Radical Touch

One of the housemates and I just returned from Radical Touch, a workshop taught by Madame Cleo Dubois at Good Vibrations in San Francisco in the Polk Street store. I should warn readers that the following post, while not sexually explicit, does discuss alternative sexualities.

We noticed the workshop when we were in there the other day and decided that it might be interesting to go, and it certainly was. I know that the workshop improved my skills as a top and as a bottom, and got me thinking much more about my body, sexuality, and approach to both. I think both of us feel a little dazed and starry eyed right now, because it was an amazing experience. Madame was a wonderful educator and I hope Good Vibes has her back soon. She built a very grounded, safe, loving space for us to work and explore in and that was loads of fun. I also felt instantly comfortable with her, moving into the familiar realm of sub space, trusting her infinitely with myself. I also feel like she has much, much more to teach, since she has 25 years of experience in alternative sexualities.

The workshop was about touch, intentionality, and exploring boundaries. The housemate hadn’t really toyed with alternative sexualities yet, so most of the concepts being discussed were very new to her. I could tell, though, by the expression on her face that she was instantly hooked, just as I was all those years ago.

The first section of the workshop focused on building trust between partners before touching, which was a little awkward for us because we went as friend partners but not sexual partners. Once we stopped giggling and looking at each other sheepishly, though, we settled into our groove of making eye contact, really focusing on body language and subtle indicators, and approaching touch with care and thoughtfulness. I feel like both of us really benefited from that part of the workshop–despite being a hippy, I’m not big on the touching, and usually it’s because people move in too fast and make me feel uncomfortable and nervous. I really enjoyed taking the time to build a connection before making contact.

Part of the first exercise included having the touchee be blindfolded while the toucher moved in, and that was very interesting, and challenging. I had to be much more focused on her as I worked with her because I couldn’t see her eyes, the classic indicator of discomfort or unease. For her, it must have been very surreal—I tried to remember other experiences like that and I moved very slowly, constantly maintaining contact with her so that she knew where my hands were.

After the break, Madame busted out the toys and the fun began. I’ve never experienced toys in a play space before, and it was a very different environment than the one I am familiar with, so I opted out of wearing a hood or blindfold so that I could see, follow, and track what was going on. The housemate was blindfolded and had her hands tied behind her, while I had my hands tied behind me to a chair and my legs bound together. Madame said I looked like a terribly proper little schoolgirl. I loved it. Another woman was wrapped in stretch wrap and hooded, while others experimented with blindfolds and hoods as well.

The other half of the class, which had opted out of having things done to them, wandered around and played with us under the sharp eyes of Madame and Sam, her assistant. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life, to surrender to all these foreign hands. We were probably doing it for about an hour and it felt like ten minutes, at the most—both the housemate and I were longing for more. Madame had brought along an assortment of conventional and unconventional objects, including Wartenberg Pinwheels, clothespins, feather dusters, toothpicks, strange dental tools, lettuce knives, vampire gloves, and all sorts of other delights. At first the other half of the class was shy, but once they saw how into it we got, they started to enjoy themselves as well, checking in with us as we talked about the sensations we were experiencing.

One of my favourite moments was when someone was using a Wartenberg Pinwheel on my shoulder while someone else tickled my legs with a feather duster. The contrast of sensations was amazing, and fun. I also really enjoyed the woman who worked the most with the housemate and I, because she had wonderful hands and a great sense of touch, putting us instantly at ease.

Afterwards, we moved around in a daze for awhile, trying to return to the outside world.

On the MUNI home, we couldn’t stop talking about it, even though other patrons were edging away. When we got home, she turned to me and said “let’s do it again, as soon as possible.”

I agree.

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