THIS IS WHAT WE’RE ABOUT
Kinky Salon provides a safe space for people of all persuasions to explore their sexuality without fear of judgment. The space we have created is designed to be an oasis, where people can feel completely at ease. It is a rare alternative to sex clubs, which can often be intimidating or impersonal. We support creativity, personal growth, and deepening of community connection as essential counterparts to sensual and sexual exploration. We are queer friendly, body positive, accessible and inclusive.
WHO THE HECK ARE WE?
San Francisco has a long history of sexual permissiveness, and the history of counter culture sex parties is rich. Before Kinky Salon there was a lineage of events blending community with art and sexuality, all the way back to the swinging ’60s. The AIDS crisis in the ’80s knocked the wind brutally out of the sails of the blossoming sex culture in San Francisco. By the time I arrived here it in 1999 it was ready for another bloom.
I founded Kinky Salon in April 2003 with Scott Levkoff. The first event was an after-party for a big fetish ball being held nearby our community space in the Mission District of San Francisco. The combination of color, creativity, community and diverse, authentic sexuality became hugely popular, and within a couple of years the events were bi-weekly and bursting at the seams.
When we started things looked very different. At first, Kinky Salon did not have themes. We had a couple of special events with themes and realized what a difference it made to the vibe. People got excited about creating a costume, exchanging ideas, hosting sewing nights and going shopping together—it became a community activity. Creativity bubbled up, and next thing we knew we had a party full of the most ridiculously sexy people we had ever seen. Costuming takes the seriousness out of the sexually charged vibe.
Another major difference was that at first people didn’t have sex at Kinky Salons. Although they were always sexy, the sex didn’t really start happening until a couple of years in. There was some action, in dark corners. We had a spanking bench, and there were certainly plenty of kinky escapades, but it took a couple of years before we added dedicated playspaces, designed specifically for people to have sex. Or, as we dubbed them, the “horizontal socializing space.”
The structure of the event developed over the next few years, and eventually became a tried and tested magic formula. In 2009, I wrote it all down in the first Kinky Salon guidebook, and shared it with an event producer in Austin who created the first local Kinky Salon chapter. Soon after, we hosted a series of workshops called “Booty Camp,” and trained up a core volunteer who was moving to London. She took the magic formula with her and London became the first event in Europe.
I hosted Kinky Salon with Scott for nine years, and then we parted ways so that Scott could focus on other projects. I now host Kinky Salon in San Francisco, and guide the global Kinky Salon community.
To learn more about the history of Kinky Salon, where I came from, and a deeper look into the ethos, pick up a copy of my memoir Polly: Sex Culture Revolutionary.
“Guests contribute more than bodies and cash; they contribute time, talent, and ideas, and they support each others endeavors both creatively and sexually. Provocative costuming, stimulatory surroundings, and explicit erotic experiences might be anticipated, witnessed, and explored at every Kinky Salon, but the sexual aspects are so integrated into the epicurean fabric of the party — the music, the dancing, the photo booths, the slide shows, the toys, the decadent surroundings, and the capricious costuming — that it might actually go overlooked by anyone who came for a slightly less ribald night of creative commingling. The fact is, as sexy as it is, Kinky Salon is not about sex, it’s about community-building.”
CONNECTING THE DOTS…
A frequent misconception is that we just like getting dressed up and getting laid- that we are pure hedonists, in it for cheap thrills. I would not blame anyone for thinking that- from the outside that’s exactly what it looks like. But once you set foot in a Kinky Salon you can tell that there is something else going on here.
It starts with a vague realization that it’s not what you expected. There is something surprisingly friendly and fun loving about the crowd. The creativity and downright ridiculousness of the costumes is a great ice breaker, and something about being read the Charter when you arrive makes you feel like you will be safe here. Soon you are all brought together for the cabaret, where authenticity is valued over affectation and pretense. As the evening progresses, the experience of being surrounded by such open expression of sexuality feels surprisingly natural. Something you might have thought would be scary or intimidating is actually strangely familiar. Whether or not you actually end up getting in on in the play space, it doesn’t matter. Although sex has been woven into the fabric of the event, the act itself is almost an afterthought.
Our hope is that everyone who attends a Kinky Salon experiences a shift in their consciousness. Maybe through their negotiations in the playspace they learn something new about themselves or their partner. Maybe they release a long held perspective about gender or sexuality. Or perhaps they just let their hair down enough to really feel a sense of freedom and liberation. Our goal is to create a space that feels safe enough, and fun enough, and different enough from everyday life, that people try things outside their comfort zone.
We see the liberalization of sexuality as a means of personal transformation, and personal transformation as a means of cultural transformation. When you connect the dots, Kinky Salon is really about making the world a better place, one pervert at a time.