Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Judging IML 35 (May 2013) - What an Honor

This past weekend I had the honor of sitting on a judging panel for International Mr. Leather (IML) 35.  I first got the call offering me a seat on the panel in November of last year, and I was grateful and honored to get that phone call.  At the time I didn’t even know who else I would be sitting on the 9 person panel with.  I didn’t know the rest of the panel until the official press release came out in January, and that’s when I was completely humbled.  I was going to be sitting on this panel with some people in the community that I have looked up to and respected for years.  I knew that the weekend was going to be a tremendous amount of work, but I knew that this was going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity.  One thing that I didn’t have quite a full grasp on was how this experience would make some of my friendships even stronger than they have ever been.

The weekend was a very emotional experience for a couple of reasons.  Firstly I got to share the weekend with two close friends, who both got even closer throughout the weekend.  Rik “Hooker” Newton-Treadway I first met in January 2007 at Mid-Atlantic Leather shortly after SIR Alan and I first got together.  SIR Alan got to share the other side of the IML contest experience in 2009 when they became members of the brotherhood of contestants together.  This time I got to share the experience with Hooker from the other side of the judges table.  We have shared a lot together since we met back in 2007, but this was the most intense for sure.  Sitting on the other side of me was the outgoing IML, Woody Woodruff.  We first met one another about a year and a half ago when he was visiting Atlanta with his partner.  Over the past year and a half Woody and I have gotten to be closer and closer friends.  We now talk almost every single day, and refer to one another as Brothers.  We never realized until this intense weekend that we were both cut from the same cloth (I’m thinking I may have been the twin he tried to absorb in the womb).  I was honored to be able to share this weekend with him as he prepared to step-aside and took part in finding the next member of the Fraternity that is the IML Lineage.

The judges handler team even told us that they were blown away by how quickly all of us gelled together during the weekend.  I look forward to working with all of these individuals again in the very near future. 
The complete list of judges for IML 35 is:
Hardy Haberman
Bryson “Pup Nitro” Hankinson
Uew Langer
Murray Lavigne
Patrick Mulcahey
Brent Seeley
Rik “Hooker” Newton-Treadway 
Lolita Wolf
Woody Woodruff

A huge thanks also goes to the Tally Masters:
George Brown
Danny Tamez

I can’t even put into words how much to thank the Judges Coordinator and handlers:
Billy Lane
John Brook
Peter Fiske
Michael Hernandez
Richard Hubley

There is one thing that I really want to talk about as well.  I want to thank all 51 of the brave men who stepped up and put their personal lives on display for everyone to see as they tried to become IML 35.  Even though only one man can go home with the Title, I can honestly say that all of these men are winners in their own rite.  Each of these men will be going down in history as party of the legacy that is IML, and I hope that each and every one of them is proud.  Even though I only got to spend a few short days with these men, there were many whom I saw great growth in just in that short period of time.  I am proud to have been a part of their experience, and I look forward to being involved in their development in the future as well. 

I know that there are plenty of people out there who do not understand the need for contests, but I can honestly say THIS is the true reason for them, personal growth.  Yes sometimes titleholders become leaders within our community.  Yes sometimes titleholders make great changes that impact us all.  Yes titleholders get to travel and represent different facets of our community and our culture.  However, not all of these are guaranteed.  One thing that is guaranteed is that everyone I have ever known that has entered into a major contest has been a different person by the end of the experience.  That is what contests do, they push us outside of our comfort zone so that we can hone in our personal development and challenge us to grow and break down all barriers that are restricting us from moving forward.

Thank you again to the board of IML to trust me to be one of the 9 judges that picked this year’s winner, Andy Cross from San Francisco.   Thank you to everyone who contributed to this amazing weekend for me, and thank you to my family that supported me through this emotional experience.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Very busy but fun weekend - HUGE Thanks to

This has been a very busy, but a very fun weekend.  I really enjoy the things that I do, why else would I do them right?

Friday night I had the great honor of being welcomed onto the No Safeword Blog's podcast show with Sparky and Daddy Tony.  The show is fairly new, and I will be featured on episode 10 that will release in a few days.  They have a great format including current affairs, funny news stories, and interviews/conversation with community members.  They also have a great way of taking serious topics and make sure that people can have an open dialogue about them.  Their theory about the show is to have conversations about Leather/Kink/SM in ways that you would have with your buddies over cocktails.

We talked about a number of things including why it is so important to respect other people in the community and make sure that they want to stay involved in the community.  Afterall the work that all of us do in the community is all volunteer based, you have to give people reason to want to stay involved, and having fun should be the top of that list.
We also talked about why it means so much to me to be involved with my Leather Club, Panther L/L, and what my club brothers and sisters mean to me.  I am very proud that our club will be celebrating our 25th anniversary here in a little over a month.  I have some club brothers/sisters that are closer to me than some of my blood family, and there is nothing I would do to help them if it is within my power.

Be sure to check out their site at:
Their podcast is so great.  I have actually had to stop listening to it at work because I started bursting out laughing out loud.

I'm very happy about the fact that they have already said that they want to have me on again in the future, and I'm already looking forward to it.

I still find it hard to believe that over the last several years I have gotten as involved in things as I am now.  I used to very much be the wallflower that stood in the back and watched everyone around me have fun.

Then Saturday Night we hosted our quarterly Fetish Night to benefit Southeast Black and Blue, LLC.  We host this party at the Atlanta Eagle every time that there is a 5th Saturday in a month, and this time the theme was Superheros.  We packed the Atlanta Eagle with Superheros and Villains alike ranging from Super Bunny, to Super Cock and Bottom Boy, to Venom, and even Boris Natasha and Rocky showed up!

All in all this was a busy weekend but it was so much fun.  Now its time to get ready for Atlanta Leather Pride thats now less than two weeks away WOOF!

Pup Nitro
International Leatherboy 2011

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Community Building Vs. Community Destruction:

Community Building Vs. Community Destruction:

Trust me I know that our world needs balance to survive.  The poles of a magnet, Summer to Winter, Night to Day, the inevitable Yin to the Yang.  In Fact my very first tattoo includes the Yin and Yang to remind me of just that fact.  However, there is one polar opposite that I have never quite grasped the concept of.  That is the existence of people who spend all of their time and energy into destroying what they claim to love so greatly.

I am very proud of the fact that I have been involved in the Leather & Kink Lifestyle and Community for ten years now.  In Fact I devote a majority of my free time to promoting events within the Community, as well as working to try and harbor our growth within the community. We have a very strong foundation thanks to all of those that have come before us, and I greatly appreciate all of that groundwork that has been done.  I very much respect those that have come before me and spent their lives building the framework of what we have today.  However, it is my opinion that those of us that are here now can’t simply rest on our laurels and accept what we have today.  Our Community of today can be much better and much stronger, and my goal is to help take it one step closer to that place.  I devote countless hours into producing events that give people a safe place to come and explore who they are, teach classes using the “Each One, Teach One” philosophy, and just doing what I can to insure that we have a future.

One thing that has always baffled me is that there are those around us that are counterproductive to this effort.  There are those out there within our community that are doing the very polar opposite of what I am working so hard for.  There are those out there that will spend their time bad mouthing events to keep people from going to them, trash talking Leather establishments to keep them from getting new patronage, and sending vicious e-mails to the very people that work so hard to try and build their community.  I have even received e-mails and Social Media messages before questioning my integrity as well as that of my family and loved ones.  I have even had people go to events and show affiliates of my organization fake e-mails saying that one of the organizations that I am most proud of is going to be shut down, getting kicked out of our home establishment, and that we are no more.  Really? The ironic thing about these e-mails questioning my integrity is that they are always under a fake profile, with no pics or identifiable information to show who the sender is.  Hmmmmm makes you wonder doesn’t it?  Who is really the one with nothing to hide?  The one that is out there busting his hump to make sure that we have a future, or the one who is hiding behind the veil of a screen destroying brick by brick?

It is very frustrating to me to have to dodge these blows, but I’m going to keep doing it. I am a very strong man and I’m going to be the one standing at the end of all this.  I fully believe that Karma is just waiting for the right time to strike, and trust me she is getting plenty of ammunition.  The sad part about the situation though is there are plenty of people not as strong as I am.  It makes me wonder how many people before me have been attacked in this same manner and just thrown their hands up and said “SCREW IT”.  How many people have walked away from this world and decided that they didn’t need the strife?  How much better would we have been if we had those people’s positive energies around us still instead of the venom that is festering around the floor like a pool of toxic waste?

I say that it is time to bring those Light Sources back into our fold.  It is time for us to bring our Brothers and our Sisters back with us and stand together.  Let our Light shine brighter than any darkness that the others can muster, and we will be the ones still standing in the end.  I am a part of this community because I appreciate what it has done for me over the years.  I know that I am a better man because of what I have been able to learn from those that came before me, and I hope that one day someone can say they learned something from me too. 

I’m not going anywhere, I have been trained to have thick armor, and I am the one that is going to be standing when the dust settles.  I’ll be standing right alongside my Family, my Brothers, my Sisters, and my Friends. 

P.S. Don’t forget I’m also a Bull Terrier…. I’m playful and light hearted…. But, if you make the wrong step towards my family then my jaws are going to clamp down on you and won’t release until I hear a SNAP.