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#MLW17!

WEEKEND WRISTBANDS ARE NOW AVAILABLE FOR THE THREE HOT NIGHTS OF MANCHESTER LEATHER WEEKEND

On Friday… BREW HUNTER’S MASTERY
Brew Hunter’s famous Backstreet London event comes to Manchester on the Friday of Manchester Leather Weekend for the first time! Expect SEX, Smoke and submission at this most famous of events, with dark background beats. Mastery has a strict dress code of leather/rubber only – make sure you come along in your finest filthy gear. The event will be running from 11pm till late, with the after party at the Eagle Manchester.

On Saturday… ALERT! (HOSTED BY MATT SPIKE)
Manchester’s most famous fetish night is a staple of Manchester Leather Weekend, returning as it does every month with a vengeance on the Saturday of the weekend. Expect funky and upbeat music, with a mixed leather/rubber crowd giving the night a party atmosphere. Head over to the darkroom to set off your night, then head over to the Eagle Manchester for an afterparty to finish your night off.

On Sunday… JOE KING’S MEAT UP!
End Manchester Leather Weekend by placing your Muir cap to the side and experience a funky retro leather disco like Mum used to make with our formidable partners at Supernature disco. This party will bring back the disco revolution to the leather community like never before! The dress code will be more relaxed this evening, but try to make some effort for all the fetishmen that will be checking out what you are wearing.

MORE DETAILS AND EVENTS TO BE ANNOUNCED SHORTLY!
Tickets available at the Manchester Leather Weekend website and via http://buytickets.at/manchesterleathermen

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Bishopsgate Institute: The UK leather archives

The history of UK leather culture preserved

At the election of Mr Leather UK 2017 (James), we headed down to the Bishopsgate institute to take a look at the new UK leather archives that have been curated there. What a lot of amazing material there is to see there! 

The collection is still ongoing, so if you have anything you would like to add then do get in touch with them. I’m sure they would appreciate it. MLM will of course be sending them more stuff!

Click on the image to browse through the photos

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What Makes Us Stand Taller

boots-0336As it stands, it is always a keen idea to put your best foot forward. Surprisingly, well… rather the opposite, is what you as a man of leather decide as the choice of boot to give you that spring in your step, that extra boost (clearly, it’s anagram!) of confidence to complete the ensemble. For me, they’ve always been a key factor in what’s visually appealing and strikes a tone of confidence into the hearts and minds of others. Safe to say I’ve always been quite fanatical of them myself –  as my eyes have a tendency to be observant of what boots a man chooses.

Picture it like this – the creaking of each step is primarily the first sound you’ll hear of an approach in the distance, the smell is an intoxicating aroma of lust and desire, encased in specially crafted leather boots that are shined to perfection, and are at the forefront of pulling together this lustful image of a leatherman. But you may not see sleek and shiny, perhaps they’re tall and laced, pointed at the toe or covering the leg from sole to thigh in soft, supple and erotic leather. Imagine this as just your only item besides your firm jock and a cap. You stand tall, you stand proud and you strut with confidence in each step.

boots-0341Each pair in its own entirety is a work of craftsmanship no matter the style – it’s the wearer who makes the final cut at what shows confidence from the very second they hit the ground. I’ll let you in on a secret – as a leatherman, my first item when I started my journey was my first pair of harness boots, a plain black pair similar to the ones featured in this article – I wore them throughout my two years at college right up until the end of their life, and it was a well-spent journey. I have since expanded my collection from time to time, currently with my eyes set on acquiring a new pair when the time comes and when finances permit. All I ask – in short, concluding this article – is to wear your boots proudly, wear yourself much the same and take stride in your journey as a leatherman amongst your local community of leather brothers.

Thanks,

Joshi

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ECMC AGM 2016 – Leather Daddy Ian’s mini report

IMG_9989bHost MSC Finland – Tom`s Club August 26th–28th 2016

As many of you might know, the ECMC meeting included the Mister Leather Europe Contest 2016–2017. Eleven guys entered, including Joe King our very own Manchester Leatherman, currently Mister Leather UK was voted Mr Leather Europe. Additionally, Manchester Leathermen President `Leather Daddy` Ian was made Honorary Patron of the ECMC. Tom`s Club are to be warmly congratulated on organising a great weekend full of friendship and more.

News round-up.

Apart from the Friday evening welcome, the Saturday evening dinner and Mister Leather Europe and the Sunday events, the group of 22 ECMC leather and fetish clubs from across Europe met during Saturday. In addition, the ECMC welcomed into membership Geared Ireland, Leather CZ Prague and Leather & Fetish Milano.

The following clubs were present as observers with an interest in joining the ECMC: Leather Friends Spain, Evidence Fetiche – Nice and Exultaric – Lille. We were also able to welcome St Petersburg Leather Club whose representative was able to explain to us some of the challenges facing St Petersburg and similar groups within the Russian Federation. Sadly, the meeting noted the closure of MSC Bournemouth, Rubbermen`s Club London, and Leathermen Dusseldorf.

Accounts.

These were approvedm as was the budget for 2016-2017.

Reports.

LMC Vienna, gave an overview of the 2015 ECMC meeting, as did Thorsten Buhl retiring Mister Leather Europe and John O`Brien, Geared Ireland who reported on his tenure as one of the Judges at this year’s IML in Chicago.

Future Events.

ECMC Meeting 2017 – Host  MS Amsterdam – as a back up to replace Warsaw.

Bike Run 2017 – SLM Goteborg.

ECMC Meeting 2018  – Host ASMF Paris.

Award.

The 69 Club Trophy for Club of the year – London Leathermen (ex MSC London)

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The straw that broke the leatherman’s back

Some of you may have noticed a lot of activity coming from Manchester Leathermen and me over the last week or so. The catalyst for the activity, and the ‘breaking point’ for events that have been going on in the background for over six months was an article by Pieter Claeys – a former Mr Leather Europe (2009) and president of LeatherHistory.eu.

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The orginal text of the article – Joe is not mentioned with any of his achievements and is only described with events that have nothing to do with him personally nor his current title. It’s an obvious character assassination.

Pieter’s credentials make him a person who ought to know better, particularly as preserving leather history requires you to value truth, and be unbiased in your conclusions. Nevertheless, the article was poorly fact-checked with wilful ignorance of the obvious sources of the facts. For example, the 2017 ECMC meeting will not be in Poland, the venue is yet to be confirmed, and a number of changes have been made in the actual 2016/2017 Mr Leather Europe Contest in Helsinki (courtesy of a quick fact-check from President Leather Daddy Ian). From a person entrusted by much of our community the mistakes are shameful already, but the worst is yest to come.

Of the ‘facts’ named in the article, seven were harmless nuggets of information that described the logistics or history of the contest; however, two of these ‘facts’ were about two particular contestants in 2016: Nick Dawson of the Netherlands, and Joe King of the UK (and member of Manchester Leathermen)— and was published two weeks before a competition with an audience vote as a component by an influential person in the community.

The original text (and updated text) of the article describes Joe King in terms of ‘controversy’, and makes no mention of any of his achievements. It couldn’t give a more different impression of Joe than the reality of the caring, loving person that I know. Furthermore, Joe has achieved many things this year, and I am proud of him as a member of the group and also as a friend. We currently have a very fragmented UK leather community, most of which has been caused by the ‘controversy’ mentioned in the article which has culminated to the events of the last six months. I know that Joe is working hard to reunite the UK leather community and build relationships with our brothers in Birmingham, London, Cardiff, Brighton and elsewhere. I also will say that it has been incredibly challenging year for Joe to obtain sponsorship, and many obstacles have been put in front of him by other members of our community. When you also see the passion that he has for our community, and the things that he believes in, I have every faith that Joe is the right person for Mister Leather Europe, particularly as things have been so bad in the UK—after all, this is one of the reasons why Manchester Leathermen appeared in the first place.

Another part of the article is even more sinister. London Leathermen (who host Mr Leather UK every year), nor Manchester Leathermen, have never made a public announcement about the MLUK trademark. MLUK is owned by the three directors who also own the more well-known ‘LeatherWest’ company based in Bristol (Spencer Cartwright, Philip Hobson and Tim Guerney), and these three bought the trademark to Mr Leather UK in 2014 using MLUK. The purchase came after the advertisement for the 2014 Mr Leather UK event had already been launched, and without any notification of their intentions, the three directors also came to the 2014 event where Avi Angel won the title for that year. Bearing in mind that the event has been going since 1989, and that these three directors have never had a part in it, you will see that they obviously have no right to claim it is their intellectual property.

Several facts in the article have been shown to be incorrect…. evidently Pieter thinks that by saying things it makes them true. Incidentally, I am a multi-millionaire and I have a beautiful wife.

How can Pieter Claeys know that the MLUK community interest company owned the trademark? I don’t imagine that it is a national hobby of the Dutch to search the registered trademarks of the UK, so it is rather odd that Pieter claims to be posting ‘random facts’ about the contest. MLUK is not very well known about in the UK as LeatherWest have never really made the MLUK company common knowledge. Pieter also claimed that his article was honest and was factual….. then altered the text to make it ‘more accurate’. Is it possible to make an accurate article ‘more accurate’? This is like saying you can make a person ‘more guilty’ of a crime. You can’t. Just like you are either guilty or innocent, a story is either accurate or inaccurate.

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This image was taken down off Facebook for not meeting community guidelines.

The text of the ‘more accurate’ article was just as bad, if not worse. As well as continuing to spell the name of Manchester Leathermen incorrectly, Pieter insisted on revealing sensitive information about the MLUK trademark, which was being contested in private after six months of frustration and division within the UK leather community. I’ve been working alongside London Leathermen on this issue and it has been upsetting and expensive (financially and in terms of time) to deal with the consequences of the actions of LeatherWest. The time that has been wasted on this issue could have been spent promoting our communities and making things better for us all. Personally, I felt that enough was enough and that people like Pieter and the directors of LeatherWest in our community need to be made accountable for their actions and shown as the destructive forces they really are. How is this article making a more united or cohesive community when it singles out one person for shaming, and the other for glory? How has this made the community better?

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Pieter’s response to Paul Turner, president of London Leathermen. Most people would facepalm at this level of arrogance, but not Pieter.

So yes, I was livid, and Pieter’s pathetic attempt at journalism was the final straw. The article was an obvious attempt to destroy the hard work that Joe has done in the community so far, and mocked the efforts that the UK leather community have made in supporting him. He also defended his actions with an arrogance that would even make Stalin blush, justifying his decision to publish sensitive information because he felt a man in the Netherlands knew more about the UK leather community than the largest two UK leather clubs. When you consider the response Pieter made to Paul Turner, the lack of remorse or regret is concerning; Paul was never approached to clarify facts and has kept a dignified silence on this painful subject for almost a year. He has not been given a chance to give his version of events.

Enough is enough; I cannot waste any more time trying to deal with these unprovoked attacks in the community from others who ought to know better. I demand a full apology from Pieter Claeys and Leatherhistory.eu for the shameful article about Joe King, and also for claiming that I am an online bully for expressing my feelings as General Secretary about an article that denigrates the character of one of the members of my club and the name of the club itself.

Further to this, I am demanding that LeatherWest hand the MLUK trademark back to our community and stop sending aggressive, threatening letters to leathermen who have worked tirelessly in our community to bring us events like Mr Leather UK (which is a free event and does not make a profit). You can read the letters from LeatherWest to London Leathermen yourself here and here—you will be shocked at the language a profit-making organisation uses to intimidate a not-for-profit membership club that has been running for decades.

Please join me in expressing your anger; I will no longer tolerate this kind of behaviour in our community.

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Leather Life: Interview with Joe King, Mr Leather UK 2016

For WordPressOne of our members, Mark Miller, grabbed Joe King out of his busy schedule so that we all could get a chance to get to know him. You’ll probably be seeing a lot more of him over the next few months…

Enjoy! Leather hugs,

Saxon

Mark Miller: Did you have any childhood inklings that leather migh1173679_1716994115224055_8076328393365671240_nt someday be an interest of yours?

Joe King: Yes, quite a few.  But my main ones were that I fancied any bloke on a motorbike, which my freakishly acute sense of smell was driven wild by the smell of leather and my first fantasy boyfriend was Marlon Brando in the iconic image from ‘The Wild One’.

MM: What made you run for a leather title and why?

JK: That’s quite a complicated question. It was something that I’ve always wanted to do, but never really had the bottle. When I became severely ill a couple of years ago I realised that life was finite and you have to go out and grab it, so I came through it with a renewed sense of urgency.  I was also nearly destroyed by a malevolent bastard who wrecked all my self confidence, and I never thought that I would ever be able to achieve anything like that, so it was very much about a personal achievement to prove something to myself. It was about the process of going for it at first, but then it became more about what I could do with it if I won. The leather community is an amazing place, full of brilliant people and having a title gives you the ability to help build things, forge relationships and help safeguard our community for the future.

IMG_7688_MM: What went through your mind when your name was called as Mr. Leather UK 2016?

JK: “Oh my fucking god!”

MM: What do you want to accomplish during your title year?

JK: There are lots of things I want to do:

I want to compete in (and win!)  IML and help plant Manchester Leathermen on the map.

I also want to support and raise funds for a number of charities which are important to me personally: Broken Rainbow (a gay domestic abuse charity), Children 404 (a programme to support LGBT Russian teenagers), Brunswick Centre (HIV Charity) and LGBT activists in Russia and Eastern Europe.

Finally I really want to strengthen the UK leather community by encouraging the stay at home lads to come out and meet us all.

MM: Have you ever thought about trying to revive the leather community in Manchester and if so how?

JK: I think the leather scene is experience a real resurgence in Manchester, through no small part by the efforts of the Manchester Leathermen.  Saxon and Ian in particular work relentlessly, giving up their own time and money to make sure things happen. I think the time has come for us to now encourage new members to join us and forge more productive relationships with some of bars to encourage new guys to come out with us.  We’re a friendly bunch of lads.

MM: What do you think are the biggest problems facing the leather community today?

JK: I think there’s a real apathy towards going out, probably down to the expense and hassle versus the convenience of social media.  But nothing beats the friendships and closeness of a proper night out with your leather brothers so we (the community) need to remember how good it is to physically meet and spend time together. I think the ever increasing role that chems play feed this collective amnesia and keeps the numbers low on the social scene.

MM: How does it feel to be Mr. Leather UK?

JK: It feels amazing – I’ve had such brilliant support from the previous title holders and already I have made some amazing new mates and been blown away by the camaraderie of being part of the international family of title holders.

MM: What is your favourite leather item or item(s)

JK: That’s an evil question…. It’s either my Muir Cap or my chaps…. Erm…. I’ll go for the Muir Cap.  The moment I put it on I become fully myself and I feel like a Leatherman.  The Muir Cap is iconic and I love it.

MM: Any particular memorable moments when you have been dressed in leather?

JK: Hmmmm…..The first time I plucked up courage to meet my Manchester Leather brothers.  I’d been a lone ranger until then.

MM: So, more about you, what’s your Height and weight?

JK: I’m 183cm (6’2) and 83kg (186lbs I think?)

MM: How long have you been working out?

JK: Ive been working out regularly for about 10 years.  Unfortunately, my body was wrecked in 2014 when I became extremely ill when my HIV suddenly spiralled out of control.  Its affected my ability to build muscle, and altered the fat distribution on my body so I have to work very, very hard to maintain what I have.  It can be demotivating sometimes because I see guys going to the gym and quickly achieving amazing bodies, whilst I’m still slogging away inching forward. But, I see it as maintenance and I’m happy with myself as I am, I’m bloody glad to be alive!

MM: What is your average workout your schedule?

JK: Mon-Fri I get up at 5.30, have a small breakfast, then go to the gym at 6.30. I work out until about 8.15.  Each day I do a different muscle group, then have weekends off. I make sure I eat extremely well and don’t eat sugar, very few carbs and cook all my own food from lovely wholesome stuff. I have to do everything I can to help my body look after itself, I owe it that!

MM: Do you have a partner at the moment?

JK: I do, I have been with him for 10 years this October. He’s beautiful, kind, sweet, sensitive, compassionate and clever.   And he is not into leather. 😉

MM: Have you thought about what you want to do after your title year is over?

JK: I’d like to continue working for the community and my charities.

MM: How do you want people to remember you as a titleholder?

JK: As a decent, friendly, altruistic bloke who’s hot as fuck in leather. He he he.

MM: Do you think leather titles are still relevant and why?

JK: I do, because the process of electing titleholders forces us to evaluate what’s important to us as a community. The people we elect reflect our values as a community and the time in which we live.  As a community, we have overcome many challenges because we know ourselves, we know how to react, change and adapt, so I think its important to continue to examine who we are.

MM: What would you say to anyone that wants to get into leather but doesn’t know where to start or is a bit scared/confused?

JK: I would say, contact us. We’ve all been there, every single one of us.  Most of us might look like aggressive alpha tops, and we might be like that  in the sack, but the common attributes within the leather community are openness, compassion and humour.  All quirks, fetishes, kinks and backgrounds are embraced. Your leather brothers will be the best friends you could ever have–they will never judge you–although, they might take the piss (metaphorically and literally).

MM: What advice do you have for someone running for a leather title?

JK: Be yourself.

MM: Thank you for your time and is there anything you want leave with everyone?

JK: Don’t stay at home longing to be out in your gear, get in touch and get yourself out for a drink with us. You can never have enough friends, especially ones in hot black leather. Woof!

Thanks Joe and Mark!

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Leather Daddy remembers… (part II)

Here iFor WordPresss what you have been waiting for, the second and final part of Leather Daddy’s `memoir`! As you all know our treasured Leather Daddy, I’ll keep the introduction short.

Leather hugs, Saxon

 

Yet more, from Leather Daddy Ian.

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In 1960 I was asked by my employer at the time, W H Smith, to go to Brussels for about three weeks as a Book Department Manager. The person who was doing the job had a number of personal problems, and the company wanted to bring him back to the UK as it was felt this would be of help to him and his family. The period of three weeks was I was told was so they could `look for someone better`! However, after three weeks I was asked to stay for a further couple of months which was then extended to an indefinite stay, which lasted seven years!

It should be said that when I arrived in Belgium I was somewhat in a state of `flux`; not quite knowing my sexuality, and perhaps moving towards the realisation that I was what today is called `gay`. One of the surprises of life is that you never know what is around the corner; at the end of my first week I met Alexandre, who was to be my Partner for almost 19 years until he died in a car crash.

Alexandre was a great motorcyclist and it was he who not only introduced me into biking, but to wearing leather, being a Leatherman, and (ahem) more.  The Brussels gay scene in the early sixties was quite small, and centred on the old town near the Grande Place. Both I and Alexandre had jobs, which meant that it was not easy for us to have the same rest time, but every so often we would swop days with co-workers and go biking up to the Mecca of Amsterdam! If it was summer we would try and Bike to the Belgian Coast where there amongst the sand dunes…

In 1967, I was asked by the same Company to go to France and very fortunately Alexandre was also able to get a transfer. Sadly in 1979, Alexandre was knocked off his bike by a speeding car, and died as a result of his injuries. I felt that I needed a change and the company was able to offer me a Manager post at one of its central London Stores. Here I continued my biking interest, and frequented the Colherne Pub in Earls Court. In those days, the Pub had a partition down the centre, and one side of the Bar was full of mainstream gays and the other side of the partition was packed with leathermen.

Pubs of course closed earlier in those days, and the poor neighbours had to put up with a lot of `cruising` after the Coleherne closed, and sometimes the Police would come round, and those `cruising` literally fled into the nearby Brompton Cemetery to continue! By this time there were several London Clubs such as MSC London, the 69 Club, already mentioned earlier and the London Blues, which was more of a uniform and jeans club.

Biking still took much of my leisure time, and there were other clubs such as the Sussex Lancers East Mercia, and a Club in East Anglia of which I was a member called East Anglia Bikers. Moving North, I was a Member of a group called Pennine Chain, which was a predecessor of Manchester Super Chain MSC–the forerunner of Manchester Leathermen.

I have referred earlier to the loneliness which many men felt, which of course happens in modern times, but it was more intense as it was before the advent of the internet. The clubs I was a member of fulfilled a need for likeminded men– and indeed women–to socialise and to talk about their personal worries and difficulties. I would like to think that all these clubs were particularly able to provide help and support with the advent of AIDS. Under these circumstances, I tried in a small way to help, not as an official of a club, but as a visitor and friend. I did this by helping to raise funds to assist AIDS Patients who had fallen on hard times, and for groups such as the Terence Higgins Trust, itself named after an early victim.

The eighties and early nineties were a traumatic time for many people with AIDS and not only those who were LGBT. The early sufferers were not just socially ostracised, but also suffered due to the fear and the ignorance of how to treat the illness. They sometimes died in terrible conditions, rejected by their families (and sometimes by their own lover or partner) and there were problems even finding an undertaker prepared to carry out the funeral. One of the first efforts to bring a calmer atmosphere was when Princess Diana visited an AIDS ward, and not just chatted to the patients, but as one newspaper wrote, `actually touched the patients`.

One development at this time was the creation of ECMC (European Confederation of Motor Cycle Clubs), which on a European scale has tried to bring together gay people with leather and fetish interests from various countries, in order to combat homophobia and discrimination, as well as create an atmosphere where interests in leather and fetish are not seen as `peculiar and odd`.

With the broadening of what might be called the gay commercial scene or the `Pink Pound`, and the internet, a number of clubs have fallen on hard times. Although I have helped over the years as a member of a number of clubs, it was only with the dawn of the 21st Century that I was enticed to hold various club roles such as Secretary or Treasurer, and of course to attend other clubs and ECMC Events as leader, rather than just attending to meet and make friends. The friendship I have received has been amazing, and if not worldwide, it is certainly inter-continental.

Late in 2013, the President of Manchester Super Chain MSC, David Hall died suddenly and in January 2014, I agreed to become president with the proviso that we had to change if we wished to survive. The result cutting a long story short is before you, Manchester Leathermen.

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‘The Leatherman’s Handbook’

Last week I was musing over the ‘Book of Edge’ and it caused me to think about the first ever ‘Leather’ book I ever read. I discovered it soon after I launched myself as a lad of 20 onto the gay scene in both Liverpool & Manchester. Liverpool had nothing to offer Leathermen in those days, in fact it never really has even to date. Whereas Manchester was a different kettle of fish; there were ‘manly’ clubs such as Hero’s & the Archway where Leathermen could feel comfortable (if a little hot!) in company with other macho ‘clone’ types. There was of course also the famed Napoleons which had a Friday Leather club in its basement. It was whilst discovering all of this that I also discovered gay literature and especially of course gay leather literature. Wanting to learn more about ‘the scene’ and I suppose about myself I did a fair bit of experimenting, none of which I will go into here but most of which was terrifically exciting if a little scary. I also did some reading and the book I first read was Larry Townsend’s famous ‘Leatherman’s Handbook 2’ which had only recently been re-released circa 1983 having (I think) been released previously in the 70’s. I was just a kid in the 70’s but believe that gay literature then was still something of an underground phenomena wherein it was still risky to produce the stuff and perhaps even more so to consume the stuff. By the early 80’s I recall it still being a bit sleazy but none-the-less I was determined (as is my wont) to get me hands on a copy; which I did at Clone Zone in Manchester no less.

Even thinking back to those times fills me with a sense of excitement; it was a time of discovery, a time of fun, but also a time which held a sense of foreboding as though the gay community could almost feel the immanency of the impending disaster that came among the community with the dreadful arrival of AIDS. It seems like a long time ago now but as I thought about it I wondered if Mr Townsend’s book still has any relevance to us today so the other day picked it up to have another look.

Very early in chapter one the author makes a direct link between BDSM & Leather, something I began to explore last week, feel free to look up the last blog and comment if you so wish. This interested me for obvious reasons. Mr Townsend takes time to give definitions some serious consideration as he does some of the dangers especially in BDSM scenes that are not properly planned, again echoing much of what LTHR EDGE has to say in his much more recent piece the Book of Edge. In Mr Townsends book even the Bible gets a mention! I’m now re-reading the whole thing so kindly expect more from me on this classic publication. If anyone has read it or intends to read it I’d love to hear your views on this or indeed any other leather publication for men.