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There are three sections to this Editorial

1. My response to the situation.

2. The ILSLb ICCB board letter with changes to policy that was released on September 27, 2013.

3. A copy of the September 20, 2013 letter that was sent out to the ILSLb ICCB board and producers. The Leather Journal requested, and was granted permission to publish the letter in its entirety.

Up until now I have stayed out of the fray over the International Leather Sir, Leatherboy and Community Bootblack situation because I wanted to allow more facts to come out after the emotional storm passed, and because I am the producer of an International Leather contest and do not want to appear as making an effort to capitalize on a bad situation.


Dave Rhodes By Doctor Larry At Leather Sir 2013I want to congratulate Pat Billie and Sharrin Spector as they take the reins of the International Ms Leather and International Ms Bootblack contest which will be held the last weekend of April in San Jose, CA. I know of Sharrin and her high credentials and I have known Pat Baillie since she held the International Ms Leather 1994 title. She has remained active in the Leather community and has worked well with past producers Amy Marie Meek and Glenda Rider. I'm not sure that anyone more suited and acquainted exits than Pat Baillie.



That is the new, now for what was new until Labor Day Weekend in Dallas, TX. The International Leather Sir, Leatherboy and Community Bootblack contest was under the new producer Jeffrey Payne. Jeffrey is co-owner of the Dallas Eagle with the man who owned the Leather Sir title system and that really helped for a smooth transition.

Marcus Hopkins In RubberThe night I won the title of Mr. Pistons Leather 2010, it was entirely by accident.  I had entered the contest not because I had any desire, whatsoever, to hold a leather title, but because my friend, Jeff Wacha, said there were only two contestants, one of them was a semi-permanent shill used as a filler where there are no other candidates, and that if I was going to bitch about the leather title culture, I should enter it to see what they go through to get there.

I had never intended to win the contest.  I had joking offered my then-partner my agreement to run for a title of his choosing in exchanging for flying to Kingsport, TN and driving with me across the country to move to Long Beach, CA.  When Jeff threw the idea out there, I though, "What the hell?  [Partner] thinks I can't win, because I'm too much of a brash asshole."  Like the vengeful character in a cheesy daytime soap, I shook my figurative fist - "I will enter this contest!"

No one expected me to win, primarily because...well, I am a brash asshole, sometimes.  Growing up in New York City in the 80s, I managed to craft a somewhat adversarial approach to group interaction.  If someone says something stupid, I'll call them out on it; if they do something ridiculous, I'll let them know it.  It's a very "Northeastern" personality quirk that most of America mistake for being "rude," but is really just harsh honesty designed not only to save you time, but even heartache.  When there's a cancer, it's best to cut it out early.

After the initial group hug from the Los Angeles Band of Brothers (insert plug, here) and a rare deep kiss from my partner, I waded through the congratulatory crowd to get to the bar where my Philoctetean efforts were rewarded with a nice, cold Bud Light Lime.

As I went to take my first sip, someone with a camera wandered over and asked me to pose with one of the Long Beach Royal Court, and a new acquaintance of mine literally ripped the beer bottle out of my hand and said, "Don't you EVER let yourself be photographed with a drink in your hand!"

This wasn't my first brush with the nightmare that is being a titleholder, however.  Prior to the contest, my partner (Mr. Sanctuary 2008) sent me a much vaunted document written by a now-deceased former titleholder called the "Titleholder Bootcamp," or something similarly cliché.  Within this sixty-page tome, I learned all of the Dos and Don'ts of the titleholder world:

-Don't be photographed smoking a cigarette.  Cigars, however, are fine.

-Don't be photographed drinking alcohol.

-Don't go to leather bar dressed in anything other than leather.

-Never wear both your title vest and your medallion.

-ALWAYS wear your medallion when in public

-Don't do porn during our title year; if you do, don't wear your vest or medallion.

-Don't be caught with un-shined boots or leathers.

-Never say you're tired.

-Never get into an argument about religion or politics.

The list was both exhaustive and exhausting, encapsulating everything I felt was wrong with the title community.  These guidelines were almost literally parroted directly from a beauty contest handbook, and if this was what I was getting into, why the fuck even bother with it?  My life didn't need to turn out any more like "Drop Dead Gorgeous."

After reading that document, as well as the various things I should need to know - "Learn and know the entire Hanky Code!" - I decided to do what was best for me and say, "Fuck it!" and I chucked the whole thing out the window of my new apartment.

...I then went outside of my new apartment and threw all that paper into the recycling bin.

When my newly met acquaintance all but verbally assaulted me about being photographed with a beer in my hand, I promptly began seething with fury.  "I'm a fucking BAR titleholder!  I'm basically HERE to be an alcoholic!"

And so, without further ado, I went about ensuring that every single photo not only of me, but of every other titleholder in my class, contained an alcoholic beverage with each of us holding our medallion up to the camera.  

There were photos of me "passed out" in my title vest and medallion in Bullet Bar surrounded by empty beer bottles and ashtrays filled with cigarette butts, all neatly arranged to look like I'd smoked and drank myself into unconsciousness.

There were photos of me and every titleholder doing shots holding out medallions in rebellion against what I, and many others, felt was an outdated, outmoded approach to being a "titleholder."

I would make sure that I had a halo of cigarette smoke encircling my head in every photo op.  

In my professional titleholder photos, I was photographed using the Leather Pride flag as a makeshift Burka (and little else).

In addition to breaking these social faux pas, I also broke the cardinal rule of holding a title - I didn't let IT define "Me."  In bars, when people would come up to me and squint at the medallion on my chest, I would apologize, throw my medallion over my shoulder to rest on my back, and introduce myself.

"Hi!  I'm Marcus.  I really hate that thing; it keeps getting in the way."

At events, I wouldn't go up to people and introduce myself as "Mr. Pistons Leather 2010," because, frankly, it's fucking pretentious.

Looking back, now, a lot of what I did was a somewhat juvenile rebellion against what I saw, and still see, as an antiquated tradition that's been trumped up to look like it has some level of legitimacy.  But, honestly, it needed to be done.  Someone needed to make some waves.  Today, still, the L.A. titleholders are photographed with drinks in their hands, and the ones who smoke with cigarettes.

Watching my friends in the Straight/Pan communities' contests make me cringe, because the pressure to conform to the image is especially formidable, there, and I'm always hoping that there will be some courageous Dommé who will step up and say, "Fuck this shit!" grab a beer, and throw it back in her ridiculously tight corset and floor-length bondage gown, if only because someone NEEDS to do it.

The purpose of being a titleholder is to entertain people.  We're not the fucking Royal Family, and we needn't walk around with their bejeweled scepters shoved firmly up our asses.

...unless you're into that.  Then, you make sure someone's taking a picture while it's being inserted, title sash and medallion in full view, if only as a great big "Fuck You!"


My pup suggested this post, because he recognized that myself and several of my closest friends were dealing with issues related to self-worth.  He is an intuitive pup, I love that about him, because I hadn’t really put it together that my friends were dealing with it as well…

Boy Bamm BammFor many boys, myself included, self-worth can be a challenge. We question our value to our Sirs, to our partners, to our brothers and sisters, even to society as a whole… “what value could I possibly offer to the world?”  The truth is, a boy’s worth is only as high as he places on himself. I am not talking about confidence/ego, although those things can be impacted by self-worth, I am talking about the inherent worth that we apply to ourselves.  As submissives, it is easy to allow low self-worth to take over. Some boys are blessed with a Sir that helps foster positive self-worth in Their boys; for me, that is the halmark of a great Sir… someone that helps a boy grow as a submissive, while helping fortify their personal self-worth.

For those of us without the benefit of a collar around our neck, we are left to our own devices. I have written in the past about periods in my life (and sometimes currently) where I find myself looking for validation through things like sex… some (occasionally, myself included), find validation through relationships.  Some through titles, or accolades, or even community involvement… but the hardest thing for any of us to remember is that self-worth is exactly that… self.  I am nothing to my relationships, sex partners, community, or title, if I am nothing to myself.  How can I possibly positively impact my community when I don’t believe that I am worthy of anything positive that comes my way? How can I serve as a role model to my community and to other boys as a titleholder, when I doubt my ability in all of those things constantly.

As submissives, it is easy to forget that you are worthy of this positive self-worth… for many, we forget that because we CHOOSE to submit to someone, that at the same time we are beautiful creatures, worthy and deserving of so much love…

I have blogged before about my daily affirmation ritual… where I put myself in a daily headspace to help remind myself that the things I see in the mirror aren’t real, due to my body dysmorphia.  Starting today, I am going to start including some self-worth work in that ritual… because what good am I to my community if I am not good to myself.

For boys that have the desire to be collared to a Sir in the future, what a great gift to offer your future Sir… a boy that is comfortable enough with himself as a submissive to be able to find worth and value in himself as a human being. I often advise boys about improving themselves physically, intellectually, and health-wise for their future Sirs, it only makes sense that mental self-care should be included in that.

For boys that have the privilege of already wearing a Sir’s collar, think of it as an act of  service to your Sir… a positive self-worth means that you are providing him with a more solid boy. A boy that can, with confidence, submit…

Click here to read boy Bamm Bamm's Blog.

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