For your convenience, and also for transparency, we are hosting Recon’s episode on our website here. Use it as a reference if you like.
This morning I’ve checked my Recon App to see if I had any messages to get back to (hoping it was one of the lucky cases where a Paid Service like Recon has an App that will actually work, without crashing constantly), and one of the many promoted contents in the homepage caught my eye. I normally skip these as it’s all about two things I generally don’t care for: new shops or new parties (and this should really be one of the first cultural divides addressed by the podcast, really); yet this time it was a one hour and a half long podcast, supposedly about “Old Guard vs New Guard”.
I was smiling, concerned, thinking that something must be really changing, since if you dare talking about Old Guard and New Guard on twitter, you’ll be bashed by Sash Queens shouting “Old Guard never existed!!”, while now even her Majesty Recon is making a post about it. I take a look at who is talking about it, since clearly Sandy and the Recon crew have not really experienced Old Guard, with due respect, and I see it’s the founder of Folsom Europe, a man I have briefly chatted with in the past, and whom to my understanding is not Old Guard. So why inviting someone who is not Old Guard to talk about the differences between New Guard and Old Guard? Because to my understanding, there was no cultural difference between the parties involved in the conversation. They are all events organizers, focusing on selling tickets and merch, which is what the scene is all about today.
But I thought “hey, you’re being judgmental now, listen to the podcast first”. So I have listened to it, and I’m here to tell you the points of view of an Old Guard Leatherman on the topic.
All that was wrong with Recon’s Podcast episode on Old Guard
- What was addressed as the difference between Old Guard and New Guard
- “it’s about a different way of clubbing and including people as opposed to exluding them”
- “It’s a bunch of gays going YAAAS”
- New Guard is about fashion
- Moving from the butch Stereotype
- New Guard wants to choose the rules and change them?
What was addressed as the difference between Old Guard and New Guard
The podcast starts off on the right foot. Without being very precise, but it’s ok since it was just the introduction, the speaker states that being Old Guard vs being new guard has nothing to do with age or being old vs young; it has to be to a certain adherence to Protocols and Tradition, where on new guard it’s about not really caring about Protocols and traditions, as both newcomers to the scene or older players. This is actually true.
But then, the Podcast doesn’t spend a second on the WHY Old Guard People stick to traditions, why is Protocol fundamental, why is it a closed community where you’ll get in based on merit, and not based on gear (and here the podcast and speakers show off their lack of knowledge on Traditions and Culture, being them only focused on appearance, parties and looks) and so on. We’ve already explained on this article that being BLUF is not being Old Guard. Old Guard men often wear jeans and Boots and that’s all the gear you need; but now, Recon’s podcast keeps on pushing on the myth that Old Guard means being a BLUF member that won’t talk to you unless you’re in full three layer Leather gear.
Going on, Daniel Rüster starts talking, and the main goal of the Podcast is finally served. He introduces the brand new Folsom Australia event, that will take place in Melbourne. Quickly, Sandy reinforces the sublimnial Call to Action of this Marketing manouver (because that’s what Podcasts made by Companies are about, it’s called Inbound Marketing) shouting “OMG I’m buying the tickets nao”.
In Digital Marketing, Podcasts are one of the main tools of communication together with Social Media Editorial Content; it’s important to place the most important content and Call to Action at the beginning of the Podcast, when you’ll have the most listeners active; a high percentage of listeners fall out of the stream after 3/5 minutes, so there you go the goal of the Podcast served in time. Now, for the rest of it..
Daniel starts explaining in his view what Old Guard is (you can find our explanation here). He explains that it comes from the 50/60’s where men needed an excuse to fag around in a safe environment, dressing up like bikers and such to camouflage themselves and not being looked weird; he further explains that Leather is a fashion statement that stemmed from Tom of Finland, and that people bought into it because Leather was very available at the time, and it was a way to be kinky without being harmed, thanks to the Macho Biker look.
Unfortunately, Daniel described exactly what was the start of New Guard. People who met in Leather Clubs in the 50’s and the 60’s were looking to live in a way that society wouldn’t understand, carrying on the principles and Protocols and Values of military life, where men lived together bound by a strong dogmatic hierarchy held in place by Titles, frameworks and duties; all was held together by Integrity, respect and earning your status. I don’t see anything like that in today’s gay world, and New Guard started to exist exactly when Tom of Finland started to include Kake (because Tom of Finland didn’t draw Leathermen. He has drawn ALSO a characther in Leather, which became one of the best sellers). His beautiful drawing started to be distributed for free in general gay clubs and discos all around the states, and that’s when random gay folk started to buy harnesses to push up their pecs, to get a different dick, and to be “sexy”. That’s exactly when Leather started to die, in my opinion, loosing it’s soul, and only holding it’s looks for commercial vultures to pick on.
“It’s about a different way of clubbing and including people, as opposed to excluding them”
So Daniel keeps talking about his experience, stating how when he went to some parties in the UK and saw that the strict dress code “Leather only” was bouncing away rubber guys and general crowd, he found that very wrong. That was the spirit behind the creation of Folsom Europe, to create events and parties where all shades of kink are accepted and welcomed. Which is fantastic and nice, as long as you sport it out that way, as long as you don’t new-guard-wash history. pointing out what it was pointed out.
If you listen to Recon’s podcast on Old Guard vs New Guard, you’ll get this idea: “Old Guard people are refusing to learn something new, it’s a boring concept where you can only be one certain thing, it’s a closed minds environment, while New Guard is the new and bettered version of kink, where you will not be judged, you’ll not be pushed away, you’ll not have a hard time getting into”.
Sadly, this description doesn’t quite fit reality. First of all, nobody explained (because none of them now, as none of them is Old Guard) WHY Old Guard is exclusive, rigid and doesn’t accept just whoever wants to tap in for their personal entertainment. Secondly, they are proposing an idea of their “New Guard culture” that is a lie. Never like in the last 5 years I’ve seen the fetish environment being truly open to everyone; it’s open to everyone as long as you abide 100% their views and fashion standards. Let’s put it down in a drop down examples list.
- I’ve seen pups being excluded from taking group pictures at Folsom because “they didn’t have the right gear”
- Same pups were treated with sufficiency and patronizing behaviour because of their lack of gear
- I’ve seen so many guys being excluded from parties or just having a drink together because they didn’t want to take drugs
- I’ve also seen the same guys starting to take drugs and ruin their life, to be included in the new guard party world
- I’ve never seen Old Guard men grouping together to publicly shame, insult and degrade somebody just because he voiced his views on his own Social account
- I’ve been instead attacked by sash queens who don’t give two shits about leather, calling up all of their new guard friends, to insult me and say all together that me, my boy, my Mentors, my Culture never existed and that we are ridiculous. I’ve seen other Old Guard Leathermen being publicly destroyed by New Guard Commercial agendas, such as the poor, embarassing treatment John Weal had by the public chat on Leatherati, as an example.
The list could go on forever, but to make it short, the point is:
Old Guard Leather has strong principles based on Integrity and a life calling, where once you become a Leatherman, you stay a Leatherman until you die. It’s about passing on a lifestyle that is about strong values, and the Protocols, Etiquettes and Discipline have a reason for their existence, it’s not a fetish. They are in place to provide a framework into which men can learn to have control over themselves, to live respecting the natural hierarchy that we observe in all nature things between Dominant and submissive parties, and Old Guard Leather is NOT about the Leather itself. It’s not a fashion statement, it’s not a carnival like it’s convenient to depict it. Leather is part of it just because at the time wearing Leather for ex army people who were by default motorcyclists, was normal outfit. Today, Old Guard Leathermen keep Leather as a symbol and a Tradition. There is enough written on this topic on this website for you to know already.
“It’s just a bunch of gays going YAAAAS”
Then Daniel and Sandy move over to describing parties, as this is what Recon’s and Folsom events network are all about. Making the largest number of gay people flock to their events to sell tickets, merchandise and online subscription. There is nothing else. T101 is a company, not a friend of yours. Their revenue is based in your Life Time Value as a customer. Using communities, fetish and sense of belonging is one of the best Life Time Value metric. Same goes for the company which holds Folsom events, and all the other events for the matter. The more a thing is famous, the less it has a soul.
This is also another large difference between Old Guard and New Guard. Old Guard men are obsessed with the sould, spirituality and life calling behind the Discipline, Strictness and Structure. New Guard people seem to be more interested in having fun with no strong commitment, and living a fast paced experience in which everything is the same, everything is available when you want it, and you are made feel special every moment because of said diversity.
So, they are talking about IML as a meter to measure Old Guard and New Guard. Sandy starts to get excited and crazy about their IML experience. Just to be clear, me and my folk don’t go to IML since the late 1980’s. IML became, like every Sash/based event, an empty and sterile super expensive fashion show to catwalk on; on that I fully agree with the speakers. The main difference is that they talk about it with fun and saying, I’m quoting sandy literally “That’s what fetish men are, folks, especially new folk who are not in the scene yet and they wonder what’s it all about; it’s nothing serious, it’s just a bunch of gays going YAAAAS”.
No, that’s what Sandy is, maybe. That’s what people who have nothing to do with Old Guard are, and it’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with being a bunch of gays who like to catwalk and change “outfits” like a barbie doll. It’s wrong when you appropriate of other cultures, which are based on meaningful commitment, and you take away the symbolic power of Leather, claiming it yours, and you wash away the history and meaning behind wearing leather.
Daniel states that “Leather is dying, and that’s why we’re moving to other kinds of kink and opening more to new guard”. Well thanks god Leather is dying for people who never understood o cared about Leather! Old Guard people are actually glad about it. Maybe slowly in time, Leather and Uniforms (especially after BLM protests) will be completely lef atlone by the new guard public, beause I do agree, they have nothing in common with a bunch of gays going YAAAAS.
Sandy then tries to find some composure by saying “I’m joking”. That’s another difference between Old Guard and new guard people. We’d never joke about such things. Which doesn’t mean we NEVER JOKE, it means that one of the aspects of having integrity, is that you can joke about 99% of things; there is a 1% of things you can’t joke about. This, is another aspect of the cultural clash between Old Guard and new guard.
New Guard is about fashion
Going on with the episode, Sandy explains how he was not a Leatherman or a Fetish person when joining Recon professionally. He felt like all of this was alien to him, he couldn’t understand why to wear Leather and how, and so there was a need to change things around, not to feel excluded. This is a valid representation of new guard in my humble opinion. He explained how he borrowed leather from a friend and just camouflaged as the people he saw around him at a Leather event; but nobody explained sandy the WHY behind the WHAT; instead of searching for the why, taking the time to learn, going through the painful but needed experience of “I need to work my ass off to earn my participation to this group, and maybe understand first if this group resembles my identity or not”, new guard goes the quick and easy way: I’ll take the outfit, because it makes me popular and creates a persona for me. I’ll respect the traditions and views that brought leather to this point, but I won’t maintain it. I’ll actually just wear the clothes.
In my opinion, that’s unfortunately the opposite of respect. If you respect something, you don’t play with it just because you’re in the mood. If you respect something, be it a culture, a lifestyle, an artwork or whatever else, you don’t appropriate of it saying “thank you”. You leave it where it is, if it’s not for you; and if it’s for you, you take the time to learn, you don’t change things around because of your sexual or commercial agenda, and you make sacrifices to honor it. That’s respect.
Respect, is also saying “I’ve learnt and understood what Old Guard and Leather are about, and it’s not for me. I’ll move on to something else”.
Taking something you like just because you want to be “in the game”, while changing all the aspects of it to fit your agenda, it’s not respect. It’s globalization. It’s merchandise and turning something meaningful into a fashion show. Which is exactly what, and we all agree in that, what the public fetish scene is today.
Daniel then talks about how is growing out of Leather because Leather is uncomfortable to wear. Everyone laughs histerically. I’m sorry to have to break this again, but Leather is uncomfortable in two cases:
one: you just bough new Leather, you only use it for events, and you didn’t break the leather in. Of course wearing it like this is a torture, and it should be. It’s kind of a metaphor for the fetish journey too. If you only tap in to it for your appearance at events, it’s going to hard, uncomfortable and difficult to stick to it. If you instead are always being that person, these things come naturally.
two: you bought cheap tight leather because you wanted to look hot while being on a budget. Once again, your choices, your consequences. Leather to be comfortable needs to be high quality, tailor made gear that you actually use. It molds to your body, and becomes a second skin.
Anton goes on explaining how he got all these leathers just to be present on stage at CLAW as a sponsor. Well of course Leather is uncomfortable that way. You’re on a stage wearing stuff that you’ve never wore before, and you’re there to do business. This has nothing to do with being a a Leatherman or wearing leather whatsoever.
So this is another difference between new guard and Old Guard. To new guard people, as the podcast says, it’s just about the looks. They even admit it. They both say :
“when I’m wearing Leather, I feel like a fraud. An impostor.”.
That’s exactly what they are, and yet, they talk about respect. This part really puzzles me.
Also at some point Anton tries to explain that new guard is needed although it completely watered down Dress Codes, because not everyone can afford Leather and otherwise they would be always left out. Once again, Old Guard is not BLUF, and as stated here, you’ll get much more attention from an Old Guard man when you’re not trying to dress you up to imitate leather without knowing anything about it in the first place. You don’t need gear to be Old Guard. That’s a lie.
Moving from the butch stereotype
At some point, Anton starts speaking about how (what he calls) Old Guard people are too conservative and “hate” guys mixing gender based gear at events, such as stockings, high heels and stuff like that. Once again, there is a complete misplacement of visions, because thy think they’re talking about Old Guard people, while they’re talking about BLUF at best.
Old Guard men have no problems in welcoming femininity of a sub or a bottom. It’s pretty rare I’d say that a Sir wants to dress with these new waves of fashion, but hell, if that what he wants, he’s the Boss and he should decide. Everyone stir a bit away from the core ideals in their everyday lives. But it’s completely different when Anton says “Old Guard men stick to this stereotype of butch man in full leather”. I’m sorry Anton but once again you’re commenting on your own community. It’s new guard people who, as we said, took just the looks of what a Leatherman is, and started to propose this “butch” bullshit, as they are despereatly trying to fit in a “look”; and now that same community is doing it again, in an internal fight for identity, where there is no identity to be found at all, since the whole fetish community nowadays is just a nip and tuck, a copy and paste of things that had a meaning, and worked because they had a meaning, and now they’re just fashion outfits.
No wonder why it feels toxic. In Old Guard, a man is manly when he is naturally manly; he doesn’t need to “butch up”. Some men are naturally masculine, some other are less markedly masculine, some others might be more on the feminine side… be yourself. Curiously, Sandy and Anton and Daniel talk about how “being your true self” is important, but the whole concept of new guard seems to try everything in the attempt to figure out who you are. What about starting from trying to understand who you are without expensive parties and gear, and once you’ve figured out what’s your thing starting to get into it? I’ll tell you why: money.
It’s not profitable to propose a model of community where you buy things only when you’re sure you want them. Instead, a good business plan is based on having people go to every party, buy every single piece of gear, and to sugar coat it all with the “I’m empowering your freedom” propaganda. That’s something else that is different between new guard organizations and Old Guard independent groups.
New Guard wants to change the rules and their meaning
This is not my idea. This is not a way to try and be negative towards new guard. It is what Sandy and Anton have affirmed in their podcast. They costantly explained how they “respect” the rules and tradition, but that Recon, new guard and new wave wants and needs to take and change these rules to fit what they want to fit their identity and mood. In my opinion, and that’s just my little opinion, that’s being childish and proposing the everlasting myth of a gay man as an eternal Peter Pan. Life, unfortunately, doesn’t often pay out as in the gay dream. Rules are there for a reason, we live in societies which are falling apart exactly because nobody wants to follow rules and restrictions anymore, and that’s the era of individualism and lack of commitment. This is the kind of future new guard is probably, without knowledge, dipping into.
This is sadly the matrix behind the general behavior of youngster (and non) and GLBT community in general also socially. They are made to believe they can change every rule, that they can shape their own experience and envrionment and values and rules and whys and whats depending on their mood and convenience. That’s sadly how also young people refuse authority and rules, proposing it as an advanced evolution of society towards a more “free world”. Instead, this is leading to chaos. Refusing rules and authority can’t be selective; I’m very curious to see these people when they’ll need to call the police because of an assault or robbery. Sorry, no authorities available. When they’ll need to be admitted to hospital because of illness. Sorry, we’re going to try to inject you with something random, just to try a change, cause rules and text book have no value. When they’ll need to pay the rent, what are they going to do, answer the landlord “sorry, you’re now imposing your heteronormative views on my identity. I don’t pay rent.”.
That’s not how life works. You don’t get to take and change whatever is enstablished just because you want to, especially when you don’t even know the reasons behind those rules, and you shallowly attribute everything to “looks, fun, sexy, cute”. Listen to the podcast. These are the only keywords being costantly spoke. No words and topics about integrity, responsability, honor. There is no space for that apparently in new guard; there’s only space for what you’re in the mood for today, and expensive memberships and tickets to be part of the game.
- Have you noticed how the more we progress in this abandon of tradition and protocols, the more the world seems to be on fire?
- Have you noticed how these new guard kids are unable to respect and show interest for anything that is not sexy, new and stereotyped?
- Have you noticed how for hoe much freedom they are gaining by stepping on everything that was there before, they feel lonelier and lonelier even within a large crowd?
- Have you noticed how there is no respect for elders anymore?
- Did Sandy, Anton and Daniel talk about it whatsoever in their podcast? No. Becasue they don’t understand what Old Guard is about.
They talked about looks, expression, style, and events. This is about fashions shows, not about honor.
I wished to listen to a very different take on Old Guard and I must admit I’m disappointed in Daniel whom I thought had different views. But I’m also encouraged and happy to see that we are moving from “Old Guard never existed, shut the fuck up” to “Oh, young people are starting to talk about it… maybe we should aknowledge Old Guard”.
This is thanks to you, who area reading this website and other resources from Old Guard folk who is living, instead of clubbing. It’s thanks to people like you who start talking to their peers and saying “you know, this new guard sex-lifestyle is making us feeling empty… but I found out there is a whole big meaning behind things”. New generations are welcomed to live their lives their own ways, Old Guard folk never wanted to spread this lifestyle and have as many people as possible to be fundamentalists. All we want is for people to respect our values and symbols, stopping the cultural rape, and to keep on living our own way, without having to conform to what’s fashionable today according to money making driven companies, such as T101, Folsom Europe e. V. , and others official channels.