My scrotum is a thin, external sac of skin. Divided into two compartments, each containing one of two testes—the glands that produce sperm—it’s also home to one epididymis, the duct along which sperm passes to the vas deferens, which is the passage that carries sperm from the testicle to the urethra. This is my reproductive system. Add a litre of saline and, apparently, it’s transformed into a serious fun bag like a boxer’s speedball. Saline may be an innocuous combination of salt and water, but the prospect of a needle piercing my baby-making sac and slowly infusing it with cold, salty liquid had never been something I daydreamed about.
Therefore, as Bella van Nes’s hands approached my testes with needle at the vanguard, my complexion took a turn for the sickly.
“Do I look like somebody who would hurt you, Fareed?”
“A little bit.”
“Well, then, you’re smarter than the majority of people.”
After a mild pinching sensation, the cannula was well inserted into my scrotum. Surprisingly, this procedure was psychologically and physically less gruelling than expected, but with the saline steadily flowing into my sac, I embarked upon a retrospective admonishment.
I’m a bit of a masochist; therefore, things like needle play and flogging excite me. I like blood, I like blood play—anything heavy impact—I love it. In regards to ‘Why do I do it?’… Hmm: Why do people fuck?
- Paulus from Piercing HQ
As a sexually active being, I was confident I had the answer to Paulus’s rhetorical question: because sex is good. The motivation behind the question I posed to him—“Why do you do it?”—was to understand why someone would push, punish, and manipulate their body to extremes while simultaneously engaging in sexual acts. More specifically, I was interested in the act of modifying the body within an erotic setting.
Although my own sexual and body modification experimentations began almost simultaneously, when I pioneered prodding my penis into inanimate cavernous constructions or naïvely stuck pins willy-nilly into my adolescent skin, at no point did it occur to me to interweave both paths of intimate exploration, and prick my dick.
And yet still, with age, I find myself incredulous of comments such as, ‘I like the pain,’ coming from the mouths of tattooed, scarred, branded, stretched, and pierced people.
But for many healthy minds, the dopamine and opioid neural systems interlace the pain and pleasure neurochemical pathways to such a degree that to ignore the pleasure reaped from pain is to turn your back on what is essentially organic heroin, or thereabouts. Like a junkie who has stumbled upon a doctor’s unused script pad, the possibilities are knee-tremblingly abundant.
It is to these fine folk that the world of kink can emerge as an ethereal dungeon of ecstasy.
Equipped with such worldly tools of pain as branding irons; needles; whips paddles; crops and clamps; dildos, plugs, and indiscernible phallic items made for anal torture; belts; knives; restraints; electrocution devices; and saline bags, scalpels and an array of other medical equipment, these chambers of torture are the refuge of sadomasochists. Here, there’s no fucking around; the cellar’s sterile worktops lay host to the calculated desires of the dominant, while the submissive stood tethered with wired anticipation of each tool wielded.
At least, that’s how I picture it. In order to avoid writing an article summoned from the bowels of my lecherous imagination, I was a consummate professional and went to my nearest bondage-and-discipline store enquiring about body-modification play. Without hesitation, I was handed the contact details of venerable kinkster Bella van Nes, owner of Melbourne’s Piercing HQ.
We run various kink workshops, such as staple and superglue play, micro branding, medical play (invite only), scarification, piercing, spanking and flogging, and From Finger to Fist, a beginners guide to anal fisting.
I sound like a weird fuck but I like to staple Paulus’s face. Working on someone’s head is really confronting for people.
Although I wasn’t interested in modifying the dilation of my rectum, there was no doubt I had found the perfect interviewee.
Bella and Paulus, her partner of eight years, have been at the helm of Piercing HQ for the past three years. Although they specialise in genital piercings, they offer every modification except tattooing. Between them, their involvement within the fetish/kink community is vast and notable.
“My involvement began around 25 years ago, at the age of 20, with a guy who was into BDSM [bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism]. That just became a personal exploration. I used to work at the backroom of the original Hellfire club—that was the first BDSM venue in Melbourne. That’s where it all started in the kink world of Melbourne, for the public anyway. As topside [dominant] I love impact play, spanking, and flogging. I also really enjoy sharps, needles, scalpels, knives. I like the sensation of power. Most people have an innate fear of needles, so with medical-type play, you know, you put a drip stand, lab coat and face mask on, and people tend to become nervous, so half your job is done as far as scaring the shit out of someone. Mucking around with people’s heads is half the fun, like having a decent-sized knife in my hand and making someone stick their tongue out. I also like electrical play. I have a violet wand, it’s an electrical toy that’s got history in medical applications right through the 20th century, and my violet wand is from the 1950s, found in an antique store. Its mains are hardwired so there’s that regulator; it’s not like you’re going to get surges, but it has all these different attachments that come off the handle, so: Zzzzzzzap!"
Paulus’s journey began around the time he met Bella. His penis is a sight to behold, and I don’t say that often … if ever. Heavily modified, it contains subcutaneous genital beads, countless piercings line the underside of his scrotum, there’s a 10mm prince albert in there, and it holds four different vibrate settings. Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if it did. Eat your heart out, Rabbit Habit.
Putting on our academic hats for a brief but relevant tangent, Dr D.J. Williams, a leading expert on deviant leisure, says that although deviant leisure may be a subset of leisure, which is informed by sociology and social psychology, its roots are in deviance, and deviance has become medicalised, representing an epistemological shift from ‘badness’ to ‘sickness’. Therefore, contemporary psychiatry and psychology have contributed to how deviant leisure is perceived. While deviant leisure is typically viewed as ‘behaviour that violates criminal and noncriminal moral norms,’ it may be understood quite differently depending on which strands of knowledge are emphasized. Williams believes that, in recognition of the complexity of deviant leisure, a widening of what might constitute legitimate healthy leisure is called for, because what might be considered deviant in some social spaces appears to be perfectly normal in others, and vice versa. With this in mind, it is also important to note that, as psychosexual therapist Dr Miodrag Popovic attests, ‘There is not one universal, but rather multiple (sexual) normalities,’ so to try and explain BDSM in terms of psychopathology is facile and an exercise in staid intellectuality. There is even a scholarly movement calling for the removal of sadism and masochism from formal psychiatric classifications of mental disorders. In this vein, we’re going to look at it from a leisure perspective. Yay, playtime!
“We play publicly quite a bit,” Paulus tells me, “but the last couple of years have been dedicated to starting our business, so public play has taken a back seat, which means we just play at home in our own dungeon. And our dungeon is far more superior to what is found in most kink clubs. I built it, so I know its strengths.”
“Within the public fetish scene, though, piercings tend to be the most popular form of body modification. Female nipples, with a male top and female bottom, are generally the most popular, followed by labia piercings for chastity purposes. And for males it would be genital piercings of some description, often a combination of a Prince Albert and three scrotum piercings that can all be locked together for chastity purposes. Other types of typical body-modification play within the kink scene include various types of needle play, branding, and scarification.”
“Pain is the body’s way of protecting itself; if it hurts, that’s your body’s way of saying don’t do it. But if you can push past that, then … It can explain how people enjoy BDSM torture, because their body pushes past that and says, ‘well, it’s not going to stop, what can I do to make it feel better,’ so it will start releasing all sorts of chemicals,” says Paulus. “I’ve done my fair share of drugs over time, and I’d say that the drugs that get released from heavy-impact play are far better than any chemical drug I’ve taken. If you know the body and can read the person, you can get to the point where the person is begging for more while their bones are breaking. But I do not advocate breaking bones!”
“There’s saline injections and infusions, which are quite popular too,” adds Bella. “Apart from the popular breast and scrotal infusions, other areas people get done are the buttocks, labia, clit hood, pubic mound, and penile shaft: just little injections in the shaft skin, not in the actual meat. Males, particularly ones who like to cross dress, get their chest area inflated. Basically, anywhere where you might want something bigger.”
“If you don’t like the sensation of needles, then infusion is the way to go because it’s only one needle, the cannula, infusing the saline into your body. Whereas if someone wants sharps play as part of the experience, they have saline injections (because with injections it’s a needle with every infusion—that’s a lot of sharps play). For instance, with Paulus I would be doing something like ten injections around the scrotum with about 50 ml in each injection. And that’s done pretty fast because it’s just a push down on the syringe.”
Bella and Paulus make Fifty Shades of Grey read like a tepid guide for spanking infants. But their company imbued me with a strange, masochistic-like sense of safety. I felt that I could really take some physical risks with these guys; experience something out of my comfort zone. This whole saline-infusion business piqued my interest to such a degree that the next week I arrived at Piercing HQ with my girlfriend, Simsala, who had agreed to surrender both of her breasts to a 1,000-ml saline infusion.
Having sex with big balls is a fun time.
– Paulus from Piercing HQ.
I may have felt brave, but I wasn’t about to ransom my future progeny for the sake of big-ball sex. At this point I was adamant that under no circumstance was there to be a needle piercing my scrotum. Luckily, my girlfriend’s inquisitive and intrepid nature was going to give me a real-time, firsthand experience.
Casually, Paulus tried assuring me: “For a momentary discomfort it’s a lot of fun. Although there’s only 500 millilitres in a bag, I usually put a litre in. Once all the saline comes out of your body, your balls are back to normal, there’s actually no adverse reaction or effect. It’s not like you’ve got all this loose skin hanging around there. The most liquid I’ve held in my sac has been around 1400 ml.” And, raising his hands to demonstrate, he held an invisible basketball.
Paulus continued his attempts to reassure me while inserting a cannula into Simsala’s left breast to begin infusing: “The actual testes become less sensitive, because they’re so encapsulated in saline. If we were to slap your testicles before the infusion, it would hurt, but afterward we’d be able to give them a nice tap around. Personally, I like the sensation of the weight when I’m fucking, as they swing back and forth.”
He then tended to Simsala: ‘How does that feel?’ She replied, “It feels weird.”
At this stage, I announced that I could no longer be a mere witness to the proceedings: Simsala’s stoically swelling left breast was silently guilt-tripping me into getting involved. My complexion turned to seaweed as Bella, Paulus, and Simsala cheered: “Okay,” I swayed slightly, “I’ll do it.”
‘You’ll go home and have hot sex later,’ continued Paulus’s cheer.
And so, with my ball bag stockpiling saline, thus began my first pantless interview:
Why do people get saline injections?
Bella: “Why do people get implants? Sometimes for a special occasion and they want to wear a particular dress. Or they want to test-drive them before permanent implants. I had never really thought about saline infusions from a cosmetic point of view. I’ve only looked at it from a kink point of view, but apparently it’s all the rage. People are paying plastic surgeons up to $3,000 for an infusion. But in the kink community it’s usually done for free, and it’s just a matter of knowing what you’re doing.”
How does the saline stay in one area of the body?
Bella: “In the breast it’s confined to the breast tissue, unless you’re pushing in a lot of saline, at which stage it will spread to the upper poles.”
Paulus: “After it’s infused, it will take about an hour to spread evenly through the breast tissue, so it may look a bit lumpy, but it can be manipulated into shape.”
Bella: “Same as with guys, if I’m putting in a couple of litres into the balls, then he’ll start getting expansion in the shaft of his cock and also around the pelvic area: you’ll start to see that get a bit puffy. With the scrotum, the flow can be left wide open, because essentially it’s a sac. But because the saline needs a chance to infuse all of the breast tissue, the flow needs to be monitored and controlled."
Paulus: “With ball sacs, it’s like filling up a balloon.’
Bella: “But ball sacs vary. Fareed, your sac isn’t as stretchy as Paulus’s; it’s more chunky, so the flow can’t be an unbridled deluge.”
Simsala: “You got chunk in your junk.”
(At this stage, the infusion was becoming painfully uncomfortable. The saline was spreading into my pelvic area, owing to my chunky junk constricting in terror, therefore limiting infusible real estate. Bella slowed the flow: an act of benevolence that Paulus informs me would be an anomaly within a kink scenario.)
Paulus: “For people who are in the kink community and do this, usually the person who is receiving it is used to pain, so they can process it. If we were doing this within a kink scenario, and I was your top, then I’d still want to hurt you, so I’d increase the flow and tell you to suck it up. It would just be more painful, not damaging.”
Where do you purchase the saline and needles?
Bella: “All of the equipment is sourced from a medical-supply company. You need to know what you’re talking about, though—you can’t just call up and say, ‘So, I want to blow up my boyfriend’s ball sac: what do I need?’”
(Bella went on to point out that this is where things usually go wrong: people see something done at a kink club, so they go home and try it, but to different effect. In my research for this article, I watched what was apparently the first saline scrotal-inflation video tutorial ever posted online. If you search “saline infusion” on Xtube [the Pornhub network], you will be presented with many a bulbous genitalia video. One small cockup and these saline “backyarders” could draw negative attention to the fetish community, in the similar way that backyard tattooists often undermine the professional tattoo industry.)
With the infusion becoming increasingly uncomfortable, my testes seeking asylum inside my abdomen and scrotum shrinking like a raisin in trepidation of further stretching, I called off the experiment. It had been approximately 45 minutes since the saline augmentation began. Gazing past my navel, it was hard to see objectively whether my sac looked enlarged or whether it was mostly optical illusion: my diddle appeared to have retreated like a tortoise into its shell. Either way, I was glad it was over.
‘Gee, Fareed,’ remarked Bella, ‘you look like you’ve got a decent-sized package now.’
Simsala’s infusion lasted for around an hour and a half, increasing her cup size several letters. Her experience of having discernable mounds for 24 hours was a joyful one, although her arms and torso were limited to stiff, robotic movements. Meanwhile, although I had taken on only 250 mls, increasing my ball size from prune to fig, I waddled home as though lugging an awkward tumour between my legs. Since my testes were encapsulated like small yolk in an inordinately large egg, the saline acted like a shock absorber. Experiencing this, I could envisage that, filled with a whole litre of saline, the sensation of smacking them against my partner’s clit could be a mutually pleasurable one. So if you have a penchant for deviant leisure or an insatiable curiosity, I highly recommend putting your genitalia, bosoms, or whatever you so desire, into the seasoned hands of Piercing HQ’s Paulus and Bella van Ness.