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Monday, March 30, 2009

Bondage Sets and Miniskirts on a Tour of Kink's Armory

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 at 2:24 PM

Padded Cell Set.
  • Padded Cell Set.
If you think the old Armory at 14th and Mission -- a giant brick fortress fashioned back in the 1910's as a recreated Moorish castle -- looks imposing from the outside, check out its insides. Once a month Kink.com, the alternative porn studio that owns the enormous building, opens its doors for free public tours. No, visitors don't get to watch any sex scenes in action. However, they do get to explore the intersection of an authentically antique interior with fabricated dank, dark sets - of real prison cells and BDSM restraint devices, all under the same roof. After all, not only does the Armory, which housed the National Guard until the 1970's, have a military history, it's also the site of weekly shoots for seventeen different fetish websites.

The Exercise Room.
  • The Exercise Room.

The first floor of the building, which houses Kink's office, has been entirely restored, and sparkles with old-fashioned charm. Once downstairs though, former PR director Thomas Roche (Kink laid off 11% of their staff only a few days after my tour) shows off the old exercise room, an eerily empty, cavernous room from which the floorboards have been stripped. In their place rest a few wrestling mats. Here, explains Roche, Kink shoots some of its all male bondage scenes. Like much of the Armory, the exercise room has a rough and spooky feel - the atmosphere around which gives the studio's films a unique edge.

The Bathroom Set - Grimy on Purpose.
  • The Bathroom Set - Grimy on Purpose.

Across the hall, in an old communal shower room, Kink has built over the stark white tiles and created a new bathroom set, one that's much grimier than the original. Brown faux-mold drips down the walls, making a muck-filled backdrop for an even muckier pair of grimy toilets. That's the thing about the Armory in its current state. While Kink has put thousands and thousands of dollars into restoring it, its charm still comes from its coarse feel, from its sense of its air of old-fashioned decay in the heart of a relatively new city. Like two of the old stable rooms that have been converted into a padded cell and a cold-war era interrogation room, the Armory is simultaneously the "real deal" and a meta, self-referential fabrication.

Giant Hamster Wheel for Bondage.
  • Giant Hamster Wheel for Bondage.

The antiques in the Armory's storage room however, Roche explains, are real enough. Row after row of leather-covered, ornate torture items - none of them used to actually torture, of course - create a scene even the Marquis de Sade would envy. On one shelf sits a cage shaped like a kneeling body, with only the head left free. In another corner a giant hamster wheel, which performers use with a trough for water bondage, tempts visitors to climb in and go for a roll.

Foot Fetish Bonanza.
  • Foot Fetish Bonanza.

The multitude of treasures in storage is only rivaled by Kink's collection of sex toys, scores of which sit on racks in the toy cleaning/laundry room, where dildos and butt plugs get boiled in bulk. For a month after user, ball gags get quarantined in Tupperware, like leftovers, to prevent spreading germs. Upstairs in the wardrobe room, awaits every item of clothing a porn star could ever want. Rows upon rows of miniskirts give way to racks of ingerie and literally hundreds of pairs of high heels.

"No one here has sex naked," Roche laughs. On the way out we pass by the old National Guard jail cells, the site of some real human suffering, presumably. Unlike most of the other eerie spots in the Amory, these haven't been incorporated into a set. Instead they sit, untouched, hidden under a set of stairs, a testament to the building past and sexy present.

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Bonnie Ruberg

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