Thursday, October 27, 2011

LURE (Portland, OR) • October 22–23, 2011

On Tuesday, I realized that I didn’t have anything scheduled for this weekend other than the Northwest Bears Brunch on Sunday, but this was the 4th Saturday and thus the LURE leather event in Portland.  As Northwest LeatherSIR, I need to cover the entire region as much as I can — not just Seattle, but all of Washington, plus Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and even Alaska.

Portland is the easy and obvious one of those.  There’s relatively little in terms of leather going on in the rest of the region, unfortunately.  Lucky Dog Tavern in Boise had a couple events in the past, and there are a couple fisting parties in Moses Lake and Richland, and Dylan got up to Alaska last year.  So needless to say, when I’ve got an available weekend and there’s an out-of-town leather event, I’m going to try to be there.

(British Columbia isn’t in my ILSb region — it’s part of Western Canada — but it’s as close as Portland, so I’ll get to events up there, as well.  Give them some leather love.  Or glove.  Whichever.)

So a quick Hotwire deal on Wednesday and I had a cheap enough (yet nice) hotel at the Courtyard at Lloyd Center.  I then wrangled up Northwest Leatherboy Danny to go down with me.  Ms. Oregon Leather Ms. Tracey was also having a Fetish Makeovers workshop that afternoon at the new location for Fantasy For Adults Only, so we tried to leave early enough to get to that.

Well, tried.  I slept a little later than planned, and so did Danny.  When we got to Olympia, I realized “Crap!  I forgot my boots!”  (Oh, the shame!)  Fortunately, the Centerville Western Store is at the outlets in Centralia, so we stopped for the fastest boot shopping in the West: 15 minutes in and out and I had a new pair of harness boots, plus some boot socks, bandanas for myself and Danny, and boot laces for Danny.  But that was still a delay, as was the unfortunate pull-over by a cop right after we got back on the road.

I forgot that the speed limit plunges at Centralia, and he was just waiting for someone.  Remember that old line from Driver’s Ed about it being safer to not travel in “wolf packs” of cars?  I now wonder about that, because he basically said he picked me off because I was not in a group of other cars — “I was keeping pace with traffic” apparently didn’t apply to the traffic that was a couple hundred yards ahead of me, traveling the same speed.  But what can you do?  I was legitimately over the speed limit; you takes your lumps (and you pays your tickets).  But it added another 10 minutes to us running late.  Sigh.

We rolled into Portland at 4 pm — the workshop was supposed to start at 3 pm — but we went to Fantasy anyway.  Ms. Tracey was still there, along with her partner (and former Ms. Oregon Leather) Lady Alycyn, plus store manager Chanelle and one of the local leathergirls (whose name I missed).  The gist of the workshop was having the opportunity to try on any of the outfits and gear in the store.  We quickly put Danny in an Asylum straight jacket, plus a gas mask.  Checking out other stuff they had there, I ended up buying a funky Ruff Doggie Styles flogger with braided tails with leather leaves braided into them and leather rosebuds on the ends — pretty, yet still functional, and likely to be a big hit (ahem) for Spanksgiving next month.  (The rosebuds actually give some weight and unexpected thud to it.)  I also picked up a hand-held Foreplay Ice Frost massager — it has a silicone sleeve you fill and freeze, then add a vibrating bullet to make for an ice toy which doesn’t get everything wet as it melts.  We’ll see how well it actually works.

We then went out to Aparaphilia, the recently opened leather store out on 82nd and Fremont (which the Maps app on the iPhone can’t find by name, just be address).  They carry about 75% men’s leather gear, 25% women’s, plus a selection of cock rings, sounds, cuffs, and so on.  As usual when I go to a leather wear store these days, there wasn’t anything I needed (I’ve got a full leather and rubber wardrobe) — nor after buying boots and a flogger already that day, would I have wanted to buy anything more!

We checked into the hotel and I had a short nap.  We then caught the light rail to the Pearl District and at at the Republic Cafe, a Chinese restaurant that Danny liked when he lived in Portland.  After a shower and clothes change, we headed off to the Eagle Portland for the LURE (“Leather, Uniform, Rubber, Etc.”, named for the former leather bar in New York) event.

This month was themed for Puppy Play, and there were a handful of leather pups there.  The Border Riders also had their monthly meeting in Portland, so they all showed up as well, and the bar was packed.

Shout out hellos to Mr. Oregon Leather Tarsus, Oregon Boot Black Nick, leather community jeweler John PoncĂ© (you’ve seen him at big leather events, I’m sure), Thom Butts of Blackout Leather Productions (and a former Northwest LeatherSIR, Andy Mangels, Oregon Cub Dalin, former Oregon Bear Don James, and so on.  Hunky Lance and George were visiting from Denver, and Don was up from Los Angeles, plus furry local Nick and who knows who else that I met and am not remembering right now.  Special thanks to Don and Hal for good times (and for getting my lost leather cap back to me!).

It turned out that the Northwest Bears board meeting was supposed to be after the Sunday Brunch, so I had a bunch of texts back and forth on Saturday evening and Sunday morning with board president Pete.  I had forgotten the discussion about moving the board meeting, and apparently others did as well, since there wasn’t a quorum.  Although I’m not on the board per se, as an outgoing titleholder for the club and part of the website and Spring Thaw committees, I had needed to get some info to Pete.

The trip back was uneventful.  For several miles north of Kalama, a pickup track with a mass of compacted oak leaves in the bed was having the wind pry the leaves out as he drove, and they were bouncing on the road, dancing along with the cars.  It was a nifty, uplifting scene.

Before getting Danny to come along, I had hoped to ride the scooter down, but it rained most of our trip down, so I wasn’t too bummed about driving.  The trip back, though, was broken clouds and nice enough that I pined for the chance to ride.  In two weeks, I’ll be going up to Vancouver for the Hard 3 leather dance/dungeon party, so I’m crossing my fingers that the weather will be dry enough to do that trip, since it’s the very last distance trip I think I could hope for.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sundance Stompede • October 14–17, 2011

This weekend, I was back in San Francisco for the annual Sundance Stompede GLBTQ country-western dance hoedown.  While it’s not a leather event, there are a lot of guys into leather and leathersex who attend, and rust is one of my hanky colors (under the “Cowboy/His Horse” definition — cowboy fetish).

I come down for this event every year.  This is about the 12th or 13th one — they would know for sure — and I’ve been to all of them, even back when it was just the one-night “Hoedown” dance event at the Galleria.  I teach two-step workshops for Stompede each year (for about 7 or 8 years now, maybe more), usually on Friday afternoon, typically in a ballroom with 100-150 dancers.  It can be quite a challenge to teach some intermediate/advanced content to that many people.  (I’ve been teaching dance for some 15 years now.  The teaching skills themselves play forward into teaching leather workshops just as well.)

International Community Bootblack Luna and International Ms. Bootblack 2007 Ms. V were at Stompede, doing boots.  We have bootblacks at our Emerald City Hoedown in Seattle each year, and I’m glad to see it propagating out in the country community.  Dancers have largely never learned much about care for their boots, and it makes for good bridging of communities (and while perhaps easier/quicker per person in the chair — not laces in most cases — the bootblacks also get the chance to encounter a variety of colors and materials not seen often in the leather bar).  I arranged for bootblacks at the IAGLCWDC hoedown in Philadelphia earlier this year, thanks to the Bootblack Brigade, and I need to see what I can arrange for the one coming up in for next May’s hoedown in New Orleans.

Friday night, I went out to Kok Bar (formerly Chaps II).  I met Rod Wood (Mr. Russian River Drummer 2000 and now on the ILSb board — I remember him with that title from before I moved to Seattle) and his boy Roger.  Got some heavy nipple play and CBT going with an Aussie named Brad.

Saturday, I cut out of the dance earlier than I would have liked, because I wanted to go to the Hell Hole party.  (Amazing, isn’t it: I’ve managed to hit that party each trip to San Francisco this year!)I could have easily danced another couple hours, although I know I would have had exhausted feet on Sunday if I had.  So off to the slings I went.  Thanks to Paul, Dana, and Billy for good times, and special kudos to Billy who lost his fisting top cherry that night.

Sundance Association has a silent auction as part of their Saturday dance at Stompede each year.  A lot of the items aren’t of much to to bid on for out of town folks — restaurant gift certificates, local massage therapists and personal trainers, local theaters, or collections of a dozen bottles of wine (like I can get that home?) — but there are also a couple things to bid on.  This year, I ended up with a woman’s corset and a couple ostrich feather ticklers, at about 1/3 the list price.  Any past leather titleholder will know the line on this: “I can use these for a fundraiser later on.”

On Sunday, I set up a play session with a guy named Jake.  A while after we started, I asked him, “Did you go to Wet ’n Hot in 2001?”  That had been the second year I went, a few months after I had moved from the Bay Area to Seattle, when attendance was dropping each year.  What salvaged it that year was playing most of the weekend with two guys.  One was, I think, a gray-haired guy named Chris, maybe from Texas; the other was dark-haired “J” from San Francisco (that’s about all I could remember of him a decade later).  Sure enough, Jake was that guy, and we had a good play session as well as catching up a decade later.

Country-western dancing is one of the big loves of my life.  I’ll give up an evening of it now and then — like half the Saturday dance here for the Hell Hole party, or to teach the Tribal Instinct workshop on Foodplay in November — but it still overall rules the roost.  Next May, for example, I won’t be going to International Mr. Leather in Chicago; I’ll be in New Orleans for the IAGLCWDC convention (and dance competition — I compete in dance as well as leather).  As I’ve told people before, the country event needs me more than IML does.  At IML, even now as a regional titleholder, I'm just one more faceless leatherman there, one more backpatch, but the leather presence I can bring to the country-western world, and to the New Orleans leather scene that weekend has more value than my presence can bring to Chicago that same weekend.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Moldy Old Leathers

Four times since the contest, I’ve had to deal with cleaning leathers which were not tended to properly after a scene.  Frankly, this is embarrassing, since I should know better.

Three of them stem directly from the contest fantasy, with its ice cream.  Between just dealing with the contest, plus the food poisoning I was suffering from, and the trip to Lake Cushman the next day, I left my stuff from the contest in the suitcase rather than taking out and dealing with it.  I had liberally rinsed everything off from the ice cream after the fantasy, I thought.  When I took one of my vests out to wear it, I got to the bar and found a white fuzzy patch on the side.  Thankfully, that cleaned up easily in the bathroom.  My tall boots also showed some fuzz, and then I had to thoroughly hand-wash my Nasty Pig vest with the cloth lining.

Fortunately, mold doesn’t grow fast or furiously on leather, and neither piece is the worse for it — it was just growing on ice cream bits on the surface — but I will condition them to be sure.

In the other instance, I had misplaced a bin of my rubber gear after Rubbout back in April, but finally figured out where it was.  Pulling out the neoprene chaps, there was gunk along all the seams.  I had probably put them away slightly damp from sweat (piss, lube, cum, whatever) from the Saturday night play party.  (The bin had sat next to my computer all summer and I never caught a whiff of the mold, so it wasn't very serious.  It probably had been dead for months by the time I found it.  Everything else in the bin was in separate bags.)

Fortunately, there’s very little organic material in neoprene and nylon thread and piping, so there is no apparent damage.  A little Woolite and a low heat dryer and they were fine.

I fully embrace learning from your mistakes and turning things like this into teaching moments.  Since I’m doing a foodplay workshop in November, I will definitely include some of this in discussing clean up and food safety at the workshop.

And hey, cleaning mold off your leathers isn’t nearly as bad as cleaning off cat shit.  (But that's another story.)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Folsom Street Fair 2011: Monday

Also know as “Recovery Day”.  Because boy do we need it.  You can’t catch an evening flight after something like Folsom, because you end up missing some of the events.  And you can’t catch an early morning flight, because then you have to leave the evening parties too soon and be totally wasted as well.  So I have the reverse issue: I have a full day to kill, with an 8:30 pm flight (which means I don’t get home home until about midnight.  Yawn.)

Graves and I had breakfast at Mel’s Drive-In (same building as the Opal Hotel), and then checked out.  After stashing our luggage with the front desk, we caught the bus down to Mission and then visited Raging Stallion for Graves’ meeting with Kent Taylor.  We also got a small tour of the place, including the upstairs filming area, where they were painting the floors and prepping a set for a movie Tony Buff will be doing for them.  Something with a post-industrial torn-up look — industrial equipment, car parts, etc.  It will be interesting to see what comes out of that.

We also got to see the box covers for Tony’s new videos, Institutional Encounters and the upcoming Indecent Encounters.  One of Graves’ photos is being used for the main image on the later.

We caught some coffee, and then Graves headed off to Oakland to meet a friend and catch his flight home (around 5:00).  I went back to the Castro.

Had a crabcake sandwich lunch at Caffe Luna Piena.  Bought Christmas gifts for Cliff and Ruby at Under One Roof.  Then back to Starbucks (I told you, bow to SODO) for WiFi and more coffee before heading back to the hotel myself.  Uneventful trip to the airport, with dinner being a corned beef reuben from Max’s Deli at the gate.

And thus was Folsom survived.

But was it better than in the 90s?  Or even different?  On the basest level, no, not really.  The weather this year made it calmer, but it’s still a huge press of leathered flesh, lots of lines, a decent amount of spectacle, plenty of drug use (like the the couple who hit me up on AssPig, wanting to do glove-free fisting on Ecstasy), and not enough bang for my buck.  (Thank God for organized, sane, and stable play parties like Hell Hole and Tom’s, or it wouldn’t have been a good sex weekend for me, either.)

Ultimately, I will continue to use the same line about Folsom that I have for the past decade: “Everyone should go to Folsom twice — the second time to realize that you enjoyed it a whole lot more the first time.”  (I use a similar line about International Mr. Leather, for pretty much the same reasons — “…the second time to really empty your wallet”, in reference to the huge vendor market at IML —.  I go to Mid-Atlantic Leather each year instead (here’s a past trip report), and in parallel, the smaller Dore Alley weekend is more of what I like about Folsom and less of what I don’t.)  I’m sure I’ll get back to Folsom someday — if I win International next year, for example — but I’m not in any rush.