Every Journey Starts with One Step
SteeleToe the Bootblack started his leather journey in the late 90’s by taking a rope bondage class. While he felt his kinky side awaken, being one of a few (and at times, the only) person of color in classes and other leather spaces was too comfortable to fully immerse himself in his pursuit of these interests. Then, in 2014 at the Eagle NYC, a stranger struck up a conversation and directed him to seek out ONYX, a leather club for gay, bi, and trans men of color and their allies, which was also focused on education and exploration. As he began to meet more members of the community, he realized that he found his tribe.
House of Steele
SteeleToe is the Head of the House of Steele (HOS), which was formed in 2021 to connect and train leather people with an interest and natural ability to lead and develop the leather community. At present, the HOS comprises a Protege (Reece Diamond), an alpha boy (boy Ogun), a sub (sub Forge), and a boy-in-training (boy SwitchBlade).
The House of Steele was formed on the following principles, which are represented in house crest by the following adinkra symbols:
Dwinnimmen (ram’s horns): A symbol of strength paired with humility.
Akoma Ntoso (linked hearts): A symbol of family (understanding and agreement).
Eban (fence): A symbol of a safe space (love, safety, and security).
Sankofa (return and get it): A symbol of tradition (look to the past to build your future).
Nkonsonkonson (chain link): A symbol of community (unity and human relations, in unity there is strength).
Nea Ope Se Obedi Hene (He who wants to be king): A symbol of leadership and service (he who wants to be king in the future must first learn to serve).
In addition to being a Bootblack, SteeleToe enjoys many kinks and fetishes, and converted a space in his house, the Red Room, into a dungeon space. SteeleToe is a Dom in foot worship, CBT, fisting, anal play, rimming, cigar play, electro, tickle torture, nipple play/torture, impact (paddles, floggers, whips), watersports, sensory play, sounding, and bondage. SteeleToe also enjoys subbing for CBT, sounding. and biting.
In 2011, SteeleToe lost his collection of leather gear and toys when Hurricane Irene hit New Jersey, causing sewage to back up in the basement and saturate the trunks where his items were stored. At that point, he decided that he would learn to care for his leather so that he could protect his investment and keep treasured items for as long as possible. In 2017, SteeleToe attended the New Jersey Leather Family’s NJ Kollege of Kink’s Bootblack 101 class, led by Bumper Bootblack and Wikked Jade. Not only did he learn the basics of leather care, but the process of working on leather that someone is wearing ignited a passion that he didn’t expect. From that day, he knew that he wanted to pursue bootblacking, with a focus on eroticism.
As he began to work stands, SteeleToe found that bootblacking also provided an ability to form a connection with the client, and that often, the experience was as restorative for the person in the stand as it was for their leather. He loves hearing stories about the heritage and history of a piece, and what it means to the wearer.
SteeleToe has worked stands all over the country, including the NYC Eagle (where he popped his public bootblack cherry), IML, MAL, CLAW, Lake Erie Bootblack Weekend, the Atlanta Eagle, the Baltimore Eagle, Georgies and Paradise in Asbury Park, Ramrod, and Rockbar. He blacked for the New Jersey Leather Contest, the Leatherman of Color Contest, the NYC Pup and Handler Contest, the Bucks MC Sinner Saturday event, and for BLUF NYC.
In December 2019, SteeleToe competed for and became the inaugural Northeast Bootblack, part of the Northeast Leather family. His platform, “love leather, love each other” encourages each of us to be a restorative presence for each other so that our community can be as healthy and beautiful as possible. Due to Covid-19, he held those titles for 2020 and 2021, stepping aside in March of 2022.
In May of 2022, SteeleToe competed in the 30th International Mr. Bootblack contest, placing as first runner up, and was also awarded the first Brotherhood Award, which was awarded based on votes from the IMBB contestants.
As previously mentioned, SteeleToe is passionate about education, as the principles and traditions of our community ensure safety as we play and congregate together. He has presented classes for Leather Leadership Conference, Bootblack RoundUp, Virtual Bootblack Jam, Onyx Blackout, Kink U in Rochester, and for various Onyx chapters. In addition to teaching, SteeleToe lives openly as a kinkster and leatherman to normalize and eliminate stigmas about kink.
SteeleToe has presented the following classes:
Building and Caring for a Leather Wardrobe
So You Want to Be a Bootblack
Being a Non-traditional Bootblack in Traditional Leather Spaces
Leadership Development and Identification
Creating Inclusive Events
Crafting a Scene
SteeleToe was a member of the (iconic) Dothraki pledge line for Onyx NY/Northeast, becoming a full member in 2018. That fall, he was elected Vice President for 2019, and the following year, President for 2020.
SteeleToe volunteers for a number of events to raise money and support for the community, and is a member of the Leather Heart Foundation’s Soles with Heart Program, where bootblacks collect, restore, and sell leather to benefit LHF.
SteeleToe the Bootblack has received the following awards:
Brother of the Year, Onyx NY Northeast (2019)
IMBB Brotherhood Award (2022)
SteeleToe is an avid sports fan, and follows Notre Dame athletics, NY Mets, and loves watching and playing tennis. A writer by profession, he’s currently writing a horror trilogy set in his hometown of Newark, where he lives with his buddy, Zeus.