I attended last night’s TES meeting in Manhattan, which had the intriguing title “The Business of BDSM: S&M as a Profession and the Law.” It was hosted by Sir Guy, and the presenter was Collin Collin, former owner of Rapture NYC, a pro-domme house that closed after legal trouble about a year ago.
Collin talked in general about the business: promoting oneself, playing safely (physical safety as well as avoiding legal problems), and how risky certain activities may or may not be. It was interesting to note that if some law enforcement person had an agenda and wanted to push it, even a hand spanking could be considered “sexual assault.”
(Oddly, it is legal to practice cracking a bullwhip or single tail in Central Park or other public places, because this is considered a “sport” — that is, as long as you aren’t too close to other people — then you could face reckless endangerment charges.)
I went to the meeting hoping to get some clear-cut, black-and-white examples of what’s legal and what’s not. I left feeling I did not — and may never — get those answers. The law is set up too vaguely. I did, however, leave with a sense that I’m probably NOT doing anything illegal and I’m not much at risk. I offer corporal punishment, real or in a role-play setting. It is not sexual at all, except in the sense that it is exciting to many people. I offer performance art, a kind of therapy, and a service that, if done properly, increases self-esteem and well-being and leaves a bottom feeling happier than when he came in. It usually leaves ME feeling pretty good, too.
I’m a part-time consultant; I offer my services on top of a regular full-time job. It’s mostly on weekends, I don’t make a lot of extra money; I’m not running a huge business here. So I feel pretty good that I’ll probably not be targeted by any sting operations any time soon.
One other point that was made last night was the benefit of getting to know other dommes. I am still working on that, but it IS happening more and more.
Overall, a very interesting meeting.