Dexx: You’re the creator of the Gentleman In Charge event, you teach the BDSM 201 class series, and you create leather products under the Ravynblood Leather brand. For many you’re also known as the voice of DomCon in LA and Atlanta. So, I guess if you go back a little ways, how did you first find yourself coming into the BDSM community?
Master Gabriel: Well, actually I first stepped foot into the Sanctuary in Reseda. A friend of mine at the time had seen some of the leatherwork that I’d done. We thought perhaps we could get something going and he suggested possibly going to talk to Mistress Cyan and see what she thought of the leather goods and see if it might be a worthwhile venture to try out. So that was my first step in and that was some many years ago, probably a good eight to ten years ago. Of course before then I was playing behind closed doors and didn’t even know there was an actual community at that point in time. So that was my first introduction into the actual community of BDSM.
So you have a degree in psychology I believe?
And do you think that that has helped you in terms of understanding the roles in BDSM and finding your own role that you like and educating others in terms of the different aspects of BDSM?
I wish it helped me more often than I thought because it really does but when you get up close and personal for some reason what you know about psychology just goes out the door. But in general, yes it helps me understand the roles a little bit better. It helped me to kind of understand the inner workings of the community as a whole, not necessarily as helpful up close and personal because as I mentioned typically when you get into a relationship with somebody it’s –there’s so much passion and so much energy going on you don’t really pay attention to those fine details.
Right –so the Gentleman In Charge (GIC) event seems to have become quite popular at Sanctuary. What lead you to creating that?
Actually, this is the brainchild of Mistress Cyan. She brought me in on it in order to start it up and run it. I had been mentoring under her and she thought I’d be a good fit for running it. Of course, then the only thing that we had in mind was creating a male Dom/female sub evening. At that point in time WICK, which is Women In Charge of Kink had been running with some relative success for about a year or so and she wanted to make sure there was a male Dom/femsub side to it as well. So we hit the ground running and took the reigns and its been going ever since.
So how is GIC different form other play parties?
It’s way different than other play parties. It’s specifically male Dominant/female sub, there’re not that many male Dom/femsub specific clubs in southern California so there’s not really much to choose from in that regard. In particular, from the get go our team understand that this meant for male Doms and female subs but we felt it needed to be a safe place for the female subs to come to. Otherwise it’s just any old meat market and we didn’t want that. We wanted to make sure it was a safe place for new people and people who are long term in the scene as a fem sub to be there without fear of having to do whatever any dominant that approaches them says. Which is partly why we utilize the red ribbon system where you can pin on a red ribbon if you’re interested in talking about potential play. It leaves that particular bit of control in the women’s hands, that way they can at least show if they’re interested in talking or if they’re just there to spectate.
Do you think that’s been an issue at other male Dom/femsub play parties in the past- that they can be quite intimidating for the females because its sort of open season for the males to think they can do as they please?
I think there’s a sense that that might be the case. Whether that’s what actually goes on in those clubs or not is dependent highly on the individual clubs. But I think that the intimidation is there and to make it open and make it well known that our interest is to make sure its not that kind of a night, not that kind of a club, I think that’s what’s important.
And it’s billed as a high protocol event. What does that entail?
Well for GIC specifically we bill it as high protocol simply because we make sure the gentlemen are there as gentlemen. We enforce a dress code both for the men and women just to make sure that the evening is more classy or make sure that its seen that way. As far as protocol in general, we really leave that open to the specific dynamic you come in with. Also if you come in with your own lady and you have your own protocol we make room for that. But certainly the feel is there. We want to make sure that gentlemanly Dom is the overall energy of the evening and that lends itself to the specific dynamics.
Great-would you recommend that as an event for people who are brand new to the scene?
Most definitely. Every month we get a ton of new people that are coming in there. Several people will send new people that they learn of and talk to in the scene, specifically because of the kind of night it is. It’s not the meat market type of event, you do have the availability to say whether or not you’re just there to watch or if you actually want to interact or not. The gentlemen that are there on average do act like gentlemen. We do make sure we have both male and female dungeon monitors. That way the females that are there do have somebody they can go to. They don’t feel like its just male run. So its very much well structured for that. Also on the flip side of this, at the beginning of the evening we have our discussions. That ranges from anything from negotiations to dynamics we’ll bring guest speakers and that runs for a good half hour or so at the beginning for education for the entire community. I leave that open as an interactive discussion on purpose because we want to make sure we get everybody there interacting. Its not there to be just somebody up there talking and lecturing. We want to make sure everybody participates including the new people. A lot of new people have questions that they really don’t feel as if they can ask at someplace like a class. That’s the place to do it.
In your 201 class series, you cover some advanced topics. Some of them involve dynamics and psychology of D/s relationships others touching on some areas some people consider to be edge play like needles knives and fire play. How did you come to learn those skills?
I learned directly from my mentor Mistress Cyan. Others were 101 training that were taken throughout the year, some is cross over from things that I’d learned such as martial arts. I’ve been drawing from Boy Scouts, personal exploration. So it’s from there and a lot of it is a mixture of all of thee above.
Do you think that people that enjoy BDSM tend to gravitate towards more edge and advanced play over time or do you think some people are more content to stick to the more conventional play like spanking, floggers and power exchange?
No, I really think a lot of them gravitate more towards the conventional play like flogging and power exchange. Not everybody is into edge and that’s perfectly fine. Everybody has different styles of play. The vast majority is conventional.
Do you ever have people that attend some of the classes and find themselves getting a bit squeamish?
I haven’t come across that yet. Usually I make it pretty well known what is generally going to happen in those classes. For the most I think people know ahead of time what to expect. So I haven’t come across anybody who has become squeamish yet- or at least not that they’ve told me.
And do you know of anybody yourself that has suffered unintended injuries trying out some edgier things? Perhaps not as a result of your class but just in general in the scene?
I haven’t seen too much in the way of it. Now there have been instances in the past that I’ve heard of and you know its kind of like rock climbing, you know that there are dangers that are involved in it. So there is the possibility for potential problems. I haven’t had the experience of having too much of that happening. You usually hear a whole lot about it but in my experience its better to be well prepared for something even if its not going to happen. The possibility of it makes it a necessity to be prepared for it
Do you have any advice for people who are curious about trying out some of those things but they live somewhere where it’s harder to find classes about those topics?
Well, I would go on the online classes, read obviously, there are a lot of books even on edge play. There’s a book called Play Piercing, that’s specifically on needles. Jay Wiseman has written several books on topics including knife play. There’s plenty of literature out there these days that are open and available for it
Your submissive birdy also seems to teach quite a few classes. More of the submissive oriented ones. You two seem to be a pretty good match in terms of you both being quite well known figures now as BDSM educators.
The whole House has been doing quite well with the classes and such, we have the Submissive Training Series that birdy has done. Prior to that we had the Submissive Bootcamp earlier in the year. Starr, my other submissive will be doing the next submissive bootcamp in the coming year. Of course there’s GIC and BDSM 201 but also the SoCal Poly Support Group that birdy runs. We do various conventions and such, we even have LA Next Gen which is run by Mister Gear which is also a member of the house. I have several fingers in several pies.
So that’s your House Ravynblood your talking about? Tell me more about that.
That’s my household. I’m the head of house. Ultimately it’s a group of like-minded thinkers. We’ve gotten together over the last few years or so. We’ve grown to be much larger than I ever expected it would actually be. It started up a little over a year ago, about a year and half at this point. And the first members of course were myself and Mister Gear. Vee came in the mix shortly after that. Ultimately, there’s a protocol guide, a household guide that we all follow and our major creed over the household is “to love, to honor, to respect” and we do try to get out in the community and make sure we’re teaching and putting that energy back into the community that we love.
I’m sure people often ask if you all live together?
It’s not a physical household in that we all live in the same house. It’s a household in that we all are like-minded and connected by the protocol. Together at one point in time or another, they’ve all served under the household. So the household is really what we conglomerate under. So when we put out the SoCal Poly Support Group, when we put out the upcoming Dom Training series all of that is under the household. And we all help each other to make it work.
Within the household, you mentioned you’re the head of the household. Are there other defined roles or statuses that people have?
In general yes. There are other dominants in the house. In fact Mister Gear just gained a dominant status. So in relation to say the structure of it you would come into the house, there is a period of time where you are evaluated. Then at that point in time if we feel that both ends are a match then you are welcomed in the household but at that point you are not given a title at all. You have to undergo what we call standards; standardized sections of information-some of them are discussions, some of them are projects. You do have to finish those in order to update your status in the household. Whether that’s submissive or dominant we also have “compeer” which is kind of a switch type of position. Those are various positions in the house. So really in regards to dominant and submissive, they’re pretty much on the same level across the board it’s simply a matter of dynamic rather than position.
How could somebody join the household if they were interested in that?
Well that’s all in our protocol guidebook which of course you would not have seen but as far as our protocol goes in regards to becoming a part of the household –the house as a whole will look at that and see if we’d like to entertain putting that person through a period of evaluation. Of course as the head of house I have the final say so regardless of what the house votes I am the final say on it. After you’ve been brought in for evaluation-there’s three to six months of evaluation where both the house is kind of evaluating that person as well as giving that person a chance to feel out the house and make sure it’s the right fit in both directions. Because if it’s not something you end up feeling that you want after a six month period of time then it’s probably not for you. It’s probably not something that you would be very invested in and that’s ok.
And have there been people who have either been turned down or have decided not to pursue that?
It hasn’t happened yet. But it might happen; I don’t now what the future holds. Obviously the future held a lot more people in the household than I expected to begin with.
Just generally do you have advice for somebody who’s new to BDSM that wants to be dominant?
Actually, I’ll be starting up a Dominant Training series at the beginning of the year. That spun off of the current BDSM 201 that I’ve got. In general, really it can be online classes, YouTube has plenty of things on there that you can gleam from. Read. I can’t emphasize that enough even if its audio books. There are tons of things on audio right now that are kink and BDSM related. Of course you can start off with the book BDSM 101 its for beginners in general. I highly suggest especially as a dominant to seek outside of that as well. There’s a fantastic book called Nudge. It has nothing to do with the scene what so ever but is on the mental devices that we as humans have that alter our decisions. There’s also another book, Mistakes Were Made But Not By Me and it’s all about deception. And that in itself changed my entire perception on how to discipline myself and discipline in general and kind of utilizing that for discipline and behavior modification for others. And of course there’s also podcasts. There’s the Fearless Submissive podcast, the TED radio hour -you’ll learn about both sides of the slash.
As a dominant you don’t want to limit yourself to just learning about being a dominant. Learn about the submissive side. Understand who it is your working with. What it is that your working with in general? What they’re going to see from their angle. And then think outside the box. Once you know the basics, once you have the basic skills the basic idea of what it is to be a dominant, work outside of that. Draw from what you now. You’ve been in marital arts? Fantastic you can draw from that. I can’t tell you how many things that I have in my protocol that I’ve drawn from my martial arts background. Boy Scouts, I’m an eagle scout, I’ve drawn tons of information from it. Most of the things that are in my household’s standards are drawn from Boy Scouts. You have skills, hobbies, do you know how to boot shine can you learn how to boot shine, can you learn just general skill over all that you can utilize in the scene? There’s tons of information out there that really has nothing to do with the scene in general but can be applied.
It seems like there are quite a few classes around for many of the technical skills involved in being a dominant whether its tying rope or impact but not that many in terms of actually the dominant mindset and your confidence and body language and perhaps inspiring submission in somebody who wants to take on that role. So, do you have advice for how people can get into that mindset a bit more and develop themselves?
Posture and breathing. Posture and breathing are two huge things that can help you get into that mindset. Far to often we slouch throughout the day and by the simple act of straightening your back and bringing your shoulders even has an immense impact. When I first started training Mister Gear for his dominance, that was the first step that we took, to straighten out his posture. Now that doesn’t mean you have to walk around like that all of the time but it changes the way that you look at things, it changes the way that you see things. It changes how you feel about yourself. And that in turn changes how you act and how you act towards others. Now you’d be surprised that by doing that simple little act how much more dominant you feel and again breathing; one thing that I have several in my household working on right now again drawing from martial arts, its called “One Conscious Breath,” and that’s the simple act of drawing in a breath and letting back out and not just breathing but focusing only and solely on nothing else but that breath. It lends such a clarity and peace of mind, it helps to refocus and again those little things, those simple little acts can change how you are change your dominance drastically.
It sounds like you’ve drawn quite a lot from martial arts which you’ve done. Which martial arts have you done and how long have you been doing those for?
The martial arts that I was in, I haven’t done it for a few years now was called Mugei Mumei no Jitsu-which roughly translates to “no art no hand.” And ultimately it was a bit unconventional I’d have to say. I learned quite a different smattering of things. It’s a combination art and really was kind of built from various martial arts so was drawn from ju-jitsu and kenjitsu and several others to kind of a melting pot into a different art all together. But between that and as you mentioned before the psychology background it really changes how you look at things, that how things don’t necessarily need to be exactly what they are presented as….you can do so much more.
Do you think that at some point, BDSM could benefit from having some kind of standardized training progression system particularly for dominants where you can measure progression similar to how you have in martial arts?
I think it could benefit greatly from standardization. Not necessarily that is needs to all be the same. The reason for standards in my household is not because that’s the end all be all of what you need to know. The standards are simply only basic to take care of somebody who might be dropping, how to recognize drop, things that really even basic players should really learn and know. And what that does for me as the head of household, it gives me a peace of mind that any member of my household can be anywhere at any time and I don’t have to be there. I know they know the basics, I know they know what they’re doing in those particular realms. Now that doesn’t mean that they are the best at flogging, that doesn’t mean that they’re the best at anything, that just means they know their basics. They know their basic skills. Now really everybody actually should know how to bandage a wound. Most people don’t even have a first aid kit in their bag.
So what attributes define a great dominant?
I’ve met so many great dominants. I will say a sense of patience and the ability to step away from a situation, to look at it from the big picture. I think that really is a factor that you see across the board. Most great dominants that you see in the scene they have that uncanny ability to step away and not let something rile them up even though by all rights could, to be able to step back and take a look at the big picture and act accordingly to respond rather than react to the situation.
You produce leather products under the RavynBlood Leather brand. How long have you been working leather for?
Well I’ve been working leather for-well my first job at Candy was way back when in 1996 and then I think I was fiddling with leather for a few years before that. So for a long long time. Learned a lot of tricks over the years. But I do currently run Ravynblood Leather. I normally have a booth out at DomCon LA. Occasionally here and there I will have a booth out at Sanctuary Marketplace coming up at the end of November. That’s really the only places that you’ll see it these days. I’ve really shifted focus. I like to keep my leather fun and doing it all the time for a full time business just isn’t fun so I like to do it here and there so that way I can experiment with things, play with it a little bit more and have some fun.
What’s involved for a layman who doesn’t know anything about leather working. What’s involved in turning the materials you source into a product like a collar?
Something like a collar-well you’re talking about straight edging and strap cutting it which basically means you’re cutting out the strip itself from a hide because they haven’t perfected the art of growing cows in squares yet. So they kind of come in wonky shapes. And for those who are in the know of leather, there are certain areas you really want to avoid on a cowhide. That’s something that only a person who’s been working with leather for years would know. You definitely want to bevel those edges, make sure its not scratchy on the skin. You can do any kind of design you want to do on it. If you’re savvy with tools, you can actually tool in it. These days most times you’ll see rings, so now you’ll have to punch holes for those small pieces, rivet off the pieces of leather, rivet up the buckle and finish it up. A little bit more work than a cut in paste (laughs)
(Laughs) And where did the name RavynBlood come from?
I don’t get asked that question too often. Actually that came from my family background. In my family we have quite a bit of native heritage. And the one native heritage that we managed to get the most information about in our tree, actually their primary motive for their tribe plan, was the raven. In that particular group, the raven was the only creature in the universe that was capable of keeping one foot firmly in the mainland, what we see and what we know, and one foot in the other world. It was the only creature able to go back and forth like that. So, I actually have native blood of the raven, hence RavynBlood. Initially that was just for the leather booth, and as things went that name stuck to me and kind of became part of my name over all and hence the household name was spawned under that name.
I hear you’re writing a book? How’s that coming along?
I actually am now writing two books. I’m writing a book in regards to household structure and how to build households. And that’s drawing from my experience as well as drawing from other experiences from other dominants that I personally know in the scene. I’m kind of combining all of those together a little bit to give people a better understanding of how these things come about and how to do it themselves. Parts of that have spun off into the gentleman dominant and there will be a whole other book following up with that.
That’s great, I look forward to when those two come out. Do you have a timeframe for them?
I’m hoping they’ll be out by the end of next year. I’ve got the first rough draft partly done already for the household book. That’ll be the first to come out. Hopefully the following year I’ll have the secondary book-The Gentleman Dom.
Master Gabriel is the Head of Household with House RavynBlood. He produces Gentlemen in Charge and Sanctuary Marketplace at Sanctuary LAX, is the Lead Educator of the BDSM 201 Education Series, and “the voice of DomCon LA.” You can view his Ravynblood Leather goods here.