The Eulenspiegel Society

By Michal Daveed, the Media Representative for The Eulenspiegel Society.

Nowadays, BDSM imagery can be found in mainstream culture, but it’s a double-edged sword.  It can be hard to disentangle fact from fiction, and seeing jokes on primetime TV about bondage don’t offer community, or emotional support. But since before the “Fifty Shades of Grey” craze, and surely until long afterwards, The Eulenspiegel Society fills the gaps.

tesThe Eulenspiegel Society, or TES, has been in constant operation since 1971.  Founder Pat Bond was a musician and educator living in New York, and tired of feeling alone for his masochistic fantasies. He saw the culture of political and social change around him, and resolved to take action himself. In December 1970, he placed an ad in Screw Magazine, which read:

“Masochist? Happy? Is it curable? Does psychiatry help? Is a satisfactory life-style possible? There’s women’s lib, black lib, gay lib, etc. Isn’t it time we put something together?”

First a masochistic woman named Terry Kolb, who would become another TES leader, answered the ad, and then a few other men followed. TES began in Bond’s apartment, a small group of masochists sitting together, discussing their shared desires and experiences. They named the group The Eulenspiegel Society, after a character from German folklore whose antics felt resonant for those New York masochists. Some months later, they began to include sadists, and soon, they were a full-fledged organization for what was then simply called S/M.

TES has been around ever since.  1970s Pride parades, The AIDS crisis, the changing face and culture of New York— TES has been an integral part of the sexual evolution and revolution in America for over four decades, and is still going strong. It offers opportunities for kinky play, including with parties at least once a month, but more than that, it offers education and support. It offers space to socialize without the pressure to engage sexually, and a chance for those interested in BDSM to explore, and meet others who share their interests.

These days, TES hosts over 100 classes a year in Manhattan, on average twice per week, ranging from roundtable discussions about kink to hands-on workshops, with prominent and well-respected instructors.

These events can be very different from one another; recent classes included both a guide to dating in the Scene and a demonstration and discussion of how hypnosis can be used in pet play. For every experience level, comfort zone, and a huge variety of special interests (some kinks have their own sub-group), TES has something to offer.

Also on the horizon July 4th weekend is TES Fest, TES’s massive annual convention in New Jersey.  Like a “Choose-Your-Own” adventure book, participants can pursue the weekend down a number of paths, from spending time playing both privately and in a dungeon (outdoor or indoor), to going to as many classes as possible (and there are going to be over 100 total).  This TES Fest will even premiere a “Wellness” track for exploring self-care, a follow-up to TES’s recent also free health fair for Kink-Aware professionals.

This all may sound like a lot, but TES is an amazing improbability.  It has always been non-profit, entirely volunteer-run, and ambitious in scope.  Kinky sexuality today in some ways looks completely different than it did in 1971, from the language used to describe it to its place in mainstream culture.  How did TES become the longest-running BDSM organization in the country?

Its challenges are the very reason TES has persevered.  TES members care passionately about perpetuating a group that has so much to offer, because there is always a need.  As the world changes, TES has adapted, evolved, and recreated everything but its original intent, which is asserting that alternative sexual identities are valid, healthy, and worth exploring.  As its creed states:

“Most of all, we extend to our brothers and sisters who may be, as we once were, isolated, repressed, and frustrated, the word that they are not alone, that a Society exists for them – straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer, all working together, with understanding and warmth, against misunderstandings and stereotypes, for freedom and fulfillment.”

TES connects those who want to act on their desires, connect with others, teach, and learn.  Subversive, ain’t it?

For more information, contact TES directly, or leave a comment below for Michal Daveed.

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