Bondage club brings out hidden kinkiness

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Consider this a coming-out: I’m a creepy, voyeuristic perv — but not in the overt chin-stroking, hide-yo’-kids-hide-yo’-wife kind of way. More in the peek-sneaking, hiding-behind-my-laptop-screen kind of way. I’ve never previously sought out any real-life visual gratification. And if I walked in on anyone doin’ their, uh, thing, I’d avert my eyes in an attempt to not identify as the perv that I truly am.

I’ve had extensive exposure to the film “Secretary,” Britney Spears’ “I’m a Slave 4 U” and tattoo choker necklaces from the ’90s — all of which have led me to believe that I have masochistic tendencies. Case in point: I like receiving a good amount of pain, in the forms of hair pulling, nipple pinching and lots and lots of biting ­— although, I’m not big on humiliation — which would seem otherwise by the existence of this column. So when I was presented with the opportunity to check out a bondage club, my inner perv could not resist.

The weekly Bondage-a-Go-Go event at the Cat Club in San Francisco is not only bedecked with gimp suits, chains and industrial metal that would put any Marilyn Manson music video to shame. But it’s also a space for an inclusive community that just happens to love BDSM (i.e. bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism). Most of the regulars with whom I chatted were incredibly welcoming and seemed genuinely happy to see — and occasionally make-out with ­— each other.

At the bondage club, I didn’t feel ashamed of my deep, voyeuristic interior. I witnessed attendees waiting in line to savor their chance at a lashing. Others were elaborately tied up in strangely nostalgic swinging positions. And three birthday honorees were spanked before a cheering crowd until they were bruised in the bum. And the whole scene was dominated by a charming and beardy ringmaster named Stefanos, who yelled at attendees to “shake your ass” via microphone.

It seems intimidating to be surrounded by a bunch of whip-wielding weirdos, but BDSM involves a lot of communication. Submissives choose the intensity of their pain and when it stops. The experience is really about pushing personal limits of pleasure and self-discovery while playing out different roles, such as the master or slave. I learned the hard way that the community has a “what happens in the club, stays in the club” policy since everyone gasped when I tried to snap a shot of a friend on the whipping post.

But that’s not to say that I didn’t have fun. I broke out my uncoordinated dance moves on a table while wearing a black floral blouse and boat shoes. The bartender served me Chardonnay in a whiskey glass. And as I was considering getting dominated myself, I instead locked lips with an adorable grad student from UC Berkeley.

But this wasn’t just any make-out sesh. I was under the influence of the “you go, girl” mentality — and alcohol — of my environment. So, with the ever-classy line, “We should make out,” I initiated sexual activity with a new partner — whom I had just met — for the first time in my life! This might not seem like a great feat for a 21-year-oldie, but it’s a personal milestone that furthers my progress away from crazy cat-lady status. I did not engage in the full BDSM experience, but I reaped the benefits of self-exploration, which makes my pervy ways seem justifiable.

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