“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
—Henry David Thoreau
The stories you are about to read were written in an earlier time. In this prehistoric era there was plenty of BDSM-themed kink, but seeking it out was way more challenging than it is today. There was no such thing as a hookup app for your phone. Phones didn’t fit in your pocket back then. They were plugged in to the wall at home, and there were only two kinds: rotary dial and push button. Nobody had a blog or a social media presence.
People were concerned then with many of the same things as today, including the economy, pollution and crime. Because people tended to carry cash on them, there were more burglaries and muggings. No matter where you lived, everyone knew that Times Square was dangerous. Going downtown in any city was dangerous.
But if you were gay and happened to be excited by things like bondage and leather, venturing downtown at some point to try to find a magazine or two might be worth the risk. Growing up before the internet existed made exploring secret fetishes involving kink much more tricky. Before cable TV there were just three channels, and if you wanted to watch something different you had to get up and turn the knob. Every once in a while something listed in TV Guide would be the source of intense interest, such as a television special on Houdini. You might have grown up fascinated by the predicaments that the Caped Crusader and his sidekick found themselves trapped in at the end of almost every episode of Batman (the TV show, not the blockbuster movies of later decades). At the movies, “Cruising” with Al Pacino sure looked interesting — if it was playing in your local theater and you could scare up enough courage to go.
This was definitely before s/m had gone mainstream. And if you did not happen to live in a big city, with leather bars and clubs, your only other outlet was porn, which meant magazines.
Continue reading Metalbond introduction to ‘The Exchange & Other Stories’ by Robert Payne