The cover story in this week's edition of the print product is about how South Florida became the mecca of swinging -- couple swapping, that is -- in this country. We visit several local sex clubs, talk with a number of lifestyle participants (and club employees), and even show you a little of how it works in the "back room."
Of course there are a lot of people who'd love to see these clubs abolished. In addition to the sex clubs and dozens of strip clubs and sex toy stores, the north part of Broward county is also home to more than 300 churches. The loudest, most outspoken voice among them is probably Reverend O'Neal Dozier, the 62-year-old charismatic leader of the World Wide Christian Church. Dozier, who grew up in Pompano Beach, has been a staunch opponent to gay rights and abortion in any form. (Two years ago he held a public funeral for an aborted fetus.)
For the proliferation of sin this area, Dozier blames his fellow ministers. "It's an indictment of the church," he says. "There's a decline in morality, a falling away from God, a rise in atheism, and it all starts with the rabbis and the priests and the pastors. They're afraid to teach what's in the Bible because it will run people from you, but our culture is a reflection of what people are preaching from the pulpit." ...
Did a Northwestern University human sexuality professor go too far when he held an optional live-sex presentation on campus grounds?
On Feb. 21, Prof. John Michael Bailey, a psychology professor known for pushing the envelope, invited students from his human sexuality class to observe a non-student naked woman being stimulated with a motorized sex toy on stage.
About 120 students attended the demonstration, which was curated by Chicago sex tour guide Ken Melvoin-Berg, according to the Northwestern Daily student newspaper.
The University declined to answer questions about the demonstration from NBC Chicago and referred our editors to Bailey, who was unavailable.
The session was billed as a question-and-answer session about fetishes with a demonstration at the end, said Pratik Shah, a senior math and economics student. Students were warned of the nature of the class several times, and some walked out before the demonstration. ...
Claire Glass investigates a new generation of elite college women determined to dominate
New York Press
Kitty, 22, was a theater major at Sarah Lawrence before falling grades and depression led her away from that educational facility and into another. As head mistress at Jezebel's Wall Street Dungeon, Leda taught her to properly swing a whip, for free. Compared with tuition at Sarah Lawrence, the most expensive educational institution in the United States at $60,000 a year, this dungeon discipline may garner more profitable returns for its student body.
Kitty is part of a growing group of college-going women turning to domination since the recession to make a quick buck. Older dominatrices, who spent years honing their craft, warn that the psychological strain of being a dominatrix may drive the money-minded back to nannying. And the looming question may be why some young women, many college-educated at the best schools in the country, are so determined to master what may be their own form of masochism.
"They don't appreciate the art of it," says longtime domme Nina Payne. She speaks in a soft tone that would be just as appropriate for reciting poetry. "Since the recession, people are looking for ways to keep their heads above water, so tons of new girls are coming in and changing the scene." Payne has been working as a dominatrix for the past eight years in Tokyo, London, Australia and the United States. In Australia and London, she says, the average dommes are in their early thirties. Here, her students and colleagues are in their early twenties.
According to Danielle Lindemann, who received her PhD in sociology from Columbia University and wrote her dissertation on dominatrices, long-time dommes all over New York City fear the demise of their craft at the hands of the inexperienced.
"They talked about the difference between real dommes who appreciate it as an art form and undergo training, and the young dommes who see it on the Internet as an easy way to make money," Lindemann says. She didn't approach anyone with this question in mind, but the subject kept coming up. And in Nina Payne's classes, the divide between the experienced and fledgling reveals itself fully.
Payne's students squirm in their chairs like school kids waiting to hear the bell for recess. In her class at CoCo De Mer, an upscale lingerie and sex shop in Nolita, pupils are dressed for the part in Dolce & Gabbana corsets and trench coats. When her students take the reins—or rather, the whips—they're unable to wield them properly. The man hired to work as the night's submissive (another subset of the dungeon economy) winces as a woman in thigh-high boots loses her balance on the upswing, snapping the tip of the whip into his tail bone. "Very dangerous," Payne says. Striking the spine the wrong way can result in serious injury. "It's not as easy as it looks, right?" she asks. There is a sense that confirming this point is a part of the lesson plan. It seems there is a lot to be learned about the dungeon discipline.
Some of the popularity of the profession may be the upsurge of interest in mainstream popular culture. Melissa Febos' memoir Whip Smart, published last year, detailed her many experiences in a Midtown dungeon, and it's not uncommon to see images of women in television, movies and magazines dressed in corsets and ready to use kinky leather and latex implements to satisfy sexual partners.
Kink community worried about state legislator’s attempt to curb domestic violence
San Diego City Beat
It’s not as if California’s gimps, leather daddies and dominatrices are going to march on the state Capitol, but the kink and fetish lobby will send a letter to Sen. Christine Kehoe, a Democrat who represents parts of San Diego, about a piece of legislation that could inadvertently clamp down on their fun.
On Feb. 16, Kehoe introduced SB 430, which would create new categories of violent crime—attempted strangulation and suffocation. Both felonies would be punishable by mandatory two, three or four years in prison, plus an extra two years if the perpetrator is in a relationship with the victim.
The intent is to crack down on domestic violence, but, because of the bill’s wording, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) says the legislation could have the unintended consequence of criminalizing a range of intense sexual activities, especially within the scope of “breath play.”
SB 430 defines “strangle” as to “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly impede the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of a person by applying pressure on the throat or neck.” The definition of “suffocate”—“intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly impede the normal breathing of a person”—could have the greatest impact on BDSM practitioners, since even milder sexual practices, such as face-sitting and the use of leashes, gags, gas masks and hoods, can impede breathing.
What makes the bill especially dangerous to sexual liberties is it specifically states prosecutors do not need to prove intent to cause harm in order to secure a conviction. However, Kehoe’s office tells CityBeat that the law would only apply to perpetrators who “willfully and unlawfully” strangle or suffocate another person. This language, they say, would exempt legal activities, such as wrestling teams, from prosecution.
Susan Wright, national spokesperson for NCSF, says that doesn’t go far enough and the bill should explicitly exempt consensual activities.
“We would want to them insert ‘non-consensual,’ so it wouldn’t be misinterpreted by people whose standards are different from ours in terms of what they believe people do,” Wright says. “Some people like intensity with their sex.”
Even though Kehoe may have noble motives, Wright says, the bill could give sexually conservative prosecutors a tool to persecute those who engage in bondage, sado-masochism, domination, leather play and other kinks.
“Point taken,” Kehoe told CityBeat. “We haven’t heard from that community, and we’ll have to deal with their concerns when we hear more about it.”
The NCSF is currently evaluating laws in every state as part of its “Consent Counts” project to identify places where consent is not a defense to assault and battery. Wright points to the famous 2000 “Paddleboro” case in Attleboro, Mass., where prosecutors pursued criminal charges against individuals caught using wooden paddles at a sex party. The organization also supported the defense of the “San Diego Six,” the members of the “pansexual leather / BDSM fetish group” Club X who were prosecuted for various lewd-acts-in-public charges related to a fetish party in 1999. Eventually, then-San Diego City Attorney Casey Gwinn dropped the charges against five of the defendants. The other defendant won a not-guilty verdict. ...
The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University estimates that as many as 4 million Americans participate in some form of group sex or couple swapping. With its welcoming beaches, year-round sunshine, and fine appreciation for vices, South Florida has become the mecca of swinging in this country. Couples make sexual pilgrimages here from points all over the world. At least four different swinger cruises depart from South Florida every year. While swingers anywhere can connect through websites and classified ads, South Florida has five on-premises sex clubs (four in Broward, one in Miami-Dade, none in Palm Beach) catering to a variety of different lifestyles.
The owner of Club Hedonism is a large Italian man in his 60s named Franco Monte. He can be found striding through his club with purpose, wearing black slacks, a black shirt, and a thick gold chain. His employees are diligent, because they know he's a perfectionist and they dare not upset him. Every inch of the club must be spotless. Every employee must embody a delicate blend of attentiveness and discretion. He says he wants people to think of his place as "the swingers' club where everybody knows your name." Like Cheers — but where the characters have sex with one another.
Clark County has tightened its code regarding “sex clubs” after a U.S. District Court judge found last summer that the county’s existing ordinance was unconstitutionally vague.
The county commission, acting as the zoning board, approved an updated ordinance from the district attorney’s office earlier this month.
Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin said the new language would allow the district attorney’s office and Metro Police to more effectively prosecute cases against alleged sex clubs, which are illegal in Clark County.
The rephrased ordinance “will make it easier for businesses and law enforcement going forward,” he said.
The new ordinance eliminates unnecessary language and provides a more detailed definition for “live sex act,” among other terms — all at the suggestion of U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Delaney, who in August decided the Clark County Code was “unconstitutionally vague.”
Delaney was ruling in a lawsuit between the county and Borchers Family Trust, the owners of the Red Rooster, 6405 Greyhound Lane. The county declared the operation a chronic public nuisance in December 2008, and its owners sued in response in January.
A Brooklyn man lashed out at the woman he is accused of keeping as a sex slave yesterday, claiming their relationship was consensual and the tryst started when she posted an ad on craigslist looking for a kinky hookup.
In an exclusive jailhouse interview, John Hopkins said he has one question for the Wisconsin woman who has accused him of rape: "Why did you do this to me?"
Wearing a gray Department of Correction jumpsuit, Hopkins, 45, looked disheveled and unshaven as he recalled responding to the ad his accuser posted on craigslist two years ago looking for sex.
The Williamsburg resident said they started to meet up for role-play sex sessions that involved him tying her up as the "slave" while he acted as "master."
"I didn't rape her," insisted Hopkins, who works as an audio engineer. "Everything we did was role-playing. In the game of role-play, the 'slave' actually has the power."
Hopkins is holed up in Rikers Island in lieu of $350,000 bail. He faces a first-degree rape charge and a litany of other charges.
The victim, whose name has not been released, claimed that she was the one to respond to Hopkins' advertisement about a room in his apartment, and he offered her free rent in exchange for cooking.
A Wisconsin woman looking to move to New York found herself living a nightmare after a man who lured her to Brooklyn through Craigslist with the promise of rent-free digs allegedly subjected her to more than a week of sexual torture.
The victim, 27, e-mailed John Hopkins, 45, about his Web ad, which said he had a room in his East Williamsburg apartment, police sources said.
After telling her she could stay for free if she cooked and cleaned, Hopkins paid for her plane ticket and picked her up at Kennedy Airport on Feb. 4, according to the sources.
As soon as they arrived at his place on Humboldt Street, Hopkins allegedly told the woman that she was to be his slave. He then allegedly blindfolded and gagged her, handcuffed her to a radiator, and began beating and raping her.
For the next eight days, Hopkins allegedly kept the woman chained in his apartment, but then allowed her to leave for a job she had landed at a Manhattan restaurant.
Bizarrely, the woman did not call 911 while she was away from her alleged tormentor. But last Saturday, she contacted her mother, who alerted the NYPD. When cops arrived, they found her shaking on Hopkins' bed. She was treated at Woodhull Hospital.
Hopkins was hit with charges including rape, assault and unlawful imprisonment.