Yesterday afternoon I made my way down to Weehawken Street and caught the Leather Street Fair, which could have been underwritten by LJ given the number of folks I saw there from these pages.
The weather was more of that crazy warmth we’ve been having all month long, But even with that I detected no flouting of the scandalous dress codes that were being mooted about in the week leading up to the event. It was all pretty decorous from my perch, which made the gnatstorms of media crews laughable in their hunger. As soon as something that might be thought of as even slightly provocative began to happen, cameras would be shoulddered and mike booms unfurled. Actual attendance seemed pretty sparse though, given the scrums I’ve sceen on that block when it is serving it’s function as semi-official bear gathering place after the gay pride parade.
Don’t get me wrong, there were lots of folks I was happy to see and chat with, and in fact the low numbers made it much easier to do so. But as public debauches go, this was pretty tame. In the aftermath, the organizers have quotes studded with terms like community, acceptance, education, diversity; and the critics are shown to be as always concerned with protecting their children from chance encounters with unsavory ideas and traumatic images, and with upholding the notion of due process at the level of neighborhood governance; the articles leading up to the event were vaguely alarmist, and those following vaguely smutty. It has all been by the book.
What doesn’t get talked about is the role of public pleasure in our lives and on our streets. And clearly pleasure is too disruptive a concept to be even entertained as a motivating factor in organizing such an event. It was so dispiriting to have to see that there seemed to be so few people willing to be hit publicly that a tree had to be the non-consenting partner in the singletail demonstration (nice cracking by the way, dude – I don’t mean this to be a knock on you). I thought about getting up and offering an air spanking demo. To be fair, I did see some activity with two partners, one of whom was so covered up they would not have offended the Taliban. Are so many of us considering future Senate runs that we can’t risk being seen to take our pleasure as we really like it? I know that there are many people who are not out to family, friends, and co-workers, but how long should we all sit on our hands? Is this the state of affairs in New York in the 21st century: that a couple of hundred people can’t be seen to be enjoying themselves on a one block alley way fifty feet from a highway and the waterfront?
Our pleasure is awkward, it’s scary, it’s is unique to each one of us and it is not easily explained to our neighbors or our children. It is frightening to look at and frightening to experience. It also looks goofy, funny, undignified. It is where we probe the limits of the human condition, not because we are big bad kinksters with a lot of technique, but because that is what all pleasure does when we face it honestly, even in the missionary position. Any sane society would realize that and find the ways to honor that, not simply tolerate it.
One thing that made me happy yesterday: along with the many friends I was happy to see and paw, was drukwerk, who gave me the buttons I designed and ordered from her: