We’ve Moved the Stockroom Blog

Thanks for checking out the Stockroom Blog, but as of July 2016, we have a new blog that we’re regularly updating with interviews, product reviews, and updates on what we’re doing at Stockroom. For now, we’re keeping this as an archive of old content while we migrate it to the new location.

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Without Consent, It’s Not Kink: The Lessons of the Ghomeshi Trial and the Virginia Court Verdict

The Stockroom

A few recent high-profile legal cases with implications for the BDSM community as a whole have stirred up some conversations around The Stockroom over fundamentals, best practices, and protocol for safe, sane, and consensual BDSM. We’re committed to being good leaders in the kink community, and that means talking about some subjects that may be uncomfortable, divisive, or controversial. While we strive to embrace a diversity of opinions and worldviews, we also feel duty-bound to address these issues as they relate to providing a healthy environment for all adults to explore the rich tapestry of human sexuality. That’s not possible without establishing a common ground of mutual respect and responsibility from which to operate.

While cases like the Jian Ghomeshi trial and the recent Virginia Court ruling against a student at George Mason University don’t apply directly to us, the issues they raise should be familiar to most kinky people. Whether you’re new to the scene or a deeply-entrenched veteran, these are topics worth thinking about and paying close attention to. We hope to expand on this conversation in the future both here and during some of our Stockroom University workshops in Los Angeles.

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Amber Rose Scores a Hit for Sexual Consent on the Oprah Winfrey Network

Amber Rose and Tyrese on "It's Not You, It's Men."

Amber Rose and Tyrese on “It’s Not You, It’s Men.”

People in BDSM communities spend a lot of time talking about consent, and with good reason: It’s the linchpin of kinky sex. The ability for two people to negotiate limits, as well signals that will bring the whole thing to a crashing halt if something starts to go wrong, is the thing that draws the line between a sexy, invigorating flogging and a brutal assault.

We also spend so much time talking about consent because mainstream society talks about it so little. It’s a struggle to get schools to teach any sex education at all beyond the basics of reproduction and how to protect yourself from disease during penis-in-vagina sex. Talking about sex as pleasure, never mind learning to tell someone “You can put your finger in my ass, but not your cock,” isn’t even on the curriculum.

For advanced kinksters, safewords might seem so basic as to be tedious, but in our culture at large, the idea that you can withdraw consent after starting sex is a radical one.

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Taylor Swift’s Fetish-Themed “Bad Blood” Won Best Video, and That’s More Than Okay

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The Grammys always put on a great show, but between Lady Gaga’s salute to David Bowie and Kendrick Lamar’s prison-themed performance of “The Blacker the Berry,” there’s even more chatter going on than usual in social media. For us, the award that was most personally significant was Taylor Swift’s triple win: Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Album of the Year for 1989, and Best Video for “Bad Blood.”

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Want to Have Sex in Space? Neil Degrasse Tyson Says to Bring Lots of Leather Straps

Outerspace Sex Orgy Arthur Faber Paperback

It turns out that The Stockroom is perfectly equipped for the bold pioneers who will one day be the first to have sex in space. Why? Because we carry a lot of straps and belts and restraining things. According to Neil Degrasse Tyson, who’s just about as smart as one human being can get, that’s exactly what you need.

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Hard Work Acknowledged: The Stockroom Gets Seven Nominations in XBiz Awards

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It’s always good to be recognized for your work, and this week, we got some serious recognition in the form of seven nominations for the 2016 XBiz Awards. Even better, three of those nominations give nods towards products that we feel represent The Stockroom at our very best.

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Full Disclosure: Lorde Wears Syren Latex in the “Magnets” Video for a Beautifully Sinister Look

Lorde rocking a latex trenchcoat and catsuit from Syren in her latest video, "Magnets"

The video for “Magnets” by electronic duo Disclosure has gotten a lot of press and Internet eyeballs since its release, thanks in part to New Zealand pop star Lorde doing the vocals and taking center stage in the video itself. Lorde deserves props for her musical and dramatic work; in the video, she brings a forceful charisma to the role of the euphoric lover and the wronged woman that brings emotional resonance to the story as it plays out onscreen.

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Know Your Gun Oil; Alabama Man Shows Why You Should Read the Ingredients

Whatever you’re buying, whoever you’re buying it from, “caveat emptor” is excellent advice to keep in mind. However, there are some cases where you have to be even more careful than usual. Check out this video on Facebook, shot by an Alabama man named Jamie Lee Bracey. Bracey went to the firearms counter in his local Wal-Mart and picked up a bottle of Gun Oil, thinking that it was… well, to oil guns. A quick read of the ingredients label quickly disabused him of that notion. In the video, he reads it to the viewer:

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National Kink Month 2015: A Time to Celebrate Sexuality and Community

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At Stockroom, October 1 means more than starting the countdown to that night with the pumpkins, candy, and costumes. Every year since 2012, we’ve celebrated October as National Kink Month. For us, it’s a time not only to celebrate the two and a half decades that we’ve been in business, but the kink community itself.

It’s appropriate that this year, National Kink Month starts right in the middle of Banned Books Week, because kink communities have suffered not only from moral censure, but are persistently teetering on the edge of illegality. Even here in the United States, where the law ostensibly protects our freedom of speech and of the press, kinky people have to be very careful about how and where they express their desires. The educational materials and resources that make it possible for people to explore BDSM in a safe, sane, and consensual manner can be suppressed using the slimmest of excuses. Our greatest protection against that is not the law, but the activists and educators in our own communities who have put so much time and passion into building spaces where people can explore taboo sexualities without shame.

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This is undoubtedly an interesting time to be into kink. In 2012, when we declared the first National Kink Month, E.L. James’s erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey had been in print for only seven months. In February of this year, a major motion picture adaptation was released.

A lot of experienced kinksters have feelings that could be politely called “mixed” when it comes to discussing James’s novels, but there’s one thing that can’t be denied:  The success of the trilogy has made a lot of people more openly curious about BDSM and other forms of kink. James may get a lot of things wrong about consent and safety, but having Fifty Shades on the best-seller list and in the movie theaters means that people are more likely to look at our community with curiosity and as a source of education, rather than disgust.

Cover of Master of O paperback edition.

Master of O, by Ernest Greene, goes much farther with the kink than Fifty Shades, and clearly emphasizes consent of all parties.

The video below, starring Stockroom’s own Head Mistress, Hudsy Hawn, is a great example. Buzzfeed’s “Try Guys” came to Hudsy to see what “‘Fifty Shades’ Style BDSM” is like and put their experience on camera. (We’re not exactly sure what the difference is between Fifty Shades Style and regular BDSM, except that perhaps the former may require that one of the partners be a super-handsome mega-billionaire.)

The video is a good demonstration of the kind of experience that lots of people are having right now: They’ve heard about kink through rumors, cop shows, and the occasional porno, and so only have a collection of half-truths and fantasies about what it really is. If they’re lucky enough to hook up with someone as experienced and ethical as Hudsy for their first time, they’re going to learn very quickly about how essential consent and negotiation is in any BDSM scene.

The awkwardness of the Try Guys in the Buzzfeed video is not only kind of charming, but should also be familiar to anyone who’s been a newbie in a dungeon or a private scene. That’s why it’s such a great way to start off National Kink Month: We’ve all been there. Lots more will be there, especially now that E.L. James opened the Pandora’s Box for so many people who never noticed it sitting on the counter in plain sight. The reason that we celebrate National Kink Month is not only to pay tribute to the people who are already part of the community, but to make it a more welcoming place for those who would like to be part of it. There are a lot of pleasures to be had in kink, but a lot of responsibilities.

At Stockroom, this month will be a great time to get new gear and toys. Our Screaming Syren Sale will feature 20% discounts on clothing from Syren and Stormy Leather for the first nine days of the month. Throughout the month, you’ll be able to buy some of Stockroom’s finest gear and toys for 35-50% off.

But this month is about more than selling stuff for us; it’s also a time for education, because that’s what keeps us alive as a community. In addition to the usual workshops happening at Stockroom Hall in Los Angeles, we’re going to post more information about specific fetishes and practices that are hard to find right here on the blog and in our social media channels.

It’s going to be a great month for us all. Let us know what kind of kinks you’re playing with, and what you’re interested in exploring.

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Penthouse’s “Badass” Issue Uses Stockroom Gear and the Unknown History of Comic Books in a Gorgeous Pictorial

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If you were keeping an eye on the Stockroom Twitter feed recently, you probably caught us showing off some shots from the July/August issue of Penthouse like proud parents. The photos are from a spread that’s part of Penthouse’s “Badass” issue, shot by TommyO and starring models Angela Sommers and Kendra James.

It also stars a lot of clothing from Stockroom, Stormy Leather, and Syren Latex, which is why we were doing the proud parent routine. Nothing validates our work more than seeing how people use our clothes and toys to bring their own imaginations to life. The imagination at work in the Penthouse pictorial is evident to even the casual observer, but the already vivid colors become just a little brighter if you know the story behind it.

Naked brunette strapped to a medical table, while a blonde in a bright red dress caresses her stomach.

Angela Sommers and Kendra James in a medical scene.

Every month, Penthouse invites a celebrity to come up with an idea for a pictorial. For the most recent “Badass” issue, they chose Jesse Hughes, frontman for Eagles of Death Metal to bring his vision to life. For inspiration, Hughes reached back over fifty years to an artist who had immeasurable influence on American culture, but who got little reward for his work during his lifetime: Joe Shuster.

Most people, if they know Shuster at all, know him for co-creating Superman with his childhood pal Jerry Siegel. With the 1938 introduction of Superman in Action Comics #1, Siegel and Shuster created not only an iconic character, but an entire genre. Imitators flooded the market, and eventually superhero comics evolved into the multi-billion dollar industry that we have today. Without Siegel and Shuster, our world would lack more than comic books; we wouldn’t have the blockbuster movies, video games, or television shows that now drive so much of pop culture.

Angela Sommers in bondadge.

Angela Sommers in bondage.

In a just world, Siegel and Shuster would have become wealthy within a few years. But before the first issue even hit the presses, they had signed all their rights to the character over to National Publications (now DC Entertainment) for a paltry $130 — about $2,000 in today’s money. In the decades to come, no amount of legal battling ever changed that.

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While National raked in money, Superman’s creators — especially Shuster — struggled to survive on whatever work they could find after their ten-year contract expired. In 1948, a lawsuit to recover their rights to Superman failed; Shuster went through several unsuccessful projects, including a superhero book called Funnyman which flopped after only a few issues. By 1954, he was anonymously drawing kinky fetish art for an underground magazine called Nights of Horror.

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In an unlucky series of events, those Night of Horror was blamed for a string of serial killings in a sensational murder trial in the 1950’s. the books were subsequently banned and burned, which makes original versions quite rare today.

Even among comics geeks, Shuster’s time doing kinky art was only faint rumor until 2009, when comics historian Craig Yoe identified the pictures and collected them in a book called Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Joe Shuster. In an interview on Fresh Air, he described how Shuster’s art style remained the same even though the content was so very different.

Well, these are like Superman gone wild. I mean, characters look quite a bit like Clark Kent, Superman, and his counterparts Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and the villain who plagued him, Lex Luthor. You think they’re the citizens of Metropolis, yet they’re in these very compromising sexual situations. I’ve been kind of amused and annoyed that some people have called the illustrations kind of quaint or charming because they are from the ’50s. But I think they’re anything but; there’s bloodletting and there’s whips and chains and a man menaces a young girl with a cactus….  The illustrations are quite strong, quite pulpy, yet beautifully composed, beautifully drawn, beautifully rendered in Joe’s strong, sure style.

That was the art that Jesse Hughes took as the inspiration for his Penthouse spread. Photographer TommyO says that the intent was not so much to reproduce the images themselves, but to capture the spirit of them in photographs. One of the biggest differences is that Shuster’s original art was black-and-white line drawings. The pictorial that Hughes and TommyO created uses color flamboyantly.

A page of Shuster's fetish art from the 50s. Note how much resemblance the characters bear to his most famous creations: Lois Lane and Superman.

A page of Shuster’s fetish art from the 50s. Note how much resemblance the characters bear to his most famous creations: Lois Lane and Superman.

TommyO’s shots are lit strictly with bright primary colors that would be used in the printing process of a comic book: blue, red, yellow, and magenta. “Since he’s famous for his comic book images, it made sense to create a strong graphic element in the photography by adding wide swaths of color with gels on the lights.  I don’t believe we used any white light at all that day,” TommyO said. “Shooting this set was a definite challenge, but one which I really enjoyed .The idea was to make Shuster’s art jump off the pages and into real, albeit fantasy life. His somewhat simple drawings left a lot of space to fill when using live models and locations.  He also drew very minimal backgrounds in order to keep the attention focused on his characters.”

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Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes seated with Kendra James and Angela Sommers.

Anyone who grew up on superhero comics — whether the Golden Age ruled by the holy triumvirate of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman or the modern era, where the stories travel almost immediately to the movie screen — knows how easily their fantasy world touches on the sexual. Even before Shuster moved to doing art for Nights of Horror, his reputation was built on creating stories that were pure id; good and evil clash without restraint or inhibition in comic books.

That’s why we especially love having been involved in this particular spread. The reality of the latex clothing that Syren makes has a huge amount of overlap with the fantasy of superheroes. It’s one of the reasons that it works so well both as fetish wear for the dungeon or as glamor wear while striding down the red carpet. It’s why we love what we do.

Kendra James and Angela Sommers

Kendra James and Angela Sommers

We had another great example of how those two realms overlap when Taylor Swift came to us to help outfit her music video “Bad Blood.” Swift has gotten seven nominations from the MTV Video Music Awards for “Bad Blood,” and we feel a little swell of pride in that, too. As both “Bad Blood” and the “Badass” pictorial show, the right clothes can bring the visual kick of a four-color comic book into real life. TommyO will be demonstrating that for us again very soon: he’s currently  using the same fashions from Swift’s video for another Stockroom shoot.

Congratulations to Jesse Hughes, TommyO, Angela Sommers, and Kendra James on their fantastic work. We hope that Joe Shuster would finally be proud to see how even his most unacknowledged work is remembered.

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