What is Your Scene Name? Miss Marla
City and State of residence? Fort Lauderdale, FL
Region of Residence? South Florida
What are your pronouns? She/her/hers
What is your gender Identity? Female, Cisgender Femme Woman
What is your sexual identity? Queer, Bisexual, Lesbian, Dyke, Femme
What is are your racial identities? African American
What is/are your ethnicities? (Culture, nationality, ancestry, language) Black American who speaks English
How did you first get into Leather and/or Kink? Offline
Give a Brief Description of your entrance into Leather and/or Kink I was a gogo dancer in San Francisco and I entered a leather shop to pick up outfits and accessories and didn’t realize it was a whole world. Then, I started dating someone who introduced me to Midori, Mr. S Leather, and other kinky folks. I started to engage with kink after that.
What was your local scene like when you were starting? How is it now, by comparison? I moved from CA to GA to FL, so the scenes in those three places are very different and there are a multitude of factors that came into play: 1) age, 2) region, 3) groups involved. Northern CA was normalized, Atlanta was stigmatized, but Blacker, and South Florida is a much smaller community than Atlanta, with an emphasis on gear and less on practice.
Who’s the most influential Black person. In your life and why? My mother. She’s an amazing sex-positive person, a loving best friend, and always has the best advice.
What book have you read that influenced your life and why? I’ve read so many. As a femme doing kinky stuff, My Dangerous Desires by Amber Hollibaugh would probably be the most influential book in my young adult life. It helped me to further see my power in being femme whether that was being a professional boss and top/domme or understanding the incredible submission and experiencing that privately and mysteriously.
Talk about one of your favorite experiences in your local Kink and/or Leather Community. I have many great experiences, but one of my favorites has to do when I was performing kinky striptease in a dungeon in ATL and Goddess Sadie Hawkins asked to spank me, which was extremely vulnerable me in experiencing her power and ended up being a great story that I like to share over and over again.
Do you have a favorite mantra or quote? If so, please share. Everybody love everybody! – Flint Tropics
Name of Clubs you have been a part of? (Please also notate duration, leadership positions if any, and membership levels) ONYX Pearls since it first started as a Yahoo listserve back in the day (I don’t remember the year). I was on the first line, Pearlfection. I served as a Director of Marketing for a couple of years and now I’m a general member.
Are you a founding member of any club(s)? No
If you answered yes to previous question please list club(s), or write n/a. n/a
Are you a founding member of any organization? Yes
If you answered yes to previous question please list organization(s), or write n/a. Sex Down South Conference, Sexual Liberation Collective
Were there any other Black leather folks around in the leather scene when you came into the scene/community? Maybe
If so, did you find that you gravitated more towards each other? If not, how did this affect your experience? Did you build your own community? Say more about your experience. I had a very multi-cultural experience. I didn’t feel alone, but there weren’t a bunch of Black people like there were in Atlanta. And now that I’m in Florida and I go to a kink event, I always try to find the Black folks and other folks of color to exchange information.
Do you think being Black has hampered your experience in the leather/kink community at all? No
If it has, what kind of things did you do to try and remedy those issues? If it hasn’t, please describe. Like stated previously, I’ve always had a multi-cultural experience where there were plenty of Black people and other folks of color that I could connect with. I’ve never felt lacking.
Is there a specific instance where you feel your Blackness enhanced your experience in Leather? Yes
If you answered “yes” or “maybe” please explain.
Blackness will always enhance your experience because you come from a different experience. Because leather and kink was built on the backs of gay men, this marginalization of identities has always allowed me to feel connected to activities that are different from the mainstream.
What is a specific challenge you had coming up in Leather that was unrelated to race/ethnicity? I can’t think of anything at the moment.
How do you find you’re treated in the Leather community vs. the greater LGBT community? To me, these are two groups that are interrelated, so at the moment, I don’t see the differences.
Do you feel that the leather community and embracing blackness has a positive outlook? Yes
Please explain your previous response. Who wants to be the bad guy? Not white people or any other ethnicity.
What advice would you give to newcomers in the Leather scene who are Black? Find a community and a space that resonates with you. Go out often and learn a lot from a lot of different leaders. Get a mentor whom you feel comfortable with.
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