Written in response to this article in the Sunday Times about Kinky Salon
There’s a story that San Francisco sex culture is teeming with uber rich, hedonistic Silicon Valley playboys. The outside world seems to be infatuated with the idea that vast wealth and hedonistic sexuality go hand in hand. It’s a compelling image to portray—with money and power they no longer need morals. They can do whatever they want. They don’t care. It’s like the fall of the Roman Empire. It’s the perfect image of debauchery and decadence. The truth is, as with most things in life, a lot less salacious, and a little more complicated than this satisfyingly titillating template.
San Francisco has always been an incubator for progressive sex culture. It was the first town in America to allow topless dancing and pornography. By the time the sexual revolution blew its wad into the heart of San Francisco, it was already established as a haven for liberal sexuality. The streets in Downtown San Francisco are named Minna and Grace, after the sex workers of the Barbary Coast. San Francisco is a city with history and culture; it’s not just the playground of “young, rich and driven” Silicon Valley white-collar elite. Young people travel to San Francisco from all over the world because they’ve heard that this is a place where you can be yourself. In San Francisco moral structures are questioned, not ignored.
Kinky Salon is a San Francisco event, not a Silicon Valley event. Sure, there are some tech workers in our community, but we also have librarians, social workers, nurses, waiters, firemen, teachers, artists, store clerks and civil engineers, and they’ve found a place where they can be themselves—where being sexual is just being human. It doesn’t have to be shocking and sleazy. We are leaving the sexual dark ages behind, and places like Kinky Salon are leading the way. At Kinky Salon diversity is celebrated, sexuality is playful, consent is paramount, all bodies are beautiful, and creativity is valued above social status. Volunteers run our community, which prides itself on being inclusive and authentic, and our VIPs are the people who take out the trash.
It’s easy to fall back on stereotypes, but the tired image of young, wealthy, narcissistic socialites with a voracious appetite for self-indulgence has been around since the ‘70s. That isn’t what’s happening at Kinky Salon.