As if Fifty Shades of Grey has not had enough press, I could not help but think of the author, E.L. James, when a friend of mine suggested we do a tour of the Armory in San Francisco. The Armory was sold in a private sale in 2006 for $14.5M and is now owned by Peter Acworth who runs Kink.com and 26 other Internet pornography sites that mostly focus on BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism). Yeah, the tour was enlightening.
The building is humongous and one could get lost in there – literally. So, naturally we had a guide. I don’t remember her name but she was very frank and had no qualms saying words like “fucking” and “tit” when describing what some of the rooms were used for.
We started out in the “Ultimate Surrender” room which looked like a small gymnasium. (see photo left).This is where the next time you are in San Francisco (if you are on the UltimateSurrender.com mailing list) you can sign up to become a spectator and watch two women wrestle in bikinis. The women are awarded points based on tasks that they do such as ripping off their opponent’s bikini or “grabbing a tit” or “going down” on their opponent. Bikinis are worn for the first two rounds but by round 3, it’s mandatory that all bikinis come off. (Yes, this is how much detail one gets when going on the tour).
The next room was the WiredPussy.com room where literally someone sticks their head in the floor in what looks like a black box. While their head is below ground in the black box, the rest of their body is above ground and is being manipulated by electric currents by another person all while having their reaction filmed (because there is a camera in the black box. Getting electric shocks while getting screwed sound sadistic to you? Well, you know, it’s that fine line between pleasure and pain, as Christian Grey described to Anastasia in book one of Fifty Shades of Grey. Incidentally, there was no “red room of pain” but there was a room (or closet) lined with whips, gags, harnesses, cuffs, and strap-ons along the walls.
The tour was only an hour or so and you were allowed to ask as many questions as you liked. They definitely wanted to make sure you walked away with an education. After all, they don’t teach this is sixth grade health. But it wasn’t all sex-ed. She even through in a few history notes for the nerds in the group like the fact that some of The Empire Strikes Back was filmed in the drill court (see photo below). George Lucas apparently needed a giant covered room with no support beams and he found it at the SF Armory.
We didn’t get to see all of the rooms because that would have taken hours. But suffice to say that there was sex and bondage apparatus in every room, from paintings and statues, to cages and O rings. Which made me think, did author E.L. James go to one of these types of places to do her research? Did she interview people who were into BDSM? Apparently, the models (people who participate in these websites) are walking the streets in San Francisco and you wouldn’t even know it. Fascinating the lives people lead!
So, the next time you are in San Francisco and if this tickles your fancy or if you are just plain curious, then check ’em out for a tour at the SF Armory website. It will definitely be a unique experience unlike any other tour you’ve been on in any other city. Enjoy!