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BDSM Feminist Collective Aims to Make Sex Work Safer in Bushwick
 — Community on Bushwick Daily

BDSM Feminist Collective Aims to Make Sex Work Safer in Bushwick

The Taillor Group teaches kink-positive, feminist BDSM workshops hosted in a safe, judgement free and empowering environment.

Olivia Perry

liv.bperry@gmail.com

As a hard novice in the realm of domination (I’m more on the submissive side myself), attending Saturday’s workshop on the BDSM art of Shaming was a deviation from my usual, decisively vanilla, Saturday afternoon. For the Taillors leading the workshop, however, this is just another day at the dungeon.

The Taillor Group is a Brooklyn-based BDSM Collective and Domination School catering to kink-positive feminists of all levels and experience. Previously headquartered at The Crown in Bed Stuy, the collective relocated to Bushwick in April after being protested out of the neighborhood by a disapproving community member.

Since vacating their headquarters on Quincy Street, the collective has settled into a cozy brownstone off the Gates Ave JMZ stop where they continue hosting a variety of BDSM/kink workshops, self-defense classes and private sessions — all of it strictly legal. 

Image courtesy of Kareem Montes

Charlotte Taillor is a petite woman of 31 with fuschia-trimmed hair and a subtle Brazilian accent from her life before moving to New York in 2008. “I was kind of running away from Brazil. It’s a very provincial mindset and I’m gay. I didn’t know then, but I probably knew that I wanted to be closer to the world than Brazil,” she says. 

Today, Taillor is a prominent name in the fetish community, but before launching the collective in 2016, Taillor’s experience in the world of BDSM was virtually nonexistent.

After moving to New York, Taillor studied business at Fordham University and moved on to a succession of unfulfilling branding and business development jobs. “I’m very ADHD. The whole feminism thing was very important for me and it was hard to work in finance and be in male-dominated fields,” she says. “Really I was just bored doing the same project one after another.”

Her induction into the world of kink and BDSM began in 2015 when she developed a crush on a dominatrix that she met through the queer scene. “I might have gone there for the girl but then I stayed for…everything,” she explains. “The first time I walked into a place where all the men were on leashes and the women carrying them around were beautifully dressed and the men weren’t dressed at all. I was just like this is so refreshing.”

Image courtesy of Charlotte Taillor

Taillor started connecting with sex workers in the community, and the more time she spent talking to them, the more she was struck by the deeply-flawed state of the industry “There’s no agency. You still have places in NYC where you’re going to be locked inside of a room by your pimp and the pimp is only going to open the door once the client texts him. Like this is so trafficky. It’s 2019. It’s bizarre that shit like this happens.” 

Taillor describes the pimp/sex worker relationship as an illusion of protection that really doesn’t exist. “If you’re going to ask them about their legal strategy, they have none. They barely have a lawyer, and truthfully, if you get in trouble, you are going alone. They are never there to receive the client, not because clients don’t want to see other people, because they don’t want to get in trouble.” 

With no prior experience in the industry, Taillor quickly learned the ropes on the job. “In the beginning I didn't have the knowledge to give [the women], it was more like them coming from shitty situations giving me the knowledge,” she says. 

Her initial vision for the collective was to create a “Suicide Girls” house where the members could do whatever they wanted, “their body, their choice,” but the idea quickly evolved into a more educational (and less incriminating) concept. “Our lawyer at the time was like ‘Yeah, you're going to be a sex trafficker if that happens, yeah prostitution isn’t legal...If they do something illegal that would make you a pimp, lawfully speaking...so do you want to go that route?’ That’s when we decided, actually, let's just not do anything that's illegal at all.”  

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Herman

Three years later, with 500 applicants this year alone, the Taillor Group operates as a sustainable space where women are given the tools they need to do sex work safely in 2019. For the 40+ active members, this means free admission to workshops, online ad training, access to hygiene products, toys and even attire. 

When it comes to private member-client sessions, support includes everything from having dommes list their likes, loves and limits beforehand-- to ensuring they’re praised for stopping a session midway if they’re uncomfortable, and giving them free rein to pass around clients to accommodate their preferred fetishes. “We try to make it so that the agency is only theirs and that they don't get to do anything they’re short of amused by,” Taillor explains. 

Despite strict limitations on the services members are allowed to engage in at the collective, Taillor is supportive of women using the space to screen clients if they’re intending to take work elsewhere. “Why wouldn’t you kind of want to build a relationship before showing up at someone's house to fuck them? I mean, I'm gay so it's very hard for me to understand and I try to be as open and understanding as possible,” she says. “We've never had a [legal] problem, so don't fuck it up for everyone because you had one day that you were broke, bored or horny. Just do it somewhere else.” 

Image courtesy of Ale Fruscella

The Taillors themselves come from a variety of backgrounds and levels of BDSM/kink experience. Some are professional kinksters, others are freelancers or hold nine-to-five jobs as creatives, performers, healers, activists and everything in between. “From every corner of careers and walks of life,” says Taillor. “All these people, they come together, very different people, very different backgrounds, gender expressions, sexuality, whatever. We all just believe in the same one kind of abstract thing of femdoms fixing the adult industry.” 

What exactly did I learn at Humiliation Nation - the BDSM art of Shaming? I’ll leave that to your imagination (or better yet, attend a workshop and see for yourself). I will say, however, that contrary to all my preconceived notions, there was something unexpectedly sweet about seeing a grown man in diapers discussing his favorite ABDBL diaper brands candidly to a room full of strangers. Maybe I have the chops to be a top after all. 


Cover image courtesy of Charlotte Taillor

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