Friday, February 26, 2010

Diary of a Cub Contestant at International Bear Rendezvous 2010 part 6

As we arrived to the Eagle that sunny Saturday afternoon, I felt the lack of sleep begin to affect me. It slipped my mind about the importance of selling raffle tickets to judges and once again, we had 13 contestants selling raffle tickets to less than 80 people- if that. Orlando called out, “Raffle tickets get your Raffle tickets!” while I undid one more button to show off the bright red lace jock strap. The jockstrap was a gift from porn star Patrick Montana. Despite the meager crowd we were selling them nearly the entire time that we were there. I didn’t see any judges so I didn’t sell to them. There was one cantankerous old fuck who hollered at Orlando, “Hey Bag Bitch-get over here!” This jack ass was off to one corner and didn’t look all that friendly, so I didn’t approach him when we first walked by. He decided that I meant otherwise. “You saw me sitting right here for fuck’s sake! What the fuck? Am I too ugly for ya?” I didn’t answer him truthfully because a contestant is always warm and friendly. “Oh I’m sorry, you just didn’t look like you were in the mood to make a purchase.” instead of yes you are Ugly and Mean and you can go to hell. He grumbled to Orlando and addressed him the whole time “ You gotta keep this guy in line! He’s gotta hit Everyone up if he wants to win!”  Orlando politely chuckled and then the old fart bought one dollar’s worth of tickets from us.( That’s one ticket btw.) He actually just wanted to get a closer look at Orlando’s chest judging from the way he couldn’t stop staring at it.

George Hains and I passed each other and bought $3 worth of tickets from each other. Yes, the contestants were selling to each other again. We should’ve gotten MAJOR points for this but our score was not actually based on quantity but quality of sales. From what I can tell there was no judge to take notice of this. This was rough going and I had to sell one way or another so I went for the $1 sales. Quite a few were balking at the $10 sales because they had been asked a minimum of 4 or 5 times BEFORE I asked them. I changed my method. Instead of “Raffle tickets?” I greeted them with, “Hello, My name is P.A. and no I don’t have one.” (For the uninitiated, look up Prince Albert Piercing on Wikipedia.)  I made a game of learning as many names as I could. Then I asked questions, “Where are you from?” “Are you enjoying IBR?” “How did you find the Bear Community?” “Do you consider yourself a big part of the community?” “Wow it was great talking to you! Give me a hug big guy -oh and before I go,  would you be at all interested in buying some raffle tickets?” Then I would sell 3 or 5 dollars worth. So it was slow going, but way more fun and I accomplished far more than just titillating them by touching their naughty bits. I actually made friends! Rick, Dave, Bo and James and Ken!  Orlando’s social skills are very good so it really helped to have him as my wing man. If you asked him I am sure he would say that he made some friends too. Now that we had a groove going we were pretty focused-despite the Peppermint schnapps shots I had at the bar. I don’t care -call me an alcoholic. My minty breath managed to net me a kiss or two. Since we had spent so much money on IBR between my clothes and Orlando’s gold pass -we opted for beer since it was part of our Gold Pass. Unfortunately there was a coupon in our Gold Pass Goody Bags that was required to get the Beer Bust cup that we would use to consume the beer. We had left these coupons in our bags. When we informed the BOSF members of this they suggested we go ahead and pay the $10 for the Beer Bust that day. It didn’t appear to make a difference that we were both working our tails off that day trying to convince Eagle patrons who didn’t want to buy raffle tickets to buy them. Hmmmmm there was a bad taste building in my mouth and it wasn’t from the Schnapps.

In order to keep my mood from souring completely we decided a quick nap was in order. We had been fortunate enough to have a couple we know let us use their room at the host hotel. I used their closet for my contestant outfits and they said we could crash whenever we needed to. I was eternally grateful to them as I shucked off my clothes and crawled into the comfy bed next to my Lando Bear. I was out like a light but snored like crazy which prevented Lando from getting 30 winks. When I am particularly exhausted... I snore. I needed more than 30 minutes, but it wasn’t available-so I splashed some cold water on my face, changed into my hanky dance outfit (IBR t-shirt, Boots, Jeans and Title Vest)  and then we headed to the nearby Mall for dinner.  More raffle sales awaited us afterward at the Hanky Dance.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Diary of a Cub Contestant at International Bear Rendezvous 2010 Part 5

Javier doing what he does best
The drink or the Salami?
Terry Bryant
David McHugh and Jay Viescas
I realized toward the end of the Bloody Mary Mixer that I had forgotten one of my fetching slutty outfits to sell raffle tickets in. Orlando and I had dashed out of the house so quickly that morning that I had only remembered to bring my contestant runway outfits. I reached over and gripped Orlando’s arm in a panic. He calmly suggested that we drive back and get it before the Contestant mixer. I figured we could save a little on the exorbitant parking and that we could leave the car up at my house and take the bus back down the hill.I had zero interest in seeing Kevin Smith at his event. I figured if he didn’t have time for me, I would have no time for him. It was a beautiful day outside anyway and I looked forward to seeing a part of it instead. I felt we could do this but just to be on the safe side I asked Paul what he thought. He didn’t appear to think it was a bad idea. One of my secret “ IBR pageant coaches” was nearby, so I grabbed his arm and asked his opinion about slipping away for a bit. “I guess it’s okay.” he said doubtfully, “But I always think it’s a good idea to be seen as much as possible.” I thought about that for two seconds and felt it was better to be seen later in the other slutty outfit. We headed out.

WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DAY IT WAS!!! I got to walk in the sunshine with my honey-yes way better than Kevin what’s-his-name. I have a friend who collects autographs and figured I would give him the badge to add to his collection. We got home and I changed into outfit number 2 of the day. It was a pair of multi- blue camo pants with the top button undone. Yes there was a little bit of strategy in that because I had a hard-to-miss vivid red lace up jockstrap peeking out but there was also the fact that I had increased a waist size and could no longer button them all the way. I changed from brown boots to black and put on a sleeveless light blue denim work shirt with a tiny gold CUB pin on one of the pockets. I wore big black suspenders and one of my Lazy Bear baseball caps  that I had earned volunteering at Lazy Bear last year. I completed the look with a leather arm band with the silver lettering that spelled Cub on it. Unfortunately the lack of bicep didn’t make it look impressive as it could’ve but I really wanted to wear it anyway. I looked about as redneck bear as I could look. I was beginning to fret about the time because I fussed in the mirror being the vain cub that I am. I had told Paul before we left that I might me ten or fifteen minutes late. No big deal right? It’s just a harmless little party. The mixer was an opportunity for us contestants to let our hair down and drink lots of free booze -plus there was some food. I didn’t think free booze before selling tickets was all that smart an idea for me but the food was essential. Orlando was my right hand bag bitch and I knew that he too, would need something soon.

We were indeed 10 minutes late. We arrived downtown and then hopped a cab to the Powerhouse in South of Market. I said hi to the bartender Jose and was disappointed that my friend Mike wasn’t part of the bartend team. I wanted to show off my new ensemble to him. Jose was appropriately appreciative. As I scouted the bar to find Paul, I noticed that there were quite a few other men that I hadn’t seen before. I figured that these were the significant others who were also invited to this intimate little soiree. I found Paul munching on a sandwich and chatting with Jason Macario. He asked me if I had arrived in time to hear his announcement about some special guests and I said no I had not. It turns out they were our judges. ...Well Shit! My three secret IBR pageant coaches had been clear with me on how important it was to know who the judges were because the more positive interactions a contestant had with a judge, the better a contestant’s chances were at placing a title. Before you go there -I want to be clear to YOU, dear reader that I mean simple conversation and raffle ticket sales with the judges. I am not using positive interactions as a metaphor.Altho ...the BOSF rumor mill does tell of this one year between a contestant and a judge that...oh never mind, it’s only a rumor.  So here I had gone and arrived late to an event that they were being introduced at. Good one P.A. I scanned the bar and did this process of elimination since I knew everyone else. Terry Bryant from Calgary Alberta Canada was a man I actually recognized. He reminded me of one of my favorite neighbors when I had spotted him last night at the Eagle. I think he may have even bought two inseams of tickets from me but my memory is pretty bad. However it wasn’t bad enough to recollect grinding my head in his crotch and then later standing up and grinding my butt in his crotch. Would that be considered a positive interaction?

I was starving. I headed over to this buffet of sorts and picked up a handful of salami and munched on it while mulling over which judge was which. I didn’t have my salami delicately sitting on a napkin. I had a fist full and was watching the grease get all over my fingers. I was also oblivious to that fact that Judge Eduardo Medeiros from DC had come up right behind me. He had a handsome arrogance to him and gave me a boisterous masculine hello while extending his hand to shake. I glanced down at the 3 or 4 slices of salami in my hand. This was the hand closest to his. The light gleamed from the salami fat on my fingers. Putting the drink down was NOT an option and I chose to stuff those slices of salami in my mouth while wiping my hands on my camos. I garbled out a “Hello” while trying to quickly chew and swallow the meat in my mouth without choking to death. We ever-so-briefly shook hands and I tried to take a swallow of my Skyy Cape Cod to recover and wash the rest of the meat down. He glanced at his hand and looked up and away as if he was trying to suppress an unpleasant memory. Then-without saying anything-he walked away to the other side of the bar. No explanation -just zip and gone. Hoo Boy I was batting a 1000 because that was definitely NOT a positive interaction. Maybe he was a vegetarian?

A few minutes later I had managed to focus  and say hi to Terry and I met David McHugh from London-which went far smoother than my experience with Eduardo. I saw Eduardo wrapped around local judge Tony Hart in a pal-z y wal -zy manner. Were they boyfriends? Or ? I quickly was leaping to conclusions but took a breath and let it go. I was here to meet people, not suck up to I mean brown nose ...oh my -What I am trying to say is that I just wanted to be myself and make a few more new friends. I didn’t want to go around the room trying to “work” a judge. It looked like it would’ve been all kinds of awkward if I had marched up to Tony and introduced myself while Eduardo was entwined around him. I chose not to. I tried to catch Jay Viescas from New Mexico’s attention but ended up chatting more with Jason by his side. I kind of remember behaving shyly with him. Whatever I was -I didn’t exactly scream title winner. Orlando was picking up on my sudden change in attitude. Just like any good stage mother, he felt I should be networking! I told him I had done all the networking I was going to do in this room. We finished up our drinks while I met a couple of the other contestants bag bitches and had a stop-and-go conversation with Javier. I was trying to figure out whether I should look at Alejandro his interpreter when I was talking to Javier and it was kind of funny. We finished our drinks and sandwiches and headed outside to get ready for the second Eagle-raffle-ticket sales event. I was losing momentum but Orlando bolstered me as we marched down Folsom Street in or motley parade.

Diary of a Cub Contestant at International Bear Rendezvous 2010 part 4

The Lovely Kevin Smith
The President of BOSF Chuck Rudd helps me model the underwear
The next morning was a Bloody Mary Cocktail event at the Host hotel, the Parc 55. We contestants were to attend it and circulate and get to meet the all the cubs and bears. I had purchased my first Utilikilt (a kilt with pockets)  for the event. It was a Camo Kilt and I had a forest green T-Shirt designed by Killer Bob Graphics. Bob Pearce does some amazing work and you must check it out. I had some argyle sox that were varying shades of green and some construction boots. Under the Kilt? I wore a cool pair of briefs that sported the “Superman” logo right on the crotch. The other IBR attendees informed me that I was cheating of course. A decent kilt wearer would be free balling it. It was made pretty clear that we should behave, since we were contestants, so I opted for the playful underwear while staying within bounds of the restrictions. When I lifted my kilt many camera phones magically appeared. (Thanks Chuck Chou)

I was amazed that I had any energy considering I had only had 4 hours of sleep. I am an-8-hour-a night-kinda-guy. I was worried that I would not have enough rev in my engine to work the crowd at the two remaining raffle sales events. However -I was at a Bloody Mary mixer after all, so in a reckless moment of caprice, I opted to have one. Orlando went for the mimosas. The hotel staff passed around some yummy Cocktail nibbles. My favorite was a mini beef wellington. It was a piece of steak in pastry with a cheese dipping sauce. mmmmmm. It made for a decent breakfast. All of this was included in our Gold passes and turned out to one of the very few Gold pass events that Lando and I attended. He is a dedicated boyfriend and had planned to be at my side as much as they would allow.

So the big event that day was that C-list actor Kevin Smith was to pay IBR a visit. Some of you who watch Kathy Griffin’s show, “My Life on the D-List” may remember the year she was the IBR celebrity because she filmed her stint with the Bears and the show was titled, “Otters, and Bears and Cubs-Oh MY!” (I may have the words mixed up because I am recalling it from a distant memory of seeing it on my TIVO) I didn’t quite grasp what Mr. Smith was going to do when he got here. There seemed to be a performance/interview going on later in one of the big banquet rooms. Contestant coordinator, Paul Almy had informed us that we wouldn’t be seeing the whole thing because the Contestant mixer and a Beer bust were part of our schedule that wouldn’t allow for it. Paul did want to catch a bit of it, so we would watch 30 minutes of it and then board the Contestant bus with him later. Prior to that there was a fairly big photo shoot that was supposed to take place with him and all of us contestants. I barely know who Kevin Smith is. I think I sorta remember his character in a film called Dogma, which to be honest, I sorta enjoyed. Apparently he went on to do another film with the same character he played in Dogma-Beyond that I knew really nothing about this guy. I figured fat straight guy with a beard. How much did BOSF pay for THAT appearance? I should also mention that I have a notorious history of not recognizing celebrities and then   somehow offending them-quite often by treating them like some random annoying person who sat next me on the bus. I was hoping that my memory of his appearance from Dogma was sufficient enough to prevent that from happening. I was game for meeting him as long as I wasn’t instructed to faun over him. I had done enough performing in my life to feel that I had done what most famous celebrities have done and it didn’t warrant any special treatment. I don’t expect people to fall over themselves trying to please me, just because I have graced them with my impeccable comic timing and laid bare my human soul on stage 5 nights a week, every night, for 6 to 8 weeks three or four times a year. Of course not...well okay... I like a little idolatry from time to time, but I am very reasonable about it.

So the rest of the contestants and I milled around with Bloody Marys in hand, until it was time to pose with the portly “star”. At least that was the plan. Paul Almy came up and quietly informed us that Mr. Smith would not be doing a photo session with us. He needed to “prepare” for his interview/performance thing y. He would be happy to pose with us after but that was not possible because we were already booked with the Contestant social and more Eagle raffle sales. So no pictures with Kevin Smith. No skin of my nose. It was clear that Paul felt badly for us as evidenced by the look of contrition on his face. I don’t know whether it was Paul’s idea or Kevin Smith’s but there was an effort made for missing the photo op. If I were a BOSF board member I would’ve went right up to Mr. Smith and said, “ Look buddy. We paid you to be our celebrity, pose for the damn pictures before we sue your ass!” For all I know Mr. Smith was donating his time for the event. I certainly hoped so, because I think BOSF would get a certain bit of mileage from the pics, even though he’s a celebrity that none of the people around me knew. In exchange for “disappointing the contestants” he offered to autograph our contestant badges. A couple of other contestants mirrored my irritation. We weren’t impressed and didn’t particularly care that he couldn’t pose with us. We, especially didn’t want to release our badge for him to sign because our schedule was on the back and we were continually checking it. It was handy and we were very reluctant to let them go. In the end we begrudgingly handed over our badges to Paul for Mr. Smith to sign. It was only for a couple of hours anyway.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Diary of a Cub Contestant at International Bear Rendezvous 2010 part 3

After the Friday de-briefing, we headed to The Eagle to sell raffle tickets to raise money for the three big charities that BOSF was raising money for: ( Asian- Pacific Islander Wellness Center, Service Members Legal Defense Network, and Helem via the Rainbow World Fund) For those of you who don't know how money is raised at a Bear Beer Bust, let me splain. In this particular instance, the contestant is the raffle ticket seller. Typically the seller handles the money. The seller also does the "measuring" of the inseam. Why inseams? Why not? A strip of tickets matching the length of the inseam is a mere $10.00. Most contestants have their own technique but almost all of them involve a tittlating experience on the part of the purchaser. It's the thrill of being touched inappropriately by an attractive contestant. I hoped that the ticket buyers would smell nice. The seller usually has a handler who tears the tickets and put the stubs in a bag or a bucket that they are carrying with them. This handler is dubbed, "The Bag Bitch" or Bucket Bitch.

My partner Orlando and I were accomplished at raffle ticket sales. We had done this at 3 BOSF Beer Busts already. Some contestants had Bag Bitches and some did not. I was impressed with the ones who didn't and just did it solo. I don't know if I would've been that brave. I was so eternally grateful to have this big sexy Puerto Rican bear at my side to distract people with his beautiful furry chest. I had gone to ALOT of trouble to wear provocative "bearsexy" outfits but I knew that the real attraction was going to be my boyfriend's chest. My plan was to focus on the inseam with much concentration and detail and let them gaze at my handsome husbear's. I was hoping it would bring BIG money.

We spent some time hanging outside the Eagle. It was drizzling.  I hoped my spray tan would hold up. Not fun. Luckily I had my umbrella in my backpack. Jd wrapped himself around me and then Marcus wrapped himself around me from behind. I hoisted the umbrella up to cover all three of us. Before I knew it people were snapping pics of us. We must've looked adorable. After hanging out in the rain, (what the hell? was I on Survivor?), we were marched one by one into the Eagle and introduced by Dominick. We were asked to do a Bear Growl into the mic. This is an old IBR tradition that was brought back.  We could hear the contestants before us do wild roars and sexy grumbles. Jack from Jersey had his own take on it and said, " Oh well-I'm gonna do the girl in the woods who sees the bear." and then he let out a blood curdling shriek that would've made Jamie Lee Curtis proud. Nope this was not your average IBR contest. When everyone was finished growling it began to spray from the heavens in earnest. Javier yelled to me from behind and mimed the umbrella, as if to say, "where's your umbrella? we need it now." I shrugged helplessly at him. We posed for pictures while rain ran down our noses. Mark Katzenburg saw to it that we all had towels to dry off with before we sold raffle tickets.

I joined Orlando to start selling tickets, and sell tickets we did. Unfortunately attendance that night was pretty sparse. Orlando and I hit everyone up who looked at us. We found a group of straight people that night who were partying and interested in the contest. I shared with them the charity info and that i was contestant number 7, The Bay Area Cub 2010. They asked us what the prizes were and when they would be announced. As instructed by Paul Almy I enthusiastically said they were FABULOUS prizes, but I didn't detail what they were. When they would be announced? Well....I didn't know. Orlando set off to find out when while I took inseam measurements and boob measurements and posed for the camera while I was touching them all intimately. Orlando returned with this incredulous expression on his face. "They post the results at the host hotel." I grimaced and looked back at the men and women who had just purchased $40 worth of tickets. They were very kind and assured me it was not an inconvenience to go to the hotel tomorrow. We gave them the instructions and thanked them profusely. After we left them, Orlando and I looked at each other in amazement. How could they have left out this detail? I was sure I had heard everything Paul had said. This little fact meant that it would be even more difficult to sell these tickets. As I said, it was thin pickins that night. Before you knew it contestants were beginning to sell to each other. I can't remember which contestant I bought from -maybe Matt Stearn? We were laughing at the absurdity of it. There was plenty of good cheer and we all cracked jokes every time we passed each other. We felt accomplished after our first evening of raffle sales. Some of us hugged each other good night. I was so jazzed and hyper that night, I had trouble going to sleep.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Diary of a Cub Contestant at International Bear Rendezvous 2010

Craig Gunderson
George Hains and jd Legget
As I sauntered into the contestant holding room there were about 6 or 7 of the 12 contestants sitting and chatting. A podium was set up where our Contestant Coordinator would stand and give us the lay of the land in IBR contest world. His name was Paul Almy and he resembled a sweet little walrus with glasses. He wore a fine patina of sweat as he raced about to and fro and my feeling was that he had a little too much to deal with. I was corrected later that Paul always comes off that way. While I was there I had met a few of the boys. I sat next to Jeff Breeze Contestant # 2. He looked young but gave off a bear vibe more than cub. He gave me a list of names I could call him but concluded that list with " a lotta people just call me asshole." I got a little nervous at that, but he turned out to be ANYTHING but. He was and is a nice guy in all reality. He also was a little nervous. I think he really wanted a title. Next to him was a 50 something Daddy Bear with a big Wedge of Cheese on his head. Craig Gunderson Contestant # 11 hailed from Greenbay WI and wore his Cheese hat with pride. Did you know that when you flipped it over it had a little depression for chips and two cup holders? He was wise to wear it because it did indeed make him stand out. He exuded an amiable Dad-next-door quality that was very appealing. He also looked like he was ready for a GOOD time. Contestant # 12 Paul Cain had entered last year's competition and was very helpful with an e-mail that he sent to all of us  on what to expect at IBR as a contestant. He also was quick with the turn of phrase. When Paul Almy informed us he was going to break us (the group) in half Paul Cain said, "Ouch!" He was full of quips like that. I made a mental note that he was a smart ass. Luckily I could keep up with him. He asked me later where I had learned to be a smart ass and I said, same place as him: The School of Hard of Knocks. He resembled a High School Science teacher that was always winning Teacher of the Year. He is also part of a group called C-Men. This is a group of California men who are nudists. I saw their calendar which Paul gave us. All fine looking men-a little skinny- but fine looking none-the-less.

I also met Marcus MacLeod, Contestant 13. He was a tall cub with an extra heaping helping of personality. He also looked as if he would like to win a title. He informed me that the Portland Bears had asked him to cut off all is dyed pink hair. He currently wore a slight faux hawk buzz cut that did have a rose tint near the ends. Despite his size, he had a very boy-like quality to him. He appeared naive and gangly and tried to master tact and command of the room.  It was indisputably endearing. I asked him why the Portland Bears had asked him to cut his pink hair off. He said that they would feel it would increase his chances of placing a title. I frowned and said that, we here in San Francisco don't look kindly on eliminating individuality.Paul Cain and I felt that one of us needed to write a letter to the Portland Bears and let them know of their error. Then he clarified that we were dealing with Portland Oregon - not Portland Maine...Oh! Now I understood.

 I really couldn't criticise Marcus' decision to comply with the bear asthetic, because I too had done some  of my own alterations to my look for the contest. I spent some time in a spray tan booth, (I am naturally pasty white), and also worked with Evan Kaminsky of Oui Three Queens /Bear Care, (more on that in a separate blog), in his comfy sweet smelling studio on "masculinizing" my look. It was some careful beard and eye brow tinting that gave me a harder, tougher look. A few friends at IBR commented that I looked different, but they couldn't figure out why exactly. I guess Marcus and Jeff weren't the only Bears who wanted to win.!  Eventually the rest of the contestants wandered in. Matt Stearn Contestant # 5 was yet another happy playful bear who gave off such a good vibe that I wanted to hug him. I regretted not spending more time with him and getting to know him better. Contestants # 4 and # 10, jd Legget and George Hains arrived together. They were the boys from New York. I was drawn to jd and quickly learned why. We had just earned our local cub titles last year, and he was an actor -and then there's the fact that we both had initials for first names-AND THEN THERE'S THE FACT that we are BOTH producing a Burlesque shows in April! Unfortunately he wasn't wearing the other half of my amulet that I've had since birth. (Kidding folks)  He is very clever and comes off like a quiet Oscar winner trying to blend in with the crowd. We chatted a lot about our theater backgrounds and our history was eerily similar. I fell in love with him immediately-as well as his humongous friend George. George gave off this dry Bea Arthur sense of humor. Despite his massive height and bulk George was as gentle as a lamb. I bet  he could have easily picked any of us up and tossed us over his shoulder. He was indeed memorable at first sight. Then in sashayed Jack Miller from New Jersey. He is this little chunk of chocolate with a big Maryland accent and about as sweet as Mississippi Mud Pie with a sassy smile and some big dreams. He had never won any contest and just thought it would be fun to enter this one. This sweet little queen went and raised the money to come all the way to California and shoot for the stars. It was at this point that I began to notice that this year's contestants didn't look at all like the previous years  winners I had seen on the IBR website. With what I knew about the Bears so far, I found it fascinating that none of us  fit the dreamy Bear Porn star mold. Later I met the warm Michael Ferguson, Contestant # 9. He was very easy going and came off to me like a sexier version of Jed Clampett. Contestant # 6 had an ill mother to deal with and couldn't participate. I was number 7.

Several of us turned our heads to see contestant Javier Lorente # 1 enter the room and we -well most of us anyway felt we just knew who was going to win the big Intnl Bear title. He is gorgeous. Breathtakingly sexy and hot hot hot! He is all the way from Spain and doesn't speak a word of English. Well maybe a word or two,but he had an interpreter that wasn't hard on the eyes either. His lack of knowledge of the English language was not going to hamper him at all. Anyone with eyes could see that. It also helped that he was friendly and eager to establish a friendship with each of us. The last one was Jason Flores -a Gamer Bear who scurried rather than walked or ran and reminded me of some character from a fantasy sci-fi movie. He would say things like " By the toe of Hoth, I am late!" Well maybe not exactly that but it sounded like that. 

The charismatic, sexy, Dominick Zurlo entered the room. He was to be our Emcee during the ceremony and he was simply one of the most scrumptious Daddy Bears I have seen in some time. This was shaping up to be a pretty interesting and decent group of guys. I kept wondering about the fact that 90% of us just looked like everyday Joe's. I thought about the titles we were competing for: Intnl Daddy Bear, Intnl Grizzly, and Intnl Cub-and of course Intnl Mr. Bear. What would determine who won? Everyone was friendly and playful, and with a couple of exceptions most all the contestants wanted to simply make friends and have a good time, and not be fraught with competition heebie jeebies. I had read in several publications that pageants were not a "Bear" thing. Supposedly the subculture didn't want to idealize appearances. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As a current title holder I understood it was about how much good I had done while representing our community. Maybe that's what mattered here? Not how big our arms were or whether our sexiness appealed on a mass level, but what we were made up of in character. I suddenly felt good. I felt very good about entering the competition with this particular group. These contestants were real men not magazine dreams, (although each guy had his own sex appeal.) Would that hurt the contest or help it? I hoped the latter.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

International Cub day one

As some of you well know, I entered a Bear Pageant at the International Bear Rendezvous here in San Francisco on Feb 13th. The Bay Area Cub is typically entered in the contest as part of his title responsibilities. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I knew there was much raffle ticket selling and I hoped to make some new friends. I had hoped and prayed that my fellow contestants were not the competitive type and were in it for the fun as well. IBR didn’t hire a big band or major entertainer for the final night so “the Show” was up to us. The last thing I wanted to do that weekend was endure a sash-craving lunatic bear while having to the pressure of performing. The theme this year at IBR was “The Barbary Coast-Sin Fire and Gold.” John Caldera who is the creator of The Bay Area Cub Contest, gave me an option. Since I was serious about my Bay Area Cub 2010 duties, he knew that I had heaped a lot already on my plate. I had completed my second required fundraiser by January and I was planning on a 15,000 dollar goal fundraiser in April with my Bearlesque review for The New Conservatory Theater. He said I could sit this year out and participate next year -or go ahead and do it this year. So Lando and I had a chat and we were going to make 2010 as “Bearful” as possible. I thought that it would be cool to have the International Cub Title and it might help promote my show. So I chose to GO for it!

    Contestants were assigned the task of gathering a basket of home town goodies and bric-a-brac that represented where they came from. Yours truly was the only home Homo. I got an embarrassment of riches right from the Castro. Cliff’s Hardware, Under One Roof, Wild Card Gifts, and Injeanious gave me an incredible amount of goodies. Then my friend Rachel at McKenna Marketing donated some primo gourmet food items -cuz ya know-a bear’s gotta eat! All together it was about $230 worth of stuff to put in the basket. I had communicated through e-mail that I was willing to put all of it together and even wrap it with a bow. ( A little secret of my past is that one of my past jobs was Food Gift Professional at a family owned Gourmet Bakery and Cheese Shop for 10 years.)  I was told in an e-mail that I didn’t need to worry about that -just simply drop the stuff off and someone else would wrap it. I arrived in a panicked fashion thinking I was late-when I wasn’t. Did I mention that I am a little neurotic? I took Friday off to prepare and hoped to get a nap in but no such luck. I was a little worried since Raffle sales began at 11pm at the Eagle that night and I am a go-to-bed-at-11-kinda-guy. I was squabbling with Lando in the car about arriving in time so of course we arrived a little harried. The gents at the IBR headquarters directed us to across the hall. Again at a Bears of San Francisco event, I thought -why are all the men staffing the headquarters over 40? IBR needs some YOUNG blood. I quickly decided that was one of my missions as International Cub. I dashed over to this room that had a LOT of stuff in it. Mostly snacks and drinks all in cases. A gentleman named Jeff directed me over to an area and said, “ There’s your baskets!”  I was confused so I asked him what he meant and he instructed me to put the donation items in the basket of my choice. I wanted to be sure I understood and he did indeed explain that we were to assemble our own baskets. It was unexpected, and I wondered if I would have time. What happened to just “drop the stuff of and go”? After all I had enough for two gift baskets! I felt rushed. One of the contestants said we needed to write down what was in the basket. What??? I had carefully made nicely printed donor info pages from my Bay Area Cub 2010 Stationary and now I had to make a list of every item. Darn! They won’t match!  ( Clutch the pearls)  Besides that-I think I had a Contestant meeting to attend in 10 minutes! I snarled and asked for a piece of paper and looked at all the items I had. No way I was gonna fit it in what they had available. Where was my shrink wrap and my pull bows? HEY! I was a professional ribbon queen in my day.  When I was in the biz I spent a good 45 minutes on a $250 dollar basket. Not only did I have to do all that for this “drop off donation” I was expected to write down each of the what-50 items?-I had amassed. This sucked. I took a deep breath and asked the guy who appeared to be the one in charge of the room of stuff. “He” came off more like a “she” despite his big gray beard,  so I thought I would try a different very unbear-like approach -queen to queen. I suggested that they view my donation from “Under One Roof” as a separate donation (sweetie) and that I will do my best to fit the remaining items in a basket (darling). She/he said that was fine. I started writing and then flipped it over to try a different idea. I wrote categories as opposed to actual items. I wrote the Donor Merchant’s name and a general idea of what they donated. Lando was sure that I was instructed to write down each item. I told him -so what? I had grouped each Merchant’s donation together in the basket enough so that it was easy to see what was what. He insisted and I leaned forward and bared my teeth and hissed, “ I don’t have enough fucking time to fucking write each fucking item down.” He...let it go. Eventually the dear old thing in charge said I need not wrap my items after all and he would figure it out. I finished the list and then said a quick good bye to Lando, (Don’t worry we kissed, I wasn’t mad at him just stressed out), and ran off to the Contestant room.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Meet the Parents

Mom and Dad waiting for Lando to bring the car around
The week of my Birthday I brought Lando into the frigid North East to Vermont to meet my family. Our relationship has  been a year-quite a landmark for me and I felt that they should know  he will be around for a while. We arrived late Tuesday night and Mom had pizza ready. She has downsized to an apartment, but to say that she downsized isn't really quite right. She moved into a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment for a mere $800 a month. It feels to me very much like the square footage of the house she left. The same set up here, ( the San Francisco bay area) would easily command a $2500 a month rent. Maybe even in Emeryville it might get that price!

As I knew Orlando would, he charmed my Mom and my Dad. My parents have been divorced for over 26 years but remain somewhat amicable. Prolonged exposure to both of them in the same room can be a bit irritating -especially if you are their off spring. I find visiting them separately may be the way to go in the future. They both have very good reasons for being annoyed with one another and's amazing that the passion to squabble with each other is still alive and well...Makes one wonder because it's not like either of them re-married or anything. He's 82 and she is 78. Did I mention that I am 46 and Lando is 41? Hmmm

That Wednesday was a bit too exciting. After an exhausting afternoon at the Vermont Farm Show, Lando and I awoke from a short nap and felt had to buy a bit of legitimate booze. When I go home to Vermont to see my family, there is lots and lots of sitting around in small rooms in 200 year old  houses and chatting. Alcohol -particularly hard grain spirits- ease the sedentary feel of cabin fever. Don't quote me, but I believe alcoholism is rather high during the winter months in Vermont. Much to my distress, my mother doesn't really drink Vodka, Rum or Bourbon. My mother's choice of poison is a sickly sweet white wine called Rhine Wine. It's an American rip off of Riesling  and Gewurztraminer without the  fizz and soft round honey pear tones. It's produced by some forgettable, but financially successful winery. My father's taste in wine is also dubious. Dad can consume an improperly corked Cab or Merlot that is borderline vinegar and approximately 3 months from being opened. I know this because I poured it for him and he drank it. This sent Lando and I  sneaking downtown to the liquor store which was good thing because we had virtually NO exercise and didn't want all the warm clothing we had packed to go to waste. We left my dozing parents on their respective couches. It was cold -perhaps twenty something degrees-and we set off so I could find a suitable Vodka and he could find some Bacardi O (Orange flavored rum). When we returned from our winter trek we noticed that the front door to the apartment building was open at my Mom's place. That was odd considering the temperature. In addition to the front door we saw that the same neighbor's door to the right of my Mother's apartment was open. There were two wee children leaning in near the hallway in the front trying to see what was going on in a nearby room and they were apparently sharply sent back to watch the TV in the adjacent room from the way they both scurried back to the couch.

I went in to see if Mom was still dozing on the couch where we had left her. She wasn't there. My father was still in the living room awaking from his afternoon slumber. I asked Dad where she was as he tried to rouse himself from his nap. He said someone had come in and asked Mom to call 911 because the person was unable to. I stared at Dad for a second astonished about his lack curiosity about the emergency. Apparently he had heard all this and chose to go back to his nap!  I went to look for my mother and I figured next door was a good bet.

A four year old girl -(Mylie for our purposes) put her little hands on her little hips and asked with as much self importance as she could muster, if I was the emergency person they had called for her Grandma. I asked where her Grandma was, and she pointed in the room they had both been peering in earlier before being shooed away. I found a fifty something woman cradling the head of an elderly woman lying on the floor. The elderly lady was shaking and foam sputtering from her mouth. I quickly surmised that the older woman was having a seizure of some sort. I asked the other woman holding her if an ambulance had been called. She nodded yes and looked up agonized at me. She murmured to the woman she was holding something like "take it easy Mom" I said almost in a question, "I'll watch the kids?" She nodded again emphatically and with a flash of gratitude.

I went back to the kids to let them know I would be right back to read them a story in a bit, but that I wanted to make sure that the ambulance was coming to get Grandma. I was pleased to know that my cell figured out that I needed a VERMONT 911 instead of a California Bay Area 911. After confirming there was an emergency on South Main Street in Northfield , the operator told me she was on the phone with someone at the scene.  It had to be Mom since the other woman was obviously occupied with the emergency in question. It turned out she was in a separate room to the left and I didn't see her. I ran back to the kids and tried to keep them occupied. When I had introduced myself, Mylie was very amused by my name and her two year old brother (Conner for our purposes) laughed just as heartily. They were quite possibly two of the cutest little kids I have ever seen.  The flashing lights and siren of the ambulance disturbed Connor, and he reached his chubby little arms up to me to be held. I panicked for a second because holding a distressed child in my arms is something that almost never happens. I scooped him up and whatever parental instinct I had flooded my senses. In order to calm him, I carefully explained why the lights flashed on the ambulance and the siren was so loud. He seemed to nod in comprehension when I used a metaphor about how loud he could yell if he fell and hurt himself-so in a sense -he was kinda his ownambulance but Grandma needed something louder and flashier. I was relieved when his whimpering seemed to stop.  I was lucky to have a silly book to act out and distract the both of them with  while the EM techs did their thing in the adjacent room. 

 After the EM techs had left I found out that Mylie's and Connor's Grandma was actually the woman holding the elderly woman and the elderly woman headed to the hospital was Great Grandma. My mother -having been an elementary art school teacher and the mother of four boys- had developed a playful neighborly relationship with Connor. It involved a pointing game which concluded with Connor dissolving into gales of giggles. Mylie jutted her 4 year old chin out and leaned over to me, like a dissaproving gossipy neighbor, to let me know that my mother and Connor ALWAYS played this game. I suppressed a smile and tried to nod in disgust right along with her. Eventually the real Grandma came out of the room and said, " Well that's one less mouth to feed tonight." If you were raised in New England you'd understand that kind of gallow's humor. I can assure you that it hasn't served me well here in sunny vapid California. I introduced myself to her and she seemed taken aback. "You were in Bobby's (her brother) class?" It took me a while to remember who "Bobby" was. Then it hit me as I recalled her last name. "Oh yes! Bobby and I were in the same class-that's right." She leaned over and stared at my face incredulously. "You and Bobby are the same age?" I gently stretched the skin on my cheekbone and simply said, "California." -as if that explained everything. I don't know if my Mom caught on that I had implied that I had work done on my face but Grandma got it. I don't know why I did that. Maybe to just get her mind off what she had gone through-who knows? I think I did it to make fun of California, because I have never had a face lift....No really -I've never had one.....yet.  She shook her head and said, "Well you sure don't look it!" Her own face had reflected a long difficult life. She looked like she had her share of hardships and my heart cracked a little as I thought she may end up having to grieve for her mother later. Connor squirmed in my lap and leaped off. Mylie asked me to read more. I informed her that I had to go and help my mother with dinner. She asked me who my mother was and I pointed at the lady that was Mrs. Cooley to her. Well THAT little bit of her news threw her for a loop! I guess to Mylie I seemed as old as Mrs. Cooley.

I made sure to hug my Mother more those few days then was probably expected by her . -but good news -Great Grandma from next door was back home from the hospital without a serious diagnosis.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bearlesque Talent Search -Contest at The Edge

If anyone is hosting an event to fund raise, I urge you to contact Dave or Matt at The Edge bar on 18th street in San Francisco. Your event will go effortlessly and they will do it all to make sure it is a success. I am sure glad that I did. The weekend of the 23,24 they hosted my event as well as the SF Gay Men's Chorus and each event was well attended.

I wasn't even nervous the day of the contest because they had everything so well organized. I was a tad disappointed that I didn't have any items to auction -but my contestants took care of that during the second part of the contest. -BUT I get ahead of myself. Let me run the cast of contestants by you one more time: We had the very popular Bo Hoshaw who clearly everyone in the bar knew. When I brought him to the stage he brought an incredible round of cheers. Did I mention that Bo has almost 4000 facebook friends? Ok ok I know what you are getting at. You think I put him in the Talent Search so I could have a few 1000 people at my event'd be right! The important thing you need to know here is that THIS boy can sing!!! He did "Wanted Dead or Alive" and really brought it to the stage. It didn't hurt any that he is quite adorable too. He is doing an event this coming weekend at the Edge for Haiti Earthquake Relief. Stop by and meet him yourself.

We also had "Cougar Cub" Marco Middlesex who did a parody of Lady GaGa in a song titled "Bad Bromance". He exuded a lot of dance energy, but we couldn't hear the lyrics of the parody due to the fact that the bar was filled to capacity with chatty bears and he may have benefited from a possible sound check so he could gauge how close to hold the mic. I really appreciated Marco's energy and commitment to the contest.  He works for a great program called "A Leg Up Animal Rescue".This is a non-profit organization that specializes in rescuing, fostering and finding adoptive, loving people for sweet little doggies! Check him out on Facebook under Marco n Kylie. Kylie is his sweet little doggie by the way.

Dave Naden approached me on Facebook a few days before the competition and the sweet little cub was a welcome addition. He belted out in a strong voice an Elvis Costello tune that had quite a few bears bobbing their heads. I hope we all hear and see more of Dave. I greatly appreciated his friendly professionalism.

The comically gifted Evan Kaminsky was unaware that I had asked participants to stick with a rock or pop song choice-but he won everyone over with an old favorite. " If I can't sell it, I'm gonna sit on it." With his large eyes and delicate hand flutters he had everyone giggling. As judge Greg Burger so aptly put it, " We greatly appreciated you channeling your inner large black woman." Evan has worked with some old friends at Artful Circle and knows his way around a stage. I am glad to have met him finally. He had developed a new service within his beauty business just for us manly men (ahem) who enjoy feeling groomed called "Bear Care" He claims he can provide a happy ending -without the happy ending. He will be bearfully beautifying me for the IBR contest.

I have had a crush on contestant Bobby Jordan since I laid eyes on him a few months ago. He crooned a sexy soulful version of Moondance that truly wowed the audience. He gives off this sexy bad Daddy vibe that really entranced the crowd at The Edge. I know my heart was beating a little faster. I was exceptionally pleased that his generous boss gave him the afternoon off to sing for us.

Paul Brown KNOWS rock n roll. He blazed through  "Tales of the Brave Ulysses". During his performance he tore through the bar commanding attention with his basso prof undo voice.  He is a man of many talents and I strongly suggest you meet him. Orlando and I got to know him last Lazy Bear and he regaled us with many a fine tale. All three of my judges were quite impressed with him. He is sole owner of a  fantastic massage business that you must check out called of course-Paul Brown Massage

Speaking of my judges; I am indebted to them for helping out. Unfortunately two that I had asked were unable to attend and my best gal pal, actor and actress 'Drew Todd stepped in at the last minute. 'Drew has agreed to help my Cubettes with some choreography in the big show in April. Greg Burger will hopefully be working on my show as my Ed McMahon but when he judges my talent search he retains a Simon Cowell vibe. Rick Padre who is an SF panda bear fave by all accounts, guest starred and judged. He began the second half of the contest by showing off his hula prowess. He is so squeezable sweet and very affectionate.

I should tell you that most all my bears and cubs were TERRIFIED at stripping but that part of the show really captured the beer drinkers attention. We had about 50 people buy into the beer bust at $10 a head. Well let me tell ya- wallets were quickly yanked outta back pockets to show encouragement to our strippers. The Lemonade Fund made just over $500 at the start of the stripping part of the competition and quickly zoomed up to $985 after the boys shook their money makers. -Is there any wonder I am raising money this way? STOP Wondering!!! They were all simply fantastic and they thoroughly delighted the bar patrons. They were not sure what they were going to dance to which added to their apprehension. I had selected some appropriately sexy heavy beat dance tunes that not a single one had trouble to. 

I had gathered various goodies, donated my friend Marie Donabedian, for my contestants and the winner would get EXTRA goodies in a big gold bag. Judging was not easy. All three judges conveyed to me that there should be THREE winners of the day. Unfortunately I only had one gold bag. I pressed the judges to pick ONE winner. Evan Kaminsky became the judges "yes" and they all agreed he did Burlesque -Sexy, naughty and very funny....

In truth-all the guys were great. Bo was the obvious audience favorite and Bobby Jordan gave a slickly polished show and had the men panting. I could easily build a show with all 6 contestants. They all gave generously of themselves so I invited them all to be part of the show. Though Evan...Evan WILL get the funny song. Stay tuned.