Being a Witness: On Voyeurism and the Erotic Thrill Of Watching

photo by Audra Wist

My sexuality has never been a mysterious force guiding my life in one way or another. My sexuality has always felt natural yet systematic — a product of an intellectual curiosity. This may sound anti-glamorous, but in my experience, by investigating the systems that are at play during a sexual encounter we are able to better understand our own likes or dislikes and we are empowered to voice those things in a constructive way. In tinkering with our naughtiness, we are figuring it out, its complacency or fervor, impulse or calculated-ness, and so forth. In general, I’m a watcher. I like to observe and get results — figure out what is happening. A form of active voyeurism.

When Autre asked me to write about my own experiences with sex and BDSM, my first thought was “this might be boring” or at the very least come off as overzealous like some three-ring sexual circus diary of a sex fiend — something unsavory. I get in a bind over sex because I care for it and want to do right by it, not exploit it (though, note to self: write about exploitation soon). Of course, sexuality by nature is a generally un-boring topic, but in my experience discussing the often cold ways I see sexuality functioning can be less than sumptuous. What is at stake for me is agency. I’m interested in how we occupy sexualities, why we do things, and how we do things — where we hold power — but also in the unabashed letting-it-rip quality of the encounter. It’s a delicate balance. Despite my need to analyze and pick apart topics, I find that we never make it fully back around to desire, the squirmy thing that can’t be contained. I am never quite able to pin it down or put my finger on it (so to speak) and that is the real beauty of it. 

I wrote to a friend recently, I feel like a scientist at times, with my work and sexuality — I am running tests, recording results. Not literally, of course, but playing with bodies and ideas and desires and seeing what sticks, what I like and what I don’t like — the ultimate overseer of my own sexuality. Over the years, I’ve found that a constructive way for me to examine my own interests is to be the active voyeur.


"Flipping my roles, cuckolding is a favorite. To have someone watch me fuck is an honor and a privilege yet enormously humiliating and/or exciting for them. I am enjoying myself thoroughly while you watch and pine."


Sometimes at night, I hear my roommate next door fucking her guy. I’m lying in bed reading or just falling asleep and I wonder: “Is she pegging him or is he fucking her?” I doze off with a grin on my face. They usually crack the door open just a bit, letting sound leak out without any real visibility of their encounter. It’s a delightful experience of hearing and not seeing and I encourage their semi-public fucking.

When I am able to view an otherwise private show, my natural task-master comes forward and I direct the production, enjoying white-hatting the affair. You suck his cock, you lick her nipples, you fuck her like this, and so forth. I have the figurative clipboard and they are playing by my rules. I’m the coach, intimately engaged in the game by standing on the sidelines watching the blissful win, my players scoring big.

Flipping my roles, cuckolding is a favorite. To have someone watch me fuck is an honor and a privilege yet enormously humiliating and/or exciting for them. I am enjoying myself thoroughly while you watch and pine. I could certainly do the whole hot wife thing, but I favor the role of hot-Domme NSA who will never call you again.

I frequently joke with friends: invite me over, I’ll watch you fuck. They nervously laugh, but they know I am serious and that I will bring extra lube, a towel, and a bottle of Blanc de Blanc for the event.

I like to refer to each player in the voyeuristic scene as such: the victim, the tyrant, and the witness (terms borrowed from Wayne Koestenbaum’s Humiliation). As the witness, we can be the person on display who is being objectified with an arena staked out for us. We have freedom in visual pleasure to soak up what is before us. If we are the tyrant, we get the dual pleasure of watching our doing unfold and watching someone's reactions to us. The victim is well, self-explanatory. The victim has all the fun.

But somehow I’m always fond of the watcher, the witness. The titillating experience of the demonstration — when we hear that we are about to watch something — is that we feel excitement of what’s to come. The thrill of occupying the position of the voyeur and being able to watch others engage. I’ve always had an interest in watching or looking too long. We all have that sort of impulse to watch. When we pass a car crash on the highway, it is difficult not to crane our necks and watch as the medics reach into the crumpled vehicle to pull out a real body — our everyday peep show. While I would argue that there are good things to watch and bad things to watch, the common titillation of watching somebody's sexual something right before you is a powerful experience. Maggie Nelson talks about this in The Art of Cruelty — “when do we look and when do we turn away?” Perhaps it’s that in between uncertainty that is the most palpable feeling derived from being a voyeur, being involved but also not too close. Or perhaps, the question in the context I’m describing is how and why do we look and how and why do we turn away? What are we being confronted with in a particular context that affords voyeurism, and why is it that we are intrigued? Sexuality should be interrogated.


Audra Wist is an artist, writer, social commentator and provocateur - she is also an avid collector of erotica and erotic ephemera. She is also a professional dominatrix based in Los Angeles specializing in all sorts of punishment and humiliation. As Autre's sex editor at-large she will be covering all sorts of naughty content in the realm of sex and sexuality – from masturbatorial musings to photographic editorials. Follow Autre on instagram: @AUTREMAGAZINE 



The Glorious Joy of Facesitting, A Masturbatorial Meditation by Audra Wist

I just masturbated to the thought of sitting on someone’s face. I figured whatever came to mind I’d write about. And really, what better way to begin writing about facesitting than right after getting off to the thought.

What is it about the act? Just a few minutes ago before writing these words, I was lying in bed rubbing myself to the thought of my ass coming down gently on a particular face, me “triumphantly” above him, as he often remarks. The pressure and weight of my ass resting on his face, suffocating him temporarily and squeezing my thighs against his neck and head. I like the way he gasps for air as I release his face from the grip of my derriere. The image alone sets off a fantastic wank — a vision of ivory softness, large and overwhelming, looming above his face, which is soon to be smothered into erogenous bliss. I sometimes imagine the image of my own ass, slightly spread, as I get off; this beautiful thing to marvel at! Thankfully, I was blessed with a full-rounded backside that is coveted as one of the best to worship and — more notably — to be underneath, as a professional dominatrix. My ass is that of godliness for some. Men delightfully suffer under the weight of me, and I revel in their incapacitation. The joy of facesitting.

I’m trying to remember my first facesitting fantasy, or my first facesitting experience. I’ve rode many faces of lovers, but facesitting is especially different. The end goal is not typically orgasm or involving cunni- or anal-lingus (at least not every time), but is more so a way to exercise control over another’s breathing: letting them inhale your wonderful scent in a most intimate way using the brute force of the sit.

I think I inadvertently sat on a face my first time. These things happen, accidental power exchanges turned lifelong kinky affairs. It was a drunken encounter around the age of nineteen, a more intuitive and sexual BDSM encounter than a safe/sane/consensual and skillful roll in the proverbial hay. We spent most of the time mopping our bodies around my faux-hardwood floors at 3 a.m. when I ended up hovering over his face and felt him breathing me in deeply, enjoying my evident arousal. And so I sat. To my pleasant surprise, he was enjoying being smothered. Imagine my burgeoning dominant excitement! I continued — up, down… up, down… up, down.

Facesitting is a fantastic way of exercising control and providing erotic closeness. It can be a fetishistic activity and one that relegates the top in the position of highness — The Decider of When You Breathe. All of the focus on depersonalization by way of covering the face, being underneath and thus eliminating their presence — now you see me, now you don’t. I can read or listen to music or talk to my damn self — my seat is a seat and nothing more. Outside of a Dominant/submissive (D/s) context, one can also use facesitting as a gateway to forced cunt eating, ass eating, or ball play. The “seat,” as “it” were, can be activated by servicing the sitter and providing intimate sexual contact.


"Facesitting isn’t conceptually profound, but it makes for directness in the bedroom or dungeon or wherever you decide to fuck du jour."


Facesitting isn’t conceptually profound, but it makes for directness in the bedroom or dungeon or wherever you decide to fuck du jour. The psychological implications can certainly be profound, but facesitting itself is not complicated, nor does it require any real prep. Just find an eager consenting little face and sit. You can even invest in a smotherbox or queening chair if facesitting becomes a predominant activity for you and your partner. Just saying the word 'smotherbox' should be enough for a curious party to give it a go with or without accoutrements.

And just as many longstanding lascivious acts are crucified as being despicable teen sex trends by Fox News and OneMillionMoms, facesitting has had a long history. Simply put, it's likely your Grandmother sat on a face at some point and time. This year, UK law banned facesitting in porn alongside other popular fetishes, including female ejaculation. Mistress Absolute, a beloved BDSM practitioner based in London, was among the crowd protesting the outdated law in front of parliament. She facesat in solidarity and drank her morning coffee while doing so. Also notable: there was a man wearing a snorkel rolling out his yoga mat preparing for his personal day of activism alongside Absolute and the other activists. This protest comes off the heels of numerous recent shoutouts being made to femdom, by way of facesitting, via many pop stars including Nicki Minaj and The Weeknd, all of whom have expressed their penchant for the act and the joy it brings. I love facesitting and I’m glad it’s being normalized, popularized, and celebrated, debated even. Any press is good press, no?

Lest we forget the pre-Minaj facesitting enthusiasts: Namio Harukawa, working between the late 1960s and 80s, depicted thick R. Crumb-ian women, meticulously rendered/expertly shaded, practically taking up the full-frame of his images and sitting cruelly and confidently on small weak men in various humiliating fashion. The tiny men tend to the women’s feet or act as a much needed bar stool, among other utilitarian purposes. Much of Harukawa’s work is centered on facesitting, but also includes bondage and human furniture. For more contemporary face to ass depictions, John Stagliano’s Buttman magazine does the trick. Although mostly focusing on hardcore, Buttman has some magical moments of smothering within the pages of back issues. I’m a huge Buttman fan and particularly fond of Belladonna, Asa Akira, Alexis Texas, among other anal queens who appeared in the glossy pages. Buttman operated as a catalog of buttstuff, all disciplines included, something for any butt enthusiast. Self-proclaimed buttman Glenn King (once loosely related to the boys of Buttman) is frequently seen with his face firmly planted between the cheeks of big name porn stars such as Aiden Starr and Daisy Ducati on MeanBitches.com and TheKingNetwork.com. He even holds a weekly “TwAss” contest on Twitter where various porn newbies and vets submit photos of their ass for Glenn’s loving judgment.

I rejoice when I see a billboard with a giant ass crushing a city, or when a film gratuitously zooms in on a lovely lady’s ass (i.e. Lucy Liu in Joseph McGinty Nichol’s Charlie’s Angels featured in full leather walking down the hallway, leather creaking as she struts). Fuck the curmudgeons, viva la arse! Don’t leave me hanging — kiss it, follow it, and for god’s sake get underneath it.


Audra Wist is an artist, writer, social commentator and provocateur - she is also an avid collector of erotica and erotic ephemera. She is also a professional dominatrix based in Los Angeles specializing in all sorts of punishment and humiliation. As Autre's sex editor at-large she will be covering all sorts of naughty content in the realm of sex and sexuality – from masturbatorial musings to photographic editorials. Follow Autre on instagram: @AUTREMAGAZINE