With Dave at the end of Navy Pier, Chicago. May 2005
Thank you to everyone who contacted Dave and me after the London bombings on July 7. We're both fine. Dave cycled to work on the day of the attacks and I was at home taking antibiotics for a chest infection (now cured).
UPDATE: July 21 - More attempted bombs today, this time one of them was at the train station near where we live. Fortunately it didn't go off and Dave and I were both at work at the time. Thanks again to everyone who got in touch.
One of the highlights of my IML year was attending SM workshops run by Kansas City Leather University (KCLU). My first encounter was in Kansas City, Missouri in September 2003, when I was helping to judge the Mr Dixie Belle Leather contest. That same weekend I saw "puppy play" for the first time and learned what happens when I drink more vodka than is good for me!! The next time we met was in Tulsa, Oklahoma in March 2004 during the Tulsa Mr Leather weekend. Another fun afternoon, this time outdoors in hot sunshine.
Each year I choose five organisations to support and I'm proud to add KCLU to my list this year. Zack Marquardt was one of my IML class in 2003 and is also a Headmaster and co-founder of KCLU. He kindly agreed to be interviewed for this column.
Shane Linden (2003 Heart of America Leatherman) joined KCLU in March 2003 and then quite recently long-time volunteer Sheri Logan and Craig Heslop, owner of The Leather Shop in Kansas City, have also joined the faculty.
What geographical area do you cover?
Typically we cover the area of the US known as "the Heartland", which consists of Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Our home base is Kansas City, MO and the DB Warehouse.
We've presented workshops in Wichita, KS; Des Moines, IA; Topeka, KS; Tulsa, OK; Oklahoma City, OK; Columbia, MO and as far away as Asbury Park, New Jersey. We co-sponsored the Puppy Play Party at International Mr Leather (IML) in 2004, and are honoured to have been asked to organise and produce the workshops for International Ms Leather (IMsL) in 2004 and 2005.
With Jason Hendrix (IML 2004) at the IML 2005 contest
Photo credit: Dave Harris
If you don't mind me asking - what are your personal kinks?
Ok, here are a few and I'll leave it up to the readers to try to figure out which of the Headmasters enjoy these kinks: bondage, electrical play, fisting, slave training, hot wax, flogging, uniforms, cigars... the list goes on and on. Even the Headmasters learn more about themselves and their kinks as we continue to present more and more topics.
Where can people see KCLU in the next year?
Here are some of our coming events:
KCLU also holds night classes on the second Tuesday of each month from 7pm to 8:30pm on the 2nd floor of the Dixie Belle Complex, 1915 Main Street, Kansas City, Mo.
How are you funded?
We are funded by fundraisers that are not part of the workshop event. We actually manage to produce our events on a very small budget. One of our primary goals is to present educational workshops free of charge to anyone (of legal age and consent) who wishes to attend, regardless of sexual orientation, sex, race, religion, ability etc.
To date, we have never charged admission to our events. Contributions and donations are welcome, of course, and we are a registered not-for-profit organisation. However we are not yet a 501(c)3 charity. Contact us at www.KCLeatherUniversity.com for more information.
Are the presenters paid anything?
Our presenters are paid, not in money, but in overwhelming appreciation from our students, faculty and sponsors. We rely on the willingness of volunteers and the fantastic outpouring of knowledge from those we trust to share it. In very rare instances, when a visiting presenter is attending we will try to offer assistance with their travel expenses, host accommodations and/ or meals. Perhaps in the future we may consider producing some special engagement events where this may be necessary, but for now - we rely on good-hearted volunteers, of which there are plenty in the BDSM/ leather community.
I get the impression that the SM community in America is under a lot of pressure at the moment. Bound and Gagged magazine has ceased publication following new regulations on adult images. Dungeon and Black Rose have both cancelled events this year, and other organisers are finding it difficult to secure a venue. Has KCLU experienced any difficulties?
It's unfortunate that so many organisations have had to face these challenges and defend these attacks. Most of these incidents involve events that have become well known in the BDSM and fetish circles, as well as in mainstream media. Advertising for such an event is a necessity for success, but the unfortunate truth is that it can also lead to discovery by the fundamentalists who lobby and protest against them.
Since KCLU is not an annual or high profile event, our advertising is limited. We require identification to verify legal age, require attendees to read and sign a consent form explaining the nature of our workshops, and we follow the established laws of the community. There's no guarantee we will not some day face these conservative groups, however, we do everything we can to protect our presenters, attendees, venue and ourselves. The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) has been a fantastic source of help with this. You have to know what you can and cannot do, prepare for the worst and plan for the best.
Puppy Play with "Tempest" at IML 2005
(KCLU has a lot to answer for)
Photo credit: Dave Harris
Can I be a guest presenter for you?
You bet your fish and chips you can! KCLU loves you, and I have a feeling you have a certain love for KC, the DB Warehouse and our vodka! We'll stay in touch and try organise something during the next year.
Thanks, Zack. Hope to see you all again soon!
UPDATE: Dec '05 - Since the column was written KCLU organised a pub crawl to raise money for the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project. In one evening we raised $1000 and had a lot of fun along the way. I joined in and can remember most of it...
International Mr Leather 2003