Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ft. Lauderdale!!

My Ft. Lauderdale trip began last Thursday when I flew into the city and arrived early evening. The flight was filled with screaming children with parents that took no interest in correcting them. So I took my hearing aids out, popped my in my I-pod and true bliss! I look for all silver linings concerning my hearing loss, and I count the inability to hear screaming children on an airplane in the top ten!

I was met at the airport by Jason. This would begin the rock star treatment the community provided to me during my stay in Ft. Lauderdale. I can honestly say, I have never been treated as well as the folks in Ft. Lauderdale treated me.

Jason drove me to LeatherWerks to meet the staff and also to meet with Todd, who needed to fit me for my title vest. Then it was off to eat and then off to the hotel. Inn Leather provided excellent accommodations. I had my own bungalow; it was like being at home (except at the Inn, there was someone picking up after me, doing the laundry, etc!)

Then Jason took me out for dinner and then to the C&W bar and then another bar (Bill’s?) where Jason (his boy) met up with us for a beer and then we headed to the Ramrod. Got to see Bill (International Leatherboy 2006) for the first time (of many times) and the staff at the Ramrod. All of them were a pleasure to meet (and hot to boot!). They had plastered my poster all over the bar. It took me back a bit when I went to the restroom and I look up from the urinal and there is my photo. I’m used to seeing my name and phone number posted there, but not a full blown photo! (LOL; I’m joking. Now-a-days I post my name and email address. Hey! Don’t hate! You know your 411 is posted there, too.) The guy next to me at the urinal glanced over at me, then looked forward and then looked slowly back at me and then back to the poster and then back at me and said, “Is that you?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Hey, I got to piss with IML”. (Little does he know that this is not a rare happening. I have a small bladder and pee often.)

Friday I was free most of the day until that evening when we had a Meet and Greet at LeatherWerks for me to receive my title vest. It was a great turnout and it was incredible to see the entire community support the event. Ft. Lauderdale has a great community and you could tell by their interaction with each other that they were a close knit family. They welcomed me with open arms and the energy in the room was second to none. I was presented with my title vest. It is truly spectacular. Todd truly did magic with it and it is a work of art. I am honored to have this vest as my title vest. Then Michael Egdes handed over the Leather Crown (and it’s a crown, not a tiara . . .). It was quite humorous; however, I believe Jason (Sir Jason’s boy) went into Seek and Destroy mode and no photos will be printed with the tiara, I mean crown, on my head. After the presentation, we went out to the Ramrod where I was able to wear my title vest for the first time. It felt incredible. And yes, I slept in it.

Saturday, I had brunch with BearMan (but not before meeting his appraiser. LOL. I had to say it – Todd made me.) Then LeatherWerks had an autograph signing at the store. Met more people in the community and signed some autographs. I found that hanging around LeatherWerks and speaking with the staff and patrons was a great time to spend one’s day! It’s probably a good thing I don’t live there. I’d drag a cooler up there and make the store my daily hangout. That evening, we went out to eat with Master John and a few others in the community. Thank you Master John for a great time. Then we headed to the Ramrod again and had a blast.

Sunday I got up and had brunch with Eric and Ira. It was so good to spend some time with them and get to know them better. They are a wonderful couple. (Eric was one of my judges at IML.) Ira gave me a drawing that he created. An original and it is absolutely a beautiful piece of art. Thank you, Ira!!

Then there was the pool party at Inn Leather and that was a great time!! We had a wet jock contest that I emceed. (I use the term “emcee” loosely, as emceeing sounds way too formal for the event. It might better be said that I called the contestants pool side and the audience hosed them down with giant water guns from the pool and then hollered for the one they liked.) It was great and beats a wet t-shirt contest any day!!!

Then we had a formal dinner that evening. It sold out and it was great to spend so much time with the community. And everyone looked awesome in their dress leathers!! Ft. Lauderdale is not lacking in the hot men department, I have to tell you that!! Then we went out (Ramrod – I know; big surprise) and actually turned in early (1:30 a.m.) Although, I did enjoy a 12” . . . hotdog . . . from the guy with the hotdog stand located outside of the bar. It reminded me of being in New Orleans with the Lucky Dog stands.

Monday, I had brunch with Michael Egdes. It was wonderful to spend some one-on-one time with Michael. He possesses a tremendous amount of knowledge and is so willing to share that knowledge. It was/is invaluable to me. I cannot thank him enough for his insight.

I know I keep using the terms “incredible, great, wonderful, and awesome” to describe all of the events in Ft. Lauderdale, but I cannot find the words to express the time I had in the city. I’m not sure actual words exist.

I met some of the most incredible men and women while in Ft. Lauderdale. I cannot thank each and every one of them enough for their hospitality, their generosity, and their incredible heart. To LeatherWerks owners and staff, the Ramrod, Inn Leather , the other sponsors for the weekend, and the entire community, thank you for making Ft. Lauderdale the most memorable trip I have had. All of you have added the best memories to my journey.

But a few special thank you’s: First and foremost: Jason, thank you so much for making sure that I was taken care of, I was picked up for events, that I was dressed accordingly, introducing me to people, spontaneously setting up a “receiving line” at the Meet and Greet to ensure I was able to meet everyone (and also announcing their names to me to ensure I could hear it), for asking me periodically if I was okay (OP!) and for making sure that I was always able to hear throughout the weekend by making sure I was strategically placed in a room, or by repeating things to me, or doing whatever it took to ensure I was making the most of my trip. But most of all for being the true definition of a Brother. It is indeed an honor to be your Brother. See you in Tulsa!! And to his boy, Jason: Thank you for the cigars (and David LOVES that he received one, too!), for making sure that I wanted for nothing and for going into “Seek and Destroy” mode when appropriate. I have never seen someone morph into "Seek and Destroy" mode as quickly and eloquently and proficiently as you are able. Oink! To Master John: There are times in our journey that we meet someone that we connect with immediately. It’s the energy and spirit between the two persons that allows us to know that this is (as we say in the South) “good people”. You are absolutely “good people”. To Todd: For creating my title vest, as well as Bear’s leather vest (I’ll post a photo of Bear this evening to this blog) and my medallion holder. You are a true craftsman of the industry and I cannot wait to see what you come up with for my step-down; but you better stay the hell away from anything pertaining to, referencing or resembling flip-flops. To Robbie: Thank you for coordinating the events and keeping things running smoothly and without a hitch. Your attention to detail and dedication to the community is truly appreciated. When I return, let's have Bear meet your Bear for a photo-op!

Next up: Chicago, Illinois!

Your Leather Brother, Jeffrey

Monday, July 20, 2009

Seattle - Wedding

David and I traveled to Seattle to be a part of the wedding of two dear friends of ours, Debbie and Wendy. I have never been to Seattle before, so it was great to be in this neck of the woods. My sash wife, Lamalani, was out of town, so I was not able to spend any time with her. That was disappointing; however, I will have many more opportunities to come up and spend some time with her.

The wedding was beautiful and I’ve attached a photo of the David and myself. I officiated the wedding and had a great time. I had requests after the ceremony to do their weddings. I’m always happy to marry people. I’m not too worried if the government recognizes it; I’m all about celebrating the love between two people. One day, it will be legal for all of us; however, until then, I’m just going to marry as many people as I can!

The wedding was held in upstate Washington, and the weather was beautiful. At no time did it rain while I was in Seattle or upstate Washington. In fact, mid-afternoons were a bit warm, but not unbearable (like in Texas!). The wedding took place outside by the water and it was magical. You could feel the energy between Debbie and Wendy and the guests. I enjoyed sharing the moment with them. Their families were wonderful and I enjoyed spending time with them. You know how when you meet someone, you know you have met “good people”. That’s what it was like meeting their family. They were the most sincere, genuine people. I’m a hugger (most of you know that by now). And when I hug people I can always pick up on their energy. Every single one of them had this incredible energy and it was awesome to be a part of such a wonderful group of people.

Next up: Fort Lauderdale and the Ramrod. I cannot wait!! I love the beach!!

Your Leather Brother,


American Brotherhood Weekend - New Orleans

It was bittersweet to be home again. I can’t lie. I was thrilled and proud to be going home as International Mr. Leather, yet to see my city again after the hurricane was difficult. But it turned out to be the closure that I needed.

The weekend started with my arriving at the hotel to see none other than my sash wife, Lamalani. What a sight for sore eyes! She is a beautiful woman, inside and out. She had never been to New Orleans before, so I got to take her on a three hour tour (seriously, it was a three hour tour!) of the major highlights of New Orleans. CafĂ© Du Monde for beignets and then to Jackson Square and the Cathedral. Then to the gay strip (Good Friends, Parade, Oz, Lafitte’s and Rawhide). Then she had to head back to the hotel for she had to practice for the contest (she was in two fantasy scenes with ABW contestants). So I headed to the old homestead. I was able to carry Bear with me and he got his picture taken at the old homestead. (I’ll explain who Bear is at the end of this blog.) Then I walked back to the hotel and caught up with Randy, Alex, Rick and a whole assortment of good looking men and we walked down to Rawhide for drinks. We hung out there until it was time for the meet and greet at the hotel.

Back at the hotel, we had the Meet and Greet and it was great to see everyone. Dean, George W., George H., Mr. Marcus, Dave and Frank to name a few. Then it was back to the bar for the official IML bar crawl. Had a great time going to each of the bars and visiting with everyone. Although for me, it was great to reminisce about old times at the bars. (I only reminisced in my mind – I didn’t bore everyone else with my thoughts.)

David (my husband) was taking a late flight into New Orleans from Dallas, and he was delayed, but he finally made it in at around midnight. We grabbed a quick drink and then headed back to the hotel for some rest.

Saturday, we slept in and then got up and traveled the Quarter with some Leather Knight Brothers and others. Stopped at Lafitte’s for drinks and then back to the hotel. Then we caught up with a large group of friends and had dinner. Dinner was grand! I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with all of them. Then we headed to John Paul’s for the auction and drag show. Actually, it was a drag show and they were able to auction off two or three items only. But we sang along with the drag queens and I got many, many, MANY photos which could be used at a later date as leverage for monetary gain. I also got to two-step with Ken (Mr. LA Leather). It was crowded and not very conducive for two-stepping; however, we made the best of it.

Sunday was the contest. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, did an incredible job!! The fantasy scenes were elaborate and well performed. We have an amazing amount of talent and hot looking men, women and boys in our community!! Anyone could have and would have done the title justice. I would like to congratulate the eventual winners: Alex, Dakota and johnny boy as American Leather Man, Woman and boy, respectively. Congratulations to all of you and I know you will succeed in your title year!

I also want to congratulate Randy, Joan and Chris for a successful title year. Each of you represented our community with class and dignity and I look forward to working with each of you for years to come to further the causes important to all of us and to also have fun doing it!!

I also spoke at the contest and, once again, I went up there with nothing prepared. I can’t remember the last time I went into a speech with something prepared. I find it best to speak from the heart and let the words flow. I figure if it’s coming from my heart, everyone will understand what I’m saying.

But I will tell you like I told everyone at ABW. I am still shocked that I am IML. It is an honor and a privilege and I only hope that I do the title justice and make everyone in the community proud.

The story of Bear: Bear is my teddy bear that I received from my Mom when I turned one year old. Bear turned 40 this year on January 27! He looks a bit rough around the edges (photo attached), as he’s been through a lot. But Bear is still hanging in there! I take Bear on all of my travels with me and he has his picture taken at different points during my travels. Bear’s travels will be documented on my website (http://www.iml2009.com/) shortly. Bear will also be the mascot for the new program being run through the Sharon St. Cyr Fund, Inc. called “Bear”. The details of the program will be released shortly; however, the cause that Bear will fund will be that of raising funds for various Children’s Homes within the United States. As many of you know, I was brought up in a Children’s Home and believe that the children going through that system need to have constant and positive reinforcement by us in order to move into adulthood and succeed in their lives. I know that as I was growing up in the Children’s Home and eventual Foster Home, my “Bear” was a constant source of companionship and security. We need to make sure we provide that same companionship and security to those children who are living without their parents and without that support system.
Many have commented that Bear looks like he's been rode hard and put up wet. Well, he kind of has been. He's suffered and survived an attack by a dog, the pounding of a hurricane, a cat that thought his ear tasted mighty good, a childhood (with me) that saw many days of being dragged around by his leg over flooring, concrete, rocks, grass, and many tug-a-wars where he served as the rope. Think about it: How pretty would you look after all of that? I think he looks great!! LOL

By the way, if you are wondering how Bear got his name, here is the story: I was asked by someone at a young age what my teddy bear’s name was. I looked at them and said, “Bear”. What was funny was the way I said it. I said it with my head cocked to the side, eyebrows pushed down and used a dry voice which had the implied, “What are you, stupid? It’s a Bear. What else would his name be? Dumbass.” Yes, even at a young age (5), I could give a one word answer and still speak volumes. The early sign I was gay.

Your Leather Brother,


International Deaf Leather 2009

International Deaf Leather was held in Chicago this year and I was honored to be present at the event. RAD had a reception on the evening of July 2 and it was great to finally meet Philip. Philip and I had been emailing for a few weeks prior to the event and it was nice to finally put a face to the name. Thank you Philip for coordinating the event and making sure that I had all of the information I needed in order to be on time!!

At the RAD reception, I met Bo and David. They have been friends since college and they assisted me in communicating with others at the reception. The three of us decided to have a quick bite to eat before going over to the Meet and Greet being held at Cellblock for IDL. It was at dinner that the three of us got to know each other better and they began to teach me how to sign a some basic words. Of course, they showed me the curse words; which is always important to know. Of course, David had to teach me the very subtle difference between signing “meet” and “fuck”. There is but a one finger difference but the phrase “Nice to meet you” takes on a whole new meaning if you sign the incorrect word. . . unless you want to say, “Nice to fuck you” . . .

Once we made it to the Meet and Greet at Cellblock, Philip introduced me to Amanda. Amanda is a beautiful woman in so many ways and she also assisted me in being an interpreter for me. She’s from my neck of the woods (Louisiana), so it was great to have her by my side! She also interpreted for me as I emceed the Meet and Greet. We introduced the judges, the current titleholders, the contestants for the next evenings contest, and had an auction. I truly had a great time at the Meet and Greet!! Thank you, Amanda!!

The next evening was the dinner and contest. Dinner was grand and I was able to meet some wonderful men and women. The contest itself was fun. They asked me to say a few words during the contest. I do not remember the exact words I said (I should start filming these things); however, I did talk about the moment I found out I had been selected IML 31. That due to my hearing aids, I was not able to hear Chuck Renslow announce me as the winner, so I looked at the sign interpreter who singed the number “11”. After checking to make sure I was still number “11”, I told everyone, “Your IML had a not so butch moment. I covered my face just like Ms. America in total disbelief. And to this day I’m not sure if Chuck actually said number “11”, but I say we go with it.” At that moment, Chuck (who was in the audience at IDL) said, “I said 11”. So we had confirmation from Chuck himself. ;-)

I then spoke about my own hearing loss. That I had recently found out that I would be deaf in just a few years. And that I wanted everyone there to know that they did not need IML at their event to make the event successful, but that it was IML that needed them.

And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. As I continue my journey, I need the leather community, the deaf community, and my family, to help me through the steps along the way. David (my partner) and I do not know what the future holds for us when it comes to my hearing loss, but whatever the future holds, we know we will go through it together and with the community supporting us each step of the way.

Once the contest was completed, Terry Morrell and boy taz were chosen as International Mr. Deaf Leather and International Deaf Leather boy, respectively. Congratulations to both of them. I could not be prouder of either of them and we will coordinate our schedules in order to make events together.

I also had the chance to meet a wonderful young man, Ken. Ken has been instrumental in making and sending me video clips of signs so David and I are able to learn them. He truly is salt of the earth to take the time to make these videos, and I appreciate his willingness to assist us.
Also, I have a challenge to all of you in our community. It surprises me how many events do not offer sign interpreters. I know for me, it helps me greatly to have an interpreter, as I have difficulty hearing intercoms, speakers, and such. Between lip reading and the interpreter, I am able to “hear” the event. Let’s make sure we reach out to all of our community titleholders and be as inclusive as we possibly can. I know many of us already do, but let’s make sure we are consistent about it. I know I’d appreciate it, and I know there are 1000’s more that would as well.

Also, I will be unveiling a program soon called, “Hearing from the Heart”. The program will fall under the Sharon St. Cyr Fund, Inc. (SSCFund). The program is being created to assist those persons in need of hearing aids; however, are not able to afford them. Hearing aids are not covered by most insurance companies. I know, because I had to purchase my own to the tune of $5,000 for the pair. The program will also create and raise awareness with the insurance companies, major corporations, and the government to begin covering these devices in order to assist those persons with the purchase of hearing aids.

Your Leather Brother,


Monday, July 6, 2009

San Francisco Pride

Good Evening Everyone,

I know I am behind as far as posting to my blog; however, I've been busy! LOL Tonight I will post about San Francisco Pride and then tomorrow evening I will post about International Deaf Leather in Chicago.

San Francisco was truly an experience! It was my first "out of town" event as IML and I had an excellent time. The first night, I spent it pretty low key - just going out to the bar and meeting people. Then Friday night was the fundraiser at Mr. S Leather where I got to spend some time with my sash wife (Lamalani). I just LOVE her!! Then Saturday night was more of the same, meet and greets and such. Then Sunday was the Pride Parade. What a massive amount of people. To be watching it had to be fun; however, to be riding in it was mind blowing. Of coarse, it was the hottest day of the year and I was in full leather, so it made for a 'warm' ride. But that was all overshadowed by the experience of it all. I just could not get over the large number of people in attendance. After the parade, there is a festival and that was just wall-to-wall people. That, of coarse, is when my "I-HOP" nickname came to life. It seems that Randy thought it would be funny to start telling people (after one woman only read "International" on my sash before jumping to the conclusion that I was a part of I-HOP) that I was Mr. "International House of Pancakes" and that if they mentioned my name at I-HOP, they would receive a free stack of pancakes. And to also make sure they tried the Boysenberry syrup, as it was the best on the market.

I'll just say that some people in this world are just too damn gullible, or drunk. I'm also wondering how many people people went to I-HOP wanting their pancakes.

The photo attached is one of Randy and myself.

Big thank you's go out to Jay and Michael for coordinating the parade, for doing ALL of the leg work for me in getting me into the parade and for picking me up and dropping me off at the airport. To Brandon Clark for coordinating the Fundraiser at Mr. S Leather. To Josh and Adam for entertaining me every night and showing me around S.F. To Rick (Mr. Bolt) and his partner Brian for being so great to hang out with. And finally to the entire community for welcoming me to the city and showing me the best time possible!!
I'll write tomorrow about Chicago!
Your Leather Brother,