Coco: SouthEast Bootblack 2017
Coco is a native Alabamian turned Georgian that identifies as a submissive, a little, a leather girl and a bootblack. She’s been an active member of the community for a little over seven years. She has a lot of passions in this lifestyle, but she considers bootblacking, ageplay, and emotional masochism to be her top three. She has been spotted teaching classes and bootblacking at various conventions in the SouthEast over the last few years. Over time, Coco has learned how to merge her little with her leather and kink, which follows through to her bootblacking. She truly enjoys being able to provide care to the community by providing leather care to those who need it. Beyond all of that, she is a glitter addicted, rope loving, cigar smoking, and overall fun girl.
Calendar of Events
10/6-10/8- American Brotherhood Weekend
10/20-10/22- Leather History Preservation Weekend
11/3- TRC Anniversary Weekend
11/4- Presenting @ The Mark
11/25- Presenting @ Hampton Bay Bootblacks
12/2- Presenting @ The Red Chair
12/3- Onyx Pearl Bootblacking Intensive
12/8-12/10- 12 Days in Baltimore
12/16- Presenting @ Whippersnappers
1/12 & 1/14- Mid-Atlantic Leather
1/13- Presenting @ Piedmont Area Kink
1/27- Presenting @ Whimper
2/1-2/4- Sin in the City
2/23-2/25- Drummer North America
3/9-3/11- Leather Leadership Conference
4/13-4/15- International Ms Leather
4/27-4/29- L.A. Heat
5/3-5/6- Spring Fling Leatherfest
6/14-6/17- SouthEast LeatherFest 23
June 2017 Column
As some of you may know, I competed for bootblack title at SELF in 2015 and lost. While I didn’t walk away with a title, I left knowing that I’d become a part of something special. There was this sense that I had found a family and a place I could call home. For some strange reason, I let myself forget that in the time that passed and I thought that I’d been erased from everyone’s memory. I almost talked myself out of it running again this year. However, one very stubborn, very wonderful friend of mine (I’m looking at you Tori) kept listening to all my reasoning for why I shouldn’t and very kindly told me why I was so very wrong. And truthfully? I’ve never been happier to have been proven wrong!
Everything about this year felt right, from the moment I walked out on that stage Thursday night to the moment I walked back out Saturday. It felt like I had come back home. I felt all the love that I so freely give my community come right back to me. I had the pleasure of talking to so many of you, of bootblacking for you, of answering your questions. (My Vagina!) I got to tell you all a story straight from my heart. I gave of myself and I was accepted with arms wide open. And, wow. Just, wow. I am awestruck at how amazing being granted the SouthEast Bootblack 2017 title feels. It feels like being welcomed back home after being away because while I was gone, I was never forgotten. I am happy and humbled all at the same time.
I am looking forward to a great year of traveling to new places and representing SELF by bootblacking and presenting my classes. I also want to live up to my word. I want to find other people of color and encourage them to step out to the forefronts, especially bootblacks. Five years from now, I would love it if the next baby bootblack of color can look to those before them and see a multitude of familiar role models instead of just a few. I want to see more people of color presenting, coordinating, leading and creating in our community. I want diversity to become more than a topic we use in a keynote speech. I want to see us live it. It would also be a waste if I did not use this platform to do some community outreach beyond just the leather and kink world. I am not exactly sure who or how just yet, but I do have a place to start that hits very close to home. Something I’m very open about is the fact that I was abused as a child to the point where I still deal with the after effects as an adult. I am actively considering organizations to support that help remove children from toxic homes. Be on the lookout for more information soon.
I am so very thankful that I have such a great opportunity to help me complete my goals. I am also thankful to the many people that helped me even get to this point and I would be remiss if I didn’t take some time to acknowledge them. But first, let me begin with a unique, personal circumstance. Recently, I was robbed and left with no phone and no money. I put out a call for help and boy did people answer. I would love nothing more than to name each and every individual who responded to me by name, but I do not want to cross anyone’s boundaries or use the wrong name for someone. So instead I will simply say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for the kind words, the shoulders to cry on, the offers of places to stay, and the donations to get me by. Thank you for showing me what leather, community, and family truly are, what they do, and how they feel. Thank you for bringing me hope amid such despair. Thank you not as a titleholder, but as simply Coco. Thank you for showing me the type of person I want to continue to grow to be. Thank you so very much. I promise to pay it forward every opportunity that I have.
Next, let me extend a very special thank you to Choc and the House of Trei for believing in me enough to sponsor me in this competition. Also, a very special thank you to the Onyx Pearls for being a huge support during both the preparation process and SELF. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many people fussing at me to eat at one time before in my life! Thank you to Geoff and Ms. Tori for handling my crazy, disorganized, flighty, ADHD butt from beginning to end. Thank you to everyone who donated to my auction baskets too: Atomic Cowboy, Shira, GirlBri, HappyPuppy, Ms. Tori yet again, Meghan Bootblack, Crystal Ice, Queen Raini, Lily, and Pup Nitro. You guys are all amazing!
A huge thank you to my judges: David Labriola, Darcy, Tina, Boypup Max, Geardog, Friday, Shaun, and Walter Gingerbear. Thank each of you for taking time out of your busy schedule to judge this year’s SouthEast LeatherFest contest and thank you for putting your confidence in me. Thank you to International Ms. Leather 2017 Girl Complex for visiting us down here in the south and being our Emcee. You were amazing and I am so glad I got a chance to meet you! Same to International slave 2017 girl j! You’re especially awesome as well! And a special shout out to International Ms. Bootblack Elisa! It’s not every day someone makes me giggle like a school girl while I’m bootblacking. :D
I would also be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to SELF and everyone who helped make the weekend and the contest happen. Thank you to Master Blue for being the best Den Daddy I could ever have asked for. Thank you to Jack for assisting with raffle tickets. Thank you to the stage crew who helped us all sound and look good in front of a room full of people. A very special thank you to Catherine Gross for… well for more than I could ever have the time to type out. I couldn’t have asked for a better producer or a better friend. And thank you to every attendee of SELF this year and a very special thanks to everyone who participated in audience voting. I am so proud to have gained your support and that you believed in me enough to help me become SouthEast Bootblack 2017. I hope that I’m able to live up to the amazing legacy that has been left by those who came before me. I hope that I do my SELF family proud this year as I represent us within the southeast region and beyond.
Oct 2017 Column
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Despite my best efforts, this seems to have become the running theme for my title year. I swear I had a specific vision for the way I thought things would be going right about now, but life has different plans. Fate has more or less demanded that I go through some serious life stuff with a title vest on and I have no choice but to answer that challenge. My year has become one of extreme authenticity and transparency, an ongoing example that titleholders are just people at the end of the day. We are people with issues to solve and struggles to go through.
So here I am for all to see, just a bootblack with complex post traumatic stress disorder trying to overcome the recent trauma from being the victim of a violent crime. I’ve always been open about my PTSD and I refuse to start changing that now. The thing is, however, that when I ran for Southeast Bootblack this year, I felt as though my mental health was well under control. And then the robbery happened. Since then, I have suffered panic attacks, severe anxiety, bouts of depression, sleep issues, and a whole host of other things. On top of those symptoms being super annoying to deal with they are also highly inconvenient to this whole titleholding thing. I mean, being borderline agoraphobic isn’t exactly conducive to meeting all of one’s travel requirements. But I think that is the beauty of my situation.
It’s clear now that the robbery will be an ongoing narrative for the duration of my title year, but the reason why may be different from what you might assume. The robbery makes the terrain on my journey a little more rugged than I anticipated but this title gives me the strength to keep walking no matter how hard things may get. I fight to get better because I have all of you, my community. And so, I share my struggle with you, so that you may see that many of us titleholders find the strength to make it through our own shit for the love of you—the community.
I also share my struggle because I see you. I see those of you battling your invisible illnesses: depression, anxiety, trauma, all of it. I see you and I need you to know that you are not alone and that you can make it. I need you to know that it’s okay to have bad days and not hide them. It’s okay to need a friend to lean on and a shoulder to cry on. It’s okay to get help, to need therapy or medication. It’s okay. And if you need me, I am here for you because you all are here for me.
Thank you for that, by the way. Thank you to my Leather community for showing me that we are sexual outcasts and rebels and we fuck hard and play hard and, most importantly, we love hard. I’ve felt that love these past few months and I especially felt it at Southeast Black and Blue and South Carolina Pride in Leather. Being in fellowship with my people filled my heart and during those events, for the first time in a very long time, I felt safe and calm.
Thank you to my title mama, Ms. Tori and my forever handler EvilGeoff for sticking to your promise to stand by me during my year. Thank you for putting your money where your mouth is. Thank you to my sash sisters and my sash brother for being a fantastic support system that provides words of wisdom and hard truths when necessary. Thank you to Jennifer, Ms. SELF 2015, for being an ear to talk off and a steady rock. And thank you to the many people who’ve been willing to bend over backwards to help me get to events. I would not be able to make it through this year without all of you.
The beginning of my title year has started slowly but things are about to pick up. I’m still fighting. I still have shit to go through. But you’re still going to see my smiling face out and about as the next few months are filled with events. You can find me bootblacking at American Brotherhood Weekend, Leather History Preservation Weekend, The Red Chair’s Anniversary Weekend and 12 Days in Baltimore. You can catch me presenting various classes in Birmingham, Nashville, Atlanta, and Hampton Bay. I also have a special project that I’ll be releasing soon so keep your eyes out for that too! I’m looking forward to chowing down on that elephant, one bite at a time!
Remember, Leather is Love.
January 2018 Column
They always say that there are seven stages of grief. What they don't tell you, though, is that those stages have no particular order, no set time frame for completion, and often can be traveled multiple times for one situation. Grief is unpredictable and uncontrollable; it commands attention on its own terms and time. So maybe that's why I'm not exactly celebrating the end of 2017.
I have every right to be ecstatic that 2017 is over, but instead of excitedly saying goodbye I find myself strangely melancholy. I think I'm grieving yet I can't pinpoint just what. Is it the loss of my illusion of safety and control? Is it the fact that what "should have" happened does not match up with what did? Is it that 2017 robbed me a little of that forever young and childlike shiny feeling in my soul? Maybe all three. Maybe none. I don't know.
I do know that this year was one that I will never be able to forget. And I know that this year deserves a tremendous amount of my respect. This was a year meant to test me; a year that almost broke me. 2017 is the year that forced me to grow the fuck up. 2018 will be the year we'll see if that sticks. 2017 was a worthy adversary.
When I decided to run for SELF, I suddenly noticed a shift in my life. So much so that when the judges asked me where I saw myself at the end of the title year (should I win, of course), I couldn’t give a straight answer. I just told them that I knew a change was coming, but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it would be. Who knew that the change would be this? 2017 was the year that I grew the fuck up. It’s the year that I became even more intertwined with the Leather community, more willing to reach out for comfort and support. I learned that not all journeys can be walked alone in sullen silence. I learned to use my voice, walk my path held high, and to live my life in such a way that others may know they are not alone in their struggles.
I also developed a little bit of confidence of all things. I’m more secure in my abilities as a bootblack. I mean, I guess I got my title with more than just my good looks. I’ve also become more confident in my contribution to our world. More firm in the knowledge that I can give back, I have information to share, information people want to hear. I don’t think I’ll ever shake that slight nervousness when I present a class and I’m not sure that I ever want to. But I do know that I can stop being afraid that I don’t belong at the front of the room, presenting material to a group of people.
This title has taught me to have faith in the fact that I’m good at what I do. I had an opportunity to return to my home club last month, The Red Chair in Birmingham. I joined when I was 19 years old. I was one of the first ageplayers to make myself known in that group and I was alone. I answered questions and unapologetically embraced my littleness until I finally drew a few others out from the dark as well. I moved to Georgia leaving only a few ageplayers behind. December, when I returned home, I presented an ageplay class to a room full of people eager and excited to learn. I help make a difference. I have something to contribute.
While I bid a solemn, reverent farewell to 2017, I’m also looking to 2018 with excitement and vigor. I am grounded in the knowledge that I am a survivor, and I am dedicated to my commitments. I am committed to improving my health, both mental and physical, and to the promise I made to pay it forward whenever I can, however I can. I am committed to safety and security in all ways possible and to seeking justice from those who have wronged me. Most importantly, I am committed to finishing my title year strong, with my head held high and some epic memories formed. I am committed to making the best out of 2018.
So where will 2018 find me? Presenting and bootblacking as ever. I’m starting off in South Carolina with the Piedmont Area Kinksters, followed up with Sin in the City where I am both presenting and judging. You can also spot me at Drummer North America/Women of Drummer, the Leather Leadership Conference, IMsL/IMsBB, Tradesman weekend, Frolicon and wherever else I can commune amongst my people, Kinky and Leather alike. Of course, I’ll also be at SELF 23… you know, if I find the time. ;-)
2017 was the year that I grew up but 2018 is the year where we’ll see if it sticks. I have fresh eyes, a renewed spirit, and a little more wisdom than I had before. I’m ready to face the day and I hope you all are ready to come with me. So, 2018?
Bring. It. On.
March 2018 Column
June 2018 Column