A preeminent psychoanalyst explores the world of consensual S&M. An expert on the dynamics of perversion and erotic excitement, Dr. Stoller sets out on an expedition to the S&M community of West Hollywood. We meet the highly articulate Ron, who serves as a guide to the fetishes and bizarre practices of both casual and devoted proponents of sadomasochism. We are introduced to Marilyn and Claudelle, two warmly opinionated entrepreneurs of a B&D (bondage and discipline) establishment. The arcane business of S&M videos is documented by Merlin, and enthusiastic producer of pornography. Most interesting are Dr. Stoller’s provocative questions to these denizens of the S&M world and his engaging musings on their answers.Like an anthropologist in New Guinea, Dr. Stoller observes the customs of these natives. He studies them in his quest for insight into the perplexing question of why some people associate pain and humiliation with intense erotic desire. Thus, his journey is not only external, but internal—into the meaning and boundaries of the term perversion and its place within the psyche. He investigates how the theater of the imagination is moved into the real world’s reverberating complexity. In the course of this journey, Dr. Stoller changes his views, first referring to these S&M practitioners as specimens and then perceiving them, in their ambiguities and contradictions, as human beings. By joining Dr. Stoller, we find not only nuances in the meanings of consensual sadomasochism but larger implications of what being human means.