Near the end of the week I met up with the person whom sponsored me their couch to surf, a respectable woman within the community, who I nickname as the Charitable Hostess. An amiable individual, the details of her background are withheld for privacy’s sake; however, the neighborhood that I transferred to was quite close to the midnight munch.
We sat down for lunch briefly at one of Portland’s many hole-in-the-wall cafes and it was hard not to appreciate her kindness. A self-described geek household, my new lodgings was indeed situated in the aftercare room, perhaps the most sophiscated and furnished of any I’d seen. Protected by a pair of teddy bears and a friendly green snake, I initially sniffed the mattress of the room for inspection; relieved at the lack of ominous stains, I reclined on the numerous cushions available, pulled out my lap top and…
If there is anything to be accounted for, the aftercare room was far too comfortable – though hardly worth the effort of complaining about – and after I woke up, finishing laundry, I joined the Charitable Hostess upstairs. The place is a private residence featuring a model dungeon in the basement (like any respectable dungeon would be located) and a living room that was safely guarded by a pair of killer pugs.
Did I mention killer pugs?
Yes, I did. According to the Charitable Hostess and her partner, the pugs are cute and friendly, but when alerted to the potential offering of a treat, they will savagely pounce with pinpoint accuracy at sensitive genital areas. At first I had thought this to be some manner of random coincidence but repeated offenses quickly solidified them as lethally trained killers. Woe to the unsuspecting if ever they settle on the armchair nearby.
For the next few days, the Charitable Hostess would drive me around town and introduce me to the locals. When asked for the reasons why she went out of her way to show me the sights and sounds of the city, her response was humble – that in a way, I was an ambassador from Canada, and that it was a form of paying things forward.
One could tell immediately that there was a history to her, and that extending her courtesy to a random stranger, one whom she had barely met, was worthy of praise. Her hospitality was further compensated by her generosity and skill at baked goods.
That evening I joined them for a viewing of Willow though at times injected with innuendo throughout the course of the movie. Kinksters, after all, tend to see duct tape and leather in an entirely different fashion (no pun intended) than others. After a generous helping of eclairs, chocolate syrup and whipped cream, I could not say which I enjoyed better – the formidable content of her character or the subsequent crotch attacks by an overweight pug at random.
My next stop the following day came in the form of an outdoor pub called the Lucky Labrador, a canine friendly establishment, that had outdoor seating for munch goers. There I was pleasantly reacquainted to several locals I had met during the course of my stay so far. It became evident why the pub was called the Lucky Lab – most of the patrons with them a large dog, most barking relentlessly throughout the course of the munch itself. The presence of furries and pet players, sporting cat ears and faux tails off their pants, seemed somewhat ill fitting to the atmosphere of the place.
Here, the tax-free beer was affordable, but out of posterity’s sake I refrained from indulging. It would be terribly crass to return to my hostess’ pad, drunk off my ass, and doubtlessly reeking of cheap liquor. Preliminary caution had arranged that I smoke outside and, for the sake of everyone else, my bottle of hand sanitizer eliminated any trace of smoke odors as well. On the other hand, the pub served delicious Indian curry and bento style rice platters for the cheap – something I did not hesitate to gourge on.
“You’ve stayed behind,” one of the deviants commented. “IT BEGINS.” What do you mean, I asked. “This is how it starts. One minute you’re going to stay behind a bit longer, get to know everyone, then suddenly you’re looking to extend your stay; a week later, you’ll find this cheap apartment on the east side, rent it out, then apply for a work visa.”
But I don’t intend t- “No buts,” she said. A kinkster at a nearby table mused, “What? No butts? That’s horrible!” People began to laugh all around. “This is how it starts. We’re going to keep you here and you’ll never want to leave. It’ll be food trucks and coffee for the rest of your days.”
Oh the horror, I exagerrated. “Indeed. It begins.”
Ducking out of the munch briefly I wandered off in search of cigarettes. No sooner had I turned the corner, walking towards the direction of a nearby gas station, I came across a circle of the afore mentioned food trucks. The surrounding area to the Lucky Labrador is what I would describe as being semi-industrial, mostly large warehouse sized buildings, surrounded by chain fences and brickstone walls.
The weather seemed to grow increasingly cloudy, foreboding grey clouds hung over the sky, threatening the presence of rain with their gathered formations. A gentle breeze constantly swept by during the course of my stay in Portland, chilly enough to bring out my long coat; the arrangement of buildings, billboards, and faded flyers did create a very laid back atmosphere to this part of Oregon.
Much of how people describe Portland tends to be a place for the hip or alternative crowd, and some of the bills posted against street lights catered towards rock or geek culture. The most pleasant thing about walking through the streets of Portland, in that part of town, was the combination of industry and urban vibe surrounding all over. What few spots marked with graffiti seemed tasteful, more art than slogans or signatures; the trend for modern art is prevalent in Portland’s design, the shop window displays feature home made signs and stickers collected from other venues.
It came as no surprise that the sight of collared men and women, sporting dog and cat ears, would go ignored within this strange city. “People actually have stopped to ask for my picture,” one cat girl tells me, purring as I scratch her head. “Most of the time people leave us alone. It’s kind of a given thing here in Portland.”
“The art and alternative culture creates a type of tolerance,” one deviant informs me, smoking his cigarette, “At least that’s how I describe it. The scene here is fairly vast and while there’s always places like Sesso, much of the parties you find are going to be either private or invite only.”
Why is that? I asked him. “Mostly for privacy reasons. I mean, here in Portland, some people are free to share the details of their lifestyle in their work place, but the reality is that isn’t anybody’s business. There is a sense of decency to the kink scene – people are free to walk around naked, but never to indecent behavior; but I digress, the point is people keep to their own. It’s an accepting and open community, you’re going to meet a lot of reoccurring faces during your stay, but discretion is still exercised.”
Do you happen to have trouble with the media out here? He shook his head slightly, “The media doesn’t really give two shits about what we do. It makes for an interesting story, yes, but with the Republicans mostly. Portland is a liberal and open city, but out in areas beyond the city core, say in Forest Grove, it can be more conservative.”
I sensed a type of pride from the gentleman’s response. The people here in PDX seem fond of their lifestyle while maintaining a level of privacy away from others outside of the scene. Similarly I would describe, from the few banter I exchanged with locals, the sentiments towards the fetish crowd is rather indifferent. The most, perish the thought, anyone has heard about the community here comes from the 50 Shades shenanigans.
“In my own opinion,” one littles told me. “The vast number of Daddies and Littles allows the age gap to integrate together. It may not be everybody’s thing, so to speak, and while there’s still TNG and age play group and meets, the general body is composed of everyone from all age groups.”
“Its important to integrate,” an older woman tells me, sipping her beverage. “Not only does it allow different ideas to exchange between everyone but it also generates an atmosphere of tolerance. That’s what the community represents, open-minded support to everyone involved.” A solid response.
“One thing you’re going to notice,” another male puppy tells me, “People here are notorious for their gossip.” Why do you say that? “There’s such a regular body of returning kinksters that it does not take very long for interpersonal drama to generate.” In other words everyone is fucking incestuous. “Very much.” But couldn’t it be argued that gossip exists in any community, along with drama and split individual relations? “Of course, but most of what you hear from others are either the kind of talk for deliberate caution or somewhat biased from personal experiences.”
I glanced around the crowd and drew an immediate conclusion. In the short period of time, I had already began to recognize several people from the PDX scene, from both the previous munches and gatherings to KinkFest itself; the regularity of these people, numerous as they were, would mean that on a long enough basis there would be inevitable drama – broken hearts, trust and respect, a small close group can do that.
What if I paid you a generous amount of money to make me look like a saint? I asked the puppy, who laughed in response. “You’d have to throw in that cute bum of yours to boot.” He replied, winking.
“You’re going to notice several things about Portland,” I looked up at fellow I spoke with, outside of a non-descript hotel conference room, where a public rope workshop was taking place. “There’s two major kinks that are adrift here, needles and rope.” I can’t say needles is my thing, I replied, nor am I that experienced with rope. However, I can tie a very mean shoe lace. He laughed, smoking his cigarette, “Right on.”
It was the following day from the meeting at the Lucky Labrador and inside the space of the workshop, no more than half a block from the motel I stayed at earlier in the week, a rigger gave out instructions on the tie they were performing. Basic and simple ties, namely a chest harness and the single-column tie; rope was not supplied, but having brought my own that was not an issue. I do confess, having been situated at the far end of the room, that I am responsible for the consumption of more than a dozen of the buttermilk cookies and scones available, let alone no short amount of coffee.
There is an emphasis on safety throughout the course of the entire lesson. For that purpose, I would grade the class fee as well worth the money – most of the previous classes I had attended, both public and private, often do not cover the safety involved with rope work.
While beautiful in presentation, stimulating at physical levels, the topic of rope bondage requires a great deal of practice; if poorly done, it can risk permanent or even life threatening injuries. For example, the layering of rope and the material of rope can affect the person who is tied immensely; jute and hemp may chafe bare skin, leaving burns across the person’s skin tissue, but with someone having low or high blood pressure, cutting off circulation is a very hazardous issue. If improperly layered, such as rope overlapping each other, there may be pinching of nerves and joints; the nerves of the human body, especially on women, are very susceptible to such dangers, and a thorough understanding of the practice is absolutely necessary.
“You need safety scissors?” asked the Dom beside me. I declined, having carried my own at all times. After a brief conversation, he and I decided to practice on one another, though his experience clearly outperformed my own. “Don’t be nervous,” He insisted. “You’re doing fine.”
“What brings you out to Portland?” he asked politely. I explained to him the purpose of my journey and he smiled beneath his white beard. “Fascinating. Have you done rope for very long?” Not as much as I’d like but roughly four years or so. Haven’t done a suspension yet to be honest. What about you, Sir? He chuckled, “Maybe for the last decade or more.” I glanced at him, periodically checking on his wrist as I tied a single column around it; the methods seemed slightly off, there hasn’t been as much practice since my trip began.
“We all had to start somewhere.” The instructor and his partner took the time to answer questions. Both of them paid extra attention to explain about the risks and safeties involved to rope rigging. Before the class had started, printed flyers were handed out featuring picture diagrams on the ties that were covered. Nearby the Charitable Hostess and her poly companion practiced together.
After the workshop was done, most of the remaining time was given to the rest of the class to practice their new found skills, and the Dom and I shook hands. “Here,” he said, passing me a small cord of rope. “Take this as a souvenir from Portland. You did well.” We exchanged contact information. “Good luck and safe travels. See you around.”
In hindsight to my stay within PDX, the pleasantries of both the community and urban landscape are refreshing; a small city with a sizeable community, supportive and friendly, is definitely a place to explore. Within the workshop, again I recollected the faces of people I had seen previously, though absentmindedly I had to repeat their names more than once.
“Come on, cheap Asian labor,” People guffawed at the Charitable Hostess. “Hey, you advertised that in the first place. Time to go.”
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