This is an excerpt from "Fifty Shades of Kink: An Introduction to BDSM" by Tristan Taormino. It has been reprinted with permission from Cleis Press.

Gentle. Ticklish. Hot. Cold. Rough. Soft. Smooth. For many people, kink is about experiencing a lot of different, sometimes intense, sensations that go far beyond just genital stimulation. Sensory stimulation focuses on creating unique sensations on the skin. Sensation play approaches the flesh of the body like a sculptor begins with a fresh lump of clay - her body is a blank canvas to manipulate and stimulate with different textures, temperatures and "torture."

Feathers

There’s a reason that in the popular French maid fantasy, the maid is usually carrying a feather duster, and it doesn’t have anything to do with cleaning the house! Feathers are sensual, luxurious tools that feel great against the skin and stimulate our touch receptors. They can stroke, flutter, tickle, and tease the flesh. They are a fun way to get someone in the mood without intimidating them, so they are a good bet for beginners and lovers who aren’t ready just yet to bring out the whip.

Combining a feather with a blindfold or bondage can make your partner feel like they are at your mercy. You can buy a large single feather (like a giant ostrich feather) or a feather tickler made of many feathers attached to a handle (similar to a duster). Run a feather tickler down the entire length of your partner’s body. Brush the feathers lightly against the skin, then follow each swipe with a kiss. If you’re feeling playful, you can use your feather to torture him as you target his ticklish spots. If tickling turns both of you on, then go for it.

Edible Body Paint and Dust

If you love the idea of licking chocolate sauce, whipped cream, honey, and other goodies off your partner’s body, then you’ll love edible body paint and dust. Imagine soft baby powder sprinkled on your skin, then nibbled off by someone you love. You can experience that sensation with edible body dust. Some dusts come with a feather, so you can combine the sensuality of feathers against the skin with a delicious powder. Edible body paints are just as tasty as sundae toppings, but these paints are safe for the body, moisturizing to the skin, and easy to clean up afterward. Edible body paints come in different colors and flavors and offer all sorts of fun opportunities. Create a colorful masterpiece on your naked body. Draw a bikini on and have him take it off. Write naughty words on your body and ask your partner to lick them off. Paint your partner’s sensitive spots, then erase them with your mouth.

Massage Oil Candles

Candles are a wonderful way to set a romantic mood, and many couples light them to create some sexy ambiance in the bedroom. Some folks fantasize about another use for those candles: they want to seductively drip hot wax all over their partner’s body or have it drizzled on themselves. It looks great in the movies, but the reality doesn’t always live up to the hype: if you use the wrong kind of candle, the wax can actually burn someone’s skin. Even if you get a candle with a low burn temperature, you’re still left with a lot of cooled wax to clean up. Massage candles not only address and fix these common issues, but they combine two activities with one product. They burn at a very low temperature, making it gentle and safe to use without fear of hurting your partner by scorching their skin. Light the candle and let the wax begin to melt. Lift your hand up and away from your partner’s body (the farther away the candle, the cooler the wax will be when it hits the skin). Once you’ve drizzled your partner’s body with warm wax, start rubbing your fingers into it, and it will transform into silky smooth massage oil. Now you’re ready to give an erotic massage! A sensual massage is a great way to start an evening of sexy fun. You don’t need to be a licensed masseuse to give a good massage; you just need to be generous, listen to your partner, and use the healing power of touch.

You can drip hot wax almost anywhere on the body except the face and genitals. The most important thing to keep in mind with massage oil is that it does in fact contain oil, so it can stain sheets, fabric, and clothes and may be hard to clean up; make sure you put a towel down first. Oil-based products should not get near your genitals if you’re planning to have sex. Oil-based products are bad for vaginas and can cause vaginal infections.

You can follow up these warm sensations with an ice cube to surprise you partner, shift the temperature of the skin, or cool things down.

Stimulating Gels and Creams

We all know that genitals are very sensitive, but some folks like to make them even more so. Stimulating gels and creams like Rocket Balm, Flower Balm, and Please Pleasure Cream do just that. I recommend the products that contain some kind of natural stimulant, like menthol or peppermint, over those with chemical stimulants or numbing agents. Stimulating gels and creams created for men can be used to stimulate the head and frenulum of the penis; apply a small amount, and in a few seconds, the area will start to tingle. Those made for women can be used on the clitoris and are formulated to boost the arousal process and make her more sensitive. When you put a tiny bit on the hood or the underside of the clitoris, the area tingles, blood rushes to the genitals, and the entire vulva gets swollen and aroused. I don’t recommend you put them on other parts of the labia, and they should definitely not be used internally. You can also use them on men or women’s nipples for extra sensation.

Blind Sensation

A blindfold can be added to the mix with any of the activities in this chapter, which will build anticipation, amplify the sensation, and keep your partner guessing. Once she’s blindfolded, use a bunch of different things to drag across the skin. Think wooden chopsticks, fur or another very soft material, ice cubes, your hand in a leather glove, or your nails (if your partner likes being scratched). Remember without sight, something like a simple butter knife will feel like a sharp knife but won’t mark or cut the skin.

Nipple Clamps

Chests, breasts, and nipples are all wonderful erogenous zones on our bodies. Both men’s and women’s nipples can be very sensitive, though the level of sensitivity varies from person to person. Lots of folks like their nipples licked, sucked, rolled between fingers, and tugged gently. If you like your nipples twisted, tweaked, and, especially, pinched during sex, then you may like nipple clamps.
Nipple clamps are small clips attached to a chain, and they come in a wide variety of styles. The best starter set for beginners are tweezer-style or adjustable nipple clamps. Other nipple clamps, as well as similar pinching implements (like clothespins, paper clips, or hair clips) are not adjustable at all;
their clamping strength might be too intense to start out with for a lot of people. Tweezer-style nipple clamps have a small ring that lets you adjust how much they clamp.

With adjustable clamps, you can start out with the loosest clamping and work your way up to a tighter and more severe pinch. Take your partner’s nipple and rub it until it’s hard. Place each side of the clamp on the nipple, then slowly begin to slide the ring toward the nipple to tighten it. Check in with your partner to see what feels good. When you put a clamp on a part of the body, you cut off the circulation to that area. The nipples can get very sensitive, so tugging on the chain between the clamps sends a zing throughout the body. While it hurts to varying degrees when you put the clamps on and tug at them, it feels a hell of a lot worse when the clamps come off. The blood quickly rushes back to the area in a big burst, and bang, your brain registers pain. So, if your partner is a beginner, leave nipple clamps on for less than a minute before you take them off. You can gradually work your way up to longer amounts of time, but you shouldn’t leave clamps on for more than fifteen minutes.

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