Safety in the BDSM Dungeon: Your Guide to Safer Kink


This article has been written for TRACKS Magazine and the Queensland Injectors Health Network (QuIHN).

Safety in the BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sado-Masochism or Slave/Master) dungeon seems like a contradiction in terms really – considering the dungeon is where some people willingly go to be tortured, tormented, violated and humiliated.  However, safety does in fact set the scene for all BDSM play for both the administrators and recipients.  At the very forefront of professional BDSM practice, is the Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK) philosophy that acts as both a guideline and an industry standard when practiced routinely every time there is any (unwilling) risk of potential harm to self or other.

Discuss before your session, what your safe word is.  Don’t make it a word like ‘stop’ or ‘don’t’ as it may be confused with consent in BDSM play.  Use a plain word like ‘mercy’ or ‘red’.  This ensures that if any injuries occur or are occurring there is a plan to stop, drop and check up on what is going on.  Always have the necessary equipment to cut through rope or chain in an emergency, such as a bolt cutter or scissors.  Be aware of breathing, sounds, smells, skin colour, and temperature, as well as what is being said.  Try to avoid being under the influence of drugs or alcohol where possible but if you or your client will be taking drugs, plan ahead, have all your own equipment and dispose of your equipment properly.  The BDSM world is mostly about the head fuck but never leave a bound person unattended, ever!  Discontinue BDSM play until all is well for you both.

Due to the nature of sex work and BDSM, the potential for direct (or indirect) contact with blood, faeces (shit), urine (piss), spit and semen (cum) is high, resulting in a direct correlation with an increased risk of possible exposure to sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) like Herpes, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) commonly known as Wart Virus, Chlamydia or Gonorrhoea and blood born virus’ (BBV’s) such as Syphilis, Hepatitis A, B and C or HIV.  It is therefore imperative that all preventative steps are taken to minimise this risk and increase our pleasure by incorporating safer sex practices into every aspect of sex, sex work and BDSM play.

It is equally important to point out that there is very little risk of contracting or transmitting HIV and other BBV’s or STI’s if you use condoms and water-based lubricant correctly.  Unfortunately it is still (wrongfully) illegal in some states in Australia for those with HIV to sex work or pay a sex worker for sex but let’s remember that HIV is a virus and not a crime (Scarlet Alliance, 2009).  There is also consensual sex and sex work between peers who live with HIV.  We all have the right to seek and receive sexual pleasure as long as we are not harming others in the process – unless of course controlled harm and harming is consensual.

As far a sex worker’s go, most of us in the sex industry are aware of how to do sex work safely before, during and after, as par for the course.  Let’s face it, it’s our livelihood and in our best interests to ensure that all risks are minimised and/or eliminated from our working environment.  A higher number of sexual partners does not necessarily mean there is an increased likelihood of having an STI.  On the contrary, sex workers are more vigilant about safer sex practices and condom use (Scarlet Alliance, 2009) than the general public.  Therefore, we cannot assume everyone else behaves accordingly in their everyday life.  The onus is on every single one of us sex workers, Mistress’s and Master’s, clients, sub’s and slave’s and Vanilla’s to insist that all play involving contact with the genitals, anus or blood, be done so safely and hygienically for everyone concerned.

This means the routine use of prophylactics (condoms) for intercourse and toys, anti-bacterial toy cleaner, dental dams, lubricants, latex rubber gloves for needle and anal play, clean needles or picks, needle disposal units, lined rubbish bins, baby wipes, hand sanitizer’s, equipment sterilising, and frequently cleaning your sheets and towels to minimise pubic lice (Crabs), bed bugs and scabies.  Remember when you are asked to violate someone’s arse with your fist; you need rubber gloves, and lots of lube.  If you are reaming it with a toy or strap on, then you also need condoms!  Create a barrier between you and it.

STI’s are transmitted through body fluids like semen and mucus such as natural fluids in the vagina and those left on unprotected sex toys.  Herpes can also be transmitted via kissing to the genital’s or mouth.  BBV’s like Hep A, B, C and HIV are transmitted via blood, syringes, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk.  It is important to be aware of any cuts, lesions or abrasions on your fingers and in your mouth, as well as on the genitals.  Condoms act as a barrier to blood and fluid born viruses.  HIV is not transmissible by kissing, saliva, spit, urine or faeces, as large amounts are required to be passed on and the virus cannot survive for long outside the body.  However Hepatitis A and B can be transmitted by having unprotected mouth to anal play (Rimming).

Cleaning and caring for your sex toys will stop the transmission of STI’s.  In most cases warm soapy water will suffice if your dildo/vibrator is made out of rubber, latex, silicone or glass depending on whether or not it is waterproof.  If it isn’t, then a good quality anti-bacterial toy cleaner spray to use with a tissue will also suffice.  Boiling dildo’s for 3 minutes or putting them through a hot dishwasher cycle will also work but may damage them a lot quicker (Respect Inc).  Similarly, whips, paddles and canes and chains can be washed in warm soapy water and dried and/or shined with leather and wood polish.

Disposing of used condoms, gloves, needles, syringes, blades, swabs, pads, tampons, bandages etc, need a little bit more individual attention.  Condoms should be tied to avoid spillage of the semen, wrapped in a tissue and placed in a lined rubbish bin.  Similarly, with latex gloves.  These are taken off and naturally go inside out, therefore trapping any bodily fluids or faecal matter within them; they can be simply put in the bin.  Swabs, pads and tampons can also be placed in a lined rubbish bin and should never be flushed down the toilet.  Needles, syringes and blades need to be placed in a sharps disposable container to avoid the risk of accidental pricks (no pun intended).  You can request these from your local QuIHN office or needle exchange program.

Most of what I have talked about is common sense.  If you keep things simple you can’t go wrong.  Keep everything clean including you.  Wash or use baby wipes before and after each client or sexual partner, in fact have a packet in your bedside drawer.  Frequently wash or sterilise all toys, canes, paddles, tawse, whips and chains.  Frequently wash bed linens and towels.  Vacuum.  Recycle your plastic shopping bags and empty your rubbish bins daily.  Wash your lingerie and underwear regularly.   Remember safety in the BDSM dungeon also applies to the bedroom, couch or kitchen table!  The thing is to always be prepared.  Keep a travel kit with condoms, lube, gloves, dams, a toy, toy spray cleaner, baby wipes, portable sharps container, needles, syringes, plastic bags, and scissors or buy a first aid kit and modify it.

REMEMBER:  Safer sex is:
Always carrying condoms with you,
Always using condoms and water-based lube (NOT Vaseline),
Ejaculation inside the condom,
Oral sex using s condom or dam,
Always using a condom when sharing sex toys and change condoms between partners,
Always using latex gloves with anal and needle play,
Mutual masturbation,
Kissing your partners nipples and
Cuddling (Queensland government, Family Planning Queensland).

If you think safety first, before you know it you will be practising safer sex without even being aware you are doing so.   Even if you started doing one or two of these recommendations, you will be reducing your likelihood of transmitting or receiving an STI or HIV.  Everyone will be happy and enjoying getting off on whatever tickles their fancy… arse…clit…or nipple.  You get my drift.  Now, go, fuck off and start organising your dungeon and start practicing Risk Aware Consensual Kink!  In the meantime, I’m feeling horny!  I might just let my fingers do the talking…

By Jezabel
© Copyright, 2012, All Rights Reserved


Family Planning Association, ‘Tonight I’m Getting Infected Condoms’, What is Safe Sex?, Queensland Government Health, September 2008.

Matthews, K., Scarlet Alliance, ‘The National Needs Assessment of Sex Workers who live with HIV’, 2008

Respect Inc, ‘Cleaning & Caring for your Sex Toys’, Fact Sheet

Scarlet Alliance, 2009. Australia Sex Worker Association, ‘HIV Is Not A Crime’, ‘The contemporary response to HIV and the law in Australia: A collection of Articles‘, booklet.

Scarlet Alliance, 2009. Australian Sex Worker Association, ‘ STI Handbook: A Reference Guide for Sex Workers to Sexually Transmitted Infections’.  Commonwealth of Australia

Coal Girls Hit Pay Dirt

Offensive Media Articles

I am referring to a recent article in the Sunday Mail (Qld), titled “Coal Girls’ Hit Paydirt at Queensland’s Booming Mining Towns”, dated 6th November, 2011, by Kathleen Donaghey, Daryl Passmore and Jackie Sinnerton.

I take great offence from the undertone of this article and the supposed research being composed by Kerry Carrington.  I am a successful private independent sex worker and I, like the majority of sex workers, use condoms with all of my clients and conduct STI checks with every client (male and female).  I also have regular health checks for my own peace of mind even though it is not required of an independent sex worker in Queensland.

It is not the sex workers who are spreading disease, as articles like this insinuate.  The truth is that sex workers have led the way in STI prevention because we are self-regulating, our bodies are our business and it is part of sex work culture to use condoms.  We are not the reason there is an increase in STI’s in the mining towns or anywhere for that matter.  The increase is largely due to our young people between the ages of 15-24, who are choosing to have un-protected sex as par for the course.  There is little or no evidence that suggests that sex workers contribute to this debate either directly or indirectly.

I am more concerned with poorly researched, speculative media articles like this that paint a false, disgusting, negative image of sex workers as less than human, unclean and ignorant.  The language these journalists have used is highly emotive and bias.  Words like prostitute, hookers, privateers and unregulated all paint a slanderous picture of sex workers generally with no regard of the socio-political implications. Suggesting that our industry is unregulated and contributing to rising statistics in STI’s is blatant misrepresentation by researcher Kerry Carrington.  Ignorance breeds ignorance in this case.  Her research is already tainted and will hold no credibility.  Articles like this, directly contribute to the stigma sex workers deal with on a regular basis from the general public.

Since the passing of New Zealand’s Prostitution Reform Act 2003, Kiwi sex workers and their consenting clients, have enjoyed decriminalisation of the sex industry with all the perks and priviledges that go along with it.  Sex workers have the same benefits as any other sole trader or business owner.  By normalising the sex industry in this way, the profession is now safer, healthier and happier for everyone concerned.   By imposing differing and contradictory bogus rules and regulations from state to state, as Australia seems hell bent of doing, does little to improve the overall health, work and safety issues that are present in our industry.

If Australians agreed to decriminalise sex work and have one national policy,  then people (clients, workers and the public) would know where each other stands and take responsibility for playing their own parts.  The Police would be available to engage with sex workers and focus on investigations and complaints more openly where violent crime against women occurs (sex worker or not).  I’m sure sex workers would feel a lot more positive about providing information to police if we knew we were not going to be victimised or charged.

The government would be able to focus on sexual health issues like the ones raised here by continuing to adequately fund sexual health services, youth and other community organisations like RESPECT Inc, who support new and existing sex workers by providing education and distribution of condoms, so they can continue to practice their work safely.  I would like to see my hard earned tax dollars being invested positively in this way!

I digress, but my point has been made.  Haven’t you, the media,  got more pressing issues to worry about other than poking your nose into an industry that you obviously know nothing about and who are not prepared to research appropriately?  Furthermore, what are you actually trying to say by referencing how much money sex workers may or may not make? Many people earn good money working (sex work, mining or other).  Who cares?

A CEO can potentially earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, in order to reflect the nature of their job and the social and political pressures that go along with it.  Is sex work any less different?  Look at the personal, social, political and public pressures sex workers have to deal with on a daily basis, so aptly demonstrated by The Sunday Mail in the article in question.  Sex workers earn and deserve every cent they make and we are appreciated by our clients, despite the presence of whorephobic journalists.  I will continue to have my say on matters that affect and concern me, my colleagues, clients, friends and family.

It saddens me that there are people in journalism who have no regard for their profession and who clearly skipped the series of lectures on professional ethics, social justice and implications of getting it wrong.  It would have been more useful to raise the issues of the increase in reported STI’s by listing current research, evidence and statistics followed by some youth friendly tips, in an attempt to raise the awareness for young people about STI’s and condoms.  Now that would have made a positive statement.  As it stands, this article is embarrassing, offensive and degrading to sex workers and their clients.


© Copyright 2011,  All Rights Reserved

Australian Prostitution Law Reform

About Sex Work

Australian prostitution law reform has a long way to go before it parallel’s New Zealand’s Prostitution Reform Act 2003.  New Zealand prostitution laws are now some of the most liberal in the world (1).  The most significant problem area’s, in my opinion, for Australian sex workers and their clients is the lack of a national policy uniting all states, and the overall decriminalisation of sex work itself.

There are particular area’s for concern with regard to the current prostitution regulations outlined by the Queensland Prostitution Licensing Authority (PLA) (2) and current police practices which appear to contradict each other.  For example, it is illegal for a client to ask for sex services without a condom (Natural) and if reported, may be charged accordingly.  However, Queensland police are proposing in an Amendment Bill 2011, to include Clause 101 in the current legislation, which allows police to continue to practice entrapment and ask sex workers for Natural (without a condom) sex services, in a supposed attempt to stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STI’s).

It doesn’t take a genius to see that under current legislation, this is illegal where individual police officers could be charged themselves for breaking the law.  There is also concern for the method in which police officers may enact entrapment.  I believe police are targeting Asians and young people in the sex industry who may not be aware of current laws and practices and who are limited in their ability to defend themselves when faced with an undercover police officer pressuring them for Natural sex services.  Many are afraid of the police, and with good reason, while others have language barriers or are just plain young and uneducated.

I’m sure we all agree that by changing a law to allow police to enforce entrapment for sex workers is a waste of tax payers money.  At the end of the day, an individual sex worker will receive a minimal $500 fine and continue on their merry way. Thousands of dollars are wasted, in a so-called attempt to reduce the spread of STI’s when in actual fact, most sex workers are familiar with condoms and use them regularly and have done so successfully for years.  The issue is not with sex workers spreading disease, but with our young people between the ages of 15 and 24 (3), who randomly have unprotected sex as par for the course.

Presently, different Australian states have different degree’s of decriminalisation and regulation and it is a legislative nightmare for sex workers who travel frequently interstate.  In Queensland for example, sex workers do not need to be registered if they are working as independents, however are required to be registered if they are working from a brothel.  In the Northern Territory (NT), all sex workers must report to and register with the police upon arrival and may only work from a licensed brothel.

As far as Queensland PLA health regulation goes, it is a compulsory requirement that all sex workers working in a brothel, have a sexual health check every 3 months. However independent sex workers do not have to have any – although it is my opinion that best practice includes having regular sexual health checks for peace of mind and health regardless of where we work from.

In conclusion, by undermining efforts to develop a cohesive prostitution law reform and raise awareness of the use of condoms by sex workers, such as the work that RESPECT INC (4) are doing, and legislating that police can continue old out-dated practices by breaking the law, is a slap in the face to any sort of prostitution law reform.  There are current anti-discrimination laws in place to protect people from this sort of harassment and vilification (5).  There are other more important area’s of actual crime where your services are desperately needed such as in homicide, theft/burglaries and domestic violence.  There is nothing wrong with offering or paying for sex services by consenting adults.

It is equally ludicrous to assume that different states have different types of sex workers that require different laws in order to provide the same sex service that has been provided for thousands of years.  Come on Australia!  Wake up and smell the roses.  The world is changing and becoming more tolerant.  Sex workers are not going away. We may as well make it safe for everyone and this includes taking opinions seriously from sex workers who have direct knowledge and experience to develop appropriate legislation for all concerned.  It makes sense that having a national cohesive prostitution law reform such as New Zealand’s, would benefit the majority of Australians.

© Copyright, 2011,  All Rights Reserved







I have included the web reference for the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, America (3) to highlight STD rates among young people between the ages of 15 and 24 as a reliable, comparable and evidential based source.