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There have, without a doubt, been men more important to James Gigliello
than myself. And there will be, in the future, men who make just as deep an im-
pact on my life as he has - if not deeper. Someday we will look back at this docu-
ment and ponder the momentary accounts of a man who shall either stand igno-
minious or victorious in the cold stare of history. Droplets of his story have surely
gone unrecorded - bad relationships, stupid mistakes, near misses - and many of his
day-to-day glories will have no more permanence than the moment in which they
happen. Still, we spectators cherish these histories as though they were our own.
For in these accounts lie the truths about what makes a person great. At least, they
explain what makes a person great to those he or she is loved by.

He and I sat down in the wee hours of the morning, upon returning from
Florida Fetish Weekend in 2007. The collection of Mineshaft photos by Matthew
Cary had him busily considering his own life story - and raking me for not yet do-
ing his leather history as I’d said I would. Without another moment’s thought he
sat down at his dining room table, I pressed REC on my digital recorder, and away
we went.

And so it is with ineffable love that I present this document. It would honor
me to see it given to the proper archives after the passing of the man for whom this
chronicle was written. My joy comes not just in completing this tome, but in ren-
dering service to a man who understands Leather in ways that my generation can-
not fathom. He understands that the depth of a boy’s service is not merely in his
body, but in mind, spirit, intellect, heart, and yes sometimes even advice. Some-
day, someone will ask me for my leather history, and in that chapter regarding
James Gigliello, I am certain to leave things out.

History could not record all the wonderful things that he has done for me.

Taken after Sir presented pup with his first piece of earned leather - a hunter green
patch - at Florida Fetish Weekend 2006
as told to boy joshua johnson (pup spike)

JJ: Let’s see, this interview is for the Leather Archives and Museum’s oral history records, which
will be made available to researchers, writers and scholars. Uh, Sir, you do understand that peo-
ple using the Archives will have access to this information, right?

JG: Yes, I do.

JJ: Okay, excellent. We are at the home of James Gigliello in Wilton Manors, FL. Today is Sun-
day, October 28th, 2007, and I am Joshua Johnson from goLEATHER interviewing “Daddy
Jim”. We’ll begin with some biographical information on you and then roll into your experi-
ences in leather. First of all, Sir, where were you born?

JG: Brooklyn, New York.

JJ: What year? When were you - what was your birth date?

JG: Sunday, January 24th, 1954.

JJ: And you were born to...?

JG: mother and father.

JJ: Whose names were...?

JG: John and Josephine. Same name, same last name.

JJ: What did they do?

JG: Mother, when she was young, used to work in a hospital cleaning, and then she worked in a
needle factory making the needles and the scalpels for the doctors. My father worked on the
docks. At- At the early stages he worked in a chemical factory making the dye for clothes, which
is what killed him eventually at the age of 87, in 2000. They didn’t have any protection. You
smelled all those chemicals, and it took like 40 or 50 years, but it finally got him. And mother is
still alive; she’s going to be 92 in April.

JJ: Talk to me about your earliest memories of childhood. We will draw some through-lines as to
where that intersects with your leather life later, but take me way, way back.

JG: The earliest memory I have is when I was two or three years old. It had to be 1957 or ’58.
And I was looking out the window with my mother; it was a warm, spring day. I would say in
New York, about the 60s, 70s, temperature-wise, I would say the late 50s. And I was looking out
the window and I saw this guy walking up the block in black, tight black jeans, black leather
boots, a black leather jacket, cigarette behind his ear and his hair all greased back. I remember
getting a hard-on, and I was leaning on the windowsill, and because I was small my body was
leaning on that - you know the windows in New York were like half-windows, so, you know, you
weren’t going to fall out because the window was high enough but for me as a little kid, I would
put my knees on a pillow in order to lift me up a little in order to be able to look out the window.
As a result my genital area was leaning up against the plaster wall. And it was hurting me. And
I didn’t know why I was hard, so I went as this guy’s walking up the street, there I am with this
enormous hard-on, and I ran from the window screaming - that my mother ran after me. And
that’s all I remember. I remember that I had a hard-on and that I was screaming. But I did- ob-
viously I was three years old, and my mother calmed me down, I remember her calming me
down but that’s all that I remember, and I remember it hurt. I was so hard. But I didn’t know - I
remember looking at the guy and getting hard.

JJ: How did you process that later? Or did you process it at all?

JG: I came out at 16. I’m a year younger than the gay pride movement. And I started thinking
about those earliest memories. And thinking about hiding behind my parent’s window on Union
Street, and guys would come out of work between 5 and 6:30. The train station on Union Street
was right on our corner at 4th Avenue and Union Street. And I used to get behind the window,
and I used to see these hot, hairy men, smoking and walking up the block with their dirty clothes
on and the construction boots, and I would just stand there and jerk off, cum three, four, five
times in a matter of an hour. And I would wait for a couple of guys in particular that would come
up the street every day. It was awesome.

JJ: What kinds of experiences did you have with other kids, other people our age as it relate to
your growing up and your sexuality?

JG: It was just playing, you know? I mean, guys wanted to see your penis and you wanted to see
theirs and that’s really - you know, we didn’t suck anything, we just touched, and, “ooh, gee,”
you know. You touched somebody and they’d get hard.

JJ: What was the earliest experience playing with another boy that you remember? Or playing
with another kid, whether it was boy or girl or whatever?

JG: Um... as a young kid we played “cowboys and indians”. And we’d always wrestle with each
other. And I remembered every time I’d wrestle with the young guys I’d get a hard-on. I didn’t
know why.

JJ: How old were you then?

JG: Eleven. And it just happened. I didn’t understand why it was happening; it just did. So
when people say that being gay is something that you choose, I have so much proof to say that it
isn’t. Nobody would choose to go through the lifestyle that I went through as a young person, if
it wasn’t innately in me to be that way. It was just me.
JJ: When that happened, when you were playing “cowboys and indians” and when you had these
reactions, what did you think of them? Before you had any--

JG: It just- it just felt good. And, nobody make a big stink of it. I mean, nobody went, “oh, look
at that.” Nobody said anything. So I didn’t think anything of it. And some of the guys got like
that too. And we found that, you know, if I-I always played the cowboy and another friend of
mine, Michael, would play the indian. And we, we’d both get hard and we’d just rub our dicks
on each other. But, you know, we weren’t capable of cumming. We just felt- the sensation felt
good. So we didn’t think anything of it. We thought this was perfectly normal.

JJ: Did your parents ever get wind of any of this?

JG: No. We did this in the hallway. We played “cowboys and indians” in the hallway so that we
weren’t, you know, out at night. So we’d play in the hallway and around 7 o’clock, 7:30 we’d
come in and get ready for school and all that stuff, the next day.

JJ: Any brothers or sisters? I forgot to ask you that.

JG: Only child.

JJ: Only child. Talk to me about your very earliest sexual fantasies. Beyond the, the men that
you would see coming out of the train station, or the guy in the leather jacket that you reacted to.
The earliest sexual thoughts that you generated, and how you reacted to them.

JG: My sexual fantasies were maybe, like when I was 14, 15, ‘cause as I said, 11, I didn’t know.
Um, I was 14 in 1968; I was 15 in 1969. I actually remember the Stonewall riots. ‘Cause I lived
in Brooklyn. And I remember reading the paper. And it was mayhem for three days, and the rea-
son I remember it is because my- one of my best friend’s birthdays is June 28th. And that was, it
was the 26th, the 27th and the 28th. And I remember that because it was in the Sunday newspa-
per about “gays beat up the cops”. And I didn’t know what being gay was, when I was 15. I
have a memory of when I would stand near the window waiting for the guys to come out of the
train, I remember these two gay men coming out of the subway station. They were a little bit on
the effeminate side. I remember guys waiting for them on the roof and throwing bricks and
stones at them, as they were walking up the street: the same street that these construction work-
ers and all these hot men would walk, these two guys walked up the same side of the street right
across the street. You’ve been to my apartment in Brooklyn, ‘cause we still own the house. And
on the other side of Union Street they’d be walking up the block out of the train station. And
there were these guys on the roof with glass bottles and stones waiting for them. And I didn’t
understand why they were hitting them. It was years later when I understood what was going on,
but at 15 years old, at that time, I didn’t know what was going on.

JJ: So you never drew a common bond between you and those guys who were getting attacked?

JG: Because I wasn’t effeminate. I- I didn’t draw that bond because I didn’t act like them. You
know, I was a tough fucker. And I wasn’t like them, so... you know, just because I like to rub my
dick on another guy didn’t make me a woman, or didn’t make me like them because I just didn’t
act like them.

JJ: So it would be a while before you made that- that connection.

JG: Not until I hit my twenties. Because I just kept saying, “I’m not like them.”

JJ: Let’s go back to the beginning. Tell me about your education, from the very first school you
attended up to, let’s say, high school.

JG: Our Lady of Peace, that’s a Catholic school one through - I didn’t go to kindergarten. First
grade to eighth grade. I was in high school for a year, then I dropped out, because I started get-
ting picked on because I was perceived to be gay.

JJ: So you went to Our Lady of Peace all the way through, one through eight -

JG: Yes. And then after that Bishop Ford High School. And then after that St. Stephen’s High

JJ: All in Brooklyn.

JG: Yes. And then after that I forget. I actually forget. It was another school, and I cannot re-
member the name of it. I dropped out.

JJ: If it occurs to you, go ahead and say it out. So you dropped out in which grade?

JG: Ninth or tenth. I couldn’t stay in school.

JJ: Why not?

JG: Constantly getting picked on.

JJ: Talk to me about the harassment. What happened; who was doing it?

JG: When I was- I, it was before puberty, so I still had the baby fat, and I still wasn’t athletic.
And, I was overweight, I was fat, I was slow... a nerd, very smart, very book-wise. And man, I
had not hit puberty yet so I was the target of the older guys. I was a freshman, and it was relent-
less. It was absolutely relentless. I just didn’t want to go to school anymore. I didn’t realize that
when I left grammar school it was going to be so bad. People in grammar school, nobody both-
ered me. We all got along. High school was like, you’re meeting that many more people from
different backgrounds and, I just didn’t fit in. They perceived me to be gay, and I had no facial
hair at that time. I was a roly-poly, you know, so I had a couple of things rolling against me.

JJ: Why did they perceive you to be gay?
JG: I have no idea. I- up to this day I don’t understand it. I didn’t look at anyone, I didn’t har-
ass anyone, I didn’t come on to anyone. We’re talking 1967, when I graduated grammar school.
I was only 13 when I went into high school. I did not have any- I did not hit puberty.

JJ: Did your parents know about the harassment?

JG: Yes.

JJ: How did they deal with it?

JG: They helped pull me out of school. Because it was, the violence on me was unbelievable.
And, nobody wanted to side with me because I was the pariah.

JJ: How do you think that - and we’ll go back to the timeline in a second - but how do you think
that those experiences shaped your overall outlook on who you are?

JG: Oh, my God. That’s why I am who I am. That’s why if you mess with me I’ll break your
face in three pieces. That’s why when I started to develop I took wrestling in college. I started
being a tough guy. When I did my escorting and everything, nobody- they learned not to mess
with me. Because I knew what it was like to be harassed, and I just wasn’t going to stand for it.
And then I started growing up. And then the muscles started coming out, and the body started
shaping, and I wasn’t the nerd anymore. I was this... hot young thang, and now I was getting
good attention. And I thought, “I should learn how to fight. I should learn how to take care of
myself.” And I did.

JJ: When did you start learning how to fight?

JG: The year I came out, 16. By that time I had left high school and I was taking home study.
And I finished my home study when I was 17 and I went to St. Joseph’s College.

JJ: Let’s go back to the coming out and then we’ll keep going with educational career. When did
you come out?

JG: July of 1970.

JJ: To whom did you come out first?

JG: Myself.

JJ: What was that like? Describe that.

JG: I had been looking at those guys coming out of the subway, and the gay pride movement was
a year old, and that’s when I thought, “I think I’m one of them.” It was actually that simple. Be-
cause I was always pretty smart, you know? I didn’t have to figure that out. And I always
thought I was one of them. I didn’t understand why; I knew I wasn’t the effeminate guy, but I
knew I wanted to be with guys. I just knew I wanted to be with men. And it was not only on a
physical level; I loved the camaraderie between men that I saw my father had with his brothers,
and with his friends from work. And I liked the camaraderie that I had with my friends. Except,
my camaraderie was not only on a brotherhood level; it was on a physical, sexual level. And I
just figured, “oh, I guess that makes me gay.”

JJ: And is that camaraderie one of the things that you later looked for in the leather community?

JG: Most definitely. That’s the big draw for me - the bond between men. The bond and the sex.
I don’t want the sex without the bond, because then it becomes worthless. That’s just, it’s like...
it’s like putting your dick in a jar of liver. And just, going through the motions. It’s like, that’s
just a jar of liver; it’s not connected to a human being. And, I wanted to be connected to a human
being because I was an only child. I was always alone, you know? I didn’t have the imaginary
playmates; I had friends, but I wanted friends that were like me. And I knew they were out there
because I was in a big city like New York. I wasn’t in East Bum-Fuck. I was in a big city; it was
just a matter of “okay, where do I go?” And then I started reading newspapers, and that’s when I
found the Village Voice.

JJ: So you came out to yourself at 16; who did you come out to next?

JG: Mother told me.

JJ: When was that?

JG: When I was 16.

JJ: Describe that.

JG: Well, we’d, I’d go to the store with her and, to help her with the groceries because my par-
ents, they’re... much older than me, and I would help her with things ‘cause at 16... let’s see, how
old was she... mother was over 50 when I was 16. And, I had to help her. And, my mother says,
“I know you’re one of them.” And of course, I didn’t know what she meant, until she says to me,
“I see you looking at the boys. I see you looking at the checkout boys. I don’t see you looking
at the girls who are doing the bagging; I see you looking at the guys. You’re gonna be one of
them. I know you’re one of them.”

JJ: And how did you react?

JG: Hell, yeah! I am one of them.

JJ: Just like that?

JG: Just like that. At 16. I never felt ashamed of who I was?

JJ: Why not? That’s a very unusual reaction, particularly when somebody’s mother outs that per-
son to their face.
JG: I didn’t like her very much anyway. I was a daddy’s boy. So anything to annoy her gave me
great pleasure.

JJ: Since- since we’re on that subject describe your relationship with your mother when you were

JG: Abusive. Very abusive. I was beaten. Um, she had lost a son before I was born, and her
way of having you do what she wanted was to literally beat you into submission, rather than use
any parental skills to teach you that this, you know, put your hand over the stove and you’re
gonna get burned. Or, grab your hand and say, “you see how hot this is? Imagine if I put it on
the stove; this is gonna burn you.” It was, “you can’t put your hand there, and if you don’t listen
to me I’m gonna break your legs.” And, there was this, always threat of violence, and a lot of
times I got hit very, very badly. And, half the time I didn’t know what I was getting hit for. I
mean, she didn’t even want me running in the street because she was afraid if I ran and sweated I
would catch a cold. And if I got a cold I’d get sick, and if I got sick I could die. But, I didn’t put
the connection together at that age; all I knew was I was scared to death of her. My father knew
nothing of it because he was at work all day and I don’t think he wanted to be bothered with me.

JJ: How does that contrast with your relationship with your father?

JG: My father was a very loving man. Passive. If he was a gay man I would have considered
him a bottom. There was no... strength. He spoke softly but did not carry a big stick. He spoke
softly and carried a very little stick. And he let her walk all over him. I think he loved her; I
think he really loved her. They stayed married until he died. They were married almost sixty
years. But, he loved her. I’m not so sure about her loving him. I think she was a lesbian be-
cause I caught her having sex with a woman twice.

JJ: When was that?

JG: When I was 13. No, I’m sorry, when I was 12. The next door neighbor. In fact, that’s the
neighbor that tried to have sex with me too. She tried to rape me.

JJ: How old were you when that happened?

JG: 12. I used to go to grammar school with her daughter, and I would go in the apartment look-
ing for Yolanda to do the homework and she’d be there, and she would try and grab my dick and
she threw me on the bed, and she was jerking me off and I was hard but I didn’t know why I was
hard, and I knew that I just wanted to get away from her, and she was trying to suck my dick, and
she’s rubbing her crotch on mine and... I mean, I was hard, but I was frightened. I was fright-
ened that I was hard, and I was frightened that this big woman was on top of me.

JJ: Did you ever tell anybody about that?
JG: No. Absolutely not. Especially then when I saw her and my mother rubbing their tits to-
gether, and grabbing each other, I thought, “this is not a good thing to tell anybody.” And I
didn’t know what they were doing either. I was 12; what do I know about sex?

JJ: Did that experience later on in life have any impact on the way you view sexuality?

JG: No. Because I didn’t want to be with women.

JJ: Did you ever have any sexual experiences with women or girls when you were younger, like
in your teens?

JG: Yes.

JJ: What happened?

JG: I dated a girl named Francis.

JJ: How old were you?

JG: 15. I wanted to see if I was just going through a phase. ‘Cause I was a very precocious kid.
And I wanted to see if what I was feeling was a phase. You know, is feeling things for guys a
phase? You know, am I staring at these construction workers walking up the street and, there
were times that I would actually stand out in front of the door just to really see them not though a
glass. And sometimes I’d go across the street and sit on the stoops, and I’d get really close to
them to watch them coming up and I’d look at their crotches and see their bulges and I’m like,
“oh, fuck!” It was so hot but, you know, they didn’t suspect anything, and I’m just looking. You
know, and I thought, “God, look at how close I am.” And I thought, “gee, I could actually meet
somebody and get a lot closer.” But I thought, “well, I have to give this woman thing a try.”
And I did. Several times. I dated a girl named Frances at 15; I dated Debbie at 16. And then I
dated Maryanne at 20.

JJ: What were those experiences like?

JG: They were very nice. They were very nice to me. They weren’t awful experiences. It’s not
that you say, I became gay because I couldn’t get a woman. Or I, you know, I wasn’t successful
with women so I turned to men because it was so much easier to hook up with them. That wasn’t
the case at all. Women were attracted to me. They still are. It just wasn’t me. It’s like sitting
down to a restaurant and ordering, uh... snails. Escargot. And you having escargot and me not
wanting it, but you insisting that I eat it because that’s what you want. Well, if you want to be
with a woman, that’s cool, but I don’t want it. It’s not my preference. If you put a naked man
and a naked woman side-by-side, I’m going to look at him. I don’t care if she’s got the most per-
fect, Barbie-doll figure, I’m still going to look at him.

JJ: After your high school period- you completed, I guess, a GED?
JG: Yes, yes I did.

JJ: Do you remember what year that was?

JG: I started college in 1971.

JJ: Okay, and you went to St. John’s College...

JG: St. Joseph’s College.

JJ: St. Joseph’s College in...

JG: Brooklyn.

JJ: Brooklyn.

JG: Couldn’t afford to go away to school. No money.

JJ: What did you study?

JG: Psychology.

JJ: Why psychology?

JG: Because I didn’t want anyone to go through what I did as a kid. I figured maybe I can stop
some child’s suffering. And, I loved it. Loved my classes, loved my teachers. Even the nuns I
loved. And they loved me too.

JJ: You had some very interesting instructors.

JG: Yes. Quite a few of them. =laughs= Well, I’ve- I started coming into my own when I hit my
teen years. It was my professor in psychology, Dr. Richard Greene who, I swear... he’s gay.
Whether he knows it or not, he’s gay! And, uh... he- I swore that he was talking to me. I think
he knew I was gay. I never hid it in college, but I never wore a sign on me. And because I wres-
tled, nobody would’ve suspected, but I would never lie. If, if- “do you like guys?” I’d say, “sure,
I do.” “So you don’t want to go with women?” “No, not really.” And because I was a wrestler
who the hell would come up against me? And Richard Greene would sit in the class in psychol-
ogy, and I remember one day I will never forget this, I can actually see the classroom, and he
said, “be proud of who you are. Never let anyone stop you from being who you are and what
you are.” And he always looked at me. “If you’re gay, be proud of being gay.” This is in a
catholic college back in 1971. And I’m like, “oh, my God; he’s gotta be talking to me!” And he
would have this big smile on his face; he said, “never be ashamed of who you are. Always be
proud of who you are. If you lie about who you are, then what are you? Nothing.” And he sort
of took me under [his] wing. I had no sexual attraction to him at all. I never had sex with any of
my professors. None of them. Um, but he was just a good guy. In fact, if I was in college he
was only 7 or 8 years older than me. If I’m 53 now he’d be about 60. That’s all. He’s only a
few years older than me. What a remarkable man.

JJ: How did you do in college?

JG: Very good. Very good. I was on the Dean’s List three times.

JJ: And when you finished at St. Joseph’s what did you do then?

JG: St. John’s University, went for my Master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling and then- that
was in Staten Island, and the rest was in St. John’s University in Jamaica. Queens.

JJ: And how did you pay for college?

JG: Escorting.

JJ: How did you start escorting?

JG: I remember going down to the East Village to a place called the Firehouse.

JJ: Which was...?

JG: It was an abandoned firehouse that the gays and lesbians took over- that’s when the gay men
and lesbians were together, before they got so segregated over bullshit. We’re people, for
Heaven’s sake. And we got together and I couldn’t get in. And, the only way I could get in was
telling guys I’d promise them sex. And I remember guys going, “you don’t have to promise me
sex, baby, I’d pay you for it.” I said, “you’d pay me for sex?” So I’d go to the Firehouse with
them and they’d take me in, and we’d go in the corner, and I’d suck the guy’s dick and I’d get
paid 50 bucks. And I thought, “this is lucrative.” And I started doing that. And I never got
fucked, I never did the drugs, the money went for school. Literally. It all went for school.

JJ: How much do you think you made, total?

JG: My tuition at the time was $1400 a semester. No, I’m sorry, $1400 a year. It was $700 a
semester. I could pull that in in one hour.

JJ: So you literally paid for-

JG: Yeah.

JJ: -your entire college education-

JG: And grad school!

JJ: -and grad school by escorting.
JG: Yes. I didn’t do porn at that point; I was way too young. I- the first place I wanted to go to
was a place called Man’s Country. I’d heard about it, but I couldn’t get in ‘cause I was too
young and nobody would let- they wouldn’t take me up there to save my life.

JJ: What was Man’s Country? Where was it?

JG: It was a bathhouse in Chelsea where there was a- from what I heard, I’ve never been in there,
there was a- there was a car that they took in pieces and they brought it up to like the 8th or the
9th floor, and they set it up and people would have scenes in there with the car and have sex, and
I’m like, “I wanna do that!” But I couldn’t. They wouldn’t- they wouldn’t- no, that was illegal.
I was a minor. It was illegal, period. To go dancing at the Firehouse was one thing. To be taken
into a sex club at 16, 17 was illegal. And they didn’t want to lose their license or get shut down,
so I just heard the stories.

JJ: What year did you finish college?

JG: ’75 I believe.

JJ: ’75.

JG: And then grad school.

JJ: As you were working your way through college, you met your Sir.

JG: ’74.

JJ: ’74.

JG: I was still in college.

JJ: How did you two meet?

JG: I was on Christopher Street looking in a store window, and it was a Saturday afternoon and it
was summertime, ‘cause I know I wasn’t in school.

JJ: Do you remember what the store was?

JG: It was- knowing me, it was probably a clothes store.

JJ: Why is that?

JG: ‘Cause I liked clothes; ‘cause I never had them when I was younger. Couldn’t afford any-
thing. And he just nudged- this 6’2” guy is nudging me and was obviously much older than I
JJ: Pause on that for one second. When he nudged you describe him, in detail. Describe the man
who nudged you.

JG: He had on a pair of blue jeans, he had black hair, big mustache, blue eyes, 6’2”, he was such
a clone. Um, white T-shirt, and black boots. Wescos. Which made him, like, 6’3”, 6’4”. And,
oh, he was a sight. And I thought he wanted... my services! And I said to him, “do you wanna-
do you wanna- do you want some company? Do you wanna have sex?” And he’s like, “no, I’d
like to have some coffee with you.” And he said, “follow me,” and so I followed him. And I fol-
lowed him down to 7th Avenue South and Christopher Street and there was this little diner.

JJ: Now, wait a minute. When he said, “follow me”, what went through your head at that mo-
ment? ‘Cause you had asked him if he wanted to have sex, and he said no, and he said “I want to
have coffee.” So what went through your head at that moment?

JG: I guess he wants to get to know me. Although why would he want to get to know me? I’m
half his age. So I was more curious than anything else as to why I should follow him. So I did.
I figure it was daylight; he couldn’t- I, he wasn’t taking me home so it’s not that he was gonna
kidnap me or hurt me. He asked me for coffee, and that usually meant in a public space. And
since it wasn’t for sex I thought, “oh, he doesn’t want me for sex.” So we just walked down the
street. I still- I can still see myself walking down the street with him. I was walking to his left.

JJ: So you go for coffee...

JG: ...and we just started talking for hours. I can’t remember the conversation, it’s 33 years ago.

JJ: At what point did you realize that this was not a guy like any of the guys you had met before?

JG: The look in his eye. The smile that he gave me. It wasn’t sexual. It was, I like you. I think
maybe that’s the first time anybody looked at me to say “I like you” rather than “I want to have
sex with you”. And it was special.

JJ: So you two continued to get to know one another.

JG: Yeah.

JJ: What was his name?

JG: Paul Waxman.

JJ: What did Paul Waxman do?

JG: He worked in the garment district. I think he was a buyer? I mean, I never really asked- I
mean, even up to this day I never asked him his personal business, but he was always going on
trips with fabric, buying fabric and stuff. So I’m assuming he did that. He worked all over the
JJ: As you two began to get to know one another, talk to me about how you learned more about
him being a leatherman and a LeatherSIR and having a household. How did you discover that?

JG: Just- just-

JJ: Or how did that... become known?

JG: Just hanging out with him. It was hanging out with him. It was- it’s not like the way it is
now, where you have sex after- click-a-dick, and 15 seconds it’s... you actually had to get to
know him... somebody. He didn’t know me; I could have robbed him. He didn’t know me from
anything, and I didn’t know him; I didn’t trust him. It was- trust was built over a period of time.
There was no Internet, there was no cell phones, there was no answering machines; if Sir said,
“I’m going to call you at 3 o’clock,” I was home at 3 o’clock because I knew he was going to
call and I didn’t want to miss his phone call. And he was never late because there was no other
way to get in touch with anybody. You couldn’t go online and look for EMail. You had to call
somebody up, and there was no call waiting and call forwarding, or caller ID that you could see
the phone call, “oh, gee he did call, and I missed it.” So you had to wait.

JJ: So then over time you built that level of trust with him.

JG: Yeah.

JJ: When he began to tell you about his life in leather you had not really had other dealings with
leatherpeople before him, had you?

JG: No.

JJ: So what were your initial reactions when he started telling you what he was and what he was

JG: I always thought leather was hot from, again, from that experience when I was 3 years old,
with the guy in the leather jacket. But it was the summertime and I had not seen him in leather
because you don’t wear leather in a New York summer in July. But, you know, by September,
October the weather started cooling down and I started seeing, you know, the leather chaps and,
you know, the vest and the flannel shirts with the vest over it and the T-shirt underneath, you
know, couple of layers, and the Daddy cap I didn’t see until like November or December. And,
uh... he looked good. He was hot. He was hot. And he was gentle, and he was firm, and he was
fair. So, why would anybody turn away from that? I never felt threatened. I never felt he was
going to hurt me. And he had a couple of little tattoos. I mean he was, he’s Jewish, but he said,
“I going to Hell whether or not I wear a tattoo.” And he goes, “and if I’m lucky and go to
Heaven the Lord won’t mind.” Which, by the way, was the first gay book I ever read.

JJ: The Lord Won’t Mind?

JG: Yes.
JJ: By...?

JG: I’m still struggling with the title. I have it in this house; I have the book. I always thought it
was John Preston, but it isn’t.

JJ: So, you got to know Paul Waxman. When did you first meet his boys?

JG: I think it was John Murdoch. The Lord Won’t Mind. Murdoch, I think so.

JJ: Possibly, yeah. [Ed. Note: The Lord Won’t Mind was written in 1971 by Gordon Merrick.]
When did you first meet his boys?

JG: Oh, I met one at a time. And they were introduced just as friends. And they were- I think
they were afraid of scaring me off.

JJ: Scaring you off?

JG: Yeah, well, because, I didn’t know what that meant. You have a relationship one-on-one. I
didn’t know what a household was.

JJ: How did he explain it to you?

JG: You can love more than one person at the same time. And you can still be monogamous with
three or four different people within the context of a family. And it sort of made- it just made
sense to me.

JJ: So there was no struggle to try to wrap your brain around it.

JG: I didn’t have any struggles. I- I didn’t have the normal struggles. Because I didn’t have a
family. I was an only child. So it was so nice to have a bunch of brothers. These guys were
looking out for me. I was the youngest one so they protected me. I never had that. I was always
hit; I was never protected. Was always fighting. You know, even when I, in my, you know when
I wrestled in college and I boxed, it was always fighting. So it was nice to be protected. It felt

JJ: How did- how did Paul Waxman make the initial overtures as far as you becoming part of his
house? How did that develop? First of all, when did it happen?

JG: The following year, when I was 21.

JJ: Still working your way through school?

JG: I was legal. I mean, 20, I was still, you know. Um... you just hang out. It’s like, meeting a
friend. You just hang out and as time goes on you get closer and closer. I don’t think there was a
specific click in my head. It just worked. It’s like when you plant something in the backyard.
You water it and you feed it, and sometimes you put it in the wrong spot and it won’t grow. And
there are other times you’ll get a species of plant, you put it in the ground and it just works! And
you go, “I don’t know what I did, but look at how beautiful it is. I don’t know what I did. It’s in
the right spot; I’ve given it the right mixture of stuff, and look at it.” Yet, if I give another plant
that doesn’t belong in that spot the same mixture, it’s gonna die. So the fact that I kept thriving
meant that it worked, for whatever reason. And I didn’t question it.

JJ: Was there any sex between you or the boys during all this time?

JG: Not at the beginning. I wanted to, but I didn’t. He was in charge of that.

JJ: And that was very clear?

JG: Yes.

JJ: Even before-

JG: He was da boss. And I didn’t mind that, because he was fair and honest and open and, there
was nothing hidden and I knew that, you know if we ever went out, that nobody else was going
to be coming home with us. We’re a family. Again, something I didn’t much have.

JJ: Now you weren’t living with them.

JG: No.

JJ: You were still-

JG: I was too- I was way too young. 20 years old, to move out? No. My mother would’ve had
my head.

JJ: So you’re still at home.

JG: Mm-hmm. I would spend- in grad school, when I had to go to work, I would spend my
summers with them, and spend weeks there. It was so much fun, spending weeks in New York
City since I lived in Brooklyn. But, I was too young, and he knew I wasn’t ready for that. You
don’t move in with somebody at 21, 22 years old. Back then.

JJ: How much of this did your parents know about?

JG: They just knew I was dating an older guy. There was no need to tell them about the leather.
They knew I was happy. They knew I wasn’t hurt. And, I was doing good in school. Mother
always had a hard time with the gay thing. She tried to get me committed at 17. She went to the
doctor’s office, asking all sorts of questions about what could she do to change and fix her son.
Apparently, when she came home from the doctor, and I was in college doing well, she comes
home from the doctor, the stupid bitch, and uh, she- Doctor Edson [spelling?]. Her gallbladder
doctor, Doctor Edson, at the Long Island College Hospital. And, she came in the door, ready to
tear the house down. And she’s screaming at the top of her lungs and everybody on the top floor
heard her and I- we lived in a four-story building that she owned, which I now own, in Park
Slope. And she’s screaming, she said, “that stupid fuck; who the fuck does he think he is?” She
talked like a dockworker. And, “I don’t understand this!” and “who the hell gives him the right
to talk-” I says, “Mom, what’s the matter?” “That stupid fuckin’ doctor told me that- listen to
what he said! I told him that you were one of them. And that you needed help. And the doctor
said, ‘does your son go to school?’ And I said, ‘yeah.’ ‘Does he get good grades?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Does
he have friends?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Does he have girls call the house too with homework help?’ ‘Yeah.’
‘So he’s got guys and girls calling him up for homework and to hang out?’ ‘Yeah. What’s your
point?’ ‘Um, there’s nothing wrong with your son. You’re the one that’s got the problem. Maybe
you need to be committed.’” Well, that didn’t go over very well with her. Because what the doc-
tor was saying is that although I’m gay, I’m fine. Which, back then, talk about progressive.
And, she was furious. Oh, my God. “I’m normal! At least I do normal things!” And I says,
“well, Ma, that- that- that’s up for discussion. I don’t think you’re normal at all. I think you’re
one sick fuck.” And, uh, I never got along with her. I mean, I’d say the last 30-35 years, since I
started getting an identity she started hating me for that. My theory is that because she was a
lesbian, and in her day and age she couldn’t do that and here I am, living my life, sleeping with
guys and doing as I want: I think she was furious.

JJ: Jealous.

JG: Both. I remember her asking a couple of women in the building to have sex with her. She’d
say in Spanish, “¿Tu quiere eso?” which means “do you want this?” and pointed to her crotch,
and the women would say, “no no no no no, no quiero eso,” I don’t want that. I remember that
distinctly, and I was about 18 or 19, and I said, “Jesus, she’s still doing this.” So with all those
things I just simply thought she was a lesbian.

JJ: Let’s go back to Paul Waxman.

JG: Mm-hmm.

JJ: At what point did he invite you to be part of his house?

JG: ‘Bout a year later.

JJ: How did that happen?

JG: We were all at dinner.

JJ: At his house or out?

JG: His house. Paul didn’t go out much. He was very family-oriented.

JJ: Kind of a homebody.
JG: Yeah. I mean, he worked so hard that the last thing he wanted to do after being out, was be
out. And, we were sitting around the table and he said, “would you like to take this a step fur-
ther, boy?”

JJ: He’d been calling you “boy” at this point?

JG: Oh, yeah; he’d always called- he, it was never- it was always “boy”.

JJ: From the beginning?

JG: Yeah. “Come here, boy.” I felt like a dog half the time. Until finally, he- and, and, he said
“I’d like you to be a part of this. If you’d like that.” He says, “I’m not going to order this. I
can’t order you to want me.” And I just had this big smile and I had all the boys sitting around
me and I went, “do I get to have them, too?” And he says, “of course; they’re your brothers.
They’ve been your brothers for the last year.” And I just... I didn’t cry, I didn’t go through the,
you know, Oscar-winning performance; I just said, “sure. How could I turn down something like
this?” And I didn’t, and we just carried on with dinner.

JJ: Describe your four brothers. What were their names?

JG: Dennis, Paul, Steve and Mike.

JJ: Who was the oldest?

JG: Dennis. He bought the food. As I was telling you earlier, Sir was such- so picky. God. The
bananas couldn’t have any brown marks on it. I mean, if they were in the house and they rip-
ened, that was fine. Squash, indents in the melon, I mean... God...

JJ: Very particular.

JG: Extremely.

JJ: So, what did your four brothers look like?

JG: Dennis was tall. About 6’2”. Nice body. No steroids back then, like now. You know, now
you can cheat. Then you had to work. Everything now is a disposable me, me, me, let’s get it
quick generation. You know. Take a couple of Botox injections, go under the knife and you’ll
look faaa-bulous. Uh, back then you had to work to look fabulous, and you know what? You
had no choice but to let your soul shine through. ‘Cause you couldn’t go to a doctor to get fixed.
You had to let your soul shine through.

JJ: What about your other brothers? What did they look like? You said Dennis was tall but-

JG: Yeah. They were all dark. I mean, none of them were blond. They were dark.

JJ: Dark-skinned white, though?
JG: Yeah. Never any black men. I don’t know if he was prejudiced; there were just no black
men. Actually, there were no really black gay men that you knew back then. I mean, blacks at
that time were having a hard time being black, let alone being gay. So, I’d say Paul was about
5’11”, slim. Steve was... a killer smile. He was just a really nice guy. And Mike was next in age
to me, and he- out of the, I would call him fair-skinned even though he wasn’t what one would
think of as fair-skinned, but compared to the others, he was fairer. And he was very sensitive.
Things bothered him. You had to be very careful when you spoke to him. You had to always
say, “Mike, we just love you so much. We just love you, Mike. We love you so much.” As long
as you kept saying that, happy camper. Um, you really couldn’t get angry at Mike. Like
“ughhhh! You screwed up,” or- he’d cry. So sensitive. But because of that you loved him, so
much. Because he would do- he would give you his life. He wouldn’t just give you his shirt;
he’d give you his life.

JJ: So you were five very different boys.

JG: Oh, my God, I was mischievous, precocious, um, Tasmanian devil, out of all of them. And I
guess maybe that came from my upbringing, you know, about being so- I felt like a caged animal
as a kid because of her. Again, you know, she lost a child before I was born and she didn’t want
to lose another one, so, again, her way of getting me to do what she wanted was to beat me. And
now, that was gone. So I was this caged boy that, um, came flying out of the closet.

JJ: Tell me about your Sir’s background. What’s his story? Or actually, let me ask it a different
way. When did you learn about his background? When did he tell you his story?

JG: About five years later.

JJ: Five years after you had joined his family?

JG: Mm-hmm.

JJ: How old were you when you joined his family? 21, you said.

JG: I was about 26 then, when I met his Sirs. The, the group of Sirs. There was, um, Sir’s Sir,
Grandaddy, Mr. Rauschenberg, and then there’s...

JJ: Spell “Rauschenberg” for the record, ‘cause someone’s going to have to transcribe this.


JJ: Okay.

JG: He’s from Baden-Baden.

JJ: In Germany.
JG: Yes. B-A-D-E-N, twice. And, um, then there was his Sir, Max Wiseman Strausbourg, S-T-R-

JJ: And spell “Wiseman”?

JG: W-I-S-E-M-A-N.

JJ: Okay, so common spelling.

JG: Yeah.

JJ: So, you, and you knew all three of these men?

JG: Yes.

JJ: Paul Waxman, did he have a military background?

JG: They all did. Very military, very regimented. Um, things had to be done a certain way.

JJ: What were their military backgrounds?

JG: I- I actually believe that the first two were from Germany. They’d have to be.

JJ: German military?

JG: Mm-hmm. I think- Paul served in this country. He was born in Germany, but he served
here. I don’t ask many questions to him. You don’t ask that- questions. It’s like asking how
much money he’s got in the bank. You just don’t.

JJ: Tell me about what the leather community was like at the time that you got into it as Paul
Waxman’s fifth boy.

JG: It was very sexual; it was very bonding. Again, we were- leathermen were renegades. They
weren’t part of the gay community-at-large. They were like a- a satellite group. You know,
“these men like kinky sex.” It wasn’t- you know, I just- when we went to Florida Fetish Week-
end this past weekend, you know, we saw pictures of the Mineshaft. That wasn’t really leather.
It was just guys that were wearing leather that were just getting off with each other. Um, leath-
ermen, my God, I mean... if they had a problem with each other they’d go out and get into a fist
fight. And they’d work it out. Or, they’d beat each other up or, something would happen. I
mean, it just wasn’t this politically correct bullshit of today. They had something to say, they
said it. There were families, because there weren’t that many of them, so you couldn’t just- it
wasn’t a trend. It was very underground. I remember when the boys and their Sirs used to get
together in these warehouses, and the boys would strip down to jockstraps and wrestle each
other, and the boy that won over all the other boys would get to service all the Sirs. It was hot
watching the boys wrestling each other for all- for all that dick. But of course, I was a skinny
little boy; there was no way- I would’ve been killed. So I got to watch, but I wasn’t the big- I
was never the big, beefy guy. I was always the little, as he would call me, tateleh, and I don’t
know how to spell that. It’s a Yiddish word, tateleh, T-A-T...

JJ: ...-E-L-E-H, I think.

JG: Something like that, tateleh.

JJ: Right.

JG: Which means “little one” in Yiddish. I couldn’t- I would’ve loved to have wrestled for him,
but I couldn’t. I was not a big man; I was small.

JJ: When did you start to develop a sense of a conscious identity as a leatherman?

JG: That’s a good question... I think more when I became a Sir. I mean, when I evolved, as I
grew- went along. Because as a boy you do as you’re told. I don’t know if you develop that
much of an identity in your 20s, either as a leatherman or as any man. Your identity is still form-
ing because your career hasn’t even been established. You’re still bohemianesque. Not enough
money to do this; not enough money to do that. So, I- I don’t believe I established anything until
I was in my 30s.

JJ: What about a sense of the leather community as “community”, as- as a mentality that says
that I am a person that is part of something larger than myself?

JG: That’s easy. When you were part of a family you were automatically accepted. Because
they felt that if that man took you in, we’re gonna take you in too. My monogamy to him is
probably what saved my life.

JJ: In terms of not contracting HIV?

JG: Yes. There’s no question in my head, because I was faithful to him. I used to go to the
Mineshaft. I never touched anybody. I used to go to the Saint; I used to be one of the flag danc-
ers- I was on the “A” list. Used to go to be the flag dancers, I knew Steve Rubell and Studio 54,
and dancing and getting in for free here and there. And, but I knew that there was something bet-
ter than that. There was something better than just having a, a penis to play with or a hot body.
Hot bodies are a dime a dozen; they were hot- they were a dime a dozen then and they’re about...
a nickel a dozen now because of steroids you can get that many more. Don’t mean anything. It
simply means you cheated to get the way you look.

JJ: Before we go on further, something I should have asked earlier: when you became a part of
Paul Waxman’s house, you moved- you eventually moved into his house.

JG: Mm-hmm.

JJ: Describe that house. What did it look like?
JG: It was an apartment in Gramercy Park. I believe it was three bedrooms. Everything was on
one level; it was not up-and-down. Because it was still an apartment, but it was a big apartment.
I think he paid $1000 a month, then. It was just your normal- I mean, there was nothing special
in it. It was just a household. You know.

JJ: So it wasn’t, like, in all black with a dungeon space-

JG: There was no dungeon. Where do you put a dungeon in a New York City apartment? As he
always used to say, “baby, I’m the dungeon. You’re looking at him. Because however I touch
you and whatever I do to you, I give you sensation.” I’ve used that line many times myself. It’s
true. It’s what I do to give that person sensation or pain or pleasure or whatever it is. It’s not the
accessory; it’s the person using it. Um... we’ve lost that because now we can just go to Jack and
Shit’s Leather Store and just buy whatever we want. Off the rack. And if you buy this $500
item, you’re gonna be the hottest thing in town, because you’re gonna give this boy this and this
and this. It’s all about the toy. It wasn’t back then.

JJ: If he ever did want to take you to some kind of play space, was that available to you? Or was
that available, rather, to him?

JG: Yes.

JJ: How did that work?

JG: Usually there were warehouses. Um... they were just big spaces in warehouses, and there
was the abandoned piers. God, there was a lot of things in there you could use for a dungeon.
But although he didn’t use that because he felt it was dirty. He felt his boys were better than just
having sex in an abandoned building. But there were places that he went. We weren’t allowed to
know what they were. We weren’t allowed to know where they were. We’d go in a taxi or a car
and we’d be blindfolded. We’d get out and it was nighttime, so we didn’t know an address. We
just got into the building, and it was- blindfold was taken off. So I didn’t know where we were.
Never did find that out. I wouldn’t ask him now, either.

JJ: One of those things you just don’t ask.

JG: “Don’t ask, don’t tell”.

JJ: How long were you part of Paul Waxman’s house as a boy?

JG: Ten years.

JJ: At what point did you begin to realize that things had to change, for you?

JG: Well, I’m not a shrinking violet; I’ve always been arrog- I’ve, I was very shy. And then I
busted out. When I realized that my mother couldn’t hit me anymore I realized it’s time to come
out of the closet and... come out from under her thumb. So I just... became very arrogant, very
cocksure, and being with him helped.

JJ: In what way?

JG: It gave me confidence in myself. “I’m okay.” “There’s nothing wrong with you,” type of
thing. You know, “you’re okay. You can love yourself as you are, in this moment,” as [Sir] Scott
[Hannux] would always say.

JJ: Would that arrogance and that cocksureness create friction, tension, I mean- that’s not the way
that- that a boy’s typically envisioned to be.

JG: No, that’s not typically a slave. A slave is like that; boys have their own persona. Slaves
don’t. We had a lot of fun. We just had a lot of fun. You know, I told you we went out to the
Mineshaft and we’d hang out, and he didn’t have to be there. We just had to keep our hands and
everything else to ourselves and keep everything covered. Didn’t mean that we weren’t allowed
to go out without him. We weren’t his slaves. We had lives; we had responsibilities.

JJ: When did you start to realize that you weren’t a boy, in the sense that you had been in the be-
ginning, anymore?

JG: Hmm... it’s just a feeling. It’s a feeling that you get.

JJ: But do you remember...

JG: There wasn’t-

JJ: ...can you give me an example of when it became apparent to you that something was not
really the same?

JG: I don’t know if AIDS started that too. I see we tend to blame everything on 1982 and 1983
and AIDS. Maybe it’s because I was approaching 30. Maybe it’s because I had a career. I didn’t
feel like a boy anymore.

JJ: What were you doing in your career at this point?

JG: Psychology. Uh, psychologist for the school system.

JJ: So you went to work for the New York public school system after graduate school?

JG: Mm-hmm.

JJ: What did you do for the school system?

JG: Psychologist. I- I, um... I didn’t find that very fulfilling.
JJ: As a psychologist within one school, or for the district, or...?

JG: It just didn’t.

JJ: I mean, I’m sorry, were you working for a particular school, or...?

JG: Yes. But I- there was so much bullshit and so much drama. I thought when I was in college
I was going to change the world and then I realized I couldn’t, because the Black and the Jews in
the administration in the system were always fighting with each other. The kids were never im-
portant. Never. It was about, “I have to leave on time because it’s almost sundown and it’s the
Jewish holiday and I can’t stay here.” And then the Blacks would say, “well, why are they get-
ting out early and we have to stay late simply because we’re not Jews? Well, we’re gonna have
our own holiday and they’re gonna have to stay late.” And it was like, “Oh, my God.”

JJ: So it just got to be a little too much.

JG: Yeah.

JJ: So there was the change in your job, preparing to turn 30, and-

JG: And HIV.

JJ: HIV, that all kind of rolled together into one, big-

JG: Ball.

JJ: -right.

JG: Sucked.

JJ: Did you go to talk to your Sir about what you-

JG: Constantly. Always. That- A lot of that was a blur.

JJ: I know that some leather households and some leather families have the dominant tell the
submissive to journal or to write about their experiences, to document it. What was your Sir’s
tack as far as knowing where your head was at?

JG: That document is somewhere. I don’t know.

JJ: Written?

JG: Yeah. I’m assuming it is.

JJ: That he wrote, or that he made you write?

JG: I never did. I was the youngest.
JJ: So did the other boys write?

JG: I- Maybe one of the older boys. Maybe. I never- There’s just things you didn’t question.
I’d- I don’t know. To be perfectly frank with you, I don’t know.

JJ: When did you start thinking that you might be evolving out of being a boy and into being
something more dominant?

JG: When I met Frank.

JJ: Who was Frank?

JG: I guess you would say he was my first boy, but he wasn’t. He was and he wasn’t. I don’t
think I, in looking back, I don’t think I had the capability of owning a boy. But I knew I felt
dominant over him. Do you know what I mean? I felt dominant over him. I- but I wouldn’t say
I was his Sir. We were the same age, but I just wanted to just rape him all the time.

JJ: What did he look like?

JG: 6’1”, beautiful hazel eyes. He looked like a cat. He had cat’s eyes. And his birthday was
June 28th, which was funny, ‘cause that’s -that’s the famous day, June 28th.

JJ: So did you talk to you Sir about Frank?

JG: Yeah.

JJ: What was that conversation like?

JG: He listened. I mean, there was no judgment. And I think that’s when he decided that my
path was changing. Just by the way I was speaking. But I never referred to Frank as my boy. I
couldn’t. 20, 30 years old... 29, 30.

JJ: So what did he do? Your Sir?

JG: “Go and try it. See what you feel. Learn.” He’s a big, big on learning.

JJ: In what sense?

JG: “Life’ll give you better experience than any damn book. A book is a guide. Life is the real

JJ: So you went out, and tried it.

JG: And liked it.

JJ: What did you like about it?
JG: =sighs= I liked being with Frank; I liked putting my hand on him the way Sir put his hand on
me. I liked feeling in control. I guess up until that point I never felt in control of anything.

JJ: And what did that do for you? To you?

JG: Confidence. Security. Manhood. At that point. I was with Frank for about two years. I
really loved him.

JJ: This was after you had left your Sir’s house?

JG: Mm-hmm.

JJ: What was that process like for you-

JG: It was actually very easy. I would still see them all the time; it’s not that I moved out of
state. I was still there. Really, I mean, it didn’t feel like there was much of a change. It really
didn’t. ‘Cause I had his love and I- I was able to talk to him, and I still... hung out with them. It
was the time that I had with them.

JJ: Was there ever kind of a, a separation anxiety or-

JG: No.

JJ: -sadness when you left the house?

JG: It was just opening another door and walking through it. Life is opening doors and walking
through them. It’s really not that difficult. You make it difficult.

JJ: So you left the house at age 30-

JG: Yeah.

JJ: 30? Where were you working at that time? Still for the school system?

JG: Mm-hmm.

JJ: Hadn’t quite gotten out yet.

JG: Yeah.

JJ: And it was early 80s.

JG: Going toward mid-80s now.

JJ: Going toward mid-80s. Did you identify as- when did you start to actually identify as a Sir,
when you would call yourself that?
JG: I don’t think I was- called myself- I don’t- until my 40s.

JJ: So up until that time you identified as what? Or did you-

JG: Top.

JJ: Just as a top.

JG: Yeah, I like to fuck. Boy, did I like- still do. Love that. But, I knew that there was a differ-
ence between being a top and being a Sir or a Daddy. It’s something that I had to learn, and I
certainly wasn’t going to learn by calling myself something that I wasn’t, because I would get
called out on it.

JJ: But you did identify as a leatherman.

JG: Mm-hmm.

JJ: When people would ask you what that meant, what would you tell them?

JG: =thinks=

JJ: Like, if I met you at a club or bar and I asked you, “oh, what’s that you’re wearing?” “Oh, it’s
leather.” “Oh.” “Well, I’m a leatherman.” “Oh, well what is that?” How would you answer that
question, then?

JG: I’m trying to think, that’s- we’re talking 20 years now. At least it’s not 30, it’s 20. I’m try-
ing- you know, I’m actually trying to remember if anybody asked me that question. I- I don’t... it
wasn’t uncommon by the 80s to see people dressed in leather. It wasn’t an uncommon thing.
The gay pride movement was more established. You had more freedom to be who you were.
And wearing leather was just another, you know, The Village People by this point were very fa-
mous, where in 1974 they weren’t. Nobody’d heard of them.

JJ: Talk to me about some of the groups that you were involved in. You said you used to be part
of the New York Wrestling Club.

JG: Yes.

JJ: Um, were you ever part of any leather community organizations or gay community organiza-

JG: I’m gonna go down a list, ‘cause it’s much easier that way.

JJ: Okay.

JG: I did some stuff for GMHC [Gay Men’s Health Crisis], I was part- there was the 800 Men
Project after HIV started. I was- I believe it was 500 Men after that. There was the original 800
men, and I’m not sure if it was 800 men more or another 500, but I was in that second group. I
just don’t remember if it was 800 or 500. After that, I worked for the Gay and Lesbian Switch-
board- uh, no, I’m sorry, the Gay and Lesbian Crisis Line. And the funny thing was, I was in
training for that group for that line to man the phones, and who do I see, one of my best friends
from childhood and my second cousin. My father’s sister’s grandson. I almost died. And...
Chris. C-H-R-I-S. Um, was on the Gay and Lesbian Crisis Line. And I was, I used to do three-
hour shifts and I loved it. I was on the, um-

JJ: What about it did you love?

JG: Helping people. People that were going through hell for being gay, people that were going
to get thrown out of their house, wanting to commit suicide, the gamut of questions. HIV ques-
tions. Um, God it was on Broadway someplace on the 6th or the 7th floor; I can see it as- it was
an office. Used to go in there with the phones, and you had to be trained. You just didn’t get on
the phones. Um,

JJ: So you were involved with the switchboard.

JG: Mm-hmm. The Names Project; I was the Brooklyn delegate on the board of directors for the
Names Project. And we used to go in Brooklyn Heights on a Saturday to make quilts of those
who have died. I cannot remember the church. I can see it. It’s on the corner... in Brooklyn
Heights, I wanna say Montague Street? I can’t think of the name of the cross-street. And we
used to have all our supplies in there. Then there was Gay Friends and Neighbors, and I was
their membership director. That was a social group, and I had a blast. There had to be at least
four or five hundred members in that group. I gave all my stuff to the Gay and Lesbian Commu-
nity Center in New York for their archives, ‘cause I didn’t feel I could hold on to the newsletters
and things. They belong, to be a part of history. My history.

JJ: When did AIDS first begin to impact your life?

JG: September 30th, 1986.

JJ: What happened?

JG: Diego Lopez died.

JJ: Who was Diego Lopez?

JG: Uh, he worked for GMHC. He was a big, big figure, and he was dating Ed Nicklaus, who
now lives in Fort Lauderdale, who I ran into who asked me out on a date, who I said, “I guess
you don’t remember me, Ed.” Freaked him out because he said I look nothing like the way I did
then and I says, “that’s right, baby; I look better.”

JJ: So Diego Lopez passed away.
JG: Yeah.

JJ: Was he a leatherman?

JG: I’m not sure. I know he was with Ed. I mean, I didn’t know him that well. Vito Russo and
Tom Stoddard, um, so many people.

JJ: Talk to me about what you saw AIDS do to the leather community in your, in your circle.

JG: I can remember being in a hospital, not for me, and, um, it was in St. Vincent’s, and Black
Michael was in the hospital.

JJ: Who was Black Michael?

JG: My friend. He died in ’96.

JJ: Not a leatherman?

JG: No. And this guy, that used to work in the Two Potato on Christopher Street, was in the next
bed. He had K.S., it’s like, from his waist down, his entire body was a K.S. lesion. I’d never
seen anything like that, but I wasn’t afraid. I remember, Michael was doing good, and the funny
thing was the guy he was sharing the room with was his friend. Can’t remember his name. His
lover’s name was Jimmy, same name as me. And I remember going there, and he says, “oh, my
lover can’t come because he’s at home. He’s sick with AIDS also. He’s too sick to come to the
hospital.” And I remember telling him that I would be his “Jimmy”, whenever I’d go there. And
I remember the lotion that they gave me, and nobody would touch him. His legs were, oh my
God, it was- it almost looked like he had a bunch of blood clots on his legs. ‘Cause of the purple
and the red from the spots. But they- it was like- they were massive. And he was so thin. And,
it was right- it was end of October, beginning of November, and I remember rubbing his legs,
and I had to do it very gently. And I wasn’t afraid. And they said to him, they said to him that
they promised him Thanksgiving, but they didn’t promise him Christmas. And, there were no
meds, so I knew he was going to die and he knew it. It’s, it’s, it’s almost surreal. It’s like being
in a bad Fellini movie. And it was, um, traumatic, because at that point my friend Carlos was
dying. In fact, Carlos did die. This was the end of October, beginning of November, Carlos died
Christm- December. 7th. And Peter died December 9th.

JJ: What year was this? Eighty-

JG: No, this was ’94.

JJ: ’94.

JG: I jumped ahead.

JJ: Okay.
JG: Those years were a blur.

JJ: The years in the 80s, the early 80s?

JG: Yeah.

JJ: Why-

JG: It was a blur ‘cause people were dropping like flies. They’d get sick, and then two weeks
later they’d be dead. Um-

JJ: What did that, that blur do to the community as you saw it? The leather community specifi-

JG: There was such fear. People were afraid to touch glasses. People were afraid to go down to
Fire Island, because if you went into a house with somebody that had AIDS, you’re gonna get it
because you’re in the same house. You wouldn’t kiss anybody, you wouldn’t do anything with
anybody. So that’s why I joined the 800 Men. I think it was- there, as I said, there were two
groups. I don’t remember; it was the eight- the 800 Men was the first group of 800 men, about
their sexual behavior, and this was at GMHC and the second group was the 500 men. I think. I
was in that second group.

JJ: So, did that affect your involvement in the leather community? I mean, because people were-

JG: It affected me sexually; that’s for damn sure. I wasn’t gonna go near anybody. It was- I
didn’t want to get that. In fact, when I got tested the first time I was sort of upset that I didn’t
have it.

JJ: Why?

JG: Survivor’s guilt. I knew they were all gonna die. And I knew I wasn’t. It’s like “how dare
me.” And, you know, and henceforth all of Sir’s boys are gone except for me. They’re all dead.

JJ: But not of AIDS.

JG: Yes.

JJ: Not all of them.

JG: All of them.

JJ: All of them?

JG: Uh, all of the guys from Man’s Country, the place that I told you about earlier that I could
never get in: they’re all dead. The people at the Saint, the- every bartender in that main level is

JG: Yeah, none of them ever hit- most of them didn’t hit 40. How could that not affect you?

JJ: What are your memories of the Saint?

JG: Oh, my God. I still love dancing with my flags. Um, decadence, hedonism. Used to go
down in the basement and check your clothes in. Come upstairs in a jockstrap; could be the dead
of winter. It was enough heat in that building, baby to keep you warm.

JJ: Now that- that kind of seems very incongruent with the way that you were raised as a boy.
Even when you went to the Mineshaft in the early, early 80s and I guess the late 70s, you were
under orders to look but don’t touch-

JG: Yeah.

JJ: -so you were kind of an island within all this hedonism, as a result of your leather upbringing.

JG: I got to see what I wanted to see, which he said, “look at anything you want. Just don’t
touch. You’re mine.”

JJ: And then even after that, when- in the years when you were a flag dancer at the Saint, you
were one of the-

JG: Yeah, I, this is now... past that... and I still never felt right about just, doin’ it. Upbringing,
maybe? Fear? Fear of HIV? But don’t forget, when I started dancing at the Saint, it was before
HIV. I was allowed to dance; I was allowed to have a life. Sir didn’t like to dance.

JJ: He wasn’t a dancer?

JG: No. So, but he- you know he never stifled us from being who we were. Never stifled us.

JJ: When did you start working for the school system?

JG: Early 90s.

JJ: Early 90s. What did you do after you got out of-

JG: I went to school.

JJ: For...?

JG: Real estate appraising.

JJ: Why real estate?

JG: =sighs= Money. But, you know-
JJ: Just money?

JG: Money, serious- well, I mean, let’s face it, what- there was no social issues here. I wasn’t an
architect; I wasn’t building buildings. I was just appraising them; I was appraising things that
were there. Um, I didn’t last long at that, because my father started getting sick. And I needed to
take care of him. I was the only child. I, I loved my father. I, I had to, I had to do that.

JJ: So, but you completed your real estate appraiser’s training. You-

JG: I went through a year and a half of that.

JJ: Okay.

JG: And, after that I started working, but that didn’t last very long because he started
getting...=inaudible= my father died at 88, 87. And, I couldn’t turn my back on him.

JJ: And eventually you started managing the buildings that your family had?

JG: Yes, plus buying my own.

JJ: How many properties did your family have?

JG: Four.

JJ: All in Brooklyn?

JG: Yeah. I have five. Fire Island, Florida and Brooklyn.

JJ: And they weren’t real thrilled with the Fire Island thing initially?

JG: Oh, my God, no. My father said, “you’re gonna spend all your money, what are you doing?
You’re crazy!” I said, “Da, I’m not crazy. At least, not for this.” And, I wish he was around
now, because those houses are worth a fortune.

JJ: When did you get out of New York?

JG: Right after he died.

JJ: Which was in...?

JG: 2000.

JJ: 2000. Where did you go?

JG: Florida.
JJ: Actually, wait. We skipped a chapter of your life. New Hope, Pennsylvania. How did you
get to New Hope?

JG: My father liked it. I took him out there. I found a house that I liked, and I said, “why don’t
we invest in it?”

JJ: Where was the house?

JG: 61 North Main Street.

JJ: What year did you get to New Hope?

JG: Late 80s. I guess maybe it was to keep me busy. ‘Cause people were dying, and I just didn’t
want to deal with it. And, it focused me away from tra- I was tired of it. You know, and I, and-
and New Hope was a, a place to run away. Don’t think it accomplished anything, ‘cause they all
started dying over there, too.

JJ: But you had a, a pretty solid circle of friend in New Hope.

JG: Yeah. They all died.

JJ: Well, before that, but talk to me about what your life was like with friends there. Other leath-

JG: A few. I mean, it wasn’t like New York City, but they were all dying too. You just struggled
and found your own way. I used to go to the Raven, the Cartwheel, the Prelude.

JJ: All bars?

JG: Yeah. Bars and discos. And, the dancing fool that I am, and once a year they had Santa Sat-
urday which was a leather event in New Hope, and the money was raised going to children with
AIDS and the homeless, out in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. It’s funny, because when I think
back, I lived in Brooklyn, Bucks County and now I’m in Broward. All “B”s. And I’m a b- I was
a boy. I just find that funny.

JJ: When did you start going camping in Pennsylvania?

JG: ’92. ’91 or ’92. I went to Hillside.

JJ: While you were a resident in New Hope.

JG: Yes. It was a lot of fun. There was always lots of sex; the funny thing was even with all the
hell going on people were still having sex left and right. And I’m like, “hell, no. Absolutely

JJ: Did you feel sexually stifled during that time?
JG: Not at all; I had a good hand. And I always dated somebody that I would get to know before
I had sex with them, and it was always- you know, we had, we tried to have safer sex.

JJ: Your identity as a leatherman, how was it evolving during this time? Or was it? Was it on
hold because of the whole AIDS epidemic, or was it still... was it-

JG: It was- it was quietly moving.

JJ: In what way?

JG: It was like moving- it was like moving like a snail. You see the trail of it moving some-
where, but actually you don’t find it, and you think, “damn, this thing moved more than I
thought.” So it was this little, moving trail. And I guess I was picking up knowledge with the
people that I met, and not thinking much about it. There was no more Mineshaft; the Saint was
gone; 54 was gone. All these places were gone. It was all gone. And, I learned that when you’re
in a car or a boat, you always move forward. As one of the movies, Meet the Robinsons says,
“Keep Moving Forward.” And, you don’t have a choice but to move forward. You have to keep
moving forward.

JJ: When did you first begin trying to collar a boy? Or, or when did you first become interested
in collaring a boy?

JG: Bryan.

JJ: Who was Bryan?

JG: He did porn. He was... Polish-Italian; he was gorgeous.

JJ: When did you meet Bryan?

JG: I want to say ’86.

JJ: Now you did porn at one time also-

JG: Yes.

JJ: When was that?

JG: Late ‘70s.

JJ: Okay, so they didn’t intersect at all.

JG: No, I didn’t meet Bryan because of porn. Um-

JJ: I have to back up now, since I brought that up, how did you get into doing porn?
JG: The escorting. It just seemed like a natural thing.

JJ: How many films did you do?

JG: About 17. And I’m not naming them.

JJ: Oh, come on!

JG: Nope.

JJ: Any famous names that we would know?

JG: Al Parker, John King.

JJ: Al Parker was your favorite.

JG: Yeah. Drew- Drew was his real name. Very intelligent man. John King wasn’t very bright.

JJ: Okay-

JG: They all- they all died.

JJ: Back to Bryan; how did you meet Bryan?

JG: Gay Friends and Neighbors. He had the most beautiful blue eyes; I mean he smiled at me,
and you could have picked me up off the floor with a shovel. And, he was very aloof. Um, just
very aloof, and he had that smile that just drew me in. And we just became friends. We were
friends; we didn’t just have sex. And before we had sex he told me he was HIV-positive, which
back then was a death sentence. And I never had anal intercourse with him. Rubbers, noth- he
just wouldn’t let me do it. But I cared about him so much that I didn’t care.

JJ: How much did your process of going, pursuing Bryan as a boy, was similar to or different
from the way you were pursued as a boy?

JG: I don’t think any experience would ever match what I did. Because my the mid- to late-80s
you would have touch tone... you had little answering machines. I used to leave a message on
Bryan’s answering machine: “hey, puppy; Daddy’s here. Gimme a call when you get off from
work; how about getting together tonight to watch a movie?” Sir couldn’t do that with me 12, 13
years before that.

JJ: How did your relationship with Bryan end?

JG: As most of them did. They ended because the boy cheated on me. I tend to be more family-
oriented, and they were more, “oh, that guy’s hot, and I’m gonna do it.” Bryan gave me crabs.
Which is not- I mean, you can’t see me, whoever’s listening to this, I’m extremely hairy. And,
uh, crabs on a hairy guy is a death sentence. I mean, shaving the hair- I had to shave, I couldn’t
leave the hair on because the medicine you put on wouldn’t cut- I am so hairy that they had to...
shear me like a sheep. =JJ laughs= And I was livid. And it was one of my friends that saw him
coming out of the Hellfire Club, or Jay’s, in the Village, and he came out with this guy and they
got in a taxi and went home. Bryan was supposed to have been home that cold, winter’s night. I
was home. I never- he never questioned me, but I told him, I says, “I’m not doing anything be-
hind your back,” and I never questioned him, and he never offered me any information, and I
never asked him. Maybe that was my fault.

JJ: Did you ever collar Bryan?

JG: I don’t believe I did. Weren’t together long enough.

JJ: And that was mid-90s, you say?

JG: No, no, ’86, ’87.

JJ: ’86. Okay. So you were still in New York.

JG: Oh, yeah. I was in New York ‘till 2000, after my father died. Daddy died February 24th,

JJ: So you were only in New Hope intermittently. You didn’t live there-

JG: No, I went on weekends. Because Dad was sick, and I would take Dad out to New Hope to
get him away from Her Majesty, and he loved the house. Oh, my God, how he loved that house.
I sold the house in Summer of ’99; he died six months later. I always wondered if I- the, the rea-
son he died is because I sold the house. I always wonder that. He loved that house. She would
have no part of it. She wouldn’t go there on the weekends. She made life so difficult for every-
body, and she’s 92 now and she’s bedridden. And she’s still difficult. She still yells at people.
She hasn’t changed.

JJ: You left for Florida in 2000.

JG: Yeah.

JJ: What ultimately made you decide to come here?

JG: My father.

JJ: In what way-

JG: Six months before he died, he was sitting in the kitchen with me, he raised his hand and he
got very bright, and very strong, and he says, “don’t let this happen to you, what happened to me.
Go and live your life, because one day you’re gonna be an old man, and you’re gonna look back
on nothing. Don’t let anybody stop you from doing what you want. Don’t let any boyfriend,
don’t let any lover- just be yourself. Be proud of who you are. Live your life. I should’ve gone
to Florida when I was healthier; I should’ve lived the way I wanted to live. I was threatening
your mother with a good time, by wanting to be with my wife and take her to a warm climate;
she would have no part of it. She wanted to be around her fucking family, and they were no
fucking good anyway.” And there was so much anger, but I’ve not seen him that strong- it was
the last time I saw him that vividly coherent. And, with the insurance money he left me, when he
died I took it and bought my first condo for $37,000.

JJ: In...?

JG: Wilton Manors. And then from there I sold that for double the money, bought a two-
bedroom, two-bath on the corner, condo, and then I bought the house that we’re in now.

JJ: So real estate became quite a lucrative thing for you.

JG: Oh, yes Sir chief.

JJ: Talk to me about your- your life in leather in Florida.

JG: Extremely disappointing. Everybody’s on steroids down here. The HIV thing doesn’t bother
me. I mean, with the meds and the- you know, if I got infected by a boy that I was in love with
over a long period of time, I don’t think it would bother me. I’d sure as hell be bothered if it was
a trick. If somebody I screwed or the rubber broke and, you know, because I’m the top so far me
to get infected is not quite as easy, but if it was a boy of mine that we had unprotected sex over,
because he was my boy, I don’t think I’d be upset, but I’d sure as hell to think, “gee, I did it to
you once and I got infected over your sorry ass, and I don’t even want you.” So, I don’t screw
anybody that I don’t know.

JJ: So when you came down here you found it, uh, a leather community- community atmosphere
that you just did not like.

JG: There is no community down here. There is no leather community. It’s all about “click-a-
dick”. Go online, go on ManHunt, go on DaddyHunt, and if you don’t give me what I want I’ll
just go to the next piece of ass and get it. I don’t want to get to know you; I don’t want intimacy.
Why should I have that? I can get off in 20 minutes. And when I’m- when I want to get off 12
hours from now I’ll just come back online.

JJ: So your life as... your life as a leatherman hasn’t been... you’ve been very involved in the gay
community, you’ve been very volunteer-oriented, very active in AIDS activism, but it sounds
like the majority of your active, civic life has not really involved leather per se until-

JG: No.

JJ: -relatively recently.

JG: Yes.
JJ: That’s interesting, because you, now... are becoming ever more well known as Daddy Jim.

JG: I know.

JJ: Did people call you Daddy Jim throughout?

JG: I was too young to be Daddy anything! I look the part now; I didn’t then

JJ: You were just-

JG: I looked too young!

JJ: You were just Jim.

JG: The hair is grey now on my chest. I look the part. You have- you have to look a part in soci-
ety. In the United States, in this country, you have to look a part. You have to look a role.

JJ: So at what point did you realize that you were “Daddy”?

JG: About 45. When I was with Neil.

JJ: One of your boys.

JG: Yeah. He started calling me Daddy, and it- Sir is very for- Sir is more protocol. In the pri-
vacy of my bedroom with the boy, it was Daddy. “I love you, Daddy.” It’s so wonderful to hear
that. It is. It really is; you have no idea how that makes me feel.

JJ: How does that make you feel?

JG: Oh, I get this big smile on my face, and you could just throw me up to the ceiling and plaster
me. It’s just a wonderful feeling, and I love teaching. With the experience that I’ve now... uh...
accumulated, I want to give back. It’s time to give back. I want to spend the rest of my life giv-
ing back. ‘Cause I don’t need to work, and I don’t need to make any more money.

JJ: Look back for me over your time as you, from when you came into your Sir’s household to
now and, and how you’ve been... you were always very comfortable being out as gay.

JG: Yes.

JJ: What about being out as a leatherman or a leather Sir?

JG: Oh, I love it. I love-

JJ: Even back then?

JG: I wasn’t a leather Sir back then.
JJ: But even when you were a boy; even when you were just-

JG: Oh.

JJ: -beginning.

JG: That didn’t bother me. I wasn’t hurting anybody. When I was his b- in fact, you’ve, you
yourself have heard me refer to myself as a boy. I’m still... that boy.

JJ: But in the 70s when people would say, “oh, are you dating anybody? Are you seeing any-
body?” What would you say to them?

JG: “I’m a leatherboy.”

JJ: “A what? What is that?”

JG: “I’m submissive to a man who enjoys using me, and I enjoy being used by. I’m an adult, it’s
a decision I’ve made, I have no marks on me, I don’t get hurt, he loves me, he cares for me.
Case closed!” It was really pretty simple. I- there’s more- there’s more confusion now than
there was 30 years ago.

JJ: In what sense?

JG: Well, it’s a free-for-all now. How many guys, “oh, I have 45 slaves. I go on the Internet and
I have a slave here and 16 slaves there and 17 slaves here and...” Just this weekend at Florida
Fetish Weekend, there’s... one of the Daddies that said, “oh my slave and my this and my that,”
and it’s like, you name-dropper you. Who the hell cares? What the hell have you done for the
community? Stop telling me about- you know, it’s this ego, this entitlement, this ego thing
where they think, “well, look at me.” Did Mother Teresa say, “look at me”? No. Even Princess
Diana never said, “look at me.” They watched her because she was so beautiful, but she never
sought it out. Look at Mama [Sandy] Reinhardt. She doesn’t say, “look at me.” She’s raised
millions of dollars. She doesn’t say, “look at me.” The people that don’t say, “look at me” get
the most attention because they’re doing rather than worried about being watched. All the others
out there, the pseudo-people, the pseudo-leathermen are too worried about, “look at the way I’m
flogging. Look at this knot that I’ve tied. Look at me. Because by looking at me, I’m special.
By winning this title, I’m special.” There are so many goddamn titles that there’s not going to be
any left of the general population. When they go on stage to say, “all the titleholders come up on
stage,” there won’t be anybody left in the audience except me. Because, I don’t feel my ability
to be a leatherman has anything to do with a God forsaken title. And I don’t believe Chuck Ren-
slow ever envisioned the leather community to turn into what it’s turned into today.

JJ: The IML founder.

JG: Oh, my God, the IML thing is a disaster.
JJ: Now you went to some of those early events, IML, MAL-

JG: Oh, yes.

JJ: -and the other runs. What were those like- do you remember the first leather run you ever
went to?

JG: God... I don’t remember where, ‘cause it was so long ago, but I remember the camaraderie
and the brotherhood between the men. And it wasn’t about getting off.

JJ: When was that?

JG: Early ‘80s. It wasn’t about sex. People really wanted to talk to you. You know, you didn’t
have to look like a Tom of Finland cartoon. Now you do! I knew Tom of Finland. he laughed-
in fact, a story I’ll tell you, that you didn’t ask:

It was a hot summer’s day in New York. Tom of Finland was signing the very first book,
Tom of Finland: A Retrospective, the very first one with the green- it was either a green or a
black cover, and it was 1988, because I was dating Carmen. And, it was the- I went to the beach,
it was a Sunday, and I came back ‘cause I knew I had to get back before 5 o’clock. And I had
not eaten, and I was in a tank top and shorts. I get into the City. I park my car, because then you
could park your car in New York City in the Village on a Sunday, and it was like 105 billion de-
grees out, I mean, you- the sidewalks were, were dripping water it was so humid. It makes South
Florida look like Arizona; that’s how humid it was. I go in the bookstore, which was A Different
Light bookstore on Hudson Street, off of Charles, between Charles and Perry in the Village -
God, I can, boy, I can still remember that - and, there’s the line of leathermen. And they’re all in
full leather. And I’m thinking, “oh, my God. Here I am, looking like a little twink, wearing
shorts, tank top and white sneakers,” and I’m like, “they’re gonna kick me out of here.” I get up-
I was, I get up to the line, and he stops everything and he gets up, he goes, “finally, a man with
sense!” And I thought, “oh, my God.” I thought maybe he said something in Swedish or Finland
or whatever that he- I says, “my God, I’m gonna get kicked out of here.” And he asked me out to
lunch; he goes, “you’re the only one not trying to impress me.” I said, “well, I just came from
the beach, Tom. I- I came from the beach and I wanted your signature, ‘cause I think the world
of you and your wonderful artwork. So I wanted you to sign the book.” And, I says, “it’s too hot
to wear leather.” He goes, “Finally!” He says, “In my country it doesn’t get this hot! It never
gets this hot!” He goes, “It’s terrible!” And he invited me out with him. And all the guys were
looking at me; I’m like, “Sorry!” I says, “I didn’t- I didn’t even do it on purpose.” I just didn’t
think it was appropriate to wear leather in 120-degree heat. But isn’t that what it’s all about now:
image? You know, we have to look like a built, roided-out caricature from the pages of Tom of
Finland. I didn’t know that a leatherman had to do that. I didn’t know that a leatherman had a
dick down to his knees. Well, they do know because they have the vacuum pumps. Well, you
know what? My body wasn’t made to have a dick down to my knees. My dick is what it is.
And if you don’t want it near you, that’s fine, I’ll find somebody who does. And if nobody wants
it, I’ve got a good hand and a great imagination, and great memories to look back on. I cannot,
uh, compromise who I am, just so somebody out there will want to get laid with me once.

JJ: So your experience in South Florida’s leather community...


JJ: Yeah. And has been kind of colored by a totally different perspective that is very unique and
very rare.

JG: =inaudible=

JJ: It’s- of you being plucked off the streets of New York and being welcomed into the leather

JG: Oh, you’re not welcomed anymore. You have to look a certain way, you have to win a title,
you- you see them down here, when they all march together. There’s even a Yahoo Group title-
holders list. Gee, whiz, I think I’m not gonna be able to sleep for the next 10 years until I win a
title so I can get on that goddamn list. And as for, you know, getting back to IML, what a joke!
They all get up there, and they all play the game of what a- they think a leatherman should be.
It’s a fucking joke! The whole fuckin’ contest is a joke. It’s a disaster. Couple years ago, the guy
that was killed, I don’t know if it was in the Palmer House or if it was in the Congress, they
drank the punch that was laced with GHB, the four of them drank this punch and nobody told
them, and one died and he was a titleholder. That got swept under the rug by Dave Rhodes, be-
cause, “well, we can’t let this out. We can’t let anybody know that this happened.” It was a little
blurb that somebody was dead. We can’t talk about that.

JJ: And not investigated further.

JG: And not investigate it, well, because it’s a leatherman. He was a titleholder. A human life is
gone because of some fucked-up attitude, or some stupid crazy joke. And then there was Adrian
who comes over from England and gets murdered by a quote-unquote “Master”. The leather
community doesn’t police itself; they don’t give a shit. It’s not the way it was 30 years ago, if
somebody was down and out on their luck they would take them in. Like when we took that boy
in, who shall remain nameless for his own protection, that was on crystal meth, that- the boy-
friend threw him out of the house because the boyfriend that we all saw him naked when we
went to get the kid’s stuff, we took him off the street. We fed him, we clothed him, we sent him
back to his grandmother in Daytona. In his Jeep. And we took his gun away if you remember
that I still have. But, when do you hear anybody doing that? That’s the community I was raised
in; I don’t know what this shit is. This is shit. It’s garbage. Absolute garbage.

JJ: So then, at what point while you were, while you have been here in Florida, did you begin to
reconnect to leather as a community?
JG: goLEATHER. The young men of goLEATHER. My friend Scott who moved down here
from D.C. who also was a boy, and is now a Sir. Other people that I’ve met, from the group
we’ve formed called the Leathertarians. “Getting Back to Basics.” You don’t need to be a con-
test titleholder in order to be worth anything. You know, I told Mama Reinhardt today when I
saw her before I left to come back from Tampa and Florida Fetish Weekend, I said, “I don’t have
to be pinned by you, like the other 900 people. I’m still your boy. I was your boy before you
ever knew who I was. Because I am a part of you; I am a part of your family, Mama. I’m just
not pinned. But that don’t mean anything.” There were people with Mama today- yesterday, do-
ing her class, that were, “oh, well I have to tell you the story of when I was pinned by Mama,”
and “I have to tell you this,” and they started crying and, you know, I’m gonna mention their
names because I think they’re idiots too-

JJ: Nah, let’s leave them out of the oral-

JG: You sure?

JJ: Yes, I’m positive.

JG: Well... I thought they were idiots. Because, it was all about being pinned to her. I didn’t
hear about what they did for the community; all I heard was their story about how they got
pinned by Mama. That’s not what it’s about. I don’t need her pin to be her family. I don’t need
any outward sign to be an effective leatherman. I don’t need to wear a sash, or a tiara. Those
men that died 30 years ago would be rolling over in their graves if they heard this bullshit. And
I’m surprised at Chuck Renslow - again, I go back to him - he’s 78 years old; my Sir is 77. He’s
from that generation. What the hell happened? It’s a fuckin’ beauty pageant. 80% of those men
are on steroids. 80%. Some of them have to be, yes, they’re HIV-positive. They have to stay
healthy. How about the ones that aren’t HIV-positive? And why should you win because you’re
HIV-positive and on steroids and you look better than me, because I’m HIV-negative and I’m not
on steroids? But I’ve done more than you for the community, but I can’t win. Because I don’t
have the image from a Tom of Finland book.

JJ: So today, based on your- based on your history, you have a tough time in today’s leather

JG: Extremely.

JJ: It sounds like you had a much easier time-

JG: As a boy.

JJ: As a boy.

JG: No question. Well... =scoffs= look at the boys today! Forget- let’s not talk about the Sirs
now. Look at the boys. If you’re overweight, you don’t have a job, or you’re not making enough
money, forget about your devotion to the Sir. “How much money do you make?” “Oh, you
know, you’re fat.” “You gotta get rid of that belly, boy. It’s too big.” “What are you eating that
for?” It’s all superficial. They never comment on what the boy does, and how he serves. It’s the
image. How ‘bout the slave that buys his own collar and says, “oh, I just love the way this collar
looks on me. It just looks so perfect in between my cleavage of my chest, the way my pecs
look.” What the hell does that- what’s that about? And the so-called Master lets him buy a col-
lar. So... leather is all-inclusive? When did that happen? When did leather become all-
accepting? I thought a leatherman was a leatherman was a leatherman. I didn’t think it encom-
passed all this other crap. It’s not all-encompassing. The leatherman, he’s now the leather com-
munity, he’s part of the bear community, he’s part of this community, he’s part of that commu-

JJ: Instead of...?

JG: Leathermen. Period! Period. If you’re an overweight leatherman, you’re an overweight
leatherman. You’re not a bear; you’re an overweight leatherman. Be proud of it!

JJ: What is your life like today? What do you do today? What- What do you-

JG: I spend my time volunteering, ‘cause I don’t work anymore. Don’t have to.

JJ: When did you stop working?

JG: To take care of my dad, and I realized with the houses and then taking care of the estate, and
taking care of now my houses, and selling a couple of things just to make my life streamlined,
there was no reason for me to go back to work. I do volunteer work; I work for goLEATHER as
their advocate. I call myself the Daddy Advocate. And, I’m, uh, an associate member of the Tri-
dent Knights that I go to their run every year, which by the way is awesome. You do not have to
look like a steroid freak. And it doesn’t matter if you’re HIV-negative or -positive. Just be you.
They’re just a wonderful bunch of men. And, I’ve- me and my friend Scott just formed a group
called the Leathertarians. And, it’s “Getting Back to Basics”. And the funny thing is, the more
people I tell about this group, the responses that I’m getting: phenomenal. “We really need this,
Daddy Jim. Go for it.” Nobody has said, “oh, please, this is not the way to do it anymore. You
have to go to the gym; you have to do steroids. You have to wear the latest designer couture
leather.” I hate to tell you guys; leather is an animal skin. They used it 15, 20,000 years ago as a
caveman. It’s very primal. It’s become very neat and packaged. You can go to a store and pick
up your faaavorite armband. And, just like the guy that went to, um, one of the leather- well, the
only leather store in Fort Lauderdale, that he was from South Beach, and he walks in in flip-flops
and Bermuda shorts, and he had the armpits shaved and he had five different colognes on. [Ef-
feminate, lisping.] “Oh, I’m gonna have my slave wear a collar!” And I’m like, “Oh, my God.”
And I’m in the store. He puts the leash on the hook of where the harness, all the rings meet.

JJ: Right over the solar plexus.
JG: Over the solar plexus. [Lisping again.] “Well, I wanna be able to take this off, so if he wants
to go his own way that’s fine by me.” And they’re both in flip-flops. If they had pulled that 30
years ago, they would have been asked to leave the bar. Do you know why they don’t do that
anymore? The almighty, fucking dollar. “We can’t lose a buck!” So, we have a leather bar in
South Florida, in Fort Lauderdale, and I’m sure you know what it is ‘cause it’s the only one, and
they’re more worried about money. They couldn’t care less if a woman walked in dressed as a
goat, and she wanted to buy an armband; they’d sell the goat an armband.

JJ: Then as that relates to your life in leather, and where you are today as a leatherman, where
you’d like to see yourself go, where you’d like to see your life go and the community go, where
does that, in your mind, where does that leave you?

JG: Me? It leaves me with wonderful memories. It leaves the younger community with nothing.
I’m fighting for the younger ones, not for me.

JJ: In what sense?

JG: I have- I am rich beyond belief in my experience, and the love that I have. The young people
are poor, and desolate. Because of the garbage that they have to deal with out there, and the fact
that so many people would like to fuck their young asses and infect them, because “I’m the Sir!
And if I’m infected, you have to be infected.” I’ve heard that. “If I’m doing crystal I’m gonna
piss up your ass and give you the crystal that comes in my urine, and I’m gonna get you high,
bitch.” Uh, this is basically what’s happening. So I don’t... I have my little family here, of won-
derful men, and it will continue to grow, because I will pick up one at a time, until each one
makes a thousand, and then 10,000, and then 100,000. That’s the way they did it 35 years ago.
And I’ll do it probably a lot faster because I have the Internet; I have technology on my side. We
didn’t have that then.

JJ: Tell me about the people in your family.

JG: Well, there’s Scott, another Sir, wonderful man, uh, raised as a boy. As frustrated as I am. A
little younger; his house was different than mine because there were more than one Daddy. Uh,
his house was formed by different Daddies and different boys as the houses were dying off, so
they all consolidated. I didn’t have that. It was Sir and his boys. Over there it was Daddies and
boys. He’s 41 years old, and he’s frustrated; he’s at the end of his rope for the same reason. Um,
there’s Aubrey that lives in Pennsylvania, that’s part of the extended family that’s eventually
gonna move here. There’s Josh, you, one of the good puppies. =JJ smiles broadly.= There’s
Glenn, there’s Martin, there’s Jeff. These are all men who still hold on to those things. And
some of you are in your 20s, and some are in your 30s, and some are in your 40s.

JJ: Are these men that you have sex with?

JG: All of them? Absolutely not. No. You don’t have- you don’t have to have sex to have a
bond. I’ve never had sex with Scott. I’ve never had sex with Martin. I’ve never had intimate
sex with Jeff. You don’t have to have intimate sex with people to have a bond. But then, leather-
a part of leather is sex. We’re not a bunch of prissy queens that have to date 60 million times
before we go to bed. But, we don’t jump in five minutes after we meet somebody because that’s
what we’re supposed to do. It’s like the titleholder that I met today that wanted to go to bed with
me. He says, “I want to have sex with you.” He had a Daddy and a boyfriend. I’m like, “no,
you’re not gonna use me like that. I don’t even know who the hell you are; I’m not having sex
with you.” And he mentioned three of us that he wanted to have sex with. And I’m like, “well,
what about your Daddy and your boyfriend?” “Oh, having sex with them is a real chore, and
then it’s a bore.” And I’m thinking, and you’re with them, why? Because it’s easier than being
alone? Well, you know what: sometimes easier is not better. Most often, easier is not better.
And when you know better, you do better. Obviously this guy is going for the easy way out, not
the better way, and he’s not doing better, regardless of whether he knows better or not. And he’s
a titleholder representing me. This- That’s terrible.

JJ: As you look back over the course of your life, what would you say is the one largest, most
important lesson that you have learned from the day you met Paul Waxman to now?

JG: =long pause= Never compromise who you are for any amount of money, any amount of
fame, any amount of love. Because if you’re not true to yourself you have nothing.

JJ: Is there any aspect of your history that I haven’t asked about that you think should be on the
record? Any stories, any anecdotes, any people you knew, any places you were in, uh, any or-
ganizations you were part of, events you attended, significant things that occurred to you, um,
any images, people, items, tokens, relationships, accomplishments, failures, anything at all that’s
part of your story that should be part of the record?

JG: Okay, that’s easy. I don’t feel I’ve ever failed. I’ve always tried. And as long as you’ve
made an effort and you’ve tried you can’t fail. You just have to try again ‘till you get it right!
But it doesn’t mean that because you didn’t get it right the first time that you failed. Failure
means you didn’t even bother. A failed relationship is one that you never even attempted. It’s
like the guy, David, in Chicago, who I clicked with. That was failed. That was a failed relation-
ship, because he never attempted. He never tried. When he saw it was real, he fled. He ran like
Ebola virus was after him. That’s a failure, because it was unfinished; it was unattempted.
That’s a failure. I didn’t fail, because I was willing to try. He wasn’t.

JJ: You’ve had real challenges trying to collar a boy.

JG: Yes.

JJ: Why do you think that’s been?

JG: Well, the Internet makes- the Internet makes it a fantasy.

JJ: But even before the Internet.
JG: Commitment. I don’t need to make a commitment. I can go online. The Internet’s been
around a long time now, and there’s the fantasy, even when there were the bulletin boards, the
Back Room bulletin boards. There was a- there was a bulletin board in New York called the
Back Room. Very leather-oriented. And we used to have socials. Those socials were meant so
that we could eye each other and we could pick each other up. There was no need for intimacy.
There still isn’t. Actually, there’s less need for intimacy now than ever. The s- the- the ironic
and paradoxical thing is, the more intimacy we seek to run away from, the more depressed we
get, and the more intimacy we actually need, but we’re too stupid to realize that. We were made
to have intimacy, not to have 20,000 sex partners and 20,000 loads up our asses. The human
body wasn’t made for that. I don’t know what it is that they’re looking for. I’ve yet to figure
that one out. The hunt? The conquest? The, um... knowledge that I’ve put another notch post on
the bed? Put another hole in the sheets? Used up another condom? Hopefully, they will. I
mean is, is, you know, the bareback parties where people get infected on purpose... the, uh... the,
rampant use of crystal meth. The, uh, use of drugs in general, the- you know, I’m online and,
and, and, uh, come over and fuck me for the next six hours ‘cause I’ve been on crystal for three
days and I can’t sleep and I need another dick up my ass. Gimme as many loads as you got.

JJ: A very different culture than what you came up in.

JG: Oh, my God. I’m not saying there were no drugs back then. But people weren’t up for four
days! Marijuana didn’t keep you up for four days; mushrooms didn’t keep you up for four days.
Even cocaine didn’t keep you up for four days. You still had to eat and go to sleep. Not with
crystal. You could stay up and not eat for four days.

JJ: Anything else about your history that should be on the record that you can think of that I
haven’t asked about?

JG: There’s been a lot of wonderful men in my life. Um, Bryan was a wonderful man. Jeff, uh,
Tony, he died, Bryan died. Um... Howard. Who’s a wonderful man. Um, I’ve been really privi-
leged, and really blessed. Just because a relationship doesn’t work out doesn’t mean I’m any less
privileged or blessed. It just wasn’t meant to work out.

JJ: How do you deal today with being... one of the last survivors of that circle of people. How do
you deal with it?

JG: That I feel like I have a tradition that I need to speak out. That’s why I’m doing this oral his-
tory. People need to know. People need to know. I have no intention of going anywhere for a
long time, but people still need to know what happened. People need to know that there is an-
other way. It’s not just about getting off. It’s not just about going, “Oh, my God, you’re so hot;
let’s fuck.” There’s more than that. When you say love is not enough, it’s true; it isn’t. Love is
not enough. Because you need a bond, because you need the trust, because you need the com-
munication. The word “love” is cheap. We worship Jessica and Lindsay and Paris Hilton and
Lindsay Lohan and Jessica Simpson and Nick- and Whitney Houston. All... fucking... messes.
And yet Mother Teresa died, and it was not a big deal. That woman was remarkable. Rosa
Parks, my hero. A Black woman, who sat on a bus and finally got so fuckin’ sick and tired of sit-
ting in the back, “I am just too tired to go to the back of the bus!” She changed the entire face of
the country. Nobody cares anymore. Global warming: biggest threat to this planet, and what do
we do? “Oh, well, you know, we’re all gonna die anyway, so let’s just party. Let’s just keep us-
ing the oil, and let’s...” It’s a fatalistic attitude now.

JJ: So, then-

JG: Even with HIV, it’s a fatalistic attitude. “If I get infected, so what? I have 20 years in front
of me.” One guy said that to me! Some boy that I used to play with, that you know... that shall
definitely remain nameless, that said, “well, Sir, to be honest with you I don’t want to live past
60.” I said, “you’re 35. Do you think you have 25 years left? Are you sure that HIV, the version
you got, is gonna give you 25 years?” “I don’t care if I live to 55 or 60.” Honey, I’m 53. That
means I got two years left! Don’t say that. ‘Cause I know of another guy that got infected at 40,
he’s 42, he’s dying. Because, he was mething him- crystalling, crystal mething and Tina and,
and drinking and smoking and, all this other shit, he ended up getting liver cancer and lym-
phoma, two years later.

JJ: So then, as it relates to the leather community and this, this fatalistic attitude that you see out
there, when you look at your life and you look at this fatalism that is out there today, what do you
take from your experience that helps you deal with the fatalistic attitude today? What from your
story helps you move forward?

JG: I surround myself with people who feel the same way I do. Like you, like Glenn, like Scott.
Look at how much we spend time together. That’s a blessing. How many people who feel like
we do who don’t have anybody? That’s why the Leathertarians has to be out there. To bring
those back. We don’t need to change this country. You wanna kill yourself, go kill yourself. We
can’t stop you. But we’re going to offer you an alternative. That’s all we can do. Back then
there was no alternative; it was either be in the closet, or be out. Now, gay is mainstream. It’s
mainstream now. The only- the last bastion is marriage, for gay people. They have children,
they do everything they want. They go online, they cheat on their lovers left and right, every-
body’s in an open relationship. Ah... doesn’t work for me. You know, and in my profiles online
it’s like, “if you have a lover, if you’re a priest, if you’re married, if you have a lover, if you have
a boyfriend, don’t bother me. Don’t waste my time.”

JJ: Something I forgot to ask you about, all the way at the beginning. What is your ethnic back-

JG: Greek, Turkish, Italian, north African.

JJ: Can you break that down, mother’s side/father’s side?

JG: Mother’s the three, and Dad’s one. Dad is Italian; Mother’s the other three.
JJ: Anything else about your history that you think should be added for the record, any other- I
mean, you’ve shared a lot of thoughts already, so I won’t ask you if there are any other pearls of
wisdom, ‘cause you’ve been dropping them throughout.

JG: Yeah, they’ve been dropping, all right.

JJ: But- =laughs= But are there any other aspects of, of your history that, that we should know?

JG: How difficult watching people die was, that were younger than you. It was very difficult
watching everybody die. The young people today getting themselves infected don’t understand
what they’re doing. Because there’s gonna be something else. There is going to be something
else. In 10 or 15 years when people listen to this, something else will have happened. Some-
thing else will either have been introduced as a bug purposely, or something will simply mutate.
Because, you cannot act like a pig, and take loads up your ass and in your mouth and do all sorts
of things. You can not. You’d- I’d- we didn’t do that. I- I think maybe the beginning of the sex-
ual revolution, it was different because of the oppression. That was over 35 years ago. We’re
not oppressed the way we were, and I’m sick to death of people saying, “we’re doing this be-
cause we have- finally have our freedom.” Finally? What do you mean we finally have- we’ve
had our freedom for years. Nobody goes into your bedroom and tells you what to do.

JJ: What do you most look forward to in the future? For yourself personally?

JG: Watching all the young people get older.

JJ: Why?

JG: I want to see how they’re gonna turn out. I want to see how many of these steroid freaks are
gonna be around in 20 years, that they think they don’t have to pay the piper for their actions. I
wonder how many people on crystal are going to be alive. Or, blubbering idiots or have Parkin-
son’s or, get Lou Gehrig’s disease or some awful thing. I- they- they- they don’t think they gotta
pay anyone. They’re gonna get away with all this. They don’t mind being a young, dead corpse.
Because, they think they’re having so much fun.

JJ: So you are looking forward to seeing the younger generation today.

JG: Mm-hmm. What they’re gonna do about what’s going on now.

JJ: And what would you like to see the leather community look like in the next 20, 25 years,
when I’m your age?

JG: That you could have experienced the joy that I had. That you could feel the community that
I had, because I know you don’t feel it. You struggle so hard finding it, and I just took it for
granted. If I was in trouble there was somebody there for me. If somebody was out of work or
somebody ended up in the hospital, or somebody lost his job because he was an alcoholic, some-
body took him in! Where do you hear that, other than the boy we took in this house? Have you
heard of any other story like that, that a boy was taken off the street and bought- brought into this

JJ: Not that I can think of, Sir.

JG: What does that tell you about the me, me, me generation, and “fuck you, fuck you, fuck
you”? Or, “I’m gonna use your ass and, hey, I’ve got HIV, but I don’t have to tell you!” Like the
guy that tried to pick me up today, that I was told later on he was HIV-positive. He didn’t tell
me. “I just wanna have sex with you. I don’t have to disclose anything. If you get infected, tough
shit! There’s medicines that’ll keep you alive; don’t worry about it.” That’s not my community,
puppy. That is not my community. Those are not my brethren, and educating them... I can try.
Doesn’t mean they’re gonna listen, because you know what? Feels good to fuck. Hedonism.
Sensation. Drugs, hedonism, sensation, pleasure, sex, dr- sex and drugs all have hedonism. Sen-
sation, pleasure. But I don’t have to have the thought of consequence. Because I don’t wanna
deal with it. We’re not fighting a revolution like we did in 1969. We’re not fighting the bigotry
we did in 1969; we’re not fighting Anita Bryant. But we’re falling into the hands of the radicals
that say we’re no good. By our own behavior. We have met the enemy, and it is us. It wasn’t
that way, 35 years ago. Those drag queens that broke up Stonewall, that I knew some of them,
those drag queens were not asking for anything special; they just wanted to be left alone. “Let me
dress as a woman and leave me alone. Just leave me the fuck alone. We’re in a bar, we’re not
bothering children, we’re not bothering animals; we just wanna have a couple of drinks, and be
with people that are like us. Leave us the fuck alone.” Who’s bothering us now? We’re killing
each other. We’re using the Internet to meet people and chloroform them, and gas them, and kill
them and, nobody cares. We go to IML and we put GHB in the punch and we killed one of the
titleholders. We don’t talk about it, though! Shhh. “We’re gonna lose money. Oh, we- we gotta
have a contest. We gotta have a title for this bar. So, our bar can send a contestant to IML.
We’ll get well known, so when the tourists come down, guess where they’re gonna come? To
my bar. ‘Cause my bar has an IML winner.” In fact, the bar here in South Florida, we have IML
2004 [Jason Hendrix, who moved to Fort Lauderdale] and IML 2005 [Michael Egdes]. His
plaque is right on the front of the bar. You think they did that out of graciousness to the title-
holder, or because it brings people in?

JJ: Do you ever feel a sense of urgency to get your... be- because in my knowing you I’d - I don’t
know anyone that I have seen you meet for the first time that you don’t tell the 30-second version
of your history.

JG: Mm-hmm.

JJ: Do you-

JG: There is urgency. There is urgency. People are dying. The community is disintegrating.

JJ: So you feel that by telling your story to other people-
JG: It’s gotta get out there. People are listening; the group is growing. People come over here,
Josh; you see how many people come in this house. Leather people. Men and women.

JJ: If, after 2 hours, 6 minutes and 22 seconds, whoever’s listening to this still has not gotten the
point of your oral history, can you give ‘em the dummy’s version in, like, 50 words or less?

JG: Leather is more than sex. It’s more than getting off. It’s more than the mechanics of what is
done to you. For without that bond, and trust, you have nothing.

JJ: Sir, I really do appreciate your time. It’s been an honor to record your oral history, and I
thank you for speaking to me.

JG: Thank you, puppy.