Me.I have never entered a competition like this before, and I very much doubt I ever shall again, but I have to say it was a lot of fun. It was the persistent bullying of the owners while I was in a mentally weakened state that pushed me into the contest in the first place "Go on... ! Go on!" - that and my admission I can fit into my leathers again - with a good belt to help things in place.
The thought of winning a free trip to Melbourne to represent NZ over there was tempting, but the thought of having to compete again was less appealing I have to say. I do not have a gym-toned body, as much as that may surprise some of you, and feel my advancing years keenly. And the winner in Melbourne gets sent to IML (International Mr Leather) a contest that's been going for 32 years, in Chicago.
But the cool thing about the leather community is that it is very broad in how it defines itself and who its members are. This year, the winner at IML in Chicago, Tyler McCormick, was the first winner in a wheelchair and the first FTM guy to win it as well. So what happened to the stereotypes about the leather-scene being this place of muscle men who are so wrapped up in their dead-cow and egos they don't notice or care about anything else? Not true. Like any other part of the gay scene, you can find idiots and bastards in the leather community, but it's a pretty friendly and non-judgemental place by and alrge I reckon.
I've been in and out of the leather world since I was first introduced to it in Melbourne when I was 18. At that age I was a little amibvalent, a little scared (and fascinated) but I think the men I met in that world then often treated me better as a young gay man than those in the wider scene. There's nothing like being in a minority in a minority. Do you have to be into filthy kinky sex to be into leather? No. Though I guess there is a higher chance of encountering more sexually adventurous men in this crowd that elsewhere *cough*.
And I like my leathers, and was surprised at how much I had when I pulled it all out of the wardrobe: some of it I bought, some was gifted to me and carry memories of the friends who gave it, and I did have to borrow a couple of things as well in the end.
But anyway, Friday night! The tension ! The excitement ! OK, there were only four of us this year - one contestant had pulled out the day before - but you work with what you get. And we had the added glamour of Mr Leather Australasia who'd come over from Melbourne to guest-judge. There was a bit of horror when we saw the complete hanky-code colour chart on the wall and realised we might be exmained on it - an utterly ridiculous number of variations, but luckily I don't think that question came up. (Did you know that pale pink is for those with a toe fetish - pale pink = shrimp = toes)
Now, it was a friend's birthday that day too, so I'd had a few drinks in the evening with him and some mates, then headed home to get ready, headed up to Kamo for Furry Friday with the Bears, and a few more drinks, then onto Urge and free drinks in the changing room. Yes, no mention of food in that list is there - so yes, I was pretty hammered before I got on stage. I am still trying to remember just what I said on stage, but I'm pretty sure I was for world peace.
But, it was fun. The Urge crowd was great, all very encouraging, and when we rushed around collecting funds for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, we raised $720 in 25 minutes - not bad at all. I think that is me for such contests though - like sky-diving, good to do once in your life, but I wouldn't make a habit of it.
Jamie Gates won, and deserved to, congratulations and have fun in Melbourne - he did really well. Murray and Mal, thanks, you were worthy foes. And while it was a contest of two rounds, I think we can say that leather was the winner on the night.