In about 36 hours, we’ll be taking our final flight as the current International Master/slave to return back home to South Plains Leatherfest and our step-aside. An extremely bittersweet moment. We’ve mostly kept it together, mainly by being busy (hair-on-fire busy, actually) but like any other journey, time and the travels come to the end of the journey. (PS. If you’re going to be there, please come say “HI” please!)
We started out just under four years ago and the people we are today are not the people who nervously decided to send in an application to a brand new state contest. We will be learning lessons from this journey for years to come, as we move on to new things. We are starting to think about all that though. On our way back home from Louisville this past weekend, we were remembering some really funny moments from our year, and the good moments.
We both agree that the best part of this whole journey has been to share and learn from so many people across the world. Talk about privileged! To have had the chance to meet wonderful people and learn a little bit about them, about their hopes and interests and dreams and questions. When else would we have had this chance to be so blessed and to have found a vibrant, passionate community like the Master/slave community?
We’re going to have more to say when we get past this weekend, but in the meantime, I wanted to share bits of the “The Road Goes Ever On” from the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. About ourselves and the couple who will be on the road next come this Saturday evening…
The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin,
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.
Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
(from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkein)
19 hours in a metal tube. That’s about what it was like in flying back to the States from our vacation in Australia. Time seems to stand still on a flight like that – the Earth gliding by underneath. I am pretty much sick of watching movies right now, and I’m missing my new friends from the land down under.
The trip to Australia was filled with workshops and meet-n-greets with the leather, kink and Master/slave communities. We met a cross-section of experiences, genders, orientations and approaches. Far more names and faces than I can possibly remember, but the overall impression I was left is that none of us are so different.
We have different words, different approaches, different experiences and expectations, but whether we’re in the UK, Canada, across the US or even now on the other side of the world, we’re all asking similar questions and looking for similar things – validation of who we are, expression of our kinky/erotic selves and the hope that we’re not so alone or different or bad for wanting these things that we feel so deeply. And whether we’re in a MAsT chapter, a munch group, a leather house, a poly family or a long term committed monogamous relationship, we seek others like us to share and learn from.
The year is almost over for slave Angie and I. And we are left with that impression from traveling around… that we are not so different, and that we can do wonderful things together.
A lot of times, I get told that I don’t act like I am on the autistic spectrum. That’s good, because then I nailed the social interaction. What they don’t see is that I also have to take time off to decompress. After a particularly emotional, difficult moment last night, and a touch of home-sickness, the picture summarizes how I feel this morning. So I’m quietly sitting next to a sleeping slave Angie and letting my bucket empty.
As fast as it came, now it’s done… tomorrow, we fly out of Sydney to Melbourne. Looking forward to meeting our friends there, but sad as we really only scratched the bare surface of Sydney itself. What a gorgeous, beautiful city and surrounding area. We made it to the Blue Mountains and Manly Cove/Beach. We toured the Opera House and drove around the city. We met some wonderful folks in our workshops with the MAsT: Sydney chapter alongside the SLPF (Sydney Leather Pride Foundation) (I think that’s what the F stands for… )
If you’re in the Melbourne area this coming weekend, we have workshops on Friday evening and Saturday – info is on Fetlife with the MAsT: Melbourne group.
As for us, we’re hanging in there. A lot of touring and walking has us dead on our feet tonight. Had a lot of fun, but these crazy trips feel a bit like hanging on for dear life and enjoying the ride.
Here are a couple of pictures we’ve taken along the way.
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.
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!
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.
There 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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.