Brian Goss is from Los Angeles and has one of the biggest handcuff collections on the planet. Brian gives us his view of the one restraint no fukka is getting out of until your balls are empty or your whipping bicep is numb. So, if you want to know the difference between chains, links, and cuffs read on.
The variety is endless – there are over 200 types of handcuff currently in use around the world. And if you go back in history there are probably 50 times as many. They are all there for the police or military to restrain unruly criminals. But of course the fetish world puts them to much better use, largely holding your guy in place so you can put 12-inches of raw cock, your giant clenched fist, or biggest baseball bat up him. And he simply has to take it.
Restraints of all types are popular in the fetish world, with bondage sometimes having been raised to a near art-form by some societies. But for simplicity, versatility, and its association with law enforcement, nothing compares to the handcuff. It is fast and easy, takes up almost no space, and requires little training to use safely. And unlike padded restraints made of leather or neoprene, handcuffs come with a little bit of a hard edge to them, literally. Metal cuffs might leave some marks on your wrists and even be a little uncomfortable at times, an important feature for people who want to make sure their fetish experiences aren’t too ‘soft and easy’.
Handcuffs, manacles, leg irons, and similar restraining devices made of metal or wood have been around for a long time. Archaeologists have uncovered items dating at least as far back as 1900 BC from ancient Mesopotamia. Rock carvings showing restrained prisoners go back even further. Metal was a precious material in those days and metallurgy was primitive. As a result, restraints were rare and simple – a situation which persisted through the Middle Ages. Nothing approaching the handcuffs of modern days existed for a very long time.
The first real locking handcuffs, popularly known as ‘darbies’, date from the 1700s. Originating in England, they were the standard for approximately 150 years. The cuffs look like the letter D. The inner parts of the cuffs are round while the outer part that locks the wrists in place is a straight piece of metal.
The design of today’s handcuffs is nearly universal and instantly recognisable. It originated from the Peerless company in America in 1912. The ‘swinging bow’ design contains the well-known semi-circular piece with jagged teeth which can be pushed all the way through the cuff in a complete circle. But put a wrist (or ankle) inside and it will lock because of the teeth. The cuffs can only be tightened further on the wrists but cannot go back without being unlocked. That makes them desirable for police who frequently deal with uncooperative individuals.
Dungeon play is sometimes theatre and some very old devices like stocks are popular. But when it comes to handcuffs, the standard Peerless design is likely to be the only cuff most people will ever need or want. They’re inexpensive (€30 should get you a perfectly decent pair of cuffs online or in a store), reusable, easily cleaned, and have the added advantage of being double-lockable. That means that once you’ve found the required tightness, the cuffs can be locked in place without the danger of them tightening further around the wrists to the point they become uncomfortable and dangerous.
Handcuffs can be used on wrists and on ankles (if large enough). With additional cuffs, they can be used for handcuff hog tying. You can cuff an individual to other individuals or to objects. The Peerless design also cuffs an individual almost instantly if it’s held between the thumb and forefinger and quickly slapped onto a wrist.
Many older devices are heavy and made for one purpose only. They’re often slower to put on and slower to take off, which can be problematic if they need to be removed in a hurry. A small number of enthusiasts might have an interest in using older devices in their scenes. Examples include the ‘bilboes’ of slave days, a long rod with C-shaped pieces attached as cuffs. But the vast majority of fetishists are unlikely to want to do the work necessary to build such devices themselves. And they’re not very portable.
Similarly, most people are unlikely to need a vintage pair of handcuffs such as the kind a collector might covet. They’re more expensive and do less (certainly no more) than a modern design.
Modern handcuffs are easy to use when shackling hands together. Palms must always face each other. The backs of the wrists can also face each other, though this is a more uncomfortable position and requires more flexibility from the arms, especially if hands are behind the back. The palm of one hand should never be facing the top of the other hand. Modern handcuffs are not designed for this and anyone who has worn them this way can tell you it’s very uncomfortable. The cuffs dig hard into the wrists, and are difficult to get off.
Recent decades have seen some innovation in handcuff design. Some of these innovations might be of interest to dungeon players. Plastic cuffs and restraints were first invented in the 1960s. They’re cheap and very lightweight, and can be carried in bunches. Admittedly, that is more likely to be of benefit to riot police than fetish players, but you never know given the preponderance of bottoms in the fetish scene. What does one do if there are eight bottoms looking to be cuffed and you only have one pair of handcuffs? Because they’re not reusable there is no possibility of disease transmission through dirty cuffs as there might be with metal handcuffs. The downsides, however, make them less desirable than metal cuffs: they are not adjustable and tend to be more uncomfortable than metal hand cuffs. Cutting them off with a sharp object comes with dangers, too. And strangers are less likely to be impressed (and turned on) by someone carrying plastic cuffs than they are by someone carrying real metal handcuffs.
Whatever your preferences for material, handcuffs are a surprisingly uncommon item in fetish circles. I believe they should be everywhere. Nothing signals restraint and domination/submission quite like handcuffs. They’re an item that even non-scene people understand. And they’re ready to be used at a moment’s notice.