Student Life interviewed Alternative Lifestyle Association (ALA) president Diana Goeller to find out about kink on campus. Here is what she had to say.
SL: Tell us a little bit about ALA.
DG: In the past year and a half or so we’ve been more about being a resource. We call it SSC: safe, sane and consensual. We want to promote that if anyone is interested in practicing kink that they do things safely. We also hold workshops and discussion groups. We want to open conversation and for people to find out about things and explore. Even if they’re not kinky or alternative, it’s still good to open conversation in order to fight prejudice or in a lot of cases improve your sex life.
SL: What are some of the exciting or beneficial parts of kink? What do you recommend students try?
DG: College is a great time to experiment and learn about yourself because this is the time before people start looking to settle down. There’s polyamory, open relationships, dating without necessarily a significant other…but those aren’t always for everyone. In terms of the sexier side, Midori’s best advice is to introduce a blindfold. You just have your regular good sex, but the blindfold makes you more aware and it changes things without being very threatening. It really heightens your other senses.
SL: Who is Midori?
DG: Midori is the speaker that our group brought in for Sex Week. Each year we try to bring in a high-name speaker. But we also like to bring in local people during the semester to talk about particular skills, wax play or certain types of bondage. Last semester we organized a trip with some of our members to a local event called Spanksgiving.
SL: Spanksgiving! That’s a clever name.
DG: Yup, and in the spring there’s Beat Me in St. Louis.
SL: So what happens at these events?
DG: During the day, there’s classes. There will also be vendors—people who sell corsets or rope or flaggers, different evil implements. So you can go to the classes, talk to people, socialize, learn, and then at a certain time they close it off. The evening is playtime, and at most events you have to be 21 to stay for that part. They open up the dungeon, and it’s really fun.
SL: What exactly is a dungeon?
DG: Generally the dungeon is an old warehouse that they clean up and furnish. It has different areas where you have the bigger equipment you couldn’t put in your house. So that would be things like a jungle gym, or a St. Andrew’s cross. There’s also tables for needle play, wax play and fire. It’s usually a big space where rope (and people) can be suspended. There are different sections to play and other people can watch—basically a giant, sexy playground.
SL: What would you recommend to students who are new to kink but interested in trying it?
DG: Definitely talk to your partner. Find out what sorts of things people are interested in and explore your own fantasies—not necessarily to do them immediately, but sometimes even just talking about them is a much as you need. Start small and don’t try everything in one night. Last night Midori proposed the sandwich method—you remember what happened at the beginning and the end, but not the middle. If there’s something you want to try that you’ve never done before, put it in the middle of your evening.
SL: In this exciting new age of technology and the Internet, are there any interesting things on the horizon for kink?
DG: I have been assured that perverts are capable of perverting anything. But with things like Facebook specifically, there’s now a social-networking site for kink called fetlife.com. It’s a great resource guide. It allows you to connect with other people, find out interests—it’s great. Some people have had unfortunate experiences with it, but in general it’s non-threatening, and you can find out about events like one-on-one type things or social gatherings.
SL: What would you say to people who think kink is weird or strange or even immoral?
DG: For people who think it’s immoral, I would disagree that exploring your sexuality to learn about yourself and be more comfortable with yourself is a problem. What we’re trying to do is to get people to think about alternatives and understand that different is okay. We want people to understand themselves and know that if they’re different, that’s okay. It’s about being happy and exploring what you like to make yourself a satisfied human being. It doesn’t even have to be about sex, and it’s not about harming people. It’s all about mutual, consensual agreements between adults to achieve a common pleasurable experience.
As for the people who think it’s weird, don’t think anyone denies that it’s strange and weird, but it’s not meant to be threatening. The community is full of people who have found that there’s something that they like that they can’t get elsewhere. It’s like any other community, people who are really crazy about football go to the Super Bowl parties. The fact that it happens to be about sex, or even just sexuality, isn’t surprising because a lot of people like sex, and that’s not a bad thing, but we’re not trying to be in your face freak you out. We’re not on some secret agenda to convert. Find what you like, do what you love.
SL: Where does the average Wash. U. student go to purchase kink toys?
DG: Especially if you’re just starting out and don’t want to invest a lot, the best places are PetSmart and The Home Depot, depending on what your interests are. You can get rope from The Home Depot and different sensory equipment for playing with senses during sex. Also, CheapTRX is the local place that sells interesting things, and Aja Rope makes really nice hemp rope in different colors if you’re interested in investing more money. Beyond that, I recommend fetlife.com and talking to people about where to get the best stuff. If you buy on the Internet you want to make sure you’re getting good quality things. One more thing: If you’re interested in purchasing a riding crop, don’t buy it from a kink store. Go to a horse supply store and get one that’s meant for actual horses—it’ll be at least half the price.
SL: What’s the craziest kink story or most provocative type of kink you’ve ever heard?
DG: One time I went to an event where the best thing was a safer-sex orgy. Anyone who wanted to go was welcome and people who had signed up for chores during the event were assigned to be “lube fairies.” They made sure everyone had condoms and lube and gloves, making sure all the safe sex was possible and everyone was comfortable, and I thought that was really cool. One of the hottest scenes I’ve seen involved a rope suspension and ballroom dancing to death metal. Death metal is always playing in the dungeon.