topic posted Thu, September 23, 2004 - 6:58 PM by  Unsubscribed
OK, near and dear to my heart. Look in the listings, there is a BootBlack 101 this month, the 29th at Madame S. I'll be there!

So, anyone here identify as a bootblack, aspire to it? Where did you learn? Do you have a mentor? What do you do to stay in practice, to improve? Do you connect with the traditions, the history, the culture?

I identify with Boot Blacking as a service, more than a tradition. I do like the rich traditions, and respect them, particularly if I'm going to black at a leather bar (haven't done this yet, but planning to soon!). I attend classes, talk with other bootblacks, and practice on my own boots, and anyone who will give me the chance to practice on them. I've bootblacked at Wet Wednesday and Kinky Salon, as well as at various play parties. I still identify as a novice, and have been doing this coming on a year now. So much to learn, and not nearly enough time to practice as much as I'd like.

Anyone else care to share?
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  • Re: BootBlacking (long response)

    Sat, September 25, 2004 - 7:00 PM
    Yes i do identify as a bootblack. i used to call myself a baby bootblack, tho novice would have been more appropriate. However after i finally earned the right to black Sir's boots, She told me that i had the heart of a bootblack and the skill too. Since then i have been honored to accept that name.

    Loved your post! Will you be at Folsom? Perhaps i will see you there. If you go, bring your bootblack supplies on over to Dore and Folsom and ask if there is space for you to join in. They have had a shortage of volunteers at the bootblack stands this month, and you sound like you'd have a blast.

    You asked some thoughtful questions, so let me share my answers for them. You said, "So, anyone here identify as a bootblack, aspire to it? Where did you learn?" i started learning to black boots when i was 6, but didn't know it at the time. my father's shoes were always so beautifully shiny and i asked him to show me how. He had learned as a child and shined shoes on the street corners or at barber shops if they allowed, trying to raise money for his kid sister and himself to buy food. Later he tried to enlist in the army, but they put him in the reserves instead and so he added to his emphasis on keeping his shoes shiny there. The first time i got a pair of leather shoes he took me to his room and sat me in front of the closet. He pulled out his old bootblack kit and showed me how to care for them. Later i was allowed to live in a woman's closet and care for Her things there (the time of my life up to that point) and i gained some little tricks there since she had such a varied shoe collection. On finding the leather community i of course LOVED all the boots and leather around, but truly didn't know if it was ok to ask how they kept them nice etc. My boi patch showed me what she knew from the army and would shine the boots she'd bought me (i'd never before had a pair of boots of my own) Eventually i asked slave boi eddie for input (Intl Ms BB 2003 now i believe)who at the time was the only female i'd ever seen blacking boots. i'd wanted my boi patch to gain a larger repetoire on how to care for boots than the army training she had. But instead i joined in and lost myself in making tiny circles with my cloth on the leather. boi eddie remarked to patch, "look she's found her boi space" and things only deepened from there.

    You also asked, "Do you have a mentor? What do you do to stay in practice, to improve?" To which i would say no i do not have a single mentor. In my travels i strive to learn from every bootblack i meet whether it's in a barber shop, at the old style Marie Calendar's near my home, at leather events, or wherever i am. It's been my pleasure to learn from some wonderful people bois, girls, boys, men, pups, bears, and more. Hopefully i will find some mentoring wherever i go for years to come, because there's always something more to learn and isn't it hot to watch others experience their boot space. Every 1st and 3rd thursday i black boots at Oil Can Harry's LA ( and whenever i can i black boots at leather functions as well. (perhaps tomorrow at Folsom, yay!) Living in a house of 3 bois, we have plenty of leather around to practice on...and occasionally i have found old tore up boots at thrift shops or on ebay to try restoration on. One pair in particular i had hoped to restore and gift to Sir, but they were truly damaged and have just never seemed ready to be given away. Still, they went from crumbling old boots that smelled of moth balls to sexy black boots that look well loved, and that was a grrrreat learning experience.

    And finally in response to your question, "Do you connect with the traditions, the history, the culture?" Oh Godess yes :) i LOVE traditions, history and culture and bootblacking has plenty of it. Most of which seems unknown or unrecognized by most of the folks i speak with. my father having shined shoes as a child being a prime example...most bootblacks used to be kids and black men. The traditions of bootblacking in the leather community and the hotness factor there of course intrigues me as well. To sit at my Master's feet and black Her boots is so profoundly spiritual for me and calls up an almost primal desire. Somehow it feels so primative and reminds me of the book Urban Aboriginals, for that's truly what leather folk are. It is also one of the times i feel most right with the world. Service fuels me and helps me find my center. Blacking boots takes my love of tradition, ritual, service, Her, leather, and more and puts them all in one place. Even when i'm shining country western boots at Oil Can Harry's i know that i am in service to my Master in so many ways. It's like a zen and prepares me for the rest of my life.

    Because so many people have helped me learn this wonderful art it seems only proper that i pass it on. As my first owner told me, "Others teach us, we learn and grow, we teach others. It's only right." Several bootblack classes have popped up here and there, and those people have so much to share. It's phenomenal. Instead of teaching Bootblacking 101 as well, i've taken to teaching Boot and Leather Service. That's truly what makes me passionate about what i do, the service. And i try to bring that passion across to others as well as the tips and tricks of caring for leather that i've been learning.

    Thank you so much for posting this topic! i look forward to reading other's responses.

    In Her Service,

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