Laura Antoniou

Eibon: Hi Laura - thanks for your time. How old were you when you first got interested in BDSM, and what got you interested in the first place?

Laura: My earliest fantasies were always about power. I consider myself a sadomasochist by orientation - what few memories I have from early childhood always seem to contain playacting out roles of dominance & submission, force and surrender. How young? I think they go back to my pre-reading ages, but frankly, my memories of being that young are very scattered. I know for sure that I was playing the "P Game" with my peers by first grade. (P stood for "punishment.") No, I don't remember the rules, or even if there were any. I do remember once coaching a playmate to give me some impossible command and then punish me for not being able to do it. Such a pushy bottom!

Eibon: What were your formative years in the scene like?

Laura: I got a crick in my neck from all the phone sex. I didn't come out into the scene until I was college age; my experiences before then were mostly SM play based on porn and experimentation on what felt good. In between the teenage years of hinting and my first visit to the NYC SM clubs and Eulenspiegel and LSM, I did a lot of phone sex. And I even occasionally met some of the people I spoke to and played in real life. Eventually, the phone thing got pretty dull and I had to get out and get more dates. I rapidly joined everything, went everywhere, spent my weekends shuttling between The Vault and Paddles, played casually, got serious once or twice, blah-blah. Eventually, the scene became my defacto social life. Oh, and somewhere in there were also computer hook-ups - the Utopian Network, the English Palace, the Human Sexuality section of Compuserve, IRC, and are the things I remember most.

Eibon: You've worn a shirt that says "Middle-Aged Guard" and seem to encourage people to find their own way in the scene rather than blindly follow what others have done. How do you suggest one finds their own way while still learning from the past?

Laura: Well, really, if someone hasn't gotten that skill by the time they are out of high school, it's sort of iffy whether they can avoid repeating the same mistakes over and over again. This is why so much of the social dynamic in groups tends to resemble an especially bad story about 16-year-olds. "I was Amy's best friend before she went to Tony's party and hooked up with that bunch, so now I hate her forever and I am gonna put gum on her gym locker," turns into "Mistress Marvelous didn't link my store on her website because slave salacious used to belong to the Cunnilingus Clan and now she's serving on the board of the Krazy Kinksters where Mistress Marvelous says they don't respect her peanut allergy and continue to allow people to eat Snickers at their parties."

When I tell people not to buy into the Olde Guarde-Euro-TPE-whatever-the-fuck-they-are-calling-the-cool-kids-now garbage, I am not saying throw it all away. I'm saying pick what works for you and don't let some mouth breather with a modem tell you how genuine your "lifestyle" is, let alone what you should value in your life.

Look, in the world of fiction, we know there are no "new" stories. Stories repeat themselves over and over again, and writers and other creators don't make things up entirely - they steal or borrow from what came before. The trick is to make your story just different *enough.* To make it personal enough to change something important, speak to someone new, bring a flavor to the story that wasn't there before.

So, too, are "lifestyles." You don't have to be a clone, and you don't have to live up to standards that were no doubt as much stolen, borrow and changed as a classic coming-of-age story. You can enjoy a social group, support an organization and chip in what you can to make things easier for future people coming to the community, but you do not have to buy in to the stupidity, meanness and just plain malice of exclusion, dishonesty, gossip and other harmful things which tax the soul.

Eibon: What are the best and worst trends you've noticed in your first 5 years in the lifestyle?

Laura: Best trend - welcoming newcomers and providing information and contact possibilities.

Worst trend - copying bad porn as inspiration for fashion, play and relationships. If I saw another "O" collar in the first few years I was out, I would have strangled myself with one. And the classic porn mistake so many people seemed to make was "straight men don't count." So, you'd see some het babe in her fancy slave outfit and shoes and collar and whatever, and her top would look like he remembered to shake out his shirt after pulling it from the laundry and making sure it passed the sniff test. Ditto, the mistresses were all decked out and the slaves...well. Dude, if you are going to strip, take the socks off, ok? And try for something other than tighty whities. This was why I'd go to gay bars for male eye candy.

Eibon: What are the best and worst trends you've noticed in your last 5 years in the lifestyle?

Laura: Best - the internet. Never before has a kinky child had so much free information available to learn about themselves and their sexuality. It's amazing!! When I consider what I used as source material, it's a wonder I survived my early dating years at all. Hell, it's a wonder I survived some of my jack-off sessions before I ever met someone else to do these things in person. I was a danger to myself, because all I had for guidance was really bad porn and my imagination. I could have used a few tips on safety, just sayin'. But now, with a simple search and click, Google can provide a curious, frightened, or just interested person with all the things they could ever want, from safety tips to artwork and fiction, from local groups to international conferences, from reliable stores that take credit cards to great places for chatting and sharing experiences.

Worst - the internet. Never before has there been a vehicle for such unmitigated bullshit! Oh my God, where do we start?? Online owners and masters and mistresses and slaves, entire communities and groups where no one has ever actually met anyone else, hours upon thousands of hours spent typing to strangers, fantasies exchanged in bad spelling, bad syntax and little imagination! Web sites for clans and families and orders and for all I know, klaverns of fantastically named and improbably biographied superstars! And the porn?? Save me from some of the worst written crap I have ever had the dubious pleasure to glance at, slack jawed with horror. The stuff I've read online made me yearn for the editorial strength and writing talent found in the Greenleaf Press. And even worse than the porn are some of the places which declare they are offering safety tips when in fact they might as well be giving someone a shortcut to a social disease. In 1977, you might have been an ass for thinking you could figure out branding on your own. But today, you can find people trying to teach it online. Badly. *shudder*

Eibon: Right now you're a wife, an author, in a committed BDSM relationship, and you have a full-time job. How do you prioritize all that?

Laura: Well, I lost my job last year, actually. So, my full time job is now writing, with some minor work in my old field from time to time.

My priorities are pretty clear; I married Karen with the promise that she would be my number one priority. My Daddy, Kim, understands that, as she is married, too. Job figures a weak third after that, LOL. Still, I wouldn't mind a few more weekends in a year. Not weeks, mind you - weekends.

Eibon: You've written so many books it's hard to keep track of them all, so for now I'll just ask about your most popular books, The Marketplace Series. What inspired you to create this series?

Laura: Bad porn. Have I mentioned I read a lot? I have read tons and tons of porn. And my "keeper" list is very, very small. So when it became clear that I could actually get a book contract, I had two main inspirations. The first was the porn I liked, which I wanted more of. The second was the porn I hated, which I knew I could do better. For years, back when I wrote using an actual typewriter, I used to keep several Gor books on a shelf nearby. Whenever I had an episode of low self esteem that would make me wonder why the hell I thought I could write a book, I'd pull one down, read a few pages and then think, "I could write better than this, that's for sure, and look how many he sold." And then I'd go back to work.

And of course, the myth of a secret worldwide slave selling society is one of the cultural touchstones of the SM community. I just wanted to make mine consensual, and better than the one portrayed in Exit to Eden. The book just pissed me off.

Eibon: Have you been surprised at how popular the series has become with BDSMers?

Laura: Absolutely. The reason why I originally released them under a pseudonym was because I thought no one would take me seriously after I wrote them! Good thing I don't have to predict the future.

Eibon: As the story has unfolded how closely would you say it has followed your original vision?

Laura: Hm., not at all. Originally, Chris was a minor character, and in my outline of the three books, The Trainer was supposed to be about Anderson and Michael. But one thing has remained the same - I stand by my decision and efforts to make the books as inclusive as possible concerning sex, gender and orientation. I know I am doing it right when everyone complains that there is too much of "this sex" and not enough of "that sex."

Eibon: How is the next book in the series, "The Inheritor", coming along?

Laura: Slowly, but steadily. I am working on chapter 9. The first 4 chapters have gone out to beta readers.

Eibon: You teach a wide variety of workshops/classes about BDSM. How long have you been presenting these, and what got you started?

Laura: You know, I have no idea when I started. I know I taught some at the local organizations, but not that much. I think it was when I started travelling more, I'd teach to try to offset my expenses a little. My philosophy of teaching is simple - I don't do hands-on stuff at all. I say that relationships can survive if the top doesn't do elaborate bondage and the bottom doesn't know how to make coffee. But relationship issues - that's the real stuff. I teach about what we can do to communicate better, design a life that's more rewarding and fun, and get more out of the time we have to devote to SM play. I guess I have been teaching since...the late 80's? That sounds about right.

Eibon: What presentation usually gets the best response?

Laura: Without a doubt, Service Oriented Submission is my most popular. But my punishment workshop has been very well received, and so has my workshop on fantasies we don't like to admit to. I suspect my new workshop on Creative Disobedience will become pretty popular.

Eibon: What keeps you interested and engaged in BDSM?

Laura: Even when I don't do SM, I still think about it. I can be having perfectly vanilla sexual activities, but what will make me orgasm will be a fantasy of SM behavior or emotions. So, I can't say I know what it is like to not be interested in SM. I might not be interested in some forms of play any more, but that's changing tastes - I find other things I like. I am fortunate in my partners, and that helps a lot. (Grin) Also, I am continually fascinated by the leather/SM community, sometimes to the detriment of people I lampoon in interviews, speeches and classes.

Eibon: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Laura: Can't think of a thing!

Find out more about Laura, her books, and her classes here:
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