“As a domme, I have clients who come in to live out their dark side, while others seek out reassurance that it’s okay to have a fetish. I am very intuitive and need to establish trust before I can lead my client out of their comfort zone.”
Into The Night is an ongoing project I started in New York City, documenting an unseen side to the city that lives on after dark.
As a concept, “Into The Night” aims to capture my journey through the night at street level. My use of flash borrows from the style of crime scene photography. I see the images almost like crime scenes waiting to happen. I recently decided to evolve the project so that each installment, with a full photo shoot and an accompanying interview, becomes a character study. My subject becomes my muse and my accomplice for the evening as we journey through the night together.
On my latest adventure, I invited Ms Anthrope to join me — a professional provocateur whose specialties include spanking, public humiliation, golden showers and body worship. As a practicing domme, she brought along a submissive whom she tied up and led through the city streets. Starting in Williamsburg, we crossed the bridge and finished our shoot the early morning of the Lower East Side. Passersby remained unfazed, a testament to a city inhabited by those who have seen it all.
Over the last year, I have watched your personal evolution as you embarked on a journey to explore the darker parts of your personality and adopt an unconventional lifestyle in the process. What was the catalyst for change?
After a longterm, monogamous relationship, I had found myself single and sexless for a long time. Dating seemed too casual with no meaning and I had the idea that it was for people with no hobbies or friends. Sounds harsh, right? But that was my conviction. After a few years of maintaining that belief, (and celibacy) I realized that I was sexually dissatisfied and pretty unhappy without any intimacy in my life. It became clear to me that I needed to challenge my judgement towards dating. Being used to dealing with my own demons growing up, I decided once again to face my fears; this time my social anxiety. I put up a profile on Okcupid and went on numerous dates with half of Williamsburg. The rules of conduct were surprisingly quick to learn but after a couple of months, I found I wasn’t making any real connections and rarely accepted second date invites. Without knowing what I was looking for, I knew that it wasn’t a monogamous relationship or casually dating (which I had mistaken as a hooking up). I questioned myself and wondered why I couldn’t relate to people. As a consequence of going on so many unsuccessful dates, I concluded that my sexuality was different from the mainstream. When I found out about the sex-positive movement, I was instantly attracted to the community and their progressive attitude towards sensuality and sexuality.
Tell me about being Sex Positive and what it means to you?
Being sex-positive encourages people to embrace intimacy and sexuality with a liberated attitude and few inhibitions. I needed to unlearn hetero-normative and societal conventions to really understand and express myself sexually. In my opinion, as long as everyone involved gives their consent, there is no reason to create limitations on your expression but to explore actively.
You currently practice Polyamory. How would you define these types of relationships and how do you deal with some of the challenges you face such as jealousy?
For the sake of simplifying it; Polyamory is similar to open relationships with the most significant distinction that people in ‘poly’ relationships allow emotional connections to form with multiple partners. According to my parameters, I like to be transparent with my partners about who I see and what my emotional involvement is. There is no reason to hide information because lovers are not competing against each other. We are drawn to people for very different reasons. One of my partners pushes my boundaries, while another may bring out the sweet side in me. These two relationboats can undoubtedly coexist in harmony. Oh, I think I need to clarify what I mean by ‘relationboat.’ Everyone knows what a relationship is. The relationboat however is not as serious and more casual, while the relationcanoe refers to an unstable relationship dynamic and can carry negative connotations. Having multiple partners, I can freely embrace new connections but I also need to reassure my partners what I value in our relationboats.
Being fairly new to Polyamory, I still face challenges that deal mostly with unlearning behavioral patterns of monogamy. In the past, I have compared myself to my partner’s other female partner, instead of thinking: “How nice that he has connected with someone who enjoys gardening just as much.” In those situations I like to make a list to compare my patterns in monogamy and polyamory just to remind myself that my goal is to mature emotionally and mentally. When my needs are being met, I realize that I have absolutely no reason to be jealous of any of my partner’s other partners. Plus, I hate gardening.
You define yourself as an erotic provocateur. How did you initially get into the line of fetish work and what does a typical day look like?
I initially reached out to friends of friends, asking if these pro-dommes were interested in having me for double sessions. It was surprisingly easy to find a nice and professional establishment!
As a domme, I have clients who come in to live out their dark side, while others seek out reassurance that it’s okay to have a fetish. I am very intuitive and need to establish trust before I can lead my client out of their comfort zone. I either praise or scold, which is easy for me as the oldest, bossy sibling of three. I’m naturally drawn to being in charge.
In your personal relationships do you prefer to be the dominant or the submissive?
I am submissive to one partner only and have no desire in the near future to be submissive to others. I do identify as a ‘switch’ but before submitting myself to someone, my partner needs to prove himself as a trusting and deserving person. I see my submission as the biggest compliment I can possibly give.
Have you ever been asked to do something that you felt uncomfortable with?
It happens. Men always want to push the boundaries, don’t they? I get asked to be their submissive but I politely decline those requests. If it’s playful, I will let a regular client spank me but only as long as I am in control of the situation.
How do your partners feel about your line of work?
They are very supportive of my job because they see how much it empowers me sexually and as a woman. Also, I pay for nice dinners. They love it!
Where did the name Ms Anthrope come from?
I used to hate people. (or at least believed I did) I would sometimes say: “People are my least favorite animal.” So naturally, my partner refers to me as Miss Anthrope. We can laugh about the tragedies and darkness of life and I guess that’s my way of dealing with the skeletons in my closet.
How did your friends and family react to your change in lifestyle?
Some of my friends and family responded very strongly and expressed doubt when I told them I was in a non-monogamous relationboat. I managed to prove people wrong, by sharing my newly adopted attitude about love and intimate connections. I see myself now as an advocate in my immediate community to inspire my friends be positive and confident about sex and intimacy.
For more information, check out Ms Anthrope’s website.
If you have a story you want to share and would like to accompany me on a dark adventure ‘Into The Night’ - please feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I don’t even want to try and play it cool. This was one of the best days of my life. Fuck having a wedding, I would much rather curate and show in my own exhibition.
Spencer and I created The Brooklyn Collective earlier this year. We wanted to develop a community of talented photographers all working together towards a common goal. It was built on the premise that a group of people having the same conversation with a collective voice was so much more powerful than one person with one voice.
Running your own business in such a competitive industry is hard. I am proud that we have created an ego free community of kick ass artists who support one another. The journey is a hell of a lot easier with company.
We have already started brainstorming ideas for next year’s exhibition. Expect it to be bigger and better.
“I broke character a block away from the bar and acknowledged Spencer for the first time in over an hour. Spencer agreed that the experiment had been a success. He felt it was the way birthdays should be celebrated.”
A lady approached me in the Greek Islands last year to tell me I looked truly comfortable sitting alone by myself. I hadn’t checked my phone. I didn’t have a book as a buffer. I was enjoying my meal solo, comfortable with my own company. She applauded the skill and a skill it is. Even as a self identified introvert who enjoys being alone, learning to enjoy a meal by yourself is an acquired skill. For me, it heightens the experience. Each moment intensified by my solo status. I concentrate on the way my food tastes, I take in my surroundings – focusing on details I would have otherwise missed. I people watch and eavesdrop on conversations. I let my mind wander and take the time to explore a train of thought. I relax/recharge and let the world happen around me.
As my birthday approached this year, my friends wanted to know where the party would be, what was I doing? The thought of having a party sounded exhausting. Of course I wanted to see my friends but I also wanted to schedule some time to myself to enjoy the moment and reflect on how far I have come this year and thus ‘The Solo Birthday Celebration’ was born.
Title: The Solo Birthday Celebration
Concept: To plan a Solo Birthday Celebration that explored introversion and celebration.
Location: I chose a dive bar in Brooklyn called Tip Top because of its unpopularity. I also felt that the Christmas lights and old Happy Birthday sign created the right setting for my celebration.
Time: 8:00 pm – I was meeting friends later in the night so I needed to start early.
What to bring: I wanted to bring some of my favorite things along to help me enjoy the moment. I brought with me a cheesecake for one. Candles. A lighter and a Cigar to go with the whiskey I intended to drink. I also purchased a large Happy Birthday badge and wore my new birthday shoes…a pair of gold Dr Martins.
THE NIGHT OF…
I wanted my celebration documented so I had my co-founder Spencer Lum meet me at the bar. After initial greetings, I completely ignored him as if he wasn’t even there. I can only imagine how strange this must have appeared to onlookers.
There were two other patrons and the bartender. One of the men tried to initiate contact with a feeble joke about Canadians but I shut him down. The bar tender asked for my ID and I handed it over, announcing that it was in fact my birthday. “Happy Birthday” she replied pouring me a whiskey on the house. She was in her early 30’s. She only worked Mondays and she loved the bar. “It’s been in the neighborhood forever and there are plenty of dedicated regulars” she informed me.
I laid out my goodie bag of items I had brought and sipped my whiskey. I eavesdropped on the conversation between the bartender and my fellow drinking companions but it wasn’t of interest so I tuned out and retreated into Kirra world.
I decided to put some music on the Jukebox. I chose: Happy Birthday by Stevie Wonder and prepared my birthday cake with one candle on top. I lit the candle and blew it out while Stevie Wonder sang me Happy Birthday. It was a nice moment.
Spencer continued to shoot while I ate my birthday cake. My drinking companions ordered me a shot of this terrible citrus vodka. I washed it down with the last of my whiskey and ordered another. I took my whiskey and my cigar out the back.
The back of Tip Top is my favorite part. It resembles the smoking area of a derelict country pub somewhere in Australia or perhaps someone’s back yard where you used to hang out and smoke weed as a teenager.
It was empty except for myself and Spencer. The sound of the rain on the roof was comforting. I took a seat and lit my cigar. The alcohol had started to hit my system and the head spins from the cigar gave me a buzz. The smoke trailed from my cigar illuminated by colored light. Spencer circled me with his camera. I was aware of his presence but felt that he was an outsider observing my bubble.
The solidarity, the inebriation, the smoke swirling around me, the flash from the camera – it was a surreal yet deeply relaxing experience. I stubbed out my cigar, packed up my things and thanked the bartender on the way out. I broke character a block away from the bar and acknowledged Spencer for the first time in over an hour. Spencer agreed that the experiment had been a success. He felt it was the way birthdays should be celebrated.
Birthdays create an uncomfortable tension for me. The thoughts and wishes are pleasant and warm, but there’s an undercurrent of expectation that’s disquieting. Because it’s the day most about you, it creates a self-consciousness that’s normally absent.
I was fascinated when Kirra Cheers approached me about The Solo Birthday Project. Declaring her identity and acknowledging her introversion, she celebrated her birthday on her own with a cake, a drink, and a cigar without acknowledging my presence as I documented the event.
As the evening progressed and people looked on, I came to realize that despite my invisibility, the very presence of the camera catalyzed the celebration into both performance and a truer statement of self. It became an exploration of awareness. Where self-consciousness normally re-frames our existence in the eyes of our own narrative, here, Cheers flips this around and re-frames her narrative through existence, turning a constructed event into a form of liberation.
This year I have actively sort to blur the lines between my life and my art. For now…they are one and the same and I am happy about this but even so, there still remains a part of me that remains untouched, that I share with no one. Shouldn’t your birthday be the one-day of the year you celebrate you? Not the version of yourself you present to the world but the real ‘you’. The private self.
Next time your birthday rolls around; consider a solo birthday celebration of your own. At the very least, take the opportunity to have your cake and eat it too.
I am about to call you on all the bullshit you tell yourself that stops you from creating, growing, exploring. I get sick of hearing this crap from people. Stop selling yourself excuses and start living the life you want…
- I’M SCARED… : Heads up guys…I’m scared too but this is no reason not to do things. My mother once told me - “It’s not about living without fear it’s having the courage to go on in spite of it”. Sure – she got this inspirational quote from some other anonymous source but that doesn’t mean it lacks merit. Change how you think about fear; use it as a motivating force, embrace it. Being fearful is when you know you are really living and a clear indicator you are out of your comfort zone. Outside your comfort zone is when magic happens. Sit with your fear and be open to magic.
- I’M STILL WORKING ON THAT…: Oh yeh…really?! Are you really still working on it or is that what you tell yourself for fear of actually sharing your work and opening yourself up to public opinion. Seth Godin (one of my all time hero’s) defines anxiety as “experiencing failure in advance”. ” You are not only punishing yourself, you’re sabotaging your work”. Furthermore…(and this is my favorite) “the people who aren’t willing to put themselves on the line are already failing. You might fail or you will fail. It feels to me it’s better to ‘might fail’. PEOPLE… ! Stop failing in advance. Be brave and share that project you have been working on forever, tell someone about your amazing new idea. Don’t let fear cripple you…be brave and kick your ass over that cliff.
- I DON’T HAVE TIME…: Yes you do! just stop procrastinating. Productive procrastination is one of my favorite go to moves. It’s when you do a bunch of stuff to avoid doing the thing you really should be working on. I’m doing it right now. I’m writing this post when I really should be completing my first draft for my book proposal. If I had skipped the three hrs of procrastination (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and just got down to it…I’d already be at home in my pajamas watching episodes of ‘High Maintenance’. This is also the excuse I give myself for not going to the gym. We have all been there and it’s total bullshit. Write a list and hold yourself accountable.
- I CAN’T MAKE A DIFFERENCE…: This is when you whinge about the state of the world but do nothing to change it. If you have identified a problem, either find a creative solution or lead by example. I don’t want to hear your whining if you don’t plan on doing anything about it. Learn to back up your mouth and start contributing to the world as an active participant.
- I HAD THIS GREAT IDEA BUT…: but….you missed the boat. You never acted on that idea but rest assured someone else did. Now they are kicking back in the Bahamas sipping Mai Tai’s while you are still slaving away at your 9-5 making someone else’s dreams a reality. You know what’s scarier than doing things. Not doing things. No one wants to look back and wonder what could have been. The time is NOW!
Being awesome is a choice. Choose to be awesome. Choose to make your dreams a reality. Choose to be the best version of yourself. Choose to act now.