OK, who's been a naughty, naughty little kinkster? Tsk, tsk ... somebody needs a spanking! But before you dive headlong into a nasty little game of slap and tickle, you may want to read our crash course on spanking. Consider it spanking 101.

Why Spanking Is Sensual

Some people think spanking a lover's a bit odd, or even taboo, but a good spanking in the bedroom certainly has its perks. In fact, erotic spanking has begun to pique the interest of an overwhelming number of women and men lately, particularly since the release of E.L. James' steamy best-selling novel, "Fifty Shades of Grey."

In fact, according to statistics published by the British Sexual Fantasy Research Project (seriously, how cool is that?) in 2007 18 percent of British men and 7 percent of British women fantasize about spanking someone, while 11 percent of men and 13 percent of women fantasize about being spanked. (Sadly, Americans don't appear to be kinky enough to slap some stats together on spanking, but you can bet your ass it has its fans on this side of the pond too.)

Why spanking, you ask? Well, it feels good, darn it! Unlike other erogenous zones, the buttocks are fleshy and fatty. For most people, this means that a decent amount of pressure on the bottom is not only tolerable, but necessary in order to bring on pleasurable sensations. And, because the old derrière is, for many people, an erotic zone, a good spank can be the best way to fire it up. The act of spanking itself also has not-so-subtle tones of dominance and submission, which can be oh-so-sexy in and of itself. (Check out A Beginner's Guide to Submission for more sexy insight.)

If you're looking to add a little spice to your sex life or want a taste of some soft-core BDSM, spanking might be just the thing for you and your partner. The right approach and techniques, however, are key components for making a good spanking a sexy thing.

Talk First, Spank Later

Communication is essential if you're looking to give your partner a few sharp slaps - or receive some yourself. An unexpected spanking can be a real slap in the face if the feeling isn't mutual. Before you bring out the whips and paddles, bring up spanking casually with your partner to feel things out. Then, you can discuss how you both feel about spanking, and maybe give it a try.

Think this sounds awkward? So will giving your partner a smack he or she doesn't want. Consent is essential. Plus, discussing what you want to do to each other is great foreplay! (Find out how to broach to topic in Yes! Why Consent Is Totally Sexy.)

Play by the Rules

Spanking can be painful, both physically and emotionally. A lot of people love to play with the boundaries of pain, punishment and pleasure, but setting some rules beforehand is essential. In fact, those who enjoy BDSM live by this rule. So discuss your limits. Tell your partner what you're willing to try. And then tell them what you absolutely won't do. Then listen to get that same information from your partner.

Of course, you aren't looking to hurt anyone (much), but injury is possible. That's why a safeword is essential. This is a word or phrase that you would not normally say during sex. The colors of a traffic light - red, yellow, and green - make an excellent safeword system and are used widely in the BDSM community. "Red" means all activity should stop immediately; "yellow" means slow down or ease up. "Green," of course, means get your spank on!

Set the Mood

Like any erotic activity, it's important to set the mood before you let loose on your partner's behind. If he or she isn't sufficiently aroused, the spanking won't be erotic, just painful - and not in a good way.

It's best to go slow and let the festivities progress naturally. Start with a little cuddling and kissing, then progress to foreplay. A little hint of dirty talk can really help set the mood too, especially if someone is being particularly naughty. (Find out what to say and how to say it in Talk Dirty to Me: The Why and How of Hot Aural Sex.)

Get In On the Act

Role-playing isn't absolutely necessary if you want to explore your spanking fantasy, but it sure can be a fun way to add to the overall experience. In fact, it may be easier to be the spanker or the spankee when you take the time to get into character.

Any type of dominance and submission role-playing is perfect for a night of spanking. Some prime examples include master and slave, teacher and student, or daddy and little girl role-playing. Only you know what kind of storyline moves you, so get creative.

Assume the Position

When it comes to spanking positions, you have a lot to choose from. Probably the most common spanking position is the over-the-knee position. Here, the spankee is draped over the spanker's lap. It's intimate, simple and sexy.

Of course, there's more than one way to flog a friend. If the over-the-knee position isn't doing it for you, there are several more to choose from. Try having the spankee lean over a piece of furniture, stand and lean against the wall, kneel on their hands and knees, or lie face-down on the bed or floor. There is even sex furniture designed specifically for spanking!

Get Warmed Up

Spankers: Start slow. It's best to warm your partner up a little before any real walloping begins. Start with light and gentle caresses first. If you partner responds well, you can work your way up to gentle swats, and finally to a good, full-blown spanking.

Experiment With Technique

Not all spanking techniques are created equal, and a little experimenting in this area will help you and your partner find the ones that work best. Spanking techniques can be changed up every so often by varying the shape of the hand, intensity and speed of your strikes. For example, cupping your hand while spanking will usually result in a duller, deeper thud rather than the stinging sensation that usually results from spanking with a flat palm. Alternating between caresses and swats, or firmly grasping the buttocks at the end of each stroke are also great ways to mix it up a bit. Also, don't be afraid to experiment with following through with your swats as opposed to letting the hand bounce off the buttocks slightly, as each of these methods produce totally different sensations. Above all, listen to how your partner responds and react to it. (You can also use a paddle? Learn about the difference between a wood, silicone or leather spanking paddle here.)

Don't Be a Masochist

An erotic spanking should be ... well, erotic. Be sure to incorporate some sensual action into the spanking, especially as you gage your partner's passion for pain. For instance, you could lightly scratch, tickle, or rub the buttocks between spanks, or stroke the anus or genitals while spanking. With a little practice and the proper training, it may be possible to make someone orgasm from spanking alone!

Play Safe

Pain can be pleasure, but injury means you've gone too far. Always keep spanking to the fleshy area of the buttocks. Spanking on bony areas, such as the tail bone and hip bones, can be rather painful and even leave ugly bruises. Never, ever spank a partner just above the buttocks, as this can result in spinal or kidney trauma.

The partner being spanked shouldn't be afraid to communicate during spanking sessions and be willing to tell their spanker when it's too much. The spanker should also respect the spankee's boundaries and stop spanking when the safeword is uttered.

Don't Forget to Cuddle

The period of time following a spanking sessions is just as important as the spanking itself. This is a time to relax, unwind, and discuss what you both liked - and didn't like. If the spanking session was particularly intense, a little cuddling may be in order. A warm bubble bath or cool washcloth on the buttocks is also very soothing and can be an excellent way to bond after a spanking session.

Gettin' Cheeky With It

Spanking can be exciting, arousing and oh-so-sensual. If a little (or a lot) of pain is your pleasure of choice, you might want to bend over and give spanking a try. Or maybe deliver a swat or two to your partner.