Yesterday evening I was out sailing on Hudson River with some friends when I got an email on my iPhone and learned the sad news that Gene Kahn had passed away earlier in the day.
According to the message, which was from two of his closest friends, he died of complications from heart failure and his death was completely unforseen. He passed from this Earth experiencing no pain, and “with his boots on.”
Gene was a longtime friend of mine. One of my very first encounters with him was way back in the mid-1990s, when I attended an out-of-town play event called Delta for the first time. It was Friday night and I had been in the main playroom for a couple hours, just watching, and acting a bit shy and self-conscious. When Gene noticed me hanging back on the sidelines, he came over and struck up a conversation. Before I knew it, he had me bent over a sawhorse, pants pulled down to my ankles, where he proceeded to give me a loving but very firm bare-assed hand spanking that went on for quite a while. When it was over — and I had not died of embarrassment as I had feared — a message stuck in the back of my mind, about just “jumping in.”
Lesson learned, I ended up having a fantastic time at the event, playing almost nonstop for the subsequent three days, and I returned many times over the years, often as a passenger in Gene’s rickety old beat up station wagon.
Gene wore many hats, and he was passionate about everything he ever did. He was a carpenter by trade, and I hired him on many occasions to help me in my apartment, installing cabinets and shelves. He had a couple of Dachshunds, whom he doted over like children. He was a cyclist, and in recent years he had taken to riding “fixed-gear” bikes. (If you don’t know what that means, let me just say that you have to be a real daredevil to ride one of these in New York City! )
He was not much interested in bondage, but he sure was kinky in other ways. He was skilled with a single tail whip, and he would spend hours practicing.
Gene was also a sailor, and he wrote a fantastic book on the subject, called Deep Water: A Sailor’s Passage (available on Amazon). It’s one of the most heartfelt, deeply moving books I have ever read. In it, Gene explains his love of sailing and also his love for one man — his life partner, Kevin.
It wasn’t until after Gene’s book came out that I ever even stepped foot on a sailboat, but now I love it. It’s funny how things happen sometimes, that I was out sailing when I learned about Gene.
Sail on, buddy. I am going to miss you.