Sex With Matt

February 13, 2011

How I Play

Filed under: Uncategorized — tornus @ 10:14 pm

“I need to see you naked
in your body and your thought”

– Leonard Cohen

Here’s my kink: I want to get inside your head. I want to power right through your defenses, grab the steering wheel, and take you for a ride.

I’m largely agnostic about what physical actions I perform to get there. Bondage? Impact? Fucking? I like all of those a lot, and I like to think I’m pretty good at all of them, but they aren’t my kink. They’re what I do to make my kink happen.

Regardless of what tools I use, my intention is to create a powerful enough experience that you have no choice but to go along for the ride. What ride, exactly? Perhaps the final destination is a screaming orgasm. Maybe it’s a sheer endorphin high. Maybe it’s humiliation. The point is that it’s intense, and that it’s overwhelming.

Given that focus, my play looks very different with different partners. Here are a couple of specific dynamics that have worked well for me:

Bondage + struggle + sensation
This is my go-to strategy when I don’t have a more specific destination in mind. I love futile struggle, and will often create bondage that gives my partner almost but not quite enough freedom to effectively resist me. As the scene progresses, my play becomes more intense and more invasive, which results in more vigorous struggle, which in turn requires more restrictive bondage.

Consensual non-consent / rape play
I particularly enjoy binding someone, slowly undressing them (perhaps with a knife), and violating them.

Psychological conflict and humiliation
I love playing with any kind of erotically-charged ambivalence. For example, one of my sex partners is a lesbian who is simultaneously turned on and repulsed by penises. From my perspective, that conflict is pure erotic gold.

What else?

  • I thrive on physical contact. Throwing a whip from across the room is fun, but sitting on someone’s chest and staring into their eyes while I hurt them is even better.
  • I don’t have sex with very many people, but I enjoy playing with sexual energy even within non-sexual relationships.
  • My play is fundamentally collaborative in nature. I like to arrive at a point where my partner is in no condition to make any kind of decision, but that happens within a context of partnership and collaboration.
  • D/s is a newly emerging interest and competency of mine. Over the next year or two, I expect that I will either decide that I like it and become good at it, or else decide that it’s not really my thing.
  • I love having my partner do something that’s challenging for them in order to please me. Sometimes the challenge is physical (say, sustaining a difficult bondage pose) and sometimes it’s mental (say, performing an embarrassing sexual act). Either way, it’s a gift that has a powerful emotional and erotic effect on me.

April 19, 2010

HPV (Human Papillomavirus)

Filed under: Uncategorized — tornus @ 7:43 pm

HPVHuman Papillomavirus

In Brief

Strains Over 100, of which over 30 are sexually transmitted
Symptoms Often asymptomatic
Cervical, anal, penile, and other cancers
Treatable / curable 90% of cases clear within two years with no intervention
Many cases are curable
Vaccine Yes, moderately effective
Testing Yes, but of limited usefulness
Prevalence 75% of adults contract HPV at some point during their lives
27% of adults are infected with HPV at any given time
Transmitted by Skin to skin contact, including indirectly via hands
Oral transmission is possible but less common
Probably not transmitted by fluids
Transmission rates Very highly transmissible. Exact transmission rates are unclear.
Protection Condoms probably provide significant protection
Gloves may provide limited protection

Tornus recommends

General practices If you can afford it, get vaccinated with Gardasil regardless of your age and sex.
Women: Get regular Pap tests. Consider asking for DNA testing for HPV at the same time.
Men who have sex with men: Consider getting regular anal Pap tests.
Safer sex Always use condoms for penetration.
Consider using gloves for all genital contact (not just penetration).
Consider being careful about casual non-penetrative genital contact.
Consider using condoms and dams for oral contact.
Also Maintain a sense of perspective. HPV is very transmissible, but it’s also very common
and usually not very severe.


HPV is the most widespread STD in the United States, with most sexually active individuals contracting at least one strain at some point in their lives. Most infections produce few if any symptoms and naturally disappear within 1 to 2 years. A significant minority of cases, however, produce significant symptoms, and some may persist indefinitely.

HPV spreads very efficiently and there are no reliable ways to prevent transmission.

Symptoms and progression

There are more than 100 known strains of HPV, over 30 of which are sexually transmissible. The sexually transmissible strains are distinct from the strains that cause warts elsewhere on the body.

Sexually transmitted strains are classified as either high-risk (can cause cancer but will not cause warts) or low-risk (do not cause cancer, but may cause warts). Two high-risk strains (16 and 18) are believed to be responsible for 70% of all cervical cancer, while two low-risk strains (6 and 11) are believed to be responsible for 90% of all genital warts.

Most infections are asymptomatic. In those that are symptomatic, initial symptoms may appear anywhere from weeks to years after the initial infection. Once symptoms have appeared, they often disappear and reappear in cycles.

In healthy individuals, 70% of infections naturally disappear within one year and 90% within two years. Up to 10% of cases may persist indefinitely, however. Once an individual has cleared an infection, they are usually immune to further infection by that particular strain of the virus, but they are still susceptible to infection by other strains. While an individual is infected, the infection can spread to new areas of their body.

Long-term HPV infections can ultimately lead to cancer, especially of the cervix, anus, and penis. These cancers typically take many years to develop and are highly treatable if caught early (typically by a Pap test). It appears that oral HPV infection can cause some head and neck cancers as well.

Men who have sex with men (MSM) have relatively very high rates of anal cancer (about 35 times the rate in the general population), probably because of exposure to HPV.


Two vaccines are available, both of which are highly effective against certain common strains of HPV. Neither vaccine provides complete protection, and neither provides any protection against existing infections.

Gardasil protects against HPV types 16 and 18 (which cause about 70% of all cases of cervical cancer), and types 6 and 11 (which cause about 90% of all cases of genital warts).

Cervarix protects against types 16 and 18, but not against types 6 and 11. Cervarix includes an additional adjuvant, which may increase the strength or duration of the protection it provides.

Both vaccines are given as three shots over six months.  A complete course costs between $350 and $500.

The vaccine is effective and approved for use in both men and women. The vaccine is most commonly given to women (who are at risk of cervical cancer) and gay men (who are at risk of penile and anal cancer).

The vaccine is currently only approved for use in individuals between the ages of 9 and 26, even though it appears to be safe and effective in older individuals. This decision is based largely on cost-effectiveness: it is believed that older individuals are likely to have had prior exposure to HPV, that they are less likely to contract new infections, and that new HPV infections in older women are less likely to progress to cervical cancer.

While the current recommendations may be appropriate from a public health perspective, it is my opinion that they are not appropriate for responsible individuals with multiple sexual partners. I strongly recommend that everyone get vaccinated with Gardasil, regardless of age, sex, or sexual history.

Testing and diagnosis

There are no generally available tests that can detect all strains of HPV.

The Pap test is a routine screening test that looks for pre-cancerous changes in the cervix. Widespread use of the Pap test is credited with dramatically reducing the number of deaths caused by cervical cancer in the US. All women who have had sex should have regular Pap tests, although the frequency of testing is the subject of some controversy.

For women, a DNA test is available which tests for the presence of high-risk HPV. This test is often administered at the same time as a Pap test. Although the test can identify the presence of high-risk HPV, it cannot identify which strains are present.

There are no approved tests for detecting high-risk HPV in men.

There has been increasing interest in recent years in giving MSM regular anal Pap tests. Although this seems like a reasonable strategy, there is insufficient data to say whether it is effective. One might speculate that anal Pap testing might also be appropriate for women with an extensive history of receptive anal intercourse.

Warts caused by low-risk HPV are generally diagnosed by visual inspection, sometimes with the use of acetic acid. This procedure is somewhat haphazard and cannot detect asymptomatic infections.


A variety of treatments are available. These are moderately effective at alleviating symptoms and clearing the infection, and probably reduce the risk of transmission.

Over the counter treatments for common and plantar warts are not appropriate for use on genital warts.


Unfortunately, there isn’t much definitive data about the transmission of HPV. What data does exist often has methodological issues that make it hard to make definitive statements about real-world transmission. However, it is possible to make some general observations.

HPV is very efficiently transmitted. Very few studies have attempted to quantify the rate of transmission, and none has produced definitive results. My best wild guess based on the very limited data available is that a heterosexual couple having regular unprotected sex for a year have a significantly greater than 50% chance of passing any given HPV strain from an infected partner to an uninfected one. It is possible that HPV spreads more efficiently from women to men than from men to women.

HPV transmission occurs via virus shed from the skin, not via fluids. It can affect the genitals, anal area, groin, and oral area, and can be spread when an infected area comes in contact with any susceptible area. It can also be transmitted indirectly. For example, an infected man is likely to have HPV on his fingertips. He may infect the surface of a condom while applying it, and the condom may subsequently infect his partner. Transmission has also been observed from casual, non-penetrative contact (for example, from a woman’s anus to her partner’s scrotum).

In men, the penile shaft appears to be the primary source of the virus, and in women the cervix appears to be the primary source.

It is likely that transmission is more efficient when the infected partner exhibits visible symptoms, and it is also likely that oral transmission is less efficient than genital transmission.

It is possible (and probably quite common) for HPV to spread from one site on a person’s body to others.

The data on the efficacy of condoms at preventing HPV transmission is very scant and somewhat contradictory. It is likely that they provide some protection, especially against the development of genital warts. My personal impression from reading the research is that while older studies and studies with poor methodology tend to find little benefit associated with condom use, more recent, high-quality studies have frequently found significant benefit. I’m afraid the jury is still out on this one, although it is clear that condoms do not provide anything like complete protection.

It is reasonable to assume that using gloves for genital contact will reduce the rate of HPV transmission, but there is no data to confirm this.

References and technical discussion that you probably don’t care about

If you’re old enough to be having sex, you’re old enough to know how to use Google and Wikipedia. Most of the facts in this document are well known and uncontroversial, and can be found in the excellent Wikipedia article on HPV, which includes extensive references. There are a few specific papers, however, that I want to comment on.

Transmission of human papillomavirus in heterosexual couples.
PMID 18507898
Hernandez et. al., June 2008

This fascinating paper examines the spread of HPV within monogamous heterosexual couples. The authors performed regular DNA testing of multiple sites on each subject, and observed the migration of specific HPV strains between partners and between sites on the same individual. What they found is that HPV spreads amazingly efficiently. They observed frequent events of transmission between partners via penetration, casual non-penetrative contact, indirect transmission via hands, and self-innoculation (i.e., transmission between different sites on the same person).

The study’s methodology makes it hard to calculate overall transmission rates because they focus on transmission events (i.e., spread of the virus from one site to another) and not on the initial infection of a previously uninfected individual. However, if you dig into the numbers, they found an overall male to female infection rate of 4.5% per month (58% per year) and a female to male infection rate of 13.7% per month (83% per year).

In addition, this study found a strong protective effect from condom use. Condoms were used always by 3% of the couples that experienced transmission and by 56% of the couples that did not experience transmission.

Finally, it’s worth noting that this study regularly detected HPV in the urine of male and female subjects, and in the semen of male subjects.

Do condoms prevent genital HPV infection, external genital warts, or cervical neoplasia?
A meta-analysis.

PMID 12438912
Manhart et. al., November 2002

There are a number of published studies that examine the efficacy of condoms in preventing HPV transmission, but this is the only meta-analysis that I’ve found. Studies of this subject tend to be hampered by substantial methodological problems, so the following data aren’t as definitive as one might like. Looking at the existing literature as of 2002, the authors found evidence that condoms provide significant protection (60% relative risk reduction) against the development of genital warts in both men and women, but no clear evidence that they reduce HPV infection as measured by DNA testing, or that they protect against cervical cancer and its precursors.

Genital Human Papillomavirus Infection: Incidence and Risk Factors in a Cohort of
Female University Students

PMID 12543621
Winer et. al., February 2003

Condom Use and the Risk of Genital Human Papillomavirus Infection in Young Women
PMID 16790697
Winer et. al., June 2006

It’s interesting to compare these two papers, written by the same investigators and looking at similar pools of subjects. The first paper found that “Always using male condoms with a new partner was not protective.” The second, paper, however, which was specifically focused on condom use and which used a much stronger methodology, found that condom use was highly protective against HPV infection. Women in the second study who always used condoms developed new HPV infections at a rate of 38% per year, whereas women who never used condoms developed new HPV infections at a rate of 89% per year.

It is my unproven belief that many of the studies that failed to find that condom use reduces HPV transmission had similar methodological flaws, and that condoms do in fact significantly reduce HPV transmission.

The first paper has some useful data about the spread of HPV via nonpenetrative sexual contact:

“Infection in virgins was rare, but any type of nonpenetrative sexual contact was associated with an increased risk. Detection of oral HPV was rare and was not associated with oral-penile contact. The data show that the incidence of HPV associated with acquisition of a new sex partner is high and that nonpenetrative sexual contact is a plausible route of transmission in virgins.”

“Of 72 virginal women reporting nonpenetrative sexual contact (and completing at least two visits), seven tested positive for HPV DNA (9.7 percent) whereas only one of 76 women(1.3 percent) reporting no such contact (and completing at least two visits) tested positive.”

March 19, 2010

What’s in my toy bag

Filed under: Uncategorized — tornus @ 12:48 pm

A couple of years ago, I wrote a long and ridiculously geeky post about exactly what I carry in my toy bag. That post was surprisingly popular, so I thought I’d update it to reflect what I’m currently carrying. Be warned that unless you’re a complete gearhead, the following will probably be profoundly uninteresting to you.

My toy bag

My bag is a 5.11 Tactical Range Ready bag. It’s just barely small enough to navigate a crowded dungeon with, and just barely big enough to hold all the stuff I like to carry with me. I haven’t weighed it, but I’d guess that it’s somewhere North of 30 pounds.
I like to have a standard load-out that includes everything I need for most of my scenes. That way, I don’t spend a lot of time unpacking and repacking my bag, and I always know exactly where to find everything. Figuring out what to carry is a challenge, as my scenes vary from public performances of elaborate rope suspension to impact and resistance play.

360' of hemp rope

The main compartment of the bag is for rope. My primary rope these days is Twisted Monk’s hemp, in the ridiculously pretty crimson color. I use 8mm for my primary body harnesses when I’m doing suspension, and 6mm for everything else. I carry:

  • 8 x 15′ lengths of 6mm
  • 2 x 30′ lengths of 6mm
  • 6 x 30′ lengths of 8mm

150' of regatta braid

In addition to the hemp, I carry some of New England Ropes’ Regatta Braid in 6mm. I use this for all my vertical lines during suspensions. I prefer the regatta braid because of its superior strength (6mm regatta is more than three times stronger than 8mm hemp) and because it’s less susceptible to wear, decay, and rot. It’s also more slippery, which is useful when making ad-hoc pulley systems. Because it’s more slippery, it does require more care with knot-tying.

The outside of an elk

Also in the main compartment is an elk hide that I use as a ground cover whenever I’m working on the floor, or at the end of a suspension. It provides a clean, comfortable place for my bottom to rest, and it has the added bonus of smelling nice.

Restraints and other goodies

The main compartment has two small pockets along its sides. They hold:

  • A double-sided leather slapper.
  • A pair of very nice little chopstick-style nipple clamps.
  • A pair of Smith and Wesson lever-lock handcuffs. I keep these in a nylon belt case with a spare handcuff key tied to it.
  • Four nylon cuffs that I made a few years back. They’re very lightweight, comfortable, and versatile, although I’ve been meaning to overhaul the design to make them more comfortable under heavy load.

Stuff I wear

The front of the bag has two large compartments. The one on the left is for stuff that I wear whenever I’m doing a suspension.
My primary cutting tool is a Benchmade Rescue Hook 5, which I wear tied to my belt loop. It’s smaller than a pair of safety shears and cuts better.
I use Petzl William Ball Lock carabiners because of their large size and because they’re autolocking and fast to open. I carry six of these on the back rail of my tactical pants.
For attaching vertical lines to body harnesses, I use small climbing slings. They’re easier to slide under tight ropes than carabiners, and they’re more versatile.

My top rig

The other front compartment is for my top rig. My standard configuration is:

  • An Omega Pacific Standard ISO Locking D carabiner
  • Doubled 24″ Mammut Contact Slings
  • Another D carabiner
  • A Petzl rescue swivel
  • Another D carabiner
  • A large Petzl Paw rigging plate with five of the Williams carabiners

I use the rigging plate and carabiners instead of a standard suspension ring because they do a better job of keeping my vertical lines organized and separated.

Please return to Tornus

There’s a third compartment on the end of the bag which has a handy card holder.

Intimate toys

This compartment is for more intimate toys.

  • A black bandana has all kinds of uses.
  • A 6′ stretchy scarf from American Apparel is surprisingly versatile. It’s thin enough to breathe through, and it makes a great blindfold or head support.
  • A fitted blindfold.
  • A pair of versatile clamps for nipples and other sensitive bits.
  • A silicone ball gag.
  • A o-ring gag.
  • A sealed container keeps dust off the gags.

All kinds of good stuff

The back of the bag has a large flat compartment that’s handy for carrying a range of smaller toys. It also has a little free space for adding toys for a particular scene. This compartment was originally meant for carrying pistol magazines, and the magazine pouches are a great way to organize small items.

All kinds of good stuff up close

This compartment holds:

  • A medium-weight Bare Leatherworks flogger in buffalo hide. As with all of my impact toys, I’ve replaced the hanging loop with a distinctive cord to make it easier to identify.
  • A Tazapper from Toy’s toys. This is easily my favorite electrical toy.
  • A Fenix L1D flashlight. Tiny and very bright, handy for finding lost items in a dark dungeon as well as for handling power failures.
  • A stupidly sharp Benchmade Griptilian knife.
  • A Little Devil electrical toy.
  • Condoms, gloves, and lube.
  • A card case with lots of my cards (and a few of Max’s).

It's important to keep your bottom's mouth nice and moist

The other end of the bag has a small compartment and a drinking bottle holder. I use a stainless steel drinking bottle that won’t spill if it’s knocked over and is short enough to put a straw in.
I also keep an extra extra handcuff key tied to this end of the bag.

Hair and bits bondage

The small compartment has drinking straws (useful when your bottom’s tied up at an odd angle) and gear for tying up hair and bits:

  • 4mm hemp in assorted lengths.
  • Hair ties.
  • A couple of leather thongs.
  • A steel ring for hair bondage.
  • A pair of safety shears, as a backup cutting tool.

January 9, 2010

Beyond service topping

Filed under: Uncategorized — tornus @ 12:12 am

I’ve been a busy boy for the last two years. I’ve played with a lot of new people, I’ve learned a lot of new skills, and I’ve had a lot of fun. Along the way, I’ve undergone a fairly profound transformation as a kinkster. Among other things, I no longer consider myself to be primarily a service top.

Service topping is a somewhat misunderstood and unfairly maligned undertaking. In my experience, there are three main types of service topping:

The first and purest form of service topping consists of doing exactly what the bottom asks for. I’m sure this is very nice, but I haven’t done much of it.

The second form focuses exclusively on meeting the bottom’s needs. In part because of my involvement with Suspended Animation, I’ve done a great deal of this. I take a newbie, try to figure out what they’re interested in, and then do something to them that I think they’ll like. I’m generally the one making all the decisions, but the point of the exercise is for them to have a good time. This is tremendous fun and deeply rewarding, but it doesn’t really scratch my play itch.

The third and most subtle form of service topping relies on the bottom to provide the drive for the scene. For most of my early kinking, I was in this mode. I was fortunate enough to be partnered with Silver, who in addition to being a wonderful partner, has a very strong and specific play focus. (For all you pervs, the very short version is that she likes to be tied up and slowly undressed and violated). My basic play strategy was pretty simple: I got really good at doing the specific things that Silver liked, and I derived much of my satisfaction during play from riding her energy and enjoyment.

There’s a lot to be said for making your partner happy, but as I began playing with other partners, I discovered that that by itself isn’t enough.

In part, I came to realize that my approach to play was rather lazy. I was relying on my partners to have a strong, well-articulated play focus, and I was relying on them to bring the spark to our play. If they provided that, I could do a great job of grabbing the ball and running with it. But when they didn’t, the result was often a memorably flat and uninspiring scene.

The other problem was that I wasn’t doing a good job of meeting my own needs. I originally believed that my satisfaction came primarily from giving my partners a good time, and that if I chose activities that they liked, our play was bound to be satisfying to both of us. In essence, my negotiation was focused on answering the question “what can I do that will make you happy?”

It turns out, though, that while making my partner happy is critically important to me, it isn’t enough. In order for play to satisfy me at the deepest level, I also need to get inside my partner’s head and take control of them for a while. I remain relatively agnostic about how I do that: so long as I’m able to reduce my partner to incoherent moaning, I’m happy to get there by hitting them or tying them up or embarrassing them. It is perhaps fair to say that my negotiation is now focused on answering two questions: “what can I do that will make you happy?” and “what can I do that will make you whimper?”

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