Girls just want to have fun

The SF girls of Leather  cute kink and breaking down stereotypes

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"This group is where I belong." The SF girls of Leather (from left): Addison North, Miss Lola Sunshine, Leland, Mari, and Kate
PHOTO BY JEFFERY CROSS

culture@sfbg.com

SEX It was their first official slumber party and a late-night run to the grocery store for pink hair dye was in order. Decked out in a combination of pink, pajamas, and leather, the San Francisco girls of Leather shrieked and giggled as they wandered the aisles searching for anything rosy-colored. The girls could easily have been mistaken for a freshman herd of coeds soaked in Malibu and cheap vodka, but as the group's president, Leland, remembers, they were "just high on girls."

Until they discovered the store's collection of pink and white unicorns — on sale.

"We all oohed and ahhed and ended up purchasing six of them, surprising the other girls by returning to the party with an entire unicorn herd," Leland says. From sleeping bags and hair braiding to dirty storytelling and play piercing, the night teetered between innocent and naughty, sweet and sexy. "So many unicorns, so many needles, and so much blood!" she said.

The SF girls of Leather (the girls prefer a lowercase "g" and uppercase "L" out of respect for the traditions of the leather community) are giddy and flirty: the epitome of seventh-grade girliness, complete with kinky sleepovers, hearts, and cuteness. As this year-old group sees it, maturity is overrated when it comes to BDSM — and a hint of silliness in a dark dungeon can only heighten the sex appeal. Who else is going to giggle or blush after a spank?

The group's approach to leather is hardly in line with the masculine traditions that have come to be associated with the history of the kink community. But in the year since the girls formed their group, they've been working to secure their place in the continuum of leather lovers. And judging from the group's growing membership — and accolades from the leather community at large — SFgoL is providing a much-needed refuge for marginalized fans of lighthearted play, splashing accents of pink across the traditional wash of black.

 

GIRL GOALS

Historically, a girl in the leather community has been defined as the female-identified version of a boy — a submissive expected to service a dominant individual in various kinds of BDSM play. But in SFgoL parlance, girl means something way more fun. Top, bottom, submissive, dominant, giver, receiver, experienced, or curious: all roles are welcome in the group, as long as you "girl" identify.

Which means what, exactly?

"Leather doesn't have to be serious," says Leland, who is of the mind that people of all ages, bodies, and sexual preferences can find bliss by tapping into their own personalized "girl-space."

"You're a leathergirl if you feel like it," says SFgoL Vice President Kate McKinley. Even boys and bois are allowed in the group — as long as they have a "girl heart." Coincidentally, McKinley wears one of these around her neck — a silver heart necklace.

"I play girly and therefore this group is where I belong," she says.

An important tenet of the leather life, service (traditionally, the practice of obediently pleasing a dominant character) is still an integral part of the girl group's goals — but its definition of the term goes beyond tending to masters and daddies.

In the year since the group's inception, SFgoL has volunteered at multiple fundraisers and organized charity drives for nonprofits benefiting women in the leather community and beyond. Members are free to service individuals but are required to serve the community by means of philanthropy: grown-up Girl Scouts earning merit badges for kink.

Their efforts haven't gone unnoticed — the San Francisco Bay Area Leather Alliance recognized SFgoL as its best new organization of 2010. "Contributing to the community makes it easier for us to enjoy what we're doing," says SFgoL member Anita, who asked that we not use her last name for professional reasons.

Comments

I really loved and appreciated this article you wrote on our group. I appreciate any opportunity for girl-identified people who are interested in leather and kink to know about our group. I do have one correction however: Our member Anita who this article mentioned is originally came to San Francisco from NORWAY but then moved ro Sweden to be with her partner.

Posted by Sailor on Jun. 28, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

Thank you Sailor! Calling a Norwegian a Swede is like calling an American a Canadian. Close, but yet --- NO! ;P

Amber; A wonderful and lovely piece of writing. Thank you, from the bottom of my girl-heart! <3

Posted by Anita on Jun. 29, 2011 @ 1:23 am

corrected above :)

Posted by caitlin on Jun. 29, 2011 @ 8:43 am

This was a really great article about the SFgoL!

Slight correction however; In 2002, it was THE EXILES that opened Venus's Playground at Folsom Street Fair.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 28, 2011 @ 8:39 pm

From Demetri Moshoyannis' bio...

"Demetri begins his sixth year at Folsom Street Events, working diligently to breathe new creative life into the agency. Under his direction, the organization has created new areas at the infamous Folsom Street Fair like Venus’ Playground (the leatherwomen’s area), the Erotic Artists’ Area, and has attracted top-name entertainment to the Fair."

Posted by Guest on Jun. 28, 2011 @ 10:43 pm

Only, it wasnt in 2002, it was in 2006. and at the time, the name of the space was Bettie Page's Secret. Alex, the Exiles' Coordinator at the time, was the spearhead and workhorse of the play space.

Here's the info and call for volunteers directly from the September 2006 Exiles' newsletter:

Folsom Street Fair Women's Area
Sponsored by Folsom Street Events and The Exiles
This year, Folsom Street Events and the women's leather community have come together to create a women's space at Folsom. FSE went right to the source and asked us what we wanted. The results include a large comfortable area with shade and seating, vendors, information booths, and play space. The Exiles has stepped up to sponsor and coordinate the outdoor dungeon. There will be room for play & demos. The Women's area will be located on 9th Street, between Folsom and Harrison.
Want to help? We can use volunteers for the following: Security, Setup, take down, Dungeon monitors, Handing out flyers, Staffing our information table.

Posted by DJ Mora on Jun. 29, 2011 @ 4:23 am

It did indeed open as Betty Paige's Secret in 2006. Thanks for whipping us into shape! Corrected above.

Posted by caitlin on Jun. 29, 2011 @ 8:52 am

Thanks, Amber, for another great article exploring non-normative sexualities. I was delighted by the article you wrote on the Sex Worker Film Festival, which you interviewed me for, and I continue to be impressed by each new piece you write. You are such an asset to this paper and this town!!

Also, how hot and badass are the girls of Leather?!!?!? <3 you girls.

Posted by Chloe Camilla on Jun. 29, 2011 @ 10:07 am

I can't express enough gratitude for this article!

Amber-- you are an amazing writer. Thank you for investing the time to research and interview so many people. I'm very impressed with your portrayal of the SFgoL, but even better, I find this article heartening far beyond that, in relation to Leatherwomen and our broader community.

One side-effect that I wasn't expecting was the outpouring of support that I've received. I've gotten long, detailed emails by such a great number of people in our community who were moved by your words.

Thank you, again. I already told you in person, but to repeat: I'd be so happy to welcome you as a member of the SFgoL if you ever had the inclination. *wink*

Best,
Leland Carina
President SFgoL

Posted by Guest Leland Carina on Jun. 30, 2011 @ 10:04 pm

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