Kitty Rea is an alternative model, sex educator, bondage bunny, porn artist, event organiser, polyamorous, pansexual, kinkster, latex fetishist, skeptical submissive (insert a coma at will), atheist, creative mind writing about my creative mind, mistress of all things lingerie, sci-fi obsessive-compulsive consumer, all-out geek, disciplinarian, cisgender (sort of), despot of informed consent. She has been invited by the Kinbaku Underground Group to deliver two community workshops on December 7th on alternative relationship types and feminism and will be performing on December 8th, along with Melissanthe. We met with her and tried to pick a bit into her the brain of this versatile but incredibly awesome creature. Here’s what she shared.
How did your engagement in the bdsm scene begun? What was the first thing that clicked for you?
I entered the scenes some 7 years ago looking to experience things that I had desired ever since I became aware of my sexuality. Until the moment I discovered the scene, I didn’t know that there were other people like me who wanted the same things. So I spent my days fearing that I was a freak and being absolutely terrified of people finding out what my fantasies were about. When I discovered the scene it felt like a sort of coming home. For the first time I saw that there was a community that could embrace me and where I could be less alone. And since I had benefited so much from other people organizing events, teaching me and taking care of me, it felt only natural that I should give something back. So I started organizing events, first in the local scene and then getting involved in events outside of the country. On a personal level, I was always interested in ropes and when I was given the opportunity to start performing on stage, a part of me that wanted to stop being ashamed came out and started to manifest. In the meanwhile, I begun a relationship with a man who became my Owner and I am very, very happy that we have developed together, grown together and fostered a beautiful dynamic that is very meaningful for me. This has made my entire contribution to the scene more than just a whim, but an important part of my identity. And my identity as owned property also very much informs my participation in the scene and my attitude towards it. I’m extremely grateful for the people who have given me my start in the community and to the people who are meaningful in my life.
You are very well known in the European Rope scene and you have had the opportunity to work together with many important people. Please, tell us about your experience so far.
Luckily for me, ever since the beginning I had someone I trusted next to me who helped me temper that sub frenzy. That person would go on to become my husband. Having him gave me the time and space to pick play partners that I felt fully comfortable with, that were vetted and with whom I could build trust step-by-step. So I’ve only had marvelous experiences with people I clicked with. It’s also been wonderful to receive encouragement and to be able to grow alongside people who are now my closest friends. Working with people who are familiar with the stage and performance has also been an incredible learning experience for me. Seeing how their minds think of all the details that need to be considered was extraordinary.
What have you learned from this journey? What can you tell us about our (rope) scene?
I guess the biggest takeaway from me is that the kink scene is no different than society in general. Inside you will find generous and loving people, as well as far less pleasant folks, just like anywhere else. I think it’s quite easy to idealise this niche community when you first encounter it, especially if you’ve been hungry for the experiences that it can provide. But ultimately people are going to be people no matter the community.
That being said, there is a sort of wonderful solidarity that is built between those who are discriminated against by the larger society. And I have found it comforting to be able to talk openly about any kind of subject with people from the community as they tend to be more accepting and less quick to judge. Something else that I’ve learned is that organizing events is usually a pretty rewardless job, so if you like having events go to things that the community organizes, be active, do get involved, ask if you can help, make a donation if you can. Basically do all you can to help the community, because it is not a thing that exists in some abstract space. It is made up from the people who are willing to participate.
One particular aspect of it I like very much is that it’s one of the few places that I know of, that focuses on consent and the autonomy of the individual. I always tell people that I find kinksters to be some of the safest people that I interact with and that non-kinky folx really scare me.
Even though your public image focuses on your bottom side, you are also a (rope) top. Can you share with us your feelings about this? Did you always imagine yourself as a top? How did it happen?
It’s quite funny that a lot of the women that I know pretty much started tying because there was no one to tie them. I started educating myself as a rope top because I wanted to be able to experience being tied in a community that has a very few skilled tops. So I figured tying myself is better than not getting tied at all. And I guess the honest answer to this is that I started teaching ropes because I hoped to train somebody at some point, who would be able to play with me in ropes in the ways that I desired. But in time through the interactions I have had with wonderful people I found a deep pleasure in the more sadistic side of rope top space. I would say that at moment I could not give up, nor would I like to exist without my identity as a sadistic top, but it’s certainly not been the case from the beginning.
To our knowledge, you are the first person to do ropes while pregnant and publish a relevant writing about. A pretty daring move and, to the mind of the inexperienced, also a daring one. We understand that there were so many new stimuli and you probably experienced ropes from a completely different mindset. Can you please share with us this experience?
My decision to do ropes while pregnant is really part of a larger thought process involving parenting and the mother-child relationship. I believe that it is essential to give time, attention, energy to the people in your life, but you should never lose yourself in that process. I knew that giving up ropes for more than half a year, while pregnant, would be really difficult, but it was also a very tough decision to do ropes, because it was no longer a risk to my body, but also to the body of somebody that I loved and who was unable to consent to anything. So at the end of the day I picked a few people that I trusted, I gathered together all the information I could, I talked to medical specialists and decided to do a few scenes while pregnant. It was not an easy decision and there’s always a million anxious thoughts. What if something goes wrong? I’m never going to be able to forgive myself. But then I also didn’t want to entirely pause my life because that would be something that I would have carried with me even after the baby was born. That panicky protectiveness I felt would be detrimental to me. So I went ahead did it and then when a lot of people started asking me questions about it. So I decided to put together all the information I had gathered and write about it. I really hope it helps other people make a more informed decision if they find themselves in this stressful, but marvelous position.
Did you receive any negative criticism after publishing your article? Would you care to share?
I wouldn’t say that I received criticism, not that I can remember, but maybe I’m an optimist who tends to ignore negativity and assume a positive intention. Some people pointed out information that they had and they felt would further help and I was super grateful to them, and all in all quite a lot of people are very supportive and grateful that I published it.
You are organising monthly events on alternative relationships. How are alternative relationships regarded at in your country? At European level?
In my country, very few people are aware of the concept so I try to also do a lot of awareness work. I would like more people to know it is even a possibility to have something other than a monogamous lifelong relationship. Usually when they hear about it, the first reaction is “oh, I could never do that, I’m you too jealous”. At the European level, depending on the country, there are places where alternative relationships are becoming a new thing, where even if people aren’t practicing it, they hear “polyamory” or “open relationship” and they know what you’re talking about. I’m hoping that all my work will help at least a bit so that Romania can become one of those countries. I am aware that alternative relationships are not for everyone and I would not want to proselytize to people who feel it goes against their nature. I would just like them to stop thinking that we’re crazy for not taking the monogamy route.
Based on your experience and the direct feedback you collect from the people who attend, which are the most important concerns they identify and need to address?
I think the biggest problem is that society tends to pit us against each other, emotionally, intellectually, sexually, so a lot of people are concerned that they couldn’t manage jealousy or their metamours being better than they are. There’s also lots of questions that have to do with poor communication and people trying to improve the way they address their concerns within the relationship. Another constant recurring question is how to find partners who are poly, because dating outside of the community rarely produces any positive long term results. At the very essence of all of these, I think there is just basic human anxiety: what if I’m replaced? what if I never find someone and I die alone? what if I’m not good enough for my partners? And polyamory does provide a wonderful space to face your own demons.
Do you think that in a few years we would be looking at a more accepting society where people would not need to hide their true identity/ preferences/ self (ranging from their sexual identity, to gender id, to relationship status), or is this a utopia?
If you ask me, I would say that a few years is a bit of an optimistic perspective. Personally, I don’t feel that I’m fighting for my generation, but more for the generation of my children to become more tolerant and open-minded. But beyond the aspiration of an open minded society, what I would love is for each of our children to know that they have options and to not be afraid to pick outside of the norm, whatever that norm might be. But yes, I do believe that society changes all the time for the better and I think future generations will have a more diverse and accepting social landscape than the one we’ve had to deal with.
We are amidst very important revelations when it comes to incidents of abuse, assault and, in certain cases even rape. It is very clear that the reason why we feel that these incidents are many more (in numbers) is because victims are much more vocal than what they used to be. What is your approach on this matter?
There is no easy way to answer this question. If I would have to reduce it to bare bones, then I would say my policy in all matters is “side with the victim first”. My reasoning is that if a person is falsely accused and I take action against them I am victimizing an innocent. Which is absolutely terrible, but I still find it a less horrible choice than the alternative. Which is that a person who has already been victimized and is under distress, will be further victimized and their trauma will only be made worse by their community not believing them and not taking action to reduce the harm they suffer. It is a judgement call and it does not come from a place of lack of awareness that false accusation really can happen. But it is from a place of recognizing that finally vulnerable people are finding their voice and they need to be supported.
The system that helps us deal with potential consent violations is quite complex and multi layered. For each event we have dungeon monitors who make sure that everything that happens in the designated play areas is negotiated and to offer general support, they are someone to talk to in case something goes wrong. We are also looking to set up a network of community ambassadors, who are basically people that are unaffiliated with events, who you can address with various issues and will maintain your anonymity should you require that. Or they will discuss with the organizers on your behalf, as intermediaries, so you don’t have to be stressed about confronting people directly. We are opening a kinky, LGBT friendly space in Bucharest and then we also plan on setting up a complaint box in the toilet, where people can make any kind of anonymous complaints. Those complaints alone will not be a reason to exclude anybody, but the box will facilitate communication and the information flow to organizers. I must say that while in the past I was very much leaning towards the idea of excluding people from the community, a lot of my opinions on this have changed. At this point, I tend to lean more towards the person who has been accused being helped to understand why their behavior was hurtful and being helped to improve for the future. But there \is no easy answer nor are there any quick solutions.
What do you suggest, in terms of community, should be done to address effectively reports on abusive behaviour?
First of all, I think it would be very useful to move away from terminology such as “abuser” and “victim”, which are often used, but all they do is alienate people who are terrified of complete rejection. The use of these labels feel like a life sentence without any possibility for redemption. I found it more useful to speak of the people who make mistakes / who have violated consent / who have violated (depending on the circumstance) and the person who has suffered a mistake / consent violation / abuse. When we separate the people from the identity of an abuser, they become more willing to work with you and make amends. When you separate people the label of victim, they are more likely to come forward and tell their story.
And they are only willing to tell their story if they believe there are ears to listen to them. Yes, false accusations can happen, people can be vengeful, but the truth is that the vast majority of people who tell their stories of abuse are suffering and I believe we should have more empathy towards that, no matter who the person who has been accused is. Of course it’s more difficult when the accused is a friend, a trusted acquaintance or maybe it is a partner, but nevertheless we should believe the victims’ suffering even if we don’t decide to take action.
What do you feel is missing from our communities?
I don’t know that there’s anything in particular that’s missing, but maybe what we could benefit from would be less fragmentation and more of an ability to work through problems together.
You also organise the Bucharest Meet and Greet for new comers in the bdsm scene. Would you please share with us your experience from these meetings? How do you initiate them into becoming individuals who practice SSC bdsm?
I would first have to say that I don’t believe in SSC, because I think it creates a false sense of safety and it tends to sanitize practices. People hear “safe, sane and consensual” and they might think of some sensual play and then they go on FetLife and see people cutting each other, face fucking and doing anal gaping and it hits them in the face: how the f*** is this safe or sane? I tend to think of BDSM more as risk aware consensual kink (RACK) and my ritual for the newcomers is a 2 hour long monologue where I tell them all about negotiation, communication, what edge play is and what practices are better to start with, what they should stay away from, how to find play partners, what warning signs to look out for when they’re picking people to play with and so on. Then we have time to socialize with each other and get to know others.
Are there any risks that you always mind for? Do you have any negative experiences you’d like to share?
I’ve been cautious enough to avoid major negative experiences, except for one case involving abandonment play that was not the most stellar experience. But even from that I’ve learned a lot about myself, about what I like and what I don’t like. It has come at the cost of potential experiences that I’ve not had, but I’d rather miss out an opportunity or two then to risk and regret them afterwards. The biggest thing I always warn about and watch out for is people who believe they have more knowledge than the actually do, especially people who like to engage in edge play, like mindfucking, fisting, electro play, whipping, shibari and medical torture without being fully prepared.
You work constantly with and for the community. What do you consider as your most important contribution? Also, what do you get from it? What are your returns from this process?
I think the biggest contributions are actually the small ones where I connect with other people, answer their questions and help them navigate difficult situations weather in relationships or sexuality. What I get out of it is grateful people I want to keep in touch with, who thank me for my help and, I mean, what could I possibly want more than that?
It is a real pleasure to welcome you to our new and slowly evolving scene. We hope this is the first of many times you come over and contribute to our development process! For sure we have a lot to learn and we need guidance and support. We feel we’re in good hands 😊