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Thursday night is amateur night, when audience members, by appointment, act out their fantasies onstage. "Some nights we have all spanking fantasies," says Lowndes, who prefers a bit more variety. Other popular numbers are female wrestling, dressing men in lingerie, and foot tickling. Says Lowndes: "About 80% of the people who come to us are submissives; they want some mild humiliation. I feel most of it comes from childhood. Mother told us when to get up, when to eat-and spanked us when we were bad. Yet was all very secure, and what better place to re-create this love than in the bedroom?"
Most psychiatrists agree that sex fantasies are normal and should be enjoyed without shame. But some have reservations about Lowndes' advice to act them out; many fantasies are clearly violent and dangerous. Says Lowndes: pray we're not naive. We have to weigh the millions of people suffering from harmless fantasies against the possibility of encouraging a kook like Charles Manson If I found that we produced one violent person with our show, I think we would fold up our tent."
*Rousseau had lifelong fantasies of being beaten and Gladstone practiced self-flagellation. There is a legend, but no evidence, that Aristotle was masochistic.