Interview with Ron, co-founder of The Albany Power eXchange
SPECIAL NOTE: Sir Ron and Mayafire are co-founders of APeX, the BDSM group of Albany, NY.
SENSUOUS SADIE: How would you describe your job as leader of the Albany Power Exchange?
RON: I cringe at being called a leader. I prefer to be known as an active member of APeX. Years from now, if APeX is still around I would be more comfortable with being remembered as one of the leaders who founded the group. I just don’t like being in the spotlight. My job has been simply to keep the faith of the community at large and keep faith in them."
Sadie: What are the characteristics that make you such an effective leader?
Ron: "Characteristics that make a leader? One most important one, don’t give up. Stay committed to the goals at hand, accept all failures and successes on an even keel and remember that things that matter the most must never be at the mercy of the things that matter least.."
Sadie: I'm sure you know the Vermont Society of Kink started up this year. The leader Lord Esox told me (in his SCENEprofiles interview) that he based the structure on that of the APeX soiree. You must feel very proud that your philosophy is spreading to other states! Any comments on that?
Ron: "That is wonderful, thanks Lord Esox. I hope that in ten years there are Soirees in more towns. Mayafire and I thought for a long time about a new concept to the munches we were used to going to. We wanted evening attire, dancing and music all night long. She did come up with the name Soiree all by herself; I actually wanted to call it Bourbon and Cigar Night at the Holiday Inn.
Sadie: Your website appears to be professionally designed, and if I so say so myself (as a budding website designer) its pretty darn cool, not to mention very popular based on the over 80,000 hits. You clearly feel that this communication is a central one to APeX. What do you feel is the role your website plays in the community?
Ron: "I am very proud of our website and in turn extremely proud of Mayafire`s vision in its development. The website is the place to go whether you are a novice or have years experience in BDSM. From legal and medical advice to spanking and fireplay there is a wealth of information that anyone can refer too. One of the best parts is the events calendars as well as the listing of groups and organizations around the country.
Sadie: As you see the New York community maturing, how do you think it will change and grow?
Ron: "The New York community is expanding to include surrounding states as well. Of course the internet allows instant communication for all these communities to interact but I also see members traveling more on a regular basis to attend munches, soirees and meet and greets in other towns."
Sadie: You are one of the largest groups in the area. To what do you ascribe this success?
I attribute it mostly to stable growth. Growth is a natural process, like planting a garden. You can't manipulate the garden or people in order to get success quickly. It is the law of the land; prepare the land, seed, weed, and water and nurture growth. Also, keeping the interests of the community first and foremost. You can't just ask the community to tell you what their interests are, you have to be out there and evaluate it yourself. Hopefully you interpret all the input accurately and proceed accordingly.
Sadie: You arrange some of the largest events in the area. How has that been?
Ron: "Once you get a few under your belt the rest become easier although no two ever are the same. To make the events successful you just have to have alternative plans as things go wrong, like a backup person to do a demo if the original person cancels. Another advantage you need against Murphy's Law is to have enough people helping run the event. If all else fails, call for take-out pizza.
Sadie: How do you fit play events into your busy schedule?
Ron: "Play events are getting more difficult to arrange but we get by. As we have grown the demands for more play events naturally grows also. We have to place limits on how many can attend each event and keep the location discrete. These events do take the most time and energy in arranging, like moving all the equipment. We usually get plenty of help though."
Sadie: What are your goals and hopes for the future of APeX?
Our short-term goals are to maintain the standards and quality of our events. Within two years I hope to become a not-for-profit organization with a fully functional board of directors. I believe this will become mandatory for us to survive due to several reasons including the legal issues the BDSM community is facing.
Sadie: What have been the biggest challenges confronting you in managing APeX?
Ron: "The biggest challenge is usually the next one. There are recurring challenges that come up frequently, like saying no to plain bad ideas from people. These people can get very emotional and I try as best as possible to explain, for example, that we don’t want to expand for the sake of numbers or that our group is not about multiple sexual encounters or that APeX is not a soapbox for anyone to use for personal vendettas.
Sadie: How has the process of creating APeX changed you personally?
Ron: "I am more proactive than I used to be. And I don’t mean that I have more initiative but that I can control my emotions more. I can then make better decisions. My principles have improved, but this is not just due to creating APeX but also to my relationship with mayafire.
Sadie: How would you say that APeX has changed your relationship with your partner and co-leader Mayafire?
We used to go to a lot more museums, concerts and plays. I keep the ticket stubs and there is a drawer full of them from the year before APeX. But since that time there is only a handful. I didn’t notice this till mayafire pointed it out to me and I am going to budget our time better to fit in the fine arts again.
Sadie: How long have you been involved in the BDSM lifestyle?
My earliest remembered dreams involve spanking characters from cartoons. I first spanked a girl when I was about 12 at home in my garage. It has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember."
Sadie: Tell me a little about your background and experience.
Ron: "Ten years ago I answered a woman's ad in a personals magazine called SceneOne, published by Stand Corrected; yes that is where my screen name comes from. Sandy had just flown up to Chicago from England and I flew out there from Albany. It turned out that her brother came out to pick me up at the airport in this old Chevy van and I thought that this was it, the last day I would ever be seen again. I was a bit nervous and we went to his house and watched a fight on television. Finally Sandy showed up and the two of us sailed off to her place and had a great night. I flew out there once a month and one day we started talking about starting a club, then actually started one. Now this was all before the internet was popular. We called it The Society of Spanking Friends and it survives to this day as Crimson Moon."
Sadie: What do you think about educating the vanilla community about what we do?
Ron: "I am not as interested in educating the vanilla community as to the concept of understanding BDSM as much as I am in educating them as to the legalities of what we do. The issue of what is legal and what is morally acceptable are indeed different and I will let the moral issues be worked out elsewhere."
Sadie: How about educating the community itself?
Ron: "APeX has three roundtable discussion groups that meet each month. One is the Dominant Discussion Group, the submissive Discussion Group and the 24/7 Ds Lifestyles Discussion Group. These groups offer an opportunity to sit down and discuss the issues that face us everyday. I also believe it is important to bring in experienced speakers (such as Jack Rinella and Flagg) who address specific subjects. Last, but certainly not least, are hands on demos, which I consider the most fun. I gave a Japanese rope demo and before I demonstrated the last knot some of the class was gleefully moving on to even more intricate work.
Sadie: What kind of advice would you give to novices starting out in the lifestyle?
Ron: "Listen to all the advice and information available with measure. Don’t try to assimilate someone else's lifestyle into your own. Concentrate on internal growth and remember that stable growth is best. And don’t believe everything you read on Yahoo."
Sadie: What kind of advice would you give to long time members of the lifestyle?
Ron: "The same advice.