I'm neurotic. Get me out of here

Observations on kidnapping

It's a classic dilemma: you're an arts student, you're low on cash, you're hungry and the cupboard is bare.

Brock Enright, a 26-year-old living in New York City, chose an unconventional way to reverse his financial fortunes. He's turned to kidnapping. But not your traditional rich celebrity kidnapping-for-ransom. Enright is pioneering the growing trade of "consensual kidnapping". Popularised on the web, the phenomenon is spreading across the US. For US$1,500, you can be seized by "kidnappers" from a destination of your choice.

Jason Peters, a 25-year-old sculptor, cleared a four-day "window" in which to be seized. He told Rolling Stone later that "every single activity - taking a shower, opening a door - became suspect . . . The trauma was overwhelming. But afterwards, I felt great. It was like meditation."

Some of Enright's clients ask to be forced to overcome fears: one woman, afraid of heights, was made to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. One claustrophobic client pays to be stuffed under desks or inside drawers and, according to Enright, seems happy to pay for the privilege.

Paying to be hurt or humiliated is as old as whips and chains, though consensual kidnapping is a new take on traditional sadomasochism. According to Enright, most clients request some S&M element to their kidnapping.

And herein lies a problem for any UK-based students hoping to establish a copycat Brock Enright kidnapping empire. British law is not sympathetic to consensual violence, particularly if it involves sex. In 1990, 16 gay men were imprisoned or fined for consensual cruelty towards each other, a judgment that was upheld by the Court of Appeal and the Lords in Britain, and subsequently by the European Court of Human Rights.

If you want to hire a kidnapper in the UK, the law may not yet be on your side.