Top or bottom, we don’t always instinctively get it right first time, and we’ve all got incidents in our past that were “learning moments”. I’d like to tell you one of mine.
I was at a fetish bar in Philadelphia some years ago when I had my first encounter with a bootblack. yangpup was with me and he was interested in learning some bootcare tricks, so I sent him over to chat with the bootblack and I was soon sitting in the chair.
Because it was my first time, I was probably a bit too chatty for the bootblack to find their space, but here are some things I’ve learned since then:
Bootblacking is a Form of Scene
It’s a headspace for the bootblack and you are an active participant in that. It might not be a scene in the way you’re used to thinking of it, but a bootblack may perform a form of negotiation by asking what you want, and then they will throw themselves into the space. You can keep it light and boyant with chit-chat, or it can be done in intense silence, possibly with undertones of power-exchange. It depends how you connect. But, you will be part of the bootblack’s memories of that night.
In the same vein, like any scene there is implicit and explicit negotiation present and issues of consent are important. A bootblack is offering you a service. Having your boots blacked doesn’t automatically give you permission to grope, fondle or make inappropriate remarks.
Observe But Don’t Interrupt
It’s a scene. If you’re not part of it and the building isn’t on fire, stand back and let it happen. If it’s the kind of scene where it’s OK for you to step in to chat, wait for the bootblack or customer to address you first.
Don’t Touch a Bootblack’s Kit
The same etiquette that applies to people’s toybags applies here.
If you’re in the chair, checking out the room is fine, interacting with someone might be fine, but don’t drift off into cyberspace checking your Facebook updates.
Bootblacking supplies cost money, and it’s physically and mentally taxing work that will probably require a drink between customers.
Don’t Demand Service
Bootblacking is a skill and a bootblack isn’t necessarily submissive. And even if they are, they’re not your submissive.
Boot Worship Isn’t Part of the Service
Some clients are quickies, some get more energy. Not everyone gets the same treatment. You can’t just order what the last person had. If the energy is right, if it feels comfortable, and if it progresses in that way, then it might lead to some bootlicking/bootworship, but think of that as something exceptional rather than the rule.
Give Bootblacks a Little Space Between Customers
Particularly if you notice that interaction with the last client was intense, let the Bootblack do a little self-care before you approach. It’s hard work and there is no aftercare from clients. They might also be pulling themselves out of a deep bootspace. It’s understandable if the bootblack want to stretch, have a drink or sit quietly for a while before taking on another client. If you’ve caught his/her eye and you’re waiting for their attention, be patient while they reset.
• Deviance & Desire – Zen and the Art of Leather Polishing
• Fetish Men San Diego (Bootblack Spike) – Bootblack Etiquette
• Fetlife – Bootblacking, Bootblacking and Leather Care, Bootblacks
• Oh Joy Sex Tox –Introduction to Bootblacking
• YouTube – Bootblacking – What is bootblacking?
• Toronto: The Next Generation – Building a Basic Bootblacking Kit
• Anyone Can Shine – Bootblacking for Everyone
• Leatherati – The Spirituality of Bootblacking