– AND OTHER THINGS I LEARNED FROM A 20-YEAR AGE GAP.
End October. It’s Leather Pride in Amsterdam, and next to the Mister Leather Netherlands election, this year’s edition of the Mister Leather Europe election is taking place here as well. So the city is booming with leather men, titleholders, candidates, sashes, baffled tourists whose necks turn in seemingly impossible directions, and the air is filled with an intangible but welcoming energy of excitement.
Somewhere in between juggling my shifts at Mister B and preparing for my own participation of the MRLNL competition, I am asked to interview Dart. Coincidentally, I have had a talk with Dart recently about his past, learning that we have similar experiences with, say, our own sexual exploration and openness about it. But it doesn’t stop there. Dart has an acting background that led him to fetish shoots and porn. Both of us have also experienced similar chains of events in regards to our surroundings’ reaction to this sort of openness.
I start to wonder if there’s a stronger link between our two generations than meets the eye. Is this a look into my own potential future?
I definitely need to have a longer chat with him.
As we start talking about his background, I admire the energy he fills the room with: A very powerful, yet soothing and delightful presence.
“I attended the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television – coincidentally in the same class as Jack Black actually – It’s a hard business and everyone was trying to get jobs here and there, and you needed to go where the work was. And the work that was coming my way was porn. Which coincidentally was also a part of myself that I was starting to explore, more specifically so the fetish and kink part. So here was a chance to also earn a little buck on it while getting the experience I wanted.”
His eyes are kind and welcoming, and with every turn of his story, I can clearly see the memories unfold behind them. I ask him about his first steps into porn.
“Actually, it all started because I was invited to do a photo shoot for the new Mister S catalog that was of course still printed at the time. It came to happen because of a man I met over… AOL, I think… Yeah it must have been, the internet was brand new then, around 1998. We went to buy a toy at Mister S together, and coincidentally Richard Hunter himself was there and asked me if I wanted to pose for the catalog. He was actually the one who gave me the name Dart. It was of course an exciting opportunity, especially because it would happen during an actual play session which would then be photographed, meaning I would get that itch scratched, sort of say. “
Dart is deep into his story and for a short moment, my little head flashbacks to a year ago when I was asked to pose by for Mister B.
“As a result of this I was suddenly invited to do a shoot with a website called capturedguys.com, and earned a bit of money (and more experience) that way. It was pictures and small film clips that could be bought on VHS…. Yeah. That’s how long ago it was. Curiously enough I also found myself working for a well-known magazine called ‘Bound & Gagged’ which was a magazine I actually loved when I started exploring this part of myself and all of a sudden here I am working as a model for them!”
I immediately recognize the enthusiasm, and am curious if his surroundings reacted the same way as mine did when this sort of ‘second coming out’ happened.
“I would show people the pictures from the sessions online as well, which was very well received to say the least – I would get fan mail from people who found it so hot to see me bound and tape gagged, but not just because of that, but because it made them feel okay and less ashamed with who they were and their kink. This made me feel even better with myself, because I felt that me doing what I liked actually helped someone to feel good about themselves.”
Also this part of his story seems familiar. In the midst of the many daily interactions on different social medias, I once in a while encounter these delightful messages from people who take their time to tell me that they see what I do and it in some way or another has a positive effect on their self image. It’s a very humbling, yet empowering feeling – there’s a mutual friendly fire in our eyes as we both reminisce over this.
We also cover the less positive (and sadly almost too obvious) reactions to this kind of sexual openness, and how porn also unfortunately has the tendency feed the image of unobtainable body standards.
“What I do think, however, is that porn can allow some to feel more comfortable in their own skin because they can relate their kink to others, and that way feel more included and less alienated.”
He bridges his story from earlier about modeling for the Bound & Gagged magazines by telling me how he as a kid would have a roll of duct tape under his bed instead of pornos, and that he would duct tape his mouth while jacking off.
When his mother eventually found it once, it made him very ashamed.
And yes, his mother did make the connection. They grew up in San Francisco, after all.
We slightly move away from talking about porn, noting that it’s more of a bi-product of sexual expression than being the actual primus motor of it, and Dart explains with great enthusiasm how he once taught at an event about finding your own kink, while being geared up in a old circus-style strongman suit that was locked to him, as well as he would be locked to that character in the duration of the event. This has been a fantasy of his for years, and there is no bigger meaning behind it, least does there need to be one either. Dart gives me his two cents about all these set labels that we kind of dislike, but also kind of put out there ourselves:
“I’m a known master, but I also like to sub, and a couple of years ago I discovered pup play and how much I enjoyed having fun on all fours with a tail in my arse. People would come up to me and say that they’ve never heard of a master who’s also a pup, but I’m hoping that they instead will focus on how much fun I have and think ‘Well, if Dart can do it, then so can we’. There really shouldn’t be any set rules.”
What I hear Dart saying, and what I can only agree with from the perspective of life that I currently have, is that leather, fetish and kink in general should be nothing less than a celebration of every aspect of our sexual selves, regardless of labels.
As we pack up our things, I start to wonder what kind of wisdom and peace we all would have access to if we simply dared to be more fragile around each other, instead of trying to maintain a perfect image of ourselves. As I snap myself out of my unanchored philosophical thoughts, I thank Dart for his time with a very close hug, and as we walk our separate ways, I somehow feel that my direction in life isn’t as strange and peculiar as I might have thought it was.