From Issue 2.6 - June/July 1996

Coming Out into SM: Our Stories

If I had chosen discretion over desire, I never would have had my first happy SM experience, which started when a horny, stunningly beautiful man in leather cruised my butt and motioned me into a storefront doorway at 8th and Folsom. He opened his vest, and I sucked his beefy, exposed nipple until I became nervous about potential passers-by. Thankfully, he responded by grabbing me behind the neck and dragging me (and my surprised hard-on!) down an alley, into his flat, and onto his eye-bolted bed. And into another world.
-- Bill Brent, editor, Black Sheets and The Black Book

I completely intellectualized the process of coming out into SM, carefully reading both pro (Coming to Power, Lesbian S/M Safe Sex Manual) and con (Against Our Will and other Dworkinite texts). Finally, I just said "fuck it," and proceeded with the physical manifestation of a deep, undeniable desire to beat the crap out of a woman and have her do it to me, plus lots of fucking.
-- Lydia Steptoe, writer of lesbian SM fiction

When I was 12 years old I had my first S&M experience. I would bug the 15 year old son of my mother's boyfriend until he would torture me. The tortures became more and more sexual as time went on. Finally, I was leading him astray and he didn't want to do it anymore because my ideas were getting "too weird." Finally, at the age of 21 in San Francisco, I bought my first pair of chaps and had my first "adult" S&M experience with a hot top who just looked at me in the Arena Bar and said, "Are you ready to go?" I said "Yes, sir!" I became one of those creatures my mother warned me about.
-- Greg L. Pennington, San Francisco

I found my father's same-sex porn and photos of his own genital cuttings and modifications after he died. Being curious, I investigated, and discovered a marvelous world of sexuality shunned by most mortals. At a sex toy party I picked up a flogger and twirled and snapped it over another woman's bottom. Being experienced, she suggested that I attend the next Catacombs party and find a delicious bottom to use it on. She had some sort of belief that I had an innate skill with whips...
-- Tala Brandeis, leatherdyke activist and single-tail whip weilder, San Francisco

As a high-school virgin, I really wanted to be tied up by my boyfriend, but I was too shy to say anything. So I carried long strands of ribbon in my pockets and hoped he'd get the idea. He never did. And neither did anyone else. Years later, on the phone from Texas, my high-school boyfriend confessed, "I always knew you were into kinky stuff. But I never told you that I was into it, too." "You waited thirteen years to tell me that? Well, when are you going to visit?" I have a Polaroid from a few months later. His first time and mine. I'm on my back, wearing soft white rope attached to a futon frame, a scarf around my eyes, and blue bikini panties. Later, through an endorphin haze, I mumbled, "You know, I was kind of worried that doing it in real life would be a let-down compared to my fantasies. But it was much better."
-- Firecat, San Francisco Bay Area writer and consultant

In 1988 I had no clue that there was a scene. One night I phoned a party line and met a guy named BlueMan. He told me about another line, the B&D line, and we called it. "Isn't it a hoot?" he asked. I was pretty shocked that there were nice, normal, intelligent people doing the fantasies that I had always thought were shameful and bad. I took Lolita as my handle and began to call the line as an innocent young girl. I learned a lot, and eventually met my first Master, my first slave, and my first TV "girlfriend" through the line.
--Lolita, New York City

I can't say that I'm one of those that saw the light and pleasures of SM at an early age. But I also wasn't one of those kids that had a rigid sense of gender, mom, dad, and apple pie, either. As an adolescent I used to dress myself up for my own pleasure after the family had gone to sleep. I marveled at my transformations; I lived for Halloween each year. Moving to the Bay Area allowed me ample opportunity for going out in fab glam outfits and expressing my personae. I realized that I'm actually a tall, styilin', alien bisexual drag queen trapped in the body of petite woman. I started lurking about at fetishy clubs and events. Although I had been playing bondage games with my lovers since I first became sexually active, I never really gave it a thought that I was (gulp) Kinky. I just thought I was a bit adventurous and naughty. At the various clubs I started to meet others like me, got invited to parties, and realized that I am a Perv, surrounded by a bunch of other Pervs and Freaks. IÕm still adventurous and naughty. But now I wave it around like a big bright neon and metallic flag with a latex fringe border, while wearing thigh high platform boots and brandishing a wicked cane and a very small fist.
-- Midori, fetish diva

I knew that I was attracted to sex with men since I was a 15 year old boy, but I also knew that I in no way related to the effeminate men publicly known as "faggots" in the small deep south town in which I was reared. So I tended to associate with the rougher men who liked man-to-man action but who would never call themselves "queer." In 1974, at the age of 19, having just perused a paperback bookstore's offering of science-fiction, I went down the "crafts" aisle to avoid a number of people blocking the aisle of more popular sellers, when a book with a yellow cover with a man wearing a studded leather jacket caught my eye. I stopped, opened it randomly, and read something to the effect of "Does the sight of a dominant guy in black leather turn you on?" My immediate hard-on answered that question. I bought the book, which was Larry Townsend's Leatherman's Handbook, and slowly made my entry through what was still left of the apprenticeship system in Atlanta, New York City, and Chicago.
-- Joseph Tsiyonv, systems analyst and International Gay Rodeo Association steer wrestler

Was it the delightful and musky aroma of grandmum's kid leather pumps that emanated power and comfort to this mischievous child? Was it tying my playmates to trees and watching them struggle against their bonds? Or was it painting a supple young bottom a fiery red and feeling the sting and warmth upon my hand. No, I believe my favorite was the allure of the mystical garden hose and the magic and delights that it provided.
-- Mistress Paloma, Mistress-at-large

My first introduction to SM was literary, romantic, theoretical. I fell in love with a cold, imperious red-haired bitch about the same time a friend lent me a copy of (the then out of print) Venus in Furs. The relationship went unconsummated, however, and my interest remained philosophical until a few years later. Then, after the wrenching and untimely death of a lover, I met Mistress Shane, a beautiful young professional dominatrix who taught me how to transmute my guilt and mental anguish into physical punishment and absolution. Then she taught me how the process could be used for pleasure, and sent me out into this sick world to wreak what havoc I could. And so I have done.
-- David Aaron Clark, author and editor

Having always been thought of "as a little different," as soon as I arrived in San Francisco my first stop was at a leather bar. Suddenly, I found myself surrounded by men of my same persuasion. Not just gay, but willing to experiment and push to the limit. Any fears or doubts I may have had before were gone. I was at home. I was relieved, and my bound emotions were suddenly released. I felt as if I had just experienced a giant ejaculation. I continue to explore this wonderful new world to this day.
--Philip M. Turner, SF Leather Daddy XI

Ten years ago, I was kicked out of the midwestern feminist collective rape crisis center for being suspected of beating up my girlfriend. My roommate's girlfriend (who was also in the collective) had seen a copy of Coming to Power on the floor next to my bed and assumed my girlfriend and I were doing SM (we were actually just thinking about doing it). Since we'd already been accused and suffered the consequences, we decided to try it, and happily moved to the Bay Area to be leatherdykes.
-- Anne Williams, femme stud with power tools

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Last updated: 4 July 1996