Six of the Best is Best

By on October 27, 2009

Patrick califiaDear Patrick
Do you find, anymore, that people understand the distinction between a caning and a flogging? I detest leather whips. They have an ugly appearance and make a barbaric racket. What I want is something sleek and tidy, something civilized and yet impressive—the cane. But it seems to have become just one more implement in a whole arsenal of weapons used to attack the human body. I suppose I am—Old-Fashioned

Dear Old-Fashioned: Would you like to come over to my house tonight?
I can’t speak for the majority of British players, but I do know that in America, the cane is widely feared and perhaps even stigmatized. The leather whips that you think are barbaric are seen as “civilized and yet impressive.” Relatively few people will agree to be caned. It’s seen as one of the most painful things you can endure, in between a cat-o’-nine-tails and a bullwhip. Even tops who use canes find that they have to warm up the bottom with lesser equipment before they can dish out six of the best.
(Do y’all really say that, or is it just a convention of 1960s American porn about decadent British gentlemen?)

The first time I picked up a cane, I knew I had found my heart’s desire. There are in fact a wide range of sensations that can be created with a cane. But it also provides a merry-hell-come-to-daddy pain that I prize because it comes in two parts. As the nerve is compressed, it signals pain, and as it expands, there is a second chord of agony. That swish is music to my ears.

I do understand that not everyone can simply bend over and take stripes from the awesome and mind-altering, flexible beauty. Those who can not only endure it but relish it are a rare breed. And I want all of their phone numbers. So I salute you, O.F., and wish that Americans weren’t such a big bunch of sissy pants.

Patrick Califia is a therapist in private practice in Northern California. His practice includes internet consultations as well as face-to-face psychotherapy. He is a prolific author who has published widely about BDSM and sexual politics. Patrick’s books include Macho Sluts, Sensuous Magic, and Public Sex: The Politics of Radical Sex.

This column is not intended to offer medical or legal advice. It is for educational and entertainment purposes only. If you need medical or legal advice, see a doctor or lawyer!

Do you have a question for Patrick?
Please feel free to leave your comments below or you can reach him at


mark ramsden

February 22, 2010 @ 13:13

Dear Patrick, this is a great column. I’d prefer ‘Mark’ rather than ‘Ramsden’ but then I guess you’re the boss in your life! Very knowledgable too.

mark ramsden

February 19, 2010 @ 13:40

Superb advice, Mr Califia! Thank you…ps I have birch made from thin Rattan canes which, when tied together and not spread, gives a lovely THWACK, which must eventually bruise the hardiest bottom…

Patrick Califia

December 22, 2009 @ 10:32

Dear Pain Slut: If you’d like more marks, you might want to take an aspirin once a day for a few weeks (if there are no medical reasons against it). The aspirin will reduce your clotting factors and cause you to bruise more easily. It will also make your blood slower to clot, so be careful with your kitchen knives, and DO NOT do this if you plan to get surgery.

In my experience, the implements that leave the best marks tend to be the ones that bottoms like the least. They tend to hurt more and sting. Canes, the knots on a cat-o’nine-tails, and thin rigid paddles come to mind. I have a paddle about an inch wide made out of anodized aluminum that would leave marks on a truck tire.

Your master may simply not be working on you long enough. Unfortunately, there is a phenomenon that happens to seasoned masochists. In the beginning, they mark quite easily, and get used to wearing their marks with pride. But over time, the skin gets tougher, even if it still feels nice and sensitive, and so you stop getting those bruises or welts. How unfair is that? You can go through a very heavy session and yet come away with no lasting reminders of the play.

Sorry to say, there is no remedy for this short of breaking the skin.

IF all you want is a red bottom rather than a bruised one, you should be able to experience that at any stage of your masochistic career. I advise a bent-over position that pulls the skin very taut, and then a prolonged paddling with the hand, and then a wooden paddle. That ought to bring out the roses.

Perhaps you need to find a way to motivate your well-equipped master. What is the point of having all those toys if you don’t get them down off the wall?–Patrick

Patrick Califia

December 22, 2009 @ 10:25

Dear Ramsden: Should all male bottoms have their bottoms shaved? Oh, what a lovely thought that is. I am of two minds. On the one hand, I do admire the more hirsute male. A nice thick pelt is quite erotic for me. But I do have to admit I prefer it more to the chest area and not so much on the derriere. When I am fortunate enough to have a furry little bear cub in my retinue (or a retinue at all), well, I do like to at least shave a nice wide stripe up the middle of that butt.

The bare ass is just more sensitive. Why should the bottom have a protective layer of fuzz? No no no. And obvious issues of hygeiene arise as well. Plus, removing a man’s hair is a way of claiming his body and also marking him as a sub that I enjoy. A sort of subtle ongoing possessiveness.


Just Another Pain Slut

November 9, 2009 @ 14:03

oh, he very rarely warms me up, maybe he just has a weak arm or something.

mark ramsden

November 9, 2009 @ 00:09

sorry to butt in on PC’s advice column but if you have no warkm up you will get stronger stripes. It’ll hurt like hell but six strong, from the shoulder swipes should get you some impressive tramlines. And a very sore bottom…

Just Another Pain Slut

November 8, 2009 @ 15:05

My Master has many implements of torture, and I would love the red red reddest bottom, but all I can get out of him is a few stripes that fade after a few hours. What to do?


November 8, 2009 @ 12:46

Mark Ramsden, eh – good to hear from you!
A sub who enjoys being caned, who floats off to ecstasy after the first couple of dozen strokes, who relishes her stripes. Oooh yes. Time for a cold shower…

mark ramsden

November 8, 2009 @ 09:33

shoud have been ‘I GREW black all my body hair etc”

sorry. some little bastard stold my glasses on the underground while picking my wallet so proofreading a little too random at present…

white devil wrestling mask viewable on my Forum posts, haven’t figured out Gravatars yet…

mark ramsden

November 8, 2009 @ 09:27

Dear Patrick,
thoroughly enjoying your erudition and expertise. The origin of ‘six of the best’ is indeed a conundrum. (In use since 1700 ia all I could find…)

While it’s great to hear your compliments on Briti kinkiness, what about the fraternity and sorority initiation with the dreaded paddle and various hazing techniques? Rather more severe and twisted than anything our college students go through, surely? Should definitely be adopted over here…

As for sissies, I was Mastering at Madame Caramel’s fem dom club, Club Black Whip, the other night, well, mostly enjoying the hospitality, especially when one gorgreous mistress said, “You’re a MASTER! I could switch for the right person. Look me up.” I was wearing a mask, which helped, as my tight little butt is my only photogenic body part,. The wise and wonderful Mistress (of Zen) Opium was spanking a sub, gently and he kept saying the safeword, “Red, red, red!”. We could not stop laughing. His hairy (ugh!) bottom should have been much ‘red, red, redder’…

I grown back all my body hair (was a tranny bitd) but all male bottoms should be shave in my humble opinion. Perhaps I should ask whether you agree in another letter. Love your column anyway,
much respect
Mark Ramsden
the Dulk of Milan (profile on Informerdconsent.)
A giver and receiver of the cane…

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