Life After IML - February 2008

John on stage at Touche wearing black leather jeans and a t-shirt with PIGLET written across the chest

Friday 25th Jan 2008 - hosting the meet and greet at Touché next to a Piñata. (If you don't know the difference, I'm the one you should hit with sticks.)
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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.

Four men try to lift Freddie off the ground for a group photo

Mr Chicago Leather winners from 2004 to 2007 welcome Freddie Marshall (MCL 2008) into the family.
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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.

John Pendal
International Mr Leather 2003

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