In Virtual Dungeons, Less Flogging and More Key-Logging

I first met dominatrix Charlotte Taillor in February at her home in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, where her male submissives were curating pastry spreads and rolling her spliffs. While she usually sports a leather catsuit, this day she wore sweatpants and a t-shirt reading “sex worker rights are human rights.” Charlotte runs The Taillor Group, a feminist kink collective that encourages explorations of BDSM and other fetishes. The operation is entirely female-centric, comprised of about 30 dommes, and

Tiny Love Stories: ‘We Kissed Through Our Masks’

On a sticky August Sunday, my boyfriend balanced my mattress on his electric skateboard. This is how he transported it two miles west across Manhattan to its new home. I swooned at his ingenuity, jogging behind him with a yellow Gatorade. We wove through traffic on First Avenue and past the busy fruit sellers. Old men in Central Park paused their chess game to applaud. Bikers cheered as we took the mattress down the pedestrian lane. After our hourlong odyssey, we kissed through our masks. This c


I stayed up late that night helping the village women clean. After sweeping the floors, I began the short walk to the girls’ sleeping quarters, feeling my way through the thick, humid air, my eyes adjusting back to the black night. Deep in the jungle, the night grows so dark it’s impossible to see one’s own outstretched hand. It was the first time I’d been completely alone. A male figure broke the darkness. It was another volunteer, but a shell of the man I’d worked with all those days. The swe

How a ‘Buy Nothing’ Group Kept Me Human

This Is Us How a ‘Buy Nothing’ Group Kept Me Human “Need a vibrator?” I received this text from a neighbor after moving into my new apartment in downtown Manhattan last summer. Attached was a screenshot of a Facebook post advertising a free, unopened vibrator for pickup on my block. “Only the most important thing ever,” she said. “Added you.” The feed was completely baffling to me; people gave away everything from a single roll of toilet paper to flat-screen TVs. “Two of my avocados are ripe

Confessions of a Former Teen Debt Collector

It was an accident, becoming a teenage debt collector. “Listen,” a friend told me. “There’s this job I heard about — it’s at a law firm, you’ll make bank.” It was the summer of 2015, and I was a college student living in downtown St. Louis, away from my childhood home in the Missouri suburbs. The promise of a $10 hourly rate for office work was a serious upgrade from my earnings as a lifeguard. So I met with the partners at their exposed-brick office, burrowed in a city alley. The firm defied e

Songs, Zoom, Beer: The Sisters of St. Joseph Grieve Covid Losses

In February, Sister Marilyn Lott, 71, retired from her job on the Province Leadership Team and moved into the Nazareth Living Center in St. Louis. Just a few weeks after settling in, the coronavirus hit, forcing residents to bar their doors. Suddenly, Lott found herself alone in her new room and stripped of her ministry work. “I finished a full time 24/7 job — and then the brakes hit,” she said. “Some days I sit and just kind of stare like ‘what do I do?’ I should be working.” Founded in 1872

Has the Pandemic Sparked a Hidden Child Abuse Crisis?

At a St. Louis hospital in early April, a baby was admitted with 15 broken ribs. Physicians believed the injuries likely resulted from repetitive stomping, by a much larger adult. The case was deemed child abuse. The infant died. At the same hospital, Dr. Jamie Kondis provided care to five children with traumatic head injuries over the span of a week and a half. Two died, and two were deemed severe cases with grim outcomes. While Dr. Kondis, a child abuse pediatrician at Washington University i

After Drawing Crowds, a Live Dating Show Is Forced to Get a Room

Imagine going on a blind date onstage in front of hundreds of strangers. The audience provides you topics, interjects, or perhaps even pitches a crowd member as the more ideal date. That’s the premise of Updating, a New York-based show created by Brandon Berman and Harrison Forman as an alternative to swiping right. Before the COVID-19 crisis, the hosts pre-interviewed candidates and set up dates at venues in Brooklyn and Midtown. The daters wore blindfolds first, revealing their faces to each

Taking the Amtrak, Then and Now

This Is Us Taking the Amtrak, Then and Now After one horrific Megabus experience in 2012, I began taking the Amtrak everywhere instead. What’s better than staring longingly out of a train window, Sufjan in your earbuds, a vast landscape stretched before you? It never mattered where I was going, Lollapalooza 2015 or a wholesome coastal town — I was A Mysterious Traveler with Grand Intentions. I was on a journey to Find Myself and Get Into Mischief along the way! (Of course, this was the BC, Bef

Curators, Critics and Artists Demand ‘Real Change’ at City Museums

Some of the city’s cultural establishments are facing a deep reckoning, as New Yorkers speak out against institutionalized racism within the arts. In an open letter to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Metropolitan Opera, MoMA, the Guggenheim, and others, current and former workers, as well as members and allies called out discriminatory treatment and lack of restorative measures within museums. At the time of publication, the letter had garnered almost 500 signatures. Among them are art critic A