Mark I. Chester

images from Outcasts

whip #1
c. 1980

The first time I was whipped, I just stood there, not knowing how to interpret what it was my body was feeling.  I mean, I had been beaten with a belt and various other implements as a kid.  It was not fun.  And it was not sexy.  In my first weekend trip as a slave at the age of 19, the top hit me with a ruler and it, too, fucking hurt.  I tolerated it because I thought I was supposed to.  But standing there being whipped, I couldn't figure out how this man was striking me with a whip, but it didnít hurt.  And the next day when he hung me upside down by my feet and whipped me with a bullwhip, I came down with my skin unbroken and glowing; radiating a heat that made me feel like a dark shining star.

The very first time I held a whip in my hand, it felt at home.  Like it belonged.  Like I understood something about its movement and its balance.  So I started buying whips.  But not just because I was into being whipped.  The whips that interested me were handmade and  beautiful examples of handicraft and braiding.  So I took photographs of some of my whips.  Trying to explain how I felt about them.  What they meant to me.  How I was moved by their beauty.

But in the 1981 Folsom St. Fire, my apartment was in the last residential building still standing in the fire area.  And my beautiful hand made whips, which survived the fire, were stolen while my apartment was under the strict control of the San Francisco Police and Fire Departments.  Just think about the scene in my playroom.  Marauding..... playing around....... snapping each other on the butts with the whips....... taking souvenirs..... committing crimes..... defiling the temple.

Whoever did it.... they did it because they could.  They did it because they knew what they would do with a playroom like mine.  They did it because they were some sick homoís toys that he used to hurt some equally sick homo masochist, so what difference did it make if crimes were committed against such a person.  They did it because they had all the power and I had none.  They did it because they considered the person who lived in this space and his implements to be less worthy of respect and less deserving of the equal protections promised by the law.  The fact that they were stolen by people whose job it was to keep law and order, was an equally bitter pill to swallow.

These photographs of my whips stand as a testament that what was stolen from me was personal, loved and cherished ........... and they were beautiful.