From the lack of links in this week’s Kink of the Week topic, it appears there are far fewer aficionados of the singletail than I would have thought. Just goes to show how one’s social (or in this case BDSM) circle can skew a person’s perceptions. If I was to use my local BDSM group as a benchmark then I’d have thought that everyone owned and used a long whip, that’s how ubiquitous they are. And because of that, I’ve always been around and aware of singletails.
I started out (more or less, you can find the more complete story of my introduction to BDSM here) seeing, learning about and exploring BDSM in public play spaces & parties, not in private; my first partner, my ex-husband, and I didn’t grow our BDSM organically. The first time we saw or experienced BDSM, outside of a minor bit of rope and poking around on the internet, was at public play parties locally, and as I have said, long whips were – and are – very much part of the local scene. Especially in those days, someone was always cracking a singletail, even if they weren’t using it on someone. In fact I remember people complaining to our local group leaders about the whip cracking being a “distraction” while they were scening! So singletails have always been on the periphery of my vision, an implement that most of the crowd of kinksters that I fell in with in the beginning – longtime, highly skilled BDSM practitioners all – were experienced with. In my mind, it was just another tool in the toybox like a crop or a blindfold, and not one that inspired an inordinate amount of fear or awe.
There are many types of singletails, usually identified by the handle type and length (bull whips tend to be 6′-12′ in length, signal whips in the 3′-5′ range. You can find a pretty good description of each here in the Whip Guide, if you are interested.) Bullwhips are the one most people think of when they think of singletails, and the bullwhip-wielding sadist is an iconic – though largely erroneous – BDSM image. In reality few people can – or want – to swing a whip much longer than 5′ (at least to use on another human being), and most Tops use signal whips in the 4′ range. They are much easier to learn to handle, can be used in the sometimes-cramped confines of a dungeon play space, and, due to their shorter length, tend to be more accurate. And trust me: accuracy counts when getting whipped with a singletail.
I know at least two Tops that can use 6′ and even 8′ bullwhips with accuracy, and even a couple that can use two at once, but for the most part the longer whips are more for cracking and fun than whipping someone.
Like my introduction to canes, my intro to long whips was with someone highly skilled with it. Not a well-known personality, this was just a friend in the local scene. I’d seen him play with friends of mine with it, and I wanted to try it out. I hadn’t been in the scene much longer than six months at the time, and – especially with the way I had seen him handle a singletail – it didn’t seem all that “edgy” to me. It just looked interesting. He obliged me, and my first experience with a singletail was a long, lovely session of what I think of now as a “brushing” technique – the whip is brushed over the skin over and over in almost feather light touches. It builds up to a sensation that can be intense after awhile, but, in general, this technique does not cause the stripes, slashes and at-times broken skin that more aggressive techniques can. After experiencing that, I kind of thought that was how they were always used. It wasn’t until about a year later, when I saw this same friend use a whip on another person, opening up his back in a criss-crossing, bloody mess, that I realized what could be done with a long whip.
And it was only several years after that, when I started playing with W, that I would experience that kind of intensity – though on a much lighter scale – myself. Ever since that first time with W, when he left these marks…
…I have been fascinated and thrilled by long whips – while simultaneously being terrified of the intensity with which they can be used.
But mostly I love them. I love that very intensity, the white hot flashes of fire interspersed with feathery brushes and soaring endorphins. I love knowing that the next touch of it could be the one that sends me through the roof, I love the fear and anticipation of not knowing what’s next, I love the impact that makes me scream inside or out loud and makes me pray that it’s over, until the endorphins hit and I find that sweet release and float there inside of it.
Until the next one.
Lucky for me, W has a fondness for his singletails as well, and the skill to use them, so we play frequently with his 4.5′ signal whip and the shorter, more intimate 2.5′ whip I bought him, especially when we go to camp events, or events with a large enough space that he can really dance with them.
I’m always fascinated by the the image of W wielding a long whip, when we are lucky enough to have it captured by event photographers. He is like a swordsman preparing for the killing thrust, a dancer in mid-move, a cobra readying itself for the strike: balanced and intent and focused. I don’t often get to see him this way live, as I am usually facing away from him, or have my eyes closed in breathless anticipation.
Sometimes I am facing him, and if I can manage my fear, I will watch for that one, heart-stopping moment as the whip snakes out at me.
Oddly enough, I don’t feel much of him – his presence – during a singletail scene, unless I happen to look into his eyes. There is a distinct disconnect, a remoteness that I don’t feel during, say, a flogging.
During a flogging, for some reason, I do feel connected to him. I fall into the heavy, thumping rhythm and I can feel us moving together, feel him at the other end of the flogger, feel us dancing to the beat of the floggers and the music as one, even hear us breathing in syncopation. With the singletail – the long one – my world narrows down to tip of that whip and me: that is all there is. At times, if we are in a long, intense scene, I almost forget there is a human hand behind the whip. There is only the whip, and the anticipation-fear-pain-endorphin dance. I have been known to jump, genuinely startled, when he stops and touches me in the middle of a singletailing. In some ways it is the most intimate connection I have with an implement of his.
That is, until I turn to face him and our eyes meet in that moment before he throws the whip. Then it is he that is touching me with his eyes, and every dark thought and fantasy he has flows through his hand and down that whip until they mark my skin with the fire of the whip’s strike.
I’ve recently had the pleasure of experiencing the singletail at the hands of someone else, someone well-known enough in the Madison community that a Fetlife fetish has been named after him. (You’ll need a Fetlife profile to see it.) Unfortunately the pictures don’t do the intensity of the marks – or the scene – justice.
That is actually one of the only disappointments of a singletail scene. As someone who likes her marks, it makes me sad that even marks of this intensity…
…only last a few hours or days at most.
Oh well, I guess that means I get to play with singletails again to make new marks, right?
PS – Watch this space for a special “singletail” treat – that’s right, a video! I’ll be posting it next week some time. :-)
Now go on over and read what others are saying about singletails – or write your own post and link it to the KOTW blog!