A talk with the Mr. Hoist ’15 about leather, fetish communities, s/m and IML
MasterMarc: Hi Bas. It’s a pleasure to talk with you. I know, you are quite busy atm because you’ll have to travel to the U.S. soon to represent as Mr. Hoist the British leather community at the International Mr. Leather contest. Before talking about you it is time to clean up or to confirm the prejudices about the leather scene:
Being member of a leather club is more or less like being in a golf club; older, fat guys with beards have meetings at closed places where others aren’t welcome and they don’t have sex, because they aren’t able anymore. That is the reason why they just do dirty things. And of course they are bikers without bikes.
I think I have to take cover now. 🙂
Bas: Hello Marc, I’ll pretend for a moment I didn’t reach for my flogger at your last statement and remain my calm and friendly self! No, seriously, the pleasure is all mine, I think you’re doing a great thing with your website and I’m glad to offer my perspective!
Yup, busy times, only a few more days to prepare but it’s very exciting and enriching. Exactly two weeks from now I’ll be walking on stage with Greg (Mr. Leather UK) waving the Union Jack in Chicago. And in my heart I’ll be waving the Dutch and Belgian flag as well, but maybe more about that later.
So, back to your statement… (Reaches for flogger)… There’s so much I can say about that, I don’t know where to begin.
I think I will split your remark in two: what you call Leather scene is so much more than leather clubs, and also your view of leather clubs can use a little nuancing (taps flogger in hand).
Leather is a personal experience, it has a different meaning to everyone I speak to. So the leather scene can be as broad or narrow as you want.
Broad if you include the guy I met who only has a pair of leather gloves he wears when jacking off. Narrow if you only include people that have full BLUF Langlitz leathers. Broad if you include everyone that has a harness they wear to XXL. Narrow if you only include people who’s bedroom looks like a dungeon. Narrow if you only include gay men. Broad if you include lesbian, straights, transgenders, queers, everyone that has affinity with leather regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
This just to show you how varied the landscape is. Because in truth, all that matters to me is that if leather ‘means’ something to you, no matter how small or big it is, we can have a beer and bond over our shared interest.
Now… Before the flogging part, any question?
MasterMarc: Ok, the way I have formulated my question was too open. My mistake! But I have also noticed, that you haven’t disputed that you are too old and ugly to have sex and that you are just doing dirty things behind closed doors. 🙂 But to be more serious: Tell us about your leather world, what does it include and what does it mean for you?
Bas: Yes, well spotted, I’m dliberately ignoring the “old and ugly” part. 😉
Seriously what does leather mean to me? I never really thought about that until after I got elected Mr. Hoist. But for me, Leather is primal sex, raw power and uber masculinity. It works all the senses: how it looks, what it feels like, the sound of creaking leather or heavy boots, the smell of cigar clinging to a leather glove, all that has very powerful sexual connotations to me.
But there’s more. Leather also means freedom and friendship. My interest in BDSM brought me to a leather bar early in life, and that experience gave me the push I needed to freely explore my sexuality. And without my leather friends I would never have felt as home in London after only two years as I do now.
Bas: I didn’t really need to discover it, as I have always had fantasies about authority. What I did have to discover was that that was unusual, that not everyone had those. I started reading books, stories, saw images of Tom of Finland, and knew exactly what I wanted… I think it really all came together when I went to a leather bar, I think I was 19. Then, it all ‘clicked’, and I’ve been in touch with that side of me ever since.
MasterMarc: What is for you the essence of the harder sex and what are the turn-ons for you?
Bas: On the one hand power, control, submission.
On the other hand respect, trust and connection.
What happens superficially is not what it seems. I get extremely turned on when I click my fingers and my boy drops on his knees, in public. But that’s not me controlling him, really. It’s far more complicated than that. But blimey, it does it for me every time.
MasterMarc: You have lived your life not only in the UK and I am sure that you have traveled a lot so that you know the leather community also in other cities and countries. What do they have in common and what are the differences? And how open is the leather scene also for new guys and dudes of other fetishes?
Bas: Indeed, I am Dutch, lived in Belgium for 13 years and now live in London. I have good friends all over Western Europe, stateside, and since my election I’ve come in contact with fantastically motivated people from Southern and Eastern Europe.
I find it hard to compare. I can’t compare London now with Amsterdam 20 years ago. So much has changed. And how people experience their community also depends on the size of the community, and the level of acceptance of diversity in society. All this has a huge impact on how people turn to leather to ‘belong’, how they meet up, experience and learn. But it is something’s I’m very interested in, because we can learn so much from eachother. Maybe you should ask me that question one year from now.
And that’s the same for how young people experience leather. I have asked quite a few guys from London, but I’d like to know more about it in other places. Fact is, there’s a lot of interest in Kink. And a lot of initiatives to engage, help explore, teach. For example your website. So maybe I should ask you: is the leather community open?
MasterMarc: I can just tell you my point of view. In my eyes the leather scene is changing. Of course there are still – i will call them – old school leather clubs who are celebrating a little the 60/70ies lifestyle, when to be gay wasn’t really easy and the leather fetish scene was an underground thing. That is a really closed community.
But times are changing. Fetish is becoming kind of mainstream. Just have a look on the dance club scene. Of course it is fetish light and more carnival than real feelings. But that also has positive aspects. As fetish lover you can live it more openly. You dont have to hide it as you had to it in the past. It is no longer a provocation to wear fetish so you do it just because of you.
So there are now also fetish communities that are becoming more open. They don’t focus anymore on the leather or rubber fetish. They are tolerant as they expect it also from the others. I think that is a good way because the kink is becoming the central and connecting point of this communities and not the material of their clothes.
Tell me from your point of view how much stupidities I have written now and how you see it?
Bas: I think you mention very interesting points, and no stupidities at all. And again, I don’t have the answers, but I think by having these conversations we might understand what our community (because I think we are all part of it) really needs, and work towards providing it.
I think the openness is great, don’t get me wrong. And needs have changed, and every organisation, bar, club, etc needs to adapt to those in order to stay relevant.
Maybe wearing fetish is no longer viewed as something too dark, but domination and submission, S&M, pain, non-conforming relationships, these are still taboos in one way or another.
I just hope everyone will be able to truly explore, experience the same transformational sexual experiences I had, because someone showed me a different side of myself. I hope younger people still feel they are on a journey to discover themselves and to truly explore everything there is to explore, or whether to them it is ‘just sex’. And I hope everyone feels they belong somewhere where they can be truly themselves, including their deepest sexual desires.
That’s what I hope. For everyone.
MasterMarc: Now you’re talking about something which is really important to me. My fetish is s/m, not the clothes. For me it is not really role play. It is something deep inside me, so it is ME and not a role. Important is, that there is no valuation in being dominant or submissive. One is not better than the other. They are just two different types of character. And we can be happy that this difference exist, as a master can’t live his being a master without slaves and vice versa. What are in your eyes the important character traits of a master?
Bas: Oh you are going from hot topic to hot topic!
I think there’s one that trumps all others, and that is respect. Respecting the other. From that everything that is important flows naturally.
But I’m not claiming to be an expert on this, there are people far better suited. I see this as my personal journey, and although I have come quite far, there’s still a lot to learn for me. Enjoying every minute of it though. 🙂
MasterMarc: Fetish & s/m are a journey. And evolution should be part of it. It would become boring if you’re not exploring new things. Of course it is sometimes also a trial and error thing because it is interaction between human beings and that, you can never plan 100%. Horniness is important but the brain should also be part of the game. I think in this point fetish communities are important because there you can also talk about experiences and ask others.
Bas: Yup, I agree on that. For me the gear and BDSM are closely linked, and I have met amazing people that have taken me further, step by step. And now, I find myself in the position that I can take people further on their journey. That is very powerful.
I think that’s why I think the (leather) community still has an important task. Maybe everything is evolving, but as long as there are people interested in traveling, they will want to congregate, share, teach and learn. And that’s what, in my view, makes our community.
MasterMarc: You are now going to represent the UK at the International Mr. Leather contest. Is it just fun for you or do you have also a message? Please don’t tell me now that you want to fight for world peace. It is not the Miss Universe contest.
Bas: I think there’s a message, yes, and I think we touched upon a few elements earlier during our conversation. But I would like to have the ‘big reveal’ during IML. 🙂
Have to keep them gagging for more, don’t you agree?
MasterMarc: I’m not really satisfied with your answer but I understand that totally. What is in your eyes the aim and the importance of such kind of contests?
Bas: First of all, it’s an honour to be part of something that has been there for 37 years and means so much for so many people. The preparation teaches you so much about yourself, your community, the scene, history, it is really transformational. That’s the importance for the contestants, I truly belive they become more engaged, more aware, more involved.
And quite practically, title holders have the opportunity to do something for the community, they get quite a bit of attention, and they can use that to raise awareness, do fundraising, start conversations, make people feel welcome, support other communities, even it it were just for a visit. I think that’s what it is about. And that’s important for me, that’s why I do it.
MasterMarc: It is time to wish you all the best for the IML now. I’m sure, you will do your best and I hope that you will also have a lot of fun there.
Bas: Thank you, it was great to share my view and also understand your thoughts on some of these topics that are close to my heart. Good luck with the website, and maybe we’ll speak again in the future!