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I hate The Snarling Misanthrope*

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Oct 22, 2008 in Uncategorized

That bastard TSM (The Snarling Misanthrope) tagged me to tell you all seven little known facts about myself. While I normally would do this in my ComatoseJournal, I’ll do it here so everyone can see it, and therefore allow me to embarrass myself to the whole world instead of my FiendsList.

1. I have never been off of the North American continent.  Until this year, the most I’d done is gone to Toronto twice.
2. I never graduated high school, but I scored a 99% on my GED tests, and a 1340 on my SAT – so they let me into a four year college anyhow.
3. I used to be a professional stained glass artist. I wasn’t good at it.  At least I didn’t kill anyone with molten solder.
4. When I fantasize about how my life could be massively different, I picture myself as a professional singer, or an independently wealthy woman with a vacation house that I’d throw weekend parties at.
5. I can’t imagine sharing a bedroom with anyone ever again, now that I’ve had one to myself for so long. It’s so bad that when a lover comes over, I have to remove the books, notepads, and cats from the other half of the bed to make room for them.
6. I’d love to give birth to a baby; I’m just not so keen on raising it by myself.  I’d be one of those crazy moms – the ones that embarrass their children regularly by bouncing down the street in the Buick, blasting Beastie Boys or something.  Then, they’d grow up to be ultra-conservative republicans, and you’d all blame me for ruining the next generation.
7. I really do like romance.  Whaddya know – a butch who just wants to get flowers and be told she’s beautiful an’ shit.  Don’t tell, ‘k?

*Oh, and TSM?  Send me flowers, and all will be forgiven.  If you don’t…your Boba Fett action figure will be melted by a frustrated artists’ soldering iron.

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What Is Leather Worth?

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Oct 22, 2008 in Leather, relationships, teaching

My friend, Edward Dain, is one of those people that I love to listen to, and to read. I hang out at his home a few times a year with his family, we mutter on the phone about the trials and tribulations of life, and I send him adult movies from my collection to share with his partners…so I guess you could say that we’re friends. He’s also one of my more thoughtfully prolific FiendsList members on my ComatoseJournal, so I get to read his processing on occasion, and a while back, I asked him to expand on one of his posts. He graciously agreed to do so, and he sent it to me a few days back. I wanted to share it with you all, so this week, he is going to challenge your brains, instead of me. I’m putting his bio & contact info below the essay, so if you’d like to contact him and carry forward the discussion, please feel free to do so!

What Is Leather Worth

Without falling prey to some sort of fannish worship of that which never was, I do find some of the values of “Old Guard Leather” (as a variety of people describe them) to be important on a personal and a community level – and congruent with the values held by the people who had a strong impression on me when I was first entering the Scene. These values continue to be equally, if not more, important to me now as well. Some people might say that this makes me an elitist. I say that it takes more than words or a membership card to be part of the tribe.

And before anyone thinks that I am in any way or sense claiming to be “Old Guard Leather”, let me give them a virtual slap upside the head. I would likely give an Old Guard Leatherman hives – I am so far afield from that community (or even the not-so-New Leather either) that it is rather amazing that I even identify as a Leatherman. But that’s also a function of time and space. There is no Old Guard now. The few that survived passed through a hell of blood and tears and were irrevocably changed as a result.

It is a different world now, the community that defined them is gone, and I was never part of it.

For those of you who want to follow along at home, I would suggest reading Guy Baldwin’s essay, “Old Guard”: It’s Origins, Traditions, Mystique and Rules“, his presentation at the 6th Leather Leadership Conference, and Joseph W. Bean’s essay “Old Guard? If You Say So”. Those are decent enough places to start.

These values are what speak to me-

Clothing: Leather was the marker, but you had to earn it. Collars, Covers, Flagging, it all has its roots here. Oh – and don’t scare the old ladies.

Do you know why I don’t wear more Leather? Because unless I’m riding, I haven’t freaking earned it yet. Boots and belt are the basics, and I skate by with the jacket and gloves because I ride and do rough body play. My slave Keris has been in my service for over almost two years now and has one piece of Leather other than her chain – though truth to be told, she deserves another piece at this point. I’ve just been looking for the right one.

And if you can’t wear it where you work, it has no place on the street. If you have a question, then change when you get to where you’re going.

Chain? Yes, you read that right. Not all Leather is made of dead animals. Instead of a collar, she wears a custom-made chain around her waist. Much easier to explain, hide, or otherwise pass off in a vanilla setting – instead she gets complimented on her “industrial jewelry.”

And I still flag the way I learned 20+ years ago. It’s hard-coded into my kink – but that is a whole different story.

Manners & Protocol: Bottoms defer to Tops, but “time in grade” is worth more than titles, offices, and leather worn. You give your respect to your elders because they’re your elders “unless and until” they prove that they don’t deserve it. Be polite. If you aren’t then you’re not worthy of respect yourself (even if that other guy was an asshole). The titles that matter don’t come with a sash. Keep your hands to yourself unless given permission otherwise. Don’t be stupid and overindulge in substances, and don’t give the community a bad name for that or any other reason.

Yeah, this sort of thing struck home is a humorous manner when a mutual friend put some tooth-marks on Keris without asking permission soon after she started wearing my chain and my blood-pressure went through the roof. I laughed at myself as I watched the reaction, but it was still there.

And it would be there again if it happened again.

Values and Characteristics: Honesty. Reliability. Honor. Integrity. Generosity of time and spirit. Trustworthiness. Responsibility. Respectful for self and others. Being of sound mind. “A life that worked” aka “Financial Stability”. “Genuine and Personal” “Sense of humor”. Camaraderie. “A sense of appropriateness and good manners.” Wanting to do more than just watch.

Another piece that many people don’t seem to get is the notion that your behavior reflects on those people around you. If Keris acts poorly in public, it’s a poor reflection on me, on our Household, on my Leather Family, and on the Scene. Same thing for me. Same thing for Phoenix, my spouse. We’re part of an organic, dynamic network of Leatherfolk – in a way that many, perhaps most, people in the Pansexual Community just don’t relate to.

What you say and what you do is who you are.

It is just that simple.

Your place in the Leather Community is only as strong as the Leather Family you have. They are the ones who decide if you belong, not you.

It’s more than going to the local Eagle and owning a full set of leathers, a flogger and some nipple clamps.

Leather doesn’t end at the door to the dungeon. If you can take it off at the door to the dungeon, then it’s just a sexy costume – and that’s not Leather.

All of this created and creates a culture of exclusivity instead of the false inclusivity of much of the modern Scene. In theory, and often in practice, there was little or no place for the Five Geek Social Fallacies – because it was dangerous to let the wrong people in. You couldn’t be a member of the in-group until you proved that you were worthy of membership by displaying these characteristics. It also required hunting out the right places and the right people – something that wasn’t anywhere near as easy as it is now.

Similarly, attitude and experience trumps technique. As Gayle Rubin puts it, “Paint By Numbers BDSM” isn’t Leathersex – and that certainly isn’t what I learned I learned and it isn’t what I practice. For those of you who might be wondering, I had never read through or owned a “how-to” book on BDSM or Leathersex until I started graduate school. Aside from a handful of passages from The Leatherman’s Handbook that I had read over the years, all my learning came from three places – doing, being done, and reading porn (I read The Story of O and the Kama Sutra when I was around 10 or 11, I bought a copy of a Marquis de Sade reader when I was 16). Oh, that’s right – I also had the entries, such as they were, on kink from The Joy of Sex and More Joy of Sex. They were certainly informative… not! There was also a big book titled Erotic Art of the East – lots of nice shunga in there as I tend to recall.

Technique is the most easily learned and the least important part of Leather and BDSM. You can teach a monkey technique. You can memorize safety acronyms until you can recite them in your sleep. Attitude is part of an intrinsic learning process not any sort of extrinsic validation of skill.

Sweat. Blood. Tears. Cum. Screams. Moans. Laughter. Growls.

This is where you learn attitude.

Not in a book.

Not taking a class.

Not watching somebody else.

By having your life in someone else’s hands.

That’s what Leather’s worth.

Your life.

The life of your partner.

The lives of your Leather family.

Copyright 2008 by Edward Dain

“Edward Dain” is the long standing pseudonym for a “squicky, neoshamanistic, Ordeal Path, Leatherman.” Also known to describe himself as “so Queer I can curdle milk”, he’s been actively and knowingly kinky long enough to be embarrassed when people ask him when he started – given his tender age of 39. Currently holding a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, he just defended his doctoral dissertation, an interdisciplinary clinical guide to BDSM for mental health counselor. You can reach him at edain (at) squirrelsnest (dot) org.

 
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You CAN teach an old top new tricks!

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Oct 6, 2008 in Uncategorized
(c) 2008. Karen Fletcher

(c) 2008. Karen Fletcher

About seven months ago, I finally hooked up with someone that I’ve known for a few years in the BDSM community.  He’s a rope whore – a sexy, talented rope whore.  And I?  Let’s just say I am not known for my rope bondage.  In fact, I’m known for anything BUT rope.  I cane, I flog (with some grumbling, but I do it), I pierce, I punch, I cut, I fist, I do breath play…but I don’t do rope.

At least, I didn’t, until he and I played with it.  I’d had a problem for years with rope.  See, I’d go into a class and the moment – the very moment – that someone would talk about a knot, my mind would go blank.  My eyes would glaze over.  I’d nod and smile like I understood, but inside of my head, all I’d hear is the sound from the teacher on Peanuts … you know, “bwahh bwahh, buh buh bwahh bwahh bwahh”.  Instead of trying to retain any knowledge, I’d mentally assign it to a place where I put things that I’m willing to deal with but that I find unpleasant – like metro farecards, filing my receipts for tax time, and people who use the term “dominate” as an adjective or noun, not a verb.

Rope bondage became, instead, something that I enjoyed solely from the bottom side.  I’d use rope – sure, in a CBT scene, or to tie the nice leather wrist cuff to an attachment point – but beyond that, nada. Nope.

Being presented with a new play partner who was really, really, really into rope forced me into making a decision – learn it and get more play with him, or not learn it and feel like the kid who sits on the sidelines, wishing he knew how to catch a fly ball or make a game-winning pass into the end zone.   I put my worries out on the table with him – I told him that I didn’t know how to really “do” rope, and while I was willing to learn, I couldn’t promise that it’d stick.  Thankfully, he promised to be patient with my fumbling and help me learn.

I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to actually playing with rope.  He was a partner who was  willing to not only tie me up but to be tied up, and who reminded me that the key was not how many various sailor’s knots I could use but whether or not the bondage held safely & gave me and my bottom pleasure.  A partner that let me make some mistakes, but still enjoyed what I did and came back for more.  A partner who communicated his love for the art and pleasure of rope bondage to me, but did not ever leave me feeling like I was not as good at it as some of his other partners (some of whom I’ve had the pleasure to learn from, myself).  A partner who gave me the space and the time to learn on my own schedule, from as many people as possible, and encouraged me every step of the way.

A few weeks ago, at Spank Festival in Wisconsin, I tied up my friend K. in preparation for her first suspension (she was actually suspended by Leon & Lqqkout, but I tied the harnesses well enough to hold her when they attached the ropes to suspend her).  The week after, I felt comfortable enough to suspend my partner for the first time (mine, of course – I think he suspends himself when he’s bored at home, for goodness sake).  A few weeks later, I suspended him again for a photo shoot, and it went even better.  I’m excited – I have a new skill, and I’m getting (and giving!) pleasure with it.  I had forgotten how much joy it gives me to learn new techniques.

But mostly, I had forgotten how much I learn from my partners – and a good play partner, more than any other single factor, is the key for me when it comes to learning & refining my skills.  Today I’m reflecting on my partners over the years that taught me to be the top that I am now – and I’m feeling very humble and very grateful for the gift of their bodies, spirits, and experience.

 
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New Sex Blog!

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Oct 3, 2008 in Uncategorized

This website was created as a professional & community resource; in the meantime, however, I’ve been blogging a bit about sex.  In order to keep it all in one place, yet give folks a way to choose which they wanted to see, I’ve created a subdomain from this page – http://www.sexblog.sarahsloane.net/ .  The truly non-worksafe – posts about sex, photos, etc. – will be over there from here on out.

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