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"But I was talking about the electroshocks. Truth is, of course, that things are never as bad as they seem. The worse we can imagine never happens. We can tolerate a great deal more than we think we can, if we only garner the strength of our wills and minds to do so."

Electricity and Piercing
by Jack Rinella

Author's Warning: This column describes activity that some may find offensive. Please do not read it if you are bothered by the application of electroshock or the intrusion of skin by needles.

The title of this column says what it is about. What it doesn't tell the reader is that this is just as much a study in perception as it is in technique.

I have used a violet wand on occasion. Once or twice I've used a tans unit to apply a shock to sensitive parts of a guy's body. I've done temporary piercing once or twice to slaves who were at my service and disposal. None of those activities are really erotic turn ons for me. Frankly, I have only limited experience with either mode of torture/pain/pleasure administration.

Those who know me will attest to the fact that I seldom pass up the opportunity to get a bit of experience, to learn more about myself, my tolerances, and various methods of stimulation. I therefore used this scene as an opportunity to learn about myself.

I went with the flow. I didn't really have much choice, as the session was ordered for me and submitting to the orders seemed like the best and only way through the session. Resistance would provide no solution and probably complicate things enormously.

I reported last Wednesday as instructed. I have to give them credit as to the layout of the scene. The room was sterile, quiet, and non-obtrusive. It was hard to find. There wasn't anything fancy about it. The bed I was to lay on was simple and utilitarian. The electroshock generator next to it was impressive, full of buttons and knobs. It even had a video screen of some sort for watching the victim's (my!) reaction. Some one had spared no expense to achieve his goals.

He was dressed like a doctor. After all, this was a medical scene and he obviously wanted to have an air of professionalism. He introduced himself and was friendly enough, but didn+t volunteer anything personal, intimate, or sexual. For my part, I kept a "wait and see" attitude. There wasn't much else to do, especially since I wanted to get the full benefit of what was going to happen.

The "doctor" asked me if I understood what was happening and did I know anything about the nervous system's reaction to electricity. I told him that I did. Still, throughout the session, he was quick to tell me what he was doing and to prepare me for the impending sensations. He was obviously trying to make me feel relaxed. I knew I could trust him and that there wouldn't be any permanent damage.

My previous experiences, as observer (I've seen these scenes before), as top, and as bottom (a rare event!) had sufficiently prepared me. I knew that most of the difficulty in this kind of activity was in the anticipation. Like the dread of a dentist, the actual experience is never as bad as one can imagine.

Really, fear is a more powerful pain inducer than most actions. Go through the motions of striking a naked, bound slave on the genitals without actually touching him or her and you will get just as sudden and violent a reaction as if you had pounded the hell out of him or her. Granted that the effect doesn't last as long but it does prove that dread is mean master.

A great deal of the angst experienced in SM is mental. How we intellectually perceive and deal with any specific event determines to a great extent how we feel about it.

I recently had the good fortune to tour a museum of recovered sunken treasure. The gold doubloons, bars, and silver ingots were worth millions. There were hundreds of recovered artifacts and pieces of jewelry, devotional items such as crosses and medallions, household goods, ship's gear. As I viewed the remains of the Spanish galleon, it was obvious that I could focus on the wealth or on the lost lives of the men, women , and children who had drowned as the world's greatest sea treasure sunk to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. That is the flexibility of our mind: to change feelings and perceptions, albeit sometimes with difficulty, but still, at will, to see them differently.

But I was talking about the electroshocks. Truth is, of course, that things are never as bad as they seem. The worse we can imagine never happens. We can tolerate a great deal more than we think we can, if we only garner the strength of our wills and minds to do so.

He began his procedure, attaching small electrode-ended wires to my wrist and neck. Then he picked up a small plastic and metal instrument with two inch-long prongs sticking out of one end. "You'll feel this", he said, as he shocked my right arm. It stung and my arm jerked in a spastic reaction.

Quietly and deliberately, he did his "thing". Without emotion, without hesitation, without malice or spite, he applied the pain inducing electricity, keeping me under his control with his voice and his steadfast, no-nonsense demeanor. Again and again his hi-tech instrument stung me.

He inserted needle tipped wires here and there and put that pulse-generating machine on my arm, hands, and shoulders. He knew what he was doing. The pain was tolerable.

I certainly felt the tips of metal invade me. He inserted them quickly and expertly. They didn't even draw blood, though he was careful to prevent infection by using an antiseptic and wearing surgical gloves. My mind able to get past it all. The session was over in a relative short period of time.

Now if you've disregarded the warning in the first paragraph and have read thus far, what are your perceptions? your feelings? Does the hint of sadism excite you? Is the scene repulsive? Incredible? Insane? Would you like to try it? Would you like to do it to someone? or have it done to you? Would you like to buy a video of it? Or is such an idea so outlandish, so abhorrent as to be disgusting? Should such "play" be outlawed? Is it too kinky? too brutal? too stupid?

It's a matter of perception, isn't it?. Like previous electric and piercing scenes, there wasn't a sexual component to the event. If you know my writing style at all, you've probably even seen the truth behind my story. This is no account of leather men at play. It is a vague but accurate description of a half hour I spent in a local hospital having my left arm tested for possible nerve damage. (The prognosis is very good, so don+t fret on that account. And I did not hurt it while having sex!)

I'm sorry if you were looking for some voyeuristic and arousing description of torture and brutality. That's not part of the doctor's repertoire. I was "ordered to report" by my physician, and the man with the machine was a medical doctor himself. I told this story to make a point.

I wrote that I was interested in a new mode of "torture/pain/pleasure" administration. Notice the juxtaposition of those three words. The electricity and the needles are neutral. In themselves they are neither good nor evil. Yet they can be instruments of incredible torture, reasonable and sometimes necessary pain, or even pleasure. How different would this scenario had been if it were a concentration camp instead of a hospital, or a private basement playroom in a leather person+s home?

I often mention the phenomena of "altered states". Parallel with them of course are altered perceptions: the ability to see beyond or through what may or may not appear to our senses. Only when we can recognize the filters that flood our lives, that color our knowing, will we find ways to see beyond our limited sight and thereby gain true insight.

I still don't know much about electrify and piercing. That's why I leave such things to the experts. But I will open myself to learn and to grow, for behind every cloud is that lining, and not every kick in the ass is in the wrong direction.

Copyright 1993 by Jack Rinella. This material may not be copied in any manner. For permission to reproduce this essay, contact

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