John Pendal about leather, fetish and coaching!

On occasion, we highlight members of our community who have, in their own way, made a great contribution to it. This time it is John Pendal’s turn. A man who on the one hand is your go-to man for all things fetish and leather through his website  On the other hand, he coaches people who might feel like an outsider because of their identity, neurodivergence or health diagnoses. Two very different ways to support our community, so much so that we wanted to find out a bit more about the man himself. So here goes.

Esmale: Hi John, thank you for letting us ask you some questions. It is hard to know where to start with your varied interests 🙂 Most in line with our business and readers might be your interest and expertise in the world of leather and fetish. How did this all come about?

John: I discovered the leather community in London when I was in my early twenties, first at the Coleherne and Backstreet – then at the Hoist when that opened in the mid 90’s. Things really took off when I won International Mr Leather in 2003, and took a year off work to travel to leather and kink events full time around Europe and North America.

Esmale: With regards to your London Leather Guide, when did you start this and was there something in particular that motivated you?

John: I started my online guide to London’s leather scene in 1999. I was really frustrated that the gay press seemed to promote any leather night from a venue that advertised with them, even if no-one wore leather there, and ignored nights where everyone wore leather if they didn’t pay for an advert. I met tourists who thought that London had a terrible scene, and didn’t even know about the regular nights full of guys in gear. So I decided to write a personal guide and describe the London scene as I saw it. The guide ending up helping me at International Mr Leather because the judges had seen it and asked me about it in my panel interview.

Esmale: Before we move on to your coaching, we at esmale HQ were curious about the BDSM workshops you teach. Can you tell us a bit about those? We might have some readers who’d like to enjoy a workshop.

John: During my year as International Mr Leather every event I went to thought it was funny to do the demo on the current IML. So I got to experience some amazing things from some of the best educators in the world. I soaked up the information and wanted to pay it forward, so I started presenting workshops. Twenty years later I’m still going and learning along the way.

Esmale: Over to coaching John. This is very different to Leatherman John. Are these two Johns easy to separate?

John: I think they’re the same. I love being able to help people and impart information – and I love the look on someone’s face when they have a personal revelation or an idea that helps them.

Esmale: How did you get into coaching?

John: When covid came along it took away all of my live work. I remember taking the Eurostar back from Darklands in Antwerp in March 2020 and crossing bookings out of my diary as lockdown kicked in. I had a few months feeling sorry for myself, and then decided to retrain so that I could carry on working online. First I got a diploma in life coaching, and then two more qualifications in first aid for mental health. I went full-time from the month after I qualified, so it was a really good choice to make.

Esmale: on your coaching website there is a focus on autism and people that feel like outsiders, can you tell us a bit more about this?

John: I found out that I was autistic a few years ago. It explains a lot about my life: why I struggle with small talk and get overwhelmed in vanilla gay venues (mirror balls, drag queens, dancefloor, loud music = sensory overload). I think my decision to be a kink educator was so that I could have a reason to attend events, rather than just stand around not knowing why I was there.

Now that we know a bit more about your interest here are some lighter questions that might give our readers a snapshot idea of you.

  • Who or what inspires you? 

John: Any big, bearded man in a suit who explains something to me that I didn’t know. That’s always a good feeling.

  • City or countryside? 

John: I used to say city but I moved to the coast in 2019 and there’s nothing better than walking to the sea after a day at work.

  • Cats or Dogs? 

John: I share my house with two cats, but I love a bit of puppy play.

  • Who is your celebrity crush? 

John: Alan Ritchson in Reacher series 1. I’ve watched that way too many times.

  • What does your favourite holiday look like? 

John: Being in a villa with my partner in the mountains of Spain. We’ve just cooked something and eaten dinner outside. There are no biting or stinging insects that night, and I have all the ingredients to mix Smokey Old Fashioned cocktails.

  • What are you most excited about in the next 5 years?

John: Hopefully society moves on from bashing the Trans community. People realise that there’s nothing to be afraid of, and we start treating all minority groups with dignity.

Thank you very much for your time and for giving us a little peek into all things John Pendal.

For those of you who want to know more about John, you can visit the following websites.


Leather and Fetish:

With love,


About the author

Team esmale

At esmale we are all about male sex toys that are essentially for men! We offer the best toys directly to your door, discreetly packaged and delivered to wherever you are in the world. esmale is a community where we share information about male sex toys and anything that is related to sex toys for men and having fun in the bedroom with yourself or a partner. We have many years experience in the male sex toys industry. This means we have the best contacts and are able to offer you the best brands at great prices!

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