Sagacity is Victoria’s longest running alternative lifestyle society, founded in 2000. In the time since then, alternative, kink, fetish, and BDSM lifestyles have become a little more mainstream due to a greater presence in the media—television, movies, and books.
Sam Quinn, Sagacity’s founder and president, says the society’s mandate is primarily “to provide education and a place for people who are interested or involved in alternative lifestyles, kink, fetish, or BDSM.” “When we originally started, we were the only guys around,” Quinn goes on to say, “in Victoria for sure, anyway. It made a good jumping-off point for wanting to learn more or getting involved. Of course, you have to remember, when we started this back then, there wasn’t a lot of information available on the Internet. Now you can google and you can find everything.”
“It was very difficult to find anything, any kind of information. It was very, very in the closet. It wasn’t out there. You didn’t talk about it. So we started Sagacity, and over the years it’s grown and grown, and now there are lots of organizations here in Victoria and on the Island and in the mainland and everywhere,“ says Quinn. Now there are groups like Fetlife, which Quinn describes as a Facebook for alternative people. Quinn says, “It’s free, you get a login, and they have groups and information. It’s huge, it’s mammoth. Anything you could possibly think of and probably things you couldn’t even think of, it’s all there.”
Although alternative lifestyle organizations have grown in number, and education on the subject is widely available, some presumptions still survive. One such is that kink, BDSM, and other lifestyles all involve sex. Sagacity events as a rule are strictly role-playing with no sex or penetration of any kind allowed. Another is that people get hurt participating in these activities. If they play by the rules, though, they won’t get hurt. Quinn says, “For people in BDSM, there are some really key words that are incredibly important. First and foremost, that is respect, consensuality, negotiation, and honesty.” Acting out a scenario or scene, as Quinn puts it, involves a series of negotiations in regards to what a person can do or can’t do, while also setting up guidelines and discussing limits. Participants also use a safe word to stop the scenario immediately if they wish to do so. Quinn says, “A single person, particularly a girl or woman, going to a BDSM event is probably safer than going to any single bar or any club that I can think of, because of the level of respect that kink people exhibit.”
Quinn is unsure of the official number of participants in the society, but believes over the years thousands of members have passed through Sagacity. “People come and people go, and because of the nature of what we do, we don’t require that folks have to sign anything official or provide their real names or anything like that—because a lot of people are not comfortable with that, even though kink is becoming more mainstream for sure and there is more acceptance of it at some level,” says Quinn. Participants are able to use a scene name, which is a pseudonym for use at kink events; for example, Quinn’s scene name is Ladyfish. Some participants still shy away from revealing their real identities, because of fear that it could affect their jobs or upset their family, including children.
However, Quinn says, “It’s my belief that everybody is kinky. Whether you acknowledge it or not, that doesn’t change that you are. And a lot of times you don’t acknowledge it, because you don’t understand it. You have a different idea of what that means than what the reality of it is. If you think about it, any kind of roleplaying is considered kinky.” Quinn uses the comparison of roleplaying games as children, such as playing house. She says, “Who made that rule that said ‘Okay, well I’m sorry, but you can’t play dress-up anymore and you can’t play house anymore and you can’t play school anymore.’ That’s silly. As we get older, it is still fun to role play, particularly when you get to that place where you know that’s all it is.”
Quinn suggests “vanilla people”—as those in the kink community call those uninitiated into the world of kink—who wish to learn more or become participants should read material they can find through Google and also highly recommends using Fetlife. Once on Fetlife, it is possible to search an area for groups that match a person’s interests and find out about these groups’ events. At events, Quinn says, “There’s not expectations, there’s never expectations whatsoever. If you go to a party, if you go anywhere, there’s never ever anybody who says ‘You’re here, you have to play.’ You only play if you want to.”
Sagacity does four to six specialized events through the year. The next one, Domlander, is March 29, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., at the Victoria Events Centre. Quinn says, “It’s our fetish fashion competition. This is our 12th year, and it’s really well-known in the kink community for sure, and a lot of other people come too. It’s a fun show; it’s a take-off of the movie Zoolander. We have judges; it’s a competition. We have amazing prizes and it’s just a lot of fun. It’s a live show. It’s a sellout every year.”