Officials in Montclair are denying a fetish shop a permit in its downtown business district to host private basement “play parties” – which reportedly feature erotic paraphernalia including spanking benches, “interrogation cells” and stocks.
The owners of Dressing for Pleasure, a shop located on Bloomfield Ave. that sells fetish clothing and sex toys, say they have been holding these kinky-themed parties as often as three times a month for years. Ed and Karen Dougherty, who are better known as “Master Ed” and “Slave Duchess,” say up to 700 people are registered as members.
Montclair code officials shut down the 2,000 square-foot space after an anonymous complaint in June. The couple reportedly applied for new permits to reopen the basement for “amateur theatrical and historical reenactment.” However, township attorney Alan Trembulak, ruled on Friday that the so-called dungeon must remain closed.
Despite what the anonymous tipster told authorities, the Doughertys insist sexual contact was never allowed to be made at the gatherings.
The decision outraged the Doughertys and as a result the couple, along with about 20 of their supporters, held a rally Monday in the parking lot of the Montclair municipal building. Many of the protestors, donning leather and latex outfits, held signs demanding the couple receive a permit.
The couple called the basement facility a safe place for people to act out their fantasies.
Trembulak said the owners can ask the Board of Adjustment for a variance – or an exception to the law – when the committee meets Aug. 19.