Bloodsisters (1995): Leather, Dykes And Sadomasochism (1995): Michelle Handelman’s Groundbreaking Documentary (LGBTQ, Lesbian)

Bloodsisters: Leather, Dykes And Sadomasochism
(1995)
Directed by Michelle Handelman
Featuring Tala Brandeis, Patrick Califia, J.C. Collins, Queen Cougar, Amy Marie Meek, Skeeter, Wickie Stamps, Peggy Sue, Ann Soucy-West & others
With music from Chris + Cosey, Coil, Fred Giannelli, Frightwig, Typhoon
From pushy bottoms to macho femmes, Bloodsisters is an A-Z documentary guide that takes an in-depth look at the San Francisco leatherdyke scene during the mid-nineties, shattering assumptions about gender, power, and lesbian sexuality.

Gay Directors, Gay Films? By Emanuel Levy (Columbia University Press, August 2015).

Handelman’s film doesn’t describe the bounds of permissible fantasy in the women’s leather community; rather it broadens the discussion about private expressions of eroticism and their political implications. Eight self-described leather dykes tell their stories about participating in a subculture cast off by its own immediate ally, the larger lesbian community.
Surrounded by the paraphernalia of S/M ritual, these women collapse the stereotypes used to demonize them.
This film documents a subculture within a subculture; seen by some within the gay/lesbian community as being traitors to the cause, these practitioners are the queerest of the queer, and the group’s strong desire for self-definition shines through.
This controversial film was attacked in Congress by the conservative American Family Association for its depictions of radical lesbian sexuality, but the film reveals a fluidity to role-playing that is far more complex. As one woman declares S/M is about “finding your own boundaries and moving beyond.” Slave auctions, activist events, and the International Ms. Leather competition are artfully joined to the interviews, while a soundtrack by SF riotgrrl punk bands Frightwig and Typhoon and industrial music masters Coil and Chris & Cosey propel BloodSisters along.
USA / 1995 / English / Hi-8 video, 65 min
Trailer:
BLOODSISTERS: LEATHER, DYKES ANS SADOMASOCHISM clip | BFI Flare 2020