Inside the KinkyJews Hanukkah Celebration
Wed Dec 21 2011
In a large loft in the Flatiron District, the KinkyJews are busy preparing for their annual Hanukkah party. Two women in bustiers arrange wine bottles. A man in a fedora clears an area for strip dreidel. A middle-aged man in a suit arrives exclaiming, "I brought the kosher food!"
Naomi, the founder of KinkyJews, is petite and brunet and wears a glittery blue dress and matching Santa hat. "When I was on dating sites like JDate, I was always wondering who was kinky. And on kinky sites like Fetlife, I wanted to know who was Jewish," she says, surveying the room, her rhinestoned eyelashes fluttering with preparty nerves.
"Sometimes we talk about that," she says. "Why there are so many kinky Jews?" Naomi believes it's because Judaism is relatively sex-positive. Another party attendee agrees: "Sex just isn't as taboo in Judaism," she says. "There are even laws about how you're supposed to have it, and how men are commanded to pleasure their wives."
Partygoers have begun to arrive for tonight's celebration of lights. They mingle while a chef in an open kitchen makes latkes, which are set on a long table alongside gauzy slices of lox, orange caviar, cream cheese and powdered jelly doughnuts.
As the loft fills, it becomes apparent there are more newbies here than one might expect at a kinky party. A few wide-eyed men swirling their wineglasses stand out. One curly-haired, blue-eyed guy explains it's his first time; he's "sort of interested in the dominance stuff." In the corner are a group of attractive young men, faces you might expect to see in a college brochure. I wonder at first if they're someone's younger relatives. They say, laughing, that they read about the party in Details: "We're Jewish and adventurous, so why not?"
Sometimes the events draw conservative Jews who otherwise might not set foot in a kinky party. "Last time, there was a rabbi here," says Sheri, a short-haired woman in a corset. Tonight's crowd ranges widely—from the college kids to mature couples in rubber and fetish gear—but the vibe is friendly and comfortable.
A woman in an ice-blue gown and blue fur saunters up. Motioning to two men, she tells me she's here with her husband and her slave. I compliment her ensemble and she lifts her dress to reveal a turquoise garter belt and matching flogger. Behind us, a woman is leading a human puppy around on a leash: a man crawling around on all fours, wearing only a full-body harness and a hard-on. Partygoers lean over to pet him. "Good boy!" someone says, while balancing a wineglass in the other hand. The night's in full swing.
At the other end of the loft, there is rope play. With someone else's camera, I photograph a woman whose body is bound with elaborate knots, zigzagging across her breasts and the small of her back. I move her hair across one shoulder, trying to better direct the pose, and two men start spanking her with floggers. Meanwhile, a game of strip dreidel has begun. A silver-haired man in a suit takes off his jacket, while a matronly blond shakes her breasts loose from a dress.
Naomi says she sometimes gets hate mail about the parties; some people of the Jewish faith take offense to this representation of the culture. But she receives more feedback from Jews who are happy to learn they aren't alone in their kinkiness. The group carefully toes a line, even at tonight's party, in celebrating Jewish culture alongside kink, without allowing irony to turn either into a caricature.
At midnight, when Naomi announces the lighting of the "human menorah," she says the Shehecheyanu, a traditional prayer, will be sung. The woman leading the human puppy on a leash stops suddenly and warns the host not to use God's full name, as that could be blasphemous.
But as the eight candles were lit down a woman's naked back, and the prayer was sung, using a less holy name, it seemed clear that the point was not to co-opt or to make light of tradition, but rather, to honor it. The evening was about keeping the culture and tradition alive, not just within one's family of origin, but in one's larger family, the one you come to New York to create for yourself.
The next KinkyJews event is the 7th Annual KinkyJews Seder in April, where Passover rituals will be observed with an erotic twist.