Lady Markette is the owner and mistress of Domus Sadicus, a private BDSM household nestled in a quiet Denver suburb that has five resident members — two of which are males collared to her. "It's a huge time and soul commitment," she says. "You must be invested in this lifestyle 100 percent, or else it's just role-playing." The household she runs is "like a 1950s ideal family situation. There is a head of the household, and it's not a democracy; it's a dictatorship."

According to Domus Sadicus member Noan, "People who do this appreciate discipline and structure — and know how to communicate."

"This lifestyle is not a choice for me; it's my true self," says house member Leonis, a collared slave. "Vanillas think it's just fantasies we need to act out, but there's no acting. It's who we are."

Habitat Range: These mammals tend to establish their own private play areas, but can be found at the Sanctuary, especially for ceremonial events.

Field Notes: These Lifestylers move in organized packs within the herd; they tend to be polyamorous, and can produce offspring that they raise and care for collectively. These mammals are well grounded in their lifestyle and tend to be communal educators.

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Leathermen

Description: Leather culture includes, but is not limited to, leather as an open expression of freedom from mainstream sexual values. It's closely associated with males in the gay community but can be associated with BDSM culture for any gender or sexual orientation.

"Leathermen are just like you: We put our pants on one leg at a time," Sir Dan, a male in his early forties, wants non-kinksters to know. "We have our morning coffee and go to work, we pay our mortgages and, thanks to the over-dramatized media, we worry about the economy. We watch our 401(k) and stocks plunge and the gas prices go up."

There are not any hard-and-fast boundaries to what defines a leatherman, he notes: "I have a friend who loves to fist his boyfriend. It is very enjoyable to them both. There is no bondage or whips or spanking. Neither wears a stitch of leather except possibly their belts. Yet some would call them leathermen because they perform something considered not vanilla."

Habitat Range: Once inside the Sanctuary, leathermen tend to separate into groups based on types of fetishes or play. They are excellent guardians of the Sanctuary, or "dungeon monitors," because of their intelligence and keen senses.

Field Notes: These kinksters are considered the progenitors of the kink species. They roam alone or in mostly male packs, can be monogamous or polyamorous, and are easy to identify when wearing their trademark leather garments.

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Slide show: The Denver Kink Field Guide

Needle Players

Description: Play piercing or recreational acupuncture is done for the purposes of sensation rather than to produce a permanent body modification.

Grendyl, a male in his thirties, recently took 100 needles at a fundraiser event for the Boulder chapter of the Center for Sex Positive Culture. "Imagine getting a body piercing but you're usually going much closer to the epidermis and you're not leaving anything there when you're done," he says. "This is also usually done with needles much smaller than would be used in a body piercing. Usually 18-22 gauge, but some people like to go larger. It's considered a very intense experience, as it can very quickly cause the brain to begin pumping endorphins. You're kind of tricking your brain into thinking, 'Hey, I've been punctured, fuck — better get ready for big pain!'"

Habitat Range: In the Sanctuary, the needle players tend to group themselves near the medical station, and their sharp cries can he heard throughout the dungeon.

Field Notes: Like mammals with needle-sharp teeth for hunting, needle players are considered edgy even by kink species' standards. They can be males or females, monogamous or polyamorous, and are easily identified by needle bruises and marks.

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Fire Players

Description: Fire play is a form of temperature play that uses flames next to or on the skin to stimulate the body's neuroreceptors. It's generally considered to be "edge play," a subjective term used to define high-risk play.

One of Mistress Saskia's specialties is lighting people's bodies — junk included — on fire. "It's not intended to be painful, just erotic," she says. "If there is pain involved, then it's probably not being done correctly. I frequently light people's junk on fire, and they seem to like it — they make happy faces. I also do fire spankings and fire massage: I light my hand on fire and put the flame out by rapidly striking someone's flesh."

There's an art to this kink. "Sometimes when two people know each other," Mistress Saskia notes, "and one of them has a lighter and a can of hairspray and the one person just keyed the other one's car...that's not fire play."

Habitat Range: Once inside the Sanctuary, they camp out near the massage tables close to the fire extinguishers.

Field Notes: These hot-blooded mammals are best observed in low-light conditions.

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Electrical Players

Description: Erotic electrostimulation — or "e-stim," for short — is the application of electrical stimuli to create sensations ranging from mild to sadistic, depending on the level of play. Common devices used for e-stim are violet wands (handheld plastic cylinders encasing a high-voltage, low-current electrical transformer) and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS units.

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