Old Guard Leather
Master Doug and boy bob Discuss Formal Protocol

The following is a synopsis of the first formal protocol program given by Master Doug Harris and his slave, boy bob harris. It was held at The Sanctuary on Saturday, September 8, 2001. The program was an explanation and background about Old Guard lifestyle, protocols, rituals, household structures, and other facets of the leather lifestyle. Boy bob is now deceased, and the Sanctuary is closed. Master Doug is currently recovering from a stroke. Their words and the history they shared with us lives on.

"I was 13 when I entered the lifestyle with a qualified master," explained Master Doug Harris. "For nine years I grew up in his care. It sounds like pedophilia, but it was not. My parents knew and were pleased."

"That's where I got my start. My father was career military. I lived a very defined life. I was used to that. Going to slavery from that was very comfortable for me."

"I was fortunate. My Master had one slave. Usually several slaves served one Master. I tried things, and tried them twice sometimes. I got punished for them. I was hard headed at times."

"Protocol was very important. We have seen protocol drift away." Doug lamented.

Doug read some of Webster's definitions of protocol: "A diplomatic agreement, especially one that amends, clarifies, or adds to a treaty. The code of ceremonial forms and courtesies, of precedence, accepted as proper and correct in official dealings, as between heads of state or diplomatic officials."

"Protocol is a way of doing things. It simplifies life. I'm lazy. I enjoy having things a certain way. The rules and expectations and understanding of them makes life easier. It makes it less gray. Protocols are to make things run smoothly. It makes it easier. There are protocols for any given situation."

"Simple Protocols- Southern traditions, for instance, created the substance for some of our protocols," Doug pointed out.

"Bob stays one step behind my right shoulder. He watches my right hand to see if I need a drink, a cigarette, or if I make a gesture with my hand. He can do this without me interrupting my conversation."

"There were no bars in the south during that time. Most socializing was done at homes. In private, we had fine dinners with different protocols for each type dinner."

"In the west and north, slaves stood on the left of their Masters. That way the slaves would not be in the way if they reached out to shake hands with others."

"In protocol hierarchy, respect is based on one's experiences and what they have done. A junior Dom who is in training gets respect from the novice bottoms. An experienced sub gets the respect of a training Top/Dom, etc."

"It is a hard place to be for some people. Bob doesn't like it when junior Doms call him 'Sir'. It makes him uncomfortable. A lot of junior Tops learn from senior subs. Don't think you can learn only from those in the hierarchy above you."

"Old Guard? I heard that term only ten years ago," Doug said.

"There was no Daddy/boy, Daddy/girl, Daddy/daughter relationships back then. All relationships were Master/slave."

"We got political pressures from outside. We added different terms, but were doing the same thing. They were just structured a little differently."

"I have seen subs try as hard as they could, but unless they have a service heart, they are doing just that, working hard."

Doug said, "The nuts and bolts of it is a slave is an innate service individual whose enjoyment comes from providing service and making a Dom's life easier. They do not have an agenda. We are fortunate to be the recipient and to manage that service. It is full-time job managing that service."

"All of us need a little humility," Doug explained. "At times I have thought that I should be the one on my knees. I want to be a little better at the end. I want to be the best me I can be."

"Sometimes bob and I are not able to do all the protocol we have in place. I do things during our rushed times that I normally insist he do. He's only one person and I have to make sure he does not overdo himself. Sometimes his expectations of himself are higher than my expectations of him."

"Protocols are slowly and surely explained and reasons told for why they are protocol."

"I found myself looking back and thinking of the past as I was preparing for this evening's talk. I felt some warm fuzzies when I thought of something that was second nature to me and I thought of being able to have that again."

"If any protocols are noticed that you do not understand, we will try to explain what the protocol is and why it is part of protocol."

"Seven and one-half years ago I wanted to create this atmosphere (The Sanctuary) where protocol is lived and exists. We want to have a good time. It is not about just rules and being strict."

Bob said, "I didn't start Old Guard. I was not in a 24/7 relationship with my previous Master/slave relationship. We had protocol only in dungeons. We went to the Eagle in Washington, DC about three or four times a year as the only protocol events."

"I only had a basic idea of what protocol was about before I came here. It is an extremely important part of the leather lifestyle."

"Eighteen years ago when I was in Cincinnati, we didn't have a leather bar. Leather there was underground and you got invited. That was the only way to get in. I was later told I didn't make the right moves to get invited in."

"After I moved to Raleigh, Cincinnati opened up its first leather bar. My timing was off," bob chuckled.

"When I came to Atlanta, I found very defined protocols in existence. There was European, which was fostered by The Duchess, and Old Guard, which was fostered by Mr. Puckett."

"If the two of them were in the same room together, you could hear a pin drop."

"Everyone dressed in leathers and fetish wear for a social evening. It was a meeting of friends. We all enjoyed the formal protocol modes. Courtesies were the standard, the norm, not the exception."

Doug said, "Protocols set our lifestyle apart. Made it out of the ordinary and special. This is escapism -- an alternate lifestyle -- to help get rid of the pressures of the rest of daily life."

When asked about behavior of newcomers and those who do not show respect and manners in dungeons, Doug asked, "If someone went into a church and jumped around and was loud, how far do they think they would get? That's what we've let happen here. They come in and show no respect, no manners. They play. They leave."

"That's the reason we've been pushing proper behavior and observing protocol recently," Doug said. "It is not to replace personal codes, just to enjoy public play while here. It used to be the norm. It is for you to enjoy!"

"Protocol started to disappear, especially with the influx of newcomers from the Internet."

"Protocol helps create a different atmosphere and respect. Absorb it. Let it fill you up. It is amazing what it does for headspace. What a difference it makes in play."

"Protocol keeps us together when we are apart," bob explained. "I try to maintain as much headspace as I can when we are apart."

One example bob mentioned was he sits on the floor even when he and Master Doug are apart. Even when he is sitting with his kids, bob gravitates to sitting on the floor rather than on the sofa. He said he is not comfortable unless he is sitting on the floor. His kids are not even curious why. It is a natural thing to bob.

"This is who I want to be," explained bob. "What I want to do. This is why I do it. That's when I become who I am. It definitely is not for everybody."

Bob told about new boys who will come to The Sanctuary who think they want to be trained and live the lifestyle. They generally leave shortly afterwards. "They say it's too much work and they don't get laid enough," bob chuckled. "It is not about having sex, and not about looking good so one wants sex with them."

"It is because it is something you want! You nourish it. When you do it and get back love and appreciation, it makes it worthwhile," bob explained.

Bob said he and Master Doug lost some of what they started with at The Sanctuary because of hectic schedules, fewer boys to help with chores at The Sanctuary, and there has been more work for both of them without boys to help.

Master Doug gave out some of the specific protocols at The Sanctuary, primarily public conduct orders and formal and informal modes of conduct.

Doug explained that The Sanctuary's protocols are not strictly Old Guard rules. They are heavy Old Guard, but incorporate some others so more patrons will feel comfortable. "We want people to be comfortable, but we also want them to know the basics of what they are doing. If someone violates protocol, we want those whose protocol is violated to also ask: 'Do they know what they are doing? Do they know they are violating our protocol?' I ask that they be courteous on your side and explain that that is the way you do things. If the person is being obviously obnoxious, however, that is another matter and needs to be handled. Most people will apologize and have had no idea they were offending."

Doug asked for patrons of The Sanctuary to also inform him and bob about their rituals and protocols. Protocols help in the growth of a relationship. He said he would like to know more of your rituals in your homes, in public, etc.

"Protocol and rituals help you get past where you are on a day-to-day basis, help you grow, and still be who you are."

"When we are in a vanilla setting, bob still does some subtle protocol things that others don't even notice or pay attention to. Things like lighting my cigarette, opening the car door," Doug said. "No one notices. We are not required to do our SM in public. Never could or did."

"We do not make a stand and say, 'Look, we're SM'ers!'"

Doug said he wanted to watch and help the Formal Protocol group grow, and provide a comfortable median space for it to flourish.

"Have fun. Respect each other. There are a lot of common courtesies that should come naturally-- especially with most of you coming from the south. I want you to really enjoy and have a good time with it."

Bob pointed out that there is a tendency for many to spread Old Guard myths. There are so many myths about Old Guard and others. Old Guard started from soldiers who came from war, who saw the European BDSM lifestyle, and who brought part of it back.

"The lifestyle is not about Old Guard, Victorian, or Gorean, or European," stressed bob. "It is about honesty, respect, trust, honor, and integrity. That's all you have to remember."

Doug pointed out, "And, no, we are not against women! They weren't there when we were starting the lifestyle. They were busy doing other things."

He explained that early Old Guard members would not talk or recognize women they knew in public because it would hurt the women's reputations. He said other people who noticed would talk and it would hurt the women's reputations. He said many Old Guard members had female friends, but they did not want to create any reason for gossip that would ruin the women's reputations.

"There are reasons behind everything we do in protocol," explained Doug. "I don't know all of them. They are not all the same." He said when different families get together, especially from different parts of the country, that they point out things they do differently and often tell the reasons why.

During questions and answers, a question was asked about whether Old Guard is dead.

"Old Guard was not used to describe ourselves," Master Doug explained. He said he considered it because he was old enough to have been in that period of time. He explained that his Master came into the lifestyle after the war and was trained in that era.

He pointed out that there also were female-based lifestyle households, such as Victorian and European.

Doug told of his family of origin's household structure of which his grandmother was head. His grandmother was head of a household of 12 children, and trained servants to staff the household. "She was strict. You didn't step out of line. You knew exactly what to do and did it," Doug said.

He said she trained her service staff so well that hotels in the city sought after them because they knew how well-trained they were.

When asked if the lifestyle was being more exclusionary now than the in past, Doug answered, "Exclusionary? I wish we were. I wish we didn't open ourselves so widely to let everyone in."

Doug said a dungeon is no place for therapy. "It's not a place to be fixed," he exclaimed. "Some people are not centered, not mentally and emotionally ready to enter the lifestyle. He said one has to be centered and deal with their own inner issues and realize what they really are. It's an exploration of one's humanity."

"We keep letting them in when a lot of times there is no hope for them to be in the lifestyle," Doug said. "Some will never understand. I keep trying to talk to them because 'I'm Mr. Fix-It', and I think they need it. I keep trying to fix them because they are human beings and deserve to have a chance."

Doug explained that in the Old Guard lifestyle boys had to earn everything, including the right to learn and the right to more education about the lifestyle. "We had to earn it. We had to be ready to hear it. If we were not ready, we were not given that information."

"We don't bother to make people earn that right anymore," Doug said.

"I'd like to see kids want it as badly as bob did," he said. "Starving to get the information, and try and try till they did."

"But, when I see a submissive or slave who starts out with, 'I don't want to do that!," then I know they do not want it that badly. "I can't make you that way. It takes a lot of work and discipline." Doug stressed that some people may feel they want the lifestyle, but some people are just not cut out for it.

Doug pointed out that some people have the spark, and he tries to fan it and feed it so it will grow. Some people are looking for something to put inside them, but they have to find that themselves with the help of a dominant. "I will pick at that spark till I drive you slap crazy!" Doug laughed.

The Internet has created much misconception about the lifestyle. Doug said it is hard to get it across to some of those who first found out about the lifestyle on the Internet that those misconceptions are not what it is about.

"It is a loving, caring relationship," Doug said. "It is not a boy coming in, being abused, people not caring if he lives or dies."

Everything we do today was against the law when Doug was growing up in the lifestyle. You didn't take a chance of talking on the phone about SM, no letters contained SM information. The Postmaster General in those days would read mail and people we knew would disappear, or homes were raided.

Dungeon protocol required that the noise be kept down. Males play much quieter than females. Things were stifled. "We didn't want a chance of us being heard," Doug said.

Bob explained that the hanky and dress code allowed a sub to look at a dominant and tell the experience level he had in the lifestyle. "Negotiations got underway much quicker. It was easier to play."

"Slaves and submissives were scantily dressed because the dominant was proud of them and wanted to show them off. It was not about looks. They didn't want to see how you were dressed. It was about the proud spirit inside, not covering themselves up, and being available to their dominant at any given time. It was to show them off because it said how well the slave served the dominant and how much he meant to him. The dominant wanted everyone to know and see that."

"A quality dominant would not be sitting there looking at a slave like it was his last steak dinner," Doug said.

Bob said, "A slave had a comfort level because they knew the skill of the dominant, and also knew they had training, and had well-mentored before being allowed to play. That allowed them to negotiate faster. And many of them knew each other."

"The training of a new dominant, whether formal or not, was valuable training and they knew what they were doing. We practiced SSC (Safe Sane Consensual) long before it was put into those words."

Copyright 2009 Sir Real
All Rights Reserved.
Revised: December 02, 2009.