At the Leather History Conference

21 10 2011

20111022-000345.jpg It has been a long day. I started it in Charlotte, working while my slave spent her time getting us ready for the conference. I had initially planned on being here tomorrow morning, but there is nowhere to stop between Charlotte and Wilmington that makes any sense. So we are here. Now. Tonight.

I’ve already seen some old friends and I hope to see some more tomorrow. If you are here and you see me do say hello.

MV

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North Carolina Leather History Conference

18 10 2011

A long time ago I taught history (a long time is about 2 decades btw). So, I am always interested in what we can learn from our past. See where we came from. Where we are headed.

That is why I am spending this weekend at the first ever North Carolina Leather History Conference. I am looking forward to it. I can’t begin to do it justice, but aside from spending time with old friends, making new friends, and enjoying my slave at our first conference since she moved here (really our first BDSM “Event” since the move too), I plan on spending a great deal of time in the Carter/Johnson Library. It is a tremendous lifestyle reference. A collection second to none.

Go. Just go to it if you can.

MV





Nancy Ava Miller

27 04 2011

So every once and a while, I run across something I find fascinating. That happened a few weeks ago when I was approached about Nancy Ava Miller doing a tour to support her new book: PERVERT: Notes from the Sexual Underground. I did a bit of research and found out that she is the lady that founded PEP. Wow, what a great thing.  And the book too. So, take a moment, go to her site and read about the book. I asked nicely and her publicist sent me something to put up here too.  Read and learn, after the break.

Read the rest of this entry »





History of Leather

15 12 2010
restored Tryon Palace, New Bern, NC

Image via Wikipedia

Hi, Sorry I have been gone. Been wrapped up with marriage, starting a new job and a new edition of World of Warcraft. Let my writing here get behind.

During this time, a few thoughts have come to mind. I have been thinking a lot about our history as a sub-culture. I wrote before about the Leather History Museum in Chicago. Fantastic place, one I will have to visit some day. But there are so many things. We are so hidden as a sub-culture. We don’t want people to know about us. This causes many things to be lost. I implore you so save what you have and pass it along to the next generation (perhaps waiting until you can no longer be hurt by people that would miss use it) so that they can learn from what you have experienced.

An excellent example of this is the Carter/Johnson Library. They have amassed a collection of books, magazines and other memorabilia dating as far back as the 1700’s. I personally have seen this collection (it is a major attraction at BlackBEAT every year) and can literally spend hours perusing it. If you have the chance please do check it out. It is FANTASTIC.

An excellent opportunity for this will be happening next October when the North Carolina Leather History Conference takes place. The full details have not been released yet, but I do plan on attending with my slave.





The Curious Case of Harvey Milk

11 11 2008

On the way home today, I was listening to NPR where they had an interesting program about a man I had never heard of before: Harvey Milk. No technically, I am a little off topic because I have no direct connections between him and the Lifestyle.  However, as he was the first openly gay person ever to be elected to office in the United States, I think that his story is very important in these days after California’s rejection of Prop 8.

Harvey Bernard Milk (May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978) was an American politician and the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Milk was born and raised in New York where he acknowledged his homosexuality as an adolescent, but chose to pursue sexual relationships with secrecy and discretion well into his adult years. His experience in the counterculture of the 1960s caused him to shed many of his conservative views about individual freedom and the expression of sexuality.

He was compelled to run for city supervisor in 1973, though he encountered resistance from the existing gay political establishment. His campaign was compared to theater; he was brash, outspoken, animated, and outrageous, earning media attention and votes, although not enough to be elected. He campaigned again in the next two supervisor elections, dubbing himself the “Mayor of Castro Street”. Voters responded enough to warrant his running for the California State Assembly as well. Taking advantage of his growing popularity, he led the gay political movement in fierce battles against anti-gay initiatives. Milk was elected city supervisor in 1977 after San Francisco reorganized its election procedures to choose representatives from neighborhoods rather than through city-wide ballots. Milk served almost eleven months as city supervisor and was responsible for passing a stringent gay rights ordinance in San Francisco. On November 27, 1978, Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White, another city supervisor who had recently resigned and wanted his job back. Both Milk’s election and the events following his assassination demonstrated the liberalization of the population and political conflicts between the city government and a conservative police force. Milk has become an icon in San Francisco and “a martyr for gay rights”, according to University of San Francisco professor Peter Novak.[1] While established political organizers in the city insisted gays work with liberal politicians and use restraint in reaching their objectives, Milk outspokenly encouraged gays to use their growing power in the city and support each other. His goal was to give hope to disenfranchised gays around the country. In 2002, he was called “the most famous and most significantly open LGBT official ever elected in the United States”.[2] Writer John Cloud remarked on his influence, “After he defied the governing class of San Francisco in 1977 to become a member of its board of supervisors, many people—straight and gay—had to adjust to a new reality he embodied: that a gay person could live an honest life and succeed.”[3]

While Wikipedia finds him to be a very significant figure in history, it is obvious from the NPR story (listen to the audio part) that many younger gay men and women have never heard of him, nor do they find it relevant. Well this is my part to change that.

One final interesting note, Dan White, the former city supervisor that assinated Milk and the Mayor, only got 5 years as a sentence.  Using a odd ball, yet somewhat famous,  “Twinkie defense“, White managed to convince a jury that he was of diminished capacity due to junk food.

The expression derives from the 1979 trial of Dan White, a former San Francisco, California (U.S.) Supervisor who assassinated Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk on November 27, 1978. At the trial, noted psychiatrist Martin Blinder testified that White had been depressed at the time of the crime, and pointed to several factors indicating White’s depression: he had quit his job; he shunned his wife; and normally clean-cut, he had become slovenly in appearance. Normally a fitness fanatic and health food advocate, White had also been consuming Twinkies and Coca-Cola. As an incidental note, Blinder mentioned theories that elements of diet could worsen existing mood swings.[2] Another psychiatrist, George Solomon, testified that White had “exploded” and was “sort of on automatic pilot” at the time of the killings.[3] The fact that White had killed Moscone and Milk was not challenged, but in part because of the testimony from Blinder and other psychiatrists, the defense successfully argued for a ruling of diminished capacity. White was thus judged incapable of the premeditation required for a murder conviction, and was convicted of voluntary manslaughter instead. The verdict was unpopular, leading to the White Night Riots.

In stories covering the trial, satirist Paul Krassner had played up the angle of the Twinkie,[2] and he would later claim credit for coining the term “Twinkie defense”.[4] The day after the verdict, columnist Herb Caen wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle about the police support for White (a former policeman himself) and their “dislike (understatement) of homosexuals” and mentioned “the Twinkie insanity defense” in passing.[2] News stories published after the trial, however, frequently reported the defense arguments inaccurately, claiming that the defense had presented junk food as the cause of White’s depression and/or diminished capacity, instead of symptomatic of and perhaps exacerbating an existing depression.[5]

As a result of the White case, diminished capacity was abolished in 1982 by Proposition 8 and the California legislature, and replaced by “diminished actuality”, referring not to the capacity to have a specific intent but to whether a defendant actually had a required intent to commit the crime with which he was charged.[6] Additionally, California’s statutory definitions of premeditation and malice required for murder were eliminated by the state’s legislature, with a return to common law definitions. By this time, the “Twinkie defense” had become such a common referent that one lawmaker had waved a Twinkie in the air while making his point during a debate.[2]

Some things are just too amazing for words.

Oh, all this is coming out due to a movie, titled Milk.

MV





Leather Museum Write-up

11 05 2008

The site North-by-Northwestern has an interesting writeup about the leather museum.

An unassuming brick building stands at the end of a residential street in Rogers Park, and the only sign of what’s inside are two banners with boots on them and big block letters saying LA&M. Though you could walk by without noticing it, the building actually holds a museum documenting one of the most taboo topics in society: leather fetishes and alternative sexual practices. Welcome to the Leather Archives and Museum.

LA&M exhibits many items that you might expect, such as whips, erotica paintings and fetish dolls. This is not just a closet full of toys, though. Everything holds significance in the fetish culture. For example, a bright-red, custom-designed spanking bench on display did not just serve one person’s fantasy. The “Infamous Red Spanking Bench” was first used at a private BDSM (bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, sado/masochism) party and traveled through various parties for two years before a Chicago BDSM club took it permanently.

“There’s definitely an educational opportunity here,” says museum director Rick Storer, who holds a master’s degree in library science. “I think one of the common misconceptions that people have of the museum is that it’s kind of this dark and seedy thing in the back of a rough leather bar. We are professional archives, professional library, professional museum. We handle the subject matter just as the people at the Art Institute or the Museum of Science and Industry do.”

Lots more there, so I suggest you check it out.





“Cruising” Released to DVD

21 03 2008

I was at a local BDSM club a few months back during a special presentation of pictures take at the Mine Shaft, a gay leather club in the famous meatpacking district of New York. (OK It was actually a year ago last February, I had to look it up.) He started it off by showing a clip of this film that was actually shot in the club, featuring real patrons of the club and scene. This film which takes a peak into the leather lifestyle at the time before AIDs has finally been released on DVD. You can find a review of it here and the IMDB info here.

From the review:

The film stars Al Pacino as a cop who goes undercover in the New York leather bar scene in order to solve a series of murders and ends up, well, becoming a little sexually confused.

Its director, William Friedkin, had already produced one of the seminal gay films of the ’70s with ‘The Boys in the Band’, but here he was dealing with a gay world where people didn’t just go to have drinks and polite chats; it was overtly, defiantly sexual. That was liberating in the mid-’80s as Britain definitely looked to America as a kind of paradise for gays, especially places like New York and San Francisco.

‘Cruising’ is carefully constructed and Friedkin visited some notorious clubs to do his research. Also, a lot of the people in the film are real gays, so in some ways it does have an authentic feel, similar to his previous ‘The French Connection’ (1971). It almost works as
a nostalgic look back to the golden age of pre-Aids New York, but there are a few too many muscle men dressed in PVC police uniforms and licking their truncheons in the background.

It is an interesting movie, and a part of our culture and history in the Lifestyle.

MV








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