Mrs Silk: An Unintentional Pioneer

By | March 3, 2018
Reading Time: 5 minutes

For those of us of a certain age and who had early Internet access Mrs Silk was a revelation and a pioneer.  It’s seems that her achievements were rather accidental as she never really capitalised on them.  That’s often the way with pioneers, they start something but it takes others to really make it a success.

Mrs Silk ran a dressing service around the back of Euston Station, probably not uncoincidentally far from the Beaumont Society and the centre of what passed for trans resources in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

Her genius vision was to spot the Internet and to create a website for her business.  Today that doesn’t sound very radical, but in the mid 90’s she was the very first real web site that catered for CD/TS/TV interests and it was an eye opening find for people like myself.

The site rapidly changed from just advertising her shop to being an interactive hangout for like minded people.  In the days when your home connection was a 19,200 modem, the idea of a site with a chatroom was truly revolutionary.  It was quirky and quite cosy in there as well as being totally free form.

It was an environment you couldn’t even imagine today.  There was no security, you could pick a fresh name each time you entered the room – lots of potential for wind-ups as well as mischief.  The limited number of concurrent users, I think it was 25, meant that even with different aliases it was hard to be unrecognised.

Etiquette was minimal unless Mrs Silk was in the room, as she often was in the early days.  Silk herself could be quirky and stroppy, there was a famous time when she got the hump and pulled the plug on the room.  I was actually a witness to it, I was logged in from a hotel in California and saw the row building as a couple of newbies challenged whether it was the real Mrs Silk in the room and took the mickey out of her.  To prove it really was her she said she would kill the chatroom and proceeded to do so – leaving it down for the best part of two weeks.  I always felt sorry for one well-known member who was in the room at the time and quietly chatting with Mrs Silk, s/he was famous for being irascible and was blamed for several years afterwards for being the one to upset Mrs Silk.

That place provided me with some valuable lessons for later interactions, online and real life.

It was the first place I found myself being accosted by a “dom” and accused of not being a true submissive because I wouldn’t obey orders from someone with a capital letter in their name.  It sounds so simple from this distance in time, but as a newbie struggling to understand lots of suppressed ideas and feelings, that sort of accusation really cuts to the quick.

Silk’s chatroom also provided a salutary experience that is still incredibly important to me today and colours my online behaviour.  Because the room didn’t require an actual login you could enter your usual name and find it rejected because someone else was using it – either innocently, or more likely, pretending to be you.

I logged on one day to find myself immediately accosted in private chat by someone in very deep distress.  When people first came across Mrs Silks site they were usually nervous, confused, stressed and coming to terms with the horror of being gender fluid and thoughts of being submissive – I know I was.

This person who accosted me was brand new and had just been subjected to a long sadistic mind-fuck by someone impersonating my user name.  They had done so in a tag team with someone else.  This poor newbie was so worked over and distressed that the only solution they saw for themselves was to commit suicide !!

It took me several hours to talk this person around and it was a very intense experience.  I later made it known to Silks and the room in general as well as tackling the perpetrators.  These scum were exceedingly pleased with themselves and only expressed disappointment that the victim hadn’t gone and killed themselves.

As the years roll by we often forget what it was like to be a newbie gathering the courage to enter a new world.  We’ve heard it all before.  To this day I remember this experience and will make the time to talk to a newbie in difficulties, to hopefully show them how to cope and avoid such pitfalls.

Despite that I have lots of fond memories of Silks.  It was there I met the first person I would call Mistress.  It was also where I had the fascinating discovery that dommes were actually real and normal females.  I had several domme friends in there and often the last thing we would talk about in hours of chat was kink.  Intelligence, humour and character were what they were really interested in and it was a good lesson to learn.

Despite being an early web pioneer, Mrs Silk failed to grasp the opportunity.  The site remained unkempt and was rarely updated whilst the competition moved in.  Mrs Silk herself rarely bothered with the place any more.

My big gripe with the site is that Mrs Silk herself died in March 2006 and to this day it has never been acknowledged by those left to own and run the site.  I find it disrespectful and upsetting when I see they have released a “brand new” photo set of Mrs Silk.  The poor woman died in her mid 60’s, today she’d be approaching 80.  As good as she looked in her 50’s, I don’t think it does anyone credit to have those 20/25 year old pictures constantly photo-shopped.  It’s dishonest to the site members that think it is the real Mrs Silk and continue to express devotion.

The fiction appears to be that she’s moved to Florida and trains US sissies, as the flag in this picture alludes to.  This is a fairly recent photo shoot added to the site.  She looks great.  The problem is that this must have been taken at least 10 and probably 15 years before she died – so the best part of 30 years ago.

MrsSilk-01

In Memoriam: Mrs Silk

The website is now very much a niche footnote in the annals of kink on the Internet.

Yet it should always be remembered, along with Mrs Silk, as to how it pioneered not just kink, but a place for the vulnerable to find support from others when questioning their gender and sexual identity.

Every March 6th I raise a glass to the woman who fundamentally set me on the path to what I am today.

 

26 thoughts on “Mrs Silk: An Unintentional Pioneer

  1. MasterRaven

    I used Mrs Silks as a place to chat to some very interesting people. I first found it in the late 90’s and continued to pop in and out until it closed.
    I did realise that Mrs Silk had passed on, but thought that the site was remaining open with the agreement of her estate.
    I do miss all the characters I used to chat to, like badpenny, Lovely Old Karen and Mariana, it could be a riot at times, intense too.
    I wish them all well, where ever they may be. My condolences to Mrs Silks family, we all should honour her memory and what she did for everyone, TG or otherwise.

    Oh, before I forget, my chatroom usernames were Master Raven and Quiet Passions.

    Reply
    1. melodyinsights Post author

      I don’t think we ever spoke. My earliest experiences in there were unpleasant DM slides of the “on your knees bitch” variety. So I avoided all doms after that and ignored any approaches. If you did try to talk, I apologise after all these years 😊

      Silks was an incredible place. Many people have very fond memories of it, especially the free for all years where you could discuss very personally sensitive things with equally confused people and have a great laugh over it all.

      The comments to this post are fascinating as more people put their hand up to say “I was there”. Thank you for adding to them.

      🌹🌹

      Reply
    2. lipgloss tinateengirl

      🙂 Hey, I remember both of you, dear MR and QP with fondness. Ah, Lovely Old Karen too. Nice to see you again!
      Love
      lipgloss

      Reply
  2. lipgloss tinateengirl

    melody, I’m so grateful to you for this. I’ve long been looking to find out more about the real Mrs Silk, I did back in the late 90s once exchange a couple of brief emails with her. I was an early user and when I read your comments and those of others of its early quirky days it brought back fond, warm memories.

    I’m grateful to a girl called zoe for posting the address. There’s a new site but it’s nothing like Silks at its best, called miss-silk with a dot com. It might develop into something better.

    I made some good friends at the Mrs S chatroom — I remember especially the witty, funny, affectionate badpenny, we got quite close online. I was very fond of Mistress Catherine, aka gabriella and we used to have long conversations, including once on the phone, a special treat.

    When I first chatted there, I was sweetchantelle, but I later developed a new self when tinateengirl was born, quite some time, I regret to say, after the rest of me had left my teens — but so much of them remained!

    As you say it did get rowdy and most unladylike, ungirly too on a few later occasions with some very unpleasant people — which is why they brought in the mods.

    Unlike yourself and others I was actually sorry when it closed for good, although I understand and actually agree with your reasons for feeling otherwise, especially with regards to respect for the memory of Mrs Silk herself.

    I remember when the room closed for a few weeks — so many of us were distressed because we thought we’d lost it forever. You brought back memories I’d long forgotten — especially in the early days the limitations on the numbers the room could hold. I once paid a subscription to register my name, but didn’t continue it. (Memory’s a bit vague on that.) I remember being so grateful for the site, I put a 10-quid note in an envelope and sent it off.

    Thanks again. Lovely to read it, melody.
    luv
    lipglosstina

    Reply
    1. melodyinsights Post author

      Thank you for some lovely reminisces. I do remember your name from the time, though I don’t think we talked in any meaningful manner. Probably small exchanges in the main room. badpenny was good for a laugh, though she ended up on the wrong side of things when the mods were told to loose their sense of humour and perspective. If you remember badpenny, then you may remember the equally zany skinnygirl, who was a good friend.

      I knew Mistress Catherine quite well, she had over 20 names she used to go in as. Often coming back into the room under a fresh ‘sissy’ name so she could continue a DM without being pestered. You’ve reminded me that I probably owe her an email.

      There was a certain aura of the wild west about the place in the early days, or is that Calamity Jane ? For many of us there near the beginning, it was the irreverent knock about regarding something that would be considered shameful outside that environment that was most attractive and was lost. I do understand why others, like yourself, persisted.

      Many thanks for this, you’ve made my evening now that I retrieved this from the spam folder where Word Press has a habit of sticking first time commenters.

      melody 🌹

      Reply
      1. lipgloss tinateengirl

        Thanks so much melody, so glad you liked my little trip amongst the memories. 🙂 If you’re in touch with Mistress Catherine do send my love. She might remember me as sweetchantelle, although she may well remember tina! I did exchange lots of emails with badpenny after she left Silks but she hasn’t been in touch for a long time. She hadn’t been well.

        Reply
        1. melodyinsights Post author

          I was never quite sure if badpenny was the same person as rebel. I know rebel was seriously ill.

          Reply
  3. Jo

    Ha very interesting , I drove round to number 35 once with the missus and we saw people coming and going this was around 2001 . Wonder if the neighbours knew what was going on in that close knit cul de sac ? Or if the current owners know the houses history ! 😆
    So who was her ‘ daughter’ Victoria ?

    Reply
    1. melodyinsights Post author

      2001 ? You’d have seen Nyssa and Jane etc out the back in maids costumes having a crafty cig 😁

      Thanks for reading and commenting, it’s amazing just how much that place affected so many of us – especially those who remember how extraordinary it was in the days of dial-up.

      melody x

      Reply
  4. sissywife melissa

    Same for me , i found the site back when i just got internet at home somewhere 1998/99 ,it was indeed a very free form and supportive place , it deteriorated I think mainly just because as with the rest of the internet it became more crowdy .
    would like a chatroom like hers now , really miss talking to like minded or role playing
    i learned that Mrs silk had since long past away from someone in the chat like almost 10 yrs ago
    rest in peace

    Reply
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  6. Carrie

    Nice review of things past, melody 😉 Found this as you said – wondering whatever happened to the site.
    Such a fabulous trailblazer with great style and poise. Knew exactly what it was all about. She sourced wonderful dresses, and the hats with ribbons were to die for!
    I trust you are well 🙂

    Reply
    1. melodyinsights Post author

      Hi Carrie. Sorry not to have caught with you for a while, but CM isn’t for me.

      I wrote this post some time back to the give Mrs Silk some justice. I’ve had quite a few old timers say thanks.

      xx

      Reply
  7. Pingback: One Year On – Insights and Ramblings of melody

  8. Jenny

    I too was a regular user of the chatroom, and in the early days found it a great place and with some quite supportive members as you say.
    I am however pleased it has shut now, for one thing its more respectful to the late Mrs. Silk, but for another in recent times often when I went in the room there were abusive idiots in there which the “admin” jessica did nothing about at all. I have mainly used tvchix for a while as only registered people can use it and the room is properly policed.

    Reply
    1. melodyinsights Post author

      Considering the smallness of my blog, I’ve had a remarkable number of people make it known that they too were there in those glorious early days.

      The last time I went into that chatroom was out of curiosity after a gap of over a year. I made some comment which was immediately jumped on by admin, called a well known trouble maker and banned. That was at least 5 or 6 years ago and confirmed it was no longer a place I wanted be in.

      Thanks for commenting, it’s nice to see the people saying “I was there”.

      melody xx

      Reply
  9. BertaCD

    I think I may have participated in Mrs. Silks chat room many years ago and am sorry to read that we’ve lost another chat room for sharing with each other. Yahoo’s chat is gone along with Microsoft’s many past chat offerings. What’s a “gurl” to do in order to chat with others securely? Any chat room suggestions will be appreciates by this forever “closeted” “gurl” in Massachusetts, USA so please share with all of us!!

    Berta Friday, 12/28/2018 2 AM EST

    Reply
  10. rubbermark

    I remember discovering the site as a teen and finding great solace in it. It certainly went some way to shaping my attitudes and feelings. I agree that the chat room was a fantastic place to be, but could also be incredibly intense at times. I used it until very recently when it closed.

    I was aware that Mrs-Silk herself had sadly passed and that the site was being carried on by fairly unscrupulous people, willing to string others along in the falsity that she was still alive. However, the chat room was still fun and I’ve never seen another chat room quite like it anywhere on the web. I will sorely miss that and wouldn’t mind seeing it reinstated at some point.

    Reply
  11. Pingback: 100 Not Out – Insights and Ramblings of melody

  12. Rhonda

    Sorry to her that the site has closed. It was a wonderful lace to explore fantasies, meet people and have some fun without judgement. I have probably chatted with many of you there.
    Rhonda

    Reply
  13. Victoria

    Just found this and what a lovely insight Melody and I agree with all what you say. I remember my early days of grapplimg with my conscious and emotions, desperate on one hand to “come out” but frightened to do so on the other. What a strange time is was back in the 90’s and god hasn’t the world moved on! Dressing and getting ripped off at Transformation was about as good as it got for me in those days, but Mrs Silk’s website was a forerunner in influencing huge changes in perceptions and attitudes. I often frequented the chat room and had my first ever real time “experience” with a Tgirl I chatted to on there. It also helped me to convince myself that I wasn’t going to stay in the closet and during the early 2000’s my confidence grew to the point that I fully came out in 2004. A posthumous thank you to Mrs Silk for helping to set me on my way and may you continue to rest in peace. xxx

    Reply
    1. melodyinsights Post author

      Nice words, Victoria. Thank you.

      It looks as if you’re another one where our paths must have crossed in Mrs Silks. For a time it was a magical place that we all seem to fondly remember.

      melody xx

      Reply
  14. george

    I am sorry if the site has been shut down permanently as I ,and a host of others had a lot of fun there. It was a site in which you could be yourself or your alter ago if you liked and leaves a big hole in our lives.

    Reply
  15. Evette

    Such a lovely post about a site that changed my life. Thank you, Melody. It seems the site has finally been shuttered for good. I had not frequented for several years and the last few times I was there, it seemed the place lacked all discipline, etiquette or even common courtesy. But for a time, it was a lovely place for exploration.

    Evette

    Reply
    1. melodyinsights Post author

      Thank you Evette. I expect that as with others who have reached out after reading this post that our paths crossed in the chat room.

      A couple of months ago I saw an uptick in views of this post and found it was due to people searching for why the Mrs Silk site was down. I find it curious because they renewed the domain registration in June and shuttered the site not long afterwards.

      I find that I am rather relieved the site is down and appears to be so permanently. It increasingly sullied Mrs Silk’s memory.

      melody x

      Reply
      1. Sissy Blake

        I was a site member after She passed and have been in and out the chat room for well over a decade.
        I didn’t know it was a facade until quite recently but the chat room was life to me.
        I used to chat in the UK TV/CD yahoo yahoo chat room until I found Her place, so many good times.

        Reply

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