red patent leather pumps. If you’re going to have a dominatrix over to work on a gay dude, fashionable is definitely the way to go.

The two of them tied me and suspended me from the ceiling. It probably took 20 minutes, and with lengths of rope, they worked together to hang me upside down, ropes digging into my hips. It was so painful I complained for the first time all day.

Now Mistress Margot Rose asked me to pick a number between 1 and 10 and I knew to pick a low number. Three seemed reasonable. Again I got three whacks, but this time while inverted. Next to a bout with kidney stones a few years back, it was the most pain of my life, but it’s like it flowed through my body out of the top of my head and out into the universe and disappeaed, like change falling out of your pockets.

Finally Master Avery said that was enough for the slave. At the end Mistress Margot Rose asked me what I liked the best, and I didn’t know. Just like at our first meeting, the hardest bit of this whole experience was saying what I want. It was so hard to tell her that I didn’t like being beaten, but I liked feeling safe. I liked the pain because it brought me through to the other side, to a place where I knew I was strong, confident that I could take it, and, no matter what was dished out, that nothing really bad was going to happen.

What did I like the best? “All of it,” I said, to satisfy her, to satisfy them both, which somehow became my only drive over the course of our two-hour session. I went in there wanting to be with Master Avery, to somehow siphon off some of that control he oozes out of his eyes, the confidence he carries with every movement of his body. But when it was over, I didn’t need that. I thought what I wanted was to gain control by losing it, but what I really wanted was to survive, the hardest accomplishment of all. I had succeeded with flying colors, or at least black and blues.

They joked about doing it again. I laughed a little, knowing I probably wouldn’t be back. But it was true, I liked it all, even if I still didn’t have the words to tell them exactly how I felt – other than sore.

Brian Moylan is a writer and sexperiment who lives in New York and bruises quite easily. Follow him on Twitter @BrianJMoylan.

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