J.D.: Ms. SouthEast LeatherFest 2003
June 16 2003
Wow! What an amazing time I've had the past few months!
In mid February, I made my way to the cold Midwest for the annual Pantheon of Leather event. For those not familiar with the Pantheon of Leather, it is kind of like the Oscars of Leather. There are international, national and regional recognition awards, as well as awards that recognize individuals, events, businesses and clubs. Of course, it's also a chance to meet some folks that you haven't managed to bump into the rest of the year.
Someone I've bumped into quite a lot this year is John Pendal, Mr. International Leather 2003. Whether it's fair or not (and it most decidedly is not), one of my biggest criteria in determining the success of a titleholder is how frequently I run into that person during his or her title year. In the case of John Pendal, it has been so frequent that I halfway expect to run into him on my next trip to the grocery store! Both John and sheryl dee (American Leatherwoman 2003) have made a great impression on me this year, and though many others have said it, I'd like to add my own voice to the mix: these two have worked their butts off this year, and I see their positive impact in many directions. I'm very proud to be represented by both of them.
Come to think of it, this year at Pantheon John Pendal won the Community Choice Man of the Year award and sheryl won the Community Choice Woman of the Year Award. Perhaps there's some basis to my self-centered criteria for a successful titleholder after all, because I'm certainly not the only one who has noticed these two.
Pantheon of Leather is held at the Leather Archives and Museum ("located in Chicago, and serving the World"), and seeing really is believing. I've been meaning to join for many years now, but after finally visiting the museum, I promptly became a member. I urge anyone who has the opportunity to make it to Chicago to stop off at the LA&M, and bask in our collective history.
In April, I visited a much warmer climate, New Orleans. I went to the Leather Leadership Conference, and I just can't say enough good things about this event. I've resisted going to this event in the past because it just didn't look "fun." But as a titleholder, it became clear to me that some of my leadership skills could stand a bit of refining, and this is exactly the event that could help. It did a lot more than just help my skills: it gave me focus, determination and confidence, and I also learned a surprising fact: this event is FUN! I'm awed by the resources made available to me at this event, and deeply appreciate the level of experience and enthusiasm in both the presenters and the participants. I will definitely be at next year's LLC.
Also in April was the event voted by Pantheon as the best "Big event of 2003": American Brotherhood Weekend. I went to ABW last year, and had a fantastic time. This year, I got to experience the event from a slightly different perspective: the stage! I ran for the title of American Leatherwoman, and considering how much I walked away with, I can't even imagine what it would be like if I had won! The new American Brotherhood Family is: American Leatherman Robert Napolitano from NYC; American Leatherwoman Storm from New Jersey; American Leatherboy Terry Brown from Kansas City, Kansas; and introducing the first winner of the brand new American Leathergirl title, Beth Abate from Fresno, California! They're all wonderful people, and I look forward to supporting them in any way I can during their title year.
In case you're unfamiliar with the event, ABW emphasizes the importance of family. I often hear people talk of the transformation that takes place once they attend an ABW event, and I have to include myself among them. Before this year's event, I had no formally declared leather family, though there are many people who have impacted me on this level. Now I have not one but two people who I count as my "Leather Mama."
The first lives in San Francisco and has nearly 600 "children." If you haven't had the pleasure, be sure to put Mama Sandy Reinhardt on your list of people to meet, and soon! Everyone in her family gets a "Mama's name", and mine is Mama's Southern Cracker- inspired by my love of singletails, of course! Check out her website at http://www.mamasfamily.org to see the difference one woman has made.
My second Leather Mama (though "second" by no means describes this woman) is Paula Smith. Many of you in the Southeast no doubt know Paula already, and for those of you who don't: why not? She's the one tirelessly volunteering at events and fundraisers, the one with the laugh you're drawn to from across the room, the one with the generous spirit. Paula is also American Leatherwoman 2000, and this energy and generosity certainly worked out well for me when she lent me her own advice and direction for ABW. I've known Paula for years and have always admired her, but thanks to ABW, I had the opportunity to really get to know her, and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Yes, Dorothy, sometimes family is in my own backyard.
As I hope you know, SouthEast Leatherfest is just around the corner, and I'm very excited about it. For me, SELF has always been about family, so it's no surprise at all that this year the SELF contest is a feeder for next year 's ABW. I'm looking forward to seeing old friends, and catching up with the new friends from ABW. There will be lots of hands-on workshops, bar runs, celebrity auctions, cool vendors, contest fun and lots and lots of opportunities to.well, you finish the rest. Oh, and be sure to check out the singletail and piercing workshops. I hear a really hot butch will be teaching them.
This year has been an incredible one for me, and I'm very grateful to have had the opportunity to run all over tarnation, meet cool folks and have the time of my life. I'm also looking forward to stepping aside so that the next Ms SouthEast Leatherfest can have the chance to have as much fun as I've had.
And you want to know the best part? It doesn't end here. I'm not fading into the woodwork. I'll be around just as much, having just as much fun. And the offer I made at the beginning of my title year still stands: if you want to get in touch with me.well, you darn well better!!
See you all at SouthEast Leatherfest! JD
Hi Leather folk!
We're barely into March, and I for one am excited about the glimpse of warm weather we're having after an extended period of grey clouds and rain. Let's just hope this lamb-like weather doesn't mean that a lion awaits us at the end of the month!
Thankfully, I managed to miss some of Atlanta's dreary weather by doing some traveling. The most exciting trip I've taken recently was my visit to San Francisco at the end of January. I was invited to be on the judging panel for the San Francisco Leather Dyke boy/girl contest, and of *course* I said yes! I stayed with an old friend and a new friend (Billie and Kate) at their place across the street from Delores Park, a short walk from the famed Castro and yes, it really was a short walk, even for the car-loving native Atlantan such as myself who has been known to drive to the mailbox. I've visited SF several times and have always stayed with friends in Oakland. After my recent visit, I can *finally* say with certainty that I've had the San Francisco Experience, and it's unlikely that I'll settle for the East Bay on any future visits.
Staying in the city really did put me in the thick of things, and I met lots of incredible people, including 2 lovely SF femmes who taught this Southern butch that Southerners do not have a monopoly on hospitality.
The contest weekend started off with a meet and greet at Daddy's Bar. It was there that I got to meet all of the contestants, and some of the judges. I say some of the judges, because two of the judges were chosen by raffle at the end of the evening, to stand in as community judges. It was a method of choosing judges that I had not yet run across, and I really like the idea a lot.
I will have the opportunity to see two of the judges again in April. Evan (California Leatherwoman 2004) and Jack Garcia (California Leatherboy 2004) will both be traveling to DC to represent their state at the American Brotherhood Weekend contest. I'll be competing for the American Leatherwoman title at this event as well, and I found it no small irony that three judges for this contest will be the judged when we next see each other! Does this prove the old adage "judge not, lest you be judged.
Saturday was the day of the contest. It started off bright and early (well, some would call 11am early) at the Victoria Theatre. I had forged a bond with this theatre before ever coming for this visit: it was the home of the San Francisco production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I have yet to see it in play form, but Hedwig and the Angry Inch is my favorite movie, and I was very excited to have the opportunity to see the play. So after finding a date to see the play during my stay, I found out that not only is the play no longer running, but that the contest I'm judging is going to be at that same theatre, as if to taunt me! Arrgh! And for those of you just burning with curiosity, my intended date did end up coming to the contest... but she arrived with her own date..who was not me! Double arrgh!
In addition to being a darn good time, the SF Leather Dyke boy/girl contest is an annual fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund. I'm not sure of the final total raised, but a check for $1000 was presented to the directors of the BCEF during the contest. Way to go! I'm proud to have been a part of this event. The producers did an excellent job. And while there is no SF dyke boy 2004, I'm glad to say Hayden is SF's newest Leather Dyke girl. I'm sure she'll have a great year.
Oh, and if you ever get the chance to check out SF's Diamond Daggers do it! You won't be disappointed. You might even need to be resuscitated.
After the contest, we were off to the women's play party. I was pretty excited about this! I've heard a lot about east coast vs. west coast play styles, and was looking forward to seeing it for myself. It was also guaranteed to be the largest women's party I had yet to attend, so I was looking forward to the energy as well.
In her article The Catacombs: A temple of the butthole (GREAT title! HA!) Gayle Rubin chronicles the history of the Catacombs, San Francisco's first sex club/dungeon. As stated in the article, it is here that San Francisco's first women' play party was held on June 1, 1979. Thirty women attended! As mind-boggling large as that number sounds for that time period, the SF women's scene has kept pace, and the enthusiasm I saw in January 2004 is just as impressive.
So instead of the Catacombs (which has long since closed), we went to the Citadel, a newly opened dungeon. The play space was well furnished, though I was stressed at first to learn there were very limited areas for singletails. Still, who can complain when there are well over 100 women playing? The energy was phenomenal. And this isn't just a once a month thing. Weekly women's play parties are scheduled in SF, as well as the monthly meeting by SF's oldest lesbian SM club, the Exiles. I'm told that at Exiles meetings, easily 200 women show up, and the focus tends to be on information sharing, demos and socialization.
In view of the fact that Atlanta's monthly women's party will soon be discontinued due to lack of support, I'm both jealous of the SF leather women's community, and frustrated by whatever it is we're missing here. Maybe it's because SF has been doing this a lot longer. Maybe it's because there's just an enormous amount of women who like to play with women in SF. Maybe it's because Atlanta is right smack in the middle of the Bible Belt, though I sometimes tend to forget this. It may be unfair to compare Atlanta to San Francisco, but I feel very frustrated that 25 years ago SF drew 3 times the leather women that Atlanta draws now.
I had hoped that my trip to San Francisco would provide me with the Big Clue that would finally solve the riddle that has stumped me for years now. Unfortunately, I'm no more qualified to explain what will get leather women out of their houses and to the play parties, but at least I've seen that it can be done. If you have your own ideas or possible solutions, please feel free to contact me. I remain optimistic that there's hope for Atlanta.
In the meantime, I'm counting my blessings (and pennies) that Air Tran now flies to San Francisco. Given my incredible weekend, it doesn't take Miss Cleo to know there's a trip back to SF in my near future.
Be well and play safe, y'all!
As you've probably noticed if you've made it this deep into the website, SouthEast Leatherfest's theme for next year's event is "forget politics, have FUN" and I couldn't have said it better myself. Hey wait, I *did* say that, or something very close to it 4 months ago on stage at Southeast Leatherfest 2003!
Holy cow, it's been 4 months?
My year as a newbie titleholder got off to an exciting start, after having surgery in July- not exactly a smart move on my part, since I wasn't able to attend the two International leather events for women that are a month apart... but sometimes these things can't be avoided. And yes, I'm fine now!
As soon as I was able to bounce back, the travel- and the FUN- started.
Though it's not exactly in the Southeast, I attended and taught a singletail class at Ohio Leatherfest in August. It was quite a drive to Columbus, Ohio in my big yellow truck, but worth it. Somehow the drive isn't so long when there's singletails involved!
I should take the time here to emphasize the teaching aspect: I've had many opportunities to teach BDSM workshops over the last 5 years, and I try to take every opportunity I have. Why? Well, here comes a confession of sorts: Every time I teach, I learn. There's always someone in class who can tell me about a new technique, or offer suggestions on how to improve my own. Teaching challenges me to really think about what I'm offering, and it allows me to give back some of what I've taken and learned over the years.
If you have the opportunity to meet the great people of Pensacola, please take it! I was there in September for a day long event sponsored by Ms Trice of Pensacola and PALS (Panhandle Alternative Lifestyles Association). The theme was "fetish fair", and there were vendors, workshops, and enthusiasm in abundance. I taught a class on Advanced Temporary Piercing, and thanks to the help of Scrappy, the Demo Bottom Extraordinaire, and Rorie, a singletail enthusiast from Charlotte, NC, much fun was had by all. I was even able to squeeze in a visit to the beach. Life doesn't get much better than this. Too bad the dreaded Panhandle Love Bugs were out in force.
It was at this event that I met Robert, the current Mr. Olympus Leather. It's always great to meet other titleholders, because truth be known, I'm making up a lot of this as I go along. Meeting other titleholders puts perspective on my place in the community while I wear this sash, and getting a bit of guidance from a friendly and informed source is never a bad thing. Robert's warmth and hospitality were much appreciated, and his partner joann had me laughing so hard I was crying. Them's good people, as we say in the South.
The next month, I met Robert's sash sister, Bootpig, Ms Olympus Leather 2003. We were both attending (and teaching) at one of my very favorite events, Leather University in Ft. Lauderdale. Hey, there's worse places to be in October, right? But in this case, Leather University is one of the best. This event is all about play and workshops and more play, and leave the attitude at home. Leather University has provided quality BDSM education for 8 years now, and I've been fortunate enough to attend the last 4 years, as well as be a part of the stellar faculty for the last 3.
This year, Leather University offered a bootblack track- a very extensive weekend of hands on bootblacking classes, and the opportunity (requirement?) to offer bootblacking services to the attendees all weekend long. Believe me, these students were BUSY! Over $300 in tips were raised by the bootblacks this year, and all of it was given to an AIDS charity in Ft. Lauderdale. Way to go! I would recommend this track to anyone interested in "polishing" their bootblack skills.
Not surprisingly, Bootpig was there to offer her own expertise on the subject. With a name like Bootpig, what did you expect the expertise to be in? I was honored to have my boots polished by Bootpig the "right way"... and by the end of the weekend, I walked away with a hands on punching lesson and the enthusiasm for a newfound skill. So do you think this Southern born and bred butch will brave the cold cold COLD Chicago winter to see Robert and Bootpig step down from their titles at Pantheon of Leather in February? Hell yes!!
Last weekend was the Together In Leather event in Charlotte, NC. This event is very relationship focused, and the workshops were all D/s or relationship based, as opposed to a focus on technical S/M skills. I was unable to attend the entire event, but was at the Saturday night contest. Hey, an 8 hour drive for a 4 hour contest? Sounds worth it to me! I heard nothing but positive things about the event from other attendees, and there was certainly a buzz in the air at the contest itself. I'd like to extend a congratuations to the new (and first) Southeast Master/slave, Rick and kimmie, and the Southeast Bootblack, Jack Robinson. Scott Parker and slavette did an excellent job of putting on the event.
The Together in Leather contest was like a homecoming for me: I had the opportunity to catch up with some folks I haven't seen in months, or in some cases, days. I also met the current American Leatherwoman, the delightful sheryl dee. The American Leather Family titles emphasize the family aspect, and from my all too brief interaction with her, it was clear she's a good fit. She's also generating a lot of discussion and focus on girls, and the place they occupy in our community by creating "girl gatherings" at various events, including, most recently, Together in Leather. With the upcoming introduction in April of the new American Leathergirl contest, sheryl is doing her part to prove the need for such a title.
Whew. So does that cover everything I've been up to? Hardly! But I'm tired of typing, and I'll assume you're tired of reading.
Oh, wait, I'm not done yet. For the shy ones out there, I'd like to add this: Feel free to contact me. That's why the address is posted. If you see me out and want to say hi, please do so! I'm adding this because in the past, *I* have been the shy one, the one who was afraid to approach someone for fear of bugging them, or inconveniencing them. But it's really just a missed opportunity. This advice stands for the not so shy ones as well, but they generally don't require any nudging. ;)
Remember: Keep it fun. Isn't that the reason we got involved in this lifestyle in the first place?
Take care of yourself and each other,
JD Ms. SouthEast LeatherFest 2003
Michael Waugh: SouthEast Leatherboy 2003
I'm a gemini, am partnered ( 5 years) to JP. We have a Great Dane puppy, now about ten and a half months old (135 pounds) and growing. We live in Charlotte, NC and enjoy the area and all our friends here.
I have been to the Atlanta Pride parade of course, just after the contest in June. I attended the Tarheel Leather Club's "Stars and Stripes XIII" over the July 4th weekend with my partner JP and our dog, Atlas. Richard and I attended the NC Pride parade in Durham in October as well. Richard and I recently attended the International LeatherSIR/boy contest in St. Petersburg Florida in late October.
I attended and volunteered at the TIL (Together In Leather) event here in Charlotte recently, where I ran into JD (Ms. Southeast Leather Pride). That was a great event being its first, and I tip my jock to Master Scott and slavette for all their hard work in putting it together. I am routinely at the Charlotte Eagle on a Friday or Saturday. I want to tip my jock to them for a moment. They have been major supporters of Richard and myself from the NC contest on up to International. Gary and Frank, owners of the Eagle, as well as Jim and Lane, who make it all work, have been our unofficial "sponsors" and they need to be recognized!
Richard Gray: SouthEast Leather Sir
June 16 2003
Do you remember the first time you saw a Drummer Magazine? The guys wearing leathers that fit their bodies because they were their own leathers, molded by sweat, spit, and cum? The scruffy, not always quite pretty guys with hairy chests, tattoos, and those wonderful body piercings? Or the stories of the kind of kinky sex you had only imagined in your fantasies? If you can remember that, then you started on a similar journey that I did on my life as a leatherman.
My name is Richard Gray, and I am Southeast Leather Sir 2003. I am 46 years old, and live in Greensboro, NC. My partner is Joey Kue. I was raised in eastern North Carolina, land of tobacco, cotton, and pigs. But most importantly, my life in kink began at an early age with childhood games of cowboys and Indians (always seemed to be the cowboy tying up the Indian to a pole), and cops and robbers (always capturing the robbers and jailing them) and prisoners of war (again, disciplining the prisoners for trying to escape).