Listen to this podcast as we discuss Pleasure Salon with Sex with Strangers
MISSION STATEMENT: Pleasure Salon’s mission is to help create a sex-positive world by building networks among pleasure-positive communities. It is a place for the open exchange of ideas.
Although creating Pleasure Salon is, in some sense, a political act in itself, we have chosen not to be a forum for expressing a specific political agenda, nor are we a place to preach to people about a particular political cause. Instead, we provide the open, accepting and all-inclusive space for sex-positive people to cross-pollinate.
WHO IS WELCOME: Pleasure Salon gatherings bring together sex-positive people from all sexual walks of life. Our mission is to bring together members of the BDSM, swinger, alternative gender, LGBTQ, sex-activist, porn, sex educator, nudist, sex-magic, polyamory, sex-educator, Pagan, radical faerie, tantra, sex-blogger, sex-worker, and sex writer communities, and others whose passion is sex. (Let us know if we missed any one of you!)
INVITATIONS: In the early days of Pleasure Salon we invited leading members of the various sexual communities in our city and asked them to bring along or invite like-minded friends and colleagues. This created a buzz in the communities through word-of-mouth, and that drew people in. Now we list upcoming events on Facebook, and Fetlife. We’ve been written up in several magazines, and we also send out monthly email reminders for those who want to be added to our mailing list.
WHO HOSTS: The three founding members, Selina Fire, Mark Michaels and Patricia Johnson, host the event every month. We have made a commitment to this gathering, and it is part of our passion and commitment to build community as sex-positive activists and educators.
FREQUENCY OF GATHERINGS: We meet at the same time on the same night once a month. It is the first Monday of every month, from 6pm to 10pm. So far, come rain, sleet, snow or hail, we have never missed a month, and we have been going strong since March, 2007. In the rare occasion that one of us has an unavoidable conflict in scheduling, we reach out to the community of regular attendees to fill in.
VENUE: Pleasure Salon New York went through three venues before we found our current location. We are now at The Delancey Rooftop on the Lower East Side.
COST: Admission to the Pleasure Salon is always FREE , because we want to provide a welcoming space to all sex-positive people, regardless of their ability to pay. We know that what to some people is a pittance, to others is a large sum. When the crowd is at its peak, we make announcements and pass the hat. Money donated is used to defray the cost of putting on the event.
GREETING: We begin our gatherings by welcoming each attendee as he/she enters. We say hello and introduce ourselves. We give each entrant a name tag, and ask them to write their (made up or real) name on it. They may want to add a their own quirky descriptor, and we encourage this. The name tag merely provides a way for strangers to approach each other.
We strive to create an atmosphere in which people feel comfortable and are inspired to talk to one another. We don’t want an atmosphere in which cliques of people are too cool to talk to one another. Living in New York, we founders have spent much of our lives at events where “cool people” cluster, scorning those they perceive as interlopers. We New Yorkers are done with “cool.” Pleasure Salon, in that sense, is anti-cool. Instead, it is friendly.
MUSIC/ENTERTAINMENT: At Pleasure Salon, we play background music at a level that makes it easy to converse. Since our purpose is to encourage talk among strangers, we create an environment that favors talk. We do not have live performances or speakers. That is because we do not want to re-purpose the event. There are other such events in existence, and we want our attendees to be able focus on getting to know one another, rather than focusing on an act or speaker.
MINGLING: Our main objective is for people to talk to people they do not already know. Of course they will also talk to their friends, but we hosts mingle through the crowd and introduce people who are standing looking lost to others in the room. We also encourage our regular attendees to talk to people they don’t already know in a welcoming and friendly way.
FOOD: We provide snacks for our guests. Typical fare includes sliced baguettes or crackers, a variety of cheeses, grapes, nuts, raisins, chocolates, strawberries, chips, hummus, etc. We do not want our guests to have to leave because they need to get something to eat. We place the food throughout the room so that people can graze at will.
REFRESHMENTS: The Delancey is a bar. They make wonderful drinks. We encourage our attendees to support this wonderful venue that is so accepting of the sex-positive community by buying drinks and tipping the bar tender!
SAFE SPACE: We embrace the principles of respect, tolerance, acceptance, openness, and non-judgmental support for one another. We also maintain vigilance to ensure that our principles are followed. Sometimes, someone will come in who does not know how to respectfully interact with other patrons. This is often remedied with a hand-on-the-shoulder little chat, and they reform their behavior, but on very rare occasions we have found it necessary to eject someone from the gathering. This has only happened when the behavior has been truly egregious. We want attendees to feel comfortable, and we have had very few problems.
PRIVACY: Safe space means mutual respect, but it also means respect for people’s privacy. We know that people carry cell phones and cameras, but we have a general policy of no photographs. We recognize that many people need to keep their identities private.
PRESS: We have allowed some carefully vetted event-friendly press to attend Pleasure Salon, but only to interview people who choose to be interviewed. We have also occasionally allowed highly respected scene photographers to shoot photographs of specific patrons who choose to be photographed. Press and photographers are carefully vetted prior to attending the Pleasure Salon, and are instructed to only interview or photograph people who have given their express permission. If you are a journalist or photographer who wishes to interview attendees or request permission to take photographs, please contact us in advance.
PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO START A PLEASURE SALON IN YOUR CITY OR TOWN. We can help!
WHAT PLEASURE SALON IS ALL ABOUT: Pleasure Salon is about pleasure. We have fun! You’re welcome to join us.