We have lost an icon in our community. I realize the word "icon" is often used to describe people and, in some cases, the word may be overused; however, in my mind and in my heart, this is the only word that truly describes this man. In my world and in our community, a void exists with his passing.
Mr. Marcus first came into my life by way of my good friend Mark Frazier. Before I ran for Mr. Texas Leather, Mark introduced the two of us via email and Mr. Marcus and I fast became friends. He was the first to put me on the international scene by putting my photos on his site and writing about me in the Bay Area Reporter. He was always a true gentleman with the sharpest of wit when we corresponded via email.
The first time Mr. Marcus made me laugh hysterically was when I sent him a handwritten thank you note (y'all know how I love to send handwritten notes). I was thanking him for covering the Mr. Texas Leather contest. Guess what he did in return? He sent me a handwritten thank you note thanking me for the thank you note I wrote to him. It was classic! I chuckled for days and thought I would "one up" him, so I sent him a thank you note thanking him for the thank you note that thanked me for the thank you note I had sent to him. Well, I got my first lesson in that you cannot "one up" Mr. Marcus. He sent me a thank you note for sending him a thank you note that thanked him for writing me a thank you note that thanked me for the thank you note that . . . well, you get the picture. I still have these handwritten notes and they are part of my personal archives. I cherish them immensely and still laugh about it.
The first time I met Mr. Marcus in person was at International Mr. Leather this year. I introduced myself and he was as pleasant and witty as a man could be. We spoke of the contest and the madness surrounding it. It was brief; however, he said at the end of the conversation (with all seriousness), "You know, I never did get a thank you note from you thanking me for that last thank you note I sent." He raised an eyebrow, waited five seconds and then smiled that mischievous smile of his and walked away. I laughed my ass off!
Later on that same day, my husband David ran into him and introduced himself to Mr. Marcus. Mr. Marcus did not miss a beat. He said, "Jeffrey Payne's husband? Mr. Texas? Well, he never told me he had a husband. Hum?" (Reread that quote and drag out the sound of "me" for about ten seconds. That's how Mr. Marcus said it!) And then got this huge grin on his face! David was speechless and y'all know my David; he is never speechless. Then as Mr. Marcus turned on a dime, he said, "Make sure to tell him I said that." David laughed all the way back up to the room to tell me.
After I was chosen IML, Mr. Marcus and I corresponded regularly. He was always attentive to what my schedule was, and wanted to know where I was going. He mailed every issue of the Bay Area Reporter to me (actually he started doing that right after I won Mr. Dallas Eagle). He was always interested in who I met along the way and gave me the names of those persons I needed to make sure to meet while on the road. He gave me many words of advice; words that I will always cherish. I remember him telling me the weekend of San Francisco Pride (at the Ms. San Francisco Leather fundraiser) that I needed to make sure I took care of myself; that it was a long year and to make sure I had some down time. "But you're still young and look pretty good. You'll do okay." And then that damn smile again!
The Monday after Folsom Fair, I went to visit with Mr. Marcus. Randy, Alex, Loren, Rick and Brian were all there. (The photo is attached; PLEASE be respectful of the memory of Mr. Marcus, the photographer and myself by not reproducing this photograph or using it in any publication. In other words, it's copyrighted and unless you have written permission, you may not use it.) It was incredible to spend time with him. We had received a list of all of his favorite food items, and I do believe we got everything on the list for him. Tacos, a burger, fries, orange soda, coffee, etc. When we arrived, his 'normal' lunch had arrived, and he tossed it and ate what we had brought to him. You could tell he loved every bite!! But we were able to show him some photos of Folsom Fair, and share some of the stories. He asked about certain people and what they were up to.
Mr. Marcus was in prime shape that day. He was just as witty, humorous and sarcastic as ever! He made us laugh the entire visit. Then there was the "I-Yatollah" remark from Mr. Marcus (directed at me) that came as we were saying goodbye. I reached down to hug him goodbye and he said, "Good to see you, I-(dramatic pause) Atollah." I now have the nicknames of IML, I-Hop (given to me by a drunk girl at SF Pride and Randy), Mr. Intellect (given to me by a drunk man at Folsom and Randy), I-Poop (really - don't ask, but know that Randy was present when the name was given), and I-Atollah. Mr. Marcus was determined that he would give the last "I-" nickname to me, and he did.
I will miss Mr. Marcus for many reasons. Everyone will miss him for their own reasons; however, as a community we have suffered a great loss and yet I know Mr. Marcus would hate for all of us to get bogged down in it. He'd want us to continue moving forward and we will; knowing that we are a better community and a better person because he was a part of our lives.
There is a Celebration of Mr. Marcus' life being held on November 21, 2009 in San Francisco. I encourage everyone that is able to attend to go and be a part of this event. If you are not able to attend remember that November 21, 2009 has been declared a Day of Leather Celebration, in his honor. Wear your leathers or Levis and do something special to celebrate the life of Mr. Marcus.
Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend. Months ago, I had given my word to the Detroit community that I would attend their event that weekend. If there is one thing I have always stood by is that when I give my word to anyone, I stand by it. I know in my heart that Mr. Marcus would understand. We will celebrate Mr. Marcus' life in Detroit on November 21 and we will honor this great man, along with the rest of our international community.
I miss you, Mr. Marcus. I miss your ability to make my heart and soul laugh and smile. Thank you for being a part of my journey. We shall one day meet up again; and when we do, I'll have that thank you note I still owe you in hand.
Your Leather Brother,