Multiple Tops: "Master, Mistress and Daddy Makes Three"
Reposted with the author's permission. His address is .
Being a lifestyle Old Leather Top, I sometimes find myself undergoing a sense of culture shock when I see how casual many sm commitments appear to have become. In asking about a submissive's Top, I am often answered with responses naming off a Top, a Daddy, a second Mistress once removed, a third cousin on Daddy's side and any number of others who may happen to be in the picture. Hardly ever do I hear anymore of one Top, other than in monogamous romantic relationships where the lover is also the Top.
In my circle of people into Old Leather, there were, and are many submissives to one Top yet there was, and is but one Top to any paired bottom, submissive or masochist. This Top, in whatever form they happened to take on, was the absolute ruler over anyone that was claimed as his/hers and there was no room for even the thought of having multiple Tops, unless the submissive was given to another for a period of time as a gift or given over to the Top's handler for additional instruction or punishment.
In my earlier days, and the days of those before me, there was a much closer knit society of people involved in sm, bd, or ds for many reasons, including the scarcity of people around to choose from and the fear of being discovered. The time of Old Leather was a time when all forms of sm, bd, or ds were grounds for immediate legal action involving jail time, involuntary institutionalization and infliction of medication, shock treatments or a lobotomy to "cure" deviants of their unspeakable disease.
The openness of today, the leniency, didn't exist. Parties involving large groups of people who weren't personally known by the party-giver didn't exist. Neither did the large numbers of "stag" people attending parties. Things like this just weren't done, period, end of discussion.
When a person applied for a submissive role, this person was dedicating their entire being to the one they would henceforth call their Top. There was co-topping among the primary group and there was a loaning out of submissives at different times BUT, and this is a big but, it was done ONLY as the Top in control over that submissive commanded it to be and there was no whining, crying or sulking if this exchange did or did not take place.
In Old Leather, the sense of commitment to one's Top was truly strong enough so that a submissive did not desire, or at least did not act on a desire to be with other Tops. On the contrary, multiple Tops were not tolerated and to be caught with more than one Top was a serious offense cutting off any further connection with the submissive's primary group. It could also mean potential blacklisting by the entire community for being a traitor and a cheat. This personal commitment was a lasting one much like the marriage vows of "til death do you part," It lasted, as it was meant to last for periods of time that today just don't seem to stand a chance.
In my experiences with Old Leather, the structure of the group, the dedication to the lone figure in charge offered a sense of stability. It was a hard life to live and yet there was the knowledge that one person could be depended on to bring it all together. But with anything in life, times change and I sat back to watch it all happen. First came the 60's and 70's with the introduction of "free love" and "swinging" -- of casual sex and sexual freedom. The 80's followed and the devotion to self became stronger than the devotion to others. The "I'm Ok You're Not" beliefs continued eroding the need for one person leading and instead offered multiple partners and an ease of connecting with other people "in the scene".
National and international socializing within the leather community in the 90's has enabled people to have multiple Tops with or without the consent or even knowledge of those Tops involved. Lack of experienced Tops has pushed many bottoms to search at great lengths for what they think they want, yet many are left feeling unfulfilled and empty without knowing why. The popularity and ease of access to the internet has facilitated the introduction of people; inexpensive transportation has enabled them to get together; the abundance of public and private parties and events has allowed greater numbers to play out fantasies; and many return home with nobody around them knowing what transpired.
Today the practice of having multiple Tops is becoming more popular and acceptable, but to this Old Leather Top it will not be allowed with certain members of my Clan. Because with some of those I pair with the need to feel secure, protected, cared for and special comes from the knowledge that I, alone, am their Top and they have me alone to answer to.
More on the "Old Guard"
- The Old Guard History, Origins and Traditions By Guy Baldwin, M.S. (from The Ties That Bind)
- Old Guard? If You say so. By Joseph W. Bean
- The Myth of the Old Guard By Jack Rinella from his Leather Views site.
- Old Guard, New Guard By
- Multiple Tops: Master, Mistress and Daddy Makes Three By Master L.J.E. An Old Guard view of 'Net Generation polyamoury.
- Marginalia on the Old Guard, Leather Traditions, and BDSM History By Ambrosio
- Rover's column in the December 1973 issue of California Scene Magazine: Earliest documented use of the phrase "old guard" in a Leather context.
- "Old Guard" Links on the Manners and Traditions page.