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Night of 100 Cracks: Hellbound @ Small's by DC-in-Detroit

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Noir Leather's "Hellbound"
Small's Hamtramck, 25 September 2010

I've been attending Hellbound events since, oh, the 1940s. Back then (before the war), the events tended to be more like fashion shows with a few appreciative freaks in the audience, and a lot of gawkers. I like what these parties have evolved into.

Small's is a favorite venue of mine. The layout of the bar, and its three discrete areas and countless corners, is well-suited for this sort of party. The dark, cozy booths in the main bar area are perfect for shadowy canoodlings. A spanking bench was set up in the small mid-room, leading to the big performance area with a DJ setup, gogo cage, a little more naughty furniture, a small platform for some more eye-level performance, and the big stage.

This being my first Hellbound at Small's, I wasn't sure when folk would start arriving, or who they would be. I got there around 10 and that turned out to be early, as only a handful had beaten me there (and weren't yet beating each other at all). But I was glad to see that those who were in attendance were clearly not the gawker types -- these were participants.

After fetching my first Red Fish and soda of the night, I clopped my little platforms back toward the main stage and waited for things to get started. Right about then, I heard the unmistakable pop of a sonic boom in my presence. My ears perked, and yonder my glassies swivelled to the young cutie in the mid-room, doing a little demented target practice on the (empty) spanking bench. I set my drink on the ledge, propped my chin on my hand and just nakedly observed him. Because, you know, I'm smoove like that. He noticed me watching (smooooove) and made a gesture as though to ask if I'd like to try my hand. Would I? Would I! (Big nose!)

It had to be after 11 at this point, and there were still no people in the stage area, which was pretty handy considering I was going to need all the space. My guide showed me a basic overhand technique, then handed me his weapon. As I was standing there feeling the heft of the handle, I realized... I'd never done this before. At all. How is that even possible? I extended my arm fully for my first attempt and was reminded -- oh, right, that's why. I'm a natural clod, and it seemed entirely likely that I'd put my own eye out with the thing. My new sensei was patient, though, advising me to snap my wrist later on the stroke (that's what she said [oh I so gravely apologize]). After another few limp attempts, ah-ha! The snap! I was just giddy (in other words, dorky). This calls for another drink!

Back in the main bar, my black-clad brethren were beginning to arrive. Some were the folk you'd usually see at Small's on a Saturday. Some were fresh young faces. Some were kinkster aristocracy. There was leather, of course, and lace and latex, but also denim and thin cotton and -- oh joy to my soul! -- feathers.

There were certainly the usual contingent of the head-to-toe latex-clad, the human doormats, the crossdressers and the plumbing fetishists. Wait, what? All right, that was a new one on me even. Boy wore a mean pair of cutoffs though.

I'm pleased at the direction the stage shows have taken, too. Yes, they're beautiful people. Yes, they're stunningly garbed. But I'll let you in on a little secret: these aren't just performers. I recognize some of these people; this is really what they do. The saddle that was on that burly boy's back? They own that.

There is, I think, a misbegotten notion of these fetish/fashion-friendly events that it's all furtiveness and dirty secrets. It's not; I mean, unless you want it to be (hot). The Detroit fetish community is a bunch of friendly people, and a lot of familiar faces (including, no joke, the man who did my drywall). It's never once occurred to me at any of these events that "oh I hope I don't see someone I work with!" For one thing, if they see me there, it means they are there, too. For another, I look pretty good in PVC and pink fishnets. But beyond that, there is nothing shameful or untoward or weird about what goes on at these parties. Okay, I admit, my weirdness slider may be a little further down one side than your average schlub, but the point is, these are people having fun. And what could be more wholesome?

Confidential to Our Young Whipmaster: You owe me a pair of fishnets.