“Rubber is not trying to be the new leather–it’s just an extension of the community,” says the man in a latex hood on stage hosting the Mr. American Rubber contest. A shiny crowd of black, blue, yellow, and red rubber-wearing men stand around the bar waiting to see the three brave contestants who are running for this year’s title. Held at Rock Bar–the very last gay bar on Christopher Street right up against the West Side Highway–the contest is in its 4th year with an ever-increasing crowd attending. And I must say it’s a hot crowd–ruff!
Arriving at the contest I was instantly smiling at all the men in gear. I check my street clothes at the free coat check, pick up a reasonably priced drink, lick some familiar faces, and have slightly awkward interactions with people I’ve met exclusively through Recon and thus only have a screen name to call them by. There are guys of all ages and for the most part the men are younger and slimmer than the crowds I see at the Eagle. Some of the rubber guys also have a punk edge with more piercings and sharper hairstyles then the average gear guy. It’s a new crowd for me and I’m liking it…a lot.
When it comes to gear, I love my combat boots and my sports gear; leather is for fancy dress and rubber is a material that I haven’t really explore yet. I worry over the need to care for the rubber more (washing, powdering, properly storing) and I haven’t really had a hunger to get all slicked up. But after seeing my buds all rubbered up and getting a feel for how great it can feel to wear the kinky material I must say I’m intrigued. We are a big, mixed community and I love exploring the different families of gear.
Speaking of our big mixed community, going to this contest opened my eyes more to just how diverse we are as a group. Honestly it’s a bit ridiculous just how many fetish groups are all pushed under the “Leather” umbrella. The diversity of interests, beliefs, desires, and goals for all the men and women involved has an expansive range and I feel it’s important to not let any one of these groups try to govern the others. The core of our beliefs revolve around an idea of personal freedom and expression that lends itself to self exploration and enjoyment. Folks accomplish this an array of ways from putting on full leather uniforms and being Mr. 100% Dom, to morphing into puppies and wrestling around, to enjoying the rush of getting flogged, etc. etc. etc. lordthelistgoesonandon. BUT the key is we all just want to have a good time and not be judged for it.
There’s a lot to explore and I love experiencing new things with new people. Never a dull moment for the open-minded 🙂