Monday, February 15, 2010
Good Evening Everyone!
Cape Town is amazing! The day started with Jaco and Herman picking me up at the B&B and taking me to the clinic where Jaco has his office and I met James. Then off to the hospice care facility where I met Lizette (an amazing woman who runs the facility). Lizette gave us a tour of the facility and told me of the work they do for the community. Amazing work they provide; it truly touched me. Then it was off to Barcode to make sure that everything was in line for the fundraiser on Friday evening and then off to lunch. Then we went to the beach and I saw the mountain range called "The Twelve Disciples" (as it has twelve peaks). Gorgeous, I tell you; however, that is just the beginning of what would turn into an incredible tour. After this, we toured the city where I saw parliment, the museum, african market, Long Street, and the Company Gardens.
We ate dinner and then I was back to the B&B for some R&R.
Tuesday, we went to the Wine Lands. We ate lunch at Hidden Valley (no, not the salad dressing) and the to Ernie Els vineyard. Most of you know that I am not a "wine" person; however, I am now! I so fell in love with the wines and they were wonderful. Much better than the boxes I usually pour my wine from . . . LOL I was also able to play with the Cheeta's. Okay, I petted them, not played. But it was great!!! They are so soft!
After the wine tour and petting the pussy, we ate dinner and then I was back at the B&B for R&R. It took alot out of me to travel to Cape Town and Jaco and Herman were the best hosts, as they recognized that and allowed me the chance to rest when I needed it. Besides, Thursday was the "Grand Tour" day!!
Wednesday was down time for all of us. Herman made an excellent curry chicken for lunch and Jaco and I made jello shooters for the fund raiser on Friday night. They were good, if I say so myself!
Thursday was the Grand Tour day with "Friends of Dorothy" tours and tour director extraordinare, Wade. We visited Cape Pointe, Cape of Good Hope, saw baboons and ostrich in the wild, had many laughs along the way and I saw the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen. Half way through the trip, I was at a point of being speechless. There was just no way to keep speaking about the beauty of it all; as there are not enough words in the English language to describe what I was looking at. Simply amazing!
That evening, we had dinner with a few friends and it was here that everyone donated teddy bears for me to take to the Children's Home the next time I go visit. I plan to attach South African lapel pins to each of the bears, so the children know they came from that country. I think it is always important that children know that others care about them, even when those "others" are located a world away from where they are.
Friday was lunch with Jaco and Herman's friends, and then a "Bring and Brye" (or Brie or Brey, I'm not sure how to spell it.). It's where you bring your meat and they grill it on the grill. Similar to a BBQ in the States. That was alot of fun and I really enjoyed myself. I so love meeting people in the community and learning about the cultural differences and similarities. Then it was off to the fundraiser at the Amsterdam Bar. Jaco raised about R$4900 and I was so pleased he was able to raise so much. The community seems to really be wrapping itself around Jaco and his journey to IML. They are supportive and as I have traveled, it never ceases to amaze me the amount of support each community provides to their representative.
Saturday, we were finally able to go to Table Mountain. The weather has to be just right in order to head up that direction. There is usually a cloud, or it is too windy, or it is raining which does not allow a person to visit. However, on my last day in Cape Town, I was able to head up there with Jaco and Herman. WOW! What beauty!!!
We then went to the Meet and Greet at Kinks Leather. I spoke about my IML journey, funny things that have happened along the way, and what my plans are for the future. We had a Q&A session, as well. I thought it was great and really enjoyed the discussion. I think it also helped Jaco prepare for his IML contest journey.
That evening we went to BarCode for another Meet and Greet and then it was off to the B&B so I could pack and get ready to get to the airport early for my trip to Johannesburg.
To sum up Cape Town, I can only say that I have not experienced such a trip to date. It was beyond my expectations in every sense of the word. They offered the most beautiful scenery, the best wine, hospitality that I can only compare to true Southern Hospitality (being from the south, that is high praise indeed!), but most importantly, they showed me a community and allowed me to be a part of this community for a week. They allowed me to see the side of it that isn't always so pretty (as we all know, every community has it's issues) and they allowed me to see the side of it that shows true promise in respect to honor and compromise and effective communication. The community, more than once said, "We are a young community and working through things", but I say to each of you, "Keep working through them. Keep communicating with each other. You're not as small as you think you are, in fact you are larger than many communities I have visited. But you have so much to offer each other and the world."
Thank you Cape Town! You will definitely go down in IML #31's book as the trip to remember. I look forward to returning next year, with my husband and our boy. And I have no doubt, you will have grown even larger and better as a community.
Next up: Johannesburg.
Your Leather Brother, Jeffrey
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Good Evening Everyone,
DARK Weekend in Detroit was a great amount of fun. It's a smaller event; however, in this case, size truly does not matter! I had a GREAT time! John and James picked me up at the airport on Thursday and we headed to James and his partners (Paul) home for dinner. Homemade Alfredo sauce with shrimp and homemade cheesecake. Wonderful dinner and great conversation!!!
On Friday, we registered for the weekend and they had a "Bottoms Buffet". This meant that there were different areas set up around the meeting hall where a person could be the 'demo bottom' for someone that was experienced in whatever the activity was. There was a flogging station, fire play, single tail whip, tactile play, etc. There was also a vendor market. It was an incredible time and I really enjoyed the demonstrations.
On Saturday, they had the workshops and I presented my class on "My IML Title Year". I mainly spoke about the funnier moments, the more touching moments, preparing for the IML contest, how I have dealt with the title year both financially, personally and with my husband and family and local community. I enjoyed the class and there was alot of good energy in the room! The other classes were exceptional, as well! I especially enjoyed the class on tactile play (as I love tactile play!).
That evening, we went to the R&R bar and had an incredible time. I ran into Bob from LA (I hadn't seen him since ABW in New Orleans). The crowd was great and I had a great time!
Sunday, Paul, James and I went touring around Detroit. We went to so many places and the coolest places, as well. Attached is the photo from this site where they stack old christmas trees and spray water continuously on them and the water freezes into a very interesting sculpture. We then went to the same type of sculpture; however, it was done with an old abandoned house. It was truly interesting!!
Monday, I headed home to Dallas. DARK Weekend was really, really fun and I want to thank the entire Detroit community for offering such a fantastic event. I also wanted to encourage all of you to attend this event in the future. I have been to small, medium and large events and they all have their positives; and DARK Weekend has some huge positives about it! So, next year, get out to Detroit and enjoy the weekend!!
Next up: Cape Town, South Africa!
Your Leather Brother, Jeffrey
Good Evening Everyone,
My 2nd step down was this weekend. It began as soon as I landed back in Dallas on Thursday. Tons of people had already started to fly in for the weekend. (See the photo!) The weekend started with many trips to the airport to retrieve everyone and bringing them over to the house. On one particular trip back to the house, David told me to dress in leather and not to ask questions. It turns out that Master John and everyone in from out of town held my covering ceremony. I received my cover and title as "Sir". The fact the community bestowed this on me, it is an honor and I am thrilled to have received it on such a special weekend.
On Friday evening, we had a pre-Meet & Greet at our friends home (John and Kevin). It was mainly for the out of town guests and our Leather Knights brothers. It was wonderful to see everyone.
We then left John and Kevin's home and headed to the Dallas Eagle for my birthday celebration and the Official Meet & Greet for Mr. Texas Leather. We did some presentations (thank you to the Dallas Eagle and Dan Perry for the birthday gifts) and then they played a video for me. Randy C. had made a video of my Mr. Texas Leather year and it was wonderful!! It made me laugh and made me cry. At the end of the video, they wheeled out a cake in the shape of an armadillo! Just like from Steel Magnolias! And George H. dressed as Ousia and cut me "a nice piece of ass" off of the armadillo! It was Red Velvet with grey icing! LOL A perfect party!
I did present David (my David) a title vest. A title vest, you ask? Yes, David joyfully owns the title this past year as The International First Lady of Leather (TIFLOL), so I had a title vest done in his honor. Thank you Teddy and Dan for all of your hard work in getting the vest completed for him. It was done in the same manner as my IML title vest. So congratulations to David for a title vest well earned!!
We met all of the contestants that evening as well. I really enjoyed seeing all of them again. I already knew every one of the contestants, as they are from my state! I knew at the end of the contest, this would not be an easy choice.
On Saturday, we held the interview portion of the contest at the Dallas Eagle. We then headed back to the house, ate some lunch and got ready for the evenings contest. That evening, we started at TMC for the VIP Party and then moved over to the Rose Room for the contest. After the many categories, speeches, titleholder recognition, etc., they announced that Jack Duke, Mr. Dallas Eagle was the winner of Mr. Texas Leather 2010. Congratulations to Jack and I know he will do very well as a representative for our State.
Saturday night was the victory party at the Dallas Eagle. Sunday was the Victory Brunch at the Dallas Eagle and then we had open mic. I would like to thank everyone that gave me such kind words. It truly meant so much to me.
A quick note about the actual weekend and contest. Congratulations to Dan Perry for presenting a stellar contest weekend to the Texas community. It was a contest that was expertly organized, amazingly fun and totally enjoyable. Producers across the world should turn to you to learn how to produce an excellent event! Thank you for making my stepdown so incredible.
Sunday, after the brunch, we came home and had a BBQ here at the house for our guests. It was a perfect ending to a perfect weekend.
By Monday evening, everyone had returned home. I cannot begin to express my gratitude to everyone that flew in for my stepdown for Mr. Texas Leather. It meant the world to me. (And I only cried twice!)
Next up: D.A.R.K. Weekend in Detroit!
Your Leather Brother, Jeffrey
Good Evening Everyone,
London was next and you are probably asking, “Why was Jeffrey in London? What was happening there that had anything to do with IML?” Easy! The Mr. Hoist contest had been on previous Saturday night and since I had already obligated to the Antwerp Leather Pride Weekend, I thought I could at least stop by London, congratulate the winner and the participants before heading home. It, also, gave me a chance to spend some time with my IML brothers, Donal, Stephen and Ralf, as well as tour the city.
So I arrived on Monday; however, due to being overly tired and having not slept in 36 hours, I did nothing except sleep and answer emails. However, on Tuesday, I met up with Ross and Ralf and they gave me the grand tour of London! First, we headed up to Big Ben, then Parliament; crossed the bridge and walked to the London Eye. We decided against taking the ride as it was a bit cloudy and the view would be better upon my second trip to London in May. So we then walked across Jubilee Bridge and on down to Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace. It turns out the Queen was not home, which explains why no one answered the door when I rang the bell. I should call ahead next time.
We then walked back to Trafalgar Square and headed to SoHo for a bite to eat. We then walked the theater district, Piccadilly Circus and then hopped a bus (one of the original double-decker buses, not the new modern double-decker buses) and went down to St. Paul Cathedral and then the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. We did not go inside of the Tower of London to see the Queens jewels; I will do that on the next trip. We then saw City Hall (for London) and then walked back to the train station where Ralf and Ross dropped me off. I walked off any poundage I had gained from the chocolates I had eaten in Belgium on this tour! It was an incredible tour and I am grateful that Ross and Ralf were able to join me and give me such an incredible tour.
That evening Donal, his roommate Simon, and I ordered takeout and I just rested my feet because my dogs were barking!
Wednesday, I awoke, packed and headed down to meet Bonn at the hotel. Bonn and I boarded the Tube (a.k.a. The Lube; I’ll tell the story in a moment.) and headed down to the theater to see Wicked! I had seen the show in Dallas at Fair Park; however, the acoustics in Fair Park are not that great (understatement) and I did not hear the production. It was like watching a silent movie or rather a noisy movie that made no sense most of the time. Bonn and I sat 9th row center! Hell, I heard the entire production this time! Awesome seats! I so enjoyed the show this time!! While we were waiting for the show to begin, I was talking to Bonn about taking the Tube; however, I called it the Lube. “Well, Bonn, I got on the Lube and rode it . . . “. He stopped me and said, “Did you say the Lube”? So the official name of the Tube has been changed to the Lube. I’m sure people will ride it now more than ever; or at least they will enjoy it more. ;-)
After the show, we then headed back to the hotel and picked up Kip (Bonn’s friend from American Airlines) and we headed to SoHo to meet a bunch of my London friends for my birthday dinner. In attendance were Bonn, Kip, myself, Donal (last years Mr. London Eagle), Stewart and his partner Mark, Ralf (last years Mr. Europe Leather), Stephen (last year’s Mr. Hoist) and Russ (the current Mr. Hoist). Absent were Mark and Ross (Ralf’s partners) as Mark was under the weather and Ross was taking care of him) and Mark (another Mark; the current Mr. London Eagle). Although it was my birthday dinner, I was particularly interested in meeting with Stewart, as he was the first runner-up at Mr. Hoist. Ross (the current Mr. Hoist) has suggested that he would not go to IML this year, since he has already been (two years ago). Mark (the current Mr. London Eagle) has also suggested he would not be able to participate in IML. Well, that basically would knock out the UK’s leather representation at IML and I did not like hearing about that. So I spoke with Donal, and subsequently Stewart, about participating in IML this year as the representative from the UK. I think it would be more than a shame if the UK had no representation at IML this year. Stewart is very handsome, very well spoken, an upstanding representative of the community and would do very well at IML. I will continue to work with Donal and Stewart and other members of the community to ensure that the UK has at least one representative at IML this year!
After dinner, which was extremely wonderful, I headed back to the hotel and got on the computer to answer some emails and correspond with the family a bit. I headed to bed and then was up early in order to catch the bus to Heathrow for my flight home.
A special thank you to Bonn and the entire American Airline flight crew! Coming to London and going home, everyone showed me such hospitality and warmth and it was appreciated more than they could ever imagine. David worries about me when I travel, even more so when I travel internationally, and it is a great comfort to him to know that I am being taken care of when I am away.
And so you guys know, I am on the plane flying home typing this and just as I was typing the last paragraph, the crew came up and gave me a HUGE piece of chocolate cake and a bowl of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and a wonderful card for my birthday! They are so wonderful! Thank you , thank you, thank you!
Okay, I must know go eat this huge piece of cake! I’ll be on a sugar rush the next few days by eating this whole thing. But that’s a good thing because guess what is happening this weekend?
Mr. Texas Leather 2010! My second step-down and 2/3’s way through my IML title year!
Your Leather Brother, Jeffrey
Good Evening Everyone,
Antwerp was my second European visit as IML and my fourth trip outside of the States (six more to go after this one!) I had noticed on Recon that the Antwerp community was having their first ever Leather Pride Weekend and their first ever Mr. Belgium Leather contest. I reached out to Jeroen, the producer and organizer, and before I knew it, I had booked my flight and rail passes to Antwerp!
I flew out of Dallas to London on Tuesday evening. My friend, Bonn, surprised me by switching flights with a friend of his and he ended up on my flight to London (Bonn is a flight attendant). What a surprise!! The entire flight crew was amazing and FIRST CLASS! ;-)
Once we landed in London, I immediately took a cab to the rail station to catch the Eurorail to Brussels (and then on another train to Antwerp). I had never been on a train before and I thought the experience of traveling by this mode would be an experience and something I could check off 'the list’ as having done. Actually, traveling by train is quite nice and I have to wonder why we don’t do more of it in the States. It was very comfortable, very clean, and I was able to see the country-side (something I could not do from a plane with much of any success).
So I finally ended up in Antwerp. Alex (American Leatherman 2009) met me in Antwerp and we checked into the hotel. We then grabbed a bite to eat and headed back to the room to get some rest.
The next day, Alex and I awoke later in the morning and did a little sightseeing. Alex decided to head back to the room to see if he could get some work accomplished. I decided to do some sightseeing around the area. After a little bit of sightseeing, I decided to head to McDonalds for a Coke. As I was walking in, this young man bumped into me and I apologized. Then this young lady started asking me to sign this petition and donate money. I said no and for some reason reached for my phone. Guess what had been pick-pocketed out of my jacket pocket? My cell phone! I was livid! I grabbed the girl by the arm and she started to go on and on about not being able to speak English. I said, “Funny. You were speaking it ten seconds ago when you wanted money from me. Now were is your friend and where is my phone?” She insisited she had no idea what I was saying. I asked the McDonalds manager if he could help and his response was this, “I don’t care.” I asked (in a most shocking expression) “You don’t care?” He said, “No, I don’t care. She is a criminal. Does it all the time.” So I said, “Then why the fuck do you allow her in your store if you know she is going to rob your customers?” He replied, “Again, I don’t care.” I said to the girl, “Come on, we’re going to the police.” I no more exited McDonalds and there were two policemen. I asked if they spoke English and they said, “Yes.” I let them know that this young lady and her friend had lifted my phone and asked what I could do about it. Their reply, “Nothing, let her go. We can’t do anything.” “I can’t file a report”, I asked. “No” was their response. Seriously? I was just robbed and no one can or will do anything. No one will even help me or make me at least think they will do something. I was pissed! I grabbed the young ladies purse and emptied it on the street. I was making sure she wasn’t handed the phone at some point. No such luck; however, there were five other phones in her possession. Hello! Mr. Policeman! Why would she have five cell phones on her????? I then acted like an immature adult. I told them all to fuck off and walked away. In hindsight, not the best thing to say; however, I was beyond pissed. I have never wanted to hit someone in my entire life until that moment. I wanted to hit that smirk that little bitch had right off her face! I don’t mean slap; I mean HIT! I guess saying “Fuck off” was better than an assault charge.
I went back to the room (shaking I was so mad). I contacted the boy and he disconnected the phone and the good thing is the fact that there was no activity on the phone.
Alex and I then headed to The Boots bar and joined in on the pre-Meet and Greet for the early birds to the Weekend. It was a good time and I was interviewed by a local journalist about my visit. It was a good time. I also got to meet up with David, Mr. Boots Leather and my IML brother. It was wonderful to run into him and catch up! Alex and I eventually went to bed for the evening. I did not sleep too well, as the time zone difference was not settling well. The clock said it was midnight; however, my internal clock said it was about 5 in the afternoon. Nothing better than just laying there in bed counting boys, I mean counting sheep.
However, we did finally manage to get some sleep and woke up around noon. We headed out for some sightseeing. That evening we headed to the opening ceremonies at The Boots. It was here that I ran into Mark, Ross and Ralf. I had not seen them since Folsom Europe in Berlin and it was fantastic to see and spend some time with the three of them! They are looking fab as ever! We also were able to meet a couple of the contestants and then all of the contestants were introduced to the crowd. I could tell even at that point judging was not going to be easy, as each of the contestants looked great and handled themselves well on the microphone. I, also, was able to spend a little time with Daniel. Daniel was also serving on the judging panel and we have been in contact through Facebook. One of the nicest men you will ever meet!
The next day, we headed to a brunch where some of the contestants and judges were able to attend. It was nice to be able to sit around and discuss current events of the community and the weekend itself. We then boarded a tour bus for the Leather Pride Weekend Tour of Antwerp. It was narrated by Miss P.P. and her pup Chanel. I do not remember laughing this hard in a long time. It was truly the most wonderful tour of a city that I have ever received. It was a champagne tour, as well, and due to being stuck in traffic and delayed, a few folks (including Miss P.P.) were a bit tipsy by the end of the tour. Which just made the tour even more uproariously funny than before. This tour also provided Alex and I the basis for our walking tour that we took the next day. After the tour, we headed back to the hotel and went down to The Boots for the contestant interviews. They had four very good contestants. The interviews were not easy, as the panel of judges came from all walks of the community and truly tested the knowledge of each contestant as well as got to know them.
After the interviews, we headed to the formal leather dinner. It was such a nice dinner although I think I ate things that I had not eaten before and it was probably best I didn’t know exactly what it was. However, it was very tasty. Sometimes, not knowing can be a good thing.
After dinner, we headed to the Recon party. We made a couple of loops around the party (which is very well attended) and then headed back to the room.
The next day, we slept until 11 a.m. and then got up and toured Antwerp based on the bus tour we had received the day before. Alex and I got a ton of photos and they can be found at www.flikr.com/iml2009. It is a beautiful city and I really enjoyed the architecture. The city itself is really not that large and very easy to walk around and see the sites they have to offer.
That evening we headed to The Red and Blue club to attend and judge the contest. They had fantasy scenes onstage which we scored. They also included audience participation (by ballot voting) as part of the scoring system. After all the voting was completed and the votes were tabulated, I offer a heartfelt congratulations to Luc Cuypers. I know you will promote the community well during your title year and I look forward to seeing you again in Chicago for International Mr. Leather 32!
After the contest, Alex and I immediately went to the hotel. We were tired and I had to arise early in order to make my train to London. Unfortunately, I did not sleep a wink! Not one wink! I just laid there until it was time to get up, shower, and head to the train station. The ride to London was very nice though. I rode the Eurostar from Brussels to London and because it was daylight, was able to see so much of the countryside! Which, ironically, looked like the countryside of America. Farmhouses, fields and animals. I’m not sure what I was expecting to see; however, there you have it! LOL
Next up: London!
Your Leather Brother, Jeffrey