The kink-fetish folk were having a difficult time selecting a discreet place for a Times Colonist photo shoot.
So I suggested my house.
That’s why, earlier this week, two cat ladies were posing on our kitchen island, which is usually used to slice vegetables.
I call them cat ladies because one had furry paws. The other wore fishnets, a latex dress and a sort of cat-ear hat. They were joined on the island by a big bearded fellow with a kilt and two whips.
“Bring the hand up with the whip higher. Higher,” instructed the photographer.
Sam Quinn, founder of the kink-fetish society Sagacity, said to me: “Maybe you want to wipe that island down before you chop onions.”
And then I remembered I’d neglected to tell my wife about the kink-fetish shoot.
Founded 15 years ago, Sagacity is this city’s oldest alternative-lifestyle society. If you’re into whipping, tying people with ropes, wax dripping and more, Sagacity welcomes you. On Saturday night, the society hosts Domlander, its annual fetish fashion competition and dance, at the Victoria Event Centre.
Quinn, a transplanted American whose kink nickname is Ladyfish, said Domlander is a takeoff on Zoolander, the Ben Stiller movie satirizing the fashion industry. She invites Stiller to Domlander every year. He once sent an autographed photo, but that’s as far as it’s gone.
At Domlander, 15 fashionable kinksters will strut the catwalk. Quinn said for the talent portion, they might sing or lip-sync a song ripe for double-entendre such as Michael Jackson’s Beat It.
“When vanilla [non-kink] people hear it, it’s about the dance. But for kinky people …”
“It’s about flogging?” I said, getting into the spirit.
“Exactly,” Quinn said.
Apparently, kink is big in Victoria. There are kink-themed social events almost every day of the week. On her cellphone, Quinn — a pleasant 61-year-old in a conservative black sweater — showed me the action-packed list for March. Events included Squirtshop, Kinky Coffee Klatch and the Subby Women’s Meeting.
“Subby” means submissive, as in dominant and submissive. A writer-editor who moved here from a small town in New York state, Quinn is a submissive. Her husband, whom she met online, is a dominant. That’s just during their kink sessions, though — he still helps with the dishes and stuff.
When Quinn immigrated here in 1999, kink was more underground. This was before the social-media explosion, before Fetlife, a Facebook-like site for kink-fetish folk. As a kinkster she felt “lonely.” So she formed Sagacity, which began with Tuesday-night meetings at the Bird of Paradise pub.
“It’s good to realize you aren’t alone,” said Quinn. “It’s very hard to realize that you like to spank somebody or you like to play with rope, and then to think you’re the only person.”
The word “kinky” may conjure up visions of whips and chains. In reality, kinksters are pretty average folk, said Quinn and Mia Prosecco, who (1) is a submissive, (2) is a Domlander judge and (3) has a side business organizing kink events.
It is Quinn’s theory that everyone harbours a secret kink side. She asked, for example, if I’d ever played cowboys and Indians as a kid.
“And did you tie somebody up?”
“I don’t think there was any tying,” I said.
“You missed out,” said Quinn, looking disappointed. But then she pointed out that cowboys and Indians is role-playing, which is a foundation of kink.
There’s a lot of misconceptions about the kink-fetish world. For instance, the notion that all kinksters are swingers isn’t true at all, said Quinn. Also, kink meetups are not orgies where everyone flings their clothes in the middle of the floor.
But surely that happens on occasion?
“Well,” said Prosecco, “at special parties.”
Kinky folk may well be, as Prosecco puts it, “regular Joe-blow kind of people.” However, the lifestyle can lead to complications.
Quinn recalls a cleaning woman once staring quizzically at the hooks in their ceiling, which she and her husband use for their rope tie-up sessions. She explained her husband is a sailor who enjoys practising tying knots.
Being a kinkster gets trickier as one ages, Quinn added.
“Somebody starts whaling on you with a paddle. How many of those do you think you can take?”
Added Prosecco: “You could break a hip.”