Master Taíno – The History of MsC
Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013
MsC 10th Anniversary
Good evening…. Tonight I will tell a story… The story of the Master/slave Conference.
The story of MsC does not begin with Master Taíno. It really began with two people the Universe placed in my path:
The first one is Master Steve Sampson from Butchmanns, the man I consider to be my mentor, the man who I followed and from whom I learn a lot in this journey. Master Steve is a man who leads by example and by encouraging others.
After the International Master/slave Contest was moved to Dallas in 2003, Master Steve saw a need to create feeder contests. That lead him and Butchmans to create the Southwest Leather Conference in Phoenix. Right after, he started encouraging other friends across the country – myself included – to follow. So, Master Steve planted the seed and the idea in my head and encouraged me to run with it.
While brainstorming what and if we wanted to do this, my thoughts immediately took me to the experience that changed my life – MAsT 99. That unique event, in Atlanta in the Spring of 1999, became the first educational event on Master/slave relationships that I can remember.
Although many people made possible MAsT 99, it was precisely Guy Baldwin who suggested, when asked, that the event should become an educational event. When Guy was invited, he took over the educational aspect of MAsT 99.
What Guy Baldwin did in Atlanta was exactly what I wanted to do in Washington DC five years later.
Why? Because I wanted others to experience what 400 of us experienced in Atlanta.
So, tonight, ten years later, I want to thank Master Steve and Guy Baldwin for showing us the way. I called Master Steve last week and thanked him for that on behalf of all of you, the attendees of MsC. And tonight, I want to thank Guy Baldwin for showing me the way. We at MsC are keeping alive your vision of 1999 and we are making sure that “the Guard Continues”. Thank you SIR.
So what exactly happened in Atlanta that we wanted to continue in Washington? MAsT 99 was an educational event on Master/slave relationships – with no dungeon and no SM classes. And although most attendees were kinky, our focus was in our relationships.
And that was exactly my vision for MsC. We have plenty of events dedicated to SM. We wanted an event dedicated SOLELY to our unique relationships.
One of the initial struggles was to come up with a name for the event. I knew that I wanted the words “Master – slave” in the name. Also, I wanted a good acronym. Finally, slave rene, who has served on the MTTA board for nine years now, with his natural poise, said in a meeting and paraphrasing him: “If it is going to be an educational event, it means it is a conference, then why not Master/slave Conference?”
As soon as I heard that, I knew we had a name: Master/slave Conference – MsC.
In the matter of the contest, I wanted to keep just the Northeast Master/slave Contest, and resisted those who tried to persuade us to produce other types of contests. During the past nine years, we have had two couples, Sir Stephen and slave Catherine and Master Larry and slave barb, become International Master/slave in 2005 and 2007.
In our first event in 2004, we expected 100 attendees. We ended up with just over 200. The hotel ended up being too small for our first Conference.
At the second conference in 2005, one couple in our team had the vision of creating a proposal for a Master/slave Flag. Today, the symbol flies all over the country and beyond and Masters and slaves are very proud of our flag.
During that same conference, Master Skip and a group of fellow Masters decided to embarrass me by presenting me with a Leather kilt, a vestment that I despised at the time. Master Skip, I think you won the battle, and I now kind-of-like my kilt. Thank you, my friend.
In 2006, for the first time, we brought Mama Vi Johnson and her Library to MsC.
Today, the Carter-Johnson Leather Library is an important part of our event. At the same time, the Library inspired our commitment with our History. When in 2009, we moved to Labor Day Weekend, we had an extra evening and we decided to dedicate it to our traditions and history.
The first five years of MsC were not easy. We were in five different hotels.
It was like reinventing the wheel every single year. Every year we were given a pink slip after the event.
Finally, we spent the last five years in our previous Silver Spring venue, where our event grew and averaged 500 attendees over the past three years.
2009 was a huge turning point, although a very challenging year. Our event grew to 400 attendees but it was preceded by a lot of losses. It was a painful year for our MsC family. We lost, less than three weeks before MsC 2009, one of the founders and dearest friends, Master Jack McGeorge. His loss followed the passing of Sir Steve Desdier from San Francisco who was responsible for getting our non-profit status and served as our treasurer of the MTTA Board and pro-bono accountant and the passing of slave bill, one of our more loyal volunteers. Since then, we honor all three with awards named after them.
That year, I also fulfilled a dream to pay tribute to Guy Baldwin and those who put together MAsT 99. We used the tenth anniversary of that event to recognize those who showed us the way. It was a very moving and powerful conference.
During the following years, MsC continued its growth and has fully become the welcoming home of our community. But when it was became clear that we were not welcome anymore in Silver Spring, we immediately called Mr. Earl Raven – who was our esteemed manager in Silver Spring for two conferences. He was extremely interested in having us here in this two-hotel complex. For the first time in ten years, we have not one but two hotels exclusively for us. All this means that the future is looking great.
As the executive producer of this event, I am so proud of the men and women who staff and volunteer for this event. They are professionals. They are dedicated. They share the vision.
But over everything else, MsC is about you… our attendees. You have made it possible. You have made it a success. You have made it yours. MsC is your event. MsC is your home. Without you, this would not be possible. You have made MsC the place for education, networking and history.
You have made MsC the premier event on Master/slave relationships.
Thank you very much.
Click here to read Master Skip Chasey;s Speech
CONFESSIONS OF A CONFERENCE JUNKIE
Ten Years of M/sC: A Personal Reflection
Hi, my name is Skip, and I’m an M/sC junkie.
When I attended the very first Master/slave Conference, I didn’t think I’d get hooked. Indeed, much of that weekend was not to my liking, so much so that after getting my fix, I thought I’d simply slip away. But clearly I underestimated its potential for addiction because, as you’ve already heard, I have not only attended every M/sC to date, I’ve presented and otherwise participated in each and every one as well. Yes, I’m afraid it’s true: I’ve got a monkey with a Muir Cap on my back, and it appears that I’m powerless to stop.
And it is because of that flimsy achievement that I was deemed qualified to offer you what the producers believed would be an informed perspective on the M/sC from the outside in. I accepted their invitation, but then, as if to quickly prove them wrong, as I reflected on the past ten years of this conference all I came up with was a bunch of disjointed anecdotes. Feeling certain that stealing the evening’s focus and boring everyone by recounting the highlights of my M/sC experiences’and there have been many, to be sure (including another one last night) was not what Master Taino, Sir Stephen and Lady Lynette had in mind, I forced myself to keep at it, and I’m happy to report that I was ultimately able to edit my thoughts into a fairly concise assessment, one that I hope is largely transpersonal as well. That said, as with all memory plays, the boundary between facts and feelings has no doubt blurred over time, and your mileage may vary.
So, with that as a preamble, let me begin by saying that it’s no secret the inspiration for this conference was the Seventh International Master and slave Weekend Contest that took place in Atlanta, Georgia in March of 1999. That event, which has become affectionately known as MAsT ’99’, was the first-ever and for a few years, the only weekend conference devoted entirely to D/s relationships. Master Taino, whom by now you all know was present at that conference, was not the only person to leave MAsT ’99’ with the desire to replicate on his home turf what he had experienced there. Since then at least two other annual conferences have been created for the purpose of providing social and educational opportunities for those engaged in primary relationships rooted in consensual dominance and submission: Together in Leather, a wonderful weekend conference that took place in Charlotte, North Carolina from 2003 through 2005, and South Plains Leatherfest/International Master-slave Weekend, the granddaddy of the entire M/s contest and conference circuit, which takes place each March in Dallas, Texas. But Together in Leather is sadly just a memory, and SPLF/IMsW offers an SM track in addition to its newer, terrific educational track specifically designed for Masters and slaves.
The Master/slave Conference is unique in that, like MAsT ’99’, its sole focus is M/s-D/s relationships, and it is currently, as far as I know, the only weekend conference that can
legitimately make that claim. The fact that the M/sC has not only survived, but thrived, despite such a narrow offering, is, I believe, a testimony to both the vision of its founder and to how well its producers have successfully responded to the specialized needs of a remarkably divergent constituency. Of course, there’s also the fact that U.S. geography is significantly more compact on this side of the country, and with nearly a dozen states within a day’s drive of the conference, one can’t spit without hitting a MAsT chapter.
The success of the M/sC is even more surprising when you take into account its rather rocky start. As I alluded to in my introduction, the first Master/slave Conference was far from the well-oiled machine we’ve all come to expect. Now it may be that my objectivity was compromised in that slave Alia, who happened to be working in DC at the time, took on the role of ‘Project Advisor’ for the first two years of the conference, and her behind-the-scenes reports were occasionally alarming. Whatever the case, I recall M/sC #1 being plagued by a number of logistical snafus, the bulk of which can likely be chalked up to inexperience. Were it not for the assemblage of seasoned presenters that Master Taino persuaded to participate that first year that stepped in and unobtrusively guided he and his team across the unexpected rough seas that were threatening to capsize the conference’s maiden voyage, I doubt there would have ever been a second sailing. In any case, there would have most certainly been fewer repeat passengers.
But I’ve come here not to bury M/sCaesar, but to praise him, and so let me say here and now that one of the greatest strengths of the M/sC producing team has been its ability to learn from past mistakes. Does anyone actually miss the slave auction? Because of that, and because of its dedicated and exceedingly competent staff and an amazingly stable group of core volunteers, the M/sC has in less than a decade become arguably the most well-produced D/s relationship conference in the country, if not the world.
Clearly, I’m not the only one who holds that opinion, since in 2012 the Master/slave Conference was a finalist for the Pantheon of Leather Large Event of the Year Award. So what does the M/sC have now that it didn’t have then? Well, for starters there’s an attention to detail that’s second to none. Take the exceedingly respectful and considerate manner in which it treats its presenters and judges, for example. From the initial invitation to the periodic updates, the chauffeured rides to and from the airport, the cheery hotel check-in assistance, the exceptionally well-stocked lounge, the wind-down party at the conclusion of the conference, and the handwritten thank you notes sent a week or two later, every effort is made to insure that they feel truly valued and appreciated. Heck, slave catherine even takes Xeroxes the handouts for every presentation, and then makes sure that each stack of handouts is delivered to the correct classroom at the correct time!
And how about the glossy program book, that sets such a grand tone for the weekend? And the additional paper programs for each evening’s event, which add an extra touch of class? And the specialized social gatherings that take place throughout the weekend, so that the youngsters, oldsters, singles and queers in attendance all feel recognized and included? And the various 12-step meetings, interfaith services and drumming circles that are scheduled, to inject a spiritual element for those so inclined? As I said, the attention to detail is staggering.
Then there’s the fact that, unlike nearly every other conference that falls somewhere within the BDSM acronym, the Master/slave Conference actually has a closing ceremony. That may seem like a small thing, but as a grief specialist I will tell you that when this type of transcendental retreat is over and we’re faced with returning to what I often hear called ‘the real world’, I don’t know about you, but to me this is more of a real world than almost anything I experience out there’when that moment occurs it’s a loss. The way in which the M/sC producers consciously bring this conference to a close not only puts a lovely ribbon around the entire weekend, it helps to mitigate the grief we might otherwise experience and instead leaves us feeling whole and complete.
And, of course, there’s the expanded and expansive educational program. At the first M/sC there were 38 workshops and panel discussions; this year there are 81. Nowhere will you find a greater amount of practical information on power exchange and authority- based relationships made available to you, in real time, directly from those who, for the most part, have the requisite knowledge and the hard-won experience that makes what they have to say worth your time and attention, than right here. That said, it goes without saying that quantity does not always equal quality, and with such a tremendous number of slots to fill, the wheat-to-chaff ratio has occasionally been less than ideal. Even so, the curriculum put together by the M/sC during each of the past ten years has been an invaluable resource for those starting out, or at a crossroads, on their journeys as Masters and slaves, and I know for a fact that it has sometimes made the difference between their pulling together or packing it in.
And as for the rest of us? Well, it may be that, with the organized M/s community half- way through its second decade of existence, and there now being a significant percentage of community members who no longer receive adequate nourishment from the diet of D/s 101 and occasionally 201 presentations that makes up the bulk of our various workshop menus, an overhaul of the educational component of all of our conferences is in order. If so, who better than the M/sC to lead the way? I certainly have some ideas in that regard, and I’m willing to share them with the event producers should they ever so desire, but you know what? It doesn’t really matter. I don’t for a moment believe that the workshops, the program book, the special interest groups, the hotel, the contest particularly not the contest or any of the other tangible elements I previously touched upon is the ultimate reason why any of us makes this annual summer pilgrimage to our nation’s capital, nor do I believe it’s the surprising friendships we’ve, the unexpected relationships we’ve begun, or the true fellowship we’ve experienced that keeps us coming back to the M/sC year and after year, as important as those things may be. No, the real reason we come, I’m absolutely certain, is because of how we feel when we are here.
None of us, no matter how well adjusted, self-actualized or Self-realized we might be, is immune to the steady bombardment of negative projection, both subtle and overt, we receive from a society that thus far is unwilling to recognize our esoteric relationships as simply just another facet of the many-sided jewel that is humankind. Here at the M/sC, for a few glorious days, the world as we know it is populated entirely by our kind, and the boost that gives to our battle weary self-esteem cannot be over-calculated. The exhilarating sense of possibility that permeates the M/sC parallels that which we who attended MAsT ’99’ also experienced, and so it may be that the M/sC’s greatest success has been proving that, in this case at least, you can go home again. That’s why everyone wordlessly banded together that first year to make sure this conference put its best foot forward: we did it because of how being here makes us feel.
By the way, for those of you who have not yet made this discovery, please don’t think that you’ll find a similar sense of belonging at the more generic kink events available to you or to anyone who has a hundred bucks and an open weekend on their calendar. As I stated in a previous address, we are the outsiders among the outsiders, and because of the heightened scrutiny we receive from the powers that be and make no mistake, we who engage in authority-based relationships are considered substantially more suspect than our kinky-only-in-the-bedroom brethren because of that heightened scrutiny, many in the larger leather/fetish/BDSM community would like nothing better than to sever the familial ties that bind us. As an aside, I can’t help but think that the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom’s decision to recruit some creditable members of the Master/slave community and finally revisit their ‘SM vs. Abuse’ policy statement a couple of years ago, is due at least in part to the visibility and success of the Master/slave Conference. Their position when it comes to ‘us’ still has a long way to go, in my opinion, but the fact that the M/sC takes place in the NCSF’s backyard makes me hopeful that their D/s consciousness will continue to be raised.
Finally, no summarization of this conference would be complete without my at least briefly mentioning Master Taino’for me the two are inseparable. I must confess that when I first met him, which may have been at MAsT ’99’ but in any event was definitely a few years before the M/sC was launched, I wasn’t sure that I liked him. To me, he came across as arrogant, perhaps a bit misogynistic and, when it came to cute, young slaveboys, if not actually a predator then certainly an opportunist. But as I got to know him I realized that first impressions are often wrong, mine certainly was–and a friendship developed between us, one that has deepened and strengthened over the years. I’ve come to respect his integrity, admire his perseverance and, most importantly bear witness to the love and compassion he displays, not just for his slaves or his leather and bio-families, but for all of us whose lives are destined to entwine with his. Sir, at the risk of appearing patronizing, as one whom you’ve often referred to as your ‘brother,’ I want you to know that to the degree the M/sC has grown and developed, so have you. We have all seen it. My impression of you today is that there is little that separates us when it comes to what I believe makes for a good Master, or, for that matter, a very good man.
So, Master Taino, it is because of the respect that I hold for you and the love that I have for you that I must apologize for the unkind name I called you lo those many years ago. For those who may not know to what I’m referring, the story goes back to M/sC 2006’ which shall forever be known as the year of the kilt. (You didn’t really think you’d get away without at least one anecdote, did you)?
Now, some of you have already heard this story, and a few of you were actually there, so I’ll endeavor to make this brief. Unlike today, when kilt-wearing leathermen are as ubiquitous as Hawaiian shirts and sneakers at a pansexual play party, in 2005 a leatherman wearing a kilt was a fairly extraordinary sight. But having seen one, I wanted one, and so I commissioned the Utilikilt company to custom make for me a dress kilt entirely out of full grain, vegetable tanned, 3 1⁄2-ounce black cowhide. If you don’t know much about leather, 3 1⁄2 ounces is fairly heavy, but I knew it would insure that the kilt would have the all-important ‘swish’ factor we kilt-wearers treasure. (You’re making up your own jokes now).
That kilt remains to date the most expensive piece of leather I own, and I own a fair amount of custom-made leather. But it was worth it in that it looked hot, and I looked hot in it, and it helped me stand out from the crowd, and I couldn’t wait to show it off to my leather family and friends.
It was at IML 2005 that I first wore the kilt publicly, and the reactions it garnered were all positive. Throughout the year and into the next, I continued to wear it at our community events, turning heads whenever I did. Then, in February of ’06, at South Plains Leatherfest, it got back to me that Master Taino had taken exception to my kilt, reportedly declaring that leathermen should not wear a skirt. When later that weekend providence arranged for the two of us to be washing our hands, side-by-side, in the hotel men’s room, I took the opportunity to good-naturedly question him about what I’d been told. “So, my friend,” I said, as we locked eyes in the mirror, “I hear that that you don’t like my kilt, is that right?” Master Taino’s face made it clear that he knew he’d been busted, and he smiled somewhat uncomfortably. “Well, you know,” he sputtered, “I don’t really have a problem, it’s just that…” “It’s okay,” I said, without letting him finish, “everyone is entitled to their opinion. But you know, the boys seem love it, and I bet you’ll soon be wearing one, too.” He laughed and said something like “That will never happen,” and I then laughed in return. “We’ll see,” I countered, as we finished drying our hands, and we then both went our separate ways.
I pretty much forgot about our exchange until later than year when, while strolling through the vendor fair at the Master/slave Conference, providence once again smiled upon me. There it was, hanging all alone on a sales rack: a brand new leather kilt in what appeared to be Master Taino’s size. Struck deliciously wicked inspiration, I quickly purchased the kilt, and at a discount, having explained to the vendor that it was to be a ‘gift’ for Master Taino. I then spent the rest of the afternoon quietly enlisting the help of nearly a dozen of his peers, fellow Masters whom I knew he looked up to, and, to a man, each agreed to assist me. I stashed the kilt inside the podium before the evening’s onstage events began, and then pulled the emcee aside to explain that we were making a slight change in the program. After instructing in the role he was about to play, I quietly took a seat and the crowd filed in.
When the moment arrived, it was announced that a special presentation would now be made, and the emcee called me to the podium. With at least half of us clad in our kilts I and my co-conspirators rose as one, made our way down the aisle and mounted the stage. Taking a microphone, I turned to the audience, and with the rest of the group standing behind me, I invited Master Taino to join us. The ‘oh shit’ look on his face was priceless. He knew mischief was afoot. When he arrived beside me the emcee pulled out the hidden kilt, and I tauntingly threw down the gauntlet. “Master Taino,” I said, “I know you think it’s unseemly for a leatherman to wear a kilt, but I and your brother Masters categorically disagree. This kilt is for you, and if you don’t put it on, right here, right now, then you’re a pussy!”
As you might well imagine, the audience roared their approval. Blushing with embarrassment, but clearly enjoying the joke, Master Taino accepted the dare. He snatched the kilt out of my hands, disappeared behind the backdrop and, seconds later, reemerged wearing it…he was wearing the kilt over his jeans. “Well played, Sir, well played”: game, set and match.
The following year, at M/sC 2007, Master Taino again wore his kilt, this time without pants, purportedly as part of a fundraiser. That night, a new tradition was born, and at each M/sC thereafter he’s made it a point to wear his kilt, with obvious delight, I might add, at least one night of the weekend. I’m happy to see that the tradition continues. So, my friend, I was wrong, and I apologize you are no pussy, but clearly you are my bitch.
And with that, folks, let’s raise a glass and toast ten most excellent years. To Master Taino, the board of directors, the executive committee, the department heads, the rest of the M/sC Staff and all of the many volunteers: thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! We can’t wait to see what you’ll have in store for us at M/sC 2014!