Neighborhood: Chelsea

Photo by Heather

WHAP! The paddle hit my ass.

The first time I recall getting spanked, I was four. I had stolen a box of matches and lit a fire behind my house. My father spanked me down the hall.

The last time I recall getting spanked, I was 25. I was in Paddles, New York City’s main sadomasochist dungeon. Megan, my spanker, a fat chick with a tattoo of a pyramid on her chest, was steadily increasing the strength of her swats. “It’s getting rosy red now,” she said.


“You have a really nice ass,” she continued, running her hands over my glutes sensuously. “I love the ass.”

I had long wanted to become a libertine. I had been sexually frustrated since I was six, when I took up the habit of humping my stuffed walrus. All through my adolescence, the spectre of intimacy terrified me. I feared I would become the Forty Year Old Virgin. To transcend my fear, I solicited a fat chick on the internet. She sucked my dick behind a sand dune.


I spent several years of my young adulthood involuntarily celibate. “No one wants to fuck me,” I thought bitterly over many bottles of liquor. I fell in love twice, was rejected twice. When I asked the object of my second infatuation to go out with me, she looked at me, turned around, and walked away. “In Buddhism, one of the best things that can happen to you is disappointment,” she told me later. She ended up having a kid with some other guy. I still meditate regularly.


My problem, I deduced later, was that I had been too stiff and inhibited. Had I swept her off her feet like a Spanish knight, she would have loved me. I would lose all fear and shame, I decided. I would become totally virile. Furthermore, I would go to New York and establish myself as a recognized writer. I would follow the footsteps of Gay Talese through the sexual underground, attending orgies and patronizing massage parlors. I would write my magnum opus and prove wrong all the women who had once rejected me.


About a year previous to this paddling, at a friend’s place back home in California, I watched Shortbus. The film opened with one of the main characters trying to suck his own dick while a neighbor spies on him through the window. The character then attended a series of orgies held at an underground club in New York. Overseeing the club was a transvestite named Justin Bond. I wanted to be part of that scene, I thought. I wanted to recapture the erotic spirit of the ancients.


First, I braved a sex party in my tiny home town. I was mortified that I’d see a friend’s father there. To fit in, I wore nothing but a fez and boots, and carried a horse whip. One of the two attractive women present told me a rape joke, then spent the rest of the evening fucking her boyfriend. I remained a voyeur.


Shortly thereafter I moved to New York, where I figured I’d find the real scene. During my first months in the city, I dabbled in cross-dressing. Justin Bond once complimented my get-up at a party. I attended a queer film festival, where I saw a man’s pectorals get skewered by a pair of sharp hooks and watched a film that combined war footage with gay porn. I attended a sex party advertised as “Brooklyn’s nastiest.” It was held in a squalid basement that stank of sweat. A man asked me through an intermediary to suck his dick. I left after about twenty minutes.

Another time, I attended The Pleasure Salon, a kinkster gathering hosted by a couple of Tantric sex coaches at a club called The Happy Ending. When I walked in, the first thing I heard was a guy telling another guy “I was physically abused as a child, so I’m not really much of a masochist.”

There were about 50 people there, mostly in their 40s, none of them lookers. There was one tranny– an old, wrinkled, obvious one. A good number of men loitered near the walls. A computer programmer approached me haltingly and tried to start a conversation, but it petered out after a few exchanges.

I struck up a conversation with a middle-aged fat woman. She told me her name was Hectuba. She gave me her card. Just “Hectuba”; no last name. It listed her occupations as 2nd Degree Wiccan Priestess and Crystal Healer, and Level 1 Reiki Practitioner. She said that she was also a sadomasochist. She and her husband, Garry, maintained a dungeon in their Staten Island home.

Hectuba told me she became interested in the occult at age 13, when she found a thin booklet about it in the library. She got Tarot cards and a Ouija board. During this time she had several close scrapes with black magic. One time she was playing with her Ouija board and part of the room began to smell strongly of onions and liver, neither of which she was cooking.

Her ex-husband got her into S&M. They met when she was 22. He was 44, a virgin, and a conservative Jew. He convinced her to become Hasidic, and she followed the tradition strictly for ten years. She suspected that he had been sexually abused as a child, and that he was also schizophrenic, because he told her that he talked to angels. Whenever she would put her hands “down there,” she said, he pushed them away. They lived apart for eleven years, then moved in together but slept in separate rooms. She had sex with him only once in fifteen years of marriage.

He enjoyed being beaten, especially while wearing a certain type of sandal. But he had no fortitude as a submissive. He would “safe word out” at the slightest provocation. That is, he would prematurely use the word they’d agreed on to cut off her abuse.

So Hectuba began venturing out by herself to find new partners. She met Garry on an S&M chat room in 2002. They began playing together. Hectuba’s husband didn’t like it, and asked her to stop. Hectuba dumped him and married Garry.

Garry was a quiet, gentle type. Like Hectuba, he was a “switch”; he could play either dominant or submissive, though he leaned submissive, while Hectuba leaned dominant. On FetLife, the big kinkster social media site that Hectuba suggested I join, he listed himself as “heteroflexible” with a “big messy fetish.” His profile photos showed him in a bathtub, covered in chocolate sauce and whip cream. He was also interested in drowning, slave auctions, cock ridicule, mind control, abasiophilia, and capsaicin (the spicy chemical in chili peppers).

The couple considered themselves “on the verge of polyamory.” Hectuba had sex with other men with Garry’s knowledge. Garry also submitted to other women. A mutual friend of theirs, the druid who originally got Hectuba into Wiccanism, had recently dominated Garry during a trip to Disney World. “She forced him to ride a roller coaster,” Hectuba said. Garry had a mortal terror of roller coasters. He cursed her the whole way up. “He couldn’t handle it,” Hectuba said. She called such over-aggressive domination “breaking your toys.”

“You can’t play with your toys if you break them,” she said.

Garry said he wasn’t jealous that Hectuba had other lovers, but he was jealous of her ability to pick up men. He was not so gifted in picking up women. I found Hectuba’s success surprising, given her stout stature, greasy, unkempt hair, double chin and stubble.

But I was intrigued. I still hadn’t explored the sadomasochism scene. A couple months later I attended a seminar held by the Eulenspiegel Society, the city’s oldest S&M club. It was called “Knife Play with Master Z.”

Twenty-six people came. One ancient guy in the audience was swaying back and forth; he later mentioned that he had so many neurological problems he didn’t trust himself to wield a knife over a woman’s jugular, but the fact that he might cut her got him off.

There was a guy wearing a thick soul patch who called himself Evil Sausage. “I’m dominant, sadistic and controlling,” Evil Sausage said, and he called his ex-girlfriends “former slaves.”

Master Z stood before a scaffold next to table covered in murderous shanks. His wife “lizbeth” wore a leather collar, eye shadow and fishnet stockings, but the only sartorial clue about Master Z’s proclivities were his studded black boots.

He first discussed safety. Keep knives very sharp or a very dull, he said, so that you’d know exactly the limit of pressure that you could apply before you moved into “blood play.”

“We’re not going to be doing any blood play today,” Master Z said. “Unless I change my mind midway through.”

Master Z got out an eight-inch hunting knife with a serrated spine. Some of the audience members also got out knives. One guy in chaps kept his knife out the whole evening. He kept jabbing it towards Master Z.

A short, dark-skinned woman named Aden came up to the scaffolding. She had thick scars on her arms and tattoos on her hands and neck.

“It’s important to negotiate limits beforehand,” Master Z said. “Especially when you’re a hair’s breath from killing someone. So Aden and I have discussed her limits, and fortunately she has none.”

Master Z strapped restraints to Aden’s wrists and ankles and, while continuing to explain the importance of immobilizing your slave, he chained her to the scaffold so that she was standing, spread eagle, with her arms above her head.

“The best part about having a knife is that you don’t have to worry about getting her clothes off,” he said, and he cut her shirt and bra apart, breathing heavily. “This works great for a rape scene,” he said.

Aden’s wide dark areolas hung out and Master Z poked her armpits, ran the blade along the bottom of her tit, and then over the top. She squirmed and tried to move away from him. Then he dug the knife blade into her nipple, saying “Ah, you like that, huh? Do you like that?”

“Big knives and helpless naked women,” he said. “It’s the perfect combination.”

These proceedings pleased me. I could really mix up a routine bout of sex with something like a katana sword, I reasoned. Maybe I had found my scene.

I went to Paddles for the first time one evening soon after that seminar. The club’s entrance was set in a windowless wall perpendicular to the street, facing a parking lot. It looked like the door to a walk-in freezer. I passed a circle of smokers in black leather thongs and vests, descended a black stairwell, and emerged in a basement filled with the sounds of whips cracking and slaves shrieking.

At first I loitered uneasily at the Whips and Licks Cafe, which formed the center of the club. I could have used a dose of alcohol, but drinking and flogging is frowned upon in the community, so the cafe served only soda, cake, and ice cream. “You can cool down after a scene with a banana split,” a kinkster once quipped.

A television above me played a video of a woman’s nipples being hung with weights while she was whipped. A huge mural opposite the cafe depicted a dominatrix forcing a man to drink nuclear waste in an apocalyptic landscape of broken cinder blocks and skulls. A dead woman was tied to a huge penis with horns. In the background, Paddles was still open for business.

After a while a dominatrix approached me and introduced herself as Miss Muse. She asked if I was new to the scene. I said I was. She offered to give me a tour of the club.

We walked first to the main play room, which evoked an Inquisition-era torture chamber. The grey stucco walls were made to look like stone. Thick, split wooden beams supported the ceiling. Gas lamps illuminated the space with a reddish light. Devices in this room included a four-poster bed with a leather mattress and cuff restraints hanging from pulleys on its tester. Each cuff could be pulled taught by wooden cranks on the frame of the bed. “Theoretically, you could be quartered,” Miss Muse said.

In the corridor leading to the back of the club, Miss Muse and I passed a naked man locked in a bird cage. We entered a stuffy room. A woman was hanging from by her hair from a hook in the ceiling, and a man was beating her. A chainsaw also hung from the ceiling. A kinkster named Ramon was blowing fire on his slave with a set of torches and an aerosol can. “Punieta!” his slave screamed. “No quiero mas!”

I can never go back to vanilla sex now, I thought to myself. Now, if I was really going to get off, I’d have to blast my partner’s vagina with burning alcohol.

Back home, I set up a profile on FetLife and trolled the events section. I found Hectuba’s profile. She suggested I attend a “munch” at Moonstruck, a mediocre diner in Chelsea popular amongst members of the sexual underground. A munch is a “vanilla” gathering at which kinksters eat and talk. I invited Evil Sausage to join me. Also present were Hectuba and Garry, a small, mousy man named Fred, his portly partner, and a guy with mutton-chop sideburns who called himself The Baron Von Brunk.

The Baron wore an American-flag tie. On his business card, which he also gave me, he was depicted wearing said tie. He was the chief executive officer of “Reel Splatter Productions,” a film company, whose logo was a man in a gas mask chopping open someone’s head with a machete. He said that he could reverse the the color scheme of this logo to transform the film company from one based on horror films to one based on zombie films.

Evil Sausage came in sweating, as he often did when he walked, wiping his brow with a handkerchief. He was rolling a suitcase behind him filled with floggers. He introduced himself to the others, using his real name, as always, and amending it with his FetLife name, as kinksters tended to do upon meeting. He had met Hectuba somewhere before.

Evil Sausage told me his awareness of his sadism had grown over many years. As a child, he went through his mother’s clothing catalogs and drew ropes around the wrists and ankles of the models, “especially the women.”

He had been estranged from his mother ever since he was a teenager, when she told his father that he was beating her. “You’re thinking that my conflict with my mother has lead me to want to dominate women,” he told me when he related this story. I told him I hadn’t been thinking that. “Well, you would have thought of that eventually, and you would be right.”

He got into the scene when he was in his thirties. He met his first S&M partner, Rebecca, on a website. “I beat Rebecca,” he said, his tone deadpan, and he nodded once and paused for two beats, as he did every time he said he beat a woman. “Then I brought her home.” She asked him to role play raping her, and he did so. After that, for the whole month that their relationship lasted, the couple’s foreplay involved Evil Sausage crawling through Rebecca’s window and assaulting her.

Evil Sausage had been polyamorous since his slave left him a few years previous, a betrayal that “left a scar.” He was 39, and his girlfriend was 19. She had moved into his apartment in Flushing. He put a collar on her– Evil Sausage considered “collaring” equal in significance to putting on a wedding ring– and she became his slave, a “24-7″ arrangement. That is, she submitted to him at all times, not just during sex. The only thing he had to do himself during their time together was to use the electric knife to carve roasts, since she was scared of it, and to shop for groceries, since she made irresponsible decisions at the store.

However, she flew into rages for the slightest reasons, such as when he tried to show her how to cook a roast without drying out the stuffing. One day, after he accidentally broke her laptop, she left him for a man her own age.

He was presently seeing three women, ages 23, 32, and 39, and seeking a new slave. He had not yet beaten his oldest girlfriend, because her Master had indicated that he wanted to watch Evil Sausage play before he let him beat her. “So one day, he and I and her will all see one another at a party, and I will beat her,” he said, and he nodded.

We spent much of the meal talking about tattoos. The Baron Von Brunk had tattoo of a Lego man on his arm. He had long been a Lego aficionado, and still built models, elaborate ones depicting such scenes as General Sherman’s burning of Atlanta. On the middle of his chest Evil Sausage had a tarantula. To the left of the tarantula he said he would get a tattoo of Wolverine riding My Little Pony, surrounded by Care Bears wielding swords. He would get a second tattoo opposite the tarantula, that of a Smurf in a bloody smock, wielding a chainsaw.

Several of us went to Paddles. We sat awkwardly together for a long time. There were only about five other people there when we arrived, and there would only be about thirty through the whole evening. Hectuba blamed Passover and Easter. Evil Sausage blamed better parties elsewhere.

Hectuba donned a pair of high heels and Garry got into a leather thong and a vest. Frank and his partner came up to Hectuba and Frank stood there silently while his partner explained that he was into foot worship. She said that when Frank rubbed his stubble on her soles, she had a peak experience. So Hectuba sat in a leather throne and Frank worshiped her feet for ten minutes while she looked bored. “It’s just not really what I’m into,” she explained later.

Eventually a young woman new to the scene came in and two fat dominatrixes strapped her to the quartering device. While a man put ice in her panties, Evil Sausage, delighted, poked her with the end of a rod he told me he’d once given to a friend, hoping to entice him to beat his girlfriend, who had confided in Evil Sausage that she liked such things. The friend had then suffered a psychotic break, though, compelling Evil Sausage to steal the device back.

In another room a beautiful young black woman in a leather suit and heel boots, which made her about 6’4”, was laying into a man’s ass with a wide belt strap, throwing her whole shoulder into each flog and making the belt crack loudly. Every time he was flogged the man said “Thank you Miss Reign.”

The voyeurs sat silently. A fat young man in schlocky clothes who lived upstate chewed his fingernails. He asked Miss Reign’s sidekick, a worse-looking, fatter woman, also in leather, how he should approach the dominatrix. “She would have you crawl up to her and kiss her feet,” the sidekick said. The man sat and kept looking at Miss Reign, his face sagging and expressionless, and when she came towards him to talk to her sidekick he scrambled away.

Later, I saw Miss Reign beating another fat man viciously. He was tied to a wall, writhing and moaning. “What’s his safe word?” Miss Reign’s sidekick asked her.

“He doesn’t have a safe word!” Miss Reign said, laughing, and she flogged him again.

By this time, there were only about eight people and two scenes left in the club. I wandered between the two, feeling bored and alienated.

I hadn’t yet tried sadism myself, but I thought I should. One time, before a play party in Brooklyn, I bought a cheap whip at the Pussy Cat Boutique. I spent forty minutes on the train to get to the party. I walked twelve blocks from the station to the warehouse venue.

Before I entered, I looked inside. The room was black lit. A fat woman dressed like a Medieval wench drank from a goblet. A woman in a white leather corset had her boobs hanging out over a flogging bench. A woman in a leather thong was locked in a cage. Several men stood around by themselves, looking like they weren’t sure where to put their hands.

It was $35 to go in. I stood with my whip, pondering. I knew it would be a long, awkward evening, that I wouldn’t enjoy myself, that the guests would be sexually unattractive. I turned around and went home.

The night I was spanked, though, I wasn’t yet disillusioned with the scene. That night I had still found sadomasochism novel enough to pay Paddles’ $40 cover charge for single men. (To discourage creeps, a single man is charged $15 more than a single women or a member of a couple.)

When I met Megan, I told her I was a writer, and she told me that she wanted to spank me.

I looked around, nervous. A saw a man bent over with his pants down and a dominatrix paddling him.


“What are you so scared of?” Megan said.

“Ah, um, I don’t know,” I stammered.

I wandered away, but she followed me. Everywhere I went, people were providing social proof that a spanking was the thing to get. I realized that I was running up against my old, limiting fear, the fear that kept me isolated and conventional.

“Can we start with my pants up?” I asked Megan.

We went into a corner. She bent me over a rack. She began to spank me with her hand, but I was wearing thick jeans and couldn’t feel it.

“Can I take your pants down?” she asked after a few minutes.

“Yeah, okay, do it,” I said.

She pulled my pants down but kept my boxers up, and continued to spank me, and this time there was a bit more of a sting to it. I looked down through my legs at the corridor behind us. A small audience of feet had gathered, encouraging Megan.

Megan kept running her hands up and down my thighs, around my scrotum, and up and down my torso. Her hands were soft and pudgy. It was all about “getting in touch with sensation,” she explained. Once her hand strayed into my cock, and I said “Whoa!”

“Oh, sorry,” she said. “I just meant to go up and down your thigh, but my hand slipped. Can I take your boxers down now?” she asked.

“Yeah, alright, sure,” I said. “Now I can say I really did it.”

“No more faking,” she said, slipping my boxers down.

Megan eventually switched to her paddle. After about ten minutes, my ass was sore. I stuck it out another five minutes– WHAP! WHAP! WHAP!

The spanking satisfied me. It was sensual, like a massage. I felt high, like I had been working out. Most importantly, though, I was a new man, one capable of being spanked before all the patrons of Paddles and feeling no shame.

Nathaniel Page is a California writer who lives in Brooklyn.

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