Mr. D.C. EAGLE LEATHER 1997-1998

A few ramblings on being a titleholder

So, you want to be a sash queen. Youíve finally admitted it. Okay, now what? How do you prepare? A good place to start is by reading "The Leather Contest Guide." Authored by Guy Baldwin - International Mister Leather 1989, and Mr. National Leather Association 1989, and published by Daedalus Publishing Company, itís probably available at your local gay bookstore. Mr. Baldwin has outlined all the basics for you in a compact and easy-to-read book. At a mere 139 pages, you can breeze through it quickly. If youíre really lazy you only have to read the 19 pages that cover winning a title, but do read the whole book. It will give you some good insights into the whole leather contest realm. By the way, the term "sash queen" is politically incorrect these days, which is exactly why I use it. It's just my way of pointing out that sometimes we as leatherfolk can take ourselves way too seriously.

Now, let me rap to you about the real deal, the stuff that Guy Baldwin doesn't tell you. Most rookies make the mistake of thinking the road to gold begins and ends with the contest itself. Wrong. You can position yourself as a frontrunner. It's no guarantee of winning, but it can give you a sizeable edge against your competition. What do I mean by positioning yourself? It's simple. Be an active and visible leatherperson LONG BEFORE the contest you plan to compete in comes around. Work within in the leather community in your area. Volunteer your time, participate in fund-raisers, and be a part of local leather events such as club bar nights, demos, club runs and the like. Let folks in your community get to know you. Let people see what your passions and proclivities are. This is your chance to show your leather community that you are real, and that you can be an effective leader. This is also a great way to gain experience, something judges will be looking for. It's really a kind of rehearsal for handling titleholder duties. Don't overdo it, though. Pace yourself and don't overbook your calendar. If you do get that sash, having an organized and realistic schedule will help you avoid getting burned out.

People ask: " Should I be in a contest just for the practice?" This is a tricky question. Maybe I'm just being a purist, but I don't think you should enter a contest unless you're competing seriously. If you want to learn, try attending several contests as a spectator first. Make careful observations and notes about what you see. Ask former titleholders about their experiences. If you do have your sights set on a particular sash, and you're really working toward that ultimate goal, maybe a practice run is a good idea. The trouble is, as a contestant - your "shelf life" is pretty short. When you enter your first contest, you become a known entity. If you enter contest after contest after contest, and don't win, you are likely to be branded as one who is hell-bent on having a sash at any cost. Do you really want to be known as the Susan Lucci of leather? I think not.

A little self-promotion doesn't hurt. A lot of self-promotion will. The secret of having a winning edge is to promote yourself just enough so that you are reasonably well known, but not so much that you become a hideous caricature of yourself. You are not trying to land the cover of Vogue. You just want leatherfolk to have a "heads up" on who you are and what you're about. Expensive press kits will probably make you look over-produced; a red flag for judges who will be looking to see if there is any substance behind all that hype.

Being a titleholder of quality requires a significant level of commitment. Are you ready to give up a year of your life? Think about it. If you win a local or regional title you will probably be expected to compete at the national or international level, not that you should be intimidated. Competing in one of the big shows is one of the most unique experiences you can have as a leatherperson. It can encompass great personal growth and learning. Conversely, many titles have no requirements or stipulations at all. Some may require you to do a fund-raiser or two, or to appear at certain events, but mostly itís up to you. The best titleholders, the ones we respect, admire, and remember, are the ones that actually do something positive with their titles. So enjoy your time as the reigning diva. Make things happen in your community. Be a leather ambassador. Use your status to bring awareness to issues and challenges that we all face as leatherfolk. Create and/or sponsor fund-raising events, pick a project or cause you can support, launch forums for discussions about leathersex, or work to preserve our history. Mostly, a title allows you to inspire other leatherfolk. When you wear your sash and leather proudly, when you are visible, when you speak with clarity and conviction, the impact you have is sometimes greater than you realize. When someone sees a strong titleholder, it often gives him or her the courage to stand proudly, as they might not have before. If people can see and identify themselves in you the titleholder, it fills them with pride, it affirms their presence, and it helps them to recognize that they DO belong.

Speaking of standing proudly, a few words about porn. Many aspiring titleholders are also exhibitionists (okay, you caught me) and the extent to which you expose yourself is your own choice. Some titles may require you to show more skin than others. Doing porn videos and/or sexually explicit photo layouts is frequently an option you may have. Certainly, some porn stars clearly love their work for its own sake, and enjoy sharing it with us in front of the lens. To that I say bravo. Remember though, if you think being a porn star will make you sash worthy, or if you think having a sash will enhance your adult video career, then you are probably pursuing all of the above selfishly. Be honest with yourself. Seeking fame and fortune to that extent is not a crime; it's just incredibly self-indulgent, self-centered, shallow, and one-dimensional. It's also a great way to get your rocks off, so you make the call.

Okay listen up you titleholders, this is very important. If you have a partner, family, or boy donít forget about him, her, or them. Strike a balance between your duties as a titleholder and your responsibilities at home. Sometimes this will mean making compromises in your scheduling plans. It may mean that you will skip some parts of an event weekend and/or decline some invitations altogether. You will have to make apologies for your absence at times but this is okay. Most leatherfolk are smart enough to know that a good titleholder would never jeopardize his/her relationship for a title. All the attention you will get is wonderful for one's ego, but donít lose your perspective. It's support and sacrifice from your beloved that helped you get the title in the first place, and you'll continue to rely on their support and sacrifice throughout your title year. Reward them and praise them for their efforts. When you are out and about and being introduced, you remember to introduce them. Warning: this can be harder than you think. Sometimes when all the attention is focused on you it's hard to get a word in edgewise. Make the effort, it pays off. Of course, no one could ever be as good a "tiffle" as my Glenn, but hey, all beloveds deserve praise!

Lastly, I do not proclaim myself an expert, just one who has been through it. I caution you, there is NO cure for sash fever. If you've got it, let it run its course and enjoy the ride. Just donít get swept away!

The greatest gift of being a gay leatherman is the freedom to warmly embrace oneís own masculinity without having to be imprisoned by it.

Wayne M. Nesbitt Mr. DC Eagle 1997-98

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