UPDATE: APRIL 11, 2011 : WHERE HAVE ALL THE PORTRAITS GONE?
They’ve moved to a lovely new site of their own. Please visit it at
A while back, I proposed a project and asked people who saw themselves as non-vanilla if they’d be willing to answer some questions about themselves in the interest of providing greater insight and some reality-based templates for erotica authors to work from. (See the whole post here: Characters in Erotica – Dominants, Submissives, Sadists and Masochists ). I got a great many letters of interest and sent out a total of 28 questionnaires. I got back a total of 13 – just under 50%.
I’m not sure how a response rate of 50% gets judged. I don’t know whether it’s good or bad. And it needs to be acknowledged that the questionnaire was very long, required written answers as opposed to check-boxes or scales, and asked the respondents to go into a lot of depth about their early understanding of themselves – including some of the negative aspect of living outside the sexual mainstream. (Click here to see the full questionnaire).
Some respondents chose to stick close to the questions, some elected to use the questions as a guide and gave a more essay-style response and some went for a hybrid approach. I knew that this would mean the responses would not be consistent but I felt it was important to allow people to tell their stories the way they felt most comfortable. Also, this isn’t a sociology or psychology study. These are portraits for literary purposes and, as such, the approach, the tone, and the variation in the way the subjects addressed the questions all play a part in letting you know about themselves.
I have been over the moon with the results. I’ve found the whole project incredibly informative. It’s given me a lot of insight into how people grow into their kinks, and when and how they integrate them into their lives. Some felt strongly that it was a deeply significant part of their essential being and others felt it was simply an aspect of it. Some found it easy to live with one foot in the vanilla world, others found it impossible.
Mostly, I’d like to express my respect for everyone who took the time and thought to participate. Opening oneself up to this very personal, very intimate inquiry is an act of great generosity. It’s easy to blog when you’re in control of the things you want to reveal or keep private; giving answers to someone else’s questions is not as easy.
I gave a lot of thought about how to present these portraits. Should they be presented all at once, one at a time, or perhaps present them in pairs. Should I pair like with like or opposites?
Ultimately I decided that there really was no like-with-like or opposites. These people all represent points on a very complex continuum. They all deserved to stand on the page individually. So I’ve decided to post one profile a day to avoid the propensity we all have for making comparisons or for perceiving of something as having less value because it comes in an abundance. All of these people are unique. And all have been gracious participants.