When Darin Osborne showed up for his first date with Creig Nielson more than six years ago, he pulled up to the house on a motorcycle dressed in full leather, from head-to-toe.
“I love the smell and feel of it and always have. Ever since I was a kid,” Osborne said. “It’s so hot.”
This first date was Nielson’s first experience with leather, and six years later, Osborne has converted him into a regular leather and S&M aficionado.
“It took some time to finally get into it and understand everything,” Nielson said. “But after you get past all the misconceptions about leather and other kinks, you see there’s so much more to it.”
The key to leather, kink and S&M is trust and education, Nielson said. Most people that are involved with the scene are extremely willing, and excited, to discuss all aspects of sex and relationships, he said.
One of the resources available to those that are either just starting to get involved in the scene or are veterans is the annual Utah Rebellion. The event will be held at The Trapp, 102 S. 600 West, Sept. 9-11. Activities include a meet-and-greet on Sept. 9, and classes, vendors and demonstrations on Sept. 10, and closing with a brunch on Sept. 11.
In its sixth year, the Rebellion is a place for men who are interested in leather, fetishes and kink to get together, said Utah Rox, the co-founder and producer of the event.
“It’s the premier men’s leather and fetish event of the year,” Rox said. “We wanted a social event for men in the Utah area that are curious about kinky lifestyle to have a place to socialize and be around like-minded people.”
There are a lot of misconceptions about the lifestyle and it can be intimidating to get started, Osborne said.
“A lot of people think that if they start getting involved with S&M or leather they have to be willing to do everything,” Osborne said. “But that’s just not true. You can do as much or as little as you want. And exploring what you like and expanding your tastes are part of the experience.”
“Like my mom always said, try something once and if you don’t like it, don’t do it again,” Nielson added.
Everyone has a little kinky side and learning to explore it sexually is very beneficial psychologically, Osborne said. His self-awareness and confidence levels have been boosted from exploring limits through S&M. From watching go-go dancers in a cage at a club to football gear and jockstraps, there’s a little kink for everyone, he said.
Learning to express themselves sexually was liberating and exciting for Osborne and Nielson, and the journey led to a greater closeness and better communication in their relationship.
“Before each scene you have to communicate with each other so you know what your partner expects out of the experience,” Nielson said. “You have to learn to read more than just words, but also look for non-verbal communication and read body language.”
The leather community is large and has outposts around the nation. From the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco to International Mr. Leather in Chicago, there’s a tight-knit community that is based on trust, Nielson said. The very nature of S&M requires a higher level of trust and intimacy and brings a whole new level to the relationship, Nielson said.
“Most people don’t realize what an art form or a dance the different activities can be,” Osborne said. “A lot of the bondage arts come from historic backgrounds, like rope bondage in Japan.”
Osborne, who is the “boy” in the relationship, said it took a whole new level of confidence to come out as a member of the leather community, and at first, wearing his gear in public was intimidating.
“Now I just plain don’t care,” he said. “I love all the stares I get when people see me walking around in my leather and chain around my neck.”
There are a few local resources for those that are intrigued by leather or other fetishes but don’t know how to get started. The Utah Rebellion is a terrific location to start meeting people and asking questions. It’s also a great place to start collecting gear. The Facebook group and Yahoo! group owned and operated by Nielson and Osborne, Wasatch Men and Boys of Leather is also a resource for interested participants.
“Even if you’ve just got a harness and want to wear it with other people, look us up. I love wearing leather with other guys,” Osborne said.
The Utah Rebellion has averaged more than 200 participants, and this year has some outstanding vendors and classes, Rox said.
“I know a lot of guys who go and buy a piece of leather that they’re curious about, they hang it up in their closet and it never comes out,” Rox said. “We wanted a place to put it on in a safe environment.”
For a complete schedule of events, go to UtahRebellion.com.