Slave Bunny: In your own words, what does being leather/leather mean to you?
Sergeant Major: To me, it’s about things such as loyalty and acceptance. It has to do with brotherhood in a non-gender specific way. It has a lot do with traditions and honor. It has to do with remembering and honoring our history and those who really suffered because of the lifestyle. We can only be out because a bunch of drag queens got pissed at the New York Police Department and started beating them up.
Slave Bunny: You’re talking about Stonewall aren’t you?
Sergeant Major: Yes. That’s really the generation of us being out. Later on there was the March on Washington in 88 and so forth. Leather is the foundation of which is now called the BDSM community.
Slave Bunny: So, in your opinion, not all Master/slave relationships are considered leather, correct?
Sergeant Major: In my experience, most people I’ve come in contact with who are in a Master/slave relationship have at least a leather underlay to what they do.
Slave Bunny: I also wanted to ask, what do you feel is the difference between between M/s and D/s relationships?
Sergeant Major: Master/slave is one nomenclature for relationships based on domination and submission. So there’s a wide variance there. A D/s relationship may not have as many protocols and as many closed dimensions as does a Master/slave relationship. I don’t operate on the assumption that a slave no longer has any rights or anything of that nature. I think for a Master/slave relationship you’re equals who’ve basically chosen a different role. But a D/s relationship is somewhat looser in regards to the way it’s structured for example. And you know, unfortunately, some D/s relationships only exist in their sex lives. It’s D/s in the bedroom as opposed to a D/s relationship. I think Master/slave relationships probably have more protocols and we’re more involved in joint decision making than D/s relationships.
Slave Bunny: May I ask how you personally go about implementing protocols? Also, do you have a contract?
Sergeant Major: First of all, let’s talk about contracts. A contract is simply an agreement in terms. It doesn’t have to be a written document. But one of the protocols that I have is you petition to enter my service. The first thing you’re going to do is write a draft contract because that’s going to tell me what you’re offering and what you’re saying you can’t offer. So, we’d go from there to negotiate a contract based on my needs and wants. As far as protocols are concerned, I use protocols and rituals almost interchangeably because the protocols that I have are rituals in the sense that rituals are designed to create a mindset. I have a daily affirmation ritual, which anyone petitioned to me makes a daily affirmation and I have a response to that. And so we reaffirm our relationship on a daily basis. I also have certain protocols I follow with regard to scenes. Now those protocols are in fact a ritual and they’re designed to create your mindset. Now if someone’s going to have a scene with me, whether they’re pledged to me or not, one of the first things I do is I hand them a scene collar because everybody that I’m topping who will have a scene with me will be wearing the scene collar. They will offer me that scene collar and I will put that on them. They offer it to me saying they are willing to have the scene with me and to bottom for me. So that’s the initiation of the power exchange there.
And then they simply sit there with the collar on until I have everything rigged and laid out. At that point, the next step in the ritual is to have them undress. The ritual for me is I strip to the waist at least. Sometimes even in public I will top totally nude. If you’re nude I expect to be nude. I’ll at minimum strip to the waist. When I do, then I gesture to the bottom to strip however far we’ve negotiated and then I hand them the cuffs I’m going to put on them and they hand them back to me and I put them on. Then I lead them to whatever piece of equipment I grabbed to use. The whole thing is to do this in a ritualistic manner in order to create a mental attitude. That scene continues until that scene collar comes off. So, that carries through aftercare and everything else. So what do I have for protocols? I have the protocol that if you’re pledged to me, you’re always on my left when we’re doing something, moving somewhere, going somewhere.
Other protocols we have are you don’t sit until I tell you to. In other words, I sit and then you sit. That’s more of a superior subordinate situation than a Master/slave situation. You’re always on my left because my background is military and the subordinate is always on my left.
All of my relationships in my household are based on the fact that we’re partners. I happen to be the senior partner with the final vote. But you have a voice. That’s another aspect of the way I do things.
Protocols are ways of doing things and to use a military term that’s called the standard operating procedures in the household. The thing is with protocols, if you quit using them, get rid of them.
Slave Bunny: What is the protocol for your slave to bring things to your attention?
Sergeant Major: Anywhere. Anytime. Except in public. In other words, if I say something or say we’re going to do something and you have objections to that, let’s talk about it because the key to any successful Master/slave relationship is communication and transparency. If you’re not transparent and you don’t have communication, your relationship is going to fail.
I spent 26 years in the military and I was a rather senior rank. One of the things they taught me early on is that when a subordinate comes to you with a problem or an issue, regardless of how trivial you may think it is, it’s the most critical thing on their mind at that moment. You have to deal with it on that basis- that it’s the most critical things that they have at that time. So, delaying it and not dealing with it is inappropriate because what you’re doing is putting them down.
I have to take it upon myself. If I’m immediately involved in something, I will say, “Can I finish what I’m doing?”
But other than that, I think it’s inappropriate to delay it. So my thought is if you have an issue bring it to me. The thing is you have to bring it to me because I’m the only one that can resolve it.
Slave Bunny: I also wanted to ask you, do you have anything to say about slave training and methods you use?
Sergeant Major: First of all, I don’t use the term training. I train animals.
I wrote this manual for lack of a better term and we actually do a lecture on the difference between training and teaching. Training is catechetical. Teaching is different. There’s a three part methodology they use in the military for teaching. I’m going to tell you how to do it. I’m going to show you how to do it, and then you’re going to do it under my supervision. I like to use some form of a written contract for training, just simply to codify what we’re doing.
Slave Bunny: I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately about the difference between discipline, punishment, and correction. Could you give your own definition of these three terms?
Sergeant Major: Correction is me telling you what you did wrong and how to do it right. There is no penalty for that. If I feel something is appropriate, I will use deprivation rather than punishment.
Slave Bunny: Deprivation of what specifically, if you don’t mind me asking?
Sergeant Major: You can’t speak to me for two days. You can’t serve me for two days.Something of that nature. I take a way something from you that’s meaningful to you in the relationship. Corporal punishment is a waste of time because if you’re a masochist the penance will beget the sin. I don’t train a dog with corporal punishment. Why would I train you with corporal punishment?
Slave Bunny: So, when you correct, do you use verbal or physical correction?
Sergeant Major: Whatever is appropriate. Most of the time it’s verbal correction. In the military we call that a spot correction.
The first thing is if you fail to do something I want you to do, I have to make sure that I communicated exactly what I wanted you to do. I am the first response. Did I fail to give you proper guidance? Did I fail to communicate exactly what I wanted?
Rewards are much more successful than punishments.
Slave Bunny: So what types of things would have to occur to deprive your slave of something?
Sergeant Major: Deprivation is based on willful disobedience. If I told you I wanted you to do something in a certain way and you continued to not do it in a certain way, that’s willful because you know how I want it done. So if that continues, then I will use deprivation.
Now if there’s a continued pattern of willful disobedience, I do what Donnie Lil’ Hands does and say you’re fired.
If you’re being willfully disobedient, you’re not interested in being in my service.
Slave Bunny: What happens when you realize that you did do something wrong or maybe your expectations were too high? How would you go about dealing with that?
Sergeant Major: The only thing you can do is own your error. If I fuck up, I have to own it.
Slave Bunny: Do you believe D types/Masters should apologize for their errors?
Sergeant Major: If I own it then I’ve got to apologize when I fuck up. If I have a negative impact on you, I have to apologize. Being a Master does not negate my obligation to be a gentleman or to be a man.
Let me give you two things I’ve written. There’s The Dominant’s Creed. And that creed is cherish, respect, protect, lead and guide. It’s my obligation. And the creed for submissives is respect, trust, honor, serve, and obey. And those two things, if you look at them are progressive, each one leads into the next and you can’t put them in any different order.
Slave Bunny: In your house do you say those creeds to one another?
Sergeant Major: No, we live them.
Slave Bunny: Is there any other advice you can give concerning Master/slave relationships?
Sergeant Major: The key to me is communication and transparency.
To be submissive you have to be intelligent, independent, and capable. Without that, you offering to enter into my service is not meaningful because by being intelligent and capable, your desire to enter into my service indicates that you want to be with me, not that you have to be.
My obligation to you is to create an environment that makes you want to stay in my service.
Leadership is the ability to get people to willingly do that which they would not normally do.
That is my mantra.
You can only lead by example.
The way that I attract people to my service is by creating an environment that causes you to want to be in my service.
About Sergeant Major
A committed follower of the leather tradition paying forward to those who want to learn in order to repay those who took the time to teach him. Dedicated to preserving the traditions of honesty, trust and loyalty which are the hallmarks of the leather tradition into the 21st Century by sharing them with those who want to go beyond the gateway of the lifestyle. Serving his community as a teacher, mentor and worker and leading by example as a master.
Great Lakes Master 2006,
President, Leather Journey
Director, MAsT: Twin Cities
Member, Titans of the Midwest
Associate Member, Atons of Minneapolis
Associate Member. Chicago Leather Club
Associate Member, Cornhaulers L&L
Past Member at Large, National Board NLA-I.
Sergeant Major’s slave, Riches, produces a submissives retreat weekend in September with this being the 5th year. The website for the retreat is www.SEEKMN.org. His not for profit educational corporation Leather Journey is the sponsor.
Such great commentary. I love learning more about the Leather Community.
You’re so welcome! Sergeant Major is a wealth of knowledge and I am very grateful that he agreed to do this interview.
Thank you for doing this interview! I learned so much and will implement much of what he talks about into my own dynamics.
Love this interview! Sergeant Major is so insightful!