You’re known as the creator of TSR Network, which I believe stands for “Talking Sex Radio Network.” You’ve interviewed a lot of high profile people in the BDSM community. But today, you’re the one that’s getting interviewed. So you’ve been out of the state for a while. You were taking a break from some of the work that you’ve been doing with the insight series (a class taught at Los Angeles dungeon Lair de Sade)?
Thank you for interviewing me and yes I have interviewed some amazing people in BDSM like Jay Wiseman, Midori and Guy Baldwin. TSRnetwork was the first BDSM site on the net to focus on BDSM and education using radio and video as an education tool. We were before Fetlife and many other sites that are now out there.
Yes, I’m taking sometime off and will be traveling around the country. Have been visiting family and some wonderful friends that are into BDSM. Just taking time off of streaming live shows at the moment and just travel to all the places that I dreamed of going. Been teaching and producing live TV shows for such a long time that I need to take some time for myself.
Right, and how long have you been doing TSR Network for and what lead you to create that?
I’ve been broadcasting roughly over twelve years. I started doing a radio show called the Mel and Phil Show. It was at a time that was complicated to create. You had to record it, edit it, upload it, make an RSS feed and get it out there. It was very difficult to do and time consuming. These days it’s a little bit more simple.
Back then it was called Talking Sex Radio but I moved over to streaming live video and not doing a radio show so we the name to TSRnetwork,com. It was really important to get the message out about our live TV shows on TSR Network .
TSR was safe place for people to go and get information about BDSM because there’s a lot of misinformation out there. I believe in safe, sane, and consensual. In order to stay safe in BDSM you have to be educated. TSR is all about education and without education we would have nothing it would be chaos.
TSRNetwork is site that broadcast live talk shows that talks about education and safety and introduces you to some of the movers and shakers of the BDSM community mixed with a little humor. It’s a very interactive site with a chat-room and a blog with guest writers and such.
You mentioned that a large part of it is motivated by wanting to help educate people. I suppose there are probably quite a lot of people out there who do BDSM or other kinky things in private at home with a partner and never really feel like they need to come and attend classes or other social activities within the BDSM community. Do you think that’s OK or do you think those people should be looking to educate themselves a bit more?
I think that everyone that is interested in BDSM should educate themselves and I think there are many different avenues to do that. There’s so much information online. When I first started out quite some years ago you didn’t have all of the websites and all of the information that is out there now. In the past we had to form communities to meet in person and have a good knowledge base of this lifestyle.
Now with sites like FetLife, Collarspace and my site TSRnetwork.com as we were some of the first sites that a newbies first experience into BDSM and Kink. Basically TSRnetwork was the very first BDSM site dedicated to do live BDSM video TV shows to educate people about BDSM. TSR was a good start if you can not publicly go out into the real world and take classes or learn. I think it’s OK to get your education from the internet in the beginning. Everyone has to do what they feel is right for themselves. There’s no right or wrong in any of this. The only right thing to do is to educate yourself the best possible way for you.
Right , you said some people can’t attend public classes and are you meaning because they are not near to places where they have them or are you talking perhaps more about people who might feel that for whatever reason they cant be seen in public to attending that kind of class?
Well, I feel the reason that some people can’t attend a public class is because some are teachers, doctors or professionals. Some people have children and have to be careful that if they should get discovered then it could hurt them in someway or it could hurt their business. The reality is that BDSM it could hurt them with their employer if found out that they were into BDSM. So many of us can’t live this lifestyle in the open and so that’s one of the reasons why I created TSR Network. Another good reason is that there are some people that do not have munches or dungeons in their city and no BDSM community. In Los Angeles we are very fortunate to have so many different dungeons and places to go. We have munches every single day of the week. But, if you’re in a small peaceful little town and you don’t have a munch to go to or be around other like minded people that are into BDSM. Where are you going to find information on BDSM or Kink?
You’re going to have to search on the internet, order books, start relationships online. FetLife to me is an information site. Its not a dating site to me. It’s where you can get any sort of information that you could possibly want to know. And it’s very valuable as a community to make sure that there’s good information out there. Not only for the big cities but for the small cities that have limited access. It’s those precious people that I broadcast live TV shows for.
I had a young man who lived in Tennessee who watched every single one of my shows. He was never to a munch or dungeon. He was paraplegic and two years ago he died. It broke my heart because he was such a fan of the TSR Network and all of the shows that we were broadcasting live. We broadcast seven live shows a week at our old studio and he never missed a show. It’s people like him that I did this educational informative shows for. Myself and the other hosts truly believe that we are changing the world one vanilla at a time as education comes first.
Wow, that’s impressive.
We were his world in BDSM as he was a huge part of us and the other hosts. That’s why we did it because there are so many people that want to be involved and they cant because of their own private reasons. We have to respect that. A lot of people that go to dungeons and say we’re better than everyone else and we’re attending classes and we’re involved in a live community. I say don’t discredit people that are online. Everyone has to start somewhere. There are a lot of the people who still don’t go to dungeons or munches, but they will go off to a convention and will be able to experience things that they’ve never experienced before. There is nothing like going to a dungeon at a convention or looking at toys that you’ve only seen on a website. It’s pretty remarkable. We are a pretty remarkable community that welcomes all that think out of the box.
Do you think that it’s becoming more acceptable over time for people to be public about BDSM activities?
I think that BDSM is changing. But I think its been evolving, its evolving from the gay leather men who put a lot of our foundation down. Each time there’s a movie that comes out, it evolves a little bit more. We had The Story of O, 9 ½ Weeks, the Secretary and now Fifty Shades of Grey. So every time there’s a movie that’s out or a book, it really doesn’t change who we are but I think it changes the perspective of the outside world to us. We’re still taboo and a majority of the women that have read Fifty Shades of Gray really don’t want to know about the real lifestyle of BDSM. I have approached a few of them and say look I teach classes why don’t you come to one of my classes? They get fear in their eyes and say “Oh no, that’s weird I cant do that.” They read the books but they don’t want to make the effort to experience what its truly like. So I don’t think it has changed us as we are still taboo, we are still private and we still protect our citizens in our community. We have to. And I don’t know in my lifetime if I’m going to see mainstream really accept all of this. We’re paving the way definitely just like the gay leather men. We’re more open, we’re more out there as fashion has dictated to us on what we should and should not wear. But as far ever being acceptable it could happen but we still have to make sure it’s all consensual or else we would have chaos. What we do on the outside world matters and how act and how we show respect. Until the rest of the world catches up to us we still have to live in the vanilla world and at time hide who we are. One can only hope that that will change and if it does not it will not affect us at this moment.
You run the Insight classes at the Lair de Sade? For some people this class would be the first contact that they have with the BDSM community. So do you feel some responsibility to help guide them into the community in a positive way?
I’ve taught the Insight class at the Lair de Sade for over twelve years. I want to teach them about safety, respect, and honor, that this is not a free for all, that there is responsibility that we take when we enter into this lifestyle. There’s so much responsibility. At the Lair de Sade, my class is called S&M Open Forum. I’ve probably taught around 8,000+ people over the years and teaching that class has taught me so much about compassion and love and caring. It’s taught me more than what I’ve taught some of the students.
Could you tell me more about BDSM Pride day? I saw that mentioned on one of your websites.
It’s a day to celebrate BDSM and Kink and to show support to each other in our life choice. We did a live seven hour BDSM pride day marathon broadcast twice. We had thousands of people watching it live as we did the TSR Peoples Choice Awards and celebrated BDSM Pride Day. The BDSM community across the world voted for who would receive an award and had thousands of people submit their favorite people for an award. Over the years TSR Network has had over four million people watch our live shows and come into the chat-room and interact with our guests. Millions have watched the archives that are located on the archive page. When we re-launched TSR after taking a short leave we had over 250,000 watched the live shows over the last year. We as a community have to take pride in who we are and support each other and help to bring a better view of BDSM. Yes we’re taboo and we’re in hiding but there’s no reason why we can’t celebrate who we are. BDSM Pride Day belongs to the community and we hope that in the future that people will start having live dungeon parties to celebrate it and be proud of our lifestyle.
It sounds like you’ve traveled quite extensively around the country teaching, so you must have seen a whole variety of different local scenes and dungeons and clubs around the country. Are there any that are particularly memorable? Are there differences between the scene in different cities that you’ve noticed?
I think we’re all basically the same because we all have one thing in common and that’s BDSM. The community, we have in Los Angeles is an awesome community, its so unique. We are lucky to have so many dungeons and munches and to be so open. But with that also comes a tremendous amount of drama and egos. I’ve found that even in smaller communities have some of the same problems as what we do in LA. And I would love to be able to find some way to eliminate the ego part of who we are in the community but like all communities you will have this problem. Just because I’m a Dominant, Host of my own show creator, founder of TSRnetwork and an educator it does not make me any better than a submissive or a slave or a new person that has entered into this lifestyle. We are all equal in my book. Having a big ego doesn’t do anything for me and I value each kinky person that comes in my life. I live my life with kindness and compassion but carry a heavy flogger, (laughs) always have to have a sense of humor.
Getting back to the question-I specifically really enjoyed the Detroit community. They have an awesome community. I was at Kinkdom a couple years ago and loved the dungeon and people that I met. I was just in Detroit and the local BDSM community reached out to me and were very kind and they went out of their way to take me to a munch and it was a wonderful experience. Phoenix, Arizona has an awesome community too and so does San Francisco. We have good parts of community and bad parts. It doesn’t matter what city you’re in its all pretty much the same as we get to enjoy our kink and our like minded old and new friends. I am grateful for all the people I have meet on my path of BDSM and the respect they have given me. We have some amazing wonderful people in BDSM and Kink.
Are there any states where you think it’s more difficult to be in the BDSM scene because of local culture or government regulations?
Well, here in Los Angles we’re pretty much free to do what we want to do but in small little towns, the local government looks down at anyone who thinks out of the box. I’m not fearful here of anyone coming down on our community, I’m more fearful of smaller towns, because I’ve seen some judgment from communities that look down on people in BDSM. I don’t think we’re going to have problems with the government as the government has bigger problems then who is getting spanked behind closed doors. Are we on their radar? Sometimes we might be on their radar. Especially when they’re gong after human trafficking the government will check out BDSM dating sites and see what we mean by what we call slaves. They’ll go into some of the websites and have conversations with certain people and some people will fall for it and it really had nothing to do with our lifestyle. You’ve just got to be smart and remember it’s all consensual.
It seems in LA in particular, many of the local community leaders are doing a pretty good job of outreach to local government and police agencies to help educate them on what it is we do so they don’t assume the worst. Do you agree that its generally been well done in LA and do you see that elsewhere?
Well in LA , the community reaches out to the local law enforcement and they’re also reaching out to doctors and therapists. Because when someone comes in with bruises all over their body, the first thing they do at the hospital is report it as abuse. What we do is not abuse. We never lift our hand when we’re angry. We never do anything out of abuse, everything is consensual. That’s if you’re healthy and you’re not a predator. We have predators both the vanilla and in BDSM world. Predators come to our community because there are so many that are looking for something outside of themselves and they try to find it inside of someone else. BDSM is not going to fix you if there’s something wrong with you. When you come into BDSM, into this lifestyle, you need to come in healthy, you need to realize you have a voice and no means NO. Always keep your voice. You need to protect yourself, keep things private until you get to know someone. My advice to new people when they’re getting into the community-take a year, don’t do play dates. Get to know us, let us get to know you. Feel us out. Ask us questions, find a mentor. Find a mentor that is there for mentoring the best way with you, not because they want to add you to their family or get something of you. Think before you do anything and educate yourself and don’t let anyone take your voice away. Be aware and take care of yourself first.
What’s the best way to find a mentor?
The best way is to get involved in the local community, to ask a lot a questions, to ask other people-would this person be a good mentor and not just the friends of this person because there any different points of views. A lot of us are well known people, it doesn’t make us good mentors. Some if us are even predators. Just because we’re well known does not really tell the whole picture of who we are. Its pretty amazing, we do a lot of protection of well known predators because they are celebrities in our community, they’re very protected by their fans and they cause a tremendous amount of chaos. When you have been in the lifestyle as long as I have been you know where all the bodies have been buried. It’s like any community, even a vanilla community. But most people are not willing to call out the predators because if they do they will be attacked and that’s really shameful. Every year someone writes a post and we talk about it but its really hard to get our community to participate in actively weeding out the predators. If someone comes to me and ask me about someone I will tell them the truth and some won’t listen so they have to make their own mistakes. That’s just how life is some have to learn the hard way and that’s OK in my books as you have to learn valuable lessons on this life journey. I have made many mistakes in my life and I own it and it’s the mistakes that have taught me the hardest lessons.
Changing topic a little bit, so you’re an ordained minister? Could you tell me more about that?
Yes, and I started the Church of Perversion and Debauchery which is now known as The Sacred Realm. I perform marriages and I perform collaring ceremonies and I also counsel and meet with people, especially if they have any problems in their relationships or understanding why they’re into this lifestyle.
I joke around that if you believe in God or whatever people believe in-if you believe in some sort of higher power that having sex is not bad for us. I don’t think religion should look down on us for what we do. We’re given certain things like compassion, love, and chemistry and sensual feelings for a reason. It’s to teach us and educate us on how to be human and how to love.
Many come to me and I’m there to listen and to help as but as I can. I never judge anyone and try to be there out of love and respect.
I know that there are a lot of kinky people that are also a part of mainstream religion like Christianity and I know that sometimes they feel a little bit torn about that but do you think that BDSM can be compatible with Christianity? In terms of the values and teachings do you think somebody can legitimately be into both?
I don’t think that religion should have any bearing on BDSM. Being sexual is a part of the human factor of who we are. If God or what ever you believe religion to be did not make spanking or the sexual act so exciting then why was it created. Being religious has nothing to do with BDSM as religion is just a small part of who we are. Take a submissive for instances, something happens to submissives when they go into headspace. It’s a part of who we are.
BDSM, sadistic and masochist have been since the beginning of time, its nothing new. We just put a name on it. Pleasure is something that we need as humans and in BDSM we just connect to a different kind of pleasure. Where does one go in sub or Dom space, its a special place for many of us like leaving the body and being God. They go into this utopia, this euphoria, this other place. It’s a lot like meditating or praying. It doesn’t matter how you get to that place its about how your feeling when you get there. If you get it by submitting to somebody and submitting with them and having their love. I don’t think that religion should tell us not to enjoy what we do in BDSM because it teaches us the same foundation; love, honor, respect, and compassion.
If we are a Christian, Jew or any other type of religion belief is not only who you are. If you’re a parent that’s not all you are. If you’re an educator that’s not all you are. BDSM is just a part of the whole pie of who we are. We are more than just one thing as we take this role in BDSM. I’m a woman, teacher, mother and so much more as religion is just a part of me and we all need not to be on the same page as someone else as I’m only responsible for my actions in life. But there is no need to live in a life of shame because I’m into spanking a few bottoms of a willing soul.
Do you have any advice for somebody who’s new to kink that perhaps wants to get more involved, where’s a good place to start?
If you’re new into BDSM go on the internet, start educating yourself, start reading as much as you can. Go to your local munches. Go to conventions. Develop friendships. Talk to people about what other munches to go to. If you can go to a class, take a class. Take a class that can build that foundation first, like an open form S&M 101 class where you can learn about negotiations and etiquette, where you can learn that honesty and integrity has so much to do with BDSM then just spanking someone or flogging them. Ask a lot of questions and keep asking as education comes first. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about being in BDSM. Please remember there is not a street in the United States where someone is being tied to a bed blindfolded or spanked. We’re really not that much different than the vanilla world. Most of all take your time and keep your eyes open and if it does not feel right then it’s not right. Go with your gut feeling as it will keep you safe and get to know your new friends and make sure they are who they say they are. Take care of yourself first and forgive yourself when you make mistakes as we all have made lots of mistakes.
And last but not least, how did you get into BDSM?
I met a young man on AOL and he brought me into the lifestyle and into a chat room and I got to meet a whole bunch of people in this lifestyle in this chat room. I started off as a submissive and I was very very bad at it. I wasn’t well suited for it. I had a very wise Dom who I dated, and I asked him “how come you never played with me?” He said, “You’re not a submissive.” I said, “Well am I a slave.” He says, “No.” And I go, “Well what am I?” He says, “You’re a princess.” (Laughs) I’m thinking princesses? There are no princesses in BDSM! I’ve come to find out that there are. But he said I should try my hand at being dominant. And he was right.
You know Dominant doesn’t mean that you’re always dominant 24 hours a day. You’ve got to find that gentle part of who you are. I’m a kind person, but I’m very sadistic also. And I like tears as it’s kind of a turn on for me.
BDSM has changed me and it has made me a better person. And if it can make me a better person, imagine what it can do to the rest of the people who are just entering into BDSM.
It’s an amazing journey. It will take the layers off of who you think you are and it will create a different reality. I was a willing victim when I came into this lifestyle. I’m no longer a victim. I have grown into a strong woman that has learned to use her voice and I have found so much joy in education new people that walk into this exciting world of BDSM. You never know what life will being when you show up and thank out of the box, I have not regrets in life and very happy about where I’m at in my thoughts about BDSM. I have found me on this amazing journey of self discovery. BDSM has brought me so much joy and some of the hardest lessons that one can learned as it has taught me to stay in the moment of life and think about the past or where my future will take me. I would not be the kind or compassionate woman that I am today if it was not for BDSM and the amazing people I have met along the way. It has taught me to be real and to push ego aside and feel again. I walk in peace, love, joy and BDSM. I’m so very grateful…..
Melanie Harvey says
That was a very enlightening interview with Rev Mel, I wander is it Melanie or Melody just curious as my name is Melanie I loved this story it taught me to be proud of what and who I am not only as a person but as a submissive my family has been fighting me for years telling me there is something wrong with you why do you do this ? Because this is who I am and I am not willing to change for anybody. Mine you I have had nightmares in my life but I have overcome the obstacles and survived it. Now by the grace of BDSM I have been found by the most amazing Dominant ever I am totally addicted to him. I have been blessed I just wish where we live was more open about BDSM and BTW: when is BDSM Pride Day she didn’t say the date of it and I would love to know so I can mark it on my calender. thank you for allowing me to speak..