why punctuation, spelling and capitalization matter in The Killer Wore Leather
by Laura Antoniou
Mystery/romance/erotica readers who don't know the modern kinky/leather/alt sex community and all of it's quirks and mores will discover there's a lot to learn once you drop behind the scenes at an international contest to crown – or rather, "sash" – a new Mr. & Ms. Global Leather (and Bootblack.) Starting with why the Bootblacks get parentheses.
The Killer Wore Leather is my first foray meant to be read outside my primary readership of people who are more or less familiar with the realm of kinky sex. (These days, thanks to a certain trilogy, we know many more people are at least titillated by the thought of sex games, dominant and submissive role playing and hunky, wounded billionaires willing to spend their fortune on girlfriends who provide them with some kinky fuckery.) Since I wrote it assuming new readers would know nothing about the established BDSM scene, I provided them with lots of "As you know, Bob-" discussions, mostly started by a detective or other outsider asking the insiders what the deal is. But I deliberately left some things unexplained and unexplored because:
1) It's not a BDSM/leather contest how-to book. No one needs to read through 100 pages on the definition of…everything. When I am reading science fiction, I don't need to know how the faster-than-light drive works. If the author tells me it's powered by atomic gerbils on a giant wheel, it doesn't change the fact that the ship gets places very fast. Some things can just slip right by without much explanation without costing comprehension.
2) In-jokes are fun.
That said, many of the in-jokes, intended for people who are familiar with leather contests and kinky conventions, might enrich the less-familiar if you're really curious. Or, want to know why the other people in the room were laughing. The easiest example of this is why (and Bootblack) is in parentheses.
The idea of running a modified beauty contest and giving out sashes to the winners is now over 40 years old. Originally just a show to attract and keep men in the bars long enough to ogle sexy guys stomping around in leather and buy a few extra drinks, it's now an international system of increased diversity and complexity where titles are granted for roles, identities and skills ranging from just looking good to fundraising, teaching, and cleaning and polishing boots. Hence, the Bootblacks.
Bootblacking has only been awarding titles for 20 years now. (Fifteen for the oldest women's title, International Ms. Bootblack.) Not all contest areas even have a contest for bootblacks, and not everyone agrees on how exactly to judge them. They are more likely to compete without taking into consideration how pretty they are, whereas for many other contests, looks are considered an important part of their scoring. (And less conventionally attractive people might not run, for fear that they would be judged harshly for extra pounds, or any other perceived "fault.")
With fewer contests, fewer contestants and the likelihood of not having a picture of a studly man in a jockstrap posing under the lights, bootblacks have occasionally been relegated to a role best known on TV as "also …!" They are tucked away in hallways with no foot traffic (hah-hah) and grouped together in hotel rooms to save on costs. They don't get included in publicity materials or programs. Their prize packages are also small, and their invitations to strut during their title years pale next to nearly anyone else with a sash.
And thus – the parentheses. Bootblacks get no respect. They are the "also…!"
But throughout the rest of the book, I use spelling and grammar to illustrate things such as the formalized speech of a slave who spells her name using lower-case letters and doesn't use pronouns. Or boi versus boy, indicating self identity related to gender. The denizens of the kinky world are sometimes eager to explain things to the curious detective or the cynical reporter on the scene, but even their explanations can lead to more questions later. And buried within all of these people explaining what they mean and what they do – who they say they are and what they really do when no one is watching – are many of the clues that finally lead Detectives Rebecca Feldblum and Dominick DeCosta to catching the killer.
And along the way, you get to find out just what a Zodian Slave Goad looks like. And just to make that perfectly clear, the drag queen will let you know.
About the Book
The Killer Wore Leather: A Mystery
by Laura Antoniou
Mr. Global Leather has been murdered!
In the Grand Sterling Hotel of Midtown Manhattan, home of the huge annual leather/BDSM/fetish ball and contest, Mr. & Ms. Global Leather, last year's male winner lies dead on the floor of his suite, wearing only very frilly, bright yellow panties. Cormac "Mack" Steel made a lot of enemies in his year wearing the studded leather sash, not the least being his co-winner Mistress Ravenfyre. But she is not alone – there are over three thousand attendees at this year's fetish-festooned event from all over the world, some of whom might have had some very personal issues with the corpse.
Enter Detective Rebecca Feldblum of the Midtown East Precinct. Assigned to this doozy of a case because, as one of NYC's only out lesbian detectives, her Lieutenant seems to believe these are "her people." Shocked, amazed and alternately puzzled and amused, Detective Feldblum must navigate a world of doms and subs, masters and mistresses, pups and trainers, leather, latex and lingerie, and discover who murdered the late Mack Steel – and hopefully do it before the weekend is over and everyone goes home. In the process, she will discover more about the sexual underworld than she ever really wanted to know, and more about her own past than she could have ever imagined.
Written in the classic spirit of Sharyn McCrumb's Bimbos of the Death Sun, The Killer Wore Leather is both an engaging mystery and a humorous glimpse into the world of modern, pansexual international leather/BDSM contests and conferences.
Only Laura Antoniou could write The Killer Wore Leather. In addition to being the author of the best-selling Marketplace series of erotic novels, she has over 20 years of experience teaching, speaking to and occasionally skewering the alt-sex communities around the world. With a wicked sense of humor, insider information and a twisted imagination, she crafts a spicy mélange of mystery and mayhem!
The Killer Wore Leather is a deliciously tongue-in-cheek murder mystery set at a leather convention, allowing readers into this private world of personalities and peccadiloes. The kinkiest game of clue ever with a sex toy as the murder weapon and every leather man and woman lacks an alibi. Cleverly crafted and highly humorous, Antoniou is at her wicked best in this pageturning fetish fest.
About the Author
Laura Antoniou has over 20 years of experience teaching, speaking to, and occasionally skewering the alt-sex communities around the world. She has also edited the groundbreaking Leatherwomen anthologies and writes scholarly work on BDSM. Her work has been translated into Spanish, German, Hebrew, Japanese, and Korean. She lives in New York City. She is the best-selling author of the classic BDSM series, THE MARKETPLACE, which has sold more than 400,000 copies and been translated into 5 languages.