Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Diary Of a Cub Contestant Part 8 Contest Day

Jd Legget
I awoke in a panic. I had stayed up late and crammed all sorts of Bear History facts in my head. All the topics were swimming in a giant pool in my brain. The Lone Star, the creator of the Bear Flag, what the colors stood for in the flag. Many Bear facts flew through my mind. "Some Bears place a lot of importance on a hypermasculine image" Then what the hell was I doing in this contest? Well it was obvious. Bears no longer were the gay sub group that maintained a distance from the rest of Gay society. We had become mainstream.  I noticed a funny thing about that mainstreaming: somehow someway it translates into a money making opportunity. The proliferation of bear identified products on the market is evidence of that. But what about the philosophy? Didn't the Bear movement start with some average furry nice guys who were more like plumbers, policemen and ranch hands then florists, fashion designers, and theater critics? Didn't these nice guys get together in each others apartments for a game of trivial pursuit and pin the tail on the Cubby? Then a Gay Biker bar opened and voila - there was a place to go other than each others apartments? As the movement grew this core group who felt so disenfranchised from the Gay community began to welcome all who came into the fray-particularly if they felt the same way. It made me think of my first trip to the Lone Star where I arrived with a full red beard to hide my double chin and at 5'7"- I was approximately 210lbs. I had a pretty high sex drive, but I had felt that until I started going to the gym and striving for six pack abs my sex drive was all for naught. I would just have a healthy relationship with my right hand. Well that idea was quickly squashed. I found that very young, very attractive slim men found me one hot Daddy. That -combined with my friends never ending ability to always keep me supplied in cocktails made for some great times at the ole Lone Star. Just like I had heard Mark Katzenburg say in a PBS documentary series about Bears-I felt like I had come home when I first arrived at the Lone Star.

It was interesting that Beauty Pageants erupted out of this movement. I mean think about it. Bikers? Dirty Greasy guys in Fu Man Chu moustaches strutting down the runway looking like aged rock stars in a thong? Who thought that up? Why would the Biker or  the 300lb overtly masculine blue collar worker submit to that kind of objectification? It didn't make sense. Didn't the Bear movement mean NOT worshiping an ideal beauty?  What DID make sense to me were their feminine counter parts taking place in a Beauty Contest. Yes - I know what I am saying. The pushy bottom was probably the first one who went, "I'm pretty dammit and I want to wear a crown and have a sash and show everybody how damn pretty I am! I am going to start organizing contests where me and the girls can strut our stuff. " Then their big gentle ben husbears went, "ok cubby, I'll grill the hot dogs and we will make a party of it. I think that's how it started.

I was trying very carefully to make sure I was clear about my goals as a title holder when it came time to talk with the judges. I didn't want to slip into my "ya know-itus" that plagued me whenever I had to speak publicly. (I always peppered my statements with an annoying "ya know?" which completely pissed the shit out of me whenever I heard it, because 9 times out of 10- I was completely unaware I had SAID it so many fucking times.) It seemed to me that all the smart bear columnists I had read spoke of inclusiveness and not shunning the little queen who wandered into their midst. These writers noted that we had to be careful now because we didn't want to become clique-y and exclusionary if we were to grow as an important part of the Gay community. Then there was the contrary idiots who espoused the value of knowing how to use a chainsaw, play football and hunt for deer. THAT was what was important. The Bear brotherhood should maintain the manly man aspect and keep it pure. Alrighty then..Here's the thing. I think we can do both and be Bears and not forget about why we like Bears. We are it baby. The Bear community are the cool kids in school. All of these things I was trying to practice and cram in my head like mad in my tiny in-law apartment.

The place was truly in shambles. My printer had spewed too many pages of my online research everywhere. The couch remained hidden with the extensive wardrobe I had purchased and borrowed to impress the judges. There was a giant mound of camoflage and denim. Leather cuffs and Bear pins were scattered everywhere. Leather -lots that I never even wore was draped over everything. I calculated what I had spent and flashed back to my last visit in Vermont where my Aunt shouted with joy when my Lando Bear told her he was a budget analyst. "Oh thank god!" she gasped " He'll finally get a grip on his finances" I just looked down at my snow boots and mumbled something about living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Orlando was staring at me now with a How-the-hell-am-I-gonna-live-with-a-disorganized-slob-like-you-look on his face. I was probably a border-line hoarder. This was one of the many things I was working on to make our life a happier co-existence. I wasn't doing so hot right now. It was also another lightening bolt moment when I realized that I had inherited some characteristics of my father -other than this stunning set of baby blues. My Dad is a slob but he would never ever be compared to a spend thrift like me. Jack Benny perhaps... but not me. That was one of my Mom's rare gleeful moments where she enjoyed being divorced from him. She would tell of my father's miserly spending habits with great relish. -hey I guess it served him well because he has more money than me-and at the ripe old age of 84..or is it 86? Dammit I'll have to ask Orlando.

Back to Contest morning. Lando Bear was not getting enough attention due to my stress and the attention he was getting wasn't all that fun. I sniped. I sniped a lot. I entered this fucking contest to have fun and make friends and quite frankly-the fun part was in short supply. I was worn out from this extremely difficult raffle sales and I had probably fucked up my chances of impressing the judges because of my inability to kiss ass at that goddamed cocktail party. Well...you got the general idea of my state of mind. It was Valentine's Day for crissake and I should've been billing and cooing with my exceptional boyfriend all day. But No- I wanted to be International Cub. Me and my bright ideas. Orlando gave me a stunning see-ya-later-kiss when he dropped me off at the hotel that made me think, " Contest-what contest?" He understood that this sash-monster was not me. Somewhere in the back recesses of my mind, I was thinking that he was right. I am not an appropriate choice for title holder. Regardless- I shook it off. I had a Looong Day ahead of me.

The Day entailed a long tech dress rehearsal of sorts. Here's a rundown of how the show is supposed to play out.
1) Contestants enter in cute red long john union suits and hobby horses while host, Dominick Zurlo does his best Madeline Kahn imitation from Blazing Saddles.
2) The Bear Minimum segment: Dominick reads from a "personal ad" written by the contestants while we parade in as little as possible on stage one by one.
3) The Cruise Wear segment: We wear what we would wear if we were going to Beer Bust and trying to get laid while the judges are allowed to ask us one question. Previous year's contestants had a day to think out their answers and read them to the audience. Lucky US !! We got asked the questions right then and there without any knowledge what-so-ever of what they were going to ask us.
All this was supposed to take place in front of 200 bears later that night. During this tedious long rehearsal we were escorted one by one down to the judges to get interviewed.

Keep in mind that I had a LOT of people rooting for me. I had three people who knew the contest inside and out advising me on how to play it. The costumes had to be related to the theme because the judges appreciated that kind of effort. My Cruise wear was a standard cowboy outfit with an impressive GOLD buckle (Sin Fire and Gold-remember?). I had this pair of jeans that had a tendency to accentuate the frontal area. I once actually wore these jeans to the Lone Star and a sexy man came up to me and said, " Well...I can see why you wore those jeans." and I asked why and he answered, " so the rest of us could know what religion you are" -You figure it out -because I couldn't. Jews get circumsized too... right? Orlando has asked me a couple of times to wear these jeans.

Our fearless leader Paul Almy
The minimum Bear wear segment I thought was rather clever. It was a brilliant out fit designed with the help of Eric Glaser from Hissy Fit Fashions. A secret advisor gave me the idea. I was a human slot machine. I slowly stripped and revealed a tank top with three cherries on it and a huge gold cod piece filled with...well I wont give it away. You'll have to read the next blog.

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