The Fetish Fair Fleamarket is coming back to Rhode Island! It will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick from Feb 13 – 15. Originally developed in Boston, this flea has been around more then two decades. It happens twice a year and it is the biggest fetish festival in all of New England. Vendors and consumers travel from all over to get their kink on right here in good ol’ RI.
This fair has so much more to offer than just merchandise — there is a fashion show displaying which styles are hot in the bedroom, an annual ball, workshops and guest speakers. All of this is put together by the New England Leather Alliance (NELA). I recently had the opportunity to discuss the Flea with Leah Rosenbaum, NELA’s webmaster, and she was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions.
Katie Lewis: What is the New England Leather Alliance?
Leah Rosenbaum: The New England Leather Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to making a safe place in the world for all leather, fetish and BDSM people through education, advocacy and charitable giving.
KL: What kinds of vendors and workshops will we see at the Flea this year? What are you most excited about?
LR: You’ll see over 80 vendors for corsetry, leather goods, chainmail, impact toys and sex toys, to name a few. There will be something special for almost every kink out there. Workshops span from beginner to advanced experience levels and include technical skills to enhance sensations. We also offer many seminars that focus on improving communication with a partner, including negotiating scenes and building intimacy.
KL: Do people tend to be strictly leather fans? Or is there a lot of crossover with latex, vinyl, etc. In other words, do people tend to fetishize one material specifically?
LR: In the BDSM community the term “fetish” is often interchanged with “kink.” You’re sure to find lovers of all materials (even fleece!) at the Flea.
KL: What trends are there in the fetish world right now?
LR: Activities involving rope and body piercing are increasing in popularity, in addition to polyamory within relationships.
KL: Are you aware of any true love stories that blossomed at the Flea?
LR: Dozens of people have found their matches and formed long-term partnerships. A few years ago an interrogation scene turned into an engagement and this year we’re proud to host a collaring ceremony for a long-time friend and well-respected community leader.
KL: Last time I attended the Flea there were playrooms available. How do those rooms work?
LR: NELA provides lounges for socializing, practicing skills and learning techniques from experienced trainers in a supervised environment. This year there are six lounges: Rope Lounge, Littles’ Playtime, Whip Lounge, Pet Pile, Photo Lounge and Pony Paddock.
KL: Can you explain BDSM? What are some misconceptions?
LR: The acronym BDSM is traditionally divided into three parts: B/D for bondage and discipline, D/S for dominance and submission, and S/M for sadism and masochism. This article won’t be nearly long enough to explain even the tip of the iceberg.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that BDSM and abuse are synonymous when they couldn’t be bigger antonyms.
KL: How do you feel about 50 Shades of Grey?
LR: While the book and movie have shed light on the BDSM community and brought some aspects into pop culture, they do not accurately represent a healthy, consensual D/s relationship.
KL: What are some workshops you would recommend to first-timers?
LR: The NELA Welcome Wagon is always a must for first-timers. This year we highly recommend the “Comprehensive Introduction to the World of BDSM” seminar on Friday evening. Midori, world renowned presenter and sex-positive activist, is teaching two great intro classes “Practical Advice: For the New Tops & Dominants” and “Practical Advice: For the New Bottoms & Submissives.”
KL: What advice do you have for people who are interested in trying BDSM? How should they go about asking a partner or finding a partner?
LR: First and foremost, find your local munch – that is, a friendly and informal gathering of kinky people in a public atmosphere. You’re likely to meet people who are open to talking about their experiences and offer real-world, practical advice. Remember, we’re all adults here — communicate! Be honest and realistic in what you’re looking for and remember it’s totally okay if you’re not 100% sure about what you want. Everyone starts at the beginning.
Understand that you’re not an expert just because you’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey and other kinky romance novels. You’re dealing with real people, real emotions and potentially dangerous activities. Understand the risks, learn the skills from reputable teachers and then make the intimate connection with your partner while keeping you both safe and sound.
As Motif’s DareMe girl, I have been dared to attend a workshop at the Flea. So keep your eyes open for my follow-up story! The Fetish Fair Fleamarket takes place Feb 13 – Feb 15 at the Crown Plaza, 801 Greenwich Ave, Warwick. For tickets and event listings, visit nelaonline.org