Here’s an excerpt from a brilliant article – Jed Lipinski’s amusing account of an awkward first date between two nervous ‘nillas at a bondage workshop:

…And so on a cold night in November, I pushed open the heavy glass doors of Toys in Babeland’s SoHo shop. Darla appeared soon after, zipped into a sleeping bag-length down jacket.

“Well, here we are!” she said brightly, kissing me on the cheek.

Two employees greeted us — an effete young man in tight pants and a Mohawk, and a voluptuous black-haired girl in a jungle-green velour jumpsuit. Their expressions were identical: endlessly sympathetic, wildly sexual. They handed us packets and pens, and we sat down in a row of folding chairs near the back.

Darla’s green eyes glittered with a kind of teenage mischievousness. But I noticed the packet — labelled “Bondage and Discipline” — was shaking slightly in her hand, as if she was about to give a speech. I instantly felt guilty for inviting her here. There was no alcohol to relax the mood, and the room was full of harsh fluorescence, throwing spotlights on products like the Ophoria Finger Vibe and Penetration Station. Our classmates, with whom I avoided making eye contact, were milling about the vibrator displays.

“That’s the one I have,” Darla said, gesturing at the display table. “The blue one.” The device was large and streamlined, with the kind of wrist cord attachment found on cameras and flashlights.

The girl in the green jumpsuit stepped to the front of the ad hoc classroom, and everyone sat down. She introduced herself as Rosalyn (her name, like the others in this essay, has been changed), and explained that everyone is capable of both domination and submission, that nobody is either/or. Her eyes were smoky and dark — bedroom eyes. When she asked what we wanted to learn, a heavy silence fell over the group.

“Knots!” a girl shouted at last, and the class laughed in relief. The girl was wearing cork-size plugs in her earlobes and holding her girlfriend’s hand. They smiled radiantly, completely at ease under the circumstances. I envied them.

“OK,” Rosalyn said. “Knots. Check! Anything else?”


“All right, well. I hope you guys are ready, because this class is gonna be really fun!”

Darla pounced on the opportunity for irony. “Yes!” she whispered, squeezing my knee. I was uncomfortable being here — far more uncomfortable than I’d predicted — and the benign comment loosened me up to an almost psychotic degree. I laughed into my hand, worried I might giggle uncontrollably for the rest of the class, but the fit soon passed.

Rosalyn stepped back and Daniel, a shifty fellow in a baggy sheep’s wool sweater and wingtips, took her place. “Hey, you guys! Welcome to Erotic Bondage and Dirty Domination!” he said, with considerable sass. Rosalyn had seemed a sensitive and reliable guide, but Daniel looked unsteady; he seemed to be in training for the job. Rather abruptly, he began reading from the packet we’d been given, looking up now and then to establish a rapport with the audience. “The masochist is someone who enjoys inflicting pain on others,” he said, “whereas a sadist … a sadist enjoys being the recipient of pain.”

“I think you got that backwards there,” said a black man in sunglasses and a white Kangol hat near the front.

Daniel blushed and flipped the pages back and forth. He gave an exasperated “Ah!” before redefining the words correctly.

Just then, Rosalyn said, “I smell smoke. Is something burning?” As Daniel turned around, Rosalyn leapt at the table behind them, where a scented massage candle had lit one of the fanned sex-pamphlet displays. “Oh my God!” she shouted, laughing as she brought a hardback erotica book down on the table, smothering the flames…

Read the full article here.

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