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Getting Trashed: A Trailer Trash Party Stirs Up Controversy in the BDSM Community 

Wednesday, Jul 23 2014
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Domina, a Sonoma-based event planner, advice-dispenser, and proprietor of the chatty BDSM website The Frugal Domme, has hosted trailer trash parties at local bondage club The San Francisco Citadel for about a decade. According to club owners Phil Derby and August Knight, those parties have always gone off without a hitch.

"It's just a fun night," Derby says. "We serve hot dogs and fried bologna sandwiches, and people dress up in overalls and Dixie shorts."

"It's just utter craziness, man," Knight chimes in.

The owners were dismayed, however, when this year's Trailer Trash Takeover — held on Saturday, July 5 — spawned craziness of a different sort. In the days leading up to the event, protest flared up on the BDSM social media site FetLife, where users chafed at the term "trailer trash."

According to Derby, they'd mistakenly conflated it with "white trash."

"Suddenly people got sensitive about it," he says. "They were saying things like, 'I grew up there, I'm offended.'" He sighs. "It was a no-win situation."

Though the comment threads in question appear to have been erased, debate about "trash" stereotypes still proliferates on the rest of the internet.

"Well, the term 'trash' is derogatory," UC Berkeley linguistics professor emeritus Robin Lakoff explains. "It suggests that you are the kind of white person to be thrown away."

She adds that since the term is often lobbed at low-income white people, it has derisive class connotations.

But Derby and Knight believe that the "trash" flare-up on FetLife wasn't about a legitimate class slur; rather, it was a battle over political correctness, they say. Derby attributes that to an influx of newcomers into the BDSM scene. Many of them are skittish or sanctimonious about party themes that have been around for years, he says.

A longstanding scene member (who didn't want to be identified) wholeheartedly agrees. "More people are getting into kink, especially after Fifty Shades of Grey," he says. "And they're coming at it with a normative vanilla outlook."

The insider says he took down his own FetLife profile a few months ago because he was tired of being subjected to "normative vanilla" points of view. "I started to call it 'Fake Life,'" he says.

Derby sees the rising popularity of BDSM as a mixed-blessing. "More people equals more diversity, which is a good thing," he says. "But it does have its positive and negative sides."

For him and Knight, the negative sides are annoying, but so far inconsequential. They proceeded with the Trailer Trash Takeover party as planned, served up diabetes-inducing food to numerous guests, and held a fashion contest to find the trashiest person in the club. Domina handed out prizes.

She'll return to host an Iron Chef-themed role-playing contest in August. Hopefully, the Food Network won't take umbrage.

About The Author

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan

Bio:
Rachel Swan was a staff writer at SF Weekly from 2013 to 2015. In previous lives she was a music editor, IP hack, and tutor of Cal athletes.

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