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The Bootblack Daddy

LeslieBootblackingI am a leather woman. I am a bootblack. I refuse to put the word ”and” in front anymore. I believe in calling people in vs. calling people out… That leather brings us together, it does not divide us.

I’ve seen a lot of hurtful things said in the leather and bootblack circles on social media in the days after IML38. It not only saddened me, but I was left confused. So I privately messaged a person who has experience in front and behind the scenes of the IML and IMBB contest to ask for time to answer questions that weighed on my mind. I am so grateful I did that and that my request for information was received well. We met and it was no easy conversation. There was frustration, there were voices raised at times, even occasional tears on both side, but there was also a genuine desire to understand the other. There was good communication.

I was left thinking, am I doing enough for this our leather community… Am I being a big enough part of calling people in… And how am I creating the change I want to see… Am I doing the work or just paying it lip service… I think about Actions and Deeds.

I don’t want to be part of the problem. I want to be part of working for the solutions and to do that in a way that calls people in, not calls people out.

In the long list of unkind comments made in recent days I saw a note that there were very few bootblacks speaking out for Leslie J. Anderson, The Bootblack Daddy. If people want to unfriend me it’s okay, but as a leather woman, as a bootblack, I stand beside The Bootblack Daddy.  She calls people in and if you do not see that, or know that, then maybe talk to people with experience at IML and IMBB to understand how it is run and why things are as we see them. Then you might do as I did and ask yourself how you are helping create the change you want to see.

Leslie J. Anderson I want you to know I SEE YOU. And you know it’s funny to me, because even though we have not spoken in months, I know you see me too.

Philadelphia Women’s Leather Bar Night

WLBN PhillyI visited Philadelphia last night for a Women’s Leather Bar Night. It was my first time visiting Philly and a first chance to get some face time with very active leather women in my region. I haven’t been to a leather women’s bar night since back in Florida when Peggy O ran Dykes n Dolls maybe in the early 2000’s. There aren’t a whole lot of good events scheduled on Fridays, so I was very excited when I saw this posted. I always have Fridays off, so right away I blocked this date out on my calendar and began to plan on how t get there. It’s rather simple and inexpensive to hop on a bus and travel from NY to Philadelphia for a few hours and ride back the same night. So, I took advantage of this great opportunity to visit a different city, meet leather women, have a few drinks and be on the receiving end of the bootblack stand. Continue reading

WILL 2015: “A Happy Coincidence”

WILL banner

I recently ran for a Women’s Leather Contest and title and I want to record my experiences and thoughts. I want everyone to think about that simple sentence. How many of you are recording your experiences? It is upon each of us to do our due diligence and preserve our personal histories. I hope you will think about embarking on saving your mementos, images, and stories that have been part of your leather journey.

My running for this title was all a happy coincidence… I smile when I say that as I reflect on Ms. Diana telling me as I interviewed her,

“How I got involved in BDSM was all a happy coincidence.”

Sometimes, because I have held a title and now because I have run for second title, people ask me about what titles and contests are all about and how do they work? There are many ways to answer that. Each title has its own purpose and reason. Continue reading

Parades, Carousels, and Birthdays, Oh My!

20150619_122736What an incredible month in the city with Folsom Street East, The Coney Island Mermaid Parade, carousel hunting, and spending birthdays and happy moments with those close to me. All this and I moved, yet again, but still in “Brooklyn Center of the Universe”! I can’t recall how many times this month I thought about the idea that I really am finally having my NY Adventure that I imagined when I first agreed to move here. The adventures I am having though are nothing like what I planned and neither are my adventures really what I had originally imagined, but life is beautiful that way; it is so unexpected, full of twists and turns, and we adapt and grow in the process. I am more of myself than ever before and that is a beautiful thing.  Continue reading

Ice Skating

ice skatesWhen I was a little girl, I dreamed of becoming an Olympic Figure Skater. I think I must haven been four years old the first time I skated. I had these little metal skates with double blades that strapped on to my shoes. I’m sure by the time I was in second grade, if not earlier, I was asking for lessons. Figure skating lessons were the one thing my parents couldn’t give me though. The arena where I could get the lessons I needed was too far away and the time parents have to devote to a child that wants to be a serious figure skater is a luxury they did not have to give me. You see, at that time, my father was being treated for cancer. Yet, I was always allowed to stay out at the rink behind my school, even past dark, as often as I wanted to spend my hours skating across the ice. It was my joy, my passion. As I grew older I never stopped skating. I never forgot my dream. Continue reading

High Shine

On February 28 I am heading with a group of boot blacks, leather women, leather folk, and friends to see the US Premier of High Shine. It’s a movie documentary about the 15 years of International Ms. Boot Black title and female bodied boot blacks coming into their own in our leather, fetish, and BDSM communities. The movie is being shown by cinekink:nyc, our cities annual film festival that “recognizes and encourages the positive depiction of sexuality and kink in film and television.” Before the movie we will be meeting up to have brunch. I am going to get a chance to meet a lot of women face to face that until now I have only known of by name or images. I feel a little nervous to meet these women that broke the ground for me and paved the way. I’m appreciative of the invitation and grateful for the opportunity to meet women who have inspired me. This movie and gathering coming up has had me thinking about and remembering a lot of memories of how I found, wear, and owned my leather.

I received an email a couple of days ago from a women I am friendly with here in NYC that runs a group called NY female sub/slave forum, and that email has gotten me thinking more about boot blacking. This woman is in my former hometown, south Florida. She mentioned my name at some event and it seems she got a big response when people heard my name. I was on and off involved in my local community in south Florida since I was 28 and up until I left I was regularly attending a group called Women of Leather Florida (WOLF). The owner of the group is Ms. Rae and she runs it with the support of her partner and pet, chris. In the email I received the women from NYC said that chris told her to ask me about how we met. That made me laugh to myself and smile and so I told her the story…

I always like to joke and tell people something like, “I knew chris before she was kinky, when she was vanilla.” And actually that is kind of true. I say kind of, because I think like many of us she knew she was “kinky”, she just wasn’t sharing that information with other people out loud. Chris and I worked together and we pretty much hit off from the start. We had similar work ethics and odd humor. We became closer and were spending our lunch time inside and on occasion outside together. We became close enough that chris felt comfortable confiding to me about her relationship and some unhappiness and problems. I don’t go around calling everyone a “friend”, but chris was someone I definitely came to think of as a friend. One day chris asked me about my license plate on my car, it said, “NAWASHI”. I usually made jokes when vanilla folks asked about it, like, “It means, ‘Me no Washy My Car”. My car was often dirty and need of a wash and it usually got a laugh. Or as in this case with chris, I told her, “I would tell you, but then I would have to kill you after.” After I joked though I paused, and I took a chance and told her the truth. It means one who makes rope or a rope maker. Back in those times I was married, living poly, and owned a girl that I named bijin, who lived in our home. One thing I loved to do with my girl was rope and specifically rope suspension. Chris confided that she had often thought of wanted to experience some s/m in her relationship and had even asked her partner, but had not had any success in getting her to participate or show any interest. I invited chris with her partner to come to a party and the rest and they say is history. I went through some changes in my work and private life and I took time off from the scene.

A few years later, I emerged again and I was looking to reconnect with my south Florida leather community. The first thing I went looking for was a women’s group. Once upon a time a pretty infuckincredible women I met called PeggyO had a women’s group in south Florida called Dykes n’ Dolls. I couldn’t find it and it seemed Peggy had gone and taken off to Colorado, but I found another group, WOLF, on a website called Fetlife. I sent the owner of the group an introduction letter and asked about attending their meetings. What I got back was an email from chris saying something like, “Hey I knew someone like you that I worked with… and “Is that you?” I was shock and thought, “WTF its chris!” and I was so happy. I was home again. I was home at WOLF. I was home with chris and Ms. Rae and all the ladies that make WOLF.

Time went by, I stayed single, but I continued exploring and evolving. I kept hanging out with my WOLF sisters while holding out for someone more than “Mr/Ms Right now”. I mentioned on occasion to chris, a desire to learn new skills and specifically to learn about leather care. I just couldn’t get the motivation to do it based on solely caring for my leather. Then I met someone really cool in south Florida who owned a lot of leather and I thought, “Okay someone who will enjoy and appreciate these skills.” I called chris, who is a boot black title holder (Southeast Community Boot Black 2009) in Florida and had competed for IMsBB and asked her to teach me some basics. I sat in her house and she walked me through basic care and about the basic hard products needed. I started looking for places to ask questions online, I was reading all I could find to learn more about application and materials, and I was thrift shopping for used boots and shoes to practice, practice, practice!  I had the bug. What hooked me was listening to chris tell me stories about her experiences caring for leather. In particular the story she told me about when a certain Sir from our community requested she prepare his leather for a title he was competing for and the joy and tears she felt during that process. And I realize something that day and the many other days since then, about the interactions that happen between two leather people through bootblacking. Bootblacks are more than good listeners, more than story tellers, more than a provider of leather care. We preserve leather history. We connect in a way with people that is personal, intimate, and unlike anything else in leather. And fuck ya it can and often is damn hot too!

Women's Leather Photographic Documentary exhibit @Pleasure Chest NYC

Women’s Leather Photographic Documentary exhibit @Pleasure Chest NYC. That’s a little piece of jade standing beside one of the images of me.

There was a time that I did not allow myself to claim myself as part of the Leather Women pack, but bootblacking help me feel I belonged. A long time ago Sarah Humble was traveling through south Florida and offered to record the history of leather women in our community for the LA&M as part of the Women’s Leather History Project. I passed, because of my ideas, my standards, of what a leather women was. I felt I hadn’t done enough and given enough of myself to my community to be included or have somehow “earned” any right to proclaim myself as a notable leather women. I remember wishing I could be a part of that group that called themselves leather women.  I knew a lot of very incredible women who ran groups, munches, big events, and title holders. I hadn’t done anything like these women and so I didn’t ask to have my history recorded. It seemed wrong in my mind. I wonder how many other women have felt this way? I am sure many just like me. Last year a friend contacted me and said she knew a woman who was doing a Leather Women’s Photographic Documentary and that she had given her my name. There are a few things that happened here, the first was that I was embarrassed after seeing the faces and names of women so far included, and those old feelings of not being worthy to be included. I second thing happened though and that was related to the person saying to me that I should do this, and when someone you respect, admire. and look up to says, “You’re a leather woman. Do this.” You  do.

It was through my bootblacking that I came to own myself and feel myself as a leather woman. I thank chris and credit her often when I speak about “how I feel and wear my leather”. I put myself in the hands of a bootblack and I found myself. I am a leather woman. I am a bootblack.

Nice Guys Finish First

In my past I have been drawn in to relationships mostly by persons who fall into the bad boy, rebel, adventurer personalities, and nice guys did not fare so well in gaining my attention as a romantic interest. I am sure many people can relate to hearing or saying the words. “I like you. You’re really nice…” and knowing that is the code for letting a person know they are friendship material. It’s kind of the kiss of death for romantic interests when a person hears that. The other week I said these words to someone, yet it was the first time I caught myself saying it and knowing that it did not mean that at all. For once I am looking for nice. Nice is under rated. I could really use someone nice in my life. I’ve heard it said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I am doing something new. This time around nice guys finish first. Continue reading