Author Q&A: Lee Harrington and Mollena Williams on “Playing Well with Others”

leenmo

On monday, Ms. Behaved featured an excerpt from Lee Harrington and Mollena Williams’ new book on exploring BDSM, “Playing Well With Others: Your Field Guide to Discovering, Exploring and Navigating the Kink, Leather and BDSM Communities” (Greenery Press, 2012). Go read it if you haven’t yet! Today we are featuring an interview with the authors, a pair of brilliant and passionate sexuality educators and activists.

Names:
Lee Harrington & Mollena (Mo) Williams

Ages: 33 (Lee) & 43 (Mo)

Location:
Brooklyn, NY (Lee) and Queens NY (Mo)

Who are you, and what do you do?

Lee

Lee Harrington

Lee: I am a sexuality/spirituality educator, author, artist, spirit-worker, and overall passionate person who believes that every single one of us deserves the life of our dreams.

Mo: I’m a performer, actor, writer, sexuality Activist, Kink / BDSM and Alternative Sexuality lecturer and educator, spokesperson for the Kink / Leather and BDSM Communities and fat fetish model. What I do is live, breathe, think, feel process and share my experiences as an openly kinky Black American Feminist Submissive in order to facilitate empowerment of frequently disenfranchised and invisible humans.

What initially sparked the idea for this book, and what brought you together as collaborators?

Mollena

Mollena (Mo) Williams

Lee: I was at a kink conference where a guy who was new to the scene showed up and was complaining about the event… that it was so “spiritual” and not “play” oriented enough (though he was a tad ruder than that). I asked him if he had looked at the website and seen that the event described itself as a relationship and energy focused kink event. I then asked him why he was at the event, and he said it was the one nearest to him. He had no idea that there were a wide variety of events, and he could have gotten his needs better met at a different conference.

I realized then that no one had written a book on the topic, so I started doing so. After working on it for a chunk of time, I gave up. I felt too burned out on the topic. I asked a number of folks if they might be interested in collaborating, and they were all so excited about what I had already done, and wanted to help finish it. Mollena on the other hand said it was a good idea, but had great ideas on different directions it could go, and brought her own vision to the project. I knew she had to be my co-author on the project 🙂

Mo: Lee approached me having already embarked on a search for a collaborator on a very ambitious topic and project. Upon seeing what he’d written, and after getting my feedback on where I felt we could take this and managing to help dissolve some of the overwhelming nature of an undertaking this massive, we both agreed we would work together well and had similar enough passion and dissimilar enough experience to really make an impact with this project.
Your book is a great resource for people new to exploring kink. What initially brought you into kink, and what were your early experiences?

Lee: I have been kinky since I was a kid. Literally. I read my parent’s kinky porn by sneaking it out of their hidey-holes when I was just a kid. I wanted to have a happy, creative sexuality and a community who supported those desires back then… and as an adult I have that very thing. There are a lot of folks who found kink as a teen, in their twenties, in their sixties, but kink has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

Mo: I always had an alternative approach to kinky sexuality. I’d had fantasies of being captured and owned, etc, but that seriously conflicted with my identity as a Black American, so I buried those specific desires. I never though anything of my High school sweetheart and I having freaky sex, experimenting with bondage, having a triad-based relationship for a while. It wasn’t until I’d had an affair with a hot musician that I realized my buried fantasies of domination and submission weren’t to be shunned as shameful but could be manifested in consensual healthy relationships. My early experiences were very intense – I launched myself headfirst into a Leather House that embraced high protocol and very rigid standards. I started presenting on the topics of d/s and submission very early on in my explorations, and soon after began lecturing on edgeplay and so I kind of went from zero to sixty in my kink life.

12-0305 Playing Well With Others

What advice do you wish you’d had when you were new to kink?

Lee: I wish someone had told me that just because you are into one type of kink that it does not mean that you have to be into every type of kink, and that respecting (and finding) our own limits is paramount.

Mo: It took me several years and a great deal of heartache before I realized that my identity as a submissive and slave had nothing to do with the judgment and criticism of others, that I did not have to change who I was an embrace a set of specific behaviours in order to “be a sub” or “act like a slave.” Be who you are and the rest will come to you. I tell that over and over to people…new and long-timers alike. Even those of us who’ve been around for a while forget that.

What was it like to write a book as collaborators, and how was it different than working on a solo project?

Lee: I have written a number of books solo (and continue to do so), and it’s wild to write between two brains. We did not always agree, and more than that, our senses of humor are divergent. It meant a lot of back and forth, a lot of negotiating middle ground, and more importantly – stepping back when I realized that Mo had a better idea than I did. Humility – and in turn – having the courage to back up what I truly believed in. It was such a gift.

Mo: It was far less lonely. I felt like I had to up my game, as I was challenged by someone I respected to make this project happen. I had to find out how to communicate my ideas not just on the page but to the other person with whom I’d embarked on this journey. Ultimately it was an unparalleled chance to work on something with another person who was also in there for the long-haul. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

What individual strengths do you think each of you brought to the book as collaborators with unique experiences and backgrounds?

Lee: Mollena is passionate about strong Slavery, and has an amazing background as a woman of color that I was so gifted to be exposed to in this work. Her sense of humor was paramount to the book being less dry (I tend to be very factually oriented at times), and she really helped take my stack of ideas and hone it down to something that was not the 700 page tome I might have accidentally stumbled into.

Mo: Lee is insanely prolific, and there was never any question in my mind that our project would be competed AND would kick ass. He certainly brought an immense momentum and energy that is hard to resist. I feel like my willingness to reveal personal information helped to bring a deeply human note to the book, and that encouraged an easygoing approach. Lee has been all over the map in terms of his experiences across many alternative communities, and is extremely diplomatic about representing diverse points of view, even those that might not align with his own opinions and experiences. And I do a lot of yelling and arm-waving about all manner of issues, so the combined passion and strength of personalities and drive blended wonderfully.

What are you looking forward to in 2013?

Lee: 2013 looks like it will be so exciting! I am running intensive weekend experiences on sacred kink initiation as well as power exchange relationships, and set to be speaking at quite a number of kinky sex events and university conferences (and individual engagements) across North America. There are a few books I have under development, and I am really diving into my own spiritual and artistic paths as well. Plus, Mollena and I are brainstorming a few ideas together… I look forward to seeing where those go 🙂

Mo: I’m doing a lotta speaking around the USA. I have contacts in England, Australia, Ecuador, Canada, Sweden and The Netherlands with whom I am brainstorming about touring around. Despite our best efforts, Lee and I did NOT make it to every state in the USA on our last tour and I think we have to do something about that! I have collaborations in the works with Lee and as well with Princess Kali of the Kink Academy, with Laura Antoniou and with Barbara Carellas…I am thrilled about the thought of working with people I respect and love so much. I’ve started finalizing a draft of a book “Under Consideration” which is a diary of an m/s relationship from beginning, through the ups and downs and to the endgame. Hopefully that’ll be I ne-book form this spring. And excitingly I’m going to be producing Submissive & Slave Summits: small scale gathering for submissive and slave identified or curious folks to explore self-actualization, empowerment and community building.

Check out more from Lee Harrington and Mollena (Mo) Williams at their websites, Facebook pagesand Twitter.

Read other author interviews on Ms. Behaved here.

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