Content warning: This article contains some adult and sexual content. For that reason, it is not suitable for minors.

V9i6 Kinkfest

Narrated by Matt Davies Voiceover

You’ll never guess what we did the other weekend. (Or, if you’re reading this article, maybe you can). Maybe you were there, too. Or maybe, you heard about it but decided not to go. I’m talking, of course, about KinkFest.

Put on by the Portland Leather Alliance, a Portland based 501(c)3, KinkFest is an annual three-day conference at the Portland Expo center, featuring hands-on classes, vendors, performing arts, and community gathering space. It isn’t quite a ‘convention’ in the style of sci-fi conventions, but more of a leather-clad professionals conference filled with hundreds of people of varying skill levels and backgrounds. It’s a wild ride, and as part of that, I’d like to share some of our adventures with you.

First off, the hard work of the team who put on KinkFest was obvious. Since COVID-19 hit, KinkFest seemed to be the little festival-who-could. Once Oregon lifted its restrictions on large in-person events, the team scrambled to put together a fantastic weekend (not without its hiccups, of course). Since then, it’s grown to include the west coast’s largest dungeon, a huge vendor hall, over 40 community events, and over 50 educational panels over the convention’s three days. 

This year, a recurring theme popped up which hit us right in the heart — the importance of understanding, and the imperativeness of shared language. Not just with kink, but with community. 

Shibari suspension

KinkFest: What to expect 

KinkFest took place at the Portland Expo Center. The main area was a large, echoey cement chamber split into three rooms, designated for shopping, learning, and playing respectively. 

When we first entered the Expo Center, we were stopped for a temperature check. Then we got our badges and were sent to registration. There, we showed proof of COVID vaccination, and got checked in and handed a swag bag. The swag bag contained the weekend program, as well as several goodies from local kink-supportive individuals and companies.

After we checked in, we were free to explore to our hearts’ content! The vendor room was large, with over 90 vendors promoting everything from live pussy portraits (which by day three became “pussy or cock portraits”), tattoos and massages, custom made corsets and harnesses, and a wide smattering of vendors with crops, paddles, and canes. Oh my! (Shout out to the Slap and Tickle, a KinkFest vendor local to Kennewick). 

Off to the side, there were some community gathering spaces, and one of many KinkFest info booths. Leaving the vendor hall dropped us into a tightly packed hallway space with bootblacks and people entering and exiting the other large room area, which held the main stage and all classrooms. 

There were six areas divided by curtains, with a panel running simultaneously behind each of them. Each panelist was hooked up to speakers, the overall sound quality varying from panel to panel and competing against the background noise of the other panelists. Basically, a sensory nightmare — which was unfortunate, and honestly a contributing factor to us only going to two panels over the course of the weekend. 

At the main stage, we saw everything from shibari suspension (intricate ropework) and aerial silks, to a woman masturbating and repeatedly squirting… quite far. (I honestly didn’t quite know what to make of it). Friday night, the stage was also home to the opening ceremony, a presentation thanking all the hard working volunteers, and celebrating the opening of the largest dungeon in the United States. 

The dungeon was huge. Picture a high school gymnasium for size, but with dark lighting and thumping bass music. And of course, it’s filled with Saint Andrew's crosses, spanking benches, suspension frames, and other nifty pieces of furniture geared to helping you explore your kinky desires. It also seemed to inspire confidence — no one walking through the dungeon seemed nervous or unhappy to be there.

In addition, there was a small library room set up to give a respite from the weekend activities, and a cozy community gathering space shoved into a small room upstairs. Throughout the weekend, that gathering space was full of other weirdos getting to know each other, sharing their skills in rope work, comparing notes on the best type of flogger, and having sidebars on how to best stage a kidnapping (I’m completely serious. And so were they.) Time and time again, we found ourselves with people who were proactively sharing and talking about their deep, weird desires. 

And we loved it. An incredible thing happened at KinkFest — a little community came together and reassured everyone that they weren’t alone. It was a powerful sensation, and one which we’re designed to search out: new connections. We aren’t experts in our field. One of us is a professional map reader, and the other is a professional money investigator. But together we’ve learned that you don’t need someone to give you a permission slip to go out there, share yourself, and try to connect with more people and build a community. So we’re coming to you, Tri-Cities, to start to open up a dialogue about sex, gender, relationships, and kink — and how we can fit all of those things in here, our desert oasis, together.

Over the coming year, we’ll be attempting to bridge the gap. We want to come together to build a safe, sex-positive, kink-friendly, LGBTQ+ community. We want to connect you weirdos. Will you connect with us? Find us on discord:

Hero Image: Photo by Emojibator on Unsplash