"Controversial S&M club seeks St. Louis approval"
St. Louis Post Dispatch
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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