Home for the moment…a few preliminary notes on Camp…

Back off the road from a very long month. The whole summer is going to be like that, so between now and MaST I am not sure how many posts we’ll see. I’m on the road again in just two weeks for a non-kink event out in the Midwest, and running interactive theatre events up in Pennsylvania all summer.

I wanted to post a very brief writeup on Camp Crucible. There were promises of pictures but the ones up on the website publicly are still the 2007 photos as far as I can tell, so I’d waited a bit, but you know how these things go.

This was my first time at Camp Crucible. It runs at Camp W. near the Pennsylvania Border, which is a very nice facility. I’d been to Leather Retreat, which runs (or at least at the time was running this was a few years back) at the same Camp in Northern Maryland where several other notable local non-kink events run. I’m being squirrely here because obviously the last thing these places want is a bunch of people showing up to gawk or protest on one of these event weekends. I’ve never heard of the slightest problem, but these are private events and so they keep their locations private.

That said, I like the Crucible site a lot. It’s hilly, but it’s also almost entirely wooded and shady and that was nice. It was cold the first couple of nights, cold enough the first night that outdoor play was out of the question unless freezing to death was your scene. Even the dungeons (which are basically the camp’s sports buildings) were fucking cold. We ran a very tenuous scene frantically trying to sidle the equipment up to one of those two big propane heaters like they use in outdoor cafes, and it wasn’t very comfortable. The noise level was also high enough that I missed a safeword, which led us to be a bit more careful about signaling. I’ve never had that problem before in a club, but clearly it is an issue. It’s hard enough for somebody to safeword in the first place, even “yellow” for minor adjustments, and it is no good at all if you can’t hear them. I’m becoming a fan of having passive signals…hand clenches, things where the bottom has to be pro-active in responding so that you can tell what is going on. Fortunately I read body language I didn’t like and did a check fairly shortly after…it’s worth noting that I think that’s important. I’ve had people feel that “checking” on condition during a scene isn’t very “domly” but I think it just makes sense and I don’t think you have to be a milquetoast about it.

My rant about cold-weather scenes some other time. Fortunately the weather improved.

I am not going to say too much about experiences yet. I was there with m. which I think most folks know if it matters to them at all, and she had some first time experiences. I’ll mention two because they were public and there’s no secret to them, which is getting suspended by our friend Steve B, and doing fireplay with the appropriately named “Pyrosadist” who also taught me a neat trick with 100% alcohol and a spray bottle which is going to show up in live theatre in the near future. There was also a cutting which I don’t think is any big secret, and we may see pictures of here at some point. It’s been shown around a bit, and matched the flag we had for our campsite.

The alcohol fire trick produces a very impressive dragon’s breath like cloud of flame, very little heat. You can play with alcohol fire a lot and do interesting things with it. One particularly cool effect was drawing lines of alcohol on the skin and setting them off so that waves of fire travel along the skin…it’s impressive. All this doesn’t really burn because alcohol burns too fast and too cool to burn. But you need to have some idea what you’re doing. For all my playing with fire in a big way (note the scars on my right hand) I have never done much fireplay in BDSM, possibly because all the fires of my misspent youth and production career were bigger and hotter. One of my few confirmed and witnessed skills is to know just about exactly how big the fireball from a gasoline blast is going to be. I tend to use the good Boy Scout method of starting campfires. A gallon of gasoline and a stick with a rag on it…boom…instant campfire. Me nature boy. That’s a four dollar firestarter now.

Steve B did several suspensions over the course of the weekend and was kind enough to teach me a little about rope. I am actually not as bad as I envision myself, I just have this ideal that comes from watching too many really talented people. You keep watching David Ortiz and you get convinced you can’t hit a softball, because you sure as hell don’t hit it like that. Got to watch a couple of very interesting suspensions including one in saran wrap.

Unless you “buy out” you do four hours of camp service. I signed up for taxi driving, because natch, I used to be a hack. Had a celebrity passenger (Ted Kennedy), a heart attack, and decided to get out before I got the woman having a baby. Or shot. People talk about dangerous jobs, but statistically cab driving is one of the most dangerous jobs you can have. Wasn’t ever too bad for me, I got threatened with a knife once, but I talked the guy down and even got a fare and an apology. He was messed up, but who isn’t from time to time.

Taxis are golf carts, which are just kind of fun to drive. How can you not have fun driving a golf cart. It’s like being a kid again and having a go-cart. I never had a go-cart, but starting at a tender age I drove tractors in the summer which was the redneck version of go-carts, only they actually did useful work. Mowing mostly in my case.

Anyway, I began driving full loops and was eventually told not to drive through the rather tricky back of the camp. In retrospect this makes sense, as it was probably not a drive for everybody but you have to have some sense about things like that. Slow and steady. Had only one minor accident. A well-known local mistress and her pony (male, huge, in full tack that must have cost more than one of my mortgage payments), were getting off. I felt the ease up on the back that tells me that the passenger has stepped off and started to pull away. Well that was actually the hundred pound or so bag of harness coming off and I had to stop before I tossed him off, one hoof on and one hoof off. I concluded I did fine with human passengers but was still having a little trouble with livestock. Not my usual trade.

A word or two about ponies. A lot of outdoor events feature big Pony Shows. For folks who don’t know about this, Pony Play is where you have humans dress up as (somewhat sexualized) ponies. These aren’t the current year’s photos, but they should give you a good idea. Ponies and Some More Ponies At least a half dozen of these folks were present this year as well.

I never really paid a lot of attention to Pony Play, though I know a couple of very accomplished and decorated trainers. I do have a few observations.

Pony Play has a lot of flash. The entire camp stops for the Pony Show and nearly everybody comes to watch. So it’s a natural place for exhibitionists. It’s clear to me that while the original urge of this may have been a fetish towards dehumanization, that’s a very small part of it now. You see some players in the very elaborate boots that turn feet into hooves but you also see girls in sexy heels, with just a slight equine accentuation to their costuming, and the tack.

I think Pony Play is a very upbeat area of kink. Most of the folks seem to have fun with it, and I see more smiling pony girls than about anything else. The men range from looking fierce to smiles, but everyone seems to have a good time.

I am beginning to think every girl looks better in tack, because…women in leather…what’s not to like.

To describe it briefly performances are about evenly divided between “serious dedication to pony play” and “looking cute and having fun.” Conformation Awards seem to go to those who present a more “equine” presentation, while Gymkhana Awards go to those who do dance routines, etc. (And no, I don’t know if it’s O-Mok-see out in California or not. ) There is also a division between routines performed harnessed to a cart, and those that are performed without.

There were some very sexy routines and some outstandingly comedic ones…one of which a girl trained by someone I know won an award for. And another friend was Grand Champion, which was very nice to see and certainly something she deserved.

As a side note to folks who are not firmly embedded in the kink community. I don’t think that you particularly have to have the slightest interest in bestiality, real or feigned, to think Pony Play is fun. I am certain that there are people into it who have bestial fantasies, but…that’s hardly key to it. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s clearly not a requirement for buy-in. We all associate with animals, power, and animalistic tendencies from time to time, and there is a lot of grace in horses. I think the statement often goes no further than that.

Anyway, I think it sounds a little weird if you haven’t seen it, but…the best thing I can explain it is mix a bit of equine fetish with a lot of Las Vegas. It’s showgirls (and boys) and that’s always kind of fun. The carts are available afterwards to give ladies a ride to the afternoon tea, which I should have arranged for m., but we were a little pressed for time. The tea is a ladies-only affair, so I got a bit of rest.

A comment somebody made is that they felt there was a very strong “family” feel to Camp Crucible, and I think that’s true. I also see that Dark Odyssey is now running LR, so I have high hopes for that as well. Like I can afford three or four big leather events next year. But there is a nice family feel.

There was a nice little garden area outside the Dining Hall, and if you showed up about an hour early there would generally be some sort of show going on, by which I mean people fucking, or engaged in some other activity of the sort. Not much beating. That was for other areas, the Oasis was a bit too calm for that…a few nice bites…I managed to arrange at least one bit of entertainment there myself, about which I won’t say too much more, not really having had time to talk it over with the young lady in question.

There was a good friendly feel. I met some new people I’d corresponded with online, and seen around Crucible, but not really known, including someone who looks *interesting* to play with. You know who you are. Also…let’s see if I can tell this story without references.

So standing in the dining hall, a guy recognizes me. It takes me a moment to recognize him, I get it when he references Annandale High School, which we both attended. The one in Fairfax County around here, not the one in Donald Fagen’s song, alas. So we chat for a while and he’s very active with BR, and sceneplay. We begin to talk about what a small world it is. I am talking about doing interactive theatre and other stuff and not having as much time as I’d like. He mentions “one of the girls at our table’s regular S/O is actually at a convention in Baltimore this weekend.”

I blink. “That would be R?”

He says “Yes how did you know…”

I reply “the girl I’m here with is dating him…”

So I introduce them and they get along well, which is good. M. now believes that everyone who went to Annandale is a confirmed pervert…

And she may be right….

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