People ask me lots of different questions, but the one I get asked the most is: "I live in [name of city]. How do I find the BDSM community here?" (Okay, actually the one I'm asked the most is: "Do you take same-day appointments?" But that answer is quite short—"no"—and I've got a column to fill here.)
So, you—or, perhaps, you and your partner—have kinky desires but no idea where to go with them. Here's how to find out where the other kinky folks are.
First step: Google the name of your town and "BDSM resources." Use that phrase exactly and you're less likely to pull up nothing but porn sites, which may be fun but are no practical use to you. It's pretty rare nowadays for such a search to yield nothing useful, but if that happens, try again with the name of the county, general area, or nearest larger town, until you hit pay dirt. What you're looking for are kinky e-mail lists and websites of local BDSM organizations. Next, look at the websites and e-mail them asking for more info. Get on the e-mail lists and read the posted messages, to get a sense of how people talk to each other. Then introduce yourself and ask questions: What are the local organizations like? What's the advice for someone new to the scene? Don't take everything you read as gospel—it's the internet after all. But BDSM people tend to be kind to polite newcomers and you're likely to get some decent feedback.
Now, step two. This is the place where many people choke, because it involves actually going to an event, and that can be a scary thing for a new person. First, let me assure you that no one is going to leap on you the minute you walk in the door. (You only wish.) I know you also fear committing a kinky faux pas, but they're actually pretty easy to avoid. Listen more than you talk, don't touch anyone you don't know, and if you're confused, ask someone for assistance.
If you live in a reasonably urban area, another good word to throw in that Google search is "munches." A munch is where a group of kinky people meet up in a restaurant for a casual meal and conversation about BDSM. Munches are low-key occasions: no collars and leashes, and no big kinky attitude. You're expected to wear street clothes and behave yourself. They're also an acknowledged entry point for new folks. Sit down and say, "Hi, my name is X and this is my first time here."
If you're worried about what to wear, try a plain black T-shirt, blue jeans, and black boots. Regardless of your age, gender, or size, I guarantee this will be acceptable for any BDSM event. You may not win any fetish fashion awards, but no one will snicker at you.
Now, let's have a talk about expectation management. If you've been fantasizing about BDSM for a while, you may have built up a lot of not-very-realistic ideas about what being in a room full of kinksters will look like. Before you walk out the door, I want you to repeat after me: "This is not the one and only kinky event I will ever attend. It's just one evening, and I will have many other opportunities to attend other events in the future. If this particular event is not to my taste, I will try different ones until I find one I like. In spite of any unusual activities or opinions I may encounter, everyone at this event is a person much like myself with a job and a mortgage and a favorite flavor of ice cream, and they were all once just as new and uncertain as I am right now. I may not meet the kinky love of my life at this particular event, but by attending I am creating space for that possibility. So my expectations for this event are modest, and I will treat everyone I meet with calm politeness and a nonjudgmental attitude." That's the kind of attitude that will get you a lot more action than trying to book a same-day appointment with me.
SCREW ABSTINENCE PARTY
This NARAL Pro-Choice Washington fundraiser features sexy sketch comedy, erotic education, dance music, and food. Watertown, 106 First Ave N, 624-1990, 6–8 pm, $15/$30 21+.
TRIBAL INSTINCTS WORKSHOP AND PLAY PARTY FOR MEN
This month: Cock and Ball Torture! Male ID is required. Wet Spot, 270-9746, class 8–10 pm, party 10 pm–3 am, $5.
LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX AND RELIGION
Reverend Rainbow Love hosts an evening of spiritual and sexual revelations. School of One, 523-5544, 8–10 pm, $10, preregistration required.
SEATTLE WOMEN OF LEATHER PLAY PARTY
Socializing and BDSM play at a private location. Women only, 8:30 pm–2 am, $10/$15, RSVP to Evie at email@example.com.
LOVE LOUNGE SEATTLE
An "adult social club" that holds events for bi women and male/female couples—no single men, please. firstname.lastname@example.org, 9:30 pm, 21+.
Indulge your fetish for the geriatric at this "afternoon delight" dance party, set to the swinging live sounds of the Rhythm-aires. Seattle Center House, 305 Harrison St, 684-7200, 1–3 pm, free.
A two-part workshop exploring communication, boundaries, language, proofs of love, and sexuality. Register at www.sanctuaryintime.net, 7–9:30 pm, $40 for two-part class, second class held 7/27.