Subcategories from this category:Bob's Personal Journey, Jen's Personal Journey, Kinky Stuff, Thoughtful Stuff, Travel Notes, Miscellaneous Notes, Leather
I’ve always operated on the fringes of the Leather community. I identify as “Leather,” but don’t behave the way the Leather community behaves. They are very active with Leather-related fundraisers and volunteer work; they dress Leather at conferences and have a good support network. Mostly, they’re gay, of either gender, but that doesn’t really affect their heart/spirit. I tend to do my own thing: I write books and have a magical home life with my Owner and slave.
Rather out of the blue, David Rhodes wrote to ask if I were going to be at the upcoming Pantheon of Leather conference in Chicago. “Well, I hadn’t thought about it.” I replied. “I think you may want to be here,” he said. In the end, he suggested strongly that if at all possible, I should attend. He wouldn’t really say why, but I got the idea.
Pantheon is David’s own personal conference and it is attended by a core group of serious Leatherfolk.
David produces The Leather Journal, a newspaper listing notable events in the Leather world (now replaced by Leatherati.com) and the winners of titles at gay bars across the US. He and his camera are fixtures at any M/s or gay leather conference. We’d been “chatting” for a number of years. By this point, I suppose I’ve been to 20+ conferences. As he generally attended both Beyond Vanilla and Southplains Leather Fest, I would have been seeing him twice a year since about 2003 or 4.
At any rate, I showed up and found most of the heavy-weight presenters from the Leather scene. They were “insiders,” I was an outsider. As it happens, I had been nominated and chosen as “Community Choice—man” for 2008. Completely unexpected, I guess I was getting known for the books.
Since I’m revealing quite a bit about myself and my life in these blogs, they just wouldn’t be complete without describing how Mistress, slave mindi, and I dressed for dinners.
This is going to be a “visual blog” rather than a written blog…
Here is a shot of the three of us…
Dressing Mistress for Dinner…
This is a formal shot of Mistress and I…
And THIS is slave mindi in all her glory!!
To round out this set, here I am with mindi…
Sadly, I don’t seem to have any saved pictures of ourselves at Table. An oversight.
My first book, “Protocol Handbook for the Female slave: theory and practice” came out in June 2006. Once I finished it I mentioned to Herbert that he had published the cart before the horse.
“What is that supposed to mean?” he asked somewhat gruffly.
“It means that you’ve published a book on how to make protocols without a book describing how to create an M/s structure that would even USE protocols.” I replied.
“Hmmmm. Okay. How long would it take you to write that one? Two months?” he asked
“God, no. I haven’t even thought of this. I’d have to do a lot of research and build an outline. After that, I can give you some idea.” I said.
“Okay, keep me posted.” He said.
I began working. By the end of summer, we had our second book in print. It was: “Master/slave Relations: Handbook of theory and practice.This book became the basis of my own M/s structure with my slave.
With these two books under my belt, I was prepared to begin doing presentations.
My first presentation “gig” was at Steven Segal’s request: Florida Fetish Flea. This was a small mostly-gay event in St. Petersburg, FL. It took place in a gay sanctuary—a hotel that surrounded a courtyard by its three wings: the other side of the courtyard was blocked by retail stores catering to gays. And, there was a theater for cross-dressers to perform burlesque. Karen’s parents drove over from Cape Canaveral—Judd and Kathy. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Insatiable Amazon (at 6’2” and then spike heels) was also a conference presenter (and friend) came over and spent time with us. It was absolutely magical. I presented on protocols and on M/s relations. These would be my primary presentations for nearly two years.
Master Taino gave me my first big break, letting me present at the Master/slave Conference in 2006. I’d been attending for a few years (since M/sC #2, in fact) but this was my first presentation at an “A-List” conference. I sold books and taught. This was a model that worked for me.
NOTE: From 2007-2013 Master Taino used me as the event photographer. While I enjoyed doing this, the hassle of bringing all that equipment with me to a conference was more than I was interested in. I judged in 2014, but did not return to MsC in 2015 or 2016.
Lady R was going to step down from her long tenure as SAADE’s Chief Counsel. Duncan was going to assume command; Duncan was a very savvy guy with lots of corporate experience behind him. I don’t remember how it started, but Duncan and David and I ended up meeting fairly frequently over the summer of 2005 in order to design a club that would generate its own leaders through merit. Remember, this is the only club in the US that uses the Native American system of meritocracy (vs. democracy).
Ultimately, after a number of whisky-and-cigar encounters, we ended up designing five “silos” feeding to Chief Council.
Education — programs
Strategic planning group
Club meeting liaison
Note: 2004-5 was a period of frequent sex and sm play. On the sexual side, we were very involved with the swing community and were regulars at The Jungle, Austin’s up-scale swing club. Jac (the owner) and I became very close friends. To calibrate what I mean by sexually active, my log shows that I had sex with 18 different women in 2004 and with 15 different women in 2005. Some of these were one-offs at The Jungle (Austin's kooky on-site swingers club), but many became multiple or long-term play partners.
Playing with many women gave me a lot of practice with my sex techniques. In particular, I’d become reasonably good at making girls squirt and at fisting. At one of The Jungle parties, a woman’s husband approached me about fisting his wife. This was my first time trying to fist a woman I didn’t know well. I was pretty anxious, but all went tremendously well and all three of us had lots of fun. That we didn’t have any lube has made that scene one of my most vivid recollections: I just kept licking my hand/wrist and…
Most of the sex play at The Jungle was straight sex, but there were one or two ladies with whom I did fire or knife play. Jac would invite me to do a fire play demo a few times a year and that usually resulted in some ladies asking for that experience later in the evening. There was an “exhibition platform” in the back house and that’s where I did the fire play.
I had a woman up on the exhibition platform and set off the flash cotton. Huge flash, of course; the crowd made appropriate gasps. Then, from the orgy room (three king-sized mattresses in a row) a man walked in, looked around, and said, “What’s up?”
We explained we had just set off some flash cotton (nitro cellulous). He said, “Oh. Okay. I’m the fire marshal for the University of Texas and just wondered what the flash was.”
Anyway, I was mentioning that I learned vanilla sex techniques from watching the guys and playing at The Jungle. I leaned to combine my play skills with sex techniques with those who become long-term partners; it was also a chance to build my kink skills.
On the “kink skills” topic, we were also attending play parties where I often was doing fire play demos there, too.
Herbert came over to our home in Lago Vista for a photo shoot last week. I was in my office. Herbert knocked on the front door, opened it, and called out: “Halooo, halloo” as he let himself in. He knew where I was. This all happened so quickly that he appeared before I had time to get out of my chair.
“What are you writing?” he asked.
“slave mindi’s protocol manual,” I replied.
“Let me see that,” he said. I handed him what I had thus far written and printed out. He thumbed through it.
“There’s nothing like this in print.” he declared.
“I don’t think there’s a market for a protocols book. Everyone has to make their own.”
“The last book that covered this kind of material was by Larry Townsend in 1979.”
“What didn’t you understand about what I just said?” I asked.
“What do you not understand about the fact that I’m the publisher in the room.” He replied. “How long will it take you to get this into publishable shape?”
“About two months.” I stated.
“Good. Shall we say September 15th, then?”
NOTE: This book, “Protocol handbook for the female slave: theory and practice” was the first of my non-fiction books about the M/s life. It turned out to be the start of a long string of books that continues to this day. I shot the cover photo. This was my slave's actual protocol manual. It is a snapshot in time of the way we lived from about 2006-2010.
Herbert ended up publishing about a dozen of my books over the years, a magazine that lasted a year, and six small books in the “Power Exchange Resource Series” group.
NOTE: I had set up a photo studio in our dance room and arranged photo shoots with female friends from our kink community about once a month over these few years. I should mention: a “photo shoot” for me means 3-4 hours, and perhaps as many as 400 images. As I shoot only on tripod under “hot lights” (always on, as opposed to strobe lights), the setting gives me a chance to adjust the lights and re-shoot, or to move an inch or two and re-shoot.
I have number of returning models, most notably Maitresse Elise...
When I started out, a kink friend was doing the scene set-ups with me. He was really great. He had a degree in theater design and was gifted at creating interesting backdrops for the photo shoots. He was also good at posing the models. I was not very inspired in that area.
Unfortunately, an upset grew between us when we both got involved with my publisher over a video project. I was the sole financial supporter, and it became apparent that Herbert was simply using my money to buy all kinds of expensive things without having established a marketing path for the products. I pulled my funding in the middle of the process and Herbert had to shut down the operation. As my friend had come to look at this as a job, he was very upset. He tried to file unemployment, then tried to sue Herbert. As Herbert is very careful in those ways, my friend was not successful, just angry. Much of the anger was directed towards me. It ruined our friendship, unfortunately.
I struggled on with the photography, but since I was not very good at setting up photo sets, I focused more on playing with pussy shots. That gave me a nice way to amuse myself and resulted in some pretty nice images, if I do say so myself.
Here I am with my 100-400mm zoom lens connected to a 2x tele-extender with the sun-shield in place. You can see that the lens is attached to the tripod with a "long-lens" Kirk "sidekick" mount. This enables you to pivot the lens in all positions without any effort.
I have always had a passion for photography. The photographic process slows me down and enables me to see in ways that I don't see in the same using a camera.
Even before college I had a Kodak retina reflex with three lenses. A 35mm wide angle and 135mm telephoto and 50mm standard lens. I have literally thousands of slides stored in the garage in carousels of 70 slides each. Some of the carousels hold 140 slides.
I actually only changed cameras on my trip around the world when I was 21. When I got to Hong Kong I bought Nikon F. At that time Nikon was the Cadillac camera. For me, the problem with a Nikon, is it it's huge. I had trouble managing it. I sold the Nikon and bought an Olympus 0M2 with those same lenses: 35mm, 50mm,135mm. The Olympus is a much smaller camera and it was much easier for me to manage it. I bought a second OM2 as a backup camera, and as I got better and learned more about shooting on a tripod, I bought an OM1.
I’ve added a nice array of lenses for my Olympus system. I bought an amazing lens through eBay. It was a 100-400mm macro zoom lens. Someone in Britain was selling it. I later found out that it was never commercially available. Essentially, I had a one-of-a-kind Olympus lens.
I used these cameras from my early 20s until 2002, when Alpha introduced me to erotic and fetish art photography. Through Alpha, I was given the opportunity to be the still camera photographer for a soft porn producer here in Austin. He had brought in some models (a couple were professional fetish models) and was photographing them playing in things like cake mix, a big mud pit, Jell-O, putting, and whipped cream. (Here are a couple of those shots.)
I had a great time and shot five roles of 35 mm slide film. I took the film into one of our two local professional photo printing companies and dropped it off with Nate. I told him to develop the slides and scan them. I was regular at this place, because I was custom-printing some of my nature photographs.
A few days later I went back to pick up the slides and the DVD of the scanned images.
I gave my order receipt to the guy at the counter but he said he had to go and find Nate. I thought that was somewhat unusual, but figured he was new. Nate came out and pulled me aside and said in a hushed voice: “We can't print these, they are showing nudity and our owners are very strict that we cannot print these kinds of images. They are against the law in Texas.”
I was at a loss. I explained to him that this was a commercial shoot. He went back and spoke to the manager and came back out with the manager. The manager said that he could personally come in and do this run over the weekend when they were closed but there would be a 50% surcharge and that I was not to bring images like this in for processing in the future. Right.
I had to pay the surcharge, because I been paid $450 for the shoot.
Once all was said and done, I bought a Nikon Coolpix so that I could work on the images and print them myself.
After I became comfortable with that little point-and-shoot camera, I spent a lot of time researching Nikon versus Canon digital cameras. These cameras had only been out about three years. Ultimately I chose the Canon line because they had a bigger mount for the lenses. I reasoned that the larger mount on the camera meant that the lenses would be more stable. Nikon had stayed with the same sized lens Mount as their manual cameras in order not to anger their loyal customers who would have collected a lot of lenses over the years. Canon looked at this differently. They felt that they could build lenses that would be more sturdy. Also the larger lenses enables Canon to put Zoom motors in those lenses that made them far faster and quieter than the comparable Nikon lenses.
My final decision concerned the way I use my camera. I do a lot of close-up photography, particularly of butterflies and insects on flowers. After much research I decided to buy 85mm tilt shift lens. At that time Nikon did not make that lends. Also all these larger lenses in the Canon line were image stabilized. At that time Nikon did not have image stabilization either.
So I started collecting lenses and over the next 12 years kept upgrading and changing Canon bodies to the point where I currently have a Canon 5D as my backup camera in the Canon 7D as my primary.
The first event that we could go to after our shock-introduction to NLA-A was a benefit party being put on by a group called “Touch of Leather.” This group is based in a community about 45 minutes north of Austin and run by a woman named Miz Lilly.
I contacted her by email and phone. I explained that we were totally new to BDSM, had never attended a play party and were a little anxious about what to wear.
“Do you have any fetish clothing?” she asked.
“Well, yes, we do.” I replied.
“Just wear that, but cover up in the parking lot.”
“Okay,” I said. “See you there.”
The last four lines are an abbreviated version of many conversations over a two or three week period as we worked ourselves up to actually going to this event. She was exceedingly kind, warm, welcoming, and informative.
When we walked in to “The Secret Rural Location” out in the middle of nowhere, she immediately recognized us. Of course she did: she knew everyone else that was attending that night!!
There were about 100 people in the facility – that turned out to be a horse auction barn. People were mostly being spanked and flogged. My immediate reaction was: “Ah. Home at last.”
We walked over and took seats at the edge of the play area. We noticed that people kept looking at us. We thought that was simply because we were new. Actually, it was because we were so outrageously and inappropriately dressed. (I was wearing a collar and leather shorts and Renee was in a fishnet body suit with a leather torso top.)
On Ambrosio’s site, it said that the NLA-A munch would be at Antoine’s restaurant on Friday, June 8 at 7. Meet by the bar to socialize, then retire for the club meeting.
We had absolutely no idea what the National Leather Association was.
We walked into Antoine’s at the appointed hour. There were a few people at tables and a cluster of six people sanding at one end of the bar. They werealldressed in black levi’s and black T-shirts. The heads of two of the four men were shaved. One woman must have been 6’2” but the man with her was like a mountain; the other woman was closer to 5’4”. Nobody smiled as Renee and I walked up. I was wearing khaki’s and a colorful shirt. Renee was similarly Austin-casual. These folks were a little stunned. We were a little scared. One of the men was David Dyson and he helped me so much that I feel my life has changed.
After the social, the six of us (Dr. Chocolate and his boy, David and Kelly, Lloyd and Lauri) went to the restaurant’s “back room” and had the business meeting. The president wasn’t there, so David, VP, led the meeting. They welcomed us and explained a bit about NLA and the Austin branch. They explained that although it had become pan-sexual a few years before, it was fundamentally a gay Leather club.
I nodded and smiled politely. None of this made a bit of sense.
This was on Friday.
That Sunday, the NLA-A club president and his wife, who was the GWNN Treasurer, among other things, got into some kind of marital dispute. It ended up that he shot and killed her, shot up his computer’s hard drive, and was (ultimately) killed by the responding SWAT team.
I received an email a few days later saying we’d wait a few weeks and then meet at Dr. Chocolate’s house for a healing get-together and wait a few more weeks before reconvening a club meeting.
We did all of that.
The party at their house was really nice. Beautiful swimming pool; beautiful home.
When we got together for the club meeting, the only people to show up were the same as had been there at our initial meeting. David became president, Dr. Chocolate (who had been president for many, many years) said he’d take VP. Kelly Green remained secretary. They needed a treasurer. They looked at me. “Oh, no.” I said. “You don’t want me. I do words, I don’t do numbers. You want Renee.” I said, pointing to her. “She’s a CPA.”
So… About six weeks after even discovering the world of BDSM, my wife (who grew up in Effingham, Illinois in a farming community) was elected to be the treasurer of a gay Leather organization.
It was an accident.
Since I didn’t know there was a kink community, I wasn’t looking for one.
I’d always loved to look at porn photos, and because I’m somewhat of a photographer myself, I started collecting porn shots. Over a period of a couple of years, I suppose I’d collected a thousand or so. By then, I was able to pick out those that were professionally shot (by photographers that clearly knew what they were doing) or were “happy accidents,” or were just sort-of blah.
I noticed that those copyrighted by Suze Randall stood out. I looked at her website. It turned out she had been a porn star when a bit younger, but had changed sides of the lens a few years back and now had the nicest set of models and studio set-up of anyone taking shots like these. Clearly, these were extremely sophisticated and well-designed shots that made liberal use of cosmetologists. The make-up was stunning.
Anyway, I ended up subscribing to her site. This was the first porn site I’d ever paid for.
In the early years of her site (SuzeRandall.net) she had a “resources” page. It listed some of her sources for the latex the models wore: WhipLash in Los Angeles. It also listed the owner’s name: Connie. It also had a calendar for kinky events.
One of the events was in Houston: The Texas Latex Party. I called Connie and asked about it. She explained that Klaus ran it, was very friendly, and to call him up and say she sent me.
I called Klaus. As it happened, the huge TLP was only two weeks away–second weekend in March. I asked a bit about it and he encouraged us to come. On a whim, I asked him, “About how many outfit changes to the ladies make per day?” “Oh,” he said, “I suppose 4-6.”
I told him that we were not prepared this year to come, but would attend in 2001. He understood, but invited us to Houston to a formal dinner he was giving in a few months that included most of the TLP board of directors. “But, we don’t have that level of latex, yet.” I protested. “No matter, just wear a tuxedo.”
Tuxedos were not a problem. Gowns for Renee were not a problem. We had a fantastic time.
But, to get back…
When we attended that dinner in early May, Klaus asked how I’d heard of TLP. I said “Through Connie, why?” He replied that most people find him through Ambrosio’s website, as he keeps the Texas kink calendar.
Ambrosio? Kink calendar?
After we got back to Austin, I looked up Ambrosio’s (extremely interesting) site, found the calendar and quite a bit more. Ambrosio keeps a kind of wiki of extremely good BDSM orientation, safety, and techniques articles. This was all great news to me. I was 52 years old. Totally new concept, BDSM. Never crossed my mind. Not the kind of porn images I’d been seeing.
On the calendar, I discovered that in about a week there would be a meeting of something called: “NLA-Austin.” Seemed as good as anything, and the timing was off for going to the GWNN munch. As I didn’t know anything about either group, the decision to go to NLA-Austin was purely coincidental.
(The photo is of Elorin and me. Renee and I entered the kink world through high-end latex. I'm in my Captain's jacket and Elorin is wearing my Tails. You can see more of Elorin as we release more of my erotic and fetish art images.)