Local woman pursues International Ms. Leather title

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 Pittsburgh at  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.


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  • I want to commend Jessi for being a courageous pioneer [ the first woman titleholder from Pittsburgh AND the first female pledge of Three Rivers Leather Club ] and inspiration for the GLBTQ community. By being out and proud and a positive face for the BDSM and Leather community and the clarity she displays we could not have selected a better titleholder and wish her the very best as she competes at IMsL.
    David Dean
    Three Rivers Leather Club, President
    Steel City Bondage Club, Founder
    Mr/Ms Pittsburgh Leather Fetish, Owner

  • How can the GLCC allow that? Do they have an adult zoning license? Aren't those kinds of events illegal? They better be careful… Cattivo too…

  • NO! those events are NOT illegal!
    and this statement is just one of the reasons I am Proud to be Ms. Pittsburgh Leather.
    allow me to introduce to you the NCSF. https://www.ncsfreedom.org/
    the Nation Coalition for Sexual freedom.
    whilst certain aspects of bd/sm may still be illegal in some states.
    the NCSF has fought and won many battles concern the lifestyle and the discrimination around it. NCSF also lent assistance to the local communities in San Diego and Baltimore, to help to stop the selective enforcement of zoning and public indecency laws against the SM-Leather-Fetish communities. Next, NCSF assisted the local communities in Attleboro, MA and Washington, DC as those cities faced the same selective enforcement that had been attempted in Baltimore and San Diego. NCSF continues to work with State Attorney Generals and local District Attorneys to help educate these authorities about SM, swing and polyamory practices to prevent dangerous precidents from being set against adult consensual sexuality.

  • It's not that the events are illegal; it's that the venue doesn't have the proper zoning to allow adult events. Wasn't there a big blow up about that a few years back?

  • Actually, if they don't have the proper zoning, holding the events is illegal. However, Jessi makes a valid point that the issue tends to be selective enforcement of the zoning restrictions with a negative outcome for BDSM/leather activities. It looks like there's a national group in place to swoop into Pgh should this arise and provide the resources to ensure the ordinances are applied fairly.
    There's also a misunderstanding of a munch (Jessi, correct me if I'm wrong). Munch is an educational/social gathering for people interested in BDSM. I don't think Rainbow Munch is holding an adult play party at the GLCC; they are providing a safe, affirming space for like minded adults to learn and interact. There's no zoning needed to have a conversation and/or demonstration of spanking among consenting adults.
    If getting aroused is a zoning violation, I think we'd have a much bigger issue to deal with than fire batons and nipple clamps.
    The GLCC has been a sex positive place for a long time. I coordinated a sex toy party there about 5 years ago and it was packed. It was even potluck!
    I'm digging into the zoning regs so we can put an end to the speculation and avoid any furtive attempts to quash people's sexuality because it isn't mainstream.

  • Perhaps “anonymous” might want to come out of the closet and show him/herself…provided his/her motives are purely the safety and welfare of others…but sadly, I'm afraid this is a person who has serious ax to grind not only with the venue but the event and any GLBTQ event that doesn't fit into a nice neat box. Even more sadly is that we get the worst vitriol from other memb ers of the GLBTQ community and its “leaders” than we ever get from the outside world… So…instead of imposing your rigid standards of bland morality on the rest of us don't go out to a bar, attend any GLBTQ events and leave the exciting contributions many in the GLBTQ community provide to thoes of us who live openly and proudly in the light.
    David A. Dean
    President, Three Rivers Leather Club

  • your statement is correct, Sue.
    a munch does have conversation, education, and socialization.
    It is NOT a play party, orgy, or otherwise sex romp.
    all local laws governing public gathering places are obeyed.
    ex. no nudity, all genitalia are covered, female nipples covered. and no butt crack either.

  • such is our lot in life, David.
    it is our job, not only as title holders, but members of the Leather/bd/sm community. to educate the unknowing, tear down misgivings and to allay the fear and suspicion.
    and it is my thoughts that the vitriol you mention. comes from those who strive to be/appear part of the mainsteam. don't want to be different, gotta fit in, can't stand out, must fit.

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