Herr Kommandandt, Abuse & Montreal Fetish Weekend Pt. 4

new mfwurban logoOne of the more long running, cross-scene kink events is the Montreal Fetish Weekend, a multi-day little sister of things like the Folsom Street Fair. Taking advantage of the city’s traditionally liberal attitudes, it’s a giant party and celebration of BDSM and fetish. Unfortunately not only is Herr_Kommadant a regular volunteer, but his venue, Urban Dungeon, is closely affiliated. This year (2016) it was one of the venue spaces used with a great deal of cross promotion.

For Herr_Kommandant’s alleged victims, this creates a great deal of stress because it creates the impression that his (alleged) behaviour is condoned by the larger community.

As I already mentioned in my last post on the subject, different event organizers in Montreal have taken different positions on the subject, some explicitly supporting Herr Kommandant and some condemning or even confirming that they witnessed dubious behaviour. Montreal Fetish Weekend became aware of the issues shortly after I posted the first blog post, and their original organizer (MasterSin) reached out to me to schedule a meeting.

We met last week, and here’s how it went.

He listened, but it is his position that he does not discuss allegations of any kind. This included presenting any evidence to him or providing his own opinion other than that it is very serious and not to be taken lightly.

MasterSin explained that he had discussed with his lawyer and that participating in a conversation about possible abuse in the BDSM community might make him an accessory in a police investigation.

He also stressed the role that Herr_Kommandant had in supporting the staffing of the event he oversees. He feels that if he personally witnesses something he intercedes, but he does not feel that anything other than being present (or the intervention of the police) are adequate means to intervene. It is demonstrable that Montreal Fetish Weekend does not have a formal harassment or abuse policy in place for internal handling. They do, however, hire security personnel for the large events like the annual masquerade and latex fetish ball.

It will be interesting to see if Urban Dungeon keeps their close affiliation next year. Montreal Fetish Weekend certainly made their entire team open to contact but it’s hard to tell if it’ll have any impact on global opinion of the internationally known event.

I should also probably address the threats and warnings I got.

Outside of the conversation I had and hints made that I too could be dragged into a police investegation, I’ve been told I could be sued a lot. It’s important to stress that it is very unlikely that a libel case would be successful in Canada. This comes up whenever you talk about abuse in the community, that someone could sue you for defamation. This is not the UK or even the US- it’s challenging to get traction on these matters and since all I am claiming in the truth (I received 8+ allegations and in my judgement this is troublesome) or that Herr_Kommadant has a reputation, a fact that even those close to him have affirmed, it doesn’t fit the guidelines for slander.

As far as a criminal inquiry into Herr_Kommandant, I’m ok with being questioned. I hardly want my sexuality being made public, but can survive being outed with only moderate discomfort,

My perspective is that I care about the (alleged) victims getting help and support, and I am tired of them being frightened of everyone judging them poorly for something that happened to them. I am tired of not being able to trust experts and venue owners based on a flow of stories about people, particularly women, who have been assaulted.

This has to stop. I’m a relative nobody- my opinion is not all that important, but if I have any social capital at all I will happily put it in a pile and set fire to it if it protects anyone else from being abused, having their consent violated or any of the other terms we use to describe being on the receiving end of fucked up behavior.

Following Along?

 

Urban Dungeon & Herr Kommadant Pt. 3

new mfwurban logoWondering what this is? Start here.

So, in response to making the allegations public, at my current count we have one well meaning unrelated interloper doing the false accusations hurt people shtick and 4 our so people directly connected to Urban Dungeon or Herr Kommadant, 3 of those who acknowledge that he has a reputation, whether or not they choose to take it seriously. And an outpouring of support. Yaye guys.

I am actually inclined to be patient with the former, as bystanders have less obligation to speak for anyone other than themselves, but I can say in my perspective, Opal (Co-owner of Urban Dungeon), Happy Boobologist (the “Happy Munch”) and Shawts (25 to 45 Munch) have made it explicitly clear they will happily organize events at a venue owned/run by someone with multiple allegations outstanding.

Urban Dungeon’s Associated Persons are Not Handling This Well

All these individuals are more concerned with silencing dissent about the venue than dealing with the problem. They are not at all concerned with taking steps to address these allegations other than insisting a higher standard (police reports, in particular, which you know are scarce even in vanilla circumstance) although they are happy enough to pay lip service to the idea that they are totally open to victims talking to them, nothing about their behaviour or actions has indicated they plan to take anything seriously.

Perhaps none of these persons is aware that they are making a hostile environment that is contributing to the issue at hand. I will say if at *my* munch it was discovered that a volunteer or fellow organizer have numerous allegations outstanding I would (and did!) consider it way more of a priority than shutting up the person who brought it to my attention so that my business or parties were not impacted.

I know first hand how upsetting it is to discover that not only was someone you trusted not who you thought they were, but also the feelings of guilt in being complicit by legitimizing someone who did not respect consent. But you have to do the right thing because if you are going to make yourself responsible for hosting or organizing, you are 100% responsible for putting people at risk.

Meanwhile…

Alleged survivors/victims remain frightened of consequences. I would like to see due legal process followed, but it is understandable that asking someone to out themselves (remember we can use pseudonyms here, but the cops will not accept anything but legal names and the intimate details of your private life, something that they are under zero expectation to understand or accept) is a tough order of business. Police were talked to, but proved to be somewhat difficult to gain the attention of- remember that our entire way of doing the public sexy stuff took relatively recent legal challenges, and at this time buying sex, profiting from the sale of sex and third-party advertising are all illegal– Montreal is a generally liberal area, but it would be foolish not to say there is a stigma attached to what we do.

Yes, there will probably be further attempts at police but that is entirely up to the victims. And FFS people, the reason why I am doing this is because right now many of the people who believe they were victimized feel there is a consensus supporting Herr Kommadant. I am having a hard time arguing that it would be safe for them to go public when multiple organizers acknowledge his terrible reputation, but don’t care and are annoyed I’m talking about it.

Ok, so what does Miss Pearl want from this?

I want nobody with any degree of power in the Montreal BDSM community to be able to say they didn’t know about the allegations. I want to call out people who make a hostile space to discuss abuse within the BDSM community, or for that matter insist that we are a healthy, safe space while trying to force truly toxic things into the shadows without acknowledging them.

If you want to help…

  • If you have survivor resources in Montreal, leaving them in the comments would be a good idea.
  • If you have been victimized or witnessed victimization I will listen.
  • If you want to affirm that you respect the right of survivors not to be re-victimized, leaving a comment is more than welcome.

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Herr Kommandandt + Urban Dungeon Pt. 2

new mfwurban logoSo the post I did last about Herr Kommandant wasn’t a spur of the moment thing.

Specifically I started getting tips about three weeks ago, and poked about for more info on my own. I only decided to go this public because when I independently investigated, I found piles of corroboration. Thus, I can verify that Herr Kommadant does not have a good reputation in the Montreal community. I can verify that people believe they were emotionally, physically and financially abused by him and that bystanders believed they witnessed inappropriate behaviour.

The more public I get, the more feedback I get, almost all of it affirming the conclusion I reached. Tragically, when I started talking poking at this, the first thing that happened was not mass shock about how this person could possibly be bad, it was a collective shrug of frustration: “Oh him. Yeah. Everyone knows about him.”

So what followed the last post?

The guy behind Montreal Fetish Weekend reached out to listen to what is going on. He’s being professional and calm about this, and given all my interactions with him to this point, I would describe him as someone trying to hammer something functional out of the scene as-is. We’ll see how he handles this, but he did manage to dissociate himself from Dunter, so even if you aren’t a fan of the more commercial/traditional fetish side of the scene, he at least has past evidence of shaking entrenched toxic people from his projects.

I got a lot of private messages and gentle back pats that I bothered to make such a hard stand on the subject, and various people affirming either they saw things that made them uncomfortable or that they were victimized. The more I hear, the more I feel like I made the right call.

Other than that, I got two impassioned replies in the comments, from his business partner Opal Blacke and one of his current partners, PetiteFay_HK. Their arguments boiled down to claiming this was the ill words of vindictive exes (or other event organizers who were “jealous”).  There’s a revealing problem with their arguments, though:

  • Nothing I said about Herr Kommandandt claimed was an ex partner who was victimized, or for that matter any people who represented themselves as a partner past or present. This tells me that PetiteFay and Opal are both aware that there are multiple people who claim they have received abuse from him.
  • As far as anyone in competition with Urban Dungeon I have heard nothing from them. Other event organizers have wanted a heads up to protect their own guests, but the flow of information has definitely not been vituperative stories about how they are so much better, but people unrelated and not in direct competition saying “really? shit!”.

Since Opal and PetiteFay reached out to counter my conclusion, I’m providing what hey said here- it was originally intended to go in the comments, but the nature of their responses demand additional attention- among many things both fall into the typical patterns of people making excuses for abusers and both have a surprisingly unified narrative suggesting they were aware that something was rotten in the metaphorical state of Denmark.

So, after the jump is two messages from PetiteFay and Opal, for the my more wordy rebuttal.

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Urban Dungeon & Montreal Fetish Scene Issues

new mfwurban logoSo yeah, if you want to deal with missing stairs, unfortunately one of Montreal’s more popular fetish venues is in the middle of one of those scenarios. Urban Dungeon, a play space that hosts numerous events and is closely affiliated with Montreal Weekend, is run by someone with a known reputation for abuse. It is not challenging to find people who will tell you Herr_Kommandandt is a dangerous person. Nonetheless tons of people who are aware of this continue to hang out there including people whose friends (whom they believe!) have had alleged consent violations or other abuse happen to them.

I avoided it personally, because I got a bad gut feeling about the whole thing, one of those intuitive guesses that something seems off- maybe it was the pile of people with resumes for profiles about all the things they are involved in, which I always see as a bad sign because it means they want you to respect them off the bat and award them authority.

And because I run the 18 to 35 munch, people tell me shit. It wasn’t unsurprising to get given a FYI about eight separate incidents and people. But still, it’s really fucking thorny to deal with. There’s literally no way I can stop this, no matter how much social capital I have and the best I can hope is to close ranks with the TNG style stuff I do run and tell my friends and guests to be careful.

But other than that, it’s not like I can go to the police and say “oh by the way there’s alleged alleged abuse going down between kinky people who use psuedonyms, and probably none of the people this happened to will testify because they are utterly fuck terrified of the social or legal consequences and because he preys on people from marginalized populations (sex workers, the mentally ill whom he can say are just “crazy”). Nobody believes or trusts that they’ll be heard in any meaningful way. I sure as fuck don’t- it’s not like anyone listened about Dunter.

I’ve told my fellow organizers at MEOW and the secret TNG play party. I even told someone connected to the Urban Dungeon who has clean hands, in case he’s simply been oblivious. I mean I doubt it, but I’m clinging to the idea that he’s not an accessory because I need some innocence to stay motivated.

But it’s a rock and a hard place, because it’s nearly impossible to get anyone to publicly admit this shit happened to them. They’ll talk, candidly, and off the record, but… eugh.

All I’ve got to go on with this is fleeting social capital, so I guess if I end up publicly known as that crazy vindictive bitch in Montreal I guess you guys know what happened. It’s not like I ever go to Montreal Fetish Weekend anyway.

Siiiiigh. Sorry guys, it’s not a sexy anecdote, it’s one of the harsh realities of the BDSM scene that the terror of being outed and the limited pool of events make things a lot darker than they should be. They’re bigger than me, they have a larger pool of social capital and they have more money than me, but fuck, if I can’t use my popularity to tell people about this what good is it?

If you believe me as a reliable source, stay away from Urban Dungeon.

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