Deep down, I’m a woman of simple tastes: a little kink, a lot of sex, some community and a good night’s sleep (which usually comes after any of the first three). Yet I continually find myself having to venture outside of New York for all of the above. This place is a mecca for the arts and commerce, a hothouse of talent where your most impossible dreams can be launched and applauded. It’s also the loneliest place I know.
To start with, America does not do kink very well. Say what you will about our ‘oversexed society’ here in the West, most of it is just a glittering veneer that masks some very strange, puritanical ideas. As a result our society is caught in not an oversexualization, but a premature sexualization of girls and boys, which introduces sex at too early an age thereby creating immediate sex-shame. This is all driven by corporate greed that uses sexual identity as a way to sell more products to more people.
As a result of our contentious relationship with our own sexuality, Americans aren’t even close to understanding or respecting kink—how can we when the bedrock of our society is made up of sex-shame-sex-shame? We have the not-so-intelligent intelligentsia ranting against consensual BDSM, at times using gross journalistic misconduct and cleverly disguised bigotry in order to appear progressive. We also have 50 Shades of “Damaged Goods,” which has raked in $566M in box office sales and well over 100 million copies in print. Whether BDSM is being used as an ontological baseball bat against itself, or sensationalized to make E.L. James and a small portion of Hollywood very wealthy, the result is the same: objectifying a way of life and ignoring the greater lessons that BDSM has to teach us. Did I enjoy the movie? Yes. Does that make me a disgusting hypocrite? Yes. But at least I’m upfront about my hypocrisy, unlike most of the country.
Of course it could be worse: we’re not Russia, which announced this year it would suspend the drivers licenses of fetishists. However, we’re not Germany or Japan either, which have been admired for decades for their embrace of kink and alternative erotica. Our sexuality is wedged begrudgingly in the middle between hyper-liberal and hyper-conservative, as evidenced by the US media’s obsession with anything celebrity-kink related and local politics, i.e. the dungeon raids in New York in 2007-08. I take the point that many of the public BDSM scandals fall into a sort of gray area, as they often involve either ProDommes or high-profile professionals-as-clients; the involvement of either calls into question all sorts of legalities and insinuations of prostitution, etc., which raises a whole different set of questions that has nothing to do with BDSM. However, even the lifestyle kink scene in the US is wan compared to some other countries. In this respect, globally speaking, we are simply not as progressive as we like to think.
From personal experience, I have found the New York lifestyle scene particularly distasteful. Most of the community here seems to fall into three categories: cool and cliquey; hideous and scary; or aggressive and rude. I cut my teeth in the London fetish scene where you will find people dressing up for EVERY EVENT. Even the worst events in London are well attended and have a few promising newcomers to chat with. The established kink community there is terrifically welcoming to fresh faces, and it’s nigh impossible to leave an event without making wonderful new friends—many of whom will be gorgeous, fascinating, and otherwise “normal.” In the US, I’m glad if I come away from an event with a single hottie on my arm—though I did manage to pull a total fox at a party in Philadelphia last weekend…tell ya ‘bout her some other time. The sad truth is you’ll find more quality, public BDSM events in one week in London than you will in most US cities in a month—including New York.
There are noble efforts from The NY Fetish Tribe, but I always leave their parties feeling that I haven’t actually made meaningful connections—most of the “fun people” all seem to know each other already and are disinterested in making new friends. Or maybe my resting bitch face is just not particularly well received. I have also found many of the New York kink events to be heavily MaleDom/femsub oriented: recipe for awkward Darcy. There are events here and there at the house dungeons in New York, but as an independent Domme I feel a bit gauche crashing a ‘house’ party. And the last high profile, private “BDSM play party” I went to in Manhattan was definitely a sex party. I was yawning after an hour, annoyed at having wasted my latex in front of all the naked swingers.
The most unsettling thing about kink, and about New York, and about kink in New York, is that everything is so transactional. I understand the inherent absurdity of such a statement coming from a ProDomme. However, I’m honest about my transactions: unapologetic, upfront, and dedicated to creating a happy exchange for both parties. For the most part, commercial usage of kink is a three-way transaction in which only two parties receive something: the corporation pretends it’s selling BDSM and what it stands for, when really it is selling fashion, music, film, cars, or pistachios; the customer gets to feel “edgy”; and the BDSM community receives either nothing or less than nothing, as their identity and values are appropriated and then displaced. Part of my role as a D-list celebrity in the fetish scene (D for Darcy, of course) is to raise awareness about kink in a way that gives back to the culture itself, slowly integrating it into the mainstream in a manner that is respectful and inclusive.
Dating in New York is as frenzied and cutthroat as a #LillyforTarget stampede (or if you’re a guy, trying to get an early release of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare). Kinky dating here is only slightly better. The reason I prefer kink in New York to sex in New York is that at least I can understand the landscape of kink and malesub/MaleDom desire, whereas with vanilla dating everything is so gosh-darned ambiguous that I generally have no idea if someone likes me until months later after they’ve moved on. Kinky New York men are similar to vanilla New York men in that they are generally uncouth, agenda-driven, flaky and jaw-droppingly selfish—but as a Domme I have a skill set and wardrobe that many guys in the scene want (see Top 10 Reasons to Date a ProDomme), so I become part of their agenda and can at least make it onto their “to do” list. I have a lot to offer as a vanilla woman as well, but in a city where supermodels literally walk the streets, it can be tough to hold a ‘nilla guy’s attention for very long.
I would be less grumpy about all of this if I could get a good night’s rest. I should have listened to what they all say—this place really doesn’t ever sleep. They were telling the truth! I have suffered chronic insomnia since the day I moved here, partly due to the sheer energetic momentum coursing through the streets. But it’s also just a noisy place. Noisy, busy, exciting, with so much squandered potential that it makes me crazy in a way that is both funny and terrifying at the same time.
What’s the solution? I could continue to get on a plane every two months to London. I could keep running, keep dating abroad, and keep hooking up with random New York male models that then disappear into the skyscrapers. Or I could start to build the kind of city in which I want to live one relationship at a time. Until New York is a fashionable, cultured, kink-friendly haven of love, fun and community. Can one woman really make a difference? My clients tell me almost without fail that I’ve changed the way they think about domination. If I can make such a difference to them in a matter of hours, think what I could do if I put my energy towards creating the perfect city, day in day out, for a few years. Or better yet—perhaps my writing will one day reach the hundreds of millions that E.L. James has. Each interaction is a chance to create the community you want, each word you speak is a small brick in the wall of your greatness.
You have tremendous power, even you subs—as much as me or anyone else. Start now. Spread awareness. Speak acceptance. Give freely. Communicate honestly. Love openly. Find calm.
And if you’re a kinky male model, take me the hell to dinner.