A sheen of sleaze and sweat descended upon the Sheraton in downtown Atlanta for the Celebration of the sacred and profane. A friend of mine put it best by saying two types of people attend the con – the party naked crowd and those with an actual interest in BDSM. I would also include a third group, the more fringe kink cultures like Primals, Littles, and Furries. At around 3,000 people, it’s far from the scale of Comic Con or Dragon Con, but most kink Conventions draw just under a thousand people, making this one of the biggest on the East Coast. Upon arriving and settling in, I sat down to grab a cup of coffee and someone from the Real Estate Convention on the third floor of the hotel stopped to ask me about what was going on. I tried to explain it as an “alternative lifestyle” convention, but when they did not understand what that meant, I said it was kink and BDSM, so be prepared to see dominatrixes in leather and adults in diapers.
I am of the belief that if someone is going to get their boots shined, then it better be because they got them dirty from being of service. I don’t mean as in being a service sub, but to give back to the kink community. Let’s face it – if it was not for that community, I would be a lonely sadist roaming the streets like Mr. Hyde. They have given me a place where I can direct that energy. I spent the bulk of the weekend as a Dungeon Monitor and aiding in the general operations of the dungeon. With attendance up 40 percent this year and volunteers down 30 percent, there was a lot of work to be done. The dungeon was open for general play Thursday night, and the most popular piece of equipment proved to be the domed jungle gym. At one point over the course of the weekend, the littles decided to turn it into a fort by draping a blanket over it, so in my best Kindergarten teacher voice I had to tell to them to be careful and not climb on the covered part as they may slip and get a boo boo. To which they clapped and waved.
Friday morning I was back at 10 AM. Then at 1 PM it was time to work the Staff Photo party, where attendees could have their scenes photographed by staff photographers, the only time cameras were allowed in the dungeon. After this, I had a four hour break to eat and get some panels in. I went to a few writing panels discussing various aspects of the creative process and a panel called “Balancing the Nervous System.” I had originally intended to go to a class on takedowns to get a little wrestling in, but found it had been moved or cancelled, so I attended this panel instead. It was led by Dr. Cynthia Seebacher, who at one point gave me a flogger so I could flog a chair whenever she said “para sympathetic.” I seem to be a sucker for kink panels with powerpoint presentations. During the Q&A, I kind of hi-jacked things to turn the discussion toward “what about people whose nervous systems are affected by chemical disturbances from mental health issues like bi-polar?” This gave a few others with bi-polar the chance to speak up and voice their concerns about medication or the need for high stimulus during a manic swing. Back at the Dungeon that night, I kept traffic flowing so the crowd gathering for the fisting competition did not get things too congested. I met some Primals, which struck me as being the largest growing subculture at the convention, with Littles coming in at second place. Got to interact with a girl who identifies as not only a wolf, but a “big bad wolf.” As cute as she is in her human skin, it was hard to imagine her as a wolf, but she did have a great deal of fiery energy when she wrestled another girl. I did a scene before I left that night, allowing myself into the energy of the dungeon around me and to channel it.
Saturday morning I worked the door for the Queer Leather party, making sure cell phones were off and participants identified as anything but straight. It was amusing how many guys stood there trying to figure out if they were straight for 30 seconds or more. A couple who were on the fence I encouraged to come on in so they could find themselves. I had a 30 minute break to grab another coffee before working the “Girls Who Love Male on Male Action” dungeon. My friend was hosting this one, so when it started off like a highschool dance with everyone sitting around nervously waiting for something to happen, I volunteered to do a pick up scene with the warning that I do pretty heavy-handed impact. A young man was brought to me, I did a quick hit the ground running protocol and then proceeded to tenderize his ass into fifty shades of red with a flogger, a hair brush and my two hands. It was intense and intimate, as I maintained a steady line of communication. This drew a large crowd for Saturday morning and before the party was over the host asked for me to top him in a scene. This one was intense yet light-hearted, with more audience participation. I would hold up an instrument of punishment and then would use the implement that got the biggest crowd reaction. My favorite part of this scene was at the beginning, when I whipped him with the cord to my iPod as I growled “Steve Jobs is doing this to you.” Going into the evening, I was dungeon monitor for the all-male play party and the open play dungeon hosts by Red Chair out of Birmingham, whose president I got to sit down and have lunch with to discuss the politics of running a fetish club, and to get a Primals 101 briefing.
Sunday I got to connect with my friend Gigi as the con got packed up and came to a close. This took things out on the needed introspective note to help me process where the kink community is going. What were the “get off my lawn” moments? We shared these observations and how things like the increased awareness of consent reflects the mood in society around us. My takeaway from the weekend was the reaffirmation for the need to be of service to this community that is very much my family. New relationships were forged and old friends became more closely bonded. As someone who suffers from depression, isolation is norm, and making these connections is something that often takes more energy than my best efforts at recovery sometimes allow for, so to be free from the burdens of day to day life and get the chance to do so is a blessing. If you are on the east coast mark your calendar for Easter Weekend 2019, Steve Jobs will be waiting…