Sep 082016
 

Headshots at CatalystCon

Robert BurkhartLiz BlackfordMary Prescott

Catalyst Con’s photographer Erika Kapin is offering a limited number of discounted headshot photo sessions for attendees of CatalystCon 2016!

Reserve your session by prepaying for one of the following packages:

–15-20 minute session. 1 Look/outfit. Includes 2 retouched high res image of your selection. $100 prepay. $130 registration at conference.
–1 hour session. Up to 3 looks/outfits. Includes 5 retouched, high res images of your selection. $200 prepay. $250 at conference.

Work samples at www.erikakapin.com

Email erika@erikakapin.com reserve your space or ask any questions!

Check out Erika on Instagram and Twitter

 

Sep 072016
 

Reid is presenting Sex Geek Conservatory Primer: Teaching Sex Ed Without FearHow To Make More Money as a Sex Educator: Dating Your Business Model  The Art of Accepting No with Monique Darling and Reid Mihalko and Finding Your Unique Voice and Brand to Wow Your Perfect Clients (and Create Bigger Value). Check out his bio here.

Reid MihalkoHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

For the past four years I’ve been geeking out hard on helping sex educators become better at the business of being educators and how to reach more people and make a better living doing what we love.
The way I see it, the more people’s lives we can touch, and the more peace of mind we can foster by paying our rents and bills, then our Industry as a whole becomes stronger, healthier, and happier. And happy, well-paid, self-expressed sex educators have more resources to be catalysts for the kind of change the planet needs right now!
Who or what was a catalyst for you?
Seeing how much my Mom and Dad loved each other and how “Love” wasn’t enough to keep them happy was the catalyst. Their growing pain -my mother would become an alcoholic, my father would become a workaholic, with things just getting worse and worse- and inability to heal it had me vow to never “be like them.”
My father also lost everything in his once successful business and my folks ended up living in their van with the family dog for several years, so I also “inherited” a great fear of finances and owning a business/“having a career.”
Lucky for me, I had friends and mentors who helped me overcome my fears and unleash my natural curiosity and geekery about people, business and life… And I’ve been able to make a career out of it, even to the extent of helping other sex educators win at business!
It’s very inspiring to help men and women not have to go through what I saw my parents go through.
What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable changes that have been made in our current society and the field of sexuality?
Decolonizing sex education and how white people in our industry are learning why and how to help other white people be more inclusive and savvy with things like racism, classicism, abelism, ageism, sex workers rights, sexism, body shaming, etc.… These conversations and the actions/growth surrounding them are SO important!
What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today?
One of the biggest challenges happening right now in our industry is how sex educators are handling consent violations, consent accidents, and predatory behavior inside our own community/industry.
We are at a lack of tools for how to invite our industry to heal itself. We need to be able to hold people accountable and take personal responsibility while giving people room to have their feelings and voice/be witnessed in healthy, empowering ways.
Our industry and the sex-positive movement, like other movements that came before us, is prone to “eating it’s own” and using banishment and bridge-burning as means of bringing justice and creating safety. The unfortunate outcome of this is that we’re at a loss for protocols and role modeling on how we invite community members to step-up, grow, heal, and improve.
I don’t have the answers, but I’ve been having lots of conversations with folks who specialize in geeking out on these things. I invite all sex educators to look into the areas of Restorative and Transformative Justice, Call-In and Calling-Out Culture, as well as other areas and communities and brilliant minds, and help us find tools and concepts that can empower our industry and help all of us upgrade how we hold space and role model for each other. These tools need to include how we can leverage social media to build bridges rather than burn them.
Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic importation to you?
I look at getting better at business as a kind of self-care for sex educators. One of the most powerful ways to avoid burnout and stress is to not make the common mistakes I made “re-inventing the wheel” as I built my career.
Anything I can do to help my peers shorten their learning (and frustration) curves means there are more of us transforming the world! And THAT is important to me.
I’m teaching two pre-con workshops on business skills and public speaking  bad-assery. I’m also co-leading two presentations, one on how to say and receive No powerfully as well as a 2nd talk on how to use your personal life’s story as a sex educator to reach clients and create a career that’s a great fit for you… All of these discussions help sex educators build businesses that excite them and pay the bills rather than stress them out.
Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself?
I used to play flute in 7th grade band, but couldn’t read music at all, so I just faked it
 

Speaker Spotlight: Robert G. LeFavi, PhD

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Sep 062016
 

Bob is presenting Treating low libido in women: What sexual health professionals should know about the latest research, with emphasis on hormonal therapies. Check out is bio here.

Robert LeFavi, PhDWhat do you feel are some of the most important/valuable changes that have been made in our current society and the field of sexuality?

In the past decade, great strides have been made in the understanding of the causes of low libido in women. The most dramatic change in awareness has been in the importance of how hormone levels affect physical sensation, emotions, and human sexual response. This awareness is slowly moving from labs into medical practice, and is most often adopted into use by those treating patients with hormone replacement therapy. Those physicians often see dramatic results, and their treatments should be made known to wider populations and women of all ages.

Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic important to you?
There is simply no reason we have not been as focused on female sexual dysfunction than on male sexual dysfunction. And low libido is indeed sexual dysfunction for those who experience it. The information gained in recent research on hormones can change much of that. I am passionate about getting this information to as many sexual health practitioners as I can so the opportunities for successful treatment can be increased. The awareness of the importance of the hormone-sexual response interaction can empower all of us to be catalysts of hope for those women who suffer from low libido; this knowledge is indeed power.
Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself?
I have dual citizenship (Italy & U.S.) and was a competitor in the 2013 World CrossFit Games

Speaker Spotlight: Rebecca E. Blanton, PhD

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Aug 262016
 

Rebecca is presenting Claiming Female Sexuality Through Performance. Check out her bio here.

Rebecca E. BlantonHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I don’t really think of myself as a “Catalyst for Change.” That idea seems to big for what I do. What I am concerned about it the growing need for everyone to be certain about everything at every moment. This leaves little room for growth or change without being painted as a dilettante or flip-flopper. I have long been concerned with both identity and sexuality in a person’s life. Both healthy identity and healthy sexuality require an ability to explore and grow and change — which is antithetical to the current need to certainty in identity at all times.

I have opted to live as open and authentically as I can as a way to free people from the need to pretend to be something they are not. I have used my sexual and emotional path to illustrate things on stage through comedy and burlesque performances. I think the boom in burlesque and the growth of women in comedy allow women a new and unique way to talk about the constant “becoming” that is the human experience.

Who or what was a catalyst for you? 

My biggest catalyst to this day was The Life and Times of Harvey Milk. I saw the documentary when I was 11 years old on PBS. Milk’s statement that “If a bullet should ever enter my brain, let it blow off every closet door,” became my mantra. I have been out and proud as queer since I was 13 and realized I was gay. I am out about my kink and my mental illness. People, much braver than I, came out before me so I didn’t have to fight the hardest battles. I owe them being open and out an it is my gift to the next generation.

What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable changes that have been made in our current society and the field of sexuality?

I think the ability to talk more openly about sexuality is, by and large, a good development. I see us as still a nascent culture when it comes to talking about sex and sexuality and there are growing pains as we open the culture. However, the ability for people to connect with community and get information about things is a good thing.

What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today? 

I see the pushback against changing ideas of gender and sexuality as dangerous. As much as we have pushed to decriminalize and de-pathologize queerness and trans folks, we are still based in a medical model for sex and gender identity. Medicine is a field of late adopters for any ideas. The fact that we conflate sex and gender to what sex is assigned at birth by some doctor and that we still require trans folks to prove things like “gender dysphoria” to multiple medical professionals before getting any help will always slow and limit the development of new ideas of sexuality.

Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic importation to you?

I know hundreds of female and female-identified performers who have used the stage to claim who they are sexually and with their gender. I find it absolutely fascinating what parts of their sexuality and gender they choose to claim on stage and how they go about doing that.

Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself?

I was raised on a farm in southeast Idaho by parents who were escaping their role as Baptist missionaries.

Speaker Spotlight – Walker Thornton M.Ed

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Aug 232016
 

Walker is presenting Addressing Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder—It’s Not as Simple as Popping a Pill or Using a Sex Toy/Device. Check out her bio here.

Walker ThorntonHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I speak about topics of vital importance to older women—menopausal and postmenopausal women (and a significant number of older men as well). We’re a segment of the population that is pretty much overlooked in many areas. We are seen as past our prime, old…not interested in sex, and invisible in some ways. Women this age, as a general rule, don’t feel comfortable talking about sex and sexuality. I believe that my job is to help normalize and demystify sex in the middle years and beyond. I don’t hold to the myths about aging and menopause. I try to present a pro-aging, natural approach to getting older and maintaining our sexuality. My willingness to have “that” conversation, any time, any place, is just one way to remove some of the stigma and provide space for change to happen.

Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic importation to you?

I hear from women who struggle with issues around sexuality. Women who want a different, better sex life but don’t know who to talk to…and in some cases don’t really know what it is they need.  Much of the available information for older women portrays sexuality in a negative light. The prevailing myth is that menopause will bring an end to desire and sex and that the best answer, if any help is offered, is pharmaceutically based. Instead of helping women understand their desire, or give them tools to enhance their understanding of sex and their bodies, women are pushed towards expensive toys and medications. Low female sexual desire doesn’t exist in a vacuum and it can’t be “treated” as a deficit that begs for a fix. The idea of inviting desire, which happens to be the title of my new book, is a way of helping women do their own work—giving them tools and resources, readily accessible and practical. I’m excited about the opportunity to help workshop attendees look at how we work with women (and their partners) in providing ideas and tools for increasing sexual desire.

Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself

I’m a small town girl. I grew up in a town of 500—on the water, at the end of a road that doesn’t really lead to anywhere else. Somehow over the years I’ve managed to shed that awkward little girl, small town image. Oh, and… I drove a bus for the University of Virginia when I was in college.

Speaker Spotlight – David J. Ley, PhD

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Aug 192016
 

David is presenting Ethical Porn For Dicks: Encouraging Users to Embrace Mindfulness in their Porn Consumption and speaking on Opening Keynote Plenary Address: Sparking Communication in Sexuality, Activism and Acceptance. Check out his bio here.

David LeyHow do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

Each of my books has been the first of its kind. Insatiable Wives was the first scholarly exploration of the cuckold/hotwife fantasy and fetish. Myth of Sex Addiction was the first popular book to challenge the concept of sex addiction, as morally-based, shaming model. Ethical Porn for Dicks (EP4D) is the first book to approach the men of our society with a model for responsible use of pornography, in a way that does not demonize either porn or male sexuality. I’ve been deeply humbled to have my work honored as an inspiration by the many people who have been shamed for their sexuality, and have felt that my writing and advocacy has led to them being able to challenge social elements who shame and suppress sexual diversity. When Myth came out, I was one of only about 3 people who were publicly challenging the notion of sex addiction – now, dozens of writers, therapists and researchers around the world are publicly attacking the concept as dangerous, ill-informed, and harmful. To have their support and encouragement in this fight has been one of the great successes of my life.

Who or what was a catalyst for you? 

Truthfully, I’ve had any number of mentors and catalysts. But the ones who have meant the most to me have been the countless people around the world who have reached out and told me about the shame they have experienced at the hands of counselors, doctors, media and writers. These people’s stories spurred me to advocate on their behalf, challenging our society’s use of mental health and addiction diagnoses to enforce morally-determined sexual values. I believe strongly in the values and ethics of my profession as a clinical psychologist – but, I believe equally strongly that we must be ever mindful of the intrusion of morals into clinical practice, especially around sexual issues, lest we replicate the many times through history when our field has harmed our own patients, by labeling women as nymphomaniacs or homosexuality as an illness.

What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable changes that have been made in our current society and the field of sexuality?

Recent research on the role of religious/moral values conflict with pornography is one of the biggest, most recent bombs which as gone off, revealing that the majority of people who struggle with their porn use, are doing so because of a moral conflict between their religious values and their sexual behaviors. The implications of this are huge, as it helps us to now better help the many people who struggle with porn use, even when they use less porn than other people. Those folks deserve assistance – but the simplistic “Blame porn” approach has been ineffective and often worsens the problem. Now, we can begin to help them, and society, understand that a lack of sexual education, lack of sexual self-understanding and acceptance, and a basic fear of sex that these people (and their religious communities) hold, leave these people desperately ill-prepared to deal with the modern world of sexuality available to them. Educating therapists, religious leaders, societies, policy-makers, porn-users, porn-producers and parents about ways to understand and resolve this conflict is one of our next biggest hurdles. But it’s also at the same time, a very positive way in which we can now begin to address peoples’ pain and struggles MUCH more accurately and effectively.

What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today? 

I say often that we are in a “sea-change” environment when it comes to sexuality. Core beliefs about sexuality, orientation, gender and what sex actually “means” are being rocked by changes in our society and world, mostly wrought by ripples of the Internet and increased private, independent access to information, community, and acceptance. These are scary times, for those people who fear sexuality, both their own and that of others. Many religious people believe that internet porn and transgender bathroom issues are greater social concerns than are gun violence or racism. These feelings reflect their deep fears of these changes, and what the changes might mean for them and their understanding of the world and sexuality. Currently, I don’t think anyone is doing a good job, understanding and acknowledging these fears, and at the same time, presenting a courageous and informed way in which we can help people move beyond their fear.

Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic importation to you?

Men who use porn have been deeply shamed and isolated by the modern porn panic. EP4D is the first text that is written for them, for the layman, that acknowledges both the positives and risks of porn, and empowers men to make decisions from places of self-knowledge and integrity. I hope that my work serves  in some small way to empower both men and porn producers/performers, to push back against the shaming, attacking elements who pathologize all porn, and want people to fear it. Ethical Porn is a way we can all rally together, to protect our sexuality, or free expression, and our own determination of our sexual values.

Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself?

I was born with one hand. It’s a very obvious physical disability, which has not been that disabling. But, I have a lifetime of feeling, and looking, very different, and being singled out for that difference. As a result, I am very sensitive and attuned to those who shame others for differences, particularly differences in sexual behaviors or preferences. I view such shaming tactics as akin to those bullies I’ve experienced all my life, who shame others for being different in some way. Throughout my life, I’ve always aggressively fought such bullying, whether it’s directed at me, or others. My writing is a unique expression of that aspect of my personality.

 

Mar 312016
 

Liz Powell is presenting Naming, Shaming, And Victim-Blaming: Practical Safety with a Sex-Positive Spin and Military and Veterans 101 for Sexuality Professionals. Check out Liz Powell’s bio here.

Liz Powell

1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

I’m working on keeping the sex-radical spirit of San Francisco alive through my work in my private practice and with the collective I helped found, the Embodiment Arts Collective. I also value being out about myself as polyamorous and kinky because, especially in the world of psychology, not many people are out openly. This can make clients feel like no one out there understands their life. I want to lead by example and show that normal everyday people can be successful and non-monogamous/kinky.

2. Who or what was a catalyst for you?

When I was first stationed in Savannah, GA I was looking for a couples’ counselor for myself and one of my partners and there were only 1 or 2 therapists in the whole state who spoke openly about non-monogamy; none of them were in Savannah. I knew then that part of my work had to be in reaching out to the less mainstream folks and providing a safe space for them to seek help.

3. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable changes that have been made in our current society and the field of sexuality?

I’m really loving the push to normalize all consensual forms of sexual expression, especially regarding low and high desire. Asexuality and Megasexuality are not problems, they’re just expressions of our variance as a species.

4. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today?

Right now, I think it’s important for us to remain intersectional in our work. Empowering people sexually is always, for me, build on a foundation of social justice. Without this understanding and awareness, it can be hard for us to create true freedom of expression.

5. Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic importation to you?

I’m really passionate about both of my panels for very different reasons. For my panel on military and veterans, I’m a disabled veteran myself and I’ve found that so few people know anything at all about what life in the military is like. That experience can be very alienating and make it hard to transition out of service. While I was in the service, the regulation of the UCMJ made it challenging for me to express myself sexually as there could be repercussions (legally and professionally). For Naming, Shaming, and Victim Blaming, I’m someone who feels very strongly about the need to address rape culture and to also empower everyone to help keep themselves safe. I’ve struggled myself with how to handle “missing stairs” in the communities I’ve been a part of and I think this is one of the most important conversations we can have, especially in the light of the allegations against people such as James Deen.

6. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.

I was a figure skater from 8 to 16 and still love when I get a chance to get back on the ice.

Mar 252016
 

Mark Michaels & Patricia Johnson are presenting The Dark Side of Tantra. Check out Mark Michaels’s bio here and Patricia Johnson’s bio here.

Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson

1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

We have been active in various alternative sexuality communities since 1999; Mark started exploring polyamory a couple of years before that. We see our role as one of empowering people through sharing information and community-building. We feel that these efforts have helped people realize that there is no “right way” to be sexual.

2. Who or what was a catalyst for you?

Even though we’ve moved away from identifying as Tantra teachers, Dr. Jonn Mumford (he still teaches people personally via his online courses – www.jonnmumfordconsult.com) was a major catalyst; our first book is based on his material, and his influence is there in all of them. The friendships we have developed with amazing colleagues (many of whom are presenting at Catalystcon) are an inspiration too. That list would be so long!

3. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable changes that have been made in our current society and the field of sexuality?

Cultural attitudes toward what constitutes a happy relationship are changing rapidly. More and more people are looking to create and nurture relationships in an intentional rather than a reflexive way – whether they’re monogamous or have some other relational orientation. We see the act of consciously and consensually creating relationships is good for individuals, their partners, and society.

4. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today?

Well, climate change and ecocide are the biggest ones. In the face of such monumental challenges, it sometimes feels like talking about sexuality is inconsequential; we can only hope that helping people develop a more integrated and authentic way of being in the world is a small step toward inspiring a more respectful attitude toward the planet.

5. Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic importation to you?

There is a lot of mythology around Tantra. The meaning of the word, and the history of the tradition are hotly contested. The popularization of Tantra in the West has been problematic in many ways, and we’ve made our own mistakes over the years. While these issues are difficult and potentially painful to discuss, we thinks it’s important to examine them.

6. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself?

We’re both active in conservation. Mark is a leading expert on the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (www.projectcoyoteIBWO.com), and Patricia has rehabilitated hundreds of Native New York turtles (www.TurtleAdvocate.org.) We’ve also spent the last five years writing, touring and generally working too hard. This year, we’re focusing on having more fun!

Mar 162016
 

Mr Blk & Ms Pomegranate are presenting “What does consent look like; Practicing consent in kink”. Check out Mr Blk’s bio here and Ms Pomegranate’s bio here.

Mr BlkMs Pomegranate

1. ​How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

​At The Black Pomegranate our credo is, “Talking the Taboos” and that philosophy permeates everything we do. In a sense, that credo is emblematic of the manner in which we’re catalyst for change. Sexual alternative lifestyles are still considered to be taboo.

Coming out as kinky can have very real consequences, professionally and personally even in 2016. When someone is kinky, the prevailing thought still exists that you’re different at best, potentially harmful at worst. The message is, if kink is your taboo, perhaps that should be hidden.

We define taboos differently. We think the taboos of sexual alternative lifestyles can be incredibly nutritive and affirming, something to be celebrated in life. In essence, we’ve redefined taboos as a positive instead of a negative. We want people to talk about the taboos of sexual alternatives with candor, acceptance and security, yet without shame or fear.

“Talking the Taboos” is a prelude to learning about the ways we can all participate in healthier, safer and more fulfilling alternative sexual lifestyles. We see ourselves as facilitators, working to demystify kink and BDSM and help make it more accessible and approachable. We want to initiate the ideas and changes in our communities which promote informed consent, openness and confront abuse. In our teaching, we want to advance play techniques, so participants learn a better way of doing things. We want people to acquire the tools to get the most out of their kink journey. Therefore, by that metaphorical act of talking about the taboos, we aspire to be catalysts of change.

2.­ ​Who or what was a catalyst for you?

​Our catalyst grew organically, from our separate and shared experiences in the kink world. Over time, we shared our perspectives with each other and remarked about the conversations we didn’t see occurring often enough.

One problem in the kink community is that it can be very hierarchical and dogmatic. Kinky people often joke about “the one true way” of doing things when it comes to BDSM play and
relationships. This dogma is based less on what’s best and more on long held conventions, even if they are wrong.

Over time, Ms.Pomegranate and I saw things that bothered us, both in our local kink community and from our experiences. We reached a point where we realized we had something to share,
that we could use our skills and knowledge to address the problems we saw. From that point on, we became advocates and teachers in the kink community, often being able to give new people the advice we didn’t receive early in our journey. Finding our agency and our voice to create positive change became our catalyst.

3. ​What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable changes that have been made in our current society and the field of sexuality?

The effect of technology on kink culture has been undeniable over the last twenty years. For example, in the 1990’s, the local kink community in Baltimore was linked by small ads in the
City Paper. Any actual networking was a long process with a negligible chance of leading to a play partner, never mention an actual kink relationship.

Today, the information revolution has fundamentally changed kink. Websites like Fetlife have moved BDSM networking from a small newspaper ad to become a global endeavor. People can
stream kink classes on any subject and learn from their living rooms. Thousands of bloggers and writers share their sex positive thoughts, culminating in events like Catalyst Con.

Technology has had other effects on kink culture. Gear is better made, with an easier learning curve. There are whips with flexible cores, which make them easier to throw. Sex toys are
ergonomic and body safe now. Haptics offer us genuine virtual reality experiences. To say nothing of the effect technology has had on the discourse surrounding the emotional and physical factors regarding kink participation. Technology has made kink, sex positivity and sexuality a very different place in 2016, with much more to come.

4. ​What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today?

BP­ ​The plethora of misinformation about kink. As we stated, there is more access to kink information then there has ever been. But this also means there is also more access to bad kink
info. It’s inevitable that we mention the book and movie, “50 Shades of Grey”. Various “50 Shades” media exposed millions to BDSM, it became a guide of sorts for kinky curiosity. The
problem is, it was never intended to be that. “50 Shades” was written as fan fiction by someone who had no practical knowledge (or desire) to exhibit a reliable manual for how to live a kinky
lifestyle.

The danger is when people new to kink take this misinformation as fact. When people read lack of consent and breaking boundaries in a book and think it’s ok, there is a danger. When
someone views slip knots used for bondage in a movie and don’t realize that can cause an injury, that is another danger. Because the topic is kink, that doesn’t make the content reliable.

Part of our collective jobs as sex positive kink and sex educators is to debunk bad information and strive to offer timely, credible information. That is the responsibility we’re charged with and should always uphold.

5. ​Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic importation to you?

​Our CatalystCon topic is about practicing consent in kink. It’s appropriate, because consent is the true catalyst of everything that occurs in BDSM. Consent provides the framework which allows participants to negotiate and the parameter that sets any kink scene. Simply, without consent, healthy BDSM can’t exist.

Consent violations are all too common in the kink community. The scene all to often struggles with consent violations in a manner that helps victims and holds violators accountable. We need
to reframe the dialogue surrounding consent and kink. Consent has to become dynamic and applicable in order to address the unique paradox of kink interactions. Elevating the conversation on practicing kink should be important to anyone who cares about building a better, safer sex positive kink community. That’s why our topic is important to us.

6. ​Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself

​Ms.Pomegranate is actually a very good dancer, with a skill and physicality she takes full advantage of as an experienced rope bottom. Mr.BLK once considered becoming a Catholic priest and considers his kink teaching another type of vocational calling.

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