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Noteworthy Accreditations

Cuir Underground  
From Issue 4.2 - Summer 1998
The Journeyman II Academy
By Liz Highleyman

In the traditional parlance, a journeyman is one who is at the early stages of mastering a trade. The term can also be understood to mean a person who undertakes a journey. Both senses are applicable to the Journeyman II Academy (JIIA), a training program designed to perpetuate values and skills in the tradition that is often referred to as "Old Guard."

The Tribal Tradition
In order to understand the Academy, it is necessary to give a brief background on a tribal group that its members call "the Family." The Family was a closed group of men and women living a full-time lifestyle based on many of the traditions and protocols that today are called "Old Guard." New members entered the Family as novices and underwent a rigorous and lengthy training.

Sadly, as is the case with much of the older leather community, a majority of the younger male members of the Family were lost -- most due to AIDS -- at a time when they otherwise would have been transferring their acquired knowledge, skills, and values to their successors.

The surviving senior members of the Family believed that there was a need to teach the foundations of the leather/SM lifestyle, and they understood that in order to keep their traditions alive, a new mechanism must be put into place. The Family's highest-ranking member, GrandMaster Keith Edward E - or Master KEE - as he is called, asked permission to set up a program to teach these foundations. Master KEE became a member of the Family when he was 13 years old, underwent training as a Master's Boy, completed his Master's and Trainer's apprenticeships, and became a GrandMaster Trainer in 1995.

Master KEE had initially considered setting up an advanced training for his own trainees, but was persuaded by former International Ms. Leather Pat Baille to open the program to others -- thus the Journeyman II Academy was born. However, the members also realized that the birth of the Academy would mean the death of the Family as they had known it. The Family was formally dissolved at midnight on January 1, 1998.

A Wide Range of Knowledge
The Journeyman II Academy was a nearly two year long program with a full and varied curriculum. Students, referred to as cadets, received instruction from some of the most well known members of the San Francisco Bay Area leather/SM community (and a few from out of state), including Mistress Ann, Daddy Bob Allen, Guy Baldwin, Master Joseph Bean, Mistress Cassandra, Wendy Dalton, Sir Lou Duff, Dr. William Henkin, Sybil Holiday a.k.a. M. Cybelle,

Mistress Kassandra Kane, Dr. Robert Lawrence, Serena Lumiere, Carol Queen, and Dr. Gayle Rubin.

The JIIA cadets were selected on the basis of their potential and commitment, without regard to their age, gender, or existing level of experience. Classes ran for two full days one or two weekends each month from December 1995 through September 1997.

According to Master KEE, the three goals of the Academy classes were "to teach the basic tools and skills needed for each cadet to become the best, most emotionally empowered leather person they could be, to learn the skills as if every person they would play with in the future would be HIV positive, and to have the ability to handle any SM partner as if they were a member of the 'walking wounded.' " Cadets were expected to leave every class owning their new knowledge from both a top and a bottom perspective.

Although one might think that a program like JIIA would focus primarily on skills such as rope bondage and whipping technique -- and it did indeed involve plenty of that -- an equal or greater amount of time was spent on the basic foundations of the leather/SM lifestyle.

The cadets often put in 14-16 hour days in classes, with additional time spent on homework. Cadets read some 5,571 pages of text by a wide range of authors. The dictionary was an important tool, in keeping with Master KEE's emphasis on the importance of "knowing what you mean when you say it." Two other frequently consulted tomes were Emily Post's and Amy Vanderbilt's guides to basic etiquette. A typical class day included a hot lunch prepared and served by the cadets, and the cadets presented a full buffet banquet at the graduation ceremony  hospitality was among the many skills they were expected to master.

William Henkin, a Bay Area author and therapist, and Sybil Holiday, a sex educator and professional dominant, taught a class on Submission, Service, and Slavery. Henkin says, "every SM club has courses that involve 'doingness' and the hardware -- how to whip, tie, spank, cane, and the like. And lately, some people have been talking about the spiritual aspects of erotic power exchange. But almost no one speaks about the emotional and psychological stuff that drives dominance and submission.

"When most people talk about SM as a lifestyle, dominance and submission is what they're really talking about -- not whether I hit you or you hit me with which implement, but who leads in the dance and who follows, who commands and who obeys. Learning to think about the process of surrender and the different aspects and degrees of submission, and learning what is important to oneself in such an exchange, underlies the very ability to engage in these kinds of relationships."

The Journeyman II Academy graduation ceremony was held at the San Francisco Eagle on October 4th. The graduating class consisted of eight cadets -- the small number that remained out of the over 70 who were initially interviewed and the 35 who actually started the program. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the cadets donned studded leather belts that they had made from scratch at the end of their training, symbolizing their first pieces of earned leather.

Old Guard, New Guard
The term "Old Guard" is most often applied to the gay men's leather community that developed in large coastal cities in the wake of World War II in the late 1940s and early 1950s (see Old Guard, New Guard, by Gayle Rubin, this issue). The Family also began in the early 1950s, but differed from most "Old Guard" entities in that it included both men and women and people of various sexual orientations.

Although it evolved from old traditions, the Academy is a hybrid of old and new. JIIA was taught in a classroom format rather than as a one-on-one apprenticeship. Many of the JIIA instructors were not themselves part of the Old Guard, having often come into the leather/SM community in the 1970s.

Holiday says that she was, in fact, somewhat jealous of the cadets. "Rather than a teacher, I would have liked to be a student," she said. "I was trained by a woman, who was trained by another woman, but they made it up as they went along. I hope to pass along what I learned from them and to add something of my own."

As we near the turn of the millennium, why would anyone care about a tradition that is nearly half a century old? Henkin says, "Both as an activity and as a community, SM has a history. Its traditions and values had reasons for evolving. It's easy to argue that the values of our predecessors do or do not have relevance to our lives and activities today, but none of those arguments makes any sense if we don't know what we're talking about.

"The greatest radical and free-style artists of the 20th century -- Picasso, Appolinaire, Joyce, Thelonius Monk, and others -- were master craftspersons before they developed their own stylistic specialties; they knew what there was to use from the past and also what was no longer germane for them. I think Old Guard values are like that. They had purpose, they may have value to us now, and before we talk about keeping them or throwing them away, we should be very clear about what they are."

What would motivate a young leather person today to devote so much time and energy to acquiring values and skills that many of their contemporaries might consider passe'?

Cadet Luke Owen explains, "It is a major part of the traditions and history of the leather tribe. I don't want to be just like anyone else, but I do want a thorough grounding in the things that have helped make my heroes who they are today. Since these people without exception are Old Guard, it behooves me to undergo similar experiences and training to understand how they became the people I admire."

A Training Called Life
The Academy was an intensive and comprehensive training experience modeled on -- but necessarily in some ways different from -- the training of a newcomer to the Family. JIIA did not attempt to match the depth and breadth of a several year long apprenticeship. The real value of the program is the foundation it provides for future learning and development.

In the words of Rubin, "No educational process can teach everything or give any individual all that he or she needs to know. But successful education gives a person the tools to continue to learn, and a baseline from which to evaluate new information and perspectives. Leather isn't about a set of hard and fast rules as much as an openness to growth, a willingness to learn, and a willingness to take responsibility for one's actions." Owen says that the most important thing he got from the Academy is "mastery of self." He says, "This is the cornerstone for anyone, no matter what role they play in life." The Journeyman III Academy, the "next generation" of JIIA, recently began with a new class of cadets. JIIIA is based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is under the direction of Master Michael Aylette.

Holiday noted at the JIIA graduation ceremony that, "Solid training will carry you through almost anything. For the cadets, their training has just begun. They are still involved in a training called life." With a firm foundation underneath them, JIIA graduates can be expected to keep the traditions and values of that enigma called the "Old Guard" alive for another generation.

1998, Cuir Underground
Last updated: 7 September 1998
Old Guard, New Guard
By Gayle Rubin

I have problems with the way in which the distinction between "Old Guard" and "New Guard" is sometimes deployed. While there are many differences between leather/SM as it was practiced in the 1950s and as it is practiced today, the shorthand terms can exaggerate and oversimplify our past and our present.

Most of the alleged differences popularly thought to differentiate "Old Guard" and "New Guard" -- formality versus informality, strict etiquette versus a more casual style of social interaction, deliberate training versus less organized acquisition of skills and knowledge -- are more a matter of degree than absolute distinctions.

In fact, if one looks at "Old Guard" leather and SM communities from the late 1940s through the early 1960s, one can see that both tendencies were already present. Louis Weingarden, who opened one of the first leather art galleries at his Stompers boot store in New York City 20 years ago, identified two stylistic poles of traditional gay male leather. One was the military, with its strict formality, hierarchy, order, and discipline. The other was the world of bikers, associated with the celebration of disorder, rebelliousness, and individualism. Both tendencies were important to leather imagery and SM practice.

In the 1950s there were those who eroticized and engaged in very formal interactions based on strict codes of courtesy in the military model, and others who preferred the look of dirty bikers and a more orgiastic kind of buddy sexuality. Of course, there were spit and polish bikers too, and others who looked like greasy bikers but preferred formal SM sex. Similarly, while many people in those days underwent formal training and apprenticeships, others entered leather communities via the bars, social clubs or parties, and absorbed their socialization in a more haphazard fashion.

Today, while the leather/SM community's dominant styles of public interaction have changed, all of the "Old Guard" practices and preferences are still with us. Even now, there are those for whom leather and SM are formal affairs with strict codes and etiquette, and those who seek and find training through apprenticeship types of relationships. At the same time, there are others for whom leather means freedom from certain conventions and a way to chart an individual path. Across the different eras, many have found freedom in formality, individualism through observance of custom, and a sublime order in things non-leatherfolk might consider completely chaotic.

There have certainly been many changes in leather and SM social life since the late 1940s, but these are more complicated than the simple distinction between "Old Guard" and "New Guard" can express. Many people today regard just about everything before the 1980s as "Old Guard," but by then, leather/SM had already undergone several social revolutions and "Old Guard" had already had several "New Guards."

In the mid-1960s, classic leather styles began to give way to a kind of "hippie leather." People grew their hair, took psychedelic drugs, became less invested in 1950s formality and created new subgroups organized around different sexual styles, for example fistfucking. At one point, dope smoking leather guys and fistfuckers were in effect a kind of "New Guard," although that terminology was not yet commonly used.

By the mid-1970s, there were several distinct leather styles and cultures, although individuals could move among them. After Stonewall, urban gay male populations grew, and by the late 1970s leather had become a kind of uniform for urban gay men -- most of whom would never experience the business end of a whip. This "clone" look included short haircuts, mustaches, tight 501 jeans, boots, leather jackets, and keys dangling from belts. The late 1970s are often seen as a kind of "golden age" of SM in San Francisco, but the large scale adoption of leather styles by non-leathermen diluted the signals and frustrated the hard core leather population. This situation led to the founding of the 15 Association in 1980; the 15 intended to create a more reliable SM environment, in which people did not wear hankies or keys as fashion accessories.

From a larger perspective, it is clear that many of the differences between "Old Guard" and "New Guard" are the differences between life in the US in the 1950s and life in the 1990s. These differences are common to many groups, not just leather/SM. For example, among surfers one hears laments about the loss of "serious" surfing as the activity has become popularized, styles have become commercialized, and communities have becomes more open.

Much of what is described when people talk about changes in the the leather community comes down to more people, more money, and more commercialization. Leather public social spaces are less cozy. Communities are now bigger and it's hard to know everyone. People often make judgements about others -- and about what is important -- based on what they see at a distance on a stage, not what they experience on a daily basis or within the intimacy of a dungeon.

In earlier days, people still had to take risks to be involved in leather/SM, and there wasn't much to be gained apart from the experience itself. Today, some people seem to care more about money and glory and their high profile than they do about the quality of their interactions.

I began to notice some of these shifts in the mid-1980s, when the energy at public play parties seemed to change for the worse. Before then, many of the parties had been informal rituals of solidarity, pleasure, celebration, and connection. People cared most about having a good time. Even in casual or recreational play, the focus seemed to be on the quality of the connection between the players themselves and on building and sharing an energy that whole rooms could get high on together. At some time in the mid-1980s, it seems that many people began to care more about what the audience saw than what their partners experienced. Leather had become trendy and popular rather than despised and stigmatized. Others seemed to merely go through the motions -- SM too often became a mechanical exercise rather than an art form or a form of intimate communication. I'm not saying that there is no great public play today, but I often see a community that lacks some of its former style, grace, and values.

Apart from increases in numbers, popularization, and commercialization, the gay leather community has had to deal with one unique factor that cannot be underestimated: the escalated rate of early mortality due to AIDS. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has damaged leather communities and social life in incalculable ways. Communities have experienced the loss, in a short period of time, of many of the men (and a few women) who made major contributions to creating and sustaining public leather life.

Among these were Cynthia Slater, who did so much to build bridges between the genders and orientations; Mark Joplin whose spirit and soundtrack helped shape the great parties of yesteryear; Steve and Fred who made the Catacombs such a fabulous club; Kurt Woodhil whose brilliant dungeon design made the Hothouse and later the 15 Cedar Alley space so memorable; artists like Chuck Arnett, A. Jay, Cirby, Dirk Dykstra, and Robert Pruzan who decorated so many walls and lives; playwrights like Robert Chesley; producers and gallery owners like Peter Hartmann, Robert Opel, and Claude DuVall; doctors like Dick Hamilton who treated perverts and fistfuckers who couldn't take their injuries elsewhere; therapists like David Lourea who tended the same population for a different set of ills; club presidents and owners such as Louis Gaspar, Hal Slate, Jack Green, and Steve Maidhof; writers like Geoff Mains and John Preston; and hundreds of others.

The collective absence of so many leather forebears is, I think, one of the main reasons why the social changes of the last decade seem to have produced so much more of a chasm than did previous ones. These people not only built and refined our institutions, but they also met and talked and played with innumerable others, all the while transmitting community values to newcomers. Their loss has damaged the social fabric of the leather community and has created huge gaps in the transmission of leather culture. Some of this culture has been irretrievably lost, and leather society has had to reinvent important pieces of itself as a result.

Although much has been lost as leather/SM has evolved, new developments have brought positive changes as well as problems. I'm not proposing that we could or should go back to the 1950s. We should neither romanticize the past nor fail to value it. Today, there are many ways to acquire leather attitudes and leather knowledge, including open classes, books, structured programs such as the Journeyman II Academy, as well as more traditional apprentice relationships.

We have only begun to systematically think about leather history. As more archival and historical material becomes available for study, the schema outlined here will undoubtedly be modified. But I suspect that as we learn more, the simple opposition of "Old Guard" and "New Guard" will be even more radically dislodged by increasingly nuanced and detailed accounts of different leather practices and populations. The early 1990s eruption of concern over "Old Guard" and "New Guard" will itself become a part of that history.

This article is excerpted from a speech given by Gayle Rubin at the graduation ceremony for the Journeyman II Academy on October 4, 1997.

Journeyman III Academy
There is this amazing group centered near Salt Lake, Utah who is exploring who they are. Led by Master Aylett, and inspired by Grand Master Kee, about 20 men and women meet each month for a weekend to expose themselves to what they don't know, and what they haven't experienced before.

At the last minute Master Steve of Butchmann's Academy in Palm Springs at the time asked me if I would consider presenting in Salt Lake because of a family emergency that would prevent him from going. I almost said "No" because of my commitment to be in Boise, Idaho the following weekend for my niece's wedding. I would have to either make two trips or change my and #4's schedule to be gone for two weeks. After thinking about it several minutes, I said "Yes".

As soon as the decision was made, everything started to fall into place. Clients were cooperative, and it felt important that we go. It also seemed somehow appropriate that we would follow the Baptist Convention in Salt Lake City. Friday evening #4 and I arrived south of Salt Lake.

There had been no mention of a Friday night commitment. Only Saturday and Sunday had been discussed. I began to ask who the attendees were, and whether or not there would be anyone else presenting over the weekend. There was no one else. We were there to discuss the spiritual nature of SM, and the 2 1/2 days were ours to do with whatever we thought would accomplish that objective.

The cadets (as they are called) began to collect moments after our arrival from six hours of driving. It quickly became clear that this was an amazing group.

All the cadets are committed for 1 1/2 years to following the guidance of Master Aylett in the pursuit of self discovery. Each has been required to read most all the major books on SM, sexuality and alternative lifestyles. They have written essays and book reports. They have been exposed to many "big names" in the lifestyle during previous months. All are experienced in SM activities. All are adventurists and open, loving and motivated.

Most are women, few are exclusively gay male. It was a wonderful mix of sexual, homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, and multi-sexual. Most notable was the average age. Very few were over 30 years old. Most all were in their 20's. Most had already experienced enough to force them to accept the truth about themselves and about their lives. Before this weekend I had never met anyone less than 30 years old who was ready for the truth. I, actually, had concluded from all my previous experience that it wasn't possible to get serious about life before the age of 30.

Part of these cadets' rapid maturity has come from having been rejected, damaged, or broken by religious bigotry. Salt Lake is known for its strong, but narrow values. So long as a man or woman's attitudes and appetites are statistically mainstream there is unequaled support and guidance. Any variation, however, allows for no tolerance.

It was easy to pick up the attitude from the surrounding community where #4 and I spent a day after the Academy III event was over, before continuing on to Idaho. Families sat silently, and self-controlled in Mexican restaurants, normally known for having a fun, expressive atmosphere. Everywhere there was rehearsed friendliness from retail staff. It was easy to feel the inhibition and lack of spontaneity everywhere. In a breakfast restaurant, the only display of disgust that we have ever experienced anywhere was demonstrated by a man who also had sat silently through his meal. There was a strong feeling of oppression, and righteous indignation prevalent in most the people. Minorities, and others who were obviously not mainstream, were the exceptions. They stood out distinctly.

Even though I wouldn't choose to live in such a community, it has all the conditions necessary to force young men and women to grow up fast when they don't fit into the expected, required mold. The mature and successful see that as a blessing. The cadets of this Academy see it as a blessing.

The harder, and more oppressive the conditions, the more opportunity there seems to be for men and women to discover and develop their greatness. No one who is extraordinary comes from an ordinary background. Even through my first impression was that Salt Lake would be the last place

I would expect to observe mature, advanced issues being considered, by advanced people doing advanced things, after experiencing it, there is no more logical place from which the unusual could be expected to develop.

People either bemoan their condition, or they accept the truth and deal with what they experience. The unusual men and women of Academy III are the true seekers of truth. They have no choice, but they don't know that. They have accepted being different, and have decided to exploit and develop those differences, and are willing to lead us all by example. These are all young men and women, with full lives ahead of them. These are the leaders of both today, and tomorrow. I'm impressed when 70 year-old's are so aware and committed. To see young people at this mature place is astounding.

But hold on, because these men and women are raising the standards and expectations for all of us. Being ordinary is now going to be harder and harder to justify. They are proving at Academy III that you don't have to be ordinary, and that you don't need to look outside yourself, that you don't need to depend on the acclamation of others. They are showing us that it is better to do something about who we are rather than find someone to blame for not doing what should be done. These people have lots of others they could easily blame, but they don't. They are teaching us that neither should we.

It was a privilege to be included in Academy III, to meet with and witness Master Aylett's leadership, to see him hold the vision, and to have been with and learned to know the highly usual cadets who will leave everything they touch and everyone they know different from the way they found them. Because of these men and women, things will never be the same once they have been there, wherever that is.


My sincere thanks for for the hospitality, and for the opportunity. I will never be the same either.
Wild Side Sex
The Book of Kink by Midori
Page 115-116

Sometimes my desire for kinky play lowers because I’m busy, distracted or under the weather physically or emotionally. This passes when my schedule clears or I return to good health, and hot play ensues. Sometimes the desire might wane because I’ve entered a contemplative phase around SM. Sometimes this is burnout and other times this is a period of re-evaluation of my own desires. Then when I emerge from a period of self-imposed exile I play with renewed ferocity, whether that reemergence takes the shape of private play only or extends to public play. There have even been times where disappointments or disillusionment in the leather / SM / fetish community led me to rein in my play. In such situations, some catalyst has always come around to restore my faith in the leather community and kink life.

Such a restoration of faith in pervery happened for me once in Salt Lake City. Yes, in that bastion of conservative Mormonism, I raised my hand to leather and cried “Hallelujah!”  I’ll admit it, at that time I had been experiencing a few issues that made me a bit sad about trends I’d noticed in the kink world…. On the other hand, maybe I was just getting crotchety in my “old” age. (Bitter old queens come in many ages and shapes, after all!) I’d been feeling a bit like the sexy sizzle in SM play and community had been fading, suffocated under the sheer size of the community and bureaucratization of pleasure. I’ve been to events where it felt more like I was at a trade convention for widgets in a clean, well lit hall rather than the gathering of hungry pervs.

The lights are brighter and the streets are cleaner in the Meat Packing District of New York  and South of Market in San Francisco. Play parties smell more of antiseptic surface cleaners than sweat, blood and cum. This may simply be part of the social evolution of the community, but it does dampen my leather lust. I found myself wondering, “What’s going on here?”

In the midst of such doubt, however, I was invited to Salt Lake City to teach an intensive weekend program to a private SM academy where men and women, regardless of orientation, top or bottom, enter into a 12 to 18 month education on leather, SM, self-awareness, community building and spirituality. The academy leader and cadre turned over their freshman class to me for the entire weekend to train them as I wished. I put them through what I can basically describe as Midori’s Leather Boot Camp. Using unorthodox methods I pushed them physically and emotionally while doing a mass brain dump of SM info from my head to theirs. They rose to the challenge, kept up with me and showed me passion, compassion and drive. They learned well and in so doing thrilled me as a teacher. Teaching them let me return to my beginner heart and reminded me how thrilling it is to live true to my desire in the leather life and that passion still burns in the community.