Fire! Elemental fury that tore Pangea and Gondwana asunder! Gift of the Titan Prometheus to man! Blacksmith of bedrock forged in the furnace of Earth’s viscera! Creator of worlds! Despoiler of pubic hair!
Ice! Inscrutable architect of living rock! Forbidding, impassive mistress of a blinding, wintery tomb! Destroyer of life! Erector of nipples!
Now I must admit I was somewhat naïve of the erotic pastimes of fire and ice play until a recent consultation with a patient of mine. A dominatrix who described how she, ‘Came so hard watching the flames licking her clients’ bodies that she saw double’.
Hardly a serious medical condition but my curious, scientific mind was eager to drill down further into this compunction of her and her clients – whom she described, ‘Cumming in ecstasy’ as she set them alight.
‘So is it for the endorphin rush at the danger of playing with flames?’ my curious, scientific mind enquired. ‘And, if so, surely as much pleasure could be derived from the danger of holding frozen beef burgers in the palm of one’s hand and prising them apart with the wickedest looking kitchen knife one possesses? ‘This is madness!’ your brain pleads, ‘There’s only one outcome to this folly, stop it at once!’ But you won’t, of course. Oh, the thrill of it!’
The patient seemed unimpressed with my reasoning.
‘Perhaps the attraction of fireplay is something inherited from our forebears? Obviously, a careless obsession with flame may result in the discontinuation of one’s bloodline, but less fatal play of this kind, whilst not necessarily of benefit to an individual’s ability to breed, would not be especially detrimental either.
‘Or perhaps an early hominid, who by chance found himself singed of his body carpet in a close call with a bolt of lightning, discovered the females drawn to this attractive, hairless ape? And one can certainly imagine early man – to whom fire must have seemed an awesome, primordial spirit – thrilling to the play of this god’s elemental fingers across his filthy, mortal body of clay’.
The patient remained unmoved.
‘Could it be the burning sensation?’ I conjectured, ‘The endorphin rush of conflagration? But, of course, that raises a very interesting question. Why fire?
‘In my long tenure as a healer it was once my unfortunate duty to deal with the aftermath of some rather over-zealous urtification, or nettle play. A noble pursuit – if conducted with more self-control than my poor casualty – as the illustrious tome Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopaedia tells us, a Roman would have himself thrashed ‘below the naval’ to improve virility.
‘The nettle is of the family Urtica, from the Latin uro – meaning ‘to burn’ – and the recipient of the nettle sting enjoys the hot, burning sensation of the venom which then fades to a tingling glow which may last for hours.
‘Indeed it has established a whole new field of ‘sado-botany’ – which itself conjures up the delightful image of David Bellamy birching Alan Titchmarsh to within an inch of his life in a gazebo with a geranium lodged firmly in each of their piss-pipes.
‘However madam’ I urged my interlocutor, ‘Please do not be inspired by Titchmarsh and Bellamy’s well-documented penchant for ‘urethral sounding’. In the case of the geranium, the hairs on the stem caused incalculable damage to Titchmarsh’s u-tube upon being wrenched from its moorings by the teeth of an engorged, over-amorous Bellamy. A fact of which Titchmarsh is reminded with excruciating regularity each time he messily relieves himself into a hedge or behind a potting shed’.
The patient appeared irked by my digression into horticulture, so I turned my musings once more to the matter of fire and ice.
‘But neither have been treated too well in film have they? One becomes instantly flaccid at the memory of Madonna’s sexless contortions in the 1993 film Body of Evidenceand the infamously tedious hot waxplay scene with Willem Defoe – whose sex-face resembled a dry toad passing an uncomfortable stool. At a pre-screening an MGM executive was heard to sigh, ’Body of Shit, more like’ prompting the 1994 straight-to-video sequel Body of Feculence with Madonna reprising her role alongside Rory McGrath in an unsuccessful attempt to bring coprophilia, or ‘scat’, to the wider audience of the eight people who rented it. But even next to this tragic misjudgement, iceplay remains an unglamorous alternative, indelibly linked with the turgid fridge-hump that was 9 ½ Weeks’.
I was losing the patient, so decided to change tack.
‘Do you know, such fetishes were once thought of as a mental illness? Indeed, Fetishism was to be found in the Encyclopaedia of Mental Disorders – a form of paraphilia – although now only in need of treatment if it brings distress and suffering. For example, in severe cases of fire fetishism the paraphiliac is unable to enter an Italian restaurant without de-trousering himself and attempting to mount the pizza oven – and cosy, candle-lit dinners are out of the question.
‘Yes, it was seen as something to be treated with aversion stimuli, such as electric shocks, or the marvellously named ‘orgasmic reorientation’ – which brings to mind an image of redirecting a patient’s spouting privates from a glossy print of Kurt Russell in Backdraftto more culturally appropriate stimuli, like kittens in a wicker basket or a dog wearing sunglasses.
‘So what brought you to this fire and ice play fetish?’ I asked, ‘An early, random sexual encounter involving a birthday cake or a Slush Puppy perhaps?’
‘If you must know’ the patient replied, ‘It was alone on the sofa watching the Crossroads Motel burn down’.
Our consultation over, she snatched the anti-fungal prescription for her athlete’s foot and stalked magnificently out of my office. My curious, scientific mind lit a match and let it burn down to my fingers.
Dr Ryegold is the author of several best-selling books based on his many years experience as a healer, research scientist and polymath and is currently working closely with a top UK sex toy manufacturer on a range of Willem Defoe and Rory McGrath erotic masks.