"Notes from an Occasional Top"

Copyright ©1997 by david stein, all rights reserved; may not be reprinted in any medium without explicit permission from the author, who can be reached via e-mail: gorgik@aol.com.

The Saturday night after Leatherfest, for the first time in years, I topped someone else outside of a demo situation — that is, just for our mutual enjoyment. Fortuitously, as my partner of the evening, whom I’d met at the Leatherfest boot stand — thank you, Fred, for the introduction! — is also mainly bottom-identified (though he’s been playing the other side more lately), over dinner we had had a discussion about some things those not fortunate enough to be “born Tops” might learn from us experienced bottoms.

Since all of them proved to come in very handy that same evening — and helped make it, despite numerous slips and errors and false starts, one of the most enjoyable sessions I’ve done as a Top — I thought I’d pass along the same pointers here.

1) Blindfold (or hood) the bottom as soon as possible. So much of the pressure is off you if he can’t watch you fumbling around, or just standing there in front of your toy chest puzzling out what to do next. Of course, this won’t work with a bottom who is very claustrophobic or, perhaps, a complete novice so scared he’s ready to shit in his pants, but in most cases it will help you seem like a smoother, more confident Top than you might actually be.

2) If he likes bondage at all, don’t be afraid to apply some restraints and then . . . do nothing for a while. So many novice Tops seem to think that we bottoms will be dreadfully disappointed if they’re not working us to our limits every second. The truth is, the simple pleasure of being blindfolded, maybe gagged, tied up, and left to stew and anticipate is much underrated. And as Top, you can use that time to plan the rest of the session, or to get other equipment ready if you haven’t done that previously. Or you can just sit there and watch your “victim” squirm in bondage, which can be a treat in itself.

3) Once you get into more active activities, as it were, remember to put your own pleasure (as Top) first. My new friend and I strongly agreed that many of our more disappointing sessions, as bottoms, were those where the Top seemed to be catering to our fantasies and trying to supply stimulations he hoped we would enjoy, even though they didn’t do much for him. It’s simply no fun for us — others might react differently — to sense that a Top is doing us a favor, pulling his punches unnecessarily, or being self-sacrificial in any way. We get off on knowing that a hot man is enjoying controlling/hurting/using us. While as bottoms we hope to enjoy the scene, too, it’s still important for the Top’s pleasure to be its focus and driving force, and for our own pleasure to be a consequence of his, not the reverse.

This isn’t at all the same as being the kind of bottom who wants only to be hurt or used, without getting any direct pleasure from it. (That’s a very different trip, and not mine.) But if someone is giving me a lot of pain, the last thing I want him to be is bored, distracted, disinterested, turned off, or anything at all besides gleefully excited by it! I want my pain — and my acceptance of that pain — to energize him, to inspire him to extend his power over me even further.

4) Even beyond bondage “stewing time,” don’t be afraid to go slow and take pauses to collect your thoughts and psych yourself up for the next thing you want to do. A good scene has a rhythm, an ebb and flow; it’s not all rush rush rush, gotta go disco!

If you’re basically handling things well — and you can tell when you are — but still get the sense that your bottom is bored and wants to be somewhere else, it’s more likely his bad manners than your poor performance. And if he is bored, or rude, let him go — don’t waste more of your time and energy trying to spark some response in someone dead from the neck up, no matter how gorgeous he may be. (It’s typically the gorgeous bottoms who just lie there and expect to be entertained; the rest of us have learned that responsiveness is meat and drink to most Tops, and we’d better give some energy back if we want to play with them again.)

Note, however, that bottoms sometimes become less overtly responsive, and may even go totally mute for a time, because they slip off into “sub space” or have an “endorphin rush” or enter some comparable altered state of consciousness that’s pre- or post-verbal. This is a big topic, but in a few words: if your bottom goes real quiet, his body is toned but relaxed, and his face (what you’ve left uncovered) has a look of bliss, don’t worry! Whatever you’re doing, it’s just fine. It’s only if muteness is accompanied by acute muscular tension — or else total limpness — that you may have a problem. In that case, ease up and bring him back to a more normal state as quickly as possible.

5) If something doesn’t work as you planned and has to be aborted, don’t let it throw you. Park the bottom somewhere while you figure out what you can do instead. If there’s good energy flowing between you, he’ll cut you a lot of slack. Remember, he wants the scene to work as much as you do; you’re in this together, not antagonists who’ll count coup on each other for each mistake. (Here’s where we switches may have an advantage over the more dedicated exclusive Tops, God love ’em: we’re never expected to be perfect, just adequate!)

6) Don’t try to do too much in one session — leave something in your repertoire for next time, given that the only indisputable definition of “a good Top” is one whom bottoms want to play with again (and the reverse is true as well). More potentially good sessions are ruined by the feeling, on one side or the other, that this is the one and only chance for . . . what? Short of boarding a rocket for Mars, you’re going to be around for a return match, some day, so keep a few tricks in reserve. Or did you want a reputation as a “onc’er”?

7) Remember not to call your bottom “Sir.” (Hey, I only did it three times! Considering I’d gotten back recently from five days of slave training, it was hard to turn off. But that’s another story!)

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