Pin It
.
Favorites

Rochester's kink community steps into view — behind closed doors 

click to enlarge "Sensual sadist" Daddy Doyenne, seen here in a BDSM session with Vickie, alternated between whipping and caressing Vickie in an attic dungeon on Troup Street. They are part of the kink scene in Rochester, which is larger than you might think. - PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
  • PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
  • "Sensual sadist" Daddy Doyenne, seen here in a BDSM session with Vickie, alternated between whipping and caressing Vickie in an attic dungeon on Troup Street. They are part of the kink scene in Rochester, which is larger than you might think.
In a dimly-lit attic of a Victorian house on Troup Street, a dominatrix clad in a black leather corset and heeled boots towered above a middle-aged woman in a pink lace dress and a shiny black miniskirt seated on a red leather bench.

“Spanking today?” the dominatrix whispered firmly.

“Yes, please,” the woman replied, careful to keep her eyes respectfully lowered.

The question was posed by Daddy Doyenne, a 33-year-old nonbinary “sensual sadist” from Henrietta who, in addition to being a mother to a 6-year-old child, owns The Kinky Kafé, a local kink-themed event and catering business, and takes on clients who pay $300 an hour for their dominatrix services.

Their submissive that day was Vickie, a 64-year-old retired factory and machine shop worker and former volunteer firefighter and EMT who lives in Irondequoit. The relationship they share is intimate. They text each other throughout the day to say good morning and good night. Daddy coaches Vickie on self-care and self-esteem. Vickie inquires if there is anything she can do to serve Daddy, like running errands and cleaning.

They had gathered in the attic dungeon in the Victorian on Troup Street owned by another dominatrix named Madame Tessa. It was around noon on Thursday, and outside down the street people came and went from a busy bus stop, unaware of the session taking place inside.

click to enlarge Vickie and Daddy Doyenne. - PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
  • PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
  • Vickie and Daddy Doyenne.
The windows and floors were draped in black cloth and tables held bondage gear, whips, flogs, dildos, and sensory-deprivation devices. Vickie knelt over the red leather bench and stayed silent as Daddy alternated between whipping her — building from gentle smacks to sharp, arcing thwacks — and gently caressing and massaging her over the next 45 minutes.

Kink and sexual pleasure share a space, but they don’t always overlap. Witnessing this session felt less like watching something carnal than sitting in on someone’s appointment with their massage therapist or chiropractor. At the end, Vickie seemed relaxed, serene, and she described the experience as something akin to meditation.

“I’m buzzing, buzzing,” she said, adding that when the sessions work the best, she goes into what she calls “subspace.”

“There have been times when I was being paddled or spanked and I was gone,” she said. “I can hear it going on, and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, that sounds like that should hurt,’ but I’m not feeling it anymore.”

Daddy said that engaging in BDSM — a variety of kink involving some combination of bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, and sadomasochism — is a radical exercise in trust, and one that, if approached correctly, can provide a sense of healing.

click to enlarge Vickie says that during a spanking session with Daddy Doyenne, she goes into a meditation-like "subspace" that leaves her feeling euphoric. Experts say that safely engaging in kinks can improve overall health. - PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
  • PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
  • Vickie says that during a spanking session with Daddy Doyenne, she goes into a meditation-like "subspace" that leaves her feeling euphoric. Experts say that safely engaging in kinks can improve overall health.
“The sense of euphoria that you get from a session, that's the thing that people don't understand,” they said. “It produces the same chemicals in your brain that ecstasy would. The serotonin, the dopamine, it's firing off and firing off. Then they all have to drop, you know, and you can find yourself in a depressive spiral. But that's what aftercare is for. That's what checking in with your sub is for, because we can help each other out.”

Bondage. Role play. Dominance and submission. Cuckolding and other forms of humiliation. Threesomes. Electrostimulation. Ethical non-monogamy. Foot fetishes. Nylons. Urine play. Voyeurism.

That’s just a small slice of the world of consensual sexual (and nonsexual) kinks. And though still taboo, the topic has been creeping into the mainstream, thanks to movies like the 2002 erotic comedy “Secretary” and the “Twilight” fanfic series “Fifty Shades of Grey” (which many in the kink community dislike for what they say is its poor representation of communication and consent).

Kink is a part of the lives of many people, as evidenced by alternative dating apps like Feeld, a service for couples and singles looking to get together that has been around since 2014. Locally, there is the Rochester Kink Society, which was founded in 1997. Society organizers count 50 official members and estimate that about 600 people participate in events.

So what is it about our relationship to sex, our bodies, and each other that makes us want to use hushed tones when we even think about kinks, and turn away from those who are open about theirs?

click to enlarge Daddy Doyenne and Vickie. - PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
  • PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
  • Daddy Doyenne and Vickie.
According to a OnePoll survey, conducted in May 2021 on behalf of the sex product company MysteryVibe, 32 percent of Americans said they have kinks that their partners don’t even know about.

But a lack of openness about kink pushes it to the shadowy fringes of society, where, like sex work, participants can find themselves endangered by the lack of information and protections involved.

The Rochester kink scene — whose exact scope is hard to pin down but involves a handful of social groups, BDSM-friendly bars, and several private and community dungeons — does a lot of self-policing, Daddy said.

This includes the weeding-out of irresponsible creeps who want to exploit or abuse naive young women in particular, making space for trans and disabled people, and safeguarding members against racism by calling out racist behavior.

“The kink community is still very white-dominated,” Daddy said. “Black sex workers and kinksters have had to create their own spaces.”

This is one of the reasons Daddy created The Kinky Kafé, which they opened in 2021 but whose operations have been paused due to the pandemic. It’s a space dedicated to reversing the stigma about kink culture and providing a safe place for people — especially BIPOC, women and femmes, and queer people — to explore their kinks.

But the discussion about kink isn’t just happening in dungeons and clubs. Academics have become interested in it as a holistic approach to sexual health.

“I think of kink as a wide variety of ways that people sexually play together,” said Dr. Pebble Kranz, assistant professor of clinical family medicine and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Rochester and medical director for the Rochester Center for Sexual Wellness. “And it doesn't even have to be sexual. It's playing with sensation, playing with role, playing with identity.”

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
  • PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE

Kranz underscores that the key to healthy kink is a complex understanding of consent, adding that because checking in with one another’s limits is built into a responsible practice of kink, the kink community has a better understanding of consent than the general population does.

Rochester-based sexuality educator Jenna Weintraub said that kink is a “big world of adventure.” It's a long list that includes, but is not limited to voyeurism and exhibitionism, fetishism, fantasy, role-playing, and power exchange, she said.

“It includes swinging, leather, restraints,” she added. “I think anything that's usually perceived as mainstream is not kink. And everything around that is kink. But a lot of people have different definitions of what kink is.”

For many people, sexual fantasies don’t necessarily translate to sexual behavior. So, if lots of us already have kinky predilections, what are the safe and responsible steps to embracing our kinks?

Sexuality experts such as Weintraub and Kranz agree that mindfulness, communication, compassion, and consent are central to engaging in the kink lifestyle. And some people who do engage are candid about what it takes to protect themselves and others.

“A ‘bad kink’ is one that you act on that other people or other entities cannot consent to,” said Rochester Kink Society’s events coordinator, auction chair, and outreach assistant, who goes by the moniker “schöenspiele.” “Some kinks should stay as fantasy only.”

Many people engage in kinky behavior on a regular basis, even if that’s not what they’re calling it. The most common kink, easily, is watching porn. That’s voyeurism.

“There are so many facets of BDSM, that a lot of people don't realize that they use kink every day,” Daddy said.

“People who like to, you know, casually choke each other in bed it's like — that's not casual,” they said. “That's kink! You know? I know people who like to spit on each other in bed. That's kinky!”

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
  • PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE

For schöenspiele, sometimes being part of the kink community means having a coffee and playing board games at a dungeon — a word that sounds a lot scarier than the place actually is.

“It’s a community space,” they added. “Some people go on rollercoasters and ride motorcycles and go scuba diving. I hang out with my friends and we can hit each other with stuff or get tied up, you know?”

Schöenspiele and others with the society said practicing kink has positively affected their relationships outside intimate ones. Practicing boundaries, building confidence, determining how to meet goals, and communicating clearly are all benefits of kink discussed by doms and subs alike.

“Kink is not always sex,” schöenspiele said. “A lot of kink is very asexual, non-sexual. It can be adrenaline-seeking or comfort-seeking or whatever.” For example, they added, “using rope can be done sexually, or it can be done just artistically, like dancing.”

And no one is a gatekeeper of kink, they added. “Any of your kinks are kinky enough — even being vanilla is kinky, you know, in this world,” schöenspiele said. “You are allowed to question, change, and grow at your own pace. And anyone who says otherwise are dickheads.”

With reporting by Amanda Chestnut.
Rebecca Rafferty is CITY’s life editor. She can be reached at becca@rochester-citynews.com.

RESOURCES
Compiled by Amanda Chestnut

Rochester Kink Society
rochesterkinksociety.com, usually referred to as RKS, is the longest-running local kink organization. 25 years old, 501c7 nonprofit focused on
education)

Masters and Slaves Together
Local chapter of a national org. Still very new, focused on power
exchange.

Erotic Arts Festival
Annual fest with educational workshops and vendors)

"Wild Side Sex: The Book of Kink"
Educational Sensual & Entertaining Essays. Daedalus Publishing, 2005.

“Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge”
by Tristan Taormino (Editor), Barbara Carrellas

The Alternative Sexual Health Research Alliance
tashra.org; @kinkhealth on Twitter

Scarleteen — “Yes, No, Maybe So: A Sexual Inventory Stocklist” — a great checklist to go over alone or with a partner.

Feeld app — like Hinge or Tinder, but for kink. Bonus, when you pay, you can exclude anyone who follows you on Facebook from being able to see your profile.

Kama — app and Instagram. Mindful sexual awareness. Great for getting to know your body and boundaries, and learning about having sex both solo and with a partner.

@shrimpteeth on Instagram — offers education on ENM, queer, kinky, and relationships

Horizontal With Lila — Instagram, podcast. Intimacy specialist.

Savage Lovecast — Podcast from advice columnist Dan Savage

Multiamory — Podcast that “offers support and advice for modern relationships”

FetLife — Social media platform. NSFW.

Rochester Center for Sexual Wellness — rochestercenterforsexualwellness.com

Jenna Weintraubjennaweintraub.com

The Kinky Kafé — on Instagram: @kinkykafellc

click image champion-story-banner.gif

Browse Listings

Submit an event

Tweets @RocCityNews

Website powered by Foundation     |     © 2022 CITY News