Tuesday, July 29, 1998

Paul Cantin

p. News 4.

Real sex cheaper than S&M: Experts

NEWMARKET -- If Madame de Sade's customers wanted a quick sexual thrill, they could get it a lot cheaper somewhere else, two experts told court yesterday.

Political scientist Shannon Bell said she has actually participated in sado-masochism, while social psychologist Roy Baumeister has studied written fantasies.

But both said sexual gratification has little to do with the whips, beatings and humiliation in the Thornhill bondage bungalow.

The two experts testified yesterday at the trial of Terri-Jean Bedford, 39, who operated de Sade's and is charged with keeping a common bawdy house.

Central to the case is whether the elaborate S&M scenarios acted out by Bedford and her staff, at prices of up to $300 an hour, constituted selling sex.

Bell said S&M especially appeals to successful businessmen who relish the chance to surrender control.

"I wanted to learn how to be a strong woman," said Bell, who participated in "fetish nights" at clubs. "I think (dominatrices) are good role models and I learned a lot," said the York University professor, who has been a customer at S&M dungeons and has spoken with up to 75 dominatrixes.

The relationship between submissive "slaves" and their whipcracking "doms" is often pleasurable but rarely sexual, she said. "It's much larger than ejaculation. It is something that happens in your head. . . If you want to have sex, there's lots of private and commercial outlets for that."

Prosecutor Peter Westgate repeatedly tried to have Bell agree that S&M is intimately linked with sex, but she refused. "I have been in on a private session... have you?" Bell shot back at Westgate.

Baumeister, a professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said he studied S&M fantasies contributed by readers to Penthouse Variations magazine. He concluded it's an attempt to escape from the pressures of modern culture.

'Emotional release'

"It is not a sexual outlet... There are easier ways to get an orgasms than to be tied up and spanked. It is total emotional release."

Both experts said women like Bedford, who operate commercial S&M businesses, are typically strict about forbidding purely sexual contact with their clients. The trial continues Friday.

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Created: August 19, 1998
Last modified: August 19, 1998

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