Friday, November 9, 2007

Leather Life’s Annual Holiday Gift Guide

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #325, November 9, 2007)

Gifts for the Material Leatherman in your life

It’s time for your humble columnist’s annual Holiday Gift Guide. Looking back over my 2007 columns, I see I’ve been giving you great gift suggestions throughout the year. This year’s guide is therefore a review of items mentioned in past columns, with some new items thrown in. For the upcoming season in which we celebrate conspicuous consumption, how about these gift ideas?

MR. LEATHER DVD: Last March I wrote about a new documentary film called “Mr. Leather.” Originally broadcast on cable network Here! TV, the film is now available on unrated DVD (unrated because it has some explicit extras—rescued from the cutting-room floor, no doubt). Filmmaker Jason Garrett tells the story of the 2003 Mr. Los Angeles Leather Contest, and the stories of each of its nine contestants. But the film is also a good examination of contemporary leather culture. As I said in March, this is a film to be cherished within our community and shared with our allies. (See a video clip at <heretv.com>.)

NON-TOXIC TOYS: My late-April column discussed the hazards of toxic sex toys. Then came all the media reports of toxic children’s toys (and toothpaste, cough medicine, pet food, and on and on). Yes, I was in the vanguard yet again.

But did that column in April prompt regulatory reforms? Nope. So if you’re shopping for that special stocking-stuffer, the same basic warnings still need to be heeded: PVC bad. Phthalates bad. Porous plastic bad. Perfumey or plastic-y smell bad. Greasy feel bad. Medical-grade silicone good. High-quality glass, stainless steel, hardened acrylic, and stone all good. If a toy causes irritation, stop using it. Be smart and shop wisely. Some merchants, such as Smitten Kitten in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, are committed to selling only non-toxic toys. (For more information visit <badvibes.org>.)

ANEROS: While we’re on the subject of sex toys . . . Is Aneros a sex toy, a medical device, or a tool for spiritual enlightenment? Some would say all of the above. Aneros is the first and only medically researched and patented prostate massager. Hands-free and self-propelled, the makers of the device promise that men can achieve “strong continuous, non-ejaculatory, full body orgasms previously unattainable through conventional sexual techniques.” Gift-giving advice: although it’s available in several different sizes and designs, only a few are recommended for those new to prostate massage. That might make your gift-purchase decision easier. (For more information, including many ecstatic customer reviews, visit <aneros.com>.)

DESIGNER GIFTS: A recent column on designers catering to the leather community mentioned Inseam Clothing Co. They sell several styles of great-fitting, versatile, uniform-inspired trousers designed and made in the USA. They also offer distinctive T-shirts. (See them all at <inseamclothing.com>.)

Also mentioned in that column was MindFetish Bedding Company, purveyors of masculine bedding and home furnishing items. Erotic-print sheets and pillowcases? Red-hankie sheets and pillowcases? Black cotton sheets with fetish-rubber trim? Leather or latex duvet covers? Egyptian cotton fetish-design bath towels? Erotic-print shower curtain? Black leather bathrobe, boxers or apron? And wait, I’m just beginning. (To see MindFetish’s entire mind-blowing line, visit <mindfetish.com>.)

A NECKTIE—IN LEATHER: This could be a subtle but effective way to push the envelope of the office dress code. You can find clip-ons or strap-ons for those interested in convenience and regular you-have-to-tie-them neckties for the traditionalist. And you can even find them in colors other than black, depending on the message you want to send.

What’s difficult is to find a leather necktie that’s a) wide enough and b) long enough to meet traditional business dress standards. Most are skinnier than what you’ll see in menswear stores, and most are not long enough to reach the beltline as business fashion designers recommend. However, Northbound Leather <northbound.com> has a complete line consisting of three widths (“narrow,” “wide” and “standard,” which is closest to the traditional width). They even have a velcro-closure leather bow tie. A Northbound sales representative mentioned to me that they can make neckties longer than the standard 56” by special order.

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