A very common element in negotiations in BDSM is the Questionnaire. I’ve worked for a good number of years to develop a really good questionnaire, and I’ve focused on a few features that I think are interesting enough to mention.
There is nothing original about it of course. It is drawn from dozens of previous works. However, I have made a few changes I consider to be improvements. Note that in “consider to be improvements” I mean “makes it easier for me to be sadistic.”
Periodically I promise my friend M. that a scene or some other activity is going to be “interesting.” To which she has taken to responding, “and by interesting, you mean sadistic.”
So some years back I set about taking all the questionnaires I could get my hands on and putting them into a blender. Then I got distracted by adding tequila and limes, and found that wood pulp is a particularly poor mixer. But eventually I came back to the project and got some results.
One of the first is to remove stupid and nutty terms that seemed to be included just to show off the vocabulary of the person giving it out. I think if you are desperate enough to impress that you need to use incomprehensible words in your D/s questionnaire, you may be in kind of sorry shape.
Honestly there is very little attractive to me about a regurgitation of the clinical names of paraphilias. It may be impressive to someone that you have heard the term saliromania, and know what it means (to become erotically excited from the destruction or physical desecration of women’s underwear, or nude depictions of women, if you cared, which I doubt). But I don’t hear people say, “wow did you see that hot saliromaniac scene that those two hot bi chicks did last night!?” To be fair I don’t often hear “hot scene” or “hot bi chicks” in sentences that were not uttered as jokes, but work with me here.
So I tried to kill every element which looked like it came from a “Purity Test.” You know those tests you do in high school or college that start with “have you ever,” and end up making your sex brags into one easy non-qualitative number. Those can be fun, and in straight society fulfill many of the same functions as a Questionnaire in terms of an icebreaker. But I don’t really think they’re a respectful thing to hand your potential BDSM parter, and if you’re going to, just hand them one and be done with it.
So the second thing, and probably a lot more important was to reorganize the whole thing completely, into sections. I think that his really made it a bit more workable and more interesting.
Sceneplay – things like boot worship, massage, shaving, or general types of scenes like Medical Scenes or Exhibitionism. The real focus here is that it’s a type of play without a specific context, that isn’t in one of the categories below. So this becomes a category of some types of play and broad behavior..
Roleplay – the focus here is on very specific “scene” types. Interrogations, Kidnapping, Prison Scenes, Prostitution (roleplayed). I could probably enlarge this section a bit, but I tried to stick to pretty common themes that you see a lot. I should add that there are things on my questionnaire, I’m not particularly interested in, because I think you want to see the full run of each other’s fetish interests and compare.
Public Play – this focuses on going out to clubs or other venues, and isn’t really focused on “risk taking” outdoor play options, though there is a nod to them. The idea is to look at how interested/secure a partner is in playing in a potentially public setting. I think it is important because often that question doesn’t get asked. “Do you like being flogged” is a different question than “Do you like being flogged, potentially with a somewhat skeevy guy looking on.” True story, the one time I played at Power Exchange in San Francisco, a strange looking, rather gangly guy came and made cock-a-doodle doo noises at us in a sort of foreign accent. I really never quite got that, if it’s some obscure behavior related to cuckhold fetish and not just outright insanity it didn’t come across. I want to say he tucked his hands under his shoulders like he was doing the chicken dance, but my memory may be making it funnier in hindsight. That was a strange night anyway and he was definitely one of the stranger objects in that environment. I can’t say it put me off, but there is something a little disconcerting about having a grown man making funny sort of pathetic and desperate cockling noises at you while you are trying to fuck. Cock boy if you’re reading this try “watching quietly” next time.
Costuming – This is pretty obvious, but I think the one focal element is to get across which way the fetish runs. Do you want to wear latex, or see me in latex. That’s a big difference. Often it runs both ways, but I think you wanna sort that out, and a lot of questionnaires assume that it’s the same. For example, I’m just going to confess, you can tout Tim Curry all you want, but I think I’d look pretty fucking silly in a corset.
Service – This often gets mixed in with D/s, but I think there’s a distinct difference or at least subcategory. I’m not trying to make a philosophical argument here about whether you can be interested in service outside of a strict D/s framework. This is all about practicality, and practically speaking “shining your boots,” is it’s own set of practices and interests. As is “housework.” I don’t know a lot of people who get turned on by housework, but if they do send them my way. Quentin Crisp wrote “There was no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse.” Be that as it may, excavation from last year’s summer season is finally underway at the Manse, even with my mother’s place still unsold.
D/s – focuses on things like kneeling, face slapping, orgasm control, speech restrictions, etc. There are quite a few subquestions, and I’ve honestly thought about breaking “Humiliation and Mindfucks” out as a separate category. The problem is that in a lot of cases the only determining element is the tone in which something is done, and there are a lot of borderline cases like orgasm control. I am not really entirely satisfied with this section, but I think it’s better than random chaos.
Bondage – there are a lot of ways to tie people up, or restrain them. I added everything in here that really involves physical restriction. Gags, leashes, suspension, cages.
Sexplay – I think for obvious reasons this is an area to keep separate. I tend to be a bit of a bastard in having a pretty low threshold for wanting to work with someone as a submissive and not be sexually involved with them. Or as I put it a few years back…”I’m a middle aged male, not a schoolkid. I don’t expect sex on the first date, or even the second or third. But if I have seen someone several times, and there isn’t the feeling that things are drifting towards a sexual resolution in the pretty near future. That’s not dating, that’s being friends. I’m not the age where you hang around forever making out and tittering.” That said, I think you have to go very easy on sexplay in a D/s relationship. Because it is a component, but I think it is very easy to let it become “the component” and while there is nothing wrong with that per se, I think it can be a lot less rewarding. I also don’t think sexual contact has to be a part of every D/s encounter. I’ve had plenty of short term D/s exchanges that didn’t involve sex, and I think that can be very rewarding in the right context. Sex is something people are very sensitive about and of course the details can be vital. “I’m open to sex,” doesn’t necessarily mean “I am open to being assfucked until I hurt,” and honestly I think it’s nice to be clear on that sort of thing in advance. Don’t you?
SM – all the ways that you can hurt people. A few things come up twice, once in this category and once in another. Here the focus is clearly just on sensation play. The recitative can be a little dull, or entirely too exciting so I’m going to skip it. You’re imaginative, yes?
Edgeplay – honestly this can be a little subjective. I put all electrical play here, even though a cheap low end TENS unit is hardly edgeplay. I put all blood elements here, including play piercing. All the stuff that involves breaking skin, or significant danger goes into this category.
The Two New Columns
So those are the category lists. The one other modification I made was adding two columns on the right. I noticed a long time back that there was a tendency to have a straight rating system…”Love it” to “I Won’t do this” mark the box, numeric scale, whatever. The problem is that this leaves a big question mark, because there is often no way to tell if something is in the “No Way” column because it’s just absolutely complete unexciting or in the “No Way” column because it’s one of those things that just thinking about it brings that warm tight feeling in the gut, and a rush of anxiety-excitement that is just about too much to cope with. I used to try to “sight read” this by watching for a flush when I read over it. But then I was second guessing, because you don’t want to be hanging there with a significant pause…”So I noticed that you marked ‘no fucking way ever’ on…(dramatic pause) Frotteurism!….(lengthy expectant pause while I watch carefully for a reaction)…”
To which she looks at me like I’m an alien from some particularly unpleasant part of deep space, shrugs blandly and says “I dunno, fucking cheese just doesn’t do it for me.”
We also mentioned I eliminated stupid-ass things like frottage, like?
So experiences like that or at least subdued less comical variants of them led me to develop two “special columns”
First, my normal left to right is designed to be a little more specific. After all, this isn’t an SAT. This is a questionnaire for things I am going to take a girl into a room and do to her. So what do
I really need to know. My final categories were:
Love it – obvious
Like it – I wanted to give a gradation here. For example, a lot of people aren’t going to feel that they LOVE serving as a waitress, but a lot may LIKE it. It’s a way to show “I enjoy this pretty well, but it is not one of the things I fantasize about when I masturbate at night.”
Fine in conjunction with other things – this may be one category too many since I have found things tend to be Love/Like or negatives. But I wanted to give the potential to say “this is all very well and good in conjunction with a scene if I’m worked up but doesn’t do much for me on its own.” When this category does get used, I think it often tends to be either impact play, or situational Roleplay.
No react or mildly negative – the trick here is that these are not things that don’t have to be on my mental list of things that are going to set someone off and trigger a melt down of some sort. Not that I approve of melt-downs, but you also don’t push someone past their hard limits, and we’ve talked about fucked up scenes.
Dislike/ hard limit – this means no. And with the two other columns it also means I can just stay away from these things. Yes, I have occasionally transited something out of this column. But with the two new columns, this one can generally just be left alone. It is things that aren’t a turn on. At all. And aren’t going to me. I have things in this column…not many because I can see the erotic potential in most things, even some very twisted or fucked up things, in the right circumstance with someone responding to them.
So the two special columns are:
Intrigued but scared or fantasy – This is the “fifth column” which I think speaks for itself. But aside from that, the agreement here is simple. I won’t do these things to you without negotiation and consent. They won’t happen suddenly or as part of a scene, they will be discussed beforehand. In some cases I’ve had enough trust just to say “I am going to do something from that column” in other cases it requires very explicit consent. Some things may not ever be moved over…there are some things that are better as fantasy interests than real life interests.
The trick is that since I am mentally oriented and focused, this is the keys to the kingdom. This is what scares and intrigues you. This column is going to contain some of the most powerful elements in a submissive’s psychosexual makeup.
Intrigued want to experiment – this is the practical corollary. Things which the submissive definitely wants to work ahead on right now. It’s the guide that you look at when you are planning a scene. If scene planning were Chinese menu, you take two from Column B. This is the stuff that is virtually guaranteed to get a partner wet. If you can’t get a reaction on this Column, you are doing something seriously wrong.
And of course, on most levels submissives want to give up this information. It is in their interest for you to know what makes them squirm and get excited. But they need a way to communicate it. Very few people are comfortable sitting down at a table and saying “these are exactly the things that turn me on.” And honestly while self-knowledge is great, you want a little range, because you don’t want to create a situation that begs for topping from the bottom. But that’s a story for another time.
That’s about it for today except for the afterjoke (Gods, it’s enough, don’t you think!). Think of that as aftercare for this column, after it has violated you (with its mangling of my native language if not with its challenging and exciting ideas), you get a little laugh. Maybe.
Interesting Fact: There is a conservative religious sect which is building a faithful replica of Noah’s Ark near Frostburg, Virginia. The completed Ark, which they are only about one third done with, will be 450 feet long and have a 75’ foot beam and is an impressive work of construction that promotes some awe in most people who witness it firsthand. Despite this passionate memorialization of everyone’s favorite loveable biblical drunkard, and you and I ain’t likely to be invited aboard.