Carter/Johnson Leather Library November 2011 - Volume 1 - Issue 11
In This Issue ….
- Tales From the Librarian
That’s Some Stuff Right There
Letter to the Librarian
- Bob Harris “Essays”
Support The Library
You can support us by becoming a member of the Library, linking to our website, shopping at our e-store or making a donation directly to the Library. You can also make a donation directly to the Library Van Fund.
Thank you Gypsie and Rick:
for your dream of a storyteller’s conference,
for your faith that the dream could happen,
for your courage in the face of the naysayers,
for your strength to make the dream REAL!
Evergreen ReviewThe Library has just added two very interesting editions to the collection. An issue of The Evergreen Review (Volume 7, Issue 31, dated October/November 1963) is the first of these. A trade-sized journal, The Evergreen Review was published by Barney Rosset, publisher of Grove Press. It was printed from 1957 through 1973. Many notable and often controversial writers are found in the pages of this magazine. The issue that the Library acquired includes the first glimpses of The Story of O seen in the United States.
This month’s second notable acquisition directly relates to the above journal. The Adventures of Phoebe Zeit-Geist was first serialized by The Evergreen Review beginning in November 1965. It was written by Michael O’Donoghue and illustrated by Frank Springer. APhoebeZeit-Geist few short years later, Grove Press printed the comic as a stand-alone publication and the Library has recently added that edition to its collection. Poor Phoebe follows the distressed damsel tradition of the Perils of Pauline and John Willie’s Sweet Gwendoline. Phoebe spends much of her time naked, bound and fighting off sadists, foot fetishes, lesbians and mad scientists.
Ya gotta like that.
Tell Me More About…
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?”
Darque DeSade and Bob Neroni
I was raised the child of an artist. Mom loved to express herself with oil, charcoal or pencil. Her journals were created in pictures, not words. Often, I lamented the fact that her artistic talent was not passed on to me. She would say “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, appreciate.” My lessons in art appreciation were learned by watching her and, on many Sunday afternoons, in the galleries of most of the museums within seventy-five miles of our home in New Jersey.
That love of art followed me into adult life and, of course, into our kinky lifestyle. Works by Dadē, The Hun, Cirby, Ray Castro, Ira Smith, Naomi L.K., and other artists too numerous to name are in the Library collection. One only needs to open some of the portfolios that travel with the collection to see the artistic diversity. However, until just a few years ago, there was not a lot of photography in the collection. That changed when I met a man named Darque DeSade. I first saw Darque’s work at BlackBeat 2003 and was stunned by its beauty. He captured the female form in ways that Black women had never before been photographed. Calling Darque’s work stunning just might be a polite understatement.
Then, in May 2010, Robi and I were in Maryland at an event called BootCamp. There was a piece by photographer Bob Neroni hanging on the wall. I didn’t realize I was staring until Robi asked me if I was alright. The work captured a beautifully and intricately bound woman at once ecstatic and at peace within the ropes that held her. The shadows were as haunting as her expression. I was mesmerized.
Some of Darque DeSade’s beautiful photography was added to the Library collections a few years ago. A few weeks ago, at Bob Neroni gifted the Library with eight pieces of his work. It would be easy for me to continue to wax poetic about the artistry of both of these men, but a mind far greater than my own said “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Here, in the works of these two incredibly talented artists, are about a million words that I appreciate.
Bob Harris “Essays”
This unique book officially has no title; I am choosing to call it “Essays”.
For over thirty years, members of my Leather family have come together for a holiday gathering on the weekend closest to the 12th day of Christmas. We do all the things families do at this season: eat, drink, laugh together, cheer on our favorite football teams, and exchange holiday gifts. Master Doug Harris and his slave bob came up from Atlanta to celebrate the 12th Night of the 2000-2001 holiday season with us. Although we had all known each other for a number of years, the holiday duties of The Sanctuary of a Dark Angel usually kept Doug and bob close to their home city during that time of year, so this was the first time they joined us in the celebration.
Presents were exchanged. I gave bob one of only a few typed and unedited copies of my journal. He had already read much of it during the previous years because I had sought his advice on its editing. I had placed this copy in a special notebook just for him. I then opened his present to me. I slipped the ribbon and hand-tied bow from a beautifully wrapped box and carefully lifted the taped edges. I pulled back the tissue paper and gazed down at a book. There was no title on this tome. Instead, a collar and lock, right below a leather pride flag, proudly declared its contents. Printed in the lower right hand corner were the words “By: BOB HARRIS”. I couldn’t resist teasing bob when I saw that. I had never seen his name capitalized before; he always used lower case letters.
I ran my hands over the black binding and heavy mottled gray card stock, admiring its beauty and its simplicity. The cover so very clearly reflected its author. I opened the book gently, almost reverently, and turned each page. bob had compiled his essays into a book for me. Some of them I had already read, either on his website or because he had sent them to me. But some I had never seen. Those covers housed bob’s recollections, his reflections, and his advice to the many slaves and boys who had sought his guidance or been helped by him along their journey.
Of all the things bob ever wrote, I think this is his most telling and most beautiful:
By Boy Bob Harris
Click — its a gentle sound
Baptized in fire and blood
the chain is placed around a neck.
Click — its a quiet sound
A metal bar placed thru the ends of a chain
locks itself in place inside a metal box.
Click — its an anxious sound
Heard only by two, one standing, one kneeling
their worlds will be forever changed.
Tales from the Librarian
LHC 2011 Keynote Speech by Vi Johnson
Good evening everyone. What I really should be saying is Greetings, history makers. We, and this event, are making a bit of kinky history this weekend. This conference is a first of its kind. We are not here to learn bondage. We are not here to learn flogging, nor are we here to learn about the Master/slave dynamic or discuss protocol. We are here to share stories: to tell them, to listen to them, to be enriched by them and to learn from them. This weekend we participate in a tribal story circle. Our tribe happens to be Leather. How appropriate it is that we gather in October. Family History Month. WE are family and all of us are a part of history.
Now I have a question for you all. How many people in this room remember their history classes? Did ya like them? Really?!?!? For many of us those classes were long and tedious. They required an endless memorization of facts. You know, dates, names and their corresponding “important historical events”. Many of us still remember the bad rhymes from 1st or 2nd grade: “In fourteen hundred ninety two… Columbus sailed the ocean blue. In 5th grade, the rhymes gave way to “Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere”. We got older and the memorization requirements got longer. If you went to school in the ’50’s or ’60’s, it felt like certain teachers were conspiring against us. First, the history teacher had us memorize the Gettysburg Address, “Four score and seven years ago …” Next, we realized the English teacher just assigned an essay on the same blasted speech.. As many of us sat there bored out of our minds, doodling on the desk praying for the bell, we wondered what any of this was ever going to have to do with our lives. I know that I sure did.
Let me tell you a little story from my past. In eighth grade, my history teacher was a man named Harold Bogolub, and he was not the conventional history teacher. I still remember our first days of school. It was at least two or three days, and we had yet to get our text books. (OK, that was one less book that I had to carry home every night.) One afternoon, he walked into class, pointed to one of my classmates and said “If you could ask any one person in history a question and know that you would get a full and honest answer, who would that person be and what question would you ask?” The first answer was something snarky. So he asked another one of us. It took at least six or seven times asking different students, before he got an answer that pleased him. Before the bell rang to end the class, Mr. Bogolub had asked each and every student in class the same question.
The next day in class we talked about some of those answers. I remember one of my classmates wanting to have the courage to ask his father why he divorced his mom. Another wanted to hear a first hand story about riding in a space capsule. Over the next few days of school we talked about those answers. This was getting interesting. No textbook, no homework aanndd I had stopped doodling on the desk.
Ultimately the textbooks were passed out and our first assignment was to read the chapter on the Hiroshima bombing in 1945. The homework was easy. The chapter wasn’t that long. The next day in class we had a visitor. Our visitor was Mr. B’s wife; a little wisp of a woman who was Japanese. She told us the story of Hiroshima through the eyes of a child who lived only a few towns away. Her story was NOTHING like what I had read the night before. That day history took on a new and different meaning for me. That day it stopped being names and dates. That day the story of one woman made history real.
Mr B was an amazing teacher. No, let me say that differently, he was an amazing storyteller. He taught his history classes that the names, dates and recorded events in the history books, were actually a poor second to the thoughts, actions and experiences of the people who made the history we were reading about. He reminded us that history is just the collective stories of people: people who laugh and love, people who do great rights and great wrongs, people whose actions have something behind them that academics, whose job it is to study and analyze historic events many years later, usually cannot know.
Okay, let’s come back to the present. You are all sitting here politely listening to me trip down Amnesia Lane, wondering what any of this has to do with you. So I’m going to ask you to think about a question like the one Mr. Bogolub asked us. If you could ask any one person in Leather history a question and know that you would get a full and honest answer, who would that person be and what question would you ask?
I got the chance to ask Tony DeBlase about his creative processes regarding the Leather Pride Flag. I cherish the story he told that afternoon many years ago in Dallas, but G-d, I wish it had been recorded so that people today could hear that story from Tony’s mouth, with Tony’s emotions, with Tony’s voice instead of mine when I retell it.
I got the chance to ask Monique Von Cleef about her historic arrest in 1965, and why she refused to sell out her friends. I assure you the infamous book “House of Pain” doesn’t do her justice.
I got the chance to ask John B. about his (mis)adventures with his perpetually broke artist friend, a man named Jon Coutts. Today we know Coutts as John Willie, publisher of Bizarre Magazine.
Who is the person you’d like to ask? Surely there are people in this great leather tribe that you just want to sit down, look in the eye and ask “What inspired you to?” You fill in the blank. Who is it and what would you ask?
Remember I said that this conference is the leather tribe’s story circle. Well, story circles are not just about stories from the past; they’re about stories of the present, too. To complete THIS story circle, we all have to share our own stories. None of us really think about the value of our own personal history and we should. We have ALL created history; but rarely do we see the value of it until someone asks us to “tell them a story.”
I want you to look around. Look at the people in this room. Look into the eyes of the person sitting next to you. We are linked because of our kink but those links are strengthened because we have shared stories. See our next kinky generation seated among us. Always remember that part of their birthright, their heritage, their inheritance from us are the stories of how they came to be who they are.
Our personal legacies gives them the power to stand tall and proud of their past, not to mention safe in their present. We teach them by our stories what worked for us, what didn’t work and what we hope that one day they will improve upon. The present…. OUR present…. is linked to both the kinky ancestors and future generations in the story circle. This weekend, together, we have all shared in the strength of that circle.
Today, we add our voices to the promise made by the Leather Archives and Museum, by the Women’s Leather History Project, by the Carter/ Johnson Leather Library, by the Leather History Conference, by Dave Rhodes and the Leather Journal, and by Mr. Marcus Hernandez and Vern Stewart, and by all the recorders of our tribal history known and unknown.
Earlier, I talked about how I wished that my talk with Tony DeBlase had been recorded so that future generations could hear his thoughts from him, in his voice, with his emotions. It’s too late, of course, to do that but we are doing just that with the stories we shared this weekend. They are being recorded so that they can be replayed by future generations, to help them learn, understand, and create their own stories.
When we spend time in a story circle sharing those stories, when we begin to treasure those experiences, when we actively seek to not just share but preserve, not just for us but by those who come after us… Then we will understand the impact of what we have done here this weekend.
The Bootblack Brigade
The First Leather History Conference
The Bootblack Brigade was one of the sponsors for the first Leather History Conference, held in Wilmington, North Carolina the weekend of October 21-24, 2011. Brandon Riley, the President of the Brigade, was a storyteller for the event, as well as coordinator of the bootblacks working at the Leather History Conference. Brandon also carried the Brigade patch for the Parade of Colors held on Saturday night of the Leather History Conference.
Two bootblack stands were set up between the Carter/Johnson Leather Library and the vendors’ room, to permit access to all who were attending the Leather History Conference and wished to have their leather garments cared for by members of the Brigade. The bootblacks, working in shifts, were Nefarious, Cherielle, Jackie Maxwell, Cookie, Dave, and Amelia. The Brigade, through the generosity of the persons who sat in the chairs, donated $147.00 to the Carter/Johnson Leather Library.
Cherielle was formally accepted into the Brigade, passing the final test as a pledge by discovering the proper use of a banana in emergency care of a pair of boots. Shewas successful in this task, without access to other bootblacks for information, unlike the normal atmosphere of helpfulness and camaraderie that exists in the bootblack community. Cherielle was a bit overwhelmed when Brandon presented her with the Brigade patch already sewn onto her vest (which was done by Nancy of Lifestyle Sewing during the Leather History Conference). The ceremony was conducted with Cherielle sitting in a chair on one of the stands, surrounded by bootblacks and Full and associate members of the Brigade. Jackie was able to add to her travel fund by selling bootblack-related items she had brought with her, including handkerchiefs, pins, and magnets.
Amelia brought with her the bootblack box built by slave of the Eagle Point Plantation in Virginia (which was presented to Amelia at the Master/slave Conference 2011 held in Washington DC during Labor Day weekend) and explained its meaning to those attending the Leather History Conference who wished to know. She also helped a female slave understand how to care for her Master’s boots, demonstrating on the Master’s boots while he was wearing them the steps for proper leather care and a nice high shine. The “Bunny Bear” that Amelia has in her bootblack kit became an interesting bone of contention throughout the weekend, as various persons attending LHC decided it would be an amusing game to try and kidnap the stuffed bear in a purple bunny suit and hold him for ransom. Indeed, Bunny Bear was a participant in the recorded storyteller session of Brandon Riley, sitting quietly and listening to the tales Brandon told to Mama Vi Johnson. Bunny Bear is again safely tucked away in the bootblack kit, awaiting his next appearance at an event.
A portion of the Carter/Johnson Leather Library present at the Leather History Conference was the display portion of the Bootblack History Project which is dedicated to the bootblack community. Various items of bootblack gear, including Teddy Bear, the spirit holder of Boy Teddy, who died August 26, 2011, were arranged on two tables. The display included the wooden bootblack kit from the estate of Mr. Jack McGeorge and a pair of his boots. It also included information on the international titleholders, as well as pictures, since the 1990s, of all genders. The titles present in the display were International Ms. Bootblack, International Mr. Bootblack, and International Community Bootblack. The display is in its infancy and will expand to include regional and state itleholders, as well as items donated to the library by bootblacks and those who love them.
– Brandon Riley
That’s Some Stuff Right There
There have always been things in Jill’s and my collection that are hard to put in categories. With the help of Jez, the Library Genie we finally came up with a name for all the “stuff.” We are going to just call it “STUFF” and will be telling you about it as we find it.
Those of us raised by parents and grandparents from the late 1930’s and 1940’s have heard some variation on this phrase; “You have more s#ht than Shinola.” Or “You don’t know s#it from Shinola”. Just in case you were wondering … here’s the Shinola.
(Yes Bootblacks, we actually have some.)
The First Leather History Conference
There is a feeling you get when you finally come home after a long journey, that sense of belonging and love. That feeling of contentment and being able to release a deep breath that you did not realize you were holding until you stepped through the threshold. The moment of closing your eyes, exhaling and knowing that you have finally arrived. That feeling is exactly what it felt like for me walking into the Carter/Johnson Leather Library for the first time.
I am the next generation, that much was all ways made clear to me the day I went to my first Munch in the general BDSM/kink community. I started realizing though, as I prepped to run for North Carolina Leather Contest in December of 2010, that being the next generation is more than just being the next group leader, or Munch host, or even the next titleholder. My generation has been charged with the task of continuing to preserve our history as our elders have begun to do so.
I cried when I read about how much history and tradition was lost due to our Leatherfolk passing away, be it from AIDS, old age, overdoses, et cetera. I knew that I needed to step up and do something to keep this terrible loss of culture from ever happening again, and that is when the stories of the Library started floating to me. The Carter/Johnson Leather Library almost seemed like a fairytale when I first heard about it, something that surely was too good to be true. But the stories kept coming to me, and I knew that some day I had to go to the Library. So imagine how excited I was to find out that I was finally going to get that chance at Leather History Conference.
I will be the first to admit, being both a bibliophile and a child of a librarian, that the Library even intimidated me. I knew of the rare books, photos, movies, and other Leather pieces that were contained inside, and it was, at first, overwhelming, especially when peeking in from around the door. Yet when I finally entered, there was a peace inside and I knew that no matter what happened that everything was going to be ok. As I was lead by the hand through the rows of books, mangas, newspapers, magazines, playing card decks, and research documents, the big picture became clear: I am not alone.
This generation of up and coming kinksters and Leatherfolk are products of the internet, I know I certainly am. The upside, we discover things about our sexuality, such as our kinks, much sooner than previous generations. The downside, we are still incredibly isolated. Sitting in front of a computer screen is not the same interaction as going out to the bar for Bar Night, or to a play party, or even, to the Library. We might think that we know that we were not the first to start doing this, but when you can actually see things in front of you without a computer screen, that is when it really hits home. To have proof in your hands that you are not some kind of new and radical pervert, that it really is ok to enjoy the things that make you hot and wet, because others have been doing it long before even your grandparents, that is something that the internet can never give you.
The Carter/Johnson Library is home for all kink history, not just what could traditionally be considered Leather. It is part museum, part living creature, part dream, but it is entirely home. And with all the new forms of media being added, it is still growing, preserving even our newest parts of history. I swear I heard more laughter coming from the Library than the vendor’s hall. The excited faces coming out as they found something at Ziggy’s Corner that meant something to them, the love that flowed freely, the sense that all of us there, regardless of age, orientation, gender, and whatever hang ups the world might have about us, were where we were suppose to be, that is a priceless and precious gift that only something as special as the Library can give.
Ms North Carolina Leather 2011
The Carter/Johnson Library “… is part museum, part living creature, part dream, but it is entirely home”.
6 Things We Could Learn From The Swinger Community
The BDSM community draws a strict line in the sand in regards to the difference between Swinging and the BDSM lifestyle. Misconceptions about the Swinger community run rampant throughout our community. This article is not intended to delve into myriad definitions. Nor I am not against creating distinctions for the purposes of finding like-minded people. However I do take offense at the idea that there is an entire segment of the alternative sexual community that can be summed up in a series of stereotypes. The common perception of a swinger tends to be a heteronormative couple who are primarily interested in partner swapping and occasional bisexual female activities. That totally dismisses the large population of multi-gendered individuals who enjoy sexual gratification with various partner configurations. Far be it for me to display how many BDSMers often engage in sexual activities that could be classified as swinging. Nonetheless, I think there are a few things that all of us sexually adventurous people could learn from the long-standing traditions of the Swinger community.
If you are a lifelong member of the Swinger community, do not expect special treatment. There are no credentials to earn, no lifetime achievement awards or even perks simply because you’ve been around the block. If a party host lets you in for free, it’s because you are their friend. It’s not because your presence at their event will boost ticket sales. In some ways, this is refreshing. No one gets a crown because they’ve fucked longer, better, faster or stronger than the other attendees. It recognizes that each person brings a unique point-of-view. Each experience is judged on the merit of the chemistry of the people involved. The celebrity porn stars who attend the Swinger events often step through the doors without fanfare. Frankly, without close-up pussy shots most people wouldn’t recognize them anyway. More than once, I’ve seen them mingle through the crowds and find a partner for an evening of fun. They came for the same reason everyone did. Mind you, I think that it’s a wonderful thing to interact with people who have more BDSM experience. However, when the vast majority of that experience is digital and they’ve reached some new plateau in popularity, I find that hilarious at first then increasingly frightening.
Google it, I dare you. It’s pretty much non-existent. But how can that be when Swinging is one of the most popular forms of alternative sexuality in this country? National events like Hedonism II have been around since the 1970’s and attract thousands of people from around the globe. I believe the reason that Swinger Pride is unheard of is due to two factors. One is that many Swingers are not open about their lifestyle yet the same could be said for the BDSM community. The second reason is that it’s just not necessary. If you say you’re a swinger then guess what? You’re a swinger! Why do you need a bumper sticker when everyone takes your word? There is no need to prove your commitment to the Swinger community. You showed up. You paid the entrance fee. You’re dressed in your finest. Whether you participate isn’t an indication in your interest because many Swingers only hook up in private. With BDSM events, you don’t even get a gold star for attendance! You’ll need at least a year of shibari and over-the-knee spankings before people begin take notice.
Often the BDSM community has this sense that we should wait and see just how much someone cares about What It Is That We Do (WIITWD) before including them in the fold. I can understand that to an extent, given the fact that many of our activities have an added physical and mental risk. Yet, why do we assume that sexual behavior without the sharp toys can’t be fraught with danger as well? I don’t care who you are, there is a level of intimacy involved in fucking that can be just as hazardous to your health as many of the scenes in the local dungeon. In the Leather community, through hard work and sacrifice, your elders and peers will eventually reward you. Then comes the titles, covers, badges and more which you can showcase on your earned leather. That is where the pride comes in. The feeling of achievement and success coupled with the knowledge of the journey makes people want to declare their allegiance. There is also another side. With Swingers, if you are interested in the concepts enough to self-identify with the group, welcome to the party. Any conflicts that arise from Swinging are personal ones instead of interpersonal community politics trying to influence and direct your self-exploration. The lack of community expectations can be an open space to define yourself without having to justify it to everyone you meet.
Next to Godliness, I’m told. There really is no better way to explain it than this: You dress better when you think you’re about to have sex. I bet you look great in your pressed job interview suit. I’m sure your wedding photos look amazing. But I’m willing to bet money that you take a few minutes more to look nice when someone tells you, “Come to this event and beautiful strange women may suck your dick.” I love body odor as much as the next pervert. However, I have noticed a slight decline in Give A Fuck at kink events. For some, it’s another wonderful way people that can express themselves in an environment without society rules. For others, it appears as though they were sleeping in the back of a dump truck that happened to deposit them outside of the party. I don’t see that at Swinger events. Occasionally when I go squeeze into my finery, I appreciate seeing that I’m not the only one who took time to finish grooming before leaving the house.
All of those delicious vocabulary words connected to BDSM that are constantly declared, arranged, attacked, praised and vilified are enough to drive a kinky person off the nearest cliff! At some point everyone needs to define those words for themselves. They should also make an effort to clarify the definitions of what those words mean for their partners. All BDSMers will end up in a discussion, in person or online, where we’re arguing the semantics of sexual slavery or masochism. Then, each of us reached a point where we realize it’s fruitless. No one wins, very few change their minds and all you end up with is a pounding headache.
Swinger definitions are relatively easier to define. A soft swinger is a person who has sex with their partner around other people who have sex with their partner. Soft swapping is non-penetrative sex which includes oral sex even though I’m pretty sure most people enjoy penetrating a mouth when they receive a blow job. A full swap means penetrative sex (vaginal, anal) with a partner. I’ve yet to see online discussions full of confusion and vitriol where people berate confused newcomers on their lack of education. It’s just not that serious to the Swinger community. In a lot of ways I appreciate that clarity.
One of the best reasons for being publicly involved in the BDSM community is our focus on education. I applaud the concept of providing educational resources for all. A little education can be a dangerous thing however. Being a credible sex educator is a job like any other where people deserve to be paid for their knowledge. After all, if this information was so easy to get, there would be no need for the occupation. Every other type of teaching receives monetary compensation ranging from paychecks to grants. Often event organizers charge inflated rates to attendees and the featured educators receive little to nothing for their time. This has created a culture where many quality educators aren’t attending events because they don’t get paid for their time. That leaves a void for educators who are willing to speak for free. Free does not always equal quality. Classes can easily become platforms where misinformation gains a soapbox. At BDSM events, I’ve been “taught” that STIs (sexually transmitted infections) can be smelled and that blood play can’t pass HIV. Both of these things are incorrect and I shudder to think of the dangerous actions these beliefs may have lead others in the audience to commit.
Community sponsored misinformation creates a false sense of security. Attendees are operating under the assumption that a) the venue researched this person, b) the person researched their subject matter and c) this subject can be adequately condensed into an hour presentation. All too often, it’s just not the case. Excellent educators can still only provide so much information in a short time slot. A class is basically a Cliff Notes version. That may help you pass an English exam but it certainly isn’t the best way to learn edge play. This would be learning about brain surgery at the local YMCA. I don’t care how much you learn in that presentation, you still have a ways to go before you’re allowed to play in my gray matter.
For all our talk about consent, the BDSM community does a piss-poor job at it. If you engage in a non-consensual activity, rest assured! Your reputation will more than likely remain stellar. You won’t need to apologize, deny or even explain yourself too much. There is this myth that intention overrides everything. Yes, that person said no but you didn’t think it was a big deal. Your intention is as pure as snow. Their response was confusing and you don’t understand their reaction. Perhaps they aren’t as serious about BDSM as they claimed to be after all? Just stay with that line of thought and eventually the community will rally around your wonderful inner character even if your horrible outer character abuses people.
In Swinger Community, the first rule of every party I attended was, “No Touching Without Permission.” Absolutely none. It’s not up for interpretation or discussion. I attended Swinger events all over Maryland and DC for years. In all that time, I can only recall two times I was touched inappropriately. Both times, the hosts of the party handled it immediately. I’ve been fondled, humped, grabbed, kissed, licked and much more at kink events. To date, the most I’ve ever heard in response was, “If it happens again, let us know.” There is this definite sense that I should only involve them if it becomes too much to handle. It’s a good thing I’m a ballsy bitch. I can only imagine how traumatizing it might be for someone who really could use the support of the organizers of a “safe space”. Once at a Swinger event, I complained to another party attendee and before the night ended, the host sought me out. They asked what they needed to do to make me feel more comfortable. I got a free admittance to their next party and they apologized profusely. That instance was just a matter of a drunk person grabbing my ass so I let it go. But I remember feeling shocked that even something so seemingly small caught their attention.
The second time, I was having sex with a partner and a random guy grabbed my head to force me to give him a blow job. My partner jumped up and got the guy off me. Once again, I didn’t even need to tell the host. They found me, apologized, and informed me that the person had been removed from the party. No one asked me to explain myself. There were no online message board discussions about what I might have done to provoke this guy. There was no discussion about the necessary protocol. No one felt the need to defend my attacker as a “confused newbie”. It’s inappropriate to touch me and when it happened, it was handled swiftly. That is the type of comfortable environment where people continue to patronize and have naked fun. Think about it for a moment. How often do people create completely imaginary scenarios? Why would I pay $30 to attend then ruin my good time just to falsely accuse a stranger? It doesn’t make sense. It takes an extremely socially progressive event to accept the word of a victim instead of calling them a liar by default. Frankly, if a person is so new that they can’t comprehend that grabbing random asses is wrong, they might not be mentally mature enough to be there. A wonderful way to teach people what is acceptable is to have real consequences for their behavior. Not only have I seen people at BDSM events who are known for non-consent, many of them host parties, teach classes, write books and generally navigate the community with immunity.
Rest assured, I don’t believe the Swinger community should be raised on a Pedestal of Sexual Righteousness. I find aspects of the Swinger community extreme problematic. There are issues like racism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism and much more that need to be better addressed. Much like any community, they are a cross-section of American society at large. I do ask myself, if BDSM is more than just sex and a purely sexual community appears to more efficiently at addressing these delicate issues, what do we truly give to the larger alternative sexual community?
– Jaki Grier