Sexy prison themes have become as hackneyed as sexy convent themes, or sexy boarding schools, or (cringe) sexy baby costumes. Yet they still manage to be a point of contention in San Francisco.
This Saturday, members of local activist group Gay Shame will convene at 16th Street BART station and march down to the Armory at 14th Mission Streets, site of the now hotly contested "Prison of Love" party by Kink.com The protesters say they are "pro-sex, but anti-prison"; hence they take umbrage to Kink.com's use of solitary confinement, showers, and jailbreak as signifiers for pleasure and lust.
In an open letter to the prison party promoters, Gay Shame and other activist groups decried the prison industrial complex and name-checked famous gay- and trans-identified inmates, such as 2014 Grand Marshall Chelsea Manning. Trans women of color are often housed in men's prisons, the letter points out, which makes them more vulnerable to sexual assault.Kink.com CEO Peter Acworth responded with an open letter of his own, in which he expressed empathy for the plight of LGBTQ prisoners. Nonetheless, he insists that the Prison of Love party is an expression of free speech, and that the theme, while provocative, is still innocuous. "I believe that my kink should be OK," Acworth writes. "I believe that if a group wants to organize a particular kind of party, they should be free to do so without shame." He did, however, offer to revamp the advertising language to soft-pedal its prison themes, and play up the camp. That evidently hasn't placated organizers at Gay Shame and fellow organization Lesbians and Gays Against Intervention (LAGAI). Asked how they respond to the free speech defense, Gay Shame representative Mary Lou Ratchet writes: "Our argument is not a legal one as the US Constitution is a document of violent subjugation." Per announcements fired off yesterday, the protest will take place at 10 p.m. this Saturday. We'd suggest that in the future Acworth, et. al. try something more imaginative -- sexy dictator, maybe? But that might not go over so well, either.