The Queen of the Camellias

Customer: [bursting dramatically into the store] “MY LOVE. I need that shirt.”

Me: “Okay. Which shirt are you interested in?”

Customer: [points at the back wall, where seven or eight different T-shirts are on display]

Me: “Which one?”

Customer: [clutches chest and continues pointing emphatically]

Me: “Which one, please?”

Customer: [sighing desolately and/or death-rattling] “THAT ONE. The one that says ‘Chubby and Hard to Kidnap.'”

Me: “Ah, gotcha. What size?”

Customer: “I’m a FAT BITCH, my love.”

Me: [blank stare]

Customer: [dropping character] “Extra large.”

Me: “That’ll be $27.06.”

Customer: “My love… thank you.” [deep bow]

At least he wasn’t overcome with the vapors or anything. The slings we just ordered won’t be here until next week, and I’ve got nothing else in stock that would work as a fainting couch.

Get in, loser. We’re going mopping.

I’m house-sitting for my sponsor right now, and he just called to ask if I could keep an eye out for any packages left on his neighbor’s doorstep.

“She’s traveling in Europe,” he explained. “And her Tony Award is supposed to arrive today.”

While I’m certainly not ashamed of my own humble achievements, I have got to figure out how to get on these people’s level. Although you know what would be funny? If, when the package appeared, I removed the Tony and replaced it with the following note:

Dear Esteemed Colleague,

We were robbed, and now, so were you.


-the entire cast of Mean Girls

I’d ask my sponsor to talk me out of this, but he’s at a conference and conveniently hard to reach at the moment. As such, I can only assume that the Universe has a master plan and totally wants me to sweep an award the old-fashioned way.

UPDATE: I am currently experiencing feelings of anxiety and regret. Shit. Does anyone happen to know if stealing a Tony is considered a felony? Asking for Victor Garber.

Slap Happy

I showed up at Ripcord this past Saturday for Misfits bartending, and I was heading over to the pool table where a few of the guys had gathered, when I passed by the St. Andrew’s Cross next to the men’s room and noticed a gaggle of straight girls striking poses on it.

This occurs a few times a week. Preppy visitors to the bar see the cross and think it’s a stage prop, so they climb up on it and demand that their friends take pictures. And it’s always the same picture — they put their hands through the restraints and then look back over their shoulder, eyes and mouth widened in mock terror, like they’re trapped in a medieval torture chamber.

Comedy pioneers, the lot of them.

I am not a fan of “anything worse than” comparisons (Them: “Ugh. Is there anything worse than a latte made without almond milk?” Me: “Rape culture?”), but very few things enrage me as much as leatherfolk having to wait in line to engage in kink, because Biffany and Co. are pretending to be contestants on a Halloween episode of America’s Next Top Model. Veering away from the Misfits, I sidled up to a girl who’d already taken her turn and was now wielding the camera, and I whispered, “The cross is not here for photo opportunities. It’s here for the people who actually use it.”

The tour group had the decency to scuttle away at my prompting, although the Misfits themselves were unamused, since I was once again interrupting someone’s fun by belligerently checking their privilege. “So, this is how you’re going to be tonight, huh?” my brother Geno asked. And I was all, “Yes, Geno. Yes, it is. And the night is young.”

The rest of the evening was a blur of debauchery and impact play (the usual), and I got home around 3 a.m., glancing at my phone one last time as I plodded to bed. And immediately I was like, “The hell? When did I take a picture of boobs?”

Even Lady Gaga is confused.

At first I thought one of the straight girls had somehow gotten hold of my phone and was attempting to fuck with me, so I was like, “Nice try, lady, but I don’t act like breasts scare or disgust me like some gay guys do. Same with vaginas. You could show me your vagina all day, and I’d be like, ‘Yup, that sure is a vagina.’ I would neither gag in fake revulsion, nor make shady, misogynistic remarks. So you know what? Bring it. Bring all the vagina, and watch in chagrin as I respond to your lady garden with polite yet aloof deference, whore.” But then I opened the album and was like, “Right, then. This makes much more sense.”

Oh. Hey, Gary.

Clearly a good time was had by all, although I really need to work on my issues regarding contempt prior to investigation. And even if my aim with a paddle is spot-fucking-on, I guess it couldn’t hurt to get my eyes checked.

When We’re Living Our Dream

Some days, I spend my shift helping new customers try on leather for the first time, and I get a special thrill when they look in the mirror and go, “Holy shit. I look good in this.” And whatever insecurities they were wrestling with when they came in start to recede, and I feel like I’ve done something to be of service to my fellow gay men, and that feels awesome.

And other days, I have to get in a customer’s face and literally pull merchandise out of his hands, and make sure the friends he was gleefully trying to bludgeon are unharmed, all while shouting, “THESE ARE ARMBANDS. WE DO NOT HIT PEOPLE WITH ARMBANDS.”

And truth be told, that feels pretty awesome too.

Australian Possums Are Cuter Than American Possums, and Other Hard-Hitting Headlines of Relevance to the Leather Community

As has become tradition, Facets of Leather superfan Orin Slade created a meme abstraction of last night’s episode, and this one is without a damn doubt my new favorite:

The pin on the possum’s Muir cap says “Team Hades.” The number of religious-themed gifts in my Zazzle shop is about to quadruple.

Robert and I also spent an inordinate amount of time comparing and contrasting the regional differences in Episcopalian Eucharist ettiquette, because I don’t know why we did, either. Hopefully, at least one of our listeners has a High Protestant fetish. You’re welcome, That Guy.

This month’s forgotten track was not actually on our playlist, since the artist hasn’t released it for sale (we played this one instead). However, I am a fool for electronic breakup anthems turned into acoustic, sexually-ambiguous breakup anthems, so I’m sharing it here anyway. Robert says the song would be easier to listen to if McKillen took his clothes off. While I’m inclined to agree, I’d rather focus my energies on talking him into covering “I Touch Myself” next.

Second Bar to the Right and Straight on ’til Morning

Customer: “Could you help me find something?”

Me: “Sure. What are you looking for?”

Customer: “I really want an Eagle Houston T-shirt.”

Me: “…”

Customer: “Nothing embellished or anything. Just a plain, solid color T-shirt that says ‘Eagle.’ Do you have something like that?”

Me: “No. We don’t.”

Customer: “Really? Why don’t you have those?”

Me: “Because you’re in Ripcord.”

[long pause]

Customer: “Oh. Right.”

Guys, you know I don’t judge, and in fact this one time, back when I still drank, I got lost in a Dillard’s and couldn’t find my way out – like, I had to call a (very concerned) friend to help me navigate to the exit. But at least I knew I was in Dillard’s, y’know? I wasn’t stumbling around looking for Nordstrom memorabilia.

Be aware of your surroundings, people. And learn your leather bars when you’re sober. This is my life-saving advice to you.

Tonight, on a very special episode of Long Lost Family…

The CPA who found my briefcase called back this past Tuesday to report that one of the cleaning ladies in his building came across a bag “with some notary things in it.” I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but I went ahead and rushed on over to inspect the discovery.

I was not to be disappointed.

Thumper & Notarizer

My aluminum paddle, my leather ping-pong paddle, and the Ox-Ox were missing, but the Notarizer was happily waiting for me. Plus Rok, Tank and Carlisle all gave me replacement paddles before the original collection resurfaced, so I’m even more thwacky than I was before the burglary.

On the downside, that CPA will never hire me. (The “Let Me Show You How the Guards Used to Do It” button on the side of the bag kind of dinged my professional credibility.) But hey, at least now he knows where to go if he’s ever a bad little boy who needs to be punished. Diversifying into niche markets always pays off in the end.

There She Goes Again on Her Own

[Half of the Ripcord regulars are in New Orleans for Southern Decadence, and the other half are in Dallas for ILSb-ICCB, but the bar is packed anyway with heavy drinkers who normally frequent other establishments in the area. Carlisle and my Misfit brother Mike have both dropped in to say hello, and the three of us are merrily jabbering away between transactions, when a straight girl floats dreamily into the store and starts squealing with delight at the merchandise.]

Straight Girl: “Oh my God, I love these shirrrrrts!” [The squeals go up an octave. Outside, several hundred disoriented bats crash into the side of the building.]

Mike: “Okay, seriously, how can you stand that?”

Me: “Eh. You get used to it after a while.”

Straight Girl: [to me] “Hey. Heeeyyyyy.”

Me: “Yes?”

Straight Girl: [gesturing to a T-shirt that reads, ‘Bearded For His Pleasure’] “Can I have this changed?”

Me: “To what?”

Straight Girl: “It needs to say ‘Bearded For Her Pleasure.'”

Me, Mike and Carlisle: “…”

Straight Girl: [stretching herself across the back counter and writhing about like she’s on the hood of a Corvette in an 80s hair band video] “Because I’m a herrrrr.”

Me: “No, it needs to say ‘his’, BECAUSE THIS IS A GAY BAR.”

[She stops gyrating and stares at me, then makes a pouty face and stomps out. For a few brief moments, the store is blissfully silent.]

Carlisle: “I’d like to shake your hand.”

Thoroughly Leather Thumper

As previously mentioned, I am in the process of switching careers (more on this in a couple of days), and at some point it occurred to me that potential employers might be a little alarmed/appalled/aghast if they looked me up on any social media platforms. A public rechristening, I reasoned, was definitely in order.

I co-emceed the Houston Sober Leather contest last weekend, and because Robert was one of the judges and wrote all the pop questions about me without my knowledge, I ended up with a new nickname. (Question: “If Thomas were an animated Disney character, which one would be be and why?” Answer: “He would be Thumper. I don’t know why. He just would be.”) I was actually out of the room when this particular query was pitched, so when I came back in, everyone backstage was like, “Well, hey there, Thumper.” By the end of the contest, even the Misfits were calling me Thumper. My initial reaction was objection, but since the crowd seemed happy with the moniker, I just gave up and rolled with it.


So, new first name: Check. And a lot of Ripcord employees use the bar as their surname online, so “Forge” was the obvious choice for mine. I logged into Facebook and made the appropriate updates, thus unleashing my new identity on an unsuspecting world. And then I posted a quick explanation, because I realized everyone would otherwise assume my account had been hacked.

Welcome to the club!” My IML brother Taliesin posted in response. “Also, ‘Thumper Forge’ is a porn name.”

And yeah, okay, it does kind of sound like the name of someone who makes special movies for bachelor uncles, but it also sounds like someone who handles in-person debt collections for the Mafia. Or, even better, a character from a British spy novel:

“We’ve brought in Taliesin Wolf and Thumper Forge to handle the situation, Your Majesty. They are expertly-trained, international espionage agents who live outside the law, and frankly, they are adorable.”

And so we are.

Messrs. Wolf and Forge, Esq. Although I legitimately thought Taliesin was his legal name and figured he had Pagan parents or something. Live and learn.

Of course, right after I officially changed names, Tank texted me all, “Are you okay? Why did your Facebook page just disappear?” Turns out, the Algorithms That Be flagged my account and want proof that Thumper Forge is the name I use in daily life. I’ve stuck to “extenuating circumstances” as my defense, but if it escalates any further, I’m going to shift tactics and contend that Facebook is daily life, which will either cause some Zuckerbite’s head to explode or get me ejected me from the Matrix.

My handle on Twitter is @mjforgeries, by the way. I don’t tweet that often, but I’ll have a lot more gumption to do so once Facebook changes the locks on me.