Saturday, September 14, 2013

Recently I met two incredible men who asked me to flog and single tail them. Each of them had been through their own process to prepare them for he synchronous moment that brought us together. I was privileged and honored to be a part of the transformative erotic experience we shared. We have stayed connected and had long conversations about our experiences. I became aware of what it is like for some new guy to finally find his way to the fulfillment of a long held fantasy. I began to reflect on the role of community in creating transformative erotic experiences. I believe that male energy is very powerful but is also very fragile. When a group of men comes together in the right way, it creates sacred male space and magic happens. With some notable exceptions, many of the gatherings I had found most powerful were not produced by the organizations in our community but by individuals or small groups. They were limited to select invitees and not open to the public. They did not advertise or do “out-reach”. In many ways of leather organizations stop promoting sexy fun activities where we could play and became the equivalent of the Rotary or the Elks. This point was driven home one night when a “community fund raising event” was scheduled the same night as a group gathering in the outdoors to actually DO the things that create community. In thinking about this, I realized that our community has abdicated leadership to the “educators”. These are the folks who run workshops, teach seminars, and lead conferences. We have traded those “transformative erotic experiences” for didactic presentations and “demos”. I believe that some of the “educators” are working from an unconscious dynamic of fear and envy. These are folks who were never any fun in the first place and are working to suck the fun out of anything somebody else might do. They “educate” because it gives them a platform to hear their own voices. For many of them, there are no other venues in which their opinions or even their voices are wanted. The idea of actual sexual energy intimidates them. Ask yourself, when was the last lecture or demo that gave you a hardon?....AND….If it did, what were you “allowed” to do with it? How does this happen? I think we as a community are SO hyper-sensitive to rejection that we have abdicated our role as gate keepers. Can we admit that NOT everyone should be welcomed to our community? Let’s face it…what we do is NOT safe, NOT sane, and NOT consensual if it is being done by people with limited insight, personality problems, deficient intellect, or mental illness. Many of these folks are drawn to our community because we are welcoming and friendly. They hand around for a while and we think there is no harm in letting them do things to “help out”. Gradually, they take on more and more responsibility. We accept the drama they bring with them because they are “good guys”. We elect them to be the presidents of our community organizations because it is “their turn”. For a while, their impact in minimal, but it is cumulative. Eventually they will drive the people we REALLY want to be there away. The good guys will get frustrated and leave while the rest of the organization is trying to deal with the crazy drama created by what my friends have termed the “broken wing club”. Recently I overheard a conversation between a friend and another guy asking to borrow the pictures the guy had taken at a large event. The request was telling. “Can we borrow some of the pictures because so-and-so is the photographer for (one of the leather publications) and doesn’t have a camera”? Huh??? Meet the poster child for the broken wing club. When we stop requiring that people meet even minimum standards for the tasks they are assigned, it reveals how low we are willing to go to “be nice”. It seems that the same thing is true for many of our “educators”. These folks are often not very skilled in their presentations or events that they organize. For new people it is important to note that if you attend these educational events, in most cases, you will NOT have the experience you want, you will just hear about it, or maybe see a demonstration of someone else having it. If you actually get to participate, it will watered down and devoid of any erotic energy. It will be in a venue conducive to lectures or meeting but not very erotic. You may get to see a Power Point presentation but you wont be able to play. You will be disappointed. It reminds me of the “sex education” portion of Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. We have allowed these castrated educators to completely de-eroticize what is meant to be hot, sexy, and edgy. How many times have we seen powerful, playful, erotic energy destroyed by the rule bound eunuchs who claim that there is a “right” way to do things? I believe we are at a crossroads. We will continue to see the demos, the workshops, and the conferences because there will always be people willing to participate at that level. But gradually, I hope that the true process of mentoring will start to emerge. I hope that we will see more activities that allow for spontaneous exchanges between men with skills and men who want to experience those skills in a way that will be intimate and connected. We will play in public and those who are interested will approach those who can satisfy that interest. It means that we have to take personal responsibility and cannot abdicate it to the “educators”. I hope the demos done in front of large spectator groups will be recognized for what they are…they are entertainment. It is to BDSM what a strip show is to sex. It is pandering. It is freak-show. The good old days went being a member of a club or organization meant you had skills and credibility are gone. Just look around. But the good news is that there is a fresh wind blowing. Those clubs and organizations that are based in “education’ will be hard pressed to exist in a world where new people can connect and experience the real thing. I learned from my two new friends that they have no interest in being “educated” about BDSM they want to EXPERIENCE IT.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

We were sitting in a restaurant and he reached across the table for the salt. His long sleeve moved up and I saw the scars. I knew his journey had been a difficult one. When you are the gay son of prominent mormons, you struggle. His struggle had included shop-lifting an exacto knife and hiding behind the trash dumpsters slicing his arms. An older woman trying to throw her trash away discovered him in a pool of blood and called for help. He survived, but the scars never went away. He formed deep thick keloids that would not even fade with plastic surgery. But the real scars were the ones you couldn’t see. Drugs and alcohol would control most of his adult life. He spent years locked in a battle with meth-amphetamine. He would loose years of his life in the battle. Lately he said that he had won over alcohol but he relied on daily antabuse administered by his brother to stay sober. Nothing was ever as it seemed. He left one day saying he had to get sober. He went to his parents cabin in Park City. He wrote a letter before he left. He was sorry. He had lied. All he was doing was drinking. He had stolen money….lots of money. But don’t worry. He would be back. He did come back. Just once. His parents paid to send him back to LA and rent a U-haul. He cleaned out the house while I was at work. I came home to food all over the kitchen because he took the refrigerator. He took the furniture but in a random confusing pattern leaving and taking whatever he could throw into the U-Haul as fast as he could. He left chaos in many ways. It took years to repair the damage he did. We didn’t talk after that. He hurt too many people. I spent a long time healing. Then he contacted me on Facebook. He said he knew I might not want to talk to him but he was hoping. I called. It was obvious things were not good. He was living in a place provided by his parents in Utah. They were back in charge. He was having lots of health problems. He called a few days ago and when I called back he was slurring and confused. The next day he called to say he had taken his sleeping pills to explain it. Saturday morning his brother called to tell me he was dead. He had died of a seizure. It was Pride weekend. I am on the board of directors and had to deal with all that involves. But thoughts crossed my mind. I remember coming to Pride with him and how his drinking caused problems. I remember him volunteering and getting lost to go drink. But I also remembered the good times. The parts of him that had kept us together for almost 5 years were not forgotten, they were just covered over. His funeral is happening right now. This is my way of mourning. I found a picture of us hugging with our dogs, looking over the California coast. I realized it was my daughter who had taken the picture. He hurt her more than most. My kids paid a huge price for his being in my life. It is why I severed contact. But it did not change the memories of what had been the good parts. We loved each other. We had both traveled the mormon highway doing as we had been told. Went on missions. Got married. I was set free by people who loved me more than they loved the mormon church. He was tortured by people who loved the church more than they loved him. But we found each other and for a while we were partners, we were family, we were in love. We had wild crazy sex and we laughed… A LOT. His self hatred was fueled by alcohol and he killed off the laughter and eventually the love. But for a time we were deeply passionately in love with each other. I had thought to let this pass. Until I read his obituary. It was cleaned and sanitized and a pack of lies. His father is an author of fiction and the skill seems to have been put to good use to disguise and deny any semblance of truth. Who he was is lost. Both the good and the bad….though there is so much they find bad even they are hard pressed to find ways to tell the story. They retold stories I had heard when we were together. His life has been frozen in time. All that time wasted. An obituary for a man who stopped growing a long time ago….a life lost. His being gay is not even mentioned. His ex-wife of less than a year is mentioned. None of his gay partners are. His “triumph” over drugs and alcohol is noted, their contribution to the problem is not. The damage it did is not mentioned. His hatred of mormonism is hidden beneath lies about his being a missionary. Too bad they haven’t read his missionary journal. Well they can’t because he left it here. He had to return to that in the end. He lived and died in lies. I guess his scars will finally fade. Mine have been opened a little with his passing. I question my own lack of wisdom but remember it was a LONG time ago. I cringe to think of his dying alone. I can imagine him having his last seizure and knowing it was over and I have to admit, I wish I was there to say good bye and tell him to not to be afraid. To tell him that I had loved him...once...a long time ago, and that it was okay for him to go this time. To try to take away his fear. I guess that is the final message. It was fear that drove all the madness. Fear that his parents would never love him and that he couldn’t live without that. Fear that he was never good enough. He found release from the fear when he drank and was then afraid he would be found out. But I remember the times he made me laugh and the times he made me so hard I thought I would explode…and the times I did. I remember the times he would surprise me. He tried SO hard. He hated things about himself that no one should hate. Some of them were the very things that made me love him. I remember when we would be together naked and the scars would all be visible. I loved that he trusted me with his scars. I thought he had paid a price for both of us. In a way, I thought he had paid a price that I had been spared. I realize now the price was greater than I ever imagined and can’t ever be paid.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sorry you didn't get the memo.

This is the content of a Newsletter we wrote for Erotic City. Too bad the style is lost in this post 'cuz it looked pretty cool. Someone who was not invited to participate and who did "not get the memo" is "talkin' trash" about his not being able to indulge his narcissistic desire to do what he wanted to do. Sadly, the entire conversation is happening is a world of which I know very little. Fet Life is NOT something I follow, but a friend alerted me to the drama. So...for what it is worth.If you want a pdf with all the cool format stuff email me.

June 10,11,12 2011
Passionate public play with a purpose.
We’re Doing it Again
Okay Leather folks it is time for us to celebrate our Pride and play for a purpose.
We invite Pride attendees to enter a sensual circus and share the darkly erotic world of the leather community We invite them to experience what they may only imagine.
The goal of this year’s Erotic CIty is to take cube but it will not be long before their attention
the next step. Long gone are the “demos” and “presentations”. NO ONE uses a microphone to tell people what they are watching. We no longer lecture people about activities they are striving to experience. The walls between those who produce the event and those who come to see it have come down.
If you have been invited to participate in Erotic City we are asking you to participate in a whole new way. You are invited to think of whatever it is that you find arousing and think of how you might share that.
As people enter the tent we want them to be overwhelmed. The music will capture and engage them as they move from the familiar to the world we have created. As though they were entering a sensual circus they will see a variety of activities all happening at the same time. They may first be drawn to the rubber vacuum
is drawn to the corner stage on which Avatar Club Los Angeles will be re-creating the hot scenes from their Axiom booklet. Maybe the smell of shaving cream will catch their attention as a hot shaving scene seems to spontaneously begin. Impact play is always a big draw and we expect there to be plenty of opportunities for MEN to play with each other and for WOMEN to do the same.
The tent will be hot and crowded and the participants will be surrounded by a kinky homoerotic environment that stimulate their senses.
If you are interested, please read on for some instructions about how to participate in this year’s Erotic City. Remember the goal is to take the NEXT STEP and make this year even better than those before.
This really SUCKS
Thanks to the guys from Hollywood House, the vacuum cube is a huge draw...too bad you have to get naked to play.
We’re doing it better
Erotic City has a great reputation. Rather than rest on our laurels, this year we are going to kick it up a notch and do things even better than we have done before. While some activities will be familiar, some will be new and exciting. It is up to you. Don’t miss out on this year’s Erotic City.
The goal is not so much to teach as it is to INVITE....not so much to show but to SHARE.
The chairs are gone and so are the microphones. We no longer do “demos” while our guests sit and watch. Erotic City is not a teaching-learning experience but rather an introduction that we hope will eventually lead to that teaching learning opportunity.
Rather than demonstrations and lectures, we invite you to play surrounded by those who may not be as familiar with the things we do. The hope is that what you do will be erotic, sensual, and INTERESTING. You will need to feel the energy of the crowd around you. As their interest begins to shift, you must adapt. You may choose to make yourself available to talk to the folks who have been watching you. IF APPROPRIATE you may help them experience what they have been watching. You are the link in the next important step of the process. The play in Erotic City is designed to encourage them to seek the further information they might need to be able to explore their interests. You are an ambassador for that process. Rather than lecturing to crowds as they sit in chairs, your
goal is to interact with the people who are interested and seek you out. Your goal is to find those people and interact with them in smaller more intimate groups. You may want to give them information about one of the events or activities of the LALC. You might want to invite them to a club meeting. This is the moment when you can establish a person relationship and make that PRIDE participant feel WELCOME!!!
Everything from the folks who welcome participants through the gates to the interactions in the tent are intended to be fun and positive. NO MORE “You can’t drink in here”. It has been replaced with a positive message that “we invite you to enjoy your drink before you come into the tent”. NO MORE “you have to be 21” but “hey...ya gotta wait till you are 21 and we promise it will be worth it”.
This is is supposed to be fun. This is LGBT PRIDE. Scenes in Erotic City should reflect that. While we understand the nature of BDSM, it may be tougher for those not so familiar to understand, especially if the players reflect the heteronormative power dynamics.
Some simple guidelines
As you consider what you want to do in Erotic City, you might want to take a couple of things into account:
SAFETY: The tent is crowded and it IS a tent. That means that 20 foot bullwhips are a little hard to swing safely and that fire play will make the Fire Marshall piss his pants. So you might want to consider the environment in which you are playing. Does that mean you can’t do something?...NOT necessarily. It just means you better be smart. If you really need help with this ask.
AUDIENCE: This is PRIDE. Straight guys flogging women may not be the best scene for our audience. Besides we really want the people playing to interact with the audience...not piss them off.
DONT LOSE THE LIQUOR LICENSE!! If you are not aware of recent community events, I suggest you might want to find out what has happened. The ABC does NOT allow nudity in places that are serving alcohol. CSW has a liquor license for the entire festival. Fuck with that and I guarantee you will go down in history.
THE SHERIFFS ARE OUR FRIENDS Make sure they have water and make sure they have no reason to bust you.
HAVE FUN If you are not having fun, please go home. Hey sometimes it just happens. We all have an off day. The goal is for you to GET more than you GIVE. If that is not working, lets try to fix it.
You will need to let us know that you plan to participate. We ask that if you intend to volunteer that you do so for at least 4 hours if you want to skip the entrance fee. During your volunteer shift you might be playing or you might be hosting. Let us know when you would like to participate by emailing In your email include a few ideas of what you would like to do in Erotic City.
Impact play is aways fun and popular, can you think of something to kick it up a notch? Is there something you would like to do we haven’t done before? Remember you want to interest your audience. Do it differently. Watching somebody get tied up is like watching flies is interesting for about a second. How could you do it differently so that it will be the talk of the event?
If you are planning to be part of the leather contingent during the parade, you are probably planning to come to Erotic City afterwards, This will be a prime time for shifts. If you are not on the volunteer list BEFORE the event, it is almost impossible to add you to it during the event. Remember that the only people who can authorize your entrance as a volunteer will be up to their butts in all kinds of stuff when you try to get them on their cell phones to add you to the list. In other words, it probably ain’t gonna happen.
Send an email to and let us get you on the damn list.
This year the Mr. CSW Leather Contest will take place Saturday Evening in Erotic City. The interviews and challenge will begin earlier in the day. Rather than have a Meet and Greet, the contestants will be invited to participate in some of the Celebrity and VIP events during the PRIDE month.
Those interested in competing in the Mr. CSW contest should talk to Louie Pacheco as early as possible. This will make sure that they get their invitations to the Mayor’s reception and other events to which they will be invited.
Mr CSW Leather 2012 will compete in the LAL contest next year. He will be the first of that title class and will serve his title year before he competes in LAL.
Somewhere in the crowd is that guy who is desperate to try the kinds of things we may take for granted. He might want to piss on his boyfriend but is too embarrassed to ask. Maybe he wants his boyfriend to tie him up but can’t imagine how to start the conversation. What about the woman who dreams of her partner slipping needles into her skin before they have sex but is sure she is the only one to ever think about it. OUR JOB is to invite people to begin their personal journey. Erotic City may be their first step in that process. We want people to feel like honored guests in our demented kinky little world from the moment that enter our area to when they reluctantly have to leave. We want them to understand that this is an introduction and that if they are interested they may be invited to join our community in other events and activities that are more extensive and perhaps challenging. This is but a taste of what the leather community has to offer...and we are inviting them to sample it.
EVERY interaction must be consistent with our values. We will not YELL at our guests. We will not tell them what to do. Rather we will powerfully and politely invite them into our world and guide them as we enjoy their company. We really want them to feel welcome and to feel as though there is MORE if they are invited to return. We want them to strive for that invitation. You might invite that guy with questions to join you for coffee, or to come to a club meeting. The woman dreaming of needles may be introduced to somebody who can answer her questions. You are an ambassador in search of those who are ready to begin the dark erotic journey.
Nothing will overwhelm past success faster than doing the same thing over again....
Erotic City provides us with an opportunity to build on success and explore new and creative ideas. Those ideas can be new activities in the Erotic City tent, new vendors, or perhaps more ways for us to”do business”.
Are we using new and creative ideas to get the job done? How is it that we are the people who have figured out how to turn medical devices into devious erotic toys and we still conduct committee meetings like we were the damn Presbyterians? We spend hours on Recon but can’t figure out how to use our computers to save a trip to WeHo for another meeting to play our activities in Erotic City?
We use Roberts Rules of Order like we were the freakin’ Rotary and forget that we are the same people who were playing with each other in a dark wear-house last weekend. One of the dangers of this bizarre assimilationism is that we infect our world with the standards and traditions of the hegemonic heterosexual culture from which PRIDE is our best respite and refuge.
We have been doing this long enough that we can do it differently. We don’t need to meet face to face when we can meet electronically. Email is for all intents and purposes a VERY slow committee meeting. Since only one person can speak at a time, it is a like slow motion conversation. Each email represents a different
The Next Step....
If you are interested in joining us this year, please send us an email at and let us know what you woud like to do. Remember while somethings are always popular, this is a chance to do it differently than you might have before. Let your nasty mind wander and share it with us.....
person making their point. This year we are going to skip the meetings and get the job done. Small work groups may need to get together but they can report electronically to the rest. We may experiment with electronic
meeting software if needed. If we are having more meetings than we are playing...we are doing it WRONG!!!
One of the worst impacts of doing things the same old way is that it sucks the erotic energy out of what we are doing. There is nothing sexy about an agenda or minutes. That lack of erotic energy filters down into the event itself. We start imposing silly rules on our guests. Rather than acting like sexual outlaws we suck the fun out of everything with lectures and demos.
“You can’t drink in here”...IS THAT REALLY HOW WE WANT TO TALK TO OUR GUESTS??? Come on people...we have all heard it. Volunteers who just don’t get it and act like the ushers at a crappy theatre run by mormons. Rather than thinking of ourselves as ambassadors, we start acting like RentaCops No matter how cool your little plastic security officer badge is...the other kids are still laughing at you.
All kinds of things to do....
• Play in Public • Ambassdors to our honored guests • Hang out in the Cigar Lounge and share
your erotic energy • Bootblack • Massage • Sensual Actvities • Art Show
Having this much fun...HURTS!
Beginning the Journey
We represent a powerful and important element of the GLBT community. When we abdicate our power and act in ways that are inconsistent with our values we do damage.That guy who FINALLY found a place he thought he could take the next step in his journey is turned off and turned away when some body sitting at the gate is NOT behaving as an appropriate representative of our community.
Our job is to make our guests feel valued and welcome. If this is the beginning of their journey how can we help them?
What could be more fun and rewarding than to look back in a few years and remember being there when somebody’s journey began? If you are ready to be a part of that process, volunteering in Erotic City is for you.
June 10,11,12 2011

Monday, May 24, 2010

Leather at the Piggly Wiggly

A while back at the Leather Leadership Conference in Detroit, I attended a meeting in which the topic of discussion was basically outreach from the kinky community to the straight community. The presenters described how they had managed to package their material in such a way that typical straight people would be more likely to feel comfortable with the topic of non-vanilla sex. At one point, one of the presenters commented that she would not wear her leather to the Piggly Wiggly, as that would be inappropriate. It was at that point that I began to realize that I was not like many of the people in the room. I WOULD wear leather to the Piggly Wiggly and I really didn’t give a damn WHAT the straight majority thought about it.
One of the discussants pointed out that their goal was to convince the straight world that “we are just like them”. Of course, it was at that point, that my decision to shut the fuck up and just let them pontificate fell by the wayside and I shouted out that I was NOT like them!!!

I am an anarchist. I believe that it was the Stonewall RIOT that caused our world to change and started the modern gay rights movement not the Mattichine assimilationists trying to look like mormon missionary/accountants who just happen to suck cock.

At the LLC meeting mentioned above, I realized that I think of leather as something that permeates almost every aspect of my life. Most of my friends look like leathermen no matter what they are doing or what they are wearing. In fact they stand out as leathermen even when they are naked. It might be all the piercings and tattoos or the flogging and whipping marks, but it might just be the way they carry themselves. For the non-gay kinky people, leather was lingerie. It was a costume they put on to fluff up their sex life. That helped explain to me why so many of them were wearing that cheap Kookie Leather crap made in Pakistan. If leather is just a costume, you are not going shopping at Mr. S, 665, or Rough Trade.

When the ole gal mentioned that she would not go to Piggly Wiggle in leather, my first thought was I WOULD!! I even know who I would take with me. I would go with the monkey of course but I would also take Tommy T and the Gnome. I know they would go with me because they already have. For the Gnome’s birthday we did another Leather Invasion of the Getty Museum. We go the Getty but we go in leather. Why?....Well because we are leathermen and that is what we do. We are not trying to build bridges, We are trying to push the limits a little. It is fun.

There are three basic reactions we get. One is the giggly, finger pointy, “those guys are weird reaction”. Yesterday I got that from a group of Japanese ministers. Well they were wearing clerical collars and were horribly judgmental. They HAD to be ministers. They actually pointed and said things in Japanese while laughing. That reaction is more common among young school children but age and maturity are not always synonymous.

Two….two is the “HEY YOU….can I take my picture with you? Or…HEY YOU…you guys look hot. This reaction is one of my favorites and often allows us to tell somebody about our community or about an upcoming activity they might consider. For some reason it is usually from “fierce” black ladies. They are usually dressed to the 9’s and have really high heels and lots and lots of attitude. They are cool.

Three…well three is my favorite. Three is the “stare and smile” reaction. It is usually from youngish guys. Sometimes they are really young and I think we are just a reminder to that kid that if he just hangs on through all the crap in high school, he can be himself when he is a little older cause obviously we did. The other is a 20 something guy who is just becoming aware that he is wired a little differently than everybody expects him to be. He can tell that we are the guys who like to tie each other up, He can tell that we are the guys who think that water sports do not involve a swimming pool. If we smile at him he might blush and walk away, but at the Getty he will usually sidle up next to us as we are looking at something so that he can overhear us bantering with each other. The key to this is that we are having a hell of a good time. We are having more fun than all the other people together. We are affectionate toward each other and don’t give a flying fuck if it bothers somebody. We are VERY polite. We hold doors for little old ladies and offer them an umbrella if it is raining. We have deep discussions about the art and we laugh and enjoy each other’s company.

IF you saw us at the Piggly Wiggly you would know that we are DIFFERENT. Different in a way that makes us really happy. Different in a way that makes some people uncomfortable or even mad. We have been through the coming out process and know that it may have a price but being in the closet costs a lot more. A lot of the people use scene names. They are afraid to use their real names. They might lose their jobs or their friends. They might get kicked out of their nice little church. They talk about how rough kinky divorces have been when “slave stinky” decides to fuck over “Master Nutball” and shares the intimate aspects of their relationship in court in order to embarrass the hell out of her master and get bigger alimony. We understand that there are a lot of people who think that pissing all over daddy in a play scene automatically disqualifies you as a loving parent. BUT we have learned that unless you fight, such small mindedness can control your life. We have lost our families and our jobs because straight people have taken them from us. If the straight vanilla people have an issue with straight kinky people, we can tell them what they should do from our experience. Been there done that…got the t-shirt.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Several months ago, a group of us were invited to an Imperial Court function. As I sat in the audience trying to understand both the purpose and the protocol of what I was watching, I realized that I was seeing the horrifying potential future of the leather contest community. Not the leather community per se, but that small part of it that is engaged in the leather contest system. There were several things about that evening that have continued to percolate in my mind and I thought now was a good time to share some of those thoughts.

The Imperial Court system raises huge amounts of money for a variety of good causes. They have a rich history and I am sure that the people involved in it have a wonderful time. I have met a number of the notable folks in the Imperial Court and find them to be very nice people. But as I sat there that evening, I realized I had NO interest in their “world”. I was not interested in the glamour of exaggerated femininity crusted in rhinestones and pretending to be empress such and such. I have enough problems with the idea that some people use scene names to be very comfortable with Empress triple extra large of the royal house of Muleface and her entourage of minions. It was not my gig.

As I stood in the wings waiting to be presented to the folks who were “stepping down” I realized that there was a LOT of protocol to learn. Walk this way, present yourself, take the empress by the hand, accept a small token of their appreciation, and for gawd’s sake don’t look at how her wig is starting to slip or the ugly mole peeking through the five o’clock on her chin. The person telling me all this crap reminded me of some of the folks around the leather contest system who seem to have popped up lately and consider themselves experts.

These so called experts speak as though there were definite right and wrong ways to approach the leather contest experience. They are the ones who tell titleholders
that you CAN’T do something or MUST do something as though there is some kind of rulebook for this shit. These rules seem to run the gamut from when you should and should not wear your medal or title vest to aspects of a titleholder’s personal life such as whom they should or should not fuck. The idea that you might have a great time and have sex at MAL has become “you have to go if you expect to do well at IML.”

In recent years the number of “mock interviews” has increased with plague like proportions. Each titleholder is being given enough expert advice that we are in danger of creating manufactured clones of what each so-called expert thinks a titleholder should be. No longer are contestants just given suggestions about how they might best present themselves, they are now being given the “right” answers they should give to potential interview questions. The questions often take on the appearance of “Leather Jeopardy”….”who was IMsL 1999”?. What is the hanky code for plushies? Who invented leather? Who is your county council representative? Well who the fuck cares? These are not questions designed to get to know a contestant. These are questions designed to impress upon the potential contestant that they better know arcane bits of leather minutia or they just won’t do very well. If contests are selecting these people to be judges we better take a serious look at ourselves and potential titleholders would do well to tell them to piss off.

The leather contest system grew out of the leather community. It is essential to remember that. Over the last couple of years, the leather contest system has become an entity unto itself. We all know guys who are ONLY involved in contests and have only minimal connection to the leather community in the greater sense. That’s fine. For some titleholders their contest serves as an introduction to the community. While a contest plays around with the erotic energy at the core of leather life, it is only an illusion of the deeper more meaningful experiences that can be possible. It has become more and more common for new titleholders to be introduced to kinky sex during their title year than it is to select kinky guys to represent a title. When titleholders are being coached to avoid erotic expression because it would demean their title, this whole thing has become absurd. How do you represent a community that is defined by its sexual expression by castrating yourself and becoming a eunuch in a title vest?

In reality most aspects of the origin of the contest system are cloudy and unclear…and also unimportant. Currently, it is clear that contests provide an opportunity for brotherhood, service, and a lot of other desirable side effects. Those of us privileged to produce contests can share moments that made us laugh and moments that were deeply meaningful. None of those moments were the result of coaching.

I hate to think that we are going to turn this whole thing over to the “stylists” who think that what matters most is who makes your leather “outfit” and insist that this whole thing is all about image. Especially when that image is an idiosyncratic vision of what being a leather titleholder should be. If we do, we will have become the Imperial Court of Leather. We will have rules about how you should address the royal titleholders and what “costume” is appropriate for which state function. There will be more contests, more raffles, more fund raisers, and little by little there will be less and less erotic energy. Eventually, what once made the whole thing so much fun will be lost.

I understand the idea that anybody who stands on a stage wants to do his best. BUT lets try to focus on the idea that it should be HIS best and not what some so-called expert thinks is a universal best. Oh sure…all boots should be shined, leather should fit, and it is never a good idea to say something that pisses off the crowd. In a perfect world a lot more of us would look like Tom of Finland drawings but we don’t.

At the core of all this, if your dick is hard, that is a pretty good indicator that you are on the right track. The idea that there are rules to govern a community of outlaws seems pretty absurd. Good advise is always welcome. Mentoring is an essential part of our community. BUT let’s celebrate the wonderful individuality that each titleholder brings to this process and support him rather than try to change him into some ball-less beauty contest clone. We may not agree with each decision but let us at least respect the men who make them. Because they are acting like men…like LEATHERMEN.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Never let them take your picture with a drink in your hand...

So...some where some body started telling leather title holders that they should not let themselves be photographed with "a drink in their hands". While the absurdity of this seems pretty straight forward. I mean quite a few titles are sponsored by BARS...what do they think men drink in a bar...TEA? Actually, I suggested that all the title holders should start carrying tea cups and saucers and only folks in the know would know that they were full of cheap scotch.

BUT as usuall, my weird little mind starts to explore the "other" issues this brings up. Why would it possibly be important that a person NOT be photographed with a drink in their hands or hiding any other perfectly legal and normal behavior. There is usully a reason people try to manage and manipulate an image. FDR always hid his leg braces because the Nazi's would have won World War II if they had known he had polio. And Bill Clinton hid his cigar smoking because we would have known he was sticking it in Monica's cooch if we had seen a picture of him smoking. But unless you are the president of the united states and trying to hide something why is it important to hide the truth about the kind of things we do? Well, because somebody with a stick up their butt, thinks that some of the things we do are just not all that acceptable and they want to manage the image.

Rather than allowing each title holder to determine how they would take up that role, people begin to tell them what they have to do to move up the next rung on the ladder and what is the "correct" way to do things. Can't we just remember that this was supposed to be fun and that fun is hard to "manage"? Can't we just let guys do what guys do in dark corners of a bar when they are hot and sexy? No...we have to tell them to never do anything that might make their title look bad.I think it might be better to pick the kind of guy who has sufficient power to tell these image manipulators to fuck off. 'If we select the kind of guys who accept being manipulated, I got news for ya... that is the best way to turn this whole thing into the march of the eunuchs.

Oil and Water, ponies and perverts

A recent conversation regarding a "fetish group's" participation in a "leather event" has caused me to do some serious thinking about group boundaries. How do we define who we are?

Recent interactions with assimilationist bullshit reminds me how important those group boundaries can be. There are plenty of people who want us to give up our unique identity and pretend that we are "almost" "just like everybody else". They often fly the flag of "normal". In other words, if we give up our identity as a GLBT community, we can join all the other mainstreamed outliers and make some kind of progress. This argument didn't work before Stonewall, why do they think it will work now?

So how do we define who is IN the leather community and who is NOT. The first step seems to be to accept that there will be some kind of boundary. Every time a title holder talks about "building bridges", he is really suggesting that we minimize the role that those boundaries play. A good friend has pointed out that when you walk into a leather bar in gear and get attitude by a bunch of guys in chinos and polo shirts it is the result of "building bridges".

That is not to say that there aren't times when groups interact and enjoy each other's company. But I do think that there is a danger when we try to form chimeric events and organizations that try to meet every body's needs. This issue comes up every time we discuss all men's or all women's events. As a community welcoming of a non-dichotomous version of gender identity, this is even more difficult. But despite that difficulty, we often draw a boundary of some sorts especially at "play" events. Sometimes that boundary works and sometimes it does not.

In a recent email conversation, it was pointed out to me that a person whose primary identity (at least to me) was someone involved in "pony play". (for info When I suggested that an event was primarily a leather event, she was quick to point out that she identified as a member of the leather community. It caused me to think about how we define the concept of "leather community" and what are the boundaries of that community. I believe that it is at the boundaries were our unconscious comes out to play. Patient's in therapy often discover that they become much more aware of unconscious issues as they approach a "time boundary" at the end of a session, etc. So I am trying to discover what is percolating around in my head about this issue.

FOR ME (your milage may vary) LEATHER has usually meant gay men who are kinky and into leather. Fetish has usually mean kinky people who may or may not be gay, or men, or into leather. Okay that is pretty simple. BUT WAIT....what about people who are into latex, rubber, or sport's gear. A trip to RECON will quickly make it obvious that there is both overlap and exclusivity. The boudaries seem to be more fluid than one might expect. The Los Angeles LEATHER Coalition is made up of groups and organizations that include all kinds of kinky folk, many of them pansexual or mostly female in their membership. WHAT THE HELL??? It is an issue with which we have to deal everytime a group wants to join the coalition. It is not always easy.

There is a saying that you never criticize another man's fetish...(until he walks away and then you talk shit about him behind his back). I worry that "Pony Play" is not my cup of tea and that I can't understand how it would contribute to a gay men's leather event just because it doesn't float my boat. That is why I went to a lot of other people, whose opinions I trust, and asked them to make sure that I was not missing something. UNIVERSALLY, they had little enthusiasm for including the pony people. Maybe it was a function of selection bias. But I have to admit that there was a resounding lack of interest.

THEN I remembered, something. Years and years ago, I was in at the Gauntlet II and it was somebody's birthday. People were giving the birthday boy a few swats on the ass when somebody brought out a paddle. (gee a random paddling in a leather bar). At one point somebody pointed at a good friend of mine and suggested, "hey let's paddle him". With great dignity and grace, he looked the guy in the eye and simple said "Not my scene". It has always stayed with me as an interesting way to handle such situations. In the enthusiasm of play I have sometimes used it myself. I realized that when it comes to Pony Play....NOT MY SCENE. AND it seems it is not a scene that very many of the leather folks seem to share.

SO I guess MY boundary does NOT include the pony people. I have issues with people who do not use their real names in the "leather community". It seems much more common in the het community for people to call each other "Master Something" or "Mistress Something". It is a rich and honorable their community. BUT in the gay community it smacks of being shame based and in the closet. People who call themselves by the names of animals are even further out on a branch most gay folks trimmed off the tree on their way to self acceptance.

Now having said all that....what about puppy play? HELL they even have puppy events at IML. Well he truth is...I DON"T GET IT. Oh sure, some hot guy with a rubber tail in his ass sniffing some OTHER hot guy. What's not to get? Some guy rolling around on the floor sniffing another guys butt...Seems pretty straight forward. "I don't ever have sex with my master when I am in puppy head space"...Are you nuts? See...not my scene.

I have heard people negotiate a scene in which they spoke about "hard limits" and "soft limits". You know "I don't really like to wear a blindfold but I will" versus "If you cover my eyes there will be chaos". MAYBE the issue is one of a hard boundary. If I think of it like that, the issue is a little easier to negotiate. It is a function of individuality. Communities need to have that same kind of individuality.

It is late and I have no idea how this will resolve. It is way too long now but I guess there will be more. FAVORITE play has always been Equus...go figure....