Predators and Prey

Posted: January 21, 2014 in BDSM, general

There’s that moment, when the predator has caught his or her prey and holds it still in their talons or claws or teeth. The desperate thrashing has ceased and the two are alone, any other prey fleeing and any other predators keeping a wary distance. This moment is intimate and sacred between the two of them. They are the last moments the prey will have and it will spend them with no one else besides the creature that brought the prey to this moment. Both breathing hard, covered in the wounds of the struggle, they regard each other for a moment that stretches into something much more profound.

I was watching a nature show this weekend and it occurred to me that I felt almost like a voyeur. The moment between these wild animals as one prepared to end the life of another was striking in its intimacy, almost like watching people having sex or a really profound hot scene. These two animals looked into each other’s eyes with no pretense, both of them seeing the other for what they truly were. I realized that this is how most wild animals eventually die, in the grip of a hungry predator, eager for their flesh, but as I watched that final moment, it also seemed like there was some kind of understanding and respect passing between them just before the prey’s life met its brutal end. My mind immediately went to scenes I have had, both as predator and as prey and how that moment, that exact moment of barren honesty, is EXACTLY what I crave from a scene.

No one knows an animal better than its predator. It is the predator’s job to know it’s prey better than that prey knows itself. Any hunter can tell you that in order to make a kill, you first have to understand the animal you are stalking. You learn their habits, their environment, their deepest likes and dislikes. You follow them and know them until you can slip seamlessly into their environment, disappearing to them. You must watch them and you have to be patient enough to wait until the right moment. It’s not unlike the singleminded obsession of a person in love. There is lust in blood lust.

When the moment to strike finally arrives, there is struggle, each side pitting all their strength and endurance into the fight. The prey can only give everything they have, but the predator must constantly measure whether this potential meal is worth the fight or if it’s wiser to retreat and save their energy for something else. The contest between them is brutal and only ends if the prey evades the predator, the predator decides the prey isn’t worth the fight anymore, or the prey is caught. How many times have I felt that awful, delicious dread in the beginning of a scene, of knowing that the predator is drawing near and there is no escape. I pit my strength against theirs, but secretly, unlike the wild animal fighting for its very life, I hope I will lose. I long for what comes after, that embrace, to look into the predator’s eyes and feel them looking into mine, knowing me completely.

I long to be known, in a way that is deeper and more penetrative than the biblical sense of knowing. I long to be known in a way that goes beyond the physical and is reached when my defenses are ripped open by the brutal attack, my very soul laid bare. I long to be brought to that end, to be known, and held tightly. In that moment, after the struggle, when I have given my all and given in and let the pain just flow over me in waves, waves that crash over my head, so far above that I no longer feel their impact, that is where we meet. That is where I find peace in the grip of the predator or I finally am able to take a breath and regard my prey. In that moment, we look into each other’s eyes and I struggle no more.

Unlike the wild animals, I will live after this moment and live to relive it again and again, each time reaching this singular moment where we are more naked than mere humans can be. We are our most primitive, basic selves together and those primitive, basic selves accept what the other has to give. I claim or am claimed and there is healing in that acceptance. Their is nourishment beyond a meal caught and devoured. Our souls feed on each other.

And we are both satisfied.

Back In My Leathers

Posted: October 22, 2012 in bootblacking, general, Titleholding

This weekend, I went to a small group to present. As I packed, I pulled my title vest out of the closet. I hadn’t worn it in months, since April to be more exact. The year before, it was rare a weekend went by that I didn’t wear it. I ran my hands over the leather and lifted it to my face, inhaling the scent of it, feeling the texture of it. My mind flooded with memories, so many memories of so many people and places and intense experiences. I placed the vest in my suitcase and I packed my bootblacking kit.

As I chose what to take and what to leave home, the scent of all my favorite products filled the air. I remembered specific people and their boots and leathers and what they liked used on them. I remembered boot scenes that left me breathing hard and I remembered long days of bootblacking that left me sore. I looked at the tool box I carry my kit in, that served as a carryon on countless flights. It is dinged up and one of the clasps is bent from a particularly rough flight.

On Saturday, I put on my leathers again and felt them fit me like a glove. The chaps were broken in by me and the leather has been cleaned and conditioned countless times, by me or, when I’m lucky, by other bootblacks who gave me a wonderful scene doing it. It is like a second skin. I put on my title vest and remembered who I am. I stood in front of a class and talked about my travels and what I’d learned on them and I did an erotic bootblacking demo and felt that old spark re-ignite the same as it always has.

My Leather had receded back into a deeper part of me, but it never left me. It sustained me through everything I needed to go through this past year. It was a hidden inner strength, but there is something wrong if that inner strength must always be hidden from view. There is something wrong if the parts of me that feel the most natural and the most alive must be buried in order for me to be accepted. There is something wrong if I have to dumb myself down and dull myself down in order to fit in. This weekend was proof of who and what I am and where I belong and that is in my leathers that fit me so well.

I am not a housecat or a tame creature and those who love me best wouldn’t want me to be. I was made to stalk my prey in the dim, smoky light of a leatherbar. I was made to growl and snarl and devour when I make love. I was made to be a wanderer, always seeking the outer edges of what I can feel and experience. Anything else and I’m simply restricting the whole of what I am to fit into a tight little mold that wasn’t made for me.

I am not going back to those restrictions. I am going back to my Leather, where I belong.

Commitment?

Posted: September 2, 2011 in general

Commitment is often considered a dirty word in our world.  We live in a world that is a dance of constantly changing partners and often, commitment seems like a word more suited to the vanilla world, but I’d like to explore the idea of how this concept applies to BDSM and Leather, regardless of how we formulate the boundaries of our relationships.  I’ve been reading a book recently that is geared entirely towards extremely vanilla, monogamous relationships.  It’s so straight that even the book jacket doesn’t know how to dress itself.  ;)  Still, this book has some profound ideas that cross boundaries for me.

The author points to what he sees as an epidemic in modern life that continues to destroy relationships.  To him, this is all rooted in a growing inability for people to commit…to anything.  When you think about it, previous generations formed their lives around commitments.  Most men not only remained in the same career or vocation throughout their lives, but they often worked for the same company for that entire span of time.  People lived in the same city throughout their lives or the same community.  Moving was a rare thing.  People remained in lousy marriages and maintained long term family ties, healthy or not.  In general, people remained the same religion they were raised in and sought partners of the same, raising their children the same.

For better or for worse, there was a lot of continuity there.  Even immigrants coming to the United States in the 1800’s could expect to bring their cultures with them, settle in an area with other immigrants, and live their lives in much the same way.

We live in a different world today, entirely different.  The average worker can expect to change careers several times in their lives, let alone simply changing companies or jobs.  People move freely depending on where work is available or where they feel they fit in culturally.  People go back to college, change majors, change religions, change their eye color.  We live in a world where our identity is fluid and we are whatever we choose to make of ourselves, no longer bound to how or where we are born or how or where we were raised.  We evolve constantly, cultural and intellectual nomads.  Live is a mashup where we pick and choose from everything available, add our own spin on it, and synthesize our own reality into something new and unique.

All this brings wonderful freedom for us to be individuals, to fully live our lives as best fits us.  However, like any great gift, it comes at a cost and most often, I think, that cost is felt when it comes to social cohesion.  We have lost the ability to commit, both within our romantic lives, partner to partner, but also to commit to friendships, to group affiliations, to communities.  The book I am reading, given it’s very narrow perspective, criticizes having a large number of sexual partners before settling down with one partner for life, not because of a moral imperative so much as the idea that having so much experience and variety in one’s sex life leads us to be able to objectively judge our partners.  We know what’s out there, so it’s difficult to focus on what we have rather than what we might be missing out on.  I don’t quite ascribe to such a narrow point of view as the author, but I do see his point.  It often seems like so many people are with one partner or poly group or Leather club or Leather family, yet always have their eyes open, looking for the better deal that might come along.  With so many options and it being so easy to move between affiliations, often we find it difficult to focus solely on where we are now, who we are with, what patch is on our back, and where our heart will rest.

We are restless nomads.

In this way, I think we can take the idea of commitment and peel away some of the cultural baggage surrounding it.  Commitment doesn’t have to mean a single lover paired with one other, wedding rings, or white picket fences, but that does not mean that it isn’t relevant to our lives still.  Commitment can be a choice to give of ourselves fully, without reservation, to those relationships and groups that we do choose to have in our lives, to willingly put on blinders and be loyal to those we are with, be they lovers, play partners, family, or club members.  It means not only giving of ourselves fully, but also accepting the other, faults and all, imperfections and irritations.  It means taking a leap of faith, not knowing where the path will lead us, but devoting ourselves to follow it together, good, bad, or otherwise.

I believe we in Leather and BDSM have definitely brought sexy back…how about we work on commitment now?  Commitment without the stuffiness, without holier than thou church ladies disguised in Leather, but commitment that leads us to deeper, more lasting relationships with each other that enable us to travel further into the deep depths of play and power exchange as well as to care for each other through the tough times, even when we annoy the hell out of each other, as all good families do.

Personally, I’m committing myself to doing this in my own life and trying to stop the ways I’ve held back in the past, being tentative with associations I’ve made.  I’m ready to go all in and roll the dice.  I’m ready to do it because I realize that in order to gain everything, I need to be willing to risk everything.  Commitment that is only partial only leads to partial rewards from our relationships and I believe that a life lived only partially simply isn’t worth it.

What are you committed to?

This weekend I was honored to judge the Bootblack Toronto contest as part of Toronto Leather Pride.  It was an amazing weekend of Leather and brotherhood and it was also my first time attending a rubber contest.  I had a whole lot of fun hanging out with the contestants for Mr. Rubber Toronto and even got into the spirit by purchasing and wearing my first piece of rubber, a very nice corset top from Northbound.  It’s always fun to discover a new fetish and I certainly think I have.  I loved the look of the rubber, the shininess, the texture as I rubbed it.  The longer I wore it, the more I enjoyed the sensations, the way cool stone felt through it, the way I could feel someone touching me as if I were naked, the way it felt like a second skin.  I even enjoyed the way it snapped against the skin when pulled and the way my sweat felt under it.  Yes…I think I’m a newfound rubber fetishist and I’ll likely be getting more pieces.

After the contests, I was spending some quality time with a bootblack friend of mine.  I was wearing my leather chaps and boots with my new rubber top and feeling very feisty.  She was wearing a lovely outfit that reminded me of a saloon girl from hell, along with a pair of lace ups leather boots that ended at her knees.  Together, I think we made quite the striking pair of Leathergirls.  An older leatherman I didn’t know came up to us, wearing his boots, jock strap, and harness and we greeted him with smiles.  A bit into his cup, he proceeded to tell us that, basically, we weren’t wearing enough leather to be Leatherfolk.  Granted, I think the gentleman had already begun celebrating that day, but I had to explain to him that, indeed, my chaps were leather.  After I politely smiled and thanked him for his advice, he thanked us for “continuing his traditions” and we parted ways.

Have you ever had one of those times when, after the fact, you think of a dozen different comebacks to a comment?  My entire plane ride home I thought of them.

To begin with, both my friend and I each had, per square inch, more actual cow on than the gentleman in question.  However, I don’t really think that is the point here.  The point that I think this fellow was missing was that Leather is about more than just the garments we wear.  During the weekend, I saw a very highly respected Leatherman have to attend most of the contests in a business suit due to his work schedule.  Not only did I not view this man as any less Leather in his smartly tailored suit, but in fact, he definitely looked hot and certainly would have pleased any suit fetishists in the crowd!  Throughout the contest, two incredible Leathermen wore rubber and vied for the Mr. Rubber Toronto title, as much a part of the Leather contests and Toronto Leather Pride celebrations as any other of the title contestants.  These men were no less Leather when in their rubber.  I doubt anyone would say that a Leatherman in nothing but his boots is somehow magically no longer a Leatherman.

Leather is more than the hides we wear on our backs, no matter what our gender.  My companion and I did not somehow hack out our hearts or our spirits when we put on rubber or lace.  We did not turn our backs on our Leather brothers and sisters and somehow change our identities.  We were there, at the bootblack stands, wearing what satisfied our fetishes of the day, celebrating and reveling in our community together with other Leatherfolk.  I know I didn’t feel any different just because I chose a rubber shirt versus a leather corset, except perhaps that I was sweating more underneath it.  I still felt the same sexual, primal energy I always do when I put on my gear and go out to play.  I think that when our definitions of what a Leatherperson should or shouldn’t look like become so rigid that they get in the way of the full expression of the sexual deviance and kinks that brought us to Leather in the first place, we may begin defining ourselves out of existence.

Naked or clothed, even in corporate drag, Leather is something that goes far beneath the skin.  I think I will continue to add to my rubber wardrobe…after all, it mixes so well with leather chaps, silk corsets, and bare skin.  In the end, though, I’m glad I erred on the side of politeness with the nice man who didn’t mean to ruffle my feathers, but instead to offer advice.  After all, if there’s one thing I can agree with him about Leather, it’s that we all have our opinions and should rightfully and respectfully express them.

Besides, anyone who’s seen me dance knows I do some stupid things when I drink!  (Big box, little box, goldfish!)  ;)

Woman of the Year?

Posted: August 7, 2011 in general, Titleholding

pan the on

1. A temple dedicated to all the gods.
2.  The gods of a people;  especially: the officially recognized gods
3.  A group of illustrious or notable persons or things

Friday night, while I recovered from ILSb/ICBB at home, nursing a sunburn and blissfully out of touch with the world, I was given the great honor of being named Pantheon of Leather Woman of the Year.  Given the names nominated and the list of previous years’ award winners, this has definitely caused me some cognitive dissonance.  Even if we follow the third definition of pantheon, that of a group of illustrious or notable persons, I still can’t help but feel some kind of “twilight zone”-like feeling at my name being on that list.  Let’s go back to Miriam Webster for a moment…

il lus tri ous

1.  notably or brilliantly outstanding because of dignity or achievements or actions : Eminent
2.  archaic
a.  shining brightly with light
b.  clearly evident

Ok, here we find something that I think I can live with, tying me to the Pantheon…shining brightly with light.  Throughout this year, I honestly feel like I have done what any other Leatherperson in my place would have done.  I took the opportunities and responsibilities given to me and I did the best I could with them.  Even better, I spent a lot of this year smiling and laughing and sharing the things I am passionate about with others.  I was given a chance to shine by people who took a chance on me and I did my best to do so.

When I look around myself, to those who have stood by me in the shadows, supporting me while I was in the spotlight, I see so many more deserving of honors and recognition.  I see people who every day make the choice to do what is right over the choice to do what is easy.  I see people who stick to their own moral code even when everyone else around them disagrees.  I see people who quietly do the work that gets events put on and people fed and money raised.  I see slaves and boys who serve with a quiet dignity, without expectation of reward.  I see Leathermen and women who don’t need their names called out or a back patch to be who they are and who don’t need a title or a label to tell them how they should behave.

And then I wonder, thinking of all of them, picturing their faces in my own mind, why, with all of them, am I honored?

Thinking like that, though, is about as useful as wondering why one person is spared hardship over another.  What is useful, though, is instead focusing on what use I can be to those who weren’t honored, but still are more than worthy.  I’ll admit, I’m not the best at service that fades into the background.  I can continue what I’ve begun, albeit with less traveling across the country.  I can continue to shine as brightly as I can in whatever corner of the world I am in.  I can continue to try to focus on what positive I can bring to those around me, rather than simply joining the chorus of criticism that all too often drowns out hope.

Mostly, though…I can try to learn from those I admire and just…be, simply being me, without a title, without a label, but with a heart and a will to serve others.  I see this honor as a challenge to keep learning and growing and to continue to give back to the community that has given me so much.

And I’m always up for a new challenge.  ;)

I’m packing my mantel tonight, to prepare for the flight to ICBB/ILSb in San Francisco where I will hand it to one unsuspecting bootblack Saturday night.  Anyone who’s worn it can attest that it is a frightfully heavy thing.  It’s beautifully crafted and bears the weight of significance, but it’s also physically…a lot of dead cow to carry on your shoulders.  I will admit that it’s not quite as heavy as the huge sashes the rest of my title family, the International Leather Sir and Leather boy wear, but it’s heft has accompanied on my travels this year, a constant physical reminder of the weight of the title I have borne since last July.

When Sir Evan, ICBB 2009, first laid the mantel around my shoulders last year, it didn’t seem that heavy.  It seemed a comfortable weight, like a hug from the Leathermen and women who stood smiling around me.  It was only as the months wore on that I began to appreciate the weight that it, and an International Leather title inherently have.  They are not light things to carry with you, but a responsibility.  It was one that I was proud at times to carry and at others humbled.  It was one that taught me lessons I never could have learned any other way.  It was a weight that challenged me to grow stronger so that I could carry it the distance.  As the months grew on, I became more and more aware of the weight, feeling it more and more as my own endurance wore down, but at the same time, I was grateful that I had been chosen to carry it.  Each time I carefully folded it into my toolbox to carry on the plane, I touched the leather with a lingering caress, remembering those who had judged me worthy of carrying it and hoping that they still felt the same.  Each time I had to take it out for TSA to inspect, I did so without blushing and with my chin held defiantly high, glad to be able to show them a Leatherwoman unashamed to carry a symbol of her people, her tribe.

That mantle gave me special powers.  It gave me the power to kiss my Master goodbye yet another time and leave my home, barely having unpacked from the last trip.  It gave me energy when I thought I had none left.  It gave me inspiration when I felt like my spirit had been crushed, when there just weren’t enough tears for the pain.  It gave me the determination to see things through and to travel more than I ever have in a year and it gave me the courage to step up onto countless stages and to look countless Leathermen in the eye…and try to give to them some of the magic that had been given to me, some of that inspiration and determination.  That mantle has been my magic feather for the last year and now it is time to see if I can fly alone.

I pack my mantle for the last time, but I have to honestly say that I do not regret giving it up.  It’s time.  I have done all that I can do as ICBB and it is time for someone else, someone new to shape this title and to put their mark on it.  I look forward to seeing all the wonders they will accomplish wearing this mantle.  I hope that it brings them the strength they need when they feel weak and that they feel the weight of it compelling them to be their best just as I did.  Most of all, though, I hope it takes them to as many wonderful adventures as it did me.  For me, my path leads onward in it’s own direction, mostly back to my Master.  Just as I was never meant to keep the mantle, it was on loan to me, the mantle was never meant to keep me or define me as a person, a bootblack, a slave, or a Leatherperson.  I was on loan to it as well and it is time for me to be returned back to my rightful owner and to resume my place at his feet.

I am grateful for the chance to reach out to bootblacks across the country and to show people my passion for bootblacking.  I don’t see myself being able to stay away from the bootblack stands for long, even though I likey will take a short break to resupply my poor kit!  However, from now on, I’m happy to encourage others to stand out and I’m very much looking forward to fading into the background a bit.  We have a wonderful ICBB 2011 class and I’m certain that whomever is chosen to wear this mantle will wear it proudly and will use it in their own way to benefit their fellow bootblacks and to promote this artform we all love.

As for me…I’ll have more room in my return suitcase…and I’m sure San Francisco will help me fill that up.  ;)

Poison Speech

Posted: July 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

This post is not about my own personal trials and tribulations with the infamous Leather rumor mill or gossip circles, but instead a comment on a cultural phenomena that has always troubled me within Leather.  Truth be told, I’ve actually fared better than most during my title year and the experiences I’ve had have been, in the majority, overwhelmingly positive.

But there is a darkness within our community.

We all know someone, regardless of where we live or what community groups we are active with or which runs we go to.  We all know someone who seems to gain their power from always trying to find the worst in others…and then make sure everyone else knows about it.  These people willfully choose to live in a world of negativity and are eager to bring others into it with them.  They are quick to judge and feel righteous in their self-appointed positions of judgment.  In their own minds, they are doing the community a great service by “calling people out,” and that service is so righteous that it justifies any amount of cruelty in the process.  In effect, they believe that the misdeeds of others, real or imaginary, makes their own misdeeds in pointing them out not only justified, but somehow to be praised and the more public this spectacle is, the better they find it and the more their feelings of righteous indignation are fueled.

Sadly, every community has stories of these people.  Even more sadly, most of us do very little about it.  I will admit I have been guilty myself of not speaking up when I heard someone else’s reputation being trashed for public entertainment.  Most often, my reasons for staying silent were fear.  I was afraid I would be next if I spoke up.  Given that anyone who does speak up to these sorts of people is likely to become their next target, my fears were justified.  Instead, I tried to console the victims and pacify the attackers, hoping that all would come to a place where they were beyond all this.  I tried to remain Switzerland in an ongoing war zone.  While that strategy often got me praise for being “above the drama” and also kept me out of the sniper’s sights…in retrospect, was it really the “right” stance to take?

Ancient religions actually deal a lot at great length with this kind of behavior.  Buddhism and Judaism both speak of it at length.  In Judaism, this kind of behavior is called “lashon hara” which loosely translates from Hebrew to mean “evil tongue” or “evil speech.”  Interestingly enough, in Judaism, it doesn’t even matter if the gossip is true, if you’re spreading it to hurt someone else, you’re in violation of the law.  In other laws, they go so far as to say that embarrassing a person or destroying their good name is akin to murder.  Buddhism, which in general tries to take a more positive view on human behavior, speaks of it when they talk of “right speech,” but also points out that intentionally destroying a person’s reputation is similar to killing that person.

Seems pretty severe, doesn’t it, to equate trashing someone’s name or reputation with murder?

Why were the ancients so worried about gossip, even true gossip?  In both cases, we’re talking about groups of people that were socially ostracized from the people around them, often to the point where they had to fear anyone outside their own group.  They were discriminated against and in many places even had to fear the local authorities, simply because of who they were and what they believed.  Sound vaguely familiar?  These people had to stick together for mutual survival, whether they liked each other or not.  They had to function as a cohesive group in order to protect themselves from outside forces and to pass on their traditions to the next generation.  In that kind of society, this kind of gossip and slander could have the power to fracture communities and create divisions that would eventually allow the outside pressures to destroy the community, so the wise leaders of these communities (or divine law, if you prefer) decided that this kind of speech had to be dealt with swiftly and seriously.

So does this mean that people should not have free speech?  What about the First Amendment?

Even free speech has boundaries, even in America.  You can’t use it to incite violence or yell fire in a crowded movie theater.  The supreme court is even working on ruling on whether or not you can use it to bully a high school classmate into committing suicide.  Sure, most of the bullying and gossip we see is likely legal…but does that make it right?  Is “calling someone out” worth the destruction these people often cause within our communities?  I know from experience that it’s easy to sit back and stay out of it, but what about when the sharp tongues turn on you or those you love?  Is our silence worth the price then?

I wish I had a nice easy answer to this problem to type out here.  This problem has obviously been around as long as humans have gathered together, but I do know that I see some of its worst representations within the very Leather I love so deeply.  I have seen behavior from people I have respected that would make a Junior High girl accustomed to dishing out bullying blush and give pause.  I have also seen noble men and women silently suffer it, taking the higher road when met with those who only take the lower.  Mostly, though, I’ve seen a whole lot of those of us who see it, but feel powerless or afraid to stop it or stand up to it.

I guess Leather doesn’t work well as armor against others wearing it.