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When The NY Times Attacks The Sex Positive Community

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I suppose it’s to be expected that with the exploding popularity of the sex-positive / swing / kink movement there is going to come a backlash from more traditional elements of society who view alternative takes relationships and sex as a threat.

This backlash has begun here in New York City, with The New York Times running a hit piece directed at the Hacienda swing club in Brooklyn a couple of days ago, alleging that rape and other non-consensual acts happen at their events which the club doesn’t appropriately respond to. The article was entitled “A Brooklyn Sex Club Promised Freedom. Some Called It Rape” while the NY Post did a more scathing copycat article with the headline “‘Sex-positive’ NY orgy club accused of covering up rape, abuse as founder denies having performed non-consensual act.” This provoked a global windfall of similar stories, with Britain’s Daily Mail and others picking up the refrain.

The message here is clear: they’re coming for us.

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However, when you look through the NY Times story, something inevitably stands out: it’s relatively devoid of any real substance. While it was touted to have been the result of a seven month investigation, the reporter, Sarah Maslin Nir, never actually visited the club and seemed to have difficulty coming up with examples of improprieties that happened less than a decade ago — and even then they were generally “he said / she said” incidents that lacked any semblance of corroboration or authority. Beyond that, the story had the feel, tone, and depth of a gossip column that brought little new information to light, mostly bringing up incidents that the community has processed and laid to rest long ago or unfavorable situations that every sex-positive club unfortunately has to deal with from time to time. It’s apparent that the reporter was assigned a hit piece and had a really difficult time producing it.

As I am a member of Hacienda and a regular at their parties, I recognize that I am biased. However, I also have a degree in journalism and previously enjoyed a career writing for big news media, so I feel compelled to comment on the grounds that the journalism — if you can call it that — of this story was severely lacking.

To get into it:

-The main incident that this story focuses on happened 12 years ago and involves a woman who was living in the Hacienda house (people live there too) who was “approached and badgered into sex” by a guest at a party. She apparently relented to his requests and engaged sexually with him. However, the following morning she regretted her actions and had questions about whether she had actually given consent. It is unclear if the accuser used the term “rape” or if that was added by the reporter, but it ended up in the headline of the article nonetheless.

Then, she said, it happened to her. Ms. Fisher was in her kitchen at Hacienda in spring 2012 when she was approached and badgered into sex by a guest of the sex party she had left downstairs, she said. She awoke feeling that she had not given her consent to what had occurred — that she had been raped.

The way that this guy allegedly acted — hounding someone for sex — was way outside the acceptable guidelines of the community and punitive action should have been taken to reprimand him or ban him from future parties, but to have this be the lead incident in a NY Times story 12 years later makes it seem as if the reporter may have been grasping at straws — an impression that persisted throughout the remainder of the piece.

-There was an accusation against Kenneth Play, one of Hacienda’s founders, implying that he publicly engaged in non-consensual sexual acts with a female member at a party over a decade ago. However, when you read this story it appears as if the person in question gave consent in the moment but later on felt that Play shouldn’t have honored it due to her having too much to drink.

About a decade ago, a woman said she was visibly intoxicated and unable to consent when Mr. Play publicly performed sex acts on her at a party. In their statement to The Times, Hacienda’s leadership acknowledged the encounter but said it was consensual. They called the woman’s allegations “unfounded and untrue.”

The journalist did not name the woman and it seems as if she hadn’t spoken with her directly.

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Take this for what it’s worth: I know Kenneth and we’ve played in proximity to each other on numerous occasions. In my experience, he has always followed the proper consent protocols down to the wire and it is difficult for me to imagine this situation taking place as documented in the NY Times story — especially as it was said to have happened in the presence of many other people. A woman being intoxicated to the point where she couldn’t give consent would be a red flag at any sex party, and it’s difficult to imagine nobody else noticing it.

But, again, this incident happened a decade ago, Play and Hacienda acknowledge it but vehemently deny that any non-consensual play occurred, and the Times journalist seems to have reported hearsay without adding any new information, corroborating it in any way, or using any information from direct sources.

-The story said that Play was kicked out of three other erotic clubs because of the above incident but doesn’t state what clubs these were or how the reporter discovered this. Play and Hacienda also deny that this is true.

-Another incident the story shone light on also allegedly occurred around a decade ago and involved a couple who had an established sexual relationship and were residents at the Hacienda house.

Mr. Doray was still living in one of the brownstones about two years later, when another resident, Kristin Stadelmann-Ferreira, said he raped her in her room at the Hacienda Villa on Troutman Street.

She said Mr. Doray, a surrealist clown and burlesque performer who was known at Hacienda for his intense spanking demonstrations, forced her to have sex while she was wearing a tampon.

Ms. Stadelmann-Ferreira, who was romantically involved with Mr. Doray, said she told leadership about the episode but was ignored, in part, she said, because of her own erratic behavior. Shortly after the encounter with Mr. Doray, Ms. Stadelmann-Ferreira, who has schizophrenia, said she had a breakdown and ran naked onto Troutman Street. She was hospitalized for psychiatric care.

Make what you will of this but I am in no position to comment.

-There were two reported incidents from women who claim to have been pushed against walls at parties.

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-There was also a report from 2020 from a non-binary individual who claims that she was non-consensually choked and when she tried to report it to a guardian (one of the people who watch over the play areas of Hacienda) she was instructed to keep her voice down.

– There were no allegations of non-consensual acts presented in the article from the past four years.

-There were no police reports filed or any officially verifiable information for any of the incidents mentioned.

Another vital element that this article sorely missed was context. Hacienda has been around for over 12 years and has had literally thousands of events and parties attended by tens of thousands of people. It’s my opinion that if this club was as sketchy as it’s made out to be in the Times article then the reporter probably should have been able to come up with more scathing, better documented, and more recent examples to illustrate her points. While I don’t wish to belittle the complaints of the people mentioned in this story, taken altogether they hardly amount to the improprieties that occur over the course of a weekend at a random frat house in Tuscaloosa.

Everything about this story came off as obtuse to those who are familiar with the subject matter. In the swing / kink scene of NYC, Hacienda is known as being one of the best of the best — a fact that was indirectly attested to as the reporter seemed to have an extremely difficult time in her hunt for dirt on the place, repeatedly having to reach back over a decade to come up with anything of significance.

If this reporter actually went to a party at Hacienda she would have found a very well connected community of people having a good time and exploring themselves and each other. She would have found people laughing, people playing, people expressing themselves in a way that they can’t in any other phase of life. She would have found a team of guardians who keep a close watch over everyone who are very active about responding to complaints and have no qualms about taking people aside for a talk or even to throw them out of the party. She would have found hundreds of people who feel safe and secure in the space … and may have realized that her entire “expose” to take the place down was unfounded and lacked merit.


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Ender Wilder
Ender Wilderhttps://swingingsolution.com
Ender Wilder is a former big media journalist and author who escaped from that world to be able to write about anything he wants. He has been actively living the swinging life with his wife for many years, and is available to coach those who are just getting into the lifestyle or have hit some bumps along the road.



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