Welcome back to the final installment in my three-part series, Interview with a Dominant. Over the last two weeks, I interviewed DJ Black (A Voice in the Corner) and Secret Spanko, and this week, I have James Johnson of Stormy Night Publications, my publisher.
I got to talking with James when I first submitted a book to Stormy Night almost two years ago. I was totally in the closet then and kind of nervous about it all, and James was great. I almost didn't feel embarrassed at all ;) and I've loved working with him. I find him to be friendly, open and so very patient. I've learned a ton from him (best content editor ever by the way) and I don't think I'd be close to where I am now career -wise if I hadn't stumbled upon SNP, and James and Korey.
James does like to give a thorough answer so I'll limit my rambling.. here he is:
Natasha: When did you first become aware of your sexual interest in spanking? How old were you? Did you have a name for it at the start? Did you know this was the way some of us just are or was it something you tried to set aside and hide from? How did you feel about it?
James: I first became aware of my interest in spanking at a very young age, long before puberty or any interest in sexual matters. I would say perhaps around five years old I first realized that spanking excited me. It wasn’t a sexual excitement at that time (or at least not in the sense that one gets sexually excited post-puberty), but rather just a deep fascination with it.
If there was a scene in a book I was reading that had a spanking in it, no matter how brief, I would read it over and over again to myself. Sometimes I would read a book just because it seemed like maybe it would have a spanking in it. The same went for the much rarer situations in which spanking came up on TV or in movies. The best example of this is the movie Tom Sawyer. I remember it irritating me to no end that Tom took that switching for Becky so I didn’t get to see an older girl (to my five-year-old eyes) get a sound switching.
I didn’t have a name for my interest in spanking growing up, and to be honest I don’t have a name for it now. I’m just a man who likes spanking. I don’t like the word spanko, and I use it only occasionally and always grudgingly. It is a word that seems to imply that spanking defines who I am as a person, and I don’t like that. I also don’t think of myself as a dom (I flat out refuse to capitalize that), and while I would perhaps call myself a dominant man, I don’t think that is necessarily inherently linked to spanking. Plenty of men take leadership roles in various aspects of life without spanking anyone, and there are also plenty of men who enjoy giving spankings but aren’t interested in having a dominant role in their day to day relationships with their wives.
As for hiding from my interest in spanking, I certainly knew instinctively that it wasn’t something I should discuss with anyone else as a child. Once I hit puberty and started talking and joking about sex with other teenage boys (and occasionally teenage girls, although I wasn’t sexually active at that time), I quickly realized that quite a few people had at least some interest in spanking as a part of sex, sexual foreplay, and especially the sorts of sexualized horseplay that are common among teenagers.
On the other hand, I didn’t realize significant numbers of people had an interest in discipline-oriented spanking until age sixteen when I started exploring the internet after guessing the password to the adult website blocking software my dad had put on our family computer. I realized it was more widespread than I thought when I saw a fiction book called Lorna Barrett (http://www.worldcat.org/title/lorna-barrett/oclc/55738684) in the “Relationships” section of a Barnes and Noble (which was where they kept what passed for their erotica section). What made this book unique is that it had no sex or romance, it was just a series of stories of an nineteen-year-old woman being spanked, caned, strapped, paddled, etc. at a reform school, by her parents, by a police officer, by her pastor, and so forth. Basically, it was really hot, without any of that boring erotic romance stuff you girls like. :)
Finally, I wouldn’t say I felt (or feel today) one way or the other about my interest in spanking. It is a part of me, and it isn’t something I’ve ever wished wasn’t a part of me. I’m neither ashamed nor especially proud of it.
Natasha: When was the time when you decided to act — to try to find a partner who might be interested in exploring this with you? I imagine for men, especially as the dominant partner, there may be some conflicting emotions internally.
James: This question has several answers depending on what you mean by “decided to act”. The first time I struck a girl on the backside was while horsing around with others on the high school swim team. A girl hit me in the head with an empty box of some kind for basically no reason, and when she happened to bend over a table to reach for something a moment later, I struck her across the bottom with a kickboard. If you don’t know what those are, it was one like this Amazon but made of a harder material as opposed to foam. It wasn’t as hard as wood and it was over her jeans, so it wouldn’t have left a bruise or anything like that, but the swat resulted in a satisfying sound and she jumped up and grabbed her bottom.
I ended up swimming dozens of laps of butterfly stroke (the most tiring stroke in competitive swimming) as punishment from the coach, along with several of the other guys on the team, as a result of this and several other “spanking related” incidents that had taken place while the team was horsing around basically unsupervised. The lecture from our coach basically consisted of him saying in a very exasperated tone “you can’t spank the girls on the team, god-dammit”.
Something to keep in mind here is that the girls on the team were not innocent victims of the predations of the boys. They did far more egregious things to myself and the other boys on the team than vice versa, because they knew they could get away with it unpunished. Just as one example among many, at one point at practice the women’s team captain snuck up behind the men’s team captain and yanked down his swim trunks in front of most of the team, of course knowing full well that you don’t wear anything underneath those.
With that rant over, I’ll move on… The first time I actually gave an over the knee spanking was in college. The girl I was dating at the time liked to be wrestled with and pinned down, and she would playfully provoke me into doing that frequently. The first time I spanked her was in a hotel room on a weekend trip together. She did something bratty to provoke me and I started wrestling with her as usual. Then I suddenly realized I could easily pin her in the OTK position.
I decided to go for it, and I gave her a short spanking over her panties (it was before we went to bed, so she was already wearing just a T-shirt and panties). She was aroused by it, and we fooled around. I then spent the rest of the weekend looking for another chance to spank her, and when she gave me another opportunity with another playful provocation, I took her over my knee again. This time I pulled her panties down and spanked harder, and she fought much harder to get away, but still enjoyed it.
We stayed together another year and a half after that, and did a decent amount of spanking play, but the spanking was always really for my benefit. What she liked was being held down despite her struggling, and for her the spanking just provided an excuse for her to wrestle with me and eventually be overpowered.
After splitting up with her, I met a few girls on spanking personals sites, but nothing really came of it until I met Korey. I met her through what is now www.spanko.net, and we started chatting. Within a day or two we were talking on the phone, and within a week she had agreed to let me visit her in Oregon (I lived in Austin at the time). The night after I arrived in Oregon and we went on our first date, I spanked her in her apartment, and I spanked her every other day during the visit after that. She visited me in Austin a little over a month later, then I visited her in Philadelphia where she had taken an internship after finishing undergrad, and in September she moved in with me in Austin. We’ve now been together almost eight years and married for more than six, and she makes me very happy.
Natasha: What was the actual first time like for you? Being the submissive partner is one thing but to be the dominant one lays even more pressure on the shoulders of said Dom.
James: The spanking I described above (with the girl I dated in college) was hot, because I’d never gotten to do that before. I wasn’t really nervous because it wasn’t her idea so I didn’t have to try to meet her expectations. She also had a good bit more sexual experience than me, so it was exciting that I could do something with her that she’d never had done before and have it turn her on (although again, it was really 99% the being held down part that turned her on).
The first spanking I gave to another spanko, someone I met online after that college girlfriend but before Korey, was just ok. She wanted a very severe spanking and didn’t react much at all, and that doesn’t really do anything for me.
The first time I spanked Korey was one of the best days of my life. There isn’t really much more to say about it than that, without writing out a much, much longer answer. It was far better than anything I’d ever done before with a girl, and that first night with her remains one of the hottest experiences of my life. It wasn’t that we did things then that we don’t still do now, and we’re probably much better at it by now, it is just that it was our first time and therefore special.
Natasha: Erotic spanking vs. true punishment spanking, can you talk about the difference for you here — I mean in the reality of it. Domestic discipline often sounds hot in fiction but I want the real life experience. I think I would punch my husband if he tried to spank me when I was not in the mood (although it’s rare I’m not in the mood…) Has Korey every punched you?
James: The key difference in my mind between erotic and disciplinary spanking is that an erotic spanking is for play and a discipline spanking is not. When giving a discipline spanking to Korey, I am not usually aroused beyond the first few swats. I don’t spank excessively hard (she almost never has marks on her bottom that don’t fade in a few hours at most), but Korey doesn’t like being spanked hard, which means a discipline spanking isn’t erotic for her at all.
This isn’t a situation where she is saying one thing and her body is doing another, and the same goes for me. When a woman is bare-bottomed over your knee, it is pretty easy to see if she is aroused, and when a woman is over a man’s lap, it is pretty easy for her to tell if he is aroused. When I spank Korey for discipline, she is almost never aroused at any point during the punishment. I’m usually aroused for the first few spanks, but once it really starts to sting and she starts to struggle and ask me to stop, my arousal dies very quickly. I like giving spankings, but I’m not a sadist, and I especially don’t like Korey being upset.
It is worth keeping in mind that I’ve never physically forced Korey into a spanking. I hold her in place over my lap during a discipline spanking once it starts, because there would be no way at all to give one otherwise, but I don’t force the issue if she wants to talk things over first. The only time I could imagine forcing her would be if it was some kind of life-or-death or at least serious health-related issue, like her refusing to take an important prescription medication or her trying to drive while drunk or walk through a dangerous part of town by herself. I’m not sure whether Korey would punch me in a situation like that, and I highly doubt I’ll ever have to find out, because she would never put us in that situation.
I don’t spank Korey for discipline often (probably no more than once every few months, at most), and more severe ones are less frequent than that. As I believe I once explained it to you in a discussion on one of your books, a real discipline spanking has some similarities to a visit to the dentist for a painful but necessary procedure. Korey and I both believe that me putting my foot down when it is important and backing it up with a spanking when needed keeps our relationship healthy and is better for both her happiness and mine in the long term.
Natasha: Are you open about this part of your life with friends and/or family? If you are open about it with non-spankos, how have they reacted? Do you seek out friends with the same interest? If so, is there a difference in that sort of friendship, especially with another male dominant?
James: Most of my close friends know that I find spanking hot, but spanking is so commonly discussed on TV, in the movies, etc. that it is basically vanilla at this point. Zero of my close, non-spanking community friends know that I discipline Korey, and I’d like to keep it that way. Korey did tell two of her closest friends at one point, and both of them still think to this day that I “abuse” her, despite them both having known that she was interested in spanking and domestic discipline before she ever met me. That has served as a cautionary tale for me.
Among my family, my mom knows that Korey and I met through our interest in spanking and that I spank Korey for discipline, because at one point she overheard a conversation related to Korey’s writing. We all do our best to pretend that this never happened and we never speak of it. My sister knows that Korey and I publish “stuff like 50 Shades of Grey”, but not that I actually spank Korey for discipline. My dad remains blissfully ignorant of it all, at least as far as I know.
Natasha: Where do you think this stems from — nature or nurture, a mix, something else?
James: I think that it is primarily nature. The fact that some people find the physical sensation of being struck on the buttocks arousing is almost certainly nature. The fact that some (I would say most, if I’m not being politically correct) women want a dominant man (if they are being honest with themselves) is pretty easily explained by nature as well. A dominant man is going to be a better provider and protector in the type of scenarios in which human behavior evolved (i.e. Grugg hunt and kill wildebeest and fight off lions. If Grugg’s cousin Ungg try to carry off Grugg’s woman, Grugg hit Ungg with club. Grugg’s woman cook wildebeest and clean cave. If cave not clean by time Grugg bring home wildebeest, Grugg’s woman get spanking.)
I think the only role nurture plays, or rather that society in general plays, is providing the link between dominance and spanking.
If you missed either of the previous interviews, here is the link to DJ Black's post and here is the one for Secret Spanko. Questions and comments are welcome (and do read them from the other two posts as well, there were some good ones). Thanks for reading!