Media Update – June 19, 2003

1. Letters from Leather Camp
2. Statement from Michael Martin, Editor-in-Chief of
3. Sample letter to send to

1. Letters from Leather Camp
2. Statement from Michael Martin, Editor-in-Chief of
3. Sample letter to send to

Letters From Leather Camp

by Grant Stoddard
June 16-19, 2003

European kids don't go to summer camp. From age fifteen onward, they spend two weeks frying their minds and pasty complexions on the beaches of Ibiza. Nerve suggested that I complete my assimilation to the U.S. by taking part in a very American rite of passage. Although I knew there were camps for fat kids, Christian kids, arty kids and sporty kids, I was surprised to learn that there was a retreat for SM enthusiasts. Imaginatively enough, it's called Leather Camp, and it's held in the Pennsylvanian wilderness every year. The organizers were fairly brusque with me when I tried to sign up gratis with the offer of free publicity. "We sell out every year," grumbled one of the organizers. "We don't need publicity. Reporters are not granted admittance." Undaunted, I dug deep into the back of the Nerve sofa, came up with the admission fee, and incognito, I camped among them. These are my letters home…

…I'm writing this en route to the city. It's still raining. I'm sort of saddened by the realization that I couldn't endure camp any longer. By my own design, I was the weird kid there, and after days of being cagey about who I was and what I was doing, I'm glad to be returning to the populace at large. Looking around the train at other passengers, I can't help imagining them in fetishwear, with pieced genitalia. It isn't hard to do.

We're getting closer to the city now. I'm thinking about how I slunk out of camp while everyone was having a great time, despite the terrible weather. I imagined that there would be tears, back slaps and hugs at the end of the week. I'm starting to think that the folks at leather camp – despite, or perhaps because of, their individual kink – have a better sense of self than I can boast of. Even though many of the people I met talked about camp as a respite from reality, their reality seemed truer, if just for a few days, than the one on the outside. Yours, Grant [cont.]

To read the rest of this article, go to: or

To respond, write to the addresses below or click on the "comments" section to place your letter in the public forum of on Friday, June 20th:

Michael Martin – Editor-in-chief –
Grant Stoddard – Associate Editor –

Michael Martin, Editor-in-Chief of stated to NCSF on June 19th:

"I'm sorry people are upset about this — we never intended to take cheap shots at people or hurt people intentionally. We do present satirical pieces on but we reserve those for public figures. We did intend to preserve the confidentiality of the attendees of Leather Camp by changing their names.

" doesn't want to present an overly fluffy view of sexuality. Our intent is to explore sexual issues and present them fairly. We only ask that you read to the end of Letters from Leather Camp to see the entire piece before making your comments.

" will be combining the series into one entire piece and will put up the Comments section again on Friday, June 20th. The Comments were removed because personal details were revealed about the reporter whose name and photo is on the Nerve website. On Friday, please do send us your comments, criticisms, weigh in, and express your feelings about Grant Stoddard's piece. Feel free to send your personal comments about Grant directly to him, but in the public forum of, please do not post them."


Re: Letters from Leather Camp

I was very upset to see you sent a reporter, Grant Stoddard, to a private adult event and are now publishing articles about this event. It's like sending an undercover reporter to a private party at someone's house and then reporting on it. Leather Camp is a place for adults to go and explore their fantasies in a safe, sane and consensual setting. Your reporter violated the trust of every individual he spoke to, lying in order to obtain their private confidences and activities then publishing them for everyone to see.

In the future, please give private events within the SM-Leather-Fetish community the respect they deserve.

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