The Acid Tests (Sorting real Tops from fakers)


This is an article I wrote for “Power Lines” back in 1998, it’s somewhat dated now but I’m still surprised how many requests I get to repost it. Since I have space here to do it, I thought I might as well for convenience sake. It still expresses some philosphies and opinions I hold personally valid.


The term ‘Acid Test’ is an old prospecting term. A powerful acid can dissolve most base metals in a matter of minutes. However, gold will stand up to most acids. So the ‘Acid Test’ was an easy way for people to make sure they had a real nugget of gold and not a lump of the ‘fool’s’ variety. In the same way, these tests are meant to be quick ways to identify fake Doms. Passing all these tests is no guarantee either, there is no replacement for getting to know your prospective partner as well as possible before you even meet in person.

Now most of these tests are designed in mind for a submissive female trying to sort through men claiming to be Doms online. They are largely based on the many questions I get asked by my female friends still searching for a Dominant partner. Some of them can probably be used by male subs as well, but for the most part, these tests are best for ferreting out male fakes. Vanilla males are usually after ‘easy sex’ and this motive makes them easier to identify than a lot of the fake Dommes out there.

Step One: Do the Math

Various estimates and surveys have placed the ratio of real (i.e. natural) male sexual Dominants to female sexual submissives at about one to ten. However, a quick count in any given BDSM oriented chat room would lead you to believe that male Doms outnumber the subs at about two to one. Now if there is actually only one male Dom for every ten female subs, that means that 19 out of the 20 “Doms” you see online have to be fakes. Keep this in mind. There is a 95% chance that any man you talk to online claiming to be a Dom is no such thing. This leads us to our first rule, a rule that all statisticians and scientists already know by heart: “When in doubt, throw it out!”

Your search for a suitable Dominant partner (especially if you are seeking a serious long-term relationship as well) could easily take years. That’s hardly surprising, most people spend years looking for that special lover, be they ‘vanilla’ or otherwise. So don’t be disheartened by all these drastic ratios. But don’t waste your time either. If any of the prospects you are chatting with online makes you feel uncomfortable for any reason, drop him. Don’t give him ‘three strikes’ or ‘extra chances to win.’ Block out his screen-name and move on. There was only a one in twenty chance he was legitimate anyway. Trust your instincts!

Step Two: Know Your Enemy

We call them Snerts. We call them HNG’s (Horny Net Geeks). We call them Wannabes. We call them Control Freaks. And sometimes, tragically, we even find some that can only be called rapists and predators. They are all your enemy. Don’t bother thinking they are anything less. Even a more or less well meaning Snert can land you in a hospital. Real BDSM is not for dilettantes or amateurs: Not, no, and never! Even if he turns out to be a more or less nice guy, if he’s not a Dom, he’s not going to give you what you really need. He will likely give you many things you don’t need, like medical bills and other assorted headaches.

Snerts are basically looking for easy sex. They are counting on the (highly inaccurate) assumption that sexual submissives are simply sexually promiscuous. Nothing could be farther from the truth, but that doesn’t deter them at all. They are typically middle aged to somewhat older men. They are often married. They are usually trying to bolster their flagging vanilla sex lives with some casual screwing around. They target submissives because they think that they won’t make demands on there sexual prowess (another bad assumption). They can be easily spotted because they almost always demand or at least emphasize sexual intercourse being a part of their ‘scenes.’

HNG’s are usually the most harmless (and yet often the most annoying) of the enemy types. Most are teenagers and young men looking for some quick cyber-sex or even phone-sex. They are usually pretty sophisticated about their BDSM jargon and the ‘scenes’ they describe to you can be pretty elaborate. Geeks do their homework. They scour the porno sites for ideas, and hang out in BDSM chats for hours on end learning the lingo. The are most easily spotted because they want to move on to cyber-sex and phone sex very quickly. They like to offer online collars, and spend hours on end in chat rooms ‘playing’ with their ‘subbies.’ Don’t waste your time with them.

The second most dangerous type of enemy is the Control Freak. Control freaks are what most psychologists and therapists call ‘controlling personalities.’ They are basically obsessed with control of everything around them, especially the people in their lives. They want all their family, friends, and even coworkers to behave exactly as they say. They are extremely manipulative people. These men can be dangerous because many really have convinced themselves that they are Dominants as a way to justify their dysfunctional lives. Many inexperienced submissives find themselves ‘naturally’ attracted to these men because outwardly they seem so ‘in command’ of things all the time. The truly ironic (and sad) thing is, a controlling personality is actually the closest thing to the opposite of a sexual Dominant.

Controls Freaks can be spotted because they often talk about ‘taking care of you’ and also ‘knowing what’s best for you.’ They almost always try to play on your emotions; especially guilt. They also usually criticize and even resent the advice you get from other people. They often talk about 24/7 BDSM relationships without going into any details about what kind of actual scenes they play. They are fond of telling you that they prefer the ‘mental aspect’ of Domination and submission. They tend to be both demanding and argumentative. Nothing you do will ever be quite right. While all this may seem very repulsive and easy to avoid, be on your guard, the average control freak often seems very charming initially. Once they have their hooks into you its very hard to get untangled.

The last and most dangerous type of enemy is the rapist or predator. These are the men most likely to damage or even end your life. The truly frightening thing about these evil men it that there is NO easy way to spot them. Rapists can be anything from bums to bank mangers, and anyone from family members to total strangers. One in four women has suffered an attack from this vile creature, and one in seven men as well! Their motive is violence. The best defense is never make yourself too vulnerable.

To defend yourself from predators, learn all the ins and outs of setting up a good Safety Net. Follow these procedures religiously. Most important of all take your time getting to know your prospective play partners. This is good advice in any case. If you know your partner well, you’re more likely to have a good time with him, because you will feel more comfortable during that first scene. Predators are more likely to move on in search of easy prey, they do tend to be impulsive. If a ‘Dom’ you have been talking too suddenly seems to loose interest in you after a period of time, you may have just saved your own life. Don’t go chasing after anybody. A true Dom doesn’t need to play ‘hard to get.’

Step 3: Know your goal!

Take the time to figure out what you want. It’s often hard for newbie subs to do this because sometimes they lack knowledge of what choices are available to them. So arm yourself with knowledge! There are many fine publications, books, and internet websites that cater to sexual submissives. So start reading! Learn about the different types of play and how they should be conducted. Learn everything you can about how to set up a Safety Net. Learn all the dos and don’ts of meeting others and playing safely. Decide what your Limits are and set them down on paper. This may seem like a lot of homework to do in the name of fun, but also keep in mind that that it’s your ass that’s (literally) on the line here.

Know what a real Dom acts like. Remember, you are probably a sexual submissive because you are in control the rest of the time. You are strong! Likely even ambitious as well. You have a career, or goals, or a lifestyle that demands this high level of energy and control. So giving away your control is a beautiful respite from everyday life. Your power and energy are things you only want to give to someone you trust, and in intimate situations at that. It’s a very personal thing to you!

Well guess what, sexual Dominants are usually the compliment of this. We are often strong people too, and we do tend to be intelligent. We are often highly trained professionals or skilled craftsmen. However, we tend to avoid lifestyles and careers that demand we be in control all the time. We tend to be easygoing. I have never in my life met, or even heard of, an uptight sexual Dominant. We like being in control in intimate situations. It’s a respite from the way we live our everyday lives. We are not really the opposite of you, but we are the ‘puzzle piece’ that fits next to you snugly. In another words, don’t look for a Dom that’s exactly like you. You won’t find him. Don’t look for a Dom that wants to run your whole life; he doesn’t exist.

Above all, if you’re prospective Dom seems like a generally nice guy, you’re likely on the right track! Take the time to get to know him. Don’t let the five control freaks on the other side of the chat room demand your attention. A real Dominant isn’t likely to make ‘demands’ until its time to play.

Step 4: Memorize the Acid Tests!

Test #1: When in doubt, throw it out! Don’t waste your time with people that make you feel uncomfortable. Even if the guy was a real Dom, if his personality makes you feel uncomfortable, he’s not going to be fun to play with.

Test #2: “You’d better call me Sir!” is the mating call of a HNG or control freak. Real Doms don’t have to ask for titles, we earn them. Most real Doms will say things like “please, call me Mike…”

Test #3: “I want you to take my collar before you play with me.” This is another common demand of fakes, most often made by control freaks. They have to isolate you from other people and their advice, and sometimes a little ole “cyber-collar” is just the thing! Cyber-collars are worth less than the leather required to make one.

Test #4: If you get an Instant Message that says something like “On your knees you [slave, slut, bitch, whore, etc.]” This is the mating call of the HNG. Use some common sense here. Why waste time with somebody that’s not even polite? There’s a time and a place for these endearing terms, and it isn’t online!

Test #5: “I don’t have to answer that question!” or “It’s not proper etiquette for you to ask a Master that.” are examples of some the dangerous lies that control freaks and snerts use. This is the Acid test I personally think is the most important! A Dom had better be ready to at least try and answer every question you have, and honestly at that! It’s literally your ass that’s on the line! Never forget this!

Test #6: “It’s my way or the highway!” or words to that effect, are the mating cry of the common control freak. Doms can have Limits too, but it’s your Limits that count FIRST. Don’t let any would-be ‘Dom’ tell you differently. Don’t let any of the wannabe subs tell you differently either. Where Male Dom/Fem sub play is concerned, it’s always lady’s choice!

Test #7: Don’t bother with online collars. Don’t make decisions about a prospective partner based on his online play style. It’s a very simple test if you think about it: would a real life Dominant waste much time on cyber sex? Please take my word for it; the answer is no. Forget it, once you’ve done the real thing, cyber is just too damn dull.

Test #8: Ask your prospect if he’s ever made any mistakes during a scene. If he says ‘no,’ run for your life! If he says, ‘very rarely,’ at least be suspicious. Everyone makes mistakes, even if they are experienced and skilled. Sometimes submissives have Limits they don’t even know about, and even the most careful and skilled Dom the world will trip over these occasionally. Remember, according to our good friends of the Christian faith, the last perfect guy to walk this planet got nailed to a tree for his trouble. So expect competence, but not miracles.

Test #9: “I’m a [bank president, captain of industry, combat photographer, self-made millionaire… yadda yadda yadda.]” Wouldn’t it be nice to meet a rich Dom too? Sure it would! But use some common sense too. How many captains of industry have hours to spend in an AOL chat room? Also, think about this personality profile; if this super successful, always-in-control person is really into BDSM, he’s likely a submissive! Worse yet, it could very likely mean he is a control freak. I have met a lot of submissives that fit this ambitious profile, but not one Dom yet!

Test #10: “I’m 33 years old, and I’ve been a Master for 15 years.” Gimme a break! What are the odds? When you ask about a Dom’s level of experience (and it’s a good idea to do so) remember to do the math as well. 18 year-old boys don’t care about the intricacies of BDSM; they want to get laid. Trust me on this one Ladies, I was an 18 year-old boy once! I personally believe that people do become what they are (be it gay, straight, Dom or sub) very early in life, but it takes maturity and training to be a Master. What are the odds a person became a Master when they were still using clearacil?

Test #11: Ask for references! Especially if he claims to be ‘very experienced.’ Talk to the references on the phone. Lots of HNG’s have female screen-names set up to act as ‘references’ for them! I notice that a lot of newbies seem to have trouble with this concept. Which is understandable since in the vanilla world it’s considered rude to talk to a guy’s ex-girlfriend. However, in the BDSM Scene it’s the opposite, experienced Dominants should accept and accommodate this kind of request gladly.

Test #12: “I have three real life collared slaves right now, but you can’t talk to them.” Okay, when you consider the ratio and all, this sounds possible. What makes this an acid test failed (and failed miserably at that) is the last part. I have met couples (and even triples) that really were looking for an extra person to add to the mix. This is not uncommon at all in the Scene. But these couples were looking together. If a ‘Dom’ has anyone already collared to them, you probably ought to talk to her first!

Test #13: “I don’t need safe words.” Well of course he doesn’t! If he said this he’s likely a snert and therefore he’s never really been in a scene! Of course he might be a predator too, and then he wouldn’t need safewords either. Need I say more?

Test #14: “My slaves trust me to set their Limits for them.” If you hear a ‘Dom’ say this it’s most likely because these slaves only exist in his mind. Or worse still, his ‘slave’ is simply the victim of spouse abuse. Even so called TPE (Total Power Exchange) and other sorts of 24/7 (i.e. full time) BDSM relationships should involve careful and thorough negotiation.

Test #15: “I’m Married, my wife can’t know about us” If I have to explain this one too you, you’ve got problems. I have played with many married submissives in my time, but only with the express permission (and more often than not, participation) of their husbands. Safe BDSM requires complete honesty. You can’t build a good Scene on lies. There are plenty of people that will be willing to tell you differently; but please note, they will all turn out to be adulterers (and hence, liars) themselves.

Test #16: Insert your own Acid Test here: You will learn much from your mistakes and missteps. If you form an online contact with a “Dom” that falls through, analyze why it fell through. Don’t make the same mistakes twice if you can help it.

Step 5: It’s not just the men you have to screen!

Finding some female submissives to be buddies with you on your quest is a very good idea. Especially if they are experienced players; they can give you unique perspectives, emotional support, and even references to legitimate Doms to play with. They can also, most importantly, provide a Safety Net for you during those first meetings with the men you meet. The benefits of teaming up with other women in your search should be obvious!

However, be just as cautious about what you hear from other women online as well. If you are so inclined to search for a Domme for instance, the Acid tests should apply just as well. Be very cautious about the women you meet online that claim to be submissives as well. There are a great number of female HNG’s who live their BDSM lifestyle in the vacuum of cyber-space. Their advice and experiences are not only useless in the real world, they can be dangerous. Another class of “female enemy” is even more tragic and dangerous; the Victim.

A Victim is just that; a victim of physical and/or mental abuse that uses BDSM as an excuse to continue denying the reality of her tragic situation. These people are disturbingly common as well. They are dangerous to you too! These women are not just full of very dangerous advice, but they are usually very vehement about telling you that their lifestyle is the only “real BDSM.” They can fill your head full of doubts faster than one of the male enemy types.

Spare little sympathy, tell them to get help, and stay the heck away from them (in exactly this order). It may seem mercenary, but it is in fact the right thing to do. This is my training as a CASA (Citizens Against Spouse Abuse) volunteer talking. An abuse victim can only save herself, and then only when she is ready to do so. If you let her vent her frustrations and fears on you, she will then go back to her familiar little hell, leaving you emotionally drained and likely scared too. Your quest for safe play partners is going to be tough enough as it is. Avoid Victims completely if you can, and if you can’t, urge them to get help. It’s not your job to save the world, keeping yourself safe and happy is enough work.

In Closing

This all seems like a lot of work. It is. Some of it sounds awfully scary too. It should. So why bother with this quest at all? Why not just stick “cyber only” in your profile and forget real life BDSM? Why not just drop it all together? I can give you only one good reason; when it is done safely, and it suits your needs, it can be the one of the most profoundly fulfilling experiences in your life! I used to cringe at terms like “sex magic,” but now that I know the spells, I’m an unabashed Wizard! Besides, any student of psychology can tell you that denial has its own dangers too. The easy roads are not the ones that lead to interesting places. So arm yourself with knowledge, find yourself some trustworthy friends to share the journey, and start walking. Just don’t forget to bring your Acid Tests too!


BDSM – an acronym that combines abbreviations for Bondage and Discipline, Domination and Submission, and Sadism and Masochism (B&D + D/s + S&M = BDSM). It is meant to be an all-inclusive term for these related erotic fetishes.

B&D – abbr. for Bondage and Discipline.

Collar – a symbol of possession used to denote some sort of committed relationship between a sexual Dominant and a sexual submissive.

Control Freak – slang for a person with a dysfunctional personality type usually referred to as a “controlling personality.” See section 2, paragraph four.

Credo, The – (a.. k. a. the BDSM Motto) The BDSM Credo is usually taken to be “Safe, Sane, and Consensual.” All of these ideals are generally considered to be of equal importance and interdependent. It is worth noting that the Credo’s definition of Sanity, rather than delving into psychology, goes thus: The only Sane reason to do BDSM is for the mutual enjoyment of all people involved.

Cyber – slang for being online. Often refers to Cyber-sex.

Cyber Sex – interacting with another person online for the express purpose of sexual arousal.

D/s – abbr. for Domination and Submission.

Dom – abbr. or slang for a (usually male) sexual Dominant.

Dominant – (i.e. Sexual Dominant) A person that derives sexual and mental satisfaction from taking control of intimate erotic encounters. They are often simulated by using techniques such as sexual sadism, bondage, domineering role-play, and generally taking a commanding role in intimate situations.

Domme – abbr. or slang for a (usually female) sexual Dominant.

HNG – acronym for “Horny Net Geek.” See section 2, paragraph two.

Limit – something that either partner in a BDSM relationship will not do, or does not like. Basically, a specific preference concerning BDSM play. The submissive’s Limits should always take precedence over the Dominant’s. Limits should always be discussed and set out before a Scene ever starts. Respecting Limits is not an option, it’s a requirement.

Master – A title of honor for a (usually male) sexual Dominant that usually denotes either a high level of experience or competence. Also used (voluntarily) as a title of respect for Dominants that have served the BDSM community as a whole. Alternatively used as a term of endearment for the Dom in a Scene featuring “Master/slave” role-playing, or in the context of a long-term relationship. Similar titles include Sir, Lord, and Daddy, etc.

Mistress – A title of honor for a (usually female) sexual Dominant that usually denotes either a high level of experience or competence. Also used (voluntarily) as a title of respect for Dominants that have served the BDSM community as a whole. Alternatively used as a term of endearment for the Domme in a Scene featuring “Mistress/slave” role-playing, or in the context of a long-term relationship. Similar titles include Ma’am, Lady, and Momma, etc.

S&M or S/m – abbr. for Sadism & Masochism, or Sadomasochism.

Safe Word – a code word used by the submissive to signal his/her Dominant partner to either stop, slow down, or even completely end a Scene. “Safe Signals” must be substituted when the submissive is gagged or cannot otherwise speak. These are not an option for safe play, they are a requirement.

Safety Net – a person or persons who take the responsibility to make sure that your real life meeting with a prospective play partner is safe. This can range from actually “chaperoning” the meeting to setting up “safe calls” and so forth. This is a requirement for submissives, not an option, as it is the only defense they have against predators, rapists, and con artists. Learn how to set one up and set them up religiously. Even vanilla women should learn to do these things when going on a blind date!

Sexual Masochist – a person that can experience profound arousal and/or euphoria from controlled doses of pain and other extreme stimuli. Such stimuli outside the context of a consensual or erotic experience are not usually enjoyable to a sexual masochist.

Sexual Sadist – a person that can experience profound arousal and/or euphoria from inflicting carefully controlled doses of pain and other extreme stimuli on sexual Masochists. They DO NOT generally enjoy inflicting pain for its own sake. Nor do they enjoy using such stimuli on people that do not find it enjoyable.

Slave – a title of endearment and ownership given to sexual submissives that are participating in Master/slave lifestyles or role-playing. This usually signifies that the submissive wears the “Collar” of a particular Dominant. Alternatively used (voluntarily) as a title of respect for submissives that have served the BDSM community as a whole. Similar titles include, boy, girl, or sissy, etc.

Sub – abbr. or slang for a sexual submissive.

Submissive – (i.e. Sexual Submissive) A person who derives sexual and mental satisfaction from having control taken away from them in intimate situations. They are often (but not always) sexual masochists. They often derive pleasure from bondage, and generally taking a subservient role in intimate situations.

Scene – slang for relating to BDSM. As in “Yes, she’s a legitimate player in the Scene.” Also slang for a specific session of BDSM. As in “I was in this wonderful Scene last night.” Often used as a verb in the same case; “They Scened at the party last night.”

Subbie – common endearment for a sexual submissive, usually (but not always) for a female submissive.

Vanilla – slang for things that are not “kinky” or not related to BDSM and similar fetishes.

Victim – a victim of abuse that claims to be in a BDSM “lifestyle” to rationalize/legitimize their tragic situation. See section 5, paragraph 2.

Wannabe – derogatory; most often refers to a person that pretends to be a legitimate real life practitioner of BDSM, while actually having little or no practical experience.

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