Recently, Betty Butch was doing some research for an article, and did a small interview with me about my puppy persona.
How shall I refer to you?
my pup name is rowdy and pup pronouns are he/him, but if you’re referring to me as the human, you can call me rife, property of Mx. Sexsmith, pronouns he or they.
Tell me about yourself
My pup is a husky-corgi mix named Rowdy. He is super friendly and loves wrestling and human attention. He enjoys the outdoors and– OMG BALL!!
When did you first hear about puppy play, and how did you come to participate?
I probably saw it first at Folsom street fair about ten years ago, and thought, cute! that looks fun. But was much more on the giving scritches side than getting them for a long time. I played one time with a pup who did a whole sled dog team and that was pretty inspiring.
What does puppy play mean to you? What does your experience of puppy play look like?
For me, it is a playful, nonsexual way to be extroverted in kink spaces without the anxiety of having to be verbal. It can look like wrestling or cuddling or playing fetch.
Can you tell me about a scene or moment that encapsulates your love of play / pup headspace?
I like to be told I’m a good boy, so training with my dominant/handler can be fun… but the most memorable was after my cis-pup died in a kind of tragic way, I happened to be at a kink event at the time and couldn’t bear people asking me how i was doing because i was devastated. So that was the first time I was in full pup mode in public, and it was healing… it felt like a way to be closer to my dog who had just passed, remembering her body language and enacting it. And after, we did a piercing ritual still in pup space.
Would people be surprised to know you engage in puppy play? Why or why not?
Depends on where they know me from. ;) We don’t talk about it much on the blog or as titleholders, but my pervert friends would not be surprised. I love animals and am a dog walker part time as one of my vanilla jobs.
If you could give advice to someone curious about puppy play (whether private play, or going to events/moshes), what would that advice be?
You don’t need any gear, just have fun. Practice nonverbal consent a lot and have a plan in place if your boundaries are pushed (standing up or saying “no” works). Pups come in all shapes, sizes, ability levels, and genders, so don’t sweat it if you’re the only one not on your knees or with your particular plumbing. I paw-mise, there are others like you!
I’ve heard more speeches in the leather community lately than I have ever in my life, and I gotta say — I’m moved. There is some beautiful oratory happening, some strong inspiration, some insight and sharing and vulnerability and power that I haven’t seen in a long time.
It’s how I used to feel, in feminist and queer activist circles. At all those rallies and meetings and events. But I haven’t felt that way about queer and feminist events in a while. Leather feels more at home, and more edgy, and like more relevant topics.
Here are two examples from this past year: Bianca Spencer, current Ms Rubber San Francisco, at the Ms Powerhouse Leather San Francisco contest, and Jack Thompson, at International Mr Leather in May of last year, delivering what became his winning speech.
Bianca Spencer’s speech from Ms Powerhouse Leather SF contest
Bianca, the current Ms Rubber San Francisco, gave this speech during the Ms Powerhouse Leather San Francisco contest — and I was moved. I mean, I think we all were. I haven’t been so inspired by a speech in a long time. Thank you, Bianca!
Congratulations Missy Boots on winning the title you have earned many times for over the past 14 years.
Thank you to Pedal Pups for letting The UnRuly Social Club take over their regular bar night for this amazing evening.
“Just for clarification purposes, I don’t care what gender the hospital assigned to you and then told your mama as they handed you off. But when I say women I mean ALL women. If you don’t know what that means, google. “
“We are blessed enough to live in a fetish rich area. Walking down the streets it’s not uncommon to see Corcoran’s or Wesco’s and a bar vest strolling down the Castro next to the tech bros in hoodies and rest of their awful fashion choices. But the moment I saw the leather pride flag displayed next to the bear flag at the Strut, it solidified my need to live here. 18 months later, I crossed the California border and haven’t looked back since. I was lucky, I had the access to pick up and live a whole new life. But not everyone is as lucky or has the same ability to find a home like ours. In most places I might be one of the only women nevermind the only black girl around.
In setting up the victory party, I was able to easily contact 4 separate groups predominately run by women to do the official after party. In less than 24hrs, we had 4 “yes’s” and official logos to boot. I didn’t need a directory or heavy online research to find them. Didn’t even need the search the dreaded dark pages of Fetlife. I just sent them a message on Facebook. But I also understand it wasn’t because of luck that I was able to find them. I wish it was that easy. The local women’s community is an example of hard work, dedication and nerve. They refused to give up. They joined leadership positions. They played the community politics. They took over corners of the bars with the best resting bitch face they could muster. And if it was a good night, they might have gone home bruised and bloody with a smile on their face instead of being chased out of whatever bar or party they tried to attend.
The Bay Area is home to some pretty big names, but its also filled with a plethora with unsung heroes who just came early to set up events, sold raffle tickets, showed up every weekend determined to get that bootblack shift, or even the femme with her crinoline and swing skirt who refused to give up and stood at that bar until someone served her. Non-male identifying Bootblacks elbowing to make space in the back of the bars because who was going to tell them they couldn’t. For every woman, non-binary person, trans person you know making space, there’s 5 more behind them who gave up the fight and went home because they are too tired and this must not be the space for them. And I’m not even going to begin to intersect race into this conversation….
As exhausted as we are, we still are fighting for visibility. Fighting for space. Today we get a lone rack of gendered clothing at one our most popular local leather stores and maybe one day I’ll see our bodies, complete with surgery scars, cellulite, body hair on a poster for a party or an major event without asking to be visible in the community we helped create. But even with all of the bullshit, we are still luckier than most. Most of the country is searching online looking for something someone anyone or anything that fits into what they feel in their heart or the deviant thoughts in their mind. We happen to live in an area where the groups of nonbinary folks, trans folks and women before us (and still us) hear the word no and think “oh honey. No isn’t a safe word”.
So we continue to fight. We continue to claim space. We continue to command the respect we deserve. We aren’t willing to let you forget that we are here. You will see us. And I’ll be damned, you will hear us.
For the majority of the kinky/fetish nonbinary, trans folks and women there are bars we don’t feel safe walking into, if we are even welcome to walk through the front door. Which we usually aren’t. We have to think about safety in a way cis man don’t. Thank you but the bathroom is NOT the only place where we need to feel safe.
We have to continually prove ourselves just to receive basic levels respect. (How many times do I need to give you my resume?) We are told to give up our precious time with family or fuck buddies to join a board , be on a committee, or we just do the damn work ourselves because my apparently voice isn’t important enough to listen to unless I dedicate how many volunteer hours?
There have been many discussions over women and non-binary bar titles. I have been asked about my experiences in and outside our little local leather bubble usually by gay cis men. After I tell them what happened the other day in a bar, online or while visiting a proprietor that I literally want to give my money to or where I might be one of the handful of women present. Typically I hear “I had no idea… I thought we fixed this…. I am so sorry but is it really the space for you?”. Yes. Yes it is. So I have decided that our marginalized communities don’t need to talk more, you need to listen better. As my first grade teacher Mrs. Costa instilled “use your listening ears” which easily translates to zip your lip and open your heart.
To quote a long forgotten white man: “don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did…backwards and in high heels.’ While those gender norms are antiquated, it showcases the amount of times we have bent over backwards and danced the danced. And for what? In the year of our Queen, in Beyoncé’s 2019 , while hearing Lizzo blasting from every apartment and bar with a rainbow flag attached, I sometimes still can’t get served without a man ordering my drink for me. But you happily tell me to sashay and slay.
So one of the questions I would like to ask those running these contests “is this space safe for the person running for this title”? Do I see them as an ambassador to the community or as a box we checked off? Can they be here without me and feel welcomed? What about those without a winning patch on their back or a title to their name, Is their space for them here?”
I implore the first Ms. Powerhouse to not only make space for themselves but pave the way for others who will never grace this stage. Whose name isn’t regularly popping up on someone’s Facebook feed. Who hasn’t found community yet, but is getting ready to step foot into their first leather bar and is absolutely fucking terrified.
I hope you piss people off. I hope you stand firm in your beliefs. You might become tired and frustrated. But we are here with you. I will stand behind you when you start to stumble. Because while this might be “just another bar title” to some. I know you are much more than that. You have already made history. You are already courageous. You will speak in places that some of us will never get the opportunity to grace. Use your voice. Make it loud. Make it clear. and when you need to be louder, ask me for mine. As Malala Yousafzai once said “I raise up my voice—not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. … We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.” Collectively we have been impatiently waiting to meet you and will do everything in our power to support you. “Individually we are one drop, together we are an ocean.”
Jack Thompson’s speech at International Mr. Leather
I haven’t found the transcript for Jack’s speech yet, though I think I saw one at some point so I do think it’s out there somewhere. Jack is breaking down boundaries as an out, bi-racial, bisexual, HIV-positive trans man, and there has been some push back from the cis men in leather, but equally powerful support. It seems clear to me why he won, when I heard this. #JackIsMyIML
Rand Leather (on etsy or on follow on tumblr) is a one-man-show out of Maine where Matthias Rand makes all kinds of leather goods from scratch. In addition to these bondage cuffs and bow ties (which I’ll tell you more about in a minute), I’ve also seen chest harnesses, suspenders, and even leather dresses that he’s made.
If you liked that Aslan Leather binder harness that I posted recently, but you want something a little differently shaped, check out Rand Leather’s binder harnesses. They are custom built and beautiful.
The cuff and bow tie were the items Rand Leather sent to me to check out.
First: the bondage cuff!
I love it. I wear it often. I love that it is an accessory that is also a toy and tool. See, it unwraps from around the wrist to have two square-rings (what do you call them? Square o-rings? Square metal bits?) along the leather that, when you snake the other end through in an S shape, makes a pair of handcuffs.
It works exactly like a bondage belt, only miniature!
It’s become one of my staple outfit pieces at recent leather events and I’ve worn it at IMsL, Northern Exposure, and Queer Invasion (to name a few this year). (Also, that tells you I’ve been really behind on reviewing. Sorry!)
Now: the bow tie!
It has not become the staple to my fancy leather dress collection that I would have expected. I think mostly that’s because I’ve discovered that I just don’t like wearing bow ties that much. I love the look on other people, and I keep thinking that I could rock it if I just had the right one, but it doesn’t quite fit. Too nerdy? I mean, I am pretty nerdy. Maybe it’s the proportions.
I think part of it, too, is that I have a pretty large chest and I don’t like having things on my neck or upper chest. It’s hard enough just binding, which often pushes my breasts up higher in order to flatten them and makes wearing a tie right under my chin really uncomfortable.
The bonus is, it looks really really adorable on rife. So here he is modeling the beautiful leather bow tie.
These pieces are both available on Rand Leather’s Etsy store, and both the bondage cuff and the leather bow tie come in other colors!
Last year, Carrie Grey, creator and owner of Aslan Leather, custom built me one of his leather TG Chest Harnesses. I’ve worn it a few times over the past year, like at IMsL and to a couple of smaller play parties, but just this month I wore it to Folsom Street Fair—and whoa that was quite the experience!—with rife and his dog.
I really don’t like crowds, or hot weather, so being in an extremely crowded blocked-in couple city blocks on a sunny day was not my ideal situation. But it was really fun to see so many kinky people in one place. Fascinating, really. (I particularly liked Vivian Fu’s photo essay of this year’s Folsom.) We eventually made it to the women-and-trans area, and then promptly camped out and didn’t leave that space until we were ready to head back to Oakland. I liked their gender policy: the women-and-trans tent included anybody who does identify as a woman, has identified as a woman in the past, or will identify as a woman in the future. Clever, I thought.
I got a lot of compliments on the Aslan Leather chest harness. It’s hot and comfortable and unique for someone with a chest like mine (36DD) to be wearing something like that. I left it over my binder and tee shirt all day, but had it as a possible option to wear it bare chested.
Here’s the Aslan description:
This is box title
Ever wish you could wear a chest harness out to a party or event without a T shirt underneath? ASLAN’s new TG chest harnesss is designed to function like a binder and a chest harness. The 3- 4″ wide leather chest strap can effectively flatten up to a C cup chest. The harness pictured has a 4″ wide strap. This harness is made with comfortable heavy weight glove leather, wich allows you freedom of movement for all types of play situations, and because it’s an ASLAN you can be sure it is guaranteed for life!
To order please provide the following measurements: Chest, cup size (if applicable), height. This is a custom piece made to order so please remember to include your measurements.
Please note! The measurements part is important. When I wrote to Carrie requesting this piece, I gave him my measurements, but I was wrong. Very wrong. I gave him old measurements that I thought were accurate, but did not account for the weight I have recently gained (lots of which, let’s be honest, ends up in my chest). That sucked—the first binder he built for me didn’t fit, and he had to go back and basically remake the whole thing.
Don’t send the wrong measurements. Get someone who knows how to measure bodies for outfitting well to measure you, and get a current measurement.
Carrie snapped a few photos when I tried it on in the Aslan studio in Toronto last fall:
I kept hoping to wear it during a photo shoot and get more better photos of it, but I haven’t had many (any?) photo shoots since I picked it up (oh except for that one with Meg Allen, but we were taking professional shots and not really kinky ones, which is why I didn’t wear it then). I’d still like more better photos of me in it, but I don’t want not having the perfect photo to hold me up in telling you about how awesome this is. And hey, the holidays are coming up, right? Don’t you need a great present for somebody in your life, or yourself?
I like the way it looks! And it feels really good and fun to wear. I even like the way my chest looks naked underneath it. I wouldn’t have expected that.
I’m catching a plane tomorrow for Anchorage, where the third annual Northern Exposure kink conference will be taking place.
NE is run by Sarha, who was just sashed International Ms. Leather 2013 at the IMsL weekend and contest in April in San Francisco. I was on the judging panel for this year’s IMsL contest, and while I promise I didn’t play favorites (Alaska rules!), I’m thrilled that my home state is representing the leather community this year, and I’m really excited to participate in the conference she produces.
The lineup looks pretty incredible. Though NE is remote, Sarha has attracted an incredible group of presenters who are teaching on a wide array of advanced topics. I’m particularly interested in the many M/s workshops that are offered, and I suspect I’ll be sitting in on as many of those as I can, taking copious notes. That’s a recent study subject of mine that I am really enjoying delving deeper into. I’m also really excited that Midori is presenting! I have been in classes of hers before, but it’s been many years, and I’m looking forward to learning from her. Lee Harrington is also going to be teaching!
Northern Exposure happens to coincide with Pride fest, so Sarha hooked me up with the folks over there, and I’m going to be teaching Writing Dirty, my skills for writing about sex class, on Thursday night (tomorrow!). I’m up against Drag Queen Bingo, so I suspect it might be a small class, but I hope we’ll have some good discussions and write some interesting sentences. I LOVE teaching writing classes, and often the ideal class number is something like 7-12, so I will be very happy with a small class.
The boy is coming with me. We’ve met at leather conferences before, but aside from IMsL in April, we haven’t actually come and gone from one together. And at IMsL, we didn’t get to play much (you know, just once or twice a day for short scenes, no big epic gang bang like at Winter Fire, no long, elaborate scene like at last year’s IMsL. I’m glad he’ll be there with me. I’m only teaching one class, Cock Confidence, aside from the writing class for Alaska Pride, so I should have some really nice time to play.
(Hopefully I’ll come back with some good stories to tell y’all.)
And, speaking of IMsL.
International Ms. Leather 2013 Sarha and International Ms. Bootblack 2013 bella join the IMsL and IMsBB alumni on stage at this year’s contest and leather weekend
I’d never judged a leather contest before. I attended IMsL the year before, but I’m not particularly familiar with leather contests. I’ve been more and more involved with the leather scene in the past few years, attending more leather conferences, events, and happy hours, and participating in more conversations online about leather and reading up on leather history and culture, but I’ve only recently really come to understand the difference between BDSM, kink, and leather, which, though related, are slightly different.
I’ve been kinky since as long as I can remember, adding sensation play and power dynamics to my friendships, playtimes, and interactions since my first adolescent sexual experimentations, and probably even a bit before that. I’ve considered myself part of the BDSM communities since … well, at least formally since about 1999 when I got my official membership to the SPCC, the Sex Positive Community Center (now the Center for Sex Positive Culture) in Seattle. But I’d only ever really gone to classes or events to gain a particular skill to take back to my bedroom—I never really stuck around in the leather community.
Until recently. Really it was Dark Odyssey that started me on that path in a significant way. I thought I was familiar with leather culture and the kink/BDSM worlds, but when I started teaching more at leather events, I experienced how different it really was, and realized how I’d longed for leather community even without knowing it. I was on the board of the Lesbian Sex Mafia in New York City around that time, too—clearly seeking some more kinky community, not just to support my own kinky efforts but also to immerse myself in and learn new, different things.
I found a lot of what I was seeking at Dark Odyssey, and I found a lot of people who really felt like my people in a new way. (I’m kind of sad to be missing Fusion, which is next week! But it was either Fusion or Northern Exposure, and I’m so glad to be in Alaska right now. I don’t know if I’ll make it to Summer Camp in Maryland in September, but I would really like to. I’ve been two years in a row and I’ll miss it if I’m not there.)
So when I ran into Glenda Ryder, who runs IMsL, at Summer Camp last summer, I was thrilled to consider the possibility of being a judge for IMsL 2013. I knew very little about the history of leather contests, what it pertains, what a judge would do (aside from the obvious, duh), but I’d attended once (and watched almost exactly 20 minutes of the contest) and was interested in being more involved with leather culture, so I said yes.
The judges judging | The judges brief moment in the spotlight, onstage, when they introduced us
I spent more time with the judges panel than anyone else that weekend, and they were lovely people I’m thrilled to know. (One of my favorite activities was passing dirty fairy tale stories back and forth with Tillie during the contest.) It was great to spend some time with KD Diamond, and Sarah Vibes, both of whom I know from New York, and to meet Woody, the current International Mr. Leather, and hear more about the traditions of leather, fundraising, queerness, and history.
I spent so much time at the contest part of the conference itself that weekend in April that I barely had time to do much else—I didn’t attend any of the workshops, though I wish I had. I did send my boy to attend a power exchange relationships class called “Exploring and Deepening M/s, D/s and PowerExchange Relationships” taught by Liza and Jody, which was excellent, from what he relayed, and he took many interesting notes and gathered some concepts we still discuss. I also participated in a author’s meet and greet with Mollena, Laura Antoniou, and Tillie King (one of my fellow judges), hosted by Mr. and Ms. SF Leather, where we read some snippets of our work (and got to see many of the literarily-inclined folks at the conference congregate in one place, which totally got me hard).
Oh! And, here’s a quick sidenote: Laura Antoniou read from her most recent book, The Killer Wore Leather, which is a murder mystery set at a leather contest conference weekend. I picked up the audiobook on Audible.com for the long 5-day drive through Canada to Alaska, and Rife and I have been listening to it and really enjoying it. The reader is excellent, and the story is really fun. It’s kind of amazing to see our community through an outsider’s lens, and it’s also a very tight insider’s satire. If you want to know more about leather community, this book is definitely a fun place to start. Full review to come when we finally finish the book.
I also taught a Flirting & Foreplay class, for which Rife designed a little IMsL flirting bingo card, which was a fantastic hit. I want to do that again, and I think all leather conferences should have a flirting bingo card in their conference bags.
I don’t have tons to say about the actual contest itself, aside from that it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed being behind the scenes but still in an important role as a judge, as someone described it to me that weekend. I don’t always want to have attention on me, but I do like to be important, somehow, so that felt good. I thought the contestants were incredibly well spoken, all had very impressive resumes (and formal leather), and had both new young spunkiness and wise experience from many years of serving and guiding and participating in these communities. I learned a lot.
I’d prefer to go to more classes, and I’m looking forward to being more of a participant at Northern Exposure this coming weekend than I will be working. I hope to have some fun, learn some things, and have lots of conversations about what it’s like to be kinky in Alaska.
I’ve got lots more things to say about Sarha and how she won (she won!) on an excellent platform about outreach to leather in little towns and not just big cities, how she excited (and kinda scared) everyone with her black bear fur lined chaps (where do you think leather comes from, folks?) and how it felt to have my Alaskan identity coming together with my queer and kink identities, too. I could talk about the MC and how unimpressed I was with her racist jokes (just because you “make fun of everybody” does not exclude you from racism). I could talk about the beautiful redhead who had a pet girl on a leash with her all weekend, and a new friendship and relationship that has bloomed from a distance. But this post is already 1600 words long, and it’s time to go to bed, even though it’s 10:44pm and the sky is still light.
It’s going to be even lighter in Anchorage. I’m really looking forward to soaking up all the midnight sun I possibly can.
(Official conference photos by Rich Trove, thanks Rich!, except for the instagram ones taken by me.)
IMsL, the International Ms. Leather contest and one of the biggest gatherings of leather dykes and queers I’ve ever been to, starts tonight! I’m really looking forward to this weekend, to being a part of the contest behind the scenes (I’ll be judging!), and to catching up with so, so many friends from all over the country who will be in attendance.
And! I want to send out a serious congratulations to the 2012 IMsL family, IMsL 2012 Synn Evans, IMsBB 2012 Tarna Scyanne, and 1st runner up Angel Propps. I’ve been following some of the adventures and tours and travels of these folks this past year, and they’ve done fantastic things being representatives of the leather community, doing outreach, gathering support for causes, raising money, and generally raising hell. I’m proud of Synn and her efforts to reflect multi-dimensional, complicated identities and issues within these communities. Thanks, Synn, for your year of service and all you’ve done.
So badass, right? I’m excited for Synn’s roast on Friday night especially. I’m gearing up to say … some stuff.
I made a special stop at Cleis Press to pick up some more copies of Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica (that I usually call “queer kinky smut”), the anthology that I edited that came out last year. I’m still incredibly proud of this collection and if you don’t have a copy of it yet, pick one up from me at IMsL and I’ll be glad to sign it for you! It’s got a pretty incredible lineup of stories and it’s dirty as hell.
I’ve also got the beautiful and “game changing” pack and play silicone cocks by New York Toy Collective, Shilo. I’ve got a couple different colors. They’re $135 each, which I know is a lot and can be preventative, but they are absolutely worth it. My Shilo has replaced two or three other cocks I used to carry around for different reasons (one for blow jobs; one for fucking someone who might not want to use my other favorite, the Maverick, because that one is sometimes too big; one for packing) and I love that it’s become my go-to cock. Maybe even my desert island cock, meaning the one I would bring to a desert island if I could only bring one. Depends on who I was on the island with, probably!
Here’s some other great things about Shilo:
The way the spine can curve means that it conforms to a person’s body better, and that means it doesn’t slip out as easily
It’s excellent for prostate or g-spot stimulation, since it can curve to any direction
The internal spine is a “proprietary core,” which the NYTC tells me means they “can’t tell you what’s in it,” but it does contain metal (which means it might show up as a blip on an airport security scan). The core is also wrapped in layers of silicone, and they haven’t had any instances of the inner bendable core poking through the silicone. It could hypothetically happen, but the layers are very thick and seems very sturdy
Of course, it is really good for packing and then fucking!
I’ll have my Square on me, so you can actually buy one with a credit card if you’d like to, or you can make sure to bring cash. Which color do you want? Let me know and I’ll save one for you!
Sinclair’s note: This concludes the open relationship mini interview series! I’m debating if I should do more of these mini-interviews, and I might. I’m thinking one about breakups or transitioning relationships, one about healing, one about long term relationships, one about D/s and protocol … Alright so I’ve got plenty of ideas.
Note: I personally use the term “poly” to talk about my relationship(s) not “open.” Additionally possibly useful information – I’ve been in a primary partnership with my partner for coming up on 9 years. Our relationship has always been poly. I came out into a community where poly relationships were very much the norm. Every “serious” relationship I’ve ever been in has involved 24/7 D/s, and my partner and I were already very poly experienced when we got together.
1. What insight about open relationships would you share with your younger self?
I think the biggest piece of advice I could ever give my younger self would be to spend less time worrying about what other people think, or trying to create what I thought I should want, as apposed to what actually felt good to me. What I mean here is I have at times felt pressure to enact being poly in certain ways (dating, sex etc.) because of queer cultural pressures that normalized or privileged certain kinds of interactions or relationship dynamics when the reality is I’ve never been happier or felt more fulfilled than I have in my D/s leather focused relationships which is at this time as a general rule non-sexual.
2. What has been the hardest thing about navigating your open relationships, and how have you overcome that?
I suppose I’ve already talked about this a little bit above. I think the biggest challenge for me has actually had very little to do with my relationship(s) and everything to do with the queer culture relationship norms that I found privileged sex, and specific dating focused types of romantic connection. I consider myself Leather oriented as apposed to sexually oriented. My primary partner/Daddy and I have been together for nearly 9 years. Ze has a wonderful girlfriend (a “good egg” I call her) and they have been together for upcoming 2 years. Previously ze has dated other people, and I have been involved with others as well. My partner and I live in a 24/7 Daddy/boy D/s dynamic and are (at this point and for quite some time) happily non-sexual with one another – a fact which shocks/horrifies/confuses many queer folk.
On top of that, I have a complicated relationship to sex/dating/relationships. As a general rule I am fairly uninterested in that type of connection to other people though I have dated and/or hooked up with folks in the past. Generally I find it particularly rewarding to date the books that I am writing, and very intimate though entirely non-sexual relationships with my leather/queer family.
3. What has been the best thing about your open relationships?
One of the best things about being poly and having non-normative relationship structures has been the ability to live the kind of queer life I’ve always dreamed of. We create the rules for our life, building the kind of relationship(s) that are fulfilling and engaging for us, knowing that for each person that will take a different form. My partner and I are better together as a couple/family because of the connection we have to others in our lives – for my partner that looks like romantic “grown-up” relationships, and for me that primarily looks like the way I engage with my queer/leather family. Because we are poly and don’t expect the other to meet all of our needs be they emotional/intellectual/creative/sexual/etc. We are able to hone and focus our relationship on what is best about who we are to each other. In our case, that means that we create a beautiful home together sharing the ups and downs of daily life, we support one another creatively, and at the core of our relationship is the playful, whimsical magic of our Daddy/boy dynamic.
So you’ve heard about Summer Camp, or at least, about how I met the boy there. And you heard about what happened at Fusion this year, which will give you a little more context (and a photo!) for the beautiful camp where the Dark Odyssey summer events are held.
Have you thought about attending?
In a purely selfish move (because I am completely invested in having very, very sexy hot queer, butch, femme, genderqueer, trans, and gender-aware folks in attendance) I want to extend you an invitation to come this year.
(And yes, that is the kind of come I mean, pervert.)
They’re starting to call it “Dark Odyssey’s intimate family reunion,” and aside from that, it’s the most queer of the four events that DO runs. Or at least, it seems the most queer to me—it’s the smallest, so the ratio of number of queers to general perverts is bigger.
I have been kinky for a long time, since before I was really out and queer even, but my experiences with the leather and kink communities when I was young led me to believe that that world wasn’t really for me. Seems a lot has changed in the last ten (gulp—fifteen) years, though, and I’m really glad I took the chance and went to Summer Camp last year. It’s introduced me to the leather world in a way that I didn’t even know I was missing, but of course that’s part of me and what I do. Being immersed in it for a whole weekend has changed how I interact with kink and leather worlds, and I’ve attended a lot more events, meetings, workshops, and conferences in the past year than I have before.
But, want to know a secret? Summer Camp is still my favorite.
Not only because of that cute boy and that we met there (and will be celebrating one year together there this year), but also because it’s queer, casual, so gender-accepting, full of sexy people, full of amazing workshops (that I swear I will attend more of this time), full of tons of equipment to play on … and OUTSIDE! I love listening to the trees and watching folks wander around outside topless (or completely nude), love the fire pits in the evening.
Details from Dark Odyssey:
Beat the heat and the rate increase and bring your summer to a climax with Dark Odyssey: Summer Camp 2012! Our Early Registration rates are still available if you register this weekend!
Summer Camp is Dark Odyssey’s intimate family reunion. A place where, surrounded by other experienced players, you can go deeper and more intense than anywhere else. All happening in an immersive play-centered atmosphere that blends our darkest desires with the fun and whimsy you’d expect from someplace called “Summer Camp.”
We’ve got a fabulous line up of events, presenters and workshops that you won’t want to miss:
Events Include: The Full Monte Carlo Kinky Casino & Auction ~ Cruising in the Dark ~ Whose Kink Is It Anyway – a lifestyle improv show ~ The Asylum of Love & Lust ~ Kinky Crafting Fair ~ Explore & Taste ~ Jim Deuder’s Bootblack Hour ~ Switch It Up! ~ Erotic Massage Party ~ Sex-O-Rama Night ~ Bare Stories ~ Breakup Bonfire ~ Guided Anal Self Exploration
Presenters: Capt. Gordon ~ Del ~ Finn ~ Fire Tashlin ~ Jefferson ~ Jim Deuder ~ Lee Harrington ~ Lolita Wolf ~ Murphy Blue ~ Slutress ~ Sinclair Sexsmith ~ Sir C ~ Strap-On-Jo ~ Vesper ~ Wintersong
Selected Workshops: Water Wrasslin’ ~ Needleplay as S/M ~ Sewing It Shut ~ Art of the Not-So-Deep Throat ~ Chewtoy – Erotic Biting ~ Going Deep ~ Shapeshifter: A Journey in Astral Gender and Desire ~ Sensory Deprivation & Control ~ Hojojutsu and Take Down for the BDSM Practitioner ~ Fucking Forever: Sex in Long Term Relationships ~ Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Sex Ed ~ Plays Well With Others ~ Rough Housing & Kinky Wrestling ~ Improv in the Dungeon: From Roleplay to Dirty Talk ~ Event Survival ~ Hands-On Caning ~ GenderQueer Bondage ~ Hot Stuff: Fire Play ~ Predicament Scenes ~ Cock Confidence: Strap-On 101 ~ First Impressions: How Not to be a Douchebag ~ David vs Goliath: Rough Body Play for Tops and Bottoms of Different Sizes ~ Talk Dirtier ~ Speed Bondage ~ And Plenty More …
Did you spy my workshops up there in that list? I’ll be teaching:
Fucking Forever: Sex in Long Term Relationships
New relationship energy can propel a couple into a phenomenal experiential phase of sexual energy—bursts of passion, exploration, and intensity. Long term relationships, however, face the day-to-day life navigation of bills, scheduling, job and career difficulties or changes, disappointments, changes, and grief. How do we build a long term relationship that keeps the passion alive? How do we ensure we have enough time for our partner(s), and for ourselves? How do we both separate from our partner to have our own rich inner life and come back together to build a loving bond? And what kind of kinky play can be used to keep the fire going? We’ll explore all of these concepts and more at this interactive workshop.
Cock Confidence: Strap-On 101
Many of us have experience with strapping on, packing, and playing, but there are lots of new products out there on the market that might be exciting and that you haven’t encountered yet. Writer and sex educator Sinclair Sexsmith talk about what cocks are good for packing, what options are out there for pack-and-play, which harnesses are the most loved, and which to avoid. Plus, we’ll delve into some cock confidence, getting into the psychology of penetration, and discussing what it’s like to shoot from the hip. Come get the nuts and bolts of strapping it on and fucking. You’ll learn about positions and lube, how different products work, what “cock confidence” means, and the psychology behind strapping on and playing with a cock with a partner, or with oneself.
Talk Dirtier: How to Let Your Tongue Go
Talking dirty in the bedroom can be terrifying at first, but once you unlock your tongue, you’ll find yourself saying all sorts of delicious things! Come to this workshop and we’ll figure out what’s tying our tongues in the first place, what’s holding us back from being more free with our language in the bedroom, and what the heck we should say to enhance our sex and intensity our sensation. The brain is the biggest sex organ, after all, and the more we can turn on our minds, the better our experiences will be.
Flirting, Foreplay, & Fucking
We all want to get laid. But making it happen in real life can be a lot harder than we want it to be. Do you wish more people would hit on you? How do you make yourself more available? We can all use some practice asking for what we want, but how do you escalate from flirting to foreplay and foreplay to fucking? Learn to perfect the art of the tease, draw out your potential lover’s interest, and make sex even hotter in the process.
Kristen & I answered Laura’s question on video this morning from Seattle … hopefully our colds don’t make us sound too weird.
Laura asks: “I am a kinky queer femme bottom/sub and have read your blog for a long time. The thing that strikes me most is how open you, and also Kristen, are about your explorations and your celebration of your gender and sexuality. I am only 23 but have known I was queer and a submissive since pre-adolescent years, and it feels like I will never be comfortable fully expressing myself or finding my voice except with my partners, because I still get ashamed/embarrassed about all of it sometimes, especially when I think about my family or straight and/or vanilla friends finding out. How did you overcome those feelings to be more open, if you ever had them?”
So I have really a lot to say about my experience at the International Ms. Leather contest in San Francisco last weekend—about how it was pretty phenomenal to be in a hotel space filled with leather women (and those who love them), about the BDSM & anal workshop that Tristan Taormino led, about the 10 rules for happy non-monogamy workshop that Andrea Zanin led, and the single tail workshop that had me inspired, and the “parade of colors” and the leather sashes that made me, from the audience, go, “oh my gosh this is such a thing,” the royalty that leather title holders have, the awesomeness that are our new titleholders: the butch from Texas is our new IMsL and the femme bootblack is the new IMsBB! I’m thrilled that they’re representing this community and I wish them so many amazing adventures and fun travels.
And I kind of don’t know where to start, with what to tell you. I am extremely crunched for time these days (turns out, the week that your book comes out is kind of busy, who knew) and I don’t want to just give you a play-by-play (though you might be interested in that, I know, ya pervs).
So instead, I just want to send lots of love to IMsL and IMsBB 2012, KD Diamond and Sara Vibes, with this shot of them I snapped while Sara was feeding KD peeps off of her knife.
And yeah, this is just the kind of thing that happened, right in front of me, when I didn’t even expect it, all weekend long. If you’re kinky and queer and into women, this is one of those gatherings you don’t want to miss. You bet your ass I’ll be there next year.
I’m totally sold on Aslan products in general, so it’s no surprise that I love this Aslan silicone ball gag. Aslan’s leather is beautiful, finely made, soft and buttery, and consistently high quality. Their toys are superb. I don’t really have anything bad to say about the company, or their toys.
Years ago I picked up one of those cheap, typical red ball gags with the single-buckled nylon head straps. It basically did what it was supposed to do, to keep someone’s mouth open and impede their speech, but it wasn’t particularly pretty and it would slip. It felt cheap in my hands.
Which is the complete opposite of this one. It feels high quality. It looks pretty buckled around my girlfriend’s jaw. It is adjustable and it stays in place. The ball is just the right size, maybe even a little bit small.
Though Kristen is very oral, she hasn’t expressed much interest in gags and early on even said that she didn’t like them and didn’t want to play with one. I didn’t expect her to like them—but it turns out that her sexual interest continues to evolve (as does mine, but that’s a slightly different post). I would’ve thought that it’d be too much for her, even a year ago, but she’s more interested in having her body parts restricted and restrained than she used to be, and combined with her continued oral fixation, playing with a gag makes a lot of sense.
Though to be honest, I really like it when she talks, so I don’t get this gag out very often. But I’m happy to report that when the urge strikes, this beautiful gag is right there waiting for us.
I didn’t expect to like it as much as we both do, but upgrading from that former cheap red gag opened up the new possibilities of playing with gags that neither of us expected. I’m even interested in another type of gag, one that has an o-ring instead of a ball gag, so things (fingers, cocks) can be inserted into her mouth while it has to stay open. It’s a bit more intense, and I’ve seen o-ring type gags that are made of metal, too, which I think are called spider gags?, that look even more intense and less attractive, but that might be something worth exploring eventually as well.
I had no idea this would become a thing for us to explore, but I trust Aslan’s products, so it was easy to pick up and try out.
The first time I tried on a chest harness was at a leather festival. I put it on over my tank top and quickly admired myself in the mirror looking like a gay boy leather daddy top, which is really my only association with those x chest harnesses. As much as it seems like they would be worn by bottoms, and used for restraint, it seems like they are more commonly associated with the tops doing the restraining.
Maybe that’s just me, and I’ve somehow superimposed my own biases on the whatever images I’ve picked up along the way.
I was planning to use this x harness in a photo shoot, but that has yet to happen. I still think it might, someday, and I think these harnesses look particularly bad ass, so it could be a useful prop. I have a particular vision of how I want to be posed when I have this photo taken, but what I visualize and what turns out to be the best shot aren’t always the same, so who knows what’ll happen when I actually get around to capturing some images. That’s partly why I’ve had this harness for such a long time but still haven’t written it up—I thought I’d post a photo, since how much is there to really say about this type of object?
Really I’m not sure what kind of uses this harness has aside from as a prop in a photo. Or maybe as a fetish outfit to a play party, if I remembered it and dressed up ahead of time. I haven’t taken it out during sex, well, ever, and I’m not sure I would. But I still like having it in my toy box, and hopefully I’ll come up with some good uses for it aside from just to look pretty. Any ideas?
As of 2/8/16 This product is no longer available at Babeland
Remember those Heart 2 Heart bondage cuffs? The ones made of red leather, that are perfectly fine, average, pretty, well-constructed? The Heart 2 Heart blindfold goes with them, as part of a set, along with the collar and whip, neither of which I have gotten my hands on yet, but I am curious to. There’s something about a set of matching things that is just so … cute. I like that idea.
Like the cuffs, the blindfold is pretty much as you’d expect. It’s leather, with an elastic strap, little hearts cut into the leather on the front side, red stitching, and black suede on the underside.
The thing about getting products off the Internet is that you can’t really try them on. I got it out the other day to play with Kristen, restraining her wrists to the bedpost, pulling the blindfold on, and then getting the hitachi out. The blindfold was a little bit big for her, she’s on the small side and it didn’t quite fit right on her face, the elastic wasn’t quite tight enough so that it didn’t slip and slide when she squirmed, and the bridge cut out for the nose was just a little too big, so she could kind of see through the middle. Not that I was doing anything that I didn’t want her to see, really, but just for the sensory deprivation, and I think sometimes it was a bit distracting.
(She didn’t seem to mind.)
I forget how much I like blindfolds. I don’t have any nice ones, just some cheesy ones that probably came in a fancy overnight traveler’s kit. I really like blacking out my eyes, though, both when I’m trying to calm down, like at night, going to sleep, and when I’m meditating, and when I’m getting off. Sometimes I even put a pillow or eye-pillow over my eyes to block the light.
Unfortunately, this one doesn’t quite fit me, either: It’s a little too tight, a little too small. It cut into my nose a little, the edges are just a little bit sharp where the leather is cut, and it wasn’t that comfortable.
I love the idea of a set, and I am now really craving an upscale blindfold, but I’m not sure this was the one. I’d love another leather one, the silky ones seem too flimsy I think, but I’ll make sure to try it on first.
I don’t have a lot to say about the Heart 2 Heart CuffsBabeland sent to me for review. They work exactly as you’d expect them to work. They are comfortable. They are made of very high-quality leather, very smooth and buttery and pliable. Pretty cute, too, with the red bands around the middle. They’re a great price, and they are part of a set, so you can pick up the matching blindfold (which I’ll be reviewing soon) if you like that kind of thing.
So here’s a shot of the easy way I rigged my bedposts to be easily bondage friendly.
I used a pair of plain black leather wrist cuffs and tightened them as much as I could around the bars of my headboard, then attached a snap hook. Those basically just live on my bed now, and all I have to do is put a second pair of cuffs on Kristen and reach over to the snap hook to connect them.
In the past, I have almost always associated bondage with rope work, and while I love rope, sometimes I just want a little easy restraint without having to pause and tie knots and secure someone. Midori’s Expert Guide to Sensual Bondage helped me see a whole lot of other possibilities, and sometimes less time-consuming, options for restraint play.
Definitely recommend these cuffs. Kristen really likes the other wrist cuffs we have, the scalloped cuffs, because of how they look, I think, but they’re not quite as wide and they feel a little different because of the padding on the inside. I think these Heart 2 Heart Cuffs will get a nice place on the top of the bondage drawer.
The Heart 2 Heart Cuffs were sent to me from Babeland for review. Pick up other sex toys from Babeland, still my favorite feminist, queer, friendly, educational neighborhood sex shop.
I woke early the other day, with that familiar urge to hold and protect and control Kristen, maybe it’s the subconscious absorption of her smooth naked skin all night long, how sweet her body feels in my arms as we both turn and slumber, maybe it’s when we go in and out of whatever tough times we’re having, either about each other or just our individual general struggles against the world, maybe it’s just how I am wired, to protect and shelter, and sometimes control and dominate.
I began touching her before she was fully awake. She and I have talked about this, I have permission to take her whenever I want to, particularly in the mornings, she likes to be awakened that way. I kissed her neck and collarbone and breasts and shoulders, let my hand trail slow and soft over her skin as she murmured little sighs and stirred gently, eyelids heavy, not really awake and not really trying to be.
Slipping her panties down and off of her, I stayed low on the bed and kept my hands on her hips, using my elbows to spread her thighs open, the soft and sweet indirect morning light just enough to see the pink and pretty lips of her pussy. Delicate and velvety and I wanted to taste her, lowered my mouth down to run my tongue along the length of her slit. Just the tip of my tongue, breath hot on her cunt, keeping my mouth hovering above her and my hands gripping her hips. She squirmed. Pressed her thighs into the bed, pressed up as high as she could against my mouth, tensed everywhere.
I let my tongue flatten and drag softly, softly along her pussy again, from her hole up to her clit, and rest there, using the soft inner part of my lips to suck and tease.
Kristen comes easily this way. Tongue on her clit, one finger just one knuckle in and circling around the opening of her cunt, she quickly thrashes her arms down into the mattress and gasps, twisting her head and jerking her legs straight. I soften the pressure and go back in, tongue wide and lapping again, with quicker, smaller movements over her clit, until she comes again, crying out a little louder this time, and I shift up the bed to kiss her, hold her close for a moment.
I had set it up a week ago: taken the new fleece-lined wrist cuffs and secured them to another set of cuffs I’d placed around the bars of my headboard with some snap hooks. Kristen likes to struggle, likes to thrash around, and a little bit of restraint goes a long way: it gives her the opportunity to push or pull against something, lets a few more of her muscles tense and tighten and release a little deeper (and plus she doesn’t hit me in the face quite as easily). I took the fleece-lined cuffs down and buckled them around her wrists, then the easy click of the snap hooks secured her wrists to the bedframe.
She immediately calmed and quieted, not out of boredom but out of relaxation, watching me as I moved back down between her legs and set again to tonguing her pussy, making her come. This time I slid two fingers into her pussy, sucking her lips into my mouth and spreading them open with my hands to get to her clit. She strained against the cuffs and I felt the muscles in her stomach and ass tighten every time she pulled against the headboard.
I lost track of how many times she came in my mouth. Sometimes I let up, gave her a break, paused between orgasms, other times I just kept going and she did, too. I brought my elbows up to press her legs apart, kept my fingers inside her or spreading her lips open. I held her hips, pinched her nipples, gripped her ankles, held her legs up by the back of her thighs. I reached for the conveniently located pump bottle of Maximus lube on the nightstand and got a dollop on my third finger so I could slide it into her ass, just a little, filling her up, sucking her clit as swollen as I could and letting up just as she was about to come, changing my stroke down to a tickle until she contracted hard around my fingers and came again, again, again.
I lost track of time. I stopped caring if she was being too loud for this time in the morning, whether my neighbors would be home. I wanted to get my camera out, take up-close macro shots of the curves and lines and folds of her pussy, oh so pink and swollen and beautiful.
Not that she would have minded me doing that, but I didn’t. Next time, perhaps. That image of her arms and legs and pussy spread is still so clear in my mind, still a lovely mental image I’ve replayed more than a few times since then.
The cuffs were easy to unhook, left no marks, no bruises, no dye, were very comfortable. I pulled her close and noticed it was well past time to get up. “Morning, beautiful girl,” I murmured into her hair.
It should have interchangeable O-rings, since sometimes I like to fuck with large cocks
I don’t really care what material it’s made from, if it’s leather or vinyl or vegan leather or nylon
I don’t care if it’s locking buckles or D-rings
Really, it needs to be comfortable, relatively bare-bones, and able to get me off.
For some reason, I’m still in search of The Perfect Harness. I seem to have this idea that I just need one, really, and I’ll be able to use any dick I want, and fuck however I want. I’m not sure why I think I can get One Single Harness to do everything I want in a harness … it seems possible, when I lay out my requirements, but I have yet to actually find The Perfect Harness.
I really loved the one I’ve been using for the last year or so, which is a signature harness from Spartacus leathers . Unfortunately, especially with the last seven months and my very active sex life with Kristen, that harness has really seen better days.
[Warning: if you’re not the one usually wearing the harness, and prefer to keep the harness-perfection a mystery, I might ruin it for you with the rest of this post.]
The problem is, the leather has gotten very soiled. And I admit, I’ve been caring for the harness much like I usually cared for my nylon harnesses: washing with warm water and a little soap after using, unhooking the O-rings and using a nail brush to gently clean the leather and snaphooks, and hang it to dry. Here’s where the leather enthusiasts are probably laughing at me: yes, I know there is such a thing as leather soap, and in retrospect I probably should’ve been taking very different care of the leather.
So now I’m asking: how do you keep leather clean? Especially when it is, ahem, very close to very wet bits for very many hours in a week, how do I deep-clean it, get all the come out of it, make sure it doesn’t get that nasty musty wet smell so deep that it won’t come out?
Also, is there any way to salvage leather that is now a bit … dirty? Is there a way to deep-clean it?
New Year’s Eve has inspired me to revive this review of the Spartacus Leather Paddle, which somehow slipped through the review cracks this past year. I think I got this in the late summer last year, and I’ve had very few opportunities to try it out, which is why I’ve been waiting to finish the review.
The paddle itself is lovely – 16″ long, thin enough that it bends easily but still solid enough to make a very satisfying smack.
I don’t really like the handle … it’s a little uncomfortable to grip, since it’s so flat. The edges dig into my palms a bit. Someone suggested I wrap it with something (tape? fabric?) but I haven’t done that yet. I may do, especially now that this paddle and I are getting along quite well, and I’d like to spend some more quality time with it.
I recently took my wooden paddle to a birthday party, and I’d nearly forgotten how completely hard and stiff the paddle is – I can’t hit as hard as I’d like because it doesn’t absorb the blow at all, unlike the slightly-bendy leather which bounces a bit more, so I can hit harder. And, yeah, I like that.
Spartacus Leathers, in case you haven’t heard of it, has a store in Portland, Oregon in addition to their online store. Aside from being a retailer of various products, they create their own leather products … and oh they are beautiful. This paddle is sturdy and luscious, and I very much look forward to using it more.
(Surfing around on the site I’ve just found that you get your very own Mistress Bear with orders over $100. That is really tempting, they have way more than $100 of gear that I am coveting.)
I’m not sure I get it really, why leather turns me on so much, I mean, hell, I was vegan for about five years and got very political about using the skins of other animals … but I just find it so very sensual. Even the smell. I remember Babeland once carried leather-scented lube … I’ve often wished I’d bought some.
Spartacus Leathers sent me a couple goodies that arrived this week, and I’ll be writing ’em up soon. When they approached me about some reviews, I asked them about their company policies and how they operate, and this is what they told me:
Spartacus Leathers is legendary in Portland, OR for the retail outlet we’ve had downtown since 1987. The brick & mortar retail store has two sections: The “all-ages” section full of alt-fashion and costumes and accessories, and the “18+” section full of sex toys, BDSM gear, and adult books and videos. It is extremely woman-friendly, staffs a huge range of freaks and fabulousness, and is managed by a lesbian woman.
Spartacus Leathers is also a manufacturer. Our biggest sellers are our cock rings and nipple clamps, but we also specialize in a wide range of bondage and S&M gear. Both the company and the store support local leather groups, gay pride groups, and all sorts of alternative sexuality groups because, well, they’re our people AND our customers. We are extremely health-conscious. We offer lots of phthalate-free elastomer and nitrile cock rings and vibrators.
All things that I really love to hear! I had never heard of Spartacus before, next time I’m in Portland I’ll definitely visit their store (and Powell’s of course, which is just about the best bookstore in the world). I’m really impressed with the quality of their leather. There are a couple more things on their site I have my eye on now – I’m still in search of The Most Amazing Perfect Harness Ever, as I’m just not happy with any of the harnesses I have at the moment, but perhaps I’ll find that through Spartacus. Here’s hoping!