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"50 shades of legal grey areas"

on Friday, 26 September 2014. Hits 345

The Duke Chronicle

By Maximilian Tabet


While tabling for my group, Alternative Sexualities at Duke, I had a conversation with a friend about sexual identity. “What is the purpose of your group?” they asked me, wondering what we covered that the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity did not. I told them that the purpose was to provide a safe space for people who identify as sex-positive, polyamorous or kinky to discuss their sexual orientation. They looked at me, confused. “Is that a sexual orientation?”

LGBTQIA. That’s an important acronym, and a huge focus of attention in the media today. But most people are unaware that there are sex-positive, polyamorous and kinky communities, and they often face discrimination and legal issues. Let’s start with sex-positivity.

“It’s the cultural philosophy that understands sexuality as a potentially positive force in one’s life, and it can, of course, be contrasted with sex-negativity, which sees sex as problematic, disruptive, dangerous. Sex-positivity allows for and in fact celebrates sexual diversity, differing desires and relationships structures, and individual choices based on consent.”

-Carol Queen

The discrimination associated with sex-positivity is, unfortunately, usually aimed at young women. In popular culture, sex negativity is commonly manifested as “slut-shaming,” the act of creating a double standard by condemning the actual or presumed sexual behavior of women. But it extends further than that. A sex-negative culture exists and is endemic in many American institutions, particularly in advertising. The sex-positive community is one that promotes sexual equality for men, women and intersex people. But it’s not just an abstract community and it’s not a theoretical, sexually utopian society that exists in a sexological cloud. The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom exists to promote sex positivity and sexual freedom, and there are events all over the world that cater to people who identify as being sex-positive.

Polyamory is extremely difficult to describe, because it takes so many different forms. defines polyamory as,

“…the non-possessive, honest, responsible and ethical philosophy and practice of loving multiple people simultaneously. Polyamory emphasizes consciously choosing how many partners one wishes to be involved with rather than accepting social norms which dictate loving only one person at a time.”

Many people confuse polyamorous relationships with open relationships, but they’re very different. An open relationship is typically based around the idea that sexual exploration and self-discovery should not be inhibited by the confines of a traditional two-person relationship. Polyamory is much more than that. It can be two guys and a girl, it can be two girls and a guy, it can be three guys, three girls or a few genderless folks. There are, however, some legal issues that arise, because polyamory is not traditional and thus not fully accounted for legally. Before you get your panties in a bunch, allow me to point out that polyamory is not like the show "Sister Wives." Consenting adults, who all love each other and want to be together, enter into polyamorous relationships.

PsychologyToday lists the greatest issues facing polyamorists as child custody, corporate morality clauses that often result in job termination, housing and state law. Only two parents can be the legal guardians of a child. A person can be fired from their job if their employer views their polyamorous relationship as immoral. Housing regulations often prohibit so many adults living under one roof. Simply crossing state lines can make some marriages illegitimate, which leads to issues in respect to Power of Attorney. If you’re in a polyamorous triad, and you’re lying in a hospital bed, shouldn’t both of your spouses be allowed to visit you? It may seem like a far-fetched scenario, but many polyamorists feel they do not reserve the same rights as many Americans.

The kink community is perhaps one of the most highly stigmatized alternative communities, although the popularity of the "50 Shades of Grey" series has helped bring the community into the light. Many people found the sexual practices described in those books to be arousing, and perhaps a magnified version of many sexual practices common to “vanilla” couples, or couples that aren’t kinky. Those furry handcuffs? They might just be your introduction into the world of BDSM—Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission and Sadism & Masochism.

It seems harmless, right? Consenting adults should be allowed to engage in sexual acts that the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom describes as “safe, sane, and consensual.” ...

"At Group Sex Parties, Strict Rules Make for Safe Spaces"

on Thursday, 25 September 2014. Hits 306

The Atlantic

by Merissa Nathan Gerson

Inside an unmarked warehouse in downtown San Francisco, a woman greets guests with a riding crop. She is not there to beat them, but to initiate them with a set of firm and binding rules. A chart posted on the wall reads:

  • State your boundaries.
  • Play safely and consensually.
  • Have sensible safe sex practices.
  • Respect our space and each other.
  • Don’t linger unaccompanied in play spaces.
  • Don’t cruise aggressively.
  • Don’t get too intoxicated.
  • Don’t take photographs.
  • Don’t use your cellphone.
  • Don’t gossip about what goes on here.

Using the riding crop as a pointer, she lays out the basics for guests entering Mission Control’s Kinky Salon, a monthly San Francisco sex party that dates back to 2003. “Kinky Salon is a global movement that promotes sexual liberation by hosting community gatherings where sex is integrated into the social fabric of the events,” reads the Kinky Salon manual, a guidebook to on how to safely construct a sexual play world where no one gets hurt. That means a strict set of boundaries.

The rules are the portal at Kinky Salon. After guests pass this point of initiation, they enter the warehouse—a two-story adult playground. Upstairs are performances, a DJ, and arts activities like portraiture and body painting. There are low-slung couches, people dancing, and a BYOB bar with a bartender who doles out your own liquor. It’s just a really good party. The play space where the actual group sex scene takes place is downstairs, tucked away in a corner.

There are rules about consent, about how to solicit sex, how to negotiate for something different, how to say no. There are rules about protection, about fluid exchange, about staring, about drunkenness. The rules that dictate the boundaries of this seemingly boundariless space are the same rules that people often break in mainstream society: You have to ask before you touch. You can’t get extremely drunk. You have to honor when someone says “no.”

Rules and group sex have gone hand in hand for decades. The more risqué the sexual party, the tighter the guidelines, particularly in the BDSM world where partygoers consent to physical pain. “The space, people’s bodies are sacred,” Kinky Salon co-founder Polly Whittaker, aka Polly Superstar, recalls from her many years in the BDSM and fetish scene. “You do not talk while someone is having a scene, you don’t laugh, you don’t stare … They’ve created this incredibly strict structure because what they’re doing there is working through some really heavy shit and they need safety for that.”

“Kinky Salon is only one step away from the super strict rules of BDSM and there’s a reason for that,” Whittaker goes on, “which is that I think that women, particularly women in our culture, are not trained to state their boundaries.” The usual script that guides the more typical sexual encounter is replaced by a new one. In setting limits, edges, and rules of play, the possibilities for safely exploring new sexual horizons and thresholds become tangible.

Group sex parties run the gamut and are available for all types of people. The New York scene, which just last month opened a Kinky Salon, joining their list of hosted parties in Copenhagen, Austin, Berlin, Portland, New Orleans, and London, has its fair share of parties across the board. There are the parties just for single heterosexual couples, like Bowery Bliss, a weekly swingers party in lower Manhattan, for which “The term couple refers to a Male and Female. Two men are NOT considered a couple.” At others, like Submit in Brooklyn, a party for “women and trans folk” interested in all types of BDSM play, “There’s a shower, a boot black station, slings, a cross, bondage set-ups, beds, peep holes, and more.” One Leg Up requires their guests to leave together if they arrive together, and Chemistry, another Brooklyn scene, asks a series of questions to pre-screen their guests like, “What is your favorite non-sexual hobby?” or “What role does sexuality play in your life?” School of Sex’s Behind Closed Doors party requires an application and has four cardinal rules:

  • Ladies make the rules
  • No means no
  • Men cannot approach women
  • Members only

In constructing a separate world around non-monogamous sex, these parties are building small behind-the-scenes exits to dominant cultural expectations. The rules define the new sexual paradigm that guests willingly enter. ...

"Lawyer for accused kidnapper: master-slave relationship kept her in fear of co-defendant (video)"

on Thursday, 25 September 2014. Hits 301

by John O'Brien

A master-slave relationship between the accused kidnappers of two Amish children will likely complicate the criminal case against them, a lawyer for one of the defendants said today.

Bradford Riendeau, a lawyer for Nicole Vaisey, said after court today that she and her boyfriend, Stephen Howells, were in a relationship that was "at the extreme end of the continuum."

"At one end of a continuum, it starts with bondage and discipline and includes sado-masochism," he said. "It was at the far end of that continuum."

The relationship included power and control elements that make "dealing with the facts of this case complicated," Riendeau said. He would not be more specific.

Their relationship started more than a year ago, apparently throught the Internet, Riendeau said. They lived about 18 miles apart, he said.

In court, Riendeau asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Therese Wiley Dancks to order that Vaisey and Howells not be transported together. The judge granted the order.

In their first court appearance last week, deputy U.S. marshals transported Vaisey and Howells in the same van from St. Lawrence County.

"I don't know how she could not have been afraid of him," Riendeau said. But as has been demonstrated on the domestic violence cases involving National Football League players, women stay in abusive relationships, he said. ...

"Folsom Street Fair 2014: 30 Images from a Day of Kinky Fun"

on Thursday, 25 September 2014. Hits 409


by Stephan Horbelt

This past Sunday, Sept. 21, the world's largest leather event, the Folsom Street Fair, returned to San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood for its 30th year. Bay Area residents and tourists from around the world converged on a five-block stretch of Folsom Street to celebrate all things counterculture and outside the box—an "only in SF" event, indeed. 

The weather was perfect—slightly overcast and cool—for a street festival, with leather, rubber and fetish enthusiasts (as well as the occasional nudist) eager to present themselves to fellow subculture devotees and the (more than occasional at this point) outside observer. 

In addition to exhibitors selling their kinky wares and booths where festivalgoers could purchase draft beers and cocktails, Folsom Street played host to spanking and flogging booths, boot shining, erotic art demonstrations and performances on various stages by local and big-name acts. 

L.A.-based photographer Dusti Cunningham (site NSFW) captured the experience in the set of images below. If you weren't able to experience the sights of Folsom Street Fair this past weekend, these 30 images are sure to give you a sense of what you missed.

This past Sunday, Sept. 21, the world's largest leather event, the Folsom Street Fair, returned to San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood for its 30th year. Bay Area residents and tourists from around the world converged on a five-block stretch of Folsom Street to celebrate all things counterculture and outside the box—an "only in SF" event, indeed. 

The weather was perfect—slightly overcast and cool—for a street festival, with leather, rubber and fetish enthusiasts (as well as the occasional nudist) eager to present themselves to fellow subculture devotees and the (more than occasional at this point) outside observer. 

In addition to exhibitors selling their kinky wares and booths where festivalgoers could purchase draft beers and cocktails, Folsom Street played host to spanking and flogging booths, boot shining, erotic art demonstrations and performances on various stages by local and big-name acts. 

L.A.-based photographer Dusti Cunningham (site NSFW) captured the experience in the set of images below. If you weren't able to experience the sights of Folsom Street Fair this past weekend, these 30 images are sure to give you a sense of what you missed.  - See more at:

"A Rope Mistress, the Rubber Master, Sadomasochist Sisters: Portraits in Kink"

on Wednesday, 24 September 2014. Hits 272


By Jordan G. Teicher

These photographs contain sexual themes.

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. ...

International Media Update: "'Gimp Man of Essex' aiming to spark debate while fundraising"

on Sunday, 21 September 2014. Hits 308

BBC News

A rubber fetishist who raises money by going out in public in a bondage suit said he hoped his efforts would start a debate on stereotypes.

'The Gimp Man of Essex' gives £1 to Colchester Mind every time someone posts a photo with him to his Facebook page, which has more than 2,000 likes.

He said most people he met on the streets were friendly, but others made assumptions that he was "a paedophile or a pervert".

So far he has raised £375 for charity.

A bondage suit, or "gimp suit", is usually made from PVC, leather or rubber, and is used in bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sadism and masochism (BDSM).

"When I first starting going out in my suit, someone suggested I could make a charity thing out of it," he said. "I could go round and do some good.

"People call me a legend, but I only donate a few hundred quid and walk round looking a fool."

James McQuiggan, the chief executive of Colchester Mind, said the charity was thankful for Gimp Man's support and donations.

'Adult enough'

Gimp Man, whose wife and children are unaware of his alter ego, said he does not go out during school holidays or at weekends.

"Most people are very welcoming when I tell them what it's all about," he said. "I don't go round to scare the life out of people.

"I've been called a nutter before, but I don't react to comments like that."

Some social media users have questioned his authenticity and motives, but Gimp Man, who started taking to the streets in June 2013, said there was "no ulterior motive". ...

"Continuing Education for the Kinky (and Curious)"

on Friday, 19 September 2014. Hits 334

Mission Local

By Daniel Hirsch


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’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. ...

"A Place to Play"

on Friday, 19 September 2014. Hits 316


by Evie


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. ...

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