Media Update – April 30, 2007

   1.  A Disciplined Business

   2. The oldest swingers: sex games of Stone Age exposed

   3. Dominatrix's lawyer says woman's spirits 'as good as can be'

   4. SSIS Question Sex-tion: safe, sane, and sensual sadomasochism

   5. Is 'Internet Normal' the New 'Sex Normal'?

   6. As time goes by

   7. The Cum of Alt Fears

   8. Dominatrix sues Greenburgh police for $5M



A Disciplined Business

by Jon Mooallem

The New York Times

April 29, 2007



Peter Acworth is 36 and trim, with a pale, boyish face. He grew up in the English Midlands, the son of a sculptor and a former Jesuit priest, and came to the United States in 1996 to get a Ph.D. in finance at Columbia University. He had already worked for Baring Brothers in London and was on track to do analytical research on Wall Street. Then, after his first year, he read in a British tabloid about a fireman who sold pornographic pictures on the Internet. "He had made a quarter of a million pounds over a short period doing nothing very clever at all", Acworth told me not long ago, pointing to the clipping framed in his office in downtown San Francisco. "So I basically just ripped off that idea".


Acworth has since built what is arguably the country's most successful fetish porn company, – a fast-growing suite of 10 S-and-M and bondage-themed Web sites, each updated weekly with a new half-hour or hour video segment. Kink has 60,000 subscribers; access to each site costs about $30 a month. Acworth founded Kink's first site, Hogtied, while still at Columbia. He purchased licensed digital photographs for content, many of which were simply old bondage-magazine spreads, torn out and scanned. Almost immediately, Hogtied made several hundred dollars a day – then, with a few ads in place, more than a thousand. In 1998, Acworth dropped out of grad school and moved to San Francisco, which he had always regarded as the world's "fetish capital", to run Hogtied full time. His mother worried that the lifestyle of a self-employed Web master might get lonely.


Talking with Kink's 70 employees, the majority of whom are in their 20s or 30s, it would seem that porn has become just another career that creative people latch onto in the fog following college – years spent meandering between unpaid internships and dispiriting corporations, lashed with debt. A young woman who calls herself Cat Rich told me that she volunteered as a civilian nurse in Iraq after graduation but wound up back in Indiana selling cars; she is now Kink's events coordinator. A Harvard alum in Kink's marketing department worked in restaurants after moving to San Francisco and got his first adult-industry job after searching for the word "fun" on Craigslist. A cameraman, one of several employees with film degrees, was not only laid off in the dot-com bust but also found himself owing $14,000 in a perplexing stock-option scheme gone sour. "I promised myself I would never work at a dot-com again, but here I am", he said, and "it feels very much like the blissful dot-com days before the crash". There are weekly catered lunches, a health plan stretching to vision insurance and, even harder to come by, a pervasive feeling of usefulness. Reena Patel, Kink's vice president for marketing, who has an M.B.A. and previously worked at Merrill Lynch, told me, "I actually apply my education to this job".


A few weeks after Patel and I first spoke, Kink incited a minor media blitz by purchasing, for $14.5 million, the State Armory and Arsenal in San Francisco as its new offices and studios. The armory, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is a 200,000-square-foot, brick, castlelike colossus in the Mission District. It had been abandoned by its only tenant, the National Guard, in the mid-'70s. After 30 years of disuse, its underground horse stables and ballroom; officers' quarters, pool and banks of urinals; hockey-arena-like drill court with 70-foot ceilings and stadium seating – all of it – had attained a look of palatial depravity. It was the exact aesthetic Acworth and his directors had been struggling for so long to build from scratch. At the time the deed transferred in December, the basement pumps had shut off, and the creek that rushes through the armory subbasement had filled the old shooting range with several feet of water. Acworth was ecstatic. He imagined models waist-deep, with helmets and headlamps, or someone suspended over the waterline in a cage. "It could be very cinematic", he told me.


…60 Mission residents protested in front of the armory. While some gladly denounced the filth they had seen, or merely imagined, on Kink's Web sites, the protesters as a whole seemed to believe, officially at least, that not being O.K. with porn was somehow politically incorrect.


"We're not making moral judgments against pornography", one woman said over a megaphone as the rain started. Another assured me, "We're not a bunch of conservative reactionaries". They just didn't want Kink in their neighborhood – not near several community-outreach centers and schools. Even Mayor Gavin Newsom's office, in a statement sharing the neighbors' general concerns, added the caveat, "While not wanting to be prudish…"


Acworth wanted to be outside communicating with the protesters, not hiding in his fortress. "If my message is that I'm available, I should be out there", he said again to his staff, who had discouraged it. He fidgeted. He turned to the last camera crew, packing its gear, and asked: "What do you guys think? Do you think I should go outside"? Everyone said no, politely. Acworth fidgeted some more.


In a way, the armory, the titanic building itself, embodies the circumstances of porn these days: it is an exceedingly conspicuous presence in the community but also thoroughly sealed off and opaque. Kink could have tried to slip into the building innocuously, preserving that arrangement, yet Acworth seems bent on doing the opposite: he wants, very visibly and proactively, to be a good neighbor. (The week after the protest, he wrote an op-ed article for The San Francisco Chronicle, re-extending his open invitation to visitors.) Since the sale, he has been committed to making the armory's two-foot-thick walls as transparent as possible – and B.D.S.M. along with it.




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The oldest swingers: sex games of Stone Age exposed


by Roger Dobson

The Sunday Times (London, UK)

April 29, 2007



He may have come down from the trees, but prehistoric man did not stop swinging. New research into Stone Age humans has argued that, far from having intercourse simply to reproduce, they had sex for fun.


Practices ranging from bondage to group sex, transvestism and the use of sex toys were widespread in primitive societies as a way of building up cultural ties.


According to the study, a 30,000-year-old statue of a naked woman – the Venus of Willendorf – and an equally ancient stone phallus found in a German cave, provide the earliest direct evidence that sex was about far more than babies.


Timothy Taylor, reader in archeology at Bradford University, reviewed evidence from dozens of archeological finds and scientific studies for his research.


"The widespread lay belief that sex in the past was predominantly heterosexual and reproductive can be challenged", said Taylor.


He argues that monogamy only became established as hunter-gatherer societies took up agriculture and settled in houses, allowing the social roles of men and women to become more fixed.


Experts believe research such as Taylor's may help overturn false assumptions that sex for the purposes of reproduction is the form closest to nature.


Petra Boynton, a relationship counsellor and health lecturer at University College, London, found the study "refreshing".


"So much evolutionary theory promotes the idea that humans, particularly women, are preprogrammed for monogamy, but that is often simply overlaying science on a preexisting view of society", she said.




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Dominatrix's lawyer says woman's spirits 'as good as can be'


by Reka Bala

The Journal News (Lower Hudson area, NY)

April 27, 2007



BEDFORD – A lawyer for the dominatrix accused of running a sex business out of her Bedford home said last night that his client did not do anything wrong and he would be prepared to go to trial.


Although Sandra Chemero, 46, did not answer questions regarding the case, her lawyer, George Galgano Jr., speaking for her, said she committed no crime.


"I think her spirits are as good as can be in light of the fact that she's charged with something she didn't do," Galgano said as he and Chemero walked to his blue Bentley sports car.


"She's not a prostitute. She never agreed to have sex or engage in any sexual acts for money."


Chemero is due back in Town Court at 9 a.m. July 9 for a hearing to determine whether her case should go to trial, court officials said.


When asked whether he was in favor of going to trial, Galgano said that while he doesn't hope for it to happen, if he has to, "We'll go to trial."


Chemero was arrested in February after, police said, she offered an undercover officer sex for $275 an hour.


The sting came after authorities received a tip last year asserting that Chemero was behind a Web site that advertised dominatrix services at a white farmhouse in Bedford Hills.


The building at 235 Haines Road is owned by a neighboring Orthodox Jewish seminary, whose owners said they rented it without knowing what went on there.




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SSIS Question Sex-tion: safe, sane, and sensual sadomasochism


by Leah Berkenwald (advice and opinion)

The Brandeis Hoot (Brandeis University)

April 27, 2007



Q: My roommate recently told me that she and her boyfriend practice SM. Some of the things she told me about are pretty weird and they sound dangerous. Is it okay for her to do that stuff? -Scared Silly


A: SM is an umbrella term for a broad range of erotic play behaviors. It is known for BDSM and more extreme types of play. BDSM stands for three different things: Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, and Sado-Masochism. Some better-known types of play included in BDSM are bondage and flogging.


But SM actually includes a number of activities that are pretty routine in erotic play, such as blindfolding, dressing up, or even tickling. Not all of these activities are sexual. For example, a person might enjoy being flogged just for the physical sensation the same way another person enjoys exercise or a massage. Of course, many times SM play is sexual, and allows people to explore their sexual fantasies through role-playing.


The common factor between all types of SM is that they are completely consensual. Today we use "SM" instead of "S&M" since the separation of the terms implies that someone is only sadist or only masochist, and disregards the fact that one cannot be sadist without another being masochistic in a mutually consensual agreement. Before any type of SM play, the participants (usually a "top", or dominant person, and a "bottom" or submissive person) discuss comfort levels and negotiate limits. The bottom is actually the one calling the shots in a SM scene, because it is up to them to decide what their partner can and can't do to them. A top must stay within the pre-arranged parameters in order for the scene to remain consensual.


It is easy to buy into the stigma that surrounds SM, mainly that it's "kinky", "deviant", or "freaky". Many people envision dark dungeons, chains and whips, or perhaps even sharp metal objects and ball-gags. While this stuff certainly does go on in SM communities, bedrooms, and dungeons, it is important to realize that SM is often quite tame. In fact, you may have already participated in SM without knowing it.


A very real and legitimate part of SM involves sensations, which can sometimes be as light as the tickle of a feather. Not all SM involves pain. Have you ever experimented with feathers, or ice cubes? What about fingernails? What about handcuffs you bought at a dollar store, or perhaps fuzzy novelty ones? Have you ever tied a wrist to a bedpost? Have you ever held someone's hands down? Has anyone ever restrained you? Even simple things like this fall under the category of SM.




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Is 'Internet Normal' the New 'Sex Normal'?


by Regina Lynn


April 27, 2007



During a Playboy radio interview earlier this week, show host Tiffany Granath asked me, the producers and the listeners whether we would allow our children to be in a class with a teacher if we knew that teacher was into heavy BDSM, including cutting or "hanging by his skin."


I said sure I would. I said the teacher shouldn't discuss his sex life with students; a teacher is not a student's friend or peer. But having a sex life, whether it is 100 percent vanilla or kinkier than even I want to think about, is every adult's right.


Tiffany and her producers were more cautious. They said if they didn't share the teacher's proclivities and weren't in the same scene, the only way they would learn about his behavior is if he wasn't discreet enough. And in that case, the kids could find out. And that would apparently be bad.


It was interesting to hear what sexual activities a Playboy radio host might consider beyond the pale; I'm not sure cutting has become mainstream enough for everyone to know what it means, and all I can think of when I hear "hanging from the skin" is the Cheyenne Sun Dance.


But the conversation revealed the social importance of being sexually "normal." No parents would yank their kids out of a teacher's class because he liked oral sex. Even other forms of BDSM might be okay with Playboy's staff. But blood? Too extreme, too strange, too abnormal.


Given the explosion of sexual expression online, I'm not sure that Americans know what "normal" is anymore. Whatever it is, we want to be it. Especially when we post personal ads to attract sexual partners.




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As time goes by


by Mister Marcus

The Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco, CA)

April 26, 2007



The leather community of San Francisco has seen a lot of changes, happenings, tragedies, uplifting hopeful projects and everyday leather life as the days, months and years come and go. The weekend bike runs, beer benefits, leather contests, planning committees and hundreds of volunteers for almost every event are part of life in our neck of the woods. Interactions with Southern California leather organizations are an ongoing brotherhood syndrome.


Reaching out to other parts of this country and Canada as well as overseas people in the leather/BDSM lifestyle is not alien, either. The latest big-time project is the Leather Leadership Conference, which just concluded this past weekend in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A hefty SF Bay Area contingent was on hand for this premiere leather event and hosted a "hospitality party" in the host hotel to announce that the April 2008 Leather Leadership Conference will take place in San Francisco. A star-studded cast of leather men and women are on the planning committee and now is the time for you to get involved. LLC3 was held in San Francisco at the Holiday Inn on Van Ness Ave. when Gayle Rubin was a featured speaker.




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The Cum of Alt Fears:


Sexual subcultures leave hetero wankers hangin'

by Tristan Taormino (via opinion column "Pucker Up")

The Village Voice (NYC, NY)

April 23, 2007



Back in the day, I went to a Lesbian Sex Mafia party at Hellfire, a BDSM club in the meatpacking district. The deal was, we women had the place to ourselves until 11 p.m., and then the "general public" would be allowed in. Well, I was in the middle of paddling some ass when the clock struck 11, and since no alarm went off or anything, I continued my scene until around 11:30. When I was finished, I remember turning around and seeing dozens of dudes – who had surrounded my plaything and me – drooling with their dicks out. I have to admit it was disconcerting; I began my scene in a sex-positive, safe exhibitionist environment and ended it in the middle of a circle jerk. "Damn wankers," sighed another female partygoer.


Wankers are usually heterosexual guys who go to sex clubs and parties alone to watch the activities and jerk off. If there is no wanker population control plan in place, the space can become overrun with them, like what happened at Hellfire. The problem of wanker overload has led to an unfortunate phenomenon in the world of alternative sex organizations and events: Single guys are treated with automatic suspicion. I spent Easter weekend organizing sex workshops, an erotic egg hunt, and a dinner banquet at the biannual event I co-produce that brings together sex, BDSM, and spirituality. Holding it at a hotel, we transform banal ballrooms into fantasy spaces for people to play, and some attendees hold smaller parties in their rooms. My friend Mark e-mailed a woman who was hosting a Sunday night swinger shindig in her suite to see if he could attend. His wife was leaving early that morning, but he was staying through Monday. The party hostess replied with: "You're a single guy and I don't know you, so I am not going to say yes off the bat. I need to meet you. We'll see." He responded politely and reminded her that he was a presenter at the event and had attended six of the eight biannual gatherings. He promised he was a responsible orgy attendee, well versed in sex-party etiquette. In fact, Mark is one of the gentlest, kindest, most respectful men I know. His gender politics are right on as far as I'm concerned and I've never seen him behave inappropriately at an event. But his solid standing within the community didn't matter to this hostess. She needed to size him up for herself.


Men unaccompanied by a woman are unwelcome at nearly all swinger events and often excluded from (or barely tolerated at) other kinds of sex-positive gatherings. Like Ladies' Night at a bar, this rule first came about in order to achieve gender parity. The theory (and the reality) is that if you hold any sort of sexually themed party, single guys come in droves and outnumber women and couples; a gathering that's 75 percent single men is usually not desirable. So to balance things out, solo men must pay a higher entrance fee (as much as five to 10 times what single women pay, if those gals pay at all), have to be referred by another member in order to attend, or just can't enter period. It's not always just about the door policy: I went to a swingers party (for couples and single women only) where men were not even allowed to walk around without a female companion in certain areas.




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Dominatrix sues Greenburgh police for $5M


by Reka Bala

The Journal News (Lower Hudson area, NY)

April 21, 2007



A dominatrix who helped get a Greenburgh police officer fired after accusing him of demanding kinky sexual acts is asking for $5 million in a federal lawsuit she filed yesterday to compensate her for the pain and suffering she said she endured.


Gina Pane, 32, is suing former police Officer Erik Ward, Police Chief John Kapica and at least six other members of the Greenburgh Police Department for what she claims was unjust treatment during and following her arrest in January 2006, according to court documents.


Her attorney, Ravi Batra, said the public scrutiny Pane faced after police officers discovered she was a professional dominatrix and the media frenzy surrounding Ward's trial irrevocably damaged her future job prospects and life.


Pane claims she lost her chance at a career on Wall Street after prospective employers did background checks and rejected her when they realized criminal charges had been filed against her.


"Indemnification of her losses is appropriate," Batra said. "They have stolen from Gina her professional career, which she went to school for, studied hard for."


Pane, a Manhattanville College graduate, was arrested Jan. 21, 2006, in the parking lot of the Greenburgh Multiplex and charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs and possession of marijuana. She claims officers harassed her at headquarters when they learned of her occupation and that Ward arranged to meet her the next day supposedly to recruit her as an informant. They met near her Rye Brook home and then drove to a nature preserve in Greenwich, Conn.


Pane claims they got out of the car and she defecated for Ward as he masturbated. He has insisted that they never got out of the car and that the only thing he did wrong that day was put himself in a situation where he could be falsely accused.


Ward was suspended and his street-crime unit temporarily disbanded after Pane made a complaint to police later that week. He was charged with official misconduct, although a town justice later acquitted him of the misdemeanor charge after finding there was reasonable doubt about Pane's testimony.


The officer was fired this year after Town Board members found him guilty of violating procedures for dealing with confidential informants and bringing discredit on the department. Last week, his lawyer filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court seeking to reverse the board's ruling and get Ward reinstated as a police officer.




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