Recently, I was forced to take a vacation.
The reason I say “forced” was because I had a non-refundable ticket that I had to use by a certain time and there was no way in hell I wanted that money to go back to the airline. So, I decided to go to “The City”.
San Francisco was the perfect location for several reasons. First, I had to work early in the morning on Monday and staying on the West Coast allowed me to keep my body in the same time zone. Second, I’ve been having the worst writing block I’ve had in a while and I needed a little jolt to get out of my head. Third, and the most important was, it gave me a chance to take the San Francisco Armory tour.
If you recognized the above image, then you know that this historical building that once housed the San Francisco National Guard is now owned by Kink.com. I could go into the history of the building but you can easily find that with an internet search. What I want to share with you is my experience of the tour itself.
If you know anything about me, then you understand how important sexual diversity is to me. It’s more than just slapping a non-white, queer person in the mix to say that your work is ‘diverse’. It’s about showing me that human element of what makes us all tick no matter what we look like or what we’re into.
Since its start, Kink.com has always had an incredible representation of diverse personnel in front of the screen. One of the first scenes I remember seeing was Jasmine Byrne pegging a tied up model named Joshua in the basement. This was way before I thought about writing erotica but since that first video, I’ve been hooked.
The three novels I’m currently working on are BDSM heavy. This trip to Armory was a research trip made in heaven. To say I was excited would be an understatement. However, there was some trepidation before I booked the tour. I prayed that the type of diversity I saw in front of the screen would exist in some degree behind the screen. In most of my encounters in the kink community that hasn’t been the case and I was hoping that this tour would be the exception to my previous experiences. It would be like going to Disneyland and seeing Mickey Mouse with his head off, you know?
When I got there and was greeted by a muscular, dark skinned African-American man with a smile on his face, all my anxiety vanished. Now, I could enjoy the tour.
Being on a movie set, where the production is porn or not is nothing new to me. If you’re a creative person in L.A., you’ll eventually find yourself on a movie or TV set sooner or later. However, I’ve never seen anything on this scale in my entire life.
The Armory is HUGE and the fact that they have kept the historical integrity of the building while creating a multitude of sets was impressive. Recognizing sets from Fucking Machines, Hogtied, Divine Bitches, Device Bondage, Water Bondage, Everything Butt, Whipped Ass, Men In Pain, Whipped Ass, TS Pussy Hunters, Men on Edge, Kink University, Sex and Submission, as well as two of my favorites The Upper Floor and Ultimate Surrender.
My mind kept flashing back to scenes I’ve watched that took place on these sets and the slew of diverse models that have graced them. Daisy Ducati and Jessica Creepshow together. Skin Diamond, Ana Foxxx, Mickey Mod, Venus Lux, Natassia Dreams, Annie Cruz, Jack Hammer, Serena Ali, Jiz Lee… I could go on and on just listing models but with 35 different types of sites under the umbrella of Kink.com that could fill up this entire post.
As we weaved through the enormity of the San Francisco Armory, my mind was blown away by how skilled their art department personnel was. It would rival some of the major movie studios I’ve walked through. From set dressing, to the props storage room, to the shop where they can build almost any kind of sex toy or device your mind could possibly dream up, I was beyond impressed. From what I’ve seen, I knew they paid great attention to detail but walking through the several sets on the bottom floor allowed me to witness just how far the art department was willing to go in order for their shoots have the right feel to them.
What this did for my writer’s mind was give me a much needed visual template to power through some of the locations and setting in these novels that I’m working on. As I switched between taking photos on my phone to making quick notes, the tour moved to the sub-basement.
Knowing that the Armory used to house the San Francisco National Guard made the journey to the basement a high point on the tour for me. On the far end of the concrete basement, you could see where the they used the basement for target practice.
In the area close to the stair case there was a constant flow of water that was fenced off. It was stated that when Kink.com purchased the building in 2006, that the sub-basement was flooded. Even though it sounded and looked like a creek flowing through the concrete its actually ground water that would have flowed into near by Mission Creek. The building has pumps that control the water flow now but the sound added an eerie sensuality to the coldness of the concrete that surrounded us.
It was one of the few places where the historical past of this building stayed as it was and could still be utilized as a set. It was the perfect stop to make before we made the trip up three floors to what used to be the the Drill Court.
This photo can’t really do justice to the actually size of this room. It was the one time I wished I had my tablet so I could’ve taken a panoramic photo instead. This place has its own history outside on the National Guard. George Lucas used the Drill Court to shoot some of the interior space ship scenes for Star Wars in 1976. I had a little nerdgasm at that fact but the apex of the tour was our next and final stop on the tour and that was The Upper Floor.
Ah, the allure of elegant kink!
This is what I wanted and needed to see. What my mind had pictured from reading The Story of O and the Marketplace couldn’t touch what I witnessed. Even with the studio lighting and the wires, being on The Upper Floor filled my mind with endless possibilities. The Saint Andrew’s Cross, the oil paintings of Kink.com still that adorned the walls, and the unobtrusive HD cams that could cover all the action had my fingers taking copious notes. Story problems that I had instantly became clear and as they were preparing The Upper Floor for a party they were having that night, Stefanos, the producer of The Upper Floor, made himself available for questions and nothing was off the table. It was a very nice touch to a very unique tour.
Over the past few years I’ve read about the controversies with Kink.com and their business model. I knew about the debates between BDSM community, BDSM performer and how CEO Peter Acworth has been accused of blurring those lines for his own benefit when it comes to the use cam models on the Upper Floor. However, this tour wasn’t about confirming or denying any of that.
My soul purpose was having an adventure that would get my mind flowing back into the world of Kink and the San Francisco Armory tour was the perfect trip for that.
For anyone who can take a trip to The City I highly recommend taking the Armory tour.
Oh, and here’s what 50 gallon containers of lube looks like. Thinking about all the fun I could do with was worth the trip itself.