Is it fashion sense? Maybe he just wants fashion sense.

Bar Patron: “Do you know if John is coming in tonight?”

Me: “I haven’t seen him, but he might be around here somewhere.”

Bar Patron: “I just love him.”

Me: “He really is a great guy.”

Bar Patron: “He’s so big and strong!”

Me: “Both true.”

Bar Patron: “And he’s so sweet. He gives the best hugs.”

Me: “He is, and he does.”

Bar Patron: “He makes me wish I was gay.”

Me: “Yeah, he… wait, what?”

Bar Patron: “I mean, not the sex part. I don’t get gay sex at all. But the rest of it…”

Me: “…”

Bar Patron: “Anyway, if you do see him, tell him I said hi!”

I am so confused right now, you guys.

We all are, apparently.

A Tale That Begins with a Beet

[One year ago today in Chicago, IL…]

Me: “Hey, could I borrow your lighter?”

Him: “Sure.”

Me: “Thanks. I’m Thomas, by the way.”

Him: “I’m Ben.”

The Universe: [cracks knuckles]

And the rest, as they say, is a Tom Robbins novel.


The Numb-ass 2000

Customer 1: “I want a paddle. Do they have paddles here?”

Customer 2: [noticing a textured silicone paddle on the back counter] “Here’s one.”

Customer 1: “Huh.” [to me] “Is this a good paddle?”

Me: “It’s a very good paddle.”

Customer 1: “Well, what’s so special about it? Is it magic?”

Me: “I certainly think so.”

Customer 1: [smirking] “Oh, yeah? What’s its magical power?”

Me: “It’ll turn you into my bitch.”

Customer 1: “…”

Customer 2: “I’ll take it.

As previously mentioned, I am rarely witty when I need to be, so here’s to mouthing off with proper timing for a change. The fact that I got a sale out of it is just gravy.


The cast and crew of Facets of Leather learned an important lesson this month: Always take a nap before late-night radio broadcasts. Because none of us did, we were unreasonably giggly by 1:30 a.m., and dangerously close to incoherent by 2. But we did manage to mainly stay on topic, covering the highs and lows of this year’s Cleveland Leather Awareness Weekend, along with a preface to IML 2019 (including my new role as the face of unsafe leathersex).

And then we veered off into an animated (no pun indended) discussion on surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. Which somehow ties into leather. I forget why.

On the local front, we had really good talk about the “Stonewall 50” exhibit currently on display at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, which features salvaged and refurbished bar tops provided by the Gulf Coast Museum and Archives. And, because he doesn’t listen to the show, we deconstructed the important issues surrounding my Misfits brother Tony‘s inability to keep a shirt on for more than a few minutes at a time, which our superfan Orin thoughtfully incorporated into his monthly meme:


Music-wise, we decided to play nothing but ABBA covers this month, because we could, and because nobody tried to stop us.

Finally facing my Waterloo (my Waterloo being a photobomb).

Robert approved of most of the tributes I came up with, but he drew the line at a particular track from the original Hamburg production of Mamma Mia!, using the fairly acceptable logic that people might get a little unsettled listening to Germans singing “The Winner Takes It All.” It was probably the right call. However, I will share with my loyal Marjorettes my peronal, all-time favorite ABBA cover, which was released right before my senior year in high school and served as my introduction to both ABBA and drag. It’s as if the Powers That Be knew The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was going to come out a few years later and wanted to make sure I was properly prepared to appreciate it. I’d like to take a moment now to thank those Powers for Their foresight.

My Own Hot Take on Open Container Laws

Straight Girl: “I’d like some amyl nitrate, please.”

Me: “Ah. Well, it would be illegal for us to sell amyl nitrate for recreational purposes, but we do carry a fine selection of solvents and polish removers.”

Straight Girl: [scrutinizing the solvents display] “Are these just what you have today?”

[Inner Me: This isn’t a farmers market, Rebessica.]

Me: “These are… what we have in stock.”

[She makes a selection and leaves, at which point a lesbian couple enters the store.]

Lesbian 1: [pointing to the solvents] “What are these? What did she just buy?”

Me: “These are solvents and polish removers.”

Lesbian 1: “So what are they for?”

Me: “Definitely not recreational purposes. But if one were to use them recreationally, one would inhale them, which would cause a brief sense of euphoria and muscle relaxation.”

Lesbian 1: “Okay… but why?”

Me: “Because afterwards, you’d be able to fit almost anything in your butt.”

Lesbian 1: “Ooh! Which ones should we try?” [to her partner] “Which ones do we want?”

Lesbian 2: “Wait… how do you use them again?”

Lesbian 1: “You drink them.”

Me: “Please don’t drink them. If you were going to use them recreationally — which, again, would be illegal — you would inhale them.”

Lesbian 2: “I don’t know. I’m nervous about this.”

Random Gay Dude: [bounding across the store, bottle of solvents in hand] “Here! Try mine!”


Everyone: “…”

Me: “We’re not opening any solvents in the store. If you’ve never used them before, I recommend Rush, which will be fairly mild compared to the other brands.”

[They briefly confer, then agree to buy the Rush. As they exit, a terribly pretty twink enters the store, holding a bottle of Double Scorpio Emerald with his thumb over the top.]

Twink: “Can you give me another one of these?”

Me: “Can I… give you one?”

Twink: “Uh-huh. I lost the cap to this one.”

Me: “I can’t give you another, but I can sell you one.”

Twink: [rolling his eyes] “That’s what I meant.”

Me: “Okay. That’ll be $21.64.”

[He sets the bottle on the counter and reaches for his wallet. The cap is indeed missing, and the store quickly fills with the refreshing aroma of eucalyptus.]


Twink: “Huh?”

Me: [with a hand over my nose and mouth] “Cover it back up, take it outside to the patio, and throw it away.”

Twink: “Ugh. Fine.”

[He steps into the bar and tosses the bottle in the trashcan next to the door.]

Twink: “Can I have another one now?”

There’s a common myth that koalas are constantly intoxicated from eating fermented eucalyptus leaves. While it’s patently untrue, it was pretty much the only thing I could think about as I wiped down the counter and attempted to breathe through my eyes.

I’m going to make a new sign that says, “No solvents available until I recover from selling them.” And maybe another that says, “If you’ll look to your left, you’ll notice we also sell leather.” Just, y’know, in case anyone’s actually interested in it.

The Big Fat Queer Prophesies of Marjorie Nostrathomas

From an old journal entry dated April 9, 2004:

I just received my next writing assignment from OutSmart Magazine: Interviewing Michael Thomas Ford about his newest book. As if that wasn’t enough to give me an aneurysm, the editors gave me all the relevant contact info and were like, “Have at it.” So now I’m calling his publicist in New York, leaving Very Important Messages, etc. I feel so grown-up, I could just plotz.

In other news… wait, there is no other news. I get to call up one of my favorite authors and have a nice chat about literary things. Here’s my secret, cunning plan: MTF is going to be so impressed with my professionalism and earnestness, he’s going to give me his address and say, “Drop by next time you’re in San Fran,” and I’ll be all, “Sure thing, Michael Thomas Ford!” And then when I write my first novel, he’ll endorse it, and I’ll win the Lambda Literary Award, and in 50 years, we’ll sit on the front porch of the Retirement Village for Gay Writers of the Early 21st Century and talk about times past, and how our friendship has been such a grounding influence all throughout our lives.

I was being facetious, of course — successful authors with cult followings do not, as a rule, develop long-term, platonic relationships with the overly enthusiastic wannabes who gush the hell all over them. (But in my defense, I made it until the very end of the interview to have a fanboy ecstati-seizure.) That acknowledged, and the past being immutable, I’m going to go ahead and accept my mutant ability to predict the future, because although I got the date wrong, Michael Thomas Ford’s latest column is all about (wait for it…) the grounding influence of our friendship.

I feel so gaymous, you guys. And I’m really, really lucky to have Mike as a BFF.

In Which I Quite Literally Show My Ass

[Ed. Note: My ass seriously does appear towards the end of this post. Maybe read it on your phone instead of your work computer.]

Is anyone out there old enough to remember the episode of Friends in which Joey unwittingly became the poster child for sexually transmitted diseases?

OMG white people had the worst problems in the 90s. (clap clap clap clap)

Although this particular moment aired 25 years ago, it was all I could think of this morning, mainly because of the number of texts I received from concerned friends going, “Um… did you know your picture is featured in an article about barebacking?”

IML Queerty
I’m clapping sarcastically at the humanity of it all, while Ben is delighted by the architecture of the ceiling. Never before have two individual personalities been summarized so eloquently in one photograph.

Okay. IML 41 is coming up at the end of May, so naturally there’s going to be a lot of pre-contest coverage and mild muckraking, and of course, as one of last year’s contestants, my image might show up here and there in association with all of that. But I gotta say, folks, I just don’t know that this is the most appropriate picture to go with this article. Are we supposed to be going, “Hooray! The ban on condomless sex has been lifted!” Or are we like, “Hooray! Look at us, supporting safer sex at a leather competition!” The whole layout really leaves more questions than answers.

But speaking of questions

One of the categories at IML is Pecs and Personality, in which each contender comes out on stage in their sexiest gear and answers a humorous pop question. The official point of the exercise is to gauge the competitors on their charm and repartee, but, y’know, it doesn’t hurt that they’re all basically naked in front of a live audience.

While I generally consider myself clever, I was more than a little terrified of Pecs and Personality — not only because I’d be bopping about in front of hypercritical strangers while wearing what amounted to a leather bikini, but because of the possibility of my wit failing me right when I needed it most. Like when I ran for Mr. Texas Leather a couple of years ago, and, in the middle of explaining what duet I would sing with one of the judges, I forgot the words to “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)“.

Let’s just stop for a second and really unpack this incident: The refrain of the song is literally just the title repeated over and over ad nauseum, and I. Forgot. The Words.

It was not my finest hour treading the boards. This time, however, I was prepared.

Everything you’re asked at IML comes off your application, and because of what I’d put down on mine, I knew I was going to get a notary question. I bloody knew it. I’d even included a detailed description of the Notarizer. How could I not get a notary question? I had a snappy comeback for any notarial inquiry the emcee could lob at me, and I’d never been more ready for anything in my damn life.

And then… well, this happened:

Considering I proudly announced myself as a saucy power bottom in response to a question about geomancy, maybe sticking my pic next to an article about gay sex is a little more apropos than I’d care to admit. But I also didn’t panic when the situation made a turn I wasn’t expecting, nor did I shout, “YOU’RE CONFUSING GEOMANCY WITH FENG SHUI, YOU DAMN INFIDEL.” And, as I’ve said before, I got to be me — and despite all my fears and insecurities, the 500 or so leatherpeople packed into the theatre thought that was pretty cool.

I may not have made the top 20, but as far as I’m concerned, this is the moment when I totally won IML.