By Alexa Day
We’ve spent a great deal of the last few days celebrating Fifty Shades. I cannot in good conscience join that celebration. My consistently negative feelings about Fifty Shades — both the portion of the book that I struggled to read and the movies I have no intention of seeing — are well documented here on the blog. But today, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I have chosen to offer you a more gentle, generous message.
You can do better. You can do much better.
Take Bridget Midway. Her Fascination Street was one of the very first kinky romances I ever read. It’s more of a swinging romance than a BDSM story, although it’s Bridget’s first book featuring characters who are into BDSM. Still, it doesn’t look like many of today’s BDSM romances. There are no billionaires. There are no ingenues. There are no sex clubs (but there is absolutely an orgy). Fascination Street is the story of a couple discovering that their new home in the suburbs comes with some very kinky neighbors. It’s also an interracial romance, the first BDSM romance I’d ever read with a black heroine.
Woman In Chains features a Dominant hero who rescues a submissive from an abusive Dom. When the story opens, the heroine, Brea, has been so badly abused that she won’t even use her own name. Watching her find her way out of the darkness with her rescuer, Dakota, is pretty powerful stuff.
I got to interview Bridget about her sexy stories, where BDSM romance is headed, and whether BDSM’s chains and power exchange are especially loaded for black kinksters. I definitely learned a thing or two from our conversation.
AD: With Fascination Street, you showed us that kinky people could literally be the couple next door, and with Woman in Chains, I absolutely love the way you portrayed hero Doms and villainous ones, to show readers what these relationships should and should not look like. (I consider both of them seminal works, by the way.) Is BDSM romance doing enough to draw the line between good relationships and bad ones? Does BDSM romance have any responsibility to do that?
BM: All romance fiction should highlight what a great relationship is for that couple. (Emphasis Alexa’s.) What works for one person may not work for another. Belle in Beauty and the Beast desired the Beast more than Gaston, but I’m sure some woman out there wanted Gaston. The goal of BDSM romance fiction should be to represent the Lifestyle honestly.
A: Do you think that we, as erotic romance authors, are sacrificing the tenets of safe, sane, consensual to achieve more popularity? I think erotic romance has always been a little larger than life, but do you think that we’re going beyond the unrealistic into the dangerous? Do we have a mandate to educate, or at least to be responsible, in our portrayal of BDSM?
B: In all fiction, authors push the boundaries of reality to create a fantasy that will make readers fall in love with love and with the characters. I can only speak about my writing style and my goals. I stay in the boundaries of portraying safe, sane, and consensual BDSM relationships. However, there’s more to a BDSM relationship than safe, sane, and consensual. Trust is paramount. It’s the bedrock of any good BDSM relationship. I’ll shake the characters up by making them question the trust they have between each other.
A: What would you say to black kinksters and the kink-curious who may be torn between curiosity and the powerful cultural implications of the power exchange, the whip/chain/restraint trappings of BDSM? Is BDSM different for black practitioners?
B: Although I write BDSM, I’m not personally in the Lifestyle. However, I have learned about the Lifestyle from people in the Lifestyle for more than twelve years. The very first time I went to a munch, which is a lunch that includes a demonstration, the Domme who taught me about the Lifestyle taught me one very important thing. BDSM is about sensations. Some people like a harder sensation than others. Some may want to be spanked, caned or flogged. Some may want dirty talk or tickling or mummification. No matter the kink, people who are involved in the Lifestyle are doing it for themselves and no one else, unless your thing is being an exhibitionist. If it is, you still wouldn’t care what anyone thinks. A person of color who enjoys being tied down or whipped should want it because it’s what they desire and it’s consensual. That’s the most important thing.
A: Do you feel any kind of a way about Fifty Shades?
B: When the books first came out and there was a definite buzz about them, readers contacted me and asked me what I thought about them. At the time, I hadn’t heard of the series or the author. So I went on the author’s website to check out what she was all about. In her Frequently Asked Questions page, she admitted that she did all of her BDSM research online. After that, I discounted everything in the series and the movies.
BDSM is a real lifestyle with participants doing it all over the world. At the time I learned, I lived in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I didn’t even think where I lived that there was even a local BDSM group. I thought the closest I could get would be D.C. or Maryland. I did a search online and found a group that welcomed me to their meetings and have been so supportive about everything I have done, from book releases to in-person events. So for that reason, the Fifty Shades of Grey author had absolutely no excuse for not going out and meeting people from the Lifestyle to get a real, honest perspective. People can and do lie online all the time. When you get in a room with someone who is getting flogged or see a rigger hoist someone in the air with ropes or watch needles piercing someone’s skin and hearing their reaction, you collect sensational memories that you can translate into compelling fiction. I heard what it sounded like for a paddle to strike flesh. I smelled the wax during wax play. I’ve felt different types of canes and floggers. I have swung a paddle and flogger, and struck someone before. For that reason, I hope readers find me credible when they read my work.
A: I want to hear all about Royal Pains! How long have you been putting on an annual event? Why did you start? What do you hope to accomplish each year?
B: Ah, “2017 Royal Pains with Bridget Midway and Friends”. To be honest, and you may find this hard to believe, I’m painfully shy. I don’t mind absorbing into a background and being an observer. On the flip side of that, I do enjoy talking to readers and talking about books. About five years ago, author Yvette Hines put on an in-person event in Virginia Beach. She invited other local authors, including me, to participate. I saw how much fun it was, and asked her if she wanted to partner to do a joint event that focused on BDSM. I had never heard of a BDSM author event at that time, and I had been to plenty of BDSM conventions like Leather Flea Market Fair, Leather Fet and Fetish Fair Flea Market. I wanted to marry the two concepts.
In 2013, Yvette and I put on an event called “Wrapped Up” and wrote complementing books in a series about brothers who were both Dominants and owned a candy shop. My book was called Licorice Whips. I invited a couple of people in the Lifestyle to talk about what it is that they do, and they did an actual scene for the attendees.
To put on an event is a lot of work. So I waited a couple of years, and then in 2015, author Adrienne Kama and I put on another BDSM event called “Kickin’ It”. In that one, I had even more folks in the Lifestyle there and they answered questions and did some interactive activities with them.
I was exhausted after that event and hadn’t planned on putting on another one. When the people in the Lifestyle came up to me at the end of the “Kickin’ It” event and said, “You are going to do this again, and we will be here for you”, I knew I had to put on another event. It was fun and so informative.
My goal is to educate and entertain. I want people to take the fantasy of what they think BDSM is out of their heads and look at something real. And I want them to see and hear from people that I lean on for my BDSM teachings. And if I sell a book or two, that’s icing on the cake.
A: What are you working on right now?
B: Right now I’m working on the fourth book in the Love series, which is called Addicted to Love. That series has been about BDSM in reality TV settings. The first book, Love My Way, was about a Dominant trying to find a submissive through a reality TV show. The second book, Slave To Love, is about a submissive trying to find her Dominant through a reality TV show. In that book, there were two characters in there that “spoke” to me. I wanted to explore their stories. The hero was a contestant on the show who doesn’t talk. And the heroine is a bubbly submissive. Truth be told, this is the most difficult book I have ever written. But I can’t back away from a challenge. I want to get his story told.
A: I want that story told, too!
I am so, so grateful to Bridget for spending some time with me and Lady Smut! If you’re down with what Bridget is saying (and I definitely am), check her out on Facebook. Every morning, she posts up some smoking hot imagery in the run-up to Royal Pains. I especially enjoy the femdom photos. Yes, ma’am! If you want to join the party at Royal Pains — and I agree with Bridget that watching a scene from inside the room far surpasses anything you’re going to see on the Internet — head over to Bridget’s site. When she and I spoke, there were only 14 spots left, and they are going very quickly.
And this is an excellent time to follow Lady Smut. You’re just in time for the Kama Sutra giveaway! Just subscribe to our newsletter for a chance to win.
Happy Valentine’s Day!