Your Rights. Your Privacy. Your Freedom.

Viola Johnson: Interview with Ruby B. Johnson, LCSW

NCSF honors Black History Month with this interview with Viola Johnson, a leatherwoman, activist, motivational speaker and author who has been active in the leather BDSM scene for almost five decades. Vi has served as a mentor to countless individuals, and was dubbed “Mom” by several generations of Leathermen and women. She is delighted to now be “Grandmom” and Great Grandmom to a whole new generation of “kinklings”.

Vi is passionately involved with preserving the history of the SM/Leather/Fetish communities. She is the Director and Senior Griot of the Carter/Johnson Library and Collection, a compilation of over 15,000 books (both fiction and non-fiction), periodicals, posters and other art, newsletters, and ephemera documenting the history of SM/Leather/Kink from early drawings documenting human sexuality to the present day. The Carter Johnson Library is a library designed to bring history to the communities it serves. She serves on the organization’s Board of Directors, as well as on the Board of Directors for the Leather Hall of Fame. Previously, she served on the Board of Directors of the Leather Archives & Museum and other organizations.

Vi is a proud member of the ONYX Pearls Mid-Atlantic chapter and is one of the eight original Pearls of Onyx. Vi is 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), she is an honorary member of many other SM/Leather/Fetish organizations. Vi has spoken at numerous academic institutions, including Bryn Mawr and Barnard Colleges, Orange Coast College, Oklahoma State University and Kean College. She continues to speak and serve on panels and as a keynote speaker at a wide variety of events and organizations.

Vi has received numerous honors for her work. She is the 2020 Race Banon Advocacy Award from the NCSF, The Leathertarian Ces Williams Legacy Award, 2019 Forebearer Award from Tri-State Leather. The 2018 Leathertarian Lifetime Achievement Award winner, and 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”. Additionally, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) honored her in 2012 with its Leather Leadership Award at its Creating Change conference in Baltimore. Viola is a 2014 inductee into the Society of Janus Hall of Fame, the recipient of the Pantheon of Leather “Woman of the Year” and Forebear Award, The Legacy Award from Sweat In The City, The Jack Stice Award, The Slave Heart Award from the Master/slave Conference in Washington D.C, The Golden Paintbrush Award at Southwest Leather Conference in Arizona. Viola is the author of two books, Dhampir, Child of the Blood and To Love, To Obey, To Serve. She has written for numerous magazines and newspapers over her years in service to her tribe.

Viola is the wife of the first Black IMsL, Jill Carter, International Ms. Leather 1996. They have been together 48 years.