Danny Ghitis became interested in the fetish, BDSM, and kink communities for the same reason he became interested in rock climbing: They both inspired a bit of discomfort, but also a bit of curiosity.
In 2011, same-sex marriage had recently been legalized in New York, 50 Shades of Grey was on everyone’s bookshelves, and Ghitis, a “straight, vanilla guy,” realized that he knew very little about sexual and gender identity. He decided to explore.
In his research, he came across FetLife, a “social network for the BDSM and fetish community,” that describes itself as “similar to Facebook and MySpace but run by kinksters like you and me.”
“I thought that looking into a project about it was basically a way to expose myself and confront my own ignorance,” Ghitis said. “That way I’d be able to learn and ask myself important questions about my own identity and really face the challenges I think we all should at one point or another face.”
He made a profile on the site, identified himself as a photographer looking for people to photograph, and slowly started making connections. Ghitis, who uses photography as “an excuse to meet people” he otherwise wouldn’t, started seeing some things he’d never seen before. His goal, he said, was to “put myself in front of people I was unfamiliar with and find common ground between us.”
His ongoing series, “The Fetlife,” takes us into the homes of kinksters, submissives, cosplay enthusiasts, and other “sexual deviants” all over New York City. And while the photographs certainly highlight the unique identities of his subjects, Ghitis said his intent is to familiarize, not exoticize. ...
Danarama is a speech coach, of sorts. Here’s a sample piece of advice he gives his students:
“If you can practice every sentence so that your voice goes down, you’ll sound much more dominant, that has a very powerful effect on the person you’re playing with,” says Danarama.
When working with a scene partner, Danarama likes to put the onus on them to fill in the details. One of his favorite lines to motivate improvisation: “Give me three reasons why you deserved to be spanked.”
Danarama is not an improv coach nor speech pathologist. He’s a professional dominant, instructor, and director of BDSM porn purveyor Kink.com’s new educational wing, Kink University. To add to the roster of Folsom Street Fair festivities this weekend, Kink and its academics are hosting BondCon, a four day conferences for the BDSM community and its multifarious interests.
BondCon features 24 different workshops for the kinky and “kink curious.” The workshops, geared towards beginners and the advanced, include practicums and lectures, live demos and seminars, ropes, electrodes, whips, and even balloons.
“We have a class on balloon bondage which is very lighthearted,” said Kink spokesperson Mike Stabile. “It’s probably less intense for beginners than our workshop on grappling and take downs for BDSM.”
Many of the classes include instruction for specific techniques one might use in a BDSM “scene,” or encounter. There’s the basics like “Spanking 101” to the highly technical such as “Beauty in Rope: Weaving Diamond Ties.” Classes also delve into aspects of the Kink lifestyle like “Coming out Kinky,” “Threesome Tips,” and “More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory.”
The workshops will feature a few luminaries from the world of kink, including sex educator and author Midori and Takeshi Nagaike, one of forefathers of shibari, a highly stylized form of rope bondage from Japan.
“We just thought it would be a nice thing to offer, because so many people are coming to San Francisco just for Folsom Street,” said Danarama who is teaching a workshop on rough sex and one called “How to Talk Like a Top.”
“It’s the best time to have an open house of the Armory,” Danarama added, noting that in addition to the workshops BondCon will feature frequent tours of the Armory as well as parties in the famed moorish castle’s basement studios. Which, as Stabile notes will not be leaving the Mission for Nevada any time soon as we reported it might in April, the “condom law” AB 1576 has since stalled in the California Senate. Though Stabile says ominously: “we know there will be another one next year.”
For those who can’t make it to BondCon, there’s always the internet to learn from, and not just the online videos Kink is already well known for. Besides providing frequent live workshops, part of Kink University’s mission is to host a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). Since it launched six weeks, Kink University’s online curriculum offers a suite of in-depth instructional videos with step-by-step photo guides for the more technical skill sets. ...
Tea has a different taste when served to you by a slave, but I sipped on it anyway. I didn’t want to be rude. I never got the name of this slave, a woman maybe around my age with long curly hair, who was there in La Domaine Esemar to serve her masters, Mistress Couple and Master R. She brought me tea, water, and toast at the request of her masters. I’d entered an entirely different world that existed only a short drive away, seated off a dirt road in the woods of Rensselaer County.
Mistress Couple, who had striking red lips, a black leather dress, and tall black laced boots, invited me into her home and graciously agreed to tell me anything I wanted to know about the BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism) lifestyle. Most intriguing to me was her slave, who spent most of the time seated on the floor, her head resting on the arm of the chair that Master R was sitting in. Later, I was shown proper slave posture, which is the physical representation of their submission. This requires the chin up, eyes down, a straight back, palms close to their sex, and the legs open. I also learned that underneath this slave’s robe was bonding rope and a vibrator, as they like her to be aroused as much as possible. However, she isn’t allowed to orgasm until given permission; if she does, she will be sent home.
Master R and Mistress Couple refer to couples who aren’t open to BDSM as “vanilla.” These are people who are satisfied with ordinary, conventional sex. And don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re satisfied, great. If not, perhaps you should look into other options. Go to a sex shop, maybe. Look at porn. Try something. Anything. We all deserve great sex.
If you’re looking into BDSM, La Domaine Esemar sounds like the place to go, and easy to find. By simply typing “BDSM training” into Google, you can find La Domaine Esemar, and many people are. The house gets national attention. You can also find their ad in this paper. They are discreet, but they aren’t hidden.
Different services cost various amounts, which will be explained to you once Mistress Couple has decided you’re fit to visit La Domaine Esemar. Mistress Couple and Master R assist couples in many different situations. Some are in distress, while others are simply looking to add a little spice to their relationship. They promise to at least consider all requests.
If you think you already know about BDSM because you’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey, think again, because let me tell you—it doesn’t even scratch the surface. However, the book did spark an interest in BDSM, and according to CBS News, certain products like bondage tape have seen a striking 1,500-percent increase in purchases since the release of the E.L. James novel. But there’s much more to BDSM than tape and ropes. In fact, that almost seems boring now that I’ve seen the dungeon of La Domaine Esemar. From wall to wall, the dungeon is covered with ball gags, suspension tables, harnesses, belts, collars, hoods, cock rings, outfits, wigs, restraints, rope, feathers, dildos, floggers, and dozens of other things I was too scared to ask about, but I think you get the idea. A house rule in La Domaine Esemar is that if you ask what something is, it will be used on you. Lucky (or maybe unlucky) for me, they suspended this rule during my visit.
Master R says Mistress Couple has the hardest job in the entire sex world. While her main responsibility is running the house, her role is complex. She’s in charge of the slaves, and there can be anywhere from eight to 10 at any given time. They come once or twice a week, or as much as they can. They are there to learn about their submission and their sexuality, work out personal issues, or just simply to experience what it means to be spanked or tied up. Even if they come with casual intentions, Mistress Couple says, they often find themselves diving into deep psychological issues. She says the house allows you to shed your outside persona and discover more about your true self. You can strip away personal issues and “find who you are at your true core,” she says. ...
Once again, I’ve been accused of pedophilia. Well, to be technical, my sexual identity was called “somewhat pedophilic.” But we’re talking about one of the most loathsome things a person can be accused of, so why split hairs? I’m also regularly told that my sexuality is “repulsive,” “damaged,” and “abusive.” But all of those feel like Valentines compared with “pedophilic.”
People say this to me so often because I’m kinky, and I’ve written about it. I have a spanking fetish. In my case, that means I like to be spanked, usually with a hand, belt, hairbrush, wooden spoon, switch, or paddle. It sexually gratifies me. I’ve had submissive fantasies for as long as I can remember, and it’s part of my identity. I consider my kink to be my sexual orientation.
To be clear—because apparently I have to be—I am an adult. My husband, who is not kinky, is an adult. My first boyfriend (the only other sexual partner I’ve had) was an adult, too. Everyone is an adult. Everyone consents.
So I have a question: If it’s “somewhat pedophilic” when my adult husband consensually spanks me in a simulated “punishment,” what should we call it when parents do the same physical thing to actual children in an actual punishment?
I realize that many well-meaning parents will disagree with me, but spanking kids is gross. There are a lot of reasons why—it’s counterproductive and ineffective, for starters—but there’s another reason that nobody talks about. Butts are sexual. That’s why the area is one of the few “private” parts that, along with breasts and genitals, we feel the need to cover with a swimsuit. If a parent saw a teacher patting a child’s shoulder, it’d be no big deal. But if a parent saw a teacher patting a child’s butt, she would (rightly) be very alarmed.
Spanking is a sex act. It has been for a very long time—probably even longer than it’s been a parenting choice. A fresco at the Etruscan Tomb of the Whipping, which dates back to approximately 490 B.C., depicts an erotic spanking. In Francum, a 1599 epigram by John Davies, includes one of the most explicit descriptions of sexual masochism in Renaissance poetry. In Victorian England—well, there are waytoomanyexamples to list them all, so suffice it to say that spanking was a constant focus of Victorian erotica.
And butts aren’t just culturally sexualized; they’re biologically sexual, too. Nerve tracts that pass through the lower spine carry sensory information to and from both the butt and genitals. Some scientists speculate that these nerves can stimulate one region when the other is provoked. There’s also a blood vessel in the pelvic region called the common iliac artery. When blood rushes to a child’s butt—because, say, you’re spanking him—blood rushes down that artery. But the artery splits. Some of it directs blood to the genitals. So when you cause blood to rush to a child’s butt, you’re also causing it to rush to his or her other sex organs. The other time this kind of genital blood engorgement happens is during erection or arousal. ...
I figuratively rubbed my hands together when I saw that Jezebel was soliciting readers’ “weirdest turn ons.” Snarky, no-shit-taking feminists revealing their deepest darkest fantasies! This should be awesome, I thought.
So far, the submissions include quirky things like fake German accents, priest collars, fresh tobacco, alcoholic comedians and “hyperarticulate political shop talk.” One woman copped to really liking her boyfriend’s hands. Another admitted to rape fantasies — dun, dun, dun — after tremendous encouragement from fellow commenters. [Insert appropriate boredom GIF.]
This all had me feeling really jaded. I was recently commissioned to write about the strangest online porn, which resulted in me watching videos of an elderly woman double-penetrated by her own dentures and an Indian doctor extracting blackheads while cooing to viewers, “You want to sit on it?” Now that stuff is weird.
Or is it?
What defines “weird” in the realm of sexual fantasy, anyway? Is it marginality? If so, the availability of “niche” porn suggests that even be-dentured titillation isn’t that weird. No, it may not be a top search term on YouPorn.com, but it has enough of an audience to exist as a sub-genre. There are entire sites devoted to fantasies about everything from cannibalism to incest. To the Jezebel poster into priest collars: Clergy porn is definitely a thing. In fact, anything and everything is a thing in porn. That’s the infamous Rule 34 of the Internet: “If it exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions.”
There is plenty to be said about the negative impact of pervasive online porn, but one positive effect is that it demystifies fantasy. Should you care to feel less alone in your kink –whether it’s tickling or CGI-monster sex, or a combination of both — you can with just a couple of clicks. Looking for a convention for furries? That exists. A meet-up for diaper fetishists? Yep. A dating site for dungeon lovers? Totally. You’re only alone in your kink if you want to be. It’s a beautiful thing!
Then again, demystifying fantasy can be a bad thing. What are our fantasies without taboo? We all want to be special little snowflakes — but when it comes to sex, we don’t want to be too, too special. Our own sexual idiosyncrasies are precious and scary and prized (in the same way that the minutiae of our own dreams is endlessly fascinating but usually leaves others bored out of their minds). ...
When Keifer Johnson headed back to school after last year's summer break, he had reason to believe that the truly awesome part of his college experience was still to come. He was a nineteen-year-old sophomore at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, a Kerouac-spouting English major and a rising star on WSCU's highly regarded track team. He planned to train and run like hell, read stacks of books, write poetry and have fun.
The first clue that his life on campus was about to undergo a profound change came in a terse e-mail from an English professor. The note said that he would no longer be allowed to serve as a teaching assistant for a freshman writing course, a course for which he'd been a TA the previous semester. The professor urged him to contact Gary Pierson, the university's dean of students, if he had any questions about the decision.
Baffled, Johnson made an appointment and went to see Pierson. The dean told him that he was in possession of a letter that Johnson had sent to a girl who'd been in that writing class. Pierson wouldn't let him see the letter, but he let Johnson know that he found its content to be inappropriate and even disturbing. Come home prepared, I will devour you.... Expect pain. Expect pleasure. Expect both; they slide hand in hand too easily. Welcome to the jungle, baby. There will be fun and games.
Johnson acknowledged that he knew the girl. They had flirted a bit over the course of the semester, then hooked up during finals week. The relationship had quickly caught fire, the two of them engaging in some bondage-themed role-playing patterned after E.L. James's best-selling S&M romance, Fifty Shades of Grey. Johnson had written the eleven-page letter, a graphic and purplish work in the Jamesian mode, for his lover to read while she was in rehab in another state in June, trying to get clear of her drug and alcohol problems.
I sink my jaw frenzied, wolfing your essence, as I begin to tighten and pound away the calamity of you, the impossibility of you. I destroy myself into you, as I howl your name, as I rupture release profoundly deep within you. I explode myself into you, as we scrape transcendence, as your desperate failing body floods over me. Breathless, I look into you, into the essence [of] you.... The beauty of violence. Holding you there, unmoving, silence shackling the air, I gaze into you, you into me.
Johnson had broken up with the girl -- known here simply as Emily -- at the end of July. Now, barely three weeks later, here was Pierson, questioning him at length about the letter and the relationship. Johnson did his best to explain that the savage sex play described in the letter was pure fantasy, but he wondered why the dean was so interested in a freshman pas de deux that had played out over the summer, far away from campus.
"His questions were strictly about my relationship with her and my personal sex life," Johnson says. "It was definitely a condemning tone. I said, 'While this relationship may seem unsettling to you, it was entirely consensual.' I was frank and forthcoming. I had no reason not to be. I thought I would explain myself and that would be the end of it."
But the meeting with the dean was only the beginning of Johnson's journey through Western State's complicated process of investigating possible sexual misconduct involving its students -- a process that Johnson found infuriating and humiliating, as well as panic-inducing. A few days later he was summoned to the office of Chris Luekenga, the associate vice-president for student affairs, to respond to charges that he had violated policies outlined in the student handbook.
Two of the infractions -- accidentally pulling out Emily's meal card instead of his own in a campus cafeteria, and a "breaking and entering" charge for slipping through an open window into a dorm with other students to check out who was occupying the rooms they'd had the previous semester -- were relatively minor. The third, however, was more ambiguous. Johnson was being accused of "inappropriate behavior" toward another student, apparently based on the letter he'd written Emily.
Once again, Johnson fielded questions about his relationship with the girl and the wilder passages of his letter. Luekenga told him that he'd received a complaint from an "outside party" about Johnson's conduct but refused to provide more specifics. "He said, 'Tell me why you should stay here as a Western State student,'" Johnson recalls.
The meeting turned into a disciplinary hearing, with Johnson found guilty on all counts. He was suspended from the track team for several days while Luekenga pondered what other sanctions to impose. A letter from Luekenga outlined his punishment: 48 hours of community service, a letter of apology to the dining-hall staff for the meal-card incident, and four hours of "counseling sessions that will address your decision-making skills and thought processes." Johnson was also placed on "judicial probation," which meant that he could be suspended from school if he committed any additional infractions.
Johnson didn't entirely agree with the finding; he didn't see anything wrong with the letter to Emily, and he would later learn that there was nothing in the student handbook prohibiting possession of another student's meal card. But he had screwed up by going into the dorm without permission and figured he would just take his medicine. ...
Terri-Jean Bedford brought her trademark riding crop Wednesday for her appearance before the Senate justice committee considering C-36, the new prostitution law.
The retired dominatrix seemed to make the Tories nervous. They should be nervous.
Bedford used to run an upscale “dungeon” in the Toronto suburb of Thornhill, called the Bondage Bungalow, where clients paid to have women hit them with riding crops.
In 1994, York Regional Police shut her down, seized two moving vans full of equipment and charged her with “keeping a common bawdy house.”
She fought them all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which last year ruled unanimously in her favour, finding that our prostitution laws violated the charter rights of sex workers to “security of the person,” since the laws made it more difficult for them to protect themselves.
The Conservatives, who must motivate social conservatives if they are to have any chance in next year’s election, introduced a new law modelled on Sweden’s, which makes it illegal to buy sex.
At committee, witnesses have been divided on the wisdom of that.
Social conservatives, shelter workers and former sex workers argue that sex work is inherently exploitive, degrading and violent. They say that by targeting clients — “perverts” as Justice Minister Peter MacKay called them — the law will reduce demand for paid sex, which will cut down on the amount of exploitation, degradation and violence in the world.
Sex workers and their advocates argue that the new law will be as much of a threat to safety as the old law, since they won’t be able to, for instance, hire security.
Bedford told the senators that many in the industry are happy in their work.
“Senators, please, please don’t allow Parliament to force Canadian women to have sex only for free,” she said.
And she warned that if they ignore her pleas, she will name politicians who go to sex workers.
“I’m going to make you guys forget about Mike Duffy,” she said. “I have got more information and more proof on politicians in this country than you can shake a stick at. I promise.”
At times she used her crop as a gavel, smacking the table to emphasize her point. When a senator interrupted her, she refused to stop talking.
The chairman, Sen. Bob Runciman, told her to pipe down or he would throw her out.
“You’ve given lots of other people lots of time,” she said. “I have 30 years of your abusive laws, so I should be allowed at least an extra five minutes to talk about it. You pat everybody else on the back, but when you know I’ve got a bombshell to deliver, you want to try to avoid me at all costs.”
Runciman had her ejected.
Outside, a reporter asked if she really did have the names of politicians who hire sex workers. ...