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The 'S' in Mister S
Alan Selby - the founder of the Mister S Leather Company in San Francisco, passes away at 75
Introduction by Mark, essay by Richard Hunter
05 May, 2004
lan Selby, the founder and original driving force of the Mister S leather company, passed away on Sunday, May 2nd, 2004, at his home in the city
of San Francisco.
This proper English gentleman arrived in San Francisco in 1979, and since that time has had a major continuing impact on the Bay Area's leather community, local AIDS organizations, the global BDSM community, and on the creation of this web site.
I first met Alan in 1988, when I became a member of San Francisco's premier BDSM club, the Society Of Janus. He was a gay leatherman who presented occasional programs for the club, even though Janus was, predominantly, a heterosexual organization - but with strong ties to the gay leather community.
His personality and charm always reminded one of the 'man about town', even though he was nearly always attired in leather pants or chaps and a leather vest and cap. He probably should have been dressed in a tuxedo, given his ambassadorial way, but he was true to his own feelings.
Alan had a quality about him that made everyone he met and talked to feel as though they were a special person in his life, and were a welcome addition to his large group of friends. He always had a smile and would greet you with respect and charm, making you feel as if you were a high ranking diplomat.
I maintain a great respect for Alan's untiring contributions to the gay leather community, particularly in San Francisco, and his unstinting energy and selfless drive in the fight against AIDS, and raising funds for its eradication.
He impacted many lives in very special ways, and first touched mine in 1989, when I presented my first educational bondage program for Janus. Although he wasn't there for the presentation he somehow got word of it and its success. From that time on, whenever I went to the Mr. S store, he always greeted me with a big smile and a very heart warming," Ah! Mr Burnley, so nice to see you!"
Then, to add even more to my feelings of being accepted for who and what I was, to say nothing of feeding my ego, he would turn to anyone standing nearby and say "Do you know this man? He's an expert in bondage, from The Society of Janus."

Alan Selby (left) and Richard Hunter

Needless to say, Alan was a master at the art of flattery, but nonetheless, his continued compliments and praise of my efforts boosted my self-confidence in all sorts of ways, and I became more and more knowledgeable as a BDSM player. Mr. S, with its store full of bondage equipment, supported my insatiable appetite for some of the more esoteric bondage gear as a consequence, and allowed me to explore my own kinky universe even more than had been possible before meeting him.
As time moved on, I met Richard Hunter, the man who had purchased the store from Alan. Richard turned out to be a bondage gear-head like myself, and as a result I was able to achieve what I loosely describe as 'critical bondage mass' in my life. When this happened, it allowed all of my previously closeted interests to come to full bloom, and my life has not been the same since.
In closing this personal obituary to a wonderful man, I would ask that Alan, in which ever happy place he may be, accept my heartfelt thanks and gratitude for opening so many doors in my life. I will always remember his smiling face and charming British demeanor, with both fondness for a genuine human being and respect for his giving works.
The following is a personal and spiritually insightful essay about Alan, written by Richard Hunter, the current owner of Mister S Leather.
The 'S' in Mr. S stands for Selby. Alan, who just passed away Sunday morning May 2nd, here in San Francisco, was an example of what being a Leather man could be. He was generous, compassionate, open, friendly and funny. He got most of his pleasure from helping others and Alan never felt it was a sacrifice to take time to make sure somebody else got what they needed.
A few months ago Alan came into the Mr. S store to pick up a donation from us for an event he was involved in. As we were talking, Alan started to have a hard time breathing and started to gasp for air. We quickly got him settled down and got him some water and in a few minutes he seemed to have gotten his breath back and was doing OK again.
I asked him if he wanted me to help him get home or to the hospital, even though he was seemingly doing alright now.
He smiled and said, "Oh No, I still have a few more stops to make to pick up more donations."
I tried to insist and told him that maybe now was the time to start taking care of Himself and let someone else do some of these errands.
He looked quite seriously at me and said, "Richard, this is what I do, this is what keeps me going." And so off he went to finish collecting donations for an auction for a fund raising event. That was Alan Selby.
But Alan wasn't only doing fund raising and community stuff. Alan was still having sex with boys, even at age 74. God Bless him and his spirit. He could talk about the Old Times with you, but he was also still very much living in the Present moment and enjoying his life.
Alan was 75 years old when he passed away from complications from emphysema. Even though he had stopped smoking many years ago, the damage to his lungs had already taken place.
Alan started Mr. S Leather in San Francisco back in 1979 when he came to the U.S. from England. He ran it until 1987 when he sold it to one of his employees, Doug Deal. Doug kept it running for four years until I came out to SF and took over in 1991.
Alan loved helping people and right up to the end of his life he was visiting hospital wards and bringing food to people who needed it. He loved charitable work and collected thousands of dollars for many of the AIDS organizations of the Bay area. He was always out there in the community doing something to make things happen.
Mr. S gets asked for donations almost every day, for every contest and every event that happens around the country. We can't contribute to all of them, but Alan was the only person I could never say no to. He had that effect on everybody as far as I know. His energy was always Up and Positive. A wall in his home had a hundred framed Proclamations and Certificates of Appreciation from all kinds of charitable groups and government officials. He had received lots of awards over the years for all the work he had done to help people have a better life.
Alan also had a title as: San Francisco Leather Daddy. I asked him once what number Daddy was he? He said, "I'm the Original Daddy here, the first one." (some-thing he was very proud of)
But he Was what a real Daddy is - and didn't need a title vest to prove it. A Daddy is Strong, Confident, Supportive, Respected, and looked up to by his family. He's there when you need him and he works hard to make sure everybody else is alright, sometimes even to his own detriment. Alan pushed himself all the way to the end to
help others.
It always made me feel good to know how happy he was at how his legacy in starting Mr. S had not only been carried on, but had grown to what Mr. S is today. He was very proud of Mr. S. The Leather community worldwide will miss him and his example of helping others and just being a really nice guy.
I remember going to him when I came out to SF and asking him what the story was about some of this Attitude I was getting from some of the Old Guard here in San Francisco. He laughed and said "Oh, don't worry about it deary, these same people never liked me either, they are just unhappy about everything. Don t let them get to you. You just do your thing." And so I did just that. I liked Alan right away after that.
Alan got out of his sick bed just before he died and insisted that he wanted to go to the Aids Emergency Fund annual awards dinner. He had never missed one and if he was still alive, he wasn't going to miss this one either. His friends got him a wheelchair and Tony took him to the event. It gave everybody a chance to say goodbye to him for the last time. Before he left the party, Alan wanted to have his Fortune told by one of the physics there. Now that's Alan, always seeing the optimistic side of things.
Skeeter and I had gone over to see Alan, as we knew his time remaining was short. When we arrived at his home, Tony Koester, his roommate and long time friend, met us at the door and said Alan was pretty out of it, as he had just been given his dose of Morphine to help him feel more comfortable.

We sat down beside his bed and held his hands and talked to him quietly, not knowing whether he could really hear us or not. He was out in la-la land to wherever that place is that Morphine can take you to. We stayed for about 4 hours talking with Tony and hoping Alan would come back to us and say hi. I guess he was happy where he was in his mind and decided to stay out there while we were with him during that time. We left wondering if we would see him again. During these last couple of weeks many of Alan's long time friends came to see him to say goodbye.
Sitting by his bedside a few days later, he decided to stick around a little longer. He asked me what I though it was like on the other side and if he should be afraid. He wanted to know how long it might take, once the process had started.
I told him that it was probably up to him as to when it might actually start, and that when He decided to let go he would then start to make the transition, and that the more he was able to relax and stay open to the process, he would just drift off. If he could try and not hold on but just let this all go it would be much easier. Everybody here was going to be alright and he could go now, when he wanted to.
That seemed to help him relax and he smiled and said "Thank you." As to worrying about being afraid about what's on the other side, I told him that someone like him didn't need to be afraid of anything . "A man like you Alan, who has been there for so many others, doesn't have anything to be afraid of."
I asked Alan if over all these years of being in the SM scene had he ever Bottomed? He said "No, I actually hadn't ever gone bottom, never felt the desire to." I guess I looked a little surprised and said with a smile, "Well Alan, this is the Big Bottom scene for you and God is going to Top You. He's a pretty good Top, so you won t have anything to worry about, but there are No Safe words this time, so just surrender and let go and enjoy the trip." He didn't laugh or frown, he just looked at me straight in the eyes. It seemed a moment of truth. Before we left, as he hugged Richard Lester, who was there with us, he said, Well my friend, I guess I'll see you on the other side of the bridge.

During the last two weeks before Alan died, many of his closest friends came to see him and say goodbye. He passed away at home with some of his closest friends holding his hands to help ease the transition.

Goodbye Alan. Thanks for your Love and Advice over these many years. I'm sure all the guys that You held their hands, as They died, will be there to welcome You into your next journey. Daddy Alan was one of the Good guys and all of us will miss him.
A celebration of his life tribute will be held at the San Francisco Eagle Bar on Saturday May 22nd, 2004, from 2PM to 7PM. Come join with all of Alan's friends to toast and celebrate the life of a truly wonderful man.
Richard Hunter
Contributors to this page include: Richard Hunter, Mark Burnley, David Meyer, Ken Kalstein, Don Thompson, JG-Leathers, www.sfleatherandbear.com, Mister S
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