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Guide to Bondage Gear

When people hear the word ‘bondage’ they may have very different ideas about what that means. Some have a positive association with bondage because they know a little about BDSM. Others are focused on non-consensual bondage that keeps people in compromising positions or limits their freedom or power. However, the type of bondage discussed here is consensual and all parties involved are eager to use bondage gear in their erotic play. Even when someone is put in a compromising position, they have chosen to be there.

Bondage gear goes hand in hand with making scenes or kinky play sessions easy and fun for everyone to enjoy. For example, if someone doesn’t know a lot about tying knots but their partner wants to be restrained, they can use simple, adjustable ankle and wrist cuffs that use velcro or a buckle strap. Grabbing a blindfold may be the simplest way to start exploring sensation play by taking away one of their senses so they can focus on all the others!

In this guide we help our readers understand some of the attraction and value to consensual bondage in BDSM scenes. We review where some of these implements, gear and tools come from, how to take care of the materials, how to play safe with others and we’ll give some tips and advice on the best gear to choose!

Guide to Bondage Gear

When people hear the word ‘bondage’ they may have very different ideas about what that means. Some have a positive association with bondage because they know a little about BDSM. Others are focused on non-consensual bondage that keeps people in compromising positions or limits their freedom or power. However, the type of bondage discussed here is consensual and all parties involved are eager to use bondage gear in their erotic play. Even when someone is put in a compromising position, they have chosen to be there.

Bondage gear goes hand in hand with making scenes or kinky play sessions easy and fun for everyone to enjoy. For example, if someone doesn’t know a lot about tying knots but their partner wants to be restrained, they can use simple, adjustable ankle and wrist cuffs that use velcro or a buckle strap. Grabbing a blindfold may be the simplest way to start exploring sensation play by taking away one of their senses so they can focus on all the others!

In this guide we help our readers understand some of the attraction and value to consensual bondage in BDSM scenes. We review where some of these implements, gear and tools come from, how to take care of the materials, how to play safe with others and we’ll give some tips and advice on the best gear to choose!

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Table of Contents

What is Bondage Gear?

For this, we have to go back and understand the definition of BDSM.

BDSM is an umbrella term for Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and submission, and Sadism and Masochism. It encompasses a wide range of interests, fantasies and practices. Elements of BDSM and sadomasochism go back as early as Ancient Sumeria with depictions of the goddess Innana flagellating her disciples into sexual frenzy. Rope was used as early as the 1600’s Edo era in Japan by sheriffs on their concubines. Being bound or experiencing pleasure from pain is nothing new to human history. However, BDSM as a term wasn’t coined until the 1970’s in the gay, biker culture. It was the Leathermen culture that brought the term BDSM into the mainstream of society; their Tom of Finland aesthetic was dominantly black leather and metal bondage gear. This same subculture would later help to pioneer the first gay, lesbian and trans Pride Events and take care of and fundraise for members of the community struggling during the AIDS epidemic. An author by the name of Larry Townsend wrote a book on Leathermen protocol and culture that would help define and give continuity to rituals, symbols and behavior between Dominants and submissives.

Bondage refers mostly to being tied and bound by some kind of implement. It is the part of BDSM that we’ll focus on the most in this guide. Being ‘bound’ can refer to physical or mental bonds; when someone gives their word or promise that they will be loyal or serve someone else, that is also a form of (consensual) bondage. The ropes, harnesses, straps and collars are simply extensions of that promise or agreement. However, many people need a little bit of assistance to get into that submissive mindset, so they opt to start with being bound physically, rendered helpless, or given an opportunity to shift their perception.

The discipline can refer to both the Dominant and the submissive partner and their focus and willingness to be present and committed to the scene. The submissive may need to show discipline in following orders, in staying in an uncomfortable or vulnerable position or role, or keeping themselves from getting distracted while the Dom is speaking (in other words, staying present). The Dominant is tasked with the responsibility of being completely present for their submissive who is trusting them to keep them safe, to notice their needs and responses and, in some cases, to push the edges of their limits in a consensual and healthy way.

A submissive or a bottom may choose to allow themselves to be bound or restrained in order to get into a headspace where they have to let go of control or let go of the idea that they constantly need to be doing something or fixing something. They get the opportunity to shift from a powerful (unbound) state to a vulnerable (bound) state of being. It can be as subtle as shackling their wrists and ankles to a bed frame or as extreme as depriving them of all movement with a sleepsack or straightjacket.

This perception shift can extend as well to the senses; add a blindfold or take away their ability to speak by gagging or muzzling them and it changes the energy of the scene for all those involved. Perhaps they have some shyness or resistance about their sexuality and desire; being bound or having their legs forced open with spreader bars can influence them into a ‘slutty’ or receptive state where they would otherwise be self-critical or resistant to relaxing and giving in to their sexual fantasies.

As long as the intention is clear about what each scene between partners will bring, the mechanisms (toys, gear or products) become powerful tools for intensely passionate and sometimes cathartic adult play.

One of the first and oldest forms of bondage that we’ll talk about here is rope. Rope is used in Japanese rope bondage, otherwise known as shibari or kinbaku. It involves binding a rope bottom (the one being tied by rope) by a rope top (the one tying the rope) using rope and incorporating elaborate and beautiful knotwork. There are beginner knots and ties that can be learned via online resources. The more elaborate knotworks can take years to master. Starting off, you can use any type of rope but generally it’s best to use the same width and type as the instructor. For more advanced suspension work, you’ll need rope that ideally has weight bearing capabilities up about 5x the weight of the rope bottom. The rope will need to be tied to a suspension ring or a hard point/anchor point. It is very important that the rope top does not use weak rope so that the rope bottom does not fall. Additionally, for suspension it is important that the rope doesn’t slip, or else some of the ropes may constrict to the point that circulation is cut off, causing nerve damage or loss of consciousness.

Like most things that are exciting and edgy, rope is something that can be done in a safer, gentler way or in a more extreme and risky way. Even the act of dragging the ropes across the rope bottom’s skin can be erotic and sensual. Make sure that if you are getting involved in rope that you take your time and learn as much about safety as possible. Start by always having safety shears on hand or attached to your belt in case you need to cut your rope bottom free.

Many people enjoy being bound, especially with rope. It can have an intensely relaxing effect on the rope bottom that allows them to let go of their concerns and worries for what is happening in their world and submit to being taken care of. Even if they are being told what to do while bound, they are free of having to weigh consequences and make difficult decisions about little things such as where to go and what to do next. Many people in management positions enjoy submission for this reason; it is a mental and physical break from having to be in control and make high-pressure decisions daily. Rope in particular has a way of connecting the top and bottom in an intimate fashion. In older traditions, rope was considered to be an extension of the self and the one being tied was being bound up protectively and lovingly; the rope was an extension of the rope top, themselves. When bound in rope, the rope bottom feels warm, safe and held.

Originally, kinbaku was used by sheriffs during the Edo era in Japan during the early 1600’s. Each knot represented a different crime or offense. The sheriffs needed to practice their knotwork and many of them began practicing on their mistresses or concubines, at which point it gained an erotic appeal. To learn more about the history of kinbaku, read The Beauty of Kinbaku by Master "K". For educational resources on how to tie rope, there are many books that have pictures with instructions available as well as videos and courses online. If possible, go to a rope munch (meetup for rope enthusiasts) or take an in-person class.

Bondage and restraint in general has had a worldwide appeal over time. While the Japanese made famous using rope in skilled and artistic ways, the rest of the world has used rope, leather, chains and constrictive clothing like corsets and straightjackets. More recently, modern restraints made from neoprene, nylon, velcro and other synthetic materials have been available to bind and restrain prisoners, patients and playmates.

Many Doms or tops enjoy restraining their submissives or bottoms and get pleasure or amusement from taking control. It can be very entertaining to watch a submissive fight, squirm, struggle and end up generally frustrated and helpless. However, it can also be a very loving and caring thing for a Dominant to restrain their submissive. Many submissives have daytime jobs or careers that require them to take on a lot of responsibility for others, to make difficult or high-pressure decisions, or to manage multiple tasks. Others are constantly thinking and doing things and have nervous or restless energy.

Being bound can actually down-regulate their nervous system, calm them and cause them to slow down their breathing (as long as they are not claustrophobic or anxious about being restrained). When they are bound, they no longer have the ability to take care of a million little things, so they are finally free of being in a constant, nervous state of doing and problem solving and they drop into a state of just being and experiencing.

Bondage gear includes more than tools for restraining submissives. It also includes collars, harnesses, blindfolds, silicone bits for pony play and muzzles and hoods for puppy play. Many of these things are symbolic in nature and allow the wearer to transform themselves into another version, one that is sexier, more powerful, or simply more animalistic (especially in the case of animal play). For more details about how what we wear can transform us or add spice to the bedroom, check out our Guide to Fetish Clothing.

Why You Need Bondage Gear

  • Being Restrained is Relaxing While being restrained, the submissive doesn’t have anything else to do… because they physically aren't able to accomplish those tasks. They can let go of the burden of being responsible and give control to someone else. It can be very relaxing and calming. Plus, there are some forms of bondage (such as rope bondage or shibari) that down-regulate the nervous system with each deep breath they take until they are almost in a trance-like state; this state is sometimes referred to as sub-space.
  • Being Restrained is Primal It gives the submissive something to fight against, but they won’t get very far or hurt themselves if it’s done well. They can fight and struggle and let their inner animal release frustration, anger, ferocity or primal energy!
  • Being Restrained Shifts Power When someone who is larger or stronger than the partner doing the binding, it can be hard to experience power shifts. If the one bound is restrained well, then it makes it easier to top them and give them a chance to experience being submissive.
  • Bondage Gear is Essential for BDSM Kinky roleplaying and fantasies can express themselves in many different ways, but most of the kinky things you and your partner want to do will require some kind of bondage or BDSM gear.
  • Spice Up Your Sex Life Bringing edgy or kinky toys and gear into the bedroom can transform a relationship that may seem like it has lost its creative edge. One of the greatest things that BDSM culture can offer is that the participants get to constantly explore new things together. It encourages couples to stay curious and play with hundreds of potential roles and power dynamics. All that is required is that people stay open minded and willing to try new things! Some of the roleplaying gives people such intense, passionate reactions that their partners want to continue just to feel that passion and intimacy with their partner.
  • Sensation Play Some bondage gear focuses on sensation. The smell, feeling or sight of leather, rope, chains or latex for example can drive people wild or put them instantly into a submissive state. The part of the brain associated with the sense of smell is located close to the memory center, so many smells can bring strong, associative memories to the individual experiencing them. That means that the more positive and erotic experiences a submissive has, the more powerful each experience can potentially be thereafter.
  • Sensory Deprivation While sensation can excite many, depriving a submissive or bottom of one sense can heighten other senses. See how much more acute their sense of touch is or how sensitive they are to sound when you take away their ability to see what is going to happen next by using a blindfold!
  • Unique and Diverse Fantasy Role Play In BDSM, there are so many possibilities for how people can express themselves. With a few toys and gear, any fantasy is possible!
  • Be a Human Animal Put on a puppy hood, ears and muzzle. Wear cat ears and drink from a bowl. Bite down on a silicone horse bit and connect reigns to it so your trainer can lead you along. Rough and tumble with others and let your animal side come out to play! All these scenarios are possible with the right attitude and equipment.
  • Satisfaction in Doing Things Well A lot of things in BDSM are satisfying to do well. Ropework, flogging, medical play, sensation deprivation, convincing roleplay and electroplay, to name a few examples, all require some form of research and practice. Doing it well becomes a hobby in and of itself and the results when these skills are executed well bring the person respect, admiration and satisfaction (not to mention more eager partners who want to play with them!)
  • Power Play Perhaps during the daytime you’re a powerful CEO. Maybe you’re a secretary who is tasked to take care of everyone. Maybe your job is mundane and you dream of excitement! No matter what the rest of society sees, in a BDSM scene you are free to forget your daytime job, relax and let go of inhibitions.

Types of Bondage Gear

  • Wrist & Ankle Restraints These are meant to restrict arm or leg movement by cuffing or binding the wrists or ankles to items in the room or to other parts of the body such as thighs, ankles or wrists.
  • Collars A sign of submission, part of puppy play or a fashion statement. These collars come in all different sizes, colors and widths.
  • Hoods & Muzzles Transform your identity with a puppy, cat or horse hood or dog muzzle. If you prefer, hide it completely to lose your identity, keep anonymity, or deprive yourself of sight, sound or speech.
  • Spreader Bars These are bars that attach to the ankles, usually hooked onto ankle cuffs or ankle restraints. Wrist cuffs can also attach to the bar so all four of their limbs are restrained. The stiff bar keeps them from being able to close their legs so their ass and genitals are helplessly exposed!
  • Bedroom Bondage Toys “Bedroom Bondage” toys are any toys or gear that can be used in the bedroom. Generally speaking, most people’s bedrooms are not large enough to fit a St. Andrew’s cross, a bondage bench or a large fucking machine. Even fewer people have room for multiple bondage items or furniture. Bedroom bondage refers to things that can fit in the bedroom, be taken out and used and then put away in a closet or under the bed, or things that can be used in smaller, intimate spaces. These can include gear like collars, ropes, small toys, floggers, whips, blindfolds and restraints. They can also include smaller fucking machines or foldable bondage boards.
  • Blindfolds Start introducing them into sensory deprivation by taking away their sight. They won’t be able to see each spanking, whipping or caress before it happens, thus keeping the element of surprise in every moment. Keep them in a constant state of heightened excitement and anticipation!
  • Dungeon Irons This category mostly refers to steel and other durable, metal devices and gear that are built for more intense scenes. It includes metal shackles, handcuffs, stockades, clamps, metal slave collars, metal cages and a few other items. These items make up a dungeon aesthetic from the 1400’s where all restraints and torture devices were made of metal and combine it with more modern prison-style restraints that include metal, locking handcuffs. Originally, the term for dungeon irons referred to a metal chain attached to metal cuffs (shackles), attached to a single point in a room.
  • Suspension Equipment These include anything that suspends or lifts someone off the floor. It includes rope and rigging equipment, suspension bars and sex swings.
  • Arm Binders Bind their arms in front of them or behind their back and limit what they can touch or reach.
  • Pony & Puppy Play These items help complete the pony or puppy role-playing fantasy! They include bit-gags for horse/pony-play, pony and puppy tail butt plugs, shock collars for training, puppy paws or mits and puppy/animal cages.
  • Straitjackets & Sleepsacks Completely limit their ability to move by binding their torso in a straightjacket or their entire body in a sleepsack; they’ll be helpless as you have your way with their body and mind.

Materials

Leather

  • Sexy and a classic
  • Durable
  • Can stretch and soften after multiple uses for a custom fit
  • Porous; harder to keep clean.
  • Needs to be washed/cleaned after every exposure with bodily fluids
  • Click here for items made of leather

To Clean:

  • Wipe clean with warm water and mild soap. Let air dry. Moisturize with saddle soap and mink oil.

PU (polyurethane) Leather & Leatherette

To Clean:

  • PU leather can be washed and dry-cleaned.
  • Leatherette and PU leather can be wiped down with mild soap and water, then air dried.

Silicone

  • Most preferred material used for sex toys
  • Longer shelf life than most materials
  • Easily cleaned before and after use
  • Can retain heat and cold for long periods of time so it can warm to your body temperature
  • Hypoallergenic and non-porous
  • Click here for items made of silicone

To Clean:

  • Boil the toy for 5-10 minutes and then wash with an antibacterial soap. If unable to boil item, wash with warm water and mild soap. Let air dry.

Rubber

Types of plastic and rubber...

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or TPE (thermoplastic rubber aka “skin-safe rubber”): PVC is an easily moldable plastic and TPE is an easily moldable rubber.

ABS Plastic (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene): A thermoplastic polymer that has a low melting point (can easily be melted and molded into different shapes).

Polypropylene: A type of plastic commonly used to make bottle caps, bottles, fittings and other shapes.

To Clean:

  • Clean with mild soap and warm water using a washcloth. Dry after each use before storing.

Steel

  • Non-porous, phthalate-free, body safe & easy to clean
  • Steel has a heavy weight to it and is temperature sensitive
  • Smoother than silicone, which makes it great for insertion
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Compatible with any lube
  • Click here for items made of steel

To Clean:

  • Use warm water and soap to get initial dirt and debris off.
  • Soak or boil in a solution of 10% bleach to 90% water for 10 minutes, then place in the dishwasher.

Metal: Zinc alloy, Copper, Stainless Steel, Aluminum: These are a few of the most common metals used in toys and equipment. Read the product description for more information on which specific metal is used.

To Clean:

  • Can be boiled, or disinfected with medical grade body-safe disinfectants.

Buyer’s Guide to Bondage Gear

Exploring what type of gear to buy next can be exciting, but when there are so many options to choose from it’s nice to have a few recommendations. Below are our most popular items for each category. Start with a category you’d like to explore and then click the links to see more about that item!

Wrist & Ankle Restraints

Take Me Thigh-Cuff System This popular restraint system attaches their wrists to their thighs, so they can bend over and be moved into any position you like, but they can’t move their arms.

Frisky 8-Piece Restraint Set Cuff their ankles and wrists and tie them up to the bed, chair, or anywhere you can attach the leashes to!

Collars

Crimson Tied Collar with Leash This gorgeous red and black collar comes with a matching red and black leash. Pair it with the Crimson set that includes blindfold, ball-gag, paddle and cuffs!

Arched Back Leather Forced Posture Kit This kit includes a thick, black leather collar, an anal hook and rope to tie the hook and collar together. Tighten the rope to keep their head up; if they begin to slouch or lose their perfect posture, they’ll feel the tug in their anus!

Hoods & Muzzles

Disguise Open-Mouth Hood with Padded Blindfold Deprive them of sight and speech with this full head covering that leaves access to the mouth only.

Naughty Kitty Cat Mask Super hero, super villain, or super naughty? Bring out the animal with this PU leather kitty mask!

Spreader Bars

Easy Access Neoprene Restraint System Rigid, metal bar with padded, neoprene. It has cuffs for wrists and ankles attached to the bar already, so all you need is a playmate!

Locking Wrist and Ankle Spreader Bar Durable leather ankle and wrist cuffs attached to a metal bar. These cuffs lock, so locks are required to close them.

Bedroom Bondage

Bedroom Restraint Kit A great beginner’s restraint kit, this connects to the bed and doesn’t require bedposts to stay in place. The four cuff restraints can be placed on wrists and ankles.

XL Bondage Board Don’t have room to keep a bondage bench or table set up? Use this collapsable, travel-friendly one in your bedroom and take it out when you’re ready to play!

Blindfolds

The Black-Out Blindfold This neoprene blindfold is soft and comfortable to wear and blocks out the light so the submissive can’t see what’s coming next!

STRICT Leather Fleece-Lined Blindfold This leather blindfold is lined with fleece so it’s soft against their face. Leather is a classic look that lasts longer than other toys. As they wear it, they’ll smell the rich leather and won’t be able to see a thing!

Dungeon Irons

Black Steel Handcuffs Enjoy restraining your “prisoner” in these steel, double locking handcuffs.

The Back Stockade This restraint system locks the submissive's arms, legs and neck into place against a metal bar. It can be adjusted to have them kneel or stand while restrained.

Suspension Equipment

Fur-Lined Nubuck Leather Suspension Cuffs with Grip These fur-lined cuffs are comfortable and durable. Attach them to any suspension rig-point and keep your submissive lifted on their toes!

Trinity Sex-Swing Suspend your partner with ease! This sex-swing gives you both the opportunity to have on partner lifted off the ground without having to worry about rig-points, chains or trying to safely do shibari rope suspension. Enjoy them being suspended in exactly the way you want them!

Arm Binders

STRICT Armbinder This sexy armbinder keeps the arms and wrists behind the back. Made of premium leather.

Full Sleeve Armbinder This PU leather armbinder is a full sleeve that binds both arms down the back, towards the ass. Enjoy the look and feel of them wrapped up and helpless to reach out.

Pony & Puppy Play

Mr. Ed Lockable Silicone Bit Gag This flexible silicone bit is comfortable and meant for long term wear during pony-play.

Spike Neoprene Puppy Hood This neoprene hood comes in multiple colors. Perfect for puppy play!

Straightjacket & Sleepsacks

STRICT Straight-Jacket PU leather straight-jacket comes in four different sizes. Bind their arms and torso so they can writhe, but they can’t escape!

The STRICT Leather Sleepsack This sleepsack binds the wearer’s entire body for complete encasement. Comes in three different sizes.

Safety

Safety:

When tying with rope or doing shibari or kinbaku, always have safety shears!
Tying someone up or binding them can be very dangerous. If not careful, they could pass out from lack of circulation, they could get overwhelmed or get a rope high or fall into subspace and become unresponsive. There are many cases of people who got too confident and forgot safety and these instances lead to injury or even death. Keep safety shears close so you can cut your rope bottom free rather than let them get injured or die.

Ask about injuries or health issues.
Before playing with or binding/restraining anyone, have a conversation about previous injuries or chronic pain. Limiting movement with bondage may be very uncomfortable or dangerous to their health.

If you aren’t sure if it’s safe, don’t do it.
A few too many people operate under the pressure of “FOMO” (fear of missing out); they believe this is their only chance to get to play with a submissive and pressure them into trying the new, risky thing they’re interested in. The truth is, people who rush things may miss out on having submissives return when they don’t treat the submissive with love, patience and respect. Slow down, don’t pressure anyone and definitely don’t do anything that may be unsafe.

Safe, sane, consensual.
These are the basic guidelines for everything done in BDSM. Is it safe? This means that the person doing risky things is doing it in a safe way so that no one gets injured. Is it sane? This means that all parties involved are aware of what is going on and able to understand what will happen next. In most cases, this means they are sober during negotiations and have had all important conversations concerning physical and mental health. Is it consensual? This means that all parties involved, even the spectators, have consented to being present and participating. It also means that the people involved must be old enough and sober enough to consent!

Keep things sanitary.
Remember that even when there are no bodily fluids obviously present such as blood, saliva, sperm or vaginal fluids, toys and tools still need to be cleaned before and after playing with them.

Discuss claustrophobia or anxiety before binding or restraining someone.
While this may seem obvious to some, there are people who are curious to try this who don’t or won’t have this conversation unprompted. Make sure to talk about what psychological or mental health triggers could potentially come up before doing a scene together. BDSM does not replace the need for a therapist to help someone overcome or deal with trauma and fears, so don’t take that on.

Expert Tips & Advice

Educate yourself and practice on an inanimate object before doing it on a person.
Whatever the bondage style, scene or kink, make sure to read up about it, watch videos and go to classes or workshops if possible. Practice using the new gear or implements on objects or yourself before using them on anyone else. This will build confidence in yourself and your skills and build trust in playmates who are open to playing with you.

Start slow and build confidence and trust over time.
It is a far better investment to slow things down and discover what each person likes and is comfortable with. It will bring confidence into the relationship and creates less possibility that someone will feel uncomfortable or pressured.

Learn from others.
Join a discussion group online, talk to people in workshops or munches/meetups, or read books and articles about the type of kink you’re interested in. The more information you have, the more powerful and fun these scenes can be!

FAQ

Why do people enjoy getting tied up, bound or encased?
While it isn’t for everybody, the feeling of being bound across the chest in particular limits the ability of the submissive to breathe as they normally would; while bound, they feel the pressure of the ropes or restraints against their chest with every breath and become acutely aware of their breathing. This can be extremely relaxing. In addition to the breathwork aspect, the submissive is not unable to actively do anything with their hands (and sometimes they can’t move their legs or feet, either), so they are placed in a position physically where they have to rest, give up their control and let someone else take over. For busy-minded people or busy-bodied people who are constantly thinking and doing, this is a nice break for them and allows them to deeply relax and submit.

Does wanting to be tied up make me mentally sick?
The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) used in psychology had previously labeled those who participate in BDSM as mentally unwell or unfit. However, recent versions do not promote that outdated thinking. As long as everyone is safe, sane and consensual while playing, it is perfectly fine to be tied up!

Are there other people who like playing like animals?
Yes, there is an entire community out there. There are human animals which are people who enjoy dressing up with muzzles, hoods, ears and paws and playing around as the animal they dressed up as would. They usually enjoy playing with other human animals. At some kink festivals, there are playpens for human puppies to play. At some kink events, there are pony shows where people can show off their horse-training and horse-riding skills, but the horse is a human dressed up with a bit, ears, harness and tail.

Is puppy play sexual?
Most people would say no, but there are also people who sexualize it, as well. It’s a personal choice. There is also another group of people who enjoy being animalistic, usually like a wolf or other predator animal, during sex and they can sometimes call themselves primal.


Disclaimer: XR LLC sells these products as novelty toys only and is not responsible for damages due to use or misuse.