KinkFest 2004

This time of year, I start checking off the weeks until it's time for one of my favorite leather conferences, KinkFest. I always have a good time at KinkFest, but this year should be especially fun because I'm teaching a class on one of my favorite topics: female genitorture.

I bet some of you went, "Eeew!" when you read those last two words. That's okay, I understand; niche topics like this don't have much curb appeal for the uninitiated. That's why I love teaching at leather conferences. The attendees, by making a significant commitment of time and money, are demonstrating that they take their kink seriously. And while it's satisfying to introduce a roomful of eager newbies to the basic ideas of BDSM, at a leather conference I get to teach new tricks to experienced perverts. I don't have to talk about negotiation, safewords, and being safe, sane, and consensual--they already know all that. I can get right into the juicy parts, if you'll pardon the expression.

If you've never held a flogger in your life, you'd probably be overwhelmed by the intensity of a three-day conference with several hundred kinky people. But if you're already exploring BDSM, you can fast-forward your erotic education by attending a conference like KinkFest. Some of what you learn will be from people teaching structured classes about both techniques and lifestyle issues. Besides me and my slippery special-interest item, there are more than a dozen other presenters, with all kinds of topics. BDSM community icon Patrick Califia will be teaching a class called "How to Top (For People Who Usually Don't)," and Fetish Diva Midori will be doing a class on erotic humiliation.

But even just spending the weekend with a big bunch of BDSM people is a cultural education that you can't get any other way. We're all social animals, and spending a few days immersed in a mini-society will give you a much sharper understanding of how real people do this than any book or video ever could. For hardcore perverts like me, it's validation as well. I have to shake off a certain amount of sex-negative vibes about who I am every day, and being among my own people restores my energy to deal with that. So whether I'm shopping in the vendor area or cruising and playing at the dungeon parties, it's nice to be home again.

KinkFest is March 26-28 in Portland. Visit www.pdxleatheralliance.org for more info.

matisse@thestranger.com