By Elaine Ee
Enter a room filled with about 30 to 40 men and women. It is early in the night and they are chatting amongst themselves, some are a bit shy. Only a little alcohol is consumed; everyone knows there is an unwritten rule that drunken behavior will not be tolerated.
As the night wears on, people start to relax, loosen up. A man takes out some ropes and starts to tie up a woman in an elaborate network of knots that form a beautiful pattern on her body, known as shibari, a Japanese style of rope tying. A woman in a loose dress and bare feet flogs a man, and when she is done with him she moves on to another man. This is Mistress Minky, and this is one of her private parties.
She is 33 years old, Chinese, works in real estate and has a hand in some other small businesses, has a boyfriend and lives with her mother in Sengkang. She is also bisexual, a key figure in the BDSM community in Singapore and a dominatrix.
BDSM (the term loosely stands for Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sadism and Masochism) is a sexual practice that encompasses activities and relationships that revolve around participants taking on complementary but unequal roles, like dominants and submissives. The activities are wide ranging; some of the more popular include the use of restraints such as ropes and cuffs, creating sensory deprivation with the use of blindfolds and gags, anal play and candle wax play. Relationships can be same sex or heterosexual and can also include transgender.
While this practice is underground in many countries, it has also been around a long time and is very established in places like Japan, the United States and several European countries. In Singapore, the BDSM community is relatively new, but is growing gradually. A major BDSM group here, sgdomsub, which Mistress Minky is a senior moderator of, had 2,000 members sign up in the last five years.
“We have people from all walks of life,” says Minky. “Our youngest members are about 18 years old, the oldest are in their 50s, and they range from being students to very senior people in the corporate world.”
BDSM is sometimes extreme and so, often misunderstood. People think it’s sick or perverted, or driven by aggression. “In fact,” explains Minky, “everything that happens in BDSM in consensual. A dominant cannot do things to a submissive that the submissive did not agree to beforehand. For BDSM to work well, the parties involved need to feel completely safe with each other, trust each other, and know when to let go.” I remarked that these are the very qualities you need in any healthy relationship. Precisely, she replies.
“Pre-play negotiation is very important,” continues Minky, “especially if you are playing with someone for the first time. We ask about injuries, what people are prepared to explore and what their limits are, and try not to go there, at least not in the first session. As the trust builds, most people break their limits a bit.”
Minky prefers to restrains her submissives using ropes. “What I can achieve with a single rope, like tying someone’s hands apart or tying wrists to ankles, would take a few cuffs and chains to do,” she says matter-of-factly.
Her ropes are ordered online from BDSM suppliers overseas. A good set of ropes costs roughly USD200, and you get about eight ropes for that. They are made of natural fibres like jute or hemp, which are strong and at the same time soft enough on the skin.
Inflicting pain on her submissives is part of her role as a dominant, and she finds all kinds of ways to do it. “The most extreme thing I’ve done is urethra play,” she says cheekily. “It involves inserting a surgical stick into a penis. Done correctly, it can give a lot of pleasure.” These sticks are special BDSM sticks, modelled after medical supplies. A basic pack of sticks range from size one to 10, one being the smallest. Most penises, shares Minky, take about a size three to four.
“The aim,” she explains, “is to give a high. Sometimes a bit of pain can take you even higher.” Her submissives don’t necessarily get to orgasm though; they can only do so if she allows them to. “Their job,” she says, “is to please me.”
“To create this experience, you use all of your concentration; it is exciting, fulfilling and can be more than sex. There is a lot of mind play that requires some imagination,” she elaborates. Intercourse is only a very minor part of BDSM.
So just knowing how to crack a whip is not enough. The success of a BDSM relationship or experience depends on how perceptive you are, how well you read and understand the other person intuitively—which is key because one person is often immobilized and may be also gagged. The use of safe words and safe objects are essential, especially in a new BDSM relationship, but, says Minky, “As you become experienced, you learn to read facial expressions and body language, and know when to go further and when to stop.”
Safe sex is non-negotiable. ““We are huge consumers of condoms,” stresses Minky. “We have them at our parties and use them on all our penetrative sex toys, like vibrators and probes. Hygiene and safety is of utmost importance.”
Getting into one of Minky’s parties is strictly by invitation only. She was hushed up about where her parties are held, to protect their privacy and freedom. “We don’t want anyone clamping down on us,” she says.
But sgdomsub holds monthly events, known as Munches, which are open to all. They are casual gatherings in bars or other venues — past munches have been at Does Your Mother Know and Taboo, both bars on Neil Road — where sgdomsub’s main figures share some of their techniques. A typical Munch sees about 30 people, a mix of regulars and newcomers.
Munches are also where sgdomsub screens people for their parties. If they are comfortable with you, they might invite you. But if they think you are just out to get an easy lay, they certainly won’t.
And if you do go to a party, you are expected to observe the golden rule of respecting others at all times. Get drunk, start a fight, abuse someone or touch someone without their permission — and you will be booted out and never invited back.
There are very few BDSM teachers Singapore. And because Minky is so passionate about this practice, she has decided to step up and become one. To this end she has started a BDSM academy called Kinky Wonderland. Meant for newbies, this academy will teach BDSM skills and educate people about this practice. It will explain things like why people like to be blindfolded, teach you how to use ropes and toys, and the role of safe words and safe objects. There will also be toys available from a local merchant.
Over the course of my conservation with Minky, I begin to understand that BDSM is really about stimulating the mind and the senses, expressed through consensual power play. It is an erotic, cerebral dance between partners; it is a sensual and intellectual embrace. To do it well you need to be highly intelligent, creative and comfortable with yourself, your body and your sexuality. It is an art form that combines beauty and pain, and pathos. I started off not knowing much about BDSM but ended up full of respect for it.
To find out more about or join sgdomsub, visit their website and register.
Munches take places on the last Thursday of every month.
A preview to Kinky Wonderland will take place on 19 Dec at The Sultan, 101 Jalan Sultan; 7.30-9.30pm; $25 if you book ahead online, $30 at the door. Held in conjunction with Eros Coaching.