LIFESTYLE
01/09/2019 6:39 PM IST

I Got Into BDSM At 50 And Met My 30-Year-Old Boyfriend At A Dungeon

Fifty marked the beginning of a new chapter and I found myself in the mood for something new.

Courtesy of V.V. Valentine
A flogger is one "toy" that can be used during BDSM/kink play.

If you ask us, we’ll tell you we met at a throwback Thursday screening of Quentin Tarantino’s ”Reservoir Dogs.” My version has us meeting at the Laemmle in the NoHo Arts District, but if you ask him, he’ll insist we met at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Cue the clever banter. Adorable.

But no matter how we spin it, the truth is, our throwback theater meet-cute scenario is actually a cover story, concocted in the event that inquisitive folks might ask how we met, which is a perfectly reasonable inquiry. 

So, why did we have to make up a cover story? Because telling people we met at a dungeon might be kinda awkward.

That’s right. I met my boyfriend, “Trevor,” who happens to be 24 years my junior, at a dungeon. Yes, that kind of dungeon. You might be wondering what a nice, white-wine-sipping, tree-hugging, dog-loving, divorced mom like me was doing in a place like that and, also, maybe, “OMG there are dungeons?”

Listen, I had no idea dungeons were a real thing, either, until a close girlfriend of mine came out to me about being kinky, circa 2008. For some time “Kiki” had wanted to share this closely guarded secret with one of her “vanilla” friends, but feared being judged and, subsequently, ostracized. After many discussions with her then-boyfriend, Kiki decided to put her trust in me; a wise choice, if I do say so myself, as I was wholly accepting. Invariably curious, I wanted to know everything. 

Kiki then invited me to a casual Saturday afternoon bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism, or BDSM, event in Hollywood set in a bright, airy venue. This erotic marketplace had vendors selling every kinky thing you can imagine: paddles of various shapes and sizes, crops, collars, canes, corsets, floggers, you name it.

What I found most fascinating about this event, though, were the people; they totally blew my mind because they were just ordinary, average-looking folks, the kind you’d see shopping at Target or attending a PTA meeting. They bucked every preconceived stereotype I had as there was not a buxom, latex-clad, whip-wielding dominatrix among them. Everyone I met that afternoon was super-friendly and welcoming. Although I thoroughly enjoyed myself, another seven years and a whole lot of life lessons would pass before I visited that kinky marketplace again.

By then, I was on the cusp of turning 50 and feeling pretty damn solid. I felt fat and happy; the way you do after sharing a few bottles of wine and an intensely satisfying meal with your closest friends. Life was good. Yeah, sure, I was still single, but I was OK with it. I had the bed all to myself and full possession of the remote control. I was free to do as I pleased. 

As far as I was concerned, 50 marked the beginning of a new chapter and I found myself in the mood for something new, something vastly different, something that might push the envelope and fire up my synapses, so when Kiki asked if I’d like to attend a series of BDSM 101 classes with her, I said yes. 

Courtesy of V.V. Valentine
A series of BDSM 101 classes included information about the terminology and language used in the BDSM/kink community.

Over the course of four weeks, I’d learn about the terminology and language used in the BDSM/kink community, such as top, bottom, hard limit and edge play. Much emphasis was placed on the importance of using safe words, negotiation before play and the biggest thing of all: consent. An entire class was dedicated to clarifying the various types of Dom/sub dynamics and other types of power-exchange relationships. 

But the class that had the biggest impact on me was the live demo, where our instructor demonstrated how to use a panoply of implements on the backside of a volunteer bottom, who was cuffed to a spanking bench. Oh. My. God. Every synapse in my brain exploded, triggering a visceral response the likes of which I’d never before experienced. There was absolutely no denying it. I wanted to bottom and I wanted to top. I wanted to try all the kinky things.

Opportunity came knocking a few weeks later when Kiki took me to my first “play” party, a private event at a dungeon much closer to home. Several play stations lined the periphery of the main room. A doorway on the far wall led to a smattering of smaller, themed rooms that flanked a long hallway: a jail cell, a medical examination room, a classroom. Club policy dictated that the doors remain open at all times, not just so others could quietly observe from the hallway, but to ensure participants were adhering to club safety protocols. (Safety is taken very seriously in this community. Most public kink events employ dungeon safety monitors and prohibit alcohol consumption. Additionally, cellphones are banned in play spaces in order to protect the identities of participants.)

For the first hour or so, I indulged my inner voyeur, then Kiki and I took respite in the lobby where we met “D,” a polite young man and fellow BDSM 101 alumnus. The three of us chatted for a bit before Kiki went off to get bound to a desk with plastic wrap and forced to watch 1950s stock photo vacation slides. I know. Not my brand of kink, either, but far be it from me to yuck someone’s yum.

D and I spent the remainder of the evening hanging out and watching others play. Finally, sometime around midnight, D asked if I’d like to see what he had in his bag. Why, I thought he’d never ask. On a padded table in the main room, D neatly lined up his “toys” so I could have a look. Paddles, crops, canes, and ― oh, my ― three sets of floggers. They were so soft and the smell of leather and suede was utterly intoxicating. 

Courtesy of V.V. Valentine
Many "toys" can be incorporated in play.

“Would you like to try?”

Um, yeah. Fully aware that I was a newcomer, D reassured me he’d keep it light and, like any responsible top would, he reminded me to use my safe words if necessary. Without further ado, I lifted my skirt and bent over the table and, holy moly, I liked it ... a lot. The combination of pain mixed with pleasure was divine. Once was all it took and I was hooked.

Now, before you deem my masochistic tendencies abnormal, I’ll have you know the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, no longer considers consensual BDSM/kink between persons of legal age a psychosexual disorder. Basically, as long as nobody is under duress ― or under age 18 ― the DSM-5 is, like, whatever kinkiness happens between consenting adults is perfectly fine.

So, if you enjoy being lightly choked or spanked or tied up or blindfolded in the midst of getting down with a trustworthy partner, rest assured there is nothing inherently wrong with you. If you find wearing women’s panties under your three-piece suit while giving an important presentation helps you focus, or you prefer your husband naked and on his knees waiting for you when you come home from a grueling day at the office, it’s nobody’s business but your own, unless, of course, you choose to disclose your kinky proclivities during your next wine-fueled book club gathering, but I totally get why you might not. People can be so judgy.

This is why dungeons are so great. Dungeons provide a safe, nonjudgmental space where Trevor and I can commune with a diverse group of like-minded individuals and freely express the kinky side of our otherwise conventional relationship. It’s absolutely liberating.

You know what else is liberating? Having been able to come out about being kinky to the majority of my close friends and loved ones, including my young adult daughter, who’s been nothing but supportive and accepting. Unfortunately, this is not the case for a lot of kinky people, who remain closeted for fear of losing jobs, friends or even custody of their children. 

My inner circle is fully aware I’m actively involved in the kink community, that I partake in social gatherings and play parties, as well as attend classes. Nevertheless, I respectfully don’t dish on the details. Just because they’re supportive doesn’t mean they’re comfortable hearing about it. Besides, you know what they say: Whatever happens at the dungeon stays at the dungeon.

Even though I make a concerted effort to keep my disparate worlds compartmentalized, some crossover is inevitable as I’ve made some really good friends within the kink community. Like D, who, to this day, remains my platonic play partner, and is now one of my closest friends and is completely integrated into my vanilla world. (It’s a common misconception that BDSM always involves sex. It doesn’t necessarily.) 

Trevor and I actually met at the dungeon’s game night, where a bunch of kinky nerds gathered to play geeky board games like Settlers of Catan and Dominion. When I walked into the lounge that evening, I noticed this totally cute guy on the couch perusing a fetish book he’d retrieved from the dungeon’s library. Feeling cheeky, I sat myself down and struck up a conversation. Next thing I knew, we were swapping numbers.

After a few weeks of hanging out both in and out of the dungeon, Trevor and I went on a hike and talked about everything from dark matter, parallel universes and aliens to evolution, God and Kevin Smith. That’s when I knew we were going to be more than just a passing fancy and here we are, a year and a half later, and because my nonkinky friends have been amazingly hospitable, I could confidently share with them the truth about how Trevor and I met, while sticking to our cover story for the vanillas in our lives.  

Yeah, it can be wearing, this balancing act of ours, but what I find more wearing are the wink-winks and cougar jokes I sometimes get when people learn about our age difference. I have to admit it really irks me as I feel some of these “good-humored” remarks minimize one of the most substantive relationships I’ve ever had. I am fully aware he’s closer to my daughter’s age than mine. I don’t need anyone to remind me. Thankfully, my friends and, more importantly, my daughter, only care that I’m happy and have welcomed Trevor with open arms.

It’s funny. For all the books read and spiritual awakenings had and indispensable life lessons learned previous to turning 50, exploring BDSM and the broader spectrum of kink these past four years has opened me up in ways I never imagined. I’m more adventurous and willing to try new things. My conventional thinking about sex and relationships has evolved. I readily embrace others for who they are, without judgment, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identification. Because BDSM requires tons of negotiating and advocating, I’m so much better at communicating in general. Setting boundaries is no longer a problem for me.

Most of all, I’m having the time of my life.

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