Setting the Stage for Sex: Inside San Francisco's kink.com
When it comes to creating the stage sets for San Francisco’s legendary kink.com productions, Christopher Gaw and his team have a guiding principle: CYFOI. In other words, “can you f@$% on it?” Gaw leads us on a tour of some of Kink’s stage sets to illustrate the artistry behind the erotic.
Gaw leads the design department for the Internet pornography company, and he used to put his fine arts degree to work creating models and sets for movies you could take your Mom to, such as Star Wars and the Matrix. Those sci-fi skills now come in handy when working on the sets for productions such as ElectroSluts, a series where erotic encounters take place inside a spaceship.
Gaw, who also created the look and feel of the Armory Club, Kink’s elegant new clothes-on watering hole across the street, says that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to setting the stage for sexual excitement. “We have to bring the directors' concepts to life, while keeping safety, function and hygiene in mind,” he says. “Obviously, we avoid fabrics—but when we do use them, microfibers are best. We prefer to use vinyl, leather or tiled surfaces that can easily be cleaned and disinfected. When we make a table, we make it 29.5 inches high, as it’s the ideal height for lifting someone onto it.” The Interrogation Room set shows how effectively the team can create a mood, as well as a 29.5-inch-high tabletop.
“Not all of our stage sets are beautiful,” says Gaw. “In fact, some of them are intense.” Take, for instance, the Abattoir, which was modeled after real slaughterhouses. “Everything you see here we made. The floor, the metal sheeting, the brick—none of that existed before we built it,” he says. “In fact, it didn’t look that way after we installed it—those metal panels were bright and shiny until we distressed them.” The green door was once used on a walk-in refrigerator. The large tank, designed for water play, was also built by the crew and contains an emergency latch that can drain it instantly if needed.
“This apartment was designed and furnished to resemble someone’s first apartment out of school. It’s supposed to be located in a seedy part of Long Beach,” says Gaw. “When assembling the sets, all of life is referential material. We aren’t usually given much information about the characters, as character development is minimal. We just put things in there we think someone would have in that scenario.”