The Voyage Home
Traces and Places of Home, Back in New York City
To begin with NEEHU, I have to backtrack to a few days before.
But before I do that, I need to fast-forward to today. As I begin this blog, I’m somewhere South of Cleveland, twenty-thousand feet in the air. I am exhausted, but exhilarated. My weekend this year was even better than the one last year. I wouldn’t say it was more life-changing, but then again, I didn’t know at the time that last year’s NEEHU would prove to change everything for me. I also just received a lovely email from someone saying that their experience this last weekend changed their life. In my somewhat fractionated, somewhat tired, somewhat open state, I freely admit that the email had me sobbing. Great, big, ugly sobs.
And so I get to begin writing, telling, as much as I can, about how I experienced this NEEHU.
But as I said, to begin that story, I have to go back a few days before the “Unconference” itself. When I decided to return to NEEHU (not that it was particularly a tough decision) my friend ZanyM suggested that I come out and teach a class in New York City a few days before. Now it just so happened that the day I would arrive to teach the class was also the day Lee was to return to the States from a month-long trip in Europe spreading the gospel of erotic hypnosis.
After some coordination, it was decided. I would teach the Subjects 102 class I had taught already at WEEHU and at a special class for the San Francisco hypno-group. Travel arrangements were made, tickets were purchased, and I prepped myself for the trek.
The class itself is really a basic class for subjects to offer tips on how to define and develop boundaries and limits, how to work towards asking for the trances and experiences they want, and how to behave ethically in the community.
Tangent- On Ethics in the Erotic Hypnosis Community.
This topic is one I imagine I’ll be returning to over and over again in this blog and in however long I stay in the community (hopefully a long, long time). And for some of you out there, particularly the more vanilla readers, you may very well wonder why there is any sort of issue with ethics in the Erotic Hypnosis (“EH”) world.
To talk about this I should (once again) take a step back and give some context. Having ethical standards isn’t just important in the related BDSM community; it’s essential. Consider that hitting someone hard (whether with your hand or an implement) is generally considered assault and battery. But what makes it all right in the BDSM community? Consent and assumption of risk. If I ask someone to slap me across the face, I have consented to the resulting slap. This is why, for example, boxers do not get arrested for their actions in the ring, or why you are unlikely to be able to sue someone if you get injured by a fair tackle in a pick-up tackle football or soccer game (or why you can’t accuse someone of assault if they foul you in a basketball game). By participating in your chosen sport you have implicitly consented to a degree of touching, hitting, jostling or what-have-you.
But with BDSM this can be problematic. For one thing, several states claim that you cannot consent to what I understand lawyers call an “intentional tort,” like punching. In other words, no matter how much someone says “punch me” out loud and with sober intent, you cannot, in fact, punch them in that State. In other states, consent is a defense. Great. But how do you establish consent? Well, it becomes imperative to negotiate that consent. But, as I’m sure you may be noticing, surely someone can take advantage of this state of affairs; it seems like it would be relatively easy to assault someone in a BDSM arena and claim “oh, I thought I had consent.” Almost certainly you then have a “he said/she said” (mix genders as appropriate) situation. And one need only Google “rape culture” to see how these sorts of conflicts play out in the world or in the justice system.
As one can imagine, it is rare for people who have experienced consent violations in the BDSM community to go to the local authorities. Given how many people are uncomfortable with the idea of kink, many people understand that to go to the authorities could result in the loss of their job or worse. (It should also be noted that, while a “consent violation” is a bad thing, not all consent violations are treated the same: accidentally having a slip of a tongue and calling someone something they didn’t say they’d appreciate is far different from leaning over and punching someone while they’re in the middle of a scene with someone else. Neither is a good thing, both are to be avoided, but each is a separate issue and should be handled differently.)
But DJ, I hear you asking, are there any special issues with regards to EH play involving these things? Why yes, gentle reader, yes there are. You see, much of the fantasies involving EH typically spiral around the idea of losing your control to another person. Many of us look for that person who will overcome our will power and “make us do these things we don’t [really] want to do.” In short, it’s practically a whole arena predicated on the fantasy of consent violations.
How the hell do you police that?
So my class was developed to try to get subjects to consciously (heh) think about their limits and boundaries ahead of time, so that they don’t (whether inadvertently or predatorily) get seduced into something they may not be comfortable with at that time. And what’s rather remarkable, is that in talking to recreational hypnotists, they’ve said, almost uniformly, that having a subject who can set boundaries and say no, even under trance, makes them more comfortable working with that subject. Think about that.
In any event, it’s a topic I’ll be returning to here and there throughout this blog, I imagine.
I arrived in NYC, met Lee (who had arrived about an hour earlier at the same airport) and headed for some martinis and some appetizers at a very good Thai place just around the corner from the class.
I confess I was nervous. It is one thing for me to teach a class in San Francisco, effectively my second hometown, and to do it at the request of people who had sat in on my class and could assess whether it was something worthwhile. It was quite another to have friends—who had never actually been in the class—essentially stick their necks out for me and vouch for my relative qualities as a teacher. I really did not want to let them down.
With all of that said, it really seemed to go over well. The Eulenspiegel Society, a fantastic organization, generously allowed me to teach at their TES Hypnokink and Novice SIG (“Special Interest Group”) for about 90 minutes. It was a nice crowd and there were some fantastic questions (except for the fellow who may have been confused as to the nature of the class being geared towards subjects as opposed to hypnotists. But that person did arrive late-or else, in my jet-lagged state, I misunderstood the question.).
The second half of the class was given over to open discussion, which I also found very gratifying and informative.
(I can’t tell you much of the details since such discussions are generally considered private so as to create a safe space for open discussion. Please imagine that I answered questions wonderfully and masterfully and that will be far enough from the truth to protect the integrity of the event.)
Also—technically speaking, I can now say I performed off-Broadway.
A group of us then went out for a quick bite and then Lee and I crashed at ZanyMo and DrDream’s place. Special thanks to both of them for being such fantastic hosts and friends. Somehow, despite me being on Pacific Time and Lee being on British Standard time, we all went to bed at around the same time.
The next morning, Lee and I went to Penn Station and then boarded the train for her place up in New Hampshire. Although NEEHU does more or less start on Thursday night with pre-parties and hot tubbing at the hotel, Lee wanted to go home for at least one night before the weekend, and I was happy to accompany her to prep for the classes we’d be co-presenting. Plus, riding on a train with “your own private hypnotist” for a few hours is pretty cool, and I’m not one to look gift-horses in mouths.
But even on top of that, there was the fact that there is a lovely symmetry in spending the day with Lee. Faithful readers may remember that when I arrived at NEEHU, at the pool, at the hotel, Lee trance tackled me and gave me my first ever live trance. It was the culmination of a day that changed my life (and it’s only gotten better from there). So spending the same Thursday-one year later- with Lee only made sense.
After the train we took a bus for the remainder of the trip, which is where I wrote the “Prologue” blog.
We spent the remainder of the day and night getting various items together and hatching plans, as well as meeting up with people who’d be traveling with us to the site.
As, perhaps you can tell, I was excited to return to NEEHU. I was also slightly nervous—would it be as fantastic the second time around?
I mean, can you ever really go home again?
NEXT TIME—Classes! More Classes! Three hours straight of classes! Why do I volunteer for these things? Subjects 102 contains a whole section on saying “no,” why can’t I do that, too? And, of course, catching up with “old” friends.
30) Fitful sleeps
31) My first munch..