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"Because I read, it's easy for me to recognize the importance of the written word in our culture. What I have read has been formative in my development as a person, as a teacher, as a writer, and of course, as a leather man."

The Intimacy of Leather
by Jack Rinella

"Farm Hands" is an unfinished novel in my computer's hard drive. It's a story about this guy with an SM ranch in the mountains outside of Cincinnati. I think it's pretty good jerk off material, but since I wrote it while I was jerking off, that sentiment is to be expected.

I wrote in the days when leather sex was a rare event for me, except of course that I could think about it anytime I wanted. It was the fantasy of it all that propelled my orgasms, the fiction that for me was real, at least in that moment between me and paragraph I was writing.

Fiction is often the entrance way into the leather scene. God knows there's a lot of good stuff out there these days. Books like John Preston's Mr. Benson or Robert Payne's The Exchange are powerful fuel for our fantasy lives. I'd like to get an invite to a slave auction just to own one of the characters in the novel "In Search of a Master."

Many of my first leather experiences were played out in my mind, amply fed by hot stories in Drummer Magazine. Likewise, my idea of what real leather men looked like was formed by drawings like those done by Tom of Finland or Etienne.

Where else could I find fodder for my dreams? Where else could I give form to the desire for my own boy, one who would serve me sexually at any moment, ever ready to obey my every command? I still search for that perfect slave. I still wish that I really could own that ranch in the hills.

Because I read, it's easy for me to recognize the importance of the written word in our culture. What I have read has been formative in my development as a person, as a teacher, as a writer, and of course, as a leather man.

Fiction is more than fiction. Good fiction is good because it portrays the truth. It strikes a cord within, exciting and informing. The characters of fiction become real within our minds and that reality makes an impact.

Non-fiction has the same effect: through the written word our fantasy life grows. What isn't becomes what we wish would be. Fantasies are wishes. As such they are the life stuff of our dreams.

But they can be more than that. As thinking, feeling, and acting men we have it in our power to transform fantasy into reality. Jules Verne's fantasy of travel to the moon was fiction in his day, reality in ours. It still amazes me that his novel placed the launch pad in Florida. Did he have some insight into the future of Cape Canaveral?

I've studied enough metaphysics to know that creation begins with thought. Manifestation, as they say, is the result of idea and emotion, thought and energy. "Whatever the mind can conceive, man can achieve," is an old premise, still true.

The classified ads in the back of this magazine are a telling list of leather men's fantasies. Dreams of dominance and submission, of fucking and owning, of fisting and pissing, of hot daddies and compliant boys take form in three or four lines followed by an address, a mail box code, or a phone number.

I've answered my share of ads over the years. I can't knock their utility. Met my good friend Gary in a Drummer ad over ten years ago. Honestly though, the fantasy of his ad and my answer never really came true.

We had a great time the weekend he came to visit me. By the time his stay was over we were friends. He had arrived with the pseudonym of Mark, a fantasy really. By the time he left I knew the real Gary. Our friendship has long evolved into something much better, much deeper, and far more valuable, than the "puppy dog" of Mark's (sic) fantasy. I like Gary a lot more than I could ever like that Mark of his invention.

And so my column moves from fiction to fact. It seems like a big leap doesn't it? Who ever jerks off to reality? Who'd ever buy a novel that depicted the real life of a master and slave?

I've more than enough experience to know that the truth is much more complex, much more demanding, and far more boring than the fantasies we dream. I can wish for the full-time live-in slave, but who pays his doctors bills, his rent, his allowance?

You never read about income taxes or exhaustion in those stroke books, but both are possible, probable, and prevalent. Tales of all-night orgies get me going, but who wants to read about cleaning the house the next day?

My friend Lynn and I have spent more than a year comparing notes in our search for slaves. We're both pretty well set in what each of us wants, our fantasies are very much alike. I guess I'm not quite as picky as he, since he tends to look a bit more for the right body type, while I'm more inclined to look for the right attitude.

Yet, it's all fantasy. Real mastery is more than giving orders over the phone. Real slavery doesn't happen until the boy makes a commitment to showing up at your doorstep.

Even then, slavery is more than showing up. One night or one weekend doesn't create the lifestyle of which fantasies are made. There are many other forgotten factors as we stroke our cocks with a lubed fist and read about the fisting party in the attic.

That's not to say that I don't keep trying. I know what I want and will search and work for it until I get it. It also means that I've added more than a bit of reality to my desire.

Since I desire to have a man as my own, the fantasy obviously involves two people. In fact, it includes the fantasy of a leather family but that was a column a couple of months ago, so I won't continue that idea here. It's the involvement of the other, the one who will do the submitting, get the beating, and be on the receiving end of the fucking that has to be added to my fantasy to make it real.

Therein lies the difficulty. It takes courage to take the risk and submit. It takes energy to manifest the idea. Lynn and I have corresponded with no less than twenty men over the last twelve months. Each wrote and called with words of eager submission.

They all said the same kind of things: "Looking for a Man to take control," or "Eager slave with no limits will serve Your every command."

We keep our correspondence separate but in comparing notes we often find the same sentiments. Occasionally we'll even hear from the same guy. In variably though, the letter-writing and the phone calls become fewer and further apart. When push comes to shove, when you ask him when is he going to arrive, there's an excuse.

Now I admit that they are good excuses: no money to travel; a sick mother; bad weather; can't get time off from work. More improbable though are the positive responses that go unfulfilled. I once got a postcard from a guy with whom I had been talking. I hadn't heard from him in a while, thought he had dropped out of the "process," so I called him to let him know I was still interested.

He was so glad to hear from me. Yes, he surely wanted to be my slave. A few days later the postcard arrived. "Thanks for calling. I'll call you soon," he wrote. And that was the last I've heard of him.

I can understand that it's not easy to make the commitment of time and finances needed to enter into a relationship as deep as the one about which I dream. But even the small easy things go undone. More than once I've seen myself, or Lynn, or hundreds of other leather men tell me that they were stood up. Waiting around for that "boy" to show is no fun.

It's a two way street, of course. I recently chatted on the phone with an applicant from Seattle. He lamented that he had spent hours on the phone with a guy in New York who was to be his Master. When he packed up and went to New York, all he found was a man into phone sex. End of dream, end of fantasy.

Reality can seem like a brick wall, ready to bloody our foreheads for trying to reach our goals. But what if reality is just as much illusion as illusion? Is the good life, the one worth living, no more than a stroke book? Are the only sex farms the ones in pulp novels and computer hard drives?

Sorry, guys, I think not. The idealist, the flower-child, the leather man in me knows that this lifestyle can be and is for real.

Yes, it takes some getting used to. It takes a lot of learning. As my grandmother used to say, "Roma wasn't built at the once." What is that getting used to? It's clarity, negotiation, commitment, and trust.

What do you want? I spent an afternoon recently with a guy who bemoaned the fact that he was single. Then he went on to say how he loved his privacy and really didn't want to let down his defenses, since he was afraid of being hurt. Did he want what he said he wanted? I think not. I think rather that he was very content to stay as he was.

You want to be a full-time Master? Are you ready to take that much control, have that much responsibility, lose that much privacy, give that much direction and support? And you slaves-to-be, can you pay that much attention to one person, let him take that much control, give him everything for his pleasure?

Negotiation paves the way so we know what we need to make the commitment needed to bring the fantasy to reality.

Commitment is the word that seems to scare everyone off. It ought not to do so. When I asked my last slave applicant to come back for a second visit and to stay for ten days, it was so that each of could see what it would be like to live with each other on a day to day basis.

I wasn't being unreasonable. The man was unemployed, staying at a friend's apartment. I have volumes of letters from him, telling me how right I am to be his master, how much he needs to have someone to control his life, "give it structure" he politely calls it.

Our last conversation ended the process. He would rather stay in his current state than take the risk of ten days' commitment. Sadly we cling to the status quo. Most fantasies are unlived, untried, unrealized.

I watch the faces of the men and women who walk down the street and I see sadness. I wonder if it's only my interpretation, only my rose colored glasses that taints my perceptions. Is the world so full of unhappy people?

I know unhappiness. I spent years plagued with depression. Outwardly I had the trappings of success: a beautiful and creative wife, two lovely, well-behaved children, a good job, nice salary, home in the suburbs, friends who loved to party within reasonable and comfortable limits.

But at night, when the house was quiet, wife and daughters lost in their own dream-filled sleep, I would pull my copy of Drummer from its hiding place behind the fireplace and stroke my fantasies into reality.

As the months turned to years and the depression deepened, I sought therapy and through it became aware that I was Gay and wanted to live that way. Then I had to choose myself and my dreams or continue the deadening state of repression.

Yes, the wife and children held much security for me, Yes, I loved them (and still do) but love of myself was important as well. Respect for the real me, the one wishing all the time for a man to sleep with, a boy to discipline, a buddy to fuck, had to happen. "To thine own self be true."

And so I made the first steps to finding the life I was meant to live. I had to trust that I could do it, that within myself there would be the strength and the wisdom to know how to survive in this strange "Gay" world. I had to learn a new language, a new lifestyle.

It didn't seem all that easy, but looking back it wasn't all that hard. Oh, walking into Jewels in New Orleans or the Mineshaft in New York held a certain amount of trepidation, but the fear was only a shadow.

Be reasonable and take those steps one at a time. Don't throw out the baby with the bath water Don't burn your bridges behind you.

But do move forward. Test the path, take little steps. Be honest with yourself and open with those with whom you're talking. If you won?t move to Kalamazoo, say so right away. If you need to know details, ask for them now.

Masters and slaves are a dime a dozen in the stories and stroke books, but few and far between otherwise.

That's OK. You need not wish for ten year's incarceration at the hands of the Viet Cong in order to be a real leather man. What you want in life is important to you and that is how it should be. Place your priorities first, even if that means your first priority is to another. Take pride in your fantasy and find ways to explore it, to see it, to feel it.

By doing so you test it, purify it, make it true, sustainable, to shape it into a dream that can take form on this planet. Likewise it will shape you, change you so that you will have the power and the clarity to live it, to give it day to day sustenance, to make it real, whatever the hell reality is.

This hardly reads like copy for an issue of Drummer. I'm not beating off and you probably aren't either.

There is more to successful leather, the kind we live and do, than fantasy. The excitement of a heavy scene, the endurance of rough play, the sight of a hot man is more than fiction come true. It is the result of work, of faith, of sweat and love.

I know the world of fictional sex and imagined man-gods. I've been there in my thoughts. I go there in my reverie.

More precious though are the real men in leather.

Oh, they're never as good looking as the air-brushed centerfolds or the phone sex ads. The scenes never last a lifetime nor do the orgasms shoot a quart of jism seven feet. But like Lynn and Gary, they are the warmth, the vitality, the squeezable, feelable, fuckable reality of leather.

In fact it is men like them, men like you that give birth to the fiction in these pages. For fiction comes from truth and brings us back to reality.

Copyright 2000 by Jack Rinella. This material may not be copied in any manner. For permission to reproduce this essay, contact mrjackr@leathermail.com

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