How I learned to love the paddle


SPANK YOU | Hardy Haberman gets some practice in on the author before putting his skills on display at Butt Buster on Saturday at the Dallas Eagle. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

Pain isn’t something I endure well — my threshold for it is quite low. Yes, I’m a pussy, but I’m cool with it. I opt not to engage in voluntarily painful experiences beyond weekly editorial meetings or family functions. But the power of the paddle was calling my name. Or perhaps it was yelling it.

This weekend, local activist and leatherman Hardy Haberman will lend his paddling skills to the fundraiser Butt Buster at the Dallas Eagle. The event will raise money for the International Leather Sir Bootblack organization and the Women’s History Project. And yet, no women will be harmed in the making of this fundraiser.

The idea piqued my interest, if only to figure out why someone would put himself on display to get his ass chapped publicly. What is the appeal?

Does it hold more pleasure for the spanker than the spankee? (As part of the event, Olivier Pratt will generously be offering up his cheeks for the greater good.)

Google “bdsm + paddling” and it takes you nowhere and everywhere. The result count is high but bor-r-r-ring. You’d think as creative as fetishists can be in their sex lives, their websites would match. Nope. I wanted pictures to go with all that text. So instead, Haberman showed me up close how to get started on my paddling adventures.

“I’d start with your hand so you can gauge what you’re doing,” he advises.

“And don’t use a cane. Those are painful. I like a leather paddle because it gives a little, but a ping pong paddle works just fine.”

The thought of a cane never entered my headspace. Which begs the question: How does an uninitiated get into that mental state? What is the thrill of getting your butt busted?

“For some, it’s a humiliation thing that goes back to childhood punishment,” Harberman explains. “Others see it as erotic. It delivers an intense sensation. For me, I include the aspect of them over my knee because that makes it erotic and intimate.”

I think I just got veklempt. Haberman describes how pain and pleasure originate from the same part of the brain. No wonder my third-grade principal Mr. Strobel had that look on his face as I laughed during my first encounter with corporal punishment.

Pratt is the mastermind (and the behind) behind the event who clearly has butt cheek prowess. But his heart is in the preservation of leather history, particularly women’s. I had no idea there was the Leather Archives and Museum located in Chicago, but males tend to dominate the historic timeline. The Women’s History Project wants to change that.

“I put it together in conjunction with Women’s International Leather Fest to raise money for the Project at the museum as well as for the International Leather SIR/boy travel fund,” Pratt says. “Both nonprofits work with in the leather community to educate and preserver our culture and lifestyle.”

Being that a good swat requires proper technique, I wondered if there was any working out to be involved for both ends of the paddle. It would really chap my hide if I had to do squats to beef up the butt or arm curls for proper strength behind the swing. A man after my own heart, he nods no. But he does put this out there.

“Well, it is nice if the sub is lighter so they don’t ruin yer legs,” he laughs.

Part of me is worried that if I were to be on the receiving end of a paddle, I’d pretty much cry. Like I said, low threshold. Haberman counseled me on safe words and sexual freedom, but really, I’m just worried if it’s gonna leave a mark.

“There’s a good ouch and a bad ouch. My real thrill is the power exchange and bringing that energy into something,” he says. “The thing that works for the spankee is the fear. The adrenaline gets going, it puts you on edge. You build up to it. Screaming is good.

Some people cry and they mean to, others even laugh.”

That I can relate to. But wait, how did I end up on the receiving end?

“You didn’t think you were gonna spank me, did you?” he asks.

Ummm, no? Sir?

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 1, 2012.