Friday, 4 May 2012

A writing experiment - Achtung Fetish

I recently had one of those random conversations on Fetlife that took an interesting twist. I was exchanging emails with the guy who runs the Achtung Fetish porn site and we kicked around the idea of me writing a story to accompany a photo set. This is standard for the site - all the sets come with a short story - but the idea of doing one intrigued me on a couple of levels.

Firstly, I wondered how it would work trying to write a story around a set of pics that had already been taken, so the 'narrative arc' was more or less given.

And secondly, since the subject matter was breathplay, which I know is popular but also know is very risky, I wondered if I could do a treatment of the pics that both respected the images and was erotic, but nonetheless conveyed the point that there is no such thing as safe breathplay.

Essentially, breathplay risks both immediate problems of hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain with possible damage to brain cells), and less well known, risks of heart attack because your heart works much harder to try to get oxygen to the brain, and the strain can result in a heart attack not only at the time but hours or even days later. There are other risks too but those are the main ones.

The results are on the Achtung Fetish website, but before you go looking for a link bear in mind you'll be linking to the samples page of a membership-based site that specialises in hardcore, edgy and sometimes quite transgressive porn. That said, you can get a quick sample (not the whole thing) on their free updates page (for now: it will presumably change soon) and on their blog page (which is probably a more stable link).

So how did it work out?

On the first point, a lot of the pics are fairly similar to each other, at least from a writer's point of view - for example they have the same model in the same pose, shot from several different points. My solution to this was to use internal monologue, narrating the model's thoughts as the scene progressed - including some elements external to the picture about her background, previous experiences, knowledge of bdsm, and so on. In fact since the first pic shows her posed on rocks on a seashore, naked except for thigh-length leather boots, I had to devise a passage that placed her plausibly in that situation to start with.

I did have a phone conversation with the photographer to find out how, when and where the set was shot and some of that information fed into the story, and I know the model is a professional fetish model, but if the story reflects anything of her life at all that'll just be happy coincidence...

On the second point, I was pleased to be able to write successfully on something that's perhaps more transgressive than my usual topics, and to write on something that is definitely not a favourite practice of mine. This is because back in the day when I was a dungeon monitor at a fetish club, one guy decided to do some autoerotic asphyxiation - nice and quietly, in the shadows in the corner of a playspace where he thought he wasn't visible. And he did it by locking a collar round his neck tightly. He didn't bother to let anyone know the key to the collar's padlock was attached to a chain round his ankles (he thought he'd be able to reach it with his handcuffed hands) and he was lucky I spotted him in time and had a torch handy to look for the key. It was one of the less pleasurable moments of being a DM and a good example of why, if you absolutely must asphyxiate yourself, it's a good idea to make sure someone else knows and is close by, watching, knowing what to watch for, and is able to release you quickly.

I was also, and for obvious reasons, pleased to be able to include a section at the point the breathplay starts in which the internal narrative explains the risks while also acknowledging that breathplay is, for some people, a hugely erotic experience.

As an aside I should point out there's a short Wikipedia article on autoerotic asphyxiation that discusses both the erotic and hallucinatory states caused by lack of oxygen, and the risks, including that such states may prevent a person from freeing themselves even if they're using fairly simple release/escape methods - once the hallucinatory state takes over they simply forget to release themselves. There's also, in the UK, a famous 1994 case of death due to autoerotic asphyxiation (the MP Stephen Milligan).
In the event, my story includes the model going into a hallucinatory state and being released from it by her dominant.

I'm going to do more stuff for Achtung Fetish from time to time, because writing to fit the pictures is an exposure to practices I might otherwise not write about, and it's an interesting discipline because if I can do it with 'real' pics I can probably do more effectively with the imaginary, 'mind's eye' pictures that I often base parts of my stories around.


  1. Thanks for this -- what an interesting and fascinating cerebral exercise! I've done a similar thing myself, using paintings as a starting point for my erotic stories. But the series of photographs that you mention, makes it a of more joint narrative. Writer, photographer and, of course model. It also seems to be about positioning, like whom is the voyeur? You, the photographer, both of you?

  2. Thank you! Yes, I've occasionally used paintings (or things like notebook jottings of diagrams) as a staring point but using fetish photographs felt like I needed to apply more discipline to the writing to bring out not just the actions depicted and their eroticism, but some of the underlying issues.

    I don't know whether you could position the photographer as a 'voyeur' since there was (I gather) a lot of discussion between him and the model about the shoot, its theme, the management of the shoot and the type of end result they were looking for. So it might be better to see them as collaborators. That may not be the situation in the porn industry generally but I think it was in this case.

    As for me - you could position me as a voyeur (I wasn't at the shoot, which was done before I was ever involved, but I was of course viewing the images). But I was, I hope, an active and reflective voyeur. I was both narrating and to an extent analysing what I was seeing, finding frameworks of meaning around it, and trying to address underlying themes through the narrative.

  3. (That should be 'starting point', of course - your comment was about voyeurism so it was probably a Freudian slip!)