© John O’Brien
I met Daniel in 2012 on the weekend of the Mr. Leather Berlin contest. It was a time when Berlin’s fetish clubs were badly at war with each other, and despite his arbitrary leadership function within the ECMC, Daniel made it clear whose side he was on: the others! Of course, ‘political’ conflicts within any community are always going to lead to personal clashes amongst its members, but Daniel and I nonetheless hit it off immediately and we always got along. We used to talk on the phone, discuss our jobs and personal lives, chat online and meet up for dinner à deux (he was once wearing a Smurf T-shirt!), and did all those things that you only do with a small number of people when you live in a city like Berlin. That’s why I called him a friend. We were often on opposing sides and there was a lot of disagreement between us, but that never impaired or undermined our personal connection. This was one thing I like about Daniel: he wasn’t afraid of confrontation. And he always gave as good as he got! Daniel may have had the reputation of being a whip-wielding sadist but, even without his leather whip, his tongue was also good at dishing out many lashes – I suppose that’s why he had little reason to harbour long grudges.
Our best moments together, however, were those whenever we got the chance to dance! Daniel was a really good dancer and always enjoyed a groove on a dancefloor. He knew how to move, too! When he was dancing, you could tell that he didn’t care what people thought of him – as neither do I – so it was the one place where we were always completely connected and free of any club stuff. While we were once really grooving and laughing in full leather on a podium in the Metropol at Nollendorfplatz, I can clearly remember him telling me: “Let them look! Let them see the other side!”
I’m very sorry to hear of his death, but I have absolutely no doubt that his legacy will live on amongst those who knew him personally. I know there were many people who didn’t like him, and I can understand that too, but I don’t think he’d want anyone to remember him as being perfect or as innocent, but instead as a man with a few rough edges and an equal number of flaws. And that’s precisely what made him special.