Joe Kriegesmann believes he has a business model that can work in St. Louis -- one that will fulfill a niche and be the only business of its kind in the state.
Selling it to city leaders and residents might be a hurdle, though.
Kriegesmann wants to turn an empty warehouse along Gravois near Benton Park into a S&M club, not a Sam's Club. He wants to provide an outlet for those who engage in bondage, dominance and sadomasochism.
But many of his critics can't get past the BDSM hurdle. It's immoral, some say. Not in my backyard, some say. Flogging, whipping and biting could spill out into the streets, say others.
While it may not have been big business, BDSM has been around a long time. It has been dated back at least to the ninth century B.C. in a religious area in Sparta. And it still has a pretty big following.
Massachusetts has at least 25 fetish or BDSM clubs. Alabama, at least eight. Arkansas, at least four. Don't expect to find any in Utah, though. As far as profitability, that's anyone's guess.
Kriegesmann, who is seeking the city's blessing, started off on the wrong foot, because of the way he has gone about trying to establish his business, critics say. They say he has lied, applied for the wrong permits on purpose and sidestepped public meetings. ...
A DALLAS man lost an appeal today to save his swingers and teen rave nightclubs after failing to convince a court that the two premises could be defined as churches.
Glen Hudson's clubs, The Playground and The Darkside, were both operating in areas zoned for a church, mosque or synagogue. Last week a judge temporarily shut down The Playground after Dallas lawyerss argued it was really a swingers club.
During today's hearing, Mr Hudson defended his clubs and called the city's efforts to permanently close them an infringement on his constitutional rights.
He claimed his non-profit organisation NRG Mission was using The Playground, and The Darkside was a dance hall that also served as a youth ministry and outreach program.
But opposing lawyer Melissa Miles provided evidence that the two clubs were anything but saintly, showing that The Playground allowed patrons to have sex while watching pornography. Narcotics officers reported that drug busts were common at The Darkside. ...
S&M sex master John Hopkins appeared in court this week and will proceed to trial next month. Hopkins, 45, was arrested in February after allegations arose that he had enslaved a 27-year-old woman who had responded to his Craigslist ad for S&M sex and then traveled from Wisconsin to Williamsburg to live with him free of rent.
Hopkins, an audio engineer, is charged with dozens of felony and misdemeanor sex crimes, including rape in the first degree.
The victim, who did not show up to court earlier this year, reportedly admitted that the initial encounter with Hopkins was consensual and that the two had an online correspondence before she came to Brooklyn. However, after living in his Williamsburg apartment for a week in February, the victim reportedly called her mother, who contacted the NYPD.
Police found the victim chained to a radiator and curled in a fetal position in Hopkins’ apartment.
Kings County Supreme Court Justice Patricia Di Mango said that despite evidence from both sides that the sex may have been consensual, the question is if the victim ever said “no.” Di Mango, however, did release the defendant from jail on his own recognizance pending trial, which is set to begin on Sept. 20.
Trial was delayed in June because the victim had left the city and was unavailable to testify, according to reports. Prosecutors from the Kings County District Attorney’s office were reportedly unsure of her whereabouts. The woman reportedly had a blood-alcohol level two-and-a-half times the legal limit four hours after she made a police report claiming she was being held as a sex slave, a defense lawyer said.
Hopkins’ attorney, Andrew Stoll, had said that Hopkins and the woman knew each other for two years and had a consensual relationship. The woman even wanted to return to the apartment after Hopkins kicked her out for excessive drinking, Stoll said.
“It stretches credibility beyond the breaking point to say that from the get-go she was being held against her will,” Stoll said. “I cannot imagine there will be a conviction here.”
A three-member city panel riddled a local businessman with questions about his proposed south city bondage club Thursday. South St. Louis County businessman Joe Kriegesmann described his business as a 46,000-square-foot warehouse at 3130 Gravois Avenue, in which he is already holding classes for those who would like to learn bondage and sadomasochism practices.
He insisted that his club would be safe, and that he has been honest with city and neighborhood leaders. The club, if approved for occupancy, would be the first of its kind in the state. But the conditional use panel wanted more details. How would the club, asked city hearing officer Terrill Eiland, teach its lessons?
"We use every method possible, sir," responded Kriegesmann.
Which includes, Eiland asked, "demonstrations?"
"Yes, sir. We allow no sex and nudity during those times either, sir," Kriegesmann said.
Can the audience participate?
"Yes, they're allowed to practice after the classes. When they go practice, there's somebody who knows what they're doing and watches over them ... so nobody gets hurt."
Alderman Craig Schmid, neighborhood stabilization officer Barbara Potts and Benton Park West Neighborhood Association President Linda Hennigh all testified that Kriegesmann has not been honest about his club. He opened before telling anyone his plans and before getting the proper permits, and he has changed his story repeatedly, they said. And all three said they are now worried about public safety in the old brick warehouse.
"Ostensibly, the application is for educational seminars," Schmid said. "But I cannot reasonably ignore what is the actual use of the facilities."
Sitting in classrooms and listening to teachers is one thing, Schmid continued. But hanging people from the ceiling is quite another. "I find it difficult to find any reason to support this application," he concluded.
Potts told the hearing officers that she wasn't against the club's activities. "What I'm more in opposition to is how it's all come about," she said. "I feel Joe Kriegesmann has been his own worst enemy. He started out on the wrong path."
Kriegesmann said the city has no occupancy or business licenses that fit his club, and he urged the panel to consider adding laws to city code.
"We don't fit under anything," he retorted. "You tell me what I should go under. Please explain to me why my civil rights are being violated. I am legal."
Eiland said the city's Board of Public Service will make the final decision in about a week and a half.
In an old brick warehouse on Gravois Avenue, a local businessman is laboring to open what he says would be the state's first legal for-profit bondage and sadomasochism club.
Joe Kriegesmann says he wants a place where St. Louis residents who participate in such activities can do so openly.
This morning, Kriegesmann is set to go before a city hearing officer to obtain an occupancy permit. If his request is approved, his club will become the first such business establishment in the state, according to a national advocacy group.
But his efforts are drawing fire from worried neighbors and city leaders, some of whom are expected to attend the hearing.
Critics say Kriegesmann and his supporters have lied to the local alderman and neighborhood association leaders, purposefully applied for the wrong permits and sidestepped the required public hearings.
"We encourage business in our neighborhood," said Linda Hennigh, president of the Benton Park West Neighborhood Association. "But this gentleman has not been honest about anything he's done."
Kriegesmann stressed that he has done "exactly what the city has suggested" and is working hard to open a legal establishment.
"I guess they feel it's immoral," Kriegesmann said. "Because I know it definitely isn't illegal."
Kriegesmann said his members-only club, called Clan of the Barbarian, would not allow sex, nudity or alcohol. He intends to charge participants $20 per night or $500 per year for a membership.
St. Louis already hosts several nonprofit associations that collectively claim hundreds of members who practice what is known as BDSM — bondage, dominance and submission and sadomasochism. Some tie their partners to planks or hang them from ceilings Some whip, flog, spank or bite.
The best known local club is called STL3, formerly known as St. Louis Leather & Lace. The group has been around for more than 15 years, according to an email from the group's chairman, who refused to give his name.
Such activity is growing in the St. Louis area, said Susan Wright, founder of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, a 15-year-old nonprofit group that advocates for alternative sexual lifestyles. Kriegesmann's proposed business, she said, is a reflection of that growth.
Cities such as San Francisco, New York and Dallas already have BDSM clubs, she said.
Wright sees Kriegesmann's effort as a civil rights issue. "Joe is definitely pushing the envelope in order to make things more mainstream," she said. ...
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... Savage has for 20 years been saying monogamy is harder than we admit and articulating a sexual ethic that he thinks honors the reality, rather than the romantic ideal, of marriage. In Savage Love, his weekly column, he inveighs against the American obsession with strict fidelity. In its place he proposes a sensibility that we might call American Gay Male, after that community’s tolerance for pornography, fetishes and a variety of partnered arrangements, from strict monogamy to wide openness.
Savage believes monogamy is right for many couples. But he believes that our discourse about it, and about sexuality more generally, is dishonest. Some people need more than one partner, he writes, just as some people need flirting, others need to be whipped, others need lovers of both sexes. We can’t help our urges, and we should not lie to our partners about them. In some marriages, talking honestly about our needs will forestall or obviate affairs; in other marriages, the conversation may lead to an affair, but with permission. In both cases, honesty is the best policy.
“I acknowledge the advantages of monogamy,” Savage told me, “when it comes to sexual safety, infections, emotional safety, paternity assurances. But people in monogamous relationships have to be willing to meet me a quarter of the way and acknowledge the drawbacks of monogamy around boredom, despair, lack of variety, sexual death and being taken for granted.”
What better way to celebrate and enjoy a beautiful, sunny Father's Day than to trek over to the Folsom Street East festival? The 15th annual event was held this past Sunday in the urban valley of West 28th Street, between 10th and 11th avenues, under the watchful eye of the newly opened section of the High Line park. After all, hanging out during daylight with lots of sexy guys wearing nothing but skimpy scraps of leather, a healthy sprinkling of freaks, a little BDSM in the open air and some beer on tap was lots better than buying Daddy a tie and taking New Jersey transit out for a tedious day with dysfunctional family members. Instead, this celebration of sexual freedom offers what daddies really want: some rubber puppy paws, a plastic tail plug and a rubber dog hood for puppy play sessions.
Although you might think the event caters only to a fringe group, I bumped into a lot of my friends there. "I love leather, and I think this event is one of the sexiest of the year," photographer Rob Ordonez told me. He and his friend, fashion designer Geary Marcello, are regulars and were dressed in typical Folsom Street attire, with matching spiked dog collars, leather straps, face piercings and tattoos.
When I arrived around 3 p.m., the block was crammed with mostly men, a few women (some in leather) and drag queens. And one living blow-up doll: A person encased in a latex mask covering his entire face, who was also wearing black latex—with balloons for tits. I pushed my way through the crowd looking for the press table on the other side of the block and thought about getting a beer ticket for $5 because it was starting to get hot (in more ways than one).
As I expected from photos I'd seen from previous Folsoms, some men were semi-nude and consisted of all different body types, ages and colors. Some wore leather chaps with ample ass hanging out, some wore other bondagetype fashion (harnesses being the most common) and some were just wearing average, everyday clothing. What made the day fun was the sense of adventure and friendliness of the crowd.
The stage shows were emceed by porn star personalities Mike Dreyden (who later participated in the most unique pie-eating contest ever conceived) and Will Clark. Sassy drag queen Peppermint performed and—although there were some wellplaced taunts from the average-looking gawkers on the High Line—it was a feelgood day.
My friend, nightlife photographer Teague Clements, seemed to have a great time. "It was a veritable cornucopia of sexual freedom: leather daddies with their lovers, lesbian doms with their boi slaves, muscular bears walking hand-in-hand," he said. "And every now and then, people just... kissing. And yes, there were straight folks, too."