Friday, February 22, 2008

Mr. Philadelphia Leather -- November 2007

Philadelphia Leather Weekend celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Mr. Philadelphia Leather competition as well as the 15th Anniversary of the Ms. Philadelphia Leather contest. Four men competed for the Mr. Leather title but there wer no female contestants for the other title this year.

ScottDaddy, a long time member of GMSMA, won the title and Andy Liu, a member of the NJ Eagles MC and a super hot guy was the First Runner up.

The evening was filled with a lot of fun and hot fantasy sketches which contestants are required to produce as part of the competition. All the guys came up with inventive (fucking Smokey the bear?!) ideas and carried them out with élan.

There were speeches, jock strap competitions (one of my favorite parts of the evening) and more.

This year, between parts of the contest, a magician entertained the crowd and the fact that he was a hunk didn’t hurt.

The judges included John Loesch, last year’s title winner, Chuck Nankivell – Mr. New Jersey Leather 2007, boy robi – Ms. New Jersey Leather 2007, Mr. NYC Eagle 2007 Rick Weber, and Mr. Eagle DC 2007 Joe Hurchick. One mystery judge chosen by lot from the audience was CJ, Mr. Woods Leather 2005.

The contest was hosted for the fifth year in a row by Ryan Goldner and Carlota Ttendant. Once Mr. Philadelphia Leather 2008 was announced, the producers had a surprise for the audience: Carlota Ttendant was named the honorary Ms. Philadelphia Leather 2008, as recognition for her tireless support of the leather community. This was a popular choice for the crowd which gave her resounding applause and a standing ovation. Co-producer Jim Kiley-Zufelt said that although Philadelphia had had a number of amazing women who’ve won titles, since there were no competitors this year, they thought the award could be used to honor someone who works all through the year to raise money and spirits in the gay and particularly the leather communities.

See it here:

Indigo Ball & Way Gay U -- October 2007

Once again this year, I went to the Indigo Ball. Jason came with me and looked beautiful in his tux. I decided on a red vest and quite liked the difference it presented at the ball. There were few mavericks from the black and white standard. Jason’s vest and tie were a tasteful gray, which was also different. After last year, when I wore a white vest, shirt, and tie, I swore I’d never do that again (unless there were some kind of rule imposed). And I was happy with the choice I made.

I always feel a little bit of awe walking into these affairs – not because I don’t feel I belong. Au Contraire, I belong. I was one of the Founders. No sense of hauteur there – just a fact. I was there in the days we were scrabbling around for a space, for respect, for a place in the larger community. I was there. I helped make history.

So, my awe comes from the fact that history was made. We, so long ago, did something that hadn’t been done before and here we are now – celebrating in tuxes and gowns, in a glittering setting, with music, and the respect of the larger society.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a long, long way to go. The heart of the human is a labyrinth that seems truly unknowable. We’ve made our way in, now all we need do is find our way to the center. Maybe with a little tinkering…

This year’s Ball was held in Liberty Place, which is an interesting setting however not made for easy food service. But we won’t go further on that topic right now.

Saw lots of old friends, the music was good, and the atmosphere was modern, elegant, and different.

Teaching at WayGayU

I taught a course on short story writing at the community center’s cleverly named Way Gay U – a place where courses on a variety of topics are offered.

I had a small class but that’s what you want when teaching a writing course – otherwise not all the students get heard. This was just right.

We had a great time and the class gave me an opportunity to think about writing from a different perspective.

OutFest – October 2007

To celebrate National Coming Out Day (October 11), Philly holds a great street festival called OutFest – a big, big block party in the middle of the gayborhood.

This year’s festival was reportedly the largest ever. And having been there I can atrtest to that.

There were a lot of hotties – and I was lucky I didn’t get whiplash as I looked from one to another.

I spent some time at 12th and Spruce where the Country Dance stage was set by June the Woody’s DJ who rocks the house every Friday and Sunday while men, and a few women, two-step and take part in line dances. I can two-step now, thanks to frined Jason, but line dancing. What planet did these guys grow up on? My feet just won’t follow the rules. And how many damned steps are there anyway. And even worse, how can so many of these guys remember all the intricate footwork that is necessary for a hundred different songs? Michael and Scott, two of the teachers (you get free lessons on Firdays and Sundays before the real dancing starts) have tried their best to teach me. All I remember is that my feet end up tying themselves in knots and bringing me perilously close to landing on my ass.

Whatever. It’s beautiful to watch. All that gorgeousness dancing in synch to different tunes, doing the Texas Cha-Cha, and Backtstreet attitude, and more. I love watching. And secretly, I’m envious that I just don’t have the courage to try. But we won’t go there. Not in this entry.

Outfest was infested with Christians. This time there were more of them than I can remember. They had little outposts everywhere throughout the festival ara and some of them even decided to parade through the grounds. Now, I believe in Freedom of Speech and Assembly – but these fuckers are treading on shaky ground here. No matter what the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said.

Of course, these should-have-been lion food, idiots never really get anywhere. They preach and most people don’t listen. Many argue with them, though as I said to someone it’s useless. It’s like arguing with a brick. And this year some of the festival people had wonderful noise-makers which I intend to try and find before the next festival. These little devices effectively drowned out the message these hate mongers were spewing.

Now, why would I want to go and do that? Because, if even one newly-out person hears their message of hate and is hurt, I am offended. These festivals are meant to be places where we gather and celebrate ourselves and our lives. And I’m certain that more than a few people come to these festivals as one of their first acts as a newly out person or as a questioning person, or a person who is exploring and testing the waters. If they hit the wall these so-called Christians set up, what hard does that do to their development? How much of a layer of guilt does that add to their lives?

So, yes, I will interfere with their message. They have plenty of other avenues, plenty of other venues. Let them spread their poison elsewhere. As for me, I stand against them and will fight until they go away once and for all.

As my late partner used to say, “This is their last gasp. They’ve lost.” And they just don’t know it.

Author Talks and Men of Mystery in NY – September 2007

I was the featured writer at the gay community center Library’s Author Talks series.

That was fun – got to read from a number of the books I’m in. Lots of nice people.

The next day I hopped a bus to New York and their gay community center where I attended a panel of gay mystery authors: Neil Plakcy, Anthony Bidulka, Mark Zubrow, and Chuck Zito. I’ve corresponded with some of them and have become online friends. But hearing them read from their works was a special treat.

Verizon: Do It Yourself! or FiOS Fizzles – August 2007

Thinking of getting Verizon’s FiOS service? Think again. I called in because I was angry woth Comcast and set a time to have Verizon come out and install their FiOS service.

The guy took all day – literally an eight hour work day – to do something which even he said should only take a few minutes.

Admittedly he was sort of a hunk is a funky, ham-handed way – but I loved watching his big fingers playing with my keyboard. His swarthy face and beautiful eyes and lips were also easy to watch.

However, it quickly became apparent that he was having some kind of trouble and it took hours and hours to resolve. The only good thing was that he staye a long time, left, and returned. All the while I was thinking how I coluld turn this into a scene from one of those service men porn flicks.

Didn’t happen.

And, as it turns out, neither did the FiOS service. Oh, I had it set up but the service was intermittent and I couldn’t get anything done.

OK, I thought, they can send someone to fix this.


They refused to send anyone. They kept telling me that they could bnot “justify” sending anyone out.

Here, I found was the Verizon trap – they will not service the service! They expect you to take direction over the phone OR give up control of your computer through the Verizon lines. (Like that’s gonna happen. Let them romp through my hard drive? Hardly! Well, OK, if they sent a hunky service man and he wanted to do some other romping first, maybe I’d entertain the idea. But first things first.)

It turns out, then, that Verizon has a “do it yourself” policy when it comes to service. And they don’t pay you at the same rate they pay their workers. In fact, they take your money and let you have the pleasure of dealing with problems.

So, not even three days after I ordered service. I had it pulled out.

Of course, it took five months for them to figure out that I had indeed canceled within the prescribed time and that they should not be charging me for service.

GNI -- August 2007

Went to GNI again this year – it was fun. Though I have to admit, it has lost some of its luster. We scheduled ourselves for the second half of the week – lucky thing. It rained for the entire pre-week and first half. From morning till night, from night till morning. And, as nice as the guys in my cabin were – I’d have gone stark raving mad if I’d been shut up with them for all that time. Not to mention soggy, mildew-ridden, and ill tempered. I don't think there's anyone I could be confined with especially due to rain. Which is not one of my favorite things.

They had a great fireworks show to close the week out – but I got hit in the eye with a piece of detritus from one of the displays. That hurt!

The talent show was particularly good this year and I was pleasantly surprised.

I’ll keep attending, I suppose. But somehow, my enthusiasm is not as high as it once was.