Friday, January 05, 2018

Body Keeps The Score


As you may know, I’m seeing a therapist. By which I mean, I live with one.  (This joke never gets old, if you ask me. Don’t ask her.)

She recently recommended that I read The Body Keeps theScore: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.

The book is satisfying for its historic breadth. Trauma was a subject of interest after World War I, with the experience of “shell-shocked” veterans, but surprisingly understudied until Vietnam veterans presented similar symptoms. Van der  Kolk’s long career dates back to the origins of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnoses; he and the Trauma Center have been involved in the subsequent history of understanding and treating trauma.

But more importantly, The Body Keeps the Score is written for survivors and those who care for them. Van der Kolk shows how traumatic events actually rewire the workings of our bodies and minds. Trauma can leave one stuck in response modes that may help in surviving an immediate crisis but hinder recovery, moving on and being present, often by instinctual reversion to unhealthy responses.  PTSD may endure from a battlefield, or from natural disasters, accidents, violence, loss, neglect, abuse or other traumatic experiences. This book offers a readable and highly informed approach to identifying, treating and living with the effects of trauma.


The book is readily available. You can also find it as free unabridged audio on YouTube, where you can also find talks by the author. The Trauma Center has resources listed at www.traumacenter.org.

Monday, December 25, 2017


Merry Christmas! New York, New York. December 24, 2017. 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

eXmas

This story was originally posted on December twenty-eight, two-thousand four. It is also told on Kevin Allison’s Risk!

Leaving Marla at the subway, I walked quickly through a drizzle to pick up the kids. I arrived about ten minutes behind schedule.

The kids were excited to see me. Lucy was there too, for an after school meeting. When she saw me, she rolled her eyes and sighed loudly. She took me by the arm and led me to one side, telling the kids to stay put.

She gave me a quick, familiar lecture on the importance of being on time. I nodded, listened, agreed. That ritual completed, I returned to the kids and took them home.

That night, Lucy was picking us up to go to her mother’s house for Christmas. Last year had been the first Christmas since our break up. Per our tradition, we spent the holiday with her family at her mother’s house. It had been awkward, but we bit the bullet for the kids’ sake. There had only been one fight—between Lucy and her mom, about her mom being too familiar with me about details concerning our divorce—but fights between Lucy and her mom were also a family tradition.

Lucy and I had a good Thanksgiving this year. She’s been very civil with me lately. I hoped for the best.

Mind you, this holiday had enough landmines to blow us all sky high.

My ex wife and I would be there, with our three kids. My ex mother in law, a lesbian, had invited an ex girlfriend to join us for dinner on Christmas Eve. My ex father in law would be there, at the home of his first ex, and bringing along his second ex wife (he has three from which to chose). My ex brother in law was bringing his ex boyfriend.

To add a dollop of optimism to the occasion, my ex sister in law would be there with her fiancé.

So many exes. Another ex-mas with Lucy’s family.

After school, I fed the kids and cleaned up, packing a few things to see us through the weekend. I poured a stiff drink to fortify my nerves.

Lucy arrived around bedtime, and we packed the kids into the car. I sat in the back between Lillie and Collie; Jason rode up front. We talked about Christmas until the kids drifted off to sleep. I talked with Lucy to keep her company as she drove, catching a few moments of sleep myself.

After few hours, we parked in front of Lucy’s mother’s house. Her mother was asleep and everyone else was arriving the next day, on Christmas Eve.

Lucy roused the boys, and I carried Lillie inside. We undressed the kids and tucked them into bed. We unpacked the car. I took Lucy’s bag upstairs to the room we used to share. I carried mine into the study off the dining room, where I would sleep on a futon.

We repaired to our separate quarters to put on pajamas. Lucy came downstairs to have a drink and watch television with me in the study. We talked and began to unwind.

This was going well. We were being nice to each other. It felt very familiar. Fingers crossed for the weekend.

eXmas continues with eXmas Eve, eXmas Morn and All SalesFinal.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Luna C.

In spring twenty-sixteen, I ended my relationship with a young storyteller, Luna C., after one-and-a-half years. I felt the break up was necessary to sustain stability in my life. I wanted to focus on my relationship with my primary partner as we moved beyond our first several years to a place of planning for our shared future.

My girlfriend helped me to understand that I could better enjoy the “one life, take two” I had created since entering middle age by avoiding the hazards of self harm, alluring though they may be. She encouraged me to take care of myself. I came to accept that my fortunate good health stands a better chance of enduring if I refrain from abusing it. I undertook harm reduction to curtail my alcoholism. I showed up for regular physicals. I entered into therapy. I turned my creative energies to writing a memoir.

As I had for the duration of a custody case nearly a decade ago, I put aside the risks and potential chaos of public life in favor of private quietude to take care of myself and those I care about. I’m now over fifty. If we’re going to stay together for the long haul, my girlfriend says, I goddamned well better stick around for it.

As Luna and I adapted to our break up, we shared a concern for the future of Foreplay! A Sexy Storytelling Open Mic, a free weekly show I created and hosted for five years. It fostered a substantial community. Luna and I met there when she first developed an interest in storytelling. As our friendship grew, we developed a shared rhythm in nurturing the evenings. I took care of the front of the room, running the stage, as she worked the back of the room, interacting with regulars and encouraging participation. The regulars adopted my loving nickname for her: “Mama Luna.” Luna and I cherished “church,” as she called the open mic, and made it the start of our weekly sleepovers. After shows, we’d go to her place or mine to devour greasy food, get drunk, watch cartoons and bask in what we created.

“What are we going to do about church?” she asked as we pondered our break up.

“This isn’t a divorce. We don’t have to divide custody,” I assured her. “It may be an awkward transition, but there’s no reason we can’t continue performing together.” I paused. “That said, often when there’s a rift within subcultures, one or the other faction will try to destroy the community. That’s so commonplace as to be trite.”

Whatever happened between us, I was certain Foreplay! would continue. I believed the community was more important than either one of us.

One day, she asked to meet me for a long conversation before Foreplay! She didn’t want to come to the open mic, as she wasn’t up to seeing everyone. It wasn’t the same since our break up. I said I understood and hoped that feeling would pass in time. She would always be welcome. As for me, I had to go. I ran into many of the regulars as they assembled. One comic pulled me aside to say he planned to interview Luna for his podcast. In the interview, she spoke sadly of our break up, acknowledging that we split because I wanted to be with my primary partner.

As we endeavored to remain friends, we met weekly to sort things out. I set boundaries: we met in public, neutral places, generally outdoors. If things felt sexual or I felt uncomfortable in any way, I would leave. After each meeting, I sent a safe text to my primary partner. Under no circumstances was I going home with Luna.

Things deteriorated between us. On one occasion, Luna insisted that I “act like a human” by going home with her. I left. On another, when I reiterated my refusal to go home with her, Luna punched me in the face. I left. The next time I saw Luna, one of her friends—a stranger to me—threw a drink in my face. I left. Luna’s violence ended things for me. I would remain civil toward her at Foreplay! and other open mics, but I had no further interest in maintaining a friendship offstage. 

Luna asked some of the regulars to meet her elsewhere on the nights of the open mic, saying it was too hard for her to attend. As they complied, I understood the communal empathy even as I saw a typical indicator of subcultural fissure: mutual friends asked to choose between one party and the other. One night, she showed up at the venue without entering. She sent in another regular, who scanned the room to see who was in attendance. They left together a moment later, their private roll call complete.
           
Though I was now out of her life, Luna continued to discuss me and our break up on social media. Seeking to curry favor, a middle-aged motorcycle dude Luna occasionally fucked introduced her to the blog of Tricia Nixon, a middle-aged woman I declined to date years ago. Unbeknownst to me, my former acquaintance maintained a cul-de-sac on FetLife in which she inveighed against many things, including the kink event where we met, sometimes numbering me among her complaints against it.

My former acquaintance provided Luna with a handful of negative things that have been said about me in the course of my seventeen-year public sex life. Tricia Nixon knew very little about me; we’d only met a few times. Luna and I had been very close. She had heard my stories on stage and in bed. She had eighteen months of intimacy and trust to exploit. With the encouragement of Tricia Nixon, Luna decided that a public statement would be compiled with the intention of revealing that despite all outward appearances, Jefferson was actually an awful person.

The statement would focus on three blog links concerning scenes dated from years before I met Luna. She had no direct knowledge of any of them, though she’d heard the stories before. I’ve told them publicly. Anyone who knows me privately has heard them. They aren’t secret.

One link concerned an event from two-thousand-five, a story I had told on my blog, on stage and privately with Luna. After Luna resurrected the story more than a decade after the fact, I wrote about it at greater length in a blog post published in November twenty-sixteen, citing the author of the link Luna circulated as well as numerous eyewitnesses.  

Tricia Nixon made her own contribution by running a concurrent flame war. Commenters were encouraged via direct messages from the original poster to stoke the thread with incendiary language and speculations. Though I was the burning effigy at its center, the flame war was unknown to me until Luna brought it to my attention, demanding that I respond to its comments. If I refused, she threatened to post screen shots of our past text messages. That struck me as odd—why would she do so, and why would I care? Threats aside, I declined Luna’s invitation to a beheading. I had no knowledge of these strangers; for all I knew, they included sock puppets. They certainly had no knowledge of me.

Tricia Nixon's feverish flame war brought Luna’s compilation to four links. Two of these concerned BDSM scenes that were nonsexual. The other had been well known for more than a decade. So it was that an anonymous broadside intended to depict me as a “sexual predator” relied on the testimonies of four individuals with whom I had never sought nor engaged in intercourse, repackaged by a woman with whom I now refused to have sex.

Luna disseminated her broadside widely, hiding her identity behind the unattributed guise “calloutcommunitypost.”

At the same time, Luna redoubled her efforts to divide the Foreplay! community, insisting that no matter one’s own positive experiences with me—indeed, no matter her own positive experiences with me—I was secretly a bad person. As word of her actions spread, I decided to hand the open mic to another host. I believed the community was more important than either of us.

Not surprisingly, most people who received Luna’s anonymous broadside responded viscerally to her carefully crafted vitriol. Few would bother to read closer or investigate further.

The anonymous broadside caught the attention of a reporter, who contacted me for an interview. She wanted to write a profile on me for a class at the Columbia School of Journalism, supervised by the school’s dean, a respected journalist who would act as editor of the piece. At first, I ignored the request, thinking it would be foolhardy to comment on Luna’s anonymous campaign, particularly with a stranger. Eventually, I was persuaded to meet. The reporter told me she was concerned with larger issues, not break-up gossip. She offered a disinterested view. I was impressed by her integrity and process, and agreed to participate. In effect, I allowed her to fully investigate and narrate my story. She warned the results would be honest and not necessarily flattering. I replied that I preferred transparency to flattery. I braced myself for the results.

The reporter interviewed many people, including Luna and Tricia Nixon. When the profile was concluded and edited by the school’s dean, the reporter permitted me to read it and make a limited number of copies available to interested parties, including the reporter’s many interview subjects. The reporter found nothing of substance in Luna’s unsigned broadside. I offered her profile publicly beginning in February twenty-seventeen. The public offer was concluded some time ago.  

When I began to circulate the investigative reporter’s profile, I was contacted by people who illuminated Luna’s continued behavior against me. This came as no surprise: the litmus test of a relationship’s toxicity is how toxic it remains after you’ve left it. Yet I was stunned to hear from others Luna had similarly targeted.  

Luna had many sexual relationships during the time we were friends, including one with a comic she admired. We regularly talked about their relationship, which she told me she regarded more seriously than her casual hook ups. As it happened, not long after I broke up with Luna, the comic also broke up with her in favor of another relationship.

In retaliation, Luna anonymously posted his full name, photograph and other personal information online, decrying him as a sexual predator. She railed that he had multiple partners and shared photographs without permission, apparently missing the irony of making this condemnation as she did precisely that. She exulted that she was organizing other women to harm his reputation. The comic immediately recognized Luna as the attacker. He had her IP address.

Luna went further in her anonymous attacks. In a bizarre twist, she contacted the comic’s former girlfriend and, using intimate information he had privately shared, posed as another woman he had dated. Thus disguised, with a tone of sisterly solidarity, Luna offered purloined photographs and entrusted secrets in an effort to elicit an ally in talking trash about the comic.    

The comic was contacted by his former girlfriend. They easily identified this new “friend” as Luna. They had her IP address.

Such stories abounded. Luna gossiped at clubs, trolled websites and contacted venues—generally anonymously, always professing community concerns—to allege that numerous men and women in the comedy scene were sexual predators. Some targets of Luna’s ire were people she had fucked in the restrooms of the same venues she now hoped to influence.

Hearing these stories, I felt some sadness for Luna. She had physically attacked me and relentlessly undertook to damage my reputation. Still, I empathized that she acted from hurt. I hoped my former fucking-and-drinking buddy would find peace.

I was nonetheless angry to learn she used me and my stories to harm others. She was concerned primarily with disseminating her righteous upset, no matter who was hurt in the process, no matter that her crusade betrayed trusts, fostered hearsay and relied on deceit.

Such were my feelings when I was contacted by a stranger. Susan introduced herself by saying that while we had never met, she had heard Luna’s stories about me and others through the twisted grapevine of the city’s comedy scene. Luna’s stories had caught her attention when they struck close to home—Susan was the woman the comic dated after breaking up with Luna. We traded a few wary notes. If Susan wanted me to commiserate about her boyfriend’s experience with Luna, I wasn’t interested. I didn’t really know him. Luna was well in my past.

After several exchanges, we agreed to meet. Cautiously, Susan began to lay out the story of her life. She’s a survivor: you name it, she’s survived it. Now, she’s in her early forties and doing well for herself. She makes a good salary working a corporate job she enjoys. After years of telling her stories to friends, she recently began to tell them on stage. Revealing her storied past is risky, she knows, but she owns her experiences. They inform who she is. By being vulnerable on stage, she feels stronger in coming to terms with her struggles, failings and successes. She thinks she’s got a book in her.

I heard that.

Susan thought to contact me after Luna’s anonymous broadside was published in a Facebook group formed for New York City storytellers. Luna had sent it to the group’s administrators hoping to do further harm to me. (She succeeded. I was summarily banned from the group solely on the basis of Luna’s defamatory attack. The administrators did nothing to investigate her anonymous broadside, not even to determine its author or her motives, and offered me no opportunity to respond or appeal.) Luna’s inflammatory words were triggers for Susan, and, she suspected, no doubt others among the nearly five thousand members who use the group primarily to discuss storytelling shows. It also struck her as essentially unfair that I was not permitted to speak on my own behalf. This led her to wonder: what was my side of the story, anyway? I had largely remained quiet on the subject in public.

Luna’s anonymous broadside brought me to a stranger’s attention, just as it had with the journalist. I once more offered a timeline of events as I knew them, as outlined here and elsewhere.

Susan added more that I didn’t know. While the comic was dating Luna, he had sent her photographs of Susan in the hope of sparking a threesome. This was done without Susan’s knowledge or consent. Susan, who had never met Luna, declined the suggestion. After the comic broke up with Luna, she attacked Susan, posting an intimate photograph, her full name, references to her storied past, her current career and her sexual activity.

“That’s revenge porn,” I interrupted.

“Yes,” Susan agreed.

“That’s a consent violation,” I went on. “What’s more, it’s criminal: revenge porn is a felony in a majority of states. That’s jail time.”

“But not in New York State. Trust me, I’ve looked into it.” Susan went on to say that she had no idea the post was even out there until she was interviewed for a six-figure job. The job was a cinch pending a routine background check. That’s when the company discovered the post. Susan was denied the job due to Luna’s revenge porn. She has a letter to prove it.

“And you’re sure it was posted by Luna?” I asked.

“I have her IP address,” she confirmed. The whole thing pisses Susan off. But she survives, she says, adding” “That’s what I do. I survive.” She went on to land another six-figure job. But here’s the part she says she can’t forgive: “Luna goes around railing about rape culture, wrapping herself in the mantle of third-wave feminism. All the while, she’s anonymously knocking down a woman she’s met exactly once—one time!—even costing her a job, precisely by engaging in consent violations, shaming, harassment and revenge porn . . . that’s the epitome of rape culture. All because she lost a boyfriend. And don’t get me started on the other thing.”

“There’s not more,” I replied, rapt.

“Oh, yes. The fun never stops,” Susan said. “Turns out I’m a rapist.”

“You don’t say.”

“I had sex with a woman Luna knows,” Susan explained. “Word got back to Luna and then she’s telling everyone I raped this person. The woman hears this, gets pissed, and confronts Luna, saying the sex had been consensual and the story had been told in confidence. This woman had fun! We’re friends! And still Luna goes around saying, oh Susan, you know, she’s a rapist because, you know, rape culture.”

I sat back. “You have a book in you,” I marveled.

In the following weeks, I spent more time getting to know the woman Luna sent my way through her own relentless, obsessive attacks, becoming friendly with someone who would otherwise be unknown to me.

Recently, Susan contacted me, upset. While on a business trip, she was called into a meeting with her employer. The company had been sent an anonymous email detailing Susan’s storied past and including numerous explicit photographs. Susan listened mortified as the company CEO went on. She was assured that the company values her. They don’t care about vicious anonymous emails. The company fully supports her. Susan’s job is secure.

The CEO went on to inform Susan that the company’s attorneys replied to the email with a cease and desist letter.

“Of course they did,” she laughed. “They have Luna’s IP address.”      

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

George Fucked Up, Again

I.

George fucked up, again.

A woman new to kink camp had a complaint. She had bound a man in ropes before realizing he was drunk. He became belligerent and inappropriate. She complained to George, the proprietor of kink camp, identifying the man as James. George acted swiftly to ban James from the event.

Thing is, George had the wrong guy. 

Even if you knew James only by reputation, you knew a few things about him. For one, he’s sober. For another, he’s a skilled and experienced rope rigger. So far as I’m aware, he doesn’t bottom in public rope scenes. On its surface, the story didn’t add up. 

James took to social media, irate. Not only is he sober, not only is he a rope top who wouldn’t bottom to a novice, he had a solid alibi. Together with two partners, James had arrived that afternoon to unload and install the dungeon equipment he built and rented to kink camp. Afterward, the exhausted team ate an early dinner and retired to their shared room to sleep. 

The woman had identified the wrong man. The accusation spread rapidly, impugning James’s reputation with mistaken statements. What was worse, from his perspective, was that while George’s sideshow distracted everyone, the presumed perpetrator continued to enjoy the event unchecked. Perhaps he had done more harm. 

James and his two partners had a long association with kink camp. They are well known along the Eastern seaboard. They would make sure everyone in the kink community knew how poorly George had handled this situation. They would never return to kink camp. From that time forward, George could look elsewhere for his custom-built dungeon furniture. 

George and his organization run four events each year. This is possible due to careful attention to logistics. George and his staff perform miracles in gathering hundreds of people to sites that are transformed, for just a few days, into villages that house, feed and care for kinky people who gather to learn, to socialize, and above all, to play. 

As anyone will tell you, George is a master of logistics. As he will be the first to admit, he has no tact for diplomacy. 

Kink camp would be wonderful, he once told me, if it weren’t for the people. Alas, those people are the community that makes his events possible and profitable. In any community, there will be conflict, and in this particular community devoted to kink, participants routinely undertake activities that stretch the endurance of their experience, their bodies and their relationships. People get hurt, physically and emotionally. George knows to staff medics to care for physical mishaps. He is woefully unequipped to deal with emotional upset. 

When I first began to attend kink camp in two-thousand five, the organization was strongly identified with its leader, Tristan Taormino, a respected sex educator, writer, pornographer and leader in the sex positive community. Her guidance as the organization’s public face was supported by the diligent efforts of her partner, Colton, and a staff that kept everything running smoothly. 

Even as a kink camp novice, I felt I knew Tristan personally. Everyone did. We had followed her output for years—Tristan practically invented anal sex for women—and she was ever present during events, working the room like a skilled politician while keeping everyone in line like the camp counselor her role required her to be. As the established intellectual force behind kink camp, she drew from the top tier of sex educators and presenters. Each event felt like taking part in a movement.

That culture changed in two-thousand nine when it was announced that the summer’s event would be Tristan’s last. Rumors spread that George had engineered a hostile takeover, buying out Tristan and imposing stiff penalties if she were to offer a competing event. Presenters loyal to Tristan followed her example, announcing that they would no longer be associated with kink camp after Tristan’s departure.    

At least, that’s what I heard. I steered clear of such palace intrigue. I enjoyed kink camp and encouraged my friends to attend. I respected Tristan and the exiting presenters, but I was there to play, not to choose sides in someone else’s fight. 

Nevertheless, just prior to Tristan’s final kink camp, a contretemps from the infighting at the top came to impact my group of friends. Wendy had attended a private party at Marcus’s two-room apartment—dubbed “the fuck house”—in Washington, DC. Wendy blogged that during a scene, he bound her hands and duct-taped her mouth before abandoning her. Marcus responded that he used non-adhesive bondage tape, not duct tape, and that he left her with her friends while he answered the door. The blog comments exploded as they will in such instances. People knew I was friends with both Wendy and Marcus and asked me to pick a side. I declined. I wasn’t there. I only knew what I read in a blog. 

Viviane was not so reticent. She had not attended the party and so, like myself, she had no direct knowledge of the incident. Still, she felt it imperative to get involved by defending Wendy’s position. Viviane contacted Tristan and George to urge that Marcus be banned from kink camp. Already overwhelmed by criticism over his treatment of Tristan, George promptly complied. Some campers who had attended the party rushed to Marcus’s defense, but Marcus wanted nothing more of it. “If that’s how George runs his business,” he fumed, “I’ll take my money elsewhere.” Others followed Marcus’s exit. 

Marcus organized kink and sex parties in the largest East Coast region served by the kink camp community. His date for the event was a festival producer well connected in the sex positive community. They would be sure others knew how George handled this situation. 

George had not given the allegation serious consideration. If Marcus had acted badly, George might well not want him at kink camp. If Marcus had not acted badly, George would have been wrong to ban him. As it was, George took no proactive action. He reactively capitulated to hearsay and pressure, under threat of bad publicity, with no investigation. 

Most of this was subsumed at kink camp by the larger story of Tristan’s departure. During her tenure, Tristan had drawn a sizable population of young queer women among the many attendees who admired her. That cohort protested and railed against George. They would not return.

As I remained neutral in this upheaval, George regarded my cabin as his private Switzerland. When he wasn’t working, he cowered there, hiding from those upset by his actions. 

I asked him why he had handled things as he had with Marcus. “This looks like a botched job all around,” I said. “You run an event. That’s it. But in banning him, you signal his certain malfeasance to everyone in the scene. I mean, on what authority do you act as judge? You didn’t mount an investigation. You don’t know anything but hearsay.” 

“Yeah, I know,” he replied. “But Viviane was really serious about this. She said she would make sure there was bad publicity on Twitter if I allowed Marcus.” 

“Instead, you have word-of-mouth bad publicity for banning someone based on hearsay,” I pointed out. “Anyway, Viviane has made it plain she’s mad about the Tristan thing and she’s never coming back. Neither is Wendy. You’ve already lost them.” 

“I don’t have a choice,” George said. “All the women are leaving because of Tristan. If anyone complains about a male dom, I have to let him go. It’s not fair, but that’s how it is. This is a business and I need women customers.” 

I left that alone. George couldn’t see people beyond their credit cards. In his calculus, a sexually-themed business requires the presence of women to ensure male attendance. George had already heard my frustration with this outmoded view that discounts male sexuality and treats women as commodities. 

George’s bottom line would eventually find me among the deficits.

By the summer of twenty-thirteen, I was an established figure within the kink camp community. I promoted George’s events publicly and among friends, presenting classes and recruiting from the New York scene. I accepted that George was going to run his business the way he chose to run it, and, logistically at least, it ran reasonably well. 

I stayed clear of other people’s drama. That summer, my own drama came down hard. 

My long-time girlfriend and co-presenter Kay invited her new boyfriend to join us at kink camp for his first time. I had introduced them; he was an old friend of mine. We painstakingly discussed boundaries to be sure it went smoothly. Our boundaries were immediately discarded. It did not go smoothly. By the time I returned to the next kink camp a few months later, my girlfriend had freshly dumped me for the new guy.

I had years of fond memories of Kay at kink camp, as well as freshly-minted hurt hidden as landmines in the same landscape. Returning to camp, I set myself wise boundaries: watch for triggers, present your material well and trust your friends. Above all, don’t drown your sorrows in whiskey. 

My self-imposed boundaries were immediately discarded. It did not go smoothly. 

The best balm for a broken heart may not be whiskey, I told myself, but a fresh eye. I’m single! I’m single at kink camp! What better place to start over?

II.

Tricia Nixon had lots of questions as she planned her first time at kink camp. I referred her to the story of my first event and offered my advice, in addition to what was offered on community boards. She was a divorced parent, like me. We had a good connection. When she fretted about going alone, I invited her to stay in the New York cabin with my friends, assuring her they would all be her friends in no time. 

We discussed playing together. I told her about my raw heartbreak. I was glad to do some kink stuff, but for now, I couldn’t promise anything sexual. None of this—my mind, my heart, my cock—is working right, I told her. She said she understood heartbreak. She did request that I fuck her ass. I agreed to give it a go. 

When she arrived on Friday evening, we unloaded her belongings at the cabin and moved her car to the parking lot. With the motor cut, we sat quietly. I broke the silence. “Did you bring it?”

“Yes, of course I did.” 

“Show me.” 

She reached to the child seat behind her and pulled forward a leash and collar. “Good,” I said. “Get out of the car.” We stood on the grass, our breath fogging the night air. “I hate your clothes,” I said. “They offend me. Take them off and put them in the car.” She undressed, stopping at her panties. “All of them.” She complied. “Now, give me the keys. You don’t have any pockets.” I took the keys and locked the car. “I don’t want to see those stupid clothes until the weekend is over.” I attached the collar to her neck, and the leash to the collar. “Follow me,” I ordered. 

Naturally, all of this had been negotiated. She had asked me what to say if someone asked her to play and she didn’t want to. Just say no, I said. Everyone gets that. I also suggested she wear a collar, as that is respected in the kink community as a bond to someone. We weren’t really bonded—we didn’t know one another—but a collar might underscore a direct “no thanks.” I suggested that when she wanted to do something with me, she present me with the leash. She liked that idea, and on my suggestion, she had picked up a collar and leash at her local pet store. 

Tricia Nixon was nude and trailing on her leash. I took her on a tour around the camp, showing her the dungeon, the central lawn, the swimming pool, the layout of the cabins. Now and then, passersby would greet me and the “fresh meat” I was exhibiting. We arrived at our cabin to the hoots and hollers of my friends. I sat nonchalantly and released the leash. “I’ll take a whiskey,” I said. “Two fingers, neat.” She delivered my drink and returned the leash to my hand, standing stiffly behind my chair. 

“Um, so what’s with the fresh meat?” Josh asked. ‘Do you own her all weekend?” 

“I don’t own anyone,” I replied. “I’m single! This is Tricia Nixon. She’s just in service until I release her leash.” With that, I dropped her line. She relaxed her posture and began making introductions. The newbie had made a grand entrance.

Here’s how she described our greeting in her blog post “Postcards from Sex Camp #1: You Should Come (To Sex Camp),” dated November twenty-three, twenty-thirteen. 

[NOTE (January eleven, twenty-eighteen): When originally published, this post included extended sections from Tricia Nixon’s accounts of our first meeting, as published in November, twenty-thirteen. She complained to Blogger, which acted to prevent this use. Below, I’ve paraphrased her text while retaining italics to indicate the alteration. Links and content containing Tricia Nixon’s original texts are available on request.)

Per our prior negotiations, Tricia Nixon purchased a leash. She presented it to me and, at my instruction, stripped beside her car. I asked for her car keys. I attached the leash to her collar and began to lead her on a tour of the camp. I reminded Tricia Nixon that she was permitted to speak; she chose to remain silent. 

We toured the dungeon. I indicated various fixtures and people. 

We moved along the lawn as I pointed out other landmarks. 

In a room called “the brothel,” I ordered Tricia Nixon to suck my cock. She did so aggressively. She had requested anal sex, so we made a brief if failed attempt at that. I ended what prove to be our only effort at intercourse, and ordered her to change the sheets. This order was to demonstrate camp etiquette: always clean the equipment after use. 

As we make our way back to our cabin, I told her to once more suck my cock. Once more, she did so aggressively.  I ended that after a short time and told her I was sure she would enjoy camp. 

At the cabin, I directed Tricia Nixon to pour me a drink, then unpack her belongings and make her bed. 

Josh reiterated a prior plan for them to have sex, but Tricia Nixon demurred, saying she must first attend to her assigned tasks.

Tricia Nixon served my drink and asked if she was a good girl. I commended her and removed her leash, returning it to her.  Tricia Nixon quoted my encouragement that she have fun. 

Tricia Nixon and Josh departed to have sex, which she described in glowing terms.

[Conclusion of adapted text.]

With that, Tricia Nixon went off to fuck Josh and begin a weekend of adventure.

I checked in with Tricia Nixon at meals and in passing around camp. She was keeping herself busy with classes and play. “Just got whipped for the first time!” she reported. “Met a guy who fucked me in the ass!” 

Each time, I’d reply, “That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.” As parents, we both knew the reference to the film “Babe,” in which a taciturn farmer offers reserved praise to a remarkable pig. In kink jargon, an avid player is respectfully called a “pig.” We regarded this as a fun inside joke.

I woke the next morning to the clamor of cabin mates readying for breakfast, which began at eight o’clock. The meal ended at ten. I got out of bed and, still nude, joined friends on the porch. After a bit, they suggested I dress and join them for breakfast, reminding me that the early bird got the bacon. “Go ahead,” I said. “I’ll wake up Tricia Nixon and join with our other lollygaggers.”

In advising Tricia Nixon on her first camp, I had reiterated the standard self-care mantra: “stay hydrated, shower at least once daily and never miss a meal.” From the porch, I could hear her snoring in her bunk. I went in to wake her, nudging her shoulder. “Little pig, little pig, you’re going to miss the bacon.” 

She woke slowly and sat up. “Breakfast ends soon,” I sing-songed. “Time to wake and bac-on.” I took her hand and led her to face daylight. 

“It’s too soon to be morning,” she squinted. 

“Never miss a meal,” I reminded her. We were both nude, standing on the grass in the sun. I suggested she might want to greet the day by sucking cock. She thought that was a fine idea and dropped to her knees. I stood with my hands on my hips, watching the stream of folks heading to breakfast. Some waved at the sight of a morning blowjob on the lawn. “’morning, neighbor!” they called. I waved back. 

We played at this for a bit, though, as advertised, none of that was working. 

I suggested we move to a bench placed on the central lawn facing the morning sun. We walked over and she returned to her knees. “No, no, no,” I said, offering a hand. “You take the throne.” She sat on the bench. I knelt between her open thighs and there, with the hot sun beating down on my back, I breakfasted on her pussy for a long, leisurely time. She sighed and moaned as she luxuriated. 

Our cabin mates began to wander back from breakfast. “Hey lovebirds, you’re going to miss breakfast!” one shouted. “You’ve already missed the bacon.” We put a pin in cunnilingus and dressed for the dining hall.

I had played the role of Jefferson well in collecting Tricia Nixon at her car and touring her to our cabin. In our correspondence, she had asked me to fuck her ass. I had complied in the brothel, as she folded my cock inside her for a moment, before wilting again. After breakfast the next morning, I opened up to her more. “Nothing of me is working reliably,” I said. “Don’t expect much of your heartbroken new friend.” She assured me that she understood. I liked her all the more for relieving me of stud duties. She’d find others for that.

I went through my routines and obligations, chief among them presenting classes. My sessions had been booked before the break up. I had assumed Kay would be by my side, as always. Now, volunteers filled in. I never felt her absence more keenly than when I was talking to a group about the intimacies of kink. I was exposed and alone. I felt like a charlatan.  

On the final morning, as we loaded her car, Tricia Nixon grabbed my hand. “I’m not taking no for an answer,” she said firmly. She led me to a small dock on the pond and knelt before me. “Enough of that ‘it doesn’t work’ bullshit. Cum in my mouth. Do it.” She sucked my limp, useless cock, still so hung up on the woman who dumped me, the woman who used to make love with me on this very dock, on these very boards. Tricia Nixon held my wrists to my side, keeping me in place. I protested that this wasn’t going to work; she growled into me. I closed my eyes and listened to nothing, finally escaping my inexorable mind. I gave her what she insisted on having.

A passerby offered a thumb’s up as I trembled through my first orgasm since being dumped.

Leaving kink camp, I took stock of the weekend. The time with Tricia Nixon, while intermittent, had been sweet. It was fun seeing kink camp freshly through her wide eyes. Still, the rough parts of returning to a place with so many memories had taken a toll. My classes suffered. My performances suffered. I drank too much. 

Still, I called on my friends when I needed them. I stayed sober on Saturday night for a late-night ritual with Lee Harrington that found me lost and shaking in a labyrinth. He held me afterward and we spent a long time talking by a fire. I had slept briefly before plowing through the final day.

Back in New York on the night of my return, I hosted my weekly storytelling open mic. I told stories about meeting Tricia Nixon, our morning cunnilingus and our departure at the dock. I talked about feeling glimmers of desire and hope after loss and wept on stage. 

The break-up was over, but the worst was yet to come. 

It took me months to realize I was deeply depressed. In the meantime, I medicated the hurt with whiskey and stories, adding more shows and travel to my schedule, leaning into it until I collapsed from my inability to eat or sleep. 

My friends knew that I was a mess. I stayed more frequently with Charlie, who had been seeing me through the worst of it. She slowed me down and made me breathe. You’re kind to do this, I told her. I can tell you this is pretty much as bad as it gets with me. She wasn’t scared. 

Tricia Nixon and I stayed in touch, primarily via texts. We had established a good rapport and we could each convey a joke in a few sentences. I talked about feeling discarded—my preoccupation—and the slow healing with my new girlfriend. She talked about the slim pickings where she lived, and the fun she was having on FetLife. She had a thing for the guy who fucked her ass at kink camp, though he lived too far away. She posted a couple of summaries of her good experiences there with myself and others. Tricia Nixon was hooked on kink camp.

We talked about kids and hard times. We were supportive of one another, which is a bright spot in a day. She mentioned that her thumb was still sore from our roughhousing at kink camp. She expected the pain to pass, but it hadn’t. Finally, with my encouragement, she went to a doctor and found she had a torn extensor tendon. It would heal in time. I texted my ongoing concern and a “Babe”-inspired, “You’re welcome.”

She asked to visit and we arranged a weekend during October. As it happened, Charlie was out of town. There were play parties on Saturday and Sunday that Tricia Nixon could attend as my guest. I reiterated my general disinterest in sex, but a party is a party, and she could meet more of my friends. We stayed overnight at an Airbnb near each of the parties.

She was in a bad mood at the Saturday night party. It was crowded and everyone was young. We chatted for a while with a sweet couple as we were nude by a hot tub. As they parted from us, Tricia Nixon sneered, “Ugh, I hate guys like that. Good looking, huge dick, little tiny Japanese girlfriend.” 

“She’s Chinese,” I corrected, surprised by her take after our pleasantries. 

I introduced Tricia Nixon to my ex-girlfriend Kay and the guy she wanted more than me. We were all cordial. Privately, Tricia Nixon did as friends do by snarkily disparaging Kay’s new guy. “Thanks, but that doesn’t really help,” I replied. “I like him, too.”

After the party, we went home. Tricia Nixon and I cuddled to sleep, nude.

The next morning, I felt a familiar sensation. Kay was blowing me as I slept. My mind flooded with pleasure and memories until the memories caught up. I woke to find Tricia Nixon sucking my cock. 

“Good morning. Look at what I found,” she grinned, wriggling my erection like a metronome.

“Oh, hey, good morning,” I croaked, sitting up. “Thanks, but can you hold off?” I excused myself to pee.

“You think your dick isn’t working, but I’m made of magic,” she snorted. 

I closed the bathroom door. I washed my face. I looked bad. My hands were shaking. I collected myself and returned to suggest breakfast.   

I was just beginning to rethink years of billing myself as “the easiest lay in New York.” 

Tricia Nixon much preferred Sunday’s party. It was smaller and she found a guy to fuck. I spanked and kicked a masochistic friend. Tricia Nixon headed back home satisfied. I went to Charlie’s place to catch up on our weekend apart.

My reaction to Tricia Nixon’s surprise morning blowjob stayed with me. I knew she meant no harm, and normally I would enjoy such an awakening—more evidence that now, nothing felt normal. I had been clear about not wanting intercourse, by which I meant sex generally, but at kink camp, I had gladly gone down on her and joined her on the dock for her proffered farewell blowjob. 

I was in a new relationship with Charlie and in no shape to juggle anything else. I didn’t want to disappoint Tricia Nixon; I really enjoyed her friendship and—who knows?—one day I might be ready for our relationship to become sexual. But now wasn’t the time and I didn’t want to send a confusing message. 

I followed up on her visit by saying I was really glad we had decided to take things slowly. I was sure to be back to my slutty self eventually. For now, I appreciated her patience. I felt she understood me. She said we were good. 

I was clear that I was not sexually available. I was less clear about my emotional availability. 

Tricia Nixon returned to New York in January for an overnight party. Again, Charlie was out of town. Again, we stayed at an Airbnb, this time with another out-of-town camper. 

Tricia Nixon teased that my “no sex at the sex party thing is getting old,” but so it was. At one point, she handed me her phone, dropped her pants and told me to “at least take a picture of this hole you won’t fuck.” She wanted to send a snapshot of her asshole to the guy who fucked her at kink camp. I complied. 

Looking ahead, she asked to be my roommate at a kink camp event in February. The guy who had fucked her ass in September had asked her to join him, she said, but I was her first choice. I demurred, as I was bringing Charlie to her first event, which coincided with the anniversary of our first date. Tricia Nixon asked if we could at least play at the event. I agreed that we could spend some time together. 

As it turned out, I only had eyes for Charlie. We wrapped around one another in the public sex areas, made terrific noise in the dungeon, attended classes and ducked out to tour local museums. Throughout the weekend, I noticed Tricia Nixon hovering, watching us talk, play and make love. On the final day of the event, Charlie and I invited her to lunch. I had told each of them much about the other. I was eager for my lover to meet my friend. Over lunch, Charlie and I were exhausted and glowing from the weekend. 

As we parted, the three of us made plans to meet again at the next kink camp in July. I said I’d bring Charlie, jokingly adding, “that is, assuming she doesn’t fuck things up before then.” 

III.

Prior to meeting Charlie, Tricia Nixon had complained to mutual friends that I was a “pussy tease” because I didn’t put out. After seeing my new girlfriend and I together, lovingly celebrating our first anniversary, Tricia Nixon began to speak ill of our few initial interactions when we met the previous September—prior to the two weekends she asked to spend with me in New York and at the kink event in February—the very times she had written favorably about in her blog.

I had no indication that things were amiss between us until May first, when I got a text from George, asking to talk. I was tagging along with a friend covering an Aimee Mann concert in Brooklyn. I replied that I’d call him back at intermission. 

On the phone, George said he felt I should “take a break” from attending the summer kink camp. He reminded me that my classes had been poorly reviewed the previous September, which I knew to be fair, and brought up the anonymous emails he had received back in two-thousand eight, when I had taken time off to focus my ex-wife’s custody case. The emails resurrected a story from two-thousand five. I had then explained to George why I refrained from responding to that story publicly in full detail. (I have since told the story here.)

“That’s all old news,” I said. “Why are you bringing this up now?” 

“Well, I hate to say this,” he hedged, “But a woman is saying you violated her consent at kink camp last September.” 

“At kink camp? Why would anyone say that?”

“Well, Tricia Nixon making noise about a broken hand or arm or something and you making a joke about it . . .” 

“Tricia Nixon? My friend Tricia Nixon? We didn’t break anything, that was a torn extensor tendon, an accident . . . that wasn’t a joke, it was a text . . .”

“I know, I know,” he cut me off. “Look, she’s already got a reputation as a two-faced person, but she’s very noisy on FetLife. We had this thing happen at our San Francisco event, which, granted, has nothing to do with you, but right now, we can’t have any bad publicity and you’ve got a PR problem.”

“A PR problem,” I repeated. 

“Yeah. You know, I have to side against male doms, you know that. It’s just business. Look, take some time to get your house in order. Find out what’s going on with Tricia Nixon, sit this one out and let’s see about the next event. For now, just be cool.” 

George had made his decision as he always did. This time, it was my turn to step aside for the good of his business. Our conversation had lasted as long as it took Aimee Mann to restring her guitar at intermission. 

I texted Tricia Nixon that we should talk and went back to the concert. Later, I broke the news to Charlie that we needed to “sit this one out” until I sorted out a “PR problem.”

George had also offered me advice, as a friend. He told me that within the kink camp community, I had a reputation as a “gateway drug.” This meant that because of my blog, performances and so on, I had a public presence that was out and accessible. Anyone curious about kink or might consider me an inroad into the scene. I knew and accepted that assessment. I appreciated that role. In this capacity, I’ve changed lives. 

George added that this meant I might play with newbies and within the kink community, I’m also known as a “heavy player,” meaning I can play rough with some heavy undertones. 

“Really?” I replied. “I see so many things I would never try. I always think of myself as new to all of this.” 

“I’ve known you for ten years,” George said. “That’s a lifetime in kink.” He said I would do well to think twice about what I do with people who aren’t very experienced.

Sage advice, especially from George’s vantage. I took it to heart.

Eventually, Tricia Nixon requested that we have a conversation moderated by two of our cabin mates. The moderators agreed and between themselves, worked out a strategy for the conversation. We arranged a conference call on Skype.

In the conversation, after a preliminary establishment of boundaries and goals, Tricia Nixon laid out her complaints against me. She had told me she had a hard limit against breast slapping, and during a scene, I had slapped her breast. Another time, her thumb had really hurt, and I made a joke about it.

I waited. “Jefferson, do you want to respond?” asked a moderator. Tricia Nixon was quiet. That was her full dossier against me. 

I replied that I didn’t recall anything about breast slapping or a hard limit, but if I did that, it was wrong and I apologized. I asked if she could say more about my joke about her thumb. She reminded me that I had texted “you’re welcome” when she described the injury. 

“Yes,” I said, “But as I recall, that was in the context of a long text conversation in which I expressed concern about the accident. We were roughhousing, and we got too physical. I wasn’t actually expecting thanks for your hurt thumb. Remember the way we joked about ‘Babe,’ like, we’d say the opposite of what we meant? I know humor can be hard to hard to convey in texts, but . . . “ 

“Jefferson?” A moderator interrupted. “Tricia Nixon hung up.”

Her fixation about a perceived joke at the expense of her thumb perplexed me until someone pointed out that it was communicated via text. Tricia Nixon may have misunderstood it. She could also screen grab a text and call it anything she liked. 

Our moderated conversation was my last with Tricia Nixon. We stopped texting and severed ties on FetLife. We never ironed out my “PR problem.” I haven’t returned to George’s kink camp. 

If I feel I’m being harmed or causing harm, I communicate. Absent communication, I’m out.  

That was several years ago. 

The last I heard about Tricia Nixon came a month or so after she hung up on me, via a friend texting from kink camp on July fifth, twenty-fourteen. My girlfriend and I were en route to model for an erotic photo shoot. My friend had been sitting with her boyfriend, fooling around, when a stranger approached to suggest a threesome. She bluntly introduced herself as “Tricia Nixon, the bitch that brought down Jefferson.” 

IV.

Then, in twenty-sixteen, George fucked up, again. When he reactively banned James for something he didn’t do, the kink camp blogs were in uproar. Dissatisfaction ran deep with George’s past handling of alleged consent violations, leading to a general anxiety about safety. It became critical to establish that while George had been wrong in James’s case, he had acted correctly in assuming guilt, because all accusations must be believed. 

In a blog posted during this heated controversy, Tricia Nixon revealed how she had brought down Jefferson. In her view, during the course of her complaint about me, George fucked up, again, by contacting me. Tricia Nixon felt he had betrayed her. Accusers should be able to get alleged consent violators banned without having their identities revealed. Accused individuals should be afforded no consultation, no defense, no appeal, no due process. This is an arguable position within the kink camp community. 

Her post went on to describe two interactions with me, each on the day following her arrival at camp.

[NOTE (January eleven, twenty-eighteen): When originally published, this post included extended sections from Tricia Nixon’s accounts of our first meeting, as published three years after the fact. Per Tricia Nixon’s complaint to Blogger, I have once more paraphrased her text while retaining italics to indicate the alteration. Her original text is available on request.]

At six o’clock the next morning, Tricia Nixon claims to be have been woken from a sound sleep. We exited the cabin and began a scene in which she was thrown around and bitten. 

She claims that she had previously set a hard limit against breast slapping, which was ignored. As she moved to block my slaps, her hand was injured. 

That afternoon, she goes on, I was once again rough: 

Tricia Nixon alleges she was dragged outside the cabin by her hair. She responded by sucking my cock.

[Conclusion of adapted text.]

Though the described events were alleged to have occurred on her first full day at kink camp, they had not been included in her early and favorable blog posts on the event, including those concerning me. They had not come up in our subsequent conversations. They had not come up before she invited herself to visit me for a weekend in October, nor before she invited herself back in January, nor before she asked to be my date to a kink event in February. The event in February was the last time I saw her, when my girlfriend and I took her to lunch. 

Her complaints were solely based on our interactions on our first full day at kink camp in September twenty-thirteen. Her turn against me came only after she saw me with my girlfriend in February twenty-fourteen. 

Only the breast slapping and hand injury had been included in the dossier she presented during our moderated Skype conversation. Then, I had admitted that I didn’t recall slapping her breast, though I did remember the hand injury and our texts about it afterward. In this story, she now placed the breast slapping and hand injury in the same moment, during the pre-dawn hour of her first day.   

The rest of the details were added in this compilation, presented as part of her overall condemnation of kink camp and how George fucked up, again, by informing me of her complaints. 

To begin with the morning story, the reader will benefit from knowing certain omitted facts. Tricia Nixon tells us that the morning she described was the first Friday of kink camp, September sixth, twenty-thirteen. Kink camp is located in Eastern Maryland. Sunrise was at six forty that morning.

Tricia Nixon and I shared a cabin with eighteen other people. The cabin is comprised of two large connecting rooms, bedding ten campers each. (For those who know the site, we were housed in conjoined cabins nineteen and twenty).

The story of breast slapping and hand injury are, I believe, conflated with the afternoon story, as I’ll explain in a moment. I’m not denying their factual veracity so much as the timing. I do know with certainty that the morning story was as I described it above, as I took notes and told it onstage three days later and repeatedly over the following weeks. I had remembered it fondly. 

As to her claim of a rude wake up at six o’clock: the sun would not rise for another forty minutes. She tells readers we made a good deal of noise in this pre-dawn darkness. Yet none of our eighteen sleeping cabins mates was disturbed. Those same campers would see me wake to their hubbub before breakfast and note that Tricia Nixon was still asleep. 

For her story to fit with what myself and others can recall, I woke her in darkness to a loud unpleasant scene that disturbed no one. Then she says we had coffee—presumably at the dining hall, which wouldn’t open until eight o’clock—before returning to our separate beds for more shut eye. I once again woke her after eight o’clock for breakfast and prolonged cunnilingus at a bench at the center of campus, where campers called out to us as they journeyed to and from the nearby dining hall. 

As to the afternoon story:

Make no mistake, we were crushing on each other. At least, I know I was. Meeting Tricia Nixon was exciting, inviting a spark of life into my broken heart. Seeing the experience of kink camp through her eyes was a distraction from seeing it so determinedly through the prism of years of memories alongside my newly ex-girlfriend Kay. And like kids in a playground, at one point Tricia Nixon and I expressed our shared physical attraction by poking at each other. 

We were relaxing in a group at our cabin. Several of us were nude. As we moved outside, I held open the door. Tricia Nixon joked that I was a gentleman. I pinched a clump of her hair and said, “Not always.” She yelped and slapped my genitals, then ran ahead, laughing and taunting me to follow. I let the door slam and joined her. 

A crowd watched as two blowhards tussled, choosing sides in our silly sparring. If she cussed, I cussed louder. If I parried, she volleyed harder. We came at each at each other clumsily, loose limbs flailing. “You’re going down!” I challenged. At that, she bent to take my cock in her mouth. Judging by the cheers, she won that move. I pushed her back, taking a boxer’s stance. Suddenly, she wielded a broom. I raised my hands, offering no contest to her weapon. She had won the day, to great acclimation. After this momentary foolishness, our group dressed and went to lunch.

As I’ve said, I don’t recall slapping her breast. I do recall the hand injury, because we stopped for a moment before resuming our play fight and because we spoke about it in subsequent conversations. That happened in broad daylight, not darkness. Because she combines the two stories here (as she hadn’t in our moderated conversation), I suspect she misremembered in claiming it happened around six in the morning. I’m sure it did not. More than likely, all of that was a part of our brief horseplay. That had started and ended so fast, I would need the instant replay of eyewitnesses to recall who landed which blows when.  

We were two middle-aged parents wrestling like brats. Small wonder one of us was injured.

When I attended my first kink camp, I was two years out of my marriage. I had been hosting sex parties throughout that time. I was one year into sex blogging. I attended kink camp in the company of trusted friends. Looking back over stories of my first kink camp, I recall feeling thrilled and overwhelmed. 

Tricia Nixon arrived alone to her first kink camp. She knew me only through emails. She has subsequently written that she dove into the deep waters of kink and, by any reckoning, she ain’t kidding. 

Our first evening had been negotiated. She may have felt the shock of the new, but, as she wrote elsewhere, it wasn’t anything she couldn’t handle. Our first morning was vanilla and sweet. Public sex may have been novel to her, but, as two self-proclaimed sluts, we had each previously gone into sexual situations with someone new. 

Our afternoon play may have been confusing. Was this a “scene,” a word she was just learning? Why was the sweet fellow from the morning now being so annoying? Our horseplay came up so spontaneously between us, I thought, well, I guess this is what we’re doing now. We didn’t stop to negotiate or set boundaries as a proper scene. It ended nearly as soon as it began.

The truth is, I liked her and, with my mind, heart and cock malfunctioning, I reverted to schoolyard behavior. I was broken and overcompensating my affection. 

Tricia Nixon encountered me as a gateway to kink camp, and to kink in general. I was in no shape to fulfill those expectations. Still, my heartbreak and affection are no excuse. I should have done better. I fucked up.

A few months later, George wised me up to how I play with newbies. I was nearly fifty years old and ten years into kink. I still had much to learn. 

Everyone’s memories differ and shade over time. Her post was written three years after the fact. This post is written one year after that, informed by my contemporaneous narratives of our first meeting and morning. 

Blogging and storytelling have taught me that even immediate accounts of an event may differ. (For evidence of this, look above to our descriptions of our first meeting. They entirely agree on essentials, while recalling differing dialogue and details.) Individuals simply experience things differently and may narrate subjectively observed details. If Tricia Nixon’s story differed from mine, we might refresh our memories, debate details, correct facts and leave it at that. 

However, the story didn’t end with her post. It launched a flame war, largely inveighing against George for his overall handling of alleged consent violations and against me for allegedly harming the author. This is to be expected; story consumers are generally sympathetic with the teller.

Commenters questioning Tricia Nixon’s post were pilloried by her supporters or simply blocked. As the flame war heated, Tricia Nixon used private messages to goad supporters to ever more extreme speculation. The comments grew to the dozens before quickly escalating to nearly three hundred. The flame war was stoked into a wildfire bearing only passing resemblance to the original post. Tricia Nixon’s description of her accidental injury (“the extensor tendon was torn and it healed ‘tight,’” she wrote) was referenced with certainty as a deliberately broken hand. Ever more injurious accusations were made. She let them stand, uncorrected. 

When Tricia Nixon’s post was brought to my attention, I saw it as at best, her point of view, and at worst, a skewed and hyperbolic representation of our interactions meant to underscore her ire at George. I wasn’t the target, merely the ammunition. Not worth arguing. 

The commenting flame warriors were what one expects: responding in the moment, more concerned with immediate feeling than considered facts. That’s the anatomy of any flame war. I knew next to none of these people. They didn’t know me. Most likely, few knew Tricia Nixon. For all I knew, some might even be sock puppets. Certainly none were witness to the alleged events.

Flame wars are a hazard for anyone in public life, however small the public. They are the worst of social media and the common fuel of FetLife. They’re easily dismissed.  

V.

Such was my initial reaction. 

However, Tricia Nixon soon became involved in anonymously circulating her post and attendant flame war. It was not enough that George act against me at kink camp. She would continue her crusade as “the bitch that brought down Jefferson” by putting this before my colleagues, friends and employers outside the kink community. This brought her efforts to my attention—had she not furthered her attack, I might never have seen her post. I watched as she freely outed me. I watched as she hurt others.

Tricia Nixon’s actions made it incumbent upon me to respond. Here, I’ve offered corrections as recalled by myself and others. There were plenty of witnesses. Such investigatory tools were available to George at the time, had he chosen to look into the matter.

Had George chosen to look into the matter, he may have found that my actions warranted a suspension. Or he may have found that my actions warranted a ban. Or he may have found that the allegations were unwarranted. Or he may have facilitated conflict resolution. 

But George chose not to look into the matter. He left it to me to “be cool,” to “sit this one out” and to work out my “PR problem.” He left the conflict for me to resolve. He did not take the matter seriously.

For myself, I no more meant to hurt Tricia Nixon’s feelings than I meant to hurt her hand. I saw our time together as a boon reminder of the resilience of a broken heart. If we were not to be lovers, I was sure we would be friends. My heart isn’t broken by her choice otherwise. 

I spent nearly a decade at kink camp as a participant, presenter and ardent promoter. I’m proud of my accomplishments, cognizant of my mistakes and glad for the wonderful experiences of those I brought into the fold. Kink camp was my primary education in all things kinky. 

By the time I left kink camp in twenty-fourteen, I had witnessed the spread of an ever-growing toxic atmosphere. Some had to do with the change in the community’s culture after George’s ouster of Tristan, some had to do with George’s leadership. But primarily, the greatest impact has been external. 

I began at kink camp as a nascent sex blogger. My time there coincided with the rise of social media, particularly the advent of FetLife. Kink camp’s online hive has little to do with the real-life community I found among its people. Without question, the loudest voices online belong to the most extreme views. Like many business owners, George lives in terror of negative reviews. To his detriment, George gives most attention to those who shout online, leaving him indifferent to those who speak directly.

That decade also saw a rise in consent culture, which is to the profound good. Kink camp has been rightly criticized for its inability to keep up with this movement. George grudges being asked to settle disputes and has proven his inability to do so well. He fails as an arbiter of conflict. 

George has acknowledged that without change, there can only be more harm. I’m told steps have been made to do better moving forward by shifting allegations of consent violations to a review committee that is free of George’s oversight. 

In creating a better future, the kink camp community may learn from its past. I’m hopeful that George will take a page from the advice he once gave to me and continue to get kink camp’s “house in order.”

UPDATE (January four, twenty-eighteen): Tricia Nixon has responded to this post by writing: “It's all lies. Every bit.” She conjectures that I was the drunk rope bottom in the opening paragraphs of this post, so that this is an oblique confession. As stated, I have not attended a kink camp event since twenty-fourteen; I was not there two years later. She alleges challenges in my relationship with my girlfriend, offering no indication as to how she might know anything at all about us. 

Tricia Nixon writes that she is angry I quoted her own writing, claiming that it was positive only at her editor’s insistence. Contacted for comment, the editor recalls placing no restrictions on her writing. Tricia Nixon subsequently confirmed that she wrote freely. As noted above, she successfully lobbied Blogger to remove the story written in her own words. The unedited text remains at FetLife and Medium