BRIDGING THE KINK AT THE ANNUAL SEX CONVENTION IN DOWNTON SAN FRANCISCO.
It was clear this was no ordinary party when I saw naked girls tied to scaffoldings in Shibari, Japanese bondage rope. Unlike the other parties, there was no alcohol or upbeat music, but there was definitely forbidden action going on. Yes, this was a sex party! The popular annual kink convention, which drew about 1000 people, has very strict confidentiality. For the purpose of this article, the adult event will be referred to as Hidden Dungeon.
San Francisco, an interesting pocket of California, has its own world of the kink and definitely part of the 5% of the USA population that sexually deviant, according to a Kinsey Institute report. Sexually deviant fetishists tend to go beyond experimental, even by the open-minded standard. The Bay Area is often seen as the center of kinky life in the United States; it is the home of the Folsom Street Fair, the world’s largest leather event and the famous BDSM porn studio Kink.com. When it comes to an alternative lifestyle, San Francisco is always at the top.
Hidden Dungeon is popular among the self-proclaimed “kinksters”, renowned for its queer party and its brazen flouting of over the top sexuality. Created in 2003, this convention has become the home of top-notch play spaces and mindboggling events that provide a safe, non-judgmental environment where fantasy becomes reality. Hidden Dungeon once again has proven that this city knows how to get down and dirty. The event, which happened in November, broke all kinds of sodomy taboos.
Hidden Dungeon featured more than 50 educators and performers for its workshops and parties that weekend. The days were packed with 80 workshops on the broadest mix of erotic and kinky topics, such as the sexy bondage scenes from Suspension Showcase, the exploration of Pussy Play and Orgasm Training, as well as the intense strikes of Caning 101. When the night came, the ballrooms turned into play spaces for the kink party and sexy performances, exploring the sensual delight of dark desires. Carnal Casino’s libidinous gambling game and the Spank Bank’s burlesque show were some examples of the jaw-dropping entertainments.
The leather fetish event took over the entire basement of a hotel located on Van Ness Avenue. The location of the hotel was not divulged to the public; only the approved, registered ticket holder could get the link to the address. To ensure security and comfort, photographic equipment including cellphones were not allowed. If guests didn’t wish to be photographed by the official event photographer, they could get special colored wristbands at the registration.
Once guests put their nickname badges on and entered the basement area, they immediately walked into another world. The 20,000 square foot ballroom space was transformed into dungeons with an open, tolerant and sexual atmosphere containing many BDSM, kink and fetish equipment. Sex swings, restrainers, stripper poles, medical restraints, A-frames, Berkley Horses flogging apparatuses, BDSM slings, bondage benches, X-crosses, giant barrels, and many other wild sex furniture was ready to be used as desired.
Equipped with the trendy all gender toilets, the event was a melting pot of diverse identities and interests that welcome people of all genders, sexual orientations, and erotic persuasions. The attendees were a broad community, including leather people, latex fetishists, swingers, pansexuals, tantra practitioners, straight couples, LGTBQ people and gender queers. There was no dress code; in fact as expected, most people chose not to wear anything.
“For somebody like me who has been in the BDSM scene for more than 30 years, it is nice to see kink cultures come out of the closet and become more and more accepted to the point of having an event in a hotel like this,” said Master Gym, a 50-year-old ‘dominant’ who attends Hidden Dungeon’s events annually with his female ‘submissive’. The guy was wearing a casual t-shirt, jeans, a leather jacket and boots. A horse-riding crop was sticking out from his black backpack. His submissive was only wearing a mini black skirt, a metal collar and leather handcuffs. “[This] is considered a big event, people actually fly in for this. It is discrete and private, unlike Folsom. They also provide the best equipment in this convention. We like to experiment here to add excitement and passion with our partners. This convention is informative for both young and old,” he explained.
Hidden Dungeon was jam-packed with live dominatrix plays and enough naked queers to completely desensitize your life. Almost every guest attended the party with their sexual partners and engaged in different lustful activities. People were having group sex near the stripper pole, sex slaves were moaning when they were restrained and teased with Magic Wand sex toys, sex pets were running around in the cages begging for their masters, and condoms were offered instead of beverages. Watching was acceptable but there was absolutely no touching without consent. Interfering scenes in progress was absolutely forbidden.
Hidden Dungeon successfully achieved their mission to build a place where the craziest fantasy was possible − the truly mind-blowing carnal adventure in the most promiscuous city in the nation. The king of Californication will return to the city by the bay next year. Will you surrender your desire and explore your fifty shades of grey?
Let's cut to the chase, New Year's Eve is the worst time to be single and alone, and wanting a companion during the holiday makes perfect sense.
Beside the beach, a beautiful sunset, cocktails, and exotic foods, playing a couple with a “holiday boyfriend” completes the perfect combination of a holiday romance. Yep, he is a guy that you have a love fling with during a vacation break. The deal is sweet, romantic and not causing any emotional baggage.
Or is it actually becoming something? You explore foreign places together, you taste strange food together, get drunk in a smoky bar together, share confessions, passions and dreams of your future life together. It is intoxicating and the feeling is inevitable.
Now it is rolling around to the end of the "honeymoon," but you are not sure how to end a beautiful but short-lived holiday crush. It might be a little sad; both of you like each other, or you wouldn't have become involved, right?
However strong our determination not to expect too much from a vacation fling is, somehow we find ourselves wondering at some point: Could this last? It's hard not to get emotionally involved. Even though you enjoyed the time together a lot, it would be unfair and totally unrealistic to pretend it can continue back in everyday "real-life." We can't all live out the The Note Book fantasy, when Rachel McAdams managed to live happily ever after with Ryan Gosling only after a short summer love affair.
The trouble with holiday boyfriends happens when we persist in trying to make them something they are not. An overseas fling can be a beautiful thing, but that doesn’t mean the charmingly cocky guy with a cute accent you spend the break with is turning out to be “the one.” He might have five other girlfriends somewhere else, and you will never know. Be rational, enjoy the flattery, but don’t be taken in. When the emotion is building up, keep reminding yourself that it is most likely will never last. There are no long-term promises and it is sadly too good to be true.
Away from the pressure of everyday life, the ideal holiday romance should be relaxing, fun, adventurous, and forgotten the moment we step on the plane home. You are sure to be jealous of his next girlfriend, but the feeling will be temporary. The chances are the love will fade as quickly as your tan - so cherish the time, live in the moment but be prepared to let go. Holiday romance should stay just where it started: on holiday. Maybe someday you’ll cross paths again with your holiday boyfriend. And as time passes, it is always nice to have a friend you know in another part of the world.
Have you ever had a holiday boyfriend? Leave your response in the comments below, or share it with Dating Junkie on Twitter with hashtag #datingjunkie.
Since I moved to San Francisco, I’ve been hearing people saying that they are in a polyamorous relationship. Last year, I was dating a guy whose roommate is “poly.” Sam, a 35-year-old nurse living in Concord, has three boyfriends, and her main guy, who just moved in with her is also dating another woman whom he had a kid with. At that time, I didn’t dare to ask more about their relationship arrangement.
“I am married,” said Brad, 40, a Stanford and Princeton graduate who works for an aerospace startup. “My wife and I both see other people. She has a boyfriend, and I have a few casual partners who I see once in a while, though I am looking for something more serious.”
Another friend, Becca, is a successful owner of a startup in New York. The 42-year-old married her husband in 2010 after being together for 12 years. Their marriage has always been open from the start. She now has another boyfriend. I am unfamiliar with all of these stories.
I grew up in a conservative family in Indonesia. What I’ve been told all my life is: no sex before marriage and a man should only be monogamous with one woman “till death do us part.” I am writing this article with an open mind since I have no actual experience of a polyamorous relationship.
The word “polyamory” was first coined in the 1960s and means “many loves” in Latin. The arrangement and number of partners often varies depending on what works for each. For many, polyamory means having multiple committed relationships. It is different from polygamy, which means a state of marriage to many spouses. The level of intimacy and emotional attachment makes it deeper than an open relationship, a hookup, or a one-night-stand, which are mostly based only on sexual acts.
By some estimates, there are now a half-million polyamorous relationships in the United States, though underreporting is common. New York University Sex Researcher Zhana Vrangalova’s recent research suggests that 4 to 5 percent of general heterosexual U.S. adults, or 10 to 12 million people are engaged in consensual nonmonogamy.
Bjarne Holmes, a psychologist at Champlain College in Vermont, is conducting an ongoing study among 5,000 poly individuals. So far, the result shows polyamorists tend to be educated and smart, with more masters and doctoral degrees than the general population.
“My wife and I have been together for 15 years, and we’ve been married for 10. Six months ago she met someone that she is interested in and she wants the freedom to explore it,” said John, who is on a journey exploring the concept of polyamory in a phone interview. He lives in the Bay Area, works as a senior product manager in a transportation network company, and has a beautiful four-year-old daughter.
“It’s something that my wife is interested in pursuing, and if I am denying something she wants in life, she is going to be unhappy,” the 36-year-old explained. “That won’t make us happy as a couple, and she might leave. The way that we envision love is about supporting each other, empowering each other, and becoming stronger. We don’t want our marriage to be limiting and controlling.”
So, is polyamory just a term for justifying infidelity? No. Being a polyamorous is the opposite of cheating, which involves deception.
THE MAIN CORE OF POLYAMORY IS COMMUNICATION, FULL DISCLOSURE, OPENNESS, TRUST, AND RESPECT – THINGS THAT ARE OFTEN MISSING IN A MONOGAMOUS ARRANGEMENT.
“People in these relationships really communicate. They communicate to death,” said Holmes to Live Science. "They’re talking a lot, they’re negotiating a lot, they’re bringing their feelings to the table a lot.“
“I’ve introduced everyone that I am with to my wife and everybody is meeting each other. There are a couple of people that I’ve seen for awhile now, and one of them wants me to leave my wife for her,” John admitted. “So you can imagine the very complicated and dangerous situation. I can’t keep everybody happy, so I have to break it off.”
What started as his wife’s desire now also benefits John as an individual. “I feel that I am far more confident as a person. Frankly, I feel a lot more attractive and desirable,” shared John. “You get to meet new people, you get to have new experiences that you’ve never done, you are constantly expanding your horizon. I still very much enjoy the freedom, the ability to be my authentic self, and not to have artificial restrictions.”
In John’s case, most of his friends know, but his family and most people he works with don’t. He said, “They are pretty conservative… They probably wouldn’t expect it.”
What about the fact that there is a child in the mix? John said, “She is a little bit too young now. Once she gets old enough that she asks questions about it, we are not going to hide it from her. The consequence of that is the whole family will find out because she’ll be hanging out with grandma and she will be talking about mommy’s boyfriends.”
It seems like John doesn’t have much to worry about. Sheff has interviewed more than 100 members of polyamorous families, including about two dozen children of polyamorous parents ranging in age from 5 to 17 years old. Her research is suggesting that polyamory doesn’t have to have a bad impact on the kids. Children also reported liking having many adults whom they trusted. They also spoke of the advantages of growing up knowing they could make their own decisions about how to build their families.
Unfortunately, being polyamorists face many stigmas as swingers, kinksters, promiscuous, and being all about sex. It can be hard for society to wrap around its head around polyamory. The big misconception is that polyamorous relationships are purely sexual and noncommittal, where in fact polyamorous arrangements involve high level of commitment.
"Trust me, there are so much more ways to get laid,” said John. “Polyamory can be emotionally draining since you have to invest in multiple relationships.” The inference that John makes is it’s possible to go on dates, drinks, dinners, movies, and sharing lives, just like any other romantic relationships. Sex is just a component of it, but polyamorists connect intellectually, mentally, and (again) emotionally in supporting each other.
The cultural taboo keeps many polyamorous people not want to come out of the closet. “Many poly people stay closeted out of fear of discrimination, social alienation or because they simply prefer privacy,” sociologist Elisabeth Sheff writes in her forthcoming book “The Polyamorists Next Door,” quoted recently from CNN.
But what is the hardest thing for John right now? Jealousy. He admits that he still gets jealous and trying to figure it out. “If I am all that person needs, that makes me feel really good,” he said. It’s almost like you need a supreme confidence to be able to be okay with them wanting to have other people in their life beyond what you are doing for them. If I am in a primary relationship with someone, and I have a child with her, then she is thinking about someone else all day – obviously, that makes me feel horrible.”
“I think jealousy is caused by a thought that I am not good enough for that person, I am not enough to make them happy in life,“ John continued. "But it is also almost ridiculous to think that you would be since you are just one person. Ten people, of course, will have far wider range of interesting exposure to life than you, as one person, is able to bring. “
The interesting question is, do we get more from jealousy or freedom? There is another theory that says jealousy is nurtured rather than nature. If we can learn to be jealous, we can unlearn it too. When someone makes us jealous, there is a range of ways that you can respond. Are we more civilized to learn to control our jealousy? Or, are we just fooling ourselves into believing that we’d better be happy with people that have more than just us in their life
From John’s perspective, it is a new way of life that looks for many like a six-month experiment with an unknown result. However, many testimonials from other couples suggests that it is possible for polyamorous relationships to be successful. People that practice polyamory feel that loving one person does not take away any love from another person. Many claimed that being a poly couple saved their marriage by building an environment of love, openness, and communication. Polyamorists share their trials and tribulations while continuing to go on dates and pursuing other relationships with everyone’s full support.
Poly is not for everyone. We just have to keep an open mind that a relationship can be fluid. If everybody is onboard, and nobody gets hurt, then there is nothing wrong with it. Polyamory can be a viable option to monogamy, and everyone has a right to decide a relationship system that works for him or her. The goal is to create a society’s where people can be free in deciding what they want of their personal relationship with no judgment.
This article originally appeared on Bob Cut Mag
You and your partner can always find pleasure together - even when you're not in the same place
Laura is a 31-year-old user experience designer in Singapore. She met her boyfriend Frederick when he was working in the Marina Bay Sands for a year. After they dated for eight months, Fred had to go back to his home country.
So far, Laura has visited England twice, and Fred also comes back to Singapore every four months. However, such separation can be tough. After all, it's difficult to feel close to someone you can't touch.
Texting, phone calls, and video calls are staples for a long-distance relationship. To make the relationship work, maintaining intimacy and sharing sexual pleasure are also essential elements. Thanks to this interconnected world, most couples are familiar with sexting, webcams, and phone sex.
Laura and Fred often schedule a date night and work around time differences in a creative way. They also have a sexy ritual when they turn off all distractions and get loose. Last Christmas, Laura and Fred found out one more way to spice up their long-distance rendezvous.
They bought Lovense Max and Nora, the world’s first pair of his-and-hers sex toys that react to each other’s motions. Unlike any other app-controlled products, Lovense is specially designed four couples. For him, there is Lovense Max, which aims to help him feel as if he is experiencing the real thing. Lovense Nora is a dual-action vibrator for her. Both of Max and Nora can respond to each other and interact with each other. Once connected to the app, each toy will simulate the intensity and motion of his/her partner’s movement. If Max moves faster, then Nora rotates faster, vice versa, just like in real life.
If you and your partner are in different locations, Lovense is the perfect long distance relationship gift. It can be controlled from anywhere! Play together, even when you are apart.
Buy the gift that keeps on giving here and share your review below.
“We are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child,” wrote artist Jennifer Aniston, quoted recently from the Huffington Post. “We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies.”
Aniston’s beautifully written opinion piece stole the highlight from the media. The 47-year-old artist talked about “the objectification and scrutiny we put women through.”
I feel that I have to share this article with all of you. As women, we are required to excel in a lot of things. We have to be successful with our career, look good physically, and be good wives and mothers in order to be called women of quality. And when we decide not to take on some of those roles, the society will judge.
Honestly, one of the reasons for me to move to San Francisco is to get away from the “single girl” stereotype in my country. SF is a city where young people build their professional careers, and there is less judgment on people in terms of the life choice they make. However, back in Indonesia, most of my friends are engaged by the age of 23, and as soon as they get married, they are expected to be mothers. The goal is to marry a rich guy, continue the parents' business, and live happily ever after. I am not saying that their choice is wrong. I truly admire women who can juggle their business and family life. However, that's not what I want, and I am pretty sure there are many women out there that also feel the same way.
My high school best friend, who hasn't contacted me for almost a year, sent me a message yesterday. Her first question was, "Do you know that (our other friend) is very skinny now?" and that was followed with "Have you managed to get a boyfriend?" Those questions are the reason why I hate to go to weddings and social gatherings back at home. I am fed up with the judgment that I have to feel incomplete or unhappy in some way if I am not married with children.
A woman’s value should not be judged by her marital or maternal status. It is our choice to decide on what we want in life. Don’t let the outdated cultural standard pressure you. As Aniston said, “We get to determine our own 'happily ever after' for ourselves.”
Read her full op-ed article here.