Okay, forgive the hyperbole. We’ll be the first to acknowledge that Bay Area leather clubs and membership organizations are probably healthier and more active than any time in the past twenty years.
But there’s no denying that the mainstreaming of kink and the explosive increase of the leather/fetish community nationally have outstripped the growth of clubs and challenged their relevance.
Many of our oldest, most venerated clubs are gone (the Warlocks, the CMC, Gay Male S/M Activists, the artsy Rainbow MC, the once-great Knights of Malta), while others are a shadow of what they once were (the Eulenspiegel Society, National Leather Association, the Rocky Mountaineers, the Wasatch Leathermen).
But others are going as strong or stronger than ever: the Satyrs, the 15, the Chicago Hellfire Club. What makes the difference?
What makes a club endure? Is it aggressive recruitment? Opening up to all genders and orientations? Or is it keeping membership criteria narrow and highly selective? Is it in the governance, the structure, the mission?
What attracts us to a specific club? Nowadays the pleasures of leather are openly on offer, on the web, on the street, at events open to the public. If nobody needs a membership to be introduced to our traditions, our vocabulary, our styles of play, will clubs become obsolete?
And what would a community without membership clubs look like? Might it be more in keeping with the shared needs and allegiances we have developed? The NLA was founded with a vision of becoming a national leather membership organization, pan-gender, pan-orientation. With only a few chapters surviving, that dream seems to have died — some would say because we are a nation of clubs.
Join us and our panelists for a conversation about the history and future of clubs, how they differ, how they don’t, what they ask, what they offer, and whether they can successfully adapt to the evolving contours of the alt-sex communities today.
STEPHEN CHARLES has been a part of the San Francisco leather/fetish/BDSM community for fifteen years. He is a co-founder of GearUp Men's Weekend and was awarded the title of Mr. Homoto Leather 2012.
JORDY JONES is a leatherman and a gentleman, a lifelong pervert, and a Fraternal member of The 15 Association, founded in San Francisco in 1980.
RYAN MATTSON discovered his love of kink and leather in Seattle in 2003. He chairs the Young Leathermen’s Discussion Group, is President of the new Bay Area boys of Leather, and has helped coordinate several leather contests & events locally.
MARC OWENS (aka "pony") joined the leather and kink community in 2000. He is a member of the Golden Gate Guards, Alameda County Leather Corps, The 15 Association, and Mama’s Family. In 2010 he was named Mr. Alameda County Leather. As a leatherboy he believes the leather lifestyle is about honor, respect, and doing what you can to help other people.
KEITH SATTELMAIER was introduced to the Men of Discipline by a guy he stalked for years at the Loading Dock (who turned out to be from his own Texas hometown) and met his future Sir/Master at his first MOD Boot Camp. Currently he is serving his second year as MOD Colonel. He believes there’s a home for everyone in the leather community: his happens to be in the military-style uniform club.
ROGER SULLIVAN is an experienced leather daddy and a member of the Golden Gate Guards since 2007. In 2013 he has served as the Guards’ Road Captain and has been elected to serve as President in 2014. Professionally he is a manager and technology consultant in areas of systems testing, validation and compliance.