In January this year, Daddy and I attended a class by Raven Kaldera and Joshua Tenpenny. I picked up Real Service from them there along with a few other books, including this one. The Way of the Pleasure Slave by Andrew James was a surprise to see and a delight to flip through. As my blog name implies, I like modeling my service after courtesans. However, many resources are Gorean focused, heteronormative, or, frankly, sexist.
While the subtitle of this book is Erotic Slavehood for the Submissive Woman, Andrew James makes it clear in the preface that this is due to “being a queer trans man with a femme slavegirl” and is simply “bowing to the old adage to write what you know”. This is a common decision for many authors and one I can’t really fault them for.
Andrew James has also written 5 previous books including “Miss Abernathy” books. Erotic Slavehood: A Miss Abernathy Omnibus was one of my very first kink related books I ever read and it was a treat to discover that the author of that book is the same one here.
The Way of the Pleasure Slave: Erotic Slavehood for the Submissive Woman is nine chapters in about 130 pages. However, it is packed with thoughtful research and information and I didn’t feel that it was missing much. I’m a sucker for a book with footnotes and Pleasure Slave doesn’t disappoint. James also includes a great glossary and bibliography in the back. In addition, at the end of each chapter, there is a Further Reading section listing many valuable resources.
The preface covers James’ reasons for writing Pleasure Slave, including the lack of discussion of the “nuts and bolts of how M-types train our s-types to serve us.” He also mentions that we don’t often discuss the different ways slaves can serve and, finally, that “part of the appeal of authority-based relationships is that they’re hot.” I think these are fair points, at least with my experience with the M/s community. James also makes it clear that this is not a 101-level book and lists some of the assumptions he has about the reader. I wish more books did this.
Again and again, I see “bedroom slavery” judged as a lesser form of kink. I see definitions of M/s that would deny that bedroom slaves are slaves at all, simply because their area of service seems too limited, too specialized. It is as if we were unwilling to call a cardiologist a doctor because real doctors are general practitioners.
Through the course of the book, James explores the concept of pleasure and what does that mean, and what can it mean. The idea of the pleasure slave is a slave who has taken on a specialized role. This is linked to plenty of historical models (including courtesans!) and fictional models. The odalisque, or harem slave, is the main example that is explored through both a historical lens and an erotic one. I found a lot of this very interesting and appreciated that James brought up criticism of Orientalism (which the odalisque is connected to) and that imperialism and appropriation are connected to that. It’s important to acknowledge that some of our archetypes and historical models are incorrect ones or stolen from previous cultures and learning how to properly adapt, or remove, elements to our current times.
Getting into the training element of Pleasure Slave, James discusses what he calls The 3 Core Skills: mindfulness, self-reflection, and communication. Each of these come with actionable tips and tools and advice to M-types on how to create protocols and rituals around tasks that will lead to improving the s-type’s core skills. James continues on to creating a self-care plan which covers diet, exercise, sleep, stress, appearance, healthcare, etc. He is quick to emphasize that this is to be viewed as a way of the s-type taking care of themselves, not because a person needs to be thin or athletic or any other particular body type or size in order to be a pleasure slave. This is a very welcome viewpoint and I appreciate James being clear about his intentions.
It’s easy and understandable to focus on partner sex as the sine qua non of pleasure slavehood, M-types should remember that they are training a whole person, not just a collection of body parts.
Chapter 5 dives straight into the erotic arts, as expected. I was pleased that this chapter is written in a gender neutral manner referring to manipulating the clitoris or pleasing a penis rather than female/male. There are no assumptions regarding anyone’s genital configuration on other side of the slash. This chapter was a little shorter than I expected however James gives plenty of resources to sex dedicated books which makes sense.
There is also an exploration of spiritual energy, including directions for rituals both sexual and not. These sections are meant to encourage bond deepening between M-type and s-type which I think is very important and something that can be forgotten when talking about power exchange. It is a relationship and if we don’t work on strengthening the relationship itself, all the hot sex in the world isn’t going to keep it together.
The last training chapter touches on skills a pleasure slave should have and utilize when in public spaces such as conversational skills, companion skills, and travel skills. And, finally, the very last chapter discusses overcoming challenges in a pleasure focused dynamic, particularly about how stress or health problems can affect giving or receiving pleasure. James shares his own struggles with chronic illness and how he and his girl had to work through it and continue to do so.
Who Should Read This
As Andrew James wrote, this isn’t a 101-level book. I wouldn’t advise a brand new person to the scene to read this book. It may be interesting to skim but James’ Miss Abernathy books would be much more valuable for a brand new person.
This book is great for a s-type who is interested in role specialization. The book is about being a pleasure slave, not a service one or a general slave. None of these other roles are degraded in this book (nor should they be) but, just like Real Service, this book is geared towards a specialized role and is very plain about it.
If you’re an M-type, I think this book is a great way of understanding what training is and looks like. There are lots of elements that I think an M-type should also consider doing with their s-type (see the 3 Core Skills section) as a way of not only improving a dynamic but improving themselves.
I found The Way of the Pleasure Slave to be a well-written book that has clearly come out of lived experience rather than fantasy. The attention to research and acknowledgement of history and other authors is something I admire too. James has clearly spent time living the M/s life but also put in work to back up his thoughts without writing a dry academic text.
I think the idea of “slave training” is often romanticized or not fully understood. It’s easy to think it’s teaching your s-type how to give you a blowjob and make your coffee and that’s it. If that’s your priority, that’s great and I hope that it works for you. For others, that feels limiting and Pleasure Slave gives a bird’s eye view as to what training can really encompass and look like.
Yes, power exchange is hot and sexy and gets me off, but this book reflects more of my personal philosophy around power exchange: I serve Daddy because I want to please him in any form that I possibly can whether it’s teaching a class or sex or serving the community. Pleasure exists in many many forms and Andrew James has created a great road map to it.