CIPEX is ecstatic to welcome the spectacular author of The Marketplace Book Series and pioneering Leather Woman, the underground legend herself, Laura Antoniou. While The Marketplace Series is her most popular work (over 600,000 copies and counting sold) Laura has numerous other books that she has published. In 2013, Laura published her first mystery, The Killer Wore Leather, a murder mystery that takes place at a leather contest. It won the 2013 Rainbow Book Award for Best B/T & LGBT Contemporary & Historical Fiction, and the NLA (National Leather Association) Pauline Reage Novelist Award in 2014
As a presenter, panelist, and keynote speaker, Laura has appeared at over 150 conferences, groups and events over more than twenty years, both entertaining and delivering an occasional verbal indictment. She has also appeared at colleges and universities, including Harvard, NYU, Rutgers, Columbia and the University of Washington.
Laura lives in Queens, NY with her wife Karen, and is Kim Attica’s boy. In 2011, Laura received the NLA: International’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Pantheon of Leather Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. And she’s still alive! She is also the recipient of the 2011 “Worst Camper” award at Dark Odyssey: Fusion, and yes, she totally deserved both of these awards.
But we wanted to know more about this amazing woman. So we sent her a few questions. What follows is our interview with Laura Antoniou:
- Laura, with your many years involved in the BDSM and Leather lifestyles, do you continue to learn new things? If so, what is the most recent thing you learned?
If a day goes by when I haven’t learned anything new, that’s a pretty sad day. But that’s in general. When it comes to the kink/BDSM/altsex communities, the new things I learn tend to be personal experiences and trends, plus an occasional revelation of how ignorant/ rude/ dim/ criminally dangerous some people can be. For example, I recently discovered some people seem to think “a submissive” must ask permission to leave a relationship. Fascinating how deluded some people can be.
2. You wrote The Marketplace series of books which have now sold over 600,000 copies. How many other books have you written? Have your writings influenced your kink lifestyle or do you feel that your lifestyle experiences have shaped the direction of your writings?
Before and during the period when I wrote the first three MP books, I also wrote a gay male novel, (Musclebound)and dozens of gay short stories for magazines and anthologies, revised an authentic Victorian novel to make it more explicit, and edited half a dozen anthologies, including Leather Women I, II & III and Some Women, a collection of essays and true stories from kinky women. In 2013, I released The Killer Wore Leather, a comedy murder mystery, and it was wonderfully received, my best reviewed work, ever. It was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and won the Rainbow Books Best GLBT Mystery award.
I certainly hope that if my works have influenced anyone in the kink communities, it is through imaginative masturbation. Novels are not instruction manuals. I like to hear that people enjoyed them, that they were entertained, or inspired to have some fabulous sex, that they maybe, MAYBE role played a bit. But I doubt any sensible person would think they were guidelines for real life.
And in the other part of your question, of course my own experiences inform what I write. The Killer Wore Leather is the closest thing to a farcical documentary of my experiences in the scene, a la Christopher Guest. (This is Spinal Tap, Best in Show, etc.) More than that, I started writing the Marketplace books because the scene was a rather disappointing place for me at that time. They came during and after a period when I was already burning out on scene politics, organizations, contests and events, the endless bickering and the cycle of organizational rise and fall. I still had these romantic notions about how it was going to be one day when I found my people. How sad to find your people and realize they’re just like everyone else. (Sad and useful, actually.) But in my frustration and hurt, I started writing a world that had more absolutes.
And if anyone reads the final line in book 6, The Inheritor, which came out last year and does not understand it’s a commentary on the state of the scene today, it’s only because they haven’t been around long enough.
3. “The Way of It: Establishing and Maintaining Protocol within Relationships,” is one of the classes that you are presenting at Mischief in May. Do you feel protocol is more important within the BDSM relationship versus those in vanilla relationships?
I don’t think it’s important in and of itself, any more than knowing and using rope bondage or basing your kinky fun times on old ‘Perils of Pauline’ style serials instead of an ongoing relationship style. Using protocols is just one of the many tools we have to make our relationships uniquely satisfying. And never think vanilla people don’t use them! To think that means a basic misunderstanding of what a protocol is. A protocol is just a standardized way of doing things. Everyone operates under protocols at some point in almost every day.
Protocols aren’t about WHAT you do. They’re about HOW you do it. The protocol for making a cup of tea, for example, may include an electric kettle or a samovar or grandma’s tea set or a pod in a Keurig. It could be something you only do in the morning, in the afternoon, or when the time has been specially set aside for a ritualized presentation. I personally don’t have a protocol for making or serving tea, because 1) I don’t care enough about tea, and 2) therefore, when I do make tea, it can happen any number of ways.
Vanilla people have their own relationship protocols, even though it would probably not occur to them to call them such. They are habits that transcend mere repetition – they develop meaning past what an outsider will see. A certain touch, a code phrase, any behavior can be a protocol.
It’s the same in kinky relationships. If people care about how something is done, then they can establish that action as part of their personal protocol, whether it’s deeply meaningful to them, like putting a collar on or taking it off, or whether it’s a fetish thing they especially like. Maybe they enjoy having ten “slave positions” or a prescribed way to deliver a beating. Or they have their own way to refer to each other. A way to signal its sexy-fun times. How they dress up when going out to a club or event. It varies with every single relationship. This is why no one should ever refer to “the protocol,” or “protocol” as though there is one we all understand and either follow or not.
4. “For Your Own Good: Using Punishment in your SM Relationships,” is another of the classes that you are presenting for us at Mischief in May. Have you found that the administration of punishments increases or decreases over time as the relationship progresses?
Not everyone uses punishment as part of their dynamic. Some people find it degrading or silly or dysfunctional. Some people start off a relationship in high fantasy mode; before they even know where they each went to school, they’re playing top/bottom games of disobedience and punishment, and they’re making up rules and struggling to remember them. But like all relationships, intensity and frequency change over time. It can be because they move into a state where the very concept of punishment is silly. Or they may believe it’s not healthy for them. Or, there may be fewer “excuses” for it, and the top is there wracking her brain to come up with something so they can show their mighty domliness.
But I also see how people can revive some lost passion and fun and role playing and evidences of power by bringing punishment into an existing relationship, or changing the way they use it.
I address all of these things in the class, and show people how to get beyond stereotypes and fantasies and find ways that improve and sustain their relationships rather than threaten them or keep them out of the same-old, same-old.
5. Mischief in May presenter Laura Antoniou, your Presenters choice class for Mischief in May is “That Ain’t Necessarily So – Lies, Exaggerations & Silly Shit You Keep Hearing in the Scene.” Do you find this to be your most frequently changing presentation or do people keep repeating the same silly shit?
Same shit, different decade. The first Eulenspiegel meeting I ever went to, the topic was “What’s the difference between a submissive and a slave?” That was over 30 YEARS ago! As I usually say, “Have we figured this out yet? No? Then let’s move the fuck on.” So much the same shit.
Some things age out, though. I used to have a whole shtick on cybersex behaviors, but I don’t think people do that anymore. Do they? I should ask around.
Would you share one of your most unexpected, funny or memorable events you have had in the lifestyle?
That time when I overheard someone earnestly telling someone else that the Marketplace was based on a real organization and this character was so-and-so and that character was some other person. They had NO IDEA who I was, so I just sort of stayed nearby and listened to the entire story. It was amazing. It included lost European royalty, sex changes, family secrets, and suitcases of money. Later on I ran into this person at a meet-and-greet and took great pleasure in introducing myself. They seemed a little shaken.
6. What are you looking forward to at Mischief in May?
Meeting people I haven’t met before! It’s my first time in your area and I am excited to see what you all are doing out there and have fun and some laughs with the attendees.
There you have it. Laura Antoniou is coming to meet you! But in order for her to do that YOU HAVE TO BE REGISTERED TO ATTEND MISCHIEF IN MAY VII!!! Go HERE and register now!!! The price goes up soon! Don’t miss out on seeing not only Laura Antoniou, but our other FANTASTIC International Presenters Murphy Blue, Raven Kaldera, Aeolis Est, and KinkMedic. You will not be disappointed!