Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Northwest Sash Bash 2012 • March 2–4

The first weekend in March, Northwest Community Bootblack Ruin, Seattle Leather Daddy Ryan, and past Seattle Daddy’s Boy Jean drove down to Portland for Northwest Sash Bash.  This was the eighth year for the event, started in 2005 by Andy Mangels and Darklady during their year as Mr. and Ms. Oregon State Leather.  I have attended each year.

Northwest Sash Bash was created a a no-contest event weekend, aimed at getting leather titleholders from around the country to come to the Northwest and have a leather weekend where they have no duties, whether they can relax with their peers, and where they and the local community can actually interact.

For a few years, the event was traded back and forth between Portland and Seattle (to both share the wealth and to avoid burnout), but last year, Blackout Leather Productions took it back for the long term.

Before the Bash

Between being a current regional titleholder, having been to all the past Sash Bash weekends, and having been involved with organizing the event in years past, I did my best to wrangle the Seattle and Vancouver titleholders into coming.  Washington State Ms. Leather Miss Kat and Mr. West Coast Rubber Reid were out of town, Seattle Daddy’s Boy Damien had just returned from or was just about to leave on a trip, Seattle Grand Dad Jeff was unable to get away from work, and Northwest Leatherboy Danny had recently resigned from the title.  So it was Ruin, Ryan, myself, and Washington State Mr. Leather James able to attend, plus Oregon titleholders.  American Leatherwoman Trinity was listed as attending, but I did not meet her.

We had a lengthy back-and-forth in terms of room shares and hotel room, but that all got settled with Jean and Ruin being housed with Portland folks and Ryan and I sharing a hotel room near the airport.  I also rented a car to take Ruin, Ryan, and Jean down (James come down by himself), because my own is in need of cooling system repairs.

Friday: Herding Cats

Jean met me at light rail and we went down to the airport to pick up the car, then headed downtown where Ruin was meeting us after catching the bus.  I was also picking up the title sash from Gene to transport to our new Northwest Leatherboy, Dan.  Then we headed to the Cuff Complex and Doghouse Leathers , where I had to drop CDs off for Keith to use at Cuff Country that weekend and to pick up Ryan and Dan’s title vest.  And then, because you always forget something, we had to go back to my house (which was south, at least) to pick up stuff for the fantasy on Saturday night.

After that, it was simply a miserable slog until we were through Tacoma.  I had targeted picking Ryan up at 3 pm to be in Portland at 6 pm.  It was about 3:45 by the time we left my house, and then rain an traffic took us an hour longer than usual to get south of Tacoma; we should have been there about 4 and it was after 5 instead.  And thus the goal of getting to the Leather and Cigar Social at the Eagle Portland shifted from 7:30 to closing in on 9:00.  Ruin didn’t get to where she was staying until after the social, when Oregon Bootblack Nick gave her a ride (since he lived nearby).

Saturday: Your Mouth Would Look Good with Duct Tape Covering It

Saturday morning, Ryan and I picked up Ruin and met Dan at The Roxy for brunch.  Because I was coming from the far side of town, it took quite a while to get there and Dan ended up waiting and waiting and waiting.  Sorry boy!

After that, we went to Embers Avenue where Karen Yew did two workshops: one on basic rope bondage and one on duct tape fist mitts and hoods.  The first one was okay — a little new stuff for me, but not much — but I really liked the second one.  I hope to make use of the technique at a play party this coming weekend, and again two weeks after that at Rubbout.

Unfortunately, the workshops were pretty low attendance, just the four of us and four others for the first one, and only four total for the second one.  I’ve seen this happen with workshops and demos (and vendor markets) attached to bigger events before: all the advertising goes out with “Hey, there’s this big event happening (and by the way, there will be a workshop or two)”, leaving people to catch that from the ad and go to the website to find out more.  Really, there’s a need for multi-pronged advertising: “Hey, there’s this big event happening (and by the way, there will be a workshop or two)” and “We’ve got a couple great workshops (tied in with this big event)”.  You have a much better chance of reaching the right people that way, which increases your event attendance, increases your even income, and give you the chance to convert people from attending pieces of the event to the entire thing (or to attending next year).

After the workshops, Oregon State Ms. Leather Miss Tracey took about eight of us on a walk down to the Portland Saturday Market, a weekly outdoor market of vending booths.  Dan and I bought catnip toys for our cats, Ruin and I caught our dinners there, and a bunch of us bought fancy cupcakes to eat later.  On the way back to Embers, we walked past Voodoo Doughnuts, only to find a line out the door and down the block.

Ryan was already back at the hotel when I got there (he and James had gone in search of military surplus stuff after the first workshop).  A quick shower and change and we back on the road.  We stopped at a store midway back to Embers for coffee and Klondike Bars (because I was going to redo my stage fantasy from the contest as part of the evening’s show).  The rest of the jaunt to Embers should have taken maybe 15 minutes and took double that; due to something going on at the Rose Quarter and an accident on the freeway, traffic was a nightmare.  We planned to be there at 6:50, got there at 7:10.  Ugh.

The Black Show and Live Auction — referred to as an “erotica show” in years past — went ahead at a decent clip.  Attendance was lower than it has been, and the show was heavy on drag acts (which may be good, but aren’t stage fantasies and other hot stuff!); again, I think there’s advertising improvement focus that could be done.  The Klondike Bar fantasy went off well (and messy), and the addition of chocolate syrup pushed the edgy nature a level further.

(I haven’t yet posted the pics from the contest fantasy, have I?  Will solve that soon.)

Among the auction items was an original framed drawing by Oregon State Mr. Leather Tarsus.  Cliff had bought one of his pieces a couple years ago, and his figure work has improved since then.  Dan wasn’t especially happy that I bought it, because he was bidding on it, too.  Sorry again, boy!

After the show, Ryan, Ruin, and I went to the Sindicate space to check out the play party.  As expected, it was mostly women and pan (kinky het) play, not much to interest me.  So I left them there and headed to the hotel for a costume change, then came back to pick them up.  They had got in some bondage and flogging play while I was gone.

We dropped Ruin off at her hosts’ house and then Ryan and I headed to the Eagle for a bit.  We left there and went back to the hotel, and then I came back into town to check out Hawk’s PDX, the new sex club.  (Dan had won a couple passes in the raffle at the show and passed them to me.)  I’ve been to the Hawk’s Gym in Las Vegas, so I was interested in checking this out.  Low population that night (at least by when I got there) and more brightly lit than just about any sex club I’ve been to, but I did play with one guy and was able to leave satisfied.  Also got to talk to Andy Mangels, who was working the desk that night.

Sunday: 100 Miles of Butt Sex

Sunday morning saw a leather potluck brunch at the home of the leather couple Ruin was staying at.  In many ways, this was the best part of the weekend: good food, good conversation, etc.  Brent from the Sash Bash committee took the chance to chat with us about what had gone well or less well during the weekend, to help with planning for next year.

Ryan, Jean, and I headed out to the car, and then waited for Ruin to say her goodbyes.  And waited and waited.  (Okay, maybe 5 minutes, not that long.)  Finally, we each sent her a text at the same time.  We also joked about taking pics of her making faces at icky comments I made during the weekend, and packaging them into a calendar.  (Favorite phrases of the weekend: “execratory functions” and [artificially low voice] “larger than average manhood”.)

Driving back north was far more enjoyable than the trip south had been on Friday – nice weather and not even the standard slow down in Centralia.  Ruin had a question, though.  (It’s her standard line, “I have a question!”)  For the first 100 miles (roughly Portland to Olympia), we went through an entire workshop on butt sex and how to make it easier and more pleasurable: me driving, Ruin in the back seat with questions, Ryan and Jean piping in as needed.  We covered lube and stretching and relaxing and toys and douching (Ruin makes a face here) and even the edge of fisting.  She was tickled by the whole thing and said she’s going to see about having me do a butt sex workshop for Seattle girls of Leather: “Help me, Obi-Jim!  You’re my last hope!”

(Yes, it sounds bizarre to me as well.)

Favorite comment of the trip back, noting how it it sometimes difficult to remove a cock from the ass after butt fucking, I said that was because the cock likes it there, it’s found a new home and wants to stay.  “Are you saying my Sir’s dick is a hermit crab?”  “Yes, and that makes your ass the discarded shell.”  <insert facial expression from Ruin here>

Friday, March 16, 2012

What is a “Stage Fantasy”?

(Note: The content below is heavily biased to my own opinions and preferences, and thus certainly is not Gospel Truth, the only way to do a Fantasy.  Any time someone says words like “should”, “only way”, or “real”, you know your bullshit alarms should [ahem!] start ringing…)

What is a “Stage Fantasy”?

A Stage Fantasy is typically a staged presentation of BDSM leathersex scene, lasting a few minutes and using simulated sex (although there are fantasies which don’t feature anything sexual, playing for emotional content instead).  Sometimes a Stage Fantasy is serious, sometimes comedic, and sometimes performance art of its own.

A Stage Fantasy is primarily for entertainment purposes.  It is not a BDSM demo, and it is not a workshop; it should not try to be either of these.

The Stage Fantasy used to be a staple of leather contests; there was even a International Mr. Fantasy title (near the bottom of the page) from 1995 to 1998.  In recent years, the inclusion of a Fantasy component in men’s leather contests has largely drifted away, although the women’s contests continue to have them.  It is not part of the International Mr. Leather contest, so many feeders to that do not require a Fantasy, replacing it with a Speech (or sometimes with nothing at all).  The International LeatherSIR/Leatherboy contest does include a Stage Fantasy.  As part of being a “play”-oriented title, the contestants are expected to be active BDSM/sex/kink players and to be able to present such in the contest, guided by themes assigned randomly to each region.

Some contests do still include a Fantasy component in a limited scope, such as a themed costume or outfit (beyond formal wear/bar wear) or a solo segment where all contestants do the same base concept (such as an on-stage shower scene).  And at least the year I won it (2006), International Mr. Saliva (bottom of the page) was at its core a Fantasy-based title: best presentation of slobbering all over someone won.  (I fucking earned my light yellow hanky, let me tell you!)

Why Listen to Me?

I do have some experience here.  As noted above, I was International Mr. Saliva 2006, out-licking three other men and one woman for my title.  I also did shower scenes forMr. International Rubber twice, Northwest Image costuming for Seattle Leather Daddy twice (and advised several other contestants), and I choreographed two American Leatherman fantasies (my own, and Rusty’s the year he won), a solo fantasy for Mr. Leather OutGames, and my title contest fantasy this year.  Rusty’s title fantasy, my OutGames fantasy, and this year’s title fantasy were all re-presented at Northwest Sash Bash the next year.

I also have done over 15 years of country-western dance performance teams and I was part of the VisQueens (link is to a video of one of our best routines), Seattle’s leather/bear/drag performing group.

And of course, I have seen dozens of fantasies and erotica show pieces (which are often basically the same thing) over the years, analyzing the ones I liked (and the ones I didn’t) to determine what worked (and what failed).

A Fantasy Tells a Story

As noted above, a Stage Fantasy is not a demo or a workshop, it is a presentation.  In my opinion, a Stage Fantasy should tell a story.  In classic storytelling parlance, there should be an introduction, a complication, an action, a climax, and a conclusion, with the characters left in a different state than they were at the start.  If you don’t tell a story, then you are just providing a vignette, a view into a story in progress but without context and completion.

That may sound complex, but consider a common fantasy (or porno) “plot”: the sexy deliveryman brings a package and ends up fucking with the customer until they both are sexually sated (and then he leaves to deliver the next package).  You have your setting (the customer’s house), your characters (the deliveryman and the customer), your complication (the delivery of the package, the sexual attraction), the action (fucking), the climax (the climax!), and the conclusion (the deliveryman leaves).  Presto, a story has been told.  No one said it had to be a great story, just a story.)

Now consider the non-story vignette version: two naked guys fuck and cum.  Who are they?  Don’t know.  Why are the naked?  So they can fuck.  Why are they fucking?  Why are you asking these questions, just start jacking, man!  What’s going to happen next?  Doesn’t matter, since once you cum, you don’t care any more.  A vignette can be entertaining in its narrow way, but it isn’t a story.

For a Stage Fantasy, you have two types of people in your audience: those who want a story, and those who just want to see some action.  Stories pervade our society, so those who really want just the action are fine with a little story around the edges, but those who want story are usually not fine if you jump right into the sex.

Who Is Your Audience?

Doing a Stage Fantasy in a contest, you have two related but separate audiences: the Judges and Everyone Else.

For the Judges, they are likely looking with an analytic eye.  If there’s a specified theme, did you work with it well?  Did you make good use of your time (or did you drag things out way too long)?  Was the action clear (or was it blocked from view)?  Did you make good use of music and lighting?  If there was dialogue, was it clear?  And so forth.  You can plan on your judges paying attention to every bit of your fantasy, but you can also plan on them paying attention to every bit of it.

Everyone Else is just there to be entertained.  They usually don’t give a flying fuck if you adhere to a theme.  They care that it engages them — attracts their attention and keeps it.  The general audience is also very fickle: if they like it, they will let you know, but if they don’t like it, or if they are bored by it, they probably won’t let you know… they’ll just ignore you.  And when they ignore you, the judges will notice.

There’s actually a third audience: Yourself.  If you aren’t into the presentation (if it’s a sex scene that doesn’t turn you on) or you don’t like the theme, the judges will notice that your performance is lacking.  You need to make sure that you are engaged in the fantasy and that the fantasy engages you.  (These are separate things.)  And as any performer will tell you, your worst critic is yourself.  You notice everything tiny thing that you fucked up or that didn’t come off right, and no one can beat you up for these things as well as you can.

Keep Them Entertained

Here is the secret they don’t tell you about Stage Fantasies at contests: the audience could generally care less.  They are there to drink, to socialize, and to be entertained.  The moment you stop entertaining them, they go back to drinking and socializing, even if you’re still on stage beating on someone.

So how do you keep them entertained?  Aye, there’s the rub!  You can count on the audience giving you 20–30 seconds for free: when your bit is announced, they will all quiet down and pay attention for a few moments, just to see if you are going to do anything interesting.  (They want you to do something interesting.  They didn’t pay to attend the contest just to chit chat.)  Which means that by 20 seconds in, you’d better be doing something.  That doesn’t mean you have to start the sex part right away, just that you need to be obviously leading to something they want to see.

You know what they don’t want to see?  Something they have already seen before!  (If I see another military takedown and rape scene in my life, I may scratch my eyes out.)  20 seconds in and they will be thinking “Is this a familiar setup, something I’ve seen done before?”  And if their immediate answer is “Yes”, boom, they take a drink and start chatting with their buddy.  So if you are going to do “yet another military takedown and rape” (YAMTAR) for your Fantasy, you’ve got to have some story or staging there that tells the audience “You haven’t seen this one!”

Just because you are 20 seconds in an you’ve caught their attention, that doesn’t mean you’re golden.  Nope, what it means is that in another 20–30 seconds, you have to keep that attention.  There are three ways to do that: excel, innovate, or violate.  “Excel” meaning that while what you’re doing may be standard, it is also note-perfect, hot, and engaging.  People will watch the same porn over again, but only if it gets them hard; if you’re just doing that YAMTAR the standard way, people get bored.  “Innovate” meaning that while you are doing something that initially looks standard, you are mixing it up.  If you are giving a new twist on an old standard, people may be intrigued enough to watch a bit longer… if they notice the twist.  “Violate” meaning you aren’t even doing something standard, you are setting expectations and then twisting or changing them.  People are more likely to notice this and will allow you to recapture their attention.

Now you’re a minute in, though, and you’ve got somewhere on the order of three minutes more to go.  You can’t coast now, because the audience’s attention is drifting again.  If any segment of your Fantasy is going on and on (and on), you are giving the audience a “jumping off” point, an invitation to stop paying attention.  You have to keep Excelling, Innovating, or Violating all the way through, keeping the audience’s attention every 20–30 seconds through the entire Stage Fantasy.

And finally, you need to have Climax and an Ending.  In part, you can argue that this isn’t totally necessary — when the lights go down, the action stops and you leave the stage, and it’s over.  But a segment of the audience (and especially the judges) want to see that you have presented a complete idea, that you can follow things through and not leave it hanging.  (If you prefer: you’ll get a lot more applause if things are complete than if they just thud.)  How you present and complete your Stage Fantasy says something about how you plan, execute, and complete anything as a leatherperson.

(As an aside, go back to what I wrote above and replace “Stage Fantasy” with “Speech”.  A contest Speech should have a through-line, an idea that is introduced, built, climaxes, and concludes.  It should be aimed at both the Judges and Everyone Else.  After the first small chunk, it has to catch people’s attention and repeatedly keep their attention.  And so forth.)

Examples (Good and Bad)

The first full Stage Fantasy I did was for American Leatherman 2005.  I decided to go heavily for the Innovate tactic, intending to present the judges and audience with something they had probably neverseen before in a Fantasy.  Since I had been a country-western performance dancer and choreographer for over a decade, I decided to do the fantasy as a swing dance routine, telling the story through dance.  Using a cover of the Elvis song “Wear My Ring Around My Neck”, I (and my boyfriend/dance partner) alternated between a swing dance segment (repeating each chorus) and excerpts from a growing leather scene or relationship, building from dick sucking to fucking to flogging, culminating in a collaring at the very end, followed by a stage exit with an excerpt from “Teddy Bear” (“Put a chain around my neck and lead me anywhere”).  You’ll notice that in addition to innovating by doing a dance routine, I made sure that there was always something new for the audience every 30 seconds or so (but also always returning to something familiar to ensure that they touched base), and I had a clear build of intensity of the sex portions through the routine culminating in a clear ending which stitched into the very familiar music — there was no way someone was going to not watch the whole thing unless they hated Elvis.  (Was the fantasy successful?  While I didn’t win the contest [second runner-up], my fantasy scores were either second or third, so it was at least good enough.  I was personally happy with the fantasy, and it did get mentioned after the contest by other people, so it was memorable enough.)

One failure of a fantasy I saw a good 15 years ago was a “magic tricks with rope bondage” piece done at a San Francisco Bay Area contest.  While it was quite different, the fact that it required a lot of talking from the contestant was problematic on its own, and then the magic tricks didn’t show well to an audience 30 or more feet away.  It was slow, and quiet, and totally not engaging for the audience.  It would have been great for a demo, maybe, but the staging sucked so badly that it is still in my head all this time later as a hugely bad example.

Probably the best fantasy I’ve ever seen was Lori Ellison’s watermelon fantasy she did for International Ms. Leather, which I got to see her do two more times.  After cutting a hole in a watermelon and fingering it, fucking it with a strap one, tearing the hole bigger and fisting and then two-handed fisting it, she dumped the remaining watermelon smoothie over her head.  I do it a horrible disservice in this terse description, but suffice to say, you could feel both the women and most of the gay men in the audience squirming in their seats, appalled to be thinking “Fuck, I want her!”   Absolute minimal staging and props (watermelon, knife, strap-on), but by constantly changing/upping the ante, she kept the audience riveted.

For Rusty’s American Leatherman fantasy, we started with the old saw of the deliveryman bringing in a package, then violated it by having him push the horny delivery man out the door so he could open the package.  (Music: “Stand and Deliver”)  Then he opened the box and started pulling out inflatable sheep, plus some gloves and Crisco to start fisting one of them.  (Music: “Little Lamb” from Gypsy)  Then the box shook and out tumbled a boy dressed as a sheep (cotton balls glued on underwear and a t-shirt), and they wrestled.  (Music: “Dirty Deeds Done with Sheep”)  Finally, Rusty (who is a hair stylist) pulled out a pair of hair clippers (music cue: the very recognizable whistle/scream from Sweeney Todd) and chased the sheep-boy off stage.  Again, very regular changing of the theme, plus playing his personal life/career into the fantasy.

As an example of things to avoid, and speaking of music, at one contest I attended, the step-down speeches followed one of the fantasies, and the stepping-down titleholder made explicit negative mention of the song used in the just-finished fantasy, one of those pieces of music (this one from Nine Inch Nails) that has been used in so many fantasies that it triggered “Oh god, not again” reactions.  If your first reaction is to use something “obvious”, you’re in YAMTAR territory; reconsider.

“God Is in the Details”, but Don’t Overdo It

To me, this quote (which I picked up from Stephen Sondheim) means that perfection or elegance (God) reveals itself as you examine something closer.

From the reference point of a Stage Fantasy, a better one (closer to perfect or more elegant) will be created if you put more detail into it.  Just “winging it” with the barest story idea can get you  something acceptable (or sometimes, can get you an Epic Fail, but you will tend to have portions that are unclear, or too short, or too long (and thus boring).

So think about the story you are trying to tell.  Think about the emotions you are trying to evoke.  Think about the members of the audience you are aiming at.  (You are trying to make something hot for people into some given fetish or activity, right?)  Think about your music.  Think about your lighting.  Think about your dialogue.  Think about your props.

And then step back and put yourself in the place of the audience, at the event: would you be interested in and entertained by the Fantasy, at least to the degree those are desirable goals?  If the answer is anything but “Hell, yes”, go think some more.

All that said, another quote comes up: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”.  Applied here: you can focus too much on the details.  First, you can’t depend on having variability of music or lighting, nor amplification for dialog.  Second, you can’t please everyone (or if you are trying to offend them, you can’t do that, either).  Third, this is a sex fantasy, so too much plot detracts.

And fourth and probably most important: while “winging it” tends to produce uneven results, overthinking it can suck all the passion out.  Practice the Fantasy enough to be sure of your blocking, your timing, and your dialog, but then leave it alone!  If it becomes routine for you, the audience and judges will notice.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

West Coast Rubber 2012 • February 24–26

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.)

I went down to Gear and bought a neoprene swimsuit/jock with the ass cut out.  Matthew was working that day (the same hunky hair guy I mentioned with the previous Palm Springs trip).

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!



Presented without further comment.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mr. & Ms. Alameda County Leather Contest

I've been invited to judge the Alameda County Leather Corps contest in Hayward, CA at the end of June:

Mr. & Ms. Alameda County Leather 2012 Fri. June 29 and Sat June 30th The meet and Greet for the 21st Mr. & Ms. Alameda County Leather contest will be held at the World Famous Turf club Fri. June 29th starting at 6:30pm with a bbq and meet the contestants. Sat. June 30th continues with the Mr. & Ms. Alameda County title contest at the Humanists Hall in Oakland CA. Our judging panel for this year includes  The first Mr. Alameda County Leather Mark McKee, American LeatherWoman 2011 Trinity, Miss San Francisco Leather Bethie Bee, Northwest Leather Sir Jim Drew and Ms. World Leather 2001 Annie Romano. American Leatherboy Tyler will be judges boy and Mr. Alameda County Leather 1999 Mark Ingham will be tally master. Application attached and tickets availible soon.

Technically, I invited them to invite me.  When their first call for contestants went out in January, I sent them the offer to come down and be a judge for the contest.

Alameda County Leather Corps holds a place in my heart and my leather history, you see.  They were the first leather club I was a member of.  In the late 1990s, I lived in San Mateo (across the Bay from Hayward), a community with (to my knowledge) nothing to speak of in terms of a gay community, much less a leather one.  In the early 1990s, I had live further south, in San José and Sunnyvale, so despite doing most of my playing in San Francisco, I still felt my roots were or should be more toward the peninsula and the South Bay.  With the Brotherhood in San José not formed yet, Alameda County Leather Corps was my only option.

I really don't recommend trying to cross the San Mateo or Dumbarton bridges at late rush hour to get to 7:00 meetings.

There were four of us, I think, in my “class” when I joined, two of whom were Andrew “Bootdog” Johnson (International Mr. Bootblack 2008) and Joan Norry (American Leatherwoman 2008).  ACLC raises ’em right, let me tell you.