Brotherhood. Lots and lots of it.
Here was my prediction, and it came true.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012.
Best FMSD crowd photo yet, and we're just getting started!
Our events are like that.
We got to celebrate our shared history, and the good men around us who have actively participated in that history. Best of all, everybody was on the same wavelength. We had fun, we learned a lot, and I've heard from about forty or so men who told me afterward that they cried during the movie. I suspect that there were more!
Part of the happy crowd.
On June 18, 2011, I spoke to a member of a film crew that was filming the California LeatherSir/Boy/Puppy 2011 contest in San Diego. He told me about the film they had made called Kink Crusaders (a documentary about the International Mr. Leather Contests in Chicago every year), and that they were having a lot of difficulty finding theaters that were willing to show it. I gave him my word that I would make it happen in San Diego.
This was about 25% of the guys who showed up, back in November.
The folks who were NOT in gear declined to be in the picture.
Inviting contestants for the Gear Contest onto the stage
Pleasing the nice, big crowd.
Over the next month and a half, I spoke with many, many people, gathering their ideas and feedback. As time went by, I realized how committed these men were to the success of the event, and my thinking shifted. This was no longer just a plain "movie night"… A gathering of friends who sit, watch, consume popcorn and go home. It had turned into what I call a "Level Three" event:
Beef on the hoof!
This means that is is a "crowdsourced" event, where many people who brainstorm beforehand, share their best efforts in the production, and show up and express support, feel that they have a stake in the event's success. They will do whatever they can to make sure that the event goes extremely well. Having many people actively participating can cause a great big, sloppy mess if there is no over-arching theme, but since the theme of the evening was "celebrating our shared history", everything flowed very well.
The judges confer
More and more local FMSD-sponspored events are shifting into this mode. This tells me that we have a large enough foundation of affectionate, supportive, amiable and well-socialized grownups to make any major event a success. As a result, I'm currently setting up the frameworks for more new, surprising BIG breakthrough events over the next year or so.
Contestants and Judges
Here is an article about Kink Crusaders and FetishMenSanDiego, published a few days before the showing.
As the evening progressed, here is what went on - Thanks to the many men who contributed their ideas, efforts and energy to make this a success!
The men of FilmOut sold raffle tickets, made announcements, and warmed the crowd up as they gathered in the theater. They introduced me, and I took over the mike for a short while.
First, we all wished young Nick a happy 21st birthday - He had just told me that he already has found his first leatherboy!
Then, I made a few announcements, and told the crowd something like this:
This ain't the Grossmont Cinema Sunday matinee - I want you to REACT. This is a shared, two-way form of entertainment like the midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. If you see a hot man strutting on the screen, don't just sit there and think "hmmmm - I believe that I know what I would do with that". Make some fuckin' NOISE! I want this to be the best movie night you've had in your LIFE, so GO FOR IT. Let's make the energy spiral through the roof!
I then introduced Sir Nicholas, the owner of the Eagle. I praised him for the incredibly valuable contribution he has made by buying and reviving the Eagle, which is our only remaining leather bar. Everybody applauded him, and then did it again, when I mentioned that a ticket-stub from that night's movie would be good for any shot of any kind, including a Jackhammer, Cocksucker or Buttery Nipple. Sounds like a party to me!
I then said that this movie shows the history of the International Mr. Leather contest, but we have some of that history right here, among us in the crowd. Our special guests that night were some of the men who have represented San Diego at IML in the past, and maybe some of the men in the theater with us will be on that stage in Chicago some day.
These men have all competed at IML, representing San Diego:
Mark Holmes (he competed in 1984)
Scott Moats (in 1996)
Anthony Rollar (in 2011)
and Kurt Wendelborg (in 2012).
After the movie, I spotted Magnum in the audience, who represented San Diego at IML in 2008. I had him stand up and be acknowledged, and I pointed out that he had been featured in the film quite a bit. The crowd gave him lots of love!
Our Distinguished Panel Of Judges, chosen for their hard work in the community.
I introduced the judges as being our brothers with the very best character, who have proven themselves with their volunteering, ideas and leadership. I then introduced Eli, who took over the microphone as emcee for the very popular Gear Contest, with $875 worth of prizes:
1. Las Vegas Resort - Two-night stay at the Blue Moon Resort - The Hotel for Men in Las Vegas: $450 value!
2. FIT Athletic Club - One-month Guest Pass and one Personal Trainer session: $275 Value!
3. The Crypt - Gift Certificate & Basket: $150 value!
Then, we got to enjoy Kink Crusaders. Here is a synopsis:
Go behind the scenes at the annual International Mr. Leather competition, where men from around the world gather to compete for the title of Mr. Leather. Once a small niche community that was dismissed by critics as a carnival of gay sexual fetishes, leather has gone mainstream, and Kink Crusaders proves why. As it delves into the lives and aspirations of its contestants with humor, tasteful eroticism and pathos, it reveals a group of men for whom spiritual connection, openness and understanding are the true definition of masculinity. This sexy, smart documentary dares to ask - Is there a Kink Crusader in us all?
Michael has the incredible ability to blink as quickly as the flash on the camera - I never got a good shot of him with his eyes open!
After the excellent movie, the movie's director Michael Skiff came up on stage to share some Q&A time with the happy, receptive and interested crowd. His husband Tony told me later how happy he was to have been in the crowd:
I just wanted to send you a personal thank you for everything you did in organizing and facilitating the overwhelming successful screening of "Kink Crusaders" in San Diego on Wednesday. We were absolutely blown away by the phenomenal turnout. But we were even more impressed with the loving kinship and bonding that took place before, during and particularly after the screening. The emotional connection I felt to you and the other guys is too amazing to put into words. It was such a wonderfully familial, affirming atmosphere, I didn't want it to end.
The folks at FilmOut made money on the evening, and everybody showed up exactly in the mood that I had hoped for - Unified, kindly to the new folks (we added eighteen new members that night, many of them under thirty), and really, really brotherly.
The newest guys were ecstatic, and we were also able to attract some of our brothers who have been around a long, long time, and who normally don't go out.
After the movie, we all gathered together for the group photo. It's a really impressive picture in terms of the number of participants, but there is also a very brotherly vibe coming across when you look at it up close. You can't Photoshop happiness into a picture!
Then, we jammed the Eagle for discussion of the movie's many charms, and the evening continued on into the night with roars of happy laughter, hugs and affection. The FilmOut board members who were present told me that this was their first time in a leather bar, AND their first time wearing leather! They all wanted to become new FMSD members, too - The movement is spreading!
Key Words: FMSDFilmNight