Shadow's Essays

"Words are loaded pistols."Jean Paul Sartre ~ "The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say." Anais Nin

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Location: San Jose, Ca, United States

Thursday, November 29, 2007

For Love or Money

#12. For love or Money
Volunteering and the compensations we receive.

Essays on a life of P.E.
November 28th, 2007
by shadow

Over the last few years, as i have grown and moved through the BDSM scene in Western USA states, myself and a few friends have noted many changes.
Time ebbs and flows, technology makes things work differently, takes some hard jobs away, adds new jobs to our lives.
But getting the scene to function, making the parties happen, organizing the events, hosting the munches, advertising the classes, painting the play spaces, and a million other jobs, chores, and projects in the underground alternative kink communities takes volunteers. Not just your friends, but lots of strangers and acquaintances with helping hands and open hearts.

Volunteering seems to start with that splurge of happiness that many folks find when they arrive in public play. They are suddenly, magically, LIVING the fantasies they always dreamt of, meeting people that DO the things they have wanted to, talking to people about all those secret things, and the flood of goodwill often transmutes into the desire to help out.
Altruistic tendencies in people abound, and have been extensively studied.

Most kink groups promote volunteering openly and loudly.
Without the bodies doing the work, the great ideas behind events like Thunder in the Mountains, Black Rose, and the Master/slave contests would be only sweet dreams that no one could afford to pay for.
Without volunteers, there would be no TESS, no Janus- every group, big or small, depends on one or more people creating the dated events and publicizing them.

The creators in the scene are always desperately seeking those who want to help to come to them and offer time and energy, expertise and advice, so that their visions can become real, and their communities can be offered some new vision or event. They seek out people offering to help. They cannot live without them. We also know that happy volunteers are the best recruiters for others to come and help- having happy team members makes others want to participate.

But not everyone is cut out to be a volunteer-- and worse, not everyone or every group is mature and well trained enough to find the right people, use volunteers well and keep them around.

"It has become more important than ever to improve the way we manage this scarce and valuable resource.
Organizations depending on volunteers must make sure that those people already working with them want to
stay. They must also find ways of making assignments interesting enough to attract and involve others.
A satisfied volunteer is the best recruiter" *.

Dictums such as "our volunteers are extensions of the organization and will act as if they represent us", "they are just volunteers and shouldn't be held to any standards" and "well, what do you expect from people if they are not compensated" are just a few of the hundreds of attitudes that permeate the non-profit world. All of them are detrimental to the organization and create negative opportunities. ALL of them are quotes heard at kink events.

Most kink volunteers WANT to help out- and no one who ever gave of their time did so because they wanted to deliberately mess up, not do the job, or create more trouble than they were worth, feel abused, or feel that their time was wasted. Yes, sometimes it turns out that way, but their original intentions were never of that vein. Your volunteers want to be there so they can achieve many things, including:

Gaining a sense of accomplishment
Getting experience they do not have for future paying jobs
Giving back to the community
Getting recognition and being appreciated
Spending time with people they like or want to get to know
Meeting new people and gaining a sense of being "part of the group"
Being with other people and avoiding loneliness
Having something to do during the event when they are not occupied
Having some power and control over something they believe is important or or value

The number one reason that people volunteer for something is that they believe in the cause and want to help achieve it. Studies have shown that people who volunteer come from families that had volunteers in them and nurtured the spirit of volunteering.

The way leadership runs their group, treats the staff, and understands the volunteers is going to either make or break the organization over time. Many great groups have folded because they could not sustain the sheer numbers of helpers that they needed.

All too often, the leadership of any kink group has come about that position naturally through their own unique talents, as they have created the event or organization without conscious desire to do so, and suddenly find themselves in the position of having volunteers working for them. They usually do NOT have the training or skills to handle this, although they ALWAYS BELIEVE they have the skills to do this. Unfortunately, that often creates strain and problems with volunteers, and the management doesn't necessarily even understand their own shortcomings that might contribute to the problems.

Having employees (and volunteers ARE employees the most precious kind) that are not feeling supported, appreciated, and who do not feel that they are noticed means that those people not only will not continue to help- but they will openly speak badly about the group and push others away. Volunteers that do not feel supported by the organization or have to do work that they did not sign on for become dissatisfied and hostile to the very organization they once wanted to help.

Coordinators of volunteers should be aware that volunteers might simply fade away from an organization rather than tackle the source of their discontent.

Leaders that are too busy to pay attention, who are overwhelmed and heap work on new assistance, or who do not understand the abilities of their volunteers are in for trouble.
It is important for organizations to provide volunteers with the opportunity to achieve something — however minor — by matching the volunteer with the job that is likely to provide the kind of results the volunteer is looking for. Kinky group leaders should take some time to talk with their new friends about what those folks are looking for, what hours they have available, and what they expect or need to feel successful. Just 10 min. with a new person asking them about their desires and needs can make or break a good outcome.

Kinky groups also tend to burn out volunteers with work that they volunteers did not want to do or do not like- meetings seem to be one of those issues. Volunteers, by and large, want to BE DOING, and NOT PLANNING or REPORTING. They often feel that their time is precious enough that it should be spent in the acts they wanted to accomplish, and if they do not see a sincere need for the meetings or reports they will neither buy in to the idea nor participate as needed.
Aside from "distractions" of the job, there are other turn offs that drive away your volunteers.
Disorganized management can waste a volunteer's time. Anything from making folks stand around to assigning other people to work that volunteers have already begun can trigger resignations. Not guaranteeing the right materials or the right amounts also creates conflicts.
Lack of board support or organizational support is widespread. If you only pay lip service to what you need but do not spend the time setting up jobs properly and providing PROFESSIONAL feeling support, your volunteers will feel that they are invlived with amatures that do not understand the skills they have and cannot truly appreciate their work.
Indifferent staff attitudes, including not having everyone "on board" over where volunteers are working and what their jobs are creates tension and conflicts between volunteers and the people they work with or report to. It also means that volunteers duties should be respected- having someone in charge of a job while others are either doing it for them or jumping in to "help them' when they have no asked for it leads to resentments and loss of volunteers.
Limited training and orientation undermine the best efforts. Your people need to KNOW whats going on and feel that they are part of the loop- or they will walk. Making sure they have been given all the information they need to carry out the job- up front while they are in training rather than piecemeal when crisis's strike- is essential to having happy volunteers that feel included and not abused.

Lack of contact and support creates tension, isolation, and feelings of loneliness and abandonment in people. Keep your volunteers connected with lots of information, positive feedback, and regular chances to interact with others in the organization.
Volunteers need to be matched up with the right assignments as well, so asking people what they like doing, or offering them choices and then checking in frequently to make sure that the long term feelings are still positive about their jobs is important.

Perks are no big deal, unless they're withdrawn! Insufficient supplies or withdrawal of perks gives volunteers the impression that the organization does not value them because it did not allocate sufficient resources to manage them properly.
By and large, volunteers don't make a big issue of getting something in return for their efforts. However, when something has been offered by the organization, like free coffee, and then it is withdrawn, sparks fly.
Conversely, the volunteers that will offer their time ONLY because of some specific perk- discounts to the event, free items or hotel rooms, chances to meet celebrities or stars- will then focus ONLY on achieving those free items and will put in the minimum amount of work required to receive their free gifts. This does NOT make for good volunteers or a happy organization, and creates a revolving workforce comprised of those who do not care about the job and those who MUST volunteer if they want to get in to the event at all.
Neither is the optimum mindset of a great volunteer.

Great leadership remembers that what attracts people initially is not necessarily what keeps them around, and they nurture the people that want to stay with the organization. They pay attention to volunteer fears, which often include fear of spending out of pocket unnecessarily, fear of loss of autonomy, and fear of being held accountable personally for the rules or actions of the organization. Good volunteer management sees those possibilities and works hard to minimize them.

Another large gap in the kink world is when we do not take advantage of offers the first time. Volunteers are PRECIOUS, and yet all too often, people have to offer their services 2,3,4 or more times to more than one person before they are given an opportunity to help out. Getting back to people in a timely manner on the FIRST offer is important, and failing to do so is a sign of poor management skills. Then, matching them to the right assignment or job will take care of 75% of the problems that might otherwise crop up.

Few people that want to help out want to run the ship, and with good reason-- most folks find it tedious and more trouble than it is worth. They are not excited by the larger management issues of organizational goals, effectiveness, strategies, structures and facilities. Most volunteers are content to do their assignments and leave larger organizational issues to others. It is possible that one reason for their reluctance is the sense of freedom that they value about their direct service work. For others, it is a time commitment, and for many it includes not wanting to deal with too many petty internal politics and cliques fighting behind the scenes for power in larger organizations. Some volunteers blind themselves to those issues and the complain bitterly when they rise in the group to a place where they are suddenly within the loop of communicaton where those power struggles are taking place. Others only work with small groups or with organizations with one strong leader. Many others just refuse to get involved at all after they have been exposed to negativity- and their input and expertise are lost.

Great leadership can easily be judged by how well people who were not friends describe the experience of volunteering and how smooth recruitment drives go for groups. Having communities that appreciate the need for volunteers, that rally round the organization when large events approach, and that speak well of the experience afterwards are benchmarks of leadership that cares and understands the people that give of this precious commodity.

Years ago, i worked hard for a large local club, often putting in 50-60 hours a week during the final days before our big events, and usually working closely with 15-20 people over several months, year after year. The fiscal equivalent was probably close to $30,000.00 per person in what we were given of their time and skills.

We got to know each other intimately, and, as my best friend in the group put it, "lived in each other's pockets" for days at a time. Some of us got along in smaller spurts than others, and, as is wont when people are thrown together, there were invariably clashes and hard feelings over time- sometimes building over years.
Each season, the leadership- the 2-4 top folks and the 10-12 section leads- would put off our "after event" meeting for a full 30 days just to "cool off"- some folks were just not able to work well together until after we all had a long break and a chance to step back and see the event with some perspective.

Having such strong feelings that we needed a 30 day breather was taken as a 'given evil' and we all understood that while we might strongly want to throttle each other, we none the less worked *well* together as far as promoting and creating the event, and for several years in a row the same "usual suspects" worked at various positions, with a few new faces replacing the 2-3 drop outs each year. Between us, we had over 100 volunteers working with us, as well as at least 3 separate contracts negotiated by 3 different leads for work to be handled by 3 outside businesses. Overall, the 'team' handled about 130 people over the course of a 90 day period working up to, and including, the event itself. Not to mention the 300-400 attendees.

It was a daunting task, and one that showed quickly who had skills and who didn't in personell issues. Those leads that could work well with others had returning volunteers every year (not just their personal *friends*, but others that only had contact with them for volunteer time), had repeat contacts over contracts- and had contracts that got BETTER, cheaper, and smoother as the years went by. Most telling was that the organizations founders had LOTS of us that wanted to keep coming back. One in particular, a natural leader, impressed me most with his sincere desire to make sure that no matter what the job, the problem, or the feelings, that we were having FUN.
That same natural inclination was part of my Owners philosophy as well- "We're Havin' Fun" became our group's motto and one we still live by. No one should ever give of themselves and then feel unhappy or unappreciated- no one should have a bad time!

Offering your volunteers a fun, rewarding experience with support, engaging work that exploits their natural skills and empowers them to the level they are comfortable with is not something just anyone can achieve. Possibly the most important job in any group is the volunteer coordinator. If you are a group leader or convention manager or party planner, there is no excuse for not understanding and appreciating those who come to you and want to help.

Other sources include:

Copyright shadow, Nov. 28, 2007
All rights reserved. Please write
for permission to repost. All reposts must be complete with copyright and contact info.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Vampire with a Soul

The Vampire with a Soul
Why the bad guys swear that what you see is not what they are.

Essays on a life of P.E.
November 5th, 2007
by shadow

Fictional Heros have those great flaws but are anomalies- unique, special, and one of a kind. Buffy falls in love with Angel- the Vampire with a soul, the guy who LOOKS like all the other bad guys, but really- really- is the one true thing because he is special.
He may look live evil and dress like evil and only be able to come out at night like evil... but hey! If you are close to him you know he's *special* and has that soul.

That is what makes fiction so fun. That is also what makes it FICTION, not fact. In real life, those *special* people that seem to exist under the radar, hiding where few but the true believers can see them, just don't exist.
The real people that masquerade as "special" or "unique" and seeking the chosen few are, in every case, posers, strange frightened wanna bees that have created a fictional story to lure others closer and people their fantasies with others that can be manipulated, used, and lied to.

But it is easy to be drawn in when you are alone, hungry, frightened, angry, and *desperately* seeking exactly what they are offering. It is easy to overlook the obvious flaws to their logic, to create or give excuses for the huge holes in logic and reason that their fantasy worlds offer.
MOST of the people in the scene that are trying to make you believe that they are "the one good vampire" (the one good married guy, the one good unemployed guy, the one good munch attendee, the one good slave) are looking you right in the eye while they spin their stories. They are solid flesh and blood standing in front of you, telling you things that you SO want to believe, and often, we find ourselves making up perfectly good excuses for why they are lacking that is inordinate.

The 'on line' vampire is however, unique in his or her capability to spin fantasy to heights and depths that real time jiggaloes, mama's boys, cheating husbands, thieves, psycho slaves, and the rest of the human panoply in the scene cannot. And the really sad, mean, awful part is that, while the rest of the real time monsters are, when all is said and done, REAL, the on line fantasy is not real at all- and the people who interact with them are just wasting months and years they can never get back- or worse, conned into believing that the illegal and dangerous activities they are drawn into are ACCEPTABLE KINK and something that is part of WIITWD.

One "slave" seeking love and hope found a web site that drew her in with the fantasy laden promises normally only found in romantic bra-rippers, and wrote to a real time slave group about how wonderful her new "master" was, complete with how His family all over the world would some day welcome her home once she served him- long distance- on line- long enough. Her posts included how she paid her OWN WAY to fly overseas to meet him sometime, and lured other women into his cult.
Posts from others in the group seemed not to dissuade her from her believe that THIS vampire really did have a "soul":

"XXX wrote about the dangers of cults in the context of writing about The Path of the Quiet Storm. Her labeling Quiet Storm a cult -- whether directly or by implication -- is entirely inaccurate. I am a member of The Path of the Quiet Storm. I hold firmly that in no way is it a cult. It has only benefited me in my life. I feel an obligation to set straight the record and point out why these points about cults presented by XXXX DO NOT apply to Quiet Storm."

The moment that the rest of us began to point out the obvious flaws in this neophytes logic, she became hostile, defensive, and left the group. Honest questions made her feel uncomfortable.

Posts to her about her deep beliefs tried to expose those flaws:

"Most members of cults feel exactly the same way.
That's why we call them cults and not sewing circles.

While i truly understand your needs and desires, your deep commitments and
relate to your feelings, i also know that when a girl needs to be slave or
servant and finally finds *someone*, that is usually their head over heels moment
of total belief.
It means hunger.
It means need, and want, and desire.
And when people are so desperate for their kink to be fulfilled, they will
make sure to keep anything that might block that from happening out of their
line of vision.

It is no means disrespectful of you or what you need or do or want or have...
it is a group reaction to the guy that has snagged you, had you fly all over
hell and back on your own dime, had you help him get other girls to do the
same, and is creating this world that, while romantic and oh so full of
mesmerizing sexuality and service and "a higher cause", seems for us to really has no
basis in any fact that can be proven or backed up or brought out into the
light of day outside of his web site.
But, we do keep trying to hope that we are mistaken, and that there is
something MORE to this cloud flurry than just his enormous ego.

That is why we are asking questions.
That is why no one is giving you grief.

You see, all of us *are* real.
We have friends, events, parties, auctions, sales, service, and conventions.
Pictures of ourselves and the teachers, the "trainers" (well, that word is
so loaded that most of us laugh, but we will continue to use it as it is), the
mentors, the fellow travelers on our paths.
Most of us have, at one time or another, met someone like your dom (always on
line. These men are not public players and shun contact with the real time
BDSM world) and try to warn newbies on line away from these men, for in the long
run they will not fulfill what is *really* in any woman's heart- but they do
fulfill their own fantasies of being the domly dom of the great old world
palace - and usually while doing it they manage to never spend their own money,
never have real social contact, and act like a "cult" leader.

Now, from what i have read, this man you serve is not quite like that -- you
are here for one thing!
Most of the jerkos would be AGHAST if one of their girls found real time
players and started talking to them, going to munches, and learning about BDSM in
real time, for they would have this same thing happening to those girls- but
since they were just paper lions, the relationships would fall apart quickly.

In your case, i am beginning to doubt that this guy is as we initially felt.
But the egomaniacal web page (and yes, i am sure you can see our viewpoint,
even if you do not agree at all with it) with all it's mystical assertions but
nothing more concrete than a URL leaves most of us feeling less than
comfortable about *him*.

And i understand why you are protective and defensive about him. i am too
about my Master.
Mine however, runs a real time group that meets at a real time restaurant
that posts real time meeting notices.
Mine co-founded a real time dungeon with real time pictures and real time
events that we drove to and that are legendary around Sacramento.
Mine teaches real time classes, shows up at real time conventions, and
tonight we are going to a real time party at a real time house with 3 other real
time couples- some of whom we met at *my* real time munch.

i came into the scene SO desperately hungry that, before i found real time,
there was a "dom" i spent a lot of time and energy interacting with long
distance on the phone and the net and by mail.
i knew, within a few weeks, that he was a fantasy dom.
He never "had time" to get out to his local munch and meet the other people
there (so that they could write me about him).
He never was able to come see me, or even meet half way.
He had lots of TALK and computer stuff to see and read and do.... but that
don't feed the tiger.
That's OK... i caught on quickly, and so i didn't lose precious time (years
or months) giving all my needs and attentions to someone that was not going to
be what i needed to fulfill my life, but merely a distraction.

Now, if you have no DESIRE for anything ever more than what you have, even if
it *is* something as described above, then most of us here probably should be
kind and back off- for you have found exactly what you want.

BUT**** if there is one iota of need, one little finger of regrets over
things not fulfilled, one evening of despair about what you feel others might be
doing or having that you have not got, then please be kind to us and let us
keep asking questions and offering information.

Right now, it might not be anything more to you than offensive questions or
comments about "your master", but then again, i defy you to find any person in
the history of the world that was seriously involved with a cult leader and,
when they left the group or person and found a new life, did not admit that
while they were in service, they would have done *anything*, so totally involved
they were with the stories and promises of the leader in question.

Jim Jones is the ultimate case in point. Only those of us who have felt the
longing and the pull of *something* in our lives can understand how those 900
people could believe in one man so fully as to follow him into the jungle,
leave their families behind, and eventually do what they did.
And even then, most of us cannot understand how they could do that with their
children involved as well.

The human capacity to ignore reality for something NEEDED in the heart is
amazing, and goes through every phase of mankind (how did the German people
manage to ignore what was happening in their own towns before WWII? How did the
American people ignore the slaughter of the native Americans? How can any
battered bloody left for dead woman still wake up in the hospital and swear on her
life that her partner didn't do it, didn't mean it, and that she deserved it?),
so finding that is is often exploited within the BDSM community is not a

Nay, considering that almost all of us before the current wave came here and
created a world where we don't use real names and believe confidentiality is
the most important social requirement, it is not hard to understand how that
atmosphere also is a perfect breeding ground for the wanna-be-s, the "twue
dominate massturs" and the abusers of the world to flourish.
In order to protect ourselves, we not only have to keep a low profile from
the "vanilla" saviors of the world, but also have to try to weed out the future
serial killers that use us as a hunting ground. We have to isolate and
identify the folks that show up in our real time kinky places and cannot keep
secrets, cannot quit writing everything in open blogs and keep posting pictures
without permission of people that really want to keep a low profile. We also tend
to not want to see lovely, committed, deeply passionate people taken for a
ride, especially one that is expensive and has a termination point that will
leave them unfulfilled and in pain.

"D" made some very valid points between what everyone else here
is/does/sees/works towards, and the way you are living your submission-
not that we want to judge this if it rocks your boat, but that so far, we
don't SEE how this is working.

Training per se... as an example.
When *i* want to be trained, it is for "something:
trained to serve tea to a room of people.
Trained to give a great pedicure.
Trained to learn to run the equipment at a convention for a party.

When the people i have served wanted to use me, they did.
They trained me on how canes felt- and worked up slowly over time...
but they did so as scenes that we negotiated and i learned as we went..

When the people i have served (and whom are there to fulfill MY needs as
well, that's why they call it a power EXCHANGE rather than a power giveaway) and i
felt that sex was on the table, that happened- on their rules, but within
pre-negotiated boundaries as we each needed.

Every one of the more than 1,000 real time kinksters i have met, played with,
served, or enjoyed while i was a lead for the Folsom Conventions could tell
you the names, dates, and places where they learnt what they do, who taught it
to them, and how to get in touch with that person if you wanted to.

When they meet across the world for events and parties, it is not under some
cloud of "secret society" ...... and the leaders of the groups are often very
high profile, writers, teachers, and fundraisers to protect our legal rights
as adults to be what we are and do what we do.

i know that you are probably not going to have any changes of heart at all at
this time- but i personally hope that, no matter what your life becomes, that
it is EXACTLY what you always dreamt of, and fantasize about, and is
If not, i hope that you will read all these nice folks comments and
reconsider what some of them have said, and continue to relate to us."

It's been 2 years since i wrote that post, and the slave is question has gone quiet on line.
The 'master' still has a web site ( ) -- only now, no one but the victims he has suckered in from his on line prowls can get inside-- i have no idea why, but i would bet that it's so damned sad and funny that he can't stand the criticisim's and cannot justify the levels of BS.

These people will ALWAYS find victims-- they are vampires- but really, you have to remember that vampires don't have souls.

Copyright shadow, November 5th, 2007
All rights reserved. Please write
for permission to repost. All reposts must be complete with copyright and contact info.