Left Holding the Heads

[Carlisle has come by to keep me company on a slow evening, and since it’s near freezing outside, he’s dressed head-to-toe in leather. Without warning, a mildly hysterical customer bursts into the store.]

Customer: [pointing at Carlisle] “OH, MY GOD. I thought you were a mannequin, but then you moved and scared the shit out of me!”

[A friend of said customer suddenly bursts in right behind him, brandishing a black, plastic shopping bag.]

Customers Friend: “HOLD YOUR OWN FUCKING BAG, CHAD.”

Customer/Chad: “NO. YOU FUCKING HOLD IT.”

Customers Friend: “FUCK YOU.”

I honestly thought they were going to come to blows, but instead they just glared at each other and stormed back into the bar. So that was kind of a let-down, although it did inspire Carlisle to create a self-portrait via a photo editing app and the styrofoam head we use to display garrison caps:

bobequin
Oh, don’t mind me. I’m just here to eat your fucking soul, Chad.

As a side note, I watched Hereditary last night, and halfway through the movie, a precariously-balanced bottle of melatonin slid off my coffee table, and I was like, “Huh. It’s ironic that melatonin is the reason I’ll never sleep again.” But I only bring this up as comparison, because the thought of a demon ghost child somehow escaping my television in order to knock shit around my living room creeped me out nowhere nearly as badly as the above picture does. I may print it out and tape it to the front side of the counter (where I won’t actually have to see it) and add, “Don’t forget, kids: Carlisle is watching,” as a shoplifting deterrent. It’ll be like the Elf on the Shelf, except everyone will be too unnerved to make memes out of it.

Well, I mean, Robert will make memes out of it. But everyone else will just avert their eyes and follow the damn rules.

PS: I told Ben about the melatonin poltergeist, and he was like, “This is the kind of thing that would only happen to you,” which makes me feel vaguely insulted but also totally validated. And like I might need and old priest and a young priest.

My Other Car is a Volkswagen Doppelgänger

Pre-sobriety Me: “Keep your head down. Lay low. Stay out of trouble. Don’t draw attention.”

Six-and-a-half-years Sober Me: “I could steal this Porsche Boxster right out of the Ripcord parking lot and start a whole new life.”

This is… not how I thought recovery would go. But hey, at least I’ve developed some confidence.

I’m a big believer in little victories.

Speak Softly and Carry Dem Beats

Ben recently came into town to spend a few days with me, and let me tell you, with two kinky leathermen living under one roof, shit got crazy.

And by “crazy,” I mean we contentedly flopped on the couch and watched Brian Friedman choreography videos until our eyes bled.

Can you get much hotter than that? I submit that you cannot.

Eventually, we were like, “Oh, wait, right, we’re kinky leathermen.” So we gussied up in some cowhide, grabbed my bag of paddles, and headed to Ripcord to put on a floor show. The bar was busy when we arrived, but the St. Andrew’s Cross was free, with nary a straight girl mistaking it for a jungle gym. Ben climbed up on it and slipped his hands through the restraints, I pulled out a Scottish tawse to warm him up, and we let ourselves slide into the scene.

A semi-public BDSM performance comes with an expected amount of exhibitionism, but when there’s a solid connection between the participants, the outside world melts away, and a trance-like state develops, ebbing and flowing with the thud of weighted wood against skin; the sting of chrome; the soothing caress of a hand. So caught up was I in the moment that it took a few seconds to notice the two drunken preppies standing just a little too close for comfort, pointing and giggling and offering unnecessary exposition.

Stealing a quick glance, I decided they were annoying but harmless, and I returned my attention to Ben. I’d just administered a hard smack to his posterior, and — finding his reaction agreeable — had pulled back to deliver another, when one of the preppies leapt forward and tried to swat Ben himself.

He missed.

“Back off,” I said.

Now, this is where our stories differ. I remember speaking firmly, but not aggressively; Ben, however, recalls a rumbling, demonic growl, reminiscent of the Death of the Universe and the End of All Things. Either way, the preppies took the fucking hint and bustled away, hopefully back to whatever appletini factory spawned their misbegotten souls in the first place.

The interruption by no means ruined the experience, but I hung onto some resentment nonetheless. So the preppies thought that what we were doing was funny: alright, fine. Their opinion of me is none of my business. But to purposely cause disruption for their own amusement… goddamn them on multiple levels, if only because of the injuries that could’ve resulted. I could’ve gotten distracted by the intrusion and hurt Ben; I could’ve accidentally hit the interfering preppy; hell, I could’ve lost my balance and broken my nose on the concrete floor.

None of those things actually happened, though, so I was ultimately able to let the anger go and stay present. The scene came to a close, and — with dizzy grins on our faces and little puffs of smoke wafting out of our ears — we wandered out to the patio to cool off. I was perched on a comfortable bench to give my sciatica a break, and Ben was standing next to me, when a dude I know peripherally through mutual acquaintances moseyed over and struck up a conversation.

“Hey, Ben,” he said, presuming familiarity. “How’d you like that spanking?”

“I liked it very much,” Ben replied.

“Well, then we’ll have to get you back down here for another one.”

“I certainly plan on coming back soon.”

“Oh, good,” the dude said. “Except when I spank you, you won’t be wearing pants.”

His arm snaked around Ben’s waist, and he reached for Ben’s ass.

Are you seriously hitting on him in front of me?

I’d like to say it came out harsher than I intended, but that would be a damn lie. It came out nowhere near as harsh as I intended, but it was still more than enough to make the dude jump back a few feet. At this point, it also occurred to me that I’m kind of tall. Dude’s about 5’7″ in heels, so I slowly rose to my full height and towered over him, vibrating with menace, and he sputtered a few semi-coherent apologies before removing himself from the premises.

There’s this thing in the straight kinkster world about “protection”: Like, if you look at a given FetLife profile, it might say, “Owned by Master Sobriquet, under the protection of LaFonda and Frisco.” The concept always seemed kind of weird to me, like some sort of takeaway from the Society of Creative Anachronism, but after my run-in with dude, it makes a lot more sense — if Master Sobriquet is not around, and dude starts harassing the kinkster in question, he will have LaFonda and Frisco to reckon with. And while I would hate to be accused of cultural appropriation, we LGBTQ+ kinksters could definitely use a similar approach when dealing with trolls and other monsters.

Ben is now under my protection, because there are a lot of douche-nuggets out there who think “submissive” means “community property”; who aren’t going to accept “no” for an answer, if they even bother asking before crossing boundaries. And fortunately, there are people who understand how power exchanges actually work, and who have no problem stepping in when a situation starts going south — but frankly, there are nowhere near enough of us.

Guys, truly, don’t be afraid to speak up if you see someone forcing themselves into a scene, or onto a target who is clearly antipathetic to their advances. Every community has its predators, and that’s probably not going to change, but there’s nothing saying we can’t use every tool (or paddle) at our disposal to take all their power away.

And by that, I mean I am “deeply skeptical” about his “alleged sexual orientation.” Thank God for air quotes.

Customer: [arms spread wide] “You took care of me.”

Me: “I did?”

Customer: “Yes! I bought all the leather I’m wearing at your main store.”

Me: “Ah, I see. Great! I’m glad we could help.”

Customer: “So, what do you have that’s new?”

Me: “When were you last here?”

Customer: “Yesterday, when I bought all the leather.”

Me: “Okay… well, we did just get some interesting nipple clamps in…”

Customer: [noticing the Double Scorpio solvents] “Are these… you know, nasal?”

Me: [subtle but affirmative head movement]

Customer: “How much are they?”

Me: “Those are $19.99.”

Customer: “What?! That’s way too much! For $20, I could get a baggie of something a lot more fun to sniff.”

Me: “We… we don’t sell that here.”

Customer: [smiles crookedly and wanders into the bar]

Rok dropped by a little later in the evening, and when I told him about this customer, he was like, “Yeah, I’m the one who sold him all that leather. Apparently, he’s ‘straight,’ but this one time he put on a harness and invited some girls over, and at first, they ‘didn’t get it,’ but by the end of the night, ‘Oh, they got it.'”

Personally, I fall squarely into the “still doesn’t get it” camp, but I guess it’s not really my place to tell someone they’re doing straight wrong. And hey, at least his story was about a harness, versus, say, Maximum Impact. I like it when Forge employees just have to smile and nod instead of call the cops.

I want you like horse loves hay. We all do.

This month’s Facets of Leather included a lively visit from the Houston girls of Leather, along with in-depth discussions of bootblacking etiquette, boundaries during kink scenes, and the now infamous Phantom Penis incident. It also featured me repeatedly leaning into my microphone and murmuring, “You’re listening… to Facets,” in my best Delilah voice, because somewhere around 1:30 a.m. this struck me as the funniest thing ever, and I couldn’t stop saying it.

Robert has often expressed unease about how much coffee I ingest before we go on the air. It might be time to start taking his concerns seriously.

We didn’t play a whole lot of music this time around, although we did toss one track into the mix that probably requires some explanation. A few weeks ago, Carlisle came into the shop and made me watch the video of a song called “Skibidi,” by Russian electro-quartet Little Big. At first I was like, “This is unsettling and makes me fear for the future of the entertainment industry,” but by the end of my shift, I had the lyrics memorized and the dance moves down. Carlisle knows me a little better than I’d care to admit at times.

Boom boom!

Garnish the Bluff

Bartender: [to a grabby customer] “DO NOT TOUCH MY HAT. I would rather have a man SHOVE AN OLIVE UP MY ASS than touch my hat.” [then, to me] “What can I get you, baby?”

Me: “Oh, I just need an olive.”

Bartender: “…”

And he didn’t even offer to let me touch his hat. I feel mildly cheated and also wish I wasn’t craving tapenade right now.

The Queer Duck Says [Sad Trombone]

[A handsome, bearded customer enters the store. While his mannerisms are masculine, he’s wearing long, dangly earrings and glitter nail polish, and he’s carrying a tasteful, silk clutch. Immediately, Inner Me is like, “Non-binary! Genderqueer! Role model! Mentor! Instruct me in your liminal ways, Ascended One!”]

Me: “Hello! How can I help you tonight?”

Customer: “BLECH. THE SMELL OF LEATHER MAKES ME THINK OF A FARM.”

Alrighty, then. Not quite the spiritual advisement I was looking for. I think I’m just going to go back to quietly venerating Tilda Swinton.