Abrasion: Rubbing you the right way

While the world at large thinks of "abrasion" as a wearing or grinding away by friction or as an irritation, we who are s/m-aware know that abrasion is an erotic stimulation of the skin by rubbing, scratching, or pricking.

Abrasives are referred to in the Bible and are depicted in Egyptian drawings and Roman statuary. During the 13th century, the Chinese made a crude kind of sandpaper from crushed sea shells, natural gum, and parchment. But none of these historical examples illustrated the "delightfully agonizing" experiences of the participants in a recent GMSMA workshop on erotic abrasion. The men in attendance spent an afternoon discovering how a few ordinary objects can rub you the right way.

In his booklet Oh, the Pleasure of the Pain: An Ode to Abrasion, GMSMA member David S. states that anything that generates friction can be used for an abrasion scene, since it is the skin's resistance to what is rubbed against it that creates the sensation. Common instruments used in this "frisky friction" scene include all sorts of brushes, textured gloves, emery boards, sandpaper, and coarse cloth.

Described as "exquisitely excruciating" by the late Bob Buckley, one of the foremost practitioners in this area, erotic abrasion is a cumulative effect scene. It is a very subtle scene and demands complete concentration and observation from the Top.

While abrasion may not be very dramatic in presentation (at least, not at first), it is an intense scene, and the Top may choose not to allow any letup in the intensity, although the level of sensation is best varied throughout the scene. Pacing is key; the rise in intensity can be paced slowly or quickly. From the bottom's perspective, abrasion doesn't begin as a painful scene; it's merely a pleasantly rough rubbing on the skin. It's only when the bottom is moaning in ecstasy from the stimulation that he realizes that pleasure and pain have become so intertwined as to be indistinguishable. It just feels damn good! David S. noted that "if [abrasion] is done well, the bottom will eventually reach a condition where the slightest additional touch -- with anything! -- sets off explosions of sensation." Why does it work? The stimulation sends messages to the brain so quickly that the brain is unable to cope and sends out signals for the release of endorphins into the system. A natural "high" occurs.

Eliminate the bottom's distractions for the best reaction. Blindfold the bottom, since knowing what implements are being used can ruin the stimulation. Restrain the bottom, since he will tend to move around quite a bit to both escape the abrasion and to bring his body forward for increased sensitivity. Some tops will plug the bottom's ears to reduce aural input; others will, however, use music with heavy percussion to add to the overall experience. Almost all parts of the body can be the focus of erotic abrasion, but avoid areas where the bone is close to the skin. Usually, one concentrates on the areas between the neck and the calves, but virtually any fleshy part of the skin, including the feet, can be abraded in an s/m scene. The nipples are obvious choice spots; but they can bleed, so abrade them, leave them, return to them, and so on. The back is a wonderful place for abrading, with the shoulders and the spinal column being particularly effective.

While enticing, the cock and balls require special care since blood is quite close to the surface and the area is easily pricked (no pun intended). The ass cheeks are prime targets, as are the legs. But, if you work on the legs for an extended period of time, the bottom can begin kicking violently. Hence the need for strong restraints! Sometimes abrading the feet is used to "break" a slave. Pointed instruments tend to be the most effective on the feet, but don't overdo this area-the guy does have to walk on them afterward. Torment the feet; don't puncture them.

In doing the actual abrasion, use a variety of long and short strokes; drag the instruments across the skin; use quick taps with pointed implements. Use a light touch in sensitive areas of the skin, firmer on the more muscled areas. Take your time; the pleasure/pain should build very slowly, without a sudden burst of pain.

Abrasion can be a light or a heavy scene, or anywhere in between. As David points out in his Oh, The Pleasure..., "there is no necessity for drawing blood, and virtually all the potential health problems associated with the scene vanish if one keeps within that limit although even a bloody abrasion scene is not especially dangerous if your equipment is clean to begin with, if you keep the blood away from your own mucous membranes, and if you never reuse an instrument you've drawn blood with on any other person." But abrasion isn't a "blood sport;" it is actually quite difficult to draw blood on the flexible muscled areas of the skin, even with repeated strokes on the same area. But if you want to draw blood, use disposable latex gloves; thoroughly disinfect the equipment; seal the equipment in a plastic bag for disposal or for reuse on the same bottom; seal the rubbish (used gloves, paper towels, etc.) in a strong plastic bag for disposal.

Beyond the fundamental safety issues, there are no hard and fast rules for an abrasion scene. Experiment on yourself; learn the wonderful pleasure of this "delightful agony." You'll never look at scrub brushes in the same light again!

-- Rich W.

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