Tuesday, May 29, 2012

IML - Tuesday

Today was all about going back home. Everything was packed and ready to go, and even a small perk for the winners was a limo ride to the airport. Tarsus and I said our goodbyes and headed out. And then promptly got pulled over by the police. Apparently there was some issue with the plates on the vehicle, and them not being appropriate to the limo service. This was not the best way to start a title year. They at least let us go to the airport, and then continued talking with the driver. Hopefully it wasn't too bad of a fine.

The rest was just airport shenanigans. I was so glad to get home and to see my wife. And to celebrate of course.

Monday, May 28, 2012

IML - Monday

Monday was another whirlwind day, but thankfully I didn't have to do another pair of boots. Tarsus and I skipped our morning breakfast as I had a Victory brunch to attend instead. This was really a thank you brunch to the executive staff for all their hard work over the weekend, and the winners were also invited so folks could meet them without everyone running around doing things.

After some very tasty food we were taken down to the vendor area for a press conference. Well, I say press conference, but really it was a photo op. Prior years had the winners bombarded with the same questions over and over about what they would be doing now that they won, or what their platform was, etc. So instead we took pictures. This was great as I was able to take a good class photo and meet up with all the bootblacks again.

Then we were released into the wild again - at least for a few hours. It was time to finally shop. I spent most of my tips as I was running around the vendor area picking up items I really wanted, and some I liked. It felt like one of those game shows where you had to stuff a shopping cart with everything you could in 60 seconds. I did manage to get a new vest which fit my new patch perfectly, no chaps unfortunately, but plenty of jocks.

One short nap and a soak in a tub later and it was off to have dinner with Chuck Renslow and family. It was a nice relaxed atmosphere and we were able to sit and chat with each other without lots of other people around. We had a great dinner and some good conversations. I was mostly trying to get to know Woody as we would be working together during the year. And then we had cake, but really it was a landscape in a ball. It was delicious, and yes we had seconds.

And even after that was over, there was one final party to attend - the Black and Blue party at Excalibur. We had an area all to ourselves, and somehow Woody and I had psychically decided to wear military colours. This was a good sign. We were introduced again on a much smaller stage at the club, in which we were also supposed to dance again for a song. Thankfully I know how to do this, and this time it wasn't a surprise. After more drinking and socialising, it was time for bed.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

IML - Sunday

Today was our final day of doing boots and we were all so glad for that. It was a much shorter amount of time, and we also had to take a formal picture before hand - so there was a lot of quick changing going on before we got started.

I added some red duct tape to Tankenstini just for some extra snazz, and then I flew. I got through 21 pairs in the 4 hours we had. Almost the same as the first day when I had 7 hours. Much faster this time. I had more people coming by saying they had watched me all three days, and then voted for me without getting anything done. That was very gratifying. And then it was over. We stopped, counted our final ballots, and then just hung around a little shell shocked packing up our kits.

I was not going to take my stand home. He had served me well, but it was time to let him go back into the wild. After checking with security that we could leave it by the trash bins - I removed the stanchions and we dropped him off behind us. I packed my kit, turned, and he was gone. I was astonished at how fast that happened. I did get a report that Mexican ninjas were seen carting him away, so I hope he found a better place.

Then I actually had a break. One in which I could eat food without rushing, and soak in the tub and even a small nap. That felt so good. And yet, it wasn't over. Now we had to go through the bits about who won, and the big show for the Mr. Leather contestant as well. Sharon McKnight was hilarious, and John Pendal and Karen Ultra were fantastic as well. We got through to some great speeches by the Mr. Leather contestants and then it came to us.

I wasn't tremendously nervous. I felt I did a great job being social and friendly, and also making sure my fellow class mates were doing OK. We were paraded on stage and introduced one last time before they announced the winner and runners up. Earlier in the day we had all voted on which bootblack we personally liked best or thought exemplified bootblacking - the brotherhood award. That was up first and I won. It meant a tremendous amount to me to get that from my fellow bootblacks. I also had a moment of relief too, as historically the winner of that award was not the one who won the title.

Then I also won the title. I was truly shocked. After a whirlwind of photos being taken we were whisked into the back office to sit and be in a quiet place. We were headed to a victory party at the House of Blues and needed to change - so we were ushered through the hotel and into the service elevator area, being cock blocked along the way. It felt very Rock Star and also a little intimidating. After a quick change and a ride in a stretch limo - we got into the club which was a renovated theater with box seats. I was also able to bring one person with me and I asked Boy Dave to come with. I wanted him to share the experience as well.

Myself, the Mr. Leather winner Woody Woodruff, and first and second runners up Kevin and AC Demidont were introduced on stage, and had to dance for a song or so before going off to enjoy ourselves. Truly overwhelming.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

IML - Saturday

Saturday was another blur of a day, this was to be the long day as well - 8 hours of boots and no breaks. After a hearty breakfast again with Tarsus, I went and signed 100 posters for the IML class. All the contestants signed them, we all got one and one was sent to the Leather Archives & Museum.

Then I had to repair my poor Tankenstini! I had extra pieces of wood that I brought, and a healthy dose of screws and nails to fix him up. Add a dash of blue duct tape to catch the eye a little and viola! A better more rigid bootstand.

Then the people arrived, I even had one who was camping out waiting for us to open, and someone else waiting in the wings after him. With my space station fully operational I could get through folks a lot more smoothly. I did a pair of tall crotch length wesco waders, and he must've told his friends as I got two more later that day. I had people coming to me thanks to some recommendations of people yesterday. I had people come and compliment my work. All the while I was doing boots, snacking on hazlenuts, drinking water and then doing boots again. My final count for the day was 34 pairs, much faster than yesterday.

After it was all over, it was ballot counting and then a super quick change for the bootblack reception. I had about 30 minutes but made it back down in time to be the first one there. After running so long in the day, I didn't have anything substantial in my system, so after a short break to the bar upstairs and some comfort food that I brought back - Wendell was kind enough to get me a drink and calm me down. Then the rest of the evening went a lot more smoothly.

The bootblack reception was also the site of a silent auction, the proceeds of which were going towards the winners travel fund. There was also a small piece of stage time there as each of us was introduced to the folks there. Some people even came in full leather Canadian Mountie gear. Boy Dave and I just had to take a picture with him. We schmoozed and talked and nibbled and browsed and eventually it was all over. All of us were just exhausted and around midnight we were free to go about our own business. For me, that business was bed.

Friday, May 25, 2012

IML - Friday

Friday I was up at 6am to head over to Home Depot. I knew what I wanted, and I was so glad that Home Depot does cutting for you as well. I took a taxi, got what I needed and some colourful duct tape to attract attention, and then got back to the hotel. Tarsus and I did our traditional breakfast run first, followed by Starbucks where I picked up my emergency sandwich, and then we started construction.

Everything seemed to go well, and I had enough time to get a bellhop to bring a cart and get all my items down to the setup area for the bootblacks. I was definitely nervous and excited about doing boots, and really not sure about how fast I needed to go. As I was setting up, I got to meet Fuzzybuns who was next to me. As contestant #1, I was set to the left of the raised stage they had provided us. My mini-bootstand was built and named Tankenstini.

We had a short huddle and were presented with our contestant medals. It was a great moment just for ourselves. And then the boots started.

We were in charge of our own lists and how we handled people who wanted their boots done - if they didn't have a ballot, we could decide to take them or not, but were cautioned if we didn't that could have some repercussions.  I just took everyone, and asked them to get their friends to vote instead.

First shine is also arranged ahead of time with folks who come from IMsL, and mine was Leland from San Fransisco (and Portland). There were some quick pictures taken and then we were going to move onto people who wanted their boots done. As Leland was getting off the stand, my stand broke. The front holding the foot rests just fell forward.

This was when I realised that something that looked neater, was not necessarily the best engineering job. Despite muddling through the blurred day of boots after boots and repairs - I had to do something different to fix it, but had to wait until the next day to do so. In 7 hrs I was able to get through 24 pairs of boots and remembered to eat food and drink water between people so as not to be exhausted afterwards.

After we counted our days ballots, we had to get ready to be introduced on stage for the first night of the contest, and then we were released. I was invited to hang out with my fellow contestant Mike and his friends - and a riotously good time was had. Another barely clothed party and meeting and greeting people later, and it was time for bed again. Wow - what a day!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

IML - Thursday

We would walk past this every day
Thursday started a new tradition for Tarsus and I - we would walk down the street to Houlihans, get a buffet breakfast, then head over to a nearby Starbucks to get good coffee and my emergency sandwich for after I had finished doing boots. This gave us both time to wake up, connect with each other, and get a little exercise away from the hotel.

Jim only laces his boots on busesToday though was time for the bootblacks to hang out. At first we had a trip to I. Sachs and Son - a local supplier of all things bootblacks might want (also known locally as Bootblack Heaven), and then later a brunch to get to meet other contestants and friends.  In another small world example, one of the ladies who came with us is good friends with my boyfriend - we've seen each others blogs for about ten years, but never met. Hurray! We met up with everyone going and took a bus to our destination.

Dad and Grandad share a cupcakeIt was all it was purported to be - shelves of stuff everywhere. Polish, brushes, laces, creams, liquids and all sorts of products I'd never seen. A whole floor of leather hides and another with boot soles. It smelled great. I was able to pick up a few things I may have needed, and some things I didn't know anything about so I could learn about it. On he way back I picked up an all important case of water for the weekend.

Then it was time for the bootblacks (and pals) afternoon lunch. We met again at Houlihans and chatted and met each other and ate food. I was able to meet some of the other contestants here as well - boy dave from NC, and piglet who I already knew. Bootblack Mike from MN and Fuzzybuns was still delayed on a train but would arrive shortly afterwards. We had some delicious food, and then Tim brought out some cupcakes for desert. We had to feed them to each other in a special way.

After lunch we all headed our separate ways and I was able to start taking stock of what I had from the trip, and also what I needed to prepare for Friday. It was then I realised something horrific - two crucial 2x4's were not in my stand bag. This would not do at all. Thankfully, after some googling, I located a Home Depot not 3 miles from the hotel and vowed to enjoy my evening, and go in the morning to get the supplies I needed.

Thats me - outside the Leather Archoves & MuseumFirst though, we had our first mandatory meeting of the weekend, it was our introduction to each other, and our co-ordinators. We went over some paperwork, and how the contest piece would be run. They were very clear about what was allowed and what was not, and it was up to us to educate people, and also handle our list of people wanting a shine. We also drew contestant numbers in a very secret and special way I will not divulge - but I drew contestant number 1.

After that, it was off on the shuttle bus the Leather Archives & Museum.

Tonight was a roast of the outgoing title holders, Jim Deuder for IMBB, and Eric Gutierrez for IML. The Leather archives were selling tickets for the theatre hey had inside, but were sold out when we got there. However, they did have free seating on a first come basis on the sides of the theatre - and they were still really good seats. It was great way to mingle with folks and work some of my social magic. We also got to look around about half of the museum too, which was really awesome - but sadly didn't take any pictures.

After an hour of amusement, it was back to the hotel and some well deserved rest - but I did get to sit next to one of the other IML contestants on the shuttle ride back - Mr Oklahoma Leather and we chatted very comfortably.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

IML - Wednesday

One of the best things about flying on Southwest, was two bags up to 50lbs each flying for free. This allowed me to take a small boot stand, for use on a stage riser - and a regular bag with kit and clothes. I spent a good month or two designing and building the mini stand ( called Tankenstini ), and then being able to pack it into a large green army duffel bag. I made an aesthetic choice about recessing the top plate, because it looked cooler. Note: Always TEST your stands in working conditions.

I was able to get everything I needed into the two bags, bringing a cordless power drill and screws, and just in case a hammer and nails. I weighed in at just 50lbs for each bag. Awesome.

Flying was pretty smooth - makes it a lot easier when taking direct flights too, and there were plentiful taxis just waiting to go. I checked in after getting a bell hop to take things to my room and I just sat. Took a deep breath in and out, and then unpacked necessary items.

My roommate for the weekend was my sash brother Tarsus. He was also running for the IML title, and had arrived earlier that day. They were somewhere else having a welcome and introduction dinner, and after a quick call to him, he invited me down to eat with them. One quick change later and another taxi ride and I was meeting a lot of the contestants for the IML title, and eating some wonderful Minestrone soup.

I sat next to Angel - Mr Chicago Leather, and then his partner arrived who I had met the month earlier at a conference for work of all things. I was later told this was meeting someone in a muggle context for the Harry Potter fans amongst you. We chatted and ate, and then headed out to Touche's - a local gay/leather bar.

The bar was quite crowded, and full of men being their sexy selves. The contestants introduced themselves on a mic and there was lots of cheering. I stayed for a drink or two, and toured the back half of the bar, with a walled in black room. Imagine chain link fence, lined with black plastic - and there's a small entrance and exit. I won't say what happened back there, but I did take time out to sample some of the local fare. Hmmmm - hairy men and leather indeed. Unfortunately I had to leave, and was able to get back to the hotel on one of the shuttles laid on for the weekend, and sadly I was alone.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Origin Story

I began my bootblacking career back in 2002 when I joined the US Military. I learned to make boots nice and shiny, and often traded with other soldiers for it. Its also when I found out D/s dynamics really worked for me and after leaving explored that as well.

I went to a leather event and watched a bootblack work. It was sexy and hot, and while I knew the technical pieces, I was turned on that I could participate in that. I was hooked. I went to events, I went to classes, I learned from some great people. I build a boot stand called Tankenstein.

I was also always adamant that I could do what I did without a title, and without obligations - and I had a stick up my butt about title holders themselves.

And then I met Q.

She explained to me about the importance of good role models, and how she really believed I could help the next generation of bootblacks, and that she saw my heart and my passion for bootblacking and other bootblacks. This planted a seed that would germinate for a few years.

After moving to Portland, Oregon and getting involved in community there, I found a crew of bootblacks and we worked and learned from each other. I began to sprout. In August 2011, I competed for and won the first Oregon State Bootblack contest sponsored by Blackout Productions. And so it began.

Oregon State 2011 Family