1. For those who don’t know you, please tell us about yourself & what your titles are.
First the easy part: As far as titles are concerned, all mine have been given to me as honorary titles.
1999 Man of the Year from National Leather Association International
2007 Lifetime Achievement Award from National Leather Association International
2010 Recipient of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Leather Leadership Award
2012 Presidents Award - Pantheon of Leather
Now the hard part: I am a native Texan and have been active in the LGBT community since the early 1970's. I became fascinated with Leather in the late 1970's and stepped into my first Leather bar sometime around 1978. Since that fateful day I have continued on my Leather journey and am a former member of the Dallas Motorcycle Club, Leather Rose Society, National Leather Association, Discipline Corps and a founding member of Inquisition Dallas.
I have written many articles on Leather/BDSM topics and am the author of four books currently in circulation including "Family Jewels, a Guide to Male Genitortureand Torment "and” Soul of a Second Skin-Memoirs of a Gay Christian Leatherman."
I have also directed a few films on Leather/BDSM subjects including "Leather" a short film-poem about the gay male Leather experience and "Out of the Darkness, the Reality of SM" a documentary on the critical difference between SM and abuse.
Professionally I am a Marketing Specialist and I live in Dallas with my boy/partner of 18 years Patrick and our feline mistress, Elvira.
2. What or who got you started in the leather community and for how long?
What drew me to Leather was the hyper-masculinity of it. I never considered myself feminine; nor was I attracted to feminine men. Leather just pushed all the right buttons for me and once I got involved I fund that I really liked rough sex and SM.
The community, as such, didn't really exist when I came in, but the subsequent AIDS crisis pulled us together and gave us a real sense of purpose. We, in Dallas, started educating our community to the many ways sex could be hot and kinky and still be safer-sex.
3. Which club or bar are you affiliated with and tell us more about the history?
Currently I am a member of NLA: Dallas and Discipline Corps. NLA: Dallas is a pan-sexual organization with a mission to educate and network Leather/Fetish/BDSM folk of all sexual orientations and genders.
Discipline Corps is a men-only social and play group whose primary focus is monthly dungeon parties and having a good time!
When I go to a bar it is the Dallas Eagle, our local Leather bar, though I am not officially affiliated with it the owners, Mark Frasier and Jeffery Payne are close friends of mine.
4. How did you enjoy being one of the judges at IML XXX5 and what were your favorite moments?
Judging at IML was an amazing experience. I was worn out form the long days, but energized by the great men I met during the experience. I knew most of the judges before the contest, though I did make new friends since a couple of the judges were new faces to me. We all bonded immediately and the contestants were all outstanding. The final choice was very hard, since any of the Top 20 could have easily been a wonderful IML.
My favorite moments were getting to meet so many folks from outside the US, and the South African delegation was a particular joy!
5. Tell us about your charity involvement and goals.
As far as charity work I have several. My contributions to my church, Cathedral of Hope are an ongoing passion of mine. We even have a full pew of Leather folk wearing their colors every Sunday. I also work with Kiva, a micro loan organization that funds small businesses and individuals across the world.
I serve as Chairman of the Board for the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance in Washington, DC and work raising funds to support it and its many programs.
6. Tell us about your leather family.
My leather family is small, just me and my boy/partner. My extended Leather family is larger. About 8-10 close friends who I think of as family. Beyond that I have a large circle of friends who I have met at events and contests all over the continent and they too, are like family. I consider them my Leather cousins.
7. Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
I have to say my father. He taught me a lot as far as values and how to treat other people. He was authentic and honest and I try to emulate that. He loved his work and his family. He was intellectually curious and being a scientist, he never stopped learning, and that is something I think I got from him.
8. In your mind, what’s the biggest misconception of the leather community?
The biggest misconception I see about the Leather community is that we are some sort of homogenous group with a written code of conduct and values. No such thing. We are as varied as the general population, except for our love of kink and Leather. As a whole I have found our community does communicate more than the average vanilla folk, and I attribute that to the fellowship of our organizations and to the need for communication when we play.
9. What would you say are the most important strengths to have as a Leather man?
Honesty, authenticity and a good bull-shit detector.
10. What does leather mean to you?
I could prattle on about this topic forever but I would sound like I was doing a canned speech for a title contest. In reality leather means as many different things as there are people involved in it. Some simply are drawn to the fetish. Leather clothes and gear are sensual, organic and arousing. Some are drawn to the BDSM aspect of it. That was part of my attraction.
Leather folk, the energetic and intense encounters that SM play offers. I went into it thinking I would be a "grey Hankie" guy. Only into bondage and light SM but quickly realized that bondage was really not very interesting to me and more hard-core SM was my thing. Changed my hankie to black and never looked back.
11. What do you see for the future of leather in your community and internationally?
It is in a state of flux. Leather always changes, as sexual pioneers we are on the edges of what is possible physically and sexually and so there will always be something different and new. I see a disturbing trend to try to turn back the clock and relive the glory days of Leather in the 1970's, but surprisingly the people who are trying to do that are predominately straight. They have adopted the Leatherman look as though it was a codified uniform and remind me of " Renfair" folks, donning period costumes and role playing at Leather.
12. What does sexual freedom mean to you?
As someone who came of age I the late 1960's sexual freedom means being able to define my sexuality on my own terms Being able to enjoy consensual activities with other adults and not have to conform to any rigid rules. I have begin to think of myself more as "Queer" than gay, not because I do not have an affectional orientation toward men, but because I enjoy playing with anyone so long as we click and our goals are the same. Sexual freedom is a basic human right, it is up to us to define it and express it and celebrate it.
13. Whats your view on the huge anti-gay wave that is happening in certain states in America? What do you think people can do to protect their rights and help others retain it?
What you mentioned as the "anti-gay wave" sweeping parts of the country is not a massive display of anti-gay sentiment in my opinion. It is the last gasp of the hard core bigoted right. Their attitudes are dying out. Public opinion polls show most Americans believe in equality for LGBT citizens. What these anti-gay laws are is an attempt by the right to change the framing of the issue from "equality" to "religious freedom" or as I call it the freedom to hate.
All of these attempt have failed and even in far-right leaning states like Arizona. Even there the Governor recognized it's not a religious freedom issue it is equal rights. The laws are clumsily crafted and over reaching to begin with and would not withstand judicial scrutiny, so I have o believe its just politics and its not working.
14. We all have so many issues we want to highlight, please tell us what cause is close to your heart right now and how are you involved?
The issue closest to my heart is the cause of sexual freedom. I believe sexual freedom is a fundamental human right and as such it needs to be protected and nourished. To that end, I work with the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance, a human rights group with the focus on sexual freedom. In fact I am chairperson of the board. That's how involved I am and how important it is.
We work to affect policy concerning sex education, freedom of speech, sex workers and gender and sexual inequality. It's a great organization that has made a real difference for our country. Woodhull holds the gender and sexuality seat on the US Human Rights Network, the group which monitors our country's adherence to the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
15. What advice can you give a future title holder?
Be authentic, approachable and honest. Bull-shitters stick out like sore thumbs. The title holders I know and admire are all down to earth folks who try to use their titles to benefit the community not themselves.
16. Tell us what your favorite piece of Leather is and why?
Other than my hat, my favorite piece of Leather is my flogger. It was made by Janet Hartwood and designed to fit me perfectly. The falls are longer than most folks like, but they balance perfectly with the handle and the flogger becomes an extension of my body when I play. I have several floggers and all were custom made for me. I believe if you invest in quality your toys will live as long as you do.
17. In your own words, can you tell us the difference between BDSM and Leather?
Hard to say. I used to think of them as the same, but apparently there are folk who see a big distinction. Leather does not imply SM, it can simply be a fetish. It is also a different kind of community and that is what sets it apart nowadays. To some folks Leather can only be gay men and BDSM is pan-sexual. There is another word that is loaded with nuance. Pan-sexual was a word coined by the Leather community to describe its inclusion of all sexual orientations, but has been co-opted by the straight community to mean "heterosexual" sexual orientation with some lesbians thrown in for spice. If I sound cynical, that's because I have seen this in practice. Play space where two women playing together was acceptable if they were playing in ways that the men enjoyed, but men playing together got stares and snide comments.
Personally I don't have problems playing in the newly defined "pan-sexual" spaces, I think a Leather person can define their own Leather-space and create a scene wherever it works.
18. Please tell us exactly what is beyond vanilla & what are your favorite activities you indulge in?
I would think anything that goes beyond plain sex would qualify as beyond vanilla. Spankings, role play, bondage, SM all of it moves beyond vanilla for me. My favorite activities are floggings and clothespins and CBT, but most often these are woven into some kind of erotic experience. I think all SM is better with an element of Eros. It doesn't have to be penetrative sex, but without a sexual aspect it has less appeal for me.
19. What’s the funniest safe word that you have heard?
Then comes the safe word. I have heard lots of strange ones from "aardvark" to "Pontiac". Personally, I like this system. I tell my bottom or sub to call me "Sir" as long as he or she is having fun, and to call me "Hardy" if they need to talk. It keeps the communication going and has never failed me.
20. What’s your favorite drink? And if you could invent a cocktail for the Leather community and what would you call it?
Well I stopped drinking in 1986 so my favorite drink is sparkling mineral water. My drink for the community would be just that, mineral water with a chaser of mouthwash, cause I love kissing and detest bad breath!
18. We would love to have you visit South Africa in the future, what classes do you think we could benefit from?
I do a lot of classes, but my favorites are a workshop I call "Putting Sex Back in SM." The pan-sexual dungeons in the US are notoriously tepid when it comes to palpable eroticism. Many do not allow sexual activities for legal reasons and some just are uncomfortable with sex. This workshop is intended to put that spark of the erotic back into the play in the dungeon and discusses and demonstrates how scenes can become erotic encounters with no "traditional sex" happening.
My "Family Jewels" workshop is always fun. Concentrating on CBT and how it can become part of a scene. I explain the use of toys, safety and exploration of various aspects of genitorture.
I have a complete list of classes I present I can provide you.
19. In conclusion, anything you would like to add to this interview for the Leather community of South Africa?
I would add that the Leather community in South Africa seems to be vibrant and growing and I encourage you to continue to explore, share what you learn and nurture the next generation of Leatherfolk. To them you will become the "Old Guard" and with that is the heavy responsibility of knowing you are setting an example for future generations. Play hard, play safe, have fun!
The Avatar Club Los Angeles educational program for Wednesday, August 27 is Fire Play with Orpheus Black at MCC in the Valley, 5730 Cahuenga Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601 starting at 8 PM.
Fire Play by Orpheus Black will include discussion on Basic Fire Safety: Preparing private or public fire play scenes, checking tools, fuel storage and transportation, safety equipment and measures, treating burns. Preparing the Sub: Easing fears, outlining safety protocols, negotiating safe words, phrases and gestures, cultivating the head space. Technique: Types of torches brushes and their differences, review of basic torching methods and basic cupping, tips and tricks Advanced Techniques Fire Painting Techniques:How to perform half body trails and full torso transfers Advanced Fire Cupping:Demonstration of horning, using cups as tie points and leads Torching Techniques: Safely combining rope bondage and fire play, safely increasing the heat and intensity of the flame.
The 2014 version of the Folsom Street Fair took place in perfect Leather weather on Folsom Street between 8th and 13th Streets on Sunday, September 21, one week earlier than the usual fourth Sunday of September. It was cloudy, not sunny, but was perfect for Leather/BDSM/Fetish/Kink/Gearfolk wearing plenty of Leather - not too cold. The Fair seemed to be crowded earlier than normal and several booths were open just after 6 PM as that usual 5 PM wind did not arrive.
The move one block west did what organizers hoped it would do. That, and the stage moved to 10th Street not far from Howard made for better viewing. The short walk from Folsom Street over to the San Francisco Eagle at Harrison and 12th Streets worked. What had been a parking lot across from the Eagle was converted into a party area with a $20 admission.
Most of the usual suspects had vendor or social booths including The Society of Janus, Steamworks, the San Francisco Bare Chest Calendar Men, Mr. S Leathers, Orchid and Serpent.
Mufasa Ali is Great Lakes Leather Alliance keynote speaker
By Christina K. Court
Great Lakes Leather Alliance (GLLA) announced that Mufasa Ali will serve as the GLLA 2018 keynote speaker. Mufasa Ali, a member of the Leather community for over 20 years and the inaugural Mr. World Leather 2006/2007, is the founder of ONYX, an international club supporting Leathermen of Color and the recipient of the 2013, 2016 and 2017 Pantheon of Leather Large Club of the Year Award. He currently serves as the Chair of the ONYX National Council, and he is the founder and primary facilitator of the People of Color Leather Caucus seminars at IML and Black Beat, Inc. GLLA 2018 will occur September 6-9 in the same Indianapolis, Indiana host hotel as GLLA 2017. Event registration will open January 1.
The NCSF's (National Coalition for Sexual Freedom) Consent Counts project is holding discussions around the country to gather input on their Consent Statement so they can move forward to change laws and and perceptions of BDSM. Kinky people still have significant legal, political and societal issues facing them. The majority fears the very real threat of being prosecuted or losing our jobs or families. To change the assault laws, the world needs to know what we think of consent. What is ethical consent? What are the gray areas? Are there things people shouldn't be able to consent to in a BDSM context?
Capitalizing on the momentum generated at Great Lakes Leather Alliance where two Minnesotans won regional titles, Minnesota Leather Pride announced the first Ms Minnesota Leather Pride contest. The new contest will be part of Minnesota Leather Pride Weekend, which also features the first Minnesota Leather Sir and Minnesota Leather boy contests, to be held April 3-5, 2015 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“When we began planning for Minnesota Leather Pride Weekend, we started with Minnesota Leather Sir and Minnesota Leather boy with the expectation additional contests would be added over time,” said Tim Holden, chair of the Minnesota Leather Pride Weekend committee and member of the Minnesota Leather Pride board. “When Tim Hotchkin won Great Lakes Leather boy and Riches won Great Lakes Ms. Leather Pride, the board agreed the timing was right to add the Ms. Minnesota Leather Pride contest to what is already shaping up to be an exciting weekend!”
The winner of the Ms Minnesota Leather Pride contest, along with the winners of Minnesota Leather Sir and Minnesota Leather boy, will go on to compete at Great Lakes Leather Alliance held Oct 1-4, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Contestants for Ms Minnesota Leather Pride must be 21 years old and identify as a woman in the Leather/Kink/BDSM community.
“With the addition of Ms Minnesota Leather Pride to Minnesota Leather Pride Weekend, we feel this event will have something for everyone,” said Holden.
Registration for TES Fest 2014, to be held July 3-6 in Piscataway, NJ, is now open.
TES Fest is the annual gathering for the BDSM and sex-positive communities to celebrate the steps TES’s founders took in 1971: the opportunity to find our freedom. TES Fest is an event in the NYC Metro region for everyone (from amateurs to seasoned veterans) to socialize, learn new skills and simply have a great time.
With classes and special events covering the gamut of topics and special interests, TES Fest allows people to explore, educate and entertain themselves in a healthy, safe and sane environment. TES Fest will take place at a 3.5-star hotel in Piscataway, New Jersey.
TES Fest is produced by The Eulenspiegel Society.
The NCSF (National Coalition for Sexual Freedom) is inviting Leather / BDSM / Kinkfolk to take its Mental Health Survey. They would like to know more about your BDSM practices, mental health and relational violence experiences.
The NCSF is working with researchers at Sam Houston University's Department of Psychology and Philosophy who will compare our responses to two other sample populations - one college-aged and the other LGBT-identified.
The NCSF will use these results to help with its advocacy, benefiting both existing and developing programs. Specifically, the study's results will assist in educating law enforcement, legal and psychological professionals about the practices and mental health of BDSM practitioners.
The survey will take approximately 35 minutes of one's time.
This survey is anonymous. Neither the NCSF nor outside researchers have access to any identifying information about participants.
The Leather Leadership Conference 2014, to be held at the DoubleTree Hotel and the William Way Center in downtown Philadelphia April 11-13, has done an internal inventory of what it has offered, combined with conference feedback forms and with the results of their 2012 community survey, with the result of that inventory being the creation a new Do It Yourself (DIY) program that will debut in Philly with a new delivery system for that program.
LLC has been the offering leadership training for Leather/BDSM/Kink/Fetish and LGBT communities for nearly 18 years. During that time, several changes have taken place and there has been more acceptance for those in alternate lifestyles, including more positive media. The Internet has given endless opportunities for contact, communication, and networking. There are a multitude of groups, munches and events to attend; sometimes so many that one could go to at least one event a week or have to choose where to participate.
Compiled by Dave Rhodes, Dr. Larry and William Burden
It is no secret that there were 71 International Mr. Leather 2018 or IML 40 contestants - your preference - 19 of them came from outside the United States, it is known that significant changes were being made in the International Mr. Bootblack contest and that IML founder Chuck Renslow would be remembered with class. What was to-be-determined was the winners of the contests.
Financial and health difficulties have contributed to the planned closing of the first and only dungeon to be open in the Inland Empire (Redlands, CA). It was announced by the management of the club that the official closing will be the end of September, 2013. However, there is the possibility of the club staying open if there is an interest by an organization or individual to take it over. The owners of the club are hoping that someone will come forward that can provide the financial backing needed to keep a club such as Le Fleur de Lis open and operating.
Prominent San Francisco Leather community activist Race Bannon will begin writing a new leather column for the Bay Area Reporter, the nation’s longest continually published LGBT newspaper, on January 23, 2014.
Bannon’s first column, penned while attending the annual Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend in Washington, DC, continues the traditions started by the preeminent gay news weekly.
In his first column, Bannon wrote:
“San Francisco and the overall Bay Area has one of the most vibrant leather and kink scenes in the United States and indeed the world. Yes, it’s changed and morphed as various factors have influenced how LGBT kinky folk live and express their alternative erotic identities and sexualities. But the scene is still rather awesome here, and I’m comfortable saying it’s in pretty good shape nationally as well.
“Thus all the more reason I am honored to have been asked to carry on the legacy of the original writer of this column, Mr. Marcus (Marcus Hernandez), who established the Bay Area Reporter’s leather column as one of the preeminent leather news and information sources in the world. Upon Mr. Marcus’ passing, Scott Brogan took over this column and truly did justice to Mr. Marcus’ memory. I promise to always try to live up to both men’s history as I embark on being the caretaker of this important piece of journalistic real estate.”
Rounding out multiple days of screenings and parties in its eleventh anniversary appearance, organizers for CineKink NYC/2014 announced the recipients of awards in a range of categories during the film festival's closing celebrations held on Sunday, March 2.
Audience Choice Awards for CineKink 2014 were given to Broken Side of Time (Gorman Bechard) for Best Narrative Feature, with The Sarnos: A Life in Dirty Movies (Wiktor Ericsson) winning for Best Documentary Feature. The CineKink Choice awards were determined by audience ballot just following each eligible film's screening during the festival.
In the shorts competition, juried festival awards went to "Humain Chaleur" (Christophe Predari) for Best Dramatic Short, Another Happy Anniversary (Miranda Bailey) for Best Comedy Short, Dear Jiz (Ms. Naughty) and Trains (Paul Deeb) tied for Best Experimental Short, and Black Folk Don’t: Do BDSM (Angela Tucker) for Best Documentary Short. Honorable Best Mention awards were presented to Music Box (Anna Brownfield), Tom's Gift (Todd Verow and Charles Lum) and Un Bisous Americain (JM Darling).
The Southwest Leather Conference celebrated its 10th Anniversary at the Hilton Phoenix Airport the weekend of January 19-21 with about 525 full registrations plus many others attending single events.
The highlights of the weekend were the Dance of Souls on Sunday afternoon, the Southwest Master and slave contest won by Sir Mystic and Marika; the Southwest Bootblack contest taken by Bear, keynote speeches by slave pug and Alia, presentation of awards, workshops, vendors and two pansexual play parties.International Mr. Leather 2009 was a complete riot as the emcee while Great Lakes Bootbkack 2011 Gabriel was the ASL interpreter.
Since moving to Phoenix, Sir Mystic and Marika have become active members of TNG-AZ, APEX, and Kinky and Geeky AZ. Marika has been on the board of TNG-AZ, with Mystic supporting her by helping as he can. They both serve on the board of Kinky and Geeky AZ in advisory roles.
The Southwest Master and slave judges were head judge Daddy Sal, Glenda Rider, Douglas Connors, Master Konraad, Stephen Bloom, Slave Patrick and Master Stephen – Great Lakes Master 2005
Southwest Bootblack Bear has been in the BDSM community for 14 years and has been a member of the Dragon~Clan family for three years. An active member of the community, Bear has enjoyed many years of giving service as a volunteer at APEX, Butchmanns Experience, Southwest Leather Conference and as a member of The Grand Canyon Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Bear has given presentations on Fisting and Single-tails at APEX and Desert Dominion.
Elegant was the Bootblacks head judge and was assisted by Jim Dueder, KD, slave tabitha and Dave Rhodes.
Southwest Leather Conference director Joseph Brumley noted that full registrations were up from last year.
Almost everyone was impressed by the staff of the Hilton Phoenix Airport. Even the hotel manager Rick helped stack chairs in the hurried change over from theater format to the dungeon in the main ballroom. The staff wore event T-shirts and fit in well. They made everyone feel very welcome.
Slave pug was the endnote speaker during the Sunday brunch.
Master Skip headed the program and was the speaker for the Southwest Leather Conference awards. Honors went to: Southwest Leather Conference Spiritual Development Scholarship in the amount of $1,000 went to Lady Hawke; the Leatherman's Heart Award recipient was Master Obsidian, the Leatherwoman's Heart Award was given to Slave Alia, the Spirit of Service Award was presented to Daddy Kenneth, the Volunteer Of The Year Award went to boi moe and the Master Steve Sampson Golden Paintbrush Award honor was given to Viola Johnson. Master Obsidian and Viola Johnson were unable to attend, but had acceptance speeches read on their behalf.
The SF Bay Area Leather Alliance, an all-volunteer 501(c)3, is proud to announce the opening of SF Catalyst, a new community-run educational and social space in SOMA. The 2,500-plus square foot space is now available for use by groups and organizations for events that are in alignment with the mission of The Alliance: to create a welcoming and supportive environment for members of the SF Bay Area Leather Fetish, Kink and Motorcycling communities.