Writings To The Editor: A Poem by JustAsheli

 I asked you what you loved about yourself

and pressed my lips to your silence

as if I hoped

I could make you understand me

by osmosis.

I will kiss you until the final breath leaves my lungs,

and if you only take in

a tenth of my love for you,

even that would be enough.

You will know there is no one alive more beloved than you.

*The NewsLeather Editors graciously thank JustAsheli for allowing us to reprint this poem.

“Summon Him” by Trix LotusWolf

At five feet tall and slightly plump, Sara Clarence, had a radiant smile to match her fiery hair.  Never at a loss for partners, pleasing as they were, they had always left a taste in her mouth for something more. Each day, Sara passed a shabby looking occult shop across from her job but never had the right amount of courage to step inside…until today.  The draw to go inside was irresistible.  Her feet crossing the threshold, she found titles and herbs she had never heard of.  One book in particular called to her: “A Summoning of a Lover.”  Her fingers turned the book of spells in her hands, nervous about the energy she felt calling.  After a moment of hesitation, she brought it to the cashier and quickly slid out the door.

Weeks passed as she read the book, all the while gathering tools, candles, herbs and picking the perfect place for the ritual.  Samhain (All Hallow’s Eve) finally came upon her. She pulled on her most sultry black dress and made her way to the woods outside of her home – book and ingredients in tow. 

Looking around to make sure all was safe, she reached the circle she had cleared out during the past week and dropped the bag, blanket, and book. She laid everything on a red pillar candle, some various herbs, some wine, and a bundle of rope. She didn’t understand why the spell had called for the rope as it was used nowhere in the text, but she brought it anyway. 

The sun set and the full moon was rising as she finished setting up her space and then poured a glass of wine. “The worst thing that could happen is me looking stupid, and I’m pretty familiar with that.” She tossed back the last of her wine and opened to the page she had marked with the sales receipt from the store. “Summon Him” it was titled. She read aloud as she followed the steps to the spell, finishing with the last step of lighting the red candle.

The spell now complete, Sara looked around expectantly. There was no one around. No magical lover who could make her feel what she was looking for. “Figures,” she scoffed as she tossed the book aside and grabbed the bottle of wine, turning it up and finishing it spilling just a little on the ground. She lay down on the blanket with her bag balled up under her head and watched the candle’s flame lick the wax away. “At least it’s a beautiful night,” she sighed and closed her eyes. 

With a bolt and a gasp, she awoke abruptly to find herself hanging in the air, suspended with some intricate pentacle of rope across her chest.  Mouth open, eyes wide, she let out a silent scream. A deep voice growled, “You will scream many times tonight, but no one will hear them. You summoned me here, and here am I.” The sound of claws against the grass and leaves sent chills up her spine as the speaker appeared before her. The sight  of the beast pulled another silent scream from her lips. He chuckled as his sharp claws roamed across her silk black dress, ripping trails of holes in their wake until it hung off of her like a shredded rag. Nicking her flesh a few times, she whimpered as the hot liquid swelled from her skin. “But lover… I’m who you asked for.” He indicated the red candle that had seemed to not burn down at all, its flame flickering against the night. “Now you have me until the flame is spent and I intend to make you cry, beg, and plead for me to stay with you.” 

His claws dragged against the ground as he disappeared behind her once more.  A hum through the air heralded a light knife-like slice in her behind. She whimpered as she struggled to steady herself with her tiptoes. Another hum and cut. She cried out as each one was harder than the one before. Another and another, no real rhythm of the fall of the whip, nor did he seem to be counting. She became lost within each strike and time became meaningless. Her bottom welted and bleeding, her body excited and trembling for him, tears stung her cheeks. 

“Beg me,” he laughed. She opened her mouth, but words refused to come. Her screams had worn her throat raw. She thought as loud as she could, “Please Sir, Please give me release!” She instantly felt his hot breath against her shoulder and his teeth on her skin…and then nothing.  Just …nothing.  She glanced up to see the red candle reach its spend before his arms disappeared from her waist and she fell  to the ground. 

The sun was bright and warm against Sara as her eyes fluttered open. Her skin was covered by some sort of fur blanket, and the air around her smelled of sweet spices and sweat.   The night came rushing back to her as she sat up and immediately cried out, her hands reaching for the tender welts on her bottom and thighs. She smiled coyly as she poked them a little more then picked up her book which fell open to the page labeled “Summon Him.”  There she found a scrawled note in what looked like blood,. “Next time use a larger candle, pet.”

Poet’s Corner – Noelle Boone

I asked for this.

It’s quiet anxiety at first.

Building.

Rising.

Raising waves of succulent fear, and anticipated horror.

I’ve been given only morsels of insight at this point, every crumb of the terrors to come careful scraped from my own tepid requests. We are bakers of a hateful bread, unleavened and unleaving fear that sits in the back of the throat, taking residence for weeks upon my palate. We bake and break our bread to serve appetites grotesque. A hungry mouth needs to eat, and how can we leave shit behind if digestion doesn’t occur?

I asked for this.

It’s the hill upon which I make but another last stand. I am scared of the prayers I’ve offered to dark things, yet I am scared of myself more.

For all of the looming pain and misery, I asked for this.

I asked for this.

I begged for this.

I needed this.

What kind of creature does that make me?

I am here to receive, and we aim to please.

Escorted to my demise by my lover and protector, my trembling feet cross a threshold that I’ve only seen in nightmares. “Welcome to the dungeon.” Careful lips beneath sympathetic eyes hurl these atrocities against my quaking form. I am spat upon, drenched in the mucus of their amity. Soaked, stinking and stained in the filth offered by only the truly gentle. I hate them, and they know it. I hate this, and I hate that, but most of all, I hate me.

What the fuck am I even doing here?

I asked for this.

The music is loud, the lights are low and I have sunk to the floor. My ever-watchful guardian is Judas, treasonous and dancing to the ministrations of my dark things. She seals my fate with a butterfly’s kiss, pulling me to my feet just to throw me upon the altar of the iniquitous. Her beautiful, quivering liar’s eyes are the last thing I see before stifling darkness swallows my sight and drinks the stagnating liquid air from my lungs. Arms wrap around the bag wrapped around me and I am pulled away.

I asked for this.

The dark things lead me to a pillar, lashing my arms around it with tape to keep me firm in their clutching grasp.

I asked for this.

Claws and talons dance down my back, twirling and cascading against feverish, needy flesh.

I asked for this.

My clothes are torn off, but the dark things are so overwhelmingly gentle. I’m screaming on the inside, but my lips are disobedient to the whims of these monsters that I have submitted myself to. Tongue, cheeks, curses and pleas, I bite down on them all, crushing this weakness between my teeth until all I can taste is blood behind the arterial fear.

I asked for this, and I will give no quarter. I will not beg for mercy.

I asked for this.

A knife rings out in my darkness, and I feel the point dragging lightly against my ass. I can only just tell the difference between metal and a monster’s claw. Knees pressing together catch the fall that threatens to take me, and an all-too-familiar burning swirl blossoms in my belly. I want this, these demons and their silken caresses. I starve willingly, and my soul grasps vainly at the last gasp that slips away, taken from me just as my panties are sliced apart and pulled free from the panicked grip of my thighs.

I can see nothing but I can sense the loving way that evil fingers trace and grip implements of cruelty. I crave that touch for myself. These moral deformities deny my silent urging, and in that denial, I am deprived of myself. Suddenly I am gone from this place; suspended in void, and held captive by the swelling tide of gazes that pierce and sounds that crush. I am finally endless in this instant, a mote that is pressed into submission and being by all the violent potentials of infinity.

My silent forever is broken by a single sound, a thought served by the flaming chariot of my cusping fear as it transforms to something more, and my prayers to dark things are answered.

I asked for this.

The first hit is something personal, just for me. It explodes around and through me, as if the combined voices of my dark things had shouted down from the doorsteps of Paradise, “Let there be pain,” and I am gifted through a veil of wood, steel and leather. My mind goes blank, and my body awakens. The pain comes to me, just as I feared, in bright blasts of wanton lust and devastating sensation. I have lost track of myself, and my whimpers. My feet tear free of their bindings, heedless to my commands, and my lips are pried apart by screams. I do not know who is hitting me. I do not know is being used to hit me. I do not know what I am. I only know pain.

I asked for this.

I am being cut loose, allowed to slump on the cold floor. The dark things are patient with me, and they ask if I want to stop. There is just enough of me left in myself to say no, to say that I am not done.

My mountain still hangs above me, the peak of my challenge yet to be crested.

I will not have mercy, and though I cannot see it, I know my dark things are pleased. They move me to a more opportune spot, and continue to wage my wars for me, the drums of their efforts thunderous against the battlefield of my heaving body. Blood has been coaxed from me, soaking the slope of my ass and thighs in thick sheets of crimson. I feel a splash and smile through my screaming, understanding that the dark things are dancing in rubied rain; my rain. I feel the joy in their sustained effort, and I know love as their blows cascade with the violent roses that bloom and pour from me. This love is my mountain, and I have overcome. I have claimed it.

This is what I asked for.

Written Nov 5, 2018 by Noelle Boone

Keeping Community First At The Dallas Eagle

If 2020 were a hula hoop, it would be made of barbed wire.  Individuals and businesses are having to make difficult decisions with no good options.  The Dallas Eagle is no exception.  Last open on March 16, of this year, the bar has remained closed as a precaution for both employees and patrons. 

We all have a place that is a home away from home, and for many of us it has been the Dallas Eagle.  Owner Jeffrey Payne takes that responsibility seriously.  Upon the announcement of closures, he immediately contacted the mayor’s office pushing for a comprehensive plan from the City of Dallas and various agencies to assist those within our community with lost revenue and lost wages.  Regardless of the city’s response, though, he has continued to look out for his community’s best interest.  “Money is not at stake,” says Jeffrey. “Our patrons, 

my staff and my families’ lives and health are what is at stake…Do I need to open

for financial reasons? You bet your ass, I do. But I will never value a person’s life and well-being over my making a buck.”

As a place where many of us have made lasting memories, had unforgettable moments, and found many friends, we feel the loss of our gathering place acutely.  Founders Matt Miller and Mark Fraizer first opened the doors of The Dallas Eagle in 1995 to meet a perceived need in the DFW Leather Community.  Since the opening of the bar, through moves and changes of ownership, numerous clubs and organizations (some still around, some now defunct) have called the Eagle home. Across the years, on any given night, one could attend meetings and gatherings of a myriad of clubs such as the Leather Knights, NLA-Dallas, Discipline Corps, Lone Star Cigar Men, Eagle Bears, United Court of the Lone Star Empire, Dallas Bears, Texas Gay Rodeo Association, DFW Leather Corps, Dallas Diablos, and The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Other highlights we are missing include themed bar nights, community fundraisers, weddings, and a variety of contests traditionally held at the Eagle.  Annually we have hosted many contests – South Central Leather (Sir, Boy, BB), Great Plains Olympus Leather (Mr, Ms, Mx), Dallas Eagle (Mr, Ms, BB), and Texas Leather (Mr, Ms, BB).  Bartender Dylan Brown had this to say, “The Dallas Eagle has been my home even before I started bartending there. I’ve made lifelong friendships with the people I work with and awesome customers I have grown to know. I’ve seen people learn to be comfortable with fetishes, kinks, people who are different than them and, of course, themselves…I’m proud to be a part of a bar family that cares about the community and the employees.”

Since Covid hit, our home away from home has been staying closed for our welfare and safety.  Throughout the crisis, Jeffrey has consistently chosen to err on the side of caution to protect his people.  “We could take precautions that could limit the potential spread of COVID-19,” he says, “however, I do not feel the risk involved in potentially spreading this within our community is a risk worth taking.”    He assures us that he and the staff miss each of us immensely, but they will remain closed at least till the end of September or there’s a better outlook.  We can rest easy, though, knowing that when the time comes, the doors will open again, and we all can go back to the place we call home and enjoy drinks and cigars with all of our friends and family.

Jeffrey in front of The Dallas Eagle

Leather Masters: This Isn’t Goodbye. It’s See You Later

On May 30th, 2020 at 6:03pm, Leather Master’s Markus posted a picture on its Facebook page with its final customer, Ronin. When asked how he felt about being the final customer before Leather Masters (LM) shut its doors permanently, Ronin had this to say, 

“It was saddening, I took pictures and recorded a few words. I can’t believe it’s gone. Thanks for the opportunities, the knowledge, and most of all the memories. This isn’t the end.”  

The history of Leather Masters stretches back to 1989, making them 31 years old as of April 2020. Starting in a single room above a bar called “The Heat” in San Jose, California, founders David Carranza and Tony DaCosta recognized the need for high quality leather clothing in their community. They eventually moved and expanded to 969 Park Ave. and began selling their products online in 1996. In 2001, they opened a store location in Allentown, PA and ran that location successfully until forced closure due to harassment from the city of Allentown.  In 2004, a bar owner contacted David and Tony and they opened a spot in San Antonio.  Unfortunately in 2005 both the Allentown and San Antonio locations had to close, but in June 2005, Leather Masters opened in Dallas, Texas, along with adding a 25-year legacy from Leather by Boots, including new unique designs and a manufacturing department. 

Markus, who has been working with leather since he was 13 years old, met David and Tony at a kink event about 7-8 years ago where he filled in at their vendor booth due to an emergency. From there, they began building a relationship with each other, with Leather Masters selling House of Markus products, until, eventually, both businesses decided to merge, and Markus took over the business while David and Tony retired. During the year 2020, Leather Masters moved from its Deep Ellum location to a bigger location in Dallas with plans to open an over 14,000 square footage of space that would have included a 60-person classroom meant to serve the community, with the idea of being a central education hub for the DFW leather and kink community. However, due to COVID-19 and the mandatory quarantine, Leather Masters was forced to postpone its Grand Opening and remain closed. During the pandemic, Leather Masters faithfully served the Dallas Kink and Leather Communities and beyond by making masks during the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) Shortage.

Leather Masters, to Ronin and to the entire community, was more than just your average leather goods store. It was an information hub for the Dallas kink and leather community.  Numerous educational events sponsored through his group H.O.M.E (House of Markus Endeavor) were held at Leather Masters, to include classes that sometimes crammed up to 60 people in the manufacturing section at the Deep Ellum location, or the all-day intensive which hosted 4 classes on various topics in one day.  

 Sometimes though, the education was not always taught in a formal setting.  There was a welcoming atmosphere in which to make  connections at Leather Masters, even through casual interactions and conversations, and that really drew Ronin and others to keep coming back to the store time and time again,“…It was more about etiquette and social norms learned from conversations,” Ronin said. 

 For those who are not necessarily leather but are into kink, Leather Masters served as a safe space for those in the lifestyle looking for gear, connections, or an all-around unique experience.  “Anytime we went, we were always greeted by a friendly associate, and when we had questions about something, there would always be more than one associate trying to help us, by making suggestions or other recommendations if they didn’t have exactly what we were looking for.” says Taylor, a member of the Dallas Kink Community. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, what a revolutionary place. Putting a place that promotes and normalizes kink right in the middle of Deep Ellum.’”

On top of providing education, high quality leather products and goods, and a friendly welcoming atmosphere, Leather Masters also made a name for itself through its numerous donations to Raffles, Run bags, Vests, Back Patches, and Medallions for various events and title runs, large and small, throughout the country supporting events such as Mr. and Mrs. Texas Bootblack, GPOL (Great Plains Olympus Leather), SPLF (South Plains Leatherfest), a primary sponsor for ILSB (International Leather Sir and Boy), and for IMSL (International MS Leather) for which they provided Medallions and Lanyards. 

They’ve been a sponsor for numerous events as well as a vendor selling their products. Countless title holders and contestants around the world have worn or currently wear Leather Masters clothing and/or products.  When asked what they would like Leather Masters to know, numerous voices from the community had this to say: 

  • “If I could say anything to Leather Masters, it would be, thank you. Thank you for helping me grow as I first came in as a little boy and grew into a leather man that is now standing here in front of everyone as a proud leather woman.” (Maria “Rev Angelique” Trevino) 
  • “I’m proud of them. Their vision for the future of the business as a core part of the community was remarkable. They saw a need for classrooms and meeting space and included that in their plans.” (Giant) 
  • “Thank you, for all of the time, resources, and energy you have put into the community through the years.” (Bootblack Zahira, 2020-21 Route 66 Bootblack) 
  • “I think it’s admirable that they’ve been serving the community as long as they have. And so efficiently.”   (Da Kollector)
  • “I think I would like to say that what you have done for the kink Community by creating a space for kink education and offering quality leather goods is something we are thankful for and that we are going to miss. And that we hope that you are able to make a comeback and continue to make leather goods after this Coronavirus stuff is over!” (Taylor) 
  • “It saddens me to lose such an iconic place where people would come to Dallas just to visit and the leather world will never be the same.” (Master TC)

When speaking of any future plans, Markus already has ideas in the works. He intends on getting back to his roots with custom leather work and House of Markus high end custom made pieces, with that being his main focus and missed passion while running the business of Leather Masters. While stuff from the old store location has been moved into storage, Markus does plan on donating rich pieces of history from Leather Masters to put into the Leather Archives Museum in Chicago, IL, such as Dave’s Original Mail Order Catalogue and IML posters that are autographed by title winners and runners from 1989. As for Leather Masters, as a brand, there is hope as he shops around for local leather businesses looking to pick up the product lines.  He has found a manufacturer in Kansas that can produce vests and he is currently in talks with someone to produce harnesses.

In the end, another chapter in the exemplary story of this historic business in the community comes to a close.  However, due to its versatile history, the only question that remains is, when and where will Leather Masters begin another chapter?                                                                                    

Omedetou Valentine’s Day

I have always been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. It is strange I hate chocolate (yes I know that is weird lol ) and I am not big on flowers. I tell Sir every year that I do not need a showy act of love in the middle of February. I feel his love for me every day. The thing I really love about it is that Valentine’s Day is one to celebrate love in many different ways. Most of us know that Valentine’s Day is a mash up between both Christian and ancient Roman traditions. Now I am all for a good fertility festival, and a cool priest who gives it to the Emperor by marring people who have been outlawed to do so. This year however I found about a cool new version of this holiday.

In Japan there’ll be millions of men hoping to receive chocolate from girlfriends, wives, daughters, and the other women in their lives. Yep just the men you read that correctly. Valentine’s Day has a really neat twist there, women are expected to give chocolates to each of the men in her life, even the ones she doesn’t care for. There are two types of chocolates that girls give. First is Giri-Choco which roughly translates to obligation or duty chocolate. It is given to bosses, teachers, colleagues, and male friends. There is no romance with Giri-choco.

Next you have Honmei-choco, Honmei means favorite or best candidate. This is given to boyfriends, lovers, and husbands. It is considered to be true love chocolate. In Japanese culture effort is greatly valued. Many women in Japan prepare the Honmei-choco from scratch as too many it is not thought of as an act of true love to just buy them. Others will spend in the several hundred yen range on store bought Honmei-choco.

Pretty cool tradition and some fun trivia knowledge, hope you enjoy!

~おめでとう
omedetou (Happy) Valentine’s Day!

Living in a Dynamic M/s World, An Afternoon with Neko and koneko

By Bushido_Bard

M/s dynamics and relationships are as rewarding as they are difficult. It is not a lifestyle choice that anyone should rush into for themselves. There are just as many, if not more, pitfalls of “normal” relationships to navigate through; choose this path carefully. Neko and koneko have been on this journey together for many years now and they shared some of their experiences and wisdom for us. Or as Neko said it, “Experience is when you learn from your own mistakes. Wisdom is learning from others mistakes.”

In his early twenties Neko attended a party where he saw a woman being served and attended to. Immediately intrigued, he began talking with her and those serving her and he discovered a new life. For roughly eighteen months he was in service to her but as he puts it, “I was a poor servant to her; I had control issues.” Grinning, he explained that it did not take long to discover that he might belong on the other side of the slash. She agreed and he began learning how to master himself. He spent much of his time learning how to care for others and how to properly live.

koneko came into this life rather early when, smirking as she related it, “I liked hanging out in bars at a young age whether it was legal or not.” She continued with, “I also found out quickly, that I enjoyed kinky sex!” She entered her first M/s relationship when she married her husband. When the relationship ended she entered into another with a woman who allowed koneko to continue growing. She discovered many things about herself but she commented, “I found that I really enjoyed watching others receive pleasure; I loved it!” It was during this time that she also provided safe places for those in the Wiccan or kink communities.

It would be at a Pagan ceremony where they first met and soon they began dating. Eventually koneko petitioned Neko for service and they moved in together along with koneko’s partner. Together they learned about many aspects of this lifestyle together and their journey began in earnest. At this point in their presentation they both said, “Don’t walk another’s path! You must walk your own.” They were also free with some of their own difficulties in their early experiences. Suffice to say that communication and honesty were key to the survival. koneko pointed out, “We experience the same struggles that other relationships have; loved ones needing attention, family obligations, etc. Everything gets dealt with while we maintain our dynamic.”

Neko and koneko continued explaining how their relationship developed and continues to grow into the future. “Our dynamic is not rigid; it’s rather quite fluid,” Neko said, “mistakes have been made, but you grow from them.” It is important to remember that the relationship is one of Master and slave; not husband & wife or boyfriend & girlfriend. There is an exchange of power and authority in effect. koneko explained one aspect of their relationship concerning limits when she added, “He will push me to do things I may be scared or hesitant to do. I trust him that what I am doing is for my good.” Neko supported her comment by adding, “She is my slave and that means she is still important. I care for and protect her.”

Together Neko and koneko began a Leather House by the name of Blood and Ice. The name references blood being a force of life and ice representing control. The Code of Bushido features very prominently within their house as well. This famous code of the Samurai holds seven virtues in high regard; Integrity, Respect, Courage, Honor, Honesty, Loyalty, and Compassion. Neko offered this explanation, “All of these virtues are the foundation but I favor loyalty and trust. I expect the same things in others as I do myself.” They further explained that this code gives them a sense of consistency in their lives. When your actions coincide with your beliefs, you are at your most truthful. “Who you are comes from within,” he finished.

“Living in a M/s dynamic is not for everyone and it requires the usual relationship management skills,” koneko continued, “communication, honesty, and loyalty are the key.” They carry their beliefs into all their relationships. Both of them are polyamorous and this too requires careful thought and attention to their M/s dynamic. In closing, they offered various thoughts on their own experiences and observations from others. They both were in agreement when they said, “If it’s not fun, then why are you doing it?” Be communicative and honest and your M/s relationship can survive!

Being a Bald Ewok in a Wookie World, an Afternoon with TC.

By Bushido Bard

I sat down to discuss TC’s presentation for NLA Dallas’ Leather Perspectives and what follows is a tale of one man’s journey through Leather and the wisdom that he shared. TC did not start out perhaps as everyone else did. He grew up identifying as a hetero male and it was during his time in the United States Army that he discovered the world of Leather. He had a chance meeting with his sergeant that would forever change his life. After discovering a collection of books and magazines dealing with BDSM and power exchanges his sergeant decided to have a word with him.

One week later TC and his sergeant go out in a military vehicle for a routine maneuver. It was not long before they came upon a group of KKK members burning a cross on a hill. Within minutes TC was instructed to open the hatch and pop his head out. Seemingly, like the scene in Blazing Saddles, his sergeant announced, “Hey guys, check this out”, while pointing to TC. Giggling TC related, “Here I am, a black man, surrounded by white men and there are burning crosses; the first thought going through my mind was, ‘Shit…this is how I’m going out.’” His sergeant ordered him to knock down the crosses with the vehicle and then they headed back to base. He didn’t realize it at the time, but he had just demonstrated his loyalty and trust.

Not too long after that night his sergeant invited him to attend a hole-in-the-wall bar. It was a non-descript bar but upon entering his sergeant immediately told the guys at the front that “he’s with me.” It was a gay Leather bar. Still looking astonished TC said, “My sergeant had just outted himself to me! This was the late 80’s folks!” After looking around and taking it all in his sergeant asked him, “So which side are you on? Do you like to do the whipping or being whipped?” Like a kid in a candy store TC was flooded with choices and images.

Soon after this TC entered the world of Leather as his sergeant began his training. When he was transferred to Korea he was told to look up another Leatherman and he continued his journey there. Before he left the US Army he had trained under different Leathermen learning various aspects of our lifestyle. Soon after returning to the states, he left the US Army and joined the local Leather of Dallas; his home since the 90’s.

His first experience attending the Dallas Eagle was interesting as well as eye opening. It was not what he was expecting as he explained, “I watched and observed for a while and eventually folks were approaching me. When I saw a large black man I assumed he was a Dom but I quickly learned he was a sub. I was surrounded by big guys and they were subs. I thought to myself ‘Damn…you’re not helping.” Laughing he continued, “I was surprised at the lack of many people of color in the Leather scene here in Dallas.” It did not take long before he ingratiated himself into the Dallas Leather scene.

TC has traveled extensively visiting many Leather chapters and growing in his journey. In 2013 he was named Mr Great Plains Olympus Leather 2013 and he commented on his title, “The hardest part wasn’t winning the title, it was all the traveling involved with it! I don’t regret it of course, it just took time and energy.” This achievement and the experience helped to create a greater sense of pride in his Leather identity. He encourages everyone to get past the nerves and go out there to have fun while earning Leather titles. He finished by saying, “Damn, just go have fun with it folks.”

As time permitted I asked TC some questions that dealt with his opinions and thoughts on various topics. He shared his views on the future of Leather and some of his hopes. When asked what was the most difficult thing to accept or discover and he replied, “Well, two things: First, and it’s gotten better, but there seems to be a prejudice between gays and hetero people.” TC further explained that initially there were those who resented the inclusion of hetero-sexuals into the lifestyle. He enjoys that over the years everyone in the lifestyle are considered allies more than intruders. He continued, “Secondly there seems to be, in my observation, to be a lack of people of color in the lifestyle. When I do encounter them, they tend to be subs or slaves; I just don’t get it.”

When asked what his most rewarding experience in his Leather life was he quickly responded with, “Watching this Dallas group grow! I’ve seen young people enter and forge their own paths while keeping the traditions that came before them.” Among various other things he said that perhaps his favorite moments come from mentoring and teaching others. TC has been involved with the Dallas Mentors Program over the years and it is a continuous source of pride and satisfaction.

Finally the question was asked what he’d like his legacy to be. He laughed and said, “You mean, what do I want on my tombstone?” Carefully considering his answer and taking a long draw on his cigar he responded with, “There’s nobody here; the soul is gone. Or maybe, he helped the Leather folk.” Overall TC wants his contributions to the Leather community to be helpful and uplifting. To this day he continues to support the local BDSM and Leather communities by leading groups or just being a friendly face welcoming newcomers.

A Life of Leather, An Afternoon with Master Tallen

By Bushido Bard

On a warm Saturday afternoon, Master Tallen gifted those attending the Leather Perspectives presentation the tale of his Leather Life. His life, Leather and otherwise, was laid before the audience for their examination. This was a very frank and open discussion on the ups and downs he experienced so far in his life. His accomplishments have earned him fame, mostly good and sometimes bad, but there were important lessons learned. Master Tallen shared life changing events and wonderful reminders of why we live the life we do.

At a young age Master Tallen realized he was homosexual but given where he was living and the culture he never expressed his feelings until later. After high school he joined the United States Marines and this awakened in him a love and desire for discipline and regimentation. Little did he realize how this experience would shape his future and life! Being stationed in Hawaii he began to explore his sexuality. He commented, “This was before ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ but as long as you didn’t cause a fuss nobody seemed to care.” His tour soon ended however and he returned to the states; the door was opened but the journey had just begun!

“Ironically”, he smiled as he spoke, “I met my wife at a gay bar.” Together they have two daughters but unfortunately the marriage ended after a while. It was at this time that Master Tallen decided he would not keep up appearances and as he put it, “abandoned the ‘straight life’”. For a few years he began a real soul-searching that made him realize that he was missing something in is life. He knew he loved the control and discipline of the military but he was unsure how to find this in his civilian life. His search continued…

Like many of us, the Internet changed his life as he discovered the life and concept of Master/slave relationships. Immediately he was intrigued and believed that this was just what he was looking for! More research was conducted and he discovered Leather and the various relationships therein. He gave a thoughtful nod and gave a wide grin when he said, “Soon I was contacting all kinds ‘Masters’ looking for a relationship; boy, I found some real doosies…” In one particular instance he talked and decided to meet with a master, (lower-case letter on purpose), who turned out to be the worst master he had ever encountered. It was a case where the man had no money, or any kind of life and just used Master Tallen’s resources selfishly. “Lesson learned”, he said as he shook his head gratefully.

After a few relationships, that left much to be desired from the Masters, meant moving to other states, and even required starting life over again, Master Tallen resolved to learn more about Leather and even becoming a Top. With much enthusiasm he said, “I became motivated; if I couldn’t find a Master worth a damn, I’d become the Master!” While researching the whats and wherefores of being a Top and/or Master he tasted his first spark of control; the Top’s high. He found it greatly to his liking and this encouraged him to find his first slave. A new era had begun!
Master Tallen attended a myriad of conventions with his new slave and even helped create some of the events that exist today. With so many volunteering jobs and other work towards assisting the community, it was time to step away for a break; but not for too long… After much research and delving deep into countless symbols and their numerous meanings, he developed a visual concept of the Master/slave relationship; something very deep and personal to him. Part of this originated from his desire to create a sign or flag for inspiration and to be a source of pride. The end result is apparent for all in the community to see, but it was not universally accepted at first.

The familiar flag that contains red lines on a black field with a white border was an accomplishment that resulted in a mixed reception. Although there were some in the community that mocked Master Tallen for his audacity to create something like this, it has stood the test of time. Today, the Master/slave flag is worn by many people in the community and it is an accepted symbol of Leather and BDSM activities.

Unfortunately, Master Tallen’s life took a very dramatic and different turn when he suffered from an accident in which he fell from a ladder. Part of the recovery locked him to a wheelchair for an indefinite amount of time. Master Tallen said in a somber voice, “Crisis of identity doesn’t even begin to describe it.” He had to re-evaluate his role with regards to his changed physical condition and relationships. He asked the audience, “How can you still be a Master if you’re sitting and needing constant care?”

This was the greatest trial he experienced in his life and today he is forever thankful for those people, including his current slave, who helped him recover. His slave attended to his every need and in such a way that Master Tallen was in control. Together, they modified their relationship so that they maintained their previous protocols. It was a testament to the dedication that they had for each other. This injury certainly kept his activities low; he eventually recovered to the point that he could discard the wheelchair!

Most recently Master Tallen has fought to preserve the International Puppy and Trainer Contest and this is but one of his many pursuits. Today he enjoys the full life he has with his Leather family and biological family. In his closing words he commented that life is constant change and that burnout is common and expected in this life. He expressed to hold on to what matters to you and follow your heart. After his presentation he ended with these words of wisdom, “Follow your heart, but just be smart!”

Community, What’s in a Word? An Afternoon with Dan Perry.

by Bushido_Bard

Dan Perry opened the discussion by simply asking, “What is community? What’s it mean?” Audience participation and responses were welcomed as Dan poled everyone in attendance. Truly, to all of us, what makes a community? Is it as simple as everyone under one umbrella? Is it a subset of something greater? How do you define a community? Reminding us of the roots of modern Leather, Dan suggested that the soldiers returning from World War 2 were the first community. Where did it go from there?

As the years went by, the Leather Community saw its ups and downs but as groups became larger the sense of togetherness seemed to fade. Dan posed another question, “As we get larger, our closeness goes away, and we are left wondering how do we retain our sense of community.” As one group becomes larger, because more like-minded people gather around it, sometimes subsets begin to form. While this is not necessarily a bad thing it does begin to perhaps dilute the whole. Or does it? Dan finished his question then added, “We form different groups because people want a “tighter” group. When this happens we sometimes become ‘cliquish’ and this is not good.”

Although community can mean different things to different people we still strive to uphold the whole. This can lead to good and bad things… “We are quick to start something new because a need is perceived. However, we are reluctant to end them when perhaps the need is no longer there”, he pointed out. Case-in-point: If a group was begun several years ago to address an issue but the issue no longer persists, does the group need to continue out of obligation?

Can our umbrella of acceptance get too large or can we always separate into smaller organizations? As the years rolled on our “umbrella” became larger. Dan said poignantly, “AIDS and other common enemies brought many folks together and our umbrella became larger.” Whereas before many organizations were private and very secretive, now they were larger and sought different areas large enough to house them. As this was occurring our sense of community was being tested in new ways. According to Hardy Haberman, “Today we have numbers, but do we really have strength in numbers?”

One of the largest reasons for forming a community was to protect ourselves from outside enemies. Although, one may argue that in today’s society BDSM, Homosexuality, or Kink in general is more accepted, for many years these things would get you arrested or worse. So now that we have come together and formed sub-cultures do we still have one defining characteristic? Dan offered, “We once had one thing that united us, but now it seems that everyone in their separate groups has their own thing.” Perhaps from the joining together we have lost something that united us across several boundaries.

When we were smaller and tighter, we could easily know each other and encourage or discourage activities. As any group or community begins to grow you lose a level of intimacy that exists so easily with just a few. This problem is expressed in many aspects of our culture; just look at the rise of mega-churches. We are all united but still we identify and belong to other banners. How do we regulate ourselves? When there are 20 people in a group it is easy to keep tabs, watch others, and protect ourselves. Dan continued, “There was a time when NLA Dallas was just a small group of people. Now we are at over 100 members.”

How do we as a community handle issues or problems when our umbrella is so large? In one example Dan told of a group of puppies that were randomly interacting with people and biting them. When questioned, the puppies merely replied that they were dogs…what did you expect? With the age of the Internet we are gaining new friends but also losing our sense of respecting our community. Our umbrella has become so large and our sub cultures so varied that we are having trouble keeping up.

So what is a community? From where we started and where we are now, how do we prepare for our future? Many questions were asked by Dan and the answers were often never the same. Discussions could have lasted for far longer but it was important that we become aware of our sense of community. Do we need all these sub-groups or has their original purpose been served? Is it time to collapse the umbrella of community to a more manageable size? Ultimately, you must decide how you view community and how to serve it.