Janet W. Hardy: THE CAGE Kinky Proust Questionnaire
Janet W. Hardy is the author or coauthor of more than a dozen groundbreaking books about relationships and sexuality, including The Ethical Slut, which has sold more than 300,000 copies to date.
She spent the first three decades of her life believing that she was the only person in the world who got turned on by thinking about spanking. She wrote her first book, The Sexually Dominant Woman, to help create a world in which nobody else would ever be that clueless.
Janet has traveled the world as a speaker and teacher on topics ranging from ethical multipartner relationships to erotic spanking and beyond. She has appeared in documentary films, television shows, and more podcasts and radio shows than she can count. She has narrated audio versions of many of her books, and looks forward to doing more. Her new book Notes of an Aging Pervert is coming in September 2023 from Unbound Editions Press.
Janet spent a quarter century as editor-in-chief of Greenery Press, the firm she founded in 1992, which went on to publish dozens of books about alternative sexuality and relationships. While she has retired from being a publisher, she goes on writing, drawing, editing and educating about sexuality.
Janet lives the life of a kinky poly queer genderbent geezer in Eugene, Oregon, with her spouse and several excellent pets.
What is your greatest fear within a D/s dynamic?
I don’t actually do D/s, certainly not as a relationship style - my thing is more ecstatic pain play and edgy roleplay. Telling someone what to do feels a bit too much like being a parent to me, and I’ve already done that. And being told what to do just pisses me off, in a highly non-erotic way,
In what way has your interest in BDSM shaped your personality?
A better question would be in what way it hasn’t! BDSM has taught me about the ephemerality of life, about the mind/body connection, about the relationship between the role and the self, and so much more. Whatever wisdom I’ve attained has been attained through my BDSM journeying.
What trait do you most deplore in other kinky people?
Letting their ego drive their play. When I sense that someone is using BDSM as a way of showing off, I lose all interest in that person (and would certainly never want to play with them under any circumstances). If BDSM isn’t about making profound connection, it’s not worth doing, as far as I’m concerned. Of course, I’ve been guilty of this one too, which is probably why it annoys me as much as it does.
From whom did you learn the most about BDSM?
I’ve been incredibly fortunate in that my two major, long-term BDSM relationships have been with two phenomenal educators and authors: Jay Wiseman and Dossie Easton. It would be hard to imagine two more different individuals, but I became the player and thinker I am today because of my connections with those two people.
What has been your biggest kinky extravagance to date?
I don’t have much interest in fetishwear, and the kind of play I do doesn’t require a lot of specialized equipment. So I guess my biggest splurge was on my favorite, favorite toy - a heavy bison flogger by Sarah Lashes, that has magic braided into it. Something about the weight of it brings out an extraordinary energy that often leads both players into an ecstatic or even orgasmic state.
What is your current state of mind in regard to BDSM?
I call myself a “sadomasochist emeritus.” I still do the very occasional scene with an old friend when I find myself in the right place and time, but I’ve mostly retired from the scene and its doings
What do you consider to be the most overrated virtue in kinky people?
Technique! There’s a whole sadoindustrial complex built around teaching and doing increasingly weird and baroque techniques. I’d rather have a slightly amateurish handspanking from someone who’s energetic, empathetic and open-hearted than a choreographed and showy scene full of shibari and needles and electroplay and saline inflations and singletails from someone who’s only there to demonstrate their excellent technique.
On what occasion would you lie to a D/s partner?
Not so much into lying to my partners, no matter the flavor of the relationship.
What technical BDSM skill have you mastered that you are most proud of?
See my above note regarding technique. I know a whole lot of people are far more skilled than I am at pretty much anything you can think of, but what I bring to my play is a kind of connection that can’t be taught, a way of opening my heart and opening theirs so that the two of us together are far greater than the sum of our individual selves.
What is your favourite quality in a submissive?
As mentioned above, I’m not so much into dominance or submission. My favorite qualities in a partner of any flavor are self-knowledge, an open heart, a creative mind, and a sense of fun.
What is your favourite quality in a dominant?
What words or phrases do you most overuse in regard to BDSM?
Who or what has been the greatest love of your life in kink?
I can’t imagine comparing my loves. Each has their own beauties; I don’t compare them to one another.
In which BDSM dynamic have you been the most fulfilled?
Living as equals except in agreed-upon scene space.
What BDSM related skill would you most like to learn?
Anal fisting. Someday, I hope :)
If you could change one thing about your interest in BDSM, what would it be?
If I were more interested in D/s, I would have been a lot more popular for most of my life.
What do you consider your greatest achievement in your exploration of BDSM?
Putting words to experiences that many people have felt, but have never known how to describe or discuss.
If you could die and comeback to have a kinky experience as a different person or object, what would it be?
I’d like to be a gay leatherman in my next life.
Where would you consider to be the perfect place to live a kinky lifestyle?
I think my old stomping grounds in Oakland, California, come pretty close - near enough to San Francisco to get to events there, but far enough to keep clear of the stresses of city life.
What is your most treasured possession from your exploration of kink?
See above note about my bison flogger.
As a kinky person, what do you regard as the lowest depths of misery?
Having to stay in role as a central-casting Queen Bitch Dominatrix.
How would you guess others would describe you as a BDSM practitioner?
Fun, smart, flexible.
What quality do you most value in your kinky friends?
The ability to laugh at themselves. Let’s face it, what we do is funny as fuck, and I love people who don’t take it too terribly seriously.
What word or phrase do you believe to be most overused when it comes to BDSM?
All the talk about honor and integrity and all that. Nothing about liking weird sex makes us any more honorable or praiseworthy than the most vanilla suburbanite. Of course we should all strive to be worthwhile, reliable, ethical people, but that also goes for our next-door neighbor whose kink imagination stops at a blowjob.
What is your favourite kinky book?
Honestly? Radical Ecstasy.
What is your favourite BDSM tool?
Back in the days I was bottoming more than I do now, I was an avid thud slut. I had a thick oak item that was designed for tenderizing abalone, but which made an amazing thud paddle.
Which fictional character would you most like to have a D/s experience with?
Q. That boy really, really needs a spanking :)
As a kinky person, with which fictional character do you most identify?
Do you have a literary quote or piece of poetry that inspires your kinky life?
“Don’t think all ecstasies are the same! Jesus was lost in his love for God. His donkey was drunk with barley.” - Rumi
What song describes your attitude towards BDSM?
Hurts So Good.
What is your favourite sensory experience in a scene?
Deep thud on my butt.
What is your greatest regret in regard to your exploration of BDSM?
My fondness for showing off.
If you could die in the throes of a kinky scene, how would you like to go?
Orgasming during a perfect spanking.
What is your motto?
The map is not the territory.
The original Proust Questionnaire was a series of questions answered by the French writer Marcel Proust and included in a "confessional album", a parlour game popular among Victorians. You may have seen variations of The Proust Questionnaire on the American television series, Inside The Actors Studio, or in the back pages of Vanity Fair Magazine. THE CAGE kinky version is designed to reveal something of the subject's personality and relationship with kink, fetish, and BDSM.