Friday, May 31, 2013

Making Less of Leather by Making too Much of It

“Leather could be termed the art or culture of the forbidden.” – Geoff Mains

Recently my Owner told me that she’s encountered many Leather people who look down on other fetishists as being superficial or not-real-deal or not having the honor & integrity that leather folk have.  Now, I’m happy to report I’ve not really encountered this attitude all that much myself – which is good, b/c I find this attitude pretty dopy.

What does it mean to be “leather?”  I’ve stated before that from my perspective “leather” is mostly synonymous w/ “urban aboriginals,” “modern tribal,” “sexual outlaws,” and “modern primitive.”  Urban Aboriginals is of course the title of Geoff Mains’ fantastic 1984 book that gives an invaluable first-hand look at the gay leathersex scene of the late 70s and early 80s.  “Aboriginal” refers to the way “so-called primitive societies have beneficially used many of the same human capacities presently disowned by Western culture”: dominance, extreme sensation and emotion, taboos (like scat, blood, and urine)…  Mains, an anthropologist and participant-observer, found something inherently tribal and “Pagan” in the leather scene.  “Sexual outlaws” was the phrase Boymeat used in his South Plains speech on the future of leather.  I think he was probably about 100% right when he said that what “leather” was always about was mavericks looking to get their rocks off.  Pure, simple… and raw.

I’m no expert, but here’s the history of leather as I understand it:  It started in the late 40s and early 50s when masculine gay WWII vets formed the first biker gangs.  They wore leather b/c they rode motorcycles.  (And had they come about 60 years later they would have been riding crotch-rockets and wearing modern, Kevlar plated riding gear.)  Now, being masculine gay men, I’m sure they also fetishized their gear (just as many modern gay men fetishize sportbike gear, or sports kit, or uniforms, or rubber…), but it started out w/ a practical function.  It had another function and that was to mark what gang you were affiliated with… and only fully pledged members got to wear the leathers and patches (same is true in many modern outlaw-biker gangs).  Today I think too much is made of the myth of “earned leather.”  I’ve read (from those who were there) that in many of the old biker clubs you, for example, earned your boots by taking a beating, and earned your vest by getting fisted.  It had nothing to do w/ your knowledge or wisdom or integrity or honor… that’s (it seems to me) a modern mythology.  Back then, it was about: Can you take a Crisco-coated fist shoved up your ass? 

This brings to mind one of things that struck me in Geoff Mains’ book: that most of the gay leathermen he described were switches.  Not a lot of rigidly defined M/s roles.  There didn’t seem to be a lot of pure Tops or bottoms (Is this a convention of the internet age?) and even most of the pure Tops still enjoyed a bottom who played rough and fought back.  This reminds me of something Steven Hagen once said, that an old-school gay leather scene looks more like a bar fight.  That’s something else leather means to me – it advertised toughness.  It says: I can take a beating… and/or I can give a beating.  You just put on some combat boots and a biker jacket and you feel like you can kick some ass, right?  Leather is outlaw, maverick, and it’s badass.

So if that’s the raw truth about earned leather, what’s the truth about leather titles?  My understanding is that these things started as the way Drummer magazine selected its centerfold models.  Seriously – it was literally a gay leather beauty pageant, meant only to provide some eye candy and entertainment.

Anyway… as I understand it, in the 70s leather became more of a fetish/fashion statement and the genuine gay biker clubs gave way to nightclubs filled w/ guys dressed as bikers… and policemen, and sailors, and construction workers, and cowboys.  Leather biker gear was a fetish – one among many.  And by this time, I think few people “earned” their gear; they just bought it to wear when they went out cruising.  I doubt it had much to do w/ honor or integrity or community service.  I’m not saying that the men who wore leather didn’t have those traits – some did… and some didn’t – but the point wasn’t so somebody would see a man dressed in leather and say, “Oh, there’s a man who’s trustworthy, honest, reliable…”  No, rather I get the impression that it was mostly so guys would see him and say, “Damn that is hot!”  (And we’re back to Boymeat’s statement: Why leather? So we can get our rocks off.)

Geoff Mains dies from AIDS.  So did too many others.  This is my theory:  I suspect that this whole mythology of Old Guard Leather, earned leather, “walking a leather path” is largely a collective response to the collective trauma of the AIDS epidemic.  I suspect that if you got in your time machine and went back to 1979 and said to a bunch of gay leather men, “I’m walking a leather path,” they would have no idea what the fuck that was supposed to mean. Just my guess…

I think maybe another factor driving the leather mythology is the proliferation of these “leather title” contests.  I won’t repeat my whole title contest rant, but I have a real problem w/ something that’s set-up and executed as a form of entertainment – a floor show – but then somehow the winners get elevated to the status of community leaders. If it’s done for entertainment and that’s all anybody takes it for, then cool.  I have no problem w/ that.  But if you are then going to treat the winners like they are now community leaders b/c they had good stage presence and put on a nice show…  Sorry, but I just don’t think these title contests are doing our community a whole lot of good.  Certainly it didn’t do any great favors to the puppy community to have part of our leadership – such as it is – spend last year bickering on Pupzone about which one is the “real” Mr. International Puppy title.  Seriously!?  There’s a reason why Frolicon is my favorite con: the only contest there is Most Spankable Ass! – a fun floor show, some eye candy and entertainment, and nobody has delusions that it’s anything more than that.  That’s what I’d like to see the International Puppy contest be.  (Both of them.)

The funny thing about the leather mythology is that it seems more common in the het community than the gay community… and I’m not seeing it as much in the TNG crowed in either place (which again kind of makes me think that it has something to do w/ a collective reaction to the AIDS epidemic among younger Baby Boomers and older Gen-X).  The attitude (which my Owner was reporting to me) that leather fetishists are somehow “better” or more “real deal” than those who fetishize sports kit or corsets or lumberjacks is clearly pretty ridiculous once you scratch the surface of it.  I don’t like Christians who think non-Christians aren’t as good as they are.  I don’t like Pagans who think non-Pagans aren’t as good as they are.  I don’t like Conservatives who think Liberals aren’t as good as they are (or visa-versa).  And I don’t like leather fetishists who think other fetishists aren’t as good as they are.

There are many kinksters who wear leather who are really awesome people – and there are just as many who are (to borrow Master Rorie’s phrase) assholes in black vests.  There are many leather titleholders who also happen to be community leaders – and there are many more who aren’t.  If dressing like a biker gets you hard – cool.  If wrestling singlets get you hard – cool.  If rubber gets you hard – cool.  If fur-suits get you hard – cool. We’re all sexual outlaws and urban aboriginals, and what somebody fetishizes certainly has nothing to do w/ their honor or integrity or “realness.”  I think we actually make less of leather when we try to make more of it by inventing this fictionalized Golden Age of Leather in our collective past and “traditions” that (it seems to me) mostly just date back only like 20 years; we make less of it when we exclude our fellow kinksters and sexual mavericks when they don’t follow our “traditions.”

Why do I wear leather?  One: I ride a motorcycle.  Two: it gets my dick hard.  Three: my vest shows my affiliation w/ Sir Loki’s pack.  But I guess I’m just Old Guard like that.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Back-up plan weekend

This is a blog “mostly about my journey in BDSM and Puppy Play… with occasional rabbit trails into art, philosophy, mythology, and motorcycles.”  I know that b/c it says so in the banner across the top up there.  This post has nothing to do w/ puppy play.  Nor does it involve kink – unless, like me, you have something of a bike fetish (or if you're into a couple of 20-year-old boys camping together).  No, this is about motorcycles, Scotland, mini-kilts, herding dogs, predatory birds, Youtube, old British cars, old Whisky, and new Star Trek.

So, I love to travel and don’t do nearly as much of it as I’d like – mostly b/c we don’t have the budget to do it.  Kitten and I had this plan that about every-other year we’d do some major trip (i.e. outside of the Southeast – we do a lot of traveling inside the Southeast – and preferably outside the continental US).  In the last 8.5 years that we’ve been together, we have, I think, only made it to Hawaii once and (briefly) to Colorado together, so obviously we’re not quite averaging 1:2 years.  We’d been planning a trip to Scotland for a few years – possibly even renting motorcycles and doing a bike tour – but that has yet-again fallen through.  Hopefully next summer…

I can live vicariously, however.  In searching Youtube videos of FZ6 riders, I found this whole series by a kid in England w/ an FZ6 who filmed a bike tour of Scotland together w/ his buddy.
The short version (4 min edit):
The longer, multi-part, version for cycle enthusiasts w/ time to kill:

Speaking of travel-plans falling through… For Memorial Day weekend my Owner was going to take her pup to the beach to visit her folks and play some mini-golf (our secret vice).  That didn’t work out.  But we had a great back-up plan that began Saturday w/ the Greenville, SC Scottish Games.  We’ve been to a few other Scottish games, but this was really our first time at Greenville’s (we’d gone once before just for the evening concert).  Greenville’s games are held on the campus of Furman University, which is the most beautiful campus I’ve ever been on.  I’m not a utopianist, but I am an aesthete, and I really do think that if all our man-made environments were this beautifully designed and landscaped, we’d all be better people for it.

My Owner looks quite beautiful herself.  She has some fine legs and was rocking a mini-kilt – the kind that just barley covers your ass.  Very pounce-able.  :)

They had an antique British car show there, and we got some pictures.  I’m not a car guy at all, but Kitten knows more about them, and she loved the cars.  Sir is a car guy, so we sent him a pic of me w/ one of the cars.  His reply had us in stitches: “I want to lick everything in this picture.”  LOL.

Whenever we go to a Scottish Games one of my favorite things to see are always the sheep dogs.  This one had a great setup.  There was a long presentation, and it included watching three border collies working together at once; that was cool.  It’s actually harder on the shepherd than the dogs b/c each dog has his own whistle signals, and he has to keep straight all the signals, so occasionally he would slip-up and tell the wrong dog to move or to wheel left when he meant for it to wheel right…

The other really cool part of the Games was an excellent raptor show.  They flew a hawk, a huge owl (5’ wingspan), a falcon, and a kite.  The hawk flew right over our heads – close enough to feel his feathers.  He didn’t just fly over the audience, but would even fly between people sitting in the grass.

There was plenty of other coolness this weekend, but I’ll briefly just mention just one more:  for the first time I got to drink something older than I am.  I did three shots of a ’73 whisky.  How cool is that?

Okay, I lied; one more thing about the fantastic weekend.  Ma’am took me to see the new Star Trek.  I loved it.  It’s once again more action-driven, more “Star Wars” than Star Trek, compared to the old series – but it’s really good.  I enjoyed that he clearly had multiple references to other movies – most obviously the old Trek films, but as well he remixed scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark (the opening chase through the jungle), The Godfather Part II (the helicopter assassination), and Silence of the Lambs (the evil genius in the cage).  It wasn’t so much what JJ Abrams did that was "new" that I enjoyed as the way he re-invented old things from various source material.  I also liked the political subtext - clearly inspired by our "War on Terror," and the bad guys weren't so much the external threat (the Kilingons standing in for the Islamists) as the hyper-hawks w/in our own military who go too far to "protect" us from the Other.  The question between revenge and justice - between defense and aggression - is a theme that's handled really well in this movie.  Go JJ!

All-n-all... it was one awesome back-up plan weekend.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thoughts on the Leash

I really think my biggest fetishized object is a leash.  Of course it goes w/o saying that you can’t wear a leash w/o a collar, so that’s a bonus.  For me there’s something about being led about on a leash (weather it be in full pup-mode or on 2 legs) that really gets me turned-on and puts me into such a warm, happy, subby headspace.  Before I started sleeping in a kennel my Owner would put a leash on me each night, usually tied to the bed.  Traditionally at Frolion, Ma’am would lead me around by leash for at least a few hours of the day.  It’s a simple thing, but it really does make me a happy puppy-dog.  Of course the collar means owned, but the leash seems to make it so much more obvious: this is my pet; he belongs to me.

Last Sunday was Atlanta Dominion, our bi-monthly all-male play party at 1763.  My Alpha pup was basically in-charge of the event and he was also recovering from surgery, so we knew he wouldn’t be up to any very physical play – but early on in the day he put my leash on me and kept me that way, by his side, for most of the afternoon… and this made for a very happy wolfhound.  *wags*  Even w/ Sir not physically up to playing rough we still had a very hot scene that went from couch to spanking bench and back to the couch again and had me flying high… and the leash certainly helped the headspace (especially when Sir stopped me from playing w/ myself by using my leash, while still on my collar, to tie my hands together at chest level).

Last Wednesday evening my Owner took her pup to the regular Wednesday Kinky Karaoke night at the Upstage in Charlotte.  We met someone there who had a kinky brother living in San Francisco, and she mentioned how great it was that, out there, you can lead your sub about on a leash in public and nobody minds.  Ma’am put a different spin on things, however, by expressing her belief that “my rights stop where your rights begin – some people really don’t want to see things like that, and it’s rude of me to force it in the face.”  I basically agree w/ my Owner.  I mean, I’ll wear my collar around in public, but I think it looks comparatively natural – in fact I’ve only once ever had a stranger say anything about it (she assumed I was wearing the collar of a beloved family dog as a kind of dog lover’s gesture of solidarity, obviously not noticing the small, gold padlock on the back).  But as much as I absolutely love being led about by leash, I have to agree w/ Ma’am that I wouldn’t find it appropriate to do that at the grocery store or an art museum or a restaurant.  I’m not into “shocking the vanillas” – I think it’s rude and often a bit immature.

(The counter-argument has come up that saying kinky people shouldn’t use the leash in public is like saying that gay people shouldn’t be allowed to show affection in public b/c it might upset some people.  My Owner and I both disagree w/ that argument b/c gay people are generally just asking for the same rights as straight people: if it’s okay for a straight couple to hold hands or kiss publicly then gays should be able to do the same.  However, when you talk about leading someone on a leash, that’s kind of a different kettle of fish b/c you’re not simply asking for the same rights as others.)

That said, there are places where the context makes it appropriate to be leashed in public.  Frolicon, obviously; at a pride parade; at Folsom; or even just in certain neighborhoods in San Francisco where such things are common sights and not really shocking… or even at Dragon*Con where you see all kinds of crazy costumes and such so the guy on the leash just blends in with the storm troopers, Klingons, and Doctor Who.  In such contexts where unusual dress is expected (so nobody could reasonably complain) I am all too happy and eager to be on-leash.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Is it "Drama"... or is it a Genuine Warning?

Some of this goes back this post by Nitro:
I’ve been thinking about his since he posted that, and then last night something happened that spurred me to type.

I agree w/ Nitro about people not being negative, and I try myself to be, on the whole, positive.  I particularly don’t like malicious gossip or hear-say, and won’t be a part of spreading it.  90% of the time I use the rule: If you can’t say anything nice about someone then say nothing at all.  (Well... okay, 80% of the time.)

However, if asked, I will generally be honest about what I know about someone – even if it’s just, “I don’t know anything first-hand, but I have heard…”  I don’t like spreading negativity, but if I’ve heard something from a source I think reliable and if asked directly by someone, then I kind of think it’s my duty to be honest w/ what I do know.  So the thing abut vetting is that you have to do the vetting – it’s not a passive process.  Most people if you ask them discreetly (don’t put them on-the-spot in public) will be honest w/ you.  And, in fact, the ones who don’t just go around proactively trash talking are the ones who you’re more likely to get solid information from.

Generally, my one exception – the one time I will proactively warn people off – is if I consider that person in question to be a predator or in some other way seriously unsafe.  If I have good reason to believe that, then, in that case, I will spread the word, and I don’t consider that to be rumor-mongering or spreading-drama.  Fortunately, there are very few people I know in our community who fit that category, but I do know 3 or 4: One who committed date-rape… someone who appears to be a sociopath hiding abusive behavior behind the disguise of BDSM… a couple of people who have been known to out other people (or threaten or attempt to do so) or to call Child Social Services on them or call the cops on them or call the media just to be vindictive…  I do know a few folks who have done that.

I totally agree w/ Nitro when he says: “There are those out there that will spend their time bad mouthing events to keep people from going to them, trash talking Leather establishments to keep them from getting new patronage, and sending vicious e-mails to the very people that work so hard to try and build their community…. It is time for us to bring our Brothers and our Sisters back with us and stand together.  Let our Light shine brighter than any darkness that the others can muster, and we will be the ones still standing in the end.”

But the flip side of what you said is that you also can’t just put on your rose color glasses, sing kumbaya, and get along w/ everybody. Sometimes having integrity demands that you speak negatively of people or groups or events. Those who know me know that I am a generally positive person, that I don’t spread gossip, and that I don’t like to stir-up melodrama… therefore, I’ve found, when I do feel the need to be critical, people listen and respect my opinion more b/c I’m not just always going around trashing folks for no good reason.

Oh, what happened last night?  I mentioned to a good friend some thing I recently learned about someone I now consider to be a predator – the way he mistreated a pup who asked to leave his household was so outrageous it’s clearly unethical.  My friend, in return filled me in on a rumor he’s heard about this same individual.  Scary shit.  He didn’t know if it was true or not... until he compared notes w/ my information and a pattern formed.  That’s why it’s important to share what we know.  That’s why it’s important to drag the monsters into the light.

Nobody loves a negative, trash-talking, drama-mongering, Debbie-Downer.  (Or at least I don’t.)

But we also have to share what we do know whenever it looks like somebody (or some group or event) is a genuine danger to get involved with (and not just your run of the mill goof).

When do you play nice - and when do you say, "That person is a contemptible lump of human garbage?"  It's not always an easy balance to strike, but there is virtue in striving for it.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Gay Bashing taints (but not spoils) Anniversary

My wonderful Owner became (also) my wonderful wife on Cinco de Mayo six years ago, so this was our anniversary weekend.  She spent Friday night w/ her boyfriend in SC, and then drove back Saturday afternoon so we could pick up the new car I(we) got her for her birthday (a couple of weeks back).  That is a long story in-itself and I will spare you (but as of today – Monday – we still don’t have the car).

Saturday night we went out to Domination at the Boiler Room in Asheville, along w/ Ma’am’s girlfriend SanguineSnow and her Sir.  They’ve been to a few of these Domination nights, but this was my first.  I’ve been to some things like this before: fetish night at the club.  That’s how I slowly got started into this lifestyle back in Knoxville in the late 90’s.  It’s not really my scene, but it can be fun occasionally.  Naturally, it’s a younger crowed (mostly 20- and 30-somethings), bar, dance floor, a stage w/ two crosses where experienced players are allowed to play (vetted by the producer – who we’ve known for years), and also a place to do rope suspensions.  The fun thing, though, is that Domination is very geek-oriented.  There were folks there last night in costume for Star Trek, Star Wars (two Ewoks!), Firefly (two Jane’s and two Mal’s present), and Dr. Who.  That’s aspect is pretty cool.  I also like that it was very pansexual: straight, gay, lesbian…  That’s a big change since Knoxville in the late 90’s.

Ma’am and I danced to some Concrete Blond.  Noir had a slot reserved for one of the crosses, so I had a great time watching, first, Sanguine top Shdw and, then, Noir topping both of them.  It was HOT!  While I watched some little Latino boy asked me to dance w/ him.  I politely turned him down and then it looked like he left the club – which is too bad b/c it takes some bravery to ask a strange guy to dance w/ you at a pansexual event, particularly when you’re the only Latin guy there and (I could tell) English isn’t your native language.  But anyway…

We were standing out front in the smokers’ pit, and I saw Blue leaving… but he had stopped and was yelling at someone.  I couldn’t see who he was yelling at or make-out what he was saying… but I kept an eye on him… Then I saw Blue take off up the long alleyway that leads down to the Boiler room from the main road, and I knew something serious was going on.  I took off after him and caught him at the top of the drive.  I shouted, “What’s going on?” and he shouted back something like, “There’s a guy up there getting beaten to death.”

Blue and I took off around the corner (he was able to see the attack up a ravine and through a fence from where he left the Boiler Room but to get there we had to go around a building).  I swung wide toward the street and ran up ahead… and arrived in time to see a dark sedan pulling away.  Blue was right behind me… and we were closely followed by Noir, his brother, and a few other guys, including the bouncer from Scandals.

The victim was a literal bloody mess but appeared to be okay – other than a probable concussion and a broken nose.  His very shaken boyfriend was w/ him.  Blue started talking to the victim and got him to sit down by a wall… so I started talking to his boyfriend.  They got jumped by three guys – who had pulled away in the sedan as we ran up.  The guy who turned out to be the bouncer from Scandals filled in the story for me:  Three straight “frat boy” assholes decided to go to the gay bar (Scandals – which is right around the corner from the Boiler Room) to laugh at gay people and start some shit.  They got drunk, started some shit, and the bouncer threw them out – w/o returning their ID’s.  The geniuses had actually started a tab at the bar and didn’t get their ID’s back before they were evicted.

The victim had now gotten back up and was trying to leave.  A few people tried to tell him he was in no condition drive, but he wasn’t listening.  He got in his jeep and started it up, so I walked over and knocked politely on the window.  He rolled it down, and I introduced myself: “Hi, Travis, my name is Emrys.” 

He was pretty shaken (in no shape to drive – I think he was disoriented) and his boyfriend was almost in tears and kept saying, “We just want to go home!”  I first just chatted a bit to chill them down a touch – the calm, friendly voice – then I explained that Scandals could ID the bastards, so as long as they stuck around to give the cops a statement then the three bastards would probably be in city lock-up before they even sobered up.  Travis seemed to think this was worthwhile b/c he got out of his jeep.

Shortly after that the cops arrived: first a couple and then like ten more and a fire truck.  They were taking statements from the victim and his boyfriend, Blue, and the bouncer.  I hung about w/ Noir and his brother and thanked them for coming running.  Blue later sent my Owner a fantastic thank you note that was something like: “Please thank Emrys and Noir for having my back. I felt a lot better knowing that I had a trained attack dog and a large black man backing me up.”  LOL

In truth, major thanks goes to Blue for sounding the alarm.  It’s sad, but I know many other people would have just turned and walked off – not my business.  If Blue hadn’t sounded the alarm and brought us running they may have literally beat that guy to death.

So… Noir, his brother, and I decided the cops didn’t need to speak to us, so we walked back down to Domination.  I don’t think I have ever needed a drink so bad, and after checking in w/ my Owner, parked myself at the bar.  I needed to relax and let the adrenalin pass.  I’m not a violent pup by nature, but at that particular moment I couldn’t tell you what I wouldn’t give to have gotten there just 10 seconds earlier.  Not that I have delusions of taking on 3 drunks myself, but I knew I certainly could have delayed them long enough for the 6 or 7 other guys behind me to have arrived.  The Irish Badge shows a Wolfhound w/ the national motto: “Gentle when stroked; fierce when provoked!

So here’s the part where it doesn’t spoil our evening:  Ma’am was seriously turned-on.  So the second I finished my rum-n-coke, she drug me up to the stage, tore off my jacket and shirt and went primal on me.  Okay… this probably wasn’t the smartest thing we’ve done.  We each had 3 rum-n-cokes, and I was still a bit pumped on adrenalin… and also just angry and really feeling like pounding someone.  I didn’t let myself go primal.  Ma’am did, but I stayed in my head, and decided to just try and pin her.  It took a moment but I was able to do it… and just at that time, our friend who is the producer of Domination came over and let me know we had to stop.  Ma’am had, of course, drawn blood, and being in a public bar, that was a full-stop.  So as soon as we got her back into her human headspace we cleaned-up and called it a night.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Pain and Punishment

Another great post by Bootbrush can be found at:

He wrote (and you should check it out) about the myth that masochists like pain b/c we have some inner need for punishment based in some kind of self-hate.  It’s a common misconception and I’ve run into it before myself.  It's B.S.  For me, pain play isn’t about some inner need to punish myself, and I like the suggested explanations Bootbrush offers:
  • My body’s physical reaction (adrenalin rush and endorphin high…)
  • To test myself against my own limits
  • The spiritual aspect – it’s transporting and transformative
I could go on – including, for instance, the trust-building aspect and the interpersonal bonding that it creates when you open yourself up like this to another whom you trust and care about.

In fact, we typically don’t use pain as punishment.  Now – it’s not true that you can’t use pain to punish a masochist (I like pain, but I hate having my inner thighs pinched, for instance), but generally we want to associate pain w/ play time and thus we typically don’t use pain as punishment.  Usually we use discomfort as punishment (i.e. my Owner dropping ice cubes down my pants – not painful, but certainly not pleasant), the loss of privileges, or an “annoying” assignment.

Wednesday I came w/o permission.  Right now my punishment is to do lines.  I have to write 100 times “I will not cum without permission.”  Let me say, this is really annoying.  Having to sit and write lines is one of the most irritating things – and it drives you batty b/c you can think of 1000 other things you’d rather be doing – like making a quick blog post about punishment w/o pain.