It's a touchy topic, but whether we like it or not, we all know it's true. It may be subtle or it may be obvious, but every culture has a social hierarchy, and the Seattle BDSM community is no exception.

For some, the phrase "social hierarchy" may bring up memories of high school, when the cheerleaders or the sports stars were the Beautiful People who everyone wanted to emulate, or be friends with, or screw. "Social power" might make you think of Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls, terrorizing the uncool kids. But that's not what I'm talking about. The local leather scene is not so insular, and social power is not wielded so viciously. Perhaps that's because we're more mature now, or perhaps it's just because as kinksters we get to vent our aggressions towards more willing victims.

Nevertheless, certain members of the BDSM community are often perceived as having a higher status than others, and some kinksters aspire to that status. Why? Who knows? Maybe they want to feel respected and validated by their peers--not an unreasonable desire. Or maybe they just want to get laid a lot. Whatever your reasons, if you want to move up in this particular social world and you're wondering how, let's talk.

The first thing to understand is what won't get you status. You won't achieve it just by being beautiful or having an amazing fetish wardrobe. Being pretty certainly doesn't hurt, but Seattle is much less about looks and fetish-fashion than many other cities.

You won't achieve it by just having a huge posse of submissives. Anyone with Internet access and a flexible relationship with the truth can collect a kinky harem--temporarily, at least. Stomping around proclaiming how you alone possess the Real and True brand of BDSM won't work, either. Great big attitude does not fly well here in low-key Seattle.

Brains are important, although you don't need to be a Mensa member. Emotional intelligence is what's needed, and the ability to work well with others--because the best way to get noticed and respected is this: make something happen. Kinky Seattle admires people who contribute time and effort to creating community events.

The usual way to begin making things happen is to volunteer for whatever kink organization fits you best. The Wet Spot, Seattle Men in Leather, Seattle Women of Leather, whatever. At first, you'll be doing the entry-level grunt work--setting up chairs, taking tickets at the door, cleaning up after events. It's not sexy, but it's a necessary stage of development. I've done it, and so has every high-profile pervert I know. One must pay one's dues. After you've proved yourself a bit, you'll be positioned to take on more interesting jobs, like teaching a class or organizing parties.

It's not impossible that you could plunge right into producing events independently, without a volunteer training period or the support of an established kink organization. But I've seen that go wrong more often than right, usually because someone wasn't connected enough to the community to know what people would like.

Seattle is a polite town. Be careful who you speak ill of in public, because you don't always know who's listening. Even if the person you're dissing isn't a particular friend of your listener, overt character assassination is often considered unseemly.

Kinky Seattle also disapproves of people who brag about themselves. This may be a change for those who've moved here from cities where shameless self-aggrandizement is considered polite chitchat. But being charmingly humble about your contribution is preferred here.

And while we're on the subject of relocating: Unless you're a genuine, nationally-known leather celebrity--on the order of Midori, Guy Baldwin, or Laura Antoniou--don't come here from another town and expect to be able to seamlessly transfer your credit balance. Sorry, you'll have to start over. But if you really were all that in your hometown, you should have the skills to recreate it here.

My final bit of advice: I remember the people who were generous and patient with me when I was just a pup. And I also recall, quite clearly, those who weren't. Today's newbie is tomorrow's social diva, so on your ascent to greatness, be kind to those you meet along the way.