Death by Sex
For most of us, sex is about making love, an enjoyable part of everyday life. But, for some it's about chasing a bigger, brighter, more explosive orgasm through a practice that is potentially lethal. Restricting the supply of oxygen or blood to the body during sex may lead to a heightened orgasmic rush, but the price is high. Hundreds die, worldwide, every year.
The author Jay Wiseman explains: "Probably, the risk model is most akin to Russian Roulette. Every time you pull the trigger you're rolling the dice, you're engaging in an exercise in probabilities".
Breath control play or erotic strangulation is not just enjoyed by people wearing studs and leather in a dungeon. It's a secret thrill for thousands of ordinary couples, many of them ignorant of the risks involved. Victims die in an instant. Their killer lovers face a lifetime of remorse and prison.
Erotic strangulation takes lovers to a secret world where love and death meet. Until now, experienced practitioners have refused to discuss their games for fear of persecution. Now, some of those who have loved and lost the breath control game break the silence in the hope of saving lives.
Erotic strangulation involves two practices. Fans of breath play enjoy the physical sensation and psychological impact of cutting off a lover's air supply during sex. Others prefer the light-headedness and eventual unconsciousness that result when the blood supply to the brain is suppressed as pressure is placed on the carotid arteries in the neck. Clearly, some practitioners find that erotic asphyxia delivers the bigger sexual experience they seek, but they also feel a powerful psychological compulsion.
Professor Milton Diamond of the University of Hawaii offers an explanation "The French word for orgasm is petit mort - the little death. Obviously death is not what they seek, but its the relationship of coming close to death that some find exciting and arousing".
Sex and death are the stuff of gothic literature but, in the real world, people are dying.
Joey Micale and his wife were an ordinary, loving couple who regularly enjoyed breath play as part of their love making. Their marriage was based on complete trust and understanding.
The Micales marked their third wedding anniversary with an intimate celebration at home. They were in love and inseparable, at least that's what they thought. That evening as the couple made love, Joey was, at first, unconcerned when his wife became unconscious. It was what they were used to, what they worked towards, but now for the first and last time it had gone wrong.
Jay Wiseman an author on the subject comments "In the moment they go unconscious you cannot know whether they went unconscious because their brain is low on oxygen or because they've just gone into cardiac arrest".
Paramedics rushed to the scene but, to no avail. When the police reached the apartment, Joey made his second big mistake of the evening "I panicked and told them that she'd hung herself, which was the dumbest thing I could have done. Two days later, I told the truth, they arrested me for manslaughter".
Fortunately for Joey, there was evidence that the couple had frequently enjoyed breath play; they had kept videos. Joey was given five years probation but, he must live with the knowledge that he killed the woman he loved, ignorant of the science behind their love play.
Lou Reubens knows the risks of breath play but, believes he can play safe. He's a loving sadist with a life-long interest in extreme bondage. His intricate designs have always included gags, collars and restraints but, when he met his wife Sue he entered into a whole new realm of erotic possibilities.
Sue is a masochist, fixated on erotic strangulation. The couple are part of a community of like-minded players. At their regular S&M barbecues, the talk is of knots, bonds and safety. In the bondage and domination mainstream asphyxiation play is frowned on and banned in clubs.
Professor Diamond elucidates "Anytime the brain is starved of oxygen there's a cost. It may be minimal but repeated oxygen deprivation has a cumulative effect. Animal experimentation has shown that there is a brain deficit over time".
Sue knows the dangers "Statistically, you can die or you can get cumulative brain damage from repeatedly doing it, but I choose to do it anyway".
The Reubens believe they have enough safety procedures in place to keep Sue from death's door and sufficient friends in the know about their activities to keep Lou out of jail should the worst happen.
There was no-one to speak up for Robbie Edwards. He was a guilty secret, the kept boy lover of a pillar of society. On weekends away, out of state, the older man enjoyed rough sex with erotic strangulation. The couple had a system of safety signals to keep them from harm.
Robbie and Alan had been away from their Kentucky home on a clandestine visit to Nashville when disaster struck. They spent their last evening together, relaxing in a downtown bar. Later that evening they returned to their motel room and one thing led to another. It's not clear if Robbie's lover used their safety signals but, they were both high on drink and drugs. It might not have made much difference anyway, when his lover slipped into unconsciousness and died, Robbie was oblivious.
The older man had been a leading-light in a bible-belt community, now he lay dead in a motel room strangled by a gay lover nobody knew existed. Robbie knew it didn't look good for him. He could have called the emergency services but, like Joey Micale, he was gripped by terror. He took his lover's car and money and fled into the night.
In deep shock he wandered, aimlessly, from bar to bar finally ending up back in Kentucky. After several days, he visited his stepfather's grave where he drank a bottle of vodka and took about 30 valiums. He'd decided to kill himself rather than turn himself in. Robbie didn't die, instead he got nack in the car and took to the road once more. He didn't het far before losing control and crashing into a roadside ditch, where he was found by the police.
Robbie was initially charged with first and second degree murder and aggravated robbery for fleeing the scene with the car and credit cards. He was eventually convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to thirteen year of which he served nine.
To play these deadly games with a loving partner is hazardous enough. To enter the arena with someone you've only met online increases the peril. Incredibly, there are those who turn to the Internet seeking strangers who'll provide this special service!
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