SANTA FE, NM–According to friends of Jason Roder and Gina Von Poppel, the sexually adventurous couple won't stop droning on about spanking, caning, ball gags, erotic photography, fetish parties, leather, rubber, PVC, latex, whips, floggers, and countless other S&M-related objects and activities.
"When Jason first told me about his and Gina's kinky sex life, I was amazed. I wanted to hear all about it," said Stan Pritchard, Roder's best friend. "But around the 15th time I heard about how great it is to be tied to a chair, I was, like, 'Yeah, I know. The chair. The whip. Being straddled. Got it, thanks.'"
Roder and Von Poppel, who have been dating for almost four years, began experimenting with sadomasochism in July 1999 after buying a few S&M-related items at Santa Fe's Naughty & Nice adult video and novelty store.
"It wasn't until I began experimenting with domination and mistress role-playing that I really discovered myself sexually," Von Poppel has told dozens of people over the years. "It's so liberating to explore the threshold between pleasure and pain."
Meredith Engler, a close friend and former college roommate of Von Poppel's, said she has frequently found herself subjected to hours-long accounts of the couple's S&M exploits.
"Gina and Jason have a pretty open-minded group of friends and, at first, we all thought it was cool that they were being so frank about sex," Engler said. "That was our mistake–giving them an opening."
As Roder and Von Poppel delved deeper into sadomasochism, they began dominating nearly every party and social event with endless talk of fetishes, secret fantasies, and forays into bondage and discipline.
"When Jason and Gina first told me about their 'secret,' I thought, wow, these people must have one hell of an interesting life," friend Peter Orwitz said. "I couldn't have been more wrong. How many times can a person discuss cock leashes?"
Orwitz said the only thing worse than the couple's lengthy lectures on the positioning benefits of a wall-mounted restraining swing are the long-winded clarifications about the nature of sadomasochism.
"As Jason is constantly pointing out, it's not S&M that they're into: It's BD/SM, which is bondage-domination and sadomasochism,'" Orwitz said. "Apparently, there's a big difference between S&M and B&D. Just ask them. I dare you."
The couple's friends try to avoid topics that might inadvertently lead to discussions of S&M, but the subject always manages to come up.
"It's amazing what will prompt Jason and Gina to talk about sex," Pritchard said. "We had a barbecue last weekend, and I said, 'Pass me the tongs.' So Jason and Gina exchange a knowing look and, before you know it, we're off on an hour-long discussion of how you should put your metal sex toys in the freezer for a few hours before using them."
Roder and Von Poppel have even invited friends to join them in one of their S&M adventures. Thus far, there have been no takers.
"They asked if me and my girlfriend wanted to go with them to Fetish Night at some club called The Dungeon," Pritchard said. "I guess maybe I would have been curious, except I'd already heard every last detail about Fetish Night already. I know about the transgender drag show. I know about the 'secret room' and the 'safe words.' I've heard all about the Saran Wrap woman and the rubber-tubing outfit and Metal-Cage-Around-The-Balls Guy at least five times. So I passed."
After many unsuccessful attempts to subtly communicate her irritation to Roder and Von Poppel, Engler determined that she needed to be more direct.
"Last Friday, Gina was blathering on and on about domination, and I couldn't help but say, 'Well, you're certainly good at conversation domination,'" Engler said. "I can't help but wonder if this S&M thing is all a cover-up for their real fetish: talking to people about fetishes."
Another couple, Sara DeWitt and Ron Crandall, met them at a local bar in May.
"We all had a few drinks and ended up talking about sex almost the entire night," Crandall said. "I remember going home thinking, 'God, these people are nothing like the uptight, boring types I usually hang out with.'"
As the friendship progressed, however, DeWitt and Crandall found that every conversation with the couple eventually turned to S&M.
"The third time we hung out, I started to pick up on the pattern," DeWitt said. "Don't these people have any interests besides vibrating tit clamps? I tried to steer the conversation toward other subjects, but every time I did, they'd start right up with the S&M talk again, telling me not to be so repressed."
Added DeWitt: "For people who aren't uptight or boring, those two are pretty uptight and boring."