Editor’s warning: Some descriptions in this story may be too explicit for some readers.
Concerned Women for America of Illinois is urging a Chicago-area Ramada Inn to cancel a scheduled sadomasochism conference that will include live demonstrations of (consensual) sexual torture inflicted on nude subjects and a “dungeon” supervised by off-duty police officers.
The “Vicious Valentine 5” event also will offer free hepatitis A/B vaccinations provided by a major pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline, according to the sponsor’s website.
Sponsored by the sadomasochist group LeatherQuest, Vicious Valentine 5 is scheduled for Feb. 15-17 at the Ramada O’Hare hotel in Rosemont, Ill. The event was originally booked at the Radisson O’Hare but moved to the Ramada, where it has been held in previous years, after CWA of Illinois Acting Director Kathy Valente alerted Radisson corporate leaders to the nature of the planned activities.
Based on descriptions from the sponsor’s website (which have since been removed), VV5 would violate “multiple state and local laws prohibiting indecent exposure, gross lewdness and gross indecency,” Valente said in a Feb. 6 press release.
“These people enjoy inflicting pain on themselves and others,” said Valente. “They advocate the use of inserting objects and hurting themselves to produce blood and advise participants to use ‘a tarp or drop cloth’ and to ‘clean up after your [sadistic] scene.’ It is shocking that a supposedly family-friendly hotel like the Ramada would allow live nude demonstrations of sexual torture on its premises.”
‘Bloodplay,’ ‘flogging,’ ‘mummification’
Among the demonstrations and seminars slated for VV5 are “Fisting” by Deborah Addington, author of a book on lesbian “fisting”; “Ritual Scarification,” including “all forms of bloodplay – cutting, scarification, play piercing”; “The Art of [Sensual Flogging]”; alternative “Mummification” (body-wrapping) techniques; and another seminar with a lewd title and description that cannot be printed on a family newssite.
Other seminars include “Let’s Get Hip about Hep’s [Hepatitis A, B, and C]” and “STDs [Sexually Transmitted Diseases], Playing it Safe.” Both sessions will be presented by the Howard Brown Health Center, self-described as the “Midwest’s largest lesbian, gay and bisexual health organization.”
In addition to the seminars, Howard Brown Health Center will offer the free Hepatitis A/B vaccinations. According to a Jan. 23 announcement sent to Internet sadomasochism discussion groups, VV5 event organizer “MJ Productions Inc. is proud to announce that Howard Brown Health Center, through a donation by GlaxcoSmithKline, will be offering the chance for people in the leather community to receive the first round of immunization shots for Hepatitis A/B for free at My Vicious Valentine.”
“Those in the BDSM community are at a risk for Hepatitis A and B infection,” the announcement said. It continued:
“For Hepatitis A, any oral-fecal exposure puts one at risk. Sadly the CDC bulletin only mentions ‘Men having sex with Men,’ leaving out an entire community which participates in anal intercourse. In a bulletin produced by the Centers for Disease Control, Hepatitis B is acquired by exposure to blood or body fluids from an infected person. It is about 100 times easier to transmit than is HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Blood and body fluid exposure, while more frequent among some ‘high risk’ groups, can occur among persons of all ages and social or ethnic groups. When a child acquires Hepatitis B infection, it is more likely to become chronic with potentially severe consequences. Antibiotics cannot cure Hepatitis B infection – prevention is the best option.”
On its website, Ramada Inn claims, “At Ramada, children are priceless. When accompanied by an adult, staying in the same room and using existing bedding, children 17 and under stay free at all Ramada locations nationwide, and many Ramada hotels offer special kids’ meals and services.”
Valente seems to be getting the runaround from Ramada officials. Her press release states that Ramada O’Hare “decided to allow the sadistic event after speaking with Rosemont police, who apparently don’t have a problem with it, according to Tom North,” the hotel’s general manager. However, on two occasions, Valente said, Ramada officials assured her that the VV5 event had been cancelled.
Calls placed to Ramada O’Hare were not returned at press time. And repeated calls by WorldNetDaily failed to produce a comment from GlaxoSmithKline.
Valente, a veteran in the fight against pornography, sent copies of the sadistic group’s website to Rosemont police and made them available to the media.
She expressed concern that “off-duty Chicago police officers, who are sworn to uphold the law, would hire out to provide the security, allowing extremely harmful and certainly illegal behavior.” She was referring to a page on the LeatherQuest website titled, “Guidelines for the Event and Hotel” that said, “The security guards are here for our protection. They are not DMs [dungeon monitors], however they are employed by us. These off-duty police officers are here to keep others from violating our space, to assist DMs should a problem occur, and to ensure your safety. If they should ask you to do something, please comply as quickly as possible. They are here for our protection, and their decision in all matters is final.”
When asked in a telephone interview about Ramada’s policy governing sadomasochistic events, Liz Ryan Sax, a public relations spokesperson for the hotel’s New Jersey-based headquarters, said, “Each Ramada is individually owned and operated. We don’t dictate to our franchises what guests they are allowed to have in their hotels.”
When asked about possible illegal activities and public health issues, she said, “Obviously, wherever the hotel is located it would have to adhere to whatever the local policies are.”
Sadomasochism obscene in Illinois
According to a section (720 ILCS 5/11-20) of the Illinois Criminal Code of 1961, material or a performance is obscene if: “(1) the average person, applying contemporary adult community standards, would find that, taken as a whole, it appeals to the prurient interest; and (2) the average person, applying contemporary adult community standards, would find that it depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, ultimate sexual acts or sadomasochistic sexual acts, whether normal or perverted, actual or simulated, or masturbation, excretory functions or lewd exhibition of the genitals; and (3) taken as a whole, it lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”
With the Web-driven explosion of sadomasochism worldwide, S&M events are often scheduled for hotels and, when they are discovered, are drawing the opposition of concerned parents and family advocates. Last week, a similar event scheduled for Feb. 9-10 by two sadism groups (including one called “Michigan Rope”) at a Ramada Inn in Southfield, Mich., was cancelled after pressure from the American Family Association of Michigan and its director, Gary Glenn.
Glenn noted that a Michigan-based homosexual pressure group, Triangle Foundation, had sought to assist the sadism groups in their unsuccessful effort to keep the event from being cancelled. An online Michigan Rope message noted that Triangle had “spent a significant amount of time having meetings with us and providing free legal advice.”
In Wisconsin, Ralph Ovadal of Wisconsin Christians United drew some last-minute attention to a sadistic sex event in Milwaukee. It was held at a local Best Western hotel and was timed to coincide with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s “Creating Change” conference for homosexual activists in November. The Task Force has lately embraced “rights” for advocates of sadism and masochism, in addition to homosexuality, bisexuality, cross-dressing and transsexuality. The Task Force now works closely with the pro-sadism group National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, based in Washington, D.C.
“My feeling is that the Ramada could cancel if they wanted to without
risking a lawsuit if they had some type of morals or ethics clause or if
they could prove that the event organizers were misrepresenting what goes
on,” said Valente.
“I’m not telling people to boycott the Ramada but other
people are telling me that they are going to,” she continued, “I’m getting calls from people
who are outraged, saying they will never stay at a Ramada again.”
Allyson Smith is a freelance reporter based in San Diego.