Earlier this month, Netflix released Season 1 of Magic for Humans, a reality show hosted by magician Justin Willman. Each of the season’s six episodes explores a different theme and in the final episode, “Love,” Willman meets with a gay couple, Dan and Matt, two men who are into puppy play. Later on, Willman performs a magic trick for Dan and his puppy pals that leaves them all literally howling with amazement. LGBTQ fans on Twitter are already praising the Magic for Humans pup play scene for showing same-sex kink in a positive light.
If you don’t know what puppy play is, it’s an increasingly popular form of fetish play in which a person acts like a puppy and another person acts as their owner (or “handler,” in puppy play parlance).
Pups will sometimes dress up in dog masks, harnesses, knee pads, collars, mitts and dog tags and “mosh” with other pups in a public setting — usually a play area with floor mats. They’ll bark, roll around, chase each other and generally act like puppies. Their handlers can watch from the sidelines or get directly involved, getting their to pup perform tricks or disciplining them if they act disobediently.
Sex isn’t always involved with pup-play, but it can be — some pups will wear doggy tail butt plugs, service their handlers, roll around naked with other pups or do it doggy style.
Anyway, in the Magic for Humans pup play scene, Willman says, “Every couple is unique and we all have different ways to keep the spark alive. Take Dan and Matt for example.”
He then asks the couple, “Is there anything unique you two do to make your relationship work?”
Matt looks at Dan (who is wearing a leather dog mask) and replies, “Not really.”
Dan then explains, “It started as a sexual thing, as kinks and fetishes. Now it’s become this whole new thing because it puts you into a place where you don’t have to think as much, so people do it to release stress.”
Willman then goes along with the couple to one of their “pack hangouts” and performs a magic trick involving a jar of peanut butter and a tennis ball. He has one pup put his (ahem) paw onto an unopened jar of peanut butter and has another pup named Apollo sign the tennis ball which Willman then seemingly smashes into peanut butter, much to the pups’ astonishment.
Of course, when he asks the first pup to open the fresh jar of peanut butter, peeling back the foil seal, Apollo’s signed tennis ball is in the jar.
Granted, the trick is probably more impressive in person rather than on a TV show where camera edits and prop handlers can make any illusion happen, but still. The pups and their handlers applaud and then howl into the moonlight.
Later on, after the Magic for Humans pup play scene, Willman hosts a biracial couple’s gender reveal party for their unborn child. We won’t ruin it for you, but he magically reveals a gender studies professor who reminds the guests that “gender is a non-binary construct and will not influence how the baby is raised.” When Willman eventually reveals the gender of the child, Willman reiterates that it’s only the child’s gender “for now.”
Whether you’re a fan of pups or magic, it’s cool to see a queer sexual subculture start to get some mainstream coverage.