FreeDomme 2006

By Jillian Bogater

Standing up for justice is something Elizabeth Davis learned at a young age. She was just 2 years old when her mother took her to a women's rights rally at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
So when a friend and fellow professional dominatrix was arrested on charges of operating a house of ill fame, and nearly lost everything fighting a two-year court battle, Davis knew she had to do something.
The result is FreeDomme 2006, a fundraiser to help her friend offset court costs and to promote awareness and tolerance of alternative lifestyles. Set for 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Masonic Temple in Detroit, the event will feature art, an auction, a burlesque show, play demostrations, and a fetish and lingerie show, followed by an erotic dance party.
The panorama of alternative lifestyles, according to FreeDomme materials, includes "glbtq, trans, dykes, queers, fags, leathermen, kinksters, swingers, sluts, polyamorous bi's, etc."
Davis sees a unique parallel between the LGBT movement and the attack on the greater alternative lifestyle community. Laws that limit or criminalize sexual expression affect all people regardless of sexual orientation, she said, and events like FreeDomme that allow for greater visibility and solidarity between communities will ultimately create change.
"We're hoping that people can recognize that we … have a much larger connection," Davis said.

House of ill-fame

The seed for FreeDomme was planted in July 2004, when Mistress Golden, a Metro Detroit professional dominatrix (pro domme), was arrested for operating a house of ill-fame. The 1931 Michigan law prohibits "keeping, maintaining or operating a house of ill-fame, bawdy house or any house or place resorted to for the purpose of prostitution or lewdness." The felony charge is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $2,500 fine.
Mistress Golden ran a no-sex pro domme dungeon, in which she would act out sex-role fantasies with clients. But in the years she ran her business, she said she never engaged in sexual contact with clients and focused purely on psychological play.
The legal interpretation of professional dominatrix work remains in limbo.
"What's an art form rather than an actual quasi-sexual act?" Mistress Golden asked. "This is an art form in many places and to many people. But here, because we're in a more conservative area, it's looked at more as sexual, rather than a role-play and performance art activity."
Earlier this year, after depleting her savings, Mistress Golden pleaded no contest to the charge and was sentenced to a fine and found herself struggling with enormous legal bills.
As a result of the court case, Mistress Golden stopped working as a pro domme and now focuses on volunteer work. Davis, aka Miss Kitty Black, also has closed her no-sex pro domme dungeon.

'Our voices together'

Although Mistress Golden's pro domme work was primarily heterosexual, the legal fallout from her court case has a direct impact on the gay community, said Jeffrey Montgomery, executive director of the Triangle Foundation.
"It's important we are concerned about it, pay attention to it and are supporting her because it's a great illustration of how any of us – gay, straight, bisexual – face inhumane persecution for something that should be considered a basic right of everyone … to express yourself sexually," Montgomery said. "On the face, there was nothing gay about (Mistress Golden's arrest) except it is sexual persecution. Anytime we see or confront and can try to diminish persecution of sexual activity, it is a gay issue."
Despite the emotional devastation the arrest and court proceedings have taken on her family, Mistress Golden sees her experience as a unique opportunity to educate the public about laws she feels are archaic.
"The fact we still have these laws on the books is an outrage," Mistress Golden said. "In this day and age these laws are still a threat to us."
The goal of FreeDomme is inclusion for LGBT community as well as the BDSM (Bondage/Discipline/Sadomasochism) community, Davis said.
"We would like to bring everyone together, bring a cohesiveness to the different groups, GLBT, BDSM, poly … whoever isn't mainstream straight America," Mistress Golden said. "We're inclusionary. We may not have a lifestyle that you agree with or like, but we are entitled to our lifestyle. That's what our country is based on.
"We're trying to put our voices together … if we have more voices that are together then we will be heard. And right now we are not being heard. We're not loud enough yet."

'Behind closed doors'

Davis and Mistress Golden hope to turn FreeDomme into an annual event to provide a voice for people living alternative lifestyles. In addition to helping offset Mistress Golden's court costs, part of the event's proceeds will be donated to the Triangle Foundation and another portion used to start a nonprofit group to educate about alternative lifestyles and do advocacy work in Lansing.
Mistress Golden said anyone concerned about civil liberties would be welcome at FreeDomme.
"Our government is trying to dictate how we live our lives behind closed doors," she said. "If you are a consenting adult, you should be able to live your life whichever way you would like to live it as long as you do no harm. It's not anyone's business but your own."

FreeDomme 2006
8 p.m. – 3 a.m.
Saturday, Sept. 16
Masonic Temple, 500 Temple Ave.
Entry: $20 through PayPal, Noir Leather in Royal Oak, and Just 4 Us and Attitude in Ferndale.
$50 VIP tickets available

Dress code: Pink and/or Black; Fetish; Leather/Latex/PVC; Leather/Levi; Formal Wear (tux/gown); Costume/Uniform; Crazy/Sexy/Creative; Goth.

Act 328 of 1931

{BOLD 750.452 House of ill-fame; keeping, maintaining or operating.
Sec. 452.}
Keeping, etc., a house of ill-fame–Any person who shall keep, maintain or operate, or aid and abet in keeping, maintaining or operating a house of ill-fame, bawdy house or any house or place resorted to for the purpose of prostitution or lewdness shall be guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years or by a fine of not more than 2,500 dollars.

Source: Legislative Council, State of Michigan

Topics: News

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