Cynthia Slater

Cynthia Slater was the cofounder of the second oldest surviving SM organization in the United States, the Society of Janus, founded with Larry Olsen.[1][2] Her activism for women to be accepted within the gay leather scene in San Francisco during the late 1970s brought her to more mainstream attention.[1][3] Slater persuaded the management of the Catacombs, a gay men's club in San Francisco, to open up to other groups.[3] She was an early proponent of SM safety, and one of the major AIDS activists & educators during that time.[1] Slater hosted Janus Society safety demonstrations during the late 70's, cultivating a space for women within the 'plurality of gay men' already present within the leather/kink/fetish Venn-diagramatic culture.[4] According to first-hand accounts, she coined the term "SM 101", referring to the safety demonstrations and classes she presented.[5] Slater also contributed to "developing and disseminating kink friendly safer sex technologies".[5] It was in 1981 that "Dr. David Lourea and bisexual / leather icon Cynthia Slater presented safer-sex education workshops in bathhouses and BDSM clubs in San Francisco."[6]

Cynthia Slater
Born(1945-08-07)August 7, 1945
DiedOctober 26, 1989(1989-10-26) (aged 44)
OccupationProfessional Dominatrix, Sex Educator
SubjectBDSM, Activism

Slater was also recognized at the San Francisco South of Market Leather History Alley, where her bootprints are immortalized alongside 27 other important figures in San Francisco alternative culture history.[7][8] According to the Leather Hall of Fame biography of Slater, she said of the Society of Janus,

"There were three basic reasons why we chose Janus. First of all, Janus has two faces, which we interpreted as the duality of SM (one’s dominant and submissive sides). Second, he’s the Roman god of portals, and more importantly, of beginnings and endings. To us, it represents the beginning of one’s acceptance of self, the beginning of freedom from guilt, and the eventual ending of self-loathing and fear over one’s SM desires. And third, Janus is the Roman god of war--the war we fight against stereotypes commonly held against us."[1]


  1. "2014 Leather Hall of Fame Inductee Cynthia Slater (1945-1989)", Leather Hall of Fame Inductees List
  2. Ortmann, David M., and Richard A. Sprott. 2013. Sexual outsiders: understanding BDSM sexualities and communities. p.156
  3. Call, Lewis. 2013. BDSM in American science fiction and fantasy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p.5
  4. "THE JANUS SOCIETY: KISS AND DON’T TELL Cynthia Slater and the Catholic Priest", Jack Fritscher. Drummer 27, February 1979.
  5. "Chicago Hellfire Club, Cynthia Slater, and John Embry to be inducted to Leather Hall of Fame at CLAW in late April".The Leather Journal. Online Periodical. 26 January 2014
  6. "The Bisexual History of HIV/AIDS, in Photos". Faith Cheltenham. LGBT HealthLink
  7. Paull, Laura. "Honoring gay leather culture with art installation in SoMa alleyway – J". Retrieved 2018-06-23
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