Monday, January 25, 2010

Mid-Atlantic Leather 2010

Good Evening Everyone,

Mid-Atlantic Weekend was upon us. This was the weekend in which I was warned! How was I warned? Glad you asked. More than one person has said to me, “Sometime between MAL and IML, you will have a breakdown of some sorts. You’ll realize the end is near and you’ll not know how to handle it. Some event will trigger it and when it does, call me. We’ll work through it.” Well I can report that it did not happen over MAL Weekend; however, I will keep you up to date as to when the breakdown occurs! LOL

This was the first trip that our boy adam was able to join me, as far as on an official IML trip. We flew in on Wednesday and we were able to spend a day and a half touring the District. We were able to see the White House (although we were not able to infiltrate the White House and have dinner with the Obama’s like others have been able to do), the WW II memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and various other buildings around our capital. We also were able to visit the Smithsonian Museum: the American History Museum, Natural History Museum, and the Air and Space Museum. We had a great time at all of the venues!

I was honored with being asked to judge the 2010 contest, and as such, was quite busy. They had six excellent candidates and none of them made the task of trying to pick just one representative as Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leatherman very easy. The judging panel was truly an esteemed panel and it was an honor to be sitting with them.

The first unofficial event was when Dan, Chris, Rick, adam, and I went to dinner on Thursday evening and then returned to the hotel to sit in the lobby and "hold court", as Dan says. It was an enjoyable time and a true time to unwind and relax with friends. We were also able to greet friends as they checked into the hotel and passed by us.

Friday afternoon, adam and I registered and that evening was the contestant number draw and first official judges meeting. Saturday morning, I had breakfast with Marshall and it was good to be able to spend some time with him. He is a true boy and very articulate and centered.

We began the contestant interviews around 10. They ran about 20 minutes each and it was truly an amazing time. Each of the contestants brought a unique “something” to the table and it was a joy getting to know each of them. After four of the interviews, we took a break for lunch and I headed upstairs to the IML Press Conference in which we introduced the IML judges this year. Big surprise – I am on the panel! LOL The other judges are myself, Laura Antoniou, Shawn Carroll, Demetri Moshoyannis, Chad Neal, Gene Romaine, Daniel Ruester, William Schendel and Robert Valin. I look forward to a great time working with each of them in determining who the next IML is going to be. After the press conference, we concluded our interviews with the contestants. Afterwards, adam and I took a nap and then headed to the Leather Cocktails.

The Leather Cocktails was an amazing time. It is always fun to have everyone dressed in full leather and socialize and have a good time. It is one of the items that makes our community so wonderful. I must admit, adam looked exceptionally good and handled himself so well. I was a proud Daddy! And adam was a trooper and followed me around with the camera. He is such a good boy! Afterwards, we ran over to the other hotel and joined the Texas Contingency for a Texas gathering! Damn good time!!! It’s funny that I have to go to DC to see my Texas friends, but it that way for the foreseeable future.

Sunday was the day of the contest. I gave my speech, which was not the speech I had planned to give, but when have I ever given a speech that I plan to give. I usually grab the microphone and start down a path to see where it goes. Fortunately, I am pretty good at this, so it’s not too much of a stretch for me to go off on a topic and not know where I am headed. I have found if I speak from the heart, I cannot go wrong.

After the speech, we judged the contest and the winner was named. All of the contestants were amazing and unfortunately, the panel had to pick only one winner. Congratulations to Matt Bamford. I know you will represent the community well in your year as Mr. MAL!

That evening, adam and I went to dinner with Court and Terry. It was good to spend some time with them and, of coarse, they are always teaching me more and more sign! We then spent a quiet evening with Lamalani and West in the hotel room just catching up on what each of the other was doing. It was so good to spend some time with them. I cannot wait to see them next week for Mr. Texas Leather!

We headed home on Monday afternoon. DC was truly an amazing time. On a personal note, it was the first time that I had returned to DC since the day before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. I had been in DC the week before the hurricane attending an EEOC conference (as I had done for years). Not much had changed in DC, except for the wonderful fact that the last time I was there, the Republicans were in control of the House, the Senate and the White House! Yea for change!!

Next up: Antwerp, Belgium for Leather Pride Antwerp and Mr. Belgium Leather.

Your Leather Brother, Jeffrey

Mr. Phoenix Leather

Good Evening Everyone,

Mr. Phoenix Leather began the 2010 International Mr. Leather tour; also known as the “Insane Traveling Plans of IML 31, Part 2”. Part 1 was from Memorial Day 2009 until December 31, 2009. Now the International Travel kicks into high gear; plus many other stops within the States.

However, let’s get back to Mr. Phoenix Leather. Way back when, my IML brother, Bob Weber, the current Mr. Phoenix Leather, contacted me about attending his step down and also judging the event. I could not say yes fast enough! So upon arrival I was greeted by none other than Bob at the airport. It was so good to finally see him again. We had been communicating back and forth about the trip for what seemed like months and it was finally all coming together. We immediately went to get something to eat (I’m always hungry!) and then we drove out to his home. That evening we attended a pre-Mr. Phoenix Leather 2010 party, in which we were able to meet the contestants vying for the title, as well as I was able to meet many of the community members. We had an incredible time and I was able to share a cigar (a rare but enjoyed pastime of mine) with many others. Then they started with the karaoke and let’s just say that yours truly did not participate in that activity. The only person that actually enjoys hearing me sing is my husband, but I think it is a type of masochistic activityhe puts himself through as some kind of punishment for something he did wrong many moons ago.

The next evening was the official Meet and Greet and Bar Crawl. They rented a bus (a HUGE bus; like the kind Loretta Lynn would have on one her tours! LOL). We had just as good a time on the bus as we had in each of the bars. But it was a very good time going from bar to bar and spending time with everyone in the community. It was also a great chance to watch the contestants and to get to know them one-on-one.

The next day, Bob, Oscar and I went touring. The city of Phoenix has a lot of history and it was great to be able to spend some time admiring the architecture and learning of their history. Both of them were excellent tour guides!

That evening was the contest. It was a very close contest (the closet I have ever witnessed and believe me, I have witnessed some close contests). Congratulations to Kyle McDonel. I have no doubt you will serve your community with dignity and respect throughout your title year and beyond.

The next day, Bob and I headed out again to tour the city and once again, he provided a wonderful tour and I genuinely enjoyed not only seeing their city, but also spending time with him. He and Oscar are both incredible men and I am honored to call them my brothers. We then headed to the victory party (beer bust) where I was able to spend some additional time with community and say my farewells. That evening, the three of us went home and ate pizza and chatted about our journeys, our goals and our community. A perfect ending to a perfect weekend!

A special thank you to the producers of the contest, Kenneth and Stephen. Both of you did an exceptional job with producing the weekend event, and on a personal note, you also stepped up and ensured that a sign interpreter was made available to me and everyone else that was in need of the service. This is an appreciated addition to any contest and my heartfelt thank you to both of you, as well as the community, for continuing to provide sign interpreters.

On Monday, I was off to the airport to return home. I thoroughly enjoyed Phoenix and look forward to returning with David and adam one day after IML to go with Bob and Oscar to the Grand Canyon!

Next up: Washington D.C. for Mid-Atlantic Leather

Your Leather Brother, Jeffrey