Friday, February 10, 2012

On the Edge

By Xan West

I’ve been on a motorcycle once in my life.

I was 17, and for a few minutes, I tasted exhilaration riding on the back of this guy’s bike. Then, my best friend got her turn on the back of the bike, and within moments, they got into an accident, and she was seriously injured. I haven’t been on a bike since.

When an editor asked me to write a biker story for a new gay anthology (Biker Boys) three years ago, I wasn’t sure I could do it. I brainstormed, imagining a bootblack greasing well-worn leathers on the deck of the San Francisco Eagle, envisioning a biker cuffed to his motorcycle getting fucked. In the end, I couldn’t deepen those characters and make them real, bring them from jack-off archetype to complex humanity.

I set them aside to go for what I knew. I couldn’t tell a story about bikers that didn’t have something broken in it, that wasn’t touched by trauma. Because my relationship with motorcycles is steeped in it. So I went in another direction. I went into the trauma. This would be the latest (and most intense) in a line of stories about cathartic play (this line includes “Dancing for Daddy”, “My Will”, “My Precious Whore”, and “Facing the Dark”).

I imagined a long time biker Daddy who didn’t ride anymore, but loved bikes so much that he still worked on them. His last ride ended in an accident, which left him newly disabled. He kept his wrecked bike and used it to make something beautiful, reclaimed it for himself. That was how “Ready” started, with this vision of a wrecked bike reshaped into a sling, one he could tie his boy to, force him to lick chrome as he fucked him on it, and unleash his rage and cruelty, transform them into pleasure.

It was important to me that the first character I wrote with an apparent physical disability was a top. The image of a top in BDSM community is non-disabled; tops are imagined to have immense physical and psychological capacity and stamina, with no pain or needs of their own. This image is destructive and dehumanizing, and fucks with tops like me, who are disabled. I can count on one hand the number of kinky stories I have read where any character is disabled, and cannot think of one where a top is disabled. So I wanted to create a top who was disabled, to include him into the story as an intensely erotic figure, create a counter image.

I want the tops in my stories to have their own wounds and fears. This is something I build in again and again (most notably in “First Time Since”, “Nervous Boy” and “Strong”), partly because it is so rare in kinky fiction. I create mirrors of myself as a top—a complex being with vulnerabilities and strengths, with my own pain to work through and manage. I want readers to contend with that kind of complexity, to see what it might be like to connect with tops in that deep way.

So, the story began with a reclaimed bike-sling and a disabled Daddy bike mechanic. He needed a good match, a boy who brought as much need, woundedness, and baggage as he did. I wanted them to transform pain from the past, together—to reach the intensity and pleasure that can come from facing demons together, from ordeal-based cathartic play. I pictured them both as matched adrenaline junkies going for visceral edgy frightening play that would shift how they saw themselves and each other. I imagined that this Daddy and boy wanted to create a space together where they could touch some of their deepest pain, and ride it through, holding each other, becoming closer in the process. I dreamed up the kind of boy that would ache for this Daddy, and what he needed, the kind of pain and fear he would reach for, the kind of surrender that could be a balm for him.

“Ready” involves core elements of my own eroticism, ones that keep popping up in my erotica: Daddies with filthy mouths, bottoms being pushed to name desires and own queerness, fear, tears, knives, belts, begging bottoms, possessive tops. These elements are there because I find them hot, but there is more to it. They are there to keep me present, and anchor me in my body, my desire. I needed that. Because it hurt to write this. My writing experience mirrored the intensity that electrifies the erotic encounter between these characters. When I was in the middle of it, I wrote this in my journal:

I am getting this sick feeling in my stomach, the one that comes with impending edgeplay that I'm getting a vibe will be really risky. I have a feeling this story will take a lot out of me, and be really hard to write. Each time I try to decide that I'm going to play it safe, I get nudged that it won't write itself that way. I can tell that this is going to be an ordeal, and I just don't know if I am up to it.

It wants to be written, though. I can feel it coursing through me, aching to be put to the page. Will I do it?”

When I write ordeal stories, they often feel like my own ordeal. Part of what fuels my work is breathing through fear and pain of my own. This story is a perfect example of that. I dared myself to do it, pushed myself as hard as the boy in the story was being pushed by his Daddy. And I made it through to the other side.

When I saw the call for Coming Together: In Flux, I knew that this story was a match—it has transformation at its core. I am honored to have it included, and to contribute to a book raising money for the Woodhull Foundation.

Here is a taste of “Ready”, which was printed in Coming Together: In Flux:

Daddy said I was ready for this. I trusted him, and yet…I didn’t feel ready. I wasn’t sure I’d ever feel ready. But I showed up anyway, knowing that part of what would get me through it was obedience, choosing to give myself to his will.

Some scenes change you. Sometimes you don’t know they will until they have. Sometimes you can tell beforehand. I knew I would walk out changed that night. If I could just get through it. I could taste self-doubt in the back of my throat as I approached the garage. Could I do this, for real?

I was dressed as he told me to be, in my father’s old clothes, a worn pair of boots that used to be his, which I had painstakingly restored, his old jeans, the belt that he had left hanging on the wall, and his old Harley t-shirt, faded and worn until it was a soft whisper of comfort on my skin. When my father left us, I pulled his belt off the wall, grabbed his old boots that he had left in the back of the closet, and went searching through the laundry for his clothes. I can still hear the sound of his Harley driving away, can still see his long hair streaming behind him. I slept holding his clothes for six months; when I turned 13 I hid them away until I was old enough to wear them.

I wore only my father’s clothes that night, because that was what Daddy asked me to do. I tried to stand tall and stop trembling as I stood in front of him in them. Daddy walked slowly around me, and the sound of his uneven gait on the concrete calmed me in its familiarity. His hand snaked out and unbuckled my belt, whipping it from my jeans, and he wrapped it around my wrists and forearms, securing me. I began to breathe, slow and even, my father’s belt wrapped around me. Daddy knew exactly how to calm me, and how to scare me, he made a delicious dance of it, and that dance was just beginning.

Daddy shoved me onto a chair, and attached the belt to it. There is nothing that feels safer to me than bondage. Even if the rest is scary, if I concentrate on the sensation of being bound, I can make my way through it.

Daddy was looming over me, his large belly brushing against my head. He smelled so good, a musky sweaty scent mixed with oil and metal. That smell alone gets my dick hard, the smell that tells me a man has been working hard on a bike. It was clear he had; he was dirty as only a mechanic can get dirty, and I ached to suck the grease off his thick fingers.

Sometimes I think about Daddy and get so giddy knowing that I get to be his boy, that a scrawny faggot like me is lucky enough to be claimed by this big tough bear of a man. This was one of those times, as he rested a paw on my head and pressed my mouth against his stomach. Daddy was big enough to keep me safe, strong enough to hold all of me, cruel enough to give me exactly what I needed, and scary enough to keep me coming back for more.

At the moment when I relaxed into feeling safe, I heard it. That unmistakable buzzing noise that only clippers produce. I swallowed, lifted my eyes to his, and began begging.

“Please Daddy. No, please don’t do this. I can’t take it Daddy.”

I began to shake my head, frantic, until his grip tightened in my hair. I stared up at him, whimpering softly.

“You have to let go, boy. It’s time. You are carrying so much in your hair, boy. I know it’s hard; you’ve been growing it since your father left. But it’s time to let go of it. Ten years is long enough.”

“I don’t think I can do it, Daddy.”

“You are ready, boy. And I’m right here with you. Daddy’s right here. He’s not going anywhere. You can do this.”

I took a deep breath, staring into his eyes. They were resolute. He was not going to let me get out of this without safewording.

“Yes, Sir,” I whispered.

The buzzing against my head was all I could hear as my hair began to fall. His hand was gripped in my hair tightly, holding me still, the clippers moving firmly across my scalp, as tears rolled down my face. I could feel his dick pressed against my neck, and then he moved around me, resting his knee on my cock as he pressed into me, shaving the front of my head. I sobbed into his belly, gripping him tightly, overwhelmed. It seemed like it was excruciatingly slow, and I closed my eyes tight, willing myself to breathe through it, trembling. Finally it stopped. Daddy ran his hand along my head, and groaned.

“You feel so good, boy.”

He pulled out his dick, and began rubbing it all over my head, growling.

“Damn, boy, you sure do get me hard. Just feeling that stubble against my dick makes me want to shoot.”

Then Daddy rubbed his cock against my cheeks, soaking in my tears.

“That’s my good boy. Get my dick wet with your tears.”

He moved behind me, and forced my head down, covering my mouth and nose with his greasy hand, taking my breath, as he thrust his dick along my head, groaning. My heart started racing. My head was filled with the scent of motor oil. I was trembling, desperate to please Daddy, struggling to breathe. He growled as he came, his cum drooling onto my face, covering my head, and then he released my breath.

“Thank you, Daddy,” escaped my lips within seconds. It felt so right to say it.

There was a click by my ear, and I went still. I knew that noise. It was Daddy’s knife. It touched my lips, and they pursed to kiss the blade. Then I felt cold steel against my throat. My eyes were blurry, my head full of fog, and I was frozen.

“Time to let go, boy.”

Bio and Links:

Xan West is the nom de plume of an NYC based BDSM/sex educator and writer. Xan’s story “First Time Since”, won honorable mention for the 2008 National Leather Association’s John Preston Short Fiction Award. Xan's erotica can be found in Best SM Erotica 2 & 3, Hurts So Good, Love at First Sting, Best Women’s Erotica 2008 & 2009, Best Gay Erotica 2009, Best Lesbian Erotica 2011 & 2012, and Hot Daddies.





Lisabet Sarai said...

Greetings, Xan!

Welcome to Beyond Romance, and thank you for the incredibly intense excerpt. I love stories that make it clear how far from a "game" BDSM is - how it can rock you to your soul, turn you inside out...

And btw, I have a story with a disabled Dom, who's partially paralyzed and bedridden with a stroke, in my recent collection JUST A SPANKING.

Imp said...

Welcome, Xan! I hope this is the first of many Coming Together publications for you. :)

Victoria Blisse said...

I don't write typical kinky BDSM but I do often have dominant characters in my stories, I always like them to have complexities too, to not be completely in control in every aspect of their lives.

Annabeth Leong said...

Wow. I was breathless after the post, and even more so after the excerpt. As a writer, I love seeing the diary entry about the story. I often run from things that feel that way, but following them through makes for the best work. And you're absolutely right that it feels like an ordeal.

As far as the complexity of tops, thanks for that, too. My dom is wonderful--and totally projects the image that he is in control and has it all handled, thank you very much. I'm embarrassed to say that I often find myself fooled by the projection, despite knowing that he is a real person with emotional needs and all the rest, and caring for him deeply. We recently did an extended, intense scene, and I felt good afterwards and was ready to go eat some food and get on with the day. He was the one who called me back--he needed aftercare for himself. Of course he did, and I felt bad for forgetting.

So all that to say that the top stereotype you call out fucks with tops of all stripes, I think. And it actually comes out hotter for everyone, in reality and in fiction, when that gets stripped away and the person beneath comes through more clearly.

Thank you!

Michelle said...

A very interesting post & great excerpt...appreciated the insight in to your writing....

Michelle B. aka koshkalady

The Scarf Princess said...

I LOVE motorcycles even though they freak me out. LOVE those bad boys who ride them especially. Thanks for the excerpt and talking about your writing!

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the insight into your writing. So much power in such a such excerpt. Thanks for sharing.


Xan West said...

Hey there,

Many of my stories are edgeplay stories--very much not a game. It gives me a lot of space for conflict that is more internal, which is what I like to write about.

I will have to check out that book.


Xan West said...

I hope so too!

Xan West said...

It's so important to give characters humanity. I have found the myth of the all powerful Dominant to be so harmful, even in fantasy. In fact, stories that present characters that way often lose me as a reader when I realize that the Dominant is not allowed to be vulnerable.

Xan West said...

What a lovely compliment. A few years ago, I wrote an introduction to a collection of gay sci fi erotica (Wired Hard 4) titled "Hold Your Breath", where I spoke at length about play that transforms and writing that grabs your breath. Breathless is a compliment after my own heart.

I agree that the stereotype fucks with all kinds of tops. I also think it fucks with bottoms, makes it harder to have intimacy in their D/s relationships, makes it harder for them to see their Dominants. One of the things I treasure about Ds relationships when they are working the way I need is when a submissive can hold a complex idea of me as a whole person, including supporting me around my vulnerabilities, and that doesn't harm their sense of my Dominance, in fact, it enhances it.

Xan West said...

Thanks! It was good to look back and think about how this story came to be.


Xan West said...

If you enjoy bikes, it might be worth your while to check out the Biker Boys collection where this story first appears. Lots of boys riding bikes.

Xan West said...


Glad you enjoyed the excerpt. The whole Coming Together: In Flux collection is worth reading, and you get to see what happens next in the excerpt...something to do with that sling I mentioned in my post.


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