Girls just want to have fun - Page 3

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

"We live in a patriarchal society and that reflects on every part of our society, including leather," she says, sipping a latte in Oakland and soaking in the spring sun.

"The men outnumber us physically in this community, [but that] doesn't mean women's voices are missing," she continues. Isadorah is pleased with the progress of her generation of leatherwomen and is happy to sit back and nurture the younger crop. "I think we've done our job: to educate women about their bodies and the opportunities they have to explore sexuality beyond what society thinks is appropriate."

Today, nearly half the current directors of the Leather Alliance, the community's well-respected governing board, are female.

"We're sitting at the table now," says Daddy Vick Germany, a female-bodied leather daddy who has been a part of the Bay Area's leather community for more than 15 years and serves as a director for the Alliance. Overall, Daddy Vick is content with the community's moves toward inclusivity. "The men are leaving more space for us," she says.

But traces of segregation can still be found. "Sometimes men just don't see you — you're not even in their line of vision," she says, referring to a recent experience at the Up Your Alley street fair where a man blindly butted in front of her while she stood in a concession line. She recognizes that these incidents can be subconscious, but any female who roams the SoMa leather fairs is bound to encounter this feeling of invisibility. It makes her "mad as hell."

Elected SF Dyke Daddy in 2002, Vick made substantial efforts to bridge gaps between the sexes. She's currently running for SF Leather Daddy, a traditional competition built on fundraising for the AIDS crisis. In 2009 a transman won the competition, but if she wins, Daddy Vick would be the first female-bodied daddy to hold the title. Her candidacy alone is sure to shake things up with leathermen who believe in upholding traditional roles — but her motives are pure.

"I'm not doing this to make a statement as a female daddy. I'm running because I think I'm a good daddy for the community," she says, meaning she cares about being a supportive, reliable father figure for those around her. The "working title" would help her foster change more effectively than her individual efforts.

Besides Folsom's Venus' Playground, there are no official social spaces intended for leatherwomen. This makes sharing communal bars and events incredibly important. Change is a slow process, but Daddy Vick says ample motivation is brewing in all corners, and — paired with the diffusion of kink — the space for growth can only flourish. Leather is opening into an umbrella term with the capacity to encompass multiple elements of fetish, and to further accept people of all genders, bodies, and preferences in any role.

In this respect, Daddy Vick thinks the SFgoL could play an important role. "It just takes people like Leland, coming in with a different energy. People who stand up in the crowd, see a need, and start organizing."

 

FOLLOW THE PINK BRICK ROAD

While leatherwomen made slow but steady strides in the past decade, those straddling the space between butch and femme — the girl space — began breaking ground for themselves, too. In 2003 an international Leather Girl Network was born, led by the Bay Area's Cheryl D. The group intended to mirror the already well-established leather boy community. Girls everywhere were giddy with possibilities.

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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