Social Conventions for the Unconventional
1. Sex workers: Do I call them by their real name or their stage name? Generally people in my professional life call me Matisse, and the people I hang out with on weekends call me by the name my mama gave me. But there are a few exceptions to that rule, so I suggest you call sex workers by whatever name they were introduced to you by. They'll correct you if you've got it wrong.
2. If you ask someone to top you and they decline, that is not your cue to ramp up your efforts to act submissive toward them in social situations.
3. At a group-sex event held in someone's home, the moist but thoughtful guest keeps a towel handy. Or changes the sheet afterward. Or wipes down the surface with Lysol. Or something. But leaving a damp patch—or, god forbid, a puddle—is horrendously bad manners. In some commercial sex venues one is relived of this responsibility, but check the rules, because that's not always true.
4. No matter what kind of sexual outlaw you are, it is tacky to be out on a date with person A and ask person B for a date in front of him/her. It's questionable to do it at all, but you must at least wait until your date goes to the bathroom.
5. Bad come-on line: "How come you've played with all the other dominants/submissives/whatever, but you won't play with me?" It is inherently rude to suggest that the person you're speaking to views partners as if they were spark plugs in a car—identical and interchangeable. It also implies that you see yourself that way, which certainly wouldn't enhance my opinion of you.
6. How do I ask what gender someone is? If you're trying to determine what pronoun they'd prefer you to use, first ask the person's name. If they say "James" or "Anna," then that's easy. If they say something like, "Pat" or "Jordan," and their gender presentation is ambiguous, you can try to subtly suss out the protocol by listening to what other people call them. But if all else fails, you can just ask, "Do you prefer to be called he or she?"
7. In the swinger communities, it's generally considered acceptable to do social touch—on the arm, the back, or sometimes the leg—with people you don't know well. The BDSM community, however, is more reserved about social touching between strangers, possibly even more so than a random group of nonkinky people. BDSM people often view any touch beyond a handshake as reserved for intimates, and something like walking up behind someone and putting your hands on them will often get you a quick step away and a dirty look, if not a verbal rebuke. This is somewhat less true among gay men than it is among the pansexual or lesbian communities, although it's still best to be cautious.
8. How do I tip a sex worker? I don't want to be crass. Attempting to stuff it into her cleavage is probably not the best idea, but otherwise, it's not a big deal. Just say something like, "I'd like to give you this because you've been so great," and hand her the money. She will not be offended, I promise.
9. How do I ask what someone's sexual orientation is? Why do you need to know? If you're attracted to someone, you can make a polite overture. If the object of your lust likes you back, he/she will accept and, in the course of you two getting to know each other, conversation about how you each identify sexually can happen in an organic way. If you are turned down, then the point is moot.
10. What if I see someone I know at a sex/kink event? Well, you're both there, so it's not like either one of you can out the other without simultaneously outing yourself. If it's a small enough event that not speaking to each other would be silly and obvious, then just say something like, "Small world, isn't it?" Don't launch into a whole monologue about how you came to be there. Treat it as a nonevent and chances are the other person will too.
THURSDAY 9/7COCK-RING NIGHT
Collar that cock and squirt a good load. Rain City Jacks is a private, men's-only JO club. No drugs, no alcohol, no attitude. See www.raincityjacks.org, 7—10 pm, $5—$15, membership required.BEAR NIGHT AT RE-BAR
A bear- and cub-themed club night for hot furry guys. Re-Bar, 1114 Howell St, 233-9873, www.rebear.com, 10 pm—2 am, $3, 21+.
FRIDAY 9/8MASKED BALL AT THE REDMOND RANCH
An Eyes Wide Shut theme party at the friendly Eastside swing club. Single men must request to be added to the waiting list; couples and single women can just show up. Redmond Ranch, 425-868-8169, www.redmond-ranch.com, doors at 7 pm, new people must arrive by 8 pm, $45 for couples/$25 for single women.STAR TREK 40TH ANNIVERSARY GALA
Kinky as fuck. Original cast members (George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, and others), actual scientists (like Dr. Seth Shostak of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence and Martin Cooper, who invented the first portable cell phone), and hot, hot role-playing in the bathrooms. The Space Needle, Seattle Center, www.planetxpo.com, 9 pm, $25 and up. Through Sept 10.
SATURDAY 9/9POLY POTLUCK
Open to people of all genders and orientations who are involved—or interested—in polyamorous relationships. Wet Spot, www.scn.org/~spg, 728-4533, 5—8 pm, $3—$5 donation, membership not required.
SUNDAY 9/10EROTIC MASSAGE NIGHT
Sensual touch instruction for couples and singles, facilitated by David Longmire. No experience required. Wet Spot, 270-9746, firstname.lastname@example.org, 5—9 pm (doors close at 6 pm), $10, members only.TAKE CHARGE! BEING DOMINANT IN THE BEDROOM
Do you ladies want to take erotic control of your lover? Learn about safe words, SM play, negotiation skills, and more from Jennifer of Libido Events. Note: This class is for women only. Babeland, 707 E Pike St, 328-2914, 7:30 pm, $30.