While I’ve always been sexually adventurous, I didn’t start my journey to sex positivity until I met my former husband, Steve. Prior to meeting Steve I was just starting to experiment with kinky sex with my then partner, Jake. Oh, I’d done a few kinky things prior to Jake (that’s for another story), however he was my first conscious kinky partner and we explored many things. (that looking back, were not always the safest or the most thoughtful). However, it’s what got me to meet Steve and that’s huge.
Jake and I were looking for others to explore our kink with and back in the late 80’s, that was usually done by answering ads in magazines (yes, paper magazines, not online). There was a local swingers magazine that had a few ads looking for couples to join them in kinky sex. We answered a few and didn’t hear back from any for awhile. We had one response from a couple who turned out to be rather unpleasant and we kind of gave up. At the same time, our relationship was strained and we ended the romance to save the café we owned together (Back Alley Jakes, in Auburn WA). And that’s when, a few months after we’d placed the ad, Steve contacted me. He and his then girlfriend were looking for another couple and since Jake and I weren’t a couple anymore, it meant no play. However, it turned out Steve worked for Boeing in Auburn and he came by the café to at least meet us. And a friendship was born. He was a fount of knowledge and answered my silly beginner questions with patience and what eventually became love. In the midst of our burgeoning friendship, he and his girlfriend parted ways (not because of me, thankfully) and this opened the door for what would eventually become my longest marriage and my introduction to a whole new world of what I now consider Sex Positive Culture.
For a couple years, prior to our meeting, Steve and his girlfriend had been renting a local swingers club and holding parties called Kinky Couples. This were originally under the umbrella of the National Leather Alliance (NLA), which started in Seattle and of which Steve was a huge part of. I’d heard of the NLA and their yearly conferences, Living in Leather(LIL). In fact, the year before Steve and I became a couple, another kinky friend of mine invited me to LIL-IV in Portland, which I chickened out on. Just like I had chickened out on attending a Kinky Couples party when Steve and his girlfriend were running it. Now, I was an item with Steve and couldn’t chicken out again. (of which I’m very thankful).
My first kinky experience with Steve, outside of play at his place, was a private party of six couples. It was weird and kind of fun and gave me at least a few people to become friends with. Then Steve took me to Living In Leather V. My mind was blown.
They were doing some things, that at that time were pretty groundbreaking. The NLA was started by a bunch of queer kinksters and their parties were usually segregated by gender. However a few straight folk, like Steve, wanted to be involved and they adjusted their parties and events to accommodate and welcome the “pansexual” crowd as they soon became known. The 10,000sq ft. dungeon had a women’s area, a men’s area and a place called Any Which Way area. I remember walking into the dungeon, terrified and then I heard the sounds. There were people crying, cumming, screaming and laughing and all of a sudden I felt totally at home. I’d found my people. Needless to say, this event changed how I looked at kink and my life. It was transformative.
Then there was Kinky Couples. That took my transformation to a whole new level. I started helping Steve with the parties, shortly after LILV. We took over a local swing club called New Horizons and turned it into a two or three day kinky party, four to six times a year. We opened our arms to the swing community as long as they played by our rules (we had few, attend as a couple or moresome, practice safersex in public play, be respectful of the people and the space, ask before touching and listen to the dungeon monitors) and we also created space for our ageplay community (we had a room with adult sized playpen, crib and highchair) , the pony community and other niches within the kink/fetish world. This kind of melding was unheard of at the time, yet for us it was important. We attracted people from all over North America. We were creating Sex Positive Culture and didn’t even know it. We just thought we were throwing great parties.
If it wasn’t for the NLA, Kinky Couples, New Horizon and of course, Steve, there wouldn’t be such a strong Sex Positive Community in the Northwest. Because of this early journey, in the mid 90’s we eventually created The Center for Sex Positive Culture (aka The Wet Spot) and the Foundation for Sex Positive Culture. We also inspired several other organizations to take off and we created a community of people who work together, play together and love together. A Sex Positive Community.
There’s a lot more to this story and I’ll tell it another day. However, I wanted to share with you where I got my start and why I’m currently working on the book, Sex Positive Now, with Jeremy Shub. It’s because I want to create a Sex Positive world and this is how it starts, with a few people creating space and community.