"Sir", A Profile In Abuse

Author: ChrisM © 1998- 2002

Website: Subbondage.net

Used With Permission Of The Author(s)



NEW YORK CITY: His victims know him as “Sir”. When he meets them at West Side leather bars, the stocky white man, tall and in his late forties, is often wearing a peaked cap, a black leather jacket with a cock ring at the shoulder, black Levi's, mirrored shades, engineer boots. Unlike some, “Sir” doesn’t overplay his part. His pickup technique is low-key; presenting himself as neither the heel-clicking Gestapo or as a grizzled leather ''Daddy''. ''I watched him one night at the Lure,'' says a man I'll call Tom. ''He was with someone else, and he seemed affectionate and caring. He seemed quiet, soft-spoken, nurturing.'' But “Sir” is anything but.

When Tom met Sir at a leather bar, they left after midnight and taxied to a posh Upper East Side address. On the way, they agreed to some light dominance- and-submission sex play, games well within the parameters of ''Safe, sane, and consensual.''

“'He had a beautiful place and I thought, 'This is okay, no problem.'“ Tom recounts, “He handcuffed me and I still thought, 'Okay, this is still fine.'“' But then things turned south. “Sir” led Tom to a hallway, clipped his cuffed hands to a pulley affixed to the ceiling, and painfully hoisted him up till his feet dangled above the floor, a blatantly unsafe move. ''He taped my mouth and my entire head and forced poppers on me,'' says Tom, who does not take drugs. ''I was kicking around a lot because of the pain in my wrists.'' Presently “Sir” lowered Tom, whose numbed arms dangled helplessly at his sides and led him to the bedroom, where he was shoved onto a bed and chained. ''He pulled off my shirt and pulled my pants down. He stretched my limbs as far as they would go and then tightened the chains and padlocked them. My head swelled, and it made the tape tighter, so I couldn't breathe. He started suffocating me and punching my head.'' Although Tom begged for release through the gag, he soon realized that ''the more I resisted, the more excited he became. I tried screaming, but you can't scream very well when your mouth is taped shut.''

It was near dawn when Sir finally unchained Tom, handed him his clothes, and released him from the apartment, weakened and dazed, warning him never to reveal what had happened between them. He claimed to be wealthy and warned 'if I told anyone, he'd see to it that I regretted the day I did.'' Tom had two black eyes and his head was swollen; it would take a pint of kerosene to remove the adhesive residue from his face. ''I've been on the scene 20 years,'' Tom recollected. ''I've met a lot of heavy players, and boundaries are always set up and respected. In hindsight, I wish I'd pressed charges, but I didn't because I felt isolated. I didn't know about the other cases back then.''

For there were others. Since at least 1989, according to the New York City Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project (AVP), the man the group labeled a ''Dangerous Top,'' has been picking up men from leather bars under the pretext of consensual s/m sex and then brutalizing them with nonconsensual beatings, piercings, suffocation and imprisonment, sometimes for days on end without food. In several cases, “Sir” has caused his victims permanent injury.

Yet, somehow, “Sir” managed to avoid the law. ''Because of the torture and humiliation this guy puts people through, they're terrified to press charges,'' explains Jan Holland of AVP, which recently papered the man's Upper East Side block with flyers warning of a ''sick individual who continues to pick up men from around the country under the pretense of an S/M scene.'' Pasted to the mailbox outside a Park Avenue grocery, these flyers warn of a ''dangerous'' predator whose activities are ''likely to escalate.'' ''He's passing as an extreme player,'' says AVP director Chris Quinn. ''But he's really a psycho operating under the umbrella of s/m.''

The story’s relevance to us in the Washington scene should be obvious. One thing the Black Rose and any group provides, that a bar or the internet can’t, is a low pressure environment where people can get a chance to know who you really are. Many of the people who attend our meetings have personal interrelationships that span years, have a good sense of what is and isn’t acceptable, and have seen a lot of people come and go. We have seen each other play (sometimes buck naked), shared late night discussions of scene philosophy and protocol, observed how we handle responsibility and past relationships. This is harder to do in commercial spaces where strangers walk in off the street or on the net where self invention is a full time vocation for some.

Though we seem not to have had a character as evil as “Sir” in the Washington scene, the issue of violence is by no means restricted to the New York Island or the gay men’s scene. “Some Women”, one of the finest books of SM nonfiction ever printed, contains “Betrayed” a harrowing account of a female submissive who is nonconsensually raped during a scene with a well known and much liked male top ,not at all unlike “Sir”. “Afterward, he told me that if I told anyone he’d just say it was a consensual scene and that I changed my mind the next day. And if I told the police , he wouldn’t be charged because, everybody knew we were dating, and that he’d beaten me once in public, and that he used a condom.” Worse even than the violation of her bodily dignity was the apathy of her community as she attempted to gain support or justice against her attacker.

But speak out we must. If, God forbid, your safeword is ignored or you are abused in the context of a scene, let someone know. While this means we must endure occasional, intrusive gossip, it is probably worth enduring if it means we stay in the habit of sharing information about our peers, in the hopes of keeping everyone honest. Better that than someone like “Sir” be permitted to thrive without being identified as a community menace. Its new meaning for the AIDS truism “Silence is Death.”

So what became of “Sir”? When the New York based Gay Male S/M Activists, a 450-member group, issued a warning early in 1995 describing the suspect, giving his Park Avenue address and the name on the apartment buzzer. ''Suddenly we started hearing about all these other cases,'' explains John Weis, president of the 15-year-old group. ''Victims could ID him. Four or five people who'd been assaulted knew him by name.'' Recently the AVP met with the Manhattan District Attorney's office to discuss bringing a criminal case against the assailant, on charges that might include unlawful imprisonment, sodomy, assault, even kidnapping. Furthermore, the AVP contacted the Village Voice which ran a cover story in their July 9th edition. The man known as “Sir” is a senior executive at one of the city's most prestigious investment banking firms. He is a graduate of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, and he commands a base salary of $200,000, owns an overseas apartment, and a vacation home. According to sources at his firm, “Sir” has since left his six-figure job, and retained an attorney pending charges.

When playing with someone new 1) Ask around, try to find out if he is known and/or respected 2) Consider playing in the presence of others, at a party, a Black Rose Social or other play event 3) When playing in private, let a friend know where you are and who you will be with, providing address and a phone number. If you feel you have been abused or have observed behavior inappropriate for the SM scene NOTIFY A FRIEND OR AN OFFICER OF THE BLACK ROSE BOARD.

And be ready to listen if someone wants to talk about a “bad scene”.






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