|the deviants' dictionary Factsheet Updated 23 September 1996|
by Peter Boots and Dirk
INTRO | FRAMES | INDEX
ENTRIES: A-D E-I J-M N-Q R-T U-Z
CONTRIBUTORS | BOOKLIST | LINKS | HELP
Note: A more detailed guide to electrical play, incorporating all the material in this one plus much more, is being published in three parts in Leather Online, starting with Issue #4. An adapted version of that article will eventually replace this factsheet.
Even a device powered from a 12V battery can still have an intense effect on a sensitive area such as the genitals. And part of the thrill of electrical play is its unique sensation: a pulsing current set at even a low level has an eerie relentlessness totally different from any sensation a human can inflict by body contact.
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Unless you are an expert you will probably have to buy electrical toys from specialist suppliers. Unfortunately they can be difficult and expensive to obtain: in Britain for example a number of devices are classed as electrical weapons and are illegal. Devices intended for medical, therapeutic use are easier to come by and a good place to start: they can usually be obtained from manufacturers.
TENS units and similar electrical toys are favourites for SM play, but I and others I have played with have found that they can be a bit difficult to integrate into a scene unless you are playing with a very trusting bottom who doesn't even have residual fears about electricity or has experienced them before.
If you know someone who is excessively fearful but keen to try electricity, give them control of the unit and let them try things out by themselves. I have left fearful bottoms to play with my TENS unit only to come back to find them pleasurably entertaining themselves at full power...
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Electrical toys must not be used above the waist, or more accurately, above the navel. Some people maintain that as long as both terminals are on the same arm this is safe, too, but personally I feel that it's pushing safety a bit.
Making good contact between the skin and the electrodes is vital -- more on how to do that later. If you don't do this, you won't get good results with TENS units, while you might get electrical burns from some of the bigger toys like hand crank magnetos.
You also need to know that the smaller the contact point, the more intense the sensation -- clips and clamps feel quite different than a contact pad! So always start at low power and work up slowly.
Another very important safety point is not to tie someone tightly when using electricity. You will be stimulating their muscles either directly, or make them jump with the sensations. They could injure themselves easily if they can't move. People react differently, so a setting that might make your leg twitch might cause a major leg movement in another -- consider this when tieing someone.
Please note that I am only addressing TENS, EMS (passive muscle stimulators sold to people too lazy to do sit-ups) and similar units in this piece -- hand crank magnetos (yummy), cattle prods (yuck) or stun guns (double YUCK) must not be used as described below.
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Trying the unit out on yourself is really the only way to learn. One thing to remember with anything that has settings or dials is that different people have different pain thresholds. Even the same person may experience and interpret sensations differently at different times -- just because one setting is pleasurable to one bottom doesn't mean another one else will find it so.
A good place to start exploring is the legs. Try putting one terminal on the inside of your thigh about three inches from the crotch, the other one on the inside of your ankle. Good lubrication of the skin/contact pads is essential -- water is fine for the genuine re-usable gel type pads that come with some of the units. For dry re-usable terminals or anything home-made, water-based lube (KY, 1-2-1 etc) is OK, but adding a small amount of salt to the lube improves conductivity. Use about 1/3 of a teaspoon of salt to two tablespoons of lube. You can also buy the lube used by hospitals with their electric toys, but this is expensive and essentially the same as KY with some salt added. Make sure to clean re-usable pads or toys well after use to avoid corrosion by salt.
Experiment with the various settings of your unit, always with the unit turned off at the beginning. My TENS unit has settings for intensity (power output), pulse rate and width of signal. There are also several switches for additional 'modes' which may be important for the intended medical use, but seem to add little to play. One of these modes sets pulse to 'continuous' -- make sure you haven't accidentally selected this.
A good start is to set intensity to about one third of maximum and then to dial in various pulse rates and widths of signal to experience the different sensations. Next choose approximately 40% pulse rate and signal width and increase intensity. You should feel either calf or thigh muscles respond by contracting (twitching) in rhythm with the pulse setting. You may need to adjust the position of the pads slightly or check for good contact if your muscles do not respond.
When you reach an intensity level at which your muscles contract comfortably, increase the pulse rate until you reach a point at which the pulse rate is too fast for your muscles to react -- they will cramp instead. Depending on your point of view this can be either unbearably painful or an incredible turn-on. Next try putting a pad on each ankle -- really nice. Then try putting one or both pads on the sole of your foot. Lastly, if you have two sets of outlets, put one set of pads on each leg.
From here on it's plain sailing. If you can't remember basic human anatomy from school biology, take a look at a fitness or anatomy book at the library and see where all the leg, arse and stomach muscles are located. The principle is really simple -- place the contacts a little beyond where muscles connect to joints and tendons.
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Other places to explore are cock and balls -- try one pad at the base of the balls, the other at various parts of the cock, for example. (I'm sure I don't need to say more about this, other than that I'm sorry I have no similar suggestions for female readers.)
There are all sort of fun attachments you can buy for cock and arse, but here are some DIY ideas:
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