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A Farewell to a great man

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Dear sex fans,

I realize this is a bit off topic for this blog, but I want to acknowledge the death of famed British neurologist and author, Oliver Sacks.

1993: Portrait of British-born neurologist and author Dr Oliver Sacks standing in the admittance driveway of Beth Abraham Hospital with his arms crossed over his chest, New York City. (Photo by Nancy R. Schiff/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

1993: Portrait of British-born neurologist and author Dr Oliver Sacks standing in the admittance driveway of Beth Abraham Hospital with his arms crossed over his chest, New York City.

In February, he wrote an op-ed in The New York Times revealing that he was in the late stages of terminal cancer, after earlier melanoma in his eye spread to his liver.

“It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me,” he wrote. “I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.”

Earlier this summer I read Dr Sacks’s memoir, On the Move.  I love it.  It’s an interesting memoir by a fascinating personality.  And while reading I discovered that we had a dear friend in common, Thom Gunn.  What a small world!  So I decided to send him a note.

Dear Dr Sacks,

I just finished reading your memoir, On The Move.  What an amazing life you’ve lived.on-the-move-by-oliver-sacks

Of all the marvelous things you’ve done and all the fascinating people you mentioned in your book nothing surprised me more than your close friendship with Thom Gunn.  I was a friend of Thom too and I lived directly across Cole Street from him.  I moved to the flat at 1207 Cole Street in 1979.  At the time I was working on my doctorate in clinical sexology at the Institute For The Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco.

I didn’t know Thom well at first.  However, I would regularly see him walking both in our neighborhood and elsewhere in town.  He was always in his leathers, rain or shine, and used to think to myself, “What a mensch!”

It finally dawned on me that he lived across the street from me.

Once he saw me in my roman collar.  (I was ordained a catholic priest in 1975 at the age of 25 in Oakland, CA.  I had come out to my local superiors; I was a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, before I was ordained.  Like I said, I was working on my doctorate to become a sex therapist and prepare for an upfront gay ministry.)  Thom smiled at me when he saw me; I blushed and told him what I just told you.  He was fascinated, but I also believe he thought I was a twit.  He probably was right.

I knew nothing about Thom other than he was my neighbor.  Then one day I was in a bookstore on Haight Street and there was a photo of Thom in the window advertising a reading.  That’s when I started asking around about him.  Despite his cult status within the gay community, he was the most unassuming person.  I was honored to have a personal connection with him.small_front

I finished my doctorate in 1981.  My dissertation, Gay Catholic Priests; A Study of Cognitive and Affective Dissonance was directed by Wardell Pomeroy.  A firestorm of media attention followed.  The media branded me as THE gay priest, as if.  I think Thom read about me in the New York Times because next time he saw me he clapped me on the back and said, “Well done.”

No sooner did I complete my doctorate, and because of the media attention my public coming out caused, the leadership of my religious community in Rome began a process of dismissal against me.  I was devastated and lost.  I was even getting death threats.  Thom was always so supportive and encouraging.

I fought the church for the next thirteen years in an effort to save my priesthood and ministry.  Alas, the writing was on the wall back in 1981 and it was only a matter of time till they had their way with me.  I wrote about the travail in a book that was published in 2011, Secrecy, Sophistry and Gay Sex In The Catholic Church: The Systematic Destruction of an Oblate Priest.

Thom was always so solicitous about my wellbeing.  He knew how difficult life had become for me.  And both of us found ourselves on the forefront of caring for friends who were dying of AIDS.  One of my landlords died in 1986.

Thom introduced my housemate and I to Augie Kleinzahler and his girlfriend, Caroline Lander, who lived only a few blocks from us in Cole Valley.  We all became great friends and copious amounts of strong drink were consumed.  I wonder, do you know Augie?

When Thom turned sixty I surprised him with a homemade German chocolate cake.  I told him he was the oldest person I knew.  This made him laugh and he called me a whippersnapper.

In 1992 the surviving landlord sold the Cole Street duplex and I and my housemate moved to Oak and Ashbury.  Sadly, I didn’t get to see Thom as much as before.  I move up here to Seattle in 1999 because I could no longer afford to live in SF.  I was deeply saddened to learn of Thom’s death in 2004.  He was such a great guy, what a marvelous soul.

Again, thank you for your memoir; it was grand getting to know you on a personal level.  I read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat when it came out in the mid-eighties and loved it.  But I never guessed you and Thom knew each other or that you actually visited him when I lived across the street from him.  What a small world.  I wish I had known you back then.

Anyhow, thank you for the bringing me this unexpected flood of memories of Thom.  I wonder what he would have made of yesterday’s Supreme Court decision (Obergefell v. Hodges).  I contend that we got marriage equality only because we walked through AIDS first.  I think Thom would have agreed with me.

All the best,
richard

Richard Wagner, M.Div., Ph.D., ACS

To my astonishment, Oliver wrote back; I mean that literally, a handwritten note.  Apparently, he never used a computer.

Dear Dr. Wagner (can I say Richard?),                                                          6/60/15

I am greatly interested and greatly moved, by your letter — your courage in being honest and forthright, at a time and on a subject bound, sooner or later, to cause your ejection from the priesthood. In another few years perhaps, with Pope Francis at the helm, these last bastions of Catholic bigotry may have fallen.

I like to think of you as living across the street when I visited Thom, and glad to know that he appreciated you and your works. I still miss him deeply — there were not too many people with whim I could be entirely open — and I like to think that his ghost is pleased that my title came from his poem. (I find it a huge relief being open now to all and sundry {Oliver came out earlier this year} — I am so glad I completed my book before I became ill).

And what a liberation, an affirmation for us all that the Supreme Court voted as it did. I suspect that Ruth Bader Ginsberg, quite ill now, stayed on to ensure the 5/4 decision.

Thanks for your letter and my very best wishes,

Oliver

Oliver Sacks01     Oliver Sacks02

Click on this link to see a copy of Oliver Sacks’s note.

Thank you Dr Sacks and farewell!

Hey, Where’s My Big “O”?

Name: BJ
Gender: Female
Age: 23
Location: PA
I’ve been sexually active for several years now and have yet to reach an orgasm. Oral sex, intercourse nor masturbation have been effective. Is there something wrong with me, what might help?

I’d be very much surprised if there was actually something physically wrong with you. But you clearly have some difficulty letting go. And simply put, an orgasm is letting go of built up sexual tension.the big O

Lot of preorgasmic women don’t feel entitled to an orgasm, for one reason or another. Other women are simply unversed on how to make the big “O” happen in their own fine self. Sometimes it’s a combination of both resistance and a lack of know how.

I once had a client, a woman in her late 30’s, the mother of three and a devote Catholic. She was preorgasmic too. Her big stumbling block was fear. You got it; fear of having an orgasm. She had heard from other women over the years how powerful orgasms were and how much fun they were. My client somehow got it in her head that if she were to ever let go and give up that long-awaited screamin’ meme, her entire world would collapse. She’d become a sex addict, neglect her children, divorce her husband and turn her back on God…the whole enchilada.

With that kind of mindset, this little lady wasn’t gonna let herself cum no how.

the big O 2I had to reassure her that, as delightful as orgasms are, they are not like crack cocaine. I told her there was no chance that she’d fly to pieces as a mother, wife and friend of Jesus if she were to diddle herself once in a while. I had to keep repeating this over and over till it finally sank in. You talk about hardheaded! In the end, she had her precious orgasm, joined the ranks for the sexually satisfied and lived happily ever after. …Well, I can’t honestly say about the happily ever after part, but she sure did smile a whole lot more afterwards.

Back to you BJ, I don’t suppose there’s any way you could have one of your gal-pals show you how it’s done, is there? The reason I ask is most guys learn how to choke the chicken by watching, or being instructed by another guy. Us men folk are really good about doin that for one another. Women, on the other hand, don’t seem to do this for one another as much. Which is a freakin’ pity, if ya ask me.

If you can’t (or won’t) get a pal to show you around proper pussy pleasuring, I have another suggestion for you. Mozie on over to DR DICK’S HOW TO VIDEO LIBRARY  and check out a swell instructional video. (There’s a link to this marvelous resource in the header.) Do a quick search for “female masturbation” and let the experts show you a thing or two. You’ll be so glad you did.

Another great resource: The Ultimate Guide to Orgasm for Women: How to Become Orgasmic for a Lifetime by the brilliant Mikaya Heart. By the way, you can find a dynamite two-part interview with Mikaya HERE and HERE!ultimate-guide-to-orgasm-for-women-lg

Here are a few tips:

Get in the mood

Relax as much as you can. Whatever that means for you. Take a warm bath or have a glass of wine. Ensure your privacy: turn off the phone, lock the door for privacy from roommates, kids, whoever. Find a comfy position. Most women start out lying on their backs, legs bent and spread apart, with feet on the ground. Remove most or all of your clothing (or as much as your comfortable with).

Explore your body

Run your hands along your body, lingering along areas that are more responsive to touch than others. If you’re able to do it, and you’ve never done it before, you might want to try to look at your genitals in a mirror. Because so many women are raised with negative messages about their bodies, and particularly their genitals, being able to see while you touch can be powerful and surprising. Find and touch your inner and outer labia, your clitoris, your vagina and your perineum.

Touch yourself

Using one or two fingers, rhythmically stroke the different parts of your vulva, paying particular attention to your clitoris and labia. Experiment with different types of pressure, speed and motion. Try placing a finger on either side of the clitoris and stroking up and down, or placing two fingers on the clitoral hood and rubbing in a circular motion.

Experiment

Try different types of touch: stroke, tickle, knead, pinch, or lightly pull your genitals. Try using one or several fingers, the palm of your hand, even your knuckles.

Build up excitement

Learn to hold onto sexual excitement by building up and then reducing or temporarily stopping the stimulation. (Men do this all the time when they jack-off.  It’s called edging.) Pay attention to how your body is responding. It will tell you the particular stroke that feels best and when to pick up or slow down the tempo.

Don’t forget to breathe

Many women hold their breath as they get excited. Be mindful of your breath and learn to play with breathing during arousal. Try to breathe deeply rather than hold your breath. This can help release the sexual energy, rather than fight it.

Moving a little

In addition to often holding our breath, many women tense up and don’t move much at all when wtheye masturbate. This might work for you just fine, but if you haven’t explored movement, it’s worth a try. Moving while you are getting turned on, and moving during orgasm can change the way you experience pleasure in your body. For some women this means rocking their pelvis. For others it means moving their legs or torso side to side. Find what movement works for you and then intentionally start doing it while you masturbate.

Letting go

If your hand gets tired, give yourself a rest, switch hands, or try a vibrator. If you’re on the brink of orgasm, but can’t quite get over the hump, try to become more conscious of your breathing, give yourself extra stimulation: caress your nipples, or try thrusting your other fingers or a dildo in and out of your vagina.

Ride the Wave

As you begin to orgasm, continue the stimulation through the orgasm. Lighten up on the stimulation during the first extremely sensitive moments but keep it going to enjoy those little pleasurable aftershocks. Your first orgasm may feel like a blip or a blast, but the more you practice, the more variety you will experience.

Fantasizing

Sexual fantasy can be a double edged sword when it comes to masturbation. If you have trouble getting yourself in the mood or getting over the top, a hot fantasy may be just the ticket. I often suggest reading erotica to get in the mood. However, when we fantasize some of our attention is taken away from what’s happening in our bodies in the moment. Sometimes what is getting in the way of us enjoying masturbation is that distance from our bodies. It’s good to try everything, but be mindful of whether or not your fantasies are acting as an enhancer or a distraction.

hitachi-magic-wand-2Some final thoughts…
Vibrators take some of the manual labor out of masturbation by providing direct, intense physical stimulation to the clitoris.  check out all the marvelous vibrators we’ve reviewed for you at Dr Dick’s Sex Toy Reviews.

Many women learn to jill-off in the bath or shower. A direct the stream of water on your vulva and clitoris can be a game changer. Vary the pressure, the pulsation, and the temperature. Alternate methods: slide your butt over the drain so your legs are up in the air and your genitals are up under the tub faucet (rather awkward but do-able for some), or use Jacuzzi jets.

Rub against something–a pillow, the corner of some furniture, a washing machine in operation.

Dildos can be a pleasurable accompaniment to clitoral masturbation, as they offer the fullness of penetration and can also stimulate the g-spot.

Write back again, BJ, and let me know how things go. If you’re not successful, I still have a few other tricks up my sleeve.

Good luck

Review: An Intimate Life: Sex, Love and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner

Hey sex fans!

I have another swell sex-positive book to tell you about today. Anyone who frequents this site will already be familiar with my dear friend and esteemed colleague, Cheryl Cohen Greene. If ya don’t believe me type her name into the search function in the sidebar to your right and PRESTO!

Not only will you find the fabulous two-part SEX WISDOM podcast we did together, (Part 1 is HERE! And Part 1 is HERE!) you will find a posting about the movie The Sessions. You’ve seen it right? It’s the award-winning film staring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, and William H. Macy. It’s the story of a man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity.  He contacts a professional surrogate partner with the help of his therapist and priest. Ms. Hunt plays Cheryl, the surrogate partner in the movie

Cheryl also contributed a chapter on sex and intimacy concerns for sick, elder and dying people for my book, The Amateur’s Guide To Death And Dying.

With all that as a preface, I now offer you Cheryl’s own story: An Intimate Life: Sex, Love, and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner. The first thing I want to say is this book is it’s not a clinical or technical tome. It is an easily accessible memoir. And that, to my mind, is what makes it so fascinating.

She writes in the Introduction:An Intimate Life

I started this work in 1973, and my journey to it spans our society’s sexual revolution and my own. I grew up in the ‘40s and ‘50s, a time when sex education was—to put it mildly— lacking. As I educated myself, I found that most of what I had been taught about sex was distorted or wrong. The lessons came from the playground, the church, and the media. My parents could barely talk about sex, much less inform me about it.

What follows is a candid and often funny look into the personal and professional life of a woman on the cutting edge of our culture’s movement toward sexual wellbeing.

Cheryl comes out of her conservative Catholic upbringing and her often tortured family dynamics with what one would expect—her own sexual awakenings as well as the conspiracy of ignorance and repression that wanted to stifle it. This is a common story, the story of so many of us.

Starting when I was around ten, I masturbated and brought myself to orgasm nearly every night. … If my nights began with anxiety, my days began with guilt. I became convinced that every earache, every toothache, every injury was God punishing me. … I couldn’t escape his gaze or his wrath. Sometimes I imagined my guardian angel looked away in disgust as I touched myself and rocked back and forth in my bed.

The miracle here is that this troubled tween would blossom into the remarkable sexologist she is today.

rsz_1greenecherylSome of the chapters in her book describe one or another of her hands on therapeutic encounters as a surrogate partner, but equally important and compelling are the chapters that describe Cheryl’s own sexual struggles as she moved to adulthood and beyond. Cheryl’s acceptance of her own sexuality enables her to build a career out of helping others do the very same thing.

Everyone has a right to satisfying, loving sex, and, in my experience, that most often flows from strong communication, self-respect, and a willingness to explore.

Despite the frank discussion of sexual topics within the book, there is no prurience or sensationalism. For the most part, Cheryl’s clients are regular people, mostly men, who have pretty ordinary problems—erection and/or ejaculation concerns, dating difficulties, as well as self-esteem, guilt and shame issues. Cheryl helps each of her clients with the efficiency and confidence of the world-class sex educator she is. Most of her interaction involves her supplying her clients with some much-needed information, dispelling myths, and giving them permission to experiment. As she says;

I continue to be amazed at how solid education delivered without judgment can eradicate much of the guilt and shame that turns life in the bedroom into a struggle instead of a pleasure.

Her most famous client, Mark O’Brien, the 36-six-year-old man who had spent most of his life in an iron lung after contracting polio at age 6, was the author of How I Became a Human Being: A Disabled Man’s Quest for Independence, in which he writes about his experience with Cheryl. This, of course, was adapted into a film, The Sessions, which I mentioned above. For her part, Cheryl delivers a most poignant remembrance of Mark early in her book.

I explained Sensual Touch to Mark. Although he was paralyzed, he still had sensation all over his body, so he would feel my hands moving up and down. … I encouraged him to try and recognize four common reactions: feeling neutral, feeling nurtured, feeling sensual and feeling sexual.

An Intimate Life chronicles Cheryl’s life-long interest in human sexuality. Her life and sometimes-turbulent loves are on display, but in the most considerate fashion. She teaches by example. She’s even able to speak with great compassion of her time living with and through cancer.

As I inch toward seventy, I appreciate more and more how much I have to be grateful for and how fortunate I’ve been. I was lucky to find a wonderful career and to be surrounded by so many smart, adventurous, caring people. My personal sexual revolution auspiciously paralleled our culture’s, and in many ways was made possible by it. I am eternally grateful to the pioneers, rebels, and dreamers who made our society a little safer for women who embrace their sexuality.

There is so much I loved about this book, but mostly it’s the humanity I found in abundance. Cheryl’sdr.-cheryl-cohen-greene enlightened soul shines brightly from every page. Her no nonsense approach to all things sexual is an inspiration. And her perseverance to bring surrogate partner therapy into the mainstream is laudable.

…what separates surrogates from prostitutes is significant. When people have difficulties grasping [that], I turn to my beloved and late friend Steven Brown’s cooking analogy that I’ve so often relied on to help me through that question: Seeing a prostitute is like going to a restaurant. Seeing a surrogate is like going to culinary school.

Finally, An Intimate Life is the culmination of Cheryl’s life as a sex educator, her surrogate partner therapy practice being just part of that mission. I highly recommend you read this book. You will, I assure you, come away from it as I have, a better person—enriched, informed, as well as entertained.

Cheryl, thank you for being in my life and being such an abiding inspiration. Thank you too for this marvelous book; now you can be in the lives of so many others who need you so that you can inspire them along their way.

Be sure to visit Cheryl on her site HERE!

Kinky Chat with D.L. King

D.L. King is one of my favorite authors. She appeared on The Erotic Mind show way back in January 2010. We had a great time together and she treated us to readings from her work. Look Part 1 of that show HERE and Part 2 HERE!

Imagine my surprise when I found this…

D.L. King Thrice nominated for the Golden Flogger Award for her anthologies speaks out

d-l-kingDo you participate in D/s activities or merely write about them?
I’ve been actively practicing kinky sex for more than fifteen years. There was always something missing in my relationships before I began adding d/s and s/m. I always chalked it up to not being a very sexual person; boy, was I wrong. Once I began writing what turned me on I realized that it indeed did turn me on (sometimes I can be a bit slow on the uptake) and I began to initiate d/s with my partners, I realized just how sexual I was—and how kinky. I’m a dominant woman and I enjoy playing with submissive men and the occasional submissive woman. I used to play in public fairly often, especially if exhibitionism either humiliated or turned my partner on, but now I prefer playing in private, where I can be as comfortable as I want. Of course, sometimes it’s nice to play in a dungeon or play space in order to have use of special equipment I don’t own or have room for.

What does being nominated for the Golden Flogger Award mean to you?slave girls
I was so very flattered to find out that three of my anthologies were nominated for the Golden Flogger Award. I’ve been writing and editing anthologies for many years and work very hard to make sure that a book or story is the best it can be before putting it out there with my name on it. There are many erotica anthologies out there, but I like to think mine are unique as first and foremost, I put them together to please myself. That’s why, whether it’s lesbian BDSM, female submission or general domination, choices will be different than another editor’s. I publish what I like and I think what I like tends to be a little quirkier than a lot of what’s out there—maybe there’s more humor, maybe stories are more thought provoking. But knowing that other people recognize what I’m doing and like it too is what makes being nominated so special to me.

What is the hardest part of editing your anthologies?
I think the most difficult part of editing is rejection. Sometimes rejection is easy. When a story doesn’t fit the call for submissions or has no plot or appears to have been written by a third grader, it’s easy to reject. But when it’s obvious that the author put his or her heart and soul into a piece and it still doesn’t quite fit what I’m looking for, it’s tough. When somebody’s on the right track but the work just isn’t there yet or when I really love something, but it doesn’t fit, or I already have something too similar, I’ll often add a note of encouragement to my email. I don’t know what writers think about those notes, after all, it’s still a rejection, but I hope what I have to say is helpful.

Once I fell madly in love with a story, but it didn’t fit the anthology for which it had been submitted. I sent a note to the author telling her that. I told her if I ever did a book it did fit, I’d get back to her. I don’t know how she felt about the note and I doubt she believed me. She may have been flattered by it, but it was still a rejection. I wanted that story so badly I pitched an idea to my publisher just so I could include it. I think she was surprised when I wrote to her months later and asked to have it back. It’s still one of my all-time favorite stories.

sedductressTell us a little about yourself and your writing works.
I’ve been writing erotica over fifteen years and have published over seventy short stories in a lot of different anthologies. My work can be found in various editions of the “bests” such as Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica, Best Bondage Erotica and Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, as well as The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica, Leather Ever After, No Safewords, Hurts So Good, Bound for Trouble, Baby Got Back, and many more. I’ve edited thirteen anthologies of Erotica including vampire erotica, steampunk erotica, lesbian erotica, female domination and many others. The one thing they all have in common is the inclusion of BDSM. Even the anthologies not necessarily billed as kinky erotica contain BDSM because it’s my passion. I’ve written two novels of female domination and male submission, The Melinoe Project and The Art of Melinoe and Riverdale Avenue Books has published a collection of twenty-one of my femdom short stories, Her Wish is Your Command.

My anthology, The Harder She Comes won both the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Erotica and the Independent Publishers gold medal. My anthology, Carnal Machines is also an Independent Publishers gold medalist and my anthology Under Her Thumb is a silver medalist.

I have another novel in the works, three anthology calls coming out soon and I continue to write short stories. Oh yeah, and I have a full-time job. I guess I’m a little crazy.The-Big-Book-of-Domination-Erotic-Fantasies

Will you be attending BDSM Writers Con or other events we can meet you at?
With a To Do list like that, I don’t think I’ll be attending the BDSM Writers Con this year, though that could change. I will be attending the NELA Fetish Flea in Warwick RI this Valentine’s Day weekend. Forget virtual bookstore; it will be an actual bookstore. Cecilia Tan and I have connecting rooms this year so readers can have a one-stop shopping experience. Oh, and Laura Antoniou will be making our rooms her headquarters when not teaching classes, and her books available, as well! So, if you’re going to the Flea, be sure to stop by!
Complete Article HERE!

From Everyone here at Dr Dick’s Sex Advice, CONGRATULATIONS on your all your nominations and awards, D.L.!

Review: The Killer Wore Leather

With the advent of the 50 Shades of Grey movie looming, the interwebs are abuzz; once again calling attention to this deplorable trilogy. (Apparently, the movie isn’t any better than the books. Ya don’t say?) To counteract this virus real alt-culture folks are trying to direct our attention to books and authors that better represent life on the sexual fringe. Why, there’s even a ‘which book should you read instead’ meme springing up amongst those of us who care about good erotica and authentic power play. Here is my contribution.

Just so you know, I wrote this review for a print magazine awhile back, and I thought now would be an excellent time for me to share an updated version with you here.

The Killer Wore Leather is Laura Antoniou’s new murder mystery with a fictitious international leather competition, Mr. and Ms. Global Leather and Bootblack, as its backdrop. Think IML (International Mr. Leather)… no, don’t think IML. Oh forget it; go ahead and think that if you want, because this fictional competition is clearly a very thinly veiled replica of that alt-culture institution.

Full disclosure: Laura was a guest on The Erotic Mind Show. (Look to the Podcast Archive, right here on my site, to find these great shows. You’ll find Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE!

These interviews were a great way to get to know Laura and hear the delicious back-story dish on the novel. Laura is wickedly funny and astonishingly subversive. Interestingly enough, these are the very same characteristics that I liked most about her novel.

In Part 2 of our conversation we chat about:

  • James Lear’s quip on the back cover: “A murder mystery with a fresh, funny take on the fetish underground.”
  • I ask if The Killer Wore Leather is her first murder mystery.
  • I ask how she happened upon this genre?
  • We talk about her main character, a lesbian homicide detective, and two of her delightful supporting characters, the boys Jack. They’re adorable.
  • I ask if these characters are based on real people she knows.
  • We discuss the very unique slice of society that is the gay leather/kink subculture and her insider connection to it.
  • I ask if how she was able to add the refreshing comedic aspect to the otherwise hardboiled murder mystery.
  • And how she got away with making light of it all?

The Killer Wore Leather opens at the Grand Sterling Hotel, NYC. Thousands of people are arriving for the annual leather killer wore leather covercompetition and fetish ball. Anyone who has ever attended one of these fêtes in real life will feel right at home. Most of the main characters and all of the supporting characters are right out of (fetish) central casting. There is even an Antoniou-esque, rabblerousing gadfly who makes regular appearances throughout the novel just to stir the shit. So unlike Ms. Antoniou, don’t cha know.

Don’t think this will spoil the plot, but the reigning Mr. Global Leather, Mack Steel, who is also one of the contest judges, is soon-to-be deceased. He is—how shall I put this—a real dick, and not in a good way. Just about everyone hates him, which makes for loads and loads of suspects once he is found dead in his hotel room. Mr. Steel is stabbed to death with a trident-shaped weapon and left wearing only a pair of frilly knickers. Oh, the delicious scandal!

Enter Detective Rebecca Feldblum and her new partner, Dominick DeCosta. Rebecca is a lipstick lesbian, and Dominick is a hot, straight, black guy. Both detectives are way out of their comfort zone surrounded by all the freaks and perverts. The convention/contest promoters decide the show must go on, so despite the murder, Feldblum and DeCosta have to do their sleuthing amidst the fetish circus.

The Killer Wore Leather is a good, old-fashioned whodunit. And Antoniou lays on the detail; we are treated to a baffling array of characters from the sexual fringe and a barrage of alt-culture jargon. But don’t let this deter you. The two detectives and another surprising character, a savvy newspaper reporter, act as a Greek chorus of sorts. Through them we are treated to a delightful exposé of some of the more fascinating nooks and crannies of the fetish and kink underground. It’s all great fun.

Antoniou’s writing style is sharp, witty, and smart. She lovingly skewers everyone and everything. I hasten to emphasize the word “lovingly,” because there are no cheap shots here. There’s never any doubt that Laura loves this slice of life and those who inhabit it. Her portrayals are hilarious, but respectful. However, she makes no bones about the fact that some of the minorities within this minority are being marginalized, and sometimes that gets ugly. Discrimination is rife, even here.

The thing that struck me most about the book is, as I mentioned earlier, Laura’s brilliantly seditious streak. She’s well known for her biting essays on alt-culture, sexual roles, and gender politics. And I am delighted to say that her keen observations bleed—you should pardon the pun—into her narrative. I loved it! And I know that you will too.

Buy The Killer Wore Leather for the mystery story; stay with it for the subversion.

I want to say another special thanks to Cleis Press, the publisher of Laura Antoniou’s The Killer Wore Leather, who sent me a copy of this book to review.

PS: This book would make a fantastic Valentine’s Day gift for any adventurous reader.

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