“Puppy Play” is a subset of BDSM culture that involves a person or persons taking on the “primal” role and mentality of a canine and exploring nonhuman desires and headspace via that experience.
Those who belong to the Puppy Play community may express their interest in and/or relationship with the fetish in many different ways, including donning fetish gear and the establishment of alternative kinship systems called packs, which are modeled after wild dog or wolf packs.
“Alpha, Beta, Omega” is a new photography seriesby artist Zak Krevitt currently on display in Brooklyn that elevates and explores communities engaging in this practice, while bringing conversations about puppy play into the mainstream.
”I think that anytime you reject the status quo, that is [inherently] queer,” Krevitt told The Huffington Post. “In this case, [it is] a rejection of the the human and an adaptation of the primal. We’re not queering sexuality or gender per se, but we are queering one’s humanity, and that’s really an intriguing negotiation for me to dive into through the work. On a more literal note, the Puppy Play community is largely made up of LGBT folk. I think since we are more used to alternative sexuality, we are less bound by societal norms when it comes to exploration into kink and BDSM.”
The Huffington Post chatted with Krevitt this week to learn more about “Alpha, Beta, Omega,” his interest in Puppy Play fetish communities and why providing space for exploring this range of desire is important for queer people.
The Huffington Post: How did this project come about?
Over the last year, I’ve been exploring my personal interests in Puppy Play the best way I know how ― through photography. It started when I crawled my way out of a panic attack by reverting to a primal headspace and playing fetch with my partner. After I calmed down, and came back into my human headspace, I immediately hopped onto google to see if this was a common practice. I was shocked and delighted to find that there was such a rich community surrounding this, the Puppy Play community.
I discovered a local group, NYC-PAH, who happened to be having their annual camping trip the next weekend. I signed up, heart racing, nervous, excited and confused. I had no idea what I was really getting myself into. I had never met these people and suddenly I was to spend 72 hours with them, naked in the woods. I crystallized this cacophony of emotion and information through photography. After that initial trip, I approached VICE with the idea of exploring this community in a positive light. They agreed, and helped me attend several conventions around the country where I made the majority of the work in “Alpha, Beta, Omega.”
Let’s say whoever is reading this knows nothing about the Puppy Play community ― can you offer some context and background about this subculture? Why do people do this?
Puppy Play, while born out of the Old Guard leather scene, has become its own community in recent years. It is focused around a primal headspace, often referred to as “Pup space,” that many find extremely comforting. This is the highly sought after mindset where you eschew your human condition and assume the simplified headspace of a dog or young puppy. Out of headspace, many pups choose to participate in the larger Puppy community, utilizing social media and IRL meet-ups to connect with each other, show off their gear, disseminate knowledge to newbies, and in some cases, form Packs. A Pack is a family unit, modeled after wild dog or wolf packs, tinted with a classic BDSM power exchange.
Why do you think it’s important for people to understand and act upon their range of desires?
I was always taught to live your truth; it’s ingrained in my ethos and it’s central to almost everything I do (thanks mom and dad). From early on, I’ve been driven to help people live authentically as well. Its always made me happy to see people living free and true. In high school, it meant starting a gay-straight alliance and helping kids through the coming out process, and now it means being unapologetically open about my sexuality and kinks. I’ve never understood the point of holding yourself back from desire.
What do you want people to take away from your work and the exhibit currently on display?
The exhibit serves two large functions. The inclusion of the padded flooring, oft used at Puppy gatherings, helped create a safe space for the Pups to come and play, to feel and, most importantly, to feel honored. The community gave me so much by letting me in, that I wanted to be sure to give something back. For non-pups, I wanted to give people a new perspective, both literally and metaphorically. The show is hung low, and is meant to be viewed on all fours. This creates a new method of interaction between the viewer and the work, and interpersonally between viewers. When you are on all fours, looking up at a piece, it builds a certain reverence. When you are down and looking at ‘10 messages puppy tails tell you’, which is hung almost at the floor, you are inadvertently put into a language of play, because you are meeting the subject head on and the subject is in the universal k-9 body position of “play with me”. By and large, I want to reduce stigma around Puppy Play and kink in general. BDSM is so often vilified, and made out to be scary ― I want people to see its beauty, culture and community.