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"Spank thy neighbor: BDSM party at deconsecrated church is welcomed by South Philly community"

on Wednesday, 22 August 2012. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Metro

With the blockbuster success of "50 Shades of Grey," an erotic novel that shattered sales records this summer, kink is king. The topic of BDSM – an umbrella term used to describe all manner of bondage, discipline, domination, submission and masochism role-playing taboos – is, well, no longer so taboo.

"Even though '50 Shades' depicts a fictional and inaccurate view of BDSM, I actually have seen an influx of the curious," said Mistress Zeneca, who hosts "Sacri-Delicious," a religious-themed role-play party held amid medieval statues and 19th century theological tableaux at Fleisher Sanctuary, a deconsecrated 19th century Episcopalian church attached to Bella Vista's Samuel Fleisher Art Memorial that now serves as a popular rental space for events, including weddings. "Pop culture opens the door, it is up to the community to offer the welcome."

She said the book's portrayal of a BDSM relationship depicts many traits that are actually unhealthy and abusive, but it has piqued the interest of many, leading to a largely positive impact on the city's already-robust community of those who like to spank and be spanked. "I think for all the inaccuracies the book contains, the real power of the book is that it got people talking about BDSM and learning more about it," said Zeneca, who declined to give her real name.

Zeneca herself began to dabble in BDSM culture 11 years ago as an apprentice to a mistress in Los Angeles. "I was amazed at the kinship and love that I felt in the air," she said of the first play party she attended. "That welcoming energy is what I try to recreate for my guests."

Though she finds Philadelphians to be more reserved about going public with their penchant for pain, Zeneca still estimates that there are over 1,000 people in the area who publicly participate in the practice in some way and another 10,000 who like it a little rough in bed but might not consider themselves part of the BDSM scene.

As far as the Sacri-Delicious' sacred subject matter, Zeneca said religion and BDSM surprisingly share many themes. "The topics of guilt, pain, suffering, redemption and desire are common between both religion and BDSM," she said. "The power in religion is that it is something we are both attracted to and rebel against."

Fleisher Art Memorial officials referred to Sacri-Delicious as a "costume party" and stressed that it was a private event, though tickets are available to everyone over the age of 18. "Fleisher respects diverse backgrounds, viewpoints, and traditions and applies this value to all its operations," the school said in a statement. ...

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