If You Get an Outfit, You Can Be a Leatherman Too
"I just don't believe that anybody has an actual leather fetish, not like people have a latex fetish or a foot fetish," Larry-bob opined. "All these leathered-up guys just want to be joiners."
Which seemed a bit harsh.
But pretty accurate.
Leather biker gear came into being with a practical purpose. It was two-wheel armor of a sort, protecting a rider from freeway winds and, in the event of going down, road rash. And black didn't show dirt.
Then came Marlon Brando in The Wild One and, quick as you can say "Kenneth Anger's Scorpio Rising," the biker jacket became an icon of queer hypermasculinity. Cowhide gear was, back then, a signifier of a sexuality that remained, perforce, underground. It proclaimed "I'm an outlaw, and a butch outlaw, at that." And what could be more outlawish, lustwise, than sadomasochistic sex? Those nasty leather boys with their whips and chains were an oft-despised minority within a minority, and many of 'em no doubt liked it just fine that way.
Times have changed, of course. Fast-forward through Stonewall, the Village People, Madonna-as-perv, Jay Leno riding his Harleys, and Rosie O'Donnell in domme drag in Exit To Eden, and it's clear that the kinky love that once dared not scream its name has not only become vociferous, but big business as well. Anyone strolling into ye olde leathersexgear shoppe may become intoxicated by the scent of cured dead cow, but a glance at the price tags may cause a more lasting sort of dizziness. And that new top-of-the-line Harley with its 30-grand price tag is less likely to be straddled by a bona fide outlaw than a well-remunerated CEO.
Still, the wearing of hide remains hot. A better sociologist than I might be able to explain why the biker icon has retained a cachet that far outshines the similarly butch sailors of Jean Genet's lusts, the gladiators of 1950's porn magazines. Go figure.
Everybody should have a hobby, of course, and bondage is no less worthy than birdwatching. And you might just as well share bondage tips as cake recipes. 'Cause don't we all—especially those of us who grew up feeling queerly out of place—deserve a club that we can belong to? Those folks who have never been to hardcore leatherparties or Mr. Leather Whatever contests might be surprised to learn that the vibe oft veers closer to "Rotarian" than "Satanist," but hey, who wants to get that pricey toybag stained with the blood of sacrificed virgins, right? And why not cap off an evening of suspension bondage with a basso discussion of the opera season or real estate prices? Born to be mild, as t'were.
But does any of that really matter? If we're going to get somewhat pretentiously foo-foo about being spanked, then does not the Inner Journey Toward Self-knowledge remain enlightening, even if it's all dressed up in what everyone else is wearing? Just because everyone is into flogging, that doesn't make it any the less fun. Sure, what's left of the leather community's Old Guard may get their steel-studded panties in a twist over all the rule-ignoring interlopers, but dudes, nobody owns perversion. Living in leather may be lots of fucked-up fun, but weekend masochists also have their charms…as we weekend sadists can attest.