A weekend festival in Canton that promised classes on bondage, role play and other sexual techniques has been canceled after the new operators of the Clarence H. Du Burns Arena idecided the erotic exposition was not appropriate at a facility also used for children's sports practices.
The organizers of the Touch of Flavor event sued the arena's managers this week, saying that their contract was breached. They also made an unsuccessful bid for a restraining order that would have let the festival go on.
The two-day event was to have featured classes on the use of hot wax, sex-dungeon safety and "Rope Bondage You Can Actually Use."
"We feel like there's been a great interest due to books and things that have come out," said Cassie Fuller, one of the organizers. "We wanted to provide education to people to do these things safely, so they can have fulfilling emotional and physical relationships."
Fuller pointed to the success of the book "Fifty Shades of Grey" as an example of the mainstream popularity of BDSM — bondage, domination and sado-masochism. Fuller said she is looking for other venues to hold the event at a later date.
But Susan Green, a lawyer for the arena's operator, Coppermine Fieldhouse, said the company did not think the arena was an appropriate place to have the event.
"The company doesn't have any judgment about what they want to do. ... We absolutely pass no judgment," Green said. "We do, however, feel that they can't do it in close proximity to children."
Coppermine took over the operation of the arena early this year, and the event organizers had originally contracted with the previous operator last fall.
The two sides dispute the precise details of their arguments and what the sticking points were.
"The entire position of Coppermine has been a moving target," said Stanford Gann Jr., the festival organizers' attorney.
Green said the event could leave Coppermine exposed to lawsuits. Event organizers said they were considering serving alcohol, and Green said she was concerned that the combination of drinking and bondage could leave Coppermine on the hook.
"There were so many liability issues in hosting such an event," she said.
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Green added that children from a nearby playground often come in to use the bathrooms at the arena and that the company was worried about what they might be exposed to. Gann said the organizers offered to set up temporary toilets outside and planned to bar children from the venue.
Green also said Coppermine agreed to let the event go forward if participants refrained from nudity and sex acts, but Fuller said the company's terms were unrealistic.
"They wanted us to sign off on these procedures that wouldn't have allowed the event to proceed," Fuller said.
She said she plans to keep up her legal battle.
"I feel that because of the nature of the event they felt that ... we wouldn't pursue legal action," Fuller said.