At heart, all kinksters are essentially just colossal nerds. Sexy, dirty, perverted nerds, but nerds nonetheless. To practise kink in your sex life requires a deep understanding of and passion for your type of play, in order to minimize potential risks. Safer sex requires all players involved to be aware of their own needs as well as the needs of their partner(s), so investing a little time in educating yourself, be it through workshops or literature, can save a lot of time and energy down the line.
If you’re going to call your book The Ultimate Guide to Kink, you’d better be able to back that up with plenty of in-depth knowledge. The good news is that sex educator Tristan Taormino, Kink’s editor, delivers on the title’s promise, compiling an excellent, thoroughly researched collection of lessons on all things kink, ranging from proper needle-play technique to the psychological mindset behind edge play.
Kink focuses a lot of its advice on the concept of safe, sane and consensual, the idea being that no matter what you do, and no matter how extreme, you need to be sure the lines of communication are always clear and present. This seems like a simple concept, and one most people should already be aware of, but incorporating this ideology into every aspect of the book ensures that beginner kinksters don’t accidentally drop the balls in the heat of the moment.
The book is split in two, with the first half devoted to skills and techniques, while the latter half revolves around fantasies and philosophies. The first section is more accessible, despite being a touch more clinical and precise. Reading about flogging, spanking and proper fisting techniques — both anal and vaginal! — is entertaining enough, but the authors’ joy and exuberance makes it even more enjoyable. Furthermore, Katie Diamond’s illustrations are excellent, especially in Midori’s chapter on rope bondage. Granted, the chapter lacks the first-person experience that comes with actually practising this in real life, but it does provide some wonderful groundwork.
The second half, focusing on fantasies and philosophies, isn’t quite on par with the first. Since the psychological aspects of kink are not really black-and-white, much of this section relies on the abstract or personal anecdotes, and at times, they’re either too general or too myopic. These chapters are intelligent and well written, but for the most part, they’re more theoretically interesting than they are informative. Oh well, that’s academia for ya.
As an intro to BDSM and fetish, The Ultimate Guide to Kink is an excellent resource to have on hand, and hardcore kinksters would probably find it a fascinating read. Just remember: vanilla is nice, but it always tastes better when you whip it around a bit.
Jeremy Feist is a Toronto pornstar. Porndoggy appears in every issue of Xtra.