Porn conference

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On a recent Saturday morning in a 14th Street NW community center, a young couple holds forth on one of transient D.C.’s perennial challenges: how to maintain a long-distance relationship. “One of my all-time favorite fetishes is orgasm control, where I play with when and how and under what conditions I get to have sexual pleasure, thanks to my dominant partner,” explains Maymay, a 25-year-old tech professional from San Francisco. “Only if I’m feeling nice!” replies Emma, his Providence, R.I.-based partner.

The educational session is called “Sexy Fun Time With Google Apps.” Its focus: how the suite of applications helps maintain fetish activity across time zones. Maymay and Emma share a Google calendar charting his experiences. “Masturbated and edged a bunch,” one day’s entry reads. “Masturbated in the shower with conditioner,” says another. Through PDFs, they also annotate erotica for one another: “This is one of my long-time favorite animal transformation and chastity stories,” one note reads. And there are spreadsheets, too: “It’s a really hot concept to have one orgasm for like every 20 or 50 I give her,” Maymay says. An orgasm spreadsheet can be used to calculate those ratios.

“This is obviously more helpful if your sex is complicated,” Maymay adds.

Which means it’s especially helpful at KinkForAll, a conference about sexuality’s more intricate possibilities. Attendees, whose name tags feature blog pseudonyms or Twitter handles, deliver 20-minute presentations on everything from the logistics of orgy participation for oral-herpes sufferers to the latest in “teledildonic” technology. (Another session, about the importance of keeping one’s “real life” and “kink life” separate, explains why KinkForAll participants’ full names won’t be revealed here.)

If KinkForAll had a leader, it would be Maymay, who arrives in blazer and KinkForAll T. He’s the most proactive submissive you’ll ever meet: He blogs prolifically about his relationship with sexual pain, runs a weekly “sexuality netcast,” and has campaigned for transparent sex-ed since co-founding KinkForAll last March. Officially, though, KinkForAll has no leaders. It’s designed as an “ad-hoc unconference,” with responsibilities shared among participants. Gatherings have been held in D.C., New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Providence—seven in all. The only prohibition: live demonstrations. “KinkForAll is about talking with one another, not playing with one another,” conference rules declare.

Since co-founding KinkForAll, Maymay has encountered some complications that don’t figure into his spreadsheets—which is why, even if there’s no live action onstage, he tapes every gathering. “I record myself because some people like to say I’m a pedophile, and since I’m not really a pedophile, it helps when they see video of me not being a pedophile,” he says. “I’m like, ‘Actually, I was just showing a Google doc on the screen.’”

Maymay’s accuser is a watchdog organization called Citizens Against Trafficking (CAT), which in March released a bulletin warning that the “All” in “KinkForAll” could potentially include minors. Though KinkForAll conferences are nontouching events, the bulletin said they could corrupt the youth all the same. Maymay “wants to attract teens to his events,” the bulletin announced. “He wants to provide youth—including minors—with information about fetishes, bondage and sadomasochism.” And then there was this: “A number of people have warned [him] that he will be labeled a pedophile and end up in prison if he continues to hold this position and act on it.” CAT seemed particularly concerned that KinkForAll’s “kinky sex and BDSM discussions were broadcast live, videotaped, blogged and twittered.” The bulletin featured a photograph showing Maymay’s head cradled in a woman’s arms and his back covered in lashes from a whip.

The image came from Maymay’s personal website, not the conference. But never mind: Maymay’s sin isn’t that he likes it rough in private. It’s that he talks about it in public. Of course, that tendency is also evident at events like the Boston anti-porn conference “Stop Porn Culture”—featuring one of Maymay’s critics from CAT—held the same day as KinkForAll.

Porn conference

Two days later, several of the same activists gather for a Capitol Hill briefing called “Porn Harms.” “The last thing I want to do, people, is talk about porn,” says speaker Shelley Lubben, an activist who lists “ex porn star” among the qualifications on her hot-pink business card.

But that’s just what Lubben does, offering a degree of detail that goes beyond anything at KinkForAll. “I have been hit, spit on, penetrated everywhere you can imagine, told to sit still or pose still while every orifice of my body and hands are engaging five to six male performers,” says Lubben, who performed from 1994 to 1995 in such titles as Roxy: A Gang Bang Fantasy and Beaver Hunt Video 2. “I’ve been totally humiliated on the set, where they had to stop the scene when I didn’t even know what was going on, and they had to wipe up feces.”

When it comes to anti-porn activism, sex sells. At the briefing, Wheelock College professor Gail Dines becomes perhaps the first person to utter the words “cum dumpster” at a Capitol Hill press event. Over the past 20 years, Dines has made a living observing such degradations. As the crowd picks at fruit plates, she rattles off a selection of titles she’s researched, such as Anally Ripped Whores and Gag on My Cock.

Where Maymay displays spreadsheets, the porn critics on Capitol Hill show pictures. “What do you think of when you think of the term ‘watersports?’” asks Donna Rice Hughes, president of online-safety organization Enough Is Enough, displaying a blurred photo that made it clear she doesn’t mean aquatic ballet. (Watersports of a different sort made Hughes famous: When she was just Donna Rice, a photo of her yachting with Gary Hart helped derail his presidential bid. In 1994, she began campaigning against the hard stuff.)

Adult pornographic images, the presenters say, could send viewers down a “slippery slope” to child pornography; they can also encourage young adults to identify with the porn participants. Pediatrician Sharon Cooper shows an illustration of a stick-figure viewing a photograph of a couple presumably having sex—and then imagining its own stick-figure head atop one of the fornicators’ bodies.

Years of anti-porn advocacy haven’t exactly banished the stuff. And “Porn Harms” isn’t pushing some new policy effort. Rather, the activists just want existing laws—which some believe give authorities the power to stamp out porn—to be enforced. But, like any advocates, they need attention to make headway.

If KinkForAll and “Porn Harms” have one thing in common, it’s an obsession with airing taboos. The porn bashers, like the kink educators, quickly upload videos of their day of speeches, placing the content just a Google search away from kids. Dines’ lecture in particular reads like a road map to hard-core porn consumption: “If you go to Gagfactor.com, you’ll see a 20-second clip of a scene with a young woman they call Scarlett.” The “clip opens with Scarlett sitting on a toilet, having a penis thrust down her throat, while the man attached to the penis pulls her head back and forward.”

The audience nods politely, their hands folded over the crotches of their khakis. Given the ubiquity of Internet porn, it’s hard to say whether the young staffers are horrified by the exercise—or just busy imagining themselves as the man attached to that penis.

Photos by Darrow Montgomery