Where whips and chains live: Inside D.C’s only private kink club

Media Credit: Photo Illustration by Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Handcuffs are just one of the restraints and toys available to the “kinksters” who attend the Crucible, D.C.’s only private kink club.

While whips and chains may not be part of everyone’s typical Friday nights, an intimate D.C. group prefers to mix pleasure with pain, bringing sexual fetishes to life in a club created by Frazier Botsford.

Botsford, the 70-year-old owner and operator of The Crucible, the District’s only private kink club, explained that his two-room club is a space for anyone interested in BDSM, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“It’s important because you’re almost outcasts, and when you find like-minded people, it’s eye-opening,” he said. “We’re really close to being a family. When you walk in, everyone says the same thing: I’m home.”

The club, located on M Street near North Capitol Street, allows any member to partake in alternative activities, ranging from dripping hot wax onto another player to tying someone’s hands to the ceiling to practice flogging.

The space has one large room for “play,” where members communally act out BDSM “scenes,” and includes a smaller room for more intimate play if so desired.

But Botsford has already begun to move into a new, larger location, which will have three private rooms. The new space’s main area is adorned with BDSM toys such as whips, ropes and handcuffs. There’s also seating and a wall lined with dungeon furniture, including bondage crosses and spanking benches.

He declined to provide the club’s new address. The Crucible website states, “As soon as we get our permits all in order, we’ll announce our new location here.”

Botsford, who members call Uncle Frazier, has run The Crucible for nearly two decades. Determined to create a safe space for people to explore their sexual boundaries and interests, he began the process of opening The Crucible in 1997.

The club now has 2,500 paying members with private events held several times each week. While a visit to the club may not necessarily end in sex, members go to have sexual experiences with a strictly kinky dynamic.

Adults interested in trying out the club can attend a monthly Dungeon 101 event, led by Dungeon Monitors, who supervise all club activity. The monitors are trained by the Black Rose, a group that teaches those interested about power-play sex. Some events have a reduced cover charge if you can present a valid college ID.

Fondly referring to themselves as “kinksters,” members include those who have unorthodox fetishes or ways to express their sexuality. FetLife, a social media site similar to Facebook with about 3 million members, has bolstered the BDSM community’s ability to connect with one another.

“All of [kink] is held together with underlying principles of keeping everything safe, sane and consensual,” said Amanda Horne, a GW senior who uses FetLife.

Members may go alone and play with those they meet at the club or come with a partner or group, but all attendees must first sign up for the annual $25 membership. Each event has a cover charge of about $20. Everyone must be at least 18 year old and agree to all Crucible rules and regulations.

“It’s practice and understanding everything that’s going on. The rules are very basic and people know what they can and can’t do. [The Crucible] is almost self-policing, and some of our members have been there for 20 years,” Botsford said. “There are hardly any problems.”

When it moved to its M Street location in 2012, neighbors asked the city to remove the club. They did not understand what type of people the club would attract, Botsford said.

“The appeal lasted six months,” he said. “By the time that six months rolled around, they had realized we were exactly who I told them we were: basic, caring, socially responsible people. They declared us to be ‘good neighbors’ and they dropped the appeal.”

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