Rae Answers Midori's Questions About Branding
Fetish Diva Midori asked me some excellent questions afterwards, which I have included and answered below:
FDM: Did you have all the strikes finished? How's it looking today?
Rae: Yes, the entire design was completed in one 2 and 1/2 hour session. The first two characters are struck brands, totalling about 24 strikes (plus a few redos) and the last figure was burned with an electro-cautery device.
The first few days the burns were VERY raw, and it was fun in a 10-year-old sense to gross people out. I showed off twenty-four hours after it was done at the SM flea. I had lots of redness around the whole area, which decreased to right around the figures after about three or four days. Edges very crispy at first, just like bacon! Now the lines are flattening out and spreading. After a shower, the brands are white at the burned edges, and BRIGHT red all around. I can see some fun with this involving hot tubs once I am well healed.
FDM: Tell us how you came to the decision to have the brand. How you selected the image.
Rae: As near as I can tell, the designs were first found by me during my tenure at UCSC, sometime in 1988-89. I got my first tattoo in fall of 1988, and had spent most of the previous summer in the library, looking up all kinds of tattooing from all over the world. The petroglyphs are from the Marquesas Islands. I thought of them as me, myself and I as soon as I saw them. Photocopies were made from the library book and the little people went into my design files.
The decision to be branded is something that has been cooking over in my head since 1992 or thereabouts. I had three dreams of being branded with these characters sometime in fall 1992, as a friend of mine was getting very sick with AIDS. I know at the time part of the symbolism was to fuse me, myself and I together, to stop fighting myself and be stronger.
The symbolism has grown over the years. A priestess and her attendants. Myself and the two male partners I wish to have in my life. The more I learn about myself, the more the figures reveal to me. Part of why I decided to do this is due to my exploration and service to the Goddess Artemis Orthia. She was a patron goddess of the Spartans, and one tough babe from all I can find on her. Really into discipline, liked boys that gave her offerings of blood and semen, that kind of thing. I prayed and meditated to her the whole week. She wanted me to see if I could be open and surrender to my decision, as opposed to my usual control of the situation. I couldnt be analytical about it.
FDM: For the readers who aren't acquainted with Fakir, he's the person who gave me the title Fetish Diva. Rae, please let the others know a bit about your experience with him in this branding.
Rae: Ive run into Fakir many times over the last six or seven years or so. I first met him through his piercing school: I went for student-given piercings while in grad school so I could stick to my lean budget. I believe I was first officially introduced to him by his partner Cléo Dubois, who teaches quite frequently at Stormy Leather, where I work. She and I first met a few years back at a rope bonage class taught by Lou Duff. Lately Ive been running into him a some kinky events around town here in SF and we got to talk a bit more.
His experience and knowledge of all forms of body play/modification/art is extensive, and I cant think of anyone who knows more about this sort of thing. He has great bedside manner, and is very intelligent, personable and funny. As lots of local folks have commented well, hes the guy youd want to get to do that kind of thing.
FDM: How did you feel leading up to the brand?
Rae: How didnt I feel?? ;-) (LOL) I think I hit every point on the emotional number line before that Saturday came. First there was the chance that the class wouldnt happen. Then Fakir said the design is quite complex, what if we just do the one big figure? Then just the day before the class, he contacted me and said how about if we do all of it, part done as a struck brand and the last figure done with the electro-cautery method?
I went all over the place. Once I volunteered there was the feeling of sticking with myself, staying firm to this decision that had taken so much time and thought to get to. Tons of variations of fear happened. Fear of things I knew would happen, fears of things that might happen, fear of not knowing.... I had many meditations where I watched my fear, and then let it go.
FDM: How was the environment for you?
Rae: Having worked at QSM, I knew the space. My main concern was that the parts of me not being branded would get cold. I dressed in layers so I could expose my leg to be branded, but stay warm. It worked. Fakir brought a massage table to be the work space, so that was pretty comfortable.
As at any QSM class, you dont entirely know who is going to show up. I had three friends in attendance, so I knew I could get the energy and support I might need. Another friend turned up in the crowd, and she got drafted later in the process to help with the energy of the electro-cautery branding.
Overall the audience was curious, polite and respectful. Once the branding started they were very quiet. Several people commented on how calmly I seemed to be taking the whole thing. It got intense, as it was a long branding, and people moved closer or farther away as necessary. Several people got a distinct buzz just from watching. I felt a change in the group when the cautery process started and I began to breath very heavily and vocalize more to manage the burning. I had been mostly quiet, mixed with telling a few jokes for a few hours, and they could tell it was very hard for me to manage the new sensation.
FDM: What brand method did he use? What went through your head as the strikes were lain down? And afterwards?
Rae: As mentioned previously, he did both the branding techniques on me. The day after the class, I ran into a friend at the SM Flea and she mentioned how she was supposed to have been the electro-cautery demo but had to cancel, and suddenly his use of both techniques on me became clear: I had done double duty for both demos. My friend had been branded by Fakir on her chest using the electro-cautery, and we got to have a great talk about how incredibly painful that method is, much more than tattooing, something we had both had experience with before branding.
As the very first strike was coming down, I was steeling myself, and once it hit, it was ok, so THAT'S what that feels like... I was able to get a good sequence of breathing for taking the strikes. With a struck brand there is a break in between each strike, so you get lots of mini-breaks, and I found myself well able to manage the energy. As the number of strikes grew, I got more and more out there. After the completion of the first figure, I asked my pet, who was holding my hand, to put his hand right on my ass and really help ground the energy flowing through the leg. Needless to say, it was a great treat for him, as its usually my hands that are doing something to his ass.
After each figure I checked in with myself. I got higher and higher. I remembered to drink water during the breaks and to breath deeply and relax between strikes. Afterwards I was so proud of myself, I could hardly take my eyes off my leg. I was slightly manic, and had to really bring myself back down, as I was about to brand a friend of mine myself. That was also amazing, and I had so much fun pressing hot metal to flesh!
FDM: How long did you fly?
Rae: Three days, at least. I thought I was back in my body after two days, but after another day and another full nights sleep, decided I had still been out on day two. As someone who tops more than bottoms, I usually dont get out of my body for multiple days. The after-effects lingered way more than with tattooing, and were much longer and stronger than body piercing too.