Rie McGaha interviews Dena Celeste
Warning: This article is Adult rated (as so is our site) and may not be suitable for all audiences, particularly those under the age of 18.
Rie McGaha: Welcome to The Pagan & The Pen Interviews, Dena Celeste. I am thrilled to be able to chat with you and get the low-down on this whole BDSM lifestyle. First, let me apologize if my questions seem silly, but this is new to me and I find it quite fascinating!
Dena Celeste: Thank you! No question is too silly, honestly, and everyone starts at the beginning. *smiles*
Rie McGaha: What is BDSM?
Dena Celeste: BDSM is an acronym that stands for a few different things: Bondage & Discipline, Dominance/submission, and Sadism/masochism. It’s really a catch-all term, an umbrella that covers everything from light bedroom play, to 24/7 power exchanges.
Rie McGaha: Most books that include BDSM make it seem like a violent act of abuse. What’s the difference between fiction and reality?
Dena Celeste: The difference between BDSM and abuse involves consent from all parties. There are two acronyms in the Lifestyle: SSC and RACK. Safe, Sane and Consensual and Risk Aware Consensual Kink. I prefer the latter acronym because everything in life has risks, and acknowledging them is better than thinking everything is perfectly safe.
Rie McGaha: How old were you when you first “knew” this was something you wanted to try?
Dena Celeste: I was 16 when I first discovered BDSM as BDSM, but some parts of it went back further than that. The thoughts and urges as I discovered myself confused me for a long time. I didn’t do much about my discovery besides research it voraciously, since learning new things was something I loved to do, and I didn’t want my age to get anyone else in trouble. I also knew that I wasn’t ready to do more than just research. After I turned 18, I joined a variety of websites and began to get involved in the wider Lifestyle community.
Rie McGaha: Did you meet someone who introduced you to BDSM or did you look it up on the ‘net or is there a listing in the phone book? LOL
Dena Celeste: *grins* I read a book, actually, and it really made a light-bulb go on in my head. “So that’s it! That’s what I’ve always wanted and haven’t been able to put into words! And there are other people who need this too. I’m not alone!”
My experience has been guided by a few different people who I came to know and trust. I was recently released by my Master of 5 years, but my connections in the community do go beyond him. I am grateful for the gifts of love and knowledge that he gave me while we were involved.
Rie McGaha: You were released from your “Master”, what does this mean?
Dena Celeste: This means that he released ownership of me and dissolved that aspect of our relationship. He’s still my friend, but we are no longer together that way.
Rie McGaha: Earlier you mentioned “lifestyle,” can you explain that?
Dena Celeste: For many kinksters, BDSM is more than just play in the bedroom. It becomes a Lifestyle, one which permeates everything else. Those with Dominant or submissive tendencies tend to know from a young age that they’re different. Goodness knows, even I had that knowledge at a young age. Discovering the wider community is a tremendous gift. Still, even those who only like one aspect, even spanking, can include it in their lives. It becomes a Lifestyle.
Rie McGaha: It sounds like something you live everyday, does that mean you are constantly dressed in a leather bustier, tied to the door waiting on your partner to spank you?
Dena Celeste: LOL! No, it doesn’t mean that. I am a slave. It’s something I am every day, something I’m always aware of, the same way I’m always aware of my gender or my heart beat. It’s a part of me. But that doesn’t mean I’m a doormat, nor does it mean that life halts for kink. When I am with a Dominant who I consider worthy of owning me, I can show my submission in a variety of ways. Do some include being tied up at the door? Sure! But life doesn’t always cooperate with those plans.
Rie McGaha: I’m sure you know there a lot of misconceptions about the BDSM lifestyle. What do you think the biggest false belief is?
Dena Celeste: Probably that Dominants are abusive, selfish assholes, and that submissives and slaves are doormats just waiting to be walked on. There are some who fit those definitions, but they are the exceptions. There are all kinds of people in this Lifestyle, with all different kinds of energies and personalities. There are demure Dominants and sassy slaves, as well as demure slaves and bold Dominants, and every other shade in between!
Rie McGaha: In your opinion, is this because people are afraid to explore their sexuality?
Dena Celeste: I definitely think that’s part of it. The explosion of the Leather and BDSM communities has helped with many misconceptions, and has helped to educate many people about what the realities of the Lifestyle are.
Rie McGaha: You mentioned to me earlier that someone you knew heard a radio personality talking about BDSM as something a person needed psychological help for. What do you think about that comment?
Dena Celeste: I think that there’s nothing wrong with therapy. Do some people need it, or would they find it beneficial? Absolutely. But the kind of needs that BDSM can fulfill aren’t a disease, and the APA has even gone so far as to remove those urges from the list of mental disorders! Maybe some people try to use BDSM as a bandage for a wound that needs some kind of psychological help, but that doesn’t mean that everyone who practices BDSM does that. And it would be a temporary bandage at best. The kind of relationship where BDSM flourishes is a STRONG relationship.
Rie McGaha: I know you belong to LAC. What is this and what are the benefits of belonging?
Dena Celeste: I do belong to the Lifestyle Alternatives Center of Palm Beach in South FL. It is a non-profit organization that seeks to create community for kinksters, and to educate those who wish to know more about the Lifestyle! The benefits of belonging are knowledge and fellowship with people who respect the rights of others to choose their own lives.
Rie McGaha: I have to go back to the term “lifestyle.” Isn’t this just really about having rough sex?
Dena Celeste: Hehe, rough sex can be part of it. That’s great too! But it’s not just about that. It’s about exploration, pushing limits, acceptance and self-knowledge. We are who we are!
Rie McGaha: And aren’t the people who participate in this activity sexual deviants and perverts looking for a willing accomplice to allow them to live out their demented fantasies?
Dena Celeste: If so, there are lots of us out there! These needs and fantasies are natural, and we find consensual ways to fulfill them with as much safety as possible. Some people will always think that this is wrong, or perverted, or demented. That’s their right. But I own who and what I am, and I’m not ashamed. I will continue to learn about myself as life goes on, and help others learn to accept who they are.
Rie McGaha: What would you like people to take away from this interview?
Dena Celeste: I hope they take some knowledge and acceptance, for themselves or someone they know. I hope they come away with questions and feel free to ask them.
Rie McGaha: Is there a place where they can contact you personally with questions?
Dena Celeste: Absolutely! They can email me at DearDenaC@gmail.com, or leave a comment on here with an email address.
Rie McGaha: No matter the subject or misconceptions, education and knowledge is the key to understanding. Do you have any plans toward this end?
Dena Celeste: Well, apart from becoming even more active in the wider BDSM community (Just this year, I had the opportunity to volunteer at Beyond Leather [an internationally renowned event!] and present at the Fetish School during Fetish Factory’s 15th Anniversary weekend!), I plan on answering questions on this column here. I will also write about all different kinds of aspects of BDSM, such as different dynamics, what consent is, the differences between the terms used in the community, and much, much more.
Rie McGaha: Thank you, Dena for your time and for putting up with all my questions. Now, where can people find your books and other information about you?
Dena Celeste: People can find me at:
Also, for anyone who is interested in learning more about LAC, they can go to http://lifestylealternatives.org
And just for fun, I’m including some terms people may be interested in knowing.
Glossary of Terms:
BD – Bondage & Discipline, D/s – Dominance/submission, SM – Sadism/masochism. Can also be referred to as “the Lifestyle” by many.
Collar – A formal collar may take the form of neck, wrist, ankle, and other kinds of jewelry (like piercings). It may be metal or leather or even cloth. It denotes that a person is under training or owned. It is also a fashion statement for those who are not into BDSM at all.
Safe word – A word not commonly used during a scene, play or sex so that one can protest (say no, or stop) without play ending. A common version of this is to use traffic light colors. Red means stop right now, yellow means to slow down.
Scene – A scene is a formal play atmosphere where the roles have been pre-negotiated.
Play – May involve two or more people, where BDSM activities such as bondage, spanking, use of toys such as floggers, whips, rope, etc. can occur. Does not necessarily involve sex!
House – A House is a formal BDSM family. Started by one or more persons, it can extend protection, mentoring, ownership, and a variety of other things to those who request it. Rules and requests differ from House to House.
Protection – Often a more experienced person in the community will take someone of less experience or of a submissive role under his/her wing. This person may vet out play partners for safety, provide an anchor for support and advice, and teach a variety of skills in the role as protector. It differs depending on the relationship.
Consent – A person who can consent is above the legal age limit, and not mentally impaired drugs or alcohol, or some diseases that can affect the ability to give consent.
Books by Dena:
Review of Her Master’s Gift:
This is easily one of the best BDSM stories I’ve ever read. I love the way the characters are developed, and…read more:
Reviewer Top Pick: Her Master’s Gift by Dena Celeste