Like most of my generation, I grew up spoon fed monogamist fairy tales that pushed "happily ever after" endings as though achieving one was preordained.
It was like, once you found "the one" and stepped on to the relationship escalator, all the answers became clear -- so long as you kept your eyes on the prize and didn't stray (wait, what was the prize again?). You could spend your whole life living out this fantasy, blissfully ignorant that any other way might be possible, let alone desirable.
Nice enough, right?
But as a child of divorce and an aspiring designer-entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, I was suspicious of marriage. Out here, we're data-positive and solution-oriented and if your product (i.e. marriage) is failing for 50% of your customers, then you need to fix it or offer something better. So when I discovered polyamory and non-monogamy as I headed to Burning Man in 2013, I realized I'd stumbled onto another way.
Let's get our terms straight. Polyamory means "many loves." It often applies to one or more people who are romantically involved with (wait for it) one or more partners. Non-monogamy, meanwhile, applies to everything that isn't monogamy -- including polyamory -- but you can be non-monogamous and not polyamorous. Here, I'll draw you a Venn diagram.
Personally, I'm in a monogamish relationship. We're committed to each other, but have a porous boundary around our relationship, meaning we've agreed that it's OK for either of us to express romantic feelings toward other people or to be physically intimate with other people, so long as we're honest and transparent about our intentions with one another.
These things don't diminish the integrity of our relationship. Rather, they deepen our understanding of each other's wants and desires, and give us the space to grow independently, without growing apart.
So why non-monogamy now?
Well, people haven't changed much, but their environment has.
Just think: Monogamy established itself thousands of years ago, when society was ruled by scarcity and resources and potential mates were in limited supply.
We're now living in a period of great (though unequally distributed) abundance where our basic needs are sufficiently met, and reproduction is a choice. As a result, the reasons to be with a single mate for life are less urgent. And with the advent of connected mobile devices and the internet, we've entered into the era I've dubbed Big Dating.
Big Dating unbundles monogamy and sex. It offers to maximize episodes of intimacy while minimizing the risk of rejection or FOMO. ...
Calling a proposed swingers sex club “evil” and a would-be “cancer” on Madison, the leader of a Christian school put voice to local concerns during a meeting Monday that aired opposition.
“We will exhaust every legal, every political, every kind of resource we can find to stop it,” vowed Ricky Perry, president of Goodpasture Christian School, about a half-mile from the proposed club.
Perry spoke to more than 200 people who packed the Madison Police Precinct. Even before arriving, almost 3,000 had signed petitions — including online — against the relocation of The Social Club to 520 Lentz Drive.
Current zoning would allow a private club at its proposed location, officials said. But Bennett has started asking city staff about changes that might prevent it — although she wouldn’t share details and made no promises.
“Let’s face it: In the end, we will probably be sued,” Bennett said. “It’s what they do.”
The councilwoman noted she’d spoken to some club members in favor of the location. But none spoke up.
Many who did speak Monday had their minds made up, raising a loud alarm about the future of Madison, invoking their faith and asking about tactics to derail the club. They raised the spectres of alcohol, sexually transmitted diseases and sex offenders.
“Will we be a place where children are safe?” asked Pastor Maury Davis ofCornerstone Church. ...
Miju Han lives in the Bay Area, works as a product manager and shares a charming apartment with her fiancé.
Here's what makes her love story a bit different: She's also in three other relationships. In addition to her fiancé, Han has been seeing a woman for two years (they recently said, "I love you"). She also dates two other men.
Han, 27, says she never quite colored inside the lines. She grew up in the South, was attracted to women and fascinated by programming. In 2010, she moved to the Bay Area and has since worked at several major tech companies. Han declined to name her current employer.
She met her fiancé when he was 21 and she was 23. They fell in love but weren't ready to cut off other options.
"He hadn't dated many other women in the past, and I wanted to explore too," she explained.
Han says the term for her relationship status is polyamorous, meaning "many loves." People who identify as polyamorous are often in multiple romantic relationships. The arrangements vary, but they have a lack of exclusivity in common.
Han and her fiancé practice a hierarchical style of polyamory. Her fiancé, who asked not to be named, is her primary partner, meaning all other relationships are secondary or more casual. They spend five to six nights a week together and plan on marrying in 2016 and having children at some point. Han's fiancé is also dating three other women.
Han compares her experimentation with her relationship to the experimentation that happens in the Bay Area, a mecca for entrepreneurs who question the way things work.
"I think that in technology, people have higher appetites for risks," she says. "Opening up your relationship is really risky, kind of in a similar way that starting a company is really risky."
In fact, it's just a part of a rich history of sexual exploration in the Bay Area that far precedes the tech boom.
"There's still a lot of cultural taboo around open relationships and polyamory," says Polly "Superstar" Whittaker, who a started a private sex club called Mission Control in 2001. "This is a town that accepts alternative structures."
This year's Mid-Atlantic Leather may have been the largest yet, eagerly embracing newcomers and veterans alike
by Doug Rule
Over 3,000 people attended Mid-Atlantic Leather, held last weekend at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. “It was definitely one of our largest, if not thelargest,” says Patrick Grady, chair of the event, which originated 41 years ago.
The second largest leather and fetish event in the U.S., MAL has grown even in the five years since it moved to the Hyatt. Certainly, it’s an eye-opening experience for any newcomer, as well as for those veterans, such as Mauro Walden-Montoya, Mr. MAL 1996, who haven’t been to MAL since the move. Walden-Montoya and his husband flew in from Albuquerque, N.M., arriving late Friday evening.
“Just watching his face as we walked in was priceless,” Walden-Montoya says of his husband, who was attending his first big leather event. “Like a kid in a candy store mixed with a shocked nun — the emotions across his face were hilarious. You just look down and there’s this sea of black leather and naked butts and beautiful men with no shirts.” Soon enough he got a kick out of another sight: His husband wandering the hotel in a jockstrap, “which he never thought he’d do in his life.”
Jerry Overby was another first-time attendee relishing in the kind of freedom MAL allows, even encourages. “It was pretty dreamy, a complete eye-opener,” says the young Virginia native, who had no previous experience with leather or kink but opted to go after a friend invited him to join. “I lost a lot of my shyness. I would have never been caught dead in public in my underwear, or even without a shirt on.” At this year’s MAL, Overby walked around wearing just a harness and a jock. “It was a super-friendly environment. Everyone was so chill. There was no judgment at all.”
The weekend “was a huge success,” Grady says. “Lots of happy people and good energy everywhere. There were no problems, no issues at the hotel.” In fact, the hotel’s new general manager, who was on site all weekend, called Grady on Monday morning “to thank us and to thank our guests for coming. The hotel received lots of compliments from our guests.” ...
To celebrate the launch of Kink University, we went looking for the kinkiest city in America, and were shocked by what we found. It wasn't the old stalwarts that surprised us — we had a pretty good idea that New York and San Francisco would make the list — but the breadth and diversity of our United States of Kink this year did. We looked at 50 major American cities, ranking them for total kink population (as measured by active members on kink social network Fetlife), the percentage of the population that identifies as kinky, the number of kink-aware professionals (therapists, doctors, lawyers) listed on the NCSF's excellent resource directory, and by the porn purchases of their inhabitants, using data from Kink.com.
Along the way, we came across some interesting side notes. Would you have guessed that El Paso has the smallest kinky population of any major American city? Or that in tiny Harrisburg PA, over 10% of the population identifies as kinky? We found thriving kink outposts in Tampa, a thriving dungeon scene in Atlanta, and porn lovers just about everywhere. (To keep statistical noise to a minimum, we limited it to cities with populations over 500,000.)
The State of Our Kinky Union is strong, we're happy to report. Welcome to the 10 Kinkiest Cities in the United States 2015. ...
Alaska has a tightening kink community made up of people living alternative lifestyles that range from discomfort with mainstream society to unconventional sex practices. But they have struggled to find spaces in which to gather. Now, after a lengthy tenant dispute and thousands of dollars worth of property damage, the Alaska Center for Alternative Lifestyles–ACAL– is ready to open it’s doors.
“Our stairwell, when we finish staging, will be full of pride-flags from across the lower-48,” explains Sahra Shaubach as she shows off the staircase leading into the 2000 square-foot basement she rents in downtown Anchorage, formerly the site of the Kodiak bar. ”Those will include Bear pride-flags, and GBLT pride flags, of course the Leather pride flag, the Trans pride flag and so on and so forth.”
ACAL is meant to solve a years-long problem of where people interested in unconventional sex can get together for events.
”You name it, we’ve rented it,” Shaubach explains. ”We’ve done this out of restaurants after they’ve closed, we’ve done this out of convention halls, we’ve done this out of hotels–we’ve rented entire floors of hotels and done theme rooms. We’ve rented basements, we’ve rented empty houses. And we’ve been doing it with the respect of the greater community in Anchorage, I believe. We haven’t had anyone call the cops and say ‘Oh my god the perverts are screaming next door.’”
“Kink community” is the umbrella term covering everything from bondage and leather aficionados to erotic artists and exotic hula-hoopers. Though Alaska’s kink community is dwarfed by cities in the Lower-48, it is far more widespread than the uninitiated may realize. In the last two decades, different groups like The Northern Lights Dungeon Society and Alaska Dark Realms organized coffee meet-ups and dinners nicknamed “munches.”
“It was just amazing to realize that people across the board–young, old, fat, ugly, educated, not, your doctors, your lawyers, your school teachers, your single mothers, your college students–everybody shows up to those munches,” Shaubach recalls from when she began getting involved eight years ago. ”If you saw us sitting at a restaurant–20, 25, 30, 40 of us–you would have no idea we are Alaska’s alternative community. We look like the people you’d see at Fred Myers.”
Shaubach pounced on the opportunity to rent out the basement in the old Kodiak, even though it meant cleaning up years of broken furniture, trash, and remnants of people crashing when they had nowhere else to go. Upon seeing the space for the first time in two years, the landlord wept. Shaubach and volunteers organized “work frollicks”–a borrowed Amish term–to haul trash, paint, clean, and disinfect the industrial kitchen on the top floor. It took months, but the results are impressive. The rambling chambers of the basement are primed for activities: a tiny stage surrounded by tables, studded leather straps to hang donated art, and “playrooms” holding a few daunting apparatuses.
“There’ll also be a large padded table here that also has a cage that goes underneath it,” Shaubach explained, pointing inside her favorite room. It was filled with supplies and equipment, including an X-shaped St. Andrew’s Cross and wooden stocks affixed to a spanking bench.
“Forgive me if this is a little bit suburban,” I asked, “but what is the table and what are the cage for?”
“Umm,” Shaubach paused, a smile spreading over her face, ‘there’s so many options for a table and a cage!”
Alaska’s kink community numbers in the hundreds, and is committed enough that Shaubach can finance the costs of rent and upkeep by collecting membership fees.
“It’s like having a Sam’s Club Card,” said Shaubach, “you don’t get the groceries for free, but you definitely get a discounted rate for being a member.”
$120 s a year buys access to the space, along with priority rates on workshops and educational events on eclectic topics like knot-tying. ...
Bob Bashara, a man described as an S&M “master,” was sentenced Thursday to spend his life in jail, with no parole eligibility, for the killing of his spouse, Jane Bashara, found strangled to death in January of 2012. Last month, Bashara was declared guilty on all five counts – first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation of murder, obstruction of justice and witness intimidation.
Writes USA Today on Jan. 15: “In sentencing Bob Bashara for his role in his wife's 2012 murder, Wayne County Circuit Judge Vonda Evans had strong words, calling Bashara a predator and said that long before Jane Bashara's death, she ‘was mentally and emotionally destroyed’ by her husband.”
Jane Bashara’s body was found inside of her Mercedes SUV, which was discovered in an alley on Detroit's east side. Prosecutors successfully argued that Bob hired a local handyman, identified as Joseph Getz, to strangle his wife. As a motive, investigators said Bashara was involved in a heavily masochistic relationship with a woman named Rachel Gillett and another woman.
Lorraine Engelbrecht, Jane’s mother, spoke directly to Bashara at his sentencing hearing, leveling strong words against her daughter’s killer. “Every day I live, I want to think about you rotting in jail and someday burning in hell,” she said, adding to the court: “Why didn't he just go and live his scummy, dungeon life and leave my daughter and my grandchildren alone?”
Bashara, for his part, continued to maintain his innocence, telling the judge that he loved “my Jane dearly and have done absolutely nothing to harm her. I did not murder her. I did not conspire with anyone.” Bashara then spoke directly to his mother-in-law, telling her: “I will never, ever stop fighting for justice and the truth until my hands are raw, blood comes from eyes and I take my last breath.”
Wayne County Circuit Judge Vonda Evans didn’t buy it, telling Bashara: “Today there will be justice for Jane… I have no mercy on you,” and adding that “the only person you ever loved was yourself.”
According to the Detroit Free Press, Bashara “addressed the court about issues he had with his murder trial, including his lawyers, media coverage and prosecutors, who he said made him look like a ‘monster.’ He then asked for a mistrial, which was denied.” ...
A month later, the club applied for a permit to use the Lentz Drive building for a private club.
Such a use would be allowed on the property, which is zoned as "office general," said Bill Herbert with Metro Zoning.
"A club is a facility that is open only to members and their guests," he said. "The key point here is that a club cannot be open to the general public. That's the dividing line."
The club provided one email response to repeated Tennessean inquiries. In that message, the club said only that 14 acres were purchased north of Nashville but that a lease would keep the club on Division Street until June 2016.
But public records and the club's own newsletters to members say something different.
On its public website, the club announced a Feb. 11 moving date.
And in newsletters obtained by The Tennessean, club founder George "Al" Woods touted a new space that's twice as large at 22,000 square feet, and expected to be ready in time for Valentine's Day and for a 35th anniversary party on March 28.
"It is not a rumor anymore," the club announced, describing a bar, couples rooms, a love swing and other themed rooms for members. The club would be nonsmoking and open from 7 p.m. until 2:45 a.m.
The club's application, though, hasn't advanced. Zoning officials and the fire marshal await a more detailed plan, which will need to be reviewed. Depending on the occupancy, for example, the building might require renovations such as sprinklers, if the former medical office doesn't already have a sufficient system.
Zoning review could take a month or more.
"They are not in a position to get a permit to open," Herbert said. ...