In the introduction to this collection of essays, curator Tristan Taormino describes the book as a written version of a kinksters’ convention. A dozen of experts present many seminars about the various declinations of unusual sex: the participants choose which to attend, and at the end they bring home lots of ideas to scrutinize to explore new forms of pleasure.
In other words, don’t let the title fool you. The ultimate guide to kink is anything but an “ultimate guide”. There are other books for that, while the point here is to open your mind to numerous and diverse incitements, to different concepts of sexuality and to provocations designed to kickstart your brain and more.
The book is divided into two sections: techniques and philosopies. In both cases it looks like the topics were selected randomly, but to make up for it the guest authors are (almost always) excellent. The collaborators list rounds up scene superstars like Midori,Laura Antoniou, Hardy Haberman, Patrick Califia, Mollena Williams, Lee Harrington,Madison Young or Jack Rinella – and just as many lesser-known yet just as valuable names.
Each one of them has about twenty pages to recap a life of studies of his chosen speciality: the resulting pace is thus rather quick even though, as noted above, each chapter can only be a preview by which one can choose whether to further pursue the topic through other reading. Before going into specifics, though, it is worth to make one general consideration.
Fact is, even if this book was conceived as a beginners’ manual, in my humble opinion Ultimate guide to kink is most unfit for those who are taking their first steps into the world of extreme eroticism. The founding principles of respect, safety, responsibility and so on are in fact quickly dealt with in a few initial pages which cannot stress the importance of internalizing these concepts. Even if they are naturally alluded to in passing within the single essays, my impression was they were not highlighted with enough energy to counter a life of exposition to the prejudice and the stereotypes filling the heads of newbies.
This wouldn’t be a problem if the actual topics were the usual fare of introductory manuals, such as bondage, spanking and simple psychological games. Consistently with the “extreme explorers’ convention” logic, here we are taken on a pedal-to-the-metal ride – so raw even a professional pervert like me was occasionally shaken.
To give you an idea, in the first part we meet: anal fisting, piercing, kicks and punches, intense whipping, testicles torture and suffocation. The second goes even farther, with cathartic role play (such as racial or disability degradation), overcoming masochistic limits, bloodletting, behavior reprogramming, gunplay and heavy mindfucking. Having practiced BDSM for a quarter of century, this may well be an interesting read for me, who clearly know that the normal intensity of play is much lower. I believe that to an inexperienced reader this would come as a meaningless shock, and a dangerous cue to emulate some really edgy situations.
Having said this, The ultimate guide to kink also contain many delicious treats. The chapter about vaginal fisting techniques, in example, is the best I have ever read on the topic; Barbara Carrellas’ practical guide to tantra summarizes in a few pages everything you have to know about it saving you from years of study of silly mumbo-jumbo; some political and philosophical parts are wonderful to encourage heavy thinking, and Rinella’s story about his attempt to realize the darkest fantasies known to man is as funny as it is fascinating.
My suggestion is –seriously – to read this book at your own risk… but if you are notnovices, to confront yourselves to these advanced concepts might reveal many interesting surprises.