Dean’s best friend is in town. I like Jeff a lot. When Dean and I vacationed in Scottsdale, Jeff came from a couple hours away to have dinner and drinks with us. Jeff has the penultimate traits of a suave sales guy. He’s entertaining and interesting. He’s witty with a comeback for everything. But what I like most about him is that the guy goes to church every Sunday without fail. He said it doesn’t matter if he’s partying all night until the early morning. “God comes first,” as he says, “and I want to be a good example to my three little boys. I want them to know that I go every Sunday no matter what.”
Jeff does credit card processing for web sites—porn web sites. He does really well, makes good money, and was in town for a web master conference. He was here to try and sell credit card processing to web masters in the porn industry. It’s Saturday night and we’ve been invited to attend a fetish party.
Now, not only am I born and raised in the Bay Area, I take considerable pride in knowing all the ins and outs of what’s going on in the city of San Francisco. I’m well-connected in the arts scene. I’m on the staff of Burning Man which puts me in close contact with the music scene. I used to date a guy who put me on the lists of all the happenings in underground music. I’m connected to the literary scene through my associations with fellow writers and publishers. I know the woman who manages the largest underground supper club in the Bay Area. Bottom line, I know what’s going on.
Imagine my surprise when Jeff said, “This party is going on at the Armory–one of the largest buildings in San Francisco. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Used to be an army barracks or other. I guess it’s so huge they say you can walk up and down and around for 4-5 hours and still not have it covered.”
“What? The Armory? Never heard of it. I’m sure when I see it, I’ll know it. I know every place in the city.”
The charter bus takes us from the hotel to a side street in the Mission. We bus into this huge garage that looks like a hangar for large Boeing airplanes. It’s massive. I’ve never seen the building before. After walking across the garage, security guards make us sign waivers promising not to touch any of their porn stars for the night.
The building used to store military equipment for the wars. It’s several stories, but you don’t know how many because there are areas and staircases that are blocked. One of the guards told me that people have been known to get lost, so they blocked out a lot of the building for the party. Kink.com which is one of the largest porn sites bought the building five years ago and they use the complex for their offices and for photo shoots. It’s scary-kinky. They transformed the rooms into prison cells. Whips and chains hang on the walls. Nooses hang from ceilings.
I was happy with the open bar (bars on each floor, one on each side, the spread of food–chicken satay, tofu cubes, paninis–and the DJs spinning techno in the background.
But one of Dean’s friends kept asking if I was ok. Did I want to leave? Of course, he would take me home. I wanted him to shut up and stop asking. I was fine. It was curious. In one room, there were two women tied together back-to-back. They were naked with ropes criss-crossing their breasts. Men wearing all black were attaching clothes-pins to their bodies, then circling them and striking the pins off with whips. We left that room when the blow jobs started.
“Have you seen Eyes Wide Shut?” Dean’s friend Jimmy asked me. “This is straight out of Eyes Wide Shut. It’s about a married couple and the underbelly of New York sex parties.”
In another room, there was wrestling. Two teams of two women–all naked–were rough-housing, slapping, and screaming at each other. We left after watching a little bit of it. Dean and Jimmy felt like I’d had enough. I hadn’t. It was just curious to me. Wow, stuff like this happens in our own backyard? I wonder if the neighbors know that this is a sex building.
In the wrestling stand, the guy sitting next to me had to ask since I was one of only two women in the crowd. “What do you think of all this?”
“It’s fine. It’s totally fine. As long as women understand that they have alternatives. They don’t have to do this, but if it’s their choice and they like to do this, then fine. We’re all adults.”
I’ve always found it hypocritical, living in the Bay Area, that residents here think you’re so close-minded if you’re Republican or religious or believe in “family rights.” I’m a former Republican who went independent to campaign for Hillary Clinton. I’m a religious person who’s pro-life and supports gay rights. If everyone just lived their lives on their own terms without telling people what to do, or what to believe in, or how to act, or where to live, then there would be peace.