Note: If I misquote you, do not stab me. I am, in fact, from an endangered species of chameleon.
There are rumors and there are urban legends that exist wherever it is you go. Both in and out of the community, regarding the various establishments and figures in each state and province, there will be stories afloat of pioneers in the fetish world and underground groups. Amongst one of such stories I’d heard, there is talk of a single building that exists somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, that has – against all odds of overlooking drama and favoritism – managed somehow to unite its local lifestyle groups.
I can confirm these rumors and that the group does in fact exist. They have their own permanent property featuring an incredible array of facilities such as built-in dungeons, storage rooms, a fully archived library, rooms for engaging sex and what I call the ultimate aftercare station. This amazing little place is called the Seattle Center for Positive Sexuality, which caters not only to kink but also to the LGBT and other lifestyle groups such as furries.
You guys have a library?! “Yes we do,” says the woman leading me on a tour. “We have a library.” A fucking library?! “Fucking is not encouraged but it has been known to happen when the librarians weren’t around. Don’t try it – they get really angry about it.”
I had first heard talk of this place as far back as Victoria and Vancouver, though initially having dismissed it with certain cynicism previous, and what I discovered the Tuesday afternoon was something beyond my limited form of comprehension. Through painstaking effort and lobbying, the center is the child of devotion and ambition by its founder and supporters, perhaps the first of its kind in the entirety of North America (or as I like to call it, South Canada).
“We have a library,” My guide repeats, trying not to laugh. “You’re also not the first person to react that way.” I find myself muttering ‘a fucking library’ throughout the tour. “It has many informative resources, donated magazines, DVD and VHS tapes. You’re free to read them at your own leisure.” Can I, a trustworthy Canadian, hold onto them for an indefinite amount of time? “Sure you can,” She replies. “As long as they’re still in the library when you return.” Goddamnit.
Its an open social event that evening, small pockets of people gathered look up as I arrive yet they are quick to welcome me into their conversations. One woman offers me her coloring sheets which she uses to satiate her inner child and creativity. I admit, awestruck, that the elation is not unlike my inner child’s discovery of masturbation.
My guide takes her time to introduce me to everyone and quite immediately I am taken by their open courteousness to an outsider. One person explains that I had missed the regular newbie introduction and seminar which I encounter as I am led around the dungeon floor. Most of the equipment that I see are donated items and contributions by the center’s members, numbering this month to approximately 15,000 in size abroad.
As it is considered a private non-profit organization, sex is allowed in the dungeon space, where the bedding and linen are regularly washed and cleaned after use. They promote safe sex, providing protection and lubricants for all parties, varying from both fetish to polyamourous nights. Media devices such as phones are to be shut off and photographs are strictly prohibited for the sake of anonymity. The rules and protocols are basic fare: Do not interrupt scenes. Do not join scenes uninvited. Do not touch without permission. The usual fare, as I call it, common sense stuff.
Multiple hardpoints align the low ceiling in the playspace adjacent to the connected foyer, alongside soft bean cushions and couches, set beside storage cubby-holes; a cashier counter (with a full functioning cash register and computer system) is nearby the entrance to the playspace, hard metal filing cabinets serving to archive membership papers and consent agreement forms. Several rooms are dedicated as clothing and storage space, medical-themed, piercing stations, and other themed spacing – the stuff most people can only dream of in a dungeon setting.
The library is connected to a large open space called the annex, where most of the workshops and seminars are hosted, and while mainly a social gathering spot there lies the presence of fetish equipment and hardpoints for scenes to take place during separate occasions. In both sections of the center, there are two fridges stocked with refreshments and snack dispensers – the very pinnacle of aftercare technology featuring fish crackers, gummi bears (MOTHERFUCKING GUMMI BEARS), M&M’s and coffee. First aid kits are situated throughout strategically placed areas in case of emergencies.
Do you have any idea how fucking awesome it is to flop on a big oversized beanie cushion and gorge on candy, coffee and gummi bears? DO YOU? NO, YOU DO NOT.
Inside the library are rows of shelves stocked with manuals and informative resources, fiction and nonfiction, erotica and autobiographies; a single shelf is devoted to an immense catalog of dated and out of print magazines such as Detective Stories and Hustler’s Taboo. The VHS selection features pornography from the days when VHS players still existed.
“What do you think?” Someone asks me when I return to the annex, still gleaming wide-eyed at every BDSM portrait I see. I have died and gone to Heaven. “Welcome to the Center.”
So how on Earth did this place manage to exist? According to the people I spoke with, one woman dedicated a good chunk of her life pursuing this particular vision – that is, creating a community center to promote awareness and unify the surrounding groups and organizations as a single body. Understandably this is an incredible feat to accomplish, that most people would be incapable of possessing the amount of time and dedication required to not only find the means, but also persuade every single group to organize.
“Mama,” One person explains, “She has every right to earn that pseudonym. We call her that for a reason and she’s a lovely woman to talk to. She always has time for everyone.”
It is perhaps one of my major regrets that during my stay in Seattle, I had passed on the opportunity to contact the center’s founder, which I imagine with the surrounding admiration of its members would live up to her position.
“The center embodies the very belief that its foundation is not based off individuals but as a movement and a whole.” Another person tells me. “Mind you, we do have internal politics and strife, within and outside of the organization. Some people despise Mama despite her work yet even then, everyone – I mean everyone – would readily defend it no matter what.”
“The main purpose is to spread awareness,” Another person explains to me as I indulge in the gummi bears (delicious fucking gummi bears). “The center is here because rather than allowing ourselves to drive off the curious, we are here to remind them that there is nothing wrong with them and that they have every right to be informed and educated.”
One fine lady adds, “This place, the people involved in it, share more or less a single drive: We welcome everyone who would obey its rules and regulations, who would be willing to learn and be accepted as part of a community.”
“Heck,” She adds, “We have family units that have generations of children born into polyamourous households that come here to learn about the lifestyles, giving them the capacity to understand themselves rather than stumble in the dark.”
I continue to look everywhere including the ceiling as if though I was under the influence of hallucinogens.
“You don’t see a lot of the younger crowd here,” Another woman adds, leaning forward. “There’s a sentiment that, I suppose, the older generation reminds them of their own grandparents.” I don’t see any middle-aged Chinese women here, so I don’t need to worry about running into my own mother. “Regardless to each their own, you’re in luck tonight – there’s the ascension event after the tasting event, aimed towards the TNG group.”
You seem quick to speak of the TNG group. Most kinksters loathe that word. “We understand that sometimes, with the younger generation, they find it discomforting to be in the company of older types.” I glance at the other people around, some nodding in agreement. “Sometimes they feel undermined because of the vast age difference, the more experienced ones in the scenes. I don’t believe in separating the two yet it makes sense, giving them a chance to explore on their own.”
What about regulars? “We get them quite often but some of them show up once, buy membership, then never show up again.” The woman I’m speaking to turns to her friend, adding, “Whatever happened to that one guy that wanted to fuck a MILF? He called you one didn’t he?” Her friend shrugs, “Must’ve got cold feet. I’m more of a GILF really.”
“What brings you to Seattle?” I explain in length the purpose of my trip, the blog and the little ambitions I have planned. “That’s interesting!” One woman adds, smiling. “Like I said, you’re welcome here as long as you’d like.” Another woman chips in, “Just don’t steal any of the magazines from the library.” Damn it.
You guys almost had me with the gummi bears. They laugh at this, replying, “Almost?” I’d hate to tell you lovelies, no offense, but Victoria stole my heart first. They pout in disappointment at this. “So how do you identify as?” Heteroflexible sensualist sadist Top although I’ve switched to see what the other side feels like. I also experiment with energy play. “There’s a few of those,” One of them informs me. “I’m a bit of an energy player.”
Prompting them with a polite offer of a back massage, I am pleased to boast that my new acquaintances seemingly relaxed after delivering three bouts of backrubs each. In fact, this does further serve as leverage for me to be introduced to other arrivals as well; amongst such, I am acquainted to the benevolent event coordinator (EC) at the tasting and ascension party that same evening.
“Welcome to Seattle!” They call out as I leave. I ask if I can loiter or handcuff myself to the place. One person explains, “People have been known to sleep on the couches, having no other option after the parties.” She then adds, “We might have to saw your hand off if you start to smell though.”
Next Update: Tasting & Ascension: The TNG Night