Book Review: Kisses to Kink, Volume 1

Kisses to Kink by Nina Payne lynsey gMs. Nina Payne, the founder of the Domi Dollz here in New York City, recently released her first-ever ebook, Kisses to Kink.  Having attended and reported on a number of the Domi Dollz’s workshops, I was eager to check out Volume 1. The workshops, like Kink 101 and a few others that are more specialized, have always been immensely enjoyable for me as I watched uninitiated-but-kink-curious singles and couples learn the basics of bringing an element of kink into heretofore vanilla relationships. The Domi Dollz workshops are usually held in sexy boutiques, with wine flowing, lights low, and the Dominatrices of the Domi Dollz dressed to the nines and teaching the workshop attendees how role play, humiliate, tie good knots, and spank. The workshops are intimate and very hands-on, with the Dollz providing a “slave boy” upon which they and their students can practice their kink skill set. So I wondered how the overarching philosophy of the Domi Dollz–that kink is right for anyone who wants to spice up their sex life–would translate into writing. Would the warmth of the environment and the fun of the play translate?

I have to say, I was pleased with the results! Ms. Nina is just as good at delivering guidance and advice on the page, it turns out, as she is on stage in a corset and with a riding crop in her hand and the rapt attention of an adoring audience before her. Volume 1 of Kisses to Kink is clearly aimed at mostly-hetero women who probably read Fifty Shades or something similar and who are now considering bringing a little something naughty home to their lovers. The book appropriately adopts an inviting, supportive, yet just-a-little-strict tone that will help guide newbie kinksters while also winking along at the fun of reading about proper latex care, use of butt plugs, and hand-job etiquette. While Ms. Nina’s professionalism comes across clearly in her discussion of everything from soft limits to anal bead technique, she’s supportive of her readers, encouraging them to have fun and remember that this is all play.

I enjoyed her emphasis on the role of kink not as a descent into pain or degradation, but rather as “a practice that involves focusing on what makes the human mind and body susceptible to pleasure.” She focuses on consent above all concerns, and on establishing safe yet exciting boundaries in which everyone can enjoy themselves. She truly sets the idea of kink up as a site of nonjudgmental joy rather than a scary den of sin, and I think any reader with a twinkle in their eye over the idea of a good paddling can appreciate the soft approach.

But the book is not all soft: the advantage here is that Ms. Nina is a professional dominatrix with skill sets that cover almost everything kinky. She knows what she’s talking about, and she’s focused on delivering specific and helpful advice to those just starting out. Volume 1 provides handy lists of suggestions and guides for everything from how to bring up the idea of kink play with your partner, to style considerations for your body and your bedroom, to dirty talk. She hands over the reins to professionals in the fields of stripping and latex, leather, and corsetry, who deliver detailed how-tos on their topics. Ms. Nina even provides a link to a SoundCloud page for musical accompaniment! “No stone left unturned,” the Domi Dollz always say… or is that “No cheek left unspanked”?

Whatever the case may be, my few gripes with the book (how very hetero-oriented it is [but then again, the first rule of writing is “know your audience” and Ms. Nina clearly was writing to a specific demographic], and how the focus seems to be largely on women providing the “sexy” aesthetic) don’t throw much in the way of wanting to recommend this book for anyone looking for some new experiences in the boudoir. Volume 1 of Kisses to Kink is a fun and thorough introduction to bringing kink home with you, and a handy guide to keep by the bed as you get started. I’m delving into Volume 2 today, in which I expect to find expert advice on the more advanced levels of kink play (spanking, knot tying, etc), but I’ll leave you readers with this: “The best part is: anything goes! We are made to enjoy sex and engineered to share it. Mixing love with a little mystery, novelty, adventure, and plenty of flirting gives you a formula for chemistry that’s made to last. As long as no one is harmed and everyone is having fun, the sky’s the limit.” Words of wisdom, indeed, no matter where you fall on the vanilla-to-BDSM spectrum.

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