The SandMUtopian Guardian Magazine
Reading Room
    This article, fully illustrated, appears in Issue #29 of The Guardian. The issue also has an article that tells "da truth" about the Marquis de Sade, along with other informative pieces and our regular features, e.g. S/Mart Shopper, We Can't Make These Things Up!, etc.

Paddles and Straps
by Gerrie Blum

     Most often, when people first want to try out the sensations of spanking, it is accomplished with the bare hand and usually over-the-knee or in the bed. It is a very intimate and "up-close and personal" kind of activity. And, needing no equipment, it can be impromptu. But ...Pretty soon the spanker starts to hurt almost as much as the spankee! He or she wants some respite. Or the insatiable "leadbottom" wants more, and more and ... as you know, the average hand is full of small, delicate bones and only lightly padded. The average butt is round and has big bones under the surface. This is the one of the main reasons for adding implements to the play.

   For novices, play-at-homes and just about everyone, the paddle is the easiest and most convenient implement to use. It is small enough for over-the-knee positions, is firm enough to be accurate, and is effective in many different shapes, designs and materials. Usually it is broad, has a handle of some kind and the "business end" is either round or square.

   When we first started exploring the wonderful world of BDSM, and were ready to progress from plain over-the-knee hand-spankings, our first improvised implement was a Japanese rice paddle that I had brought back from my travels. Light-weight bamboo and small, it made a satisfying "cracking" sound, while keeping sensation all on the surface. It could be considered a paddle because it was firm, but it was too light to deliver the thud that paddles are usually used for. Soon we graduated to something a bit more forceful, and bought a ping-pong paddle at our local sporting goods store. (It seems that it is not unusual to buy just one. Tournament level players carry their own equipment.) One side was smooth rubber and the other was knobby. An interesting combination of sensations.

   A popular material for paddles historically, has been wood. Many of us can tell stories of the wooden spoon, or the hairbrush (backside to backside, if you will) or the ruler, that still hold fetish value ever since childhood. The fraternity paddle, made of varnished wood with the letters engraved on one side has been used on the butts of pledges for centuries. And in the English "public schools," some disciplinarians used paddles instead of canes. To increase their effectiveness, they would drill holes in the wood. When the paddles struck the body, the air between the paddle and the skin was forced out and the skin was drawn into the hole, making a blister. The practice of making attractive paddles that are sensual, beautiful and designed to be used on adult people is a more recent development, of the last ten to fifteen years.

   My personal preference is for leather, mainly because it "gives" more than wood and is more forgiving of error. Leather can be as firm and authoritative as the heaviest hairbrush, especially when made of boot-sole leather and/or laminated for mass and weight. Or the leather used can be can be lighter in weight and "smacky" like my souvenir rice paddle. (It is regrettable that Asian cookery now favors the modern space-age plastics for rice paddling. Genuine bamboo ones can still sometimes be found in Asian food and house wares markets.)

   Among the leathers used for paddles is a wide variety of sensations: from the slickness of patent leather to the knubby texture of sting-ray or sharkskin. Even among the bovines, there is a difference in texture and sensation between smooth cowhide and the more robust bull hides. You will even find paddles with shearling or rabbit fur on one side to contrast with the hard, smooth leather of the other surface. Paddles of any variety are usually an economical choice as well. A top-of-the-line paddle is usually less expensive than a plain flogger. (See Issue #24 for Flogger design.) One caveat: try to steer clear of paddles that have a strip of steel down the center to maintain the stiffness. As the paddle mellows with use, that strip becomes a ridge and before you know it, you are really hitting with a narrow piece of covered metal rather than the broad surface of a paddle. One of my acquaintances tells of the time that she was using such an implement, and the piece of steel cut through the stitching at the tip and went sailing across the dungeon! Fortunately, no one was hurt — unintentionally! Which also underscores the major difference between paddles and straps. Paddles are made to be firm and stay that way with continued use. Straps are more flexible, and get even more so with use.

   Straps also have a history and fetish value. Some readers might remember Daddy’s Belt, or the razor strop from their childhood.

   Our first floppy implement was — a fly swatter! You know, the ones on a metal handle with a floppy, holey slapper. It too was easy to control and small enough to use in the bedroom. The sensation from the swatter was quite different from the ping-pong — stingy compared to thuddy. Straps are longer and narrower as well as more flexible than paddles. Most are straight and rectangular. Some may be on wooden handles although the "blade" is made of leather. To add to the design elements, they can also be shaped, with rounded ends or split like the Scottish taws. The Taws as known by schoolboys in Scotland, was made by toasting leather over a fire, thereby hardening it, and then cutting a slit about one-third to one-half the distance to make it more flexible; in a sense, hitting twice or thrice with each stroke.

   These days, straps can also be made of rubber, which is a whole different "animal." !! Rubber is different in that it leaves a "memory" after each stroke, thereby building the effect cumulatively more sharply than leathers. Neoprene rubber is very durable and is easy to clean and care for. Get out your auto tire cleaner and it’s as good as new in no time. And, rubber is an "acquired taste." My observation in the scene is that people are not "wishy-washy" about their attitude towards rubber implements in general, and rubber straps in particular. You either love it or you hate it! There isn’t much middle ground! So, if you have been limiting your play to hand-spankings, or to floggings or to bondage, perhaps now is the time to expand your horizons and include a paddle or a strap in your next scene.    There are a wide variety of implements out there, just waiting for you to find them. Enjoy!

Adam and Gillian have a wide assortment of paddles and straps in all price categories ...
and all are of the highest quality.

Adam and Gillian's Sensual Whips and Toys    40 Grant Avenue Copiague NY 11726
Publishers of the SandMUtopian Guardian Magazine from 1995 - 2000
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