Pat Bond, a Sexual-Subculture Pioneer, Dies at 94

Mr. Bond was a 44-year-old music teacher when he founded an organization for masochists. After a few meetings, sadists were also invited.

Advertisement

Continue reading the main story

Supported by

Continue reading the main story

He was not a sex educator, a sex worker or a political figure. No case law was established in his name.

But to cultural historians, anthropologists, sex educators and members of the now sprawling alternative-sex community known by the umbrella acronym of B.D.S.M. — for bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism — or by the more prosaic (and historical) term “kink,” Pat Bond, to use the pseudonym he preferred, was a foundational figure, applauded at conferences, noted in academic papers and hailed as an elder by those who shared his interest in role-playing sex.

A modest, elfin man with a Van Dyke beard that turned snowy with age, Mr. Bond had long had masochistic fantasies but had never acted on them until he was 44. It was 1970, and the identity politics of that era made him think there must be others like him. He wasn’t looking for sex so much as community when he placed an ad in Screw, the pornographic magazine geared toward heterosexual men, that read:

“Masochist? Happy? Is it curable? Does psychiatry help? Is a satisfactory life-style possible? There’s women’s lib, black lib, gay lib, etc. Isn’t it time we put something together?”

Five people answered the ad, but only two showed up to that first meeting in Mr. Bond’s tiny East Village apartment: a heterosexual woman who went on to adopt the pen name Terry Kolb and a gay man who never returned — annoyed, Mr. Bond said later, “that we were all into different things.”

Every week, however, more and more people appeared: just masochists at first, but eventually sadists, too, were welcome.

All were eager for community, not just sex, and under Ms. Kolb and Mr. Bond’s leadership, they formed a nonprofit organization. They named it the Eulenspiegel Society for Till Eulenspiegel, a picaresque character in German folklore who was cited as a symbol of masochism in “Masochism in Modern Man,” a 1941 book by Theodor Reik, a protege of Freud’s, that was one of the few texts at the time about this erotic minority.

Alternative papers like The Village Voice at first refused to run ads for the organization, which later adopted the acronym TES. But after Mr. Bond, Ms. Kolb and others picketed The Voice’s offices and Ms. Kolb wrote an article, which The Voice published, advocating for “masochist’s lib,” the paper relented.

TES meetings were run like encounter groups with educational programming — expert speakers weighed in on sexual techniques or on legal or psychological issues — and also as exercises in consciousness raising, following the practices of the day.

The group hashed out an ideology — “freedom for sexual minorities,” as they described themselves — and advocated for their community, marching in the Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day March, the precursor to New York City’s gay pride parade. There was a board, and a mission statement, written by Mr. Bond, that declared, among other freedoms, “the right to pursue joy and happiness in one’s own way, according to one’s evolving nature, as long as this doesn’t infringe on the similar happiness of others.”

Image

Mr. Bond in the early 1970s. He was 44 when he held the first meeting of the Eulenspiegel Society; two people attended.Credit…via Terry Kolb

Mr. Bond died on Feb. 13 in a hospital in Far Rockaway, Queens. He was 94. Deborah Callahan, a family friend, confirmed the death, which was not widely reported at the time, and said he had suffered from congestive heart failure.

“TES was really a new kind of kinky organization in that it was social, political and educational,” said the feminist author and cultural anthropologist Gayle Rubin, who has written extensively about sexual subcultures.

Dr. Rubin, who is an associate professor of anthropology and women’s and gender studies at the University of Michigan, added: “TES expanded the organizational repertoire of sadomasochism. In addition, Pat Bond and Terry Kolb began to develop a political language for S-and-M.

“They were able to do that in part because of the times. It was a period when many social movements were articulating political frameworks for various populations that had been marginalized. They also drew from the language of gay liberation, where there was already a model for repositioning what had been seen as sexual deviation as a sexual minority. To do this for sadomasochism was pretty breathtaking at the time.”

(Ms. Kolb left the group the year it began and moved to California. She eventually joined Samois, a group for lesbian sadists and masochists, the first of its kind, that had been modeled on TES. She now identifies as bisexual. In a phone interview, she remembered Mr. Bond as being “introverted and very serious.”)

The Eulenspiegel Society was unusual in collecting disparate groups — heterosexual as well as gay — “and affirming their dignity and defending their political rights,” said Rostom Mesli, who has studied the identity politics of the 1970s and is the managing director of the Leather Hall of Fame, which recognizes individuals or organizations that have made distinct contributions to kinky subcultures. Mr. Bond and Ms. Kolb were recognized in 2015.

“The assumption,” Dr. Mesli added, “was that kinksters who would never have sex together still had things to do together, could learn from one another or do activism together. It totally redefined the borders of the kinky world by creating a sense of community and shared identity among groups that had evolved with virtually no connection among each other.”

TES had its own magazine, Prometheus, at first distributed at meetings and erotic specialty stores, but eventually at mainstream emporiums like Tower Records in New York City. It is now online only. In the early days, it included an S-and-M horoscope and comic strips, as well as personal ads and ads for supplies.

Mr. Bond wrote articles in which he wondered if S-and-M behaviors were cathartic or developmental. He worried that they might veer into abuse, or become addictive. And he urged that his organization “practice diligence and intelligence” so that it might always be “a liberating force.”

The magazine was not without a sense of humor. After the list of names on its masthead, a parenthetical promised, “If we missed anybody important, we’ll grovel in the next issue.”

Pat Bond was born Walter Allen Campbell on May 24, 1926, in St. Petersburg, Fla., the youngest of three children. His father, Joel, was an orthodontist who died when Allen, as he was known, was 6. His mother, Marie, was a homemaker.

He attended the New York State College for Teachers at Albany, now the University at Albany. He worked as a music teacher in New York City’s public school system and later as a secretary.

Since the late 1970s, Mr. Bond had lived in a basement apartment in Ms. Callahan’s family home in Far Rockaway, a century-old three-story clapboard house that his mother had owned and sold to Ms. Callahan’s parents. Ms. Callahan’s father, known to TES members as Brother Leo, was Mr. Bond’s best friend.

“Allen was a member of our family,” Ms. Callahan said. “He would sing at our dinner table, and lead us in Christmas carols. He was lovely. He cared deeply about justice, and doing the right thing. He was marching for various causes up until 15 years ago. He always wanted to be helpful, even when he could no longer really help.”

Mr. Bond was married briefly when he was young, and the marriage was annulled. He eventually found a dominatrix after TES’s founding — he called her his “lady friend,” Dr. Mesli said. That relationship lasted for nearly half a century, until the woman’s death a few years ago.

“Our sexuality has typically been something you make fun of or sensationalize to sell something,” said Susan Wright of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, an advocacy group that fights discrimination against those in the B.D.S.M. community. “Pat offered something different: Let’s just sit down and talk. He was at the cutting edge of conversations about consent and understanding what it means to look your partner in the eye and not be scared to be honest about what you desire.

“Consent is the heart of this community,” she continued. “It’s the difference between kink and abuse. And then of course the education: How do you do this safely? If you’re going to be spanked, what’s the best spot?”

In the half-century since TES’s founding, Mr. Bond’s organization and the community it serves have come out of the shadow — sort of.

In 1996, the author Daphne Merkin wrote an essay about spanking in The New Yorker that raised eyebrows in the chattering class. But less than a decade later, the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy — essentially a contemporary bodice-ripper, but with spanking, about a young woman’s relationship with a wealthy sadist — was a runaway best seller, and then three movies. If the behavior it depicted didn’t exactly become mainstream, its rituals entered the cultural vernacular.

Image

Mr. Bond at TES Fest, his organization’s annual convention, in 2017. He attended the conventions, held in hotels in New York and New Jersey, until 2018.Credit…Efrain John Gonzalez

At its peak, in the early 1990s, the Eulenspiegel Society had 1,100 members. The internet pruned its ranks — there are countless alt-sex communities and dating sites online — but also opened its programming to a wider audience.

This year, TES turned 50, and it still offers weekly meetings (now virtual) and classes. Until the pandemic, TES held annual conventions, known as TES Fests, at hotels in New York and New Jersey. They had the flavor, participants said, of an academic conference, but with a twist: There would be classes in rope handling, whip technique and handkerchief code, as well as more serious programming about consent and negotiation.

Despite his age, Mr. Bond was able to attend the 2018 TES Fest, his last. “Someone offered to put him on a leash, in an age-sensitive way, and led him around,” Michal Daveed, a spokesman for the organization, recalled. “He seemed very happy.”

Leave a Reply