At the end of January I flew to Chicago to host the Mr Chicago Leather contest at Touché for a fifth consecutive year. The temperature was less than minus 20 degrees (both Centigrade and Fahrenheit) the night I arrived, which was colder than I've ever been before. Bottles of water froze solid in our car overnight, and when you exhaled outside you could watch your breath float away. Freddie Marshall won the title of MCL 2008 and has qualified to compete at the 30th International Mr Leather contest next May.
During the second half of the contest Adrian Williams, president of the Chicago Leather Kennel Club, came on stage to present the second annual "Thom Dombkowski Heart of a Leatherman Award". I was speechless when I discovered he intended to present it to me! I truly believe that I have enough reward already for the work I do, so with the audience's permission I dedicated the award to Deborah Hyde. Deborah has been the driving force behind the Backlash campaign against the UK government's plans to criminalise possession of extreme pornography. The campaign is ongoing and they need all your support and encouragement.
This month's column is based on the saying that you learn more from one SM scene that doesn't work out right than you do from a hundred good ones. Plus blooper TV shows are always funny. I asked a selection of presenters who regularly give SM classes and demonstrations if they'd be willing to share a true story of a moment that didn't quite live up to their expectations ... and four people were brave enough to reply. It's nice to know that some of the most respected members of our community are capable of mistakes, just like the rest of us.
Saturday 26th Jan - during the contest red-headed Mr Chicago Leather 2006, Robin Czar, joined me for a game of "Who Wants To Wear Factor 50?"
"I was new in the community and was asked to fill in on a seminar for a leather weekend. I was doing a couple of seminars anyway so they decided they would get their money's worth and ask me to fill in. They said they wanted a seminar on mummification and although I had had it done to me I had never done it to anyone else. I called a couple of people that had done this to me and they explained it down to the smallest detail of how I was supposed to do this seminar. They had faith in me and they told me that I would do fine. I even started to believe them.
We started to do the seminar and I explained what I was doing. I talked about safety and technique and the possibilities of what could go wrong if you did not pay attention. I started the mummification process and used the cling film over all of the volunteer's body keeping it taut, but not too tight, even and spaced well. I stopped at his neck and finished telling the attendees the last part of the steps. Then I used duct tape on him and started at his feet and went to his neck.
Well, as fate would have it I failed to wrap the man's head and forehead in plastic cling wrap. I proceeded to do his mouth and over his nose and then over his eyes and then over his EYEBROWS. Then someone in the audience said: "won't the duct tape take off his eyebrows?"
At this point I went numb. This man was a corporate type and wore suits to work and really needed his eyebrows. So I finished and wrapped his head in cling wrap and taped it. Then I proceeded to cut the tape and cling away. I kept his mouth and hands tied so he couldn't hit me after I started peeling the tape away over his eyebrows. It took me almost 45 minutes to get the tape off with his VERY BUSHY eyebrows intact. I ended up trimming them a lot so they would match. That was my first learning experience whilst doing a seminar for the first time. Just goes to show you that you are always learning!"
"I remember my first attempt at a big rope bondage scene, a couple of decades ago. I'd been tied up plenty of times so I figured I'd give it whirl. I went to a play party with a boy. On the way we stopped by a hardware store and I bought a 100 feet length of nylon laundry line in a plastic bag. I probably didn't buy scissors either.
Once we get there, we staked out a bit of square footage in the crowded party. I was pretty nervous and excited. From the corner of my eyes I noticed that a couple of my usual tops were sitting in the stairway, watching what I was about to do. My nervousness shot up even higher.
I tear open the plastic bag as the boy stands there, both of us practically shaking in excitement. I begin to pull out the nylon cord. It's wound so tight in the bag that it comes out in square coils and bounces around in my hands, then proceeds to turn itself into a hundred feet of monstrously tangling coiled rope monster attacking me as I futilely try to control it. My bottom stared at me with an expression that was simultaneously pity, horror, disbelief, confusion, hilarity and painfully withheld laughter. As for my old tops, I'm sure they ran upstairs to laugh their asses off.
Lessons learned: Use shorter ropes. Laundry lines suck. Practice before playing. Never take yourself too seriously."
Saturday 26th Jan - Adrian Williams surprising me onstage
"Many years ago I was engaged in a nipple play scene with a bottom, who I had strapped to a chair. After minutes of kneading his nipples and applying some abrasion play, he was moaning with ecstasy. As I continued to play with his nipples, he coerced me into letting him suck on my nipples. I readily agreed. After all, isn't it about mutual enjoyment?
The more I played the more he sucked. The harder I played with his nipples the more he sucked then softly bit mine. After a while, I tried to remove my nipple from his mouth, we both realised that a problem that arisen. It seemed that the braces on his teeth had got entangled with my nipple ring. Not knowing if we should laugh or panic (and we did both) I decided that it was best to untie him from the chair and hopefully manoeuvre him into a position so I could retrieve my nipple and ring from his mouth. Nothing seemed to work. Eventually I called my dentist, who is a friend and also kinky, to see if he was available for a house visit. Luckily he was home and said he would be right over.
He drove over to my house to see if he could help (I am sure he was laughing all the way). Opening the door and finding me and my boyfriend standing there was somewhat awkward but being a professional, he jumped right in and went to work. A simple solution took lots of time, as trying to manoeuvre inside a mouth that had a nipple lodged in it wasn't easy. I finally loosened the braces in order for me to reclaim my nipple.
I guess we all learned a lesson that day. Never insert without first inspecting!"
"I was staying at a friend's condominium in Boston one July while he was travelling. I met a hot young guy at the Ramrod and brought him back to my friend's place. We immediately launched into some very loud and raucous sex. I couldn't figure out how to turn on the central air conditioning and I had the windows open. But my new friend was so verbal and exuberant, that I closed the windows fearing we would disturb the neighbours. While spanking and penetrating him all the bedroom lights suddenly came on. Had my friend come home days early? Was it some unannounced visitor who had keys? The super and police because of all the noise? We froze, but there wasn't a sound. It took me only a moment to realise that my friend has his lights hooked up to one of those "Clap on/Clap off" devices. Another solid whack on the bottom's bottom and the lights went out. It did take a few minutes before we could stop laughing and resume our scene.
If you're not playing in your own home, be prepared for just about anything!"
More information at GMSMA at http://gmsma.org
I'm aware that there's a risk that this column could be used by people who wish to further criminalise the SM community to argue that SM is inherently risky or dangerous. A few years ago the Spanner Trust conducted an online survey to find out how many SM players had suffered an injury as a result of their sexual activities. Of the 1688 respondents, only 7% had received injuries during sex which required medical attention, and all of these were accidents causing very non-serious injuries. Practically none were related to the SM nature of the activity, (for example, "I fell out of bed and hit head on sideboard" or "The table I was tied to broke".) If that figure sounds high, remember that we have no idea how many people suffer similar injuries during non-SM sex.
Whatever kind of sex you're having, please take basic safety precautions. Check the furniture you're playing on is strong enough to take your weight. Make sure you have bandage scissors nearby if you're tying anyone up with rope. Store handcuffs in the locked position so that you have to use a key to unlock them before they are used. And if the worst does come to the worst, please email the story to me so that I can write another column.
Have fun, look after yourselves and the people you play with.
International Mr Leather 2003