I am extremely saddened to learn of David Carridine's death. First, he was a cool, cool person, interesting actor and what sounds like a very interesting human being. His loss is tragic. I feel for his surviving family members and friends.
But his tragic death, with its alleged element of self-strangulation and again, only alleged auto-erotic play with bondage is another reminder that, by keeping kinky practices in the shadows, we continue to see people meeting with accidents.
As a professional dominatrix, I am often asked to do activities that I find to be unsafe. A submissive man might call me and say, "I've fantasized about strangling myself at the moment of sexual climax -- will you help me with this fantasy?" As a professional, I would say, "Strangulation? No. Breath play? Yes." Safe breath play NEVER involves tying anything around the neck. In fact, it does not ever involve the throat or neck. It might involve, however, covering up the submissive's mouth and nose for a moment in which they experience the sense of strangulation, or loss of breath. It might involve covering the mouth and nose with a scarf, looking down at him, and seeing, in his eyes, his excitement at being unable to breathe. It might, alternatively, include wrapping saran wrap over his face and cutting only a very tiny hole at the nostrils. Or putting a mask on him, and lacing it up, so he breaths in the leather of the mask, and I zip the mask shut. There are many ways to do breath play which are exciting and edgy. But I do only what is safe. And many people have an interest in breath play that is more dangerous than what I will involved myself with.
But it's a shame that, in our supposedly open society, one is still met with issues of shame and degradation if a person is seen to have an interest in what is known in the profession as "breath play" or erotic breath play. It's really not that uncommon. And it is risky. The risk is part of the appeal for those who do it.
I am appalled that we still cannot speak openly about these kinks and erotic desires that probably half of the population experiences.
If, as alleged, Mr. Carridine's death turns out to be the result of an erotic experience gone awry, I see no shame in that. Any man who experiments and enjoys erotic pleasure is a man who has realized, Life is to be enjoyed and experienced, and if your desires are harming no one else, explore them. The tragedy, however, is that, if this is what occurred, he did not play safely, in the presense of another person who could do breath play with him that did NOT involve any unsafe practices involving the neck and throat. The tragedy is that, if this is what happened, he got too comfortable with the risk, or ignored it, and played alone, unsafely, without a non-judgemental partner at his side to keep him safe.
But then again, we tend to punish those who explore their kink by making it appear shameful. Meanwhile, many lead lives of solitary, kinky desperation with partners unwilling or unable to share or support their interesting erotic desires. Oh yeah, that's a way to live -- damping down your (legal) desires, avoiding exploration, and dying always wondering how things might have felt. Sure, that's to be admired.
I admire those who explore.