Saturday, February 28, 2009

When Is ProDomming Like Vagrancy?

Edward Lawson, social critic and civil rights activist, fought the good fight. Between March 1975 and January 1977 Lawson was arrested 15 times in California for violating a vagrancy statute which required people to "stop and identify" themselves. The law read:
Every person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor: .... (e) Who loiters or wanders upon the streets or from place to place without apparent reason or business and who refuses to identify himself and to account for his presence when requested by any peace officer to do so, if the surrounding circumstances are such as to indicate to a reasonable
man that the public safety demands such identification.
Lawson sued the cops in federal court in Los Angeles seeking a declaratory judgement that the statute was so vague it didn't let folks know how to act. It also let the cops enforce the law any way they saw fit. Representing himself, Lawson fought the power all the way to the United States Supreme Court and won. In Kolender v. Lawson the Court struck down the California vagrancy statute and held that it was "unconstitutionally vague within the meaning of the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to clarify what is contemplated by the requirement that a suspect provide a “credible and reliable” identification."

There's some wonderful language in Lawson and ya know I've got a fetish for the well-turned phrase. SCOTUS said, "Our Constitution is designed to maximize individual freedoms within a framework of ordered liberty."

They went on to say that, "[a]s generally stated, the void-for-vagueness doctrine requires that a penal statute define the criminal offense with sufficient definiteness that ordinary people can understand what conduct is prohibited and in a manner that does not encourage arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement." The Court was all about clear notice to the people as to what was a no-no. The Supremes saw in the California law an amorphous stricture which permitted “a standardless sweep [that] allow[ed] policemen, prosecutors, and juries to pursue their personal predilections.”

Does this sound familiar? If you've checked the Max Board or Yin's blog recently the NCSF has reported that the Manhattan District Attorney's Office believes activities such as "flogging, CBT or genitoture, spanking, body worship and nipple torture, in addition to more overtly sexual activities" would violate New York's criminal law against prostitution if it aroused either party and it was pay-for-play. NCSF reports Lisa Friel, Chief of the Sex Crimes Unit, lectured that the undefined "sexual conduct" element of the prostitution statute should not be objective at all but should be defined by "what is arousing to the participants". Ms. Friel, a rather hot and dommy prosecutrix, harangued that at least one prior lower court opinion had gotten it all wrong. She seemed big on backing the "standardless sweep" - a tactic which so troubled Edward Lawson that he made a Supreme Court case out of it - and won.

Now look, I'm one to talk. I think everything in the dungeon is arousing. I think it's deeply romantic. But who am I? And more importantly, who is Lisa Friel? It's the law that must clearly say what is illegal and must guide both citizen and cop to fairly follow and evenly enforce it. The doctrine of void-for-vagueness is complicated. There are loads of cases and twisting, winding, double blind reasoning. But, as NCSF was saying in their email posted on The Hang, the essence of Lawson provides a basis to challenge the New York prostitution statute as unconstitutionally vague.

Personally, I think such a challenge should be sex worker driven and planned. What does a prodomme who just wants to work for a living need with a privileged, paternalistic, white-guy, wannbe savior.

But ... what if once upon a time three really attractive, well educated, articulate, passionate, accomplished dommes wanted to start a business. Let's call it Domina Dojo. In the preposterously perfect pipedream of my mind's eye, they are a rainbow coalition. This delightful trio is a veritable kinky Charlie's Angels of bdsm charm. Oh, come on! You know who you are!

Let's say in my reverie our heroines outfitted a space and did lots of publicity to advertise a grand opening. They wouldn't have other adult businesses and would offer only two menu items. Bondage and corporal punishment. No OTK spanking and no other activities at all. It's a sexy, edgy, specialty house. Prior to the gala kickoff they inform the Manhattan DA's Office, the New York City Police Department and every newspaper, radio station and TV reporter in town of the ribbon cutting ceremony. Only before they see a single client, they file a declaratory judgement action either in New York State Supreme Court or the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeking to strike down the New York prostitution statute as unconstitutional on the grounds that it is void for vagueness. Oh gosh, let's call the case Domina Dojo v. Morgenthau - or whoever succeeds him as he announced yesterday he's finally retiring. Before our conquistadoras see a single client, they await a ruling from the court.

They possibly would have a "case and controversy", something required to get a federal judge to act. This might be important if they decided they wanted to avoid state judges, many of whom may owe their positions to a mayoral committee. In addition, judges generally won't give advisory opinions. The black robes deal with dispute.

But the dommes have one - with Lisa Friel. They wanna know who she thinks she is! They want to know can they make a living and provide a service without violating the law and getting shipped up the river to the Big House. Maybe they don't think it's Ms. Friel who ought to be judge and jury. They certainly don't think she's concerned with "individual freedoms within a framework of ordered liberty." Most importantly, they are unlikely to get arrested because they haven't done anything even arguably illegal yet. They just want to work. Hmmmm ... now that might be a fun case.

This, dear reader, is pure fantasy. There are many ways this would likely not work. And it's just the merry musings of a hopelessly conflicted bdsm romantic. It's not legal advice. And no, I'm not your lawyer. And even if we fought the law, you know what they say about that.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I've been released from the Doghouse. At least temporarily. This was not good Doghouse - a part of some game or scene - but it was a miserable week spent fretting and obsessing. It was genuine worry and concern that unintentionally I had offended the lovely "She-Who-Visits" just before she was going to visit. I sent flowers the Monday after Valentine's and she just wasn't melting at all. In fact, she took careful and intentional aim and punished me some more. It was all too personal and specific to share here in the blogosphere, but suffice it to say she is practiced in the art of sadism and can wield it for good or evil. Her shot across my bow was well and truly a wickedly malevolent, grade A plus exercise in the intentional infliction of emotional pain.

Which caused me to wonder about what must be an essential element of the relationship between a submissive man and a dominant woman. A truly sadistic woman is a powerfully sexual force in the life of a guy like me. But in the throes of a real argument, when my ideal domme-goddess really wants to hurt me, as opposed to playing at hurting me, haven't I opened myself up to someone who is particularly expert? Doesn't she know precisely where my vulnerabilities lie and how to exploit them for maximum agony? What defenses, if any, does a submissive guy like me have when there is a flog-fest of a fight and she knows where personal trigger points are?

I came through this one in relative short order so I'm feelin' pretty savvy. Once in the past I was not so lucky, but today I'm going out on a limb to share what worked. First, I took my punishment like a man - even if I think it was undeserved. No whiney excuses. I just messed up. Next, I used my sensitive, understanding, empathetic, sub-guy qualities to realize that she must be having a rough time in her life if she needed to punish me for such a small infraction given the context in which it took place. I mean, we had never celebrated the dumb, silly, capitalist heart holiday before. What am I a mind reader? Finally, I summoned my own well honed bdsm qualities. To be sure, she is a semi-retired professional pain provider. However, I dear reader, am a world class groveler. I have honed this skill both professionally and personally and it really comes in handy. I beg and plead with class, style and creativity.

After four heartfelt emails and a vintage e-Valentine card courtesy of fellow knight errant HMP, she was still giving me the silent treatment. And so it was that I ordered her a bouquet of "I'm sorry" balloons and a card. The message on the card was critical. I tried to dictate my precious entreaty to the proprietor of the island flowers/events shop I had chosen to aid my supplication. In the end I emailed the message which they cut out and pasted into the card. I sent her two verses of Sam Cooke's song "Cupid".

Cupid, draw back your bow and let your arrow go
Straight to my lover's heart for me,
Cupid, please hear my cry and let your arrow fly
Straight to my lover's heart for me.

Now, I don't mean to bother you but I'm in distress
There's danger of me losin' all of my happiness.
For I love a girl who doesn't know I exist
And this you can fix.

I closed with "Just Wait Until Next Year!" A couple hours later she called me and forgave me.

So in the end, even though she thought I was a jerk for missing Valentine's Day - I was a cool jerk.

Friday, February 13, 2009


It is my firm belief that Valentine's Day has been put on the calendar so guys like me can mess up. I try to be attentive, but not clingy; dutiful but not sycophantic; caring but not overbearing; funny, but not glib; a sensitive guy, but not a eunuch-like wuss. You get the picture. Then comes V'day ...

"She-Who-Visits" is coming for a visit! Soon! I'm overjoyed! I miss her so much! We've been so much more connected during these past four months. We've had our sweet emails, wonderful telephone chats, and our lovely book club. She recently got a new job on Island Paradise, an idyllic atoll which is far enough away that it can seem a world apart. But it is a place I personally know a little and actually have a major connection with. She left her dream job - the one that took her there - for an office job - a thing she left the New York rat race to escape. Although she likes it, it has stressed her some. And if I'm really honest, she's told me she worked for Company X, but all I heard was she was the high powered assistant to a very successful person who she seems to like very much.

So today my cellphone goes off and it's her! I'm sooooo happy she's called. "It's the end of my work day." she says, sounding tired. "You sound so tired." I say, sounding concerned, but not overbearing. "It's the end of the work week, it's Friday!" I say cheerfully, but sincerely. "Yes, and where are my Valentine flowers?" she rasps.

I'm floored. "But I don't have an address." I say lamely. "Well, it's the only Company X on the island!" she counters. "I'm ... I'm ... I'm ... sorry?" I shoulda, coulda, woulda ... blah, blah, blah. "You're sorry?? Well wallow in it! I have to go back to work." Line is dead.

I immediately google Company X and plain as day there's the address. I google flowers on Island Paradise and find a flower store that tells me they'll deliver in under an hour. I place the order and feverishly text her to please not end her work week for an hour. I call.

"Yes, what now?"

"I ordered flowers, they'll be there in under an hour."

"I'm meeting a friend for a run. Cancel them. I'll talk to you this weekend." Line is dead. God, I hate to disappoint her.

Aarkey did a post awhile back about guys going to the Doghouse. Help!! I'm in the doghouse. Try as I might, I never can stay out of the damn place. And that, dear reader, is why Valentine's Day sucks. It's on the calendar just so guys like me can mess up. I had planned a heartfelt, well-phrased, V'day e-love letter. Which I sent her. Along with a PS and a link to the Doghouse video.
What the hell. Every man in the doghouse is innocent. Hey, work on the folding Advo! And tonight, it's quiche and chai latte. Again.

And Domina mine, I just wanna be your dog.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fix My Ignition

I've been home sick today. I never take sick days. Since I'm my own boss I suppose I'm not going to get written up, am I? Lousy cold, I hate it. Anyway, my wife asks me to clean out a little section of the shelf around the computer. Dutifully, I tossed out very old computer games, cheat books so when I played I could actually get off level one and various other junk. After I'm finished she comes out to the kitchen brandishing my little silver Rocstor hard drive and inquires, "What's this?" Oh, that's where I keep all my porn. Nothing like honesty, right? Well, maybe.

This revelation precipitated a discussion about how porn and my perverted sexuality has caused me to be disconnected from her, to fear intimacy, and to not be capable of having a successful sexual relationship with a woman. She hurled some familiar, inflammatory insults and was typically revving herself up to unleash her very powerful anger. Maybe it was how nice the 60 degree February day felt or how doped up I was on over-the-counter cold meds but I just didn't take the bait. We ended up having a very connected, intimate and successful chit chat about separating. Sometimes I don't know what's worse - the horrible screaming or the mature recognition that our marriage maybe corroded beyond compromise.

It seems sadly ironic to me that the price of feeling so much better about my kinkiness and myself will be my marriage. I told another woman friend about my marital troubles and she confided in me that she was the kinky one in her marriage. I've known her for sometime and for many years had a wicked crush on her. In fact, it was really with her that I first began to peek out of my closet and joke about kink. I mean, when she tells ya that for Halloween she dressed up as a nun but underneath wore stockings, a corset and skyscraper pumps and wanted her then boyfriend to put a diaper on underneath his priest costume - you know you're talking to a kindred spirit. But she married a wonderful, traditional guy with, as she characterizes it, a Madonna/Whore complex.

So why do we do this? I know we don't all do this, but a bunch of us do. Why do we think we can remake our kink into some acceptable flavor of vanilla? Maybe the urgent desire will go away. Maybe it won't be so important. Maybe I'll get him/her to do just a couple of things. Things will be okay. But they just aren't. At least not in my backyard.

It was good today talking to her. Made me think we'll separate and figure out how to be friends. I really do love her very much, but I'm coming around to seeing that I can't make this compromise solution work.

I need a shot
I need a shot of ambition
I need a hit
I need a hit of nutrition
I need a fix
I need to fix my ignition
If you want to whip me into shape
I need a plan or a mission
-"Fa Fa Fa" by DataRock

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Does Art Sustain Us?

Just recently "She-Who-Visits" started a little book club - just she and I. She assigns me an audiobook and I, teacher's pet like, greedily listen. I devour the well turn phrase or brilliant, descriptive metphor during the plunging violence of my underground commute. When I finish, I must write a book report which shall comply with strict requirements of proper margin, font and length. If I obey, she will read me. These days, this is the closest I'm gettin' to sex. But for me, sad though it may be - this is close indeed! That she really reads me is actually kinda orgasmic.

I was talking about writing and art with a friend. She noted my passion about my little reading class and told me about her trips with another to our amazing museums here in New York City. They get the audio-tours, stand together in front of a great work of art and simulanteous push the button into another world. What is it that art does for us in these trying times? Why is it that pain and terror compels such ardent connection? Where does art take us that seems so protective and inspirational.

At the risk of supreme grandiosity, my connection to art these days feels like my connection to submission. It just feels ultimately romantic and transcendent. I look to my book club to connect me to her, to connect me to art and to take me away in the romance of my submission. My bond to my submission feels quixotic, artsy and uplifting. It's about redemption, deliverance and salvation. Maybe that's why it all makes me feel like a hero, just for one day.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ties That Bind

Yesterday I went to the RopeShare Dojo. It was amazing. I learned so much about basic rope play and the teachers, assistants and fellow students were all great. That I could just walk off the street into a beautiful studio and be among other friendly, accomplished, funny, smart, kinky people interested in rope play was transforming. Up until this class I'd pretty much been a reasonably educated consumer of an occasional tie down. Rope bondage has not been a regular menu item among the wishlists I've presented to prodommes I've sessioned with over the years. But two experiences gave me rope on the brain.

First was a couple of years ago in the embryonic throes of my one of its kind relationship with "She-Who-Visits". She and her husband were going to a city out of town for the weekend. They were planning on a fun fullfilled romp and she said she was packing her jeans, her little black dress and lots of rope. I flat out ached with jealousy!! Second was being tied to a cold steel St. Andrew's Cross at L'Oeil Cache by an amazingly creative young domme who has a passion for rope. She was the first I knew of to lash me down with hemp rope. Inspired by this transcendent scene I wrote these lines on The Hang:

Can we find true romance, new millenium style, on the toll road to heaven... or is that best left in the pile of hemp rope, cut from a chest ... fallen on the dungeon floor?
A day or so later we met for cookies and milk at a local bakery she favors. She very genuinely chided me for suggesting that she'd actually had to cut her hemp rope off me. "That was the twine", she indignantly corrected. I mumbled something about creative license, but after RopeShare I understand the skill and pride a top rope domme takes in her craft.

The class was divided into beginners, intermediates and black diamonds with icy moguls. The lovely and charming Yin, our hostess with the mostest, taught the black belts. Andy Weiner guided the intermediates and my basic noobie course was taught by the incomparable Delano. And somewhere, the oh-so-hot Michele Serchuk assisted. Really, I totally confess I was kinda smitten by her.

Delano taught us safety, safety and more safety. Watch your bottom for body temp changes. Bottoms don't wimp out and not sing out if your hands or feet start to tingle and get numb. Keep EMT shears handy and don't be afraid to use them. In an effort to come to class with "safety shears" I had pathetically bought a pair of little plastic kiddie scissors. At least my face saving joke that no, I wasn't intentionally trying to combine ageplay and rope bondage got a classmate to laugh. We learned about hemp, cotton, nylon, jute and polypropylene. I now know from rope burn rate. We learned four basic ties - quick release two column tie, two column lock down tie, sling tie, and my fave, the very sexy spreader bar tie. We learned the importance of communication.

It was a major stretch for me to do the tying. But look ma, there I was - the life long bottom - dancing the top part. Unnatural as it felt, I really saw first hand the knowledge, practice and experience that goes into serious rope bondage. I got big time new respect and admiration for dommes who perfect the choreography of the tie down. Just controlling the rope is a major deal. Our graduation exercise was working all four ties into a creative rope bondage experience. Delano's demonstration of the spreader bar tie as gag was just a flat out "take-me-out-to-the-ballgame-and-buy-me-some-peanuts-and-crackerjacks" experience. It just made me wanna play ball!!

We all donated some money to the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and had a grand old time. I definitely want to go to some more rope play classes. I loved the no ego, laboratory experience and the friendly manner everyone involved had. And it just made me want to get into even better shape, do my stretches, my yoga and get more flexible. Ya never know when Ms. Right will come outta nowhere, because;

You can make this beggar a king
A clown or a poet - poet, poet, poet.
I'll give you all that I own.
You got me standing in line
Out in the cold
Pay me some mind.

Gotta love 60's lypsyncin' don't cha?