fb-pixel Skip to main content

Pat Bond, a sexual-subculture pioneer, dies at 94

A photo provided by Efrain John Gonzalez shows Pat Bond, founder of The Eulenspiegel Society, at the organization's annual convention in Piscataway, N.J., in 2017.
A photo provided by Efrain John Gonzalez shows Pat Bond, founder of The Eulenspiegel Society, at the organization's annual convention in Piscataway, N.J., in 2017.EFRAIN JOHN GONZALEZ/NYT

He was not a sex educator, a sex worker or a political figure. No case law was established in his name.

But to cultural historians, anthropologists, sex educators and members of the now sprawling alternative-sex community known by the umbrella acronym of BDSM — for bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism — or by the more prosaic (and historical) term “kink,” Pat Bond, to use the pseudonym he preferred, was a foundational figure, applauded at conferences, noted in academic papers and hailed as an elder by those who shared his interest in role-playing sex.

A modest, elfin man with a Van Dyke beard that turned snowy with age, Bond had long had masochistic fantasies but had never acted on them until he was 44. It was 1970, and the identity politics of that era made him think there must be others like him. He wasn’t looking for sex so much as community when he placed an ad in Screw, a pornographic magazine geared toward heterosexual men, that read:

“Masochist? Happy? Is it curable? Does psychiatry help? Is a satisfactory life-style possible? There’s women’s lib, black lib, gay lib, etc. Isn’t it time we put something together?”

Advertisement



Five people answered the ad, but only two showed up to that first meeting in Bond’s tiny East Village apartment: a heterosexual woman who went on to adopt the pen name Terry Kolb and a gay man who never returned — annoyed, Bond said later, “that we were all into different things.”

Every week, however, more and more people appeared: just masochists at first, but eventually sadists, too, were welcome.

All were eager for community, not just sex, and under Kolb and Bond’s leadership, they formed a nonprofit organization. They named it The Eulenspiegel Society after Till Eulenspiegel, a picaresque character in German folklore who was cited as a symbol of masochism in “Masochism in Modern Man,” a 1941 book by Theodor Reik, a protégé of Freud’s, that was one of the few texts at the time about this erotic minority.

Advertisement



Alternative papers like The Village Voice at first refused to run ads for the organization, which later adopted the acronym TES. But after Bond, Kolb and others picketed The Voice’s offices and Kolb wrote an article, which The Voice published, advocating for “masochist’s lib,” the paper relented.

TES meetings were run like encounter groups with educational programming — expert speakers weighed in on sexual techniques or on legal or psychological issues — and also as exercises in consciousness raising, following the practices of the day.

The group hashed out an ideology — “freedom for sexual minorities,” as they described themselves — and advocated for their community, marching in the Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day March, the precursor to New York City’s gay pride parade. There was a board, and a mission statement, written by Bond, that declared, among other freedoms, “the right to pursue joy and happiness in one’s own way, according to one’s evolving nature, as long as this doesn’t infringe on the similar happiness of others.”

Bond died on Feb. 13 in a hospital in Far Rockaway, Queens, New York. He was 94. Deborah Callahan, a family friend, confirmed the death, which was not widely reported at the time, and said he had suffered from congestive heart failure.

“TES was really a new kind of kinky organization in that it was social, political and educational,” said feminist author and cultural anthropologist Gayle Rubin, who has written extensively about sexual subcultures.

Advertisement



Rubin, who is an associate professor of anthropology and women’s and gender studies at the University of Michigan, added: “TES expanded the organizational repertoire of sadomasochism. In addition, Pat Bond and Terry Kolb began to develop a political language for S&M.

“They were able to do that in part because of the times. It was a period when many social movements were articulating political frameworks for various populations that had been marginalized. They also drew from the language of gay liberation, where there was already a model for repositioning what had been seen as sexual deviation as a sexual minority. To do this for sadomasochism was pretty breathtaking at the time.”

(Kolb left the group the year it began and moved to California. She eventually joined Samois, a group for lesbian sadists and masochists, the first of its kind, that had been modeled on TES. She now identifies as bisexual. In a phone interview, she remembered Bond as being “introverted and very serious.”)

The Eulenspiegel Society was unusual in collecting disparate groups — heterosexual as well as gay — “and affirming their dignity and defending their political rights,” said Rostom Mesli, who has studied the identity politics of the 1970s and is the managing director of the Leather Hall of Fame, which recognizes individuals or organizations that have made distinct contributions to kinky subcultures. Bond and Kolb were recognized in 2015.

Advertisement



“The assumption,” Mesli added, “was that kinksters who would never have sex together still had things to do together, could learn from one another or do activism together. It totally redefined the borders of the kinky world by creating a sense of community and shared identity among groups that had evolved with virtually no connection among each other.”

Pat Bond was born Walter Allen Campbell on May 24, 1926, in St. Petersburg, Florida, the youngest of three children. His father, Joel, was an orthodontist who died when Allen, as he was known, was 6. His mother, Marie, was a homemaker.

He attended the New York State College for Teachers at Albany, now the University at Albany, and graduated in 1951. He worked as a music teacher in New York City’s public school system and later as a secretary.

Since the late 1970s, Bond had lived in a basement apartment in Callahan’s family home in Far Rockaway, a century-old three-story clapboard house that his mother had owned and sold to Callahan’s parents. Callahan’s father, known to TES members as Brother Leo, was Bond’s best friend.

“Allen was a member of our family,” Callahan said. “He would sing at our dinner table, and lead us in Christmas carols. He was lovely. He cared deeply about justice, and doing the right thing. He was marching for various causes up until 15 years ago. He always wanted to be helpful, even when he could no longer really help.”

Advertisement



Bond was married briefly when he was young, and the marriage was annulled. He eventually found a dominatrix after TES’ founding — he called her his “lady friend,” Mesli said. That relationship lasted for nearly half a century, until the woman’s death a few years ago.