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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Social Column 2011-06-22

-=-=-=-=-=- REVIEW OF THIS WEEKEND'S AFTER-CONTEST PARTY

This last weekend featured the California Leather Sir/boy,  Bootblack and Puppy Contest.  I'll talk about the contest itself shortly, but first, I want to talk about the after-party at the Eagle:

I don't think I have ever experienced such intensity at a leather bar in my entire life, and I have been in quite a few of them since 1977 (my first was the One Way in West Hollywood, long gone but greatly missed). I arrived at the Eagle directly after the contest, and there were a few men hanging out, early on a Saturday night. They had NO IDEA what was about to land on them.

More and more people kept packing into the joint, and the newcomers were FIZZING with the endorphins of communal joy. I had a total of four people cry on my shoulder from sheer emotional overload. I probably got hugged by at least fifty others, and everybody kept reaching out and touching each other. I couldn't move two feet without somebody grabbing me and wanting to share their excitement.

By the time the bar had reached maximum capacity, I was emotionally exhausted. I wasn't the only one. The folks who have been most active in local leadership activities were walking four feet off the ground, and barely making coherent sense.  One of the out-of-town visiting dignitaries told me that she had visited nearly every Eagle Bar on earth, and she had only seen this joyful of a turnout at one other Eagle bar in Canada.  None of the others could begin to compare. The joyful roar of the crowd was deafening.

Worldwide, leather bars are disappearing, and they aren't being replaced. Online cruising-sites are largely to blame. Why hang out in a bar on a typical evening when everybody is online, and you can connect with a horny stranger through a well-designed profile page? That seems logical, until you see the bad side of it - We became vaporized as a community, and we lost that sense of interpersonal connectedness that defines us as a Tribe. Many men have never experienced that feeling of belonging and brotherhood, and they don't know what they never had.

Here in San Diego, we have swung back HARD to the other extreme.  We're so damned unified and joyful that we are now the standard for every other city to emulate. Once again, Dave Rhodes (the publisher of The Leather Journal) remarked upon our local community's progress in a conversation with me that night, and it's all good news. Other cities are taking notice, and I can't even begin to imagine where we will be in just one year from now, much less ten years in the future. Things are changing too fast for me to make predictions, but what a ride!

-=-=-=-=-=- THIS WEEKEND'S PHOTOS

Here is a slide-show of some of my images from the Meet and Greet and the contest

-=-=-=-=-=- REVIEW OF THIS WEEKEND'S CONTEST

I'm not going to follow the usual "Titleholder Contest Review" formula.  I am much more interested in talking about what it was like to be there.

- Queen Bee's was a nice, big venue, but they are going to have to hold next year's contest in a MUCH bigger place - Maybe 4th and B in downtown San Diego (capacity 350), which has hosted kinky events in years gone by. Folks were turned away at the door this weekend because there simply wasn't any more room.  This is a nice problem to have!

- Lots and lots of out-of-town visitors were in the crowd, and they got to witness San Diego's renaissance firsthand.

- There were massive numbers of volunteers. Working like maniacs, and swarming like ants. Nothing could distract them from the job at hand.

- Lots of very young people in the mix, onstage and off. For decades, the connection between the generations was lost in the leather community. Looks like those days are over, thank goodness. For instance, the guys who won the California LeatherSir and LeatherBoy titles are both 24 years old, and all three of the Puppy contestants are under thirty. Lots of very young volunteers were on duty, and they sure seemed happy. It appears that our community's future is in good hands!

- The contest was run very, very tightly. It finished in excellent time, unlike so many events that I've attended over the decades. Mike and Chris put their whole hearts and souls into preparing for this event, and then everything snapped into place in a very effective way. 

Bottom line: the goal of this sort of event is to warmly invite the leaders of tomorrow to declare their willingness to work on behalf of the community. The weekend's events accomplished that in a way that brought honor to everyone involved, and to San Diego. Watch for this to happen again in San Diego a year from now!

-=-=-=-=-=- JUDGES AND CONTESTANTS

Judges:
Anthony Rollar  - 2nd Runner-up International Mr. Leather 2011, Mr. San Diego Leather 2010
Lance Holman   - 1st Runner-up International Mr. Leather 2010, Mr. San Francisco Leather 2010
Red Warrior      - International Community Bootblack 2010
Rick Russell        - Mr. Sacramento Leather 2009, Mr. Bolt Leather 2009
boy TC                - So. California Leatherboy 2007
Karen Yew          - Ms. San Diego Leather 2004
Tom Dickerson  - Judge Emeritus California LeatherSIR/boy, Mr. San Diego Leather 2002

Contestants:
Sam Fenix          - California LeatherSIR 2012 from Lancaster, CA
Dino Garcia        - 1st Runner-up California LeatherSIR 2012, Mr. Bullet Leather 2008 & Long Beach Emperor 38

Zachery               - California Leatherboy 2012 from Long Beach, CA

slut bottom Chris  -  California Puppy 2012 from San Diego, CA
Britt                     -  1st Runner-up California Puppy 2012 from San Diego, CA
Zigzag                  -  American Rubber Puppy 2010 from Los Angeles, CA

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