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"And then you have the leather side of things, which stems from the leather community after World War II," she said. "That's a little bit more protocol-oriented, for lack of a better term."
Members of the fetish community typically want anonymity, she said. If they get found out, "people's jobs are at risk, people's families are at risk, people's histories are at risk."
Easier to find are the somewhat more public fetish parties that happen a few times a month throughout South Florida. Josepher Ringleader said all kinds of people show up to the parties that his production company, Electrolust, puts on every month. "There's going to be teachers, lawyers," he said.
He says the parties are all about the senses. The visuals are outlandish, as are the sounds, the fabrics (vinyl, feathers, latex), and the devices (such as the drilldo). There's also a performance-art element to it, he said, though no live sex actually takes place onstage.
Pastoetter said interest in fetishes has grown in part because of pop culture. "It's difficult these days to open a Cosmopolitan without looking at a whip, high heels, or soft bondage," he said.
Barbara Winter, a Boca Raton-based psychotherapist specializing in sexuality, sees everybody from prostitutes to sex addicts. Once in a while, someone with a fetish will make an appointment with her and never show up, she says, adding that this might be due to growing acceptance of it. "They probably don't want to give it up," she says. "It's probably working for them." The fact that there's a whole community out there that's in the same boat can't hurt.
Winter says she sees a healthy number of people from another group heavily represented in our survey: cheaters. About 65 percent of respondents said they've cheated — 28 percent of those were females.
A big reason so many people cheat is that fewer people view relationships as a means of financial stability, Winter said. "In the man-on-top day — before Madonna and all that — it was around, but it wasn't predominant," she said. Now, it's not only more predominant but it's much more visible. "Too many people say, 'I can just step outside — leave for the day, leave for the month.' "
A few fans of monogamy took the survey. In response to an open-ended question, one straight female wrote, "I've had a lot of partners, but nothing beats being in love with this one." A straight male wrote, "Being with someone who fulfills you in every way makes sex better."
These give a little balance to a list of very anti-monogamy responses that includes "HELP" and "I want to cheat so bad" — both from straight males.
While monogamy might not be dead among those who took the survey, about 56 percent said they fantasize about others during sex — a friend, a hottie from the gym, a coworker. Of them, 73 percent were men.
Pastoetter says this is because sex has traditionally played a different role for men than it has for women. "Women have sex to get into relationships; men have relationships to get sex."
Sex might generally mean different things for people of varying genders and orientations, but our survey results show that sex is something that doesn't really belong to one demographic or another.
Sex is something that belongs to all of us, something we can define and personalize for ourselves.
It goes back to the Thursday-night Burlesque, where all of those seemingly incongruous details come together to create one bizarre and unequivocally sexy scene.
It's a scene that means something different to everyone there.
To a straight man or gay or bi woman transfixed on those dancers, a fantasy plays out that's different from the real lives of these women. One of these dancers, the taut brunet who kicked off the show, is divorced and says she's going through a dry spell. The troupe's founder, a soft, petite blond, is in a committed same-sex relationship.
To those watching, the facts don't matter. What they see is sex — sex the way they want to see it.