Tig Natious is holding her title of Ms. SouthEast LeatherFest for a second year! She is a self-proclaimed child of the internet, which led her to discover the world of kink at a young age. A pansexual, polyamorous switch, she joined the North Carolina scene in 2007, then later went on to discover the world of Leather in 2011 when she had the honor of being Ms North Carolina that year. A founder of Greensboro's Kinklings and an affiliate member of Tarheel Leather Club, Tig's passions and interest run deep and varied. A proud geek of many colors, Tig has had the pleasure of being able to combine all of her interests and teach others about kink and how to do it safely.
Calendar of Events
Oct 2016 Column
Wow, what a whirlwind it’s been since that amazing Saturday night in August. Where do I even start?
Winning the Ms SouthEast LeatherFest title for me is something that, quite frankly, I’m not sure has fully sunk in yet. I originally was planning to run for this title a few years ago, but things happened and I was never able to make it happen. Honestly, I was worried that I was going to lose momentum and not ever get back to doing the title run for a while. So for me, winning SELF is a bit of a major battle won in my life for so many different reasons that I won’t delve into; that’s a few stories for another time. I didn’t think I would ever do it, but here I am and I have done it and I couldn’t be more excited about it.
I hit the ground running back into the real world and life immediately after SELF ended as well as jumping right into as many events as I could make.
First up I had South Carolina Pride in Leather in Columbia, SC.
Tom and Peach put on an amazing event! In addition to their contest, which featured the new title of South Carolina Leather Ambassador, it was like being at a Leather run, with parties and cocktail hours running seemingly nonstop. It was amazing to be there and I seriously suggest putting it on your calendars for next year. LE, American Leatherwoman 2015, did a special showing of High Shine - Fifteen Years of International Ms Boothblack, a documentary about the history behind the Ms Bootblack title, and just wow. If you love bootblacks, are a bootblack, or just want to learn more about an important piece of our culture and history, do yourself a favor and make sure you watch this amazing film. It was an amazing start to my title year to spend the weekend with most of my sash family, Tori, Bella, rooks, and Timothy, in addition to sash-mom Jennifer.
The highlight of the weekend was being able to watch two incredible people compete for the new title. It was nail biting to watch two people have the same message and drive but from two different angles. There was no clear winner and I know I wasn’t the only one watching on the edge of my seat wondering who was going to win. But the judges and producers made an unprecedented decision to award the title to both contestants. Troy and Jay, I am so excited and proud of you both! Congratulations again you two, I look forward to watching you both over this next year.
Almost right after SC Pride in Leather I took off to head up North for the next few weeks for work. I’m in an around the Mid-Atlantic area for most of the next several months through Christmas. While I miss being in the South and all the amazing events going on at home, I have been more than excited to meet a whole new group of people up here and experience their events.
This past Saturday was my first Philadelphia Leather event at Philadelphia Leather Pride Night. Now for those of you who don’t know me, I grew up in the Philadelphia area, but as soon as I turned legal I ran away to the South for college. So even though I’m from here and always have a soft spot in my heart for the city of brotherly love, I have never made it to any kind of event here.
And just wow. The Philadelphia community is incredible! Everyone there welcomed me with open arms and even let me jump right in and help out with the biggest charity event of the year. Seriously, I am still processing this event, but it is definitely one that I want to go back to every year. The love and sense of community and belonging is exactly what you’d expect, and it didn’t matter that they’d never met me before, I was welcomed and loved unconditionally by everyone who I met there. I am doing a terrible job of describing it, but this event was incredible. I was also fortunate enough to get to spend the evening with Timothy and Lady Catherine, so even though we were all far from home, we still had our family.
It’s surprised me just how supportive really can be. Perhaps I just have this bad habit of not asking for help or merely expecting people to not want to help or be supportive, but at times it has been overwhelming for me at seeing just how many people have offered up support for me after what feels like only knowing them for a short time. It’s humbling, honestly. But it’s taught me that Leather is really where the heart is since home is where the heart is.
As for goals for this year? Right now I want to keep spreading my wings and making all these amazing connections. I really enjoy volunteering at events and helping out, it’s one of those ways where I instantly know that I’ve done something. Maybe I’m just a volunteer-slut. I also am excited about teaching more this year and have all ready been asked by several groups to come and teach, in addition to reaching out past my home area and my comfort zone. As soon as I know dates and final details, you’ll know too!
In the end, I’m excited for the time I get to spend representing SouthEast LeatherFest over the next several months. I’m excited for all the new opportunities I have, to make new connections, and to further grow as a person myself.
January 2017 Column
It's hard to believe that it's a new year all ready and just about half way through my title year.
So where have I been? Man, I've been everywhere it seems. I spent most of the past few months up in the north east for work, but I was able to attend several events while I was there.
I pulled double duty first, working at New York Comic Con during the day and then at night I was making it out to the first Northeast Puppy and Handler Contest. This was my first time going to an event where I knew no one in attendance. I learned about the event from Erick, International Mr Bootblack 2016, and we've talked online a bit, but I didn't have any one who was part of my community with me. NYC Puppies and Handler were so welcoming to this southern girl! They immediately made me feel welcomed and like I was home even though they'd never met me before. It was wonderful to watch Damien become the first Northeast Handler and Vidhra the first Northeast Puppy. NYC-PAH did such a great job with this contest for their first year. Little did I know that this was going to be such a gateway moment for me into the world of puppies and handlers.
The following weekend I was just going to go to the meet and greet for the Mid-Atlantic Puppy and Handler Contest. I grabbed Damien at the bus stop in Philadelphia and we headed down to Pup Indigo’s, Mid-Atlantic Drummer Boy 2016, and I ended up spending the entire weekend at the contest. It was such an amazing weekend and I got to spend more time around puppies and attended my first puppy mosh in addition to being able to help out with Puppymon Go, a puppy obstacle course designed by Indigo. I never expected to find myself in the role of being a handler, but the sheer fun and joy of it softened the shock of discovering something new about myself. Long story short, puppies make me happy and I am so excited to explore this new part of myself. Saturday night, Mika aka Pup Ruckus, was named the new Mid-Atlantic Puppy. He is such a sweet and wonderful person, I know he'll do great this year with the title.
There doesn't seem to be any rest for the wicked, and at the last minute I decided to go to my third event in a row and attend New Jersey Leather Weekend, home of the New Jersey Leather Contest. Nikki, Ms New Jersey Leather 2014, was a wonderful host and it was so great to see her again after meeting her at NEPAH Contest two weeks prior. I finally got to meet people who I'd only interacted with online in addition to seeing people I hadn't seen since Philadelphia Leather Pride Night. I even got to spend the weekend with the amazing Timothy again. Seriously, a girl could not ask for a more supportive and caring sash husband. The weekend was amazing, with various classes and great social moments, it was like this huge reunion of puppies, Leathermen, Leatherwomen, and everyone inbetween. You can tell that the New Jersey Leather community is a close one, family is definitely a value that they hold dear. Saturday night the contest culminated with Richard and Velvet Storm being named the new Mr and Ms New Jersey Leather.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time up North. It allowed me to spread my wings in a way and further explore what Leather means to me on a personal level while getting to experience a different Leather culture than the one I’ve grown up in. There really is no one and only way to do what we do. We are all a tribe of sorts and within the larger picture, each region has its own values and traditions that it seems to place in different orders than the other areas. It’s exciting, being able to see values of my own reflected in someone else despite us coming from two different backgrounds and regions. I really do look forward to traveling to new areas that I’ve never been to before and, hopefully, getting involved with the Leather community there. It sounds sappy, I know, but this title has given me a chance to explore this world of ours more, and I feel a bit like Belle when she first steps into the Beast’s library, wide eyed and excited.
I want to keep growing, learning, teaching, and experiencing over this next year. Even after I step down I want to keep doing whatever it is that I can do to help others learn, grow, and experience. Soon I’ll be turning 28, and I never thought I would be exactly where I am today. Despite all the reasons that we have to be afraid in the next year or more, I’m excited about all the good things that are still to come and being able to take more steps on my journey.
A big thank you to Indigo, Nikki, and Amanda, Florida Community Bootblack 2016. Thank you and your houses for housing me and taking care of me when I’ve stayed with you. You all are truly amazing people and I’m so glad that our paths crossed and that I have had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with all of you.
March 2017 Column
I know I’ve said this a lot, but I can hardly believe that I have sixteen weeks left in being the Ms SouthEast LeatherFest. I really don’t know where the time has gone.
So where have I been since we left off?
In January I celebrated my 28th birthday, and rather than stay at home where there was a looming threat of snow, I boogied on down to Florida for Kinky Camp Out in Palm City. It was amazing event, very small and intimate, on one of the most beautiful camp grounds I have ever seen. I got to see a lot of people who I hadn’t seen since SELF, and it was really great to be able to spend some one on one time and be able to get to know people better than I could while competing. It was so great to spend time with Amanda, Florida Community Bootblack 2016, even as we sat huddled around camp fires in the cold and then listened to the rain and thunder in our tents. I wouldn’t trade that weekend for the world because I also got to educate, and hopefully light a spark in, people about Leather and what it means to me. I got to talk to people about bootblacking and what exactly a contest was, and they had never heard of Leather before or had very little knowledge of it. Those moments are still with me and I hope I never forget them. A big thank you to Daddy Joe and Ember for letting me share your tent with you and helping me make these memories!
The following weekend I was honored to present my intro to polyamory class in Spartanburg, South Carolina with Piedmont Area Kinksters. The class went over really well and I did my best to cover topics that I wish someone had talked to me about when I first started practicing ethical non-monogamy. From types of relationships, to communication, to problem solving scenarios from questions asked by the class, it really was a great night and I am so glad that they invited me to teach. Thank you, Carlton!
The first weekend in February I got to pop back into The Woodshed in Charlotte, NC to see the ever wonderful Charlotte Tradesmen. It was a quiet night, my first time back to a bar night since August. I am so fortunate to have such an amazing group of people in one place, and getting to spend some “down” time in my home area was really invigorating.
After that I put a few hundred more miles on my car again and drove back up to Philadelphia to attend several events going on for the Mr and Ms Philadelphia Leather Contest. Friday night I attended Clutch/the send off party for Rudy and Alaina, Mr and Ms Philadelphia Leather 2016 respectively. To say that I got to spend time with old friends and new is an understatement as so many of my new connections from the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast area were there, it was like coming home for me now as opposed to a few months ago when I first came to the area knowing almost no one. That Saturday I spent the day at the Puppy and Handler Social that was hosted by Northeast Pup and Handler 2017, Vidhra and Sir Damien, and Mid-Atlantic Puppy 2017, Rukus. There was such a great turn out for that social! I really have learned to value the time I get in such intimate settings with people. Often times I feel like I miss the chance to really have deep, meaningful connections and conversations, so getting to be at an event where I get to have those moments has become one of my favorite things. That night we were back at The Bike Stop for the contest. A big congratulations again to Nick and Heather on becoming Mr and Ms Philadelphia Leather 2017! I stuck around afterwards for a bit to meet people who’d I’d only connected online previously before. Alaina was gracious enough to open her home to a few of us that night, and the discussions and conversations over the best pho delivery are some I will cherish forever. Thank you for allowing that to happen, Alaina!
My trip north didn’t last long, I left to go to DC to work, then I hopped over immediately to Chattanooga for work again, though this time I got to reunite with my extended sash family, Autumn. While I was at Connooga for work, Autumn and I found out that the con was having a charity auction and we put together a basket for them. I am proud to say that ours was one of the most successful and brought in a sizable donation for the con! Not only that, but I was also asked to not only sit on, but lead an advanced BDSM panel Saturday night at con. I am still incredibly floored and honored at being asked to do so. The discussion that my three other panelists and I had was incredibly informative and productive, all of us trying to make sure that we covered the things that we wished we had heard sooner in the lifestyle rather than having to learn it the hard way. Advanced BDSM is such a wide topic, but I feel like we all did a great job that night.
And that leads us to March. Phew. Every time I wonder what have I done, I write one of these blogs and I realize that I have been a lot of places in a short amount of time. I have taught classes, welcomed new titleholders, and yet I’m still not done yet.
This first weekend of March I’ll be at Bluegrass Leather Pride in Louisville, Kentucky. I am so excited to be attending and glad that I could work it into my schedule.
I also just launched a fundraiser for Bootblack Nona. If you haven’t heard of her before, she is the first bootblack titleholder for South Africa. She was given her first kit in 2014 and since then has been learning the art and skill of being a bootblack via Skype with her mentor. That level of determination is admirable. In December of 2016, she competed and won the title of SA Bootblack 2017. She’s going to represent her title at International Ms Bootblack in San Jose, California this year, but unfortunately her club and travel fund cannot cover the expense of traveling across the globe to represent. So in an effort to help, I designed a t-shirt inspired by the musical Hamilton, a show that has made it’s own mark in history, much like Nona has. The campaign will be running until March 23rd, and you can find it here. (https://teespring.com/sa-bootblack-2017-imsbb-fund#pid=2&cid=2397&sid=front)
I don’t think I can ever say it enough, but thank you to all of those who have helped me. Thank you for being supportive of me, thank you for opening your homes to me, thank you for the smiles, hugs, and love. I don’t know what I would be without you, but I am better because of you.
Until next time!
June 2017 Column
Hello again everyone!
One of these days I swear I will learn what it means to take a break, although I partially did this month.
I had an amazing family vacation for ten days in Florida, we split our time between Disneyworld (my first time going!) and Star Wars Celebration. It was a bit surreal, Disney being overwhelming in all of its magic and then attending a convention that I wasn’t working at. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
I had a very quick turn around, leaving two days after returning from my vacation to go to International Ms Leather out in San Jose, California. It by far has been my favorite event this year that I’ve attended. The energy there was so different than any other Leather event I’ve attended, but in a good, calm, “Welcome home,” way. I volunteered with registration all weekend and got to meet so many amazing individuals from around the country. Even with dealing with two personal tragedies that weekend, I was welcomed, accepted, and very much supported. The contest itself was incredible to watch and I have so much respect for everyone who competed. Congratulations to Girl Complex and Elisa on your wins!
After IMsL I came back and my next event was right in my backyard, the Tradesmen’s annual run, Trademark! It was so good to reconnect with my local community and see what the North Carolina Leather Contest has grown to under the ownership of the Tradesmen. They had a record breaking number of contestants this year and everyone had a unique perspective to bring due to their various backgrounds. It was definitely hard to say that anyone stood out over the other as they all did really amazing. In the end, a big congratulations goes to Lady Z for becoming the new Ms NCLC 2017!
Did I mention that I don’t know what a break is? Because I really don’t. After Trademark I hopped in my car and drove back up to Philadelphia in time for the Philadelphia Fetish and Bootblack Contest. The Philadelphia Fetish title is a really unique title as it does not require contestants to identify as Leather and is open to everyone. I was asked at the last minute to be their stage manager for the contest and I happily stepped up to fill the role. They had one contestant for each title, but the entire weekend was filled with various events. From a traditional meet and greet, to amazing classes, to contest night, to victory brunch, the producers really put together a well paced event. Zero, Philadelphia Fetish 2017, and Cherry Bomb, Philadelphia Bootblack 2017, deserve a big congratulations on an excellent run! A group of us actually then carpooled that Sunday from the victory brunch up to New Jersey to visit Velvet Storm and her fundraising carnival for the Leather Heart Foundation. They had various stations set up where you could try out different types of play and kink, as well a silent auction and a raffle. Thank you to Velvet for inviting us and congratulations on a successful fundraiser!
Aside from work, that’s what I’ve been up to this spring. I can’t wait to get back on the road and see everyone!
October 2017 Column
Hello once again everyone! Phew, I have a lot to recap of what happened in these past few months.
Unfortunately due to both the last minute date change and then a personal crisis, I was unable to attend SELF this year. I did send a video in so that I could at least be somewhat present, but it was not in the cards this year to attend. My Leather family also brought along a stuffed leopard to act as a mini-me for the weekend and I loved getting all the pictures of people with her that weekend!
I had some “downtime” between SELF and my next event, taking the time to work and to rest, but I was more than ready to go when I got to attend International Pup and Handler Weekend! This was its first year being its own event, and both International Puppy Contest and International Pup and Trainer came together. Both contests ran side by side with plenty of timing so that no one had to miss any part of either. While similar, they are just different enough, aside from IPC not having a Trainer/Handler title. IPTC runs more like a traditional dog show and contestants can either enter as a pair or individually. All contestants are judged separately regardless of how they choose to compete and IPTC features a show ring portion of the contest, much like a traditional dog show. IPC runs similarly to a Leather Contest, with a fantasy, a pop question, a speech, and an interview. All in all there were three winners at the end of the weekend. I was lucky enough to be apart of their very first bootblack team. I worked alongside five other amazing individuals over the weekend taking care of boots, pup hoods, and even giving some basic bootblacking lessons. I also taught my class on polyamory and it was incredibly well received. IPAHW is another even that will be going on my, “must attend” list for future years. A big congratulations to IPC Pup Dane, International Trainer Caressa, and International Puppy Dodger!
Speaking of Caressa, we hit it off immediately and shortly after IPAHW started up a group called Dames and Dams. It’s a group for female-identified pup and handlers and currently the only one of its kind in the pup community. We also are welcoming of other non-binary identities and other pet players as we know there’s currently no space specifically for them. We hope to continue to grow the group more and are very excited at how well received it’s been!
After IPAHW I spent some time in the southeast, this time going to Mr Kentucky Leather! During the day the Titans of the Midwest hosted Kink U, an educational series that hosts presenters from all over to teach on various different educational topics. The series wrapped up with an amazing panel about kink and race presented by ONYX. The contest itself went by quickly, and a big congratulations going out to James on becoming Mr Kentucky Leather 2017!
Continuing my tour through the Southeast, I headed on down to Florida to work on another Bootblack team, this time for Florida Power Exchange. It was a smaller event, and with no contest this year, I was able to spend some time going to classes as well as getting to interact with others both in and out of stand. We had a great information share going on between all the bootblacks, it’s all ways fascinating to me to hear how others learned and what techniques they used. Bootblacking skills are a bit like family heirlooms, you can trace them back through generations. I enjoyed the laid back feel to the event that seems to be a theme with all Florida events. It’s definitely nice to throw on some leather sandals and kick back whenever I venture down to the sunshine state.
After a short break to return to work, I had the privilege of judging for the second South Carolina Pride in Leather. As some of you may recall, I attended their first event last year. This year was even better than before, and the 2016 and 2017 SELF families were in almost perfect attendance. I got to host a cocktail party after the contest with sash siblings IceDog, his ravyn, and Coco, and everyone who attended enjoyed our late night, adult milk and cookies. Judging is something I never take lightly and it’s never easy, particularly with only one contestant, but I have to congratulate Cara for running alone and winning SC Leather Ambadassdor 2017! I know how scary it is to run against yourself, and I am so proud of her for doing so.
That was the end of my Southeast events for this time, and I packed up my car and bootblack kit and headed up to Great Lakes Leather Alliance. I’d heard so much about GLLA from everyone since I won my first title back in 2011. Did you know that they have eight different title tracks? They had someone competing for every title this year and it was definitely an amazing contest. It was also the largest event that I’ve ever bootblacked at and I got to work alongside amazing bootblacks, from Washington, to California, and even with Friday, SouthEast Booblack 2016. The bootblack lab was an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to go to another one as it was such a unique opportunity to skill swap with bootblacks who I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten to talk to. I’ll be working on my spitshine technique with the help I picked up there. I also got to visit the Carter/Johnson Leather Library again for the first time since 2011, and as ever it was an amazing experience with new exhibits every time. With all the classes, socials, and fantastic parties, GLLA is certainly an incredible event! A big congratulations to all the 2018 GLLA winners!
That’s it for now. I have a few more events left for this year before I take a hiatus for working through the holidays. See everyone soon!
January 2018 Column
Hello everyone! This last quarter of 2017 going into 2018 wasn’t nearly as travel filled as previous months, mostly due to working through the holidays. But the events I was able to go to were phenomenal!
I worked my butt off after GLLA, all before embarking on a roadtrip all the way out to Des Moines, Iowa for Iowa Leather Weekend! I was asked to be on their bootblacking team and I am so glad that I accepted! If you get the chance, I cannot recommend taking the opportunity to head out there! The weekend was filled with Kink U Classes presented by the ever amazing Titans of the Midwest, amazing socials hosted across several incredible locations, and one heck of a contest! There is a growing interest in bootblacking in Iowa, and I am so honored that I got to be apart of helping to nurture that interest. Thank you so much to Iowa Leather Weekend for all that you did for us bootblacks! And of course a big congratulations to your new 2018 Iowa title family!
Immediately after Iowa I hit the road and drove all the way back to High Point, North Carolina for Leather History Preservation Weekend. Once again I was bootblacking, but I was also helping out a vendor for the weekend. If you’ve never been, LHPW is a unique event that features several sessions of Leather people sharing their story of their Leather journey. All the sessions are recorded and document so that we might never lose a chunk of our history like we have in years past. It’s a small but intimate event, and it was definitely a great chance to relax around friends and family while soaking up some history.
And then I started the holiday crunch with work. I’m sure you can imagine what it’s like being in holiday retail, so I’ll spare you the details.
However, it is with great pleasure that I am happy to inform you all that I will be running for International Ms Leather this April in San Jose. I hope to represent the southern Leather that I know and love to the best of my ability and all of you will be in my heart, whether you’re able to attend or not.
That’s it for now, I hope you all had an amazing holiday season and that your new year is off to a great start!
March 2018 Column
Hey again, everyone!
I wish I had a more in-depth column to write for you, as I know multiple people who have confessed that they live vicariously through my wayward life. But things have been pretty simple since January.
I’ve spent most of my weekends working, because competing at IMsL isn’t going to pay for itself, but I did take one weekend off to head over to Louisville for this year’s Bluegrass Leather Pride!
There was no contest this year at BLP, but there were still amazing classes and the ever-famous brunch. Overall, it was a great weekend to relax and reconnect with my friends and extended community. Ray, Steve, Jami, and Alice, it’s been great to watch you all over this past year and I’m so glad that I’ve met all of you. Special thanks to Ray and Emmet for sharing your home with me during that weekend.
Aside from that I’ve been focused on getting everything ready to go for International Ms Leather, from basket donations, hanging posters, and various other contestant tasks, it’s definitely been a whirlwind. Make sure that you’re following everything related to IMsL by following the tags #teamtig and #roadtoimslbb2018!
That’s it for now, I’ll see you all on the flipside after April!
6/17/17 ABizzy is holding her title of SouthEast Person of Leather for a second year! She originally hails from Hattiesburg, MS, though these days she and her poly family call Baton Rouge, LA home. She spends her days wrangling little people and their parents at her mundane service industry job, while the rest of the time, ABizzy devotes her life to her family and her leather life. She was introduced to BDSM and the leather life seven years ago when she first moved to the Baton Rouge area. That started a journey that has included participation in groups across Louisiana and Mississippi. SELF has been a big part of her leather path as well. She attended her first SELF in 2013, and received her first gifted leather from River, 2013’s SELF Boy, as he stepped down from his title in 2014. ABizzy is the co-founder and Head Little in Charge of Red Stick TNG. She and her co-leaders are dedicated to education; to that end, they plan and host regular, bi-monthly socials and munches, many with an educational topic and often with a guest speaker to bring new information to the TNG group. She and her co-leaders work closely with the leader of Baton Rouge’s local dungeon RSVP to bring TNG-hosted events to the RSVP community, furthering not only TNG’s educational focus, but helping RSVP achieve their own educational goals as well. These events have fostered a solid relationship between the TNG membership and RSVP, helping both groups grow and thrive. ABizzy recently accepted a position as treasurer on the board of the new Baton Rouge Chapter of Little Scouts. And in February, she was honored to be asked to serve as Tally master at the recent resurrection of the Mr. Houston Leather contest. ABizzy is a leathergirl, babygirl, bootblack, mentor, teacher, crochet enthusiast, dog lover and rescuer, extreme couponer and Disney addict all rolled up in one adorable, dynamic package.
UPDATE: 2/3/18 ABizzy, your SE Person of Leather 2016-2017 competed for and won International Person of Leather at Sin in the City in Las Vegas, NV. "Hello my Family! I am beyond excited to be your new International Person of Leather."
Calendar of Events
Oct 2016 Column
Wow, it seems like just yesterday that I was standing on stage, turning bright red as Darryl Flick asked my oh-so-surprising POP question. My experience running for SouthEast Person of Leather is one that I would never change. Starting with the moment I turned in the application until the time I left the hotel, the entire experience just seems like a whirlwind. I never expected how many amazing people I would get to meet and how many interesting things that I learned from my new friends. I even learned that Tiger Balm can eat through a condom!
I think the most important thing I learned, and what stuck with me the most during my title run, is that SELF is family. No matter what I needed someone was there to help – even if it was just to listen to my speech for the 100th time – and for this I am forever grateful. You guys are such an amazing group of people I don’t even know where to begin. I would like to thank my chosen family for all their love and support. I would not have EVER been able to accomplish this goal without their help. I would like to thank my awesome friends for being silly with me in my fantasy. I would like to thank the_boyy for tolerating all of my neurotic planning and for listening to my speech and introduction for 9 hours on the car ride to Atlanta. I would like to thank my home club/community RSVP and RedStickTNG. You have all been so supportive, encouraging and generous even when we had so much turmoil going on here. I would like to thank everyone who donated to my auction baskets, you guys are seriously creative, amazing people. I would like to thank everyone that took the time to speak with me about my platform of bridging the generational gap in our community through education. I learned so much from each and every one of you. I would like to thank everyone who ran for titles alongside me. Tori, Tig, cissycat, Master Bella and slave rooks, you guys are an amazing group of people and I consider myself lucky to be part of a family with you. I was so surprised how well we all clicked together and loved that we all decided to get matching vests! Last but not least I would like to thank everyone who makes SELF what it is: a fine oiled machine. Everyone from Lady Catherine to the volunteers checking badges at every curtain. You make this event such an awesome thing to be a part of.
I was so excited to bring all of the bags of love donated by our SELF community for RSVP home to Baton Rouge. Our community has been so blessed by all of your donations and your generosity inspired an outpouring of generosity from other communities as well. My family was honored to host Mr. Southcoast Olympus Leather, Tea, when he came to Baton Rouge to deliver the donations from his community in Jacksonville. Thanks to your generous help we were able to get a majority of the repairs done to our facility and have a grand reopening scheduled for October 15th. We are looking forward to our annual fundraising party for Halloween as well.
I am still planning all of the events that I will be attending this year as there are so many that I wish to participate in. I am a little overwhelmed with all of options for great events so if anyone has a favorite event they would like to recommend please feel free to reach out to me on social media. I am looking forward to attending as many events as possible so I can start building a network of people who are as passionate as I am about education and making our community as strong as it can be.
I am so very grateful to be your Southeast Person of Leather and I look forward to representing this title the best way I know how. I am always open to suggestions and comments so please feel free to reach out to me anytime.
January 2017 Column
Happy New Years to all of my SELF family far and wide! I hope that 2017 brings you many blessings, lots of new things to learn, lots of new things to see, and mosst of all... lots of fun kinky/leather things to experience. I hope everyone's New Year is starting off well and I just wanted to give you all a brief update on what has been happening with your SouthEast Person of Leather.
On October 15th my title mom, Autumn, came to visit. Little did I know that it was for a congratulations party that my home club of RSVP had panned to align with their grand re-opening. That's right, RSVP is reopened and we are hoping that a lot of you come to visit! The bags of hope that you guys donated as well as the gift cards helped to touch so many people in my community's lives, and for this I am forever grateful. I know I mentioned this before but we are still talking about how great our SELF family is.
Also in October I got to help with our annual auction on Halloween It was a super fun night and who doesn't love to see all the big letters grin and little letters cower as bigs went higher on wonderfully wicked things. This was a chance for a lot of people to rebuild their toy bags! It was a special weekend for everyone, but even more so for me because Miss Bettie came to visit and even dressed up as Glenda the Good Witch in my family's Wizard of Oz themed group costume. We even won the group costume contest!
One of my most important holiday events is the annual Orphan's Thanksgiving that my family hosts. This is an event that we have done for the past 6 years and it just continues to get better. My Daddy opens his business and we host a private event for all of the members of our community and their families that might not have anywhere to go on Thanksgiving. We have a huge pot luck spread and everyone sits around, eats, and visits with our chosen families. This is something that we look forward to every year and if you are ever in Baton Rouge during Thanksgiving swing on by.
The rest of 2016 was a whirlwind and as of this week I have completed my application, booked my flights, booked my hotel room and started prepping or the International Person of Leather contest. This will be held at Sin in the City in Las Vegas on February 3rd-5th. This is my first trip to Las Vegas and I am super excited to be going for such an awesome event. I am very grateful that my "leather grandmother," and a member of the SELF family, Miss Solitaire, along with members of my family will be accompanying me to IPoL. I am looking forward to making my SELF family proud of me as I compete to bring home the International title to the SouthEast.
I would still love to hear about any events that your home clubs are hosting and would love to come visit as many of these clubs as possible. Again, please feel free to reach out to me on social media and let me know!
October 2017 Column
Hello my family. I hope all has been well. I am excited to tell you about all of the amazing things that I have been up to since June. First off I would just like to thank you all again for allowing me the chance to serve as your SouthEast Person of Leather for a second year. I would not be able to accomplish this without the help of all of you amazingly, awesome people that I get to call family.
This year has already been a busy one for me. Since I retained in June I have been traveling non-stop be it for my vanilla job or community related. The beautiful thing about traveling for work is that it has given me the opportunity to attend meet up, munches, and just one on one coffees with people from all over the states. I started my new year by heading out to work in Columbus, GA. I was fortunate that this allowed me the chance to attend the Women of Drummer meet up that was happening in the Atlanta area. It was great experience and my first time in a women’s only space. I loved getting to feel the energy that was running through the atmosphere there. I even got to use this work trip to have an impromptu brunch with members of my SELF family. Around this same time a t-shirt I designed for my company to support Autism Awareness went nationwide. I was over the moon excited to see this happen, because it is something that I am passionate about.
After returning from GA, I was able to visit Hattiesburg and Gulfport, MS as well as Slidell, LA. I was able to spend time with people from all of these cities and even push for them to attend our wonderful conference next year. It was great just to be back in the area and visit with the people that helped me when I first found this awesome community.
In early August I was able to attend my first Rocky Mountain Rebellion, which hosts the Rocky Mountain Person of Leather contest. This was a fabulous event. I was able to meet so many new face, and visit with all of my west coast family. Amber K, the 2016 Rocky Mountain Person of Leather, did an amazing job in her title year and gave a step aside speech that was nothing less than moving. While at RMR my POL family started a new tradition/rule. If one or more POL is at an event they must have a “family” dinner. I think this is such a fabulous idea and can’t wait to continue this tradition. I want to thank both Amber K. and Sir Andrew Love for having me out for this event, giving me a place to stay, and even calling me an Uber for my 6am flight.
After RMR, my job sent me to Kansas City for three weeks. While there I was able to meet lots of people and attend some events hosted by Dungeon IX and AHS. There facility is amazing and all of the people in the area were so welcoming and willing to help with anything I needed. I was able to contribute to one of their annual auctions and help raise money for their clubs. I am hoping to head back that way soon and visit their space again.
Mostly recently I was asked to attend Behind Closed Doors in Tuscon, AZ. BCD and Master Patrica hold the SouthWest Person of Leather contest. I had to chance to serve as judges girl, which was a great experience. I want to congratulate Sir Jesse on his new title as Southwest person of Leather 2018 as well as welcome him to our POL family. I would also like the thank Master Donna for the two years she served as SouthWest POL.
Well that has been my journey for the past few months. As always if any of you would like to see my smiling, happy face at your events please let me know. I would love to spend time with each and everyone of you.
January 2018 Column
June 2018 Column
Master IceDog and slave ravyn are honored to have been awarded the title of 2017 SouthEast Master and slave.
Master IceDog has always supported those exploring and learning new things as a mentor and through friendships. Through His participation and leadership in the local lifestyle community, Master IceDog's skills have been enhanced through ever increasing roles in the various groups in which He has been involved. Educating those interested in learning more has become a passion for Him. Giving back to the community is high on Master IceDog’s priority list. Educating those who come after us is vital for a strong community, and Master IceDog is proud to share in that responsibility.
slave ravyn has spent much of the last two decades teaching and guiding others. Many of the topics on which she presents and coaches include relationship building, effective communication, stress reduction, self-regulation, finding balance, and brain development. Through these learning and teaching opportunities, slave ravyn has empowered many to grow on their personal and professional journeys. Through her Master’s support and encouragement, she has begun to share her knowledge with those in the lifestyle.
Calendar of Events
Recurring monthly events:
MAsT: Raleigh - 3rd Sunday
MORDOR/smart - 2nd Wednesday
13, Everett Leather Social - slave ravyn
15, OTK (Over Thirty Kinksters - presenting)
22, TLC (Triangle Leather Club) Leather Run
27-30, SEAL (SouthEastern Alliance of Leather) Tally Master and slave
24-27, FPE (Florida Power Exchange) - Master IceDog
25, Round table discussion on Mentoring led by Master Roy & Alphaboy Jeff - slave ravyn
8/31-9/4, Master slave Conference
8-9, South Carolina Pride in Leather
16, Q&A Before Play with Master IceDog, slave ravyn, and Lady Zara
23, Wingnut Stables Fall slave Hunt
7, TMG (Triangle Munch Group) Fashion Show
20-21, Leather History Preservation Weekend
4, Leather Formal Coursed Dinner
11-12, Coastal Carolina Fetish Fair (presenting)
2, TMG Holiday Fair
15, MAsT Midlothian December Meeting (presenting)
6, TMG First Saturday Munch (presenting)
26, Spanking Play Party (presenting)
2-4, Sin in the City, Las Vegas, NV - Master IceDog
25, MAsT: Jacksonville NC (presenting)
4, Charlotte Peer Group (presenting)
9-11, South Plains Leather Fest - International Master/slave Contest
17, Wingnut Stables (presenting)
25, YKW (presenting)
5-8, Master slave Reflections
20-22, M/s Gathering (presenting)
27-30, Submissive Safe Haven (presenting)
29, YKW (presenting)
3-6, North Carolina Leather Contest
11-14, Power Exchange Summit - Master IceDog
17-20, Frolicon (presenting)
14-17, SELF 23
20-22, Show Me Leather (presenting)
June 2017 Column
We have not even been home for 24 hours, and it is beginning to sink in. my Master and i are now a part of Leather history. It is an awesome and amazing responsibility that holds a special place in our hearts. The gravity of the decision that has been made by a wonderful group of judges, staff and board members of SELF, and all of those who were in attendance is one that we respect and appreciate. Being in a position to help model and carry-on what has been such an important part of our lives, and our community is something that we do not take lightly. Hearing the words of Sir Guy DeBrownsville and Angel Propps was powerful and will help guide us in our own personal growth.
My Master and i will now take all that we have learned on our journey thus far, as well as all that we will continue to learn as our adventure continues. All of the different opinions, and stories, and perspectives we will hear will become a piece of us. We will share this knowledge with anyone who is willing to listen. At SELF 22, we were able to make many new friends, and meet many new people, reconnect with some dear friends, and continue learning. Our title year has now begun, and we are excited to build many new connections and strengthen those that have been made in order to do our part in our community, and in carrying on what has come before us.
my Master and i have been serving our community through our involvement in local groups. These connections are constantly being strengthened, and will continue to be through the future. Our local community is near and dear to us. Now, as title holders, our goal is to extend our reach. How far can we go to share our message, and our knowledge? The possibilities are limitless. And, helping others to strengthen their connection while building our new ones is very empowering for everyone.
All of this is only possible because of Lady Catherine's encouragement, the amazing staff, volunteers, and board members of SELF, and a fabulous panel of judges including Sir David Labriola, Darcy, Tina, Boypup Max, and GearDog. It was truly an honor to meet each and every one of you, and all of those who were at SELF 22.
Master IceDog and slave ravyn
2017 SouthEast Master/slave
Oct 2017 Column
It seems as if SELF was only a few weeks ago. In fact, that amazing and life changing experience was held THREE MONTHS AGO. So much has happened since the day that we arrived in Atlanta. So many new connections have been made. So much learning, and sharing about ourselves, and others. my Master and i have said to each other over and over again that we cannot do all the things. Oh, how we want to, though. We want to share what we know, have learned, and are learning with anyone who will listen… to meet and connect with folks from all over, especially those we might not have had the chance to meet before. We want to encourage those who are unaware about Leather history to ask questions, do some research, learn from where it is that this piece of our community comes. As we meet new people who are not aware of the other pieces of the greater community, my Master and i seize the opportunity to expand their horizons, and share that their piece of the puzzle is only a piece. It is when we are all together, united, connected, accepting of each other - similarities and differences - that our community is whole.
One of the tidbits of advice that was shared with us even before we arrived at SELF to run for the title was to be sure to focus on each other. Remember what is important to my Master. And for my Master to remember what is important to His slave. Throughout every adventure and experience, we are in it together. We have had many opportunities to ensure that we put this into practice. The first time was when i travelled across the country for work to Seattle. Without my Master. This was not the first time i had travelled without Him. However, this was the first time, i was traveling as the 2017 SouthEast slave without my Master. Had there only been vanilla happenings in Seattle, this would have been no different than in the past. However, this time, i was going to attend my first Leather social. And, without my Master. We spoke to my gracious host, the 2017 Northwest Master, Kelly Chance, many times before i was to arrive. She was kind, supportive, understanding, and encouraging. She introduced me to her family, and shared some of who she is and who they are with me. She even supported my tourist tendencies taking me to the best places for pictures. Her slave and i connected almost immediately. Our excitement and energy was electric, and we had fun. All too soon, it was back to vanilla before finally returning home to share my experience and excitement with my Master.
Before long, it was His turn to experience being the 2017 SouthEast Master without His slave. Life happens, and responsibilities sometime keep us from participating in the fun things. Florida Power Exchange was one of these times. Wonderful friends from our community took Him down to Tampa with them. While still fulfilling their responsibilities, they also kept an eye out to ensure my Master’s needs were met (to some degree) - and His water bottle was full. Through these adventures, we were each able to witness, and, to some degree, experience what other Master/slave dynamics are. It helped to reinforce for us that what we have, and what we are doing works for us...well. And, also, that what works for us may very well not work for others. We knew this prior. We have shared this, and taught this very sentiment many times. Now, that concept was solidified. Even more than it had been. And, we appreciated our dynamic that much more.
Probably, one of the most enriching adventures of the past three months was attending the Master slave Conference. When my Master and i were at MsC last year, we knew that we would be back. Every year. The experience of being surrounded by those who really understand who you are, and what drives you to do what you do is unlike anything else. It is powerful, and comforting. It is supportive, and encouraging. It is empowering. This year, my Master and i not only re-experienced all of those feelings, we truly were coming home to a family reunion. Many of our SELF family were there. Possibly, our entire class for the International Master slave contest at South Plains was there. Friends we have not seen since last year's MsC were there. And, we shared many special moments with many special people. Together, we grew, as Master and slave, as well as individuals. We participated in research (yay!!!), and strengthened connections. my Master and i witnessed three other Master slave couples participating in the contest for the Northeast Master and slave titles. Welcome to the class. And, for those who did not receive the title, continue to do what you are doing to strengthen the community. We support you.
Coming home, back to our vanilla life, back to everyday helped us recognize how much we need each other, and our chosen family. After being immersed for so many days in such a powerful atmosphere, i yearned to find it again. i found comfort from my Master… from our House members… from our friends. We are in this together. We keep going… to so many of the things together. my Master and i are growing stronger together, everyday, learning more and more about ourselves as individuals and about us as a couple. We mess up. And we grow from those mess ups. We lead, we guide, we encourage, we teach, and we empower. And at the end of every day, we are there together… planning our next adventure.
January 2018 Column
Crazy. Busy. Months.
October through December is always a busy time of year. With typical family engagements, wrapping up work for the year, and your regular social parties, life is generally a hectic time during this season. A title year is no exception.
Looking over the calendar for this last quarter, I am reminded of just how much my slave and I have done in the last 3 months. I spent much of the Leather History Preservation Weekend without my slave, as she was attending a conference for work. There were many stories from historians talking about their different journeys, their backgrounds, the way things were and how they compare to now. When my slave finally joined me, just in time for the formal dinner, we had the extreme pleasure to hear Lady Catherine’s Keynote discussion on her journey -- as we know a rare occasion.
Ms. North Carolina Leather, Lady Zara, put on a High Protocol Coursed Formal Dinner for our area. We were happy to be able to participate, and support a fellow title holder from down the road. Soon after, we presented at the 3rd annual Coastal Carolina Fetish Fair in Myrtle Beach, SC. Our presentations gave an overview of our dynamic on a daily basis, and gave examples of ways we reconnect with each other in times of struggle, something we felt fitting for an audience with a wide variety of backgrounds and dynamics. We also held a discussion on titles, along with Lady Zara, to discuss what it means to run for a title, and why that is an important piece to our community - to be the representatives for those who are interested to learn, to carry the torch for another year, and hopefully to pass it along to another link in the chain.
Our travels took us north to Virginia, then south to Florida, and Atlanta. Presenting at MAsT: Midlothian gave us the opportunity to share our journey and learn about the journeys of others who are in this type of dynamic. During our winter break, I took my slave on a road trip in the south east, as we had the opportunity to spend some much needed time for each other. But of course we also made it a point to connect with community. We attended Whippersnappers in Atlanta to make ourselves available to the next generation in a different part of the country to talk about us, our journey, SELF, and the community as a whole.
From the events we have attended, and discussions with different community groups (big and small) in many areas, we have seen the need for continued education. Leather history and the Master/slave dynamic are not as widely understood and known as we had believed, which motivates us to get out and share even more. If you have an event or opportunity that you know about and would like us to participate, please let us know. We will do our best to be there. The more we can share and connect, the better.
March 2018 Column
2018. The start of the new year. Also the reminder that more than half a year has passed into our title year. While we could start thinking ‘it’s all downhill from here’, there is still plenty to be done.
We presented our ‘Living it Daily’ class to the Triangle Munch Group’s First Saturday Munch on January 6. TMG is where the first inclination to teach about our M/s dynamic and Leather lifestyle was suggested. It’s part of our history, and part of our journey. It felt like a homecoming, and truly giving back to the community, our local community.
Our patch sister, 2017 SouthEast Bootblack, Coco, posted on the book of faces about her having a spare registration and hotel to Sin in the City in Las Vegas, NV in the first week of February. We looked over the calendar, and next thing you know. I’m headed to Vegas. Being there for our other patch sister, 2016-2017 SouthEast Person of Leather, ABizzy, when she won 2018 International Person of Leather, was super special to me. SELF representing in Vegas!!
Once I was back in town, it was final preparation time for South Plains Leatherfest, as my slave and I were required, and honored, to run in the 2018 International Master/slave Contest.
First let me give a shout out to two very special groups that helped in our preparations: MAsT Jacksonville and the Charlotte Peer Group (affiliated with CAPEX). Both of these groups not only supported us by giving us the time to rehearse our introductions, classes, and speeches, but helped our travel fund by raising donations at their event. This was extremely helpful for us and our responsibilities, both for travel, and for being the best representatives we can be.
On a very special note, part of our class came from a suggestion from a particular slave who was very quiet and still working to let her voice be heard. Her suggestion fit perfectly into our message.
As it turns out, we picked an excellent year to run. It was the 20th anniversary of South Plains. Our 2018 class was and is an amazing group of people, and the support we gave each other during the stressful contest truly made us a family.
Starting with our intro, we made it our own. 18, the numerical value for the Hebrew word Chai, meaning `Life`, as heard in `to Life`, or `L’Chaim`, and finally `L’Chaim, y’all`. The audience loved it. Then, we picked our contestant number. I’m the leader of the dynamic, so I chose to pick it. We were the 4th to go on stage. The two numbers left were #1 and #4. I picked Contestant Pair #1.
I knew regardless of what number we picked, we would do well. But, being the first to go each time adds pressure. For each round of the contest, I will be the first to speak, since I lead the dynamic. But I looked at it differently, as best I could anyway, because I needed to see it in the best light. Our time in the spotlight was very much like jumping right in, feet first. Why not be the first ones to go each round? That helped, mostly, and we will not only live with but embrace the results.
After the first part was over, we went to the cigar area. We brought Shabbat candles with us and performed the lighting ceremony while she said the blessing. Then we met and talked with Master TC, and enjoyed some much needed downtime. We were able to connect with others in a more relaxed environment. Then, sleep. (Yeah, right).
Next up: Interviews. Ohh, the interviews. Stressful? Well, initially, yes. Walking in to answer questions, yes, on the surface, that is threatening, stressful. But, this was a discussion about ourselves and our dynamic, what we do and what works for us. Just trying to keep answers short is the challenge. But overall, it was good, and we felt very comfortable afterwards. We even knew much about the Leather history when asked, because we were able to read up on it in `Our Lives, Our History`. No, we didn’t remember everything, but enough to show it’s in our brains, somewhere.
Next was the presentations. Our presentation on Failing Gracefully felt like we were home, having a conversation. Yes, it was a contest. Yes, it was timed. But it was us doing what we do, and the audience got it. We talked about turning failures into teachable moments. About how to be proactive and letting the negativity become something positive. To tell a better story.
Then, the speeches. Ahh, the speeches. We worked so hard on these, to attempt to give some sort of explanation on a topic in 2 minutes or less. My slave went after me. Hers was a great story. To lead people on the path of surrender in a guided storytelling format about something we love: motorcycles.
But the biggest challenge was my speech. I had it memorized weeks before. I had it memorized hours before. Back stage, I wasn’t feeling it. I couldn’t feel it. The meaning behind the message was lost. Maybe it was being backstage, not able to really practice because of the sound coming from the stage. But I got my head together to lead my slave back out onto the stage. She will follow. Back out into the spotlight.
Again, I’m the one to go first. I started strong. The words were happening. But very quickly, I forgot the structure to my speech. The connecting piece was gone. So I did damage control, to move forward. I said the part about Laura Antoniou, the humor section. I expected laughter. But I expected more. I didn’t hear it. That threw me off more. Then, it happened: I froze. I lost my path. The words stopped. Complete blankness. I lowered my head. Nothing. It felt like the scene in Carrie, right before the bucket of blood poured down on her head.
Then, I looked up, and like instinct, I looked to my right, because I knew my slave would be there. She told me the right word to say to help the course move forward. Vulnerability.
That’s why we are here, right? Vulnerability.
I found it inside to pull through, to recover, to move forward. To continue. To make it through. To finish strong. It was a great recovery.
Initially afterwards however, it was easy to go back to the same negative story: I failed. But I remembered our class from just earlier in the day, how to fail gracefully. After some time back stage, I realized (with the help of my slave of course) that this is what it is to live the dynamic 24/7. To fully trust in the other. To show vulnerability especially when times are tough. To lean on one another to get us through.
While we don’t have feedback yet, what this ‘failure’ showed was our dynamic in full force. No words could compare. Other than having scrapped the whole thing on the fly (like I did for SELF), we think overall the speech recovery might have been a good thing.
Lastly, pop questions. Yes, even after having a breakdown, and letting a fellow Master contestant console me, there was more to do. My question was, which International Master or slave helped you prepare for this contest? My answer was Master Bert Cutler, because he does the work with the Science of BDSM research team. That answer was easy for me. My slave’s question was if she could only go to one more feeder contest, other than your own, which would it be? Her answer, SWLC, because of the connection to spirituality. Perfect answer, I thought.
In the end, final results of the IMsC: The contestants from the NorthEast: Mister Blue and Blue Frost.
Master Jim said on stage that the top three contestant pairs were within 3 points.
The question now is, does it matter?
We didn’t win the contest. But we achieved most of our main goals. We know that during this weekend, we presented ourselves in a way that the SouthEast can be proud. We worked hard to be as prepared as we could be. We taught a short class that turned longer because of the audience questions. Feedback from participants over the weekend was so positive. We were asked to teach a longer version of that class at another Conference, which is amazing because we do what we do for the education of others.
Yes, not being the 2018 IM/s titleholders stings. It hurts. I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t. It probably will for a while. But my main goal was that win or lose, I wanted to walk away from the contest knowing we gave it our all. Also, and most importantly for me and my Mastery of my own emotions, that my self esteem and ego remained in check after losing this one contest.
I am an emotional person. I don’t try to hide it. I’m a better person for it. We aren’t Vulcans -- we are not stronger when we suppress our emotions. Instead, we need our emotions to experience life and all of life’s challenges. Most of my tears (and all of the public ones) were not tears of failure. They were tears from the emotional weekend, mostly because of the showing of support and feeling that we were amongst family, true family.
Master/slave relationships are hard work. Hard work for both of us. But times like these with the willingness to step up for myself and my mastery, for our M/s dynamic, and fit our community, this was to me, and my slave, a shining example of what the benefits are to what it is that we do, and why it is so special.
We have no regrets. We are not done teaching and representing -- check our calendar! We may never be ‘done’. Education and connections are so important, we will continue to do what we can to build up this community that we love so much.
June 2018 Column
These last few months have been intense. Since returning home from South Plains in March, we have been “on the go” all the time. (In fact, SELF22 last year, we have been on the go.) We have traveled near and far to meet new people, and visit with those we already knew. We have taught many classes, and shared many stories. Our lives have been changed even more in so many ways since our last column.
The biggest thing is learning to slow down. Not how much we do, rather, actually how we do it. A minor injury caused a very fast-moving slave to decrease her speed. Considerably. Did that stop us from getting to all of our scheduled engagements? Nope. Did it cause the slave to lose motorcycle riding privileges? Yes, temporarily. Did it cause us to alter our schedule in any way? Nope. Well, sort of, actually. When we were walking anywhere, we did it at a much slower pace. Even when we were teaching, on occasion, we sat down. Does being slower matter in the grand scheme of things?
Our memories of the past year, thinking about what we’ve accomplished, fills our hearts and souls with love and respect for this community. When we look back, we feel more than ever that our journey is far from over. This is reinforced at each event that we attend, during each class that we teach, at each group that we facilitate, and those we simply participate, and at night as we set our goals for the next day. From the mountains in Tennessee with all of the fellowship and reflecting, to the bonding at the submissive safe haven, to the frolicking in Atlanta complete with sharing a Jewish Shabbat and holiday meal, to the escapades in Ohio, to welcoming a new face to represent Leather in NC, and the gatherings away and here at home, each day has added to our adventure.
So, does it really matter if we are moving slower? Other than the fact that our pace will determine how out of breath we are when we arrive? Not really. We continue moving forward. sometimes at a snail’s pace, and sometimes at a cheetah’s. We are excited to see what lies ahead waiting for us when we arrive, whenever we get there.
We have now stepped down from our title year. We held the torch for a year, represented ourselves and our community. We have passed the torch, and the beautiful sashes, to Master Blue and slave sheri. It is truly an amazing feeling to be part of this Leather legacy.
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