In the second part of her series on the risqué side of Swindon, LIZ MACKLEY meets lifestyle dominatrix Aemilia Hawk...
THE UK is the kinkiest country in the world, according to lifestyle dominatrix Aemilia Hawk, and Swindon is no exception.
The 36-year-old, who also runs her own online business selling chainmail jewellery and leather floggers, is one of the leading teachers in Kimbach – a particular type of Japanese rope bondage.
She even keeps a rope suspension rig in her office to play with whenever the mood takes her.
She said: “Britain is kinkier than any country I know. But we’re closet kinks. The rest of the world is liberated, but we’re prudish. You can lose your job for it.
“It’s probably more popular here because it’s taboo.”
Aemilia hopes that as more and more BDSM related products – from handcuffs and floggers to novels like the immensely popular Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James – enter the mainstream commercial market, understanding of the practice will grow and be more widely accepted.
She said: “It’s already in the mainstream.
“Ann Summers sell BDSM items. I wouldn’t say they’re particularly good BDSM items and it’s not at all like what I sell, but it’s in the mainstream. People just don’t like to admit it.
“I think one day it will be more accepted. It’s already much more accepted in Europe and it’s already becoming mainstream in the UK. I just think it will take a little while longer and for more people to understand.”
BDSM refers to a variety of interpersonal, sometimes erotic practices involving two or more people for pleasure and recreation, including dominance and submission, role-playing, restrain and bondage, and other dynamics.
In popular culture, it is widely regarded as highly sexual, but for Aemilia, whose partner does not enjoy or take part in BDSM practices, it has absolutely nothing to do with sex.
She said: “BDSM stands for a number of different practices that include bondage and discipline, sadism and masochism and submission and dominance.
“It has absolutely nothing to do with sex.
“Even pro-doms – professional dominants who sell their services, they don’t offer sex because that takes away their power and control. They also don’t really do BDSM. That’s mainly fetishes, like dressing up in uniforms or wearing latex.
“My girlfriend knows what I like to do and doesn’t mind it. She tried it but it just didn’t do anything for her and she didn’t really like it.
“I have a code of etiquette and morality. A lot of people on the scene do. Obviously if it was about sex, it would be cheating. So that’s completely off limits.”
One of the main reasons why many people disapprove of the lifestyle is the perceived association with abuse, with many assumptions that flogging someone, or wishing to inflict pain and then administering it, is tantamount to assault.
But Aemilia clarifies that setting out to inflict unwelcome pain sensations is not what the lifestyle is about and everything is carried out from the foundation of consent.
In fact, there are two phrases well known throughout the scene – ‘RISK’ – risk aware consensual kink, and SSC – safe, sane and consensual.
Aemilia said: “The enjoyment comes from flogging someone who wants to be flogged, the enjoyment comes from doing something to somebody else that they want you to do to them.
“And I know they want me to do it to them because I never play with strangers, only with a few particular close friends.”
“Domestic abuse cases on the scene are actually very rare. And in fact, although the dominants are supposed to be on top it’s actually the submissives who are always in control. They just need to turn around and say they don’t want to do it and it’s over.
“Pain is just a sensation. It can be fun to play with, but you don’t have to.
“It’s like when you watch a horror movie. Why do we do it, it’s scary, but it’s fun, because you know you’re safe. It’s controlled and you know it’s not real.”
But being a ‘lifestyle dominatrix’ does not mean that Aemilia attempts to flog and control everyone who she meets. In fact, she says, a lifestyle BDSM practitioner is someone who just makes it a regular aspect in their life.
She said: “There are a lot of blogs and forums from ‘full-time BDSMers’ – but it’s fantasy. You can’t do this all the time but everyone likes a bit of make-believe, and that’s half the fun of it.
“It’s all roleplay and exaggeration. It’s fun. ”
Aemilia first became interested in the scene through a fascination with bull whips.
“When you use a bull whip you never actually touch the person, you just crack it near them. It takes a lot of skill.
“You get groups of people meeting in parks just cracking bull whips. More often than not they are part of the scene, and they have people come up wanting to have a go. It just went from there really, I started getting interested in floggers and everything else.”
As Aemilia grew older, she became more interested in the scene until finally she took the leap and went to her first event about 13 years ago.
She said: “It’s always a bit daunting the first time you try something but if you don’t try it, you don’t know. You keep meeting the same people as well and make friends on the scene, like you do in any sort of club.”
- Aemilia’s business grew from a spare-room hobby to a fully-fledged online store after she began to make chain-mail jewellery.
She later expanded her ‘little world of weirdness’ to include hand-made bespoke floggers and whips in a variety of different textures and soft leathers – all designed to give a different kind of sensation.
She also designs and makes collars used by some practitioners to signal ownership.
She said: “The leather is so soft, it’s so difficult to hurt someone with it. I never really expected it to grow this big when I started.”
She also holds regular workshops to show customers how to use the equipment she makes safely, as well as how to do Japanese rope bondage.
She said: “If you use the equipment, you need to know how to use it safely if you are going to be using it on another person.
“Almost everyone who is interested in doing these things do come and learn how to use them properly.
“If you don’t know how to use it it’s not going to be enjoyable for anyone.”
To find out more about Aemilia, her workshops, or about the local BDSM scene, contact her through her blog at www.aemiliahawk.wordpress.com/the-mistress.