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Bound and Determined 

Dominance and submission are latest Charlotte growth industry

It was 9:30pm on a Saturday night, and I was attempting the impossible task of trying to drive without my glasses. I squinted at the road signs while clutching the directions to where I was supposed to be in one hand and gripping the steering wheel with the other. The rain was blinding me, causing the streetlights to reflect off the road, and the faded paint on the asphalt did nothing to help guide me.

I had bought a new dress for this occasion -- a gothic twist on the "little black dress," which wasn't exactly my style, but seemed appropriate. After considerable effort, I pulled in front of what appeared to be the gate to my destination, and was greeted by a massive security guard who waved my car to a stop and said, "We've been expecting you." He smiled as I wondered if he could detect my nervousness. The grand gate swung open and I felt as if I was a player in a movie, rather than actually here. I pulled my car into the parking lot while two additional security guards met me, rumbled through my purse while another took extra care to make sure I didn't have any recording devices or cameras.

This rite of passage wouldn't be unusual if you were entering the backstage entrance of a Madonna concert or the Oscars, but this wasn't that type of party. I had scored a ticket to enter the very private world of adult sexual playgrounds.

They are found in every major city in America, and the once underground networks are no longer staying underground. The people that frequent the establishments, attend invitation-only private parties, or join the various organizations come from every socioeconomic group, familial status and race.

Sexual diversity has definitely arrived in the Queen City.

Charlotte, located in the heart of the Bible Belt, hasn't had the in-your-face, on-premises clubs (and I'm not talking alcohol) to add a kinky variety to our Entertainment District, like Club Venus and Club Velvet in Atlanta. However, with population comes culture, and with culture comes diversity, and it's very difficult for any growing city to pick and choose what type of diversity it will allow. Some things manifest themselves and take off on their own.

It's a control thing

As I entered, I was given a guide for the evening. I had never been so comforted in my life by a total stranger. He looked like your best friend's older brother -- a dirty blonde, nice guy. I clutched my bottle of Pinot Noir in one hand and my purse in the other as I was given the grand tour. I followed him closely while I watched and wondered if I'd see anyone I knew.

I wasn't sure what I was expecting, but this certainly wasn't it. I don't know if I imagined a massive orgy, or a bondage wheel on the wall, but none of it was found here. This place was immaculately clean, smoke-free, and everyone was well-dressed and unquestionably the nicest crowd I had ever encountered. No slobbering drunks here. It wasn't your typical bar scene; then again, this wasn't your typical bar.

Figuring out what brings people from the traditional day-to-day sex routine within a marriage or a committed relationship or just plain single fun to something with a little more zing would give Sigmund Freud a field day. Everyone will give you a different answer to how they find themselves in alternative lifestyles. I soon learned that people don't wake up one morning deciding to be sexually deviant -- it's a slow and ongoing process.

I eventually met "Ted," a European man who had been in the States for some time. On the surface he was quiet, very shy, and his hobby was an obsessive passion for working out at the gym on a daily basis -- the results of which were clear. He was an engineer in the exclusive clique of the racing industry, and pretty much ran the show. However, traveling out of town 33 weekends out of the year, in addition to invitationals, etc., didn't leave him much leisure time, as his "weekend" would start as early as Wednesday.

This man used the internet to scratch his favorite itch. . .D/s, a lifestyle code word for Domination and submission, the word "submission" always beginning in lowercase. He was a Dom, the masculine form of a Dominatrix, and he looked for women who would agree to be his submissive female, or "sub." Most Doms eventually come to employ a favorite.

In this case, his sub's role was a type of modern sexual indentured servitude. He would take her to his favorite lingerie or fetish shops to pick things out for her to wear. Her personal preferences were, at best, secondary. I soon discovered that this was only a fraction of how deeply he was involved with his sub.

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