... 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."
Holliday's ex-husband is suing to modify the custody agreement they settled on for their ten-year-old child. They'd been splitting custody half-and-half since their 2003 divorce. ..
The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is a Baltimore-based group that advocates on behalf of alternative sexuality. The NCSF's Susan Wright says that the group advises people with alternative preferences when they run across legal challenges based on their identities. They've been aware of Holliday's case for some time now.
The group tracks instances of people seeking their help and advocacy. Over the past few years, Wright says, NCSF logs about 500 such incidents each year, about a third of those concerning divorce and custody issues.
In about half of those, she says, the kinky parent is able to retain custody. "As of about five years ago, it was 80/20," in favor of the non-kinky parent, Wright says. She touts the coalition's outreach, better research and efforts to take kinky sexual behaviors out of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the psychiatric bible that codifies what behaviors should be considered pathological -- and which shouldn't.
"Once you've had child custody challenged, the best way to respond is to gather materials to educate the family court about what the lifestyle is -- that it doesn't involve children, but involves consenting adults and negotiation," says Wright. "We try to take out the element of a person's sexual behavior."
The group also maintains a database of "kink-aware professionals:" lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists and others who are already familiar with BDSM practices and as such won't need to be educated on exactly what their clients are up to, or why. They can provide attorneys with findings in peer-reviewed journals that make clear that consenting adults being rough with one another in the bedroom make just as capable parents as adults who do it missionary-style with the lights off.
After revealing her identity in an RFT feature and on her blog, Kendra Holliday expected fallout. After all, the blog she'd maintained anonymously for years, www.thebeautifulkind.com, features an explicit peek into her sex-positive world filled with lovers, sex toys and BDSM.
Right away she found a great deal of support and criticism, both online and in real life -- commenters on our story called her everything from a hero to a whore. Some parents of her child's classmates shunned her. ...
When most folks think leather or BDSM — that is, bondage, domination, sadism, masochism — chills might run up their spine. Or, perhaps, feelings of disgust flash through their mind.
It’s that initial, gut reaction that most upsets Pam Payne. She lives in and around Hickory and operates a mentoring program and four-bedroom “halfway house,” so to speak, for people in the leather and BDSM “lifestyles” who find themselves in flux or in need of some extra help. She is a part of the BDSM lifestyle herself and she says her way of living is about much more than images of sexual power, pain and perversion most people ascribe to it.
“It’s not purely a sexual identity,” Payne says in rebuttal to arguments about her life and family. “I’d say its a balance of 50-50 — people who just want to belong on a level that doesn’t exist in the vanilla world.”
“Vanilla” is how Payne describes mainstream society, whether gay or straight.
She says most people in the BDSM lifestyle simply long for acceptance and relationships that matter. “I want to be able to do this for you, give this to you, serve you in this way and, in return, I want you to take care of me in this particular way,” she says, describing a typical relationship which she says is built over periods of months — sometimes years — and depends on negotiation and contract.
The allegations in the indictment were shocking: A young woman had been held captive for years as the sex slave of a Missouri couple. She had been locked in a cage and subjected to electrical shocks. Parts of her body had been nailed to wooden planks. When announcing charges last month, U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips called the case one of "the most horrific ever prosecuted in this district."
Authorities said the woman was a mentally deficient runaway who was recruited by an older man at the age of 16 to live in his trailer. The situation came to light in early 2009, after the woman, then 23, landed in a hospital following what prosecutors said was a torture session.
But as more details have emerged, more questions have arisen about the accuser, including her involvement in violent sex practices, her posing for a pornographic magazine and her work as a strip-club dancer. Supporters of the defendant are speaking out, too, saying many of the acts described in the indictment are practiced every day between consenting adults.
Ed Bagley, 43, faces 11 federal charges, including conspiracy, sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion, and forced labor trafficking. Four other men also are charged with various crimes.
A graphic 21-page federal indictment describes medieval-like sexual devices being used on the woman at Bagley's mobile home about six miles outside Lebanon, in southwest Missouri. Accusations of waterboarding, suffocation and beatings are mentioned throughout.
Bagley's wife, Marilyn, said she and her husband knew the girl because she had dated their son. That relationship had ended, Bagley's wife said, but the girl wanted to come live with the couple when relations with her adoptive parents soured. She said the girl moved in when she was 17, not 16, and never had sex with her husband until after she turned 18.
"She was not a runaway," Marilyn Bagley said. "We picked her up from her adopted dad and stepmom. They were right there and everything."
Marilyn Bagley said prosecutors have told her she also will be charged if she doesn't agree to testify against her husband. But she said she will not take the stand against him because she believes the two did nothing wrong.
Prosecutors said Ed Bagley posted videos and other images on the Internet showing the young woman engaged in sexual activities. He allegedly described her as his sex slave and advertised that she would perform sex acts and submit to torture for other people during encounters online or in person.
Bagley is accused of taking payments of cash, cigarettes, computer hard drives, even meat, to let other men come to his home and torture her.
Bagley and other defendants are also charged with transporting the woman to California in 2006 and 2007 for prostitution. She appeared on the cover of the July 2007 issue of Taboo, a publication owned by Larry Flynt's Hustler Magazine Group, and was the subject of a story and multipage photo spread inside.
Prosecutors said Ed Bagley also forced the girl to work as an exotic dancer and threatened to punish her if she was not a top earner at the clubs where she stripped.
But another dancer at the same Missouri strip club said the woman seemed to enjoy the attention she got when she danced, often showing off the issue of Taboo magazine that featured her on the cover.
"This girl was spoiled," said Katie Smothers, who said she spent time at Bagley's trailer when she needed a place to stay but never participated in bondage activities.
"She would take customers to show them her magazine, and she had a bucket of photos at the bar. She bragged about it."
Susan Dill, Bagley's Kansas City-based attorney, told reporters recently that the indictment tells only one side of the story. She said the defense will present evidence that the woman practiced BDSM — bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism — by choice.
Dill declined to go into detail, and attorneys for the other defendants turned down requests for comment.
The U.S. attorney's office in Kansas City also declined repeated requests to comment, saying the indictment speaks for itself.
Marilyn Bagley, who for years shared a bed with her husband and the woman, told The Associated Press the woman often left the Bagleys' home to go into the community.
She believes the woman's family coerced her to go to police after she was taken to a hospital suffering from cardiac arrest, which Bagley claims she suffered while getting ready for work — not during a torture session.
"She started seizing, and when she was done, she stopped breathing. Ed gave her CPR. I was on the phone to 911. We were freaking out. We didn't know what to do," she said.
Dr. Keely Kolmes, a San Francisco-based psychologist who sees patients who practice BDSM, said that many of the acts listed in the indictment can be part of consensual activities. But others might indicate Bagley was an abuser, such as allegations that he shot animals the woman cared about to prove he could kill her and that he refused to stop immediately when the woman used a "safe word."
"Consensual BDSM does not involve holding minors hostage against their will or causing physical or mental harm," Kolmes said in an e-mail to the AP. "That is a criminal behavior."
Susan Wright, spokeswoman for the Baltimore-based National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, said some of the things Bagley is accused of are clearly abuse, if true.
"Certainly in abusive relationships, sometimes it's hard to parse out what people do voluntarily and what things they are coerced to do," said Wright, who helped write a sadomasochism vs. abuse policy statement in the late 1990s that has been adopted by national BDSM groups.
At times, it all becomes "tangled up," she said. "And at that point, I don't think any consent you give is legitimate consent."
Riverfront Times Kendra Holliday is a total slut. Go right ahead and say it — she does. She's not hiding from it anymore.
In some ways, she's always been honest about it. She's unflinchingly blogged every detail of her sex life for years — she's a bisexual, polyamorous, joyously partnered divorced mother, living and writing and fucking (and yeah, it's a lot of fucking) in St. Louis. Her blog, www.thebeautifulkind.com, details all of it. It has made her into a celebrity of sorts. It has cost her a job. She's called it her second partner.
But she's been hiding in plain sight, going to great pains to conceal her name, face and identity on the blog — even as she exhorts her readers to "be open and honest." The blog has become a safe space for sex-positive readers in St. Louis and all over the world to come together. It's created a virtual community, and Holliday and some of her kinky friends want to take that momentum and push the Midwest forward into greater sexual freedom and openness.
And it's hard to do that when you're hiding. So Holliday is coming out. ... The situation is definitely complicated. Susan Wright of the Baltimore-based National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, a nonprofit that helps protect the rights of people with alternative sexual interests, applauds Holliday's decision to out herself.
"When people knew people who were gay and were able to think of them as their friends and family, they could think of them outside the stereotype," she says. "We need to get the help of the bulk of Americans who really don't care about other peoples' sex lives, so we can fight against the people who want to legislate morality." But Wright, along with others, can see the point in staying hidden.
"I would use as a caveat: If you are a parent of a child under eighteen, don't come out," Wright says. "You could have a great relationship with your ex — once you go public, they could get blowback from people in their lives and try to get custody. I would discourage it, but I admire it and support her wholeheartedly."