Most books from the 1-800-DOM-help series at least partially feature the BDSM club Unfettered, the mysterious club that appears and disappears as needed to help our heroes and heroines find their kinky happily ever afters. I thought back to the BDSM stories I've read and the predominate number include a club or public party of one type or another as a device to move the story forward between protagonists.
So much of the on-line advice I've read to those just beginning to explore the kinky lifestyle is to get out there in public, meet others at like minded gatherings, and make real life friends and acquaintances. And if you have no partner in the lifestyle, and hope to acquire an actual physical relationship with one, this is good advice. But it discounts a lot of people out there who for one reason or another choose not to "go public." I'm not talking about outing oneself as kinky, but simply attending events (social or play) with others in the lifestyle. Some of these folks choose to keep their relationships on-line, at social networking sites like FetLife. Some conduct one-on-one on-line D/s relationships. Some interact in Second Life, finding virtual partners in what I understand to be a very active BDSM community there. And some already have partners at home, keeping their relationships, play and any choices about D/s dynamics private and learning what they need from books and their own experimentation.
All are legitimate choices, even if the private options do not lend themselves to the best plots for stories. But perhaps this means more challenge for a writer--to include the most engaging elements of a BDSM story, one or more of the characters discovering or redefining this element in their life for the first time, all in the privacy of their home and without outside "advisers" in the lifestyle. Hmmh? Sounds like I have some brainstorming to do.
The beauty of BDSM, alternative lifestyles and sexuality is that folks are finding what is right for them. No one has a market on the "way." All paths, as long as they are consensual choices between adults, can lead to joy and fulfillment.