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Kinky Sex: When Did BDSM Become So Wildly Popular?

BDSM, once viewed as the exclusive fiefdom of really creepy perverts, has crossed over and become quasi-respectable, stylish and safe.

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You’d think that building an empire out of that turn-on would make him a pariah, right? Maybe back when, but no longer. For proof of this, we need go back no further than last March, when Acworth spoke at The Economist’s innovation summit.

Just imagine:—whips, slave-games and all—treated as another leading-edge (or is it ‘cutting-edge?’) business! Twenty years ago, would have been a Great Unmentionable in decent circles—and inviting its ‘porntrepreneur’ CEO to address a mainstream business gathering would have been utterly unthinkable.

And today? Wherever you go, there it is. Kink is in our movie theaters, on our TV sets, and all over the Internet. It’s in our communities and, for all you know, in the bedroom of the folks next door.

Hey, it’s even in our supermarkets! Here’s a recent scene from the deli section at the local Hannaford’s (and no, it’s not that kind of scene).

A woman is waiting on a customer. A co-worker comes out of the back room. He’s putting on his apron. “Sorry I’m late,” he says. “Don’t beat me.”

“C’mon,” his colleague says, “you know you love it.”

Right there, alongside the boiled ham and potato salad.

BDSM has come out of the dungeon and entered—smack!— into our lives.


Carl Frankel is a freelance journalist and the managing director of Sheri Winston’s Center for the Intimate Arts.

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