Tristan Taormino's Guide to Bondage for Couples

There is one word I repeated as I was painting my nails and watching this DVD, and it was “masterful.” This DVD is meant for a very specific audience, it’s true, but it reaches that very specific audience in a way that is comfortable and easily approachable.

The audience, of course, is the recently initiated to BDSM, and very specifically, those who were turned on to BDSM (see what I did there?) through the infamous 50 Shades Trilogy.

There are a lot of really great, really accurate critiques of the 50 Shades Trilogy- mainly, that the books paint an unrealistic and inaccurate portrait of the actual BDSM subculture, which is a rich and multi-faceted community with it’s flaws just like any other. 50 Shades is just another step in the subculture becoming mainstream, and although I could talk more on this many have already done so before me. I’ll let you listen to them.

What is important is that the relationship dynamics depicted in 50 Shades are problematic for actual, real-life interaction. Although I have not personally read the books, I have seen enough excerpts and read enough critiques of them to know that Christian stalks Anastasia, many of their rules are unrealistic, and consent and frank conversation about boundaries and desires are missing or not as present as they should be in their relationship. While it is understandable that some of this would be skipped over, consent and communication are some of the main foundations of BDSM culture and necessary ones at that; though it’s not sexy, sometimes you have to call out a safe word in the middle of a scene because your ankle is being pinched by your spreader bar, or because you’re upset about the way your scene partner is doing something, or just not having a good time. These are the unsexy but necessary realities that BDSM relies on to be realistic, fun, and most importantly, safe, for everyone participating.

The reason why Tristan’s Guide to Bondage for Couples is so masterful is because it speaks directly to these issues without being condescending. It says, “I know you think this is hot, and this is what you need to do in order to realistically approach the fantasy you’re having in a safe and fun way,” not “you’re wrong, do it this way”- and this is much more approachable for the people who are curious about implementing bondage and other aspects of power play, dominance and submissiveness, etc. into their sex life.

The DVD starts with a conversation about the necessity of communication and consent, with Tristan talking as well as the couples depicted in each scene talking about their real life experiences and how they feel about different aspects of bondage, some of the best ways to do different things, and why they think it’s necessary. Tristan goes over safety, different kinds of products you can use and cheap ways to experiment with bondage- like using clothing or bondage tape- and more.

Then, we’re launched into the first scene with Samantha and Michael. This scene is the most ‘vanilla’ of the four, and the one that screams “Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele” without directly saying it. The performers are two stereotypically attractive white people having sex in what looks like a penthouse suite, and the infamous Grey Tie makes an appearance.

Though I don’t want to do a scene-by-scene analysis like I did with Lesbian Curves, I’d like to note that the second scene involves James Deen and had me squeeing incessantly. This was my first time seeing Deen perform, and I was not disappointed. That growl. Those loving murmurs. The dynamic James and his partner Adrianna had was fantastic, and was much more Dom/sub than the first couple.

One thing that should be noted about all of the scenes is that it was mostly women orgasming- they orgasmed more frequently (at least 4 times in a scene, by my count, and frequently more- I lost count each scene) than their male partners or at least more noticeably. This is important to note because female orgasms do not normally take priority in “mainstream” porn, and this is part of what sets Taormino’s work apart- it’s also important because although they are portraying a submissive in these scenes, the females experience more orgasms. This is a very quiet way of saying that their pleasure is still important, even though they’re “serving” their Dominant, Daddy, or partner. While this dynamic can be sexy and arousing, it should still be remembered that pleasure is the goal.

My only gripe with this film isn’t important in the context it holds- of the four scenes, three featured a male dominant and a female submissive, with the last scene involving a male and female switch, moving back and forth from dominant to submissive. Tristan frequently refers to the Dom as Male and the viewer as Female, and it’s a specific and apparent decision: the people who would most likely be watching this are females who are looking to step into the place of Anastasia Steele and be dominated by a male. There’s nothing wrong with this, but as someone who is personally a bit more queer and as someone who understands that sexuality is more multi-dimensional than that, it was a little disappointing.

But those are my personal feelings on the matter, and I understand that it may have been too overwhelming for the target audience if you added in more ideas of changing up power dynamics, such as having a female Dom or having same sex couples, or genderqueer people involved. I recognize that having the last scene with Danny Wylde and India Summer switching back and forth from dom to submissive was a baby step towards helping the viewer understand that there are more options out there, and that they too can switch things up and it can be pretty hot.

Overall, as I stated originally, this is a masterpiece. It very subtly and understandingly helps correct some ideas people may have about bondage into healthier practices that are more realistic, safe- and still very hot.

Thanks to Tristan Taormino for sending me this video to review! I still have the Guide to Kinky Sex for Couples to watch and review, so keep an eye out for that. This DVD was sent to me in exchange for my honest opinion and review- all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Inspired to try some bondage of your own? 

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