Archive for August, 2008|Monthly archive page

Branding, Three Months Later

A little while ago, I wrote about my first experience with branding. It was a really beautiful and wholly positive event, and I almost immediately started planning for my next brand.

After a few weeks, I was starting to get a little worried about how it was scarring—it seemed to be way, way bigger than I was expecting it would turn out, and two parts of the brand were merging together into a blob. Still, I thought, the scar would quickly start to turn lighter and lighter, and eventually it would be barely noticeable. That was part of the appeal of branding for me: unlike tattooing, branding results in a much more subtle design on the skin, a slightly lighter shade of one’s normal skin color. So I thought.

Now, over three months later, the scar has keloided, and is bright pink. The two distinct parts of the design have become connected with scar tissue, making it almost completely indistinguishable. The location (the middle of my chest) and the bright color attract a lot of comments, now that it’s hot and I’m wearing tank tops a lot, and I’m getting tired of explaining to people what the brand was *supposed* to look like.

But the worst part is that the keloid has become itchy and painful, and the skin around the brand has become extremely sensitive as well. I can’t bear to have the brand touched at all, and I have a hard time finding a comfortable position to sleep in, because lying on my side pushes the skin together and rubs the brand. I’m starting to worry about how long it will take for the pain to go away — a year? More? I have no idea what to expect. I’m thinking about going to a dermatologist. I’ve tried to get in touch with Fakir, who did the brand, but he hasn’t responded yet.

I’ll always treasure the experience of getting my brand, but I really wish I’d gotten more information about the healing process before I went through with it. I don’t think I’d have done it if I’d realized how much the shape was going to change and how painful the resulting scar would be.


UPDATE: I did end up going to a dermatologist, who told me that the sternum and upper back are areas that are particularly prone to keloiding, and that it was likely that skin trauma of other kinds in those areas (cutting, hooks, etc.) would have the same result for me. He gave me a cortisone injection and told me to start using silicone scar pads (Curad Scar Therapy) every day. I did so, and after four or five weeks I noticed that the keloid had become flatter and wasn’t as painful. I stopped using the pads when I ran out of them (they’re expensive!), and while I don’t have the shooting pains anymore, the scar is still very sensitive and occasionally itchy.

In three months, I will have had the brand for two years. I’ve gotten used to it, to a certain extent, but I expect that I will someday again explore options for how to get rid of the scar. I ultimately regret getting the brand, and would advise others to (a) test your skin as much as possible first to know how it will likely react and (b) if your skin is sensitive and prone to scarring, avoid the chest and back unless you want keloiding. (I understand that for a lot of people, keloids aren’t painful and are aesthetically pleasing.)

Feet

I’ve recently come to the realization that I have something of a foot fetish. It feels very strange to me, because it’s the sort of thing most often joked about when people start talking about fetishes or kinks—it seems absurd and laughable, so far divorced from “real” sex that it’s completely incomprehensible to most. But there it is.

It first presented itself as a boot fetish, but this wasn’t too jarring to me, as I’ve always found boots aesthetically appealing (both on my partners and on myself), and so recognizing that I found boots sexy as well wasn’t difficult to do.

Then came my first fantasy about boot licking. More than perhaps any other kink or fetish I have, this one was probably the most difficult to bring up to my partner. (He was intrigued by it, and now boot worship is a regular feature of our play.) Then came the idea of being stepped on, which quickly progressed to being kicked. Currently, I’m stuck on the idea of my partner strapping a dildo to his boot and fucking me with it.

But in most of these fantasies, my attention was always mostly on the boot, not the foot. Thus, I never considered myself a “foot fetishist.” Somehow, even when play began to include my partner’s bare feet in my mouth, kicking me, stepping on me, or masturbating me, I never once had the thought that I was it was the foot itself, not just the foot inside the boot, that I found so hot.

Then, a few nights ago, I was taking a shower with my partner. We had been taking turns washing each other (in a romantic “doing nice things for each other” way, not in a sexy way), and I knelt down to wash his legs. Then I picked up his foot and began soaping it, and I was instantly aroused. I looked up at him; he had noticed. I silently washed his feet, slowly caressing them, somewhat embarrassed but undeniably turned on.

The rest of that evening was very, very nice. (And I’ll leave it at that.) But I’m still somewhat unnerved and puzzled by this newly discovered fetish. My gut instinct tells me that it’s connected to my kink for submission in general—that the fetish is related to the feet being the lowest part of the body (both physically and metaphorically), and being at his feet, cleaning his feet, or being fucked by his feet are all ways to draw out that submissiveness by pushing me down into that “lower” space.

(That’s one idea, anyway.)

Building an Alternative

On Friday night, I went to screwup, a trans/genderqueer BDSM group in San Francisco. Open to all genders, screwup is non-hierarchical and staunchly DIY in its philosophy; there’s no elected board, and workshops are put on by anyone who wants to do one. It’s all done on a volunteer basis, so workshops are free, with donations requested to cover the cost of renting a space.

Needless to say, I found all of this incredibly exciting and refreshing. I talked to one of the organizers at length about why screwup was formed—both as a response to BDSM spaces that didn’t really understand the specific needs of the trans community and as an alternative to a scene focused on traditional top-down power structures, for-profit workshops organized by “professionals” and “experts,” and expensive toys and fetish wear.

The topic of the evening was play piercing, something I felt was sort of beyond my reach without thorough training and instruction. I came away from the workshop realizing that it really, really wasn’t, and that there were probably a lot of things I’m currently afraid of trying that I could learn to do myself or with friends, with the appropriate safety measures and risk-awareness. At the end of the evening, we were encouraged to try piercing ourselves or others, and being too nervous to stick someone else, I did a simple piercing in my forearm. I was shocked: it was absurdly easy, and didn’t hurt a bit. (Obviously, having four or five of them probably would have started to hurt a lot more, not to mention having them inserted somewhere a bit more sensitive…)

But the point of this post isn’t really to talk about play piercing; the point is that there are people out there creating alternatives to the mainstream BDSM scene, that there are people who think that the best way to teach and learn techniques is through peer skill sharing and personal practice, not expensive classes and extensive training. It’s all very inspiring, and makes me more hopeful than ever that my friends and I can start something similar within the anarchist scene.