Girls just want to have fun - Page 2

The SF girls of Leather  cute kink and breaking down stereotypes

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

Anita moved to San Francisco from Norway on a work visa, but soon found herself lusting for a close encounter with leather. She discovered some BDSM groups for women interested in playing with women, but because she identified as straight when she arrived in the city, the SFgoL's more inclusive membership requirements felt like a better fit.

She was also attracted to the group because it didn't require members be in a dominant-submissive relationship. She was free to play with whomever, whenever, and however she pleased. "I'm a girl and I was interested in exploring the leather community in a group where I could just be myself and share my feelings," she says.

Last month the SFgoL celebrated its one-year anniversary with 18 full members and more than 100 girls on its Listserv. The numbers are a strong indicator of its success, especially since the current version of the SFgoL isn't the city's first attempt at a girly collective. In 2004, a leathergirl group was formed, but failed to secure footing in the established leather community. The second time around seems to be the shiny charm — or maybe these girls are just extra-charming?

"We do have a smokin' hot group of girls," giggles Leland, looking around the table and raising her eyebrows at Anita and McKinley.

It's lunch hour on a Tuesday and the three girls flirt like crazy, constantly laughing and finishing each other's sentences between small bites of spicy Thai food. The three are a prime example of the group's demeanor and exactly why Leland has enforced a "no cruising" rule during official meetings.

"The meetings are meant to be safe space and for taking care of business. But yes, we can play outside the meetings," she says, batting her lashes as the other girls smirk, hiding a thousand secrets anyone with a pulse would die to hear.



Since its inception, the leather community has been predominately male. Icons like Marlon Brando, and the work of Tom of Finland and the Satyrs Motorcycle Club, defined modern masculinity in the 1950s, igniting a kinky obsession in the gay community. A badass jacket, muir cap, and related wardrobe of black hide became a symbol of sexual power and masculine independence, eradicating the stereotype that all gay men were effeminate.

Leather rules and traditions grew from military protocol and were diligently enforced by masters and their slaves, daddies and their boys. Women were intrigued, but struggled to find a place among the men; many leather bars turned away women at the door.

Over time, elements of BDSM became associated with leather and the community began to flex. During the '80s, leatherwomen competitions popped up, and in the '90s, groups like San Francisco's Outcasts — now the Exiles —provided the community with strong female-identified role models. In 2006, the Exiles helped open Betty Paige's Secret, which in subsquent years of the festival became Venus' Playground. It was the first leatherwomen play space at the Folsom Street Fair.

It's been six years since the Venus milestone, yet during this April's International Ms. Leather competition in San Francisco, it was apparent that questions about the role of women in the leather community remain.

In a moment of call and response, "Where are the leatherwomen?" was shouted into the microphone. The answer was loud and proud: "Here we are! We're here!" followed by a rumble of audience applause. Women may be standing their ground with paddles in hand, but the exchange was telling of their struggle for continued acknowledgment.

Deborah Isadorah, a veteran of kink and current leather momma, has been entranced by the leather community for more than 40 years, and is proud to have watched the roles of women expand. But in Isadorah's eyes, the progression has been slow going.


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*

Leland Carina
President SFgoL

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

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