The Leather Events Review
Sep. 26th, 2007
Wyattkingwyatt and I walked in Mama's Leather Walk this past Sunday, for the Breast Cancer and AIDS emergency funds.
It was pretty cool. We half-danced the two and a half miles. It was rather like being in a parade (rather than a competition). A flat bed truck held performers (and a rah-rah MC), which kept us pretty entertained; disco drag to live (hot) country performer. I took some photos. We carried an SCCLA banner.
There were lots of familiar faces. The sense of camaraderie and doing something useful was a real pleasure.
There was a half-hour stop at the Powerhouse most of the way along the route. A bit of stage business, nicely handled. Then on we went the last length of city, arriving at the Eagle, our final destination. We left before the auctions got started (it took awhile ;-) ). The new Bare Chest Calendar boys were roaming around in vests with the calendar year on them, which I found rather amusing. Much discussion on the qualification of calendar selection ensued.
We were able to score a ride back to the Castro with Warren after hanging out at the Eagle for a time (yea flirting, yea not raining!). There had been a number of us standing around going 'hmmm, how do we get back to our cars?' Amusing the question didn't occur to us beforehand.
I'd happily participate again.
Aug. 20th, 2007
Half-planned, half on a whim, kingwyatt and I decided to make the drive up to San Francisco and join the Golden Gate Guards on their annual Poker Run. It was advertised as 'all vehicles welcome'; since we were going in a car, this mattered. We figured it would be a good opportunity to develop some friendships and hopefully have a nice day motoring about.
Talks about downs and ups.
This turned out to be in theory a really easy run; complete directions were given. At each check point, you got a playing card. High hand and low hand were to win.
There were two cars in addition to perhaps a dozen bikes. We all met at a Starbucks on the edge of the Castro. Take-off was relatively on schedule, as these things go. ;-) Right before take off, the ride captain made a point of saying 'we're riding as a group. we won't split lanes. if there's a red light, I'll stop after until we all catch up.'
First stop was at AT&T park, kinda in the back. The bikes had gotten their first, and waited for the two cars to arrive. As soon as we were there, they took off. We followed as quickly as we could. It was a gorgeous day and 10,000 people had headed toward the beach. In five minutes, the bikes were gone. So much for not lane splitting and for riding as a group (it would've been fine to say 'cars, we know you can't keep up, so we're not waiting. see you back at the Eagle.' But that's not what they said).
Next was an excruciating wander along the Embarcadero, in and out. At some point, I (navigating) missed a warning about an exit... and we made an unplanned detour. So to speak. ;-) Which added frustration to the aggravation of trying to keep up with the bikes. But I kinda knew where the next check in point was (the Sutro Baths; my uncle lives along the Great Highway). Huzzah for the GPS in the Prius, which got us where we needed to go.
No bikes were waiting. We got a card and moved on, heading towards Fort Funston, Pacifica way.
It was *completely* full of vehicles. We quickly decided there was no going in. I volunteered to go in and get the card. As I just started up the entry, the bikes were threading their way out. I stopped the leader; we spoke briefly. He said Yes, they would wait for the two cars outside the entrance. I ran cross-country, bounding over ice-plant covered low sand dunes.
No one was there with a card. I looked out at the vista point itself- surely the riders hadn't all dismounted and walked out there gear-clad to get a card?? Then the phone rang, and Wyatt was calling me back. WTF? Apparently the card person had decided indeed no cars could get in, so it made sense to go out. He followed the bikes immediately. Missing me. Sigh. Though running through the ice plants was kinda fun.
Next: The Sea Bowl; an old I think bowling alley. We got there... and it was empty. No one was there with cards at all. We waited a few. No one. We'd been deserted.
On we went, debating whether to head home, or on to the Eagle. It's not fun to complain about events. Pretty shortly my anger morphed into intense disappointment. We'd gone with good faith, looking forward to hanging out with a bunch of leather men, forging new and strengthening old connections. Social time with folks. Instead, it had been a day of frustration, bad traffic, desertion.
We ended up at the Eagle. Neither of us are very good at giving up and walking away I guess. ;-) Anyhow, we had several really good conversation with assorted members of the Guards. We found out exactly who hadn't done their bit on the phone, which is why we'd been left behind. We talked about motorcycle protocol (I've done 'real' rides; part of the whole check-in process at each point is to ensure no one has gotten lost or broken down and is in need of rescue). I felt heard, which was really important, by both newer and more established members of the club. At some point the conversation transformed into more brotherly teasing and warm hugs, which felt much better. I trust they really will have a post-event analysis, and make some real changes for next year.
From there, we actually had a good time at the beer bust (chicken not hot dogs! yea!). The Eagle got entirely packed with people (mostly men)! It was amazing and joyous to see and partake of. We had some good conversation with Mama R, unexpectedly. In the end, it was very worth making it to the Eagle.
PS: kingwyatt won the high hand of the poker competition! And donated the prize back. lol
Aug. 7th, 2007
Friday night, Aug. 6, the Santa Clara County Leather Association hosted the Meet n Greet as part of our Leather Night at Renegades. It was pretty well attended, and folks seemed to enjoy themselves. Loren did a fire demo. We took drawings donations for items donated mostly by the smOdyssey contest organizing team . One of our members was adorable in a hot black fishnets kinda way, working as a cigar girl.
Saturday, kingwyatt and I ended up deciding to go to the contest, held at Edges play space in Santa Clara. We missed the breakfast (sponsored by the Alameda County Leather Corps) and the first workshop or two. When we arrived, the space looked very open and fairly underpopulated, but the leather quilt was hanging and looked great, and there was lots of room for sitting in the shade, food aplenty, and a substantial bar coming into existence. Pretty promising!
We attended the Leather Traditions (.org) presentation. It was pretty thought-provoking; led to some interesting discussions on ego and service, top and bottom.
Yoyo (of PleasureBound I think??) did his bay-area-renown barbecue, with chicken and tritip and two kinds of chili, plus raspberry green salad and more. Died and gone to heaven! I had a very fun conversation with a woman who recognized my name from my costuming work, and then went on to talk about Pantheacon; an event I've attended for years. :-)
Ok, the show/contest. It went really well. Seven judges seemed like an awful lot (there was only one contestant pair; they were very good), but with Olympic scoring, maybe that makes sense. The judging panel seemed solid as a group. Jerome and Lady Hilary MC'd, and did a very fine job. Jeff Tucker and accomplices did some fabulous entertainment; fire and a funny fantasy that had us all laughing hysterically. Another pair did a SM version of 'You Don't Bring Me Flowers,' which was also really funny. Jerome gave his all for some additional travel fund raising (wonder baskets were donated by the outgoing titleholders, Bob and Jan, as well as the contestants).
All told, this was a really good event. The bar was open a long time, the show was well executed, cigars were (eventually) available.
Master/slave contests are interesting to me because they're such philosophical titles, compared to many others.
I'd go again.
Jul. 30th, 2007
I went (with kingwyatt) to the San Francisco Eagle the day before Dore Alley to support the NorCal Community Bootblack Competition. We knew one of the competitors, which is always fun at a contest. The Eagle was hosting an entire day of leather events; we stayed for 3 out of 4 (leaving before the BLUF evening event).
The bootblack competition made for a good day. Both contestants put in a full six hours of blacking; I doubt I was on only one who suggested mine take a drink of water while she did my boots. It was a beautiful afternoon, sunny and warm out of the wind which blew outside the Eagle's backyard walls.
One area was mishandled: no list was initially kept of who had purchased a ticket to get their boots done, which made for some misunderstandings about who was in line next once a list was created. They ended up, really, with too many people for the bootblacks to comfortably serve (which created some stress) and some very tired bootblacks (who handled the stress admirably, though also - understandably - they started skipping unlacing boots). However, the organizers clearly understood the problem and won't make the same mistake next year. I think they weren't expecting the turn out they had, which I guess is a pretty good problem to have as problems go.
I spoke with a few folks, including an interesting discussion with Henry, the current International Community Bootblack titleholder. In addition to the judging of their skills (I did see a couple of judges watching the work), the bootblacks were interviewed, and each had a pop up question on stage (one was pretty good, the other pretty lame; so it goes with pop up questions). In the end, boy Jean won, and Will got the first runner up medallion. Good for them.
Next up was a cigar and pipe event, hosted by the Bay Area Cigar Buddies. They sold a beer bust package which included a raffle ticket, a decent cigar, and a hot dog lunch; not too bad for $10 (boy I wish beer busts would include an amber or dark selection!). I'd already purchased a hot dog earlier in the day (home made salsa! coulda been spicier for my tastes, but still, yum!), so kingwyatt got to have the kosher dog (fine by me; in truth neither of us are big hot dog fans). The end of the bootblack contest (it ran til 3p) and this time period (3-6p), were the busiest hours of the day. Oddly, a number of dogs had free roam of the place, including some very small ones. And some were tied up; a tough situation socially for dogs. Anyhow, as far as I know, none got stepped on, and at least one fight was avoided. Dogs make good icebreakers, but when the bar got busy (and the day got hotter), they also made those who like dogs concerned for the critters.
Kingwyatt ended up with a humidor from the silent auction; it seemed a deal at $50; it's a pretty big humidor. He was informed AFTER the purchase however that one of the drawers didn't close properly. That seems pretty poor form to me. :-(
The crowd thinned as the dinner hour came up, and the NorCal Sir/boy contest came on deck. It seemed half the folks who showed up for that contest were titleholders of the same brand. Most of the others were there as we were from earlier in the day (bootblack supporters) and some guys just out getting ready for Dore. In truth, the audience seemed almost rude at times; it was hard to hear the speakers on the stage. I think mostly the audience wasn't too interested in the competition.
This was no doubt partly because in the end there was only one contestant on stage, for the Sir title. He did a reasonable job with his speech, I thought, though his fantasy was IMO rather unoriginal. It was cool to see a guy over 50 in competition. In the end, he won the title. ...oddly, the contestant was from Bakersfield. Why didn't he run for the So. CA title?
Then, quickly and startlingly, a boy winner was brought out and given the title. Which brought up even more questions: why only make one compete? Why not just give both if you're gonna give one? You could still have a show, letting the winners give their speeches and fantasies and such as were available... all told, it left a bit of an odd taste in my mouth (to disclose fully: I don't support these Sir/boy contests on principle, but I did not stay for it expecting a poor show).
All told, I'm glad we went, especially for the bootblacks, and the nice day with friends and a cigar at the Eagle.
Other contest related stuff:
Karen "Ultra" was the emcee for the Sir/boy contest, as she had been for the Talent Contest at Thunder in the Mountain the previous week (we'd also seen her at Ms. World a year or two back, and loved her). She is generally very funny, and has a fun classy look. I didn't mind that she reused material from Denver; after all, very few repeat attendees were there. However, she did 'joke' about an us/them split, referring to leather folks and apparently queer/het (though she is het), and that was disappointing to me. Thunder is a cool event and I wish the queer community would reclaim it; but here is one substantial group which will now never attend. And I've surely seen plenty of heavy and/or inappropriately dressed folks who qualify as 'leather' (as some of her humor was about). So that was pretty disappointing to me. Hopefully she'll skip that part next event.
Snatch did a very funny, hugely glam performance. She is always a marvel (seeing her as him in makeup and chaps was rather remarkable as well :-) ).
And a final note: a purse was stolen from one of the women we were hanging out with. Pretty depressing occurrence at a
Jul. 29th, 2007
09:09 am - Thunder in the Mountains CO 7/2007
Thunder was held at a hotel in the Denver Technology Center. The hotel was actually lovely; lots of glass and airy-ness. It was small-ish, which made it very comfortable and cozy for a leather event. Very fun to look down from the bridge at all the vendors! Kingwyatt and I liked our room - whee, flat screen tv for Wyatt! The food at the hotel was actually good! who'da thunk it?
A new thing: your photo id was inserted into the back of your badge, and both were checked each time you entered an event space. A bit of a surprise (interesting, when you think of all the bay area whinging about using one's legal name at all ;-) ), but ok. I loved the new bit in their waivers about agreeing to pay a huge fee if you shared information/photos inappropriately. Go Thunder!
There were lots of excellent presenters. I enjoyed both of Lolita's classes (jealousy and CBT), the fireplay class I attended (ok I don't have my notes/program with me), and others. The Talent Show was really quite fun; singers and performance art and what-all. The half-time was presented by the local drag fund raising group; Denver Cycle Sluts; they were beyond fabulous! It was so refreshing to see drag queens who were actually fun and campy and all about humorous commentary rather than dramatic seriousness. This is a type of drag I could get into!
There were a number of play spaces. The 'garage' space was awesome. Lots of good equipment and excellent Butt Boy music everywhere.
I had the opportunity to get to know some folks better; lots of good conversation; tears, laughter, insight.
Kingwyatt and I noted that the majority of the volunteers and presenters were queer. Most of the attendees were het. Interesting.
It was a good event, and I enjoyed myself.
(cross-posted to my journal)