By Jaco Lourens
Photos by Rich Stadtmiller
1. For those who don’t already know, please tell us about yourself and your connection with the Leather world.
i am a slave and a bootblack living in Phoenix, AZ with my Master of 13-plus years. i am the resident bootblack at the Anvil Bar. i am the current International Ms Bootblack, 2015.
2. Please tell us who or what event got you started in the Leather community and for how long?
i came under the protection of my Owner back in 2002.
3. Your Leather family, who are they and how do they fit into your life?
my Leather family is pretty small, it is Master and myself! But i consider my Leather community as part of my “extended family.” They have been a big influence in my life as i was finding my way in the world.
4. Boots… Why did you choose to be a bootblack and who is/are your mentors?
That is an interesting story. Master got me into bootblacking to help my get out of my shell. i am not the same person you see today. i was very shy and unsure of myself. She had me compete for Southwest Bootblack 2009 only three months before the contest. i had never publicly bootblack (let alone being on stage)! i am thankful that She did.
Bootblacking grounded in the Leather community, a place where I could my boots - it helped me find myself as a transgender Leatherwoman. It gave me the confidence to be my authentic self. It helped me grow and expand into who i have become today.
Boi Moe, Southwest Bootblack 2008, actually taught me the basics. i didn’t mentor under anyone, i read online forums, asked questions, and watched other bootblacks. i picked up techniques and developed my own skills. i think bootblacking is about self-discovery. Learn the basics, then go out and explore. Find out what makes bootblacking special for you. Maybe it is the sex, or the skills, or serving the community. Find out what works for you and make it your own.
5. I met you at IMsL in 2014 when I was one of the judges, please tell many people who have never attended IMsL/IMsBB contest about it, and what during the busy contest weekend was your high’s and low’s?
The IMsL/IMsBB contest is pretty special to me, i competed for four times. It helped me grow as a person. The IMsL weekend is the hidden gem of the Leather community. A lot of people see it as just a women’s event, but it isn’t. It caters to the entire community, bringing together everyone for a celebration of hot Leather sex and boots! The contest is fun and exciting; with the best women bootblacks, classes with some of the best teachers out there; along with a huge dungeon. The queer happy hour and Seduction burlesque show on Thursday is not to be missed. The uniform party, The pool party, the list goes on and on.
The contest staff is really great about creating a family and sisterhood. You bond very quickly with your contest sisters. Competing in four contests has given me friends from each year. Competing for a contest of this caliber can be emotionally and physically draining. This year i was pretty well prepared, i knew what was coming and knew i could handle it. What i wasn’t prepared for was Saturday night, when i didn’t win - then won the title later that night. Going from deciding if i was going to run again to finding out that i won was overwhelming. i had never felt more emotion at one time than that night. i won’t go into the details; i will leave that for one-on-one conversations over coffee. But let’s just say my high’s and low's happened all at the same time!
6. Since winning your title in International Ms. Bootblack title, can you tell us how your life has been?
It has been so much fun! i have been blessed that Master and i have been able to travel to every event together. We have loved being able to go to different cities witness and celebrate their local communities. Each one is different, but yet we are all the same. We are so looking forward to traveling to Australia soon and be part of the “Down Under” Leather Community!
7. Tell us about the #AskMe project that you have.
i came out and transitioned in the Leather community. i am lucky to have someone in my life who has supported me as i transition, but a lot of people are not as lucky. It can be scary to come out transgender. #AskMe is a way to help people on a one-on-one level. When you wear the pin it shows that you are ally and willing to: #Listen to someone that may have questions their gender. But, also having the respect ones boundaries when they are not willing or ready to talk about their gender; #Learn something about what it means to be transgender, whether it is reading a books, articles or taking a class; and #Advocate for transgender rights in the Leather community and in our larger society. Be an ally.
8. When judging a bootblack contest, what do you look for and what in your mind makes for a successful winner?
i look for the heart of the bootblack. i will ask questions that will allow them to show their passion. It is not all about who does the best shiny boot, but who can show me the determination that it takes to be a bootblack and Leatherperson. It is job interview; i am looking for the best person that will represent that title.
9. Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
That’s an easy one! my Owner, Master Lady Lacee Jae. She has been the biggest influence in my life. i came to Her during a time in my life when i was questioning myself and who i was as a person. She helps, protects, and pushes me to be the best person i can be. She is the most important person in my life.
10. In your mind, do you think bootblacks are getting the attention and respect they deserve yet?
It is getting there! Bootblacking has a shorter history in the Leather community. While bootblacks have been there since the “Dawn of the Leatherman," we were usually in the shadows and back corners blacking our hearts out. Only in the last few years have bootblacks started to be seen as an equal to the wonderful Leatherman and Leatherwomen on stage. i am blessed to be associated with IMsL/IMsBB. The bootblack title is as equal as the International Ms Leather title in every way. It is an honor to represent the IMSL title.
11. South Africa Leather has recently opened their memberships to both male and female members, also members who are trans, what advice can you offer our young community?
Keep it going! It’s great to see the community embracing different gender identities (trans, fluid, etc.) into their local communities. Old gender biases are falling away and we are creating new traditions that fit our time and our lives. Love it!
12. What do you see for the future of Leather in your community and internationally?
i see it growing! We are heading to Austrailia this year. Where there is a strong contingent of Leather folk and bootblacks! i am so excited to meet them. With the advent of online technology, we are actually able to share and experience each other communities. It is great to see.
13. Is there any advice you can give South Africa who will be sending their first bootblack to compete in the near future?
Remember that is more about just bootblacking. Though your technical skills are important. Being a good public speaker is also important. Bootblacks are evolving into educators, ambassadors, and leaders. We a have a louder voice than we've ever had before. Be sure to use it.
14. Besides your favorite pair of boots or title vest, tell us what your favorite piece of Leather is and why.
My Leather-bound bootblack kit, it is my oldest piece of Leather. i have had the box since 1990. i bought it at a yard sale for $10. It held all of my art supplies during college. When i was looking for a bootblack box it was the only choice.
15. What’s the funniest thing that happened to you while blacking someone’s boots?
Oh that is easy, anything that involves my title husband, Bamm-Bamm (IMBB 2015). He made the mistake to get in my chair a few years ago at Southwest Leather. You see, i am slave to my Master, but when i bootblack, i am a top. He mentioned that he hated paddles. i turned to my Master (who is a sadist) and mentioned that he hated paddles... as i handed Her my LARGE Dauber brush. She proceeded to smack his inner thigh (it was his fault for wearing a kilt). Course he wasn’t allowed to get out of the chair - his boots weren’t done!
16. What was the last meal you cooked just for yourself?
i love breakfast. Eggs over easy, sourdough toast, maple-smoked bacon, orange juice and coffee with French vanilla creamer.
17. Someday I will visit Phoenix AZ, what five non-touristy things would you show me and why?
1. Take you to some of our favorite restaurants – We love a great meal and great conversations.
2. Talesin West – It is Frank Lloyd Wright’s school of architecture (I have never gone myself).
3. The Anvil Leather Bar (my home bar) – Gotta do your boots while you are in town.
4. Mystery Castle – A funky castle built by Boyce Luther Gulley for his “princess” daughter May Lou.
5. Hob Nobs Coffee House – Hang out with my Phoenix boys of Leather.
18. In conclusion, anything you would like to add to this interview for the Leather community internationally?
i love my Leather community! Oh, and tip your bootblack!