The Secret Kink Meetings in Pandemic Istanbul

The group says it intends to keep meeting until curfew is enforced. For the moment, Turkish officials are urging citizens — mostly those 65 and older –– to stay at home.

Source Demetrios Ioannou

Why you should care

It’s a different kind of confinement.

“We are not afraid of the coronavirus,” one of the leading members of the underground BDSM community in Istanbul says with sarcasm. This as she cleans her hands with sanitizing gel for the sixth time in an hour.


A participant is suspended from the ceiling with ropes tied tightly around their body.

Source Demetrios Ioannou

While everything is being canceled or shut down worldwide due to COVID-19 concerns, this group refuses to put pleasure aside and obey social distancing rules. “We will keep meeting for as long as possible. At least until we are in a total lockdown” was the answer I received when the group allowed me to photograph a meeting and performance in March.


Left: Members of Istanbul’s BDSM community meet weekly to engage in “master classes” and to explore their sexual preferences, like bondage and melted wax play. Those not part of a couple find another single member to perform what they learn. Right: Some candles contain substances that cause more pain than others. “The places of the body that sun doesn’t see hurt more than anywhere else,” a member tells me.

Source Photography by Demetrios Ioannou

The group meets almost every week –– this time it was in the home of a couple in their late 30s who are community leaders. The gatherings are mostly “master classes” led by experienced members to educate novices. On this night, the attendees learned about melted wax play while watching and participating in a bondage show.

The BDSM community, which started to form in Istanbul a few years ago, consists of approximately 500 members across the city. Using pseudonyms, members mostly connect through Twitter.

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