Carter/Johnson Leather Library January 2011 - Volume 1 - Issue 1
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Esar Levine’s Chastity Belts (1931)
Gals and Guys. Cross your legs and protect your jewels … or don’t.
This is an erotic illustrated history of the (Ahem) protection of womanhood. Don’t feel left out fellows. Many of the same techniques and products also work on the male of the species.
page from Chastity Belts (1931)This is book number 515 out of 2000 printed and press-numbered for private collections of erotica. (That would be us.)
Points of View:
Leather & The Next Generation Perspectives – by Jaki Grier
Disclaimer: I don’t have authority to speak for everyone who identifies as Leather or The Next Generation. Nor do I believe my definitions for both groups are universally accepted. However, as a person under 35 who is navigating the Leather Community, I have noticed a disconnect that really boils down to failing to understanding the opposite point-of-view. My goal is to take situations and phrases then give a side-by-side explanation of both group’s perspective about the subject.
“What about showing a little respect?”
Respect in the Leather Community is based on having value. Respect is another way to give and show worth to yourself and others. Showing respect wasn’t just an ego boost. In every society ever created, status and importance are partly dictated by the level of respect you exchange. Soldiers, holy men, politicians and others are given physical space as a show of respect. The respect that people show towards you gives them clues into your positioning in the tribe.If you are a teacher or a student, you would have social cues that tell others like you how advanced your knowledge was.
You have to remember, there wasn’t regular access to classes, seminars or books on BDSM subjects. Much of your knowledge was given word-of-mouth. The only way to check credentials of a teacher was to ask their students. Each endorsement was a review and they held weight. Each previous play partner was a reference for the next. It was also a show of Respect not to share what happens with anyone outside of the community. Respect for each other was the main safety device available.It wasn’t optional, it was a necessary part of living in a world that despised — continues to despise — what we do.
Next Generation concepts of respect leads to some interesting comparisons. In an internet age, people are profiles on a screen. You can buy leather outfits and create rich fictional histories for yourself. Giving respect is precious. You can’t take the word of someone else because the community isn’t small and inclusive, it is growing by leaps and bounds. So respect is something that needs to be earned. When Leather folk say, “What about showing respect?” they look at their years of experience as proof that they have valuable knowledge to share.
Then the TNGer replies with, “I only give respect when it’s deserved.” they are trying to say that they can’t safely take anyone’s experience as expertise in a world that is full on digital fakery and deception. Both these groups are a product of their time periods and have learned about respect in vastly different ways. There is a core similarity in how respect is handled. It is something that both groups acknowledge is necessary for growth. Both realize there is a level of trust required to fully give the respect that is due. It would do well for each group to take the point-of-views offered here and incorporate them into greater learning.
Leather folk are seeing the climate of the scene change. Take a moment to consider how difficult it would be to navigate this landscape without a trusted Mentor or outside of an established fetish family unit. The Next Generation would do well to remember how lucky they are to have access to vast amounts of information from credible trusted sources instead of the singular view of your local instructor. Years of fact checking makes it so that you can play safer without making many of the dangerous mistakes of the past. The Community we are all trying to build is about finding commonalities between us that will make us stronger against those who do not understand.
Until we attempt to understand each other, we will never be able to help others do the same. Hopefully with that understanding comes a little more R-E-S-P-E-C-T for all.
Tales from the Librarian
Welcome to this first newsletter of the Library.
These last months have been an exciting time for “Mom’s (Vi’s) Obsession.”
On May 29th of 2010, around 11 a.m. I received a phone call. The voice on the other end told me to go to my computer and open my email. What popped up on my computer was a professional graphic interpretation of the Library logo, artwork so beautiful it took my breath away. I remember staring at my computer screen and feeling tears running down my face. The voice told me that included with the gift of this logo was a corporation, a website, a lawyer to help turn “Mom’s Obsession” into a real 501(c)(3) and other surprises that I would see in a few weeks at Southeast Leatherfest.
Thousands of thoughts fought to find a voice. I struggled through tears of joy to find the words “Thank you.” Then I heard: “Don’t worry Mom, we’ve got this. Your next generation is here.” I knew in that second that all Jill and I had worked so hard to collect and preserve would be safe and secure for future generations. My heart soared.
It has been almost eight months since that phone call. The Library is spreading its wings and learning to fly.
- The website is in a constant state of change. More information is being added almost daily thanks to the Library Genie, jezebel. The dream is to digitize the entire library and have it accessible to generations of kinksters yet to be born.
- Shannon F. is working with us to qualify for 501c3 status.
The friends of the Library are ever growing:
- Dr. Charley Ferrer at The Institute of Pleasure is donating a percentage of the proceeds of her new book,”La Latina Kama Sutra: El Guía Absoluto Para Citas, Sexo, y Placeres Eróticos” to the Library.
- NELA’s donation of three (I have to go back to Boston to pick up the last one) professional display boards with cases has made it possible for the Library to be able to send a traveling display to events.
- Karen McC’s donation of a projector will allow the Library to show PowerPoint presentations and DVDs in the Library.
- Hooker and Boys have started the Sir Robert W. Davis Travel Fund to assist with the Library’s travel costs.
- PLPN has paid for 8 months of storage for the Library.
- Reverse Imaging has made the first of a series of videos for our home page.
- The men and women of MAsT and MTTA have donated money, time energy, encouragement, love and support.
- The Bootblack Brigade has donated their tips on more than one occasion so that Mom could buy books for the ever growing collection.
- Girl and our assistant director Max Rulz have started a campaign to raise money for a Library van.
- A donation of books by Ziggy will be the cornerstone for a “Take a Book, Leave Book” corner.
- We have a discussion group on Fetlife and a page on Facebook.
- The Library has the most amazing staff and BOD in the world. To read more about these amazing folk go to the website.
- Rick Storer of the Leather Archives and I have worked together to preserve our history.
- More of our history is being found daily and saved for future generations.
WOW, this is not Mom’s Obsession any more. It is a legacy being preserved for future generations. I thank you all for that!
Hooker & Boys:
Carter Johnson Leather Library will be the recipient of the 2012 “Sir Robert Wayne Davis Memorial Travel Fund”
At last year’s annual “12 Days” event, Sir Hooker (of Hooker and Boys) announced that the Carter Johnson Leather Library will be the recipient of the “Sir Robert Wayne Davis Memorial Travel Fund” award at next year’s “12 Days” event.
When I began this journey, little did I know how it would affect me. The experience and challenge of the LeatherSIR title system has given me the opportunity to expand my horizons, grow as both a man and a Sir, and establish friendships that will last the rest of my life.
I have had the opportunity to make a difference in our struggling, smaller communities. While there simply wasn’t enough time to achieve all of my goals, I stayed true to my beliefs and to myself. As our community struggles to find its way through difficult times, I see hope.
It is our loyalty, brotherhood, and compassion for each other that permits us to not only come together, but to move forward. The beginning of this journey placed my feet upon a path that would permit me to leave my mark upon our community.
However, in doing so, the community has left its mark upon me. It is my hope that each of you has the opportunity to see your niche in the leather family and realize your full potential as men, women, and leatherfolk. It has been an honor and a pleasure to be your representative.
— Robert Davis, commenting on his year as International LeatherSIR 2004
A true gentleman who displayed honor and integrity as he moved through our world, Sir Robert Wayne Davis, International LeatherSIR 2004, Mid-Atlantic LeatherSIR 2004, Maryland LeatherSIR 2004 passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at his home on September 10, 2008. Friends close to Robert report he died of a heart attack. He will be forever missed by his partner George, his family, and countless friends.
Robert was the 2005 recipient of the “Pantheon Man of the Year” and “Community Choice Man of the Year” for his community work and personal efforts. A pillar of the leather community and will be deeply missed by all who knew. He warmed those around him with a ready smile and always kind words of encouragement.
Robert learned basic, conversational American Sign Language so that he could better communicate with his leather brothers and sisters, and forge new friendships, often attending deaf leather contests in Washington DC and Baltimore.
A native of western Maryland, Robert served for six years in the United States Navy submarine fleet. He was an associate member of the Shipmates Club of Baltimore, Maryland. A charter member of New Light Metropolitan Community Church in Hagerstown, Maryland, Robert was instrumental in initiating the church’s involvement in the homeless shelter program.
He involved himself with AIDS relief charities since 1992. He helped raise funds for Moveable Feast, The Whitman-Walker Clinic and Brother Help Thyself, to name a few. He was a founding member of the Washington DC’s first Leather Pride committee. He was also an associate of C.O.M.M.A.N.D. MC.
Monthly Book Spotlight or “Tell Me More About This”
One of my great joys is taking people through the Library and showing them the many hidden gems of kink history that are on the shelves. Exploration and discovery often lead to the question, “Can you tell me more about this?
“The Ethnological and Cultural Study of Sex Life in England,” 1934 Falstaff Press
I discovered Ebay in the early part of 1999. The online auction house gave me access to kink history from all over the world. Within a year at least 100 items had been added to the collection of books and magazines used for my “Leather History Show and Tell” workshop. An extremely fast cable connection had given me the ability to “snipe” other bidders and, I admit, there really was a bit of a thrill to sneaking in a bid just a few moments before the auction closed.
The Ethnological and Cultural Study of Sex Life in EnglandA book came up for auction that I wanted for the collection. “The Ethnological and Cultural Study of Sex Life in England,” usually called “The History of Sex Life in England” a 1934 publication of Falstaff Press, (one of the early publishing houses of kink) was up for bid and the auction would soon be closing. The book was a pristine, limited edition, numbered tome that had wonderful information in it about “the English vice.”
The bid on the book was low and I didn’t want to risk a bidding war that might take the book out of my price range. An attempted snipe would be my best chance to own this treasure. With just a few seconds to spare I sniped the book from the bidder who thought he had it. I smiled to myself when the “You just won this item” flashed before my screen.
The next day there was an email from the man I had sniped. He was inquisitive about why I had purchased the book, if I owned more of Falstaff Press, and a lot of other questions that were making me curious. Perhaps he too was a collector and fellow pervert. Maybe he knew other people who might be selling treasures at prices I could afford. Our first email exchange made me cautious.
His next email made me furious. It seemed that he and a group of friends were scouring Ebay to find material they considered questionable, with the intent of destroying what they found. He and his friends were doing this to keep questionable material out of the hands of “the children.”
How could he? How DARE he? No one should burn books! It’s WRONG! Didn’t the world learn anything from Kristallnacht? If you don’t like the content of something … DON’T BUY IT! But this guy wanted to burn my history, my community’s history. Not just no, but HELL NO!
The book arrived a few days later. As I held it in my hands and turned its pages, the book told its own story. The beautiful binding and title page, the paper lining, and its all important private printing statement and 1934 date enchanted me.
Here in my hand was a book that was printed one year after the burning of the Magnus Hirschfield Library in Germany. I was holding a book that would have been burned by the Nazi’s had it existed at that time. This copy of “The History of Sex Lives in England” had been saved.
This rare piece of kink history would *not* be fuel for someone’s close-minded flames. It would be passed around in workshops. It would be handled and perused, read and loved.
I began to wonder, and admittingly to fret, about how much had already been destroyed. The Archives wasn’t specifically focused on old books and really didn’t have the budget for purchases. (Not that I did either.) But something had to be done. That day, because of one book, the collection became a passion. The passion has become … The Library!