Well, where to start? That’s the issue facing Mr More and myself as we survey our surroundings. We’re at renowned dungeon Ess & Emm, and there’s just so much for us to explore: an extensive array of (deep breath) differing paddles, canes, mitts, clamps, harnesses, cuffs, leather and rubber outfits, high-heeled shoes, blinds, blinkers, gags, hoods, spreaders, sleepsacks, bodybags, restraints, ropes and weights – and more.
Even more impressive in its abundance is the bespoke bondage furniture: our bed for the night is a metal four poster with an integrated cage underneath it, where there’s a thin mattress for a slave to sleep (next time we’ll remember to pack one!). There’s a rack, also with a cage underneath, a gynae chair in the bathroom, and a variety of bondage chairs. Fighting for attention is a revolving wheel, a whipping bench, and an electrically powered suspension sling where the head and/ or legs can be moved higher or lower at the touch of a button. The ubiquitous thrusting machine (or Fucking Machine, as they’re known in the business) stands proudly erect at the centre of the studio.
It’s hard to believe that only minutes earlier we were driving through picturesque Warwickshire countryside, through sleepy villages of thatched cottages and grand manor houses. Cliterati can’t quite believe that we are now at one of England’s leading dungeons – it seems so at odds with its conservative neighbours. But nonetheless, nestled in extremely smart surroundings with its own secluded entrance, is this curious two-storey self-catering B&B cottage, our accommodation for the night.
If we have any nerves, they’re quickly dispelled by the warm welcome we receive. As we step through the front door we’re greeted by owner Paula, who walks us through the cottage: a cute country kitchen is stocked with the makings of a full English, in addition to a continental breakfast (which we end up eating as a midnight feast), and there are two good bottles of wine (red and white) and a box of chocolates on the table. It’s all reassuringly normal. Until that is, you notice that many of the walls are decorated with BDSM-themed posters and pictures, as well as S&M sketches by Paula, herself an ex-dominatrix. There are also photos of her in action as Mistress Katya, an occupation she left behind to run a tattoo parlour next door, where she especially enjoys inking fetish customers who might otherwise feel uncomfortable asking a non-scene tattooist for their very personal designs. Paula’s very open about her own introduction to BDSM, telling us that she was a fetish virgin before she met her partner Tony.
This makes Paula a great guide to show new visitors such as ourselves around: we’re able to ask any questions we might have about either the equipment or the accommodation, and we feel comfortable doing so. Tony joins us too, and again, we’re struck by his welcoming manner: we really weren’t expecting a B&B dungeon to have such a homely feel! Tony tells Cliterati that he bought much of the equipment from Fetters, a specialist shop known as “The Savile Row of S&M outfitters”, who had previously also run a dungeon B&B. Ess & Emm itself has been running for around ten years, originally as three separate fully-kitted spaces, before consolidating into the one building we see today.
And what a building it is: hoods, straightjackets, bodybags and needle play may not float our particular boats, but nonetheless Mr More and I are still like kids in a candy store: there’s just so much to explore, and so much naughty fun to be had – a whole floor dedicated to our pleasure! I start by rifling through the cupboard for an outfit and a wig, and I try on at least three sets of shoes before deciding on a Pretty Woman-esque pair of thigh-high black patent boots. They may be a Mens size 10, but I’m not fussed: I want to try (nearly) everything, and I want to try it in style.
By the end of our allotted 6pm-11am stay we have exhausted ourselves but not the studio – there’s so much we just didn’t have time for. Thankfully Tony and Paula mentioned they were relatively relaxed about when we left, so there’s still time for me to squeeze in a spin on the wheel (well, when in Rome…). Mr More dutifully binds me and releases the brake. I’m turned slowly round until my feet are spread-eagled in the air, and my head’s hanging down towards the floor: ‘Hmmm…interesting’ I think. ‘But not for me’.
And that’s one of the great things about Ess & Emm: it gives visitors the opportunity to experiment with new equipment in private, as well as play with familiar kit they simply may not have the space for at home. There really is something for everyone, from the fetish virgin to the expert dungeon enthusiast. Ess & Emm is a great opportunity to escape from the everyday grind, make new friends, rekindle relationships, and to spend a good few hours in the pursuit of pleasure. Because elsewhere, as Tony notes: “Life gets in the way.” And if you don’t believe him, look in the visitors’ book.
This piece originally appeared on Cliterati on 23rd July 2012
There’s much to be said about decorating a bedroom to reflect your personality, and one of the best things about bed linen is that since it’s temporary you can change it to suit your mood – and your guest!
Here are some sexy and stylish covers designed by Kate Storer, who’s been working on her bedroom range since 2002. Cliterati’s favourite duvet covers include the Restless couple set (which also comes in a male-male and female-female All Girls Together option) and the Me & You kissers, below. We’re also sorely tempted by Storer’s cute and cheeky glow-in-the-dark nightwear collection and pink “Voulez Vous?” pijamas – especially as they’re currently on sale!
There’s even something for the man in your life: how about the purple or grey James Bond-inspired cover depicting a man surrounded by naked ladies? Its corresponding cushions which feature speech bubbles containing phrases such as “Flattery will get you…everywhere” and “go on…tempt me” leave Cliterati shaken and stirred!
Available online and in selected stores all over the UK, what’s not to like?!
First published on Cliterati