People occasionally notice this book on my coffee table and ask me what it’s about. This a difficult question to answer. It's easier to say what it is not about. It is not about stern, whip wielding masters snarling, "On your knees, Bitch!” Nor is it about carefully negotiated games of slap and tickle in suburban bedrooms. Sweaty leather bars? No. It isn’t about heavy S/M. It is at once less and more alarming than that.

Meeting the Master is a collection of short stories interspersed with D/S-erotic poetry. These are not stories about hot BDSM scenes - not at all. They are real life forged into fantasy by the characters’ pure blinding need to be subjugated. I suspect that anyone who reads this book will have a strong opinion about it, one way or the other.

In places, it is all too clear that the stories are written from fantasies. The dominant people, most often men, seem to follow a fairly consistent pattern. They are good looking, usually white knight types or natural leaders, always comfortable with their own authority, full of themselves and with good reason.

In the vast majority of stories, the slavery and mastery aspect is “incidental”, for lack of a better word. The power exchange exists without both parties being fully conscious of its nature. Many of the subby characters purposely create the dreadful predicaments they find themselves in. They push, prod, cajole and manipulate their unwitting Doms until they give in and slap the little fuckers down.

The submissive characters are of all breeds - a prison “bitch”, a high school girl, a waitress, a college jock, a circus performer. Most of them have in common a great dedication to submission; not only devotion to his or her particular Master, but to the state of slavery itself.

One thing that I find interesting is the fascination Wald seems to have with the idea of denial. Many stories end with the poor sub being sent away for good or denied any but the most unsatisfying contact with the object of desire. And that perpetual ache of longing and unfulfilled desire seems to be the very pain these masochists yearn for. I suppose the argument could be made that this is the deepest and truest kind of submission... a little too pitiful for my taste, but to each his/her own.

Several stories are written in the first person, often leaving doubt as to who the narrator is for several pages. In one case, it took three pages to determine the gender of the narrator. Interesting or irritating? You decide.

Reading Meeting the Master was a thought-provoking, life changing experience for me. I have spent the entirety of my adult life in the BDSM community. “Safe, Sane, Consensual” might as well be tattooed inside my eyelids. But this wild, unashamed collection makes some darker part of me wonder “Where are our balls?” We come to BDSM seeking a ride on the back of a charging bull, but then we attempt to tame the beast. As screwed up and manipulative as most of Wald’s characters are, I have a sense of admiration and respect for them. They ride the bull without the need to geld it...for better or worse.

Bottom line? I liked this book because it was disturbing, and because it stimulated some real thought and soul searching. I liked this book for the same reasons that others may hate it.

Meeting the Master is available at Sweet Sensations or can be ordered by writing to: P.O. Box 952 Village Station, New York, NY 10014.

It's unthinkably evil; a sin. Although it can't get you pregnant or transfer any is not considered a "nice" form of sexuality by many...others deny it is a form of sexuality. It's selfish. People with "healthy, normal" sex lives don't need to do it. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders was fired because she suggested it be part of human sexuality education. What is it? What is this hideous sexual sickness? Masturbation.

Masturbation, a medicinal word for a pleasurable activity, is one of the most natural things a human being can engage in; we learn early...very early, that certain parts of our bodies feel really good when we touch them. Unfortunately, modern child sexual abuse witch hunters who see youngsters masturbating automatically label it "premature sexualization" and proof that any self-pleasuring child must be the victim of molestation. The facts, of course, show otherwise. Those who condemn masturbation are most likely those most confused by their own desires, and most ashamed of their own actions.

We all do it. Whether we use our hands, a dildo, a vibrator, fresh produce, jacuzzi jets, a shower massage or the vibration of public transportation, we all do it. Male, female, gay, bi, straight, transsexual, disabled...we all do it.

First Person Sexual is a collection of 45 personal short stories (only two are fictional) about masturbation experiences. Some of these stories are wildly erotic, intensely solo-sex positive and certainly got my blood going. Others relate early experiences of shame, discovery by parents or classmates, and the need to hide the (sometimes elaborate) equipment involved in youthful masturbation. There is anger, liberation philosophy and self-acceptance in this book and it is this range of storytelling styles that is part of its great strength. While there is a sense of "see, I do it and I'm ok" in some of the stories, the ultimate conclusion of every writer is that self-pleasuring is not only a is a need; physical and mental.

I don't usually read introductions or forwards but both of these areas of First Person Sexual gave me a great deal to think about. Male contributors, for instance, frequently violated the editor's request not to focus on the fantasy, but rather on the physical part of masturbating. More women, on the other hand, wrote about sexual interaction with a partner; again, against the editor's instructions. But even this provides us with information about how men and women view masturbation and their part in it. Interestingly enough, men tend to masturbate more frequently when they are not engaging in as much partner sex as they would like, while women increase their solo-sex when they are engaging in partner sex.

Some of the stories in First Person Sexual reminded me of my family and its decidedly weird sexual politics while others might as well have described sex on Mars. To read that there are men and women who were able to find (let alone borrow) sex toys belonging to their mothers...this was incredibly exciting and intensely alien at the same time.

I recommend this book 100%. Whether you choose use it as a tool to enhance your solo or partner-sex, as a reference book, or a focus for sexual/emotional meditation you'll find something that touches your soul. Expect to challenge your notions about sexuality while exciting both your mind and your body. First Person Sexual is an excellent book for book discussion groups, also.

First Person Sexual is just hitting the bookstores, so encourage your favorite sex-positive shop to stock it and/or write to Down There Press, 938 Howard St., #101, San Francisco, CA 94103 to order your very own copy.

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