A weekend festival in Canton that promised classes on bondage, role play and other sexual techniques has been canceled after the new operators of the Clarence H. Du Burns Arena idecided the erotic exposition was not appropriate at a facility also used for children's sports practices.
The organizers of the Touch of Flavor event sued the arena's managers this week, saying that their contract was breached. They also made an unsuccessful bid for a restraining order that would have let the festival go on.
The two-day event was to have featured classes on the use of hot wax, sex-dungeon safety and "Rope Bondage You Can Actually Use."
"We feel like there's been a great interest due to books and things that have come out," said Cassie Fuller, one of the organizers. "We wanted to provide education to people to do these things safely, so they can have fulfilling emotional and physical relationships."
Fuller pointed to the success of the book "Fifty Shades of Grey" as an example of the mainstream popularity of BDSM — bondage, domination and sado-masochism. Fuller said she is looking for other venues to hold the event at a later date.
But Susan Green, a lawyer for the arena's operator, Coppermine Fieldhouse, said the company did not think the arena was an appropriate place to have the event.
"The company doesn't have any judgment about what they want to do. ... We absolutely pass no judgment," Green said. "We do, however, feel that they can't do it in close proximity to children."
Coppermine took over the operation of the arena early this year, and the event organizers had originally contracted with the previous operator last fall.
The two sides dispute the precise details of their arguments and what the sticking points were.
"The entire position of Coppermine has been a moving target," said Stanford Gann Jr., the festival organizers' attorney.
Green said the event could leave Coppermine exposed to lawsuits. Event organizers said they were considering serving alcohol, and Green said she was concerned that the combination of drinking and bondage could leave Coppermine on the hook.
"There were so many liability issues in hosting such an event," she said. ...
A Dover man charged with strangling Elizabeth Marriott to death allegedly told police he killed her during the course of a consensual sex act involving erotic asphyxiation.
Thirty-year-old Seth Mazzaglia, of Dover, is facing first- and second-degree murder charges in connection with Marriott's death. He is accused of strangling Marriott with a rope inside his apartment on Mill Street on Oct. 9, 2012.
Police say after initially lying about the encounter, Mazzaglia admitted to his involvement during an interview at the Newington Police Department on Oct. 12, 2012. His statements to police were recounted in a police affidavit attached to an arrest warrant in the case.
The affidavit was among hundreds of pages of information unsealed Monday at the circuit court in Dover. Foster's Daily Democrat, the New Hampshire Union Leader and The Portsmouth Herald had all petitioned the court for access to the records, which had remained shielded from public view for more than six months.
The release followed Mazzaglia's indictment on murder charges in April by a Rockingham County grand jury.
According to the search warrant affidavit, Sergeant Joseph Ebert of the New Hampshire State Police Major Crime Unit questioned Mazzaglia on Oct. 12. Mazzaglia initially recounted a “variety of stories” about how Marriott died, according to the affidavit, all of which involved BDSM (bondage sadomasochism) exploration “gone too far.”
In one early version of the story, Mazzaglia allegedly told police he arrived home on Oct. 9 and “immediately sensed something was wrong.” Mazzaglia claimed a Rochester couple was present, as well as his live-in girlfriend, Kathryn McDonough, and Elizabeth Marriott. Mazzaglia said he remembered seeing a line across Marriott's throat, and said he believed that “someone had used their hands to manually strangle her,” according to police.
He later allegedly admitted to using a rope to strangle Marriott himself during what he described as a consensual sex act. Mazzaglia said he was playing strip poker with Marriott and his girlfriend on Oct. 9 when the three of them began talking about BDSM, according to the affidavit. Mazzaglia said the conversation “eventually led to a consensual sexual encounter involving autoerotic asphyxiation.” ...
Students in Stamp Student Union’s Colony Ballroom last night prepared themselves for a conversation many had never before dared to discuss in a public setting — kinky sex.
The lecture and panel discussion, led by feminist pornographer and sex educator Tristan Taormino, aimed to debunk myths about BDSM presented in the erotic romance novel, Fifty Shades of Gray, as well as teach students about having safe sexual experiences.
Jenna Beckwith, sexual health program coordinator at the University Health Center, said she recognized a need for such an event when she saw the influence Fifty Shades was having on students’ sex lives.
“I think that in my realm of work, where students come to me with their sexual health concerns, I saw that with the popularity of Fifty Shades, kinky sex seemed to be the trendy thing to do,” Beckwith said. “The popularity of this book really brought to light a lot of misconceptions and misinformation that young people were having about sexuality. We wanted to open up a space for students to explore their identities and ask questions about this topic in a safe place.”
During the discussion, sexual health experts and university faculty exposed false stereotypes described in the novel, such as the idea that all people who engage in BDSM were abused at one point, so they express that trauma in their sex lives. The book’s main characters perpetuate the belief, but that’s largely untrue, said Tamara Pincus, a clinical social worker who spoke on the panel.
“Kink is very stigmatized, and it’s important that students see that we are just regular people like everybody else,” Pincus said. “Most people know that they are kinky at a young age, and it’s just part of how people develop.” ...
This May, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) will publish its first update since 2000; it is the DSM-5—the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It may not seem like a big deal to the layperson, but the new edit will forever change the definition of kinky sex and is likely to trigger a wave of political, legal, and pharmaceutical debates.
Previously, the DSM defined all "non-normative" sexual behavior (acts not solely focused on the genitals or breasts) as paraphilias (a.k.a. kinks), from foot fetishes to sexual sadists. According to Susan Wright, spokesperson for the advocacy group the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, the DSM-5 will differentiate between two kinds of kink: that which is happily enjoyed by healthy people who like kinky sex (paraphilias) and that which causes "distress" or "harm" to others (paraphilic disorders).
"The new language will have repercussions in psychiatry, in legal settings, and also in our understanding of what kinky sex is," says Wright, who saw original drafts of the proposed language. She hopes it will validate healthy people who enjoy kinky sex—and set them apart from the mentally ill.
"Kink is sometimes just about a power exchange or role play," she notes. Practitioners of BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadomasochism) and S&M play with intense sensations that cause extreme pleasure, not harm. These are usually consensual acts. "The people who do it nonconsensually," Wright says, "such as sexual sadists and psychopaths, or even someone in the kink community who steps over the line and goes too far, should be arrested."
The ultimate significance of this edition lies in its reach: Not only will the book help psychiatrists diagnose patients, it will also aid judges, lawyers, police, physicians, clinicians, and policy-makers. Misinterpretation by those outside the medical field, however, is a very real possibility, and a big deal, say, if you lose a custody battle, get evicted from your home, lose your job, or are simply reviled because of your sexual predilections. (It's not inconceivable, for example, that a parent's fondness for BDSM could be raised in a family-court child-custody battle and used against him or her as proof of being "unfit" or something.) But the DSM-5's new language, designed to clearly distinguish sexual fetishes from mental illnesses, could obviate these kinds of judgments. Remember: Social stigma around BDSM and kink has resulted in a tremendous amount of discrimination in the past. And the DSM defined homosexuality as deviant until 1973.
A new BDSM and kink support group — known as Princetonians in the Nation’s Service — has attracted nearly 30 members since its creation in January.
“Our written-down mission statement basically says that we’re here to provide a safe space, a community and a social space for people who are kinky,” the founder of PINS, who was granted anonymity due to the club’s confidential status, said.
According to the founder, who is a junior, the rules of the group prohibit members from “outing” other members. The rules also require that members respect the kink identities of other members and reserve the right to eject other members from the group.
Alcohol sobriety is also strictly mandated by the club due to liability issues and concerns regarding consent.
PINSalready has close to 30 members on its listserv, and about 10 members attend meetings regularly.
The club’s founder said the membership is very diverse, stating that it consists of male, female, gay, straight and bisexual students of different racial backgrounds and class years, including graduate students.
Members other than the founder did not respond to requests for comment.
“It’s because of the stigma that you have to be careful and you have to have confidentiality,” the founder said, citing risks that are involved in exposing certain aspects of personal life, including future professional prospects and relationships with family members.
He added that “there needs to be a balance between visibility and anonymity,” as the group intends to host lectures, panels and other events in the future, possibly in conjunction with the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Center on campus or the Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources and Education program. ...
The Armory Community Center is poised to host public sports, art and educational events, as well as private functions, now that the city has granted a recreation permit allowing the owner of the landmark brick structure to expand its G-rated family fare.
The driver behind the project is Peter Acworth, owner of the historic Mission building and founder of Kink.com, an Internet company that produces BDSM-themed (dominant and submissive sexual role-playing and bondage) content for the web. Kink.com and the new events space will be kept separate, Andrew Harvill, director of TACC, was quick to explain.
“Peter wants to diversify,” Harvill said. “He doesn’t want to do only porn.”
Work to transform a 40,000-square-foot drill court began at the start of this year. The space was previously available for use with day permits, which made it impossible to streamline a long-term events calendar with repeating events, such as the multi-night theater production that will open next month. The American Conservatory Theater will put on “Black Watch” from May 9 through June 9.
Kink.com staff said that company activities won’t affect events at TACC, and that the two spaces will have different entries.
“We are working hard to show that this is not porn-related,” said Harvill. The studio has been criticized by community members for the nature of its product. “We don’t know how the neighbors are going to respond, but we want to work very closely with them,” he said.
The first conversations, Harvill said, have been mostly positive, except for one person “who just didn’t like Peter and what he does.” Even some members of the Anarchist Book Fair, which was held at the armory last month, were skeptical of having their event at the BDSM headquarters. Harvill is considering proposing monthly meetings with neighbors to keep the lines of communication open. “If they weren’t happy, we would consider it a failure,” he said.
Neighbors did complain when Kink.com moved into the Armory building at 14th and Mission streets in 2007, but the relationship seems to have eased since then. “I think they have done a good job keeping the property clean outside and keeping it private. Those were the major concerns,” said Roberto Hernandez, a longtime community organizer in the Mission who was one of the protesters in 2007.
Hernandez described this new venture as “great,” emphasizing that the center will not be part of Kink.com and will have a separate entrance. The company’s plan to offer reduced rates to nonprofit and neighborhood groups that want to rent the space will be excellent for the community, Hernandez said. ...
Sadomasochism, gay penguins and Captain Underpants. This is what passed for controversial in American literature in 2012, according to the American Library Association’s annual list of “frequently challenged books,” released on Monday.
The A.L.A.'s Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles reports on complaints filed with a library or school “requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness.”
The office said it received 464 reports in 2012, up from 326 in 2011. The books on the most frequently challenged list are “Fifty Shades of Grey” by EL James; “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie; “The Kite Runner,” by Khaled Hosseini; “Looking for Alaska,” by John Green; “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls; “Beloved” by Toni Morrison; “Thirteen Reasons Why,” by Jay Asher; the “Scary Stories” series by Alvin Schwartz; the “Captain Underpants” series by Dav Pilkey; and “And Tango Makes Three,” a young-adult book about two male penguins at the Central Park zoo who became a couple, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.