Daedalus Publishing, $13.95, ISBN 1-881943-15-1
This review originally appeared on The Naughty Bits, which is sadly no longer around. It’s now here with Teddypig’s permission.
I was asked about John recently; what happened to my Top who trained me in these things I’m telling you about. Was I writing about something past or present? My readers have a great deal of comprehension and ask the tough questions. Thank God for the anonymity of the Internet and that false front that it provides.
Yes, I admit I danced around some very large unhealed and open wounds, scars that will be with me for the rest of my life on that stupid review attempting to present all the positive aspects while carefully editing out the personal hurt all the while tearing out a sizable chunk of my personal beliefs and experience to place on display. John and I were together till the end, my friends. AIDS took him swiftly in the most humiliating way for a man of such passion, power and knowledge. It took his control and then his mind; those very things he taught me to respect and honor in a Leather Top, to love and cherish about Leather itself, were ripped mercilessly away as I watched in private unable to provide anything even remotely of comfort except my presence.
Another question was “Are you still in the life?” which got my mind racing. Well yeah, I still am a member of a well-known Motorcycle Club and yeah, I still go to Leather bars and events and hangout with my brothers and but… well… NO, I did hot and have not and for a very long time, honestly, could not have accepted another Top’s collar. I’ve played some but not with any commitment. There was and most likely still is too much personal pain, regret and feelings of failure entangled there. See, when John realized that final year he was dying, he demanded I find another Top. Someone to take over my training, someone to protect and guide me through what he knew was going to be a very rough, painful time. Damn, I’m glad this is the Internet. Anyway, I lied, I implied I was interested in someone in the local community he sorta knew, someone who was young and very good looking in a stable relationship with a very sweet and caring bottom already and someone with some of our same values. Someone I knew personally was a good man and a damn fine Top and with whom I had played, but I had no real intention of seeking to replace John with. That thought was unthinkable and never even once considered.
John went and talked with them privately I did not know or ask what was talked about or what his thoughts were on what he considered my implied choice. I simply wanted him to think I was taken care of… I wore his collar and I lied and he most likely knew it; I already knew my world was falling apart around me and to hell if I would show or share with anyone; not the military, not my friends, not even John not in his condition, that pain. Yep, personal pain, regret and feelings of failure, that’s an understatement of fact. Any good experienced Top like the author of this book Chainmale: 3SM, Don Bastion would probably have figured not only this out, but probably all the rest of the story with a few simple questions and have had some serious second thoughts. Remember what I said once about Leather not being a group therapy session? Let’s just say I know myself and when to take a time out. “Are you still in the life?”
I feel very comfortable in calling Don a good experienced Leather Top because after reading this book it’s like I’ve spent a good solid three or so days inside Don Bastion’s head slowly reading through 112 pages of his most personal thoughts and experiences about Leather and S&M.
My master stood just out of he circle of light thrown by the candles. His arms were folded across his chest in satisfaction and excitement glittered in his eyes. He stepped forward into the light and slowly withdrew the needle, a steel ring in it’s hollowed end to replace it. The needle was gripped so firmly by the flesh it had penetrated that I was reminded of those early gladiator movies, where the victor would place his foot on the slain captive to remove his sword. Such seminaries were attributed to my now captive nipple. A trickle of blood flowed freely and, with a gloved hand, my Master traced red patterns across my chest. I started to float as the sweet, exquisite wave of pleasure rushed in, replacing that the searing throb.
Real honest-to-God born-to-wear-Leather Tops continue to fascinate me, they do. It’s like watching someone with an overhead spotlight walk into a room. Part self-assurance, part self-knowledge, respect, honor, integrity, focus, etc. etc. and maybe even a little bravado and some vanity thrown in for good measure. If I were to attribute this nature to say some silly astrological sign it would be all Leo with all the various benefits and issues. They quite simply represent everything I love about Leather. Well, everything I was taught to love about Leather first and foremost.
Which brings me back here to Chainmale: 3SM. Now first off this is in no way a how-to book this is a how-come written not in some structured (slide tab A into tab C to get B) but in a flowing stream of consciousness that covers a multitude of thoughts and opinions and feelings from someone very knowledgeable and highly experienced in Leather. It’s so honest and touching in the things that are talked about that for a very short read it was not quick nor easy for me to get through and it echoed deeply with the things I have also learned and the experiences I have had. Not in any negative way but because there is so much personal information about Leather here it can touch upon things that trigger some extreme emotions. Stuff I can honestly say that has never been touched before in any other book I have read on Leather and its practices. This is a one-of-a-kind view on a world that few see and even less experience.
So does it swagger with self-assurance and such? Hell yes, and the book does so with a certain style that you will only see in a real Leather Top. It also has things, certain words, certain descriptions that grate on my nerves, that contradict what I was taught and what I believe in, one example being Don’s description of himself and his beliefs with a certain term I was taught NOT to use and NEVER to own. Never provide those who seek to undermine and belittle your beliefs with the terms and misnomers to do so. There are many myths in Leather that Don does cover realistically and mostly with common sense, the same things I would love to one-day focus on like a needle and a balloon and write about. Bottoms are always in control… pop. Leather is simply another form of drag… pop.
I recall negotiating for an extended period of time with a bottom. I asked him to select a couple of items from the toy wall. I then suspended him in bondage, gathered up all the toys he had chosen and put them in a box. “Now then,” I said, “these are not the toys we will be playing with.” I received a look of absolute panic and excitement.
I had been able to discern from all the conversations that the items he had chosen were within his comfort zone. I had also determined, correctly, that this was not what he was after; what he had subconsciously asked for was an expansion of his limits, to conquer certain fears and to explore. At the same time, had I not been absolutely sure about his interest, the evening could have been disastrous. Many scenes have gone awry because of misinterpretation. For this reason, the ability to listen, as well as the ability to ask the right questions without tipping your hand are crucial to success.
In relating Chainmale: 3SM to any other Leather book out there, I simply can’t; there are no other books like this. Well, maybe a few erotic novels that attempt this inside the skull thing but for a REAL close-up personal view of a Leather Top this is it. So if you can handle a little book with no chapters and no index and no set topics or if you have any interest in Leather beyond the image the look and the various events and want to know how people really feel, think and express themselves in the community, be sure this is on your bookshelf pronto.