by Cleo Dubois
We learn and then we teach. Every Intensive scene dynamics segment is improvised, a demonstration in the moment of the various flavors of kink I embrace. It is also a bit of a review of the hands-on we have shared with the students all weekend. I want the participants to feel what kinds of play call to them and inspire how to make it real for themselves.
Since the class is at the Citadel, SF’s community Club, a bit of roleplay fit in easily. I invite the students to be the Club’s “audience,” enjoying a BDSM presentation/scene directed before their eyes by me, the Mistress of Ceremonies with several of the kinky submissives who serve the course. That afternoon I invite The Slave-Shaman, a versatile Leatherman, a sassy and sexy FrenchMaid, fetishistic male Diva/Slut, and a shy Witness.
I order the silent Witness to just sit on the floor. He wore a black mesh hood. Across the room, the fetishistic male Diva/Slut in thigh-high shiny patent leather stiletto boots sprawled provocatively on the stairs. The Slave in service to the Goddess in every Woman offers his most sincere worship of the strap-on phalluses worn by our students sitting together on the banquette. Behind the bar, the Feisty French Maid, a consummate coquette, could not help but attract attention to herself, hence deserving a quick fiery caning. She took it well, raising the energy in the room and my hunger for what was to come!
I explained to all that I had invited a versatile leatherman friend to this particular Intensive to add a flavor of Ethical BDSM Protocol and Play. I appreciate his style: direct, humble, trained in D/s ways, with a good masochistic streak despite his strong presence. It is my pleasure to flog him and he loves to be flogged.
As I show him my collar, we suddenly realize that for all the times we have played privately, this was a first for us! Do you accept my collar? “Yes, Madame,” is the Leatherman’s simple reply. I started on his back. “One Madame, Thank You Madame, Please may I have another?” What do you say on social media? Big time Signal Boost! I flog his back and then his chest, hard, with two identical short floggers, one in each hand. Our eyes on each other until his rolled up in his head. We raise a lot of power in our fiery exchange, and to shift the energy, I have him sit on the leather covered bench. No need to tell him to be still or put his his eyes down. He just does.
Turning my attention to the Slave, the scene becomes ritual, and I step into the role of Priestess. The Slave will serve us as a channel for an energy pull: a piercing practice of connecting with a partner using needles under tension. Receptive as always, the two 19 gauge needles slip through his slave’s heart chakra and I attach the sterile cord. We are ready.
I reach for a short lead to attach to the seated Leatherman’s collar and bring him closer. At that moment, I am surprised to discover that it is not my lead I hold in my hands, but Mark Thompson’s. Sam had put in on the cart along with my floggers, and other implements. The words flow out of my mouth: “This lead was Mark’s.” Advocate, pioneer in the Leather scene, writer, and also my mentor, Mark died a few months ago. He was close friends with all three of us.
The Slave pulls quite hard against the cord tied to the needles on his chest. His body is shaking, His right arm and his hand are up in the air reaching for some big energy….I am holding onto Mark’s chain: His presence is palpable! The three of us have tears in our eyes. The Priestess in me knows that we are in a place that is not a place, we are between the worlds. We honor The Leatherman in Mark and truly let him go. Love never dies!
Right after our unexpected emotional experience, I am told that I turned to the students and said, “I’m sorry, but this just got very real and we had to go with it.”
I think if Mark were still here reading all these online discussions about whether kink is the umbrella term and leather is a subset, and who should hold what contest where, he would want us to recognize the magic we create is what really matters. With love and concern for each other as well as ourselves, BDSM is a path of pleasure, empowerment and spiritual connections. Thank you Mark.
The Witness writes:
As the flogging gets more intense the room kind of drops away, the tears have reached my mouth, and they’re delicious. I’m super grateful I was given the option to watch and obediently sit still, because I feel like my chest has been opened wide, and any sort of pain or punishment or new emotional sensation would be too much, I’m in such a vulnerable and excited place for everyone there.
The Sassy French Maid writes:
We never know what exactly will unfold in a Scene Dynamics improvisation, and I was bowled over by the power of this one. I started out as a naughty masochist and worked my way up to full-on tease as I flirted with the Diva/Slut; the energy building as Madame flogged the Leatherman and the Slave pleasured the students in their strap-ons. I then assisted the Priestess for the piercing, but cast solemnity to the wind when given the opportunity to flirt with the Witness, who was admirably chaste. As a result, I got sent to stand in a corner for the ritual: Madame did not approve of my hijinks! So it was that I, too, became a witness to the beautiful moments that passed between the Priestess, the Slave and the Leatherman. Though my back was turned, I could see the energy pull through a mirror on the wall. The Diva/Slut, the Witness and I were holding space for the Players in the center of the room. The atmosphere was electric, and the depth of emotion was profound. I, too, had to collect myself at the scene’s end. Tears were rolling down my cheeks, though I had never met Mark Thompson. As we each returned to the here and now, we embraced the other Players with long, satisfying deeply human hugs. What a journey!
The students scenes that evening were strong and beautiful.
In kink, with heart, and leather pride,
The next Erotic Dominance Intensive weekend is for Women Tops and Switches April 22–23 at the SF Citadel, the the Men’s Intensive weekend will follow June 10–11, 2017. Apply at www.sm-arts.com
A Slave, A Leatherman, A Fetishist/Slut, A French Maid and A Witness was originally published in Leatherati Online on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
by Master Bella and slave rooks
Leather. Love. Cocktails. Laughter. Cocktails.
Those are the words that spring to mind when I recall our weekend at South Carolina Pride in Leather. Cocktails are thrown in there twice for the emphasis on availability. Such that, my Yankee-wired brain interpreted the Saturday morning event titled “Eye Opener” as a chance to catch a couple shots of espresso and a light breakfast. Not so. It was definitely a party-friendly weekend.
In addition, The South Carolina Leather Ambassador title was up for grabs during the relaunch of this event. The contestants Jay Vegas and Troy Johnson hailed from quite different backgrounds and seemed to establish a good rapport with the event attendees. Both contestants brought entertaining fantasy performances and insightful speeches.
[gallery columns=”2" ids=”16436,16437,16438,16439"]
all photos by slave rooks
Breaking convention, the judges awarded both contestants the title. The more you learn about the contestants; the more this decision makes sense. Were it not for their common love of leather, the two contestants could not be more different with respect to their roles and the lifestyle subcultures they have familarity with. By becoming title twins, they will together be able cast a wider net to the greater leather community in their effort to spread the SCLC love.
After the conclusion of the contest the were was a formal dinner featuring a speech from the 2015 American Leather Woman and honored guest, LE. LE provided the attendees with a thought-provoking speech centering around freedom of identity. The evening was later closed with what? Yes, more cocktails. Although this time there was definitely a noted increase in the dancing, bumping, and grinding. We’d retired to our room, but were told we missed some rather amusing interpretive dance to Baby Got Back.
In the end, if you’re looking for a leather event that’s light on the wallet yet heavy on camaraderie be sure to add SCLC for your 2017 travel list. We highly recommend it.
by LE Legirl
October 30, 2016
It is always so wonderful to be here in Albuquerque. When Diane asked me to do the keynote this year, I was honored. When she asked me to teach, I couldn’t say no… and then there was this opportunity to get to know this year’s contestants as a judge…whatever you need! Then she asked me to sing too and I was like “Whoa! Now you are asking too much!” She wasn’t the only person that asked me to sing *cough Kathryn clears throat Gary*… and well, I hate to disappoint anyone so I will sing a little something.
To be or not to be? That is not the question. I decided long ago to be. With me, it’s what to be. Make me some suggestions. Good or bad, which is the best for me!?
In all seriousness, it is surreal to be here before all of you today. Albuquerque is where I grew up as a Leather person. Being here is being home. Many of you have been through it all with me… watching me grow up, fall, and get back up. For that, I am thankful and comforted. For those reasons, I know I can be completely honest about my experiences and I know you will be there with me.
I had the honor of judging this weekend and a question I asked of many of the contestants was “what can you achieve with this title that you cannot do without the title?” In interviews, there are no right or wrong answers; the questions are just ways to get to know the contestants… but we all have experiences and personal truths and mine is — nothing. There is nothing I accomplished with the title that I was unable to accomplish prior to being a titleholder.
As a matter of fact, in some ways, I feel like I did less in the last year than I had in the past. My time was focused on traveling, showing up, helping out wherever possible and trying to positively represent a title that meant something to me as a gay Leather woman. It wasn’t really less of an achievement but different accomplishments.
Before I competed at American Brotherhood Weekend:
I wrote the draft of the membership bylaws for NM Leather League.
I served on the Rio Grande Leather organization committee as volunteer coordinator and hospitality coordinator.
I co-founded girls of Leather: Albuquerque Metro (gLAM).
From what I was able to recollect, I attended 69 events/conferences — The event I competed at was my 70th conference!
I went to events in US and Canada in 17 different states or provinces.
I didn’t just show up at these events, I volunteered, staffed, performed, handled folks, taught, fund raised…
I did this “little thing” for the International Ms Bootblacks where I organized and coordinated fundraisers across North America, raising thousands of dollars, flew the bubbas out for this celebration, paid for flights, rooms, and seeded the funding for the IMsBB documentary “High Shine”…
Those are just a few accomplishments since living here in Albuquerque; never mind the experiences from when I was in New England!
Yet, before the sash, I would go to events with 15+ years of experiences, and would be told I didn’t belong. Other times, I was fortunate enough to have been offered opportunities to teach but then my classes weren’t always well attended because no one knew who I was and well there was a titleholder with half the experience was teaching at that same time. I plugged away and did the best I could; shared myself and my passions with those that attended and hoped that I would be asked to return. I was proud of the work I had done.
Everything I had done was to contribute back to a community that created a home for me. None of it was done to gain recognition … but it does hurt to not be seen or worse be rejected as a Leather person — a fundamental part of my identity.
So here I was at my 70th event, despite all that work I have done, regardless of all that I had accomplished, I heard mumblings of being referred to as the “dark horse” and “underdog” when I ran for American Leatherwoman last year. Of those competing for this National title, I was the only one that did not have a Leather title. I was the unknown. In some ways, this was a good thing; there was an element of surprise. No one knew what to expect of me. Admittedly, it disappointed me. There was no reason for me to be “the dark horse”; I was just as, if not more, experienced than some of the other people on the stage. But this is the reality of the situation in our community. I was always the girl behind the curtain and most people don’t pay attention to those that are not in the spotlight. Some do… and I know who you are! But we really put the sash on a pedestal.
My title year was AMAZING. I had so much fun and laughter in my travels. But, my title year was very different than that of my sash husband and sash boy. Their travel schedule was primarily dictated by invites to judge or various forms of participation at different events around the world. Whereas, I didn’t get a lot of invites. I reached out to events and expressed interest in attending with very little response or feedback. If I only went to events in which I was invited to attend, I would have gone to maybe five events all year.
I shaped my own experiences and made my title year what it was. I determined which events I would attend and simply showed up. Sometimes, I even paid full registration and still volunteered my time. At the end of the day, when I laid down on that unfamiliar mattress in Somewhere, USA; I was damn proud. I wouldn’t have experienced this if I didn’t show up; but as anyone that has ever been on the under-represented side of the equation knows, sometimes just showing up is. Fucking. Hard.
My experiences could have been different. I could have been upset that I wasn’t invited but I am not. I could have gone on Facebook and bitched about inequities or woes of not being included or recognized. But that isn’t me and what would that accomplish? This is a reality in which I, a femme leather dyke, am working in and I made the most of my year and had a phenomenal fucking time doing it. I cherish every moment of the experience.
But how was this any different than before I was sashed?
During my first mini-tour of the year, Bob Miller, the co-founder of CLAW (Cleveland Leather Awareness Weekend) was presented with the Leather Leadership Award at Creating Change in Chicago. I went to the event to stand with him in support. At Creating Change, one of the attendees approached me and said “I’ve met lots of Leather men but I have never met a Leather woman before.” I smiled and replied “Oh we exist; we normally don’t walk around with a sign announcing we are Leather woman.” It was at that moment, that I realized the spotlight that was on me. I represented what some people conceptualized as what a Leather woman is. It was also indicative of how Leather woman were often overlooked and unnoticed.
Then there were all the “She’s with us” moments. I heard that more in the last year than I had in the last 20 years. I walked into a primarily men’s event; I hadn’t yet registered and the men working security let me in when they saw my sash because “she’s with us”. Another time, I was walking from one hotel to another and got picked up along the way because you know girl shoes aren’t really made for walking and again I heard “she’s with us”.
There were countless other “she’s with us” moments. For the first time, I felt welcomed everywhere I went; I was seen as a Leather woman. While I try to shrug this off, the fact is that I should not have to be wearing a sash to be seen as a Leather person. It is hard to not have this heavy realization that the only reason some people even see me is because I was wearing this sign that I am a Leather woman and when that goes away will I be seen again?
Throughout the year, I had many memorable experiences like when Bob Miller persuaded me to host the BDSM speed dating session at CLAW. I was nervous and worried. I fretted over the idea that the men would not take kindly to this very femme woman being in their space. Honoring spaces is important to me; and the gay men need their space! Yet here was Bob Miller telling me “it will be great!” and “you are perfect for it”. I arrived at the men’s play space, set up the room for speed dating, explained to the men how speed dating worked, and created a space so the men could get to know each other.
I was relieved and elated that the men had a good time and that I was not an imposition. One of the coordinators said that of all the sessions, my speed dating session had the most play. He also confessed that before that session, he would never play if there was a woman in the space but felt very comfortable with me and would have no problems if I was there.
Why is that?
Perhaps it was the super power skills attained from being the girl behind the curtain for so many years; making play happen and not needing the attention on me? But why does having boobs and a vagina create such an issue that some men will go out of their way, approach me in a hotel lobby, to tell me that I don’t belong and should leave? Why is it that with a sash I am welcomed and seen to the extent of acceptance and inclusion?
Leather woman are not as visible; less so are femme Leather woman. People that look like me are not pictured in Tom of Finland fantasies. One of the issues that we face is that we aren’t always dressed in full leathers because frankly cute clothing in my size is not found on racks in most vendor marts. Aside from corsets that are not necessarily leather, everything has to be custom made or ordered online from China and then tailored. I can’t afford it; many women cannot afford it. But never mind all that! Why should how I dress define me as a Leather person?
Some of these experiences may have nothing to do with being woman or being femme. There is something really wrong when we endorse someone with a sash regardless of their experience, service to the community and behavior meanwhile we invalidate and suppress those that are and have been working hard without a sash.
These experiences are symptoms of a bigger problem. We talk about valuing things like Honor, Respect, Integrity, Honesty, Authenticity, Service…; how do we express that as individuals in our day to day lives?
When women are devalued and rejected, how is that an expression of any of those values?
How does the lack of leather clothing insinuate that someone is less of a Leather person if we are truly living these core values?
What value are we expressing when we immediately invite and elevate someone that looks a certain way and are dismissive and create extra challenges for anyone of under-represented and marginalized groups to prove that they are worthy?
When we consider these core values, we are failing when we indiscriminately honor and admire a person with a sash with little consideration of who they are as people first. When we do this, we are valuing things like grandiosity, need for admiration, power and success. What does any of that have to with Honor? Respect? Integrity? Honesty? Authenticity? Service?
Serving the community as a titleholder is an amazing opportunity but the sash is not and should not be the defining factor of someone’s worthiness. Being a titleholder is not a reward, it is a role. As I see it, the way that our community works is similar to wall climbing challenge in bootcamp. There are people on the ground helping lift others up and over the wall, the titleholder has the role of the person at the top of the wall helping people up and over these obstacles, and then there are people on the other side of the wall assisting others as they come down. Every role is vital and no one person is more essential than the other and at some point, the titleholder has to lower themselves down and serve their community in other ways because it is a new year and there is a new obstacle to overcome … together.
The sash, clothing, heritage, skin tone, body size, s-type, D-type, or what is between my legs does not define my worthiness or my ability to contribute to this incredible community; nor should any of these things define anyone else. Our core values and how we express those values is what shapes us and defines who we are as a person, family member, community member or contributor.
“To be or not to be? That is not the question. I decided long ago to be.”
I decided long ago to be me, to serve the community, and to live true to those core values. How are your thoughts, words, actions aligned or misaligned with your core values? What do you value and are you living authentically to those values? Because when it comes down to it, the question we have to ask ourselves is “to be or not to be?”
LE Legirl Leather Fiesta Keynote “To Be or Not To Be” was originally published in Leatherati Online on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.