What Toy Should I Start With?

Every dom starts somewhere. Novice doms generally need a lot of guidance and mentoring when they first start out, because being a dom requires a fair degree of skill-building, and few of us have all the skills and knowledge we need to be a decent dom at the beginning. Occasionally, novice doms ask me what their first toy should be. My advice is always the same–get a crop.

Now, I’m a sadist at heart. Inflicting pain on a boy gets my kinky heart singing faster than anything else. So if you’re not a sadist, there might be better options for you. But I find the crop to be the ideal toy for a dom who’s just starting to learn his craft, for a number of reasons, even a dom who’s not really a sadist.

  1. Crops are cheap. Building a toy bag can get pretty expensive, so if you’re young and don’t have a ton of spare cash, you can get a decent crop for $20-40.
  2. Unlike floggers and whips, the learning curve with a cane is pretty easy. (Technically, it’s a steep learning curve, meaning that you master it quickly, but everyone thinks a steep learning curve is bad.) If you practice on a pillow, learning to hit the intended spot comes quickly, which means you’re unlikely to miss your target spot and hit something you didn’t mean to hit. Because crops are quick to master, you’ll get a boost of confidence and feel like you know what you’re doing. As a novice dom, feeling like you have the confidence to do what you want to do is important, and crops give you that confidence much faster than more aggressive toys or rope.
  3. Crops are also generally low-risk toys. Assuming you use a modicum of intelligence (like, don’t target the face or the joints), you’re unlikely to seriously harm your sub if you screw up. The worst thing you’re likely to do is cause more pain than you intended, and depending on the sub that might not even be a problem.
  4. Crops make a nice whistling sound as they move through the air. You don’t even need to actually hit the sub to have an effect on them. (Bonus tip: don’t under-estimate the value of sound during play. A blindfolded sub generally becomes more focused on sound, so you can use it to build anticipation and good nervousness before you even lay a finger on the boy.)
  5. Crops are also a classic signifier of dominance. They can help complete a Dom’s outfit. They take a bit of getting used to in terms of how to carry one and look dominant instead of dorky. If you’re wearing tall boots, think about tucking the crop into your left boot–out of the way but easy to access when you want it.
  6. Crops are good for more than just pain play. You can use the crop as a pointer when directing the sub. You can use it to correct bad posture or to get the boy’s attention with a quick smack. You can use it to guide the boy’s hand or face to where it should be.

So if I’ve persuaded you to start with a crop, here’s what you want to do.

  1. Don’t buy your crop online. You want to test it in your hand first. Find one that fits nicely and has the right degree of springiness. Cheap toys bought online have a tendency to break quickly, and you really don’t want that. When it comes to kinky gear, quality will cost more, but it’s always worth it. A toy that breaks is a toy that might injure your sub. And in the case of a crop, the difference between cheap and expensive is often only $10-20. Also, shopping local supports your local kink community.
  2. Find your local women’s sex shop (you know, the kind of sex shop you actually feel comfortable in, instead of one of those skeevy video arcades that smells of Lysol and the scent of men enjoying themselves) and browse their selection. They’re guaranteed to have at least a couple crops.
  3. Some of them will be cutesy crops with a head made to look like a big red heart. You can decide if you want that sort of crop, but my advice is to skip them. It’s hard to look really dominant with that sort of toy. Those crops are mostly gag gifts for bachelorette parties and for couples who are nervous about exploring kink and want something that isn’t intimidating. But you’re a serious dom and you want to look a little intimidating. Unless you’re only intending to dominate an established partner, a heart-shaped crop makes you look less serious to prospective subs.
  4. Give the crops a few tests. Swipe it through the air and see how it feels in your hand and what sort of noise it makes if you swipe quickly. Flex it once or twice. A good crop should have a bit of spring to it but not be too loose. Pull up your sleeve and slap it several times on your forearm with increasing force. Does it feel more stingy or more thuddy? Stingy pain (sharp and quick) is different from thuddy pain (more dull and heavy), and some subs prefer one over the other. Crops tend to be on the thuddy side of the spectrum, but if the crop has a rubber head it may be more stingy. Neither is better than the other, but a dom ought to know what his toys feel like when the blow lands. In general, I’d suggest a crop with a leather head for your first crop. It’s just classic.
  5. Once you’ve bought the crop, go home and practice using it on a pillow. Start by picking a spot on the pillow and learning to hit that spot consistently. It’s not hard to do, but if you’ve never used a crop, you’ll have to get used to the idea that the tip of the crop is about 18 inches out from your hand, so it takes a bit of hand-eye co-ordination. Once you get good at targeting, practice varying the force of the blow. You want to be able to strike both gentle taps and firm hard strokes. As you play, you’ll generally want to start light and slowly increase the force.
  6. Using a crop is a bit like using a wand at Hogwarts–it’s all about the wrist motion, not the elbow. As you bring your forearm down, you want to snap the wrist down right at the end. Learning the wrist-snap will give you a lot more variety in the way you use it.

That’s basically what you need to know about crops. 20-30 minutes of practice will give you a solid foundation for a first scene, and you’ll probably get very good with the crop after just a scene or two. As I said, they’re easy to master.

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