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Public Play


The last party at Threshold before Mission Control has to find new digs confirmed my faith in today’s kinky people!  What an open-hearted community!  The highlight of my presentation was a small ritual to connect our combined desires for a new place for their imaginative evenings of joyous sex-positive energy by clipping ourselves together in a clothespin zipper symbolizing our sense of community.  We built energy together with the common intent of manifesting a new venue for that 14 year-old vision that is Mission Control.

Playing in a group setting started for me soon after I came out into SM.

That’s me and Mark Joplin in the picture above!  I was curious, passionate and not afraid. Dating the queer editor of the Growing Pain newsletter of Janus gave me entry to a place few women ever ventured. The Catacombs was a very discreet gay sex, fisting and SM club in a privately owned space.  You had to be invited.  Mark took me by the hand to that secret enclave of sexual abandonment and SM rituals.  Fred, the owner, took a liking to me and allowed me to attend on Saturday nights.

This temple of Dark Eros was small; everyone participated and could see what others were doing, too!   This feeling of camaraderie allowed me into play only happening in gay male circles just before AIDS.  At that time I was the only woman in “pig” heaven for those few months.

mesli 2

Fred and Mike ©Cleo Dubois

And then some of the patrons persuaded Fred to bar women from the Saturday night parties.

What’s an enthusiastic girl who loved that ecstatic energy to do?

Host mixed gender play parties with Mark is what I wanted.  I asked Fred for one Friday night a month.  He agreed!

The Serpent Mountain Play parties were born. Invites were done by phone, by me.  I added to Fred’s list folks from Janus and women from the Outcasts.  It took a good 12 hours to call everyone!  Following the ways of the Catacombs, you had to reserve if you wanted to attend.  No drop ins.  We wanted to keep that magical feeling of intimate connection, intense bodily experience, SM and sexual energy together.

And then AIDS hit really hard.  Month to month, many phone numbers were disconnected. Fred closed the Catacombs in 1984.

Sometime later, a kinky couple opened the Shotwell Meeting House at the same address. Janus and Outcasts meetings and occasional parties, countless fundraisers for AIDS sufferers, and our play parties all took place there. We all knew each other.  From care giving our dying playmates to weekly memorials, we also NEEDED to get together, release some of our grief, scream goodbye to our dear departed by flogging, piercing, crying and cuming!  My dear friend Sybil Holiday joined in hosting the parties until 1989.

img400I also met Jay, the writer of the “Story of k,” at Janus. She and he wrote the script.  Jay Magus and his wife lived in a triad with KB.  They had an egalitarian multi-faceted relationship: k was her slave persona and was only fully present when wearing a black ribbon around her wrist. The use of physical markers such as collars, chains, and, in her case, a black ribbon indicating different personae, was part of early consensual SM exchanges.  KB was a professional Mistress as well. The three of them came to the play parties together.

My eyes and my heart opened wide to this new erotic lifestyle. I remember thinking, “she knows both sides and so can I!”

Soon I asked Jay to be initiated. A gentle Master with a keen spiritual awareness, Gestalt Esalen style, both of whose partners I knew and trusted, he led my way into loving sacred BDSM.

Cleo and K

Cleo and KB Photo by Fakir

Gestalt pioneered our contemporary understanding that “mind, heart, body, spirit, and relationship” are ultimately inseparable dimensions of our human experience, and evolve (or remain arrested) together. Archetypes illuminate inner realities feeding our various personae. I felt the energy that allowed me to become a caring sadistic Mistress.

I believe in the magic of BDSM. That eroticism, those sensations, the sexiness, the spiritual, pushing limits, the dance of discovery, the powerful healing and the intimate sexuality?  I believe ALL that is available to ALL of us.  Follow the energy, build it, dance with it.  The whole becomes bigger than the sum of its parts, certainly in regards to BDSM play parties. And last Saturday night, Threshold did it right! A bientôt, Mission Control!

In kink with heart,

Cléo Dubois

Now that leather, bdsm, and kink are above ground, I can be out about my passions too!  I love coaching couples in the privacy of my dungeon and offering Erotic Dominance Intensives to small groups in San Francisco.  Let’s talk!

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