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From Rihanna’s 2010 hit “S&M” to the surprisingly-popular 2011 erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey, there seems to be an interest in mainstream culture to catch glimpses of the world of kink and BDSM.

At the same time some will speculate that the allure of kink is simply to be dark and dangerous; that regardless of consent, communication or negotiation between partners, kinky acts (and sometimes the people doing them) are things that just aren’t healthy or acceptable.

Some might be surprised to know that Denver has quite a diverse and thriving BDSM and fetish scene. From the Denver Eagle (a leather bar) to Thunder in the Mountains (a yearly kink conference and event) and the upcoming Exile Party at Tracks to the multiple public and private dungeons, Colorado has its fair share of hot spots for kinksters, fetishists and those who enjoy exploring the various facets of BDSM.

The following have agreed to share their thoughts about being kinky, and part of the kink community.

Mistress Saskia (Sozz to friends), 45

I identify as a top and sadist for work and community purposes (such as when I’m teaching or doing demonstrations) and as a dominant and sadist in my personal life. A top is someone who performs certain activities on another person for mutual physical gratification, whereas a dominant is more gratified by having partners submit on an emotional and physical level. I’m the kind of sadist who enjoys causing pain only when it’s an avenue for pleasure for my partner.

In terms of scene identity, I’m sometimes a kinkster as well, where I just enjoy some activities because they’re fun and not because there’s any power exchange involved. There’s a lot of artistry in some kinds of play and I enjoy many things for their artistic value, such as beautifully-executed rope work, a precision caning that leaves symmetrical patterns, or a complex fire play scene with a well-timed finale.

I was probably first kinky in high school. I loved boys in eyeliner and lipstick, and once talked my very macho boyfriend into wearing panties to school for me. In my early 20s, I didn’t have much luck getting my very conservative husband to do anything kinky with me, but when we split up, I made up for lost time and started exploring. I was 27 the first time I spanked anyone and that changed everything.

What continues to keep me interested in kink after so many years is what attracted me in the first place: people. I’m fascinated with why we respond to things the way we do, with how we’re conditioned by experience and culture, by how we can change some of our conditioning, by how we process sensation so differently at different times and in different circumstances, and by what power exchange means in a culture where there are so many different kinds of power and privilege. I love being able to provide a safe space for people to explore aspects of their sexuality without being mocked or judged negatively.

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