By Bushido Bard
On a warm Saturday afternoon, Master Tallen gifted those attending the Leather Perspectives presentation the tale of his Leather Life. His life, Leather and otherwise, was laid before the audience for their examination. This was a very frank and open discussion on the ups and downs he experienced so far in his life. His accomplishments have earned him fame, mostly good and sometimes bad, but there were important lessons learned. Master Tallen shared life changing events and wonderful reminders of why we live the life we do.
At a young age Master Tallen realized he was homosexual but given where he was living and the culture he never expressed his feelings until later. After high school he joined the United States Marines and this awakened in him a love and desire for discipline and regimentation. Little did he realize how this experience would shape his future and life! Being stationed in Hawaii he began to explore his sexuality. He commented, “This was before ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ but as long as you didn’t cause a fuss nobody seemed to care.” His tour soon ended however and he returned to the states; the door was opened but the journey had just begun!
“Ironically”, he smiled as he spoke, “I met my wife at a gay bar.” Together they have two daughters but unfortunately the marriage ended after a while. It was at this time that Master Tallen decided he would not keep up appearances and as he put it, “abandoned the ‘straight life’”. For a few years he began a real soul-searching that made him realize that he was missing something in is life. He knew he loved the control and discipline of the military but he was unsure how to find this in his civilian life. His search continued…
Like many of us, the Internet changed his life as he discovered the life and concept of Master/slave relationships. Immediately he was intrigued and believed that this was just what he was looking for! More research was conducted and he discovered Leather and the various relationships therein. He gave a thoughtful nod and gave a wide grin when he said, “Soon I was contacting all kinds ‘Masters’ looking for a relationship; boy, I found some real doosies…” In one particular instance he talked and decided to meet with a master, (lower-case letter on purpose), who turned out to be the worst master he had ever encountered. It was a case where the man had no money, or any kind of life and just used Master Tallen’s resources selfishly. “Lesson learned”, he said as he shook his head gratefully.
After a few relationships, that left much to be desired from the Masters, meant moving to other states, and even required starting life over again, Master Tallen resolved to learn more about Leather and even becoming a Top. With much enthusiasm he said, “I became motivated; if I couldn’t find a Master worth a damn, I’d become the Master!” While researching the whats and wherefores of being a Top and/or Master he tasted his first spark of control; the Top’s high. He found it greatly to his liking and this encouraged him to find his first slave. A new era had begun!
Master Tallen attended a myriad of conventions with his new slave and even helped create some of the events that exist today. With so many volunteering jobs and other work towards assisting the community, it was time to step away for a break; but not for too long… After much research and delving deep into countless symbols and their numerous meanings, he developed a visual concept of the Master/slave relationship; something very deep and personal to him. Part of this originated from his desire to create a sign or flag for inspiration and to be a source of pride. The end result is apparent for all in the community to see, but it was not universally accepted at first.
The familiar flag that contains red lines on a black field with a white border was an accomplishment that resulted in a mixed reception. Although there were some in the community that mocked Master Tallen for his audacity to create something like this, it has stood the test of time. Today, the Master/slave flag is worn by many people in the community and it is an accepted symbol of Leather and BDSM activities.
Unfortunately, Master Tallen’s life took a very dramatic and different turn when he suffered from an accident in which he fell from a ladder. Part of the recovery locked him to a wheelchair for an indefinite amount of time. Master Tallen said in a somber voice, “Crisis of identity doesn’t even begin to describe it.” He had to re-evaluate his role with regards to his changed physical condition and relationships. He asked the audience, “How can you still be a Master if you’re sitting and needing constant care?”
This was the greatest trial he experienced in his life and today he is forever thankful for those people, including his current slave, who helped him recover. His slave attended to his every need and in such a way that Master Tallen was in control. Together, they modified their relationship so that they maintained their previous protocols. It was a testament to the dedication that they had for each other. This injury certainly kept his activities low; he eventually recovered to the point that he could discard the wheelchair!
Most recently Master Tallen has fought to preserve the International Puppy and Trainer Contest and this is but one of his many pursuits. Today he enjoys the full life he has with his Leather family and biological family. In his closing words he commented that life is constant change and that burnout is common and expected in this life. He expressed to hold on to what matters to you and follow your heart. After his presentation he ended with these words of wisdom, “Follow your heart, but just be smart!”