The City of Roses has a fond place in my memories.
In the time period I spent with the Charitable Hostess, the Bear Daddy, the Yeti and his littles; the lady friend, the gentlemanly ox and the lady host; a wide variety of individuals took their time to make my acquaintance and in turn, I to them.
Between the nightly events that the Charitable Hostess and her kin had brought me
around, chaffeuring me along in their carpool, much of the time in Portland was spent wandering and exploring the city streets. It is a laid back city, the City of Roses, and from time to time the numerous parks did possess the evidence for its pseudonym.
Portland is a place rich with atmosphere and culture, mostly towards the geek crowd, but between the sidewalk cafes and the dozens of arcade machines of yesteryear there too lies a penchant towards the arts amidst the simplistic things in life.
In one of the many pubs within Portland, there is a gay bar that caters to the both locals and deviants alike, and one event that I attended during my stay there in Oregon was a cabaret/karaoke night featuring none other than a beautiful yet fiesty hostess. The performers were paid solely by donation and while a small booth in the back featured a spanking area, most of the people in attendance directed their attention towards the stage.
I am briefly reminded of the DomLander event back in Victoria, BC. Though void of skits, the talented group of people would take the crowd by storm and amidst cheers and wolf calls, collect handfuls of dollar bills between performances. There were dance routines, burlesque, karaoke and belly dancing for all to be had.
“The people here in Portland are used to these things,” a bar worker informed me. “Its the home of the weird. As long as people keep their clothes on,” We look towards the stage as a pair of jeans comes flying off. “Its perfectly fine.”
Outside of the pub, I joined a smoke pit and conversed with several deviants and locals alike. It would seem that the karaoke appeals not only to the fetish crowd but also to the residents within the area. “A bit of diversity can never be a bad thing,” one gentleman told me. “Like a dinner menu, but only more tongue in cheek, you know?”
From my own observation, there is a penchant for karaoke throughout the fetish crowd, and though I admit that it does not always appeal to me, the burlesque performances most certainly does. I am willing to hazard a guess that it is a test of mettle, in standing before a crowd and trying to croon out tunes, could be quite reminiscent of a thrill rush.
Back home in Vancouver, BC, karaoke nights were not unheard of and even as far as San Francisco, later on in the journey, these things were rather commonplace. People get together, drink a bit of liquor and as the liquid courage sets in, they take to the stage and have themselves a jolly good time. It can be a daunting experience, nerve wracking to say the least.
From an outsider’s point of view, the presence of deviants at a karaoke night would most likely go unnoticed; instead, amidst the number of people all laughing and hugging one another, one would think that they were just regular person. It would not be far from the truth to say that most, if not all, of the people during these kinky karaoke nights resemble a gathering of friends. It is quite simply a heartwarming experience to see that human side to this culture. After all who doesn’t want to cut loose and relax once in a while?
It would not be until much later that I finally caved in to the appeal of karaoke, in San Francisco, and promptly butchered a Ross Gavin song just as the microphone periodically cut out.
“Amos!” a black woman said, having finished a touching tribute to her late father. It was a slow song and the emotions ran high. I comforted her outside of the pub, before she introduced me to her wife. It was interesting, that I wouldn’t have thought of their relationship, given that they were both older. “Don’t be a punk! Get your butt in there! Go on!”
Artist’s Depiction of the Event
In a larger city such as Vancouver or San Francisco, with the number of residents that compose of the population, the likelihood of people who identify substantially increase. One would think that the sizability of a community would be much more organized in a large population, however that is quite the contrary. The efforts required to run a functional organization that caters to a certain demograph would be impractical, requiring a larger number of volunteers and elected positions to create and run events.
While a larger population would indicate further acceptance for other lifestyles, in truth it is based also on the political atmosphere of the state or province. Politics, whether you believe it or not, can influence the structure of lifestyle communities such as the LGBT and fetish crowds.
For example, in Portland, the general consensus points towards a Democrat (See: Left Wing) atmosphere; this meaning that the population would be more liberal, thereby also more open, to such interests. In other states, such as Nevada, being next to a Mormon region, the population would have a more right-wing and traditional approach, having less tolerance for such matters.
The issue with city population is that it directly affects the overall state of communities. A larger body of people would indicate greater diversity (see: options) but the organization would be stretched; on a relevant note, a bigger scene would indicate far less connectivity between everyone, if only due to the size of the participants. Smaller communities are close knit, familiar to one another, but infighting such as gossip or personal relationship drama can greatly reduce the experience and create stress within.
Arguably the penchant for gossip exists in any community all around, for a vast number of reasons such as a spiteful personality or misguided concern for one another. The most important element to community organization is to enable others to surpass them from making important decisions, to promote widespread acceptance and tolerance, most of all to put aside personal problems and look out for everyone involved.
At the same time, the size of a community can affect the number of events taking place throughout the week or month. Multiple organizations hosting parties, workshops and gatherings can create conflicting schedules with one another; venue space, volunteers and expenses are also factored in.
It requires an immense amount of effort to create and maintain a organization whose sole purpose is to benefit the community at large. Between managing a solitary life outside of the culture and contributing to the movement at large, there is a greater risk for the people involved due to immeasurable factors. Most organizations are non-profit – it makes it much easier to handle with the tax payers – surviving only by donations that cover the primary expenses such as materials and venue space.
An efficiently maintained event focuses on catering to dungeon space, refreshments and a group of trained DMs (Dungeon Monitors) whose sole purpose is to regulate the extent of activities and preventing accidents from taking place. While people do look out for one another, the primary concern is not the overall entertainment but rather the welfare of each participant involved.
While Portland does indeed possess a large number of active people within the BDSM crowd, most of the activities – according to the people I spoke with – take place in the privacy of a person’s home. These are referred to as private events within a private residence, often by invitation only.
There are many benefits to private parties. The first being that an invitation via a sponsor would mean that the person in attendance is vouched for, being a sane and sensible member of the community, known to others. While their experiences may vary, the information that is established would enable the subsequent host party to hold them accountable for their own actions. Similarly it would be easier to identify predatory behavior such as abuse or non-consensual activities from taking place or ever happening again.
For an invitation to be given, there requires a great deal of attendance to become a part of the community at large. Personal conduct and behavior dictates whether or not a person is liable to being invited to these events. For a shy individual or an introvert, the effort is increased exponentially but well deserved.
While the experience is varied, like a public party, that is not to say it is without risk – fetish is not definitive and between two people, depending on their level of skill and negotiation with limits, there is always the chance of a bad experience.
While a private party would consist entirely of people known to one another, it reduces the range of newcomers that explore the scene itself, but certainly the benefit of filtering out a person who is merely interested for reasons other than to simply get off from a fantasy, the end result is entirely worthwhile.
Club Sesso caters to fetish nights but a public event would mean an increase of risk with having to handle people unfamiliar to the scene itself. Likewise, there are laws that still exist in the United States that prohibit these activities, despite their being consent between two people.
These laws target domestic violence, which any sane person in any culture would condemn; however, the activities that take place in the fetish scene, are still considered to be acts of violence. A curious neighbor, vanilla, might go as far as to call the police out of concern for the screams coming from next door and just so, because there’s always the chance that what is actually happening is indeed someone being assaulted.
What follows is a desperate attempt to clear any suspicion of this being the case. Most law enforcement in larger cities are not unfamiliar to these events and what the activities are composed of. However, the general approach of a police officer answer the response to a potential case of domestic violence would be just that – their purpose is to make sure that this isn’t actually the case.
As much as this becomes a major hassle (let alone interrupting a scene), it is important to remember that at this point both parties are required to put aside their own attitude and ego. True, nobody likes being interrupted in the middle of sex, and while a person does retain the right to deny a search, remember to stop and think in the other person’s shoes.
A police officer is still a human being in a uniform. They have legal authority to make an arrest. They respond to dangerous situations and put their lives on the line, like the fire department and rescue paramedics. Most of them have families of their own to look out for. While it is true that the mantra, “Serve and Protect”, define their purpose; by the end of the way, the mentality is simply: “Do your job. Don’t get killed. Go home and live another day.”
Therefore giving a sharp attitude and denying a search would raise suspicion, especially when there might be – in their eyes – someone’s life in danger. A hostile and belligerent approach simply gives reason to the thought that a person may be hiding something. Under those circumstances, it is best put aside the ego and temper and simply comply. In most cases, a quick search followed by the supporting response by a (willing) partner would negate the situation.
Most officers, familiar with these activities, would simply feel just as awkward as anyone caught in them. Afterwards it wouldn’t hurt to inform your neighbors discreetly about what takes place in private.
At a private party, while these cases are rare and far between, the risk still remains out there. First and foremost, there is the risk of exposure and deviants that hail from conservative backgrounds or careers would not jeopardize their own security were that to be the case. Second, the sheer amount of inconvenience to the hosting party would make these events seem more of a liability than anything. Were two community leaders to fight and argue with another, enable their emotions to take hold, it threatens the organizations they run and gives everybody a bad name.
It is therefore paramount to cooperate to one another to reduce the potential risk of such events. A single person that differentiates in the defense and testimony, stretching the truth of things taking place, can put everyone else at risk. The resulting aftermath would threaten the stability of a community or group, perhaps even going as far as to dismantle or destroy it entirely.
The sole purpose of a community, organization or group is the support of the culture and movement as a whole. It enables everyone to learn, develop and grow from their experiences. It cannot be entirely for free benefit and similarly there must be gathered contributions. What better than to create the foundations to the next generation, that we in it, may understand ourselves better in the end?
It never hurts to clean up after yourselves. Bring some food if you can. Volunteer to help the hosting party. Donate some loose change for all the effort. Take time to thank the people responsible and never feel like you are taking it all for granted. Remember to have a fucking good time – literally or otherwise.
“My first party was an interesting one,” a female switch informs me. “It was a private party that allowed people to bring along a date. My friend had told me about it and I was curious, so I showed up in a t-shirt and a pair of jeans.”
We stared out at the projection screen hovering above the bar at Club Sesso, depicting a threesome from some pornographic flick. Below us, a curtained area on the main floor had a series of Saint Andrew crosses and spanking benches, each occupied. The sound of industrial bass mixed with the screams coming below.
“Before the evening was over, I had walked away with several bruises and wore only a thong.” She added, laughing. “It was interesting, to say the least. I got hooked right away. That was a few years ago.”
It had been several days of regular attendance in Portland. Already I catch the occasional wink from one or two people I’d done scenes with. Most of them I’m already beginning to greet by name and I can’t help but feel the strings of attachment entrap me with them.
“Oh man,” one Dom said, rubbing his temples. “That was ages ago. Christ, I was such a puppy.”
Weren’t we all once? I replied.
“I refuse to comment any further.” He added, sipping his beverage.
One female Domme said to me that evening, “I had first started by attending munches. I think we all did at some point. After a while I got talking and because the community is small, people began to notice.”
She scratches her head, pausing momentarily to flirt and tease at a passerby. “Sorry, didn’t meant to get distracted.” Elsewhere in the dungeon space, a loud scream broke out and we laughed. “Its easy to get distracted.”
“Where was I? Oh, yes, what did I wear? A corset from Victoria’s Secret. Something I bought back when I was still married.” She waves a hand dismissively. “That’s another story, but why are you curious about what I wore?”
I shrugged. You should have seen what I wore at first.
“You’re not trying to ply me out of my dress are you?” She teased.
Well, we’d have to sit down and negotiate then.
“You got an invite to that party?!” one older Dom said to me. “You lucky fucker. I’ve been trying to get that for years.”
You’ll be there in spirit, I replied.
“Are you going to the one this weekend?” another female switch asked me, excitedly. “I saw a bit of your ropework on FL. I was hoping we could discuss a scene.”
Most the first time parties were awkward. Other times, driven by experience in private between partners, this wasn’t the case.
Outside, surrounded by a mild torrent of rain, beneath the canopy of a construction rigging, I spoke with several other deviants in attendance.
“There’s a good number of private parties but they’re invite only.” one Master, flanked by his slave informs me. “But you’re staying with the Charitable Hostess aren’t you?”
I nodded my head.
“Yeah, you’re likely to get invited around a lot then.” He shook my hand firmly. “See you there this weekend. My first play party was out of this state. It was awkward. After a while I got into it with my ex, but by the time we were done people were lining up to proposition the two of us. They must have thought I was experienced but really, just with her.”
There’s been a great deal of private parties I have attended in Portland. People are curious as to what they are like. However, out of respect for each hosting party’s privacy, I shall only say this:
They were fun.
Potluck is to a budget explorer what honey is to a bear.
Depraved semi-naked/naked people were involved.
There were many trips to the happy place.
End of story.
For the ones that create, the founders and the builders; the people who take their time to give back, for the ones that strive for the sake of everyone; this flag will fly.
“The Flag Still Stands”