To celebrate the launch of Kink University, we went looking for the kinkiest city in America, and were shocked by what we found. It wasn't the old stalwarts that surprised us — we had a pretty good idea that New York and San Francisco would make the list — but the breadth and diversity of our United States of Kink this year did. We looked at 50 major American cities, ranking them for total kink population (as measured by active members on kink social network Fetlife), the percentage of the population that identifies as kinky, the number of kink-aware professionals (therapists, doctors, lawyers) listed on the NCSF's excellent resource directory, and by the porn purchases of their inhabitants, using data from Kink.com.
Along the way, we came across some interesting side notes. Would you have guessed that El Paso has the smallest kinky population of any major American city? Or that in tiny Harrisburg PA, over 10% of the population identifies as kinky? We found thriving kink outposts in Tampa, a thriving dungeon scene in Atlanta, and porn lovers just about everywhere. (To keep statistical noise to a minimum, we limited it to cities with populations over 500,000.)
The State of Our Kinky Union is strong, we're happy to report. Welcome to the 10 Kinkiest Cities in the United States 2015.
Pictured: Las Vegas' Fetish and Fantasy Halloween Ball
While a relatively small amount of Vegas's population is kink-identified (just under 2% identify as kinky), and the city's resident population tends to swing more than switch, few place make kink as big part of their business as Sin City. From fetish balls and kink-themed clubs to porn shoots and dungeons, Vegas is where the rest of the world goes to get kinky. Not surprisingly, it's low on kink-aware professionals, like doctors and therapists, but heavy on pro-domme listings. Which, if you think about it, are just kink-aware professional of a different sort.
Pictured: Philadelphia's Saints and Sinner Nightclub
Until we saw the numbers, we never would have guessed that the City of Brotherly Love might also be the City of Poly Gimp Throuples. But you can't argue with data (or dommes). Philadelphia only broke the top five in one metric (for total kink-identified population — 27,411), but it placed in the top ten in nearly every kinky category we measured. The Philly scene maybe more undercover than in neighboring centers like New York and Atlantic City, but that just means that they get creative. After all, who but Philadelphians would throw a BDSM-party in an abandoned church!
Pictured: The Sexy Aftermath of the Salem Witch Trials
At first, Boston may not seem like a hotbed of caning and submission. But then you think about those Puritan punishments — the stocks, the whips, the branding, the dunking stools — could give even Kink a run for it's money. Not to mention that, as the biggest city in New England, it pulls in a kinky population from all over the northeast. Over 3% of the population is active on Fetlife, it's porn tastes are VERY restrained — but we don't mean vanilla, we mean actual restraints. Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. If Bostonian kinksters has their way, poly could be next.
Pictured: Seattle Pups and Handlers at Seattle’s Pride March
What is it about the Pacific Northwest that brings out the kink in so much of it's population? Seattle ranked second among US cities in kinksters-per-capita. Over 3.7% of its population has a profile on Fetlife (the second highest percentage of any city in the study) and with (just behind San Francisco). And like DC, Seattle's VERY fond of it's BDSM and fetish porn. Of course, it's also the birthplace of The Stranger's Savage Love column, long before Dan Savage's weekly interrogation of alternative sexuality became a syndicated phenomenon — which might explain the lack of a taboo around issues like polyamory, fetish and anal.
Pictured: The Sanctum Room at LA’s Dominion Playspace
For a city with a reputation for fake boobs and blonde hair, Los Angeles sure has a dirty side. Thanks to relatively cheap rents and municipal anonymity, LA is home to more dungeons and playspaces than any other city on our list (including Sanctuary LAX, Den of Iniquity, Bar Sinister, Dominion, Dungeon West and Submission LA). LA had the third highest total population of self-identified kinksters (over 35,000, just behind Chicago and New York), though they only make up less than 1% of the total population — which knocks them down the list a bit. But where else but LA would you be able to take a fitness class led by a pro-domme?
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