Sydney Travel Pictures

Having an amazing wonderful time in Sydney! Meeting lots of great people, very well taken care of by the MAsT: Sydney folks. Not getting enough sleep, but may that means I’ll be able to sleep on the long flight back. Today (Sunday), we’re doing a number of presentations on M/s topics. Tomorrow is the Harbor and Opera house… and Tuesday is perhaps the Blue Mountains.

Here are some pictures of places in Sydney like the Harbor and the Queen Victoria Building.

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On our way to the Land Down Under!

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In a few short hours, we’ll be on our way to Los Angeles and then on a flight to Australia! The trip of a lifetime, something that we dreamed of doing when we were given the International titles, but weren’t sure we could pull it off. Thanks to the wonderful generosity of the M/s and leather community, and to the welcoming and hospitable folks in Sydney and Melbourne, we’re making that dream come true!

Our hope has been through this title year to meet people like us, to learn from them and share what we’ve been through. I can’t wait to learn and share with the folks in Oz, as well as take in the sights. We have 3 days to sight-see in Sydney, and 3 days to sight-see in Melbourne. What fun! Can’t wait to share the pictures and stories when we get back.

So if we’re quiet for a few days, that’s why… we have some very long flights in our near future!

Mr. Chicago Leather travelogue and recap

This past weekend, slave Angie was honored to be asked to judge at the Mr. Chicago Leather contest. This is a “bar title” contest, run by Touché of Chicago. The man who wins this contest goes on to the International Mr. Leather contest on Memorial Day weekend to compete for the title of of the same name. The contest has become a weekend event and a big deal for our local community. Angie being asked to judge was a huge thrill for her.

heartochicagoThere is a well-known and very … hmm… how to describe the “Heart ‘O’ Chicago” motel? It’s a throwback to the 1950s and 60s for sure. It’s on the border of the Edgewater and Rogers Park neighborhoods. It’s at the connecting point of several major side street arteries into Chicago. It has a reputation for being a trashy place and you might think that when you walk by, but the both times slave Angie and I have stayed there, it’s been decent. It’s not five star, but it’ll do. We decided to stay there, as it’s very convenient to Touche. Many leather folks have spent the weekend at “the Heart” so it’s a bit of a tradition. And, compared to other prices, it’s not that bad of a deal.

Miguel Torres, MCL 2014 and Nick Zuko MCL 2013 (Photo by Great Lakes Den greatlakesden.net)
Miguel Torres, MCL 2014 and Nick Zuko MCL 2013 (Photo by Great Lakes Den greatlakesden.net)

Slave Angie was nervous about judging for this contest. It’s a very different sort of title than what we are involved in. Where the M/s title is about education and community, the bar contests are, by and large, about sex. About the hottest man or woman. About the contestant who impresses the judges most on the criteria that the bar title is about. In Chicago, the MCL title has become a very active and well-represented title, by the efforts of the past few titleholders. Nick Zuko and Miguel Torres have been the past two MCLs that slave Angie and I have known and worked with. They are passionate about the Chicago men’s leather community and about outreach, inclusiveness and education. We’ve loved getting to know them and help them out whenever we could. They’ve done the same in spades for us. It has really felt like a family in Chicago with these two wonderful men. And hello… hot as well too.

So the festivities started on Friday night at Touché with a packed bar and introductions of the judges and contestants. There were a lot of folks from around the country (and world) at the bar. John Pendal, holder of the 2003 International Mr. Leather title was the MC and kept the crowd quiet and entertained (which is hard to do in a packed bar!) Anytime you have these sorts of meet and greets, it feels like a big family reunion. People who haven’t seen each other in awhile get to reconnect. And… of course… the cruising and checking out and date making. The contestants for the contest are supposed to use the time to meet the judges and make a good first impression – always important! The judges are also watching the contestants and although they may not be officially judging, it’s a great time to see how the contestants interact with the crowd. The evening ended with a roast of the outgoing MCL, Miguel, done by Thib Guicherd-Callin (Mr. SCCL 2012… and say that name 3 times fast!)

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The judges: Ramien Pierre (IML 2014), slave Angie (Intl slave 2014), Joe Spaceman (MMR 2014), Sir Volt, Miguel Torres (MCL 2014) (Photo by Great Lakes Den greatlakesden.net)

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Contestants: Michael, Luiz, Shadi, Clint, Stitch. (Photo by Great Lakes Den greatlakesden.net)

Mr. Chicago Leather has become a weekend event, instead of just contest nights. During the day on Saturday, the Titans of the Midwest – a new group that huge on education from Des Moines Iowa – hosted 3 “KinkU” classes. At the same time, a small vendor mart was held in the front room of Touche. During this time, the contestants were grilled by the judges in private interviews, held at the new Gerber Hart Library & Archives – a library for LGBT history. The classes were very well attended, with subjects of Wax Play, Rope Bondage and one other that I’m forgetting.

Saturday night’s contest was another homecoming of sorts. Chuck Renslow, “The Godfather of Chicago Leather” (OK, an exaggeration, but one of the men who paved the way for US Leather and created Internationl Mr. Leather contest.) was there. It’s always a treat to see him out and about – he still has an energy about him. Lots of hot, sexy leatherwomen and leathermen filled the seats at the Leather Archives & Museum and there was an electric buzz in the air, as well as a warm feeling of family.

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I had the pleasure of being asked to help with the judges, making sure they had everything they needed. Not a problem, I love being able to help and fill needs where they may be. I was able to be there at the interviews and be involved with the running of the contest. There is a hard working group of folks behind every event. The people who work their asses off and don’t see the spotlight, but they are what makes the thing go. There are former MCLs who are very passionate about making this contest and event as a celebration of the leather bar, the leather experience and the sex that results and the bonds that form from shared experience, whether as a contestant, judge, volunteer or attendee. I was really honored to be a part of that, and I am hoping to be able to help again next year.

There were tons of laughs, a gross story that was delivered in the most dead-pan fashion that had the audience ON THE FLOOR both gasping in horror and laughing. There were the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence giving their blessing to the crowd, in the way that only the Sisters can do it. There was John Pendal – he’s from London and delivers his jokes in that dry British way that leaves you laughing and wondering “wait.. did I just get nailed?” There was free candy for the volunteers, there was Ramien Pierre with a wonderful talk about reinvigorating the leather bar, and there was the contest, and eventual winner – Luis Tipantasig.

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Stitch, Luis and Michael. 1st runner up, MCL, 2nd runner up.

Angie and I had a blast getting to spend some time with our friends and the folks who’ve been with us during 2014 as we traveled the country. That’s the thing that Angie spoke to me about as we drove our tired butts home on Sunday… that when people travel to the many events, they start forming a bond between the other people they see at the events. People we might have never had the chance to meet, but have discovered wonderful friendships and bonds through working, presenting or competing. If I listed them all, we’d be here till next week, but at an event like this, it’s a chance to see them again, make that connection again, maybe flirt a little, cruise a little, maybe … if we’re all not exhausted and secretly heading back to our room to have pizza-TV-sweatpants night … maybe have a little sexy time.

It was a great weekend. I can’t wait till next year.

[M/s 365] Holiday video greetings

Just wanted to say hello and looking forward to seeing everyone in 3 months!

https://plus.google.com/u/0/100336557677760802473/posts/YXfiGr8PBXW?pid=6096964101266053874&oid=100336557677760802473

(shhh.. quietly enjoying a break. We’ll be back to traveling very soon! Next stop, Phoenix! Then a little side trip to the Land Down Under.)

[M/s 365] Not so 365, But Always 365

1081-1262536827vxcPThe “A post a day” routine has become very hard to maintain, especially with the holidays merging with travel, merging with leather and club events, merging with MAsT events and still the usual to maintain – house, job, grandkids, life. One day moves into the next, and soon you have a year almost over, but a year of so many good things, things that we’ll remember for a lifetime.

This past weekend, we traveled to New York and visited with the Central New Jersey MAsT chapter. Very interactive presentation on “ebbs and flows” from people who truly live what we live and face what we face. The social time afterwards was a mix of overcoming my Aspie shyness and feeling at home with people like me. If there’s one skill I’ve definitely sharpened this title year, it’s been to be able to get over my shyness and come out of my shell, and not have to “fake it till I make it.”

We weren’t able to attend the Metro NYC MAsT chapter’s party, JetBlue decided to reschedule our flight 2 hours earlier. We had a very slow, sit around Sunday and strangely enough, I started getting very homesick. Maybe it was being in such a warm, welcoming space in our friend’s home, opening up their apartment to us to use. Slave angie and I played some Dungeons & Dragons (yes, we play, a solo game that I ran for her a few years ago, and we’ve recently picked back up.) and eventually headed home.

Home. The living room remodeling, the getting back into gaming, the unpacking of the minuatures, the assembling of new furniture for the living room – all of those things are making me feel very grounded in this little circle of angie and I. A sense of the familiar, of the things I love to do as pastimes, it’s helping to fill a bit of a void right now.

Transitions are hard for me. When I transitioned from a way of life prior to getting super involved in leather, M/s and the titleholding and presenting, it was tough. It left me feeling a bit lost and I switched jobs at that same time, so everything felt up in the air. Right now, I think there’s a little bit of that going on. While we have three months left of representing our title, I see the homestretch and the final goal. Of saying “we did the best we could, we went out and shared who we are with as many people as we could” and feeling that we probably could not have done any more than we’re already doing.

So that probably all has contributed to the lack of posting. And yet, with all those things, I’m using a little inspiration to keep me grounded in M/s and leather too… we have a weekend coming up of fundraising at a leather bar that we’re helping with, the Chicago MAsT chapters are meeting in a joint meeting on Domestic Violence, we have another fundraiser that we’re attending and then our leather club’s Annual General Meeting on Sunday – and I know next year I’ll be getting back into the flow of keeping the club going and growing.

I’ve also been reading Laura Antoniou’s new book “The Inheritor” which is the newest chapter in her Marketplace series. It’s not out until February, but she had a Kickstarter recently and one of the perks is getting it early as an e-Book. It’s really good, and it’s been poking me in strange ways, and I’ve been feeling motivated to push through the crud and really enjoy myself. Angie’s got a few cane stripes and a bit more of a firm hand on the leash the past few days as a result. I’ll take the motivation and assistance to get past my natural winter hibernation.

And, on the horizon, I’ve received a request for something I’ve not considered in the past 11 years.

Speaking of which, I’ll close this long missive and say this to slave angie – “Happy Anniversary. While it’s been 9 years of marriage, it’s been 11 years of ownership and it’s been a lifetime, one day at a time, for us.”

[M/s 365] Going to Land Down Under

sydney-australia

Me: slave…
angie: Master ??
Me: Guess what?
angie: yes Master ?
Me: We’re going to Australia. Tickets are purchased and visas approved.
angie: *thud**

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The trip of a lifetime. We promised the Australian couple that competed alongside us last March at the International Master/slave contest that we would come to Australia to meet and visit the M/s community there, and so it’s going to really happen. That means with the exception of New Zealand, we’ll have visited every country that has a MAsT chapter in it (US, Canada, UK and now Australia). As well as a MAsT chapter or MAsT meeting in nearly every region of the US. Except Alaska. We really want to visit Alaska!

This weekend, we’re heading to New York City to visit with two MAsT chapters there as well as take in Rockerfeller Center and the city at Christmas-time. Can’t wait!

Now, please excuse me… I have a slave to revive…

[M/s 365] Cincinnati/WV Travelogue

We took a three day weekend to travel to Cincinnati for two presentations, then on to Charleston, West Virgina for a Sunday presentation, then a mad dash home.

I grew up in Cincinnati, so going back to my home turf during my International titleholder year was something I didn’t want to miss. It had been five years since I was last in the Tri-State area. I hadn’t realized it had been so long since I/we’d been there, but it was August of 2009 when Dad passed away. The last tie to Cincinnati that I felt I had.

Friday evening, we presented on “Ebbs and Flows in a Power Dynamic Relationship” to the Ohio River Valley MAsT (Master And slave Together) chapter. It was a small crowd, asking great questions and we had a good exchange. The space we were at hosts parties and dungeon events and it was HUGE – I want to say 20 to 30 stations and a lot of space in between. The PEER Group of Cincinnati owns and operates the space. If you get a chance to get to Cincinnati for an event or party run by the PEER, this space is worth the time to check out and have some fun in.

After our presentation, we had fun at the PHEERFest Meet and Greet – slave angie got to wear a cute Halloween costume, which I very much approved of…

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Saturday, we presented a new class – “Mythbuster’s Master/slave” – where we had a chance to talk about some of the myths and assumptions that many people have about what the Master/slave dynamic is all about. It was a lot of fun! We had a great audience and lots of good discussion.

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We had a dilemma after our early afternoon class. We had to be in Charleston WV by noon on Sunday. Either stay in Cincinnati for the play party, get up early and drive to West Virginia in the morning, then 9 hours back to Chicago… or skip the party, drive to WV Sat night, sleep in, and drive home after the meeting.

Sleep won. Well, that and taking in some of the amazing sights of rural/Appalachian Ohio. The trees have hit that deep brown/red stage of autumn, right before the last of the leaves drop. The hills and valleys are just amazing. We had a wonderful 3 hour drive through some of the most beautiful country we’ve seen.

And Skyline Chili is never to be missed – wonderful Cincinnati chili on a hotdog with mustard, onions and TONS of sharp cheddar cheese.

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Sunday, we visited the Charleston WV MAsT chapter and led a discussion on Health and Disabilities. We were treated to home made pizza rolls and chocolate banana bread. Yum! The chapter made us feel very welcome and we shared a lot with them and vice versa. We couldn’t stay long, with a nine hour drive back. We did stop for a few minutes to take a couple of photos of the amazing scenery. West Virginia is beautiful!

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As I painfully tap this out on the tablet, we’re between Dayton and Indianapolis, heading home to Chicago. We have the next three weekends relatively easy and Nov/Dec are light, travelwise. We’ve had a really hectic 6 month stretch since April and the start of our travels. I have a feeling the days will fly and we’ll find ourselves in January and traveling starts anew.