Bootblacking 101: A Handbook front cover

Front cover for Bootblacking 101: A Handbook

By Andrew McDiarmid
Published 2006 by The Nazca Plains Corporation

Review written by my slave elizabeth

There is no small irony in my Daddy’s choice of books to assign to me for my first contribution to his library. His area of expertise does not include providing bootblacking service to anyone.  In fact, I feel confident in suggesting that should someone request that he perform this service for them, Daddy would laugh his ass off.  For my part, I love watching him laugh so that seems like a good time for me.  But for the one who asked Daddy to kneel down and lick their boots it would not likely be as fun.  I am confident their boots would remain in whatever slatternly condition they were in when they made their ill begotten request. Don’t think that I mean to suggest that Daddy isn’t able to shine boots, it isn’t that at all. Instead, as this book educates the reader to understand, bootblacking is much more than simply cleaning and polishing boots. Bootblacking is an act of submission.

In the introduction to Bootblacking 101: A Handbook the author, Andrew McDiarmid, forewarns his readers that this book is intended to provide more than the basics of maintaining leather footwear.  As McDiarmid puts it, the book will help readers learn the “why-to” of bootblacking.  McDiarmid expresses his experience with the “why-to” of bootblacking as the “7 Tao of Bootblacking” but he is clear that he does not intend to suggest that his “7 Tao” represent ‘the’ way to bootblack. His acknowledgment of that is commendable.  So often in our community of perverts we hear some blowhard professing their divinely inspired knowledge of the ‘right’ way to do something.  Very few things define someone as having their head up their ass as quickly as when they say their method of doing XYZ is ‘the right way’ to do XYZ.  McDiarmid does none of that; instead he encourages several times that the reader should explore and learn through their own hands-on participation in bootblacking.

Bootblacking had always been one of the fetishes I just didn’t get. Perhaps I was alone in my naiveté, but I was sort of confused the first few times I saw bootblacking  at kink events.  I thought the bootblacks were simply being generous and helpful to their kinky community. After all, I had seen many dirty, scuffed, dusty, worn out looking, and downright ratty shoes in our ranks and so I was always glad to see the bootblacks cleaning things up. Choosing to be a bootblack was a mystery to me.  Why would these men (all the bootblacks I’d ever seen were men) choose to spend a whole day or even just a few hours working up a sweat to perform community service?  Were they working off bad karma?  Were they ‘bad’ and their Daddy’s were making them polish boots? Or perhaps they had some sort of service hours they needed to perform to attain membership in a group?  I was sort of flummoxed by them.  What they did in an odd way felt sexy to me, but my presumption was that they were somehow immune to the intoxicating scent of leather and they were simply polishing up the riffraff for some non-sexual reason.

Reading Bootblacking 101 did not begin my change of heart about bootblacking.  That began the first time I put my Daddy’s knee high leather boots on to him.  The smell of his leather, the feel of his boots, looking up at his handsome body, and seeing the lusty pleasure he took in my kneeling in front of him were all very erotic.  By the time I finally laced him into his 30 eyelet boots, my fingers were blistered from the stiff bootlaces and my panties were soaked.  After a while, I had the amazing experience of receiving a lesson from an outstanding bootblack in my local community.  During a fetish gathering, Daddy and I saw that the bootblack, flanked by his Daddy who for all the world looked like he stepped out of a Tom of Finland drawing, had an empty chair.  Daddy had begun to have me polish his shoes for him and so he asked the man’s Daddy if his boy would be willing to teach me how to polish correctly.  The couple was very gracious and the bootblack got to work giving me quiet instructions and tips as he demonstrated his art.  The really fantastic part of the whole process was when the bootblack asked my Daddy if he could lick the boots to put the spit on them for the spit shine.  My Daddy nodded and the man knelt to his task.  There is no way that I can really convey the way he did this and how it was that it was so erotic.  My Daddy is a straight man but even he stated afterward that the licking of the boots was damn exciting.  As I leaned in close and watched this whole process I ‘got it’ in a way I never had.  I was well and truly hooked. Daddy bought me my very own shine kit for Christmas and I love it very much. I shined Daddy’s boots with vigor because I understood what is sexy about shining shoes but I still did not understand the bootblacks themselves. I am certain I still don’t fully understand them.  I think it would be foolish to ever think that I can really understand someone’s fetish that I do not personally share.  Everyone is different and to suggest otherwise is to become the blowhard making declarative statements that serve only to inform those around them of their lack of clarity.

What McDiarmid’s book has provided me with is a finer appreciation for and better understanding of bootblacks themselves. They are not just providing a cleaning service the way a lamprey helps keep a shark from being poorly groomed.  The bootblacks are engaging in a fetish that generously includes those they choose to serve.  The community is lucky to have them but they are having their own needs fulfilled as well.  Bootblacking is hot.

I don’t mean to sound as though Bootblacking 101 is a perfect book.  It is really more of a compilation of a basic leather care “how-to”, a presentation McDiarmid made at the International Leather Association ‘Living in Leather’ event in 1999, some erotica excerpts from his other books, his take on his experiences in the competitive bootblacking arena, and an interview from 2007 with Power Exchange Magazine.  The knitting together of these freestanding elements is not elegant and there are many repetitions of key concepts. If I were reading the book with an eye to fine literature it would not hold up well but as it turns out it is still well worth reading.  The “Tao” and the insight into the reason for that nifty shoe shine station in the corner of my local events is reason enough that I am glad I read the book.