Interviews this morning.
Definitely an emotional time for all of us.
How often in life are you judged? How many opportunities does life afford where you stand up in front of a panel and are judged? And completely subjectively. There is no resume, there are no challenges, there are no guidelines. It's just presenting to the best of your abilities the person you are and what you're about, and nine people give thumbs up or thumbs down.
Going into this Star Chamber, I just decided that it will be what it will be. I'm articulate, I have opinions, and I think about things. I honestly was prepared for any possible question that could be asked of me. (And, of course, I had a few humorous anecdotes in my pocket. Such as, "the first time I ever heard about IML was in a jail cell in Philadelphia, which I was sharing with International Mr. Leather 1986." Truth! Scott and I had just been arrested for sitting down in the middle of Broad Street with ACT UP/Philadelphia, protesting then-Mayor Goode's proposed cuts to the budget of the AIDS Activities Coordinating Office.
But the judges, of course, surprised me. After a few preliminary questions, we started talking about singletail whips. Which I could talk about for hours. I'd drive for miles for the opportunity to talk about singletail whips. (Take note, dear reader, of the name of this weblog, f'r'instance.)
So that was a huge relief.
But, then, suddenly, it was over. Three of the judges had no questions at all for me. Which was horrifying. Bone chilling. Of course it could mean that they liked everything I was saying and felt that they had a complete picture of who I was and what I was all about. Or, of course, it could be that they couldn't care less. As in, "Next!"
One of the non-singletail-whips questions was, "If you don't make it into the Top Twenty, what will you take away from this weekend. My response was that I am continually astonished that I'm here at all. Doing well would just be gravy. And that's true. I don't have a "bucket list," but if I did have a bucket list, being a contestant at International Mr. Leather would not appear on my bucket list. I truly never imagined that I would one day be up on that stage. I'm not one to "go for it." If it comes to me, it comes to me, and if it does, I'll do the best I can with the task at hand.
Too, there are some amazing men among my fellow contestants. Should I not be among the Top Twenty, I will whole-heartedly be cheering on those who are.
So we'll see.
Next up, this evening I'll be standing up on stage wearing only boots, a jockstrap, and a smile, and one of the MCs will pose to me a "light-hearted question." To which I am expected to give a snappy, humorous retort. Not a fifteen minute dissertation on why Audrey Hepburn is my favorite diva or why at crucial moments in my life when I'm at wits' end I'll ask myself, "What would Kermit the Frog do?" And not a fifteen minute schtick of improvisational comedy. And not some prolonged jesuitical guided meditation. Nope. Just a brief reply that brings the house down and makes them love me. Something along the lines of, say, "I'd say, 'In the butt,' Bob!" One of those make-or-break moments. And did I mention that I'll be up in front of a room full of strangers wearing only a jockstrap?
Today, one of my fellow contestants, overwhelmed with emotion, burst out in tears. The rest of us gathered around him, holding him, protecting him, reminding him that he is loved, telling him that it was okay, telling him to just let it come.
However this goes down, I am grateful to be here.