This year the Media Outreach Project created “NCSF in the News!” listing over 50 articles since 2000 that include quotes from NCSF staff members. It’s a fascinating chronology of the big battles NCSF has been involved in over the years. Media Updates are also now being posted daily on the NCSF blog. To receive the Media Update Digest, email email@example.com
In 2009, NCSF assisted in 34 media incidents. Just a sampling of these incidents include: a swing conference threatened on Grand Island, a crack-down on venues in Albuquerque, a NJ store closed down because of zoning issues over party space in the basement, and attacks by religious extremists because Creating Change gave Graylin Thornton their Leather Leadership Award. In addition, Jack Rinella is running for the Illinois state legislature and he asked Susan to speak to the media about BDSM/leather as necessary. Susan also helped Mz. Berlin get her real name removed from an SF Weekly article by Matt Smith entitled “Outside the bedroom, BDSM practitioners can’t take punishment”.
The biggest incidents of 2009 included:
Professional Dominatrices raided and arrested in NYC
NCSF has been working on the arrests of professional Dominatrices in New York City since 2008. Susan met with the Manhattan DA’s office on February 5, 2009, in order to clarify what sort of “for-pay” BDSM activities are considered legal in New York State. According to ADA Frazer, their office does not make prosecution of pro-Dommes a priority. However, according to their interpretation of the law, any form of “payment in exchange for touching in an intimate place either over clothing or nude” would constitute prostitution. This includes any touching of the genitals, anus, and breasts. As it is currently being enforced, a number of activities that pro-Dommes were engaging in put them at risk of arrest for prostitution.
Susan worked with the NY Times reporter Jennifer Mascio on an article about the false arrests of professional Dominatrices for prostitution, arranging and sitting in on interviews with several pro-Dommes, as well as getting a statement from one pro-Domme who was arrested. The article was scuttled after publicity of a professional dominatrix in NYC and her husband were indicted for mortgage fraud in Suffolk County (this case has not gone to trial yet). However, there have been no additional arrests, and certainly it helped to have the NY Times reporter make numerous inquiries to Police Commissioner Kelly along with NCSF’s attempts at setting up a meeting.
Fort Troff Party
In January, Peter LaBarbara with Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (www.aftah.org) attacked the Fort Troff party, MAL Maneuvers, which was taking place at the Doubletree Inn in Washington DC during Mid-Atlantic Leather. NCSF responded with a statement about respecting the rights of minority groups. Corporate headquarters made the host hotel cancel their contract with MAL Maneuvers so the party was canceled. Susan was in contact with organizers of Mid-Atlantic Leather during the incident, and their events as well as other parties were not affected. The incident got very little media attention, confined mostly to local LGBT media and religious extremist websites.
The following month, in February, AFTAH (www.aftah.org) attacked Winter Wickedness, a pansexual weekend conference in Ohio, produced by Adventures in Sexuality, a Coalition Partner of NCSF. NCSF worked closely with Barak to ensure the event was successful; NCSF volunteer Robin Specter was on site and acted as spokesperson on behalf of Winter Wickedness as well as hotel liaison. Susan provided advice, media interviews and organized the call-in campaign to InterContinental Hotels which successfully fought back the religious extremists’ attempts to get the corporate headquarters to make the hotel cancel the conference.
Atlanta Eagle raids
There is an ongoing incident involving the raid on the Atlanta Eagle on September 10, 2009. The Eagle went to court on the underlying charges (dancing in underwear), but the city delayed and the case . NCSF created an Action Alert urging patrons who were there to file a complaint with the police department and to join in the Federal civil lawsuit to stand up for their rights. NCSF is working with attorney Dan Grossman, who represents the Eagle and many of the patrons in connection with the raid. NCSF has demanded a full probe into the alleged misconduct and the allocation of resources by the Atlanta police department.
Susan gave 24 interviews with the media including:
- Esquire – Mark Mikin had a question regarding a letter he had received about whether the writer should feel bad about wanting to see his girlfriend have sex with other men.
- Contemporary Sexuality magazine about NCSF’s DSM Revision project.
- The New York Times Magazine – Dan Bergner wrote an excellent article about the DSM and he included a succinct paragraph on the paraphilias.
- Boston Phoenix about the persecution of the BDSM community in Boston.
- NY Blade regarding the murder of WABC host George Webber.
- Hustler about Dressing for Pleasure and BDSM in general.
- SF Chronicle on whether Obama will be a pro-sex president.
- a Swedish journalist researching child custody and poly issues.
- Playboy requested a letter to the editor from NCSF about their Top 55 Most Important People in Sex feature that was run in the March issue.
- New York Times on the pro-domme arrests in NYC.
- Dr. Dick’s Sex Advice on fetish, kink, and alt sex.
- Discovery Channel was looking for polyamorous moms to interview.
In Feburary, NCSF joined with the Anti-Violence Project and the Queer Justice League in the Stop the Arrests Coalition. Susan spoke at the Sheridan Square protest on February 21st, highlighting the plight of the pro-Dommes who have operated legally and openly in the city for 14 years. The Stop the Arrests coalition protested the false arrests of gay men for prostitution when they are cruising in stores.
Susan is coordinating the Smarter Sex NYC project with advocacy groups and sex club owners and party promoters who are interested in working with the NY Health Department to enable STD testing on premises as well as prevention services. This new working group was an outgrowth of networking with activists participating in the Stop the Arrests Coalition. The Smarter Sex NYC groups include: ActUp, AIDS Service Center, Anti-Violence Project, Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP), DomSub Friends, Gay and Lesbian Community Center, Lesbian Sex Mafia, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, Queer Justice League andThe Eulenspiegel Society.
Susan attended the Espoir Conference at the Leather Archives & Museum from February 6-8th, which was designed to train individuals for public speaking on the history of leather and other alternative sexual practices, as related to the collections of the LA&M. The conference brought together academia, fetish practitioners, and community historians to provide a forum for discussion. One of the discussion points was to develop guidelines and outreach strategies for the LA&M speakers bureau. Rick Storer reported that the DVD of the Leather Archives and Museum conference sponsored by an Espoir Conference grant is in production.
Susan did website reviews for: Ohio SMART’s Kinko de Mayo, smOdyssey’s Northeast Leather Celebration, The Mark by CPI in Tennessee, Kinky Kollege and SinSations in Leather in Chicago, and Black Rose in Washington DC.
Susan Wright was asked again this year to act as a PR Liaison for the Folsom Street Fair on September 27th. There were no protesters, which is very unusual for the fair. It may be the religious extremists are too busy challenging “socialism” and President Obama’s place of birth to bother leatherfolk.
Susan gave a State of the Union address at the NELA Kink Awareness Conference in Boston on October 3rd. This conference dealt mainly with legal aspects facing kinksters and almost 80 people attended.
NCSF received a thank you, as did many people who assisted in Brad Saragin’s research on “Hormonal changes and couple bonding in consensual sadomasochistic activity,” which is published in the current issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior.
Lisa Vandever put out an NCSF Entertainment Media Update on American Swing, in which she said, “Though the 1970s styles and sensibilities on display in “American Swing” inspire some easy mockery, overall the documentary takes a respectful and even-handed stance towards its subject and the individuals involved–and towards swinging on the whole. In recounting their experiences at Plato’s Retreat, many of those interviewed seem nearly reverential as they recall the sense of sexual freedom they discovered at the club, a good thirty years prior.”
Report by Susan Wright