This is Part II of a unique two-part feature — an intimate conversation about intimacy, with Ernest Greene, Author of the book, Master of O, and his wife, Nina Hartley. In Part II we talked primarily about intimacy as it relates to their private lives. In this part we focus on intimacy as it relates to Mr. Greene’s novel, Master of O. However, life, lifestyle and work go hand in hand for this couple. We think Part II will give you food for thought. We are also including our exclusive Intimacy Tips taken from our hour-long conversation with Nina and Ernest, and at the bottom you will also find a glossary of basic BDSM terms used throughout both parts of this feature. *if you missed PART I somehow, CLICK HERE
Q: What inspired you to write a new version of the Story of O?
Ernest: First of all, as it was for many of those from my generation especially those with kinky lives, the Story of O was a very influential book. When I first read it, and even though I was in my teens then, and even though I didn’t have much direct experience with much of anything sexual, I already knew that I was an SM oriented person , that my orientation was Dominant, I was an avid consumer of what information was around about that particular subject at the time, so it was inevitable that I would read this book. Even though I had no direct experience at that point, some points seemed extremely believable and extremely credible, and some parts that just seemed to have been made up out of thin air. Of course we now know from the interviews the author gave at the end of her life, that this is prtty much the way it was written. So when I read it I read it I was moved and excited by it and then at the end I threw it against the wall and I said that’s it?? You mean you couldn’t figure out a better way to get it off stage? I was never happy with that and even though my personality as a dominant man had not yet taken shape I couldn’t find any clues as to what shape it should take from the cardboard construction of the male characters in that book. I wondered who are these guys and why in the world would any woman, especially one who is accomplished and beautiful and intelligent want to enslave herself with to a couple of stiffs like them? So over the years, I have always wondered what it would be like if it this story were transposed into a modern era where BDSM is better understood in a community where there are a lot of people involved in it, and where there are interesting men in the dominant role. In fact, the Story of O was a template of for a lot of BDSM fiction that followed but we know a lot more about the inner lives of submissive women than we know about the inner lives of dominant men. I thought it was time, in light of all the interest in this subject, to get a look inside the lives, minds and hearts of dominant men. I wanted to give them their day, but not at the expense of the female characters, I just wanted to make them of equal importance, and of equal depth. I also thought that Modern Los Angeles parallels to Post War Paris and that was kind of interesting. Both were places of personal reinvention. Paris had been through a tough 25 years leading up to 1953 or so when the book was written. Post War Paris had become a center of popular art, fashion, novels, that kind of thing and it was a very competitive tough atmosphere. I like to think that O was a fashion photographer which translated easily to her becoming an erotic photographer in our era , and I felt that Los Angeles with it’s sort of Noir-ish background and its own industry would be a very good place to set an updated version of this very essential ancient story. It really is…it is a story about a love triangle, an unconventional one, but that’s what it is..and of course LA is a really good place for that!
Q: In an interview you suggested that Master of O is the book you wrote because it was the book you wanted to read, so what elements in erotic literature do you feel are lacking in today’s books?
Nina: I don’t do a lot of reading of erotica anymore. I did that a lot in my teens and mid 20′s. My pleasure reading tends towards science and biology and history…. Ernest: again, gender roles not as expected (Nina laughs) I still think what’s missing is…well…what’s in Master of O, which is people who are unabashedly who and what they are, no shame in their game, they’re not embarrassed or shy or coy about it, the women are as lusty as the men and no one is taking advantage of anybody else. The people in the book are very ethical about what they do and how they do it. They’re actually good role models (she laughs). Ernest: Yes, something I’d like to make clear is that there is a difference between ethical BDSM and d/s or power exchange relationships, and ethicality in the world at large. A lot of people that you’ll meet in the BDSM scene (when you get to know them and you’re all taking candidly about your lives) is they’ll sort of laugh and say: “you know, our sex life is the one thing in our lives that is completely healthy and the rest of it is kind of like everybody’s else’s, sort of messy (Nina: yeah). In Master of O you get that feeling. The got their SM thing happening, they know what’s right, they know what they like, they know how to do everything, they’d good at that, they’re happy in that space, but when they get out in the world and try to function as other people do, they discover that like everybody else, they make the same mistakes, take shortcuts, they make the same compromises, they live in the world like everybody else. Going back to the intimacy thing, what keeps intimacy between Ernest and me going is the fact that because it is d/s, because it ritualistic it never just happens. We don’t’ have to wonder if we are in the same mood at the same time, we know on Thursday we are going to make time for this. I tell people, he and I being the age we are, if we waited for mutual lust to strike we’d never have sex. (Ernest: I wouldn’t go that far!). I’m not in a state of mutual lust toward your Sir all the time, but I’m open to sex with you. Ernest: I’m shocked! Shocked to hear that, I say! ) No, no dear…I’m always ready, but if we waited for mutual fire in the loins to ignite …Ernest: well, it might get to be pretty cool in here by then..) Nina: right, but..
Ernest: having any kind of an active, satisfying sex life within the pressures of the modern world, is an achievement. As I said earlier, you have to make space for your sexuality to express itself in a world where there’s pressure for other things. There are economic demands, social demands, we are busy people …Nina travels a good deal more than I do and I am at the office frequently, so we have to make sure that this part of our ourselves is nurtured (Nina: YES). A great thing about BDSM relationships is that there are lots of ways to nurture that. For instance, you can engage in mildly symbolic behavior, for instance of her wearing a collar when we’re at home. That doesn’t mean that we’re about to go and have a session, it means we recognize and remember and thus remind ourselves that we are a d/s couple. Nina: yes, and it could happen. Ernest: We are always open to it. It’s not like it never happens that way, but, mostly, we just have to look at the calendar and Nina draws a heart on each day that might be available. Sometimes we have to move those hearts around, based on changes of schedule, but we try do try to connect in this way on a regular basis. Nina: Yes, we don’t let it slide.
Alison: That’s good advice for everybody.
Nina: Right, we’re fortunate in that we may be a two career couple but we are also a child-free couple, so we don’t have the added layer of child raising, child care, and making space for that, but instead of that, I travel a lot, so we never have makeup sex because we don’t have a lot of fights, we have reunion sex, which is even better. Ernest: If there’s a takeaway that I wish people could have from this, it’s that a BDSM relationship, a power exchange relationship , a d/s relationship —what is the common word in all of these? RELATIONSHIP! It’s a relationship first. That is where the maintenance needs to be. Nina: Do you like each other? Can you show respect for each other? Do you share enough values to be in a relationship? Ernest: I’ve had some super hot S/M sex on a casual basis with women I didn’t know very well. We knew we had this in common, but as we got to know each other we found out that there were a lot of other things that wouldn’t fit together and therefore it was limited to that. There was nothing there on which to build a relationship. If you are lucky (and in this case I sort of hit the daily double) Nina: awww! You find somebody who likes the same kind of sex you d, and who you also like otherwise, with whom you have compatible interest and compatible ways of thinking of life, and a compatible way of wanting to construct your lives. if you don’t have those things S/m will not save you, it won’t save your otherwise drab marriage, because it got drab for some other reason. It wasn’t the lack of SM that was part of the problem. Nina: Right, that’s funny! Ernest: It was the lack of some other thing, most likely, intimacy, that was the problem.
Q: What projects are next for you Ernest, and You Nina, and for You as a couple?
Nina: I am working on expanding my business more into consulting/counseling/ coaching. I love performing very much and I hope to do that always, but as I get older the percentage of my income that comes from direct performing is going to shift to a smaller percentage vs. intellectual or emotional labor. I’ve learned a lot, I’m great with couples who want to work on their issues, although I’m not a therapist, but helping people with their sexuality is always going to be of interest me – a driving force.Ernest: First of all, I enjoy journalism. I intend to continue to go on writing and editing in various areas. But I do have a sequel for Master of O which I intend to do. You might not believe that in 700 pages I didn’t cover everything, but, honestly, there’s like another 400 pages backed up. Nina: you know how the book ended, there has to be a sequel.
Alison: might we see that sequel soon?
Ernest: Let me put it this way, it’s a demand driven market if people buy the book and they like it I’d love to see this come out in a year or so. Given the length of the first one, I think we need to give people a little time. Without any spoiler alert, yes, it does end on a somewhat ambiguous note that gives us an opportunity to explore certain things further—and that’s what I intend to do! Ernest: As you know, I’ve also shot and directed lots of kink oriented videos of one kind or the other and continue to do so. I wouldn’t mind making some more pictures.
Q: What else would you like our readers to know about you or the book that we didn’t ask?
Ernest: Well, I’d like them to know about the book, that it is enjoyable reading, it’s meant to be a turn on. It’s also meant to deal with some ideas that I have, but it’s not a novel of ideas, it’s a novel of people having hot sex , and all that goes with that. As far as our lives are concerned, we’re among that very lucky few people who get to make their livings doing something creative. So long as we are doing something creative I am prepared be happy with it. And I see that going forward as she’s always had that sense of mission, and as I go forward I see myself more as a guy whose going to be telling tales on paper. I intend to continue to write all kinds of things for as long as I’m able. Nina: A note: How can couples use this book? Read it to each other. There needs to be four different color highlighters. Each person takes two. With one color you highlight passages that really work for you to help your partner get insight into what might get your motor running. With the other color you highlight objects in the book, that if they showed up at birthday would not be…!!! (Alison laughs so hard she misses Nina’s last words)
Ernest: I also want to say that if people want to buy their own copy of the book, Master of O. Uh….this is kind of useful —you can get either the E-book version ($9.99 eBook includes ePub and Kindle versions) or the paperback version ($17.99 $17 + 6.95 shipping. 763 pages) at www.masterofO.com *it is also available at amazon.com To get in touch with Ernest: @themasterofO and Nina Hartley: @ninaland Ernest Greene is also on Facebook
Leather and Lace Advice’s Exclusive Enhancing Intimacy Tips (from Ernest & Nina’s conversation):
Value reasonableness and respect for one another, and carry that respect throughout the day.
Try to be supportive of your partner’s projects and work even if it’s doing something as simple as making sure s/he has dinner
Be free to express your fantasies to your partner without fear of rejection or disgust. Your partner should be willing to discuss the activity and their potential objections, without the fear of coercion or ridicule
Don’t be jealous of your partner’s former relationships as those have helped him or her become the person s/he is today, and they have contributed to the depth of his or her experience
Life, and stress, will always impact your relationship. It is essential to block out a period of time for intimacy on a regular basis — a period during which the world is shut out and you focus on on what you are doing at the moment, focusing only on each other, not the phone, what you have to do tomorrow, Facebook, friends, your mother….
Nina wears a collar at home to remind her and her husband of them of their special d/s relationship. For any couple, establishing a ritual of some sort that is just for each other, can help them enhance intimacy and help them bond.
If you are only compatible in the bedroom and you don’t have shared interests and values, If you aren’t really friends, then hot sex is just hot sex. It won’t make a relationship good and it won’t save a dull or dying one.
If you are too shy to tell your partner what you would really like in terms of fantasies read aloud to each other. Each take two different colored highlighters and with one, highlight the passages that really excite you. With the other, highlight items in the book that if they should show up as a gift, you wouldn’t mind!
Bondage – Any practice involving restraints placed on the body to restrict freedom of movement.
Bondage and discipline, B&D – A classic term referring to several sexual practices including: bondage, slave training, corporal punishment, and dominant/submissive role play.
Cane – Traditional canes are flexible rattan or bamboo optionally having a leather wrapped handle. Modern canes may be plastic or fiber glass. Caning is the art of using a cane on a bottom.
Collar, collared – 1) A symbol of surrender worn by a submissive. A collar Is given in a relationship as a profound symbol of a commitment and bond. A ‘collared” submissive is considered to be owned (which see) or partnered with a dominant player. 2) A piece of bondage equipment worn around the throat.
Consensual – Behavior or activities agreed to by all parties involved. True consent Is informed consent and requires a reasonably accurate knowledge of possible risks.
Cuff, cuffing – 1) Placing handcuffs. manacles, or similar restraints on the wrists and/or ankles. 2) Also refers to the restraints in the noun form.
Discipline – The “D’ in B&D that can mean; 1) punishment 2) structured training of a submissive.
Dominance, dominance & submission, D/S D&S – The consensual empowerment of one partner by the other for erotic enhancement. Dominance and submission are the psychological and emotional underpinnings of SM. [see Power exchange]
Dominant, Dom, Domme, Domina, Dominatrix – The person who Is given control In a consensual exchange of power. Domme, Domina. and Dominatrix refers to women. Dominant , or Domcan refer to either gender.
Fetish – A sexual fixation on an activity or object.
Gender orientation – Gender orientation Is an Issue apart from sexual orientation. It is self-identification and feelings of maleness or femaleness, rather than issues of sexual attraction. A person with an alternate gender orientation may or may not have an alternate sexual orientation. For example; a transvestite or a transsexual may be either heterosexual or gay.
Limit – The boundaries of SM activities set by both dominant and submissive during negotiation defining what each is willing and unwilling to do within a scene. Limits must be respected and never intentionally breached by either partner. Limits apply to roles, levels of dominance and submission, and duration of time, as well as physical activities such as whipping, paddling. etc.
Master – A male that takes the dominant role in SM role play. The title may be bestowed upon the male dominant in appreciation of his skill. It may be a term of endearment or a loving tribute to a Dom by a submissive in a relationship. Equally often, the term is self-aggrandizement by a male with dominant fantasies, not infrequently with ‘true’ or ‘real ‘ tacked in front.
Mistress – A female dominant. [see Dominant, Dom, Domme, Domina. Dominatrix
Negotiation – The process of determining the practices and boundaries of sexual and SM activities between a top and a bottom. It may apply to the whole relationship or just a specific scene. Negotiating Is an ongoing process that Is repeated as the players’ needs change.
Nonconsensual – SM play that is not sanctioned by either player.
Play – Participating in an SM scene or SM scene activity.
Playroom, Play space – Any area you designate in which to perform an SM scene. Hotel rooms, secluded woods, and delivery vans qualify as well as a permanently furnished basement or dungeon. Also referred to as dungeon space.
Power exchange – The empowerment of the dominant by the submissive’s surrender to his/her control. Power exchange is consensual and should be well negotiated. The depth of the power yielded by the submissive is equal to level of responsibility assumed by the dominant.
Role play – 1) Elaboration of one’s sexual inclinations by creating a fantasy framework for them. 2) People with compatible sexual fantasies taking on complimentary persona to interact with each other.
Sadism, Sadist – Deriving sexual pleasure from the giving of pain, humiliation, and/or domination. The honorable sadist only gives pain or humiliation to those desiring it, respects limits, is caring and careful.
Sadomasochism, SM – Advanced sexual practices incorporating the consensual use of pain, humiliation, and power exchange for erotic enjoyment. SM includes dominance and submission, bondage and discipline, love bondage, and erotic spanking. The term is frequently misused to indicate heavier or more extreme practices.
Safe, sane, and consensual – Characterizes the acceptable play within the SM community; players adhere to safety precautions within their activities. do not participate in practices that will injure their partners (mentally or physically), and obtain consent by negotiating scenes and scene related activities before carrying them out.
Scene – 1) The SM or fetish community: or things associated with it. 2) An occurrence or Session of SM play
Session – A scene. [see Scene]
Slave – 1) In the scene community sometimes used loosely as another word for submissive. 2) A submissive involved in a committed relationship incorporating a shared slave/master fantasy.
Slave contract – A written agreement elaborating the terms, goals, and limits of an SM relationship.
Slave training – The processes of instructing a submissive in a dominant’s preferences, and, conditioning the submissive’s behavior.
Submissive, Sub – One who surrenders control of his/her body and behavior (within pre-defined limitations) to another for erotic play.
Switch – 1) A person who enjoys taking either side in SM role or physical play: i.e. top or bottom, Dom or sub. 2) A slender flexible branch from a tree or bush used for corporal punishment.
Vanilla – Describes things. activities and people who are not part of the SM scene, for example; ‘We had vanilla sex last night.’ meaning, ‘We had sex without including any SM scene elements.’ The term is no longer derogatory except as used by immature, cliquish. snobby, poopieheads who don’t think the way we do.