Long-standing SM gangsters The Firm have found a new home for their infamous Night of the Cane. I checked it out.
Chats Palace stands hard by Homerton Hospital, and looks like an old school where thousands of kids got thrashed by Victorian geezers in striped waistcoats; there’s probably a collection tin inside for mending the roof, and the road it stands on has villains and urchins straight out of Oliver Twist. I asked the man at the box office (strangely, a dead-ringer for Matthew Corbett) why the change of venue.
“Goldsmiths has closed”, he replied. “They’ve got builders, but this is bigger, and it looks like a school”.
“It used to be the old Homerton Library”, said a bloke, conspicuously out of dresscode with heavy rimmed glasses and serious facial jewellery. “It’s an art centre now; we get all sorts”.
Down the long ground floor corridor into a big assembly hall with a classroom set in the middle where a slim, black haired teacher was scaring the class silly with the threat of the cane – we never had no teacher like her at our school, that's for sure. Upstairs were workshops, with Madam Zak doing the first one ‘Ageplay’ – that’s all about how to behave like a schoolkid – like most blokes don’t! I made for the bar – furnished with boxing ring for the occasion – to locate the geezer of the moment, Ishmael Skyes.
I found him receiving a report from his chief lieutenant, the very old schoolmaster out of the Victorian print, then he turned to me. “Looks like I’ve got time on my hands for half an hour; mine’s a pint”. We sat down and I asked him what the crack was with Night of the Cane.
“You know the stereotype public school Tory MP being lightly and inaccurately caned by a deeply miserable prostitute - ‘genuine schoolgirl, I can give or take a really hard caning’?” He raised an enquiring eyebrow, that told me he did if I didn’t. “That’s horrible, it’s not erotic, and it’s seldom true. I’m a Socialist, I went to a comprehensive – where I wasn’t caned, however much I wanted to be, even as a teenager – and I’m delighted to say that my lover is a really skilled and enthusiastic caner.
Counting all the givers, receivers and spectators, cane aficionados are legion, but what you can’t escape with a cane is that it hurts, you can’t get those pretty stripes without that. There’s no pretending that it’s a nice cutesy, cuddly fetish like pink PVC! If you like the idea of being caned, that's going to involve an intense, burning pain on your arse – there's no painless shortcut with this one”.
Night of the Cane was about the Time Honoured Tradition?
“No, it’s more Back To Basics. The sensation of school cane on adult backside does not say indicate harm being done like pain generally does; it’s a direct intense turn-on. If you happen not to like it, don’t do it – but the message is the same with both cane and blowjob: ‘Fuck me now’.”
Fair play – provided he didn’t want me to check it out. And if that’s the basics, what’s the advanced…?
“Just fine tuning; playing with it. The core sensation is several stinging blows to the rear end; now is that going to be six or twelve, which has public school overtones; do the players dress for the occasion, if so, how; is there procedure to be followed before, during and after? Not all SM ends in fucking, in some cases denial is part of the turn on. If the game works for the people doing it, it’s right - that’s not always a popular idea.”
Like everyone’s school was the hardest for miles around with teachers to match, and that’s the only way of doing it?
“Yeah, right”, he lit a cigar, “Just one example; This guy gave me a lift back to London one time, and he was telling me to my face that the only acceptable scenario for a caning was the man dressed as a schoolboy and the women dressed as a teacher. Men caning girls was just, like, wrong, and dominatrices in PVC – f****** heresy! In every walk of life you get arseholes.” He glanced up at a face emerging from the lobby door; “Hold that thought; laters”.
I got talking with a couple at a nearby table – a zany looking hippy chick and this tiny bloke – they’d come all the way from Stoke on Trent; “It’s our first time” (her accent had to be heard to be believed) “I’ve know Ishmael a long time. This bloke’s just asked me if I want for be in a spanking video as a Dom; I said ‘No thanks, Duck, I get enough of that at work.” She was a nurse, apparently.
A voice from the serving hatch yelled “Grub up!”, and a queue formed (just like school) for baked potatoes. At the counter, a nutter in an adult-sized romper suit grinned at me, nodding to the list of fillings, “Coronation Kitten! I’ve been getting grief all night about that!”
Shortly after that came the huge exodus from bar to assembly hall for the big event – the Ivor Gold Golden Caning Competition - compere Ivor Dembina and his glamorous assistant Ms Bossyboots took the stage and announced the judges Madam Clare (retired dominatrix), Miss Prim (adult schoolmistress), and Dr Peter Birch (pornographer), then the first contestants were called to the stage Madam Zak caning a man named Leppy while wearing boxing gloves. The judges did not seem to see the funny side.
There were about a dozen pairs of contestants doing six of the best each, some were mustard, but not all by any means, and then a conjurer came on stage to amuse while the scores were counted. After he had pulled magical coins out of people's lugholes, the winners were called up; Richard and Leia; he hadn’t seemed much cop, but her legs went all the way up, and I reckon that’s what swung it.
After the competition, I bent the ear of Dr Peter Birch; how did he rate the form?
“It does seem to be mainly novices this year, but caning is serious stuff. Learning to cane isn’t actually that difficult – providing you can co-ordinate hand and eye, you’re on the way to a lot of fun – but learning to cane well, that’s a slightly different story. True expertise takes art and technique, which means practice, but that’s really the fun of it! Among real SMers, this is a very popular turn-on, so there is a lot of expertise among professionals and amateurs alike, but it’s not a great showing this year, I have to say.”
I asked who Ivor Gold was.
“Ivor ran the Red Stripe Spanking Club, until he was murdered some years ago (nothing to do with CP, I hasten to add). He was a very well liked and respected figure on The Scene, and the trophy is in his memory”.
I met Ishmael at the door on my way home. He seemed pleased with the evening, I asked him if there was anyone who he’d exclude. He cracked a grin.
“I’ve welcomed paid up, card carrying Tory election agents into this gig before now… Night of the Cane has to be a broad church or it don’t work; Het, Gay, Dyke, Bi, Dom, Sub or whatever, Martians, yeah… Not Daleks though.”
Which makes you wonder if SM and the cane really is safe in the hands that wield it. I asked him if he thinks it’s dangerous.
“Not on it’s own, no, but if you find anyone who doesn’t respect your consent, who’ll tell you you’ve got to take six just 'cos they’re mad with you, and they’re entirely sincere in saying that you are bad and deserve to be punished, then however cool those canes look, they’ve stopped being sex-toys and started a new career as tools of abuse and control. So shoot the abusive bastard or bitch in the kneecaps and run like fuck – they’ll respect you for it in the end.”