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A Brief History of the Black Rose of Washington DC, Part One

The First Fifteen Years

The Nancy Miller Years

Aug 30, 2014

Reposted with the author's permission.

The Black Rose was born under the vigilant eye of Nancy Ava Miller, an SM activist whose own emergence as an SM participant had been a life changing revelation, one she felt compelled to share with others. After attending several meetings of The Eulenspiegel Society (TES) in New York, she founded a similarly structured group in Albuquerque New Mexico, she rented a space, put out advertising, chose the name “People Exchanging Power (PEP)” and held an educational forum for any and all people curious about SM. Later she repeated that winning formula in DC. Nancy's own coming out story was the subject of the first ever-educational lecture of the club that is now Black Rose. It was June 1987.

The meetings were held in Nancy’s apartment and were exorbitantly priced: thirty five bucks for each male; women were admitted free. All proceeds went to Nancy who had no other means of support. Despite the outrageous costs, the meetings of PEP-DC proved that a demand existed for social and educational offerings targeting SM/kink practitioners, even in stodgy Washington DC. It was quite a different vibe from the Black Rose of today. There was little or no fetish wear, zero dungeon equipment, a throng of men, and the merest smattering of women. Hardly anyone was experienced enough to even play, leave alone teach and usually the only action was a pre arranged demo. Nancy Miller, herself, was a comparative novice, certainly by today’s standards. Jonathan K became Nancy’s right hand man in organizing the many events that took place every month in her apartment.

The Emergence of Black Rose

But Nancy’s sometime autocratic tendencies began to rankle. She was fond of saying things like “PEP is not a democracy”, and eventually the PEP-DC board of coordinators decided to sever ties. Nancy quickly moved on to greater challenges: siring other for-profit PEP organizations across the land and starting a highly successful phonesex empire. In the wake of her departure, Milla and Sharon are credited respectively with coming up with the name “Black Rose” for the group and “Petal and Thorn” for the club newsletter. In 1989, The first elected board codified the priorities that still hold today, weekly educational discussions, monthly socials, and annual elections. Because of the number of semipublic figures and high level clearances held by some of our attendees we made some unusual provisions in the group’s charter. Since security clearance applications require full disclosure of any and all group memberships, Black Rose was structured so as to have no members at all. Instead, anyone making an annual contribution received the status of "contributor" entitling them to a discount on meetings, a vote in annual elections, and a print copy of the Petal and Thorn newsletter delivered to your door by US mail.

Pam and Bob, an artist/sculptor/SM toymaker and contractor respectively became the groups informal leaders for our third and fourth years. Other volunteers stepped in to help run the meetings. The men of Sigma were regular attendees and presenters and more often than not provided the sole educational content of the educational offerings. Most newbie’s arrive at BR today completely unaware that they are students of students of students of the fine men of Sigma. The now famous Black Rose socials began as simple mixers with no preplanning on the organizers part. Their purpose was to give the meeting coordinators one Tuesday night off per month. The socials proved to be a big hit. New people, even women, were showing up, and in time, people started dressing in fetish wear, bringing toys, and much much later, homemade dungeon equipment. People started playing at the socials, which hadn’t been envisioned in the early days. And to break the ice, organizers started holding "slave auctions" in which people offered themselves to be “sold off” to the highest bidders.

Among our great SM educators was Vaughn Keith who wrote the crossword puzzle for a local paper and had a cross-dressing alter ego named Vikki. His slide show of sadoerotic art was a revelation to all who were lucky enough to see it. Vaughn passed from our world in 1989: one of the clubs first casualties of the plague. The annual educational awards were originally named in his honor.

Real estate was a problem from the start. After Nancy moved on, we held our meetings at the Unitarian Church of Rockville, MD, but our stay ended abruptly when a member of the church showed up for what happened to be a presentation on fist fucking. When we had told them we were a support group for people into dominance and submission they had assumed we were a twelve step program. Our next home was the Gay Community Center, where we met Harry Stock, a pastor in the gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Church. We got a lot of help from the gay community in those early years; we probably wouldn’t have made it without them. Black Rose would rent from Reverend Harry for the next ten years.

After the Gay Community Center shuttered its doors we continued meeting in Reverend Harry’s church, which by now was a cramped rented room on at 1638 R Street near 17th. It was packed to the rafters on Tuesday nights when the Black Rose sadoeroticists took over. If you didn’t get there early you had to watch from down the long narrow hallway. The first person many of us remember was Chris Fast, our treasurer and door monitor. Chris was a fierce looking butch lesbian with a blonde crew cut, tattoos and piercings at a time when they were much less common than they are today. She had a stare that could bend metal and a smile that could set even the most nervous newbie at ease. Black Rose was smaller in those days, the friendships closer, and attending the Tuesday night talks felt edgy, transgressive, and thrilling to be part of. After the meetings, we would troop down the block to the “Italian Kitchen” on the corner of 17th and R. Head counts would be taken at the "cigarette break" for an estimate of the party size. Sometimes mini-scenes would erupt in the restaurant itself, especially when they gave us the private room on the second floor. Later when Harry’s church moved to a bombed out neighborhood just north of China Town, Black Rose tagged along. The dinners moved also, alternating between the second floor of the Schezwan Gardens where the staff spoke no English and clearly found our sadomasochistic antics hilarious, and a dive across H street, with the hopelessly apt name “Big Wong”.

Black Rose Tuesday night meetings continued and we tried to feature new presenters to teach the classes almost all of them local talent. Every week there was a different topic many of them taught by Rose and Robin during this period. This was when Jack McG began to assume greater leadership in the club. Jack was a larger than life figure who elevated the educational bar on Black Rose presentations with his giant collection of SM paraphernalia and a museum worthy collection of metal bondage devices (he started collecting them at Gun shows). Jack soon began making Black Rose history with his incredibly detailed presentations on metal bondage, sensory deprivation hoods, SM rituals, Service Contracts, electrical play and other exotica. Jack set a new standard for Black Rose presentations by bringing lecture outlines as classroom handouts. There were people who laughed at those handouts, at first, but Jack quickly became the club's most charismatic, knowledgeable and popular presenter, and to this day Black Rose presenters are encouraged to bring handouts for the attendees. But other presenters were equally excellent. Hop gave some of the most fascinating talks on dominance that I would ever see. David Cook was also a presenter on psychological issues as well as a practical lecture on how to customize your SM scenes for cramped dungeon spaces, as dungeons often were. Big Mark gave extraordinary presentations on predicament bondage and Philip and Marc B (who billed themselves as “Team U-Haul”) had a presentation on Saran Wrapping Bondage that was as informative as it was hilariously entertaining. Bill and Jacki (aka Waxman and Waxgirl) began presenting their signature demo of hot wax, and attracting a reliably long queue of subjects eager to volunteer Rose V had a number of presentations ranging from legal issues in BDSM, to Dominant/Submissive relationships. That’s worth mentioning too: both Rose and Jack had extensive real life experience with consensual master slave relationships, and this was before the landmark Atlanta Conference where individuals interested in Master Slave Relationships had their first large scale gathering. Master Taino, another local expert in M/s relationships gave thought provoking talks on the subject and later founded both Master Taino’s Training Academy and the annual Master/slave conference right here in Washington further burnishing DC's growing reputation as a place rich in outlaw sex thought leaders. Unbenownst to us was the fact that there was also a huge number of people in the greater Washington area, who were into pony play and equestrian imagery.

My own first Tuesday night teaching gig –yes with a printed handout - was on Leather Ethics in the fall of 1996. A few months later I gave the first Black Rose presentation on tickle torture. When a few of us realized that Black Rose had somehow never gotten around to doing a presentation on Anal Play we organized a panel consisting on Alan P, Judy G, Darren M, Frank P and yours truly playing emcee and contributing the class outline handout. That demo drew the largest BR crowd to date with 102 attendees, a record that stood until Firecat’s presentation on Cock and Ball torture attracted 108 several years later. Around the same time we started getting questions about aftercare. When I called Jack up at his office and asked him to fax me the official aftercare outline , he informed me that there wasn’t one. None of the many SM texts coming out at the time devoted much space to it, most didn’t mention it all. So I sat down and hammered out a rough draft, showed it around, made some improvements, printed a bunch of copies on the printer at work and then scheduled our first panel discussion on the subject. I took a ton of notes from the resulting talk, expanded the outline and staged the topic again a year later. Within a few years, I had set the whole thing to prose and produced what may well be the first article on SM aftercare ever written (ie. Before Midori devoted a chapter to the subject in her book)

And I think this illustrates why the Black Rose model worked so well: whenever we announced that we were going to devote an evening to a subject like aftercare, or anal, or knife play (through our newsletter and telephone hotline of course; this was pre internet) anyone with an interest in the subject could attend and contribute their thoughts, techniques, war stories and practical experience. Even if the presenters were comparatively green, the back and forth of debate always brought fascinating information to light: more often than not, stuff that had never appeared in print. And since it was happening before an audience of rookies and veterans alike, we all learned new stuff together and the art form itself expanded and evolved. If the presenters were taking notes, then content of the presentation would improve with each incremental staging. And since these outlines were printed, they served as corporate memory, and made the talks transferable to other clubs and other presenters.

One of our early innovations was a short book titled “How to Run a Leather Club” which included much of the horse wisdom we had picked up over our first eight years in business. This resource was made available to other groups in the late nineties and was presented at the very first Leather Leadership Conference which had a strong representation from Black Rose members. Scores of enterprising people used that document it to start many Black Rose look alike clubs from coast to coast, like CAPEX of North Carolina which used our document as a virtual blueprint.

Some innovations worked out better in theory than in practice. When two senior members announced that they wanted to inaugurate a monthly Gateway meeting aimed at beginners the board voted to approve. Aside from the two founders and their handpicked designates no other individuals who had attended more than ten meetings would be admitted. The intent was to create a safe space for newbies where regular BR attendees would not be hitting on them but the practical effect was that it gave the organizers “first tibs on the fresh meat” as one long term Black Roser phrased it . I have talked to a number of people whose word I trust, reporting that they got cruised hard by Gateway presenters, one who told of a presenter flirting with her openly throughout the meeting, then palming a phone number to her afterwards. Another reported that a different organizer literally rattled off the first and last names of senior club members that he advised the startled attendees to avoid at all costs. My understanding is that these troubles persisted for many, many years.

Play Venues

I should talk about the evolution of the Black Rose Socials. As stated earlier, they originated in the hope of giving the organizers one night off a month, on a Tuesday night, instead of a talk or demo. "Munchies" were served, music played and everyone got to mingle, talk, cruise and generally get to know one another. Throughout the early nineties, Black Rose held its socials at a rough trade bar called Badlands near Dupont Circle, across 22nd St from the gay cruising route known as P Street Beach. Badlands was a grimy, dimly lit dive at the top of a narrow stairwell. It had a low ceiling, large barrels full of salted peanuts and shells strewn on the floor. Barry, a kinky restaurateur, provided catering. It would be years before Frank P, Dorson, and Leather Bob thought to start lugging their home-made dungeon equipment into town so attendees of the socials could actually play. Humping equipment up and down that narrow staircase is a formative memory for many of us around at that time. Leather Bob, a self-taught artisan, would cover the pool table with a black sheet and lay out his affordably priced handmade cuffs and leather goods for sale. Even the play was different then. This was before singletails, before Japanese rope bondage, before the glut of SM texts published in the early nineteen nineties (Different Loving, Leatherfolk, Sir, More,Sir, SM 101, Leathersex, Screw the Roses, et al) before our own safety program was so much as a twinkle in our collective eye. To keep rank newbies from freaking out (and this happened many times) it was decided that no one be admitted to a social without having attended at least two Tuesday night educational meetings first. This policy was implemented through the use of "party cards". Before regular meetings, during the break, AND afterwards, someone would announce that to be admitted to the next Black Rose social you would need a signed party card. The party card bore the handwritten name (or pseudonym) of the attendee along with the dated signature of the issuing board member. No earlier than the next Tuesday night meeting, a second dated signature could be obtained. The dates were included so no one could cheat and get a signed party card in single vist. Signing those hundreds of party cards became a core function for any new Black Rose board member.

Friendly haunts remained a challenge for our club. We continued to rent from Reverend Harry’s church until his retirement demanded we seek lodgings elsewhere. We tried holding our Tuesday meetings in a Holiday Inn at LeEnfante Plaza Southwest but got booted after only a month. We had always been careful not to leave incriminating lecture handouts lying around the presentation room after a meeting, but one night (after a tutorial on genital piercing), the copiously illustrated handouts drew the attention of the Ethiopian waitresses in the hotel restaurant. They alerted the shift manager who came out to refill our water glasses and have a look for himself. He, in turn, alerted the hotel manager and we were orphans the next day. The socials bounced around from venue to venue depending on availability. Bars never liked us because we really weren’t a boozing crowd. We even spent several months at the highly fashionable Club-Z which looked like a set from the movie Blade Runner before management booted us for not drinking our expected quota.

With social spaces always a problem, private homes became the primary site of sadeoerotic encounters. Jack's house, in particular, became central to the social life of Black Rose throughout the nineties. He had paid Pam and Bob to give his basement a facelift and my God did they ever. Jack's home contained the first “total concept” dungeon space most of us had ever seen and it was amazing: ample dungeon equipment, roman arches, medieval décor, a beautiful sound system and a generally otherworldly mood. There were a few other prodom houses with nice dungeons, but none like Jack’s. And he made it available to virtually everyone: men’s only nights, women’s only nights, wide eyed newbies and close friends alike. If you wanted to throw a dungeon birthday party all you had to do was ask. Many of the friendships Black Rose now enjoys with scene celebs from coast to coast began at parties in Jacks basement.

Robert and Abby were another pair of Black Rose stakeholders who used to entertain regularly at their out of town ranch and its opulent dungeon. They, too, opened up their home to members of the DC community but their parties were often three day sleep overs where they hosted both local and out of towners, with many travelers checking into nearby hotels to minimize travel. Abby had been involved in the New York and Boston scenes and knew a lot of people, and their invite lists provided the opportunity for cross pollination of different communities in far flung states. Robert, a high tech genius, ran the servers which hosted the Total Power Exchange or TPE: a local fetish communication board which served as the principal local online meetup spot for early internet users with an interest in kink. Many Black Rose attendees, like Dave J, one of the clubs earliest experts in fire play, learned about Black Rose after years of participation on the TPE message boards.

Other hosts of regular parties included Alan P, my closet friend in the scene, whose dungeon/pool/hot tub party's were practically a monthly occurrence, Judy G who had an entirely dungeonized colonial near Four Mile Run in Arlington VA, and Dian S, an early boardmember, who made history by demanding that the DC Eagle abandon its prohibition against female patrons. This was a battle she took personally and her road to victory took a long protracted effort until they relented and changed their policy.

Today there are hundreds of munches in the DC area. Back then I knew of only two: the TPE get togethers and a monthly meet up at the Tyson's Corner Olive Garden, that went by the name LMNOP. LMNOP was mostly computer hotshots and kinky people whose tech savvy vastly exceeded my own. I learned of it , the same way I learned of TPE, they showed up at Black Rose meetings saying they heard about us at the munch. This is how I met Don K, and Nisha both still active in the local scene.

The Growth of Public Venues in Greater DC

By the mid ninteties, a Black Rose couple, Lainy and Ray who ran a mom and pop fetishwear boutique had begun organizing a monthly play party at a long gone gay club called the Edge a half a block off M street in Southeast DC. We met on Saturday afternoons, and had to clear out by nine at night but there was a private outdoor patio with a view of the Capital dome that allowed us to play in both broad daylight and total privacy. In the summer and especially spring this was utterly glorious. Kinksters from as far south as the Carolinas and as far north as Lancaster County would converge at the Edge every month, many of them for their very first exposure to SM. Frazier, then a new Black Rose boardmember and volunteer at the Edge gatherings was unhappy with the shortage of quality dungeon equipment and started fabricating rock solid, innovative pieces of his own. A whole generation of players learned SM strapped to Fraziers’s hardware. In time, he assumed responsibility for the Edge parties themselves and staged some of the greatest SM parties I would ever attend before deciding to open an SM club of his own. I remember catching a ride home from the second Leather Leadership Conference in New York with Frazier driving and Greg L as the third passenger. Frazier told us that our collective mission over the next four hours was to come up with a better name for the club he was planning to open than the one he already had. We came up with about twenty or so with Greg producing the funniest: ” KY’s place”. But Frazier stuck with his original choice, calling his new business the Crucible. Crucible gatherings were sparsely attended at first but they caught on and in time became central to the DC scene.

In nearby Baltimore something similar was brewing. Like DC, Charm City was a strong SM town with a social/educational group called the Phoenix Society, that was something of a sister organization to BR, and actually had a clubhouse that belonged to a biker gang. By the mid nineties, Glenda Rider and Sarah H (both of the patchclub known as Females Investigating Sexual Terrain, or FIST) purchased an ancient brick townhouse at 824 Calvert Street in the burgeoning gay neighborhood of Mt Vernon. Featuring a large collection of SM related art, Playhouse Studios opened for business in the mid ninties, a combination SM dungeon and Fetish Art Gallery. Like many Black Rosers, I have many fond memories of Playhouse both because it was awesome and I spent a lot of time there, and because its was the site of my first art exhibition during the the cold, snowy February of 1996. That show was the first of Playhouse’s many featured solo exhibitions of leather inspired artists, and they went on to showcase Barbara Nitke, Mark Chester and Justice of Baltimore, to name only a few.

The annual Black Rose Festivals

Attendees of the annual Black Rose conferences might be surprised to know that our first attempt at a large scale gathering was a comparative flop. A year late, and staged in what now is DC’s 9:30 club, Black Rose’s 5th anniversary celebration was attended by some 200 guests and a bunch of equipment hammered together that afternoon in Rose’s backyard. We did get a lot of visits from the law: curious patrol cops first, then their desk sergeants, then over the course of the evening, increasingly senior brass who came by to gawk.

Black Rose X, in Nov 1997 was a whole different story. We conceived it as our answer to TES 25, a festival many of us DCers had attended with envy and awe. The club didn't have the five grand required by the hotel as a deposit so Frazier B, a relative newbie at the time, wrote a check for the whole balance. We planned for 300 people, 800 came, and with day passes, we cracked the 1000 barrier on Saturday night. We’d never even heard of a dungeon so big or so amply stocked with equipment. Delta, Sigma, and every prodom house from here to Baltimore contributed equipment to help make it happen. We had no organized DM training to speak of, and I’ll never forget the deer in the headlights gaze of our poor DMs trying to monitor several hundred scenes simultaneously. And just how did one monitor, say, a top in full fencing gear carving up his sweetie with a regulation foil?

It was an amazing weekend. BR10, attracted SM practitioners and community leaders from across North America and even Europe and it brought suddenly recognition as a leader in the world of Outlaw Sex. At the Seventh Annual Pantheon Leather Awards in February, Black Rose Ten was awarded event of the year. And coming on the heels of our brave stand on the Houghton Scandal, the publication of “How to start a Leathergroup" publication our heavy involvement in the first two Leather Leadership Councils, and the scores of major leather figures who had become regular faces at Jack’s Parties or the long weekends thrown by Robert and Abby it began a period of Black Rose’s peak influence. We were the hot new festival, the first major pansexual Mid Atlantic play event, and hundreds of people returned to their hometowns with lecture handouts, copies of our leatherclub guide, and plans for organizing their own local scenes. More to the point they had a blast and vowed to return if we ever did this again.

A Change of the Guard

The 1998/1999 board term, the year following BR 10, proved to be a major turning point for the club. Rose and Jack, our two undisputed leaders, declined to run in the highly contentious election that followed. The upside was that we had a lot of candidates and a new board with a lot of new ideas about what they wanted Black Rose to be. Instead Rose spearheaded the effort to incorporate the club as the first explicitly SM-focused organization to obtain 501(c)7 nonprofit tax status with the IRS. Jack meanwhile participated in the launch of NCSF and the growth of the then fledgling Leather Leadership Conference. Of those seven members of the new board only Chris Fast, Greg, and I had served the previous term. The other four were all newcomers (Boomer, Thomas, Ken, and Schell). Three would quit during the one year term: first Ken, then Chris F, then finally Boomer late in the term. In spite of this, we got an enormous amount done. We inaugurated the “Emeritus Board” to encourage past leaders to stay involved in the club. We started offering the four Black Rose Awards: For Educational Achievement, National Level Service, local Service, and “Volunteer of the Year”. Greg L successfully pitched the board on his proposal to stage something he called “Leather Retreat” an outdoor SM festival modeled on the Delta brotherhood run which he attended in 1997. And me? As education Czar I worked with Rose to inaugurate the Black Rose Weekend Workshop series, based on the four hour hands on training courses being taught at GMSMA’s school for Novice Tops by Gil Kesler at his apartment in Greenwich Village (I took the bus to NYC for the ten weekends when the workshops were given). The workshop series was an important step forward from the traditional Black Rose lecture/demo format, and are still being conducted at Black Rose on a semi regular basis. I also led the effort to draft BR's first, formal Dungeon Monitor Training Guide and educational program, very likely only the third ever written and more comprehensive than either of the other two The Black Rose DM guide was first deployed to support Leather Retreat, then the annual Black Rose festival, and has been exported to many other events and organizations both stateside and internationally.

Perhaps the greatest innovation from that key term was our chartering of a special interest group with the name TNG which stood for “The Next Generation” (an ultra geeky reference to the then current Star Trek televison reboot). Two of our younger members, Kyrie and Schell had been working with Phillip Wolf and Josh H of New York’s Eulenspigal Society on the idea of creating a safe space for young people where they could learn from and socialize with peers in their own age group. Black Rose TNG became the first of the now ubiquitous SM groups dedicated to persons under the age of thirty five. The concept was controversial and did not go over well with everyone: particularly those above the cutoff. But it was an idea whose time had come: today there are hundreds of TNGs from coast to coast. Bill W and his girlfriend Kelly became the first TNG power couple and they really grew the franchise and provided its leadership for many years until they passed the torch to Ariel and British Lucky Paul. Ariel was so committed to the TNG concept that after even after moving to New York he commuted the four hour ride nearly every Tuesday for the TNG mixer and other TNG functions taking the infamous Chinatown "Suicide Bus" every single week.

Black Rose Goes National

I think it’s worth mentioning that while we were staging for the first event there was little talk of making it an annual thing, at least none that I was privy too. By the end of the tenth anniversary weekend we were all so elated that I can remember no one not wanting to turn right around and stage another one. BR98, our eleventh anniversary, saw the unveiling of the four new Black Rose Awards. We followed it with a third and then a fourth and a fifth and sixth. Suddenly Black Rose had become a production company with the annual festival as our profit center and core offering. During our peak years the club made sixty to seventy thousand dollars over the festival weekend, enough to finance all our operations over the coming year.

Meanwhile, after two years of virtually no socials at all, Mitzi, a mere volunteer at the time, surprised everyone by bagging us a contract with the Newington VFW in Virginia, in (I believe ) 1999. We held socials there for two years until, once again, a management change at the lodge deprived us of a friendly point of contact and we were homeless once again. We eventually started holding the monthly socials at the massive Ramada dungeon area where we held the annual events.

For me the swan song of the Black Rose Events came with the invitation of Fakir Musafar and Cleo Dubois to the annual event. Fakir had been a pioneer in body play and "SM-like" activities since the early nineteen forties, and his writings had been foundational texts for me as a young dominant. To actually meet him and become his friend was a pinnacle experience for me, as it was for many Black Rose attendees.

On the national stage, The Black Rose enjoyed a remarkably low profile until Thanksgiving Day 2002 when Jack, who among his other talents, happened to be a UN weapons inspector, was outed on the front page of the Washington Post over his long time involvement in Black Rose. It was such an ugly and gratuitous smear that the Post ombudsman published an apology later on.

And then there was our fateful decision in 2003 to host the annual event in Ocean City Maryland. What should have been a fun “beach bondage bingo” variation on our now almost routine annual bash, was capsized when religious fundamentalists started mobilizing protests against our being there. For the first time, ever Black Rose drew headlines. Time Magazine wanted to do a feature about us, but we turned them down. Faced with the prospects of camera crews weilded by religious fanatics eager to “out” participants as they arrived, we decided to let discretion be the better part of valor and retreated to the New Carollton Ramada where we held a smaller and more intimate celebration.

I wanted to cover the first fifteen years of the club and I've already inched my way into year seventeen. The first cut of this article was published in the program book for the 2004 Black Rose event, and even though that’s already ten years ago, the club would change soon after, and I would need a different tone and approach to tell that story.

So let me conclude here, and reiterate that for many years, BR usually erred on the side of caution and pursued an admirably risk adverse game. This wasn’t to everyone’s liking but it produced a solid legacy of achievement, and comparatively few major screw-ups. We have been in the lucky position to provide fiscal help to those who need it: Seed money for the Phoenix Society of Baltimore, overdue rent for the late, great Lesborados, helping out NCSF and GMSMA in their hours of need. Our beloved friend Joel, through his cunning and innovation has single handedly pioneered the actuarial arts of getting leather events and conferences insured. His work will serve as the basis for BDSM insurability in the decades to come. We have seen one time newbies mature into toymakers and manufacturers of dungeon equipment, and pair off and marry other BR attendees. We have also seen some of our long time members move on to the great BDSM holiday camp in the sky: people like Vaughn, Hop, Tammad, Chris F, Tillion. Big Mark and Jack (whose passing motivated the board to rename the Educational Award in his honor). Of those still with us, many include staffers of Leather Retreat, Camp Crucible and Dark Odyssey. Some have had their written work published in “Prometheus”, once the Newsweek of kink, and an increasing number of BR members have received recognition as authorities, and instructors in the sweet science of sadoeroticism. Our former members founded the and currently staff of organizations like Woodhull, NCSF, and CARAS: working to build a better world for people whose sexual tastes run to the left of center. We have hosted an entire roster of scene luminaries at our Tuesday night talks and the large annual events; people like Joseph Bean, Fakir Musafar, Cleo DeBoise, Midori, Barbara Nitke, Jack Rinella, Jay Wiseman, The list is long.

Stay tuned for part two.....

End of Chris M's Article

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