Monday, November 29, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gobble Gobble

Trust Mr. S to post this one! :D

American Thanksgiving

Sending kisses and hugs to my American friends and family on their Thanksgiving long weekend! xoxo

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Insolvency

I think my fetish impulses are going to bring me to the brink of bankruptcy! FML

In only the past month, after spending big cash in Chicago on new rubber gear, the Rage Rubber vac-coffin, a rubber party weekend trip, and a pair of new leather pants from Priape, at the Priape VIP party last night I committed to buying a new sling frame! The discount they were offering the VIPers was too good to pass up; how could I refuse?

I'm freaking out a little bit; even though the sling and frame was at the TOP of my wish list, I'm still reeling from the realities of my money situation. Ugh.

Oh well, if I'm going to go down in flames, might as well do it having fun, right?

Sex Map



Find out where I've journeyed
on the Map of Human Sexuality!
Or get your own here!

Behind the Scenes

Here was a great pic of the MIR2011 contestant in the backstage area on Friday. Thanks for the pic Francesco! Fun times.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

HARD party in video


Gentlemen,

It has been a pleasure to work on this project as executive producer. The event was a great success.

A big thanks to all the volunteers from VML, Priape, Mr. Leatherman Vancouver and Rubbout.

To Producers Rowan and Trent from VML, your dedication to the project has resulted in rave reviews.

To Co-Producer Del from Priape, thanks for everything you have done.

To Bill and Hans, thanks for working so hard to make sure every detail was attended to.

To Barry, Media/photographer. Thanks for capturing the night for all to enjoy.

Given the fact Vancouver had heavy snow fall the night of the event the attendance of 450+ was great. Comments include, best party ever, party of the decade and so many more positive reviews. Number one question is when is the next party. Comparisons have been made to parties in London, Berlin, San Francisco. Lets face it, there has never been a party like this in Vancouver ever!

Congratulations VML and Priape you did it. To Xtra and Priape for providing the event with sponsorships and advertising. The generous contributions from Xtra and Priape was the backbone of our marketing campaign and we could not have done it without their support.

We are all part of this great community and promoting future events for Mr. Leatherman Vancouver and Rubbout at HARD was a good example of our all being connected and supporting each other. I hope the visibility at HARD will help out their upcoming events.

Thanks to Glen for his Demo and Mitch from Rubbout for his Demos. To Nikitas and Doug (Mr. Leatherman Vancouver 2010) for hosting the Meat and Greet.

To the Board of Directors of Vancouver Men in Leather and Priape Head Office for your commitment and support.

If I missed thanking anyone I apologize because I know there were some folks who provided assistance and most of us do not realize how much their assistance mattered. Karl for transport, Kevin from Priape for helping Del organize models, dancers. M2M for providing an edge and Stuart, event Boot Black.

A heartfelt thanks to everyone and we are all looking forward to getting HARD again!

Mark
Executive Producer

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rites of Passage

Last Tuesday we got together at M's place to put together the new Rage Rubber vac-coffin and airtight vac-cube that we bought at the MIR vendor market. It wasn't too much to figure out how to put things together since M and I both already own vac-bondage devices. Mr. P showed up after he ate and watched us get everything set up. As it turned out, a couple of M's cute young neighbors saw him cart the shipping box up to his condo the day before, and curiously asked him what it was (they thought it was a Xmas tree originally!). He told them they could come over once we got together to set things up.

Once they showed up we tried out the equipment. I was the first to get into the coffin, tried a couple of different configurations and positions, then the two young guys were convinced and eager to try out the equipment too. M2 tried out the coffin first, we had a lot of fun using vibrators and ice on him, then B wanted to try out the airtight cube. We flipped him over and played with him for a bit, then the cocks started coming out. Mr. P was on M2's cock immediately....he loves sucking cock that much. Soon enough there was a bunch of sucking going on...no one suspected our innocent demo evening would turn out like this!

In the end, we sent away the two satisfied young guys with vac pressure marks all over their bodies and hopefully incentive to come back some time to try it again. M and I are excited....we got the go-ahead to demo these things Friday night at the Hard Party! I'm excited! :)

...
As things went on Friday, HARD was a big success.  I had heard numbers between 400-500 tickets sold, or at least had been distributed.  The numbers were high enough that Five Sixty felt full both upstairs on the dancefloor and downstairs in the dungeons.  It was a night of high energy and it was good to see so many kinky guys from the community coming out!  As usual, there was a bevvy of hot men there that you don't really see at any other time of the year, so I guess the solution is to have more of these parties so they come out more often!  HARD has been the buzz of the weekend, and for those friends who were asked to go but didn't commit; you missed out, better hope there's going to be another one.

The management at the club and Priape were happy with the results, and there's already talk about deciding when the next one's going to happen.  The idea by some was not to have them too often otherwise they lose their uniqueness.

The bondage demos went great.  We didn't get onstage until around 12:30am which sort of split the evening in half, however the reception was good.  We got a lot of guys to stop dancing and watch the vac-cube and vac-coffin in action, which means we were doing the right things, I think.

I was waiting for some pics before posting this entry; none yet, I will post as I can get them/find them.

Rubberstud of the Week #134

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fresh Blood

Can the HARD Party recharge a flagging leather scene?
by Jeff Lawrence, Xtra West Cover Story

If you thought the gay men's leather scene in Vancouver was stale and dying, you may need to think again, say the people behind the upcoming Hard Party.

Not only is the men's leather and kink scene alive, but it's getting younger, says Hard co-organizer Del Stamp.

"Young people are more confident and coming out earlier now; they're being more open. There's nothing holding them back," the 27-year-old says.

With its images of dominant, brooding musclemen, the leather and kink scene may have intimidated some younger men in the past, Stamp suggests. But if the diversity of those buying tickets is any indication, the Hard crowd will offer fresh faces of all ages.

"There are people coming from New York, Seattle, Portland," says Stamp. "There's bears, twinks - the biggest variety. I was shocked."

Stamp attributes the surge in interest to the scene's increased visibility on the Web. "It's all over the Internet and Facebook; it's making more of an appearance in nightclubs. It's just more prominent now as opposed to five, 10 years ago."

Stamp fell into the world of leather five years ago when, after showing some interest, he "kind of got sucked in".

"Now, it's just something I generally love - the look, the attitude, the feeling of it."

Travis L'Henaff works at Priape. A newer-than-newcomer to the scene, the 20-year-old is looking forward to the Hard party. "I'm always curious to try new things."

But L'Henaff says he's more interested in the scene's fashion than its sexual opportunities. "I love leather in terms of clothing," he explains.

He believes leather love is less taboo than it once was. "It's maybe becoming not as big of a deal because of the fact that we don't have to hide anything as much anymore."

An injection of new blood into the scene is exactly what organizers, including 28-year-old Nikitas Chondroyannos, are trying to achieve.

Chondroyannos, who is organizing December's Mr. Vancouver Leatherman contest, says he has seen some renewal in the scene but not as much interest as he'd like from younger men.

"Locally I don't see a lot of the new faces, and that's one of the reason we're trying to make these events more prominent," he says.

For Chondroyannos, new faces are key to resurrecting a Vancouver leather culture that hasn't been very prominent at all.

"One of the critiques about Vancouver is that there's not enough going on for gay leathermen," he says. "Instead of thinking the grass is greener elsewhere, we're trying to make a Vancouver that will attract people to the scene."

Chondroyannos identifies as a leather 'traditionalist', someone who appreciates the hierarchical nature of the leather world. "It's almost like the military - you earn your honour."

How one dresses generally reveals where one fits in the leather world, he says. "You find the old guard tends to identify with the traditional image of leathermen who wear caps and uniforms. The new guard will wear Nasty Pig jeans, or rubber and a harness - something considered less traditional. Perhaps even fashion-forward.

"The new guard, they bend the rules and they do what they want. They're the rebels."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another POV

Tynan Fox, who I consider a new great rubber friend, was one of my fellow competitors at MIR this year. Check out his great writeup on Leatherati and his post-MIR musings on his own blog, The Fox Den.

What I Learned about my Sexuality from Gay Men in Rubber

by Rachel Rabbit White, original story (with photos!) available on her blog or on the Sexis website.

I am surrounded by male energy. To be clear: I am surrounded by hot guys, lubed up in skimpy rubber outfits. It’s the 14th annual Mr. International Rubber (MIR), a skin-tight fetish event in Chicago, that draws rubber-boys from all over the world.

What Can a (Mostly) Vanilla Girl Learn From Men in Rubber?

Basking in the male sexuality not directed at me, I think I finally get the appeal of being a “fairy princess.” I get to gawk and lust and not worry about how I look, simply joining in the celebration. The first lesson your mostly-vanilla tour-guide learns is that male sexuality is pretty cool. And this is a community worth celebrating.

MIR is a spin-off of the mega-famous International Mr. Leather (IML), also based in Chicago—but is more like its younger, hotter sister. As one rubber-wearer told me, “IRL is about the partying, or it’s about the pageant. Here it’s all about the fetish, all about the play.”

While still pretty intimate, the event has grown massively in the past two years. “MIR [used to be] over at Cell-Block, this small leather bar around the corner,” recalls Porkchop, a cute boy in a rubber uniform with a black rubber military hat. “There was one vendor, and you just sat there and drank all day. The pageant was just pieced together. I once got pulled up from the audience because there was only one competitor.”

MIR really began to sprawl when it found a new home in The Center on Halsted: Chicago’s LGBTQ headquarters. The contemporary building, with its large, sunny windows is quite the change from the dive-bar ethos of Cell Block.

It’s midday on a Saturday and the lobby of The Center is bustling with moms coming over from Whole Foods and guys in rubber pants, their shirts half thrown on.

Upstairs, thick with the smell of rubber, is the market. There are toys and outfits to buy, but like many here, I’m more interested in ogling boys than a new butt-plug.

There are boys in rubber wrestling singlets, mohawked rubber punks and skinheads with rubber braces. There are rubber hipsters, a goggled steam-punk rubberist and a guy in a rubber catsuit with spiky Gaga glasses.

Perhaps the most re-current theme is the military look, a nod to the leather community that came out of World War II. According to leather lore, during WWII some soldiers realized they were gay and explored their sexuality. After coming back home, they missed the “manly culture” and began to re-create it in social groups and bars. But rubber is definitely the new guard, a term that usually denotes less rigidity and a greater variety of sexual experiences.

Lesson two? In any scene, respect those who paved the way, but reinvention and progression is key.

Just as I am getting comfortable being the only one here without assless pants or, ahem, a penis, it’s time for the puppy event. It’s about puppy role-play, a fetish in which participants take on the imaginary role of dogs with doggy mannerisms and behavior. Puppy-play is not distinctly related to rubber, but as one rubberman told me, puppies have become quite popular, popping up at many fetish conventions.

On the ground in front of me are guys on all fours wearing over-sized plastic puppy paws. There are puppy masks and even one butt plug tail. “This is completely different than I thought it would be,” I say to the guy beside me. “I thought it was going to be a more BDSM thing, like the puppy and his master, but this is about puppies playing together and just having fun.”

Two of the puppies fight over a chew toy. Another comes up then sniffs their rubber behinds. They communicate through grunts, growls and barks. My new pal nods. “Yeah, BDSM is how it started, like, you are my dog so lick my boots. But this is new.” He points at the puppies mounting one another. “And it happened just the last few years. It really came out of the furry community, and the way they sort of play. But you can’t suggest that to these guys. They’d deny it.”

The puppies remind me of little boys playing. As I watch, I realizing I am smiling. I’m sure there’s another lesson here. “It’s just about not taking yourself too seriously, being able to be silly. You need that in sex,” says my companion.

As I mingle my way through the market, I realize there has not been much talk of the pageant. LGBTQ pageants have a rich history. In 1930s New York, underground drag pageants were held by gay men, awarding those with the most outrageous costumes. And in the ’70s, as leather culture became more mainstream, a different kind of pageant emerged. The Gold Coast leather bar in Chicago became famous for their tongue-in-cheek “Mr. Gold Coast” contest. This eventually became International Mr. Leather, from which MIR takes it’s cue.

But when I ask the guys if they are going, it’s a toss-up. “It’s not really about the pageant here,” says Marcus, a tall guy in a catsuit. “I think they do the pageant because it is about creating the history. We are still defining what rubber means. So the winner of the pageant is like a spokesperson, someone who can do fundraising or charity events,” he explains.

Later in the evening, the lights are tinted red and the men are mingling. Trying to get into the mix, I realize I keep hearing this event is about the play, but I haven’t actually heard about the play.

“So, have you had any hot sex yet?” I ask a new pink-haired friend. “Well, I’m a porn-star. I realized two of my other porn star friends are here tonight. So we are having a little sex party at the after-party. It’s going to be live sex in front of everyone. You know us porn stars are exhibitionists,” he says.

As I talk with the guys about sex, the word “pig” ultimately comes up. “So pig means…like, dirty, right? Like into really dirty sex?”

My new friend corrects me. “A pig is someone who likes dirty, stinky, sweaty, nasty sex. And more of it and more and more and more.”

Okay, vanilla people, count that as a lesson. I don’t know how many times I’ve read advice columns in which girls write in, worried about their smell or unable to enjoy sex because they are so self-conscious. But what if you thought your partner liked you sweaty, smelly, nasty? And just wanted more and more and more of that. Consider me liberated.

Settling inside the auditorium to crown the new Mr. International Rubber, alongside the men swilling beers, arms draped over one another, I feel awed. I’m inspired by these guys who come from all over the world to visit their friends, to have sex, to be a part of a community that values order and respect, that encourages fun and living life. And I’m a little jealous that they’ve got such a strong place to belong, because the final lesson is that community is important—even when it comes to sex.

Great article, Rachel! Thanks for the coverage and glowing review of MIR. For rubbermen, it is all about the fun and play. You've hit the nail on the head!

HARD! This Friday

It's nice to see some new and exciting events happening in Vancouver and particularly on the Davie strip. Do you think the closing of the Odyssey triggered something in people to organize something different for a change? I am excited about Rubbout in April, but the upcoming events have inspired me to organize a few rubber fetish parties in the early part of 2011. Stay tuned...

What's setting up to be the biggest leather fetish party in Vancouver this year, HARD is coming this Friday!  If you don't have your tickets yet, get them early for $20.  $25 at Five Sixty's entrance.
November and December are shaping up to be a great season for kinky guys to get their groove on.

On November 26 is the Pig Sex workshops at Steamworks

On December 3 is Bearracuda at Five Sixty, which was a huge success the last time they held it there in September (?)

On December 10-12 is Mr. Leather Vancouver weekend. I have been asked to be a judge of the competition! How neat is that?

Friday night of that weekend is also VML's Leather XXXMas Party
December 10, 2010
Numbers 9 PM
Saturday night is the Mr. Leatherman Contest
December 11, 2010
The Junction Pub 9 PM
Friday 10 December 2010
* The Contest Forum with Master Mike at The Junction Pub 6PM
* Vancouver Men in Leather Naughty XXXmas Party at Numbers 8PM
* Meat and Greet at Pumpjack Pub 11PM
* MOUNTED Official Play Party at Steamworks Gym and Sauna 12AM
...
Saturday 11 December 2010
* Flogging: And The Beat Goes On with Reive at Steamworks Gym and Sauna 12.30PM
* Sounding with Master Mike at Steamworks Gym and Sauna 2.30PM
* Some Like It Hot: An Introduction To Fireplay with Reive at Steamworks Gym and Sauna 4.30PM
* Mr. Leatherman Vancouver 2011 Contest at The Junction Pub 9PM

Sunday 12 December 2010
* Vancouver Men in Leather Celebration Brunch @ The Junction Pub 1PM
* Sunday Kegger @ Pumpjack Pub 3PM
* DISMOUNTED Official Recovery Party @ Steamworks Gym and Sauna 6PM

Members of the Mr. Leatherman Vancouver 2011 Contest panel are:

* Nikitas Chondroyannos, Head Judge (Vancouver)
* Doug Mitchell, Mr. LeatherMan Vancouver 2010 (Vancouver)
* Reid Dalgleish, Mr. West Coast Rubber 2010 (Vancouver)
* Sir Hugh Russell, International LeatherSIR 2010 (Seattle Washington)
* Herrmeister-Darryl, Washington State Mr. Leather 2010 (Seattle Washington)
* Hans Bosgoed, Vancouver Men in Leather Membership Chair (Vancouver)
* Lady !Kona (Vancouver)
* Phaedra McEachren (Vancouver)
and
* Master Mike Zuhl, Tallymaster/Alternate Judge (Pittsburgh Pennsylvania)

The Mr. LeatherMan Vancouver 2011 Contest Weekend is sponsored in part by:

* The Junction Pub, 1138 Davie Street Vancouver (junctionpub.com)
* Pumpjack Pub, 1167 Davie Street Vancouver (pumpjackpub.com)
* Streamworks Gym and Sauna, 123 West Pender Street Vancouver (steamworksonline.com)
* PRIAPE, 1148 Davie Street Vancouver (priape.com)
* Hardline (hardlinechat.com)
* Leatherpost.com
* M4MKINK.com
* TitanMen.com
* Leather Skills Certification Council
* Troy Anicete Designs (anicetedesigns.com)
* LeatherWorks.com
* 665 Leather (665leather.com)
* Elbow Grease
* Seattle Men in Leather (seattlemeninleather.org)
* Vancouver Men in Leather (Please visit the Vancouver Men in Leather official host webpage: http://web.mac.com/meninleather/VML/Home.html)

Pig Sex!

The Pig Sex Project seeks to learn more about and from the growing subculture of sex pigs, by creating safe spaces for men who identify as sex pigs, or enjoy sex pig activities, to come together in discussion. It is about knowledge exchange and community development.

The format follows small group facilitated discussions of peers. Two successful community consultations - guys loved it - have been held in Toronto this year, and in conjunction with the Gay Men's Sexual Health Summit November 25, 26, we are pleased to offer an event in Vancouver as well. Which city is piggier?

The event in Vancouver is an innovative collaboration between the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT), Health Initiative for Men (HIM), CIHR-University Without Walls (UWW), and Steamworks Vancouver. Guys who register get a complimentary locker pass to Steamworks and are encouraged to enjoy the facilities following.

Please circulate this email and flyer to anyone you think may be interested. Details and registration info are on the flyer. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bulges





Yum, black shiny latex bulges!!!

Deep Thoughts

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

...And We're Back

And luckily the European Elite Track Championships were on the same weekend as Mr. International Rubber.


German yummy goodness!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mr. International Rubber 2011 Weekend Review

What can I say? This year, the event was bigger and better than ever. As usual it is always a big priority of mine to attend MIR, as it is a reunion of the tribe and we know how I love to reunite with all my rubberbuddies! :)

The crew in Chicago and the Chicago Rubbermen put on another excellent event and I was excited to actually participate in the event's success this year rather than just being an attendee.

As most of you know, preparing for this was sort of a rush job for me. I only became Mr. West Coast Rubber eight weeks before MIR, and for six of those I was still dealing with injuries and illness, so getting ready was rushed and probably a little messy ;)

I arrived in Chicago Thursday morning and because I was already taking vacation days from 2011 to do this trip and my following trip to Calgary I decided to minimize the actual vacation days taken and worked from the Hawthorne Terrace hotel room on Thursday afternoon and all day Friday. As a person who has lots of travel plans in 2011 this was a good idea but as a MIR contestant, this wasn't a good idea.

Thursday evening I went out with Chicago friends and a couple more that arrived from L.A. for a scotch tasting at a local pub on Broadway then went to Cellblock for a couple of beers before heading back to the hotel around 11pm.

Friday morning came around far too early but I forced myself to start work before 8am so that I could wrap up before 4pm. I had to run over to the Center on Halsted around 11am to drop off some Rubbout promotional postcards that were to be added into the weekend package bags. I then tried to quickly finish my work so that I could put on my first outfit for the Friday evening Meet and Greet and Rubber Image portion of the competition. I felt that as the workday wrapped up on Friday, I didn't have enough decompression time before arriving at the contestant desk at 5pm and getting ready for the Friday night events. My roommate from Toronto showed up mid-afternoon and we headed over to the Center together.

The greeters herded nine contestants together from the check-in counter into the auditorium where we met the other competitors, the judges that had already arrived and received a warm welcome from the event producers Rubberwilli and Kinkrubber. We were given a review of what was going on for the evening, got to introduce ourselves to the group, and review the stage presentation and backstage chain of events before we were taken to the changeroom area in the back hallway between the auditorium and the gymnasium where the Vendor Market was taking place.

Around 7:30pm we were released into the auditorium lobby where the Meet and Greet had already started. We mingled with friends, fellow competitors, judges, and new rubber acquaintances. About an hour later we were taken backstage again to prepare for the Contestant Introduction and Rubber Image part of the contest.

The program started almost right on time at 9pm. The speakers weren't on backstage, so we couldn't hear was was going on, but there were introductions of the judges, organizers, and sponsors, a blessing by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and a Celebration of Life for the rubbermen lost in the past year. I found out from Willi later that he had mentioned Murad in the list, which I thought was very special and was thankful that he came to me personally in between the stage portions to tell me that. I wish I had heard it firsthand.


Then it was our turn. We were brought onstage, allowed to introduce ourselves and then pulled the draw numbers out of the boot for which position we would be in for the rest of the weekend's events. I was first on stage, and also pulled Number One out of the boot. This is the infamous position that no one wants to be in during the competition. I tried to spin it in a positive light, more on this later ;)

The contestants for the 2011 contest were, in order of number draw:
1. RJ from Vancouver representing Mr. West Coast Rubber 2010
2. Francesco from near Naples representing Mr. Rubber Italy 2010
3. Johnny Switch from Chicago representing Mr. Midwest Rubber 2010
4. G-Man from Atlanta representing Mr. Southeast Rubber
5. Manu from Paris representing Mr. Rubber France 
6. Tynan Fox from Minneapolis, independent
7. Jacob Pring from Washington, independent
8. Olivier Schery from Mannheim representing Mr. Rubclub (Germany) 2010
9. Roger from Utrecht, Netherlands, representing Mr. Rubber Netherlands
We were brought backstage again. Some of the guys changed into a different outfit for the Rubber Image portion, I decided to stay in the olive green military catsuit and captain's hat since I feel it is my most elegant latex outfit, but shed my Mr. West Coast Rubber title vest for a pair of fierce-looking Ray-ban Aviators.


We were brought out onstage again and judged on our rubber image. Prior to the introductions we were asked to write down a three sentence statement on what we thought described how we thought of ourselves in respect of being a true rubberman. I had written something smarmy:
When I see rubber I get a boner
When I touch rubber I get a boner
When I smell rubber I get a boner
When I taste rubber I get a boner
When I hear rubber I get a boner
Not really knowing when this was going to be used, I initially regretted writing this, but now I think it was okay because at least I was able to act it out somewhat onstage when this was announced by MC Eddie Hibbs during the Rubber Image portion. I had heard afterwards that some of the contestants weren't able to really do anything with what they had written and just sort of stood there in that bright top lighting. This was my first taste of what the unknown territory of being contestant #1 was going to be, where I was told there was a place to stop and stand in the spotlight but didn't really know where that was supposed to be until I smacked into it.

We were also involved in one more performance where Mr. International Rubber 2009, Stephane Donaldson, was going to re-create his infamous football player shower strip scene from the 2009 contest. At the end Eddie was to jump into the shower with him, then were were all to come out on stage with water guns and douse them. This happened after the Image Round.
Whew, okay, part one was over. The rest of the contestants did their time onstage, we were run backstage again and finally released around 11:30pm after being told to reconvene at the same place at 1pm the next afternoon for interviews.

I met up with the crew and we headed over to Cellblock, which was already packed. I had a couple of beers, socialized with as many people as I could, then headed back to the hotel around 1am.

Saturday morning came far to early. I got up, brunched, packed my suitcase with all the outfits I needed for Saturday evening, dressed in my pewter military catsuit for the interview and headed back to the Center, suitcase in tow. The contestants were collected at 1pm on the nose by the Contestant Handlers and taken down to the interview room lobby at 1:30pm. We were all expected to stay here until all interviews were over. I was taken in first shortly after 2pm, introduced myself to all the judges and sat in one of the two chairs they had at the front of the room (one was for the contestant and the other for the translator), joking about a Freudian test about which seat I had to choose to sit in.

The first five or so questions were directly related to my application answers, and most of the questions posed were about what I wrote about bridging communities, event planning and dealing with new, high-maintenance rubberboys. Some of the later questions were 'what I would consider a perfect date?'. a 30-second elevator pitch to promote Rubbout, my thoughts on the experimental WCR contestant nomination format, and my worst (threatening) rubber experience dealing with someone reacting badly to me wearing latex in public. The last question involved four pieces of gear the judges had put behind me; which one I would like as my own gear and why. There was hood, a e-stim box, a gimpsuit and some bondage equipment. Of course I picked the gimpsuit stating that rubber enclosure was my favorite thing about the fetish.

I thought the interview went relatively well. Afterward I had to sit with the other eight contestants until everyone was done, which didn't end until around 5pm. I was starving, tired and cold. I went to the Market and bought the Recon Party tickets for the Jackhammer/Hole party and a thong for part of the contest later since no one seemed perfectly clear on the decency rules required on stage for a private function (some which sort of stressed me out), then went back to the hotel to change, lay down in the dark for 30 minutes and wolf down some fruit drinks, granola bars and bananas before heading back for 7pm.

We were shown the routine for the opening performance of the Saturday evening show, which was Eddie's parody of Sherry Vine's parody of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance", which is "Shit My Pants". I think this performance was my favorite part of the entire contest! We had a lot of fun with it. Afterwards we were allowed to get ready for our first portion which was our audience question. I dressed in my white catsuit with white leather boots and gas mask. I was delighted (as were many in the audience) that three of the other contestants also dressed in white! Eddie was also dressing in a white catsuit for the Sherry Vine performance so it was going to be an interesting show.

So, off we were again to the stage. We ended up having to wait about 45 minutes longer than expected because the audience was taking so long to move into the auditorium from the lobby. Everyone was getting cranky and restless but we finally got started around 8:30.

The "Shit My Pants" performance went off without too many hitches. Eddie's headdress for the second part exploded behind the bathtub so he ended up a little less Gaga for the second half of the song! But it was the most memorable part of the entire contest and will set a precedent for something just as entertaining next year! The Rubberettes (Eddie's dancers) were awesome.
I was first onstage for the Question Round. We had been given this before we left at 5:30. The question was:
If you were shipwrecked on a desert island with one of the other contestants, who would it be and why?

I tried to put humor into my response saying that I would NOT have chosen Johnny or Jacob because they would inevitably kill us through some accidental explosion or landslide, but chose Francesco because he was a dark, mysterious Italian and that we could entertain each other in many ways while stranded and waiting for rescue. Once again, I missed my cues because we weren't told in detail what to expect. I think the contestants that followed responded in intelligent and insightful ways and also used their cues to their advantage.

Next was the the Mystery Bag Round. I wore my new cobalt blue wrestler with a red thong underneath. We were brought out for this part and told there was a change in the format. Now there would only be two items in each bag plus some additional items on a table beside Eddie's podium that you could choose to use or not but that we had to choose the item - if we were going to use it - before we opened the bag. Eddie was the first to do a demonstration on the hapless volunteer victim, GrooveCowboy from SLC. I came next, and decided not to use any of the jams, mustards, puddings, etc that were the additional items, only because Eddie had already done this, but most of the contestants afterwards were using these and picking them up after their bags were opened because everything was just getting sillier and sillier as the contestants progressed! I also had a bunch of thin balloons that I used for arm tying and gag, and a back massager that I turned into a ball crusher but didn't realize I was kneeling in front of Groove Cowboy when I was putting this on him and that most of the audience couldn't see what I was doing. Oh well! It was a fun round and was the most nerve-wracking for me to do so I was relieved when it was over.
After this we were brought back onstage, introduced and given our buckets to hold for the audience participation votes while everyone came onstage and put the votes in the corresponding buckets. This was a shocker to me, and something I found very uncomfortable. I didn't want to know who voted for me and I know a lot of audience members didn't like this format either. I think next year they should simply put pictures of the contestants on the buckets instead to maintain the anonymity of the votes. I would have hated to have come onstage having several friends up there and have to have them see me drop the vote in one bucket or the other or another one. Anyways....got that out of the way quickly, thankfully.

We went back offstage and changed for the final presentation. I changed into my transparent black catsuit I just got with a jockstrap underneath. Everyone looked great, everyone was relieved. It was almost all over.
We were introduced one last time and then the final three were announced. Second runner up was Johnny from Chicago, First runner up was Roger from Utrecht, and Mr. International Rubber 2011 is G-man from Atlanta! I sure the Atlanta rubbermen must have exploded when they found out! We all took a final bow, and the remaining six were whisked offstage and kicked out of the changerooms in short order around 11:30 again.
The selection of the top three was a good one. I think all nine were in contention; the calibre of the contestants was very high this year and I hope it's an indication of what the future contests will look like. Congratulations you guys! I am so lucky and happy to have met and gotten to know all the contestants this weekend. I hope we can foster some great new friendships.

I went back to the hotel, showered, douched, changed and jumped in a cab up to Jackhammer for the Full Fetish party. I got there around 1am found my friends mostly down in the Hole, and stayed in the complex till around 4am until I went to a guys place for some fisting fun.

The time change really screwed things up, and with only a few hours of sleep we headed back to Boystown for brunch, I went back to the hotel to change into my 1920s bathing suit and back to the Center to spend the day in the Vendor Market. I spent the afternoon from 1pm until 5pm visiting with friends, shopping and having a few drinks in the social area while also helping Mitch out a bit with Rubbout promotion in the area around the Rubbout banner. Rubberwilli took me offside mid-afternoon to give me a thank-you contestant package, which included a few small items from Stockroom, Titan, a MIR2011 t-shirt and a gift certificate from Mr. S. We had a some nice parting words with each other.  Willi is definitely a respectable guy I look up to.

I ended up buying one of the last remaining unsold Devil Dog rubber hoods from the Recon booth, a new pair of super sexy Polymorphe latex jeans with codpiece and butt hole with cover, and 5 Titan DVDs.

Just before 5pm, Dire from Rage Rubber approached me and asked me whether I wanted to buy their vacuum coffin that they had been demoing in all weekend for half price. Mitch and I discussed it and thought it would be a great idea to have this for Rubbout demoing in the future and it really was a deal too good to pass up. As we were talking to Dire while they were disassembling and packaging the coffin, Mitch asked him whether they wanted to part with the airtight vacuum cube and we made and agreement with Dire to get that for half price as well! So, suddenly the Vancouver rubbermen were the proud owners of two more impressive rubber bondage pieces of equipment! We ended up carting all of this stuff back to the hotel with the assistance of Rubber Rebel, Johnny and Ryan. We eventually decided we were going to ship all of this equipment back to Vancouver via UPS and get that all arranged on Monday before we flew.
We dropped everything off at the hotel, met up with the guys again, went out for dinner at Wilde on Broadway, then it was off to Sidetrack for the infamous Sunday Rubber Showtunes evening. We got there around 9pm. I think most of the vanilla crowd had already come and gone but there was still a sizeable rubber crew there. It was great to finally relax and visit with all the people I had wanted to visit with all weekend. I even got to lock lips with a hot German boy! We stayed until shortly before midnight when there were hardly any people left, and collectively decided we were going to head to Berlin for Madonnarama! Junya, Chris, Mitch, Steven, Slade, Jason and myself us got in there around 1am and stayed until 4am or so. I'm glad we ended up going, we were the center of attention, and the DJ even played Madonna's "Human Nature" video as a dedication to us! :)

By 4am the crowd was getting very drunk, sloppy and touchy-feely which in most cases meant unsolicited snaps of our rubber outfits. We were trying to tell people this was a big no-no but a lot of this was going unheeded. We collectively decided to leave and grab some food at a greasy spoon nearby and I got back to the hotel around 5:30am.

Sunday morning came early too. I was up around 10:30am, packing and trying to figure out what to do with all the purchases from the day before. We were checked out and packed into Marc's car by 1:30pm, went to UPS and got everything settled to ship the cube, coffin, banner and Marc's hip waders back to Vancouver. Mitch, Marc and I went to Ann Sather for lunch then had an appointment at an isolation tank boutique at 3:30. We were out of there shortly after 5, then Marc drove us to Logan Square where we caught the Red Line to O'Hare.

Two stations later, we were stopped at Belmont station due to a suspicious package and the whole Chicago bomb squad at Addison Station. Fearing we were going to miss our flight, Mitch and I went back up to the surface and flagged a cab down. We made it through some traffic jams to get to O'Hare around 6:45. Luckily the airport wasn't very busy and we got through check-in and security relatively quickly.

I am writing this on the flight home, exhausted but happy about the events that unfolded over the MIR 2011 weekend in Chicago. We had a lot of fun and I got to see the entire event from a different perspective this year. I have a whole new appreciation for the contestants of MIR that have come before me, and hopefully have some insight for those that come after me. The calibre of the event continues to grow, and the bar was set very high for next year's event! Everyone involved in the event this year must be commended for their dedication, perseverance and endurance to pull of another phenomenal feat of rubberiness!

Having said all of that, if I was asked to compete again, I probably would choose not to. Don't get me wrong, I feel it was a special privilege to compete, and it is definitely an experience of a lifetime and something anyone is considering doing should do.  You should just be warned - it is something that is extremely exhausting and takes up well over half of your well-earned weekend away from home. You don't get any opportunity to really engage in high-jinks, socializing, and/or play until Saturday night, and by then you are so exhausted, hungry and drained that you don't really feel like doing much of anything anyways. I didn't get enough time to meet with old and new friends, or shop at the Market and participate in Demos, something I promised myself I would go this year.  I have yet to get into a gimp-sack or hog-sack and that's something I want to do SO badly!

If you ever do decide to compete, you have to mentally prepare yourself to be fully and completely committed to the competition process. It needs to be adhered to without any distractions until the process is complete.  Preparation is key and if you don't have the time or fortitude to do it properly, you're going to be shortchanging yourself during the competition and interview.  Carefully review many times what you have written in your application and the implications of what you have written. It is going to be key to how you are seen and how your present yourself over the entire weekend to the judges.  Get plenty of rest, otherwise you are not going to cover as much ground getting to know the judges and attendees over the weekend who hold your fate in their votes.

As for the contest itself, as everyone told me, being in position #1 is the toughest and shittiest position to be in. You are the leader into the fog for all the contestants that follow, and they all have the advantage of quickly learning from your mistakes. Especially in a contest like this where scripts and format are being changed on-the-fly, you need to be flexible - most likely the most flexible of all the contestants - in position #1. I was trying to make light of this reality of believing that I would also be the first to make statements and such, and that the ones that followed wouldn't be able to repeat my material, but this situation never really actualized. Being #1 is TOUGH!

The audience vote was sort of humiliating and would be the number one thing I would tell the organizers not to repeat again. I also don't think it is necessary for all contestants to be sequestered together all afternoon. They say this is the only way to make it fair, however giving everyone an interview time and releasing them afterward is also fair, and I think would be a LOT less stressful on everyone's systems. If someone misses their time, they have lost the contest.  If they aren't there it obviously wasn't their mandate to be a serious contender.  As it was, by the evening performance everyone was completely drained. By the end of the evening itself, everyone was just glad it was all over.
...

But by Sunday morning all was forgotten. I was SO happy to visit with all my old friends and connect with some (hopefully) new good friends. I love MIR and it is definitely one of the highlights of my year, every year. After a year with so much adversity, challenge and pain and sadness, it was just so wonderful to feel the energy and positivity of the tribe again that re-ignites the passion in me of why I love being a rubberman so much. The actual fetish, gear and sex is only part of the equation. The solution is only complete when the strength of the tribe and the love of and from rubberfriends is factored into the equation as well.

It all goes by so fast..and it is all so unique.  I feel privileged to be part of such a rare and special community.
...
Whew!

So, now 42 hours and two workdays in Vancouver and then I'm off to Alberta for the annual family Christmas celebration at my brother's place before my folks snowbird off to Texas at the end of the month. Too bad I couldn't have done any shopping in Chicago...I haven't started and I'm still not Christmas-season motivated enough to start yet! Wish me luck as I try to cover that train wreck with some holiday cheer, more flights, rental cars, visiting with old friends in Calgary, dropping off Rubbout promo stuff at the Eagle there, the drive to Red Deer and working another day mobile in Alberta while getting all my Xmas shopping done before spending some quality time with the family! Yeesh! :D

All pics in this post are courtesy of Rubberzone. SO...MANY...GREAT...PICTURES!  There is also great coverage on Leatherati and the MIR website should be updated with pictures and videos (can't wait!) by the end of the week.

How am I possibly going to pare down this entry for 3XL? A challenge in itself, indeed! ;)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

MIR! I'm here!

OMG I'm so exhausted. Last night I went to Drag Queen Bingo with the gang, then pizza at Gigi's, then Mr. P and I went to his place and, er, didn't go to bed right away. I figured heading to the airport from his place was easier, but it doesn't really matter when you're running on two hours of sleep.

After a minor freakout in the cab when I thought I'd left the MIR contestant application at the condo, I made it through the lineups at YVR (who knew so many people were catching flights at 6am?), and was off to ORD! I fortunately slept 2-3 hours on the plane, now just finishing work up for the afternoon, and off to dinner with some Chicago friends tonight.

Now that I'm here, I'm getting so excited! It's going to be a great weekend. The one shitty thing? I brought three pairs of boots, seven latex outfits (five for the competition and interview), and all accessories I could conceivably carry under 70 lbs., but once again I forgot my freaking camera! Argh!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Make Love Not Porn

including some exerpts from (and reactions to) Cindy Gallop's discussions...

There’s a chicken-&-egg question about porn: does it depict things that are already pervasive, or does it set new trends that otherwise would not exist? This would be akin in the 'real world' to manufacturers creating demand for a product themselves by creating it then marketing it as a 'must-have' item versus simply reacting to a demand in the market that hasn't been addressed.

I like the example of the de rigeur porn facial being recognized as an adolescent or cartoonish thing that adults don’t bother with unless they’re being deliberately (and mutually) campy. Like, who really does that in real life?

Maybe the younger, impressionable people, who have seen this for so long that they take it as being accepted acceptable behaviour and activity?

One recognized example of porn overturning social norms within a selected population is the avalanche of bareback porn that has swept like a tidal wave through gay porn, and which has helped to erode a quarter century of careful “condom discipline”. Condomless sex is once again the norm (or close to it). One could argue that this is simply a return to pre-epidemic norms, or a depiction of pre-existing norms that never actually went away but which are no longer perceived as being beyond the pale. Or it could represent something else entirely: the increasing “specialization” of sex preferences, with practitioners self-selected according to preferred sex practice and other characteristics (such as sero-status, hence the term “sero-sorting”). Is this a good thing? Does it “create community” or does it objectify people by taxonomizing and commodifying by their preferred repertoire of sex practice(s). And more importantly: does it help or hinder the search for Mister/Ms. Right? What about the sudden norm of having a watersport or fisting scene or eight in every new porn video that comes out? Is is a matter of certain activities becoming the norm, thus boring, therefore something additionally bizarre or extreme is required to keep the revenue flowing?

For the generations that weren't permanently scarred by the AIDS crisis, bareback porn is most likely considered the norm. It's been de rigeur for a decade or so, long enough for a generation of young gay men to take it as normal behaviour. It seems that one hears non-stop how big a failure the condom campaign appears to be for the younger generations who see HIV/AIDS as something completely treatable, or at least controllable. The fact that barebacking seems to be becoming more pervasive would indicate, at least to me, that a popular specialization can very quickly become a generalization.

The same seems to go for fisting and fetish: these were things that one never really saw in standard porn (and only in extreme hard-to-find libraries) but now seems to show up in more and more stuff done by Falcon, Titan, BelAmi, etc. etc. They were formerly known as extreme practices. I'm trying to figure out why they are becoming more and more popular; is it because more people are doing it or because the production companies are trying to create a market for stuff that is unique, therefore will continue strong sales because the general bad acting-oral-rimming-anal-orgasm routine is getting a little boring?

I've talked to some of my poz buds about this; in certain circles fisting is becoming a normal practice simply because it is essentially safe sex; and for many poz guys, barebacking is a common and accepted practice, as some studies have shown that serosorting only becomes an issue in poz guys that have an active HIV status.

So many things to consider. Maybe it is just a matter of having more to select from and creating niche markets, but for sure more extreme sexual and kink practices are becoming more the norm in mainstream porn.

Invincible Hood Sale

50% Off All Hoods In November
Invincible Rubber is giving all its members the rare opportunity to own one or more of its Quality handmade hoods or masks. Until the 30th November 2010 only, Invincible Rubber has reduced its hood range by a whopping 50%.

Never has there been a better time than now to choose for yourself or a friend one of our quality handmade hoods or masks. Holiday Season is only around the corner and a hood would make a perfect gift for anyone this year!

But wait! The specials don't stop there no during this month we are also offering you 15% off any Catsuits ordered in RED latex rubber, yes that's 15% off our current price range. So take a look through the range and just imagine yourself in one of our Rubber Catsuits made totally from RED Latex, ideal for playing in or making a statement in at a club or two this month or over the Holiday period.

Just to keep you all up to date, our new website is entering its final stages of development and we hope to have a launch date very soon, so keep an eye out for the news on that.

The new site will have a few new features attached to it and we are interested in anyone wishing to write regular articles on the rubber scene, that we can publish on the specials page of the website, this is a new feature so if you are interested then please get in touch with ian@invinciblerubber.com to discuss it further, I look forward to hearing your ideas for this.

This sale is something I'm definitely going to participate in. The collared hoods are going for as little as $110CAD!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

MIR 2011 Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: press@mirubber.com

LARGE TURNOUT EXPECTED FOR MISTER INTERNATIONAL RUBBER 2011 PREMIER GAY FETISH EVENT EVOLVES ALONG WITH RUBBER'S POPULARITY

MIR contest and events will be held November 5 – 7, 2010 at Chicagoʼs Center on Halsted
CHICAGO (November 1, 2010) – The world of modern gay fetish culture began with post-war leather—with clandestine rendezvous in remote motorcycle clubs where men reveled in the masculinity of flight jackets and thick boots. It was a culture communicated through word of mouth, subtle looks across bars and cryptic messages scrawled on walls.

“Those of us who have a kinky side live in a different world today,” said the co-owner of the Mister International Rubber contest, known as RubberWilli. “The clubs are still there and are a lot of fun. But the culture and community exist in a bigger way thanks to new communication tools and technology—and that bigger picture is especially true for rubber fetish. At its heart, MIR is a reason to gather like minded people together in ‘real-time’ for a fun weekend.”

For many years, rubber and latex fetish were a minor component of kink culture. However, recent advances in processing and assembling latex items, along with a growth in popularity via the social networking phenomenon and online suppliers have caused a boom in those partaking in rubber for kink and fashion.

This has been represented in popular culture by the increasing use of rubber in the world of fashion—including music stars like the Scissor Sisters, Katy Perry and, of course, Lady Gaga (who famously met the Queen of England in a dress from noted latex fashion designer Atsuko Kudo).

MIR is growing to keep pace with the popularity of the phenomenon. The contest's roots date back to 1992, as a small competition known as Mr. Vulcan that was held in Boston by the fetish club the Boston Leather Knights. In 1997, the first Mister International Rubber contest was held in Chicago, at a club called the Cell Block.

After more than a decade, the contest and associated events (collectively dubbed the Rubber Blow Out weekend) had grown beyond the nightclub scene. Last year, the contest moved into the Center on Halsted, Chicago's LGBT community center, located in the heart of the Lakeview "Boystown" neighborhood.

The new venue opened the event to an even larger community group, while allowing space for 40 fetish vendors to sell their wares in a three-day marketplace (open to the general adult public for $5 admission fee). The contest drew hundreds of attendees from around the globe, as well as an international group of contestants—many the winners from their own local rubber fetish contests.

After this tremendous success last year, the contest will continue to grow this year, with new events for "puppy play" and "lubed up latex wrestling." The marketplace venue will also feature more socializing areas along with the growing vendor market. The Master of Ceremonies for MIR 2011 is Eddie Hibbs, a.k.a. Sister Erotica Psychotica of the Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

For contestant information, MIR history, photo galleries, public transportation, sponsors and more, please visit the official MIR website at www.mirubber.com.

Events for the weekend include:
THE MIR KINK MARKET & SOCIAL
The MIR Kink Market & Social will feature up to 40 vendors from around globe offering their kinky wares for sale and trial including: Mr. S Leather, The RECON Store-USA, TLS Rubber Gear, Taylor Buck Studios, Carrera Designs by Walter Goethels and more. Live demonstrations are also planned each day. The Kinkster’s Lounge provides a social
gathering place for attendees in the market area to enjoy a beverage and relax while considering their next purchase or meeting up with friends. The MIR Kink Market & Social, located in The Billie Jean King Recreation Center, will be open Friday, November 5, Saturday, November 6 from Noon – 7pm and Sunday, November 7 from Noon – 5 pm.
The Market is open to the public (18+). Admission is $5.00.

THE MISTER INTERNATIONAL RUBBER 2011 CONTEST:
Mr. International Rubber 2011 will be held at the 65,000 sq. ft. Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St. in the heart of Chicago’s Lakeview “Boystown” neighborhood.
Part 1 – Friday, November 5 at 9 pm in The Hoover-Leppen Theater. Your first chance to meet the contestants for Mister International Rubber 2011. The judges are introduced, contestants select their order of competition and are judged in the first category of competition: "Rubber Image."
Part 2 – Saturday, November 6 at 8 pm in The Hoover-Leppen Theater. The exciting conclusion to the Mister International Rubber Contest: includes judging of onstage question, "mystery-bag" and audience participation. A new Mr. International Rubber will be sashed this evening.
OTHER OFFICIAL MIR2011 EVENTS:
“Greet the Meat” Cocktail Party Friday, November 5 from 7 pm – 9 pm in The Harris Family Foundation Reception Hall. A cocktail hour prior to the start of the MIR2011 contest.
Chicago Rubbermen Gear Swap Friday November 5 & Saturday, November 6 from Noon – 7 pm in the Billie Jean King Recreation Center. If you have fetish gear that you haven't worn or are looking for a bargain on some gently used gear, don't waste your time with online auctions, buy and sell some gear at the Chicago Rubbermen Gear Sale.
The Rubber Pup Rumpus Saturday November 6, from 1 – 2 pm in the Billie Jean King Recreation Center. The rubber pups and their handlers take over the demo space for this MIR Pup Rumpus. Let your primal urges be your guide as your manimal instinct takes over.
Lubed-up Latex Wrestling Sunday November 7, from 1-2 pm in the Billie Jean King Recreation Center. It may be the last day of MIR, but there are a few rumbles left to be settled. Join us as vendors and sponsors pit their representatives against each other for the ultimate lube wrestling contest.
###

Resource Management

Rubberasylum has put up a great post on how to manage your playmates and filter out the 'dimwits, parasites, and dead fish', so to speak. It is true you have to prove your worthiness to an experienced player in order to get an invitation back to a playroom or dungeon, AND you have to validate that the crap you put in your profiles is something you can back up with actions and behaviors supporting what you've said. Some of us have so many requests, we don't have time for bullshit. And there is nothing more annoying than exaggeration. I don't think many men seriously think of that stuff when they're trying to chat up experienced guys.

I've been going through a lot of challenging personal stuff the past three months and haven't had the time or energy to focus on training a bunch of inexperienced players that have to borrow gear, have no ideas or fantasies of their own, and expect me to have all of this figured out, organized and set up with only a day or two of notice. It doesn't reflect well on the requestors in my opinion.

I do appreciate the occasional note from guys that I've played with before and would like to invite back saying that they're still around and interested, but I grow weary of the ones I haven't met that come across as boasters or have to have everything explained to them, the ones that back out of a first meeting at the last minute and the ones I have played with before that can't remember anything that happened the last time we were together or last time we chatted. Even more so the ones that are asking me to set up non-rubber/bondage scenes for them or set up a playdate with guys that I don't know well or that I'm not interested in playing with myself. Do your own legwork, guys! Annoying! And not very sexy.

You've got to realize that experienced players are just that, experienced. We come into these situations with expectations as well. We've been there, done that. Sometimes we don't want to go there again. Sometimes we want to do stuff we know you won't be interested in due to your inexperience. Sometimes we're happily impressed but I'd say more often we come out disappointed. I realize there's an obligation to teach new dogs old tricks so that they can grow and develop into remarkable kinksters, but I also think it's okay to be selective on who you choose and be able base that selection on whatever criteria you see fit. If I thought otherwise, I'd open up a public dungeon, hire some staff and actually make some money at this.

I have felt guilt about continuing to chat with the guys I have intended to eventually play with but haven't felt like doing anything with over the past few months. It's unfortunately situational. I feel like I've been coming across as a flake for showing interest in playing during the summer then not committing to an actual meeting (and we all know too well how common this is in gay hookup cyberspace...but that's not me). Rubberasylum's post reminded me that I am in control of the situation, and if I don't feel like managing my resources at a particular time, I don't have to oblige anyone. I'm the one with the gear and the playspace. I'm the one with the personal issues. These guys will still be around and game to go in the future if they're serious about what they're talking about, proclaiming what they know and/or want to do. So there, I feel better now.

...

Meanwhile, I got the MIR contestant application photocopies done last night and all the competition outfits are drip-drying in the shower with a nice fresh coat of Vivishine. I can't believe I'm going to be in Chicago in 48 hours. I am stressed and overwhelmed a bit, but it will all be great! My challenge is going to be what to take for play, once again, in addition to the competition stuff and still manage to keep the luggage under 50 lbs. I am thinking this time that in addition to the outfits, the accessories and the boots, if I have room for a few masks or whatever that'll be great, but I'm going to leave the heavy items (straightjacket, sleepsack) at home this time. That might even give me a little extra space for bringing home a few new items! I can only hope that staying in the sold-out host hotel will mean there is at least some gear floating around. What will I be looking for in particular at the MIR Market? New hoods and new wrist restraints. I'm sure there will be other stuff that that will float my boat, but until then...

...

On something else unrelated...I found this yesterday online. Is this awesome or what? Imagine the possibilities! I want one! :)