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Interviews & Conversations Women I've Shot

SA Leather Shoot
With Una Alexia Karlsen

I met Una in 2017 when she came to my studio for her portrait photoshoot after winning the title of Ms Leather South Africa. Ive added a selection of her portraits here.

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Categories
Interviews & Conversations Women I've Shot

SA Leather Shoot
With Fiona Horsley

I met Fiona in 2017 when she came to my studio for her portrait photoshoot after winning the title of Ms Bootblack South Africa. Ive added a selection of her portraits here and I asked her to do a short interview as I know so little about bootblacking and the South African leather scene.

Can you share what bootblacking is and what it means to you?

Bootblacking for me is a different way to connect with a person sitting in the chair. It’s getting a really good shine, it’s satisfying my fetish for boots and the smell of leather. It can be a fun and become a sexual experience because working on leather and boots while the person is still wearing their gear, especially when eye contact is made and we are enjoying the experience together.

Being a bootblack is a way to be of service to and preserving the history of the  Leather community by looking after their leather. I see Bootblacks to be more than that, we are hardworking and selfless.

When you bootblack you have a step by step process of how to get the best result. When we work with the boots or leather garments, there is a reason why we use certain products. A bootblack identifies the types of leather and treatment thereof, using horse hair brushes and other buffing materials to get the best results. We can do repairs depending of our level of experience and expertise. Bootblacking is skill and dare I say an art form.

What has your role as a Bootblack been?

My SA Bootblack 2017 status was important because it meant our community was growing. Being the first Bootblack means that I have had a lot of responsibility, not only to teach any person who is interested in this set of skills but for them to have a need to be of service. I felt that this was meant to be and a calling. It was and still is a chance for me to move the South African Leather community forward and represent SA Leather internationally. I have had trips to California and Denver where I represented SA Leather South Africa for visibility and to get us on the map. There was also an upcoming event planned for Ohio but it was cancelled due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

You speak a lot about SA Leather, can you share a bit more about this?

SA Leather is an organization for like-minded people who have interest to explore and experience the leather, kink, fetish and BDSM world. We practice safe, sane and consensual ways to express our desires at all times. We are a group that welcomes all people, sexual orientations and identities. We also do not tolerate any discrimination of any kind.

The international leather community is massive and has been in existence since the 1950’s. They have a lot more access to leather bars, leather clubs and a huge contest system. The South African Leather, kink, fetish and BDSM community is still very underground and through Fetlife play parties it flourishes. I would like to change our situation and make us united once again.

What is it like being a part of the Leather community in South Africa?

To be honest the South African Leather community has declined dramatically over the past 3 years. I can tell that when we had a small group of dedicated members, we had lots of social gatherings and workshop opportunities. We did feel like a family, had a sense of community and support.

Education in the Leather community is important and necessary because with this we can only grow bigger. I’ve held several bootblack workshops which served as an introduction to bootblacking for our community both locally and internationally. Our workshops are an excellent way to educate each other and skill sharing is always welcomed.

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Books | Mags | Articles | Ads | Film Women I've Shot

An Advert: Passionfruit.co.za
NuMetro Cinema Ad for the launch of
50 Shades of Grey in South Africa

BTS-Passionfruit-Cinema-Ad-008-director-of-Photography-Leah-Hawker
In October 2014 I worked on an advert for www.passionfruit.co.za as director of photography.
The online sex-toy retailer had cleverly decided to advertise during the launch and screening of the much anticipated cinema block-buster “50 Shades of Grey” (launching Friday 13th February, 2015, TODAY!).

We had 20 seconds of advertising space, the ad would be the last one screened before the movie showed across the country, a creative and fun project to be involved with.

Some behind the scenes moments captured during the making of www.passionfruit.co.za's NuMetro cinema advert last year.
Some behind the scenes moments captured during the making of www.passionfruit.co.za’s NuMetro cinema advert last year at Banksia Boutique Hotel.

Ross Campbell did a fab job of shooting all the video footage and managed the editing and sound while I co-ordinated location, styling, models, props, concept and dialogue, etc. We shot over one day at the beautiful Banksia Boutique Hotel in Rosebank, Mowbray with our male figure Daryn (not pictured here) and model Yolande Malherbe who I worked with at Playboy a few years previously.

BTS Passionfruit Cinema Ad 025 director of Photography Leah Hawker
The concept was simple, fun and clear: www.passionfruit.co.za is the place you’re going to find your inner 50-Shades as they don’t just stock the original range, designed with the author of the book, but also another 1000+ similar goodies to spice up your bedroom life-style in which ever way you choose.

The ad played loosley on the characters in the movies’ storyline as well as having a touch of a BDSM feel in a very low-key way.

BTS-Passionfruit-Cinema-Ad-024-director-of-Photography-Leah-Hawker
I enjoyed the editing process which I’m not so familiar with since I only work with stills. The added elements of timing, movement and sound etc are so powerfully interpreted by a viewer…

I shot a few stills after the shoot for www.passionfruit.co.za to use as banner ads on their webpage or social media platforms if needed, and one or two pretty lingerie-ish ones just for Yolandi and myself.

Its the first time the negligee she’s wearing has ever been used from my lingerie collection….and its been in there for a good 10 years.

Passionfruit-Cinema-Ad-003-Banner-Still-shot-by-Leah-COMPRESSED
I mailed Yolandi these few pics a day ago and asked her what her thoughts were about the shoot we did together:

What did you think of the concept for the advert which was loosely based  on the characters of the 50 Shades movie?

I thought it was a clever. I mean, selling sex toys is never subtle or discreet, but the way this ad was done, was brilliant! When I heard who all would be a part of the production team, I was totally at ease and knew it would be done super professionally.

Your thoughts on lip-biting “know-how” now that yours will be cinema screen size?

It’s all in the name of pulling off a great job. I had my shy moments on set and I blushed when I saw the final results, but everyone knows I’m not conservative and very open minded. People will probably be like “Of course Yolandi is in this ad. Wasn’t she a sex columnist at one point?”

How do you think the movie 50 Shades of Grey will be received in SA….do you think passionfruit is going to run out of stock? ;-)

I dont think SA is as conservative as before, so there will definitely be no protesters outside! Haha! People loved the book and now there’s a movie – recipe for success. And I most definitely think people are going to save the website link when they see the ad, just before they have to switch their phones off. And then when they get home….add to cart.

passionfruit-50-shades

I reckon 50 Shades has done quite a bit for South African conservatism in the bedroom…which means passionfruit have probably hit the nail on the head with their ad space. This quote from the passionfruit press release:

Jörg Masche, Co-Founder of Passionfruit.co.za, believes that the global phenomenon of the 50 Shades trilogy has lifted taboos and shifted stigmas, allowing people to expand their sexual consciousness and unwrap their sexuality without fear of judgement.“Activities such as role-play and BDSM (Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission) have become acceptable thanks to 50 Shades,” adds Masche. “Kinky is in and, as a result, many couples who were playing around with the ideas of role play or something a bit saucier, can now experiment and have fun without any negativity attached to their sexual preferences.”

Passionfruit-Cinema-Ad-002-Banner-Still-shot-by-Leah-COMPRESSED
I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of press comes of the 50 Shades movie in SA media as well as hearing about how this advert effects www.passionfruit.co’s stock levels…

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