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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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.
"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
"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
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,
"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
"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
"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
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
"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."