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International M/s Couple Handler

Master Joe and slave kim from Melbourne, Australia, competed for the International M/s couple this year up at Southplains Leather Fest. They had asked me to be their “handler.” The problem with this was that I had no idea what was expected or required for this position, nor wise enough to ask anyone. They’d had no competition coaching and I had no handling coaching. That’s not good.

Joe didn’t need us to come up on Thursday, as it was the General Meeting for MAsT International and he, as MAsT’s Australian regional rep and president of MAsT Melbourne, had lots to do. We drove up on Friday and met with them in the late afternoon to schedule a time that evening to listen to their speeches.

There was a LOT of controversy swirling around the Australian Faction at this conference. Back in Melbourne nearly a year before, the VP for MAsT Melbourne got mad at Joe and quit the MAsT chapter and tried to form her own. Actually, she fomented a lot of trouble with MAsT International trying to take the chapter away from Joe on the grounds that he wasn’t providing enough “support” to MAsT members.

To shorten this very long story, I’ll say that this person then held an “Australian Master/slave Competition” and chose their titleholders. Now, at SPLF, this other couple (well know to Joe and Kim and people I’d met repeatedly when I was there in 2011, were claiming that Joe and Kim were not the only authorized international competitors. THIS is what had to be hashed out in the Thursday MAsT GM.)

We did what we could, but they did not win.  It may have been in part due to kim’s prepared two-minute speech. It referenced much of the challenges they’d been through over the past year and was not likely taken well by the judges.  She had been deeply hurt by the betrayal and bigotry of the “other group” in Melbourne and this was not likely received well by the judges.

Ultimately, Master figured out that a great deal of the “stumble” was cultural. Joe had been “doing” BDSM for decades. He had been a very active ProDom — a concept practically unheard of in this country. Here, there is a tremendous demarcation between ProDommes and “lifestylers.” Also, there is a very fuzzy line between BDSMers and M/s-ers in Australia. Here, the M/s people see themselves in a different sub-culture from those in BDSM clubs. The judges couldn’t tell whether Joe was really a BDSMer calling himself M/s or an M/s person who did an awful lot of work with the BDSM community.

Master and I thought both Joe and kim handled themselves extremely well, and we parted with long hugs all ‘round.

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Butchmann’s

c 34 butchmanns

I’d heard so much about Butchmann’s over the years that I wanted to go through it with Jen. It was held in Phoenix (it started in Tucson), I knew most of the instructors (Master Curtis, Master Bert, SlaveMaster, Master Trish) and also many of the support staff (slave samantha, working in the kitchen, and my Leather brother, slave mikey, serving as a general helper).

However, this was new territory for Master, and I thought we would benefit (as a couple) from going through together. For those not familiar with The Butchmann’s Experience, it is just that, an experience. Founded by SlaveMaster and Master Steve Sampson, it is the home of the spiritual approach to M/s and the events are usually sold out months in advance.

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Pantheon Of Leather’s Community Choice Award (Man)

pantheon award

I’ve always operated on the fringes of the Leather community. I identify as “Leather,” but don’t behave the way the Leather community behaves. They are very active with Leather-related fundraisers and volunteer work; they dress Leather at conferences and have a good support network. Mostly, they’re gay, of either gender, but that doesn’t really affect their heart/spirit. I tend to do my own thing: I write books and have a magical home life with my Owner and slave.

Rather out of the blue, David Rhodes wrote to ask if I were going to be at the upcoming Pantheon of Leather conference in Chicago. “Well, I hadn’t thought about it.” I replied. “I think you may want to be here,” he said. In the end, he suggested strongly that if at all possible, I should attend. He wouldn’t really say why, but I got the idea.

Pantheon is David’s own personal conference and it is attended by a core group of serious Leatherfolk. 

David produces The Leather Journal, a newspaper listing notable events in the Leather world (now replaced by Leatherati.com) and the winners of titles at gay bars across the US. He and his camera are fixtures at any M/s or gay leather conference. We’d been “chatting” for a number of years. By this point, I suppose I’ve been to 20+ conferences. As he generally attended both Beyond Vanilla and Southplains Leather Fest, I would have been seeing him twice a year since about 2003 or 4.

At any rate, I showed up and found most of the heavy-weight presenters from the Leather scene. They were “insiders,” I was an outsider. As it happens, I had been nominated and chosen as “Community Choice—man” for 2008. Completely unexpected, I guess I was getting known for the books.

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Masters Retreat

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