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You'd Never Know by Looking at Me, but I'm in an Open Marriage

on Thursday, 06 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

She describes herself as ordinary, but her marriage is anything but. Let one woman explain why a polyamorous relationship works for her, the rules she and her husband play by, and how having multiple sex partners has enhanced their bond.

Health Magazine

By Jade Weber, as told to Marisa Torrieri

People sometimes assume that couples in an open, or polyamorous, marriage, met at an eccentric arts festival or through a swingers’ social network. But Nicholas and I were just two ordinary government employees in Washington, D.C. who happened to audition for the same community play in 2003.

 

As luck would have it, we were both cast—but sparks didn’t fly immediately. He was a divorced dad of two in his 30s, and I was in my 20s, so I kind of wrote him off. But everything changed the night when I saw him pick up a guitar. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a talented musician. Suddenly I found myself incredibly drawn to him, and our friendship quickly escalated to romance. We got married in 2009.

 

 

Questioning monogamy

 

Before I met Nicholas, I’d been in several monogamous relationships but had never been able to remain faithful in any of them. With him, it was easy—not just because I was so sexually attracted to him, but because I loved him so much. Now and then, we’d have the typical "oh, a threesome would be fun someday" conversation, but we never really dug any deeper.

 

Everything changed in 2011, when someone in our family experienced a life-threatening accident.That kind of changed our perspective about life and the need to live every single day to its fullest.

 

Meanwhile, I’d started craving a little sexual excitement into our lives, and the idea of an open relationship intrigued me. But I had no idea how to even approach the idea with Nicholas, or how it would actually play out in reality. At that time, our social circle didn't include anyone else who had an open marriage, so I wasn’t sure where to start. That’s when I sought counsel from some friends on the West Coast who were involved in such relationships. 

 

A short time later, in the middle of a citywide power outage, Nicholas and I found ourselves stuck in the dark at home with a bottle of wine. Armed with a little liquid courage, I flat-out asked Nicholas, "have you ever wanted to pursue anything like an open relationship?" To my surprise—after he felt confident that it wasn’t a trick question—he confessed he was more than open to the idea.

 

 

Navigating new territory

 

Nicholas and I were both so excited to start exploring sexual experiences outside our marriage, yet neither of us was sure how to go about it. I wasn’t confident that I could handle knowing things—like what he was doing, and with whom, when he left our home. But he wanted full transparency.

 

We were also unsure whether we wanted to “play,” or engage in sexual experiences with other people, together or as separate individuals. And we equally had a fear of meeting the other person's play partner. So I proposed we have a "get out of jail free" card: for a whole year, we would do what we want, when we wanted, and then reevaluate how it made us feel at the end of the year.

 

Unfortunately, we found out that having a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy did not serve us very well. It brought up a lot of trust issues because I was always wondering what Nicholas was really doing when he said he was going out. It ended up creating a lot more hurt feelings and drama than the positive experience we were seeking for our marriage. This is when we realized that communication is absolutely essential in this kind of relationship.

 

 

Creating an open marriage rulebook

 

Going into our second year in what I like to call a “flexible marriage,” we sat down and created a document together that lists the rules we abide by, which we each keep on our desktop computers. Rule number one is "our marriage comes first." Other rules include one that states we can only “play with people who get tested for STDs,” mandatory condom use, and that we won’t get pulled into anyone else’s personal drama.

 

Creating a guide has made things much smoother, and we still abide by it while tweaking things now and then. We try to balance rules with some allowances for freedom when the situation calls for it. For example, if I go on a business trip, find someone attractive, and want to play with that person—but don’t know the person’s STD status—Nicholas trusts me to use my best judgment and practice safe sex.

 

We’re also more open to having spontaneous experiences with other couples. Just last year an unexpected opportunity to hook up with another couple presented itself. It caught us completely off guard, but we only needed a few seconds before we decided to go for it. Spontaneity is one of the aspects of this lifestyle that makes it so fun and enjoyable. We talked about that experience for weeks, and we frequently referred to it for our own excitement in the bedroom. ...

Police say suspect in U. of I. kidnap case viewed sexual fetish website

on Thursday, 06 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Chicago Tribune

by Michael Tarm

A website that hosted an "Abduction 101" forum linked to a 28-year-old suspect in the kidnapping of a Chinese scholar at the University of Illinois bills itself as the most popular sexual fetish networking site on the internet — and it has faced pressure in recent months to be clearer about not tolerating behavior that could be regarded as criminal.

 

Brendt Allen Christensen, who earned a master's degree in physics from U of I this year, is charged in the June 9 abduction of 26-year-old Yingying Zhang, who investigators believe to be dead. The federal complaint says Christensen's phone was used on April 19 to visit the FetLife.com forum, including to view threads titled "Perfect abduction fantasy" and "planning a kidnapping."

 

Christensen remains jailed and is due to make an initial appearance Monday in federal court in Urbana, not far from the University of Illinois campus where Zhang conducted research in agricultural sciences. Christensen, who is from neighboring Champaign, was arrested Friday after agents monitoring him heard him tell someone he had kidnapped Zhang and held her against her will.

 

FetLife describes itself as "the Social Network for the BDSM, Fetish & Kinky Community," stressing in online policy statements that it is a place for consenting adults to trade advice and images of themselves, and to arrange to meet. The acronym BDSM stands for bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism. Established in 2008 by Canadian software developer John Baku, it now claims more than 5 million registered members.

 

FetLife early this year decided to prohibit hundreds of fetish categories after it was cited in a few criminal cases, including one in Australia, Baku said in a February online note to members. He said that, among other things, he wanted to reduce any legal liability and risks to the wider community.

 

As of Sunday, however, the site still included multiple forums focused on abduction fantasies, and an "Abduction Play" group had more than 78,000 FetLife members expressing interest in the topic. Among the threads still available on the site was one called "Tools of the Kidnapper" and another titled "Original kidnapping Play."

 

One registered user who commented in the kidnapping forum agreed that anyone who engages in such fantasies must first provide consent. But the person goes on: "I enjoy the knowledge that I COULD do anything I wanted to them. I'm well aware that once I render them helpless, their very life is in my hands."

 

The Australian case, which Baku mentioned, involved a man who met a younger woman through FetLife. He was charged last year with assaulting her sexually and has denied the allegations. In a New York case, a couple who first met on FetLife were sentenced to lifetime prison sentences in 2015 for kidnapping and sexually abusing two Amish girls. FetLife wasn't accused of wrongdoing in either case.

 

Yingying Zhang, 26, a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois, has been missing since June 9, 2017. Authorities say she is presumed dead. Brendt Christensen, 28, has been charged with kidnapping Zhang.

Anyone can register on the site and become a member in a process that takes just a few minutes and that doesn't require independent verification. Users give their ages, genders and roles they wish to play, but otherwise remain anonymous.

 

Detailed policy guidelines on the site stress that any interaction online or in person with members must be between adults and consensual.

 

"FetLife's community is ... open-minded and non-judgmental," it says, adding, "Our number one priority is to create a fun and safe place for kinksters."

 

Neither FetLife nor Baku responded to messages seeking comment. ...

Consent and BDSM: What You Should Know

on Thursday, 06 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Because there are no fifty shades of grey, just black and white.

Teen Vogue

by Gigi Engle

We can say “Consent is sexy” all we want and wear it on every crop top we own, but with a rising interest in kink and BDSM, and the ever-prevalent rape culture, understanding the intricacies of consent can become more complicated — and are more important than ever.

You know basically the entire plot of Fifty Shades? Like how Ana is an unknowing virgin who’s whisked into a life of BDSM with a handsome, extremely screwed up billionaire? Well, I’d argue that though Ana is presented a contract, she isn’t truly consenting to almost anything that happens to her in Fifty Shades.

Sure, she’s into the white wine kisses and the grey tie bondage part, but Christian Grey essentially coerced an inexperienced novice into a world of kink— she consented, but she didn’t even know what she was consenting to. That is problematic and it is wrong. Others will disagree with me. Critics of this stance say that Ana said ‘yes,’ therefore her consent was given.

How can a clear willingness or unwillingness to participate in a sexual act become so many shades of grey, when it should be black and white?

 

When it comes to mainstream representations of BDSM in the media, understanding where bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, and sadomasochism aligns with consent can be confusing. It’s not just hazy for teenagers, trust me. The lines appear blurry for pretty much anyone without a deep understanding of kink.

What you may not know is that consent is actually the foundation of BDSM play. Before you can "play," you need to discuss the boundaries and comforts levels of each person involved in the scene.

"Consent is just as important in vanilla sex, but often, we get so used to the vanilla experience that we forget to ask for or enthusiastically express consent. In BDSM, however, you're off the established script. Experimenting with bondage or other non-vanilla play is different from the kind of sex we're used to seeing in the movies or on TV, which makes it essential that you and your partner communicate regularly and clearly to make sure that everything you're doing is okay and enjoyable." Sandra LaMorgese Ph.D., author, former dominatrix, tells Teen Vogue.

How can you be a sexual slave to someone, and also be fully willing? How can you want to be spanked, or whipped, or punished and be down for it at the same time? How does the person you’re having this kinky sex with know where the limits lie? How do you say yes or no?

Trying BDSM means having a trusting relationship

First and foremost, BDSM play should only be tried with someone you trust implicitly. Scenes should be discussed thoroughly beforehand, and between partners who know what they are doing — don’t go tying any crazy knots if you don’t know how to tie knots, or dripping regular candle wax that isn’t meant for bodies on someone’s skin.

If you want to use a crop on your partner, you must have a thorough understanding of the boundaries. You have to ask if your partner is fine with it. BDSM is absolutely NOT about causing someone harm or pain who doesn’t want pain inflicted upon them.

BDSM should never be done only to please another person. You should only engage in a sexual act if you feel comfortable doing it. There is nothing OK about coercing someone to try something they have zero interest in trying.

Both parties must give enthusiastic consent for a BDSM scene to work. Meaning, both parties have to be totally feeling this 100%. It does not mean one person feels lukewarm. ...

How non-monogamous relationships find success

on Thursday, 06 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Phys.org

by Debora Van Brenk

Individuals in polyamorous relationships report more commitment and investment with their primary partners and report more time spent on sex with their secondary partners, a new study authored by Western researchers has found.

While previous research suggests that consensually non-monogamous relationships do not significantly differ from monogamous relationships on a number of relationship-quality indicators, this is one of the first studies to examine potential differences in the relationship dynamics between an individual's multiple partners, said lead author Rhonda Balzarini, a PhD candidate in the Psychology.

The authors asked 1,308 people in online questionnaires (drawn from polyamorous affinity groups on social media) about the dynamics of their polyamorous relationships.

"The study suggests people who are 'primary' partners – those who share a household and finances, for example – experience greater commitment and investment in the relationship. However, the secondary partnership experiences greater proportion of time spent on sex, and this remains a factor even when we account for relationship length and living arrangements," she said.

Researchers also found participants reported greater acceptance for their primary partners from both friends and family, and the secondary relationship was more likely to be maintained in secrecy from people outside the relationship. Participants' perception of the quality of their communication with their partner was greater with primary than with secondary partners, the study found.

"The study verified, in empirical terms for the first time, some of what we had expected about the dynamics of these relationships. In other ways, though, the results surprised us. We actually found people who were more satisfied with their secondary partner were also likely to be more committed, not less, to their primary partner," she said. "This may suggest that benefits of one relationship carry over to the other, and counters the idea that people turn to polyamory because they're not satisfied with their primary relationship." ...

Is Japan’s Naughty Knotty BDSM Scene Too Dangerous?

on Thursday, 06 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

In Japan and the world, BDSM is going mainstream, and from show-bars to episodes of ‘Girls,’ kinbaku (also called shibari) is a thing. But so are the injuries.

The Daily Beast

by JAKE ADELSTEIN

There’s a saying in Japan, Nama byoho wa kega no moto. That is, Half-baked knowledge of the martial arts is the cause of great injury.

It turns out the same is true in the realm of Japan’s fetish subculture. Half-baked knowledge of BDSM is also the cause of great injury—especially with ropes.

Japan’s fetish scene has blossomed in recent years and become part of the popular culture. A member of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet appears to have frequented S&M bars, and even the HBO series Girls had an episode set in a Tokyo bondage club.

However, as the fetish scene has grown, so have the number of injuries, and in a culture of shame many go unreported.

For decades there has been one man in Japan’s BDSM underground who has acted as the “Doctor House” of dungeonland, offering treatment to the masters, slaves, and dabblers who have done damage to themselves or their partners: Golden-san, also known as Golden Rule S.M. or Doctor Golden, is calling for a “gentler, wiser, and kinder BDSM.”

Doctor Golden, who is an S&M practitioner and also a chiropractor, has been taking care of people, mainly women, injured in the pursuit of their pleasure for over two decades. Next month, the book he lovingly edited and oversaw, The Illustrated Manual Of (Japanese) Bondage: Avoiding Risk Edition, should finally be available in bookstores.

In a mere 129 pages, the safety essentials for binding your partner or client with rope are explained in great detail, with easy to understand illustrations. The sexy cover and comic book nudity inside don’t exactly make it a great coffee table book, unless that coffee table is located inside a shady bar frequented by Japanese politicians or your own home dungeon. But it’s a volume that is long overdue.

The Daily Beast interviewed the Doctor about the need for such a book and spoke with one of his patients and friends, the diminutive fashion photographer, clothing designer, and dominatrix, Leh, aged 28.

Doctor Golden lives alone in a small flat inside of Tokyo, with one giant rack in the front room for rope tying. He was born in the 1950s but keeps his exact age and his full identity secret—although he’s a well-known blogger and writer of the fetish scene.

He contracted juvenile rheumatoid arthritis as a boy and when a judo therapist was able to cure his pain, he went to study under him.

The Doctor first became acquainted with Japan’s sexual underworld in 1999 at an orgy held at a luxury hotel. It was also a commercial event for which lawyers, doctors, and accountants paid the stiff cost of 50,000 yen ($500) to join. At the event, he was introduced to a nearly naked woman who confessed that her left hand was limp after an accident during her bondage act. He treated it and she was better after a few sessions. That was the beginning of his part-time life as an S&M chiropractor.

The Doctor’s home is what the Japanese call “the temple of last resort” for those who went a little too far. Many come to him rather than see an M.D.; he’s treated over 430 people since 2000. And there are reasons they’d rather visit his home than a hospital. ...

How to Talk to Your Partner About Trying Kink

on Thursday, 06 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Brides Magazine

By Gigi Engle

Thinking about trying some BDSM and/or kink? Been watching some seriously steamy dom scenes on RedTube lately? Trying to figure out how to have that conversation with your husband or wife?

Kink is not just for those who dwell in dungeons or sex clubs. Kinky sex is becoming very mainstream (thanks, Fifty Shades). It’s about exploring your boundaries and levels of control, not torture and misery.

These practices (whether you’re interested in bondage, sadism, dominance, discipline, masochism, or a bit of all) take trust and respect. Who better to give it a go than a happily married couple?

 

We’re not saying you need to pour hot wax on your partner and burn their skin off (if you don’t want to), but who says a little handcuff and blindfold play can’t be fun?

Kink is amazing for couples, but no one wants to be judged or have their partner think that they’re insane for wanting to try some out-of-the-box sex stuff. Just remember, your partner loves you unconditionally and if you want to try something new, we’re sure they’ll be open to discussing it. Here is how to talk to your partner about trying kink.

Focus on trust.

You’re not going to let some random guy or girl from your spin class tie you up and tease your nipples with clamps (probably). Wouldn’t it be better to do those things with someone you know would never hurt you?

Instead of sitting your partner down and declaring you want to make your own Fifty Shades-style Red Room of Pain, focus the conversation on the trust that this kind of scene involves. It isn’t about scaring your partner or pushing them into sexual realms they aren’t comfortable with, it’s about a journey they are taking with you—the person they love and are married to. Kink is not a terrifying dark thing, it’s a beautiful expression of sexual freedom.

Make it about living out a fantasy—together.

Tell your husband or wife how sexy it would be if one of you were tied up. It’s hot.

Obviously this is something you’re really interested in trying and that’s fabulous. Yet, you have to remember that this experience is not just about you, but your experience with your partner.

When you have the conversation about trying kink, make it about the two of you. It’s something you’re trying together. You’re completely equal parts and both want each other to have a positive experience. When you make it less about “you” and more about “us,” your husband or wife will be more inclined to get on board.

Start slow and simple.

You don’t need to whip out a leather corset, a flogger, a sex swing, and a gigantic butt plug right away (unless you want to, in which case, that’s rad).

With some light BDSM and kink, you can begin with really simple acts and work yourself up to the more intense play gradually. Your partner might be new to this fantasy—you don’t need to run before you walk and risk him or her not wanting to try it again.

When in doubt, get some basic velcro handcuffs and use a tee-shirt as a blindfold. You don’t have to buy any intense, expensive gear, and you don’t need to build a closet dungeon in your bedroom. You can use things from around the house; think: a tie as a rope, a wooden spoon as a paddle, or an ice cube to tease nipples.

You can even experiment with some spanking. Feel free to try the sexier, dirtier stuff, just make sure both of you are ready for that step. ...

In an Era of Closing Leather Bars and Harness-Wearing Poseurs, Where Are the Real Leather Men?

on Thursday, 06 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Slate

By Mike Miksche

These days, even the young’uns are showing up to gay, kink-themed events, styling themselves in decorative neoprene harnesses as if performing some kind of butch drag. It’s worlds away from the hardcore BDSM scene of the 1970s and ’80s captured by the likes of Robert Mapplethorpe, who immortalized the leather man in his photographs. Be it the master and slave, the boot fetishist, or the fist-ee: They were rough personas, serious and perverse. In the New York Times, the gay nightlife chronicler Michael Musto wrote a few years ago that the scene has now lost much of that overt sadomasochistic edge; it’s becoming more about dressing-up, shifting from a serious lifestyle to a sexy costume:

 

The leather scene used to occupy a very visible part of gay culture. In the 1960s through the early ’80s, men in leather caps and chaps could be seen strutting about Christopher Street, looking as if they had emerged from a Tom of Finland illustration by way of a Marlon Brando movie still.

 

Musto cited the closures of New York leather and fetish bars: places like the Ramrod, Spike, Rawhide, and Badlands. This shift also happened outside of New York in cities like San Francisco, where more public venues are shutting down or morphing into mainstream-like bars. On the bar scene and in the street, it can seem like leather has gone the way of the disco, the piano bar, or the Times Square sex cinema. So what does it mean to be a real leather man in today’s apparently dying scene?

 

 

Well, the truth is, it’s not dying at all—it’s just gotten more concentrated. Anybody who was at this year’s International Mr. Leather could see that leather enthusiasts still exist. Between 15,000 to 16,000 fetishists were proudly decked out in gear in and around the Congress Plaza Hotel in downtown Chicago over Memorial Day weekend. Then there’s the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco, which takes over the city in broad daylight with 400,000 kinksters swelling to over 13 city blocks. Over three decades old, it still draws plenty of pups, pigs, and slaves. But you wouldn't know unless you happened to pass by.

 

I spoke to Race Bannon, renowned kinkster and leather/kink columnist for the Bay Area Reporter, for some insight into what the leather life is like now:

 

“I think what is happening is that the scene is fractioning into separate camps and where as once you had leather bars as the focal point for the entire gay men’s scene—you know, if we’re talking about gay men specifically—that was the focal point. There was nothing else we did but leather bars and play and sex clubs.”

Bannon explained how now people have the ability to splinter themselves into their specific kink subset, where in the past it was a single unit: The leather scene.

 

“Everyone is equating the demise of leather bars with, ‘the scene is going away,’ as though leather bars were the be-all and end-all, and the only thing around which leather culture can exist,” he continued. “The leather bars were mostly offering a cruising venue, which is not necessary anymore.”

 

 

Bannon equates this shift with the advent of the internet, which has made it much easier for fetishists to filter and find exactly what they’re looking for. It makes sense: This is far more efficient than cruising a leather bar after midnight, trying to sort the real players from those who are just playing around. Also, as Bannon eloquently stated, one used to have the ability to suck dick in a leather bar and be overtly sexual, which is more difficult these days. ...

Chuck Renslow, Chicago gay community icon and International Mr. Leather contest founder, dies at 87

on Thursday, 06 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

by Bob Goldsborough

Chicago Tribune

huck Renslow was an entrepreneur who for decades owned a variety of businesses that catered to Chicago's gay community, including print media publications, bars and a bathhouse.

 

Through his businesses, Renslow helped to build a community for many gay and lesbian Chicagoans, said Chicago journalist Tracy Baim, who began her career working for Renslow's Gay Life newspaper.

 

"He really was an incredible forebear of our movement, starting in the 1950s as an openly gay man and entrepreneur," Baim said. "He was one of five or six people from the pre-Stonewall gay movement who were the bedrock of the Chicago gay movement."

 

Renslow, 87, died of congestive heart failure and pneumonia on June 29 at Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago, said his partner of 36 years, Ron Ehemann. A North Side resident, Renslow had been battling chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, Ehemann said.

 

Born in Chicago, Renslow grew up in Logan Square and was raised by his grandmother, Ehemann said. His first job after high school was working at a lunch counter at a Walgreens. In the early 1950s, Renslow opened his first business, a bodybuilding gym called Triumph Gym, Ehemann said.

 

From there, Renslow and his partner at the time, noted ballet dancer and artist Dom Orejudos, opened a photo studio, called Kris Studios, where they shot beefcake photos for mail-order magazines they published for gay audiences.

 

The magazines had names like Triumph and Rawhide Male. The studio was located near the corner of Larrabee Street and Armitage Avenue. Renslow and several colleagues faced obscenity charges in the 1966 but the charges were later dropped.

 

 

In the late 1950s, Renslow took over a bar in River North and converted it to a nightclub whose audience was the growing leather subsegment of the gay community. The bar, Gold Coast, operated for almost 30 years and was believed to be one of the first leather bars in the U.S.

 

Renslow also went on to open other bars, including Bistro Too in Uptown. His primary base of operations was his gay bathhouse and entertainment complex, Man's Country, which Renslow opened on North Clark Street in Uptown in 1973.

 

In the late 1970s, a Mr. Gold Coast contest Renslow sponsored at Gold Coast grew to the point that it was too large for his bar. He instead decided to hold it at the Radisson Hotel instead, and it quickly morphed into the International Mr. Leather contest, which started in 1979 and continues to this day as an internationally known conference and contest of leather enthusiasts.

 

Renslow also took over a failing gay newspaper, Gay Life, which he published and owned from sometime in the 1970s until it shuttered in 1986. In addition, Renslow was active in local politics, serving for eight years as a Democratic precinct captain in the 1970s and 1980s and also as a delegate to the 1980 Democratic National Convention.

 

In 1991, Renslow and Drummer magazine publisher Tony DeBlase co-founded the Leather Archives and Museum, which started out in a storefront on Clark Street in Rogers Park and now operates in a location paid for by private donations at 6418 N. Greenview in Rogers Park. In 2009, Renslow transferred ownership of the International Mister Leather competition to a charitable trust whose sole beneficiary is the Leather Archives and Museum.

 

"He was really proud of the archives," Ehemann said. ...

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