A lot of what I talk about here is about play at the local club or at a party. It's different than private play. Better? I wouldn't say that, but it feeds other needs in me.
When I'm put on display, I'm both nervous and proud. My head space is not the same as when I'm alone with one partner. I believe my top's head space is different, too. At least part of what we're doing is performance. If it's a serious scene, and I'm tied up first, my excitement grows and I start to fear what's about to happen. I like to watch what's going on (around me and to me), so if my top blindfolds me, he takes that pleasure away. I feel slightly disoriented. Then, it's really just him (or possibly her) and me, and I have no idea who's watching, or if anyone's watching. My ego gets pushed down. That's probably a good thing. It becomes all about taking his pain, pleasing him by my obedience. (I look at acceptance of pain as a form of obedience. Servitude is not the only form of submission. I have the ability to use a safeword at any time. I rarely do. I do not want that control, in these moments. I want that to be his.)
Most of the time I'm not blindfolded, or even tied up; I'm just told to bend over some piece of furniture and maintain the position -- which usually includes not turning my head to look around. So again, I can't see much, can't usually tell if there's an audience.
I once took a strapping in this manner, up near the main stage at Paddles. My top had bent me over a medical-type bed and ordered me to grip the sides. He had threatened me with a more serious punishment if I didn't stay in position. Plus, again, I wanted to be obedient. And I wanted to be tough. Whether anyone's watching or not, I get a sense of pride after a surviving a hard scene.
The strapping was severe, and went on much longer than I thought it would. As I remember, at one point he asked if I'd learned my lesson. "Yes, Sir!" I cried. I really didn't want any more. I had been crying out in pain during most of the scene. But we were not done. "All right," he said. "This will be the last ten."
(Oh, God! I thought to myself.) Of course he put all his strength into the those strokes and made them as painful as possible. I just held on and took it. It's easier, at least, when you have a finite number to get through.
Then we were done. I sobbed a little more before recovering and getting up to get dressed. (I rarely really cry in public.) As we were coming back down to earth, a friend of mine I hadn't seen in a while walked over. He had been watching us.
"That was beautiful," he said. "So real. I love when it's real, and when it's severe ... I could see your suffering."
Such a strange type of compliment -- but it was a compliment, and it felt good. I was happy that I'd helped make somebody else's day, along with my own...