To subject myself to one of the most extreme forms of claustrophobic bondage and rubber fetishism: the vacuum bed.
State your hypothesis in the form of a prediction that can be verified by the results of the experiment.
I’m a simple man when it comes to getting shizzy. I’m by no means limited to a three-minute bunk-up between The Sopranos and Six Feet Under, but bondage, S&M, leather gear, chains-whips, chips-dips, etc., have always been a complete mystery to me. I’m hoping to gain some insight into why some folks need a costume design team and staging area to get their rocks off.
Please list all the materials required for this experiment (including, if applicable, how they were obtained).
Latex pants and tunic
Fingers of brandy (3)
In this portion of your report, you must describe step-by-step what you did in your lab. It should be specific enough that someone who has not seen the lab can follow the directions and recreate the same lab.
Always looking to up the ante in my experiments, the Nerve tsars decreed that I should subject myself to the pleasures of the SuckBed, the last word in latex bondage. Finding someone who would lend me one proved to be no easy task. After several phone calls and email exchanges with dungeon masters, gimps, tops and bottoms, I finally tracked down a downtown latex dominatrix known as the the Baroness. In a chilling telephone conversation, she said she’d be happy to let me use her SuckBed, but only with supervision. “When operated by an amateur,” she explained with impeccable diction, “your experience could be unsatisfying, or perhaps even fatal.” Cripes. I had an entire weekend to ruminate over exactly how frightening this woman would be in person.
I pressed the buzzer of her Alphabet City lair and was told to enter. The Baroness who looked part Molly Shannon, part Cruella DeVille extended a freshly moisturized hand to greet me. After a brief chat, she dispatched her assistant, Frances, for some latex gear and gave me instructions on how to get it on, which involves applying lube to your heels, calves, thighs and bum. I emerged from her changing room looking like a lumpy Catwoman. I’d never entertained trying on latex the concept of putting on clothes for sex always seemed ass-backwards. But when the Baroness shined me up with oil and started running her long fingernails over my body, my skin’s sensations were dramatically intensified. Teetering high above me on six-inch heels, she showed me to the vacuum bed and intoned the blood-curdling worst-case scenarios that might result should I not follow her instructions to the letter, a plethora of ways in which the experiment could result in asphyxiation.
The “bed” consists of two layers of thin, skin-tone latex stretched taut over a rectangular scaffold that’s rigged up to a vacuum cleaner. Once you’re zipped inside, you push a snorkel-like breathing tube through a tiny hole. Here’s the kicker: with the snorkel in your mouth and the vacuum cleaner making a din while rendering you totally immobile, you are completely unable to communicate with those on the outside. The only way of letting your tormenter know you want to escape is to raise your torso and legs simultaneously. “You’re sooooo lucky,” purred the Baroness’s pierced and latex-clad assistant, as I made like the filling in a rubber quesadilla. “I’ve been dying to try this.” Though the breathing tube is barely larger that a slurpy straw, the mouthpiece is three inches long and four in circumference, and it feels like a rubber bratwurst: your tongue is pressed to the bottom of your mouth, your jaw is open to its fullest, and you’re unable to swallow. Trying to get a lungful of air is claustrophobia itself.
With the grace and poise of a newborn giraffe on ice skates, I clambered into the vacuum bed and inserted ear plugs and a snorkel into the appropriate orifices. Although I hate to admit it, I totally freaked out as the Baroness began to zip me in. Up to that point, I hadn’t contemplated how petrifying it would be to get shrink-wrapped alive. The Baroness had told me that latex smells like “vanilla milk chocolate,” but it was more like an embalming parlor. The odor of death, combined with an invasive rubber mouthpiece touching my tonsils and the hazy view of figures on the outside led me to bleat like a panicked goat and scream to be let out. Lyrics to a Metallica song buzzed around my head.
The Baroness was aghast at my squeamishness. “I thought you were a scientist!” she mocked, calling upon her assistant to illustrate precisely what a pussy I was being. The grinning young gothstress clapped her hands with glee and deftly slid between the SuckBed’s sheets. The Baroness flipped on the vacuum cleaner, and the latex rapidly clung to every detail of her assistant’s form. “See. What on Earth were you scared of?” she asked, as she introduced her henchwoman to a range of stimuli, including lubricant, metal beads chilled in the icebox, hot water and a riding crop. When the assistant emerged ten minutes later, she gushingly described the experience as “almost religious” and “other-worldly.” Sure it was, Morticia. By this point, I had written off being able to enjoy it and tried to concentrate on getting it over with.
Sensing my apprehension, the Baroness poured me a generous glass of brandy. “Knock this back in one,” she commanded. I took three wincing gulps. “Well, that’s exactly how not to do that,” she sneered. I was convinced she thought I was a total non-starter. The first time, the sound of my heartbeat and the view of the outside world scared me more than anything else, so on my second go-round, I popped out the earplugs and put a swatch of black latex over my eyes. The Baroness let me acclimate to the blindfold and snorkel, resting my head on a cushion outside of the bed. Her cat came and sat by my head, which seemed to help as much as anything. Finally I got in. The Baroness zipped up the bed in four, two-feet increments. I tried hard to visualize running free in a meadow as Frances flicked on the vacuum cleaner.
Quantify the effects of the experiment.
Only seconds after the bed was turned on, my throat became excruciatingly dry. As the skin-like membrane pulled itself taut over me, I bid farewell to four of my five senses. Seconds later, I found each of my fingers individually wrapped, and latex filled the nooks and crannies of my ears. When the sheet was at its snuggest, my panic began to disappear, and I turned my attention to this new and bizarre feeling: Imagine having your blood pressure taken which, incidentally, I happen to get a kick out of only the cuff covers your entire body and is made of warm, viscous taffy.
Every device the Baroness used on me felt duller, yet much deeper, than if someone were applying them directly to my skin. I felt someone drip lubricant onto me and slide their hands all over. Then followed fingertips, the heel of a palm pressed along my arms, a wet rag chilled in the freezer, a riding crop, cold metal beads, a glass of hot water. The latter was particularly strange. If Han Solo felt this good after being frozen in carbonite, he would have wanted Princess Leia to fuck off when she came to his rescue.
After what seemed like forever but was, in fact, a little less than ten minutes, the Baroness flipped the vacuum from suck to blow, and I was released from bondage into the middle of a man-sized party balloon. The outside world felt like an air-conditioned subway car in the dead of summer. I felt relieved to be free, yet I couldn’t stop touching my latex-entombed flesh. Even my accumulated sweat felt good; it made the latex suck, grab and slide around between my shoulder blades. “There, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” said the Baroness with a knowing wink.
Summarize your findings. Don’t forget to attempt to identify possible variables that could result in different findings for others trying to recreate your test results.
Let it be quite clear that I have never been one to indulge in the theatrical aspects of sex. In fact, the thought of lighting candles, throwing on a Portishead album (a.k.a. Generation X’s answer to Kenny G), and feeding oysters to one’s beloved makes me want to retch. When it comes to the two categories of lover as defined by Lisa Carver , e.g.”sensualist” and “sexualist,” I’m definitely in the latter group. However, a visit with the Baroness proved that I can be swayed.
My bum looked good in the latex, but other than that, there wasn’t much sexy about the experience. Physically, it just made me feel good, like a deep massage only much more weird, thrilling and potentially life-crushing. Mentally (dare I say, spiritually?) it was a massive leap to somewhere I never thought I could go, somewhere that completely transcended any feeling you’d get from sex. Okay, can someone kill me before I start wearing eyeliner and listening to Nine Inch Nails?
Photos by Debbie Grossman