logo design by Peter P
logo design by Peter P

     * Copyright (c) 1995 Rex Wockner. All rights reserved. *
by Rex Wockner
Reprinted without permission

SAN DIEGO -- The Travelodge on El Cajon Boulevard may never be the same following a convention last weekend of more than 900 predominantly gay sadomasochists.

Hands-on workshops at Leatherfest VII, the largest such event in the nation, covered everything from fisting and electric shocking to flogging, genital torture, rope bondage, "medical scenes," piercing, waxing and "whip dynamics." From "Submission, Service and Slavery" to "SM Spirituality."

More advanced sadomasochists attended workshops that dealt with such problems as "Tired Tops," "Jaded Bottoms," and "After you have done everything once, what next?"

There was even a seminar on something oxymoronically titled "consensual non-consensuality."

There were workshops for "adult persons playing the role of a juvenile interacting with others playing an authority figure," for users of "violet wands, TENs units, Relaxacisors, cattle prods and Folsom Boxes," and for folks wanting to whip or be whipped with "a hair brush, crop, cane, paddle, kitchen spatula, rug beater or drum brush."

"I'm here to explore S&M," said Drew Lambert of San Francisco. "I'm a novice to the scene, so I'm down here with two friends who are guiding me through this. I learned the credo of S&M, which is 'safe, sane and consensual.' I have two wonderful men guiding me through all of it, who are very patient with me."

One of those guides was Race Bannon of San Francisco, author of the book "Learning the Ropes: A Basic Guide to Safe and Fun SM Lovemaking."

"In one weekend you can learn more about this style of sexuality than you could in years of learning it in the field, so to speak," Bannon said. "It gives you a good venue to discover what you like, what you don't like, what you might like, how to do it correctly, how to be sure you connect with the right kinds of people, how to do something safely, without having to go through the trial-and-error process that you go through going to the bars or meeting through ads or dating somebody and trying to bring this up in the course of dating. It's kind of a crash course, if you will. You get to meet a lot of nice people and socialize and play and have fun."

"The other aspect to this," added Lambert, "is family, the redefinition of family. I've met people here that I've been introduced to as family, and there's a mutual trust, love and respect that I've never felt anywhere else."

Leatherfest attendees were 55 percent gay/lesbian, 40 percent heterosexual, and 5 percent "bisexual or not sure," said Publicity Chair Richard Reynolds, who is co-chair of the National Leather Association San Diego.

"This year we have more heterosexuals than in years past," Reynolds said. "It seems to grow every year. We advertised in several Los Angeles primarily heterosexual publications, but interestingly enough, the response comes from the gay and lesbian publications."

Sixty percent of the attendees were men, 40 percent women, Reynolds said. The women were equally split between lesbians and heterosexuals, he said.

The Travelodge had no problem with tops leading nearly naked bottoms around the hotel on leashes, with SM dykes cracking whips around the swimming pool, or with hundreds of kinkier displays, Reynolds said.

"They were ecstatic over the fact that they had a full weekend," said Reynolds. "We rented the whole hotel. They shut down their reservations system. We sat down with them from the very beginning and talked about the nature of the event in detail and the kind of people that would be here and the kinds of things that would go on in workshops. They had absolutely no problem with it whatsoever. And the hotel staff has been superb this weekend."

Proceeds from Leatherfest VII will go to the San Diego Lesbian and Gay Men's Center. The amount will not be known for a couple of weeks.

== END ==

$1,000 in proceeds go to the San Diego Lesbian and Gay Men's Center and approx $3,000 worth of excess food from banquet and lunches donated to Mama’s Kitchen.

1,000 in attendance. Penny Buchanan runs first S/M University as part of LeatherFest VII.

Sentinel Awards presented to the Eagle San Diego, Moose Leather, Kim S, Madoc Pope, and Richard Reynolds.