We were very surprised to find that the Editor James Hatts has allowed a new thread to be posted but presumably he is satisfied about the legalities so yet again we must respond to put the record straight.
You start by pointing out that in accord with the Council's Rules and Regulations we have
1) Advertised our application for a Sex Licence in the South London Press
2) Posted the notices outside our club, which incidentally have now run their course and any objectors have had their say
However we need to correct you. As a result of consultation with Southwark Council
it became clear that we did not need to apply for a Sex Establishment Licence as we have no intention of running a sex shop or sex establishment. Therefore our application relates to waiving certain clauses in the normal PEL so that our specialist clubs are fully licensed.
You are determined to continue to try to discredit us and once again it is clear that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. You say that we have caused controversy both on and off the fetish scene and you refer to items on the London Fetish Scene message board.
First of all you should know that the Fetish Scene in the SE of England has probably got 25,000 club goers and it is growing every day. Up until recently no one with any commercial background or money has been involved in the setting up and running of clubs on a major scale. This has ruffled some feathers and frightened some of the smaller operators.
The London Fetish Scene website is run by a group of volunteers who are in the main quite new to the scene and are quite young and inexperienced in the commercial world so relying upon this website for an insight into the Fetish Scene is very naive. They do not represent remotely the views of the 1400 + members of Club Wicked that have joined our club during the first year or most of the Fetish fraternity.
You then go on to to say my “predilection” for Nazi Uniforms has caused offence. No doubt you think by mentioning this you will persuade people that we are Nazi Fascists. Many people on the Fetish scene wear uniforms and military insignia and symbols, not because they represent any political or belief structure but because they like the imagery. As you are probably aware there is a huge re-enactment community, which organises events where people wear uniforms and act out battles - this doesn't make them bad people, even when they are on the “wrong” side. This is not my personal interest but I respect those people who like to do this.
My lifelong hobby has been WWII history and I have a vast collection of memorabilia including uniforms, medals, autographs, books and various items that I have amassed.
My German Uniforms go alongside my American, Italian and British Naval ones and they are not Nazi they are Army, which is quite different. Adolf Hitler was a psychopathic lunatic who happened to be in Germany at the right time for his ideas and took advantage of the situation - thankfully he is dead. My highly decorated Father fought in the Royal Navy to come home to a land of freedom not another tyrannical regime. My uniforms do not indicate support for any kind of “Fascist Regime”.
You then go on to say that it is the nature of the venue that has caused concern off the scene. Why? What has changed? Cynthia's hosted fetish events for almost 3 years before we took over and these were openly advertised, whilst during the day the venue served families with children. Why didn't you object then?
The truest statement regarding Fetishism in your posting is “the majority of us know so little about it. Ignorance and sex an irristable combination.” We have found that most people do not trust what they do not understand and, if they perceive an elitism that excludes them, mistrust quickly turns into dislike or even hatred. This has clearly happened on the SE1 Forum.
You then go on to speculate upon the nature of Fetishism and BDSM, which is far from reality Fetishism today is individual and there are probably as many different fetishes as there are people the UK. One person's fetish might be to eat ice cream or other foods that “turn them on”. We have one club member who has this fetish. Another person's fetish may be to wear latex clothing, another may be to wear a diamonte bikini and nothing else, another may be to be an exhibitionist, another may be to dance to hard house music whilst wearing leather, others are cross dressers or transgender persons, others are into voyeurism and that's just the tip of the ice berg. A strict dress code has developed for most clubs to help create an exciting and inspirational atmosphere and to enable people to express themselves. A strict etiquette has also developed where class, race and what you do for a living are not the criteria for interaction. Conversation covers a huge range of subjects between people of all ages (over 18!) and all walks of life that do not take place in almost any other situation in society and certainly not within a regular nightclub. In addition the etiquette demands respectful behaviour and especially respect for women, however they are dressed. These aspects of Fetishism are not generally known outside of the scene and all newcomers express their surprise and delight in the reality of an exciting, playful, respectful, safe environment where they can “be themselves” or escape from their pressurised lives for a night.
BDSM is an aspect of Fetishism, which is more complex and therefore is even more misunderstood by people like yourself who are outside the “scene”.
SM activity is typically an activity that requires extensive negotiation and planning and there is a theatrical element to the role playing involved. INFORMED CONSENT is EVERYTHING. A strong relationship of trust and understanding develops and exists between participants. Many are in relationships, often they are married or have known each other for years.
“People who practice BDSM use terms such as Top and bottom or Dominant and submissive, which emphasises the fact that both partners are active in the encounter, albeit in different roles. Indeed many people switch, that is take different roles at different times. One of the most important rules is that the bottom sets the limits to the encounter. In reality the submissive party dominates the role playing. It is the Top or Dominant's role to serve the submissive or bottom by giving just enough of what the submissive or bottom wants.”
“SM sex is extremely varied. It should be fully consensual in much the same way as legal non-SM sex is, and for this consent to be present prior negotiation is essential to ensure that all the acts that a lover instigates are genuinely consented to.”
“In a typical S&M encounter it is agreed that the Dominant is in charge. The feeling of power met with obedience adds to the sexual excitement of both partners. The common use of bondage often serves to amplify the sense of domination and subservience. In a physical sense it appears that the Dominant is in control but in practice the Dominant has to stay within the limit set by the desires of the submissive. It is a very common saying by those involved with SM that the submissive is the one who is actually in charge.”
“SM experiences can, like vanilla (non SM) sex mean a lot of things. It can be light hearted but exhilarating fun between two people who barely know each other. But it can be far more than that. The giving and sharing of pain between two people who know the pleasure that it can bring is as deeply moving as is any act between those bound by love.”
“SM provides myself and my friends with an intense form of erotic gratification which by its very nature involves levels of trust and compassion rarely found in other walks of life. In addition, my personal experiences in coming to terms with my own sexuality have, I believe, led me to a deeper understanding of the complexities of human nature.”
You said in your second posting that we could be helpful in giving our view on this subject. We feel that the above quotes provide an insight and as they are all from an official Law Commission Report, it gives them more weight than coming from us.
This official Law Commission was appointed in 1995 by the Home Office and it came to the same conclusion as the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - DSM-IV; SM or sadomasochism, short of causing serious or permanent disability or injury, should be no crime (and no disease) between consenting adults.
Another little known fact is that many famous people have been and are currently dedicated to BDSM activity. These include Jean Jacques Rousseau, King Christian VII of Denmark, Prime Minster William Ewart Gladstone, Lawrence of Arabia and UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold plus many people in high profile positions in this country today. A further little known fact is that many people who take part in BDSM activity are also active members of the church and do not find the two elements of their belief structure at odds with one another.
One wonders why you are on this mission Mel. This apparently started because you were concerned about minors being allowed to come into our club. That is no longer an issue as a person must be 18 or over to attend any club night regardless of the nature of the event.
Now you appear to feel you must take us on because we have specialist Members Only clubs that don't appeal to you or perhaps it is our plan to run a “playboy” style club with lap dancing and nudity that offends you. However, this will be a Members Only club also so that shouldn't be an issue.
We don't cause any trouble, our entrance and signage is discrete, there's no rubbish, no parking problems, no obstruction, no drunkenness and no bad behaviour.
Why aren't you concerned about the increase in drugs, drug dealing and violence in other nightclubs, in our schools and on our streets or the behaviour of an employee of the Church in Southwark, who is currently on trial?
We have taken a very hard line on the drugs, weapons and behaviour issues that affect all club owners and operators in London. Since taking over we have been confronted by several “underworld” characters over the past few months trying to intimidate and threaten us to allow drug dealing but we will not be intimidated by anyone. We have zero tolerance of drugs, weapons and violence or bad behaviour of any kind.
For the record the other 27 + days of the month that we have conventional events are doing very well. We have several charity events coming up and a wide variety of dance promotions with clientele who are all happy to comply with our rules regarding drugs, weapons and behaviour.
We have now decided to from a new pan European Association called NOPLA - the Nightclub Owners, Promoters and Licensees Association. This body will work with police and councils to establish a proper code of conduct and an agreed way of operating together in the future. We will actively fight to repeal all of the archaic UK laws replacing them with ones suitable for the 21st Century. We will provide in-depth information, research, opinion and through a due process will change the law by consensus.
Brian and Caroline Sheridan