I’m sorry to pass along the news that legendary kinkmeister and industry founder Daddy Zeus has died. According to several sources, he passed away over the weekend at home in Palm Springs. He was 73 years old. Daddy Zeus, whose name was Mikal Bales, was inducted into the GayVN Awards Hall of Fame 12 years ago for good reason; he helped build this industry, and mentored many of its performers, directors and executives, among them Chris Ward and JD Slater when they founded Raging Stallion Studios. Daddy Zeus and his Zeus Studios set the standard for BDSM and leather; he brought a finesse to the art of bondage, and his lifelong exploration of male sexuality was marked by compassion and tenderness, even as he delved into the darker corners of sexplay. “In the 70s Mikal recognized his growing fascination with images of muscular men in bondage and simultaneously became frustrated with not being able to find the kind of material he sought,” recalls Leatherati.com. “In 1975 he borrowed $2000 and, along with a friend, started Zeus Studios. Their first effort was a mimeographed fetish magazine that attracted a wide and loyal following.” He would later direct more than 150 BDSM films. In a comment to the Leatherati post, another legendary filmmaker, Jack Fritscher, recalls him as “one of the great ones from the Titanic 1970s, the first decade of leather liberation.” Mr. Ward was equally effusive when we spoke yesterday afternoon. “Daddy Zeus was a great man and a pioneer of our industry,” he said. “His trailblazing films helped make hardcore kink porn part of the mainstream. His kindness will be remembered by everyone who knew him. Both JD Slater and I are forever thankful for his role in helping us start Raging Stallion and we acknowledge our debt to him.” I distinctly recall when he was inducted into the GayVN Hall of Fame. The award was presented by his “son” Robert Black. “That’s so cool they’re related,” said a porn star at my table. Years later, on the set of a Raging Stallion film, Mr. Bales cracked up when I told him that story. My condolences to his family, friends and fans.