May 19th, 2009

dayton boot

David & David on BDSM relationships at Leathermen's Discussion Group tomorrow night

I ran this a few weeks ago for people who plan ahead. I'm repeating it for those who don't schedule stuff that far in advance.

David Stein, my former partner, has spent the last year working on a book, Ask the Man Who Owns Him: The real lives of gay Masters and slaves. It features interviews with over a dozen couples (and a few polyamorous threesomes) from across the continent who have successfully integrated BDSM roles into their relationships.

I’ve read parts of it and I think he and the project's producer have done a great job conducting and distilling the interviews to see how these relationships -- each one different -- work for each couple or union. While it will appeal to only a select number within the larger gay and kink communities, I believe it will be an incredibly valuable contribution to this subculture.

For those of you in the San Francisco area, authors David Stein and David Schachter will be talking about their work and previewing the book at the Leathermen’s Discussion Group on Wednesday, May 20. More info here:

I believe David will also have copies available of his erotic novel, Carried Away, if you haven't already read that. I often refer to it as "The Great American S/M Bondage Romance Novel." It's hot, and I love all the fetishistic detail of the sex scenes.

david stein co-founded New York’s Gay Male S/M Activists (GMSMA) in 1980. For that group’s statement of purpose, he coined the now ubiquitous slogan “safe, sane, and consensual.” He also co-founded New York’s gay chapter of Masters And slaves Together (MAsT). For six years he authored the “Bond+Aid” safety column for Bound & Gagged magazine. He is the author of a novel, Carried Away: An S/M Romance, and his writing has appeared in Drummer, DungeonMaster, International Leatherman, Mach, Powerplay, and in numerous anthologies.

David Schachter’s interest in publishing Ask the Man Who Owns Him is motivated by frustration with the dearth of descriptive literature and an over-abundance of prescriptive and fantasy material, which he believes leads novices to unrealistic expectations and a needlessly high rate of failure for Master/slave relationships.

comic book guy

Here's... Kermit!

When I write about my formative years sometimes I start sounding like the narrator in How I Met Your Mother.

Kids, let me tell you about The Tonight Show. When I was growing up, Johnny Carson was the King of Late-Night TV. It was the show everybody watched. Later in his career he started taking Monday nights off, and they’d bring in a variety of guest hosts. However, these were rarely announced in advance or listed in the TV Guide, and these shows were never repeated. It was also before VCRs were common, much less DVD sets or YouTube and the internet. You snooze, you lose.

One Monday night in 1979 they gave the show over to a very unlikely guest host: Kermit the Frog. Many of the other “guests” on the show were other Muppets. I missed it, but everyone who saw it was raving about it the next day, how unexpected and delightful it was. They had to modify Johnny’s desk, do all sorts of special camera blocking, and the puppeteers were working live, so the interaction with the real-life guests (Vincent Price! Bernadette Peters!) was semi-improvised.

I hated the fact that I missed it, ’cause I loved The Muppets, and always hoped that I’d get another chance to see it someday. It became a near-legendary piece of “lost television.”

Slow-forward thirty years. I have some brief correspondence with Cheryl Henson, Jim Henson’s daughter, because of this post. I think this might be an opportunity to ask her if it’s possible that a recording of this might someday make it into the archives of The Museum of Television and Radio (now The Paley Center for Media). I had visited the Museum any number of times before (it’s great for seeing all sorts of classic and “lost” television that will most likely never be available on DVD) and checked, but they didn’t have it.

But just before sending Ms. Henson the e-mail I thought to check with The Paley Center’s new website just in case their database of holdings was available online. It now is, and there it was: my Muppet holy grail. Instead, I told her how delighted I was that this infamous and rare piece of Muppet history was now available in the Center’s vaults.

This weekend I visited the Paley Center to view the recording, and it was delightful. The Tonight Show is taped live, and short of a fire breaking out on the set, they don’t stop or edit, so that was an interesting “edge” to see the puppets performing under. One of the puppeteers actually got caught in the camera’s frame twice. This special performance was early and important enough that Jim Henson was likely doing Kermit, and Frank Oz performing Miss Piggy.

They followed the basic format of The Tonight Show, with an opening monolog and a Carson-like cornball routine with Ed McMahon before any guests came out. One of the highlights was a special second number Bernadette Peters sang from the guest’s chair, and they had slit her dress in order to have a Muppet sit on her lap. It was one of those inspirational, join-in ballads, so by the time of the song’s end she was surrounded by eight Muppets, an amazing and touching piece of staging.

The human guests were often beside themselves with laughter interacting with the Muppets. They also had an animal behavioralist on, who talked about the “mating habits” of frogs and pigs for Kermit and Miss Piggy to play off of. The show ended with a lovely rendition of Kermit singing “It’s Not Easy Being Green,” beautifully staged, lit, and shot (all in one continuous take, with the camera slowly backing up), with Kermit sitting on a stool, but then revealing the underside of the stool and you realize Jim Henson was entering and moving Kermit in a different fashion than usual.

mudcub and I did all sorts of fun activities this weekend, but this was one of the highlights.