I’ve always loved a little pain with my pleasure – and sometimes, a little pleasure with my pain. The zing and pop of a paddle, or just a good hand across my face, gets my head ringing with a clarity that’s close to heaven. When I see stars in the sack, it really is like touching the sweet cosmos for just a second.
But I’m soft. I wear floral print every day, and love green juices, organic cotton, doowop, and houseplants. I don’t like silver rivets or black latex, and I’d much rather play with a plain old wooden spoon than anything made of leather.
In the past, I felt like something of an imposter at play parties. Even though I always have one hell of a time, there’s a gap between myself and a lot of the people I know who are in that world. Sure, I may have gotten spanked so hard in public once that I got a round of applause. And yeah, I love wax and breath play as much as the next kinkster. But the look, the culture, never felt like my own. That dedication to such a defined identity just wasn’t me. I wear flower crowns and satin robes around the house, and my fantasies are less of having my own dungeon and more of having a garden so lush I wander naked through it, eating raspberries off the bush (not that people can’t have both).
And anyway, I’m vegan – leather’s just not my thing, for a million different reasons. So where can I go for a little (read: a lot of) rough lovin’ without surrendering to a look at odds with my whole personality? And what am I to do, as someone who can’t seem to wear an outfit without floral print to save her life, who doesn’t like the creaking, rule-following austerity of traditional BDSM vibes?
As it turns out, I’m by no means a unique case. In fact, some people are taking their quest to blend their natural and kinky selves a few steps further They’re getting into ecosexuality.
Since the early 2000s, the phrase “ecosexual” has grown along the corners of our culture. Also known as sexecology, it was popularized by Annie Sprinkle, a former sex worker, and Elizabeth Stephens, a professor. Together, they are married sex-positive activists and artists on one erotic mission: to spread ecosexuality and teach others how to make the planet their lover. So far, around 50,000 people have taken that phrase to heart and identify as ecosexual in their daily lives.
They all agree that there isn’t a cookie cutter way to go about it. Like many kinks and fetishes, each person who identifies with ecosexuality has a slightly different way they define it. Some people want to marry nature in a kind of performance art to dedicate themselves to making a difference, like in Las Vegas, where twenty-five people married the earth in a mass ceremony for environmental action.
But it’s not all symbolic.Others in the ecosexual community say that they can’t get pleasure without connecting to the earth or being in nature. Some feel so strongly about ecosexuality as a vital part of their identity that they want an “E” added to the LGBTQ+ umbrella. To them, this is a part of themselves that they were born with and couldn’t change if they wanted to. Setting aside any feelings about what terms should be added into the LGBTQ+ family, we can all agree that this diversity of the ecosexual culture is relatable. My poly may not be your poly. How I love wax may differ from you. Ecosexuality, too, changes from person to person.
But at its core, all people who identify as ecosexuals say the planet should be approached with the same care that you approach a lover with, emphasizing consent, love, consideration, and a healthy dollop of eroticism. The Ecosexual Manifesto even reminds outsiders and insiders alike that there’s no wrong way to play, as long as you keep the planet in mind. It kind of puts a whole new spin on those Ludacris lyrics (rough sex make it hurt/in the garden all in the dirt), doesn’t it?
I don’t think that we can credit Ludacris with popularizing this kink, however. This sexual niche got a big popularity boost thanks to an art project by Pony Express called The Ecosexual Bathhouse. This was an erotic pop-up event that invited people to come play with their senses and indulge in earthly delights, pollinating orchids with their finger, getting elbows deep in a compost “glory hole” brimming with dirt and worms, and even yielding to a dominatrix who adapted her routine for each person by embodying different kinds of predators for the subs, her prey. For one, she writhed in a snakeskin bodysuit and drooled on them, like a python about to devour them whole.
Don’t worry – asking doesn’t have to be dry. If you partner’s into it and willing, they’ll be thrilled you care about their boundaries and will be happy to let you know all the delicious things they’d love to do with you. And if they aren’t into it, then great! You found out straight away, so you can stop right then and there and keep you both happy and safe.
This whole dominatrix idea is kind of how my whole interest in the connection between our earth and sexuality came about to begin with. I didn’t learn about ecosexuality first. The internet is a beautiful and filthy place, and my darling friend HK turned me on to an Instagram account that revolutionized my whole idea on how pleasure, pain, and nature collide.See, although ecosexuality has been around for well over a decade, there’s another, newer bent that appeals to my kinky and earth-loving inner nature, all at once: eco-fetishism.
Eco-fetishism is a newer branch of the ecosexual and kink movements. Its focus is on exploring our relationship with the earth in terms of domination and submission, sadism and masochism. Eco-fetishism, at its heart, is similar to ecosexuality in the way it explores reciprocal relationships with our planet. By expanding the way we interact with it, some people think we can save the world – or at least, have a mindful, sexy, kinky time.
But where ecosexuality is soft and more about worshipping the earth, getting your feet dirty, or masturbating under a waterfall, eco-fetishism is something else entirely.
With this kink, pain and pleasure hang in the balance. Since the beginning of our ability to tell stories, humans have loved focusing again and again on the old theme of human versus nature. This trope is taken to a whole new level with eco-fetishism. Remember, the earth isn’t always kind or gentle. Sometimes it has thorns, poison, fangs. Sometimes it stings and bites. Nature as a lover is no different.
Eco-fetishism embraces BDSM ideals of communication, balance, and surrender, with the earth serving itself up as one sexy, complicated mistress. But while this sounds great in theory, how do you put it in practice?
Enter Sacred Sadism, the passion project, artistic experience, and kinky business that woke me up to the sexy ways of eco-fetishism thanks to their absolutely scintillating (and thought provoking) Instagram. Sacred Sadism is run by two BDSM aficionados, the latex-wearing, earth-loving married duo Genevieve Belleveau and Themba Alleyne.
Their project began before the two even met. Genevieve was exploring the space of natural materials and sexuality by whipping herself and others with flowers. Apparently, it didn’t even start as a purely sexual act for her, but more of a kind of therapeutic exercise. Around the time she met Themba, he had already made sex toys from recycled materials, and in their first month together, he made her a wooden paddle – and the rest is eco-fetish history.
Together, they realized that their passion for BDSM and the natural world had power, and created the eco-fetishism movement as it is today. Their focus isn’t just on loving nature – it’s taking apart the way we sometimes fall into patterns of problematic roles that are rigid and reinforce existing power splits. While still walking the line of dominance and submission, they upend the traditions of our sex-loving foremothers.
Like ecosexuality, ecofetishism doesn’t exactly have a right or wrong way to practice, as long as consent is involved. It’s all about finding that space and edge that works for you, pushing you to grow and learn while having a dang fine time doing it. Sacred Sadism, however, does have a few key ways they explore the glory of eco-fetishism:
The Sacred Sadism duo became as popular as they did by selling different kinds of toys made of natural materials, like butt plugs made of polished wood with rubber succulent tails, and paddles with smooth wood on one side, and tantalizingly scratchy (faux) grass on the other.They want these toys to be pretty, and not just because it’s a nice thought. By having them look beautiful, they hope customers will feel confident putting them on display. That’s because they hope the beauty and functionality serves up a delicious combo that helps folks feel at ease in their environment and dispel the shyness and shame that so often surrounds kinks. Having a toy pretty enough to hang up helps you think about your sexuality as a part of the environment – even if that environment is your living room.
The duo at Sacred Sadism want to share their special way of loving with you. They have sex workshops that include goodies like how to use ginger as a tingly and overwhelming butt plug, and whippings done with thorny roses.
One of their recent Instagram posts shows them playing with a nettle plant, which, if you’ve ever experienced it, you know just how much it burns. At first, the thought of if made me cringe, but as I (figuratively) sat on it, I realized that maybe nettles aren’t so different from that after-spanking sting that I love so dearly.
Eco-fetishism takes it beyond playing with your average toys, too. If you’ve been to a play party, you’ve probably at least seen electric play, if not indulged in it yourself. Using an electrical current and some kind of material as a conductor (often our bodies or metal instruments), you receive pleasant shocks through your body that feel different depending on the conductor used. Eco-fetishism stays on brand by using plants, which make great conductors, to share the electric shock in new and invigorating ways.
Each one offers up a little something different, and no two textures are alike. Lavender, they say, is the gentlest. I’m not surprised. As someone who loves electric play and really beautiful plants, I know I’ll be signing up to try this intriguing opportunity as soon as I can get my hands on it.
Just because they’re all about nature doesn’t mean they don’t love some good old fashioned latex. Their most intimate and exhilarating offering is a vacuum bed experience. Latex has long been used in breath play, and this vacuum-sealed treat takes it to a new level by turning the sub into a sweet flower for the pressing. Unable to move and with no room to breathe besides the small hole encircling the mouth, a vacuum bed is a kind of trust fall, a painless surrender. Like turning a sub into a footrest, this act reduces them to a decoration for the dom to lovingly run their hands over and enjoy.
Before being vacuum sealed, they cover you in flowers to turn you into a beautiful arrangement, the light tickle of the plants adding to the joy of the set up. The result is haunting and beautiful, and for the sub? Well, you can feel every touch more intensely under the vacuum-bed latex.
Gardener and the garden
But would all this fetish talk be complete if we didn’t talk about the natural ways that water sports can get involved? While not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s a well-known fact that pee is good for your garden, so it’s only natural that people into both the planet and deep kink would have a field day putting the two together. By incorporating play where a sub becomes the garden that is in desperate need of watering, the Sacred Sadism duo shows that there are earth-loving ways to get into all your more secret desires. By watering the garden that is your sub, or just watering the garden together, you can engage in two of your kinks in one fell swoop.
No matter what exactly in the BDSM community is up your alley, eco-fetishism offers a unique facet to our ever-growing kinky community, and invites you to build a new kind of relationship with your lovers, the earth, and yourself. With eco-fetishism, you can find a new way to trust yourself and your partner(s) and push your limits outside of the general context of subjugation, leather, and dark rooms. Instead of a dom and a sub, Genevieve and Themba ask you to think instead of eco-fetishism as a gardener tending a garden – the gardener is in charge, and they may prune the plants, but they also cultivate, strengthen (and yes, water) their plot with tender care.
Ecosexuality, even according to the two people who founded the idea, can’t be pinned down as just one thing. Likewise, although ecofetishism has only really been popularized by Sacred Sadism, the nature of sexuality is to grow and shift. Our kinkiness, at its best, knows no hard limits of what something is and isn’t. As long as there’s consent and a focus on the planet or connecting to the earth – however you’d define that – chances are, you’re doing it right.
The simplest way to explore is to get out there and try some dirty and messy sensory play. If you have a backyard, wander it naked. Get your hands dirty and pay attention to the sensations. Walk in the woods and run your hands along the trees; try it blindfolded.
If you’re interested in a more structured event or introduction to the world of ecosexuality, you may be in luck. Across Europe and the U.S., there are a growing number of events happening where you can learn about this exciting new way to explore your sexuality. This year, there was the first ever Ecosex Symposium where people could learn more about ecosexuality, play, and join workshops across Europe. You can also check out the site Sexecology where you can see events happening in your area or hire Sprinkle and Stephens, the married duo who wrote the Ecosexual Manifesto, to help you on your journey. If you’re really serious, you can also read their book, The Explorer’s Guide to Planet Orgasmto learn more about what sexuality means to you.
Want to know more than reading alone can offer? Sprinkle and Stephens even have a few movies for your pleasure, all about ecosexuality in action. Goodbye Gauley Mountain is their most famous one, but they also have their latest film, Water Makes Us Wet, for you to enjoy.
If you’re lucky enough to live in L.A. and want a taste of the ecofetish experience for your own, you can have the experts Genevieve and Themba take you on a journey. They do the pressed floral arrangement vac bed for clients, and you get the complete package, right on down to the heightened sensation of them touching your body through the latex.
On a very exclusive basis, you can even have them co-top you for an earth-based submissive experience of a lifetime. They don’t take just anyone though, so don’t be offended if your wish isn’t granted.
If you know the plants in your area, and know which ones aren’t poisonous, get kinky in your own backyard – nature has a delicious banquet of thuddy, poky, stingy goodness for all your sensory needs. It can be as simple as using things that have a bite in the bedroom – nettles, for instance, or thorned plants – or you can find a good branch for whipping, spanking, and any kind of thwacking you fancy.
If you’re more into gentle introductions, find a quiet spot to explore the depth of pleasure (and self pleasure) out in nature. Take a hike, head to your favorite secret spot, and start playing with ways to deepen your relationship to yourself and the earth. Try massaging the earth with your feet, and touching whatever you can with a new awareness of the sexual power running through it.
See what happens when you create a sexual space for yourself with your senses beyond just the body parts we tend to give all our attention to. Whatever you do, remember that, like all BDSM play, you have to follow the same core rules of communication and active consent so you and all your partners have the best time possible.
While people who are living the ecosexual lifestyle or love a good wooden dildo are generally folks who care about the planet, the point isn’t sustainable or use zero waste materials. Instead, ecofetishism is about you and your relationship to the environment around you.
But if you’re latest thing includes getting off in a way that makes the planet happy too, there are a wealth of earth-friendly sex toys you can play with, from vegan leather to reclaimed firehose paddles to hemp rope to polished wood, glass, and rose quartz dildoes.
These days, you can even find sustainable condoms to play safe without worrying about chemicals that affect your body and your sweet new lover (that’s planet Earth, you ecosexual, you). My personal go-to is Sustain, but there are others that work just as well, if you’re getting it on with the planet, or at least with the planet in mind.
The most shiveringly submissive of us looking for an organic time can even now hire a vegan dominatrix – if we know where to look. Hint: social media is a good place to start.
Ecosexuality isn’t going anywhere, and if we’re in luck, ecofetishism is here to stay too. Sacred Sadism may have started just back in 2018, but this trend has grown like wildfire, and it won’t be long until another ecosexual BDSM group puts their own interpretation of ecofetishism to work.
Traditional BDSM is alive and well, and such an important part of our collective, rich LGBTQ+ history, but that doesn’t mean it has to be for everyone. Branching out and leaning into the sway and give of ecofetishism can be a place to find a kinky home within your own community.
As for me? I think I may just need a new toy that doubles as wall art for the bedroom – and I think I’ve found a niche that explores my own needs in equal parts gentleness and bite.
Let’s just hope the next ecofetish doms set up shop in my neighborhood.