Tonight, I was exposed to a perspective, and it is a valid one. A perspective that looked at a slice of my work from the past 6 years, with a different eye. It is one I have chosen to take to heart.
In 2004, I was asked to teach my first Breath Play class for TESFest. It took three rounds of asking if I would teach the class before I said yes. When I did, I put stipulations on entry- no late entry, no coming and going, maximum attendance size, a speech at the beginning about the explicit seriousness and dangers of this work.
And in the past 6+ years, I have stuck to the fact when I teach that there IS NO SUCH THING as safe strangulation or other extreme forms of breath play. I have however been a strong believer that the subject of erotic asphyxiphilia, air flow constriction and control, blood flow manipulation and the rest of this big category called “Breath Play” needs discussed in the light of day. It is the black sheep of the kink family for good reason- people die. But that has not made people stop, so my belief has been that bringing awareness, with a degree of playfulness that has people actually listen to me instead of literally leave class angry or fall asleep in class (both experiences from my last time attending Jay Wiseman’s “Medical Realities of Breath Play” course), to the topic is important. Get folks turned on, tuned in, then slip in the realities of the dangers of breath play while offering other tasty options with lower risks.
Over the years, of my approximate 1000 students who have taken the class in 23 times I have taught it, I have had at least 10 tell me they stopped doing breathplay all together because of what they learned. One of whom started doing breath play after attending Mr. Wiseman’s course. Two separate students explained the specific dangerous behaviors they were doing that they did not realize how lucky they were that their partner was not dead. Dozens have thanked me for the hot lower-risk ideas I provided that gave them other options because for them, not doing it was not an option for their sexual drive.
However, the perspective I dialogued with tonight pointed out that by the fact that I demo dangerous acts. I demo dangerous acts and survive, seemingly unharmed. No matter what I “say”- pointing out that if I were to jerk off while bagged that I might pass out and die instead of remembering to puncture the bag, are just words. The student off the street, who has made verbal commitments at the beginning and end of class to take serious caution, is still seeing a world-class educator do a dangerous act and come out the other side alive.
Usually when I do this class, 16 of the 23 occurrences, it was in the context of a conference, or weekend intensive of education. However, in the last two+ years I have started doing this class as a stand-alone, without attendee pre-requirements, or the ability to follow up with students easily, take questions all weekend privately from the shy, etc. I feel I have made an error of judgment by saying yes to these requests.
Thus, for now, I am pulling “Take My Breath Away: Air Flow and Breath Flow Play” from my offerings, just as I have already pulled my Watersports class for different personal reasons. I may reconsider this stance in the future, and will keep doing one on one information sharing with friends, mentees, and peers- but the mass-group information format for this class is not a good one at this time.
I am incredibly grateful to Mistress Matisse for the serious dialogue we have had on this topic, and this perspective on the power of demonstrations over the spoken word in the human mind. I strongly disagree with other points of her dialogue and essay about my class in Seattle, with points of information out of context and large swaths of the “good stuff” glossed over… but this one point hit me hard. Yes, I could teach this class without the dangerous demonstrations, but not right now. Right now I need to sit with this.
Thinking that my work might lead anyone to think that they can do suffocation or strangulation play 100% safely upsets me. There is no 100% safe suffocation or strangulation play, as I say in my class. I do believe that the umbrella term of Breath Play being vilified in our community is still a major issue, and that we need to continue talking about real risks, and that telling my lover to hold their breath is not the same risk factor as fear-induced knock-out scenes or auto-erotic bagging combined with restraint… and the fact that we only have one term still is absurd.
I am glad that I have taught this class for the past 6 years. It has been a good run, and I am grateful for the lives I have been able to touch, the folks I have been able to connect with and educate, and the lives I have been able to save. But today, I am stepping away from the topic. Because my goal with my work, on this planet, has always been to leave it a better place for the success of all. And right now, me teaching this class does not support that goal.
The points of my class have always been:
- Breath Play comes in many forms, and levels of intensity, and these have different risk factors
- Awareness of how our body works helps us understand how Breath Play physically works in our bodies
- There is no secret way to make all breath play 100% safe
- Playing solo or in combination with counter-indicators increase risk
- People are turned on by this stuff, and just saying “don’t do it” is not an answer
I will keep kissing air back and forth with the lips of my lover on mine, moans escaping into my mouth as our energy melds into one. I will still be rocking my body back and forth, eye to eye, as my kundalini rises and I growl my way into the world. Breath is a powerful thing, and I am grateful that Barbara Carrellas, years ago, declared me the Breath Queen. I still am. When we add Intention to Attention, and fuel it with our breath and energy, Magic is born. This is the gift of the gnosis that flows through us, out of us, into us.