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. This time, my experience judging the Mr. Eagle contest here in Wilton Manors, FL.Support the show
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Welcome to full cow, the podcast about leather kink and BDSM. My name is edge My pronouns are he him, and I'm your host. Welcome to another introduce the episode between episodes have heard raw and unedited, but with leather creaking. If you're a regular subscriber to the podcast, you might notice there's been a change in the production schedule. Normally this would have been a regular episode. But instead I am offering an interlude because I continue to have some production timeline challenges with the podcast as a whole. And I've been working on arranging an interview for the next episode. I have that pretty much squared away, and so the episode will be released later this month. If you're curious, it's about spirituality. But in this interlude, I wanted to discuss my recent experience this past weekend, judging the Mr. Eagle contest here in Wilton Manors, Florida. Now a lot of people tend to think that I have run for titles before that I made a run for IML, or that I've held some local title. That is technically not true, it is true that I was Florida leather, sir 2020. But that's because the producer asked me to kind of step into the title and hold space for it during the pandemic. I didn't compete, I was just given it. And I held it for a little bit over a year before I stepped down. In fact, having that title is part of the reason this podcast exists. And all of my social media education exists. But that is a story for another interlude. A lot of people might also think I've judged many contests. But really, this was only the second time I've ever done judging, it was a lot of fun. But in case you've never judged a leather title contest, it is also a lot of work. We had six contestants, which for a local title is really a lot. Normally you're lucky to get three. So to have six was really a boon. And they were really good contestants, I was impressed with all of them. And I'm not just saying that I have high standards. And these people did a really great job. You know what's interesting about Title contests, they sort of it's it's a subculture of its own. And what happens is title holders tend to be judges in Title contests. And so the culture gets reproduced. And as part of that, there are all these little secret rituals you may not know about. So here are a couple of the secrets in case you're ever considering running for title and a lot of it has to do with the interview with the judges. The interview is something that takes place outside of the regular contests, usually behind closed doors. The judges meet with the contestants, ask them questions get to know them. One thing I learned is that there is a chair trick. So you place a chair in front of the judges and you wait to see whether or not the contestant sits in it. Let me tell you don't sit in the chair. That is a big faux pas, apparently, another one which we didn't quite experience, but which some of the others talked about is removing your hat indoors. This comes in part, from military culture and from military rules around covers and things like that. There are all these secret formalities you may not know about. Now, they don't make a huge difference on the judging sheet. In the category of manners, I had five points to distribute. And a lot of that was dependent on whether or not the contestants created the judges whether or not they thanked us at the end. But it was also dependent on the secret chair and whether or not you chose to sit. So it's not going to determine who wins the title. But certainly it is a good thing to know, in case you ever decide to run for title, take off your hat. Greet each judge with a handshake stand. And then when you're done, thank each judge for the handshake as well. You're welcome. I like to say when you know there were seven judges and six contestants, we had 15 minutes with each contestant. So we were in that room for hours. But it was also a very tight schedule. We couldn't spend a lot of time talking to each contestant. And each judge got to ask one, maybe two questions. When it got to me, I would say I'm going to ask the hard question. And I'm going to give it to you now as you can kind of test how well you might do. And I framed this by saying I'm asking the hard question. Not to be mean and not to trip you up. But for three reasons. First, I wanted to see how well these contestants knew about conversations taking place in the community nationally, because this title does feed into IML and they are going to be on this national stage. Second, I wanted to see how well they navigated the tricky currents of cancer canceled culture and social media. Because once you have any title, if you post the wrong thing, not only can you damage yourself, you can damage the bar and you can damage the local community. The third thing I was interested in is how they would respond if they didn't know the answer to something. Because as a title holder, you're likely to get interviewed in any number of media outlets. And sometimes you just don't know the answer. So how do you handle that? So those are my three goals. What do you know about what's going on nationally? How do you handle Kancil? Culture? How do you handle situation where you don't know the question? Here is the question I asked them. You're at to Shay's 45th anniversary party. What do you do? Now, none of the contestants really got it, because none of them knew what took place to Shay's 45th anniversary party. And you may not know either to che is a leather bar in Chicago. Obviously, it's been around for 45 years, and for their anniversary party, they had booked a puppet show, which is bizarre in and of itself, you don't normally think about puppet shows at leather bars. But be that as it may, it turned out to be a puppet show that had racist and transphobic elements as well as some jokes about rape the audience, some of them were heckling, the puppeteer, who instead of backing down, doubled down. And a lot of this was caught on video and posted to social media. It caused a huge outrage in the community in relation to questions of diversity, equity and inclusion, which is one of the most important conversations taking place in the community today. It was all of my Facebook for about a week, people posting about it, reacting to it, posting new information. I didn't chime in a lot, because what I liked was the way that Chicago as a local community took care of the situation. There were reactions from the local clubs who pulled out their business, who made statements, there was a demand for accountability from the bar. They were planned for community meeting, they took care of business, but the larger questions remain diversity, equity inclusion. Now, a couple of the candidates simply said, I don't know. And I'm like, Thank you, that is a perfectly fine answer. The best candidates that best contestants, after the interview, went and found the answer and came back to us as judges and said, Here's what I learned. That's also a great trick. If you're a contestant in a title contest, if you don't know something that they asked you go find the answer, come back and give it to them. Now, this is not a theoretical situation, right? Because anyone, any title holder can be in an event at any moment that goes wrong, and what do you do and in fact, in this situation, Mr. Chicago leather was at that event, and ended up getting death threats simply because he was there, even though he left quite offended. So title contests are not really about the most popular person, they're not really about representing the bar, as one of the other judges said, the moment you get a title, there is a target on your back. And how do you handle that? The contest itself was really good. Again, all of the contestants, I think, did a superb job. And I had a lot of fun judging. Now. I'm not generally a judgmental person. But if you've listened to my content in general, you know that I have strong beliefs about how to do leather, and I acknowledge they are not exclusive. And they are not singularly true and that the way you do leather is perfectly legitimate, even if I don't tend to agree with it. But when you asked me to be a judge, the standards I bring have to do with my expectations around leather. So there's nothing more and nothing I love more than sitting and watching contestants parade across the stage in gear and me being able to comment on it. I think this was particularly true for the last segment of the contest which was about formal leathers. And here I was a harsh judge. For me formal leathers is not just full leather, meaning you're wearing leather on top and leather on bottom. Formal leathers are formal. So I have certain expectations that you will have a leather shirt with sleeves that you will have leather pants, and in my head I will expect you to have tall boots. Somehow short boots. Don't feel as formal to me, as tall boots with pants tucked in there The rest of the contest was also really quite entertaining, we got to ask them sort of off the cuff kind of silly questions. And then you could see how they respond and how they engage the audience. There was a bar where component which again, I was able to judge VMI aesthetic, and there was a jockstrap component, which again, I was able to judge via my aesthetic. In the end, we crowned someone new, who now will be on his way to IML in simply a few months. In general, I don't know that titles are as important as they used to be. If we go back to the beginnings, we, as a community had really bars and magazines, those were our structures for aspirational pathways, those were our entry points into the community. And therefore when you became the title holder at a bar, and then a title holder connected to a national event, like Mr. Drummer national magazine, or IML, which became a national and then International, you became the aspirational model, which is what I mean by that is titleholders used to be both the men we wanted to fuck, and the men we wanted to be. These days, a lot has changed, in part because of the advent of social media, but also sort of dispersal of the community into a wider society. And for long time, what the title holder the reason they get a title, what the title holder had, was up a box upon which to speak, a way to access an audience, a way to carry forward their specific platform, and what they wanted to change and achieve in the community. I think I'm a fairly good example of the fact that you no longer need a title to make a difference. Part of what social media has created is an environment where anyone can build their own audience and therefore shape their own influence in ways that can impact the community. You don't have to be a title holder anymore. That doesn't mean that I am against title contests or against title holders. A lot of it has to do with individual people and what they do with the title. I've been watching Mr. International rubber, who is a local resident here in Fort Lauderdale. And they've been doing some amazing things, helping local homeless people, that's making a difference in the community. I know of other title holders, who simply have not done as much work. Part of the reason I've never wanted to run for title is because of the amount of work involved. And its work that never ends. Because once you have a title, you're always called upon to help the community often by judging other contests. So not wanting to do that work, is part of the reason I've never run for title. Another reason is because title holders have to talk to people. That's pretty much a requirement. As an introvert, I don't like to talk to people, you know, part of the contest was selling tickets to raise money for the travel fun, you had to call up the strangers, you had to convince them to buy tickets. And then even generally, as a title holder, part of your goal was to talk to people welcome them into the community. I do not like talking to people. So I've not run for Title both because the amount of work and because it really calls for a kind of extrovert, or at least someone who's willing to make connections with just about anyone. And that does not sit well with my introvert soul. Titles can also be really quite expensive. Even if you have a travel fund, you might be called to do travel in excess of that. You need really good skills at setting boundaries, and really good financial resources, and really, really good self care resources to do well as a title holder. I've also had some concerns about how it might swing back and impact my career. I'm fairly protected in my career. So that hasn't been the primary reason I've never run for title, but it's certainly been a factor. And I will share with you a secret. This is well it's not secret anymore, because it's on my podcast. One of the reasons I never run for title is because I'm always afraid I'm gonna lose. And that's terrifying. Part of that is some remnant of imposter syndrome. Part of it is a realization that I'm not all that, that a lot of other people bring things to the table that I may not bring. But I've always been terrified of entering a contest and not winning, and that's part and it's a part why I never enter. There you go. That's my secret confession. The whole weekend was great. They're trying to craft this as a Florida leather weekend, which is a great thing because Fort Lauderdale is an ideal place for leather event. And we have fantastic weather, particularly here during the winter. We have a lot of cheap flight because we're tourist destination. We have a lot of places to stay. We have a lot of bars, we have a lot of venues. So there are a lot of good reasons to have a leather event here at this Florida leather weekend, and there was the cigar social, which was Thursday night, we were able to have our first bluff event ever a social on Friday evening, which was incredibly successful. That led into the contestant meet and greet, which was really all about selling raffle tickets. That was also Friday night. Saturday, there was a leather barbecue sponsored by Onyx. And then Saturday night was the contest and a victory party after and then there was a wrap up party at the ramrod the next day. I think there was also supposed to be a beach event on Friday. But it was really overcast and really a little chilly for Florida. So that didn't happen. I'm hoping that this event continues to grow, I would love to see a significant event here in Fort Lauderdale. And honestly, as much work as it was. And let me tell you, the weekend was exhausting. I have spent the last couple of days doing as little as possible just to try and recharge my batteries. And even despite that, I would love to judge again. You know, I've never really wanted to be IML. But here's another secret. I've always wanted to be a judge at IMO. And part of that is because I really enjoy the conversations with people who are running and finding out what they think about different things. I like challenging them. I like probing their minds with questions that really make them think I like also the sense that I can carry my vision of leather forward through these candidates. I can give points to those who are doing the leather the way I like to do it. That's pretty selfish motive, but I will stand by it. And besides being a judge at IMO, my other secret fantasy is to kind of groom a candidate for IML. Really tell them what to read, have conversations really help refine their leather aesthetic, tell them what to buy, what to wear, all of that just to see how they do. I've, in general never wanted to be the person in the spotlight. I like being in the heroes or I'm the Yoda. I like being the Yoda. I've talked about that in something maybe one of the podcasts. I like being the Yoda. I like being the weird sage in the forest that the hero goes and finds and then the sage teaches the hero, all the things the hero needs to succeed. That's the role I like. So judging contests love that helping someone as they enter contest. Love that. So that also means that if you have a contest, and you're looking for a judge, keep in mind, please, I would probably consider flying lots of places if I had that opportunity. And also means if you're a contestant and you want someone to just talk to is going to ask hard questions and say, What have you thought about what Haven't you thought about? What are you wearing, you're wearing that don't wear that wear this, I might also be the person for you. In general, I think there is a place for titles still. It's not my place. It's not where I am called to do work in the community. I am called through more educational venues, more traditional educational venues, which I've now carried over into my social media. I love titleholders I love that they exist, it's simply not for me. But judging, holding people to standards, learning about people in a one on one kind of setting or something that feels one on one, probing their minds challenging them. And more than anything, you know, separate secret fantasy, I would not be my I would not at all mind being a leather stylist. Like you just say how much money you have. And we go shopping, and I tell you what to wear and how to wear it and how to stand and how to move and how to walk. I would also really love that that's a secret to here's hoping that if you decide to enter a local contest, that you do so in the spirit of helping the community and that you're very successful. And that doesn't mean winning. That means participating. Because anyone who was able to get up on that stage and Santa front of a bar full of people and not lose their nerve, that person is a winner. Right. So I hope that for you. I hope the fertile other weekend continues to grow into a more significant event so that maybe you'll come visit Florida and I can meet you. And yeah, I hope I get the chance to judge other contests, or charge IML or help people as they decide to go for a title of their choosing. That's where we're at at this interlude. In about two weeks. I'll have the episode on spirituality and Then we'll see, I've continued to struggle a little bit with topics and production and lighting up guests and recording everything. But I'm gonna continue to do my best because so many of you have told me online or in person or in DMS that this podcast means something to you. And that's the only reason I keep doing it. It costs me money, not a lot, but it costs me money. It costs me time it cost me energy. But the reward I get from all of you, is more than worth it. So I'm going to continue to do my best to make this happen. And that is also why I'm so super grateful for you, that you take time out of your day to listen, that just means the world to me. Because inside I'm just this weird, geeky fat kid, right? And so you make me feel valued in a way that I haven't yet fully learned to affirm for myself. Thank you for that. And I hope your leather journey in or out or at contests is as blessed as it can be. Until next time,