Archive for the ‘bootblacking’ Category

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.

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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.  😉

Why Bootblacking and Rope?

Posted: May 31, 2011 in bootblacking

Very often, when a group of Leather folk get together, one or two will quietly, out of earshot of their companions, grudgingly admit, “Yes, I like rope…but I’m not a rope person.”  There is often a stereotype of rope people as being only straight, middle aged white guys dressing up in Japanese costumes and tying up skinny little yoga fanatics as enya plays quietly in the background.  It often seems like this is a world that is foreign to most Leathermen and women and most of the Leathermen I know that enjoy rope are rather private about it.  However, I run into enough of them, that I have to think that there are more of them than might be admitting it.

I am a pretty eager rope bottom myself…a rope slut even.  I love being tied up.  I love the smell of rope, the feel of it on my skin, and the tightness as it binds me.  That being said, I rarely, if ever am tied up to Enya and my Master prefers to wear boots and and leather while he ties me.  We also often do rope as part of our other play, so a beautiful shibari tie might be followed by him whipping me, lighting me on fire, or doing some other far more rough and raw type of play.  I love the contrast in that…turning me into a work of art only to tear me up, to me, is hot.

This weekend, as a gift to my Master, I stayed away from the lure of IML with all the leather and bootblacking goodness going on over there and instead spent the weekend at Shibaricon.  To say this was an act of service and submission was an understatement.  My leather brothers and sisters were all so close, just downtown in Chicago, while I was among mostly strangers in a strange land.  There were even furries there and I felt very alone and strange myself in my boots among the rope people.  Yes…I wasn’t in Kansas anymore and I was far outside my Leather comfort zone.  In some ways, it was a very tough weekend.  However, I came to recognize so many similarities between rope culture and bootblack culture that I began to feel at home, not in spite of, but because of my differences.

Bootblacks come in all different types.  In some ways, we could almost be called the rope people of the Leather world.  We are often looked at askance as we practice an old artform, even more so if we find a spiritual and creative outlet in it.  We take what comes to our chair as it is and create beauty from it.  We each have our own techniques and can argue endlessly about the minute differences between them, yet we also come to respect each other for those differences.  We are a fraternity bound together by a common artform and we work to preserve it and pass it on.  Like rope, the basic techniques of bootblacking are actually very simple to learn, but the come together to create an artform so full of nuances that it can take a lifetime to master and to learn to express yourself through the medium.  Almost every bootblack gets something different from their bootblacking.

Rope riggers also come in many varied forms.  Some find a deep spirituality and connection to their partner in rope bondage.  Others enjoy rough and tumble play and express their sadism with rope, using it as exquisite torture.  Still others see it as pure art, weaving their model into a complex design.  Some find the same zen in it, by focusing on the minute details to forget about the chaos and chatter of life for a while, that some of us find in bootblacking.  Some rope riggers do it simply as a way to get laid and still others do it as a service to please a bottom that loves to be tied up.  Like bootblacking, what is happening at first glance in a rope scene is not always all that is going on.

I love rope.  I may never completely fit in at an event like Shibaricon, but I think that there is room for all types of rope people and I certainly think that Leather people need not be embarrassed to admit that they are among that group as well.  I think there is room for Leather in rope as well as room for rope in Leather.

In fact, I met a guy this weekend who makes rope out of leather…now what could be more sublime than that?  To be tied up…in leather?  I only hope I can reach my Huberds while I’m in it!

In my world, there are two types of Masters.  There is the Master whom I belong to, who does not bear the title of Master and is only called that by me and others like him who pursue M/s relationships.  Then there are those who are so highly respected by their communities that their long years of service are acknowledged by giving them the title of Master.  For me, it is often difficult to call someone else “Master X.”  That word, Master is infused with so much weight for me.  To me, it is often a bit like calling someone a god.  A Master is someone in my world who has some power to them that I can’t quite describe or put my finger on.  Words, for once, escape me when I try.  Whatever it is, though, it inspires me to my knees.  I feel it and I bow to it, almost intoxicated by the feeling of just being near it.

I’m conscious of the place the title has in Leather and I use it where it is appropriate.  Usually, though, there is an awkward moment mentally for me, where I have to consciously shift gears from my perception of Master to a more Leather perception of Master.  This awkwardness has everything to do with my own hang-ups and nothing to do with the honorable people who have been recognized with that title.  I understand this, so I make the mental adjustment and then call them as they are.  “Master X, Master Y.”

With Master Barry, there was no awkwardness, no moment of having to shift my perceptions.  He was, simply, Master Barry from the moment I met him and in my mind he fit easily into both of my definitions of Master.

What I know of Master Barry, I know less from personal experience or his own words, than from those who respected and loved him.  I began to come to know him even before I boarded my flight to Calgary this past November.  I remember that people who barely knew me asked me to bring him their regards.  They spoke with a mixture of fondness and respect and these were men who don’t give either out to just anyone.  I was already intrigued as to what sort of man would inspire this.  We flew up to Calgary just after a snowstorm, from Florida and I was embraced by a Community there that was warm enough to even warm us up in the Canadian winter.  Almost the moment we got off the plane, though, it became clear, though, that this was a Community with a broken heart.

Over the weekend, I only briefly saw Master Barry until the contest itself.  Still, from each person I spoke to, I got a slightly different picture of him.  I learned of his great care for his Community from one, I learned of his soft heartedness and loyalty as a Sir to his boy from another.  Each story was like a puzzle piece of this man, this man who was very, very sick and who’s illness had struck at the heart of the strong Community he was a cornerstone for.  As the pieces combined, they did so against the backdrop of a Leather contest where I judged an incredible Sir contestant.  The two storylines fed off of each other, as often happens, each of them giving me a glimpse into the hearts of these two men as well as the men who loved them.  Both, I learned were men strong enough to feel and strong enough to open their hearts to the men around them.

When the contest ended, I set up to bootblack.  I was still flying high from the fantasies and I was eager to play, hoping to entice some there into some hot boot scenes, if I could.  When Master Barry came to my chair and asked me to do his boots, though, my pulse stilled and I became more meditative than playful.  I could sense the great honor this was, even though I didn’t know then that previously he would never have let a girl do his boots.  What began next was the greatest boot scene I’ve had all year and perhaps the most meaningful one I will ever have as a bootblack.

I breathed in deeply, centering myself.  His boy stood next to him and the men were all around us.  As I began cleaning his boots, I could feel his energy.  It was strong even though his body was already weakened by hisillness.  It was calm and strong even now and I knelt at his feet and began to clean his boots.  I quickly noticed something very wrong.  His boots were in terrible condition!  They were dry and cracked, in contrast with his neat leathers.  I wondered how they could have gotten in such a state, but I had a feeling there was a story there.  Gently, I asked him about his boots.  His eyes welled up with tears as he explained.

“These are my boy boots, ” he spoke with effort, “My feet are too swollen from the chemo to wear my regular boots.”

I felt the full weight of this settle quickly on me and I had to breathe deeply not to let my own tears fall.  These were his boy boots, the boots he wore at the beginning of his Leather journey, likely the first Leather he had earned or been given.  It was too much and I felt so small, there at his feet.  Somehow, though, I knew that I couldn’t cry and that this was one of those times to be strong.  I felt like the pain and tears of the men around me were held back by a dam and that if I cried it would poke a hole in that dam and they needed that to cling to.  So, I breathed deeply and explained to him that I would like to condition rather than shine them because they needed it.  He agreed.

I may be a hell-raising Buddhist Atheist now, but I was raised Catholic and the first image that came to my mind as I began to gently rub conditioner into Master Barry’s boy boots was that of Mary washing Jesus’s feet and drying them with her hair.  I put all the love I could into my hands, all the good things I had inside me, I tried to put into my touch.  I tried to channel all the devotion and love I had heard from the men around me about this man into that act…a simple act of caring for one man’s boots.  I don’t know if he felt it, but for me, that act was elevated in those moments into an act almost of worship.  I was attempting, in my own limited way to pay homage to all this man had walked and to his brave fight against a cowardly opponent.  We spoke as I worked.  His words were kind and his love for his boy and for his Community showed clearly in his eyes.  His voice broke when I gave him the regards of those who had sent word with me, tears held back but there for old friends that he missed.

It was one of the greatest honors of my life to kneel at the feet of such a great man and be allowed to serve him.  I think of him often when I come across people who just don’t seem to “get it,” who view Leather as just the wearing of cowhide or bootblacking as just caring for that cowhide.  I think of him when I see a 20-something give themselves a title of “Lord Master Beauregard of White Castle.”  I think of him when I hear the term “Old Guard” used simply as a way to justify one’s point or appropriated by people outside the Leather Community.  When I think of him, I remember that I know what Leather is.  I felt it in my hands when I touched his boots.  I saw it in his eyes when he spoke about others.  I felt it in the bonds of his Community and I feel it now when I speak to those in mourning.  When I think of him, I also remember that I know what a Master is from the way he never used that title when introducing himself to me, but everyone else always used it when speaking or referring to him and in the way he put others ahead of himself, caring for his Community like a father cares for his family.

I am so glad that I made a trip up from warm Florida into the midst of a Calgary winter.  I consider myself so fortunate to have been there in time to have met Master Barry and to, for even a short time, be a part of his world.  I only wish everyone could have experiences like these because, to me, that boot scene, while definitely not my wildest and the boots did not turn out looking perfect from all their cracks and dryness, that boot scene was to me what this is all about.  I have never felt more a bootblack.

Thank you, Master Barry.

“New” Leather

Posted: April 22, 2011 in bootblacking, general

In Leather, we celebrate experience and time spent in service to one’s community.  It is a wonderful thing that, within a wider society that seems obsessed with youth and anything new and shiny, that we acknowledge elders and try to show respect for those who have come before us whenever we can.  I was recently at IMsL and was humbled to see 25 years of women’s Leather history represented on stage.  We value our collective history in ways that the wider “throw away society” simply can’t grasp.

Still, like most things, there is an extreme element to this that can be destructive.  Any good thing can be taken too far.

We all know of someone who has been found out to be lying about the amount of experience they have.  I think almost every city or region has a story of someone who claimed years and years of experience in Leather, only to be found out to have lied.  Most of us have also heard others complaining about this person or that person, very often with a derisive comment about how new that person is to Leather.  While I’m certainly not defending anyone lying about who they are or what their experience is, it’s easy to see why they do it.  The overwhelming message is, “Old is better…new is bad.”  Often, the message we send is that anything old is inherently better than anything new.  We talk about the current state of our communities, Leather bars, protocols, and pretty much anything Leather with an air of nostalgia for a better past that has come and gone…leaving us with…well, what is new, which is certainly not nearly as good as what once was.  The past was more intense, more respectful, more dirty, more thoughtful, and more authentic than anything…new.

In some cases, this is true.  We have lost a lot over the years, both in Leather places and in loved ones.  Still, all is not lost unless we believe it is.

The message anyone new to Leather gets, loud and clear, is that it is bad to be new.  Not only that, they get the message that those who are new cannot have anything of value to contribute and are not fit to serve.  If you’re new, the best thing you can do is keep quiet about it and stay out of the way, in the corner, and watch and wait until your mentors and teachers find you and drag you off to the secret Leather catacombs where all true Leathermen and women are taught and age until they have reached the peak of flavor and are brought out in oaken casks, ready to contribute and serve.  Or am I thinking of wine again?  In any case, if you are new, you should hold back any gifts you have until it is the proper time to give them to the community, after they’ve had time to sit and ripen.

There is some wisdom to this and we see examples of people who would have been wise to follow it every time we watch someone very new come into Leather and try to tell everyone in the room how they are “doing it wrong.”  We each know stories of one 19-year-old “Master” or another trying to tell everyone the meaning of Life and Leather.  In this case, their sour grapes certainly could have benefited from some fermentation time as well as some quiet time observing.

However, how many “new” people are out there who do have something to contribute or gifts that our Community needs, but are afraid to come forward and offer them because they have seen how the “new” is welcomed?  How many great, fresh ideas never get shared and how much youthful enthusiasm and vigor is lost when we continually quash the new in favor of the old?  How many people who may be old in years but young in Leather either are afraid to admit their Leather youth or miss out on opportunities to learn because it is just assumed that they’ve been in Leather bars since the dawn of time?  How many young people are avoiding Leather altogether because it is seen as the realm of the “old” and that “new” is not welcome here?

It is ok to be new.  In fact, it’s something we ALL are at some point or another.

Being new can be exciting.  Being new is an adventure.  Being new can mean more energy and more enthusiasm as well as fresher ideas.  There is nothing wrong with being new so long as you are honest and embrace that newness as an opportunity to learn from others and grow.  I think we all do ourselves a disservice when we look down on others for being new.  For one, we contribute to the shame that helps drive people to hide who they really are in an attempt to avoid that label.  For another, we lose out on the contributions a whole section of our Community have to make now, many of which are needed right now.  Finally, we can often delay or even push away our next generation of Leatherfolk, those who will bring new energy to our Tribe and will continue its traditions into the future.

I am young in my Leather journey.

I am unashamed of being young and of having a lot left to learn and years left to learn it.  It’s wonderful to be looking down a long road not far past the beginning of a long journey because the view is full of possibilities.  Still, I very early on saw that there were ways I could contribute and serve and I stepped forward to do them, almost even before I knew what a sin it was to be new.  I naively saw needs and worked to fill them to the best of my ability.  I didn’t wait until I’d been found by a mentor, but instead sought one out and I continue to seek out more experienced teachers and mentors wherever I can find them.  I devoured wisdom hungrily at the boots of those in my chair and I shared what I learned with whoever wanted to learn, as I did.  Now I try to help others not have to make quite such a dive into the deep end as I did, but I see value in each place along the path, not just toward one end or the other.  I hope I never stop learning and never feel like I’ve done and seen so much that there is nothing new to discover.  I was happy to discover this weekend that I could meet a new bootblack who could make me look at bootblacking from a new perspective, one I hadn’t encountered even in all my travels.  Not bad for a newbie.

Let us embrace the new, remembering when we were new ourselves, whether it was last week or a lifetime ago.  Let’s give them the permission to be new and to be unashamed and unafraid to admit what they don’t know and ask questions as well as to give what gifts they have without fear of rejection simply because they haven’t seen as many years.  I think our Community will be healthier for it.

Leather Family

Posted: April 19, 2011 in bootblacking, general, Titleholding

This past weekend at International Ms Leather was a very meaningful one for me.  It left me thinking a lot about family.  For one, I was honored to judge 4 members of the bootblack family in the IMsBB contest.  For another, this really was my first major interaction with the women’s Leather community.  Finally, I was brought into my first Leather family this weekend, when Mama herself pinned me.  It was a lot to process and I’m still feeling it all settle in.

I have often, even during this year, felt much like a Leather orphan.  I come from a community that is rebuilding itself in the shadows of the bible belt.  I come from a place where Leathermen still have to be careful about wearing their leathers during Gay Pride…lest we not even be allowed to have a Gay Pride at all.  I come from a place where there are only a handful of active Leatherwomen to look up to and mentors are few and far between.  I drove 5 hours down south to Ft. Lauderdale to be mentored myself.  I have often felt like I missed out on something by not finding a Leather family when I was brand new to kink and learning at the feet of elders, but instead going searching on my own.  When I heard others talk about Leather families, I listened with envy, imagining what it would feel like to be loved and accepted and taught and guided.  There just weren’t those kinds of opportunites nearby me.

So, I went out and I found them.

I pieced together family out of the Leathermen I met as I traveled, primarily within the men’s community.  I found older brothers and father figures all across North America and I learned at their feet, albeit by doing their boots.  I found mentors and teachers in every city I visited and I hungrily listened to their stories.  I pledged my local Leather club, even though there were few women there, and I was welcomed with open arms, finding more hugs and brothers.  My path has not been the traditional one that I always pictured, but I can’t complain considering how many wonderful Leathermen have been patient enough to teach me and help me along my way, even if just in the time it takes to do their leathers.  In my title family, I was even given a taste of what it might feel like to have a Leather family, with Sir Hugh and boy Ian embracing me as their own.  I learned what it felt like to have people who had my back and who would give advice and take care of me.  I learned to trust and form bonds that had nothing to do with our genders or orientation, but went deeper than that.

All this, I did almost completely within the men’s community, which to me was remarkable in itself and completely busted the myth that a woman, particularly a woman like me, would never be accepted there.  I was accepted at a level that was so much deeper than my surface appearance by my brothers there.

And yet, I still felt envy when people talked about their Leather families and I also began to feel envy when people talked about the women’s community.  My closest women’s groups for Leatherwomen are in Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale, hours away.  I have enjoyed my visits with them and formed bonds with them, but I’d never really experienced the women’s community on a broader scale.  I’d heard about it, in bits and pieces, from the women I met on my travels.  Every now and then I got a small glimpse of it.  This past weekend at IMsL, I was immersed in it.  I felt it all around me.  At first, ironically, I even felt like an outsider, as if I were an interloper from the men’s community.  By the end of the weekend, though, I found myself embraced by it, wide-eyed learning the history of it at the brunch keynote by Gayle Rubin.  I got to know 4 amazing women bootblacks and I got to talk, play, and laugh with so many incredible Leatherwomen.  This was a healing weekend in which I fully realized that I do fit in both worlds, something I was unsure of starting out.

This all kind of culminated in being received into Mama’s family on Saturday, before the contest.  I was silent, something which is actually rather remarkable for me.  Honestly, I didn’t have the words for it and I was just trying hard not to cry.  When I told a few people, “This is the first Leather family I’ve ever been in,” I think I got a few odd looks.  It’s probably not usual for someone’s first Leather family to be arguably the largest, spanning over 1,000 members.  Yet, considering how unconventional my Leather journey has been up to now, it seemed perfectly fitting.  I looked around me at the faces of my new family, most of which I already knew from my travels.  As they congratulated me, I tried just to remain composed, fearful that if I let go of any bit of control, I would be a tearful mess.

Me…a Leather orphan, adopted by Mama’s Family.

I marveled at what this all meant, both finding the women’s community and a Leather family at the same event, being hugged by Sir Hugh who had shepherded me safely through the men’s community all year and taught me so much and surrounded by so many people.  It was all just too much to process at once, the CPU in my geeky little brain smoking from the effort.  So…I set it aside for a while, concentrating on the contest and my title work.  I let it all sink in and settle.  As I did, I came to realize that, maybe, that picture I had of the standard path in Leather was just that…a picture and that maybe my own path was exactly the right one for me.  Given that I’ve always lived surrounded by men, working in male dominated fields, and growing up with brothers, not sisters, it seems fitting for me as an individual to be bonded with my Leather brothers.  Given that I’ve become so close to so many people as I’ve traveled far and wide, it makes sense that my Leather family would be composed of those same people, spread across distance and gathered back together when we meet, as the nomads we are, at Leather events.  This might not be every Leathergirl’s perfect path, but for me, it makes perfect sense.

I come away from IMsL and I look at my calendar with a smile.  I have always been unique and I will continue to be.  I will always feel my roots within the men’s and player’s and bootblack communities even as I sometimes ache for more time with other Leatherwomen.  I will always be a searcher, seeking out knowledge where I can find it.  Still, in my own way, I do belong and I am complete and content right where I am.  It may look different from the outside, but there is no contradiction.  It took getting to know IMsBB and appreciate and respect it to know that I am right where I belong.  It took getting to know the women’s community to know that I don’t have to choose between them.  It took becoming part of a Leather family to realize that I had unofficially been a part of several all along, made up of bootblacks and players.

Thank you to all of you who have been a part of this, no matter which community you consider yourself a part of…you have all been a part of mine.

When I’m With My Boots

Posted: November 3, 2010 in bootblacking

Last night I did something that, oddly enough, has become rare in my life.  I spent a quiet night at home working on my boots and my Master’s boots.  I know, crazy thing for a bootblack to do, right?  Still, this year, I have mainly been just touching up our boots and leathers as needed, but never really sitting down and spending time with them.  There just hasn’t been the time.

Last night…I made that time.

I sat down in the middle of the living room, the lights dimmed just a bit, in the midst of our moving boxes for our upcoming move and opened up my kit, pawing through to see which polishes had cracked on me and what I needed to order more of.  I slowly slipped into a zen like space, silently working on first his boots, remembering all the good memories of scenes done with him in them, places they had taken him, and my love of them.  He wears engineer boots, like James Dean once did…very masculine.  While you may see women’s harness boots, you hardly ever see a woman’s engineer boot and I think it is because they have a kind of male energy to them.  His boots are worn from riding his motorcycle.  As I clean them, I see where the heel has worn down at an angle from the hard asphalt and the way the toe has been scuffed and cut from shifting.

I love that his boots are worn this way, uniquely his with each gouge and cut.  They couldn’t belong to anyone else.

I drift away from my world of projects at work and emails that need to be answered and travel plans as I carefully rub in the Chelsea’s, my fingers staining black.  Then, I turn my attention to a pair of boots that belong to a member of the Leather club Master and I are pledging.  These are boots that were handed down to him, harness boots that, unfortunately, someone thought it was a good idea to polish.  I strip these, the alcohol burning my nose, carefully rubbing off layers of polish holding these boots back from what they were meant to be.  I think of their owner, a older Leatherman with an infectious smile and a generous spirit who walked next to me in the local Pride parade.  I wonder at who might have owned the boots before him and I wonder at what bootblack might have been still learning and accidentally polished them.  It takes me back to when I was just learning and how one of the toughest things to learn was how to tell the different types of leather apart.  I finish stripping his boots and set them aside to dry, promising them a thorough conditioning tomorrow or when they are dry.

I pick up my own boots.

This pair of boots are my stage boots, the boots I wore when I won ICBB and the boots I most like to play in.  They were also my first piece of gifted, not earned leather, given to me by my Master.  I remember opening the Doc Marten’s box and seeing them there, all 20 eyelets of gleaming, high shine leather.  I remember painstakingly adding thin later of polish after thin layer of polish in the weeks before I left for San Francisco last summer, slowly building up layers of black and blue to give them a hard, cold shine.  I remember how I feel when I wear them.  In them, I feel powerful, feral, and catlike.  I walk differently in them, more stalking and feline than my normal bouncy gait.  Carefully, I clean them and then add a couple layers of blue and black again.  These boots have always seemed to like Lincoln polish where most boots I handle do not.  Perhaps they think they are as tough as marine’s boots?  Finally, I can see my face in the toes and I set them aside, sighing contentedly, at peace.

This is how it all began, before I even started bootblacking in public or even with someone in the boots.  It all began with just me, spending quality time with the object of my fetish and the symbol of my journey.

Quality time indeed.