Updates for the Recently Deceased:

March 17, 2018
Where hath your Madame gone, lately?

Well, in December, I was in a coma. Had pneumonia, lungs failed, on life support, almost died. Had to fully recover once extubated (VERY Exorcist, roman shower fetishists would have loved it). Have returned to being a POWERHOUSE. Physically more healthy than I've been in years, stronger (going to the gym a lot), and quit smoking - to some of your chagrin. 

I've made this site more mobile-friendly.
I had a beautiful session with My trans chastity slave. 
I have started to use Twitter and Facebook again. 

Enjoy a session in photos:


On the Flimsy Nature of Submission

January 18, 2018
Many submissives have a dichotomous relationship with being Dominated:

On one hand, they can be fastidious, dedicated, focused, and unyielding in the face of adversity.

But on the other hand, they can be finicky, wishy-washy, unreasonably preferential, and living more in fantasy than reality.

Dominance should optimize. A good Dominant will use a submissive to the best of their ability; a smile will creep across His/Her face when the slave has done an impressive thing. A great Dominant will take the time to figure out the aspirations of the slave, and use them to achieve that end. A primary focus for a truly wonderful Dominant will be to push the slave to accomplish every goal, hit the bucket list, become a far better creature (and therefore a better tool for the Dominant). 

Dominance should enhance. Physiological health should improve - fitness, emotional well-being, endurance, strength, and ultimately longevity. A puny, weak, emotionally unstable slave does no good for any Dominant. I don't Dominate children, animals, or the mentally incapacitated. Why? It's already established that they're below the capacity to benefit from My Dominance and are clearly not a challenge. I don't Dominate a wet blanket, either. 

Dominance should benefit. Despite the seemingly selfish nature of a Dominant in popular culture (and poor executors of Dominance), a good D/s relationship at the least should be beneficial to both parties in some perceptible way. Minimum. A great D/s relationship will create a comfortable positive dynamic where both parties feel more in control of their lives during their interactions (or comfortably out-of-control for slaves who enjoy that). A wonderful D/s dynamic is similar to a "power couple" - both parties will achieve their dreams and become integral parts of each other's continued success. 

Should any of these fall out of balance, a Domino effect is created - and everything falls apart. But always remember: Dominance should optimize, not erode. 

Calculating a Podcast

June 24, 2017
So, I have been putting forth effort in other areas than social media lately. I obviously have BDSM on My mind most of the time, if not always churning away in the background, but I have been paving a new path for Myself.

I am going to be creating a podcast. 

I have questions, ready and willing experts in their respective psychological fields, I'm building equipment. 

If you'd like to help, email TheMadame@MadameRax.com with information about yourself, including:

Capacity to aid:
Willing time to work:
Realistic assessment of your contribution:
Have you done anything like this before:
Examples of work done in the past:
And personal contact information, details.

Constructing a Submissive Cue Glossary

December 14, 2016
In BDSM, communication is key. But what happens when dirty talk or extensive discussion - or even words themselves - are the enemy? 

Construct a glossary and give it to your Dominant.

If verbal communication is not your primary method of externalizing how you feel, you can think of all of the ways you show your feelings. Take a photo of each face or gesture, put it in a chart, and use a brief sentence to explain how you feel in any given situation.

This does not have to be a graphic, though a glossary of faces and gestures would be helpful. It can be told verbally at some point, or even demonstrated. It can also be written in list form:

* If I nuzzle my head against your body, this means I am being affectionate, though I would appreciate more physical contact.

* When I start to space out, I am becoming anxious and need to be pulled out of the situation I am in at the moment.

* Whining indicates that I am feeling a bit antagonized and would like to calm the session or play down.

* Crying is not a bad thing. If I am positioning in a more submissive way, that means I am open and vulnerable. I prefer to be handled as strictly as possible during this time. 

There are so many ways to communicate, but it is also paramount that you understand while your Dominant may be very intuitive, nobody is a complete mind reader. Expecting something without making a statement is a rude and bratty behavior - one that I only tolerate to a point. Once the threshold of insolence is crossed, it is hard to get back on My good side. But coming up with ways to show that you want something is a perfect way to let a Dominant know what is going on with you without necessarily explaining it in the moment. 

All Women Secretly Love Being Dominated

December 10, 2016
If you have ever read the comments on an article about consent or courting women, you will likely see the phrase "deep down, all women love to be dominated." I am personally met with inquiries fairly regularly: "Madame, You are a powerful, sexy woman, I bet You just LOVE let your hair down and take the business end of a whip, or get a firm backhand from an Alpha Male, right?" After all, it would make sense to be a Person-of-Power activity - male CEOs have the stereotype that they all love to get spanked on their sparse days off... why would a boss bitch, especially a Domme, be any different?

For Me, here is why I am different:

Since childhood, when it comes to works of fiction, I always identified much more with the villain of a story than the hero. I did not want to hang out with Ariel, I wanted to be Ursula the sea witch. Sure, the hopelessly romantic rebel teen girl seemed ostensibly charming, but I would throw her into oncoming traffic to get closer to Ursula. I preferred the evil fairies and the ice queens, even the male villains; the cunning and deviant Scar. Don’t even get Me started on Jafar, that witty, sensual, intelligent, and well-spoken creature. I would have chewed Aladdin up and spit him out. The heroes were hapless dimwits who may have been slightly clever but were so much more one-dimensional. They took on the load of heroism at the cost of the complex motive. Going against the grain, rather than always rooting for the victor is more My speed, anyway. I never liked wholesome, except to devour it - in that way, I am a Big Bad Wolf. Even in stories with more than one perceptible villain-type, I tend to find one I adore; I found the Wizard of Oz to be a charlatan, but the true hero was the Wicked Witch of the West (which was confirmed, to My extreme joy, by the play Wicked - which I saw with one of my closest friends). 

I am attracted to vulnerability. And seeing how much a person is willing to do, in order to please Me. How far down into your spirit can I peer My sharp eyes? And how deeply can I be let in, so that I can swim around your psyche? I appreciate possession; the passion of intense fixation. The stuff that is deemed oh-so-unhealthy by the psychiatrists of yesteryear. Forge your own individual identity, they say - and you should - so that I can absorb its power. 

I get along with intellectual male Dominants only when they are calm, cool, and do not try to assert their personalities over Me. It is not that I devalue the role of the submissive - it's that I am in love with the dynamic it creates between U/us. Dominant Madame Rax + Dominant Overeager Jerkoff with Shit to Prove = annoyance. I become rather irritated and wish to disregard the presence of the other so-called Dominant. But when I step into a position of guidance and leadership, I hit transient hypofrontality. A beautiful state of flow that washes over Me like a calm and intense power. I am focused, on point, and hit all of the marks. And it is SO rewarding when I know the other person involved is doing this with all of their agency. 

Have I tried submission? Yes. I have tried it the way a naturally masculine man slips into a dress with hairy legs, broad shoulders, and clunks like a caveman in heels. I have tried it, like learning a foreign language I do not care to pronounce or listen to. I am capable of it, but it is not preferable to Me. When I become incredibly aroused, I also transform into a more aggressive, hands-on, commanding, bitey creature. In summary, I prefer to be on top (psychologically) at all times.  

50 Shades of Trump: A Dominatrix's View.

October 12, 2016

Surprise, surprise. Back to talking about 50 Shades again. Because if there's anything more beloved by the masses than taking BDSM out of context, it's using it to excuse abuse and violation. 

Starting off: there is an extreme difference between Dominance and abuse. That difference is consent. Consent is a ubiquitous necessity, even for vanilla people! A lack of it is what elevates the average sexual experience from intercourse to sexual assault. It's what changes boxing to attempted murder. That's what shifts the post from "getting a few drinks and having a one night stand" to date rape. Deficiency of consent is even what changes a silent protest into a violation of the first amendment. It transforms fun consensual bondage into an actual prison term. This EXACT same concept is applicable to a million different scenarios, some of which involve a sexual component, but many that do not.

Dominance is included in such aforementioned scenarios. BDSM involves a voluntary exchange of some power (and potentially nearly ALL power, in the case of TPE slave ownership) from an initiator to a secondary party. The key observation involves the fact that there has to be an initiating party. A seeker, a person in search of, someone who is yearning. It cannot just be SPRUNG upon someone, on the off chance that they're "okay" with the Dominant introducing a piss-poor behavior or inherently violent act, such as assault. An act, which, if intentionally sought out, would be perfectly fine to negotiate and execute, as long as both parties were enthusiastically ready and willing to participate. Without initiation, though... it's a problem. Further, what many vanilla observers do not realize is that this power exchange involves a huge amount of trust - dedication, agreement, negotiation, facilitated execution, and quite often mutual love, admiration, or at least respect. 

So let's talk about Trump, shall we? Not that I'm particularly enthusiastic about discussing inhuman scumbags, but it's necessary to myth-bust this idea that all men, especially those of a Dominant ilk, will or should (given half a chance) behave or speak about women in this fashion. Without further ado, here are some of the things the Donald has said about women:

"Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Whatever you want. Grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything."

"Well, I'll tell you the funniest is that before a show, I'll go backstage and everyone's getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I'm allowed to go in because I'm the owner of the pageant and therefore I'm 'inspecting' it..."

"You know, I'm inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good. You know, the dresses. 'Is everyone okay?' You know, they're standing there with no clothes. 'Is everybody okay?' And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that."

Back to what I said about consent. Even in a case where the perceptible arrangement is a D/s (Dominant/submissive) one, it is not ever acceptable in BDSM to simply grab a woman by her genitals. It is not okay to force yourself on her; Christian Grey, Donald Trump, or otherwise. As a seasoned professional who has helped D/s couples reach optimal control/surrender differentials in their relationships, I've never once suggested any Dominant force themselves on a submissive - even when they've been together for years and trust each other with their lives. Such an action could very well dissolve trust, therefore rendering the relationship abusive, rather than a BDSM-oriented configuration. 

Whether or not you put stock in the idea of "rape culture" there is definitely an air of toxic masculinity in modern America. Sure, there are family-oriented men in the GOP who renounce Donald Trump's horrible behavior (just like Trump fervently denounced Anthony Weiner as a sexual deviant and pervert...), and those men should be thought of as decent humans. But the ones who are not should be weeded out and systematically ruined. 

There are few occasions that I have to address BDSM in the mainstream media, but it seems like that amount is getting higher with passing weeks. I shall be spending a good portion of time interviewing professionals in the field of psychology, BDSM, and other related studies, and releasing those quite soon. If you have leads, friends, contacts, or other opportunities (suggestions, even) - I'm all ears. 

Managing a Harem Effectively.

October 7, 2016
In my time, I've managed quite a few groups of humans. Some of which were lovers, friends, cohabitants, volunteers, slaves. I have had simultaneous lovers living with Me, and I've had lovers living in separate spaces who came together with Me. It can be very difficult to manage these groups, but I've acquired some helpful tips for those who are brave (and perhaps ridiculous) enough to walk in My shoes. But it is also necessary to provide a solid foundation on which to give this information:

There are many configurations of polyamory. Some, such as polyfidelitous dynamics, will involve a primary partner, a secondary (or "satellite," "peripheral," whichever term is used) partner, and one other partner - all parties involved are faithful to one another and no outside seeking is happening. For the purpose of this article, I am addressing a specific, kink-friendly configuration, where there is one primary Dominant partner, who has multiple submissive partners (who may themselves also have other dynamics, but are not necessary to mention here). 

So, what are the tips? 

1. Practice "Gauging" Your Partners - This involves many things. First and foremost, as usual, is communication. It is integral to a successful management style to ensure that you are communicating as openly and honestly with your submissives as possible. If you are unsure about some of their feelings, ask gauging questions:

"how do you feel about ___________?" -
"would you feel uneasy if I __________?" -
"how are things progressing with ___________?"
"have your feelings changed surrounding any of our interactions?"

Being a submissive doesn't mean you give up your preferences or feelings completely (although some may take comfort in feeling "alleviated" from the burden of particulars like that) - so it is necessary to remind them that you have their best interests at heart. If one is being cold, distant, withdrawn, or sullen, be sure to communicate that you wish to know what the problem is. Address the issue from a firm but empathetic standpoint. Primary motivation should be to understand their point of view first, and then seek to explain your implementation, actions, etc. As a submissive, they are often predisposed to softening or hiding their feelings in order to spare yours. This is not a good habit, and should be discussed (neutrally rather than accusingly) as immediately as it shows up, to prevent communication barriers going forth. Learn to accommodate their language into yours. Make them feel safe, comfortable, and comforted. Absorb them into your world, but recognize their individual talents, contributions, and value. 

2. Delegate Responsibility According to Ability. - If you have a partner who is good at certain things, but not others, play to that advantage. A submissive who is wonderful with phone communication can be integral to a Primary that dislikes it (due to any number of issues, such as audio processing difficulties). Group messages and texts can be helpful to coordinate tasks or chores, and finding each submissive's Sweet Spot with regard to their comfort and ability can be priceless. If one is great with photography, they can archive the relationship. Is one a gifted writer? They can draft any documentation or contracts - or keep a household journal. A chef, mechanic, number cruncher? Perfect for any various needs around the house or with the Primary's belongings. They can even help each other out, if asked and accepted. A household calendar and routine is also excellent: Cozi Calendar offers a perfect solution to household scheduling, and sends out text reminders, etc. Brightnest keeps track of cleaning chores. Mint is great for commingled finances and keeping track of budgets/spending. 

3. Encourage Enhancement; Recognize Achievement
- This one sounds like a no-brainer, but is often the most overlooked part of managing a group of submissives. Without a set of specific tasks, many submissives feel lost; without an anchor or direction. Because of this, it is helpful to form a list of ways they can better themselves and go to it as soon as they start to feel antsy that they aren't getting your full attention. This way, they can occupy their time without necessarily monopolizing yours (even though they may want to), and they will have something they can be proud of, to show for it. It is here that I will suggest a 101 in 1,001. This setup, from the Day Zero Project, is a way to ensure that goals will be met in a time-sensitive fashion. Bonus: there are lots of inspirational posts about goals other people have met to get your creative juices flowing. As the Primary, be sure to recognize achievements as valid and appreciate them with your full enthusiasm - overlooking a proud accomplishment is a surefire way to make a submissive miserable. This method can even be applied to submission: if they want to improve or find ways to clean, cook, or manage their submission effectively, that can be added to the list! 

4. If a Crisis or Emergency Arises, Shift Group Focus - A sudden health problem, emergency, violation, or any situation that comes up needs to be taken care of in the most supportive way. So if any one member of your sub group faces an extreme challenge that might force you to prioritize them for a period of time, shift the group focus to that person. Let the other submissives know that there is a NEED for the injured/critical party to acquire support and aid, and that it is a group effort to make the ailing member whole again. Be clear about what can be done, who can do it, and start working on the plan immediately. A Primary doesn't need to be an army of one, if they have a small army behind them. This sort of working together is also helpful if there isn't as great of a need as the submissive is asking - if they are just seeking attention and exaggerating their need, it will be quickly revealed and stopped. Each initiation of emergency status should be considered in earnest before any "testing" or accusing with regard to dishonesty, however. Never approach a situation with blame or inconsiderate words. 

5. Distribute Rewards Evenly Unless Otherwise Specified - If you start off showering your submissives with gifts, praise, rewards, or other goodies - but slowly start to reward one more than the others (due to lack of funds or attention), be aware that this will be difficult for the other submissives. Communicate clearly and honestly about how things may change (using neutral explanations rather than "you're not as good" measures). If a submissive seems to desire more physical gifts, be sure to find out if the others are secretly resentful of this change. If a submissive seems more or less comfortable with their rewards, address that. 

6. Familiarize Yourself with the Tools of the Trade - Managing a group requires an arsenal of tools for communication, delegation, arbitration, mindfulness, and care. One metaphor I have seen and accept is the "garden" variety. Take a hard look at your available plot, decide what you want to grow, plant the seeds according to their individual needs, shower with sunshine, fertilizer, and fresh air, cull the weeds, take stock of any plants that are not doing well, fix them, and enjoy a bountiful harvest. As a literal translation (for those of you who need it): examine and consider how much time and what resources you have at your disposal for care and attention, decide what goals you have for your group, invest time and effort into learning and caring for each submissive, enrich their experience using your skills, nip problematic elements in the bud, address problems, solve them effectively, and reap the benefits of group time, attention, and talent. Keep in mind that this is a beautiful way to live, if you have the wherewithal to try it out, be patient, and commit to making a huge effort. 

So, now that you've thought about how to proceed, it is integral that you remind yourself of these elements, because they will be non-native to you for at least the first year or two. It isn't until you've been managing submissives for a long time that these tactics are revealed, let alone reflexive. In theory, a harem seems like a self-contained unit at your disposal, without putting much effort in, but you will be One Sorry Primary if you are garbage at these things. And remember... mutiny is never a fun experience!

Fifty Shades Darker.

September 28, 2016
Sometimes, I cannot believe I am addressing this 50 Shades nonsense. 

But I do anyway, because I would be remiss to ignore a cultural phenomenon that affects My precious community.

Getting down to it:

Essentially, 50 Shades of Grey created a fairly unhealthy, romanticized view of abuse for plenty of people (with little or no prior exposure to BDSM proper) who watched it. In BDSM, there is no shortage of outrageous nonsense, including aggressive blowjob videos that spin a BDSM session fantasy in many potential clients who believe I will be their "naughty porn star." So, it is not solely 50 Shades that I can blame for giving a false impression of either the community or members of it. In fact, even Short Bus (a film that I love), taken a bit out of context due to lack of exposure can lead some viewers to believe all Dominatrices are sullen, mopey, inherently submissive characters who lack a control over their own life that can only be replaced by controlling others. It is with this in mind that there starts to be a clear view of how inaccurate most media exposure in BDSM. But which came first, the chicken or the egg? One can suppose that it doesn't matter, or that these experiences may actually exist, these archetypes could be real, I just manage to somehow never see them... at any rate, your mileage may vary. But as for 50 Shades Darker - 

The trailer started off a typical romantic plot, full of platitudes and garbage. The very beginning invites you to forget the past. Christian Grey announces his lack of anticipation of how he felt for "the girl," who in turn demanded the situation must change if they were going to rekindle their "great BDSM love story" (that, mind you, didn't exist). He promises to change. Then eventually within the last 30 seconds, the plot thickens, everything escalates visually, and a crescendo of music lets you know that Shit Gets Real at some point.

It is not clear to whom this trailer is directed: people who want to get into 50 Shades but cannot bring themselves to sexualize abusive relationships? Those who hated the original film for putting out garbage on behalf of our community? An errant housewife who thought the first was a little much, but saw potential if things were corrected? Abusers who want to view themselves in this light? The demographic is confusing at best. 

There were many ways this story could have been told, developed, and ultimately marketed to audiences. Did they maximize the mainstream attraction to BDSM without all the responsibility involved? Perhaps. It could be argued that I am rehashing every Domme's unhappiness with popular depictions of BDSM in art. Or that "even bad publicity is good publicity" - a statement with which I do not agree - and I should just be happy that the average stay at home mom can use this piece as masturbatory fodder to get her juices flowing in the direction of D/s relationships. Sure, those points can be argued, but 50 Shades could have done their due diligence in outlining that this should not be the average experience for BDSM-led relationships. 

Praise for Well-Behaved Submissive Men.

August 27, 2016
It is with a dichotomy that We in the Pro-Domme sphere regard men:

On the one hand, our biggest flakes, most disgusting situations, worst scenes, and godawful experiences are with men.

On the other hand, our biggest fans, most wonderful situations, best scenes, and ecstatic experiences are with men.

A horrible "slave" is a wanna-be, big talker/no action douchebag, a loser of the highest order (whose dick size I won't even give them the satisfaction of addressing), and I've seen accounts of violent stalkers, out-ers, perpetrators of assault, threatening idiots, and other nonsense. I have had quite a bit of luck in the past ten years, Myself - I can count on one hand the number of times I've been so disgusted by a situation I've kicked a slave out of My session. And I don't receive threats or anything else, on the regular. If I did, I would probably address the situation so hard and so publicly (plus I have a wicked terrifying support system to call upon) that they would never leave the primordial slime from which they crawled in the first place. On the "better" end of the shit spectrum, we have these folks: wailing manbabies with terrible excuses for their ridiculous behavior, ones who see they make all of their own problems, who just use BDSM as a band-aid rather than a tool for growth, and who focus almost exclusively on themselves. Gross. 

A good slave is an obedient, appreciative, wonderful being; one with a good amount of pre-existing self-discipline, a sense of duty, and a fastidious nature. They delight in My pleasure, but also their own growth. Whenever I experience a moron slave wanna-be I think to Myself, "you know, if only they knew the sort of slave I deal with on the regular. Then they would feel embarrassed about their own behavior and realize how LITTLE I care about handling an idiot." And then there's a tier higher than this...

An EXCELLENT slave is one who regards Me in the highest honor. Who, like a very adoring boyfriend, would move mountains to please Me. If I mention I want something, he will take great care in finding that thing and gifting it to Me. If I mention I'm having trouble will listen and respond thoughtfully, supportively, and with consideration. This slave will suggest enriching My life in any way possible: book recommendations, places to visit, restaurants to attend, events in the scene. It is with this sort of slave, exclusively, that I have more of a heartfelt, mutually appreciative bond with, whom I will guide from My heart rather than My head (not that there's much of an appreciable difference in output, since I am a professional first and foremost), and whom I will treat preferentially and adore. Groom them like a sweet laboratory animal, on which I will lovingly test all of My new inventions and ideas. 

In a study conducted by Kathryn Klement (with some involvement of My oft-mentioned Dr. Brad Sagarin), Participating in a Culture of Consent May Be Associated With Lower Rape-Supportive Beliefs. Submissive men (who are often more likely to experience sexism in BDSM than to be the target) are painted as weak, disgusting, puddles of useless filth than Dominant women, and I find that heinous. It takes extraordinary bravery to own your submission, and when it is done tactfully, elegantly, and respectfully seeking out the services of a Professional Dominatrix, I can think of nothing I adore more on the planet. I may be married to a vanilla person, but I am also married to My loyal, sweet, humble slaves who contribute great things to My life. The Sadist in Me craves the complimentary opposite masochist in you. And My love languages are many, varied, and primarily sacrifice-oriented. 

As a kid I always appreciated the characters who had lavish lives. Those who were showered with gifts and luxury. When their surrounding cast would go to great lengths just to please their every whim. At the same time, I was cognizant that there was no lap of luxury without the beautiful creatures who surrounded them in that environment. Sure, I could sit on a gold throne, alone, looking down on the world from a television, but I'd much rather have the warmth of a human with a freshly beaten ass to act as My furniture or ashtray. There are few things in life I consider more joyful for Me to envision, or to be a part of. 

And so it is with appreciation that I tell the good and especially EXCELLENT slaves: I bear witness to your growth. I follow you in your struggle. I will dole out harsh words if I find you are abusing My auxiliary body, "yours" that I have ownership of, and will caress it after I bring it to a painful rapture. I appreciate the yin to My yang, and will forevermore be delighted of your existence, dedicating so much of Myself to making it the Best, Strongest, Most Owned, Most Submissive vessel it can be.  

Michael Phelps' kink links: BDSM and Cupping!

August 13, 2016
Michael Phelps is no stranger to controversy. Just as he excels in his respective sports, he draws a commensurate amount of attention to his personal life. In 2004, he was arrested and sentenced to 18 months' probation for a DUI charge. In 2009, a photo was published where he was smoking a bong filled with marijuana. This caused him to receive disciplinary action from several sponsor companies, and seemed to damage his relationship with some of his younger fans. In 2012, he was arrested again on a DUI charge. Additional charges were added for excessive speed and crossing the double line. It seems this Baltimore Bullet had personal demons to fight. So he entered rehab and seemed to shape up his personal image. 

But those were his public woes. He's had a few brushes with his private life going public as well. Between 2013 and now, he has been linked to:

  • Kim Petro, a Dominatrix, who allegedly gave him a golden shower and allowed him to masturbate while wearing women's panties. 
  • Taylor Lianne Chandler, an intersex model born with limited male genitalia who admitted she had surgery to construct a "normal" vagina in her 20s and did not reveal the presence of any mutation to Phelps. 
  • A sex worker named Theresa White who had many encounters with Phelps, including a spontaneous threesome. 
  • An onslaught of one night stands which included kinky details, and apparently simultaneous to his relationship with his now-wife, Nicole Johnson. 
Once you see the sort of battles he fought with respect to the onlooking public, it makes sense that he would need to repair his image. An analysis of his repair campaign was conducted and found to have been successful. So is it possible that his "cupping" therapy is actually a veiled way for him to practice BDSM in the public eye without a scandal? Absolutely. 

In both BDSM and alternative "medicinal" therapy, "cupping" is used to refer to a multi-faceted practice (executed several different ways).

"Wet" cupping is a practice where water is introduced into a cup suctioned against the skin, and typically involves drawing a bit of blood, which can look very painful to the average observer.

"Dry" cupping is generally done with a suction pump attached to a nozzle on the opposite side of where the cup meets the skin. This is the kind used by Phelps. It can utilize a fire element, but it is not necessary. 

"Fire" cupping is carried out using a hemostat to rub a flaming alcohol-soaked cotton ball around the entire inside of a glass cup, pulling the cotton ball out, and quickly affixing the glass to the skin. Due to the fire strangling out oxygen and creating a vacuum, this method will draw the skin up slowly by itself, rather than using a pump to aid the process. 

Because many practitioners often love fire play, the third method, fire cupping, is the most widely used method in BDSM. But there are certainly accounts of fire cupping at play in the BDSM community that do not use fire.

All of that said, if Phelps were interested in receiving a BDSM experience without the potential of tabloid exposure* -- a dry cupping in full view of the public while other Olympians engaged in the practice would be a perfect cover. And he should not be shamed for it, ever. 

* I am personally morally opposed, in the most resolute of ways, to a Domme exposing her clientele for the sake of becoming a tabloid star. May a thousand bedbugs infest the sad, garbage life of Kim Petro. 

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