Good Evening Everyone,
Rik Newton-Treadway, the current Mr. Maryland Leather, was one of my International Mr. Leather brothers, having competed alongside me. He is an amazing man, both personally and within our community. When I reached out to my IML brothers, I let Rik know that I would be at his step-down, hell or high-water. He had informed me that this was an Anniversary Year (20th) for the contest, and they were only having former MML’s judge the contest, so I would not be able to fill the role of a judge. That did not bother me in the least. By not having to judge the contest, I was able to see the contest as an audience member, and more importantly, had the chance to mix and mingle with the crowd compared to having to serve as a judge and the schedule attached to it.
So I flew up on Thursday. Y’all know how much I like to get there the day before the event, in case of flight delays/cancellations. I do not like to be late to events, so coming in a day earlier is more relaxing and also affords me the opportunity to settle in and maybe see some sights.
Rik picked me up at the airport on Thursday and he had to run some errands in preparation for the MML contest. As we were running the errands, he was able to show me some of the sights of Baltimore. I was surprised (in a good way) about the ‘look’ of Baltimore. It was more industrial than I had envisioned. I do not know where my vision of Baltimore stemmed from; however, it did differ. The architecture was incredible! I love that the city renovates buildings rather than tearing them down and building anew. It preserves the look and feel and spirit of a city. Incredible city, to say the least.
That evening we had dinner with many of Rik’s family. Some of them, I already knew and some of them I was able to meet for the first time. I enjoyed meeting them. They truly are a family with a wonderful spirit about them.
Friday morning I went to the gym with Nate. I was able to do some cardio and weight lifting, so yeah!! I have to ensure I am able to fit into my leather! David would kill me if I ever had to go out and purchase new leather!
Friday evening we went to the Meet & Greet. This is where I was truly able to meet so many people of the Baltimore community. What an amazing group of people. So welcoming and genuine. If you’ve ever walked into a room and felt the presence of a community that was in sync, then this is what it was like visiting with the community. Besides the supporting community, Dakota (American Leather Woman), Johnny Boy (American Leather boy), Damian (Mr. New Jersey Leather 2010), tons of former MML’s, many other current and former titleholders, the three contestants and their supporters were in attendance. It was hard not to have a great time! And I didn’t have to be in “judge” mode!
The contest began on Saturday at 2 p.m., so it was an early start in preparing to get ready. Master Mike (Mike Zuhl) had contacted me that morning to let me know that due to being under the weather, he would not be able to make it to Rik’s step down and asked if I would read a message from him during the contest. I was honored that Mike asked me to this, so I was more than thrilled to jump at the chance. During the contest, the emcee asked Rik to come to the stage and then asked his entire family to come to the stage. I read the letter from Mike and I must say I was never more touched by a letter than the one I read to Rik from Mike. Obviously, Rik was very moved by the words as well, as tears came down his face. Rik is an amazing man, and it truly was an honor to be there for him at this moment.
The contest was a huge success and ran on time (there is a lot to be said for contests that run on schedule! LOL). Congratulations to all of the contestants for a superb job in representing your community and to Justin Smith for being selected Maryland Mr. Leather 2010. I wish all of you the very best in your journey!
After the contest, we had a catered dinner (YUM!). It was great to spend time with Richard, John, Spankie, Johnny Boy, Dakota, and others. I had seen most of them last week in San Francisco; however, any time with them is grand!!
We then drove back to Rik’s home, changed outfits and went to the Victory Party at the Eagle. It was also another opportunity afforded to me to spend time with the community and socialize. I was able to spend some time with John H. (Mr. DC Eagle 2009), John N. (Mr. NJ Leather 2009), Dave B., Richard (photographer extraordinaire!), Rik and many others. I even played pool John N. and that was hilariously funny. Neither John nor I is the natural at playing pool and it was painfully obvious. I then played Dave B. and he whopped my ass. So my pool career was over before it ever began. Then it was off to Rik’s home, as I was tired and it had been a long day.
Sunday was a day for touring. We got a late start; however, we made it to Ft. McHenry, the Shot Tower and a few other incredible sites around Baltimore. Bear joined us, so I was able to get some great shots of him around the city. That evening, Rik, Andy, Connie, Lou, Eric and I played spades (or some very unique rendition of spades . . . LOL) and enjoyed each others company. It was genuinely nice to sit and relax and spend some down time with them. Before bed, Rik stopped by my room and we were able to just sit and chat about “life”. Again, he is an incredible man, and it meant so much to me that we were able to sit and share and confide in each other. And no, we did not braid each others hair or do our nails while we chatted. We did that the night before the contest! LOL
Before I headed out today (Monday), I was able to sit down with Andy and he conducted an interview with me. It was a great conversation and I enjoyed sharing my journey with him. I look forward to the article coming out! I had read some of his other interviews and he is a thorough and fair writer!
I recommend everyone make it to Baltimore on December 12, 2009 for the 12 Days of Christmas fundraiser. It is a great cause and I can guarantee that you will have an incredible time!! I would be there again; however, I had a previously scheduled event in Los Angeles.
Now I am 38,000 feet in the air, headed home for two days to spend some time with my husband, David, our boy, adam, and our four puppies. I relish this grand opportunity to travel, represent our community and meet each and every one of you; I never could have imagined this as part of my life journey. However, I would be lying if I said I did not look forward to my flights home to see my family and wrap my arms around them.
On another note unrelated to this trip, I wanted to let everyone know that my blog will be voice recorded and uploaded beginning Thanksgiving weekend, in addition to the standard written format we have all grown accustomed. We have a large number of people within our community who are sight impaired and not able to read a computer screen (and thus my blog), so to remedy the situation, I will go back and read each blog as a separate podcast and post them. I will then blog and record the podcast each week. I hope our community finds this additional media useful and will alert others that might be able to use this media to its availability.
Next up: Ottawa, Canada for Ottawa Mr. Leather. I depart early Thursday morning. Until then, take care of yourselves.
Your Leather Brother,