Opinion
3 min

Fill out the form and find a master

How one Berlin cruising bar tries to streamline the master/slave relationship

A master/slave relationship is complicated at best; could a form really help streamline the process?  Credit: Xero Britt/Flickr

About eight guys were standing in the side hall, some naked, staring at forms that were taped to the wall. It reminded me of middle school, when students would huddle outside the gymnasium to see if they’d made the some sports team. Instead, these guys were looking at forms about each of us. This was a monthly sklavenmarkt (or slave market) held at Stahlrohr 2.0, a fetish cruising bar in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin. The forms indicate which of us were masters and which were slaves, and these forms were associated with numbers written on each of our shoulders. It was a clever idea — fun, too, but I was skeptical of its effectiveness.

In my experience, masters are not easy to find. In fact, I’ve only ever had a relationship like this once with a guy from New York, who completely disarmed me. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find such a character since. It’s hard enough to find a regular guy, let alone a master, so when I saw this party I thought, if nothing else, it’d at least be an interesting experience.

When I’d first entered Stahlrohr 2.0, I was given a cloth wristband that had a locker key and a number written on it: 81. That was my name for the night. “The lockers are downstairs,” the doorman said, with an Australian accent. “Some people like to get completely naked.” After I locked my stuff in the basement, I came back up to the bar for a drink. Not only was the Australian the doorman, he was the bartender too. “Fill this out,” he said, handing me the form before I could order a beer. 

The form asked whether you were a master or slave, but also whether you’re dominate or submissive (or “No Way”) for things like cock-ball-torture (CBT), fisting (FF) and bondage. At the very bottom, you’re to indicate what sort of commitment you’re looking for, from causal sex to long term/full-time. I wrote “I’m curious” for things like CBT; the Aussie said that that was okay to do.

When completed, the Aussie took my form and taped it to the side wall with the others, so I went to check who else was there. Unfortunately, there were only two masters: numbers 17 and 41. The rest were either slaves or neither. I made a mental note of the master’s numbers and continued through the space. 

Just beyond that hall was a small room with a slave worshipping the feet of his master. He’d kiss his sneakers then embrace them as though they were the miracle of life and all meaning. What I found interesting was that they weren’t dressed in leather or fetish gear. The couple were in plain street clothes and they also couldn’t have been more than 25. Not who you’d expect. They knew what they wanted though, despite their age. You could see it in their exchange and how they complimented each other. There was something sweet about them.

Another master was leading his slave down the hall with a leash . The slave was naked and on all fours, crawling behind like a dog. I followed them into the backroom where there was a massive bed and camo hanging from the ceiling. There was an orgy forming on the other side of the bed, so the master jumped on it and across with this slave following behind.

According to the forms, there were two masters in the bar. I’d seen two, and both were engaged with others, so I returned back to the main bar to wait for more to show up. One finally did, but he wasn’t quite my type.  

There’s no doubt tha,t yes, you can absolutely meet somebody using this method, as you can by going online — same concept really, except one is virtual and the other is real life. Something like Recon asks about your “interests,” from master/slaves to sports gear and suits. But just because there’s a form doesn’t mean you’ll easily find what you’re looking for. In my experience, chemistry is the most crucial ingredient. 

I myself didn’t find a master that night. It wasn’t just because of the lack of choice, though it had something to do with it — there were only the three masters by the time I left. But even if the place were filled with masters, that sort of relationship requires a combination of trust, physical attraction and human chemistry, all of which you can’t identify with a form. Not to downplay the party — it’s a wonderful idea, loads of fun and I’d go again — but it’s difficult to capture the complexities of human relationships on a piece of paper.