Thorns and Roses

Here she comes, International Ms. Leather

Most humorous were American Leatherwoman '99 and American Leatherboy '97, a dyke couple from Maryland, dressed in khakis and polo shirts. I overheard one woman ask, "What's with those two in the leisure suits?" The couple proved two important points: (1) you don't have to wear leather to be a leatherdyke and (2) kinky people can eroticize almost anything. The yuppie duds were fittingly eye-catching in a room full of s/m fashion overkill—in this context, deliberate costumes. In a place where even the most mainstream J. Crew cookie-cutter clothes seem fetishized, I caught myself thinking, "Are they doing some sort of gender-bending, incestuous father-son golfing trip scene?" Or maybe a midwestern - tourists - stumble - into - the - wrong - convention scene. There's such a thing as forced feminization and public humiliation, so what about forced preppy-fication?

All the dress up wasn't just to be seen taking notes at the master/slave workshop (in lieu of pens and paper, the fisting workshop moderator recommended bringing lube, gloves, and a towel). Cruising, playing, and fucking were a big part of the event. Some women, after forging deep, intense online connections, met face-to-face for the first time; others made on-the-spot lust connections in a girl - flagging - hanky - on - the - right - meets - girl - flagging - hanky - on - the - left moment.

A local s/m group hosted a few play parties, but the more spontaneous flesh fetes garnered the juiciest gossip, like the duo who converted their suite into a dungeon, complete with a hanging sling for willing guests. A group from the East Coast moved their king-size bed into the adjoining room and replaced it with a blue plastic tarp for easier cleanup. Another room had so many soiled towels piled outside the door, housekeeping needed an extra cart to take them away. The continual sounds of beating, wailing, and moaning reverberated throughout the corridors.

As a reporter and part of the New York contingent supporting its first IMsL contestant, I was lucky enough to be part of the festivities. I played the distracting femme in a Dyke Uniform Corps Recruit Training Session, watched a German dominatrix pierce her bottom with needles, had my body mummified in yellow CAUTION tape, picked up a tourist and a puppy for a six-way scene, and hosted a femme gang interrogation-torture scene of my butch top. Damn, I never did get to play out the shaving fantasy with the new International Ms. Leather, Pam Meyer.

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