What Excites Us!
Episode 12 - The InnThrall B&B
Kathleen Ashford owns and operates the InnThrall B&B, a luxury kinky destination in Pennsylvania. She is a retired professional Dominatrix from the Seattle area, where the first incarnation of InnThrall was located.
She moved east right before the pandemic started and has had plenty of time to build it to the perfect covid safe haven getaway, for people who are lifestyle players, those who would like to try out some toys, or even folks who just want an extremely private B&B with an indoor pool under the stars! Visit innthrall.com to book your vacation!
moved here one month pre lockdown, fell through every crack as far as relief goes. We close the business in Seattle, and had yet to get our appointment for our permitting hearing. And then all the government offices were closed and it took like four months I couldn't even open the doors until September.
Hi there and welcome to What Excites Us! the show that discusses sex and sexuality throughout time and place, including the here and now. I'm your host, Gwyn Isaacs. Today, I'm chatting with Kathleen Ashford, who owns and operates the InnThrall b&b, which is a luxury kinky destination in Pennsylvania.
It honestly sounds amazing for folks who are lifestyle players, as well as people who would simply enjoy a private, opulent romantic getaway, with some added sex toys and a private pool and a place where you don't have to worry about the neighbors or making a mess when you get it on with your honey or honeys.
Kathleen is a retired professional dominatrix from the Seattle area where the first incarnation of InnThrall was located. As you heard in the cold open, she moved east right before the pandemic started, and therefore has had plenty of time to build it into the perfect COVID safe haven getaway. A quick note about the sound in this recording. We were chatting during a conference in our hotel room. So there are moments where you can hear other folks in the hallways and doorways closing and the room sounds maybe a little bit more echoey than usual. That's just the way it goes sometimes. But between learning about InnThrall and the other little tidbits that come up in the conversation, it was too good not to publish. Enjoy!
So we sort of jumped into the middle we
Oh yeah, I do that.
Gwyn Isaacs 2:25
Where is in thrall located?
Yes. Okay. It's a good one. It's on the outskirts of Redding, near a National Forest. And it's like an in a crystal castle, atop a mountain. Like surrounded by an enchanted forest. There's a magic bridge like it's out of a fairy tale. There's deer that visit the edges of the yard and sure, chipmunks and it came with a cat that we feed regularly.
Yeah, she's our little ambassador.
But we built her house.
Gwyn Isaacs 3:09
That's really lovely. Yeah, when you were looking to relocate, were you set on a specific area, or were you looking for the property.
Um, I had a lot of criteria, a lot. And most of it pointed us toward the east coast. And I started looking in sort of 150 mile radius from where we landed. Because I wanted to be near major metropolitan areas and international airports. The price point is high. And a lot of people fly in for the experience. It's a destination experience. Some people are lucky enough to be local and able to just drive over. But I had some guests who recently drove I think nine hours from Kentucky.
Just to come stay for three nights.
It's amazing. To me, it feels like the deepest compliment InnThrall is my passion project. My Heart Project is I would rather say.
Gwyn Isaacs 4:30
So you had it before in Seattle. And you said you wanted to make it bigger and better. Tell me some of the things that are bigger and better.
Well, the house itself is definitely bigger. We relocated from a suburb, a split level in the suburbs of Seattle with neighbors and everything.
There you go.
And I operated it for a number of years and none of the neighbors ever knew a thing, the address isn't given out until a certain number of days prior to the reservation. And people have been lovely about keeping it very private. Keep it secret, keep it safe. And that suits my privacy wishes as well.
Gwyn Isaacs 5:34 [AD]
This episode of What Excites Us! is brought to you by me, I'm Gwyn Isaacs. And besides being your podcast host, I'm a certified sex coach and educator. And right now I have some openings for text based clients. I love coaching over email and text. It allows you to be open and vulnerable in ways that may feel too difficult in person, which lets us tackle the concerns you have at your own pace. Very few of us were taught how to have sex, most of us are feeling our way through the dark, hoping we get it right. I can help you build skills in the bedroom and navigate your intimate relationships, I have two ways you can sign up to start texting with me right away. When you go to earthlydesire.com/coaching, you will find a weekly subscription for daily correspondence. And a way to schedule a live one hour text chat. Visit earthlydesire.com to start on your path have more pleasure today, you deserve it!
Is there a vetting process that you go through? When people inquire?
Honestly, no, like with any hotel or a bed and breakfast, you don't really get to choose who walks through the door. And that's part of the excitement is having zero preconceived notions about who you're about to me. And I think often if I had vetted or looked on, you know, social media profiles or something like that, I, I would probably have a very different idea about who actually showed up. If I were to use my very well educated imagination in the land of kink, I would still get it different or wrong. In a number of cases, some of them I can easily able.
Gwyn Isaacs 7:42
Sure. So when a guest comes is it just one booking per time, or do you have several rooms or...
currently I'm just operating the one suite, which with the pool room makes it a 3000 square foot suite.
So it's it's significant.
The mega suite house?
Yeah, right. And I'm operating it contact free for pandemic reasons. And I have been since we, since I opened on this coast, guests get temp checked. And that's about it. So as far as vetting them, no I I don't get to choose. And I'm glad I don't. Because I would miss out on a lot of people that are amazing. And I'm so lucky to have met and who have become friends over the years they return I was amazed that InnThrall got return guests, I thought it would be a novelty that people would do once and you know, say what fun and it turns out it means a lot to people to have what it offers.
Gwyn Isaacs 9:02
Yeah. Yeah, it's something that I've looked into not owning but going to renting for special occasions sort of thing. It's never worked out yet. But who knows. Now that you're here, maybe it will work out.
I mean, I'm really good at this stuff. So if you want to make a party go, I can make you a party.
Gwyn Isaacs 9:25
Excellent. So when, if, when the the pandemic ends, will you expand to have more than one guest?
Correct. There is a second suite that is currently being built out. Called the chambers of hear and now it's another mega suite. I was going to do three suites but I decided instead on two mega suites And I'm excited to start sending out the teaser photos and...
Sure. Are you on social media? I mean, is...
I am, social media it is there's a has a proper website, InnThrall.com, I n n, and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, I'm not savvy enough to be on anything fancier than that at the moment. But honestly, that's all I can manage. Time wise and I have help doing it.
The social media part.
Thank Goodness. Fetlife?
I am there. I rarely login.
Gwyn Isaacs 10:47
It just seems like that would be a missed opportunity if you were not there.
Totally. I got a personal profile there forever and a professional and when I was when I was a dominatrix. So yeah, InnThrall has its own profile on FetLife.
Gwyn Isaacs 11:04
How long on average do people come for?
It's a two night minimum. So most people do do two nights. Three nights are not uncommon, especially when people are flying in from somewhere or driving a long way. Yeah, make it really worth the commute.
But we we've had five day reservations.
Right? Yeah, just immersing yourself. And I like to think of it as a magic bubble where partners can come together and step out of time, and be so incredibly present with one another, that you can't help, But along with the best sex you've had in a long time, the depth of connection that can be achieved when you take all of those obstacles out of the way. There is no ringing phones. There was no clocks, there is no televisions. It's just you, you can obviously wear a watch, have a phone, whatever.
Gwyn Isaacs 12:25
You don't take your phones at the door?
Nothing like that. Some people have to take work calls. So I don't remember,
Gwyn Isaacs 12:37
just thats it's an oasis?
Yes, it is. It's a sanctuary of sorts. I keep using quasi religious language with it. And I'm not a religious person and never have been. But I like to design around a feeling for the spaces. And with the inner sanctum here, the feeling that I want people to have on some level, ideally, is that they've stepped into a church that was made just for them.
Oh, that makes a lot of sense.
And I don't mean church in a religious sense, just in as a sacred place
Gwyn Isaacs 13:24
well so much of I mean, I'm sure this isn't true for everybody. But for me, a lot of good kink scenes end up being very spiritual.
Absolutely. So many
Gwyn Isaacs 13:39
And I mean, not that that happens every time.
But when it does, it's so lovely. And it's a state that is achieved during S&M or BDSM sessions. Often, and sometimes intentionally.
So some, very often unintentionally, like, oh my gosh, I didn't know I could access this plane.
How did you take me there?
Right. And what it comes down to is being safe enough to be that vulnerable.
When you're dealing with sex and kink, especially. You're dealing with such raw psyche. And tread gently and, but also find one another exactly where you are. And it's your magic bubble. And some of that you get to take home with you. At least that's what I hear.
Timothy Leary, I think was the person who talked about set and setting being so important for psychedelic experiences. I find that as a sex coach, it's also really important when encouraging people to have conversations, or to get into that place where they can be vulnerable with one another, you know, throw a red thing over your lamp, and suddenly, it's a whole different mood.
It is! So the lighting is a lot.
It's true. So the idea of going to somewhere specifically designed with set and setting in mind, yes, just sounds magical.
Unknown Speaker 15:37
It is a kinky B&B . But it's also a romantic getaway.
Gwyn Isaacs 15:43
Well, I mean, ya...
and it has it comes with, if that's helpful to someone, the opportunity to also book a consultation, if they have questions or want to learn how to do a specific activity and not kill their partner. And hopefully everybody has a fine time. And there's no reason why anybody but myself should know what everything in this place does. Right? There's some obscure things. But maybe I can introduce you to something that floats your boat.
Gwyn Isaacs 16:20
Yeah. Oh, that's really nifty. The Yeah, the addition of a small teaching session sounds amazing.
It's yeah, it's kind of like your own personal hosted guests only sex coach. Yeah. Or kink coach
activities coach. Yeah,
often it comes down to being an interspecies translator.
Really? tell me more about that.
Language, finding language to even have a conversation is incredibly challenging. I remember, pardon my, my ring. We didn't even used to have a word for polyamory. It was just cheating. Or possibly non monogamous.
Gwyn Isaacs 17:12
When I was a teenager, I have never been monogamous my entire life. Right. It was a teenager, we called it an open relationship.
That was another term that was, you know, people kind of look to you like, Yeah, but now we have language around something, and we can speak intelligently on it. And it's the same thing with sex. And a lot of us didn't grow up with a supportive place to learn about sex and ask questions and a judgment free zone, etc, etc. And oftentimes, there will be one partner who has a specific fantasy, and the other partner is game, they're they're they're down and, but they don't know how that goes. And they tried to get more information from the partner one. And there's a lot of kind of stuttering around it. And it's usually a fantasy that started a long time ago. Maybe it's been 20 years, it's become very sophisticated inside of their brain, how the hell is partner two supposed to know what any of that looks like, in the movie in their head? So being able to draw that out and say, Okay, what I'm hearing is this, does that sound right to you? Okay, cool. That makes sense. And just get the opportunity to ask questions. I love my overarching life's mission is to give others a safe space and permission to explore. And I mean, explore one another and your own sexuality and see what rabbit trails there may be, if something's gotten stagnant for lack of a better word. Maybe something will inspire you. And there's a rabbit trail for you to explore.
You have such a calming energy. At least sitting here with me,
that I can I can easily imagine people feeling comfortable to open up and because a lot of those fantasies that have been in there forever and you don't tell anybody and it's like oh, there's some shame usually. Even with it's even when you're with somebody who was also kinky. Umm you know, it all gets like compacted. And it's really hard to tease that out.
Like getting the language and the conversation started. Then you've got something to work with. And even when you go home, right,
Gwyn Isaacs 20:20
it's like when, when you have a big ball of yarn, and it's all knotted up, and you can, if you can find that one piece that you can pull out, you can sort of find a
really good skill it seems for being able to find those threads and help people have better sex. I mean, what's better than filling the world with love, joy and orgasms?
I love that so much. Can I use that
I mean, I use it plenty, and you're welcome to it.
Ohh Love Joy and Orgasms
What I want people to do when they come I want them to fill my walls.
And I can tell you, you know, five years in the original location, nothing visible, nothing you could measure. But the walls were just an infused with a sexual energy. And it was in everything. And I've even heard in this new location, people say how can you walk in and not in immediately become turned on? And, and this was just overheard. And they the persons like? Oh, my gosh. And I tried to give opportunity for questions to be asked at any up anytime during the tour. But there's usually such a sense of overwhelm that like if you have questions later, no problem.
And so you're reachable via text
The entire time?
So you said it's a well appointed dungeon. So my first think, thought, Goddd
my first thought is, you know, big St. Andrew's Cross and maybe a Jacob's Ladder sort of thing and a whole bunch of acouturement, whips and paddles and that sort of thing. So is it all of that is it the implements as well as the furniture?
Yes, it is the furnishings as well as the gear. So I've in my prior career, I was a professional dominatrix for 15 years. And in a previous life, I've worked in a hospital and I'm very very very fussy. This is why I've never shared a dungeon with anybody. I always had to have my own because I couldn't trust anybody else's cleaning standards. And I knew that as well. You know I couldn't do it differently. My my clients really appreciated it. And they got Yeah, so it's one of the first things that you can do to relax in a new place is know that it's clean.
I want to walk into a place and feel as though it's possible that nobody's ever been here before. So I will chase that last hair. I will. I'll get it too. But now the dungeon it does have a St Andrew's Cross it does have a latticework rack on the backside there is a wall frame bondage frame. There is a sling with a with a leather sling hanging from chains. There's a suspension rig with you know all sorts of things you could hang from it but there will be a yoga swing already ready for you for your your yoga needs. Yeah, your machine washable yoga needs. There are a couple of sex machines and a nice complement of acoutrement for both. Touchless lube dispenser on the wall. I tried it I can't help but think of everything because it's all I really want to think about.
Gwyn Isaacs 24:37
That's so beautiful. Do you have limits on what people can do?
I do have three major house rules which are... number one is hydrate and the mini fridge is stocked with waters and electrolyte beverages. And there's straws for ya know, in case of long term bondage also, so no excuses, hydrate. And number two is no dying allowed. I find that number one helps a lot with that. So far, so good. People are great at the rules. And then number three is no stilettos on the bed but in the air is cool. Excellent. I try to legislate as little as I can get away with. If somebody has for instance, any sort of a messy scene whether they're going for the for lovely squirt or
Gwyn Isaacs 25:43
splash plays, you know,
I've got drop cloths available. I have a splash pads, both disposable and launderable I have what I call, sacrificial sheets folded on the shelf. There's nothing wrong with them, but they're never going to be pretty enough to go on a bed again. Or they lost their friends and that you know, in the hierarchy of sheets, this is where they land and if they need to die in a fire. It's fine
That's amazing. I love that
I have a saying, laundry happens, so yeah, like, don't worry if you if you have a lovely squirt. Yeah, we're ready for you.
Gwyn Isaacs 26:32
Excellent. Yeah, and, and some of the messier play can be exceptionally messy.
Oh, yeah. Especially like you're saying slashing food play. And just,
I mean, even body paint can get
And, and, you know, if there's a situation where it's going to cost me a lot of extra time to clean up, then I may have to, you know, add an additional cleaning fee. Because I but I already plan. There's already a day between any reservations.
That's blank, to make sure that everything can be a sparkly as it needs to be
The standard of cleaning is am I willing to put my vulva there? My fussy vagina and vulva am I willing to put it there, wherever there is? And until the answer is yes, it's you know, keep cleaning.
I wish everybody had that, not just for sex.
Maybe this pleases a whole bunch of what what I want. And that's what I want. I looked for what I wanted. I did not find it in a real way. So I made it.
And it turns out that people were into it. And and yes, it's certainly it's not the first one that's ever existed in the States. There's a couple that are have been around for a long time with lovely reputations. But this one was just a different feel for me, then what I found elsewhere.
Sure. You say your b&b. Are you serving breakfast?
Oh, my gosh,
Your breakfast will be delivered to the airlock chamber on a fancy tray on a fancy cart.
Wow. And are you also the cook?
Oh my goodness.
Yes. Yes, you will have a delightful breakfast and your dietary preferences, aversions, requirements. they're all taken into account before you arrive. So when I go grocery shopping, it's for you, ya know, and everything's is organic and fresh as can be and
Just sounds lovely.
And it usually last people through lunchtime, so they just have to order in for dinner. Because even if they made a reservation they'll probably order in
Ya, I wouldn't wanna go anywhere.
Nobody's gonna want to put their clothes back on if they don't have to, no.
So GrubHub or whatever will come out to your place?
It seems that all the apps will deliver.
Excellent. Yes, it's an important consideration.
Definitely. Because at the moment has a basically, you know, there's myself and my partner who very much likes to stay behind the scenes, but is incredibly supportive and very much a part of this. And that's it. Moving here just to have the pandemic. I was like no problem I'll meet people make community on the I don't doesn't matter I don't know anybody on the East Coast. And I'll go to conventions and such and find my people and, and then COVID Are you oh no friends for you. So FaceTime became a real.
Gwyn Isaacs 30:29
So did you end up having to do construction? Like, you know, sheetrock and that sort of thing? Or were you able to
flooring? Yeah. Yeah. Removing and putting in flooring
on your own because it's a pandemic.
Yeah, and I tried hiring people for a couple of things like housecleaning and with the even written agreements that they would wear a mask and would walk walk around the corner and there they are, like with with it under their chin, and I'm wearing a mask in my house, because that's what's up. So I was like, no, not worth the risk. I guess. I'm just gonna have to do it myself until I find the right person.
YouTube. I mean, I don't know if that's what you did. But I also I so I was selling my house or planned on selling my house. And it was like, Okay, I'm gonna go back to Vermont. I'm gonna pack and clean and I'm gonna get me and my two elder teens and apartments where it's a lot easier to do it in an empty space. And the day that we moved was the day before our state got shut down.
Oh, my goodness.
Gwyn Isaacs 31:49
So and I have two or three friends who do cleaning. Yeah. And all of them had compromised family members. And I lived in this house for 12 years with five children.
Gwyn Isaacs 32:05
Took a year, full year by myself to
get it to where it needed to be to. Yeah. And I learned how to do sheetrocksheet rock. Yes. I try not to but I can do a wee bit of plumbing I do. I never touch electrical. But my partner's is knows how to do that. I'm not touching it
Ya, no, electricity is scary.
But you'll see photos on the website. For instance the St. Andrew's Cross, I built that. And just to vouch for the construction, it's been in a professional dungeon. And it's still standing just as strong as ever. 20 years later.
Beautiful. Yeah, that's lovely
I give it a coat of poly and maybe a little stain touch up now and then.
It is sturdy. And that is like one of the first rules is make it sturdy and then make it pretty. Yes. I feel like oh, look at this lovely charming table and then like, people will fuck on that. It needs to be sturdy. They need to be free to fuck on that. I want that for them. So if there's an end table, it's probably very sturdy.
Gwyn Isaacs 33:30
So everything in the suite is designed to be fucked upon.
umm pretty much
you know, stuff.
Actually, the breakfast area and bar are topped with slate and and just like they're in the cement in the floor. So as sturdy Yeah, go for it.
Like have a Flintstones caveman fantasy. Just like, lie back on the slate.
Oh, that's amazing.
You'll be staring at a rock wall. That'd be really cool. Yeah, yeah,
That sounds really
Just gorgeous stone walls. Yeah, this house is really cool. I'm glad we found it.
Yeah, no kidding. You were saying earlier the pool looks out over the mountains? That there is a pool is
no it doesn't look over the mountains it but it looks up at the stars. So there's tall kind of greenhouse windows and there's actually plants a dracena and not a palm tree but it looks like one that are growing out of the floor and that they go all the way up to the ceiling. And so there's the canopy of leaves or there's the moon passing overhead. Because I have to name all the rooms something fancy. It's the Twilight Cathedral.
Lovely. I love it. I love that there's I'm a plant person. I'm a total plant freak. So yeah, you're like, a dracena, Im like oh ya which one, oh the palm tree
You know more than than I do. I'm like, That's not food,
right? I have an app. I'm not going to lie. Like, I mean, I am a plant person. I have lots of plants. But when it gets down to like, the technical names, there's an app that I use and like, what is that? Right? Oh, it's a whatever it is. Hollyhock red variety. Like, I don't know,
I look at the names. And I try to remember and I don't
Do you have folks that come to you who are not terribly experienced who come to InnThrall Correct?
Yes. So many are very inexperienced, interesting. Yes. It's not necessarily the kink community. It's often nobody you'd ever suspect. If you were going around, suspecting people. We all I mean, don't get me wrong. There's plenty of seasoned players. Sure. But there's a lot of first timers or they've been talking about it for a while. But yeah, for whatever reasons, they're not comfortable going to a club or a party or signing up to be a member of whatever. And where are they going to go? Where is a private dungeon, right, okay, is it does it meet the standards and are we going to be comfortable there?
Oh, that's not something I would have thought
And, and then what if what if the fantasy about being flogged turns out you don't actually enjoy being flogged. But this $400 flogger is now in the bottom of our drawer? What you know, and InnThrall gives people the opportunity also to experiment with a lot of the range of toys. They can choose from assorted floggers find what they do enjoy the most. Is it stingy is it thuddy? Is it deer skin? Or is it buffalo or kangaroos? And that's really helpful in guiding their shopping decisions later.
Sure. And I yeah, that's brilliant. And I love that you also make yourself available to them because I imagine that some of that comes up during their stay
There's so many questions, and there's no reason why they ought to know the answers. And I love questions. So and I love helping people have a better sex life. And I especially love empowering women. And I think that a lot of times it's technical skills. So if you can teach them the competence, it equals the confidence which equals sexy. Because how sexy is confidence?
That's wonderful. I, I'm, I can't wait until I can come. I can afford it and then I can come so y'all can help me afford it.
Yes... Help her out
Gwyn Isaacs 39:01 [AD]
Hey, folks, do you know that What Excites Us! has a Patreon account? Well, we do. Are you familiar with Patreon yet? It's a great way to directly support the people who enhance your life. There are artists, writers, podcasters, as well as many other types of creators and conversation makers who could use your help to continue to do great work, including me. You see, I love making the show and yet it still needs to earn a living. When you contribute to creators they can keep producing the work you enjoy. And when you do become a patron of a creator. Your membership almost always involves perks. For instance, for only $6 a month you get to hear the episodes of what excites us without any ads like this one. You will be invited into our private Facebook group, and you can message me from inside the Patreon app. If you love the show and can afford To support us for $99 a month, you get all the perks, many of which I haven't mentioned, including live, regular video chats with me. No matter what level you come in on, you will have my undying appreciation and gratitude. And if you're among the first 15 people to join, you will get a never expiring coupon code for an extra 20% off your first merch purchase. Even if you come in on the level that already has 20% off. Merch is coming soon, I promise. So come join me on Patreon and tell me what excites you?
And so the last question that I asked everybody, okay, is what excites you?
I find it very exciting to hear what it means to couples, or moresomes to have the space and the atmosphere and the experience overall that InnThrall offers and what I thought would be cool, fun. Sexy, kinky. It's all of that and more. But it's also deeply meaningful to connect with your partner or partners in this way, and I love seeing guests guess go from nervous to sweaty giggling messes. It's the best. I love it.
I love that answer so much. Thank you so much. This has been wonderful.
Thank you for the invitation. I really appreciate it
My pleasure. Yay
So InnThrall.com And I love, questions.
Excellent. Thank you
So, how badly do you want to visit InnThrall? I'm not a huge water person. But the idea of a private pool enjoying the country stars after a delicious day of intimacy with my sweetie sounds absolutely amazing. Especially these days where we are all struggling so much from this pandemic, a getaway could go a long way towards recharging. If you would like to book your vacation, please visit innthrall.com that's i n n t h r a l l.com and be sure to tell them you heard about it here on What Excites Us!
What Excites Us is produced and edited and hosted by me Gwyn Isaacs, all music is used under the Creative Commons Attribution license. This week that includes The Vendetta by Steven Kartenberg. Let me talk, Carol by Josh Woodward. Harmony by PolyPlus. And this is Trygve Larsen, who also goes by this Nesrality the track is called Enthralled by the Rising Star. Tickle.life hosts this and many other podcasts about sexuality and sex, as well as having lots of other great text based content. Please check them out at Tickle dot life. Thanks for listening. I super appreciate you. And if you like it, tell a friend. That would be so cool. Thanks again.