Give Me My Shadows Back

The space had a ten thousand square foot play area. Suspension frames, St. Andrews crosses, spanking benches and bondage tables dotted the land for as far as the eye could see. Hundreds if not a thousand sexual adventurers were engaged in flirtation, whipping, spanking, bondage, needles, electricity, and all kinds of other kinky sex activities.

And we fucked on the loading dock.

On hands and knees, lips bit into one another as we broke into a U-haul and in the dust and dirt our bodies pushed against one another. His hair was in my hands, his teeth on my thighs, our sighs echoing against our own palms not wanting to be heard, but also not caring. His fingers wound their way inside my holes as I bucked and squirmed against him, hungry for more. That’s right fag, take it.

Outside, perfectly lit play areas were patrolled by dungeon monitors in orange safety vests. Areas were demarcated for what could happen where, drop cloths down for wax play, areas set aside for blood, whip corridors well labeled to avoid anyone getting hurt by a thrown single tail back swing. We couldn’t play there. Our play was dirty, hot, sweaty, depraved. Our lust called for shadow, for taboo, for a hunger in the dirt, rutting and fucking in the dust.

The modern version of kink has evolved into a sterilized place of analyzed desires and negotiated encounters. We have shined the neon light of analysis upon the shadows of our desires to make it safe, sane, consensual. We comfort ourselves by becoming risk aware, taking classes on how to hurt, but never to harm.

The kink community has become throat and third eye chakra. We analyze our desires, make it acceptable, understandable. We play above our heart. I long for root chakra play, where my loins call to fuck, where my body finds another, where we build up our pain and pleasure into a frenzy of desire. Give me body wisdom over intellectual intelligence in my slutdom.

I make my living here in the ajna, here at my third eye, gazing into minds and into the world beyond, and at the throat, my words echoing into the world. Letters become words become sentences become paragraphs become tales that change lives. I help individuals understand, but what do we set aside in the understanding?

In my teen years I spent time on and off as an Ave Rat, a street punk, a wanderer, a shaman of the concrete corridors. I cast my deal with Trash and said that I would always honor the trash-touched, would feed those I could, would not turn down an honest ask for funds. I am cast off, and one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. In that window I ate out of trash cans, food off the ground, good food, cast aside. Like me.

I have a sexualized fetish nowadays for being ordered to eat food off the ground, out of trash cans, be on the ground, hungry and needing. The pop psycho-analysis is easy- I have chosen subconsciously to eroticize my past trauma to, through the benefit of memory bias, re-assign those experiences of my past as pleasurable ones. My brain can look back at that pain as an extended scene, and instead of being traumatized by the memory, can be empowered. I went into the dark and came out with a hard-on.

But does knowing this link actually help me? Does knowing the roots of our erotic desires actually help up? Instead of getting turned on outright by eating that gummy bear off the sidewalk, I find myself conflicted. Am I engaging in a fetish act, or re-traumatizing my inner tormented teen? Before the analysis, I was the eager fetishist, after analysis I must make a choice with eyes wide open at each act I engage in, living here at the third eye, seeing all sides of reality with each breath.

I am unbelievably grateful for Screw The Roses, SM 101, and books of their ilk. The opportunity to turn our lens inward and embrace that these are natural desires is empowering. Yet when we analytically gaze at our dark desires do they loose the richness of their darkness? Does black become charcoal become a dusty gray? Does my longing become rote, yet another ass lining up to be caned amongst the throng?

A different encounter- Chicago. He responds to my ad, wants to hook up. I mention that I am staying at a dungeon in the city, and his ears perk up. Yes, please, let me see it!

I meet him downstairs and escort him up to the dungeon. It’s upstairs, he asks? Yes. I open the door and he blinks. It’s clean? Yes. It’s organized? Yes. It’s got windows? Yes.

He had hoped for shadows, sticky floors covered in men’s cum, sexual ninjas who would jump from on high and force him to his knees. This beautiful, immaculate, well-organized clean space left him curious, but not turned on. We did not play.

His desires mirror those I forget sometimes that I have. The longing to play with kink mirroring a longing to play with a taboo. There are many kinky individuals where it is about sensation, touch, connection, desire, or engaging in specific acts. But there are others who are drawn towards playing with taboo, shadow, danger, roughness, unfinished plot lines. As he wandered around the well-lit dungeon I got it. I’d been there too.

I have to suspend disbelief a lot to get it on at many kink conferences. This room was used three days ago for a woodworking conference, last weekend for a republican caucus. It is hard for me to get it on staring at the all too iconic hotel carpeting, giant floral spirals spinning the desire out of me. Can I really scream out “Sir Yes Sir” with authenticity as my face meets the itchiness of yet another polyester bed spread, staring at yet another piece of blasé artwork bolted to the wall?

Sometimes the answer is yes, oh gods yes, please yes. Hand hands holding me in place, deeply pleading eyes of quivering submissive flesh, that can make me ignore the world at large. My skin locks on theirs, fangs at their throat, and I forget for a moment that I am sitting next to the potluck offerings of a local housewife who felt that the cream of mushroom casserole would be a perfect fit for this play party. But other times it does not. I fail at reaching the mentality I longed for because I was in yet another hotel ball room, or the space was just too- pristine.

Leave me dirty. Scoop me up unfinished. Dance up to me with a wink and kiss me hard, without ten pages of checklists between our lips. Writhe beneath me, never knowing my name, claws sinking into your skin.

I am grateful that I am part of a community where we can explore with the lights on. Where clear verbal negotiation can happen. A world in which I can read (and write) collections of ideas to bounce off my lover’s mind and build scripted fantasies that play out and inspire us both.

But I want concrete walls and boys whose names I never caught licking up my boots. I crave fucking in bathroom stalls, the stink of the room echoing in my nostrils as I climb the wall, a fist buried inside me. I hunger for abandoned parking garages, for empty alley ways, for parked or fast speeding cars- being bound as we drive at high speed down the highway and I long to piss.

I enjoy scenes, but I masturbate to encounters. I have fun in the light, but I am passionately pulled to the shadow.

Tonight, I want the shadow. Stop sterilizing everything, for a moment. Let my kink stay kinky, stay edgy. Stop making it palatable, acceptable, consumable for the masses. Just for a moment let my passions stay taboo, stay wrong. I want to be wrong, I want to be in shadow, I want to be damned, I want to be forbidden.

Tomorrow, we can publish another book, another magazine, have the New York Times talk about how my desires are normal and understandable. Tomorrow we can think from our throat, from our third eye. But tonight give me gut wisdom, give me loin wisdom, give me root wisdom. Tonight, tonight give me my shadows back.


Lee Harrington

Lee Harrington is an internationally known sexuality, relationships, and personal authenticity educator. Having taught in all 50 states and in 6 countries, he brings a combination of playful engagement and thoughtful academic dialogue to a broad audience. An award-winning author and editor on gender, sexual, and sacred experience, his books include “Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Journeys,” and "Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond," among many other titles. He has been blogging online since 1998, and been teaching worldwide since 2001. Welcome to his world, and your chance to expand your mind and heart alike.


  1. this happens to every good scene once it finds its way into the light of day, just as I miss the days when raves were illegal gatherings in abandoned warehouses, and everything was still dangerous and illicit. Public kink is now victim to this, and we have to find a way to revitalize it

  2. Thank you! This answered some questions that have been yet unasked but at least now answered.

  3. Wow, I get it. Awesome and insightful.

  4. May I never disturb your shadows, for it enhances your direction of Light. May your taboo be accepted and adored by the one you love. May I never rent that Uhaul you used. *hugs*

  5. Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

  6. Your words move me, deep inside that dark place in my own spirit and being. Meeting you and seeing your public performances moved me also, but in a very different way. Both ways are wonderful, beautiful, and I will remember them and masturbate to the images they, and I, invoke. Blessed Be, and many thanks for being who and waht you are and for sharing a bit of both with the rest of us. Walk in Balance and Light Friend.

  7. Bravo and well said .. It is out of the dark we caputure our best images.

  8. Pingback: Eros by any other name… » Graydancer

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