I have always wanted to be a bit of a slut. I’ve always wanted to be able to celebrate the concepts of sexual freedom and sexual liberation, and be able to engage a wide range of partners freely, safely, and givingly without all the hang-ups that comes with being a child of the 80s and trans and hyper sensitive (and selective) energetically. In fact being a generally available sexual plaything is one of the more darker and edger fantasies creeping around the outskirts of my shadow – heh, never mind needles and knives and other assorted sundries of other people’s edge play. That stuff hardly fazes me some days. No my edge play is actually having sex. How fucked up is that?
And so, in because of that, and in spite of all the levels and layers of “shouldn’t’s,” and negative self-talk rattling around in my head, and straightness of it all, I periodically peek my eye over to what the swinger folks are up to.
I visited a swinger space once before. It was a few years be, while I was in the midst of school. I went to a place called the Scarlet Ranch when it was back in Denver. I had to do a lot of upfront research. They had multiple rates for visitors – one for couples, one for single women, and a special rate which required a special orientation and all for single men. All very fucked up in a lot of ways and levels, and at the time I did not have the issue I have not with excuses and magical intent. Anyway, I wrote to find out what rate I would find myself falling into, since I really could not foresee myself going with someone – my relationships have always been sort of complex and ambivalent about the idea of participating in the swinger scene. I was assured that if I came presenting as a women I would be able to pay the single women’s rate.
Well, that was good enough for me, and eventually one evening when I was free – I cannot remember if it was a Thursday or Friday evening, but I think it was Friday – I screwed enough courage to venture out. I was not sure how I would handle the potential of guys hitting on me. I’ve always been sort of okay with guys. Most are unimpressive and uninspiring. Ideally in such situations I like couples. I have played with couples before and enjoyed myself greatly. And while I prefer girls more, I keep holding out of the occasional hope that maybe I will encounter one who has a clue or two together, has his act together, and is into trans chicks enough to enable to let down my guard a little. And while I have very little delusion about my ability to garner conditional cis privilege (I operate under the assumption I am read easily and frequently), I figured I would explain to any guys who chatted me up that I was trans soon into the conversation. And besides, I knew of one other trans women who frequented the space. I am sure it must be sort of okay.
So I went. I was given the women’s rate entering. It was a slow night. The space was okay. I really did not have a plan for the night, and I was mostly there to get a feel for the place to see if I would care to return. I did chat with a few guys. Outed myself, with the expected result – polite wrap-up conversation. I really did not hit it off with anyone except the couple working the bar. But they were working the bar, so really there was nothing more we could do except chit-chat. I hit it off well enough with them I almost considered return. Until I was on my out the door that is.
As I was leaving, I was told there was a mistake. That because my identification read male, next time I came back I would be charged the male rate. I did not make a fuss. Just said thank you and left, pretty much vowing never to return. My suspicions have always been that it was more than just that. That one of the male patrons actually had issue with me and raised a complaint with the management. But I’ve never looked into it and written off my thoughts as the delusions of an occasionally paranoid mind.
So until last night, that was my one and only experience into swingerland. Not very encouraging. But not surprising in the least. I mean, we can barely get the bodies and identities sexualized, gendered, and desired in queer spaces. What should I really expect from straight space?
There is a similar story as to why I hold no hopes of finding either flings or romances in Goth space.
So last night I want to Cirque De Kink. It caught my attention as it popped up on my friend’s feed on Fet. A space set up specifically for the intersections of kink and sex. I found the idea at least worth checking out. I had not been to one of the Sanctuary kink and sex parties yet, as they always seemed to happen rather infrequently and on night when I had something else come up. But the interplay between sexuality and kink is something I really miss in my kink. I am tired of my spaces feeling so sterile all the time. So this event was actually taking place on a night I was actually free. And the cost, while on the limit of my affordability range, was still doable – as long as my paycheck check cleared so I had money. That all said, I had not realized Cirque De Kink was actually in a swinger space. If I had, I wonder if that would have altered my decision to consider going.
By the time Friday itself had rolled I was sort of still ambivalent. sophi and I had gotten hold of the third season of Misfits and it was sorely tempting to spend the evening watching that. But I had not really been out in a while. So by the time the evening rolled around to past seven and closing in on eight, I had to decide whether to actually go out or not. I figured I would give it a shot and I eventually motivated myself to head out. After my prep up which consisted of trying to figure out outfit after outfit and finally settling on my first choice. Headed out, and proceeded to drive to the far end of town – a bit later than usual but not too late.
I got to the to CDK, one of the first things I thought as I came in was that crowd looked like a very straight and very vanilla. Realize I still had not known I was headed into a swingers club. As I stood in line, I had a serious evaluation if I was going to actually head in or not. I think if I had not seen a friend of mine I knew from the kink scene, just inside chatting with some people, I might have turned around and headed home. The deal was sealed my friend spotted me in line and came over to say hello and we started chatting.
The environment was okay. I mean the location is really nice. A lot of devotion and passion went into the site. I was really impressed with the setup. But it was still straight, mostly vanilla, but with a few kinksters. But even then, still mostly straight, and mostly male dominants at that. And I still felt pretty much like an outsider.
I was introduced to a rather dapper, very well dressed and classically mannered gentleman. Very much up my alley. But as he raised my hand to his lips – I am the only other person I know of who used to do hand kissing – instead of being able to just enjoy the flirtatiousness of the moment, my mind raced into emergency alert about being unsure if this person knew if I was trans or not. Is he trans accepting and/or attracted? And if not to both of those, than oh shit, is he the sort of person to have a mini-freak out about finding out he kissed the hand of “a dude.”
There was also a moment where, observing a trance scene going on, I almost felt that yearning to be a submissive and slave to someone again. But that part if an aspect I have been in the slow process of weeding, cutting, and pummeling out of myself for quite some time now. And my perception is (and this is a wholly and admittedly assumed perception): the ones are any good at it want “real” girls, and those who want trannies are possibly a little unsafe, likely don’t know what they are doing, and just a bit creepy.
I was really grateful my friend was there. I am not sure what I would have done without someone to chat with. She showed me around and we had a really good conversation. At one point we talked about the idea of a queer invasion of the space, which I think would be pretty cool, and might make a space like that a little more comfortable for me. In a way, I really do feel the space needs to be queered and kinked up. It would be nice see it as a space where a much wider range of sexual expression and sexual interactions. Like a much wider range.
But the thing is, the straights are the ones who pay the bills. It is there funds which make the space possible. I mean, they have the decent jobs and the funds and all that. Not like I, or any of my other queer friends, have hopes making the sort of cash the so call middle class (upper middle really) straight folks who populate. So in a way, I can’t blame them for it being made to appeal to them.
I did see other folks I knew from the kink scene, but either they were sort of busy, or they were not people I knew very well. I still felt very guarded over all, being hesitant to make any real eye contact with anything, least they think I was being flirtatious and since I really did not know who was “safe” and who was not. And later in the evening, just before I was ready to head out, I did see other friendly faces, as it were. And we chatted some. So that was nice.
I don’t think it is a space I would feel comfortable going back with without a date of some sort. Like any other space I happen to find myself venturing into – straight, queer, vanilla, or kinky – I do not see it as a space where I can actually expect to find and connect with a hookup. Maybe a space to play sexually with a partner I already connect with, but definitely not a space where I feel there would be space for me.
In the end, I do not regret having gone. Not so much for the experience, but for something else – the start of a conversation that I feel needed to happened, and to be able to help a friend.
Really, I don’t mean to sound like a sour apple or a grump. I am sure the space is fantastic for those people who do not have to navigate a wide array of related to their social and acceptance and desirability. I am not sure really what I even hope to accomplish going to them. Maybe I am simply a spy and documentarian in the heteronormative mating spaces.
And if this is all starting to sound like Cotton Ceiling stuff, in a way, I guess it is.
edit 4/1/12: I forgot to mention the space was also predominantly white and able-bodied. If there were any PoC or disabled people, I do not remember seeing them.