NCSF Media Update - October 15, 2007

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National Coalition for Sexual Freedom -- Media Update
October 15, 2007
www.ncsfreedom.org
media@ncsfreedom.org

1. Magazine's ads effectively stretched the bounds of art
2. Changes in University non-discrimination policy could spark ambiguity
3. Hanging out for the cause
4. Strip club is planned near bondage parlor
5. Trial in sight for Bedford dominatrix case
6. Media, critics get whipped into frenzy by Leather Fest
7. S&M Death Raises Legal Questions
8. Convicted hedge fund exec apologizes
9. Embrace your kink
10. The leather of the land
11. 400,000 people, and no media?

NCSF Media Updates represent a sampling of recent stories printed in US newspapers, magazines, and selected websites containing significant mention of SM-leather-fetish, polyamory, or swing issues and topics.

These stories may be positive, negative, accurate, inaccurate - or anywhere in between.

NCSF publishes the Updates to provide readers a comprehensive look at what edia outlets are writing about these topics. NCSF permits and encourages readers to forward these Updates where appropriate.
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Magazine's ads effectively stretched the bounds of art
staff writer (opinion)
The Spectator (University of Wisconsin)
October 15, 2007

An arts magazine at UW-Eau Claire is receiving flak for posters it used to inform students about submitting literature and art for consideration in its next release. Some felt that the content of the posters was degrading, objectifying and offensive.

But whoever ripped the posters down aimed at encouraging students to participate in campus activities - for the sole reason that a few people feel the content is offensive - was unjust in doing so.

The posters featured a close-up drawing of a person wearing a ball gag - a common prop in sexual bondage - with the words "Submit to NOTA" written underneath, according to an Oct. 11 article in The Spectator. The designer of the poster said he intentionally left the gender of the person on the poster ambiguous. But, some other groups on campus feel it is clearly a woman, believing the poster conveys the message that sexual violence is okay and called for the removal of the posters. Still, others believe the campus needs to be more tolerant of differing ideas, including sexual practices, according to the article.

If they did not gain any submissions to the magazine as a result of the poster, at the very least, they got the attention of those across campus.

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Respond


Changes in University non-discrimination policy could spark ambiguity in future interpretations
by Morgan Hardy (opinion)
Murray State News (Murray State University, KY)
October 12, 2007
There are certain pieces of legislation action that are political anathema to oppose. If you're against a child's health insurance plan, you're considered a baby-killer, regardless of your reasons for doing so. If you're against lowering taxes, you're a big-government money hat.The recent movement to change the University's non-discrimination policy to include "sexual orientation" is one of those things. If you oppose it, you're thought as a homophobe. People with political interests, such as anyone on the Board of Regents or in Murray State administration, can't afford to be labeled a homophobe.Yet there are some compelling arguments against the inclusion of this language that don't involve bigotry, arguments you'll never see printed in this paper from the people who have a lot to lose. I'm not among them, and even though I'm fully in support of workplace diversity, sexual and otherwise, I don't feel this is a good idea.Let's remember that "sexual orientation," the desired language for inclusion in the policy, is a very vague stroke. There is no strict legal definition of it, a problem in and of itself. The American Psychological Association states it is "an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional attraction toward others." Thus, the term is both limiting and scarily broad in scope. Including the language would not necessarily include transvestite or transgender individuals, and it could include polygamy and pedophilia. I'm not trying to scaremonger - the odds of a pedophile suing the University under this language are very remote - but the language leaves the possibility open.Even if we were to include transgender and transvestite in the verbiage, we open a nasty Pandora's box. The transvestite practice is essentially a sexual practice, which means we endorse one practice of sexuality above others. It opens the door for justified claims from practitioners of BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Sado- and Masochism) among literally hundreds of other practices, to request inclusion.

 

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Hanging out for the cause
by staff writer
Downtown Express (Lower Manhattan, NY)
October 12, 2007

Apah Di, 21, demonstrated rope suspension at the Leather Street Fest in the Village Sunday. "I've been doing B.D.S.M. [bondage, domination, submission and masochism] since I was 18", Di said as an orange hemp rope harness was attached to her hips, chest and ankles. She hung for several minutes as her feet were tickled and her bottom patted. "Your doctor probably does this. Your lawyer probably does this. Your Republican senator probably does this".

"Your Republican senator definitely does this", an onlooker called out. One of the handful of police officers posted at the fair took a photo of the rope suspension with his cell phone camera. "Only in the West Village", he laughed as he snapped the picture. Some neighbors objected to the event, but there were no incidents. The fair raised money for the L.G.B.T. Community Center.
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Strip club is planned near bondage parlor
by Martha Groves
Los Angeles Times
October 12, 2007

For residents of a tiny pocket of the South Robertson Boulevard area of Los Angeles known as Regent Square and for nearby business owners, the slogan of the moment appears to be: Better the X-rated business you know than the one you don't.

That could explain why the Rev. Howard Dotson, former pastor of Nearby Palms Westminster Presbyterian Church, recently found himself testifying at a public hearing by the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety that he preferred the existence of what city officials casually refer to as a bondage parlor in the neighborhood to the possible opening of a strip club featuring nude performers at the foot of the Robertson Boulevard offramp of the eastbound 10 Freeway.

"The irony has not been missed," Dotson said of his seemingly unlikely position. But the fact is, he said, that the Dominion club on Venice Boulevard, run by a proprietor named Lady Hillary, has been "so quiet we didn't even know they were there." The proposed strip club, on the other hand, is "just way too close to a residential area and to Hamilton High School."

"This is not a campaign against strip clubs," he said. "It's just that this venue is not appropriate."

Despite rousing opposition from the neighborhood, however, it appears that the strip club could open soon. The Department of Building and Safety has issued a temporary permit to the business, identified in city paperwork as Skin Cabaret. And construction workers are busily finishing up demolition work to bring the club into compliance with zoning requirements.

If the city decides to allow the strip club to open, it "will be subject to the city's nuisance abatement laws to ensure its operations do not become a nuisance to the community."

Meanwhile, the Dominion club has issues of its own. Since 1974, it has operated with a massage parlor permit from the city. But an official with the Department of Building and Safety said inspectors recently concluded that the club was not a massage parlor and that sexual encounters were occurring there in violation of the permit.

The Dominion -- which features a saddle in a front room, rows of brightly colored ropes on hooks and a photo gallery of women in dominatrix attire -- has appealed, and a city zoning administrator plans to hold a hearing Nov. 1.

Until recently, the Dominion was advertising itself on its website as specializing in "female domination, bondage, spanking" and other activities. In recent days, it has eliminated that wording from its site.

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To respond, write to: the author or the editors

Trial in sight for Bedford dominatrix case
by Melanie Plenda
The Journal News (lower Hudson area, NY)
October 12, 2007

BEDFORD - The woman accused of running a dominatrix sex business out of a farmhouse she rented from a yeshiva may be one step closer to a trial in her case, as a date for the conclusion of a pretrial hearing was rescheduled last night.

Sandra Chemero, 46, was arrested in February after police said she offered an undercover officer sex for $275 an hour.

The sting came after authorities received a tip last year asserting that Chemero was behind a Web site that advertised dominatrix services at a white farmhouse in Bedford Hills.

The building at 235 Haines Road is owned by a neighboring Orthodox Jewish seminary, whose owners said they rented it without knowing what went on there.

Chemero pleaded not guilty earlier this year to misdemeanor prostitution and weapons charges. The latter charge involves a stun gun police said they seized from the house.

After several delays in the case, defense and prosecuting attorneys agreed to finish the Sept. 10 hearing on Oct. 26.

Bedford Town Justice Kevin Quaranta told the attorneys last night that once the Oct. 26 hearing is finished they should plan on a December trial.

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To respond, write to: the author or the editors or comment at bottom of article

Media, critics get whipped into frenzy by Leather Fest
by Jefferson Siegel and Lincoln Anderson
The Villager (NYC)
October 11, 2007

Another in an endless succession of summertime street fairs in the Village was held last Sunday, but funnel cakes and tube socks were not the main attractions.

Tiny Weehawken St., the shortest block in the city, was the setting for the West Village Leather Street Fest, part of New York Leather Weekend.

Ostensibly the fest was an opportunity for vendors to display their finest leather whips, collars and bondage ropes. However, a backlash of the non-leather variety materialized when neighborhood residents learned the fest would be held out in the open.

"This is a fair that went totally under the radar", said Elaine Goldman, head of the Christopher St. Block Association, as she stood watching vendors set up their tables last Sunday. "There was zero percent community input".

Goldman said she learned of the fair "by accident" after it had already been approved by the Street Activity Committee of Community Board 2.

As Goldman spoke, several families walked past on Christopher St. One couple pushing a baby carriage stopped for several minutes to watch the activity. When two small children on scooters slowed at the festival's entrance, their father rolled up behind them, advising his charges that, "We're not stopping here".

"We have three schools in the community, kids live in the neighborhood", Goldman said, adding, "Gay people have kids - so it's not a gay issue".

Frank Costanza, a Christopher St. resident for 30 years, had a more visceral reaction.

"If Community Board 2 allowed this, they should not be re-elected", Costanza said as he looked at the fair. "This belongs in the cellar, not out in the open street".

Costanza's sentiment was echoed in a mass e-mail last week sent by Nicole Regne, a parent who lives around the corner from Weehawken St. on Washington St.

In her missive to parents and neighbors, Regne called for the removal of C.B. 2 Chairperson Brad Holyman and the board's district manager, Bob Gormley, "based on their poor judgement in approving a permit for this 'S&M Street Festal' [sic]".

Hoylman walked through the fair shortly after it opened at noon.

"The community board reviewed this street fair at four separate
public meetings", Hoylman said. "The reason we approved the street fair had nothing to do with the content but everything to do with the opportunity for people to express themselves". Hoylman added if the community board hadn't ruled on the fair, the decision-making process would have defaulted to the city with no community input.

"We imposed two restrictions: no amplified sound and no alcoholic beverages permitted", Hoylman said, adding that the Leather Street Fest abided by these stipulations and also hired its own security.

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Respond

S&M Death Raises Legal Questions
by Denise Lavoie (Associated Press report)
via CNN
October, 11, 2007

LYNN, Massachusetts - Adrian Exley was wrapped tightly in heavy plastic, then bound with duct tape. A leather hood was put over his head with a thin plastic straw inserted so that he could breathe, and he was shut up in a closet.

That, apparently, was the way Exley liked it. But the way it ended - with Exley suffocating -- was not what he had in mind when he traveled from Britain for a bondage session with a man he had met through a sadomasochism Web site.

Exley's body was discovered in the woods last year, two months after he was bound up in the bondage "playroom" Gary LeBlanc had built in the basement of his suburban Boston home.

LeBlanc, a 48-year-old Gulf Oil sales executive, detailed his responsibility in the fatal bondage session in a five-page suicide note, just before he put a gun to his head and killed himself.

Now the question is: Since Exley consented to the sex play, can LeBlanc be held responsible for his death?

Exley's family is suing LeBlanc's estate for unspecified damages, claiming wrongful death. Many bondage enthusiasts are watching the case closely, seeing it as a lesson in where to draw the line of responsibility on consensual but dangerous sex.

"There's definitely the whole spectrum of thought on what really happened -- whether it was a consent issue, or negligence or misunderstanding," said Vivienne Kramer, a board member of the New England Leather Alliance. "Everybody has their own ideas on what should have happened."

John Andrews, a lawyer for LeBlanc's estate, said Exley knew the risks going in. "What occurred was an act or actions between two consenting adults, both of whom knew what they were doing, and it had a tragic end," he said.

The lawsuit describes a three-day bondage and discipline session that ended when a third man, Scott Vincent, discovered Exley was not breathing. Exley had been put in a closet while bound in plastic up to his neck and left alone for several hours, according to the lawsuit.

In his suicide note, LeBlanc admitted that Exley at one point had trouble breathing. But he said that after "cooling him down," Exley improved.

LeBlanc said that he went to sleep about 3 a.m. but was woken up a few hours later by Vincent, who told him Exley was not breathing and was turning blue and cold.

LeBlanc said he panicked, and he and Vincent drove to Rhode Island, where they buried the body and threw away Exley's clothing and identification.

Several people who came forward after Exley's death told police that LeBlanc had restrained them and left them alone for long periods, or ignored their requests that he curtail a bondage session.

Both actions go against the bondage protocols, which say participants must stop if their partner uses a prearranged "safe word" or "safe signal" and must not leave anyone who is bound alone, said Susan Wright, a spokeswoman for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom.

Brian Plant, a bondage and sadomasochism practitioner from Kansas, said: "Nobody goes into these things saying, `Oh, well, I'm going to die because of it.' You reach a point when the line is crossed, and it is no longer consensual."

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Respond

Convicted hedge fund exec apologizes
by Zach Lowe
The Stamford Advocate (Stamford, CT)
October 11, 2007

A former hedge fund manager apologized yesterday for posting a Web advertisement asking strangers to rape and kidnap his ex-mistress.

"I am sorry," Albert Hsu, 43, formerly of New Canaan, said in his first interview since his March arrest. "I am sorry for the pain I caused her and her family."

Hsu, a former Cub Scout leader and co-founder of a $95 million hedge fund, will spend 2 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to two felonies, including attempted first-degree kidnapping.

Hsu posed as his ex-mistress and posted an ad on the bondage-themed Web site www.collarme.com outlining a bizarre sexual fantasy.

"I want a real-life abduction and rape scene," the phony Web advertisement read. "Only those who can deliver on my extreme desires need apply."

Hsu was likely trying to get back at the woman for ending the affair, authorities have said.

When a New Jersey man responded, Hsu revealed the make of the victim's car, her license plate number, the style of clothing she wears and where she prefers to stand on the Talmadge Hill railroad station for her commute to New York City.

The victim, 36, got wind of the plot when a New Jersey man planning to go through with the scenario called her to make sure she was really up to it.

Police arrested Hsu three days later after tracing the account on the Web site to his computer.

Hsu said the media "over-sensationalized" his case, and that he took responsibility for his actions after his arrest.

"What I did was wrong," Hsu said yesterday. "I never denied what I did."

Hsu said he hopes to return to investing after his release.

Anchor Point Capital LLC, the $95 million Florida-based hedge fund Hsu co-founded in 2005, terminated Hsu after learning of his arrest last year.

He previously was a U.S. investment officer for Atlantic Philanthropies, where he managed funds for the $3.8 billion foundation. He also was director of investments for the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, a $1 billion foundation.

From 1997 to 2001, he supervised trust investments for Xerox, managing half the pension fund's $10 billion in assets.

He will be on probation for 12 years after his release and is banned from contacting the victim. Hsu could face up to 12 1/2 more years in prison if he violates probation.

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Embrace your kink
by Grace Low (opinion)
Indiana Daily Student (Indiana University)
October 8, 2007

I'm so excited. I just can't hide it. The 22nd Bloomington Eroticon is this coming Saturday! Whee!

"What is Eroticon?" the new-to-Bloomington reader might ask. Oh, it's only the last event you'd ever expect to find in Southern Indiana and another reason why we should be very proud to live in Bloomington.

Every year, gender-queers, bondage slaves, big doms, voyeurs, exhibitionists, queens, kings, pansexuals, polyamorists and otherwise flirty connoisseurs of non-mainstream sexualities gather at Jake's Nightclub to embrace their fetishes and celebrate sexual education and safety. Part fetish-ball, part education, Eroticon is an opportunity to break out your clothing kink and play with your fantasies in a safe, non-judgmental environment.

According to the event's Web site, this year's Eroticon will feature not only the expected fabulous outfits exhibited by attendees, but also contests, including a shoe/boot competition (let's hear it for foot fetishes!), a kissing competition, toy vendors (riding crops and dildos and edible undies, oh my!) and theatrically performed fantasies. What I am most looking forward to is the return of the Indiana Masters and Slaves/Submissives/Switches, a group dedicated to promoting tolerance, honesty and education regarding Bondage, Discipline, Domination, Submission, Sadism and Masochism as a safe and healthy lifestyle. This Saturday, they will monitor a safe BDSM play space within Jake's and educate attendees on the principles of safe power exchange in consensual situations. Curious about the safest ways to bond the submissive in your life? They'll teach you. Want ideas for your collaring ceremony? There will be plenty of knowledgeable folks eager to share their expertise.

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The leather of the land
by Michael Rundle
Metro - NY
October 7, 2007

WEST VILLAGE - Studded crossed-leather harness? $177. Basic leather riding crop? $36. Velvet-cushioned kneeling block? $400. It was all on sale yesterday at the inaugural open-air West Village Leather Street Festival, on Weehawken Street, where fetish enthusiasts donned rubber shorts, boots and gloves, and cracked their whips in the unseasonable sunshine.

Part of the New York Leather Weekend, a three-day event devoted entirely to S&M, the fair was an opportunity to bring the fetish scene to a new, uninitiated audience.

The leather and fetish community is commonly misunderstood, said Robert Valin, producer of the event. He believes the open-air format was a chance to broaden the appeal.

"We're such a cross-section of the community. We're doctors, we're lawyers, we're CEOs, we're waiters, waitresses, teachers, your parents, your siblings", Valin said. "I've been going to leather bars since I came out as a gay man and they immediately embraced me. It had nothing to do with what I was wearing. It's a community about giving back, taking care of their own, nurturing, education, outreach and fund-raising".

Recent criticism by some residents had threatened to derail the fair. But despite a heavy media presence - including a team from "The Colbert Report" - and the curious, nervous gazes of some passersby, the event was warmly welcomed by the neighborhood.

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400,000 people, and no media?
by Kelly Boggs
The Baptist Press
October 5, 2007

ALEXANDRIA, La. - An estimated 400,000 people congregated in San Francisco on Sept. 30. Crowds flooded the neighborhood known as "South of Market" to take part in the 24th annual Folsom Street Fair. People from all over the nation - even the world - flocked to the Golden Gate city to celebrate and call attention to an aspect of their lives of which they are very proud.

Conspicuously absent from the huge gathering in northern California were reporters from any major news outlet. The Associated Press, United Press International and Reuters News Service apparently were all no shows. Even though the event took place in the Golden State, there were no reporters from the Los Angeles Times.

It would seem the mere fact that 400,000 people gathered in one place would be news, regardless of the reason they came together. The big three television networks didn't seem to think so since they also were missing in action.

If it were not for a few niche and alternative news publications, no one outside of San Francisco would have an inkling of what took place at the Folsom Street Fair. So what is the event and what exactly takes place? Be forewarned, the following descriptions are not for the faint of heart, even though they have been edited to mute the content.

The Folsom Street Fair is one of San Francisco's premier celebrations of alternate lifestyle - specifically "leather pride." The "leather community" is a euphemism for those that indulge in sadomasochism, also known as S&M. These are individuals that enjoy bondage, whipping, spanking and other unmentionable perversions.

While the Folsom Street Fair does draw a few heterosexual sadomasochists to the event, it is clear from reports that the overwhelming number celebrating were homosexuals - mostly male.

"American police adopted a distinctly relaxed approach to this year's Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco," Pink News observed, "taking little notice of the hundreds of men baring their genitals on every street corner."

According to Pink News, there were orgies in the street, drawing "laughs and photographs from curious onlookers but no police action." Homosexual men and women walked down the street, completely naked, performing sex acts, the website reported. (Keep in mind the website provided far more detailed descriptions.)

So why did the news media ignore a gathering of 400,000 people? What would cause them to collectively look the other way? Because the Folsom Street Fair is as much a celebration of unbridled homosexual behavior as it is a fetish festival.

If the truth of what took place in the streets of San Francisco on Sept. 30 were broadcast from sea to shining sea, the "homosexual rights" movement would suffer a significant setback. If grassroots Americans saw homosexuals blatantly flaunting their sexuality in public, they would be appalled.

Make no mistake about it: America's major news organizations are complicit in promoting homosexuality. Hence, they chose to act as if the Folsom Street Fair did not even happen.

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HOW TO WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Feedback letters are an effective way to convey a positive image of alternate sexual practices such as SM, swinging, or polyamory. You can help to correct negative social myths and misconceptions about these types of practices. These letters help achieve the advocacy goals of the NCSF.

Generally, for a letter to be published, it's important to include your name (or first initial, last name), city and daytime phone (for verification only). For more information, see: http://www.ncsfreedom.org/media/writelettertoeditor.htm

Please alert us to positive, negative or neutral stories about SM, swinging and polyamory at media@ncsfreedom.org. Comments to the editor of this Update may be sent to keith@ncsfreedom.org.

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A project of NCSF and ITCR: The Foundation of NCSF National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) is a national organization committed to altering the political, legal, and social environment in the U.S. in order to guarantee equal rights for consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual expression. NCSF is primarily focused on the rights of consenting adults in the SM-leather-fetish, swing, and polyamory communities, who often face discrimination because of their sexual expression.

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom
822 Guilford Avenue, Box 127
Baltimore, MD 21202-3707
410-539-4824
media@ncsfreedom.org
www.ncsfreedom.org

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