Who is it for? As a beginner, it is common to focus on oneself, especially when the submissive end of the polarity is calling. Do I selfishly enjoy spanking? Bondage? Rougher sex? Tease and denial? What do I want? It often goes hand in hand with exploring exhibitionism, which is being seen in one’s sexuality and learning how to be in focus. In my Japanese bondage, a recurring theme is that exposure brings vulnerability because there is often much shame attached to feeling pleasure. The strange combination of consensus culture and striving for individuality in Sweden creates a dynamic of wanting to be seen but not wanting to be different and yet still looking to be unique. All about me. But what happens when one turns that attention away from oneself and endeavours to serve and voyeur?
Imagine the following. You arrive an hour before the dinner. You have already eaten, as instructed. You have been invited to the dinner, but not for the food. Instead, a leather neck corset is half-covering your face and a white linen apron marks your purpose this evening. Your task is organising the guests’ shoes, and to keep your gaze angled downwards. You are curious about the guests, but don’t dare to show it. So you watch their feet passing you by. How someone walks, what socks they deem fitting for such an intimate evening, how their leather shoes are cared for, and if they put them away neatly, casually, or just leave them for you to find.
Finding Myself In Another’s Fantasy
Being in service can be described as being an extension of another’s fantasy. It is voyeuristic because it’s supporting someone else’s desire and being completely focused on them, sometimes even without being at the centre of attention. It also comes with the relief of responsibility. That someone else is the pervert. Of course, one must be curious about the serving scenario before entering it, but that is simply part of being conscious and consensual. Once inside, the invitation is to place the focus outside oneself.
Serving is an opportunity to let go of deciding why to do something, and whether or not what happens next fits in the grand scheme of things or not. Or if the effort is maybe even worthy of the pleasure it provides. All one has to do is to provide the service—the doing. The tasks can include simple duties, like organising shoes, serving drinks, and acting as a human chandelier. Or more specialised tasks, like giving a pleasurable massage, delivering a flogging to another submissive, and entertaining with a sensual dance. Perfecting the job becomes exhibitionistic because the submissive turns into a fetishised object. Practising protocol with the proper uniform, posture, and behaviour becomes a play in itself.
Sadomasochistic service shines in the context of a group where one gets to serve directly through practical tasks and indirectly by contributing to the ambience of a space. The people of a ritual are always more important than any material object, but something paradoxical happens when a person (that is more important than the thing) takes on the thing’s function. They either lower themselves to the object’s position or raise the object’s function to a human level by giving it the gift of life. Stepping into the role of a servant, one can fully dedicate themselves to this rather than fulfilling their private desires. For example, in a ceremonial space I created for a private audience, we washed the feet of everyone entering the room. A handful of people spent hours devoting themselves to serving each and every guest. Afterwards, the feedback we received was that this was the most profound experience of the entire evening – for all involved, regardless of whether or not they were washing others’ feet or getting their feet cleaned. Sure, expensive furniture, ornate fabrics and flowers, and unique art help but are not comparable to human devotion.