THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO KINK by Tristan Taormino, et al

If you want to learn about a subject, talk with some experts on that subject. This simple principle is the guiding force behind The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge, edited by Tristan Taormino. She has collected essays by some of the "superstars" of the kinky community to write an essay or two on different aspects of the alternative sexual lifestyles. The results are, for the most part, terrific.

The Ultimate Guide to Kink is divided into two parts. The first half, "Skills and Techniques," provides information on the "mechanics" of kinky sex (as well as an overview of the terminology from Taormino herself), from training a slave to bondage, piercings, and er, things that can be done with a fist. Following that is "Fantasies and Philosophies," which encompasses everything from the basics of role play to the mindset of a sadist and masochist (different essays) to different genres of role play and the darker realms of the imagination.

The twenty essays from various writers give not just a variety of not just sexual arenas, but writing styles and attitudes as well. Many of the writers are as adamant about the necessary precautions as the erotic potentials ("Don't kill 'em, don't harm 'em, don't bore 'em") and most urge testing the waters carefully instead of diving right in. Some writers use humor (from "Homer Simpson rewards" to "Lord Eduardo, King of the Goats") while others get very personal; the last three essays delve into very dangerous territories, and Edge clarifies, "Finally, I'm going to sound like a psycho killer at times. I am not. Promise."

The Ultimate Guide to Kink works as much as a philosophical basis for kink as for a discussion of how to expand one's sexual experience into different areas. The writing is quite good for the most part, and even discussions of activities that don't interest a reader might still provide insights and possibilities for the reader in other areas. This book does explore some pretty hardcore areas, both physically and mentally, and it's certainly not for the faint of heart. (One description made me queasy.) With that in mind, it's easy to see why these authors are the superstars of their kinks, and Tristan Taormino did a great job gathering and editing their thoughts to create The Ultimate Guide to Kink.

Overall grade: A
Reviewed by James Lynch

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