Today I’m going to cover a tough topic. Oh, it’s not tough in concept–it’s easy to think about or imagine. However, unless you and your partner both have the right personalities and attitude, it’s often tough to actually do. That topic is role-playing.

For BDSM purposes, role-playing means that you and/or your partner pretend to be someone else, someone besides who you really are. You act out a fantasy together, often a fantasy that is wildly different than your reality, which involves dominance and submission, bondage, spanking or other BDSM activities that both appeal to you and seem to fit in. The easiest way to grasp the concept is to imagine that you and your partner are acting out a scene from a movie or play together, and each of you has assumed the role of one of the characters in the movie.

The scene you decide to act out could be anything. Generally it’s something you make up yourself, so the only limits are the boundaries of your imagination. Examples of ideas for scenes include such things as:

  • A pirate captain who decides to ravish the prisoner he has taken
  • A driver who gets pulled over for speeding and will do anything–anything–to avoid a ticket
  • A spaceship pilot is taken captive by an alien (if you’re into hentai, perhaps it’s an alien with tentacles) looking to mate
  • A spy must be “tortured” to get the secret information out of them

You get the drift. Coming up with scene ideas is easy, and if you don’t have any luck thinking of something on your own, just peruse a few movies or books and something will come to mind. However, it’s not really the idea that’s the hard part. In this case, it’s the implementation of that idea that’s difficult.

The problem is with achieving “suspension of disbelief”. Have you ever watched a movie and thought to yourself right in the middle, “This is stupid. Why would that guy do this?” When this happens, you have stopped believing in whatever action or situation the movie depicts for you, and it ruins the movie. The best movies, and the best scenes, are the ones where you can immerse yourself, where you can forget reality for awhile and believe that you really are in whatever reality the movies portrays.

Imagine that you and your partner are trying to act out the pirate scene above. If your efforts consist of saying “Arrgh!” a lot and waving around a plastic sword while your partner tugs against the silk scarves that bind them, chances of achieving “suspension of disbelief” are pretty much nil. Chances of achieving hysterical laughter are substantially higher, and while it’s always good to laugh together, I don’t think that’s what you had in mind when you planned this out.

A real movie has a lot of things going for it that you don’t. It’s got professional actors, who have studied immersing themselves in a role for years, and who have memorized a detailed script written by professional writers. It’s got realistic-looking props and a set that at least bears a resemblance to reality, and a soundtrack with music edited in to reinforce the mood or atmosphere. And most of all it has the magic of the camera itself, that can make unreality appear very real indeed. Unless you are Johnny Depp reading this post, you’ve got none of these things. Instead, you’ve got a back bedroom for a set, a partner who works in an office five days a week, and maybe a few props you picked up at the dollar store. Achieving “suspension of disbelief” in the pirate scenario is going to be a daunting task.

I’m not saying it can’t be done…if you have the right partner, the right attitude, and you, yourself, are able to put yourself into the reality you’re trying to create, it’s certainly possible. I am saying, however, that it’s hard, hard enough that I have to confess that I couldn’t do it. I am a fan of role playing, but I couldn’t pull off this particular trick with any degree of success.

For this reason, I recommend that you choose scenarios that are closer to reality. The closer to reality you are, the easier it is to suspend disbelief. If you think about it, this is obvious–when you’re pretty close to reality, there’s not much un-reality available to disbelieve in the first place! Of the four scenarios I listed above, I’d suggest that the speeding ticket idea is really the only one that could easily be acted out, as it’s a situation that just about anyone can picture themselves in. Moreover, it’s possible that whoever plays the speeder could simply be themselves–the only one who has to play a role is the partner who plays the police officer. And if you think about it, what props do you need for this particular scenario? Hopefully you already have the handcuffs!

This is the principle that I usually try to follow when role playing with Joy. Just thinking back over the past few months, we’ve played out scenes in which:

  • I’ve lost Joy in a poker game, and she had to give herself to the winner(s)
  • I invited a friend (who Joy has a crush on) over and allowed him to dominate her
  • Joy had to seduce a guard to distract him so that I could escape from prison
  • This last one was the biggest stretch. Although Joy was able to play herself, it required me to play two different roles, and it was difficult to establish two different characters in any believable way. It was the least successful, though I have to confess that it was fun to experience seduction by Joy!

    I heartily endorse role playing in BDSM. It allows you and your partner to experience situations you never will in real life. It can also serve to let you “try out” situations in fantasy before taking any steps to implement them in reality. But bear in mind the requirement to be able to suspend disbelief when you consider role playing a scenario. Especially at first, leave the spaceships and aliens alone–maybe, after some experience, you can consider coming back to them if that’s really your fantasy. But for the moment, stay closer to home. The closer to reality your scenario is, the easier it will be to pull off. You’ll have to do less work, and you’ll be more likely to be successful.

    Enjoy yourself!

    Jake

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