- I’m old enough to remember how different and exciting the Internet was in the 1990s. So does Violet Blue, who lays out just much has changed for the worse since then, especially with the censoring of Tumblr last year. “I can tell you for a fact that Tumblr helped a generation of frightened, isolated kids trying to figure out their sexual identity.” Her essay on Engadget.
- David Wraith has an overview of how terrible the SESTA/FOSTA laws are, stifling freedom of expression on sexual matters while subjecting sex workers to greater danger.
- On the brighter side, England has reviewed its obscenity laws and a number of kinks, including spanking, BDSM, and female ejaculation, are now okay in porn, as long as they are shown as consensual.
- Kink Guidelines is a project “to explore what constitutes clinical best practices in working with those who are interested and/or involved in kink, BDSM, and/or fetish eroticism.
- The city leaders of San Francisco have approved the construction of Eagle Plaza, a small park commemorating the Eagle bar’s contribution to the LGBTQ and leather/kink cultures.
- Lupercalia, the ancient Roman festival that loosely corresponds to Valentine’s Day, was known for men playfully whipping women “believing that the pregnant will thus be helped in delivery, and the barren to pregnancy”, according to Plutarch. Today, whipping rituals are a part of fertility festivals in parts of Europe, Mexico and Asia. From Vice.
- Even though Walmart, regular drugstores and other mainstream retailers now stock vibrators and other sex toys, sex products are still caught up in controversy. Producers risk rejection from retailers, payment processors, crowdsourcing platforms, and advertising venues. Sex toys have to toe the line of being for “health and wellness”, not for pleasure, which would be prurient. The Verge has more.
- Puppyplay for gay kinksters seems to be on the rise lately, and Slate has a profile of a San Francisco polyamorous pack.
- Kerrang has a list of BDSM-themed songs, including the classic “Venus in Furs” by Velvet Underground.
One of the best things about subcultures is that it is possible to meet all of the major people involved in them. In the case of the micro-field of sadomasochism history studies, it’s possible to get the leading people sitting around a single table.
I was deeply honored to be sitting at the same table as the people whose work I had read and built on for many years: sexologist & Center for Sex & Culture ED Carol Queen, academic & activist Gayle Rubin, ONYX founder & Mr World Leather 2006-07 Mufasa Ali, anthropologist & historian Dr. Robert Bienvenu, and academic & author Rostum Mesli. The shoot was at the Catalyst playspace in San Francisco.
The shoot took about seven hours, including lunch breaks, but all of it was fascinating. A lot of the discussion revolved around what exactly BDSM was, and what wasn’t BDSM, and whether certain activities and cultures grouped together really had anything to do with each other. This also raised the question of, when we looked into the past to find antecedents of modern BDSM (whatever that is), do we find anything, or do we see something else that only superficially resembles modern BDSM but isn’t actually. A lot of my thinking on the subject was put to the test, in a dialog that refined everybody’s thoughts.
It was also just a pleasure hanging out with people who have lived through some of what I have been studying. Not only did I meet Carol Queen and Gayle Rubin, one of the producers was Race Bannon.
My thanks to Race Bannon, Jörg Fockele and the other producers. I look forward to further developments in the Divine Deviance documentary series. Donations would be greatly appreciated.
A collection of images I took at the 2018 Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco. All images taken with the subjects’ permission. Most (but not all) are SFW.
As part of my second trip to San Francisco for the Folsom Street Fair, I will be presenting at the Center for Sex and Culture on Saturday, September 29th, at 3pm. This includes a full presentation on the history of consensual sadomasochism, author Q&A, and personalized books for sale.
I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit Wicked Grounds cafe in San Francisco in September 2017, now that it has closed as of January 6, 2018. It saddens me that so many public kink spaces don’t seem to last.
There is a last ditch hope of saving it via Patreon, though. Hopefully some white knight investor will pony up the cash.
The complete manuscript is now with the publisher, along with the bibliography and a variety of other paperwork. Right now, the biggest problem is getting the art I want. I know the images I want to use, but finding high resolution (300DPI or better) scans is hard enough. The real struggle is getting the rights. Figuring out if a given image is in public domain is far more complicated than it ought to be. Images published between certain dates are probably public domain, if they haven’t had their copyright renewed. But finding out who has the proper rights to an image published decades ago, by a company that has probably long since dissolved, is very difficult. Some of the pieces I would like to use have been located in public domain archives, which only require proper credit to use. Others I’ve located are available, but cost money, and I as the author would have to pay for it. I am convinced that this book would benefit greatly from an authentic piece of vintage fetish art on the cover, instead of a piece of stock art, but it remains to be seen what the art department will come up with for the cover.
It’s too early to make any precise predictions, but it looks like it will be released in the summer of 2018. I’m already thinking about a book tour on the west coast.
Last month, I visited San Francisco for the Folsom Street Fair, and got to see Wicked Grounds, Mr. S Leather, Leather Etc, and the Citadel BDSM club. I wanted to see the Armory, but this was well after Kink.com had left. More to come on another post, with pics.
For a while, I’ve seen references to a 1980 documentary about kinky people, aired on public television station KQED. Online searches turned up nothing, but I finally put in the effort to look up KQED and see if I could somehow get access to it, if only partially. After a few emails, they were kind enough to give me access to a stream of the 36-year-old documentary. I had to sign a fairly restrictive agreement, so I can’t share any of it.