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A Kink in the Campaign
November 19, 2009 9:01 AM   Subscribe

"If elected, Laiacona would be the first known leather master to take office in Illinois."
posted by macadamiaranch (51 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Campaign website. Blog.
posted by macadamiaranch at 9:03 AM on November 19, 2009


"If elected, Laiacona would be the first known leather master to take office in Illinois."

Known is certainly the operative word here.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:06 AM on November 19, 2009 [32 favorites]


Interesting.
posted by sswiller at 9:08 AM on November 19, 2009


Three line whip
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:12 AM on November 19, 2009


Man, who at Chicago Reader did Laiacona piss off? Why is this any of our business?
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:17 AM on November 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


My favorite part of this article is how it casually remarks on every leather item that Laiacona owns. Like
In his small, cozy living room, which is dominated by two big black leather couches, Laiacona discussed the scandal with fellow Columbia instructor Dan Sutherland.
Big black leather couches are not uncommon in a living room.
posted by muddgirl at 9:19 AM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why is this any of our business?

Dude, this guy is running for public office. Whether or not it's our business is irrelevant - everything gets exposed.
posted by ORthey at 9:22 AM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


While it's certainly fair to know all that there is to know about a candidate, I think it's really unfair/unsporting that people are complaining that Laiacona is "hiding" his past. His involvement in the fetish/leather community has little to do with his campaign. Why should someone's sexual interests, even if publicly known, be part of the campaign?

I'm pretty sure I never saw "VOTE THRICE-YEARLY, MISSIONARY POSITION" signs for other, more staid, candidates.
posted by explosion at 9:24 AM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


God, I'm square—I was interpreting "leather master" as "master leatherworker." In the craftsman sense. You know, what you graduate to after spending years as a leather apprentice.
posted by decagon at 9:25 AM on November 19, 2009 [29 favorites]


decagon - I wasn't going to admit that, but... I did too.
posted by ORthey at 9:26 AM on November 19, 2009


Big black leather couches are not uncommon in a living room.

Sure...among leather amateurs.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:27 AM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


He's running against an out lesbian, it's not like this info is going to scare anyone away I guess.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:28 AM on November 19, 2009


I saw Laiacona speak at the Northside DFA meeting (they ended up endorsing him). The article makes it sound as though this leather stuff is something he was trying to keep from being made public, but it was prominently mentioned in the NDFA candidate bio, and has been at least referenced in almost all of the coverage I've seen of this race. I'd love to see someone take down Deb Mell, and if he manages to do it by kicking her off the ballot (doubtful, but it's pretty gutsy even to try) all the better.
posted by enn at 9:28 AM on November 19, 2009


At least he doesn't bury himself in his own hypocrisy.
But as it turned out, he didn't find life in the seminary compatible with his Christian beliefs—particularly his interpretation of the vow of poverty. "I literally lived in a mansion," he says, "with a car at my disposal—filled with gas—and all my bills paid."
posted by scrutiny at 9:30 AM on November 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


perhaps he can gain the confidence of the Hooverite dressing gown crowd.
posted by clavdivs at 9:33 AM on November 19, 2009


This is noteworthy because most politicians outed as kinky fetishists are subs, right?
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:38 AM on November 19, 2009 [8 favorites]


Great to see a former union organiser get a shot at public office, which is of course the dettail that leaps out from the potted bio there :D
Was surprised to read about the general acceptability of ballot-bumping tactics. I realise people will pull whatever strokes they can, but it does seem fundamentally undemocratic.
posted by Abiezer at 9:42 AM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just the candidate we need to keep all those skittish Reagan democrats who voted Obama on our side.

Seriously, though, good for him. I look forward to the day when banal facts about a candidate's sexuality are at last recognized as the irrelevance they are in the measure of a leader's potential and thought too dull to comment on. I can't wait until knowing a candidate's favorite manner of fucking is thought as worthwhile to know as a candidate's favorite Top Ramen flavor.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:42 AM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is noteworthy because most politicians outed as kinky fetishists are subs, right?

Subs to lobbyist money, yeah. Frankly I'd rather my politicians just be into leather.
posted by mhoye at 9:57 AM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why should someone's sexual interests, even if publicly known, be part of the campaign?

Why indeed.

This is what I was saying back in 1998, by the way, except instead of "part of the campaign" I said "part of his presidential record."

No one listened to me then. Woe.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:03 AM on November 19, 2009


Why is this any of our business?

What, seriously? I mean, I've got to know if the guy who's going to make the decisions potentially affecting appropriations for pothole filling is a bottom or a top!
posted by Pollomacho at 10:04 AM on November 19, 2009


I had the aforementioned Dan Sutherland as an instructor in college, and if he thinks Laiacona should be a candidate, I'm inclined to trust him

The whole reform Dem who is frank and open about his personal life aspect is pretty great too
posted by jtron at 10:04 AM on November 19, 2009


Was surprised to read about the general acceptability of ballot-bumping tactics. I realise people will pull whatever strokes they can, but it does seem fundamentally undemocratic.

I have helped kick dozens of people off the ballot. You know why? Because they are frauds. They don't live in the district, they get fake signatures on petitions, dead people sign. They are scamming scammers who deserve to get called out in court.

Whether the incumbent is such a scamming scammer will be found out in court.
posted by munchingzombie at 10:19 AM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's in there, but it's a few paragraphs down: his pen name is Jack Rinella. Damn. He's got some balls.
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:25 AM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've got to know if the guy who's going to make the decisions potentially affecting appropriations for pothole filling is a bottom or a top!

...because, it's obvious, a bottom has no knowledge of what it takes to fill a hole properly! Amirite?

Meanwhile, all jokes aside, good for him! I'd vote for a leatherman, because even my minimal knowledge of bdsm play has led me to realize that they have a clear understanding of trust and violation of trust and the harm that does to a community / relationship.
posted by hippybear at 10:26 AM on November 19, 2009 [13 favorites]


Also: Deb Mell? Quit impugning people who are and have always been part of the GLBT community for what they do in their spare time. United we stand, divided we fall.

But Deb Mell wonders how effectively Laiacona can work within the state legislature given his kinky past. "We can't get a civil unions bill passed and here's a guy who's . . . into bondage and sex slaves?" she says.
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:32 AM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know why? Because they are frauds. They don't live in the district, they get fake signatures on petitions, dead people sign.
That makes more sense - that's not a legal requirement for prospective representatives in my home country (UK), hence my surprise, though it does play badly if you don't live in the constituency or parachute in at the last minute. It came over as getting someone on a technicality that the voters should decide is relevant or not, rather than preventing fraud.
posted by Abiezer at 10:36 AM on November 19, 2009


I‘ve been wondering when and if this would ever happen. Someone has to be the first, and that takes courage.

While BDSM doesn't generate the same kind of visceral disgust as homosexuality among the electorate, it is largely considered a legitimate target for derisory humor, caricature, and stigmatization. Most references to BDSM in popular culture take one of two contradictory forms: cheapening it by presenting its practices in a comical light, or demonizing it by associating its practice with sociopathic behavior. These preconceptions can’t be challenged unless respected individuals are willing to be open about their sexuality, and thus demonstrate that otherwise normal, responsible people take part in the lifestyle. This has already happened with gay and lesbian politicians. But this is the first time, to my knowledge, that an openly kinky person has attempted to run for office.

In an ideal world, a person's sexual interests would play no role in a political campaign. But there's no use pretending that such things don’t impact the way a candidate is judged and perceived. If it can’t be hidden, and won’t be ignored, the only thing left is to embrace it, openly and without shame.
posted by dephlogisticated at 10:37 AM on November 19, 2009


Deb Mell reminds me that gay people can still be really, really uptight.
posted by muddgirl at 10:37 AM on November 19, 2009


Man, who at Chicago Reader did Laiacona piss off? Why is this any of our business?

Start with the assumption that the Reader and its readership are not scandalized by Laiacona's kink and see his openness as something positive, then go from there.

Great to see a former union organiser get a shot at public office

Yep, and I belong to that union.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:45 AM on November 19, 2009


Deb Mell? Quit impugning people who are and have always been part of the GLBT community for what they do in their spare time.

This is a good sentiment, but I doubt many people will see it that clearly. It's far easier to label something personally distasteful (or achingly forbidden) as abnormal and cause for distrust. She sidestepping this issue cleverly by not claiming that she is particularly bothered by it (bondage), but rather that it will be hard for others to work with him because of it. Naturally she would have no such issue, but she's only looking out for the dear voters.

Honestly, that just sounds like politics to me and it may even be an effective strategy for getting votes if she does it well. That doesn't make it right of course. It smacks of saying some people can't govern effectively because they're black or women so the other members of government won't work well with them. Honestly, if that's the case let's figure out who these anonymous uncooperative government officials are and replace the lot of them!
posted by scrutiny at 10:46 AM on November 19, 2009


This is what I was saying back in 1998, by the way, except instead of "part of the campaign" I said "part of his presidential record."

No one listened to me then. Woe.


Eh. It depends. Are all one's actions a reflection of character, or does one believe that one's ethics in a given sphere of action do not predict or reflect one's ethics in another sphere? If you cheat on your taxes would you cheat on your spouse? If you need to dominate someone in order to get turned on, do you need to dominate people in other spheres of life?

I'm a bit middling on this, myself. If you told me some guy habitually nicked hotel towels, I wouldn't necessarily think that meant he'd steal from a friend. But if you told me he beat up his spouse, then I'd tend to think he was a bad person in general.

This guy seems to have taken the only sensible, though risky, route --- avoid charges of hypocrisy by being completely open about this aspect of his life. Hopefully this results in one big fat article in the Chicago Reader, and not many many articles in many papers that would result if the "secret" was revealed by others.

I mean, I wished I lived in a world where whether or not a pol was seen with a pair of fuzzy handcuffs was regarded as a purely personal matter. But we're well past that now, and for the most part we seem to approve of this vicious openess --- you don't get many people openly longing for the habitual deference that led the press to cover up Kennedy and Marilyn, for instance.
posted by Diablevert at 10:47 AM on November 19, 2009


"Why is this any of our business?"

'Mr. Ness, I don't approve of your methods!'
'You're not from Chicago.'

Politics is pretty hardball out here. For ill and for good in some cases. The piece mentions Obama in the 1996 state senate race taking out four other candidates that way. (Which is why the "he doesn't do anything" and "he's never won a race where he was opposed" stuff from the Clinton and McCain supporters made me laugh during the presidential campaign. A junior senator here is like 10 year veteran anywhere else.)
Obviously there the innuendo, public opinion hacking all that, but you can get a David/Goliath thing happening which can be nice.
That said though this kind of thing should never have been taken into the public sector. It should be no one's business what a candidate or office holder does in their private lives that is otherwise legal and between consenting adults, etc.
But, if some goofballs want to drag 'morality' into the public sphere and then go off hypocritically tapping their feet in bathroom stalls, you're going to get all this.

I think at some point it's going to equalize. People will get used to the personal stuff being - whatever - and they'll start realizing that whether a person is gay, straight, into leather or vinyl or pretending to be a pony doesn't matter as much as, y'know, having an f'ing job and not dying in the street like a dog because they can't get health coverage and issues will start to matter more than this sensationalist tripe.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:49 AM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Okay, leather master: no big deal. But he also worked in telemarketing.
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:55 AM on November 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


My favorite part of this article is how it casually remarks on every leather item that Laiacona owns

There was only one mention of leather in his household (unless they mis-spelled leather), but it was a very weird bit of phrasing: ... which is dominated by two big black leather couches .... (emphasis mine, of course).

As for the personal attacks on lifestyle choices via the dear voters, it's shady, but Laiacona (with input from his Lawyer) waited until an hour before the deadline to file the challenge to her nominating petition, which asserts: "Because Deborah L. Mell is not a duly registered voter at the address from which she seeks to be a candidate, the Nomination Papers are invalid in their entirety". A bit of this-for-that, but all's open in politics.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:00 AM on November 19, 2009


Kink is an incredibly important part of a healthy democracy. For a start, all kinds of sexual difference act as the canary in the democratic coalmine - nearly any authoritarian tendency is going be after them first or pretty close to first. Look at the enemies of sexual difference, and you get a pretty clear view of the enemies of a free society.

Secondly, D/s kink is, I would contend, inherently subversive. It exposes the nature of power relationships. If you engage in consensual D/s then you get a pretty clear idea that power is contingent and transitory, based on all manner of factors. In other words, it doesn't flow from above and enter your body from some abstract entity like God or Nation or The Office, it based on a web of agreements and assurances held with other people, other individual people. Power is contingent. By exposing that, D/s is almost satire. I'd say that if this helps destigmatise BDSM then it would be good for society, rather than just good for those that enjoy that sort of thing.
posted by WPW at 11:50 AM on November 19, 2009 [15 favorites]


Hippybear has an good, interesting point about the importance of trust in that community (specifically: leather/BDSM, not LGBT) and that (with hope) its spillover into one's personal ethics being a net benefit.

On the other hand, I can't help thinking about this question and how low the bar for "bringing people in" to your kink is when you're a public official.
posted by kittyprecious at 12:11 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


...because, it's obvious, a bottom has no knowledge of what it takes to fill a hole properly! Amirite?

I know you're joking, but a bottom would actually be the expert on that particular subject.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:45 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile, all jokes aside, good for him! I'd vote for a leatherman, because even my minimal knowledge of bdsm play has led me to realize that they have a clear understanding of trust and violation of trust and the harm that does to a community / relationship.

Well, most of them. Which is to say, I agree that the community values that, but of course there are always those in the community who abuse that trust. Usually they are dealt with, although there can always be exceptions (after all, this can come down to which person you believe). But generally speaking, if someone is well known in the scene and not in a "welcome to the club, stay away from that asshole" kind of way, it's a good sign.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:31 PM on November 19, 2009


When I lived in DC, I knew some guys who were pretty active in the leather community. One of them decided to run for some title or other - I forget now, but it was Mr. Leather [somethingorother] 1992. Something like that.

And my god, what a lot of work! It's not like you just show up the night of the competition with your finery on. There's months of networking and schmoozing and organizing fundraising events for various community organizations. It's a lot like running for office.
posted by rtha at 1:44 PM on November 19, 2009


...because, it's obvious, a bottom has no knowledge of what it takes to fill a hole properly! Amirite?

I know you're joking, but a bottom would actually be the expert on that particular subject.


Okay, since you decided to go there...

There's a long-standing maxim within a lot of edgesex communities which disparage the concept of the "total top" from the angle that it, truly, requires some experience with being on the receiving end in order to be a fully-qualified and talented giver. In fact, I know many men who refuse to play with "total tops" because they see the status as more of a personal ego trip or fear of being penetrated (likely created by our culture which states that "invasion = feminization"), than having any real bearing on someone's ability to really have the talent and background it takes to understand where a bottom's mindset might be at any given point and be able to embody the kind of trustful energy it takes in a top to truly allow a bottom to be free to give and trust. Nothing causes more physical or psychological "damage" within the bdsm scene than a top who doesn't really understand the responsibility and honor granted by the bottom in those scenarios.

So, yes, I was joking, but my understanding of the issues go deeper than that.

Or did you not really want to have this conversation?

posted by hippybear at 2:00 PM on November 19, 2009


OK HOW FULL OF AWESOME IS THIS! I have to give the guy some money. can I give him some money if I am in the UK? This shit makes my WEEK, people. I am boinging up and down with cheer at the moment :)

I think this decade is like the 1960s for gay people but for kinky folk. Everybody is coming out of the closet, to themselves and others. All the recent 'i am kinky and my partner isn't' ask metafilter threads are a good example.
posted by By The Grace of God at 2:00 PM on November 19, 2009


The irony is A. people aren’t wearing enough hats.
And B. Most people will get distracted and wind up talking about the sex stuff anyway.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:23 PM on November 19, 2009


I should clarify that of course I have no problem at all with any kink that involves consenting adult humans. It's just that given the society we live in, my first reaction to publishing an article on a politician's nonstandard sexuality is that it's done maliciously.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:46 PM on November 19, 2009


Or did you not really want to have this conversation?

You and me, we're on the same wavelength. I was just being a smartass.

posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:33 PM on November 19, 2009


I find it interesting how everyone I know who is into BDSM is from an oppressively religious family that they don't get along with anymore.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:04 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


When reached for comment, Nancy Pelosi said "Palomino."
posted by ApathyGirl at 7:15 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


I would rather have a sub as an elected official. The stereotype reinforced by my experience is that subs tend to be good with mundane positions of power while the reverse is often true for doms. Going by the stereotype, I think a good sub would be better at both delegating in a real world scenario and following orders. Sure, they might occasionally refuse their orders just to be flogged, but I think that's a risk worth taking. This is just St Andrew's Cross psychology, though, you understand.
posted by crataegus at 8:47 PM on November 19, 2009


subs tend to be good with mundane positions of power while the reverse is often true for doms.

Doms are good with fantastic positions of power?
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:54 PM on November 19, 2009


Nah, the stereotype has doms working in underling positions.
posted by crataegus at 9:01 PM on November 19, 2009


I think the article was fairly even handed, no pun intended. The only thing I would have done differently was chosen a different pic; I think using the gimp mask was over the top.

That said; given the rough trade that is Chicago politics...the city could do a lot worse than having a good dom overseeing things.
posted by dejah420 at 7:55 AM on November 20, 2009


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