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. ...
NCSF’s 2015 Coalition Partner Meeting will take place in Baltimore, MD, on March 21-22.
The Coalition Partners will meet to vote on the Board of Directors for NCSF, approve the 2015 budget, and brainstorm on NCSF’s projects and goals for the coming year.
The CP Meeting will be held at the Ramada BWI Airport hotel at 7253 Parkway Drive, Hanover MD 21076. Rooms are $87/night plus tax. To make a reservation you must call the hotel directly at: 410-712-4300 There is a shuttle from/to the airport and Amtrack.
On Saturday, the NCSF CP Meeting is 8:30am-5pm with lunch provided, with the meeting continuing on Sunday from 8:30-noon.
The following are educational, social and fundraising events for NCSF that everyone is invited to attend:
·Friday 3/20. Join NCSF at MaxVilla in Baltimore hosted by Mistress Max Rulz—food, drinks and play in the dungeon. 7pm-12am. $15 admission—all proceeds benefit NCSF. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Tickets are available at https://nationalcoalitionforsexualfreedom.wildapricot.org/event-1843285. Please bring a valid ID. Directions will be emailed to ticket holders.
·Saturday, 3/21. Join NCSF for a special evening of decadence at one of the finest private dungeons on the East Coast located in Silver Spring, MD, sponsored by the DC Sub Club and hosted by Judy Guerin (aka MsAriel). There will be a VIP portion from 7-9pm with NCSF and local scene celebrities, followed by a play party until 3am for $50 admission. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres, wine, beer and a buffet dinner. Tickets are also available for the play party from 9pm-3am for $25 that includes food and drinks. All proceeds benefit NCSF. Tickets must be purchased in advance: https://nationalcoalitionforsexualfreedom.wildapricot.org/event-1843289 Please bring a valid ID. Directions will be emailed to ticket holders.
·Sunday, 3/22. Join NCSF for a workshop at Baltimore Playhouse from 2-4pm, free of charge. BDSM & the Law: Everything You Need to Know, with a panel of Kink Aware attorneys and advocates. Have a question? Now is the time to ask! How do you protect yourself or house party? Where are the lines drawn when it comes to consent violations? How do you deal with consent violations that aren’t assault? What about contracts? We will be taking your questions ahead of time until March 1st so ask us what you want to know about kinky sex and the law. Send your questions to
FetLife event page: https://fetlife.com/events/314546
·Sunday, 3/22. Open play at Baltimore Playhouse from 4-8pm, the largest play space in the U.S. Admission $10.
Transportation can be provided for Board Members and Coalition Partner representatives to any of these events.
We hope to see you there!
For more information, contact
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. ...
Fans are devastated after Bizarre magazine, the British publication celebrating alternative culture, announced it would be closing next month.
For nearly two decades, Bizarre's covers starred tattooed girls in latex, stories of monsters and vampires, punk porn, weird photos and avant-garde art - but February's issue will be its last.
The magazine for people who "dare to be different" sometimes featured a warning sticker saying "don't buy if you're easily offended". It launched in 1997 but is closing with its publisher blaming falling sales in the digital age.
Bizarre has been considered a home to subculture around Britain and a place where "freaks" could indulge in non-mainstream passions like fetish sex, extreme body art and macabre music, films and literature.
It also covers political and human rights news, such as censorship, sex offences, terrorism and bigotry.
It campaigned to raise awareness of discrimination against alternative culture in 2007 after the murder of Sophie Lancaster, whose "gothic" clothes were thought to have led to her killers targeting her.
In its heyday in the early 2000s, Bizarre sold over 100,000 copies per issue, but at the last count in 2013 it was shifting barely 11,000. ...
Erotica stores and sex-freedom groups see a surge of interest when film version of best-selling book opens next month
NY Daily News
BY JUSTIN ROCKET SILVERMAN
Bondage is the new black.
Good news for those who made a New Year’s resolution to heat up the bedroom — 2015 is poised to be the year that BDSM finally goes mainstream.
And it’s all thanks to the erotic film adaptation of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which hits theaters Feb. 13.
“The ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ book changed the public’s perception of BDSM from something scary and unknown to something that couples could do together to spice up their sex life,” says Susan Wright, a spokesperson for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. “The movie version will undoubtedly reach an even bigger audience.”
It tells the story of an incredibly innocent college student named Anastasia Steele, who gets swept up by megarich but troubled fetishist Christian Grey. After losing her virginity to him in what Grey calls “vanilla sex,” Steele signs up to be his erotic slave in what she calls his “Red Room of Pain.”
And fans can’t get enough.
“People who read the book came in asking for kegel balls, butt plugs, leg restraints and little whips,” says Lolita Wolf, manager of BDSM boutique Purple Passion in Chelsea. “Sometimes a husband would come in with a list from his wife of things he had to pick up.” ...
Asking your partner to tie you to the bedpost, telling them to slap you hard in the throes of lovemaking, dressing like a woman if you are a man, admitting a fetish for feet: Just a few years ago, any of these acts could be used against you in family court.
This was the case until 2010, when the American Psychiatric Association announced that it would be changing the diagnostic codes for BDSM, fetishism, and transvestic fetishism (a variant of cross-dressing) in the next edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published in 2013. The new definitions marked a distinction between behavior—for example, playing rough—and actual pathology. Consenting adults were no longer deemed mentally ill for choosing sexual behavior outside the mainstream.
The change was the result of a massive effort from the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), an advocacy group founded in 1997 “to advance the rights of and advocate for consenting adults in the BDSM-Leather-Fetish, Swing, and Polyamory Communities.” At the time, these types of sexual behavior, by virtue of their inclusion in the DSM, were considered markers of mental illness—and, as a result, were heavily stigmatized, often with legal repercussions. In family court, an interest in BDSM was used as justification to remove people’s children from their custody.
“A sexual sadist practices on non-consenting people,” explains NCSF founder Susan Wright, while “someone who is kinky is having consensual enthusiastically desired sex.” The problem with the earlier DSM: It didn’t draw a distinction between the two. A 1998 survey from the NCSF found that “36 percent of S&M practitioners have been victims of harassment, and 30 percent have been victims of discrimination.” As a result, the organization’s website says, “24 percent [have lost] a job or a contract, 17 percent [have lost] a promotion, and 3 percent [have lost] custody of a child.”
“We were seeing the DSM used as a weapon,” says Race Bannon, an NCSF Board Member and the creator of Kink-Aware Professionals, a roster of safe and non-judgmental healthcare professionals for the BDSM and kink community. (The list is now maintained by the NCSF.) “Fifty Shades [of Grey] had not come along,” says Bannon, an early activist in the campaign to change the DSM. “[Kink] was still this dark and secret thing people did.”
Since its first edition was published in 1952, the DSM has often posed a problem for anyone whose sexual preferences fell outside the mainstream. Homosexuality, for example, was considered a mental illness—a “sociopathic personality disturbance”—until the APA changed the language in 1973. More broadly, the DSM section on paraphilias (a blanket term for any kind of unusual sexual interest), then termed “sexual deviations,” attempted to codify all sexual preferences considered harmful to the self or others—a line that, as one can imagine, is tricky in the BDSM community.
The effort to de-classify kink as a psychiatric disorder began in 1980s Los Angeles with Bannon and his then-partner, Guy Baldwin, a therapist who worked mostly with the gay and alternative sexualities communities. Bannon, a self-described “community organizer, activist, writer, and advocate” moved to Los Angeles in 1980 and soon became close with Baldwin through their mutual involvement as open participants in and advocates for the kink community. “I’m fairly confident that I was the first licensed mental-health practitioner anywhere who was out about being a practicing sadomasochist,” Baldwin says.
The pair was spurred to action after the 1987 edition of the DSM-III-R, which introduced the concept of paraphilias, changed the classifications for BDSM and kink from “sexual deviation” to actual disorders defined by two diagnostic criteria. To be considered a mental illness, the first qualification was: ‘‘Over a period of at least six months, recurrent, intense sexual urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving the act (real, not simulated) of being humiliated, beaten, bound, or otherwise made to suffer.’’ The second: ‘‘The person has acted on these urges, or is markedly distressed by them.’’
“1987 was a bad shift,” Wright recalls. “Anyone who was [voluntarily] humiliated, beaten, bound, or any other alternate sexual expression was considered mentally ill.”
With the new language, Baldwin says, he quickly realized that laws regarding alternative sexual behavior would continue to be problematic “as long as the psychiatric community defines these behaviors as pathological.” ...
A BDSM-inspired video game from NYU-Poly professor Robert Yang explores deep questions about consent, sex and technology.
By Brady Dale
Sex is a hot topic in video games these days.
If you haven’t played a video game since R.C. Pro-AM on the NES, that might sound weird to say, but it comes up a lot here in Brooklyn, where one of the main technology hubs is the NYU Game Center, a space where loads of makers are working on games that aren’t just about violence, puzzles or racing, but deal with real human themes.
Then of course there’s the whole #GamerGate controversy, which heavily revolves around sex, gender, objectification and sexualization in video games.
Brooklyn game makers have recently been speaking their minds about sex and human relationships with the games they make. We wrote not long ago about a game jam focused on sex and relationships, and now the NYU-Poly Game Innovation Lab and Babycastles have organized a talk with Parsons and Poly professor Robert Yang, who just did a game about spanking in BDSM as a way to simulate and explore consent in a single-player game that’s also a work of art.
Yang opened his talk with a critique of sex in games right now. In more adult games, where characters do end up having sex, it’s treated as a reward for correct behavior or solving a puzzle of some kind. As Yang puts it, “Sex is kind of a pathfinding problem where we’re trying to navigate this space from point A to point B.” The problem here, Yang says, is that it treats sex as a strategic problem, which he sees as unhelpful and dangerous. ...