Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 29-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.
continued from Aug. 24, 2013
By a long shot, most of the people there were a lot older than I was, and I was 50 at the time. That most folks were rocking a Halloween ghoulishness made it somewhat difficult to get into the psychological nature of what was transpiring. With costumes falling somewhere between slightly goofy and decidedly clichéd, the event was populated by people who appeared to know each other, likely from previous parties and whatever goes on between events.
I wondered about the extent of their wardrobes. How many latex corsets and black leather trousers would people own? With garments being one of the main signifiers of proclivities, what sort of variety could be achieved? Was variety in appearance even desirable?
At general events, clothing is less representative of specific sexual inclinations. Fashion, imitation and bad judgment interfere with the transmission of clear objectives—sexual or otherwise. Is that nerdy guy with the pencil protector in his pocket a dynamo in bed? Is the bottle blonde wiggling on the dance floor in the boob tube and hot pants ready for action or is she just happy (not) to see you?
Activities at the WISE Hall couldn’t be called exclusively sexual, but whatever depth of urgency it requires to act out scenes that are based on what is typically regarded as private, the area of exploration seems hinged to sexuality. Which, among many of the fascinating aspects of what could be written off as corny role playing, has me wondering about how much of what goes on has to do with being stuck, to some degree, within annoying binary opposites. What interests me within a community using rules and codes to ensure experiences with fewer incidents of misunderstanding and exploitation, is that power exchanges blur and shift the values assigned to binary opposites. Bad is rather good, it seems. Good is kind of bad (but good has its place, too). Values that are otherwise inflexible are mutable due to a surrounding framework of anchored references, to be acted on within an understood code of behavior. I’m not sure what of that is more exciting—the mutability or the code.
In daily life, the dominant may be passive and the submissive may require control. Within the framework of restraint and punishment, power exchanges accelerate toward a reciprocal state where both participants get what they want, which tends to look like opposite positions. This is accomplished quickly using mutually understood guidelines. One doesn’t want to stand around all night guessing what random eye contact means. One wants to get themselves over someone’s knee who is going to say the exact words they have been told to say to bring about the desired reaction, and I’ll be jiggered if that doesn’t look like the sub who is actually calling the shots and the dom being controlled which must be masked in order to have the dom feel like he is in control, which the sub needs to feel too. You know, to make the thing work. And all of this needs to be accomplished before everyone dies of old age without ever having experienced this shifting and blurring of binary opposites.
There were both foot-fetish and boot-licking stations where participants were really getting into things, but scenes were not for the amusement of spectators. That there were people present probably provided the participants with something they enjoyed, but watching ordinary older people in varying states of undress doing things to and with their partners was not what I would call a turn-on. The nuanced sensibility of the event was itself quite different than going out to be entertained. The people standing around on the sidelines (myself included) seemed to be playing the role of voyeur for the participants.
One guy told me he spent his entertainment dollars on Rascals once a month and Canucks games. Another guy told me he wanted to participate, but it was his first time and he really couldn’t see how he’d go about getting a woman to give him a spanking. We talked about that for a while, speculating on how he could proceed and who he might approach.
Within the community there were two birthdays being celebrated. Two big square cakes with candles were brought out, cut and served. Within five minutes, nearly everyone was holding a paper plate of cake and talking informally within the group—making a strange evening somehow stranger.
The cakes? Let’s just say they weren’t vanilla.
“Who Shot Elvis?,” from Who Shot Elvis? (Matador, 1997; Smarten UP!, 2009) (download):