Or, How Helen & Betty Spent Their Weekend
When you arrive at a campgrounds for a conference, the last thing you expect is to be driven around in a golf cart by a service-oriented boi, and the first thing you don’t expect to see is a man walking along in leather chaps & not much else practicing the effective use of a bullwhip.
But that’s exactly what greeted us when we arrived at Dark Odyssey – DO for short – this past weekend. We’d driven four hours to a campgrounds somewhere in Maryland, and found ourselves at the end of a road: a weathered outdoor registration table set up a few yards from an old white house. I pictured camp counselors, bonfires, volleyball and smores. I’ve never been to a camp, not as a child nor an adult, but I’m pretty sure that camp hasn’t seen anything like DO before.
It was a celebration of kink in all its many forms – the sexualities about which we (especially as Americans) don’t speak. I’d brought with me a book called Sexual Anomalies by Magnus Hirschfield, and at some point I checked the Table of Contents to see if he mentioned any type of anomaly that wasn’t represented: nope. Hirschfield actually missed a few, from what I would learn.
We met a bisexual professor from VT, a D/s couple who met over the internet, a young het master and his beautiful female slave. We met Nina Hartley, well-loved porn star who has a brain that makes her boobs and ass look small in comparison, and we were led through a group meditation by a kind older man with a firm hand who a day later had a line of willing victims at his spanking station. We watched as an acolyte learned how to make smores for his domme, worried about pubic hair catching fire in a celebration of fire and trust, and wondered why a man with a drum had entirely waxed his genitals.
Now I think: we could have just asked. The variety of the sexual landscape was nothing in comparison to the open-ness of spirit, the willingness to ask questions and answer them about your particular kink. A swinger couple from the mid-west didn’t know why male-male sexuality wasn’t part of the swinger lifestyle even though female-female action is a regular part of it. A genderqueer FTM told us about fucking with his astral cock and his cunt, owning both his feminine and masculine sexualities.
I can’t even begin to describe what we saw at special events like the Mardi Gras party or the Garden of Carnal Delights. I have no vocabulary to tell you what it feels like to watch a beautiful woman realize a deep sexual fantasy right in front of you. The experience of standing in a hallway at the intersection of four rooms and hearing four simulteanous orgasmic yawps isn’t something you can describe. I can’t tell you the names of the equipment in the dungeon because I simply don’t know them. But I can tell you this: Betty & I were in a state of low-level arousal all weekend. So many naked bodies, so many well-placed piercings, so much love of the body, worship of both the yin and the yang. In a workshop led by Tristan Taormino (one of the organizers), a roomful of 50 people touched and kissed in blindfolds. I walked into that workshop feeling a little sick with nerves, and then Tristan announced we were either in for the whole of it, or should leave then. It took some kind of steel will for me to stay in my chair, but by the time we were halfway through, I was laying my hands on the inner thighs of a tranny I’d only met the night before, and enjoying the playfulness of it. (I was later glad I did, as Betty had the feeling that both men and women were unsure about how and where to touch a trans-person.)
I can say that we personally probably had the best sex of our lives – but in the privacy of our own room, of course. For a woman who was born clothed and a tranny whose body sometimes trips up both his and her sexuality, that was no small thing. We have been negotiating our own personal sexuality since we have been together, finding variations, positions, astral parts and appropriate lightning through arguments, standoffs, and weird backlashes of propriety. We have cried, screamed, and held each other in a kind of mutual sadness that we found ourselves so ill-matched sexually but so deeply in love. But at DO, there was no shame in the air, no misery over having the wrong body or kinks no one else understands. The overwhelming sense of the entire weekend was that everyone – no matter who you are, or what you like – can find someone to play with and others who like the same toys. And that no-one – not the transwoman, the dyke, the het female submissive, the bisexual bottom – should ever feel bad about what turns them on.
At DO, sex was pleasure, worship, love, catharsis, play. Celebration, desire, wholeness, and beauty. It was also dangerous, scary, unknown and unknowable. Acceptable, mystical, and good.
Betty later called Dark Odyssey ‘the Land of DO.’ As in, DO please yourself. DO please your partner(s).
I’m already thinking about next year, and whether or not I’ll be able to manage just standing somewhere – maybe by a bonfire – completely naked. I don’t want to do anything that is outside of what Betty and I want for us, as a couple and as individuals, and to me – that was the most important part of DO: no pressure to do what you don’t want, and only encouragement to do what you want. I have never experienced as profound a sense of respect for the body nor the individual as I experienced at Dark Odyssey.
Our thanks to the organizers, Tristan and Greg, and to all those happy campers, for a weekend that will inform and energize our sex life for many, many months to come.