By Jaco Lourens
1. For those who don’t already know, please tell us about yourself and your connection with the Leather world.
I’m a queer futch (femme-butch) Leather woman. I’m married to an amazing man, named Cobi and we are part of an awesome leather family called the House of AndOr. I live and breathe this lifestyle. Leather is at my core.
2. Please tell us who got you started in the Leather community and for how long?
Cobi, my husband, introduced me to the Leather community four years ago.
3. Which club or bar are you affiliated with and tell us more about the history?
I’m affiliate with quite a few! We’re very lucky in San Diego to have a large community with lots of options! I am the president of The Stomping Ground San Diego, San Diego’s first sex-positive community center. We just opened our doors on March 6, 2015. I’ve been a member of Club X, a pansexual BDSM education group, for 4 years which has been around for over 20 years. I’m a San Diego girl of Leather, a member of the Southland Title Sisters and of course my favorite group, the Gang Bang Girls, all of which were started in the last two to three years. I think what I’m most proud of is being a part of the history of amazing Leatherwomen. International Ms Leather is such an honor to have as a title, and as my year continues and I interview past IMsLs, producers and VIPs, I learn more and more about the history of this great legacy.
4. What made you enter your first Leather contest and who was the person that stood by you all the way?
I entered because it looked like a lot of fun! It became much more than that as the contest neared. In preparing for the contest I was required to answer a lot of questions about my part and identity in the community. Self-reflection helped me to know myself and my beliefs better. I learned history and imagined how I might make my community better. Cobi, my husband, stood by me the entire way. As a matter of fact, when he first met me, he told me I’d be IMsL one day. I didn’t even know what that was then!
5. Tell us about your charity involvement and goals for your title year.
My time and energy are spent within the Leather community. So I have become a FIRM believer in keeping the Leather community’s funds within it as well. The Leather Foundation helps many of the groups in San Diego and beyond to grow. It is a parent organization and 501(c)(3) umbrella organization for many Leather groups in the community. My goal this title year is to promote the peer to peer network of mental health awareness and support through the Leather dog tags, the “You are Not alone” campaign. I’ve also begun to work on the 30th Anniversary of IMsL history book. That’s a HUGE undertaking and not an easy task.
6. Also tell us about the “you are not alone” campaign, and how can we get involved or support this cause?
Depression and suicide is a great concern in our community. People who commit suicide usually do so because they feel alone and that needs to not be an option. Our community is typically very supportive of one another. We are everywhere and often come to the aid of community members in need. After seeing so many posts online about people struggling to deal with their feelings, some without resources to get help, I thought there should be some way to connect to one another and offer support. I created Leather dog tags with the phrase “You Are Not Alone” on them as a way for people to “flag” to others that they are open to talking and listening to anyone who may be struggling with feeling alone. Letting people know that there is always someone willing to help them is a start to creating stronger, more positive and mentally healthy communities. Purchasing dog tags for yourself lets people know you are their ally. Purchasing one for someone else reminds them that they are not alone. Each tag that your purchase covers the cost of two more being made. As the network expands, so does the support system. Visit https://squareup.com/market/imsl2015 to get your dog tags!
7. Tell us about your Leather family.
The House of AndOr is such an amazing support system. We started with four of us and now, three and a half years later, there are 10 of us in the family. We have traveled to many different conferences together, we learn together, we play together, have family dinners together but above all, we love together. Half of us are on at least one board within our local leather communities. So the core values of Leather are practiced daily within our family.
8. Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
My grandfather, who I call Papa, is most influential in my life. He is a calm, loving and patient human being. I aspire to be half as great as he was. He put Neil Armstrong on the moon! I have a favorite picture of him sitting at a computer the size of my house, with Neil Armstrong leaning over his shoulder, while my Papa taught him how to use the equipment that he engineered.
9. South Africa woke up at 3 AM every morning when IMsL was broadcasted live, and one of our favorite moments was seeing your fantasy, because of copyrights we could not hear any audio but we all went nuts! Please tell us your inspiration and the thoughts behind the awesome fantasy?
OMG I love hearing this!! SA is so dedicated! My inspiration was of course the Gang Bang Girls (a group that I am a co-founder of) and my love for Disney. As a child I did theater a lot, so I knew I wanted something epic, a little difficult to choreograph and something that was entertaining, funny and reflected my personality. I’ll bring the fantasy video, with music, to SA for you all to see. It really is better with music!
The fantasy was created for my run for the Ms. San Diego title. Although it is usually frowned upon to repeat fantasies, Judy Tallwing McCarthy (a judge for the SD contest and IMsL #1) loved it so much she suggested I do it for IMsL. I had so much positive feedback about it I decided to make some modifications and perfected it for the IMsL stage. Each princess’ song used denoted their part in the bathroom scene. It was choreographed down to every last beat. I even used Cobi as my understudy, so that I could watch it from the audience myself and perfect each movement. We practiced it for seven months!
10. In your mind, what does Leather mean to you, and what is the glue that keeps us together?
Leather to me is the heart and drive to make a subculture succeed. The glue is love. We love each other, we respect each other, and sometimes we even play with each other! I think that a lot of us forget that the reason we came into this community is to radically alter our sex lives. It’s easy to lose sight in that with all the fundraising and bake sales we do.
11. If you can be anyone dead or alive (not yourself) who would you be and why?
I would be Aubry Hepburn. Her life seemed so amazing and rare. A famous movie star, a beautiful and confident woman, but above all, she was diverse.
12. What do you see for the future of Leather in your community and internationally?
In my community I see a great coming together. It’s a large but very segregated community (which is not a bad thing). But there are some who are very serious about making sure there is a community center for all to enjoy and I think that will bring a lot of people together to make sure that succeeds.
Internationally, I think that there will be a lot of cross cultural pollination, if you will. I hear that Leather in Germany is very different than Leather in San Francisco. I enjoy the differences that I experience within and around all the communities I visit; some of which I want to bring home!
13. Tell us what your favorite piece of Leather is and why?
My favorite piece of Leather is a Leather flower that my very vanilla best friend gifted me before I ran for Ms San Diego Leather. She says to me as she hands me the flower, “Good luck with your contest, I know you’ll be the Queen of the Leathers.” I almost died laughing, but I was crying so much as well!
14. What’s the funniest thing that happened to you in Leather?
The night that the GBG’s (Gang Bang Girls) started has to be the funniest. IMsL 2013 Sarha, was at a conference we were all at. She had heard about our long night of gang banging each other (there were four women in total) and seemed interested so the next night we invited her to our room. One of the four of us, Nerissa, was not in the room when the shenanigans began, but immediately jumped in when she arrived. So Nerissa is elbow deep in Sarha, and looks over at me and mouths, “Who is this?” I laughed a little and just picked up her title vest off the back of the chair and held it up for Nerissa to see. The look of panic and embarrassment set in and Nerissa turned fifty shades of red!
15. What’s the funniest safe word you ever heard?
Refrigerator. After hearing it I said, “that’s a good one! As a fat girl it’s my safe base, so that’d be a great safe word!”
16. What’s your favorite drink? And design a drink or cocktail that represents you and what would it be called?
I have been sober for almost two years, so I’ll design a Mocktail: Let’s call it the Dirty MarTina it would be cherry 7-Up (my favorite drink), mint and sugar, shaken and poured into a martini glass (cause they’re pretty)
17. What was the last meal you cooked just for yourself?
Dino-Shaped chicken nuggets and sweet potato fries. It’s my ultimate comfort food.
18. You’re on an airplane and get stranded on an abandoned island with five other people. Who will be doing the cooking, who is your personal massage therapist, who do you push into the water to keep the hungry sharks at bay, who builds a bonfire to attract the ship in the distance and who is in charge of building that raft?
Guy Fieri would be the cook.
Dwayne Johnson (the Rock) is my massage therapist (with happy endings).
Donald Trump will keep the sharks at bay.
Cobi will build the bonfire.
Tom Hanks is building the raft (he has lots of experience).
19. What’s your home town and what five non-touristy things would you show me and why?
My home town is San Diego, one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world, so it’d be hard to show you non-touristy things since it’s a tourist trap! But here goes:
1. I’d take you to S&M (Sausage and Meat) restaurant- and we’d look up the safe word on their Facebook page for a free sample of any of the special bacons!
2. Game night with my Leather family- they’re epic, and everyone leaves having had an amazing time
3. We’d go to a little place I like to call secret beach - a small hidden patch of sand tucked away in the Cays of Coronado. We can bring my dogs and watch them run around like crazy and swim in the water!
4. Sailing on the Glorietta Bay - and if we can do it on the Duke of Pudding’s boat called Las Palabras, it can be a kinky adventure! once a year he puts on an event called Jello wrestling on the Bay where he builds a platform and blows up a kiddie pool and fills it with Jello, and the competition is to see who can get the ankle bracelets off the other first. Just last weekend he did an event that involved rope on the water, where people were tied to the bow and dangled over the water form the boom. He’s very creative.
5. I’d have to show you the kink clubs and hotspots! There are only a few, but all are great - so I can’t choose just one.
20. In conclusion, anything you would like to add to this interview for the Leather community globally?
It has been such an amazing year so far, with so many more amazing things to come! If anyone is wanting to run for IMsL, I would say go for it! you don’t need a title to run, and all women of all types are welcome to run as well. No limits on race, gender expression (as long as you’re comfortable with a women’s title), sexual orientation or religion. It was such a great experience for me, and I cherish the memories I have with everyone from my class.