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This is the first of a five part series by Cyn Duby.  O' Captain! My Captain! is wartime male on male graphic erotic novella containing a bit of BDSM. 

Once upon a time, two women stumbled upon an artist's loft in the Wilshire district of Lost Angels. There was an event to be held, a fundraiser for a large gathering of artists and geeks, fans and personalities, writers and merchants, and everything queer in between. This event, this fete, was to help fund that gathering of souls. And what an event it was. For these two women both of whom played for both teams, this was a veritable treasure trove of eye candy. While the models posed in costumes, artists drew them with great talent and enthusiasm. The energy bubbled while the scratches of charcoal and pencil were the only sounds as they were dragged across the paper.

In the cave sat the women, watching and enjoying the view. When the scene would shift, the bears and wolves, the cubs and pups would saunter into the cave to change. Amidst discussions of cock rings and the straightening of jock straps came quiet banter and laughter. The bears and wolves loved showing off.

Body paint was added to heighten the scene and accentuate the rugged yet graceful lines of muscle and flesh. And so it went on for hours, each scene more delicious and very worthy of a neighboring city that was filled to brimming with eye candy and delectable shows: WeHo. The women discussed the scenery and joked with the growly bears and quiet wolves and all was well – until the last scene. 

A bench was placed center stage and the two actors took their places. They shifted, trying to find a position they could hold for the time it would take to render their sublime forms onto canvas. Finally settled, one appearing dead, head on the other man's lap, they posed.

And the following story came to mind:

O' Captain! My Captain!
By Cyn Duby
Dedicated to Dan, the wolf, and his pup, Matt

Cade Archer figured he was dying. His hand held his abs and the slickness of the blood told him he was still losing copious amounts of the red fluid ... more than he could afford to, anyway. It probably served him right for being the captain of a group of mercenaries.

He remembered crawling toward one of his injured men. He'd almost made it. Reaching out from behind a fallen tree he could just touch his fingertips to the boy's hand. He'd stretched a little further but was still unable to grasp the hand that lay limp in the layer of leaves that covered the forest floor.

Finally, he crouched low and sprang forward, grabbed the hand firmly before flinging himself back. He hadn't been fast enough and now he lay on the damp, musty earth bleeding out. He thought he could faintly feel the lifeless hand still grasped in his own, but wasn't sure. Over the rasp of his breathing, he heard crickets chirping and tried to speak. He opened his mouth but only soundless air exited. He was unable to even croak at the crickets to shut up so he could hear.

He felt hands on his abs, pain forcing him to catch his breath. The hands moved to his extremities and then disappeared. Then they were back. Strong arms lifted him up and the unsteady gait of his rescuer sent agony through his torso, shooting up his neck, and exploding in his head. He couldn't feel his legs and could barely tell what his arms were doing. One particularly hard jolt caused him to groan before everything went black.


Dripping water. Cade shivered and tried to process his surroundings without opening his eyes. He realized he was back on the cold, hard ground. And then a wet cloth was dragged across his face. He tried to open his eyes, but could see nothing. There was something over his face, rendering him blind. Cade tried, and failed, to lift his hand to the offending bandage. Too weak to move, he gave up.

When he came to again, he heard murmuring and his head was elevated, supported by something firm and warm. He could barely make out the voice and what the man holding him was saying. "My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still; My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will; The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done; From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won; Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells! But I, with mournful tread, walk the deck, my Captain lies, fallen cold and dead."

Cade frowned. Really? Walt Whitman? The cold, wet cloth was drawn across his face, back and forth. When it went over his lips, Cade bit it, sucking it into his mouth to pull the moisture in so it would trickle down his throat. The cloth was removed and replaced several times. As soon as he felt he could speak, he grabbed the hand and growled, "Not dead yet, lieutenant. Shut the fuck up."

"You're awake! Um, this is Ash Jordan, sir."

Cade went to speak again but had to clear his throat. "I figured that out, poet. Now report."

"Um, we're behind enemy lines now, sir. The front moved eastward, past us. I think you and I are all that's left."


Cade's mind was reeling. Ash Jordan was a good man, though fairly green. He had medical skills - which was a plus given how badly Cade figured he was injured. He reached for his abs and found them tightly bound. That was probably for the best. "Why is there a bandage on my head, Jordan?"

"You got a nasty cut across your forehead. Let me see if it's still bleeding."

"You do that, boy."

The bandage was unwound slowly and, after a few turns of the gauze, Cade could see light through the loose weave of the cloth. He squinted at the source of light and grimaced. Finally, the last of the gauze fell away and Cade's eyes fluttered in an effort to stay open. He could see, though, and couldn't help but breathe a sigh of relief.

"What supplies do we have and where in the fuck are we?"

"In a well hidden cave, sir. We have my medical bag, both our packs plus two more I was able to drag in here, a half decent supply of food rations, and the radio."

Cade cocked an eyebrow, impressed. "Maybe not all is lost. Radio working?"

The lieutenant bit his lip. "I haven't tried, sir. I figured silence was paramount given that we're in enemy territory."

"Fine. We'll try later. Now, let's get some food and fluids into us and start planning."

Cade went to sit up, almost passing out from the pain and light headedness that crashed over him like a tidal wave. "Fuck," he spat out before lying back down with a thud and a grunt.

"Sir, I don't think you should try to move yet."

"Right, Einstein. At least help me sit up so I can eat something. How bad are my guts?"

The lieutenant bit his lip, something that Cade would have found attractive if he wasn't in so much pain.

"There's a hole, sir. It's wider than it is deep, though, and, as far as I can tell, your guts are intact. I sewed you shut after getting it as clean as I could."

Cade nodded once. "How are we for water?"

Jordan smiled. "Very good, sir. There's a pool fed by a steam further back in the cave. It's nice and clean. And, we're deep enough into the cave and there's good enough ventilation that we might be able to risk a fire."

Cade cocked an eyebrow and tried to smile. "Things are looking up then, boy. About that food and water ..."

"Yes, sir."

Jordan scrambled off and lit a fire. Cade was left sitting against a rock, mind reeling. There was hope, albeit scant at best. He was lucky, and not just medically, that it was Jordan he was stuck with. The boy was easy on the eyes and, apparently, had a decent brain in his head. The poetry, though ...

Jordan was back at his side, with a canteen full of water, and some food. Cade grunted his thanks and attempted to feed himself. He cursed his weakness, though, when he dropped the spoon in the mess dish. "Fuck all ..."

"Here, sir, let me help you."

Cade opened his mouth to protest and found the spoonful of food inside. He chewed, swallowed, and decided not to argue with his babysitter.

Next in part 2, Cade has to decide just how to handle the highhandedness of his lieutenant and tries to heal. Available July 11th, 2015...


1.  For those who don’t already know, please tell us about yourself and your titles.

My name is Mark I. Chester. I am a San Francisco gay *radical sex* photographer. I use the term radical sex the way other people use the term leather. It is an inclusive term and could include leathersex, sadomasochism, BDSM, bondage, fetishism, puppy play, spiritual ritual play and just about anything else you could think of. Unlike S/M (sadomasochism), a word whose origin and history is one of medical dysfunction and psychopathology, radical sex has no baggage. And I think it is far more accurate and inclusive than the term leather. But because of its widespread acceptance, for practical reasons, I frequently use the term "leather.” I think it is important that we name ourselves and claim our own identity, rather than giving the medical industry the power to name us and shame us.

1. For those who don’t already know, please tell us about yourself and your connection with the leather world and what Leather title(s) do you hold?

I am an attorney, activist, consultant, and author.  I have been involved with the Leather community since the late 1980’s and have been an active participant in community organizing since then.  I was Washington State Ms Leather 1993, International Ms. Leather 1994. Since I transitioned from female to male in 1995, many affectionately call me Mr. IMsL.

I have served on various community organization boards including Generic Leather Productions of Washington, NLA: International, and I presently am the Secretary for the IMsL Foundation board.

2. Please tell us who got you started in the Leather community and for how long?

I got started in the Leather community in the late 1980’s though I can trace my interest back to when I was a child in the 60’s. Initially, I met some wonderful Leather women who helped me connect to others in the community,  but it was really in the men’s Leather community that I found my place.  The men embraced me in and taught me and I found my first Leather family with them.

Being the kind of person I am, once I found my people I soaked up as much information and education as I could.  I jumped in with both feet into community organizations including joining the board of NLA: Seattle and helping to organize a conference it used to hold called May Days.  I started presenting workshops and writing articles on legal issues for the Leather community around 1991 or so.

ccreaneimagesHS4MediaAbove: Christina Court (center) is surrounded by documentary participants on the red carpet debut of her award winning documentary High Shine.

In 1998, Amy Marie Meek announced at International Ms Leather (IMsL), that there would be a new Title for the Leather Women’s Community, and in 1999 the Title for International Ms Bootblack was erected. Now 17 years later, a Documentary about the Journey of the female-identified Bootblack Titleholders has been summed up in a one film, High Shine: 15 Years of International Ms Bootblack.

After IMsL’s 25th Anniversary, Jayson Daboi (a bootblack and IMsBB 2010 ) felt it was time to tell their story, the Journey of the International Ms Bootblacks. He wanted to tell the story of how significant it was to be a female-identified bootblack, and how they had impacted and made changes in the Leather Community...he and his good friend, L.e. LeGirl, another Leather Community Member, wanted to bring it into part of the 15 year IMsBB Celebration. They had come up with a proposal that included the Documentary. They weren’t sure how they were going to do it, but they began the process anyway. L.e. LeGirl dedicated herself to the fundraising, having Leather & Lace parties all across the country. They wanted to be able to have as many IMsBB as they could, interviewed on film, and their stories told.  In late 2011, Jayson Daboi approached Christina Court about making the documentary, and she agreed to take on the endeavor which included, coordination, research and production of "The Bootblack Film". It became a second job, spanning just over 3 years to completion this year, 2015.


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To understand what it takes to make this Documentary, you have to remember, film was in different formats, and at various places.  There was dated film that reached all the way back to 1986 that was located in storage units in Berkeley. There were boxes of film in a basement in Omaha, Nebraska, and someone had to go get it. Christina had no idea of what some of the old film had on it, was it even salvageable, was it even useable...This Project also included getting as many IMsBB Bootblacks together and recording the stories of willing IMsBB Bootblacks. Then taking these various montages, and combining it all together into one film. With the help, coordination and assistance of various individuals, the dream making a documentary of International Ms Bootblacks became a reality, and High Shine: 15 Years of International Ms Bootblack was born.

Last month, “High Shine” finally made it's debut at the Cinekink Festival in New York City. In attendance were many of the individuals that not only helped bring the film together, such as L.E. LeGirl, but also a few of the International Ms Bootblacks, including the first of the IMsBB Titleholders, Leslie Anderson, IMsBB 2011 kd aka Katie Diamond, who also designed the challenge coin that is used as the logo, and Pony, IMsBB 2009.  Making a documentary is not an easy task, it takes tireless dedication, unwavering focus, a lot of help and a lot of time.

I decided to sit down with Christina Court to discuss what brought her to making this her first film, how she got through it, and a few insights into the process and just what it took to make this Documentary.


Q: Why did you make this particular Documentary on Female Bootblacks, or what inspired you to make this particular Documentary?

The better question is who inspired me to make a documentary about female-identified bootblacks...and that would be IMsBB 2010 Jayson DaBoi and IMsBB 2009 Pony.

In 2011-2012, I assisted then-IMsL owner Glenda Rider and the folks at Kink Academy with some of the storyboarding aspects of Sisterhood of the Sash, a film short that profiled the International Ms Leather Titleholders. I came into the project toward the very end, as they were making a push toward meeting the CineKink 2012 deadline.  I loved working on the film project and working with Graydancer, who was the film's editor. After CineKink 2012, Glenda began to talk about the IMsBB Documentary that L.E. LeGirl and Jayson DaBoi proposed to her as part of a larger IMsBB XV Celebration. I agreed to help with the research/directing/storyboarding aspects of the film.  It was at the GLLA (Great Lakes Leather Alliance) Weekend that I sat with Jayson DaBoi and smoked cigars until 4am, and agreed to take on the project.


Q: I would like for you to shed some light on how hard it was to make this Documentary...and what are some of the things you had to do in putting this story together?

I started doing the research for this film in August 2011. I live less than 15 minutes away from Leather Archives & Museum (LA&M), which is an exceptional advantage to me as a researcher. From 2011 through August 2013, I was also serving on the IMsL staff as the Historian and Archivist. Holding this role in tandem helped simply because it was my "job" to track down lost and rare IMsL organization materials...and I still have some "on loan" media materials that I utilized in the High Shine film that, within the next two years, will also end up at LA&M for future researchers and scholars. I spent much of my "free time" seeking out materials, converting footage from antiquated media sources.  

Then on to the interviews of the IMsBB Alumni. Most people don't realize that, to prepare for a massive, six-person film crew, one-time film shoot like we did at IMsL 2013 requires a heap of planning and organization and knowledge of the subject's backgrounds. Nine of the IMsBB alumni were in attendance, and I needed to know a bit of each of their stories, what their title year looked like, all before we put a camera on them or set foot in the IMsL 2013 hotel. Much of this information was buried within unconverted VHS tapes or without a centralized depository of images, articles, etc., it becomes a wild and challenging mystery.

I've read every single piece all the way down to the grocery lists scribbled on scratch paper.  I have watched every IMsL contest I could locate. In order to utilize old footage, which was mostly stored on VHS and mini discs, I needed to convert everything and do some sound and image editing before even considering whether or not they were "usable" in the High Shine film. These media conversions alone have taken hours upon hours, and I did them at night and on weekends when I wasn't working my full-time professional job. On average, since late 2011, I've worked between 30-40 hours a week on something related to IMsL or IMsBB history…


Q: Are there particular moments or people in the film that you feel we should really pay attention to in the Documentary?

I think it all depends on the motivation that brings a person to watch the film--each person walks away learning something "new," even if they've been in the Leather Community a long while or just trying to understand what some of this "Leather stuff" is about.

What strikes me the most about the International Ms Bootblack (IMsBB) and female-identified Bootblack "story" is how those who hear the calling to be a Bootblack work and support one another, and I am often stunned and humbled by just how close knit the Leather community Bootblacks are with one another. On a different, level, I find that the stories that the IMsBB’s tell about busting through barriers in the gay male Leather community to be inspiring and empowering...and the changes that have happened in terms of female accessibility to Leather space has been fast and furious over the past 15 years.


ccreaneimagesHS9MediaQ: Throughout the film, were there any in particular bootblacks that have touched or inspired you on a personal level?

The first International Ms Leather Leslie Anderson (IMsBB 1999) and I have worked closely together over the years on the High Shine film and within the Leather Archives & Museum's Leather Preservation & Conservation Project. In watching her work, I see the amount of research needed to keep our Leather alive--and not just research about leathers, but about so many aspects of the Leather Community. Loving Leather also requires someone to learn their Leather history, and Leslie embodies this.


Q: Was there anything in particular that you personally learnt about Bootblacking?

While making this film, I learned so much from delving so deep into Bootblack history and bootblacking.  What's most striking to me was that I quickly learned that I couldn't separate the art and act of bootblacking from the Bootblack her/him/hirself.  While there are some basic techniques, some standardized tools and beloved products, Bootblacks don't do everything the same. In fact, more than one person I interviewed said, "Ask 10 Bootblacks a question, and you'll get 20 answers in reply."


Q: And in making this Documentary, how has doing this changed you, if it has?

First, let me say this: I absolutely loved having the honor of interviewing the IMsBBs and talking with so many Bootblacks. Bootblacks give in amazing ways. Interviewing them and then reviewing,  and spending so much time with the footage containing their stories of joys and sorrows has filled me in ways that are nothing less than spiritual. I will always be grateful for those whom we interviewed, and those having the courage to be so vulnerable and open to me and my team.

Trust me: it's not easy working a full time job, then coming home to try and work on a film that's financially breaking you... I think it's also important to be very honest about this experience. Since 2011, I have gained 70 pounds from sitting at my professional management job, then going home and sitting and working on editing and media conversions until 1am nightly.  My back went out on me in August 2014, and I ended up bedridden for almost two weeks. I took unpaid leave of absence from work specifically to get through a particularly research-heavy section of the film between 2013 and 2014.  It is exceptionally hard to try and work through rich and empowering footage, all the while bill collectors call. In essence, this film has made me "Leather Strong".


Q: Why did you choose Cinekink as your first place to debut the Documentary?

CineKink was the "obvious" choice for debuting High Shine for two specific reasons. It was where the first film project upon which I worked, Sisterhood of the Sash, debuted. For me, applying to CineKink and hoping I could do my world premiere at CineKink NYC, was a coming home and a full circle journey of sorts, and I am so pleased that things unfolded as they did.

It was at CineKink Chicago where I saw Mike Skiff's film, Kink Crusaders for the first time. It is a documentary about the IML experience and the IML 2008 contest, and I loved it. I remember watching the film and wondering why the International Women's contests didn't have anything equivalent and thinking that Leatherwomen should work to change that fact. Little did I know that, shortly thereafter, I'd be involved in creating that change and that, in 2013, I'd be working with Mike Skiff himself to create a feature-length film about female-identified Bootblacks and the IMsBB Title.


Q: Now that the film has been completed and it is out there to be seen by the public, how would you like it to impact people?

I think the best narrators are invisible to the story being presented. Now that the film is finished and being shared, it's my hope that, during a viewing of my film, I am forgotten...that would be the highest compliment for me to receive. In fact, after seeing the film, rather than turning and thinking of me, it's my greatest hope that folks turn and think about whether or not they've been tipping Bootblacks the amount of money that they're truly worth and giving Bootblacks the degree of respect they deserve.


Q: What do you want the current or future women, who are interested in bootblacking to know, understand or learning from this Documentary?

I wish for anyone who feels that they have a Bootblack Heart or the bootblacking bug to embrace that part of themselves, and never be embarrassed to reach out to another Bootblack. I find this generosity of time and spirit consistent with most Bootblacks I meet.  In learning the art, they hold onto the traditions of mentors and those who've passed, and in being such an inclusive bunch that often sees the "Bootblack" identity before sex, gender, orientation or presentation, they illustrate what could be the future for Leather, and in caring for others' Leather wear.

Q: Do you see yourself making any other Documentaries in the near future? or will you take a different film avenue?

Now that I've finished High Shine, I can also begin to move through a backlog of other interviews of Leather community members I've filmed (or inherited from previous videographers) for the LA&M Fireside Chat series, and I can begin to dive full throttle into the IML video production work needed to make the 2015 contest visuals look sexy as hell.

I have many "dream" documentaries I'd love to create and share with our community, so let's see what's ends up on my plate next. What I do know is that having the intent to provide a voice to people and resources that may otherwise be overlooked, forgotten or misunderstood.

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