This is the 8th year for West Coast Rubber. I attended the inaugural one in 2005 in Palm Springs, on the weekend Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. (With the 100+ degree heat making us sweat profusely, draining into rubber shirts and shorts and releasing ounces, even cups of liquid at a time, there were now-tasteless jokes about “breaching the levee”.) I attended again in 2006, but after that, they moved it to Los Angeles, a city that doesn’t hold any attraction for me as a destination place, so I didn’t keep going. I decided to go again in 2010, to reconnect with my rubber roots, and I had an okay time, although there was still no attraction for me to go to L.A. (Read about that trip here.) Now, though, they have moved it back to Palm Springs, and to February, where temps will top out at only about 82 degrees (“Heaven” for those of us from colder climates, in other words!). I’m totally there!
My Rubber Roots
I first got into rubber in 1997 or so, after dating a guy who had some (but never wore it while we were dating). I bought a rubber shirt from Mr. S at IML that year, and acquired a whole crapload of rubber attire and gear over the next several years.
In 1998 (I think), I competed for San Francisco Leather Daddy’s Boy, but wore rubber for the contest, and was later advised that that may have had an effect on me not winning. In November 1999, though, I competed for Mr. International Rubber (2nd runner-up). I then became a charter member of Rubber Men of San Francisco Bay (and designed the logos they used for years), and had them sponsor me to compete for International again in 2000 (2nd runner-up again, with a larger contestant field).
After moving to Seattle, I continued to attend (but not compete) for MIR for several years, including one year that I was suffering from Hep B the entire time, not aware of why I was sick until I got home. I also started attending Rubbout in Vancouver (before I moved to Seattle, in fact, and it was he return drive to Seattle that convinced me to move from California), and have only missed one year of it since then.
Leather titles and a live-in relationship (with a live-in teenager) put a damper on my rubber time, but it has never been far from my heart, and I’m trying to recapture some of it these days. This year is partially a good time for this, because while Northwest LeatherSIR is technically a “leather” title, it is a play title and embraces the play activities which work well/better/best/only in rubber as much as those which are best in leather (or in nothing at all).
For this trip, I decided to take my portable sling. My friend Bill recommended a rolling long bag for such (almost a golf club bag), and I found one from Coleman at the local Ross store. Unfortunately, the bag itself is heavy enough that I couldn’t take the new frame, only the old one, and even then, the cross pieces, sling, and tie downs (a recommendation from my friend Matt, rather than chains) had to go in my carry-on to keep the bag just under 50 lbs. But it is indeed much easier to transport. And since the sling poles only fill the bottom compartment, I could put my nasty heavy carry-on in the top compartment to make transporting it also easier.
D. came over on Thursday night and helped me paw through my rubber, to figure out what I would take. As usual, I took more than I ended up actually wearing, but really that was only a pair of shorts and a couple shirts more than needed, so not too bad. Still, with the sling pieces as well as plenty of rubber, that carry-on was heavy.
D. also got the chance to try on some of my rubber. Poof: instant rubber boy! He took right to the latex and the Nasty Pig stuff (nice to have non-leather options for him), and I also took the opportunity to put him in the new neoprene hood and cuffs, use the rubber floggers on him, and so forth.
The trip to the airport and the flight were uneventful, except for the hard, hard landing in Long Beach. I did discover another thing I don’t recommend people do: don’t watch episodes of Pan Am (featuring the glories of 1960s air travel) while flying on modern aircraft.
West Coast Rubber had all of Camp Palm Springs reserved (about 40 rooms). This was the first time I’ve stayed there. It was fine — a bit “dumpy”, but not out of the range of either what is acceptable or where I’ve stayed on previous trips. The pillows were not comfortable, though, and the DVD player in my room wouldn’t play any of the DVDs they had for check out. (Probably needs cleaning badly.)
Friday night was a Meet & Greet and then a play party. While there was a good crowd for the former, most guys didn’t hang around or didn’t play much. Had a little fun, but only a little (just rub, wank, and suck).
I tried to go to Sherman’s Deli for breakfast, but much of downtown Palm Springs was shut down for a parade. Not sure if it was for Modernism Week or something else (someone said Black History Month, which is in February, so maybe). Once I got to Sherman’s, there was a line out the door, so I went north to Rick’s Restaurant instead. Also with a line out the door, but I was by myself, so I got immediate seating at the counter. (I remember as a kid, I always wanted to sit at the counter at diners, but we never got to but maybe once or twice. It still always feel like a cross between exotic and trucker.) Catfish and eggs was the special that enticed me. Online later, I got hit on by two guys who saw me (and my red hanky) during breakfast.
On Saturday, we had a BBQ and pool party. Nice and relaxing, and rubber boys do like being in the pool in their rubber. (Leather boys in their leather, not so much.)
At 5 pm, we had a rubber dinner in gear at Trio, with about 35 of us at four tables. They had to move the reservation up from 6 pm because the restaurant was sold out later, due to Modernism Week, I think. I gave a ride to some of the Vancouver boys, but getting them in their gear, shined up, and out the door was like herding cats. Slicked up cats. We were almost the last to arrive as a result. While we were waiting, though, Paul from Vancouver took a couple nice pics of me in my rubber, which will be my cruise site profile pic for the next few months.
On the way back to my car, we chanced upon a gallery storefront featuring work by the artist SHAG. It only took me a moment to connect the name and art style to an artist Cliff had told me about who does a lot of retro-styled modern tiki work. We had to go in. The gallery owner (I assume) got a kick out of having rubber guys in the store and after I took this pic of Reid (Mr. West Coast Rubber), he took one of the four of us with the big wall tiki.
After dinner, there was supposed to be the Mr. West Coast Rubber contest and then a play party, but apparently there were no contestants. For a weekend like this, while unfortunate, that isn’t fatal. Most of the guys attending are happy to have a contest, but we aren’t coming just for one. So the contest got replaced by a bar crawl.
This was fine with me. I had received an invite on Manhunt to a cocktail party where I would told some of the Desert Fetish Authority guys would be. I asked him about dress code for it, but never heard back, so I went in rubber chaps, neoprene harness, and title vest.
While some of the DFA guys were likely in attendance, it was not a leathermen’s cocktail party. Other than a couple guys in leather pants with their casual attire shirts, I was the only one in leather (rubber, etc.), and doubly so the only one with no shirt and his ass hanging out. Social faux pas? Perhaps. But I remembered one of the things I was told two decades ago in San Francisco: “While some people may look askance at you for attending the opera in your leather pants, vests, and tux shirt, remember that what you’re wearing probably cost as much as what they’re wearing.” So given the choice between turning tail or just acting like I belonged there, I chose the latter.
There were of course several leather guys there. Eric, whom I played with on the last trip, was happy to see me, and he introduced me to a few other people. I got the chance to explain some hanky code basics to a couple guys, including the idea that you can flag whatever hanky or stripe on your chaps or what not that you like, even if you aren’t into fisting or piss or whichever activity the color “means”, but what you can’t do (better not do) is either be unaware of the message you are sending with what you are displaying or be offended when someone makes the obvious assumption.
Ken and Bob (?), the owners of Gear were there, and Matthew was tending bar. Curtis, one of the hosts and the guy who invited me, is an old acquaintance from square dancing in the Bay Area in the 1990s; we hadn’t even seen each other for 15 years until a chance meeting at Chaps Inn on my last trip. Randy, another square dance friend from the Bay Area, was also there, as was John, who recognized me from my days at Adobe Systems in the 90s. (I guess my looks haven’t changed a whole lot.) There were also a couple transplants from Montréal, one a former titleholder and the other one of the founders of Club Bolo whom I knew just barely through IAGLCWDC channels.
After leaving the party, I headed to the Barracks in Cathedral City, expecting to meet up with the rubber boys, but it was pretty empty. I did chat with Red, one of the security guys, who said that they get some undercover cops in on Sundays, looking for ways and reasons to shut the bar down. (Never mind the large amount of slosh-over income that restaurants and such in the area get from it, it has gays having a good time, and that must be stopped! “Watchdog has spoken!”)
Over at the Tool Shed, I found the rubber boys just hadn’t made it past there. And since it was hopping there, no wonder! After a couple beers, I headed back to the resort, running into Alex and Flip from Seattle. Flip had a piece of art in the Erotic Art Expo that was being displayed at the Tool Shed.
I also got to see my buddy John, who has become a regular play buddy each time I come to town.
Sunday morning, after playing until 3:30 am, I dragged my ass out of bed and down to Lulu California Bistro for brunch with the rubber guys, about 16 of us I think. Lulu is huge inside and looks like it turns into a nightclub at night. The menu is vast, and the food was pretty good (and abundant, 1/4 of my croissant sandwich came back to the resort with me to join some leftover catfish from the day before; they would be dinner later on).
After brunch, had an hour’s phone call with my co-chair for the upcoming Emerald City Hoedown, talking schedule details and the like. Another pool party was on Sunday afternoon, smaller. I ended up with a small sunburn, which made it hard to get up from a later nap. Hied myself out to the Barracks, though. Again ran into last year’s California LeatherSIR, Todd. Also swapped some kisses and fondles with Mark, Kevin, and Daniel; the latter had been at the cocktail party the night before. And with another Mark and Dino. I also fielded a phone call about eventual ownership of the Northwest title sashes (GLPW owns them, but they aren’t the title producers any more, so what to do with them now?).
I stopped back at the Tool Shed and met up with Mark and Dino again, and then back to the resort where I had a play session with a hot guy named Rick.
The weather dropped more than 10 degrees Sunday night and a huge wind storm came through — very loud and cold.
Today I got to Sherman’s for breakfast.
Packing up, I passed a partial bottle of Bushmill’s whiskey on to one of the guys who drove out from Los Angeles, and passed some beer and unopened Crisco sticks on to other guys still around who might use them. I knew I didn’t have weight to spare in my sling bag to take stuff, nor could I take them in the carry-on.
Sporting pins on my vest for events I’ve been to and this my second trip to Palm Springs with the title, I wanted to get a Palm Springs pin. Q Trading Post had none (but I picked up a bear paw pin there), but I found some generic Palm Springs pins at Rite-Aid; better than nothing. (I’ve debated snagging the PSLOD pin from my Mr. Northwest Cub vest, the one John gave me last summer; I may still do that as well.)
The wind had definitely heralded a change in the weather, with rain squalls all the way to Long Beach. I had looked at options for renting a motorcycle or scooter for this trip; I would love to do the ride to Palm Springs on one, but they are prohibitively expensive. (Obviously, I would not have brought the sling in that case!) Sure glad I wasn’t on one coming back in the rain.
I do like flying in and out of Long Beach airport. While they are expanding the airport now, it is still pretty darn small, so the walk from rental car return to ticket counter to gate is the equivalent of about a block. I was struck at the airport that I always want to add letters to their abbreviation, though: LGB? No, LGBTQ!