Back in the seventies, it was still a very risky proposition to attempt a gay publication of any sort. But in the California Seventies, books like "Song Of The Loon" (from the sixties) and eventually the likes of "Tales of The City" began breaking down the barriers, allowing homosexual men to be presented not as crazy or unstable, but as regular people in love. Larry Townsend went even farther out on a limb. He sat down in 1972 and spelled out, for the first time in book form, the codes of conduct that the underground Leather Scene and S&M men lived by. There were also several accounts of steamy real life kink encounters.
This was unheard of. Even now, with a much wider variety of books available on how to and relationship studies, not to mention my own writings, it is hard to remember a time when Larry's book was such a shocking event. Voluntary servitude and fetishistic behaviors are given a great deal of coverage here, and the amazing thing is just how much most of Larry's original foundations remain relevant. Even more to the point is just how much the format of "The Leatherman's Handbook" has become the blueprint for so much of our community's guidebooks; A little journalistic information followed up with some hot episodes.
Still, "The Leatherman's Handbook" remains a viable source of both etiquette and education in addition to its historical value. Quite possibly one of the most important books about the side of Gay Life that many would like to ignore, but is with us and vibrant and exciting for those who have taken this intimate discovery. A classic.