Pilot: An Interview with Pittsburgh’s S&M Culture

The following interview was conducted by columnist Hayley Woodlam, and adapted in Dom De Plume as ‘The Interview,” and “SESSION 1: An Adaption of Real-Life Doming in Pittsburgh’s S&M Underground.”

FALL 2016 — (Hill) Pittsburgh PA

HAYLEY WOODLAM: Hi. Buttercup, right?

BUTTERCUP: Yes. Hi

HW: Thank you for doing this interview with me. Is Buttercup the name you want to go by? Can I call you something different?

(I noticed I made her immediately uncomfortable with this question. Buttercup shifted in her unpadded wooden chair and looked across her shoulder before she answered my question.)

BUTTERCUP: My name is Ally, but you can call me Buttercup. I’d rather you call me Buttercup.

HW: Okay. Is that short for Allison?

BC: Alabama. But call me Buttercup.

(Buttercup lit a cigarette and readjusted.)

HW: Okay.

Buttercup, can you tell me about life here on The Hill with The Club?

BC: It’s a little different for all of us. And I’m [the] new girl, so you know, I’m still adjusting. This is the first smoke I’ve had in a week. Everyone is watching you here. I never shower alone; it’s perfect here.

HW: Perfect?

BC: Yeah. That was a joke. But I do mean it when I say it’s perfect here. Let me tell you about my first session.

(Buttercup stubbed out her cigarette, half-finished on the floor.)

SESSION 1:

IDIE: “You will suffer.”

Buttercup shifted uncomfortably and tugged at the lace of the lingerie crawling up her thigh when Idie said those words. Buttercup was sitting along her right leg on the floor across from a Idie, who was sitting in an armchair. She assumed it was a knock-off of something fancy, laden with leather and studs.

Later, she revealed that it was Idie’s dark tone that made her uncomfortable, not the phrase itself. These were words she knew well: they were at the top of the application she submitted to join the Club.

Orientation for new subs is just like any other aspect of the S&M Club life-style on The Hill. It is rooted in a bizarre experimental philosophy that I still know little about, and a rote process for the more experienced subs in charge of this rare occasion. It takes place as a Q&A in a cold and dimly lit study. Buttercup later informed me that when a sub is given a position of power over new subs, they are expected to abuse the privilege in order to be punished for it later.

BUTTERCUP: does he care about us at all?

IDIE: Yes. He has to. He pays close attention to everything about us, from how we look to how we are feeling. We give up watching out for our own well being, and judging ourselves, without actually abandoning these natural inclinations. Since we get to step away from dealing with the ups and downs of our self-reflections, he has to be the one to respond to our limits for us.

BC: So one day I won’t feel jealous, or envious, or insecure?

Idie slowly leaned down to Buttercup so she could see directly down her blouse, her platinum strands danced above her nearly naked breasts intentionally. She wore the same lacy lingerie as Buttercup, but it hung from her pale lithe figure like a tailored gown. In that moment, Buttercup was reminded of Idie’s own experiences with her Dom, and was surprised with what she addressed: jealousy, envy, and her insecurities. Idie was taking advantage, and using her heightened position to drive the point home.

IDIE: No Buttercup, it doesn’t work like that. One day you will decide how you want to feel — jealousy, envy, and insecurity aside. You’ll learn to step away from your concerns while you’re here. You’ll become bigger than your feelings, and get more from that empowerment than you ever did from playing into those anxieties. Or, at the very least you get to discover your limits.

BC: I have to wonder. Is the Dom just taking advantage of this whole situation? Like it’s just for his pleasure and not some…something else at all?

Idie laughed a gorgeous incredulous laugh. I remember hearing it once before myself, and feeling immediately pulled into the energy of it. It was loud and sultry, it was magnetic and drew me to her. But to Buttercup in this moment, it was frightening. Has she been tricked? Are these people — is her new Dom, whom she has come to adore already, just out to gratify a base desire at her expense?

IDIE: Yes, and get used to it. He is meant to take advantage of you and any situation you allow yourself to be apart of here on The Hill. Believe me he is absolutely giddy about indulging in those big dark eyes, that short dark pixie cut, those supple tits and swaying hips of yours.

Idie took a long drag from her cigarette. Her tone advanced into a caustic one. Buttercup sensed that something was going on here. That Idie was trying to manipulate her. Was it a test? was she trying to scare her away?

IDIE: Theres nothing in it for you. He’s going to reduce you to a win, a duped over girl he can laugh about after getting his fill of that tight little butt of yours bouncing off his….

BC: Okay stop! This has nothing at all to do with why I’m here, does it? If he is paying close attention to how I’m feeling I have to say I won’t feel great about that.

IDIE: I didn’t say he was going to respond to your feelings the way you want him to, he’s going to respond to your feelings the way you need him to.

BC: He could get it wrong.

IDIE: His pleasure is your pleasure. And your emotional blithering is nothing until you decide to let it be something. It is too simple to get wrong. He doesn’t care about how your emotions are going to affect you because your emotions can’t actually hurt you. He will be relying on you to be a sub — to ignore your petty feelings and to listen to his commands during sessions. You can’t learn to rely on his joy for your own if you don’t get pissed off and frustrated in the first place. That will be part of it, and sex will be part of it, also, not all of it. Get it?

Idie shifted in her chair and Buttercup began to reciprocate for comfort.

IDIE: Don’t you fucking dare. Your discomfort is going to be your best reminder to correct your thinking, to re-focus on your Dom’s pleasure. How is he feeling? How much enjoyment is he experiencing when he sends you to your knees, could you hit the ground a little harder to remind yourself better? This is about an experience, not a romp.

BC: So if I do that right, he’ll stay my Dom and keep teaching me? I do want all of that, I want the full experience, mentally, physically!

IDIE: The more you screw up and get punished, the more time he’ll be spending with you and the more you’ll learn. You’ll learn how to like the punishments , how to want them, and how to get them the right way; you always follow his commands during a session or just bow out entirely. Be clever in how you earn your punishments.

Idie lit another cigarette and sat back in her chair, legs crossed away from Buttercup.

IDIE: Some day you may be lucky enough to learn how to wear your feelings during these sessions, like a shirt you pulled from your closet. But until then, embrace a fetish for pleasing him with your pain because you will… always be suffering.

Idie and Buttercup both smiled with amusement at the motto. It was a fun one.

IDIE: You know have chores to do before your meeting with The Dom tonight.

Buttercup hesitated for a moment, it almost sounded like a question not a statement. But she stood up and began walking quickly toward the broom closet. Then, in mid step she hesitated again stopping to think, tugging at her lacy shoulder strap in contemplation. Maybe to second-guess her commitment.

Buttercup looked back over her shoulder at Idie.

BC: Idie, how bad do you think my punishment will be if I skip these chores, or if I was running late?

Idie exhaled with feigned irritation and stubbed out her cigarette.

Buttercup smiled. She turned around and walked back over to her spot on the floor, slowly, and sat back down. The floor was warm now.

BUTTERCUP: Idie, tell me about how you got here.

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