I REMEMBER the sting of my father’s hand on my face. We stood for a moment, defiant, each equally appalled by the other’s behavior. My hand fluttered to my cheek in disbelief. I stormed out of the room and locked myself in the bathroom, screaming the angry sobs of a defeated twelve-year-old. I smashed the cup of toothbrushes against the wall. My boot left a dent in the side of the plastic bathtub.
I eventually came out of the bathroom to a quiet house. I found my father in my room, sitting on my bed in the dark. I could see his black silhouette framed by the streetlights outside the window. He clutched my teddy bear, contemplating its chipped, black plastic eyes. When he looked up there were tears in his eyes. I had only ever seen him cry once before. His friend had died in an accident. I had seen him through the crack in my parents’ bedroom door. He kicked it closed when he saw me. But this time he wasn’t trying to hide. I sat down on the bed by his side and cried with him.
When I first started this book I didn’t know I would write about my father. I thought I was writing the story of Kinky Salon—that quirky, erotic party I’ve been throwing for the last decade or so in San Francisco. I wrote the fun stories, the sexy stories. I didn’t want to look at my past; I told myself it was irrelevant. I wrote for a whole year before I understood that I couldn’t leave out the painful stories. I realize now that I didn’t really know what this book was about until I finished it.
Would my father have approved of what I do? My guess is that it would have challenged him, but he would have tried to be supportive. I don’t expect everyone to understand what I do. There are times that even I have questioned its value. It’s true: I throw parties where people have sex. We fuck all together in a big room with lots of beds. There are dark corners for shy people, and exposed areas for exhibitionists. One of the rooms is a dungeon, where we tie each other up to specially designed furniture. We call it the Fun-geon. Some people like to spank each other, or use crops and floggers. Some prefer a softer touch, with feathers or silk.
But sex culture isn’t just about sex.
It’s about art, community, spirituality, relationships, gender, family, self-expression, and—most importantly—love. Sex is a normal and healthy part of life, and sometimes it can also be difficult. Sex culture isn’t going to tell you what’s right or wrong, or put you in a box. It just acknowledges that human beings are designed to be sexual. We have a spectrum of self-expression available to us, and sexuality is part of it, whether that’s exploring the smorgasbord of sexual opportunities like an adventurer, or choosing to stay celibate until you meet someone who makes your knees wobble. Sex culture supports all choices and orientations between consenting adults, and sees them as part of a complex, crosscultural, sensual, and aesthetic exploration. Sex is something to sing songs about, and write poetry to.
The superficial story of Kinky Salon would be a fun read. A sordid tell-all exposé of the interpersonal drama that inevitably comes from so many people fucking would be riveting, no doubt. A chronology of my sexual exploits might satisfy some prying curiosity seekers. Apologies in advance if that’s what you were looking for. Although much of this story is set in a modern world of open relationships, sexy parties, and alternative lifestyle, that’s not what it’s about. You might be surprised to hear that the majority of people who come to Kinky Salon don’t come to get laid. They are deep hedonists. They come for the community, connection, and sense of family. Wait, now it sounds like a weird sex cult.
Fuck it; maybe it is a weird sex cult.
But it’s my weird sex cult.