Monday, April 12, 2010

The 2010 KinkFest Report (part 1 of 4): Pre-KinkFest (and Christmas in March)

At first glance it might seem like the rarest of all possible occurrences. So rare, in face, as to be literally unbelievable. Like spotting Elvis. With Bigfoot. The two of them co-piloting a UFO. During a solar eclipse. On February 29th. Right before the announcement that the winning lottery numbers are the ones on YOUR ticket.

But this is not a mere figment of your imagination, dear readers . . . this really is the beginning of a KinkFest Report. I went to KinkFest 2010, and now – unlike last year – I’m actually writing a full event report about it. And in a reasonably timely fashion, no less. (Reasonably timely, at least, for a blog entitled ‘Time Delay’.)

To Go Or Not To Go?

The plan had actually been to NOT write a KinkFest report this year. Oh, not because attending the event and then procrastinating-to-infinity on writing the report worked out so well for me last year. No, this year’s lack of a KinkFest report was going to be because I had decided to not attend this year’s KinkFest.

“Stay home,” I had told myself. “Save money, save the hassle of finding transport to and from the event, save yourself all the drama of trying to find a play partner for the dungeon parties. Save what little sanity you’ve got left.”

Then the list of presenters came out.

I’ve been a longtime fan of Lee Harrington’s work. Both as Lee Harrington, and in a previous incarnation (pre-gender transition) when he worked professionally under the name of Bridgett Harrington. Writer, educator, photographer, bondage rigger, model, former porn actress, focus of many of my foot fetish fantasies (along with other miscellaneous depraved sexual yearnings) in years past, and so on and so forth. Former resident of Oregon, currently living in Arizona.

I’ve been promising myself for years now that if I ever had an opportunity to meet him, I’d seize it. If I become aware of Lee returning to Oregon to make a professional appearance or teach a class or whatnot, I’d be there. Someway, somehow.

Since initially making myself that promise, I’ll occasionally discover that he’s just BEEN here and already left. (Way to keep up to date on stuff. Go me.) The last time I discovered that he was coming to my state, he was scheduled to be teaching a workshop in Salem. Salem! I can get a ride to Salem. Of course, this workshop ended up taking place while I was in the hospital recovering from my massive pulmonary embolism.

So what’s all this got to do with the price of beans in fairy tales, you ask? (It’s a milk cow, by the way.) Lee Harrington’s name was on the list of presenters for the 2010 KinkFest.

Which meant that despite my earlier decisions, I was now going to the event.

The Road to KinkFest

Between the first of the year and the week leading up to KinkFest, I posted a grand total of TWICE. Not my most post-intensive period to date.

Last year, I posted an entry entitled “The Road to KinkFest – 57 Days and Counting”. This was eventually followed up by “The Road to KinkFest – 43 Days and Counting”. And so on. The pattern continued with 29 days, 14 days, 5 days, and 3 days. (And between 14 and 5 there was also a post entitled “Beds” that was ‘pre-KinkFest’-centric.)

What I didn’t post, (following all of that ridiculous build-up) was an actual KinkFest Report.

So I promised myself that if I attended KinkFest again, I wouldn’t lead up to it with a bunch of prelude posts. I did run the one prelude post this year, two days before the event, musing about what I wanted in a play partner.

The Nametag

In the days before the KinkFest, I made my usual preparations for this sort of event. Packed clothing. Bought food. Made notes based on the schedule found on the official website. (Hoping that said schedule wouldn’t change, invalidating what was intended to be my personal schedule.)

I tried to get up to the library as often as I could to read what was going on in Fetlife.com’s KinkFest group.

The major controversy to be found there was news of the decision that the conference committee had made regarding proof-of-membership. Instead of the traditional convention nametag, they were opting to go with bright red hospital-style plastic bracelets. No bracelet, no admittance into the dungeon (or anywhere in the hotel but the welcome desk).

Reading some of the posts in the discussion, you’d get the idea that this decision was sure to cause the end of all life as we know it.

There were some valid complaints. People who weren’t staying at the hotel would have to go home each night to family and friends wearing a bright red bracelet with ‘KINKFEST 2010’ printed on it. (And not all of these attendees were ‘out’ as kinky.) Some conference attendees were meeting up with photographers during the event for BDSM photo sessions. And now nude photography had become nude-with-a-plastic-bracelet . . . not quite the effect they were going for.

My only complaint about this whole thing was that they were doing the bracelets INSTEAD of the nametag, and not in addition to it. The name badge was a necessary thing. Not only was it how people could identify others by scene name, but it’s also where I traditionally keep my hotel key during these kind of events. (And so how am I supposed to get into my hotel room if I don’t have a name badge? Use my pockets like a philistine?)

So, I dug out my clear plastic badge-on-a-lanyard from the 2008 KinkFest (2009’s name-badge is covered with event-specific stickers), pulled the card with my name on it out of the thing, cut a 3x5 card down to size, and made myself a new name card.

Then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that not having to have an official name badge might not be a bad thing. Because instead of a single name card, I could have several which I could swap out throughout the event for different purposes.

I cut several more 3x5 cards down to size, and started making myself more name cards for the event.

“…We Interrupt This KinkFest Report…”

Okay. The subject matter now deviates from the topic of KinkFest. Why? Because I’ve decided to talk about something that went on far longer than I initially thought it would, and which finally culminated during KinkFest weekend. So it kinda fits in a KinkFest report. (One that I’d write, anyway.) But it also kinda doesn’t.

This year at Christmastime, Santa Claus failed to deliver a present to the Darklady. He put a little something together for her, but wasn’t able to get it into her hands during the holiday season.

That was the official version of events. The reality behind that statement – for those of you who don’t believe in Santa – is that I put together a Christmas present for Darklady this year, and despite my best efforts, couldn’t get anyone to transport it from here to there in a timely fashion.

Despite being perennially broke, my OCD-addled brain mandates that some money does get put away throughout the year and ‘forgotten’ so that by time November/December rolls around, I’ve got money for Christmas shopping. (This is one of the very few actual benefits of my obsessive-compulsive disorder.)

In the months leading up to the 2009 holiday season, I decided that I wanted to get something for Darklady. I’d been reading her Twitter feed (and listening to some of the buzz during the various Darklady parties I’d attended), and she’d been having a really crappy year.

I wanted to give her some kind of opening-of-present-moment-of-wow during the Christmas season. Something intended to make her day. Fill her heart with joy, and all that other crap they drone on and on about in all that Christmas music.

So I decided to do a Christmas stocking.

Now the problem was this: I could count on one hand the number of days when I’d had any face-to-face social interaction with Her Darkness. I didn’t know her well enough to know what to get her. How do I fill a stocking for someone I didn’t really know?

I started making a list, and found that I actually did have a few gift ideas based on things I knew about her. How did I know these things about her? Via Twitter. (Huh. Twitter.)

Once I realized that, I mined Twitter for more Darklady info. But even with a bunch of Twitter-supplied info, I still wasn’t prepared for the project at hand. There were some things that her Twitter page suggested, but that I needed more info about. Specific preferences, and so on. How do I get this info, I asked myself. I couldn’t just email her in early December and ask gift-giving questions. Could I? No.

But one of Santa’s elves could . . .

So I created a new email account under an assumed name (a Christmas-y one) and wrote her an email pretending to be one of Santa’s elves, trying to update her file following some data corruption. (Hey, it’s not like I was claiming I was the Nigerian Minister of Finance or anything.)

I figured this was a shot in the dark. She might answer it. She might ignore it, as an email from a potential stalker. Turns out, I was sort of correct all the way around, because her reply to the elf’s letter included the words, “In answer to your flatteringly stalker-like questions. . .”

Her answers (to my flatteringly stalker-like questions) helped me figure out what was all going into the stocking. I did my shopping. Internet shopping via the library computers, real life shopping by proxy, sending my sister out into the December madhouse shopping-mall world with money and a list. (I’d made a lot of recovery progress since my early October hospitalization for having lungs full of blood clots, but I really wasn’t up to the Christmas shopping crowds yet.)

Then stuff happened which I’m not really at liberty to discuss which made the person who had previously agreed to deliver the stocking for me no longer able to do so.

Trying to find a substitute to play ‘delivery elf’ was a comedy of errors that makes me want to cry. After Christmas had come and gone, Darklady received another email from Santa’s elf, explaining that her package had been sent out with one of Santa’s delivery elves a few days before Christmas, but that the North Pole had lost contact with the elf, and that a search (and possibly rescue) effort was underway to locate both him and the present.

More time passed, and I still couldn’t get anyone to run the thing up to Portland for me. Darklady continued to get updates from the Elf, until finally the week before KinkFest, she was informed that the package had been located. (That email also went on to explain that the delivery elf had stopped at a strip club to ask for directions when he got to Portland in December, and ended up going on a two month long beer-and-stripper bender. And had since then defected from the elves, joining the classically hard-drinking leprechauns.) Anyway, Santa was now in possession of her present, and would be in Portland March 19 – 21 . . . and would like to meet with her to hand over the package in person.

She agreed to meet ‘Santa’ in the lobby of the KinkFest hotel Friday afternoon before the event officially began.

Darklady’s ‘Christmas in March’

So there I was. Sitting in the hotel lobby wearing a Santa hat and a nametag which read ‘Zeitgeist the Claus’. Reading a book to pass the time and help keep my nerves at bay. (This IS Darklady we’re talking about, on whom I have this massive crush.)

One of the hotel employees did a double-take at my Santa-ness as he was walking past, then stopped and said, “Are you really early? Or are you late?”

“Late,” I told him, “But I blame the elves.”

I had actually gotten into the book by time she arrived, so she was able to sneak up on me. I’m sitting there on a couch reading, and all of a sudden, there she is – standing over me, and saying, “You were second on my list.”

The last email from the elf implied that the person she’d be looking for was kinda Santa-looking. And after reading that, she tried to figure out who her ‘Secret Santa’ might be, based on that visual clue and the letters from the elf, and not only did I make the cut, I was her second guess. Deep down, I was all manner of giddy and giggly just to know that I was even on her radar.

She looked incredible, by the way. I’ve never seen her not look eminently desirable – in person or photo – but she’d dressed up to meet her Secret Santa, and the effect was just stunning. I, of course, neglected to mention this to her because I’m completely socially inept to begin with, worse around women, and worse still around women I’ve got a thing for.

I told her that the present was up in my room, and asked her if she’d mind accompanying me up and opening it there. She was fine with that, so up we went.

The reason why I didn’t have it down in the lobby with me: Over the years, my Christmas stockings have gotten a wee bit out of hand. I haven’t been able to fit all the contents of a ‘stocking’ into a single normal-sized Christmas stocking for years now. Usually, during the Christmas eve stocking exchange at the family get-together, whoever ends up getting the stocking from me is handed a brown paper bag full of stuff with a construction paper stocking glued to the outside.

But with the whole Darklady/huge-crush thing, I was going for presentation. No reused grocery bag for her. No, she got something else. Something . . . large and awkward. Two normal-sized stockings. Five tiny stockings. All safety-pinned to a base made from a cut-to-fit piece of foam-core board inside one of those novelty 3-foot tall stockings. The big stocking was empty save for the foam-core (and a jigsaw puzzle that wouldn’t fit anywhere else). All the other stockings were filled with holiday swag.

And THAT whole apparatus was ‘wrapped’ in two (clean, obviously) black garbage bags covered in ‘Do Not Open Until Christmas’ stickers.

On the way up to the room, in and amongst other small talk, she pointed out that she’d even worn her titleholder’s vest to meet Santa. (Darklady was the 2004 Ms. Oregon Leather.) Reference to her outfit. Fishing for a compliment? As a fish, I’m just dumb. I should win a prize for social ineptitude. I still didn’t tell her how incredibly hot she was.

Anyway, we entered my hotel room, and I told her the true story behind all of the delays in getting her present to her. She then told me that even if there hadn’t been a present at the end of the correspondence, she’d thoroughly enjoyed getting emails from the elf during the process. (And once again complemented me on my writing skills.)

Upon presentation, she eyed the package with suspicion, noting that by size, shape, and body bag-like wrapping it kind of looked like I’d gotten her a corpse. I assured her that it wasn’t and joked that it was more likely a full-sized cardboard cut-out of myself, stark naked. (Yikes!)

She had brought her digital camera with her to document the process, and unwrapped it in stages, stopping to take photos as she went. When finally fully unwrapped, it was standing on the floor, leaned up against the bed. She started slowly emptying the stockings of their contents. At one point she had to readjust the position of the big stocking, and discovered more stockings pinned to the back of it. Surprise!

Between Twitter and what Santa’s elf was able to learn, I’d apparently made the right calls on what to stuff the stocking with. The stocking seemed to be a success. She appeared happy with it’s contents. Merry Christmas in March!

Then she packed it back up and went home. And apparently, once home, she took more photos. Laid out all the loot with the stocking in the background, and posted that photo on Facebook, along with a note about what a great Secret Santa I am.

She also changed her Twitter user icon to that same picture, and tweeted: “@ZeitgeistClown is the best Secret Santa! Sweets, rubber duckies, soap, Slinkies, sexy panties, pocket duct tape, booze & Sarah Palin comix!”

It took months to actually deliver the present, but when I finally did, it looked like it was worth the wait for her. And her reaction to it was definitely worth the wait for me.

NEXT – KinkFest, Day One

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