Sex. Kinky Shopping. 01-20-14.

If you are kinky, a locked room, box, or drawer is necessary. You don’t need your neighbors, utilities contractors, and various and sundry folks in your business and feeling the desire to be all judge-y. The reason I put (Sex.) first in the title is this – if you see that in the title, you have received fair warning that unless you want to know some some of the milder yet sordid details, its best to move on to one of my food or politics postings.

Washington, DC this weekend was host to MAL (Mid-Atlantic Leather), an annual gathering of various and sundry kinky people. For those who are into pageant-leather, there’s a competition to elect the Mid-Atlantic regional representative to IML in Chicago later this year. No offense intended towards those who like contests. It is just not my thing.  There are also lots and LOTS of parties associated with the event. Not really my cup of tea either. I’m a fan of small, intimate and secret-type groups. Small dinner and drinks party groups where those invited to the after-party get to visit the locked room in my house.  Wild-slippery bacchanalia, while fun, often lead to lost entire days afterwards. Not a prude here. I just have lots of stuff on my task list so I can’t afford a day re-enacting scenes from Auntie Mame. (drawn-drapes, eye mask, bloody-mary carried forth by someone who had the sense to walk away from the bar.)

That said, Leather shows have a deceptive name. For a few years now, the shows have expanded their focus and their market. Specifically the Expo hall. Of course they have chaps, vests, harnesses, cuffs and boots, and other Leather items which are necessary accessories to the Leather-fetish lifestyle.  That said, Kink is a much broader field than the Sam Browne inspired Tom of Finland dark-bar gear. If you are a person looking for toys and tools for the locked room, the Expo Hall is the place to go. Lots of the more popular vendors in the Kink field show up and usually have better than their internet pricing items available for your private enjoyment.

I try to go to MAL every year, as internet-shopping, while fun, doesn’t allow for the tactile experience. You can’t really get a handle on how big a strionic vibrating toy actually is, the weight of a magnetic cock-ring, or if the materials in a pair of neoprene leggings are flimsy or will stand up to some aggressive play without actually going to fondle the merchandise.

As with most things involved in Kink, the Expo hall is an experience in sensory overload. There’s lots of walking porn in the space. Barely clad people helping other people find gear to cover their barely clad selves, There are tee-shirts to be had. They might be kind of expensive, but something really dirty and smart on a tee-shirt can be a great conversation starter and drinks-magnet at the bar.

There’s lots of gear and toys. One of the main and best benefits of Expo hall shopping is the companies who display in the hall send people who can explain how things work, what products would best fit your needs, and where to look if your particular request or need isn’t something they’d handle.

Since the Expo hall is open multiple days, I make a point to go twice. In a three-day cycle, I usually skip the first day. That’s usually when the vendors are working out logistics and sometimes they haven’t got it all figured out yet, so it can make for a rough experience, especially since you have the out-of town folks who are staying at the hotel for 3 days and annoyed that they forgot to pack something, then rushing downstairs on the expo floor looking intense and annoyed and fucking up the vibe in the room.

I go on Saturday for recognizance. A good scope-out of the floor will tell you that unless you have pretty wild taste, there will be at least 3 vendors on the floor who have what you want and it pays to price-shop. What that means for me, is since I am a nerd at heart, and I’d rather not deal with my phone freezing up because of so many people clammering for space on an over-utilized network or wi-fi connection, I bring a pad of paper and a couple pens so I can look at the merchandise, check out stitching, ask questions, pick up business cards, and write down stock numbers (you’ll see why the stock numbers in a bit) without having to pick up the smart phone to then shut down in frustration moments later.

On Sunday, I go to shop. Some dealers will offer discounts to reduce the amount of stock they have to ship back so sometimes not having first pick of all on display has its benefits. Sometimes they’ll bring stock in a particular size. For example, Fort Troff had a cock-ring with a magnetic ball. They only bring “Regular” to the vendor show because the larger sizes are too heavy and apparently don’t sell well. I like a nice cock-ring but the idea of being pinched up and bruised isn’t my cup of tea unless, of course, that’s the objective. With a cock-ring, you want it snug around your balls and the base of your dick. You don’t want it pinching and you don’t want it so loose that it falls off during play, breaking the fine rhythm of a scene. Laughter can be fun on some occasions, but not when its at your expense when your cock-ring has fallen off and bruised your toe. Cock-rings  help maintain a consistently firm erection so if you orgasm early, and you are a good and generous top, you maintain that erection and put it to good use until your partner has had their turn at seeing a bit of bliss. Another tip – consider having  a nice shot of espresso one hour before sex. No. I’m not kidding. Try it and see.

What did I buy?

I purchased primarily from Mr. S. They make pretty good quality gear. I wanted and got a gas mask, a nice black-out blindfold and a neoprene cock-ring, along with a very nice pair of black trunks with red-piping and the ass exposed for my sub.  I had to order from Fort Troff online, as the item I wanted wasn’t in stock in the proper size (hopefully next time they’ll carry a couple extras in the bigger size to avoid disappointing customers?) From the folks at Barking Leather, I got a nice spanky-strap. Its about 10-12 inches long, made of leather, and makes a lot of noise and gives a moderate thud when contacting a sub’s waiting butt.

Barking Leather had very nice straight razors too. I bought one, but its not for kink. I shave my head daily and although safefy razors do an adequate job, there’s nothing like the super smooth and shiny finish that can be had from a good razor cut.  I might let my sub shave my head, but if he nicks me, it might be time for the spanky-strap. 🙂

I had to get the razor strop and paste from Amazon though. I don’t think they had any left at the vendor show.

My sub bought me a ring as a token of remembrance. He wears something from me as a constant reminder, but I’ll not disclose what that might be. Hopefully my sub is looking at his object and doing his exercises as we speak 😉

A couple side notes:  Yay for the demonstrations in the ballroom. Boo to the porn-studios. Yes I know everyone buys their porn online, but some of us still buy DVDs and getting a porn-star to show up and sign a few copies might move a few more units off the shelf. Just sayin,
While I’m picking, if you are a cruise site (Manhunt) and you are sponsoring the show (Manhunt) and you have a staffed booth (Manhunt), you should train your staffers to talk to the Expo attendees and not be in the Gar-Bar-Death-Spiral. We all know what that is. When the cute boys bunch up and chat with each-other, pretty much making themselves unapproachable as they wonder why nobody is coming up to talk to them.

Pretty girls do this too with the same unfortunate results. You get assholes who are bold enough to come up an interrupt instead of the nice guys who are too shy or too polite to interrupt your conversation.

From a sales standpoint, we get to look at the fine jock-clad butts of the boys in your booth, but nobody gets any of the freebies they were hired to hand out.

That said, Expos are a great place to go for Kink. Bring a friend or two, paper and pens, and your sense of humor and you’re likely to have a great time, and maybe even learn something.

About gojohnego

Avid foodie and kitchen tinkerer, artist, news junky and political wonk, musician, blogger, naturist, dog-daddy, and owner of a kinky play-space. ...and did I mention I'm single ;)
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