Sarah Palin is a chronic panderer and attention whore. One of the least popular Tea Party GOP candidates, she is always involved in a project of self-(re)invention: From a failed TV series, to a movie extolling her patriotic virtues, and now her motorcycle mama phase, Palin is a grizzly bear that cannot stay out of the spotlight.
On a related note, Chicago hosted the International Mr. Leather (IML) competition this weekend. I had intended to go, attend some panels, and do some interviews, but other events interfered. Nonetheless, it was great to see all of the leather daddies out in force (as well as the curious and surprised eyes of tourists and others not in the know, as a young girl was overheard saying, "Why are all those men dressed as policemen daddy?"). Timing is everything. Such then, that Sarah Palin's desperate photo op at the Rolling Thunder rally signals all sorts of BDSM, kink, and fetish potential on her part.
[Consider, Sarah Palin is all into "bears." Now we see her in leather. Call me titillated, but I thinks that Ms. Palin could be a very naughty girl, the type you don't bring home to mother.]
I wonder what the founder of the Carter Johnson Leather Library would think of Palin's energy? I will have to ask her during our interview, which of course I will be sharing here on WARN.
Palin is such good sport. In honor of IML I couldn't resist using her as an entry point for a fun read on leather, kink, and sex. From Time Out magazine:
That's Ms. Leather Daddy to You
In college, as a member of a military fraternity linked to ROTC, Pony (not her given name) developed an interest in bootblacking—the act of caring for another person’s shoes while they’re in them (and the master-slave aspect that comes with it). Last month, after an exhaustive weekend of competition in San Francisco, the Rockford native was crowned International Ms. Bootblack at International Ms. Leather (IMsL), the world’s largest event for leatherwomen. The win took Pony completely by surprise. “I’m not a leather dyke,” says the openly bisexual titleholder. “I’m a girlie femme who wears pink ribbons in my boots.”
As part of her Ms. Bootblack duties, Pony comes to Chicago this weekend to support and coach the men competing for International Mr. Bootblack, part of the International Mr. Leather (IML) weekend. It’s her third appearance at Chicago’s annual fetish mega-event. Pony will be joined by another IMsL winner, Lamalani, a Seattle resident who took home the coveted International Ms. Leather title. “Coming from a Chinese background, I kind of held everything in and didn’t explore that,” Lamalani says of her fetish. “A lot of it is exploring my physical and emotional boundaries. It’s fun, it’s sexy and it’s hot.”
Pony and Lamalani are part of what they say is a growing community of women interested in kink and fetish. But unlike their male counterparts, leatherwomen don’t have neighborhood taprooms like Touché and the Cell Block to explore their interest. That’s okay, they say, because the leather community has been quick to overlook the typical divides between gay/lesbian and gay/straight.
“I’m bisexual and female, but my master is straight and male, and we fit in at all the leather events,” Pony says. “Because we identify as leather and respect the leather history and community, that respect is always returned to us.” Case in point: At Chicago’s fetish joint Jackhammer, people of all sexual orientations and gender expressions are welcome in the basement playground the Hole, provided they’re wearing proper attire.
Lamalani echoes Pony’s sentiment. “I really think it boils down to a leatherperson’s heart, spirit and energy,” she says. At last month’s Cleveland Leather Awareness Weekend (CLAW), “the leathermen were just open arms,” Lamalani says. “They didn’t see me as a woman. They saw me as a leatherperson. Because we are outlaws to begin with, we band together with other outlaws.”
Both women say this spirit of inclusion extends to IML, the second- largest leather event in North America after San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair in September. Although they admit that no part of the weekend is aimed specifically at women, who attend in comparatively slight numbers, the event maintains a strong female presence among volunteers, bootblacks and the infamous vendor mart where women might get their fetish going in live BDSM demos or just man a table. According to Pony, the relative rarity of women gives her an added cachet. “My favorite part is the reaction of ‘Oh, my gosh, a real live girl. Can I touch you?’” she says.
But given that there’s no event geared specifically toward the ladies, why should women bother with IML? “An event like IML is really the alternative sexuality community’s World’s Fair, and everybody’s welcome,” says Pony, who, along with Lamalani and other women, can attend the IML and bootblack competitions, hit key parties like GearBlast and the MAUL Uniform Party, attend the Pantheon of Leather (an awards ceremony honoring men, women and clubs), and play alongside male counterparts. “Just the vendor mart itself is a reason to go,” Pony says. “To be able to buy whatever you need or want and have nobody look at you sideways for it is really quite a feat.”