anniebear: You own Wicked Grounds, a kinky coffee shop in San Francisco?
Mir: Yes, currently I am the sole owner. I took over entirely in January of this year.
Thank you! Wicked Grounds was founded by Psycho Kitty in 2009 and we’re trying to keep it a vibrant community. I’ve now been an owner for two years.
Great, luckily enough I’ve been able to visit your location there. So what would you say your mission is?
We are a space for coffee, kink, and community. We put a huge focus on building community in the BDSM organization, to create a link between the different BDSM organizations in San Francisco and beyond and also doing a lot of kink education. We have an entire Kink 101 series. We bring in educators from around the country and really try to create an environment where people can talk about all of the issues and fun the local community has to offer.
Excellent! I know San Francisco has a pretty free and open kink community there with Kink.com and the Folsom Street Fair. Have you personally ever received any negativity or backlash from either the neighborhood or individuals?
Generally no. We’re really lucky in San Francisco. You’re absolutely right. Folsom Street Fair in particular is not just for the kink community but is something the city at large loves as a “that’s only in San Francisco” thing. We here at Wicked Grounds have enormous support from people who are local to the neighborhood who want to honor the spirit of this neighborhood as the Leather District but may not themselves be kinky. I think vey rarely we’ll have a bit of backlash. I’ve been going back and forth with this church that’s been trying to get at us for years and it just never works.
Good luck, right?
(Laughs) We’re just in a beautiful little hub here. Within a one block walk of my shop we have two other leather businesses right in the neighborhood, we’re within walking distance of two of San Francisco’s play spaces, the folks from Folsom Street events now have their offices directly upstairs from us. So we have a little micro neighborhood that’s really holding down the heart of the old Leather District.
That’s amazing, you guys are so lucky to have that and be right in the middle of it all!
We really are and I think a lot of us that are still here, we know the history of this neighborhood and Folsom and its important to us to preserve that legacy. It’s bigger than Wicked Grounds, its bigger than Mr. S (a leather store) it’s all of us together.
So it sounds like you all must collaborate on different things, classes and such?
A fair amount. My goal is to create a space where the various sub -groups on the local kink community can cross-pollinate. So if I get the straight groups, gay groups, leather, pet players and age players, etc. all together than I’ve done my job.
Sounds good to me, I’m on board! It’s a tall order, I’m sure. I know there’s been a lot of news recently about the Kink.com Armory obtaining a permit to hold concerts in their space. Have you heard much about that?
Yes, I try to keep up with it and I admire how much they’re engaged in a larger mission to be part of the local arts community not just in terms of having the videos but making The Armory available for tours. They’ve started a lot more education through Kink University. In a real way when you think about creating a performance space within The Armory it really helps to normalize the role of kink.com and BDSM in the local community. I look at that and I see that Kink.com is clearly giving back to San Francisco in a way that is meaningful.
On the same vein of normalizing kink as it were, where would you like to see the future of kink and the lifestyle and BDSM go?
Well, it’s an interesting question. I’m queer myself and I came out as queer in the Reagan era. The very idea that we would see the progress in my lifetime that we have is astounding even though clearly there’s a huge battle left to be fought. When I was cutting my kinky queer teeth as a thirteen year old in rural Arizona, I already knew about the kinky scene in San Francisco. I knew there was a community here. By the time I was in my early twenties I knew about the leather community and it was a lifeline to me just to know that things like this existed, it really kept me going during some very hard times in my coming out process. What I’d like to see is that over time people of whatever safe, sane, and consensual persuasion can come to greater and greater self acceptance. That people can be free to be themselves and all their parts. At the end of the day that’s my mission is to make it truly ok for everyone who walks through these doors to feel like they can be themselves. I don’t think that kink will ever be “normal,” and I’m doing air quotes here, in the same way that LGBTQ is never going to be the norm in the sense of being the majority. I don’t feel a need to do that. I don’t feel a need to dumb ourselves down but I do want to create a conversation with the wider culture that says our kink is not your kink and that’s ok. There can be spaces for us to do what we do. There can be spaces for things like the Folsom Street Fair and that can be part of the broader cultural conversation.
Got it. On a personal note besides all of the things you’ve just said, what other things interest you in the lifestyle?
For me personally I’m a huge rope nerd. I have been for years. I am also fascinated by the fact that I get to witness a very rapid evolution of kink culture. I’m just watching something that was formerly nuanced, in D/s, M/s and all the myriad ways we can express power dynamics and I just find that fascinating. The psychology of BDSM and D/s fascinates me.
It sure is. My partner Dexx says, and I tease him for saying it a bit, but he says “we’re in a BDSM renaissance, I can’t believe it we’re right in the middle of it.”
Well I think it’s very true. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of recommending Raven Kaldara books because I think what Raven is doing in particular and a lot of other authors are doing as well is looking at the interesting infrastructure of where one piece of the kink puzzle fits up against something else. So, for Raven that might be the intersection of poly and kink or trans and kink or physical disabilities and kink. I actually find that so interesting that we’re at a point where you have sections that are that nuanced. And yes, I think your partner is right we’re in a renaissance right now.
In terms of rope, you’re a rigger?
Yes predominantly, I used to do quite a bit of self-suspension and a fair amount of rope bottoming about ten years ago but almost entirely a rigger these days.
Excellent! That’s great! We don’t meet enough female riggers these days so I’m always happy to meet one.
Yes I’m very lucky in San Francisco to have an active Hitchin’ Bitches group of female riggers and lately a few months ago a self suspenders munch got started at Wicked Grounds. They use our suspension points and do some amazing things.
That’s so fun to hear. I know the illusive female rigger does exist here in LA but I’ve only met a handful so far.
Yes, we’re not extinct yet! (Laughs)
You’re just getting started I would suspect. And one last question, what advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in their journey in the lifestyle?
Probably to just meet as many people as you can and see what’s out there. When I’m teaching negotiation classes in particular and its very true, the stuff I was really excited about fifteen years ago I’m probably still excited about now. The stuff I was indifferent to I’m probably still indifferent to, and the things that scared the heck out of me I’m probably really into now! Just pay attention to that and not rush it. Know what’s out there and own all of your reactions through a wide variety and listen to that small voice within yourself that says when you’re interested.
I hope people come through and visit when they’re in San Francisco and check out our events. We’re hosting about 45 different events every month now. Everything form classes and munches to get togethers and socials. We’re very welcoming to people in the local community and those passing through.
Make sure to visit Wicked Grounds when you’re in San Francisco!