BDSM interviews: M.J. Calabrese

20 years of experience in the BDSM community and many years as a nurse … This gives M.J. Calabrese a unique perspective when it comes to BDSM scenes.

Your books are not entirely BDSM-themed, but the Coulter/Woodard series and Can’t Let Go include BDSM scenes. What prompted you to write them into your books? What do they add to the plots and to the relationships of your characters?

For about 20 years in Los Angeles I was into the BDSM scene. I worked for a time as a Dominatrix and understand the world and the mindset. Since personally I’m still very close to that community, I feel I can write about it. As for why I put the scenes in my books, I want my characters to be multi-dimensional. I’m not sure I can write just vanilla sex. I want to show that ordinary people can enjoy impact play, breath play, voyeurism and other kinks and it’s all perfectly fine if between consenting adults. I want my characters to explore different aspects of their personalities. None of my characters are just black and white. They all have gray areas and sexual secrets.
Another reason I incorporate BDSM into my stories in one form or another is to teach my readers that it is okay to feel. Whether it’s a feeling of titillation or curiosity or maybe realizing that what I’m showing doesn’t do anything for them, it at least got them to think about the possibilities and maybe expand what they want to try in their own lives.
Adam Coulter in the Coulter/Woodard series of books is a good example of how his past is intricately tied to the BDSM world. He uses it as a way to cope with the world around him and the abuse he has suffered in the past. It allows him to access various parts of himself that most of the time he has kept in check/hidden. He’s a Dom. Whether he shows up as a Power Bottom or as in his scene in Nightway Chant with Carlos which was a strictly non-sexual scene as a Dominant allowing Carlos to safely experience breath play. His husband, Eagle Woodard, doesn’t know the full extent of Adam’s history, but that might be something I’ll reveal in a short story sometime. I may even reveal whether or not Adam is Jonathon. Read Nightway Chant to understand this reference.

In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of incorporating BDSM scenes into books that are not dedicated to BDSM lifestyle right from the start?

The pros for me is that by incorporating BDSM scenes into a book that isn’t specifically dedicated to the BDSM lifestyle is that it normalizes the acts portrayed. Readers don’t feel the overwhelming danger or taboo. Instead they feel the love and excitement of the acts. Writing it into a story not dedicated to BDSM lets the readers explore their feelings about bondage, D/s, even mild masochism and sadism without feeling dirty or wrong. Or, at least, I hope it does. The Community gets a bad rap and half the job when people would question me about being a Dominatrix was educating them on what BDSM really means.
The cons is that the Community can be misrepresented. There is so much misinformation. Most readers think of it as whips and chains, black leather and pain, but there is an internal, psychological component that is rarely explored. There is a distinct difference between consensual and nonconsensual and some writers try to mask nonconsensual sex under the BDSM umbrella. Some writers blur that line. In the Coulter/Woodard series, I admit to blurring that line a bit, but I felt it was necessary for establishing the main characters’ evolving relationship.

What was the kinkiest scene you’ve ever written?

I haven’t finished writing the story yet, but it is actually a scene I was involved in many years ago. It made me sweat then and it makes me sweat now. It is a D/s scene involving someone who is just beginning to realize how much he enjoys submission and pain. No title yet.

Were there things you had to research?

Not really. Like I said, 20 years of experience in the Community and many years as a nurse (trust me, I know how to inflict pain without damaging people). My research is more likely to be about the psychological component than the acts. That being said, there have been a few kinks I’ve had to read up on since they weren’t requested often by my clients. Even now, I’m occasionally stumped. LOL.

Are there certain turn-ons you’d like to explore in your books and turn-offs you’d rather not write about for some reason?

Some of the things I loved employing in real life when I was working as a Dommé was humiliation, water sports (can’t count the number of men who like to be peed on or be forced to drink it). I loved to use a flogger and was very good with it. One day I will write a scene from the Dom’s point of view about how the flogger feels in his hand, how he creates the rhythm and movement that causes it to be as sensual and erotic for him as for the person being flogged. The reddening of the skin, the twitch of muscles that mesmerizes the person that is handling the flogger, but I digress.
I’ve already used breath play but I’d like to get more into it and will in the future. Sounding is something I want to depict in more detail. Biting (with or without drawing blood) is something I want to show more and get readers to think about what it means. Branding and/or scarring and the meaning they have in a SM relationship.
I also try to be medically accurate in my depictions, such as urine is sterile right out of the body, drinking it isn’t tasty, but it probably won’t harm you. On the other hand, licking someone’s feces covered cock after it’s been in someone’s ass can make you very sick. A responsible Dom would make sure his sub took antibiotics prophylactically before they started the scene if that was going to be part of it.
Turn-offs that I have a hard time with is consensual brutality. Some clients wanted that and I did it, but I didn’t enjoy it. Nonconsensual anything. Some scenes can seem nonconsensual but I’ll always have somewhere toward the end that there was consent involved. Um… not much else really. If the story or the character benefitted by some kink that crosses my personal hard limit, then I’d write about it, but I would emphasize that for this scene it was safe and consensual.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity. I love following you on Facebook. I enjoy reading followers comments and how you are so supportive of the BDSM Community.

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