“We Are Kinky… And We Are Normal.”

“Vanilla With A Side Of Kink,” A Podcast About A ‘Vanilla’ Couple’s Kink Journey, Is Honored By The Webby Awards

 “Vanilla With A Side Of Kink,” A Podcast About A ‘Vanilla’ Couple’s Kink Journey, Is Honored By The Webby Awards

By Karma Said




SAN DIEGO, CA:  The Webbie Awards — “The Internet’s Highest Honor,” according to the New York Times — is a prestigious annual competition, recognizing “excellence on the Internet” across a broad spectrum of categories. There were nearly 14,000 entries this year, so when “Average Joe’s” Dan and Renee, co-creators of the homemade podcast  “Vanilla With A Side Of Kink,” were declared among the honorees, they were “stunned and amazed.”

“We are just an average middle-aged couple, telling a story, hoping to make others’ worlds a bit more interesting, more accepting, and more welcoming,” said Renee, in a recent interview with this outlet.

Renee, 53, is a psychotherapist. Her husband, Dan (55) is in business management. In private and/or kink circles, Renee refers to Dan as  “Daddy”. The couple runs “All Tied Up San Diego,” one of the largest erotic rope bondage groups in Southern California.  “Vanilla With A Side Of Kink” tracks the their kink journey, using their personal experiences as a jumping-off point to discuss various kink-related issues, terms, and relationship templates. Their recollections are funny, heartfelt, and above all, relatable — to both kinksters and the uninitiated. “I feel like we are kind of unique,” said Renee. “Most of our vanilla friends have little exposure to kink, and most of our kinky friends have little exposure left to vanilla… 100% of their Social Circle is kinky. I feel like we occupy a very particular middle ground.”

Dan And Renee Bailey, co-creators of “Vanilla With A Side Of Kink”

Dan and Renee met Eight years ago, at a board game social. Being both recently out of marriage, they decided to take things slow. They were several weeks into their relationship when Dan told her of his interest in BDSM, and his recent involvement in the kink community, which he had started exploring several months before they met.  

“Until Dan told me about it, I didn’t realize that BDSM was something that people like me practiced in real life… or that there was a community for it. I already knew I liked Dan and that he was a good guy,” she added. “If I didn’t, I probably would have asked myself: ‘is he a good guy?’ But I trusted him and his intentions, and I wanted to explore too.”

The couple’s story also spotlights San Diego’s kink community, which played a considerable part in laying the foundations for their own relationship. Much of Dan and Renee’s initial experience and knowledge was formed through events and classes hosted by their local BDSM group (which, for privacy reasons, Renee declined to name).  “One class we went to was a 

two-hour class on wax play. Like, you would think, ‘Does it take two hours to teach someone how to pour wax on someone?’ Yes, it does. There is a lot to know.” One particularly informative class introduced kink community members together with representatives of San Diego’s Vice Unit, who explained the laws and the law’s approach to BDSM play. 

As the couple’s engagement with the kink community deepened, so did the dichotomy with their vanilla lives. While they do see Kink’s public image slowly improving (the rope group used to draw exclusively from FetLife, while now many come through mainstream event sites) the stigma and chronic misrepresentation surrounding it still remains. In both their Shibari business and their podcast, the couple’s ultimate goal is the same.

“We want people to realize that this kinky world is not something that happens in dark alleys,” said Renee. “We still hear that through our Shibari business. We teach brand new people, people that never did anything kinky in their life. They show up looking terrified, expecting who-knows-what, and when they see their teachers are an average-looking, overweight, middle-aged couple, they are like ‘Oh, this isn’t so scary. These are people like me.’ That’s our dream: we want people to be able to say: ‘We’re kinky, and we’re normal”. 



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