My Name is Rand – Wayne Courtois (Lethe Press)

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This little piggy went to market, This little piggy stayed at home, This little piggy had roast beef, This little piggy had none. And this little piggy went “Wee wee wee” all the way home…

I read this reissue of Courtois’ 2004, My Name Is Rand, with the sensibility of gay man who has never, ever considered the practice of tickling within the BDSM milieu. Yes, for all these years I’ve been a rather meat and potatoes, vanilla, missionary position, sexual traditionalist who never understood nor had any inclination toward any aspect of BDSM. My loss, some would say. I tend to view my spiritual – if you will – dedication to the performance of the fuck as something enriching in and of itself; an act of love that doesn’t require a whole lot of imagination, invention, or carousing within or even on the fringe of kinky. I know. Yes, I know. Kinky is a relative term. To each his own, and all that.

Enter Courtois, who, oh my goodness, provided me with a door, a window into this BDSM tickling business (especially the toes, the feet); a journey not only of enlightenment, but  also – yes, I will admit! – a smidgeon of arousal just imagining tickling so many of those boys with beautiful eyes that have passed through my life…vanillaly.

Our narrator, Rand, begins his journey hooking-up with Granger, an “ex-Navy man,” who Rand concludes, “Being with Granger was all about fear, because I was so scared of being tickled to death and he was so ready to make it happen.”

The prospect of being tickled to death is a recurrent theme in Rand’s meanderings through ever-increasing enforced spasms of tickling nirvana/torture, that inevitably leads to the release of mountains, streams, volcanoes of cum from both the tickled and the tickler; for me a rather haughty endorsement of the curious practice, but, nevertheless, an incentive to, um, well, give it a go, maybe. Just maybe.

After the encounter with Granger, Rand climbs in his car intent on returning to his partner, David, whose commitment to their relationship is quite insipid, or, more precisely, ambivalent…thus Rand’s infidelity with Granger. Continuing his journey home, Rand finds himself on an interstate with, of course, a pullover to a rest stop where the convenient coincidence of meeting-up with another devotee of tickling, Michael — who has quite a story of his own with regard to his initiation into tickling and being tickled — and who eventually, literally bags Rand and carries him off to the next stop in this curious adventure.

The adventure? Firstly, Michael has his way with Rand (primarily the feet, the ribs) to the point Rand is, “…reduced…to a drooling idiot, trembling and twitching, panting and whimpering, unable to keep [his] tongue inside [his] mouth. …a broken wreck who was now good for only one thing, to be tickled and tickled until the tormentor himself was nearly dead from exhaustion.”

Then there is The Compound where the ticklers – children, teenagers, adults – have their way with the captured, bound ticklees; a kind of gruesome succession of tactile stimulation from wee little digits to the morepracticed fingers, tongues, dicks of the older boys and men. Rand is moved through The Compound by men in gray uniforms who are trustees: Those who themselves have undergone the regimen of torture, and are now trusted enough to get the ticklees to the next location where the ticklers can have their way with them.

Rand eventually becomes a trustee, an ardent tickler, and then finds himself within the dark bowels of The Compound as a rebel or sorts; one amongst several intent on escaping the onerous – or is it? – single-minded communal intent of those above. I will not expose the culmination of this tale, this adventure, this carousing within a mindset that Rand articulates at one point as: “‘Oh please please please,’” I was saying, “‘please please please.’” They knew, they must have known, that I was both begging them to tickle me and begging them not to.”

“…I was both begging them to tickle me and begging them not to.” Ah, the essence, I suppose, of BDSM.

Courtois took me into this mysterious (for me) place where the infliction of pain, the spiritual connection between the givers and the takers of that pain – even a supernatural encounter with the dreaded Dread Junior – did provide me with, if not proverbial food for thought, an engaging narrative with, at least, a penumbra of understanding about this business, this inclination of some to approach dangerous physical and emotional boundaries that most never dare breach. Besides that, the storytelling, the prose is superb.

My Name Is Rand is essentially about self-discovery. I do find myself, however, asking the inevitable question: Why did I stop with vanilla? Why did Courtois go a wee, wee bit farther?

“It is always by way of pain one
arrives at pleasure.” — Marquis de Sade

Reviewed by George Seaton

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