In the fall of 1999, the kink community in Charlotte, NC was offered in only a few ways. One was through LINX, a munch group that offered monthly munches and educational opportunities but little in the way of play parties or a more structured organization. Another way was the hidden community where the scene was kept underground, hidden away, available only through private play parties and word of mouth. The educational opportunities were there but often you would have to travel to other areas in NC. In the late summer of 1999, Mistrezz E sent out an email to see how many people would be interested in forming a new BDSM group in Charlotte. About 25 people met at Max & Erma's excited about a new opportunity. At the next meeting at Fudrucker's, Mistrezz E and a few key members from TALON, the BDSM group in Greensboro, NC, met with about 20-25 people to discuss the possibility again. Questions were debated. Did Charlotte need another BDSM group? Could the city maintain 2 groups? What would the nature of the group be? The idea flourished and the process began.
It started with a Yahoo list where the formation could be discussed. The first message was posted on September 28, 1999 by Mistrezz E announcing a planning meeting at one of the member's homes to discuss and create the by-laws that still govern the group today. Several meetings were held at one of the attendee's apartment to pound out the group's dynamics and structure. The key TALON members were instrumental in helping to get the group going from assisting with the by-laws and setting up the group's structure. They would often drive to Charlotte after work for a meeting that would last until 11 pm and then drive back to Greensboro again. Their help was very important to the development of CAPEX. Meanwhile, these dedicated Charlottean's decided to form a group which had more structure. They would offer monthly educational opportunities and a place for like-minded individuals to meet. Monthly play parties would also be offered to allow opportunities for people to meet and play. After many late night meetings with about 10-12 key members and the TALON members help, CAPEX, Charlotte Area Power Exchange, was formed.
On Oct 27, 1999 a meeting was held to discuss the by-laws and elect an interim board. The interim board consisted of Mistrezz E, Michael, Beth, Erika and Gary. The board would serve until elections for the first CAPEX board took place in June. The meetings would be held on the 4th Saturday of the month, a weekend chosen so as not to conflict with other local groups in the area. The interim board was hard at work behind the scenes getting ready for that first meeting. Orientation times were set up so those that wished to come to the meeting would have an opportunity to meet with a board member prior to attending a meeting. According to the by-laws, a potential contributor must attend an orientation process prior to attending a meeting. This policy is still in effect today, allowing new people to meet with a designated contributor and learn about the group before they come.
The first official CAPEX meeting was held on January 22, 2000 at a local hotel in a small meeting room. There were about 10-12 people in attendance for a great presentation by Weirdwolf on Toy Bag Safety. Interestingly enough, the first meeting was hampered by Charlotte 's 1st snow storm of the year which limited those that could attend. But there were a few brave souls that dredged through the snow and ice to make it to their first CAPEX meeting. The by-laws were presented and were to be voted on at the next meeting.
In February, the second meeting took place and the by-laws were passed. CAPEX was now officially formed. The group was governed by a 5 member board with yearly elections in June. The group proudly identified as a non-profit pansexual BDSM group for the south central Piedmont area of North Carolina. The goal of CAPEX was and still is to provide a discrete, friendly, and safe environment for the education and support of those interested in safe, sane and consensual BDSM. The group was open to all people over 21, of all sexual orientations and kink interests, couples and singles and BDSM families with a sincere interest in the BDSM lifestyle at some level.
Meetings continued over the next few months on every 4th Saturday. Play parties were started using someone's home or apartment and volunteers were the backbone of the organization. CAPEX had begun to bring in National presenters such as Jack McGeorge, Bob Deegan and Jay Wiseman. By the fall of 2000, CAPEX had outgrown their play party venues of using someone's home and began to try a new process in the area of having play parties in Hotels. Several hotels were approached and the group began using them for their play parties. Crews of volunteers would show up on the day of the meeting and party and essentially breakdown the room furniture and set up play stations. DM's were used to monitor the play area. Food was provided. And a great time was had by all.
There have been many milestones in the 11 years of CAPEX. The first CAPEX Halloween party was held in Oct. of 2000 at the home of a contributor. Contributors dressed in costumes and prizes were given for the best costume. The CAPEX Halloween party has become an annual event and is looked forward to by the group's contributors as well as members of other organizations. In the past, CAPEX has collaborated with other organizations to open the Halloween social to them as well. The last year of Together in Leather, the social was attended by over 150 people from the group as well as TIL attendees. It was an exciting site to see an entire floor in a hotel converted in to a kinky Halloween party with themes such as "I want to suck your blood" and "Along Came a Spider". Themed parties were no new thing to the CAPEX contributors. Floor parties in which an entire floor of a hotel was rented out to the organization and the contributors. Luau themes, school girl themes, military themes were frequently used. Volunteers spent countless hours preparing the decor and the food so that everyone had a great time. The contributors also got in to the spirit by dressing for each of the themes.
CAPEX has been a leader in the Southern Piedmont area in bringing nationally recognized presenters as well as regional and local presenters. Janet Hardy, Laura Antoniou, John and Libby Warren, Vi Johnson, Victoria Gayton, Tristan Taromino, Mistress Suzan and slave ziggy and SELF's own Lady Catherine has graced CAPEX doors, just to name a few. We continue to have great presenters educate our contributors. CAPEX believes that these presenters that give of their time and often their own money to present to local groups should be treated as special as possible. Our service and attention to these presenters has helped make CAPEX a respected group in the BDSM field.
CAPEX also believes you should give back to the community that we serve. The group has supported or sponsored many organizations and charitable causes such as, NCSF, Master Doug's Medical Fund, SELF, Lion's Pride, NC Leather Contest, Frolicon and many others. CAPEX believes local groups must support each other to keep the community strong. We are only as strong as our weakest link in this country where often our sexual practices are criticized and attacked. Non-reciprocal groups are recognized at meetings once a quarter so that the contributors can learn about other groups in the area. CAPEX also began an outreach program for those new to the scene called Gateway. This program meets in a non threatening atmosphere where those that have an interest can come and learn about the basics of the BDSM lifestyle. There are often people attending that do not even know what a basic flogger looks like, much less the intricate rules of scene etiquette and protocols. The group is a discussion group only and those attending aren't pressured to join any group. The moderators are just there to answer their questions.
Within the organization itself, the core backbone of the group is the volunteers. CAPEX as a whole rewards their volunteers with volunteer of the month, quarter and year awards. Volunteer parties have been thrown for those that have volunteered to allow them to relax and let the board take care of them for an evening. Newsletters are emailed to the contributors so that they will be kept abreast of the latest in the group and area. The CAPEX library is available for contributors to check out books ranging from self-help books, to erotic novels and how-to books. Vendors attend the meetings as well so the contributors may have a chance to buy a new toy in which to tease their partners with.
Special Interest Groups have become a part of CAPEX, including the Relationship SIG, Spirituality SIG, Dom SIG, Domme SIG, Submissive SIG and Deviations to name a few. A yearly Pig Pickin' has become an awaited event every May as finding a social venue is impossible during the NASCAR race week. Many contributors look forward to this time so they can reconnect with their fellow contributors.
CAPEX started with a handful of people wanting to create a new group in the Charlotte area. Many kink-minded people have passed through the ranks of CAPEX. Some have excelled and become a name in the kink community throughout the Southeast. Others have found their soul-mate, their owner, their submissive and life long friends. People come and people go. Boards change and new contributors become an integral part of the volunteer process. There has been changes. There has been drama filled times in the organizations history, like any other large scale group. But, through it all, CAPEX has remained a group dedicated to the education of its contributors and providing a safe place for like-minded people to meet, exchange ideas and possibly connect.