MasterMarc: Hi Conor. You’ve a fetish which is giving at minimum an oppressive feeling to a lot of people. You are a Skin! It is a look which a big part of our society does associate with neo-Nazis. Is that the right impression they have of you?
Conor: Hi Marc, absolutely not. The concept of neo-naziism is alien to me! Neo-nazis are inherently racist and homophobic, two traits which you will find are completely against what being a gay skinhead is all about. We may have the similar look but we are polar opposites in how we think, how we act and what we do. The only thing we share in common is the look, but gay skinheads do it better ;).
MasterMarc: I know, the question I’ve asked has had to upset you, because it is a stereotype you haven been confronted often. Let us talk positively about your fetish. What is in your eyes the essence of the skin fetish?
Conor: The skin fetish is essentially one comprising two parts, the look and the attitude. For the look you need to go with what has arisen out of tradition from the original skinhead look that originated in the UK in the 1970s, often referred to the bovver boy look, that came from the ska and reggae subcultures. The original skinhead look was boots, jeans, braces, check shirts and then either an overcoat, this evolved into the ma1 bomberjacket in the early 80s. Since then as the look became more adopted into gay culture, bleachers or bleached jeans became the norm, doc marten boots in cherry / oxblood or black in colour became the boot of choice, the check shirt and braces remained and the ma1 became the jacket of choice. In more recent times this dresscode has become even more varied with brand names becoming associated with it. Now we have doc martens and grinders or rangers as the preferred boots, often with coloured laces to match the various sexual codes, braces also reflect the same colour. Now we also have leather braces being added to the mix. In terms of check shirts, Brutus and Fred Perry brand shirts are more common, but the Fred Perry polo shirt of various colours has become the norm. The bomber jackets are now heavily associated with Alpha Industries and Schott and we are seeing the bomber jackets either as MA1s or CWUs (with the brand patch on the chest).
We are also seeing the addition of leather into the skinhead attire. Quite often now you will see leather trousers substituted for bleachers or even rubber bleachers depending on what the skinhead is into.
I consider myself to be fairly open minded about the attire, and whether I am in bleachers or camo combats or leathers, I do consider boots and a bomber jacket to be mandatory for the skinhead look.
Now in terms of the attitude to go along with the look is entirely something else, but it stems from the gear you are wearing. It may be that I do not describe this well but I will do my best to describe how I feel when I am in my gear.
I gain a significant level of confidence from it. This manifests itself in how I walk and how I act around others, but also how I relate sexually to other men. I do find that being in skin gear tends to make me more dominant, especially from my boots. I am versatile by nature, but when in skin gear I prefer to dominate other guys, only if another skinhead is much more dominant than me would I feel in any way sub and even then I would still feel quite dominant, almost an aggressive sub so to speak.
I know that to many the skinhead look has the neo nazi conotations, that in a way is somewhat appealing as it makes others think you are somewhat dangerous or indeed aggressive. It makes others react differently around you, especially more sub guys that are actually looking to be dominated. I do not consider myself to be dangerous or aggressive, but if others think that about me I do not care.
MasterMarc: Wow, that are a lot of information. Thank you. But now, tell us about the acceptance of the skin fetish in the fetish community. Do you think it is still a 2nd class fetish in the eyes of leather men and how do you see your position compared to other fetishes like sportswear or skaters?
Conor: I do not think of it as a second class fetish, I think it has just not become more common as yet. It is well behind leather and rubber as an established fetish. In Europe it is much more common than anywhere else, it is virtually unknown in the US, and anyone that does know about it over there is usually intensely curious about it and want to know more.
Here in Europe I think really as a fetish it emerged in the late 90s and has only really been established as a distinct fetish in the early 2000s. I think in terms of credibility, as a fetish it is probably now on a par with rubber, as a lot of skinheads are into rubber as well. I do think that it has advanced beyond skater and sportswear as it appears to be much more visible as a fetish both on the streets and in the clubs across Europe.
MasterMarc: As you have told us before skins have a little an aggressive image. I do also associate dirty games like golden shower and more with a lot of skins. How do you see that and what are in your eyes the sexual kinks skins have often in common?
Conor: Like all fetishes there is overlap with others entirely dependant on personal tastes and desires. Most of the skinheads I know like bootlicking and some enjoy stomping, which definitely adds to the aggressive nature. While piss play is definitely something a lot of skins are into, believe it or not I actually know only a handful personally that are into it. Similarly there seems to be an upsurge in fisting as a fetish and I have seen it as much more prevalent amongst skinheads than the wider fetish community so far.
But then again it could be just the level of exposure I see when I travel around Europe. Its one of the way I have seen how the skinhead fetish is evolving, I love the fact that I am now seeing leather being added to the skinhead fetish in ways and also that leathermen are expanding into skinhead culture as well. I myself love leather gear and have often been described as a leatherskin because I am as comfortable in my leathers as I am in my skin gear. But being a skinhead is my origin, yet it opened my eyes to other fetishes as I interacted with the wider fetish community.
MasterMarc: I think you’re right that the fetishes are becoming permeable. It sounds like a sacrilege but I see as longer as more skin guys wearing sneakers. Another stereotype about skins is, that they are like a brodtherhood with a lived hierarchy and that it is difficult to be accepted as newbie. How do you see that?
Conor: It is something which has concerned me actually. I do not find that here in Ireland as we are a young community and there are not that many skinheads, so when any new guy approaches us and wants to try it out we are quite happy to see that and often assist them with giving them old gear we may have or advise them on new gear. Talking to a few of my friends in Germany and the UK though, they have said that there is a bit of an unwelcoming undercurrent at times which does intimidate new guys from venturing into being a skinhead. Many of the older guys that have seen this are doing their best to put a stop to it to ensure that we are more welcoming of new guys. In terms of a hierarchy I have not really witnessed that in the groups I have interacted with, but there definitely is a level of respect for the older skinheads that essentially started the fetish in the gay community. And to be honest I like that there is that level of respect as in some ways it shows thanks for keeping the fetish alive. One of my oldest friends here in Ireland from the community, Karl Hayden, was one of the first gay skinheads I encountered and he compiled a really good documentary on gay skinhead culture which is available on youtube to watch, and he to me is the epitome of what a real gay skinhead is – open, honest, trustworthy and very welcoming of new guys. Plus of course he has great boots 😉
MasterMarc: Of course we will provide this documentary on the end of this interview. You’ve told us that you are Mr. Geared of Ireland. Are the skin guys also organised on country, European or international level and do they also have big election events on the different levels?
Conor: Unfortunately no. There is no significant international titleholder competition for skinheads. It is something that I have discussed with BSG in the UK and BLF in Berlin but there does not yet seem to be enough of us to actaully have such a competition. But give it time and hopefully there will be one. After all as a distinct fetish within the community it is relatively new.
Fortunately some of us that are skinheads and have competed for club titles can compete in some international events if we are into other fetishes as well. As Mr. Geared Ireland I can compete at International Mister Leather as a club titleholder. I may do that next year in 2016, unfortunately due to other commitments I had made I was not able to go this year, but IML accepts titleholders from the previous year. If I do go to IML it would be an opportunity to crossover my skinhead fetish with my leathers which might be unique, and give an opportunity for some exposure to the skinhead fetish in the US as well.
MasterMarc: Outside of the fetish community skins and punks are political enemies. But it seems that in the gay fetish skin and punk world it is just a change of style of the same guys. Where do you see the difference between fetish skins and fetish punks?
Conor: Philosophically and outlook on life I think there is really very little to differentiate. Fetish punks and fetish skins are both distinct groups within the larger LGBTQI community, and in the majority have the same ideals – brotherhood, equality, live and let live, all the while maintaining our uniqueness and diversity. I have encountered many punks within our community and all are as equally accepting or my fetish as I am of theirs. I think that is the beauty of our larger community, for the majority we accept our diversity and understand that there is strength from that diversity. The only real difference between fetish skins and fetish punks is the attire and possible taste in music. 😉
Conor: I think for me I would encourage all of the skinheads to be welcoming and introduce more guys of any age into our fetish. Basically become big brothers and introduce more guys into the brotherhood of skinheads really. It is not an overtly an expensive fetish so it is easy for new guys to get gear, but because of the overriding impression that skinheads are aggressive and not welcoming, we do not get enough guys interested in trying it out. In this way we need to be more open and accepting of new guys trying it out and possibly being less strict in our own definition of what it means to be a skinhead. I do not think this will dilute our fetish but it will help it evolve. For example a guy I know has recently expressed an interest in it, but because of his day job he couldnt have his hair cut anything less than about 2 mm, so he did not think he would be “allowed” to be a skinhead. I suggested he wear the gear with the shortest haircut he was allowed, and he loved it, and the other skinheads he met in the gear were very welcoming to see someone try it out. Now maybe in the future he will be able to shave his head shorter, but for now he wears the gear and enjoys it. Thats the type of thing we need to encourage more of.
MasterMarc: I think if skin people and also all the others follow your thoughts than everyone of us will be able to see and live more diversity in our big fetish world. Thank you, Conor, that you have let us gain insight in your community and I wish you all the best for the future. Hope we will talk again soon.
Karl Hayden’s skin documentary (part 1/5):
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