LSM Presents: How We Knew New York – LSM History by Mama Vi

By July 3, 2022 No Comments

Friday, February 25, 2022, 8:00PM
@ Online, via Invite Link
Cost: $10 Non-Members, $5 Members


Founded in 1981 by Dorothy Allison and Jo Arnone, the Lesbian Sex Mafia is the oldest continuously running women’s BDSM support and education group! It was also the year that a “rare cancer” was first seen in a group of gay men in New York City that became the widespread epidemic we know today as the AIDS crisis. Mama Vi, a long-time member of LSM, joins us this February with historical photos and stories regarding the leatherwomen history of NYC, starting with the social and political events that ignited the founding of the Lesbian Sex Mafia.

The photos, acquired by Mama Vi, are from Efrain Gonzalez, a historic Brooklyn-based photographer known for capturing the seedy histories of New York City’s queers and fetishists from the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

Viola Johnson is a leatherwoman, activist, motivational speaker, and author who has been active in the leather BDSM scene for well over four decades. Vi has served as a mentor to countless individuals and was dubbed “Mama Vi” by several generations of Leathermen and women. She is delighted to now be Great Grandmom to a whole new generation of “kinklings.”

As the Owner of the Carter/Johnson Library and Collection, a compilation of over 15,000 books, periodicals, posters, newsletters, art, and more, Vi passionately persevers our leather history. Her history includes being a proud member of the ONYX Pearls Mid-Atlantic chapter and one of Onyx’s seven original Pearls, a “Lifetime Member of ONYX” and a charter member of Tulsa Uniform Leather Seekers Association (T.U.L.S.A.), the Lesbian Sex Mafia (LSM). Vi speaks at numerous academic institutions, including Bryn Mawr and Barnard Colleges, Orange Coast College, Oklahoma State University, and Kean College. In addition, Vi continues to receive numerous honors for her work which include the 2019 Forebearer Award from Tri-State Leather, the 2018 Leathertarian Lifetime Achievement Award winner has received Lifetime Achievement Awards from Pantheon of Leather, the National Leather Association, the first Lifetime Achievement given by Black Beat, and the Palm Springs (CA) Pride Organization “Spirit of Stonewall Award.”