Wednesday, April 21, 2010

IMsL 2010 or in which i dither my way to San Francisco

After much dithering, processing and number crunching it was decided that I would go vend at IMsL again this year. What's IMsL you say? Well, it stands for International Ms Leather. It also happens to be the International Ms Boot Black competition. What the hell is that you say? Is this a pageant for leather women? Yep. That's exactly what it is. And also not at all what it is. It's an event that starts off with a show featuring burlesque, drag and lap dancing from folks of various gender presentations, then a weekend of workshops, hot play in the dungeons, parties, seeing old friends, making new friends and the selection of the new IMsL and new IMsBB. The competitors have to go through and interview, the Boot Blacks boot black and are judged while doing so, and then there is a performance of a fantasy and onstage questions. Once the two title holders are selected, they will spend the next year representing part of the BDSM community at events across the country, even around the world. They will speak to the media, teach classes and techniques in the BDSM community, march in GLBT Pride Parades and in general, put a face on an under represented population.

Oh, and it's fun.

So, after getting three hours of sleep, I took my three full size bags, my back pack and my carry on in the jeep, kissed the dogs goodbye and headed for the airport. It was 4 am.

I got to the airport parking lot and realized that I hadn't thought this through. I had three full size bags. Which was fine, because I'd burned through some points and was flying first class. Which meant my bags could be plentiful and over weight. But, I couldn't pull three full size bags at once. So I tried. Although I'm six feet tall and rather strong, what I really needed was an extra arm. Suddenly, out of no where, a strange man and his wife appeared. And he helped me get in the elevator and out to the bus. Another stranger helped me get on the bus. I felt very Blanche DuBois. And grateful.

Once I got to the terminal I figured everything would be ok. I'd get one of those carts and carry everything to check in. After I dragged everything off the bus I looked around. Yep. The bus had left us off at the only point in the terminal that was not near any carts. And I'm one of those people that prefers to avoid being yelled at by the TSA, so I wasn't going to leave my bags to go get a cart. Because if I did, I was sure to come back and find them surrounded by cops and bomb sniffing dogs, with sex toys littered all around the sidewalk traumatizing young children and nuns, which would no doubt result in missing my flight. I was going to have to do this on my own.

Which I did. It wasn't pretty. It involved me lurching thru the terminal. Sweating. Swearing. And looking much like a slightly sleepy Quasimodo. But I made it. And gleefully went to the First Class line. You know that line of folks that you usually want to shoot because they whisk to the front? Uh huh. That was me. Bags checked in. Then I was told that I had to pay $100 for the third bag. Nice. The lady who helped my buy the ticket (or pay for the tickets with points) told me that it was free. But, arguing got me no where. Going through the First Class line in security did make me feel slightly better. My favorite part about flying First Class isn't the bigger seats or the free drinks. It's feeling like I'm getting away with something. Like I'm not supposed to be there. But they can't kick me out.

One latte later, I was on the plane. Where I found myself seated next to a super interesting economist who is a regular commentator on my local NPR station. We argued over who had the cooler job. It's him. For sure. HE'S ON NPR!!!! How cool is that?!

A plane change later I landed in San Fran, collected a baggage cart (much easier), got my bags, located the Super Shuttle and was off to the hotel - along with someone who had recently interviewed for a job in Baltimore, a few tourists and one of the other IMsL attendees. Because this world is teeny.

After dropping off the stuff for vending, I took my one bag with my clothes, my carry on and my back pack and set off for Marcia's where I would be spending the night. Last year I stayed at the hotel, but this year, I was cheap. And was crashing with a friend.

About 45 minutes later I got off the bus just four blocks from her house. And promptly started walking in the wrong direction. Luckily, I checked in with my iPhone, realized that the little blue dot was proceeding away from the red dot and turned around. Three blocks later I was walking up a hill that I swear to god was at a right angle. Well almost. There was more sweating and swearing. I got to the house, greeted my friend, hung out for about an hour and set back off to the hotel. Which involved eating a burito and getting lost. But thanks to the GPS on my iPhone (what the hell did we do before GPS?), I ended up back at the hotel only about 20 minutes late for my sound check. Luckily, they were running on drag time, or gay time, or leather time. You know that time that most of us run on but apologize for? Yeah. That time.

After a bit we did a quick tech check of my number and I was free to hang out for the next three hours. I flitted about hugging and greeting folks. Learned about making hemp rope from Lamilani (IMsL 2009). Learned about thread balls from someone else. Walked around wearing my Dark Odyssey name badge (it was the first badge I'd pulled out of my purse) and no one noticed. Bought eyelash glue. Smoked some cigarettes (as a shy person, smoking when I'm at events is very useful - makes me actually talk to strangers when I'd rather be hiding in a corner. and yes, i'm shy when I don't have a purpose. I can talk to a total stranger about their g-spot or take my clothes off on stage, but actually meeting new people? Makes me nervous). Then went back stage. And started to get ready.

This involved the highly dramatic application of false eyelashes. Usually this includes me sticking myself in the eye a few times. It's fun. Respectfully oggling the other incredibly sexy performers getting ready wasn't bad either.

After feeling utterly nauseous, it was my turn to perform. And it was fun. Except for the part when the song that played wasn't the song I'd practiced to. I had made a mash up of Ertha Kitt and Joan Jett singing "Let's Do It". But apparently the song I turned in was just the Ertha Kitt version. So, I punted. And almost cried a little when I got off stage. Oddly, people seemed to like it and didn't notice that anything was off at all. Perhaps that was the alcohol they'd consumed. Or my rather fabulously bootlicious ass. Which is what I shook when I got stuck.

It must not have sucked too much, because total strangers went out of their way to say they liked it.

The rest of the show was delightful. An awesome number with a woman in a rabbit costume. A hot fat girl who sat on a cake to the tune of "Hopelessly Devoted". A number by some folks from the Gender Justice Collective that involved a dog cage, some chains and awesome costumes. A hot sassy butch (and IMsBB 2008) did a sexy strip tease (more please). The finale was choreographed by Indigo Blue. It involved feather fans. And intricate rope bondage. And a surprise appearance by Lamilani. Yum.

After I changed back into street clothes and took off my lashes, I wandered up to the hospitality suite to hang out at the afterparty for a bit. I was there for less than 20 minutes before my off switch flipped and I became pretty much non-verbal and trundled off to find a cab back to Marcia's house (S had made it rather clear that my taking a bus late at night made her squirmy and nervous). I found the futon on which I was sleeping, dropped a blanket over me and passed out fully clothed. I had been up for about 26 hours. And needed to be up by 8. I fell asleep with visions of feather fans, leather chaps and over flowing corsets dancing in my head.

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