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Maybe it’s just me, and years of living on the sexual margins have made me all to ready to see hints and innuendo every where I look, but even from my warped perspective, I have to ask what exact message is this woman trying to send with her canvas tote with the shackles and noose on the side?

She was coolly reading the New Yorker from when she got on at Seventh Avenue til when she got off at 34th Street, in an outfit that had no other hints of kinkiness. Is the image an invitation to bondage or an expression of freedom from it? Some random importation of violent motifs onto the side of canvas totes as part of a fashion statement? I’ll never know.

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…are what I need to buy today on the way home. But really this post is about IMsL.

This was the first Leather Contest I’ve attended, and only the second title contest (in the late 90’s I was part of helping the Metro Bears put on a run/contest that had very little impact). On the whole I have stayed away from organized leather, but if there was going to be a first one, I’m happy that it was this one. The stakes, while high for the contestants, seemed low for the rest of the event. People were there for a whole array for reasons, only one of which were the contests.

It was very interesting to be at a women’s event; my Seventies feminist training kicked in and it combined with my shyness to make me quite reticent about approaching people. I was trying to mind my ps and qs, not wanting to be intrusive and to listen twice befreo speaking once. I wasn’t always successful, but on the whole it was more relaxing than it sounds.

My class fell victim to the vagaries of San Francisco’s climate. Since what I was teaching involved smoking, it had to place outdoors, on the patio outside of the hospitality suite. This was fine when the sun was shining directly on it, but once there was no sunshine, the classroom turned chill to such an extent that people were stepping inside to watch from beyond the glass patio doors. I had to cut things a little short, both on the demonstration end and in general, because it was just getting silly. Scheduling also meant that many folks could only attend part of the class, which meant that there was a constant trickle of people in and out of the session. That tends to rattle me, and I feel like I didn’t do as good a job as I might have. I did have a stalwart demo bottom, and good friends in the audience, two factors that made the whole thing much easier.

There were many great people there to connect with, and despite the above mentioned shyness, I did have some wonderful conversations and saw some hot action. My own experience was mixed. I had one encounter go wrong on me and was really rattled by it. Luckily my friends were there to help me process it all.

Maybe its because I was fairly close to the operating staff, but the event seemed exceptionally well run to me; things happened when they were supposed to with a minimum of fuss. When that happens, it means that everyone can relax and enjoy what’s happening. Problems don’t become crises.

On the whole I feel like the women’s community is a lot more vibrant and diverse than the men’s. And it’s really interesting to me the way that a younger generation is upending questions about gender style and play. There’s a kind of giddiness in the exploration and reconfiguration of rules that speaks to my heart (and other parts, since I find that kind of energy very hot).

I don’t think I’ll ever find a place in “Leather Tradition”, and I’m not really interested in doing so in any event. But I am glad to have been a small part of IMsL. And very grateful to folks who brought me there.

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I spent most of today at Kink For All, a kind of cross between a conference and speed dating for the alternative sexualities communities. I initially thought I wasn’t going to go at all, as I was getting things done around the house. Then I decided I would drop in for an hour. Once there, I stayed until it ended: five hours. I did a presentation, saw friends and soaked up the great good will that permeated the event.

I went in skeptical given the looseness of the organizational structure. But it all worked, in part because everyone who came committed to doing something to make the event a success. It was a low pressure volunteerism, that might not work for achieving other sorts of goals, but was perfect for something of this scope.

Presentations were twenty minutes apiece, which allowed people who didn’t have full topics to step forward and start discussions, and encouraged the more seasoned people to keep it crisp. I heard a lot of interesting discussion, and that’s what kept me around. It was exciting to learn how many people are thinking deeply about issues of gender and kink.

If New York is going to move beyond its current sexual doldrums, it will be because of many different people working on many different fronts. Today felt like a good step towards that.