Webb site can teach even its expert blogger plenty about ABCs of Kink, sexual fetishes
UnAmerika’s Sweetheart Karin Webb is an actor, performance artist, dancer, burlesque performer, puppeteer, director and teacher working on adding another credit to the list: blogger.
But as might be expected of a one-time resident of Allston’s seminal Pan 9 live-performance space, professor of drag and founder of the Bent Wit Cabaret and Elephant Tango Ensemble, this is not an ordinary recounting of thoughts, rants, meals or products – it’s the ABCs of Kink, in which the North Cambridge resident explores, experiences and explains sexual kinks and fetishes that may be utterly unheard of by you – and even by Webb.
We talked with Webb as she was preparing the site for launch in mid-October. The interview has been condensed and edited.
What is the website?
I’ll be blogging three times a week. Fridays is the actual “ABCs of kink.” So “A is for Age Play” is my first A. “Be is for,” “C is for,” et cetera. It’ll be talking about the kink at hand with some context, like what it is, history, any interesting information I dig up on it. My goal is to experience in some way every kink I’m writing about, so I’ll also be talking from my perspective about what I learned about it, what I experienced with it. And it will end with some resources, like “These people talk about it really well.”
Wednesdays are “Perspectives on Kink,” for conversations in the community, and I’ll be doing anything from advice column work to interviewing people in the scene to relaying conversations I’ve had on a subject to hitting the streets and saying, “Hey, stranger, what do you think about kink?” So we start to get this three-dimension look at how people see the matter. Wednesdays will be exciting because the posts start to put in perspective where you are and acknowledge that this is a community.
Mondays is “My Brain on Download,” for whatever I feel like writing about. Say I want to write about consent – it’s really important to talk about consent when you talk about sexuality, but consent in and of itself isn’t a kink. If I were only doing the ABCs, how would I talk about consent and all the things I think about it without each post being way too long? There are definitely a lot of things that are not specifically kinks that I do have opinions about and do want to be conversations in the community, so Mondays are about anything that is tickling my brain.
Are there enough kinks for the entire alphabet?
I can go through the alphabet at least a couple times. I’ll probably aim to go through like three times before I will have decided that my blog is such an awesome rock that I can do whatever I want – in which case the Fridays might not go in alphabetical order but become just a platform to talk about any type of kink, so I’ll be able to hit things I haven’t hit about before and re-hit things I have hit about before, but in different ways.
What’s your motivation?
I’m a performance artist and I’m a sex geek and I’m a teacher. And this past year I’ve been feeling really ungrounded in all the things that I do.
I had taken a week off for my birthday and I felt like, well, I’m turning 35, I need to figure out what’s next and if there’s a goal on the horizon. And a week before that week happened, I woke up and thought, “I know what it is! I know what is!” And I was, like, “Wait a minute. This is the most marketable idea I’ve ever had in my entire life. It’s got to already exist. There’s no way this really awesome idea isn’t already owned by somebody.” So I looked it up and I was like, “Are you fucking kidding me? ‘ABC of Kink’ and ‘ABCs of Kink’ are not already bought on the Interwebs? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever found out in my entire life.” Well, type type type, American Express, now they are mine.
I’m hoping that in the next five years I’ll be teaching regularly within the context of this community while continuing to do the types of performance I already do. I see conventions, but private teaching, definitely colleges. Any group of people curious not only about what sex is academically and intellectually but also how we enjoy what is sexual.
I’m approaching this site as a performance artist – these are things I play with in my work. A lot of people who blog about sexuality are doctors or health workers and have some kind of official orientation to sex work. I’m saying no, I’m an artist and I think a lot about what makes us human. So I’m going to put myself in situations where I explore my own humanity and talk about them and ask people to engage in conversation with me about them.
In a way I’ve always felt like “What is UnAmerika’s Sweetheart Karin Web? I don’t know. I do everything.” And this is the first time I’m actually taking my teacher self, my performance self and my sex geek self and I’m saying actually, as whole human being packaged this way I make a lot of sense. It’s when we look at the fact that I do burlesque and drag and performance art and acting and puppetry and teaching and sexuality education that we don’t understand who I am. But I feel like within this context I actually start to make a lot more sense as a holistic individual who tackles all these issues in all these ways.
Do you already see certain kinks that are going to be more attention-getting and demand a certain sensitivity? There’s a capacity for shock, since we’re living in a post-“Fifty Shades of Grey” world where 70 million people suddenly think they know what kink is.
Yeah, and I think that’s great. It’s still not a world people necessarily have a lot of experience with. Even if you’re aware something exists, being able to meaningfully talk about it, ask questions about, have conversations about it – these are skills our culture do not really do a very good job preparing us for. So I’m hoping this blog will help fill that gap on some level.
Kink is what’s considered socially abnormal sexuality. So if we’re talking about what’s abnormal within society’s acceptable standards, then sure, some people are going to be, like, “Yeah, spanking, who cares? That’s not really abnormal, it’s just technically abnormal.” But for every person who’s really into something there’s a person who can’t even understand why anybody would even try that. You can say that for every single kink.There’s a saying in the kink community: Your kink isn’t my kink. And that’s okay. I don’t have to be turned on by everything you’re turned on by. The exciting thing about talking about these things is that we start to maybe accept each other a little more: “Oh, that thing is really interesting to me, I never knew that that would be interesting to me, but this other thing that I always thought was kind of normal and that everyone was interested in I am so not interested in!”
My point of view about it is all the same. It’s already verboten to talk about sex. It’s already taboo to acknowledge that there are kinks – but even more than that, not only am I going to talk about kink in general, I’m going to talk about my experiences in kink.
You’re going to be trying stuff you’re not necessarily interested in.
Absolutely. A is for Age Play, and it has never occurred to me that I wanted to do age play – playing with not being the actual age you are. It can follow a lot of different lines. It can just be a scene where “I’m a teenager and this thing is happening to me,” or it can be Littles – adult baby play. Some age play is sexual, some is not. There are different parts of what turns people on about these things; sometimes it’s regressive and being an age you are not, sometimes it’s the sensation of wearing certain clothes and feeling certain things … I’m not sure how far to go here. Sometimes it’s about playing with taboos, pretending you’re in a situation. But the point of all age play is that these are all consenting adults doing these things.
So my very first ABC blog will be about something it never occurred to me as a kink I wanted to do. But what’s really cool about it is that the more I learn about it the more I think, “Hunh, well how can I apply that to something I am interested in? If I’m going to do an age play scene, what about age play can I find interesting? How can I make this something I can actually get something out of?” I think that’s one of the best things about being open-minded to things in safe and thoughtful ways: You get to have these experiences you wouldn’t ever think to have.
Any others you’ll be encountering for the first time?
A lot of them. I’m very excited for C, which will be Cigar Play. There’s a little bit of fire in there, there’s, you know, the fantasy of all that cigars represent, and there can be sexual play with cigars. The Lewinsky.
How does Boston compare to other cities, such as New York or San Francisco, where you can gather for mass Jack- and Jill-offs?
I like this question a lot, and I think it’s really relevant. Massachusetts is a really interesting state to be blogging out of. Because it’s not that we have fewer kinky people – we definitely don’t – and it’s not like we don’t have as-evolved kinky people or as creative and imaginative and really interesting kinky people doing an extreme wide variety of things, because we definitely do.
But Massachusetts is a no-strike state. And that basically means you can’t do any impact play: You can’t consent to being hit. So for BDSM, typically people think of being spanked, they think of being hit with a paddle or a whip or a flogger or someone’s hand or boot or fist – that this is a sexy, consensual thing you can do. But it’s illegal to do that in this state.
It’s really great that that law exists, for certain reasons: We want people to be super, super safe when it comes to domestic abuse issues. Unfortunately, the way that manifests is that people who want to consent to be hit have to go underground or go out of state. But it is also illegal for me and my partner of choice to go out of state together and go to a play party and beat each other up and have a lot of fun and come back. Whoever is the hitter is liable for the actions they did across state lines, because they brought their victim there and back to do the illegal activity.
So that’s driven the community underground. On the one hand it’s kind of awesome because you become very close and protective, and you kind of know when you go to a party that everyone there has been vouched for and is cool and trustworthy. On the other hand, people who are new to the community and are trying to break in and find people to do things with are very vulnerable to predators. If you’re new to the scene, the amount of trouble you can get in is much higher. Nobody wants to invite you to someone’s home, because it’s technically illegal. In New York or San Francisco you can go to a club, you can go to a dungeon. People can see you play. Here there aren’t any public places you can go to show you’re a cool human being and your ability to learn about a lot of things is limited. There are certain classes that can’t be taught at the Fetish Flea if it’s here, and if it’s in Rhode Island certain things can happen that can’t happen here.
But does the quality of the scene match up with other cities?
It’s not as vibrant. But once you break the code, you’re able to be a part of things that can be just as beautiful. There are a lot of things that don’t happen here because they can’t happen here. We’re deprived of experiences because we don’t have public dungeons – or even private dungeons.
Can your website play a role in making the scene more vibrant?
I hope so. In Seattle, the scene is extremely active and really progressive and sex-positive and they actually work with local police forces when it comes to education, like what does domestic violence look like and what do kink-related markings look like and how can you tell the difference? I hope Massachusetts can be a more sex-positive place, because we’re not necessarily helping victims by not knowing the difference.
We’re effectively repressing a community, and you know what happens when you repress someone – sometimes they became abusive! It’s those types of things I would like to see changed, and the first and best way you can start change is by talking.
Is there some specific kink Boston is surprisingly open to and strong on?
Is there like, The Boston Kink?
Here’s what I’ll tell you about that: I will find out.