"I like 'forced fem,'" Ken explains to me in the backroom of Wicked Grounds, a famed Bay Area "kink cafe" and the location of Sissy Night. "Somebody who has to be forced to look like a woman, against their will…and into the bondage area."Ken wears a black T-shirt, dark jeans, and speaks in hurried, clipped sentences. He made the trip to San Francisco completely alone, a sort of BDSM pilgrimage that was the first item on his post-retirement "bucket list." He seems both thrilled and slightly terrified to be here, surrounded at last by men who share his desire.
It is Ken's first time at Sissy Night, but he is instantly embraced by the attendees. After our interview, a dominatrix wielding a wooden paddle cozies up to him and the two chat like old friends. Sissy Night is qualified as a "munch," which is a BDSM term for a meet-up in a public place that serves food. Wicked Grounds is a common "munch" location in San Francisco and hosts events for many different factions of the BDSM community. In most respects, the venue resembles your typical cozy/shabby coffee joint: freelancers sit on mismatched furniture, working on laptops and eating food. But tonight, behind a red curtain that separates a small backroom from the rest of the shop, sissies are assembling.
Growing up I always had a bondage fetish. I remember playing cops and robbers games with girls. I think it materialized in the fact that I wanted to be the damsel in distress the whole time."
"There are a lot of people here who are deeply closeted," says Alice. "This venue lets us arrive however we're comfortable in the outside world, then change into whatever selves we want to be for the night. There's a lot of people who are in a relationship or come right from work or don't want their neighbors to see them walking to their car [in women's clothing]."
I don't go around work in a dress. But I did get ready for Sissy Night at work, and blew the security guard a kiss.