Interludes are short segments between regular episodes with no editing but WITH leather creaking. It's a chance to hear a little more about what's going on in my life. In this interlude, I share my experience with the major leather event, International Mister Leather, or IML.Support the show
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Welcome to full cow podcast about leather kink and BDSM. My name is edge My pronouns are he him and I will be your host. And this is not an episode. This is an interlude. And what's an interlude? Well, you know it started because some people really liked the creaking of my leather. As I wore my language during recording early episodes, other people found it slightly distracting and felt like it pulled them out of deep listening. So I've decided to do episodes in between episodes, which I'm calling interludes where there will be creaking. The other key component of the interludes is that I'm doing them very minimally, you know, regular episode takes quite a bit of work, I have to plan the segments, write out notes, record each segment, find someone to interview, record the interview, edit all the audio, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. That's a lot of work. So the internet, you're going to be pure. I am not going to edit this at all. I am not including the theme music. It's simply going to be be me talking including all the flubs and verbal blurps that I make along the way. I think the goal here is to offer you a little bit more content a little bit more often in a way that also matches the energy I have available. And for those people who do like the kind of ASMR ish aspects of creaking leather. Well, you'll get some of that too, because in the interludes, I will be wearing my still fairly new Langlands padded pocket Columbia jacket. In this interlude, I wanted to discuss my experience with IML. I just got back from it this past month flew back home on Monday. For those of you who are not well familiar with the leather community, I m L stands for International Mr. Leather. And it is a leather title contest. But it is the leather title contest. Hence the International and its name. It has been going on for 44 years this year was IML 44. It always takes place in Chicago, which is where it started. And it always takes place over Memorial Day weekend. And it is an extraordinary international gathering of the tribe. I met people from many parts of the world Australia, from Sweden, from Germany from England, it is extraordinary to have all those people together in one place. So that's what I am ill is now I haven't been to IML since the year 2000. And now you're I went, I was helping out one of the vendors, a company called leather creations, which was based in Connecticut. I'm not even sure they're around anymore. That was my only IML experience well over 20 years ago. And you know, part of that is because I've historically been in long distance relationships, which is something I continue to discuss in therapy, I will say, but it's also because I was scared. I've been scared of IML for 20 years. Now, here's why. You know, it historically took place at the Congress hotel in Chicago, which is what took place this year. But it's also taken place at the Hyatt at the Palmer House. And my image of IML is this big lobby filled with leather men, or leather people welcomes all genders, but it's primarily leather man, right? And I always imagine myself walking into that lobby and instantly feeling less than my leathers would not be good enough, they would not fit well enough, my partner would not be hot enough, I would not be hot enough, I would not be young enough, I would not be old enough, I would not be enough. And that kept me from IML. For decades, right? And I don't think I'm alone in having that kind of fear. I think many of us can be frightened at these events, because they can be really quite intimidating. And I've made some videos on my Twitter about some of that including one on impostor syndrome. It took a lot of internal work for me to get ready for IML. And let me say it's, it's not like I spent the last 20 years thinking, Oh, I'm gonna go to IML I better start training for it all. Now, but what I've done consistently is learned to be comfortable in my skin through a lot of internal work, a lot of therapy, a lot of practice a lot of work through my 12 STEP program. And all of that kind of it paid off is what I will say it paid off. And originally you know, the only reason I had a reservation for the hotel at IML is because I was gonna go with my partner at the time. I made the reservation quite some time ago. And when we broke up, I thought quite a bit about canceling it. Because I'm not sure I'm wanting to go, being single, I wasn't sure I want to spend the money. But I decided I would go in part because I found incredibly cheap airfare on Southwest Airlines Hello, to check bags for free, absolutely essential when traveling to another event. But also, because there were so many people I wanted to meet. And I knew they would be in IML. I think part of what made IML so successful for me, let me let me just give you the punchline, I had a fucking amazing time in IML. It was simply incredible. And part of I think what helped with that is that I was very thoughtful about what I wanted out of it. Most of these big leather events are what you make them. So if you want to go have a lot of sex, there's a lot of sex to be had, you want to go participate in the contest, there's a lot of contest to be had in IML, you want to go do shopping there shopping in the live market, you want to go and dance, there are lots of circuit parties. But I very intentionally made the decision that I was going there to be social to meet people and connect with people I knew or wanting to meet. And I was very, you know, I was specifically intentional about that. Because you know, when when people find out you're going to an event online, or they see it on your profile. They're like, Oh, I can't wait to see you at IML. You know, they're like 10,000 leather people, they're 10,000, maybe more, you're not just gonna accidentally bump into each other. So, for certain people, I made very intentional brands, I reached out and said, Hey, I don't want to leave it to chance I really want to meet you. Can we do lunch on Saturday? Can we do brunch on Friday. And so I went into this with a set of anchor points. There were places where I knew I would be with people that I really wanted to know, or really wanted to see. And that gave me a kind of infrastructure or skeleton. So I knew I had a kind of safety net if the whole event felt overwhelming. And it did not, you know, I arrived on Thursday, walked into the lobby of the Congress hotel, and I felt at home, I felt like I was where I belonged. Now. Granted, it's easy to do that when the lobby is practically empty. But throughout the weekend, I felt at home, I felt like I belonged. And I think part of that as much as all that internal work I did the past two decades, mind you, but also because I've spent a lot of time feeling at home in my leathers and feeling at home in my leathers in leather spaces. Here in Fort Lauderdale. I will try to go out to the ramrod once a week, probably on a Friday night. And I always gear up. And I'm always one of the very few men in gear. And that never bothers me. I mean, it bothers me a little bit, right? Because sometimes I'm horny, it'd be nice if there was someone else in gear or a nice cigar boy. But even in those times, I take a moment and I connect to the space. And I remind myself that that bar is my birthright. It's my birthright as a leather person to be in that space. So there may be tourists, there may be all kinds of people not in leather, and that's fine. They're keeping my barn business. But I never forget that I'm the one that truly belongs there, simply because I desire leather. And that makes me a part of the community. Right. So I have spent a lot of time feeling at home in leather spaces. And that's translated into a space like IML I felt like I was with my tribe. And I think that feeling was most likely amplified by the fact that this is late pandemic. And people had not really captured this was the first IML and since 2019, right. So I think in general, there was a real sense of the tribe coming back together, and I felt that I felt a part of it. And if you are intimidated by leather events, obviously I get that I was intimidated for two decades. But I really want to encourage you to try to check one out if there's one you can drive to. If there's one where it's not going to cost you a lot to attend, just being in that space. Even if you feel a little overwhelmed. exposing yourself to the radiational field of leather people on moss is exhilarating and enriching and rewarding. And, you know, if you go to an event, it's actually it's really hard to not make at least one friend at an event. If you make one friend at an event then next year you to someone, and you meet some more people, and then the next year, you know, some more people and it just grows into you have a little cluster of friends where you see each other every year at this event, and it becomes something you look forward to, because that's where your friends are. And IML really was where my friends were, you know, there were sort of three categories of my intentional plans. There were people I knew, but had not seen and I wanted to spend time with them. There were people I only knew virtually. And this includes people that I knew from zoom, people that I knew from Recon, people that I've tried it with, sometimes for years, but I'd never met, and I wanted to meet them. And then there were new people that I got to meet as well. And those three kinds of social categories really enriched me. I did do quite a bit of shopping, I did spend too much money, I bought two new hoods and two new uniform shirts. But I didn't care. I felt like I deserved it. And sometimes I can be a little splurge on myself, because I'm blessed to have the resources that will allow me to be a little splurge, and still recover from it. Thursday night was really quiet, but wonderful. I was supposed to get together with this guy, but he was a vendor. And so that never happened. But I still started those connections, I still started meeting people I knew, but I never met, I still started meeting new people. And because I kept the focus on the social, I wasn't disappointed if it did become sexual, or if I didn't hook up or if no one was cruising me. By keeping it on the social My expectations were so reasonable. I just wanted to meet and talk to people, that's reasonable, it became very easy for me to meet my expectations. Friday morning, I had a date, like an actual date, date. And that had been a fantasy of mine, I thought it would be the height of romanticism to go on a date, an actual date, in full leather and IML. And I got to achieve that, with this really wonderful, lovely guy, we had a really good brunch, and good conversation. And that was a really, for me, terrific way to start off my true IML weekend. I did quite a bit of shopping. On Friday, that was my day in the market. And it's a wonder, you know, if you want to buy leather, go to a leather event, because all the vendors are there. And you don't have to wonder does something fit? Or what does that color look like? Or how does that leather feel? It's all right there. And you can try it on. Even if you can't buy it there at the event. At least you know what size you need. And you can come back at or you can order it online, you can always get it later. But nothing replaces the experience of trying on gear in person. And the market at IML is huge. I mean, all the major players are there. It's really quite wonderful. So I spend quite a bit of time in the market. And obviously, you know, here's here's what, here's the thing about IML. There's the contest. And then there's like there's nothing else right there are some dance parties that aren't official IML parties are kind of connected to IML. But it's really the contest. And that's it. So the rest of the time, you're kind of hanging out at the hotel, and the leather market becomes a little bit like a leather bar, because it has a pattern of circulation, which is important for a lot of bars. And there's quite a bit of cruising. It's really delightful. I met, I met quite a few people. I think the thing that amazed me the most and touched me the most during that experience. And I think it really started at around the time on Friday, there was no other market. So many people came up to me and said, I follow your Twitter or I follow you on Instagram and I really liked your video on blah, blah, blah, or while your videos means so much to me or while you're doing great work. I've been to many other leather events for years. I mean, I love claw, I go to claw all the time. And I've never had the experience of people coming up to me and saying, I know you, I follow you, I appreciate you. It moved me so much that sometimes just talking about it, I would start tearing up. I'm just so touched. Because it's one thing to be at home and you're on your phone and you're posting a video and then you're pressing this little heart, like like like you're writing a reply to a comment on your phone, keyboard, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It's an entirely different thing. When you're actually seeing the person you can give them a hug. And you can say thank you for following me. Thank you for giving me your attention. I'm so grateful. It was just it was one of the most extraordinary aspects of IML that I did not expect, but stayed within my theme of the social. So that was really delightful. Friday was my big market day and then Saturday I had dinner with a friend who lives in Virginia but it's come down here in Fort Lauderdale. We had a really, really nice dinner at our restaurant near the hotel, and that was wonderful. And I was like wow, look Me, I am navigating the space and I don't feel overwhelmed and I feel comfortable and I feel like I'm looking good. That was my experience on Friday. As it turns out, everyone gets there on Saturday. When I walked through the market on Saturday, I will admit, I felt not exactly overwhelmed, but it was clearly more crowded. It was clearly the energy was a little different. And I felt like oh, this is the IML I feared. But I remembered Friday, and I remembered that I had met wonderful people. And I remember that I'd done great shopping. And I'd remembered that seriously. I remembered I'd gotten all the attention I needed on Friday. And so Saturday, I was at peace with the fact that it was a very different crowd. It was very crowded. I felt like a little lost in the crowd. That was all okay. I had a really great brunch with someone I've been texting with every day for months and finally got to meet him. That was Saturday morning. And then Saturday night, I went to the bluff social. I think the October episode is going to be on uniform. So you can look forward to that. And I will tell you my history of bluff. It was a really wonderful social because if you're into full leather uniforms, it's a room full of men and full their uniforms. Oh my God, so many of them. Were wearing their language jackets, and I could not believe it. It was hot. Chicago was effing hot and the hotel had piss poor air conditioning. I was just in another uniform, and I could feel the sweat dripping down my back into my ass crack. And I was just imagining how absolutely melted these leather men must be to be in full leather with a language jacket. God bless them. That's dedication. So that was my Saturday night, Sunday, things started to kind of wind out because I was leaving on Monday. And what I had another plan on Sunday. Oh god, I met someone that I had zoomed with very early in the pandemic. And we had breakfast. And then we did shopping. And it was so good to actually meet him. And he's really quite sexy and quite sweet, sweet. And I helped him with my sort of leather aesthetic guide to buy a couple items in the market. So I was very happy to do that for him. And the rest of my Sunday was a little quiet. I have plans on Sunday evening, I'd kind of left that open to people. Because you know, you want I want it to be I wanted to have some things scheduled. So I had these sort of infrastructural touch points where I knew I had a plan. And I wouldn't be feeling overwhelmed or all alone or out of the group. But you also don't want too many plans. Because then when the new hot guy that you didn't know was going to be there as they're, they're gonna like, Well, shit, where does he fit into my plans. So Sunday was a little loosey goosey for me. And I did end up having several wonderful encounters. Oh, I also did a photoshoot on Sunday. Oh, Lord, it was so hot. I was melting. But we got some really good shots. And I'm recording this on June 3, probably going to release it around June 17. And by then the firm should be up and out. So you can tell me whether or not they'd be good. So Sunday was good, because it was kind of a little bit like my Open Day, right? Like, besides my morning breakfast plans with this guy, I'd zoom to where the rest of the day was open. So I was able to do things like do a spontaneous photoshoot. Do a little cuddling with someone, it was really quite nice. And then Monday, Monday, I was going home. But you know, someone reached out to me and sort of said, I really respect you. And I would like to get to know you. And I recognize that as someone else being intentional with their plans. And I really responded to that. So we had breakfast, Monday morning, and we just talked and that was surprising and wonderful because I had to get to the airport, that I love that he made time in his day to meet me at a time that would work for me, given my schedule. And I thought that was so thoughtful and said so much about him and his motivations. And we've kept in touch. And that was my IML you know a lot of people experience what's called Event drop after an event. Because when you're at the event, I mean, every everywhere you look, there's some man that is turning you on in some way or is at least available to you. And then you get back home. And it's just you know, you're living in a world full of straight people or people who are not unless you're like, well, that sucks. I did not experience in event drop. I think instead I think what happened is because I had been really thoughtful about what I wanted to get out of the event. And since what I really wanted to get out of the event was social connections that rather than the sort of high that I would drop from what I did instead was maintain a very even keel and most critically, I filled my well right my internal resources were filled by these wonderful encounters I had with a variety of men from fans that are able to hug from people I hadn't seen in decades, all of that nurtured my soul in a way that allowed me to come back to my life not with event drop, but in fact, with more resources, more internal available resources that I had when I left. So it was a really wonderful event. And, you know, honestly, I don't think I'm going to be bad. I am always great, but I prefer claw. And here's why I am owl, again, you can do the contest, or you can wander around the market, or you can go off to a dance party. And that's about it. But claw, first of all, has a beautiful cigar smoking space, that is also a play space, huge bonus. It has classes. So if you're bored, or you're not sure what to do, you can just drop it on a class and learn something new. It has speed dating opportunities. So it's a great way to make direct social connections. Plus, it has to dance parties, if that's your thing. Plus, it has dinners plus it has a bluff social, so I just find what's nice about Claus because there's no contest associated with it. It's really filled with other kinds of activities, that you can really enjoy their stuff to do with cloth. And I am out really, there's not much to do. There's the contest, which is fantastic. And there's the leather market, and there's not much else. And since the claws in late April, and I imagine in late May be very financially challenging for me to do both. So I think from now on, I'll probably go to claw. But I do want to encourage you again, to just any leather event you can get to get to it. Because you will at least be someplace where people recognize you. And don't think you're a freak, where people understand you on some level, no matter how out there you are, where people surround you with comfort and protection simply by the fact that they are outsiders as well. Right simply that fact gives you a sense of safety. And you get to do shopping. I do think it would be extraordinarily hard for anyone not impossible, I could do it. But it's not, it's extraordinarily hard to go to an event and not leave with a bunch of new friendships, that you have the chance to nurture after the event. And so wherever you are in your journey, try to get to whatever event you can get to, if there's something within driving distance, go if it takes a flight, save up your money. I know these are financially taxing things, these leather events, frankly, I spent 1000s of dollars on IML. That's a lot of money. And that's before the shopping, right? I mean, just with hotel and airfare, I spent 1000s of dollars. But I also did it in this very kind of I'm at a point in my life where I don't want a roommate, I'm at a point in my life where I want to pack two bags and not have to pay for them. I want to point my life where I'm not going to take the train, and I'm gonna take an Uber. So I'm at a point in my life where I'm willing to pay for my comfort. And that is an extraordinary blessing. And I recognize that there are ways to do events cheaper, as what I'm saying, right, you can get four people to go together and split a hotel room, that lowers the cost, you can drive there. And if gas prices come down, that would lower the costs. It doesn't have to be this multi $1,000 thing. Oh, the other thing has almost all the events are always looking for volunteers. And if you volunteer, you get two things. Usually they'll give you either a free package for the event or discounted package for the event. But the amazing thing that comes from volunteering as well is that you meet people, you meet other volunteers and a lot of times volunteers are public facing like you're working registration. And so you meet and see everyone when they arrive. And it can be a great way to kind of get over any sort of shyness or social anxiety you have by simply being in a position where your work is to meet people. I think it's a good strategy. That was my IMM experience. And this, this, my friends is the end of my first interlude. I don't know how these are gonna go. I don't know how often they're going to drop. My plan is to have them in between episodes. So episodes come out every four weeks. And then between the second week between each episode, hopefully there will be an interlude. It's easy to do right now because I have a lot of space in my life. I don't have much else to do at the moment. And so this is really fulfilling for me. And we'll see how long I can keep it up. I also need to know whether or not you like interludes, and I can tell that a little bit from the pure statistics of how many times and episodes been listened to. But if you want to send me feedback, on the interludes or on any episode, there is an email link at full Cal dot show or you can simply email Edie Should at full cow dot show that edge at full cow dot show. So if you have thoughts for future episodes if you have comments if you have questions, I do invite you to reach out to me and I do very much thank you for putting up with me for another 25 minutes of your life during this interlude. Have a beautiful, blessed day.