Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Leather Contest Rant

So, last weekend, I won a couple of passes to one of the big leather conventions where they do one of those contest things.  I'm very excited to be going!  My Owner and I have never been to this particular con, even though it's supposed to be one of the best in the Southeast.  We tried to go one year (2007) and actually did stay there in the hotel.  We didn't actually attend the con b/c (1) we primarily just wanted to see some friends -- particularly Philip (Boymeat) b/c I had a piece of art that I created as a surprise gift for him, and (2) we found it to be a bit over-priced.  So we saw some friends in the lobby and over dinner, and went to a separate dungeon party that night... but we spent the day at the art museum.

So I am excited to be finally, actually going to this con.  We'll get to see many friends, and I'm sure some of the classes will be quite good.  Most exciting of all: I hear they have a puppy mosh pit.  While I've been a pup for seven years, I've never pupped-out w/ more that one or two other pups at a time... so I'm pretty excited to be in a proper mosh.  *wags*

On the other hand, my Owner is a bit nervous about this event b/c she's certain she's going to piss some people off.  You see, we're both pretty low protocol.  Well, I'm a pup; "high protocol" for me is if I don't lick you or sniff your crotch the first time we meet.  And my Owner is known widely for being pretty brash and outspoken... and one thing we've both been somewhat outspoken about is that neither of us think much of these title contest things.

Pardon me while I get out my soapbox...

Let me start by saying my problem isn't w/ title HOLDERS per-say... but w/ the selection process.  I have known some title holders who are very cool people and very wise, competent, respected community leaders.  I've also known title holders who couldn't find their own ass w/ a flashlight and a Ouija board.  However, it's axiomatic that the results you get depend on the inquiry you conduct.  So let's be honest... the selection process resembles nothing so much as a beauty pageant.  Here she comes, Ms. Leather America! 

(Let me pause at this moment to admit that several years ago my Owner ran for one of these titles an lost.  But least you think the opinion I'm expressing here -- and this is just my opinion -- is nothing but sour grapes, let me note that I felt very much the same way about these contests even before my Owner ran for one.  I supported her in her run, but she knew how I already felt about the whole process.)

While I've known some very good ones, I could also give a litany of examples of sorry title holders.  I've known recognized Master-slave couples who were frankly in desperate need of marriage therapy they were in such an unhealthy place.  I know one person who just fell off the turnip truck yesterday, won a  title w/o ever having taught a class or held any office or leadership position at the local level... then when I went to her first class we all discovered that "teaching" for her was reading a bunch of un-attributed material she printed off the internet -- literally just reading it to us.  But she won a title b/c she her stage show used a laser light show, a smoke machine, and assorted bells and whistles.

I once asked NCMaster about the history of these leather contest things, and he explained to me that they started as a fun show -- for entertainment -- in the old gay-leather bars.  It's a show, meant to entertain, and the winner is (generally) going to be the one who puts on the best performance.

Look... I've applied for scholarships before.  I put myself through school partially on them.  I've applied for grants, too.  I know what a genuine, rigorous process of selection looks like -- one designed to identify those who have actual vision, aptitude, and leadership skills.  Trust me, it does not look like a beauty pageant.  When people are going to give you a financial endowment -- investing in you -- they are serious about finding out if you are the real deal.  They want your resume.  They want letters of recommendation.  They want to check your references.  Years of experience?  Offices held?  Who mentored you?  Who have you mentored?

But nobody would run a leather contest that way b/c that's... well, it's boring.  The producers of these events have a financial investment, and they want to put butts in seats.  They want to sell tickets.  That means smoke machines and laser light shows.  I'm NOT saying that they don't care about the community; I'm just saying that they have legitimate reasons to make it flashy and entertaining... which dictates the metrics the judges are using.

It's worth repeating that this isn't a blanket condemnation of title holders.  I've known some who are true leaders of their communities -- who are the go-to guy when you need things done... or when you need advice.  They're great teachers, role models, and mentors.  I just think it's a shame that those aren't the reasons they were given their titles.

I will now put away my soapbox, and you may proceed to throw fruits and vegetables at me.


  1. Hi there. I am friends with Loki and found your blog through his twitter post so I hope you don't mind the random message. I just wanted to comment that if the event you are speaking of happens to happen in Atlanta in June, well you won't have to worry about not being high protocol. Trust me when I say we are equally accepting of all relationships, dynamics, protocols, and the like. (And personally I adore puppies). If it is June, well please come find me and say hello! I'll be the kitten with all the pups.

    Love in Leather,

  2. Hey Lizzy! It will be nice to have some company around all the pups! The other Kitten around all the pups. *laughs*