When a caravan of us sex-party-going types were en route to a day at the beach last summer, my friend Ken started talking about who brought whom into the scene and how we all got to our first party. He referred to it as “who sired whom” (I love me a good vampire reference!) When we all told our individual stories, we saw that all roads led back to Jefferson—a friend of ours in the New York kink community who had started this particular string of parties some 10 years ago, before they moved to another friend’s lavish house in Bushwick.
He was the original vampire, who (figuratively or literally) bit the necks of other curious kinksters, exhibitionists and experience junkies that were interested in exploring their sexualities. Those newly anointed kindred of kink went on to beckon others into the scene, like my friend Andrew did when he invited me to one of his parties three years ago, after I had met him at Burning Man. The parties had moved to Andrew’s house from Jefferson’s at that point.
Jefferson, 49, often describes himself as having grown up a bisexual kid, suspicious of monogamy, who later gave up his sexual proclivities for the woman he loved. After 15 years of marriage and three children, his wife filed for divorce over a spat, at which point Jefferson returned to kink and began writing about it on One Life, Take Two, a sex blog, penned under the Jefferson pseudonym, that details his experience as a parent and pervert.
Between the blog, his bisexual tendencies, orgies, sex education classes, sexy story telling nights and various other BDSM-related endeavors, he might appear quite eclectic to the average person, but if you had met him some 10-15 years ago, you would’ve encountered a regular guy with a wife and three kids, who lived and worked in the suburbs, drove a Buick and led a fairly normal life. And unlike many other people on the BDSM scene, who are often proud to say that they threw their traditional lives away to pursue kink and sex exploration, Jefferson always admits that he didn’t want to get divorced and speaks of his marriage with a certain fondness… and… sadness, even. He was glad to have had the experience of a faithful husband and doting father, and is now on to the next act of his life.
His ex-wife later discovered his blog (it became popular quickly and was reviewed in a few mainstream publications at the time) and tried to sue him for sole custody of their children. But she lost the custody battle and, in frustration, outed Jefferson to his family (traditional folk from Birmingham, Alabama) They didn’t bat an eye. Jefferson once told this tale at one of his storytelling nights and said that when his parents found out, his father just said, “Well, I’m glad he’s having fun,” and his mother added, “I always knew Jefferson was a good writer.”
Although he has completely cut ties with his ex-wife, he still sees his kids often and is very involved in their lives. They are now 13, 16 and 19, and he has another 25-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.
After getting divorced at the age of 39, he was intent on avoiding committed relationships, though he has spent the last five years seriously dating his girlfriend, Kay, who is 21 years his junior. They still see other people and the relationship occasionally gets strained by their attachments to other partners, but they’ve managed to pull through so far. Jefferson says that even though he didn’t plan on a committed relationship, this one just happened to work well day in and day out.
In the ten years after his divorce, Jefferson has become something of a vamp of all trades. In addition to his professional experience in curating museums (including the opening of the Museum of Sex in New York) and writing art criticism, he hosts story telling shows (à la NPR’s The Moth, but based on topics of sex, desire and romance), teaches sex classes and participates in a variety of kink/BDSM events around the country. He recently began taking his Bare and Spill shows on the road to other cities (Boston, D.C., etc.) and I now often jokingly call him “kinkster on wheels.” Not too shabby, following a particularly gruesome divorce and a drawn-out public custody battle.
One of his mottos is: “If the scene you want doesn’t exist, it’s incumbent upon you to create it.” And so he keeps creating and re-creating his world as he sees fit at any given time. He often talks about hosting orgies the way he talks about curating an art show: you can’t overcrowd the space, like you can’t overcrowd a museum wall; all the right elements have to be in place, and they have to jibe with one another – they have to somehow connect. I recently picked his brain about his various ventures over oysters in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Here are some tidbits from that conversation.