I usually learn a few interesting things when I chat with folks about this blog, but I have to admit to learning a *whole* lot during my recent conversation with Ms. Pittsburgh Leather Fetish 2011, Jessi Seams.
The first ever Ms. Pittsburgh Leather Fetish, Jessi is among a handful of transwomen across the country to hold similar titles. And she has eyes on a much larger goal — to become Ms. International Leather 2011 at the upcoming April competition in San Francisco. Ms. International Leather celebrates 25 years and bills itself as the longest running female leather competition.
While sipping coffee at Crazy Mocha one recent afternoon, Jessi educated me on the Pittsburgh Leather scene and the Pittsburgh BDSM scene.
BDSM is a consensual lifestyle choice, or type of adult roleplay between two or more individuals. The compound acronym, BDSM, is derived from the terms bondage and discipline (B&D), dominance and submission (D&s), sadism and masochism (S&M)
Jessi is part of both communities, but describes them as being distict. The leather community is older, dating back to the post-WW II era and is more clearly defined as LGBT. The BDSM community is broader, inclusive of the LGBT communities, but predominantly heterosexual. The BDSM community organizes in social group known as munches to build camraderie and introduce people to the lifestyle. Burghermunch is the most high profile. There is a LGBT specific munch known as Rainbow Munch which occasionally holds educational workshops at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center.
A Rainbow Munch Demo on Fire
Join the Rainbow Munch of Pittsburgh as we share more knowledge with a demonstration and class on Fire Play. Wednesday March 16th at 7pm we will be hosting this event at the GLCC of Pittsburgh.
The class will show some of the beginning ways one can play with fire in a sensual and non-sensual way. The class will cover basics from fire baton construction to more advanced play such as fire cupping. This class should be a really hot time.
Where: GLCC of
at Pittsburgh 210 Grant Street Pittsburgh, PA, 15219
Who: The Rainbow Munch of Pittsburgh instruction by Atea
Cost: $5 donation (Scholarships available)
When: March 16th, from 7pm to 9pm
2011 is the first year an official Ms. Pittsburgh Leather Fetish took place in Pittsburgh. Long-time organizers of the Mr. Pittsburgh Leather event, the Three Rivers Leather Club and Steel City Bondage Club, approached Jessi and asked her to compete. Pittsburgh does not have an official women's leather group, but according to Jessi there is a thriving leather scene for local women. Women's group have historically grown from queer women hanging out within the men's leather community and slowly building their own networks, as have the women's competition.
Jessi and one other woman participated, with Jessi taking home the title. Mr. Pittsburgh Leather moved on to the Mid-Atlantic competition which he also won. There is no official hierarchy with Leather competitions, no need to go from Ms. Pittsburgh to Ms. Pennsylvania to Ms. USA, etc. Next stop for Jessi is the International competition in California this April.
However, much like a traditional title competition, Ms.Pittsburgh Leather Fetish has obligations to fulfill. Jessi is committed to a certain number of appearances, advocates for the leather community and will coordinate a charitable project amongst the female leather community. She will also be recruiting women to compete for the 2012 title and generally spreading the word that this community and the opportunity to compete exist for women as well as men.
Jessi is currently using her blog to recruit sponsors for her participation in the International competition where she plans to advocate for trangender health issues as part of her platform.
Why should Pittsburgh care about the odysseys of Mr. and Ms. Leather Pittsburgh? Jessi believes bringing home a major leather title will bring more recognition to Pittsburgh, particularly among the LGBT community. This is good for local businesses who want to attract LGBT tourists to the City and their businesses. She points to the rich philanthropic history of the Three Rivers Leather Club as a prime example of how much the leather community “gives back” to the LGBT community and the region. In addition to a large Toys for Tots drive, they are regular volunteers at the Shepherd Wellness Center, Pridefest and more.
So getting back to the leather/BDSM distinction, Jessi is a big believer in gently encouraging people to explore their kinky interests. The munches are one such outlet and more can be found at this site. A monthly gathering known as Sinferno is held at Cattivo in Lawrenceville. In February, Jessi “sold” spankings which she believes is a very low-key way to introduce the BDSM element, particularly for people who are curious but hesitant to attend a meeting. She also mischievously gave away “I was spanked by Ms. Pittsburgh Leather” buttons to promote the competition.
My button has not yet arrived. 🙂
Best of luck to Jessi Seams as she pursues the Ms. International Leather title. Follow her blog to keep up with her adventures.