Wide World of Gags

Alex Henderson

The old proverb “silence is golden” has been part of the English language for centuries, and in consensual BDSM play, silence — or at least muffled moaning — is often achieved by using a gag. There are many different types of gags in BDSM, and they are a popular part of kinky erotica and professional domination as well as consistent sellers on websites that specialize in selling BDSM gear or sex toys.

BDSM players don’t necessarily have to visit a sex shop or an adult website to find gags: duct tape or scarves are often used as gags. But seasoned tops (dominants) and bottoms (submissives) enjoy the different types of professionally manufactured gags that are unique to BDSM, and those gags range from ball-gags to bit-gags to ring-gags to penis-gags.

Rowntree stressed that whatever type of gag is used in either professional domination or BDSM erotica, safety must always be a top priority.

One need only visit Stockroom.com or ExtremeRestraints.com (both of which are high-traffic websites specializing in BDSM-oriented gear and equipment) to know that there are many different options when it comes to gags. Stockroom.com, for example, has an entire section devoted to gags and breaks them down into eight different categories, which include, among other things, ball-gags, penis-gags (also known as pecker-gags), bit-gags, open-mouth gags and inflatable-gags. And similarly, ExtremeRestraints.com (which is part of the Huntington Beach, CA-based XR LLC) has entire pages devoted exclusively to ball-gags, penis-gags, bit-gags, open-mouth gags and other types of gags.

Many sex toy-oriented sites and brick-and-mortar sex shops sell some gags, but Stockroom.com and ExtremeRestraints.com sell a much wider variety of gags and attract a lot of clients who are serious BDSM connoisseurs. That includes many professional dominatrices as well as companies that specialize in BDSM erotica.

“Gags and muzzles come in a variety of styles, each one having characteristics that enhance and support the dominant/submissive activity intended,” explained Colin Rowntree, founder/president of Wasteland.com (one of the top websites for BDSM erotica). “These intentions range from simply restricting the sub’s ability to talk to humiliation to even simply a fetish fashion accessory often used in stage performances and photo/video sessions.”

A ball-gag is easily the most famous type of gag that is specific to BDSM. In fact, ball-gags are so symbolic of BDSM that even those who aren’t heavily into BDSM know what a ball-gag looks like. They are a fixture in BDSM dungeons as well as on major BDSM erotica sites like Wasteland.com and the San Francisco-based Kink.com.

“As far as popularity, traditional ball gags continue to be the most used type of mouth restraint,” Rowntree noted. “They are relatively inexpensive, easy to use and clean, and give the sub that ‘classic BDSM look’ that is often so important in structuring the visual elements of a play scene.”

A ring-gag is an open-mouth gag that has a hollow ring instead of a round ball. That type of gag is known for causing a submissive to drool uncontrollably, which is the point: some bottoms enjoy humiliation, and drooling uncontrollably in front of a top is one way to feel humiliated. Many pro-dommes keep some ring gags on hand because their clients request them. And in BDSM erotica, a bottom who has a ring gag in his/her mouth can perform oral sex on a top if the ring is large enough.

A penis-gag is one of the more severe types of gags used in BDSM. With a penis-gag, a silicone or rubber “penis” is part of the gag and is inserted into the bottom’s mouth — which holds his/her tongue in place and keeps the sub very quiet. Many bottoms have said that while ball-gags, ring-gags or bit-gags made them feel dominated, a penis-gag made them feel much more dominated.

A penis-gag can be inflatable, meaning that how large the “penis” becomes depends on how much the top inflates it. Some penis-gags have two “penises” attached instead of one: a smaller “penis” that goes in the sub’s mouth and keeps him/her quiet, and a larger “penis” that goes on the outside. The “penis” on the outside can function much like a strap-on dildo, enabling a bottom to perform sex on the top. With a two-way penis-gag, a dominant woman could keep her submissive totally quiet while he pleasures her vaginally. Stockroom.com sells a two-way penis-gag for $90.

“Penis-gags indeed introduce an element of anatomical strangeness to the realm of gags,” Rowntree observed, “and many subs indeed feel these are a bit too extreme for them, as it all feels a little ‘too pornie.’”

A bit-gag, meanwhile, consists of a flat bar that is held in place in the sub’s mouth. While bit gags make it more difficult for the bottom to speak coherently, they don’t make coherent speech flat-out impossible the way penis-gags do. But then, preventing speech altogether isn’t the goal of a bit gag — which tends to appeal to BDSM players who have equestrian fantasies and engage in pony play (a BDSM game in which the submissive plays the part of a pony). The bit in a bit gag symbolizes the bit used in the bridle for a horse.

“In our experience at Wasteland, the best starter gag for a submissive new to the scene is the good old-fashioned horse bit-gag,” Rowntree said. “It does the trick quite nicely, but as the bit is generally a relatively narrow column of rubber or other synthetic, it is easier on the jaw. When one ramps up into more intense BDSM play, ring-gags, ball-gags, inflatable gags and hoods with built-in gags are the preferred devices, as they indeed create a higher level of discomfort.”

Rowntree stressed that whatever type of gag is used in either professional domination or BDSM erotica, safety must always be a top priority. “One very important thing to consider when using any sort of gags is safety,” Rowntree asserted. “Ideally, any gag should be attached to a strap that wraps around the sub’s head to keep it in place and, most importantly, avoids the sub accidentally swallowing and choking on it. … Beware.”