Leather Education: Leather and Cigars

Cigar lounges the world over are filled with people of disparate backgrounds and opinions, but their passion for cigars transcends politics and other barriers that would otherwise separate them.  Among these enthusiasts are a significant number of Leatherfolx who continue to add to the long history of cigar smoking within the Leather community.  As an activity that simultaneously celebrates the individual and creates a kinship centered on this passion, cigars serve several functions for us.  They are a hobby, a fetish, a tool for play, and confer status upon those who are knowledgeable about them and skilled in their uses.  In this video which showcased at BV Online 2020, Fred gives us an introduction to the world of cigars; and Sir Badge, Alice, and Rebel show us some of the fun to be had with cigar service.  Enjoy!

A Review of BV Online by Miss Velvet Steele

Attendees at Beyond Vanilla Online on October 3, 2020, were treated to a smorgasbord of kinky information and fun conversation.  A couple of classes had wow moments that got us excited and ready for more.  Master TC ended his Negotiation class with a demo that left us all reaching for our fans and praying to our gods the scene actually happens when we are nearby, and Doctor Bubbles and KitKat Ann’s look at Fear Play culminated with a surprise mini scene that clearly demonstrated the difference between surprise and suspense.  Beginning our journey in exploring the gender spectrum, Maverick introduced us to some of their friends who showed us unequivocally that one’s parts do not always define one’s gender and that assumptions based on appearances can be way off base.  Lee Harrington’s thought provoking exploration of Intentional Relationship Design was interwoven with his signature melange of spiritual appreciation and pragmatic application.

Throughout the day, classes alternated with pre-recorded videos to keep the educational opportunities going.  Butterscotch’s enthusiasm for tea service shined brightly as she walked us through her take on tea.  Ursus’ demonstration of a bar shine gave us a glimpse into the world of the bootblacking, offering something for those interested in being a bootblack, as well as those who seek out their service.  Fred illuminated the world of cigars and cigar service for attendees, information that was later put to good use at the post-event hybrid virtual and in-person Beyond Vanilla After Dark.  Before we were off to enjoy our own cigars, though, we were treated to illusions and comedy by the inimitable Hardy Haberman.

Thanks to the Beyond Vanilla committee for producing this wonderful event.  I walked away more informed, having met some new folkx, and ready to put what I learned into action.  Now I can’t wait for Beyond Vanilla XXX, October 1-3, 2021!  Registration is available at BeyondVanilla.org.    – Miss Velvet Steele

Contests and Title Holders: Texas Power Exchange (TXPE)

Seeking Contestants! Apply Today!!

The Texas Power Exchange Contest (TXPE) is kicking off its inaugural year on October 10, 2020.  Producers Malcolm and Master John are thrilled to be bringing this new contest to Dallas because it embraces such a wide swath of our community and promotes education about the myriad of possibilities in power exchange dynamics.  Open to those over 21 regardless of gender or sexual preference, all flavors of mature (1+ years) power exchange pairs/triads/poly/families are invited to compete, limited to 3 representatives from a poly family.  Because of a strong commitment to the health and safety of all contestants, judges, volunteers and attendees, logistics are still in the planning stages.   

TXPE contestants will be judged in four areas:  an educational presentation in which contestants demonstrate their ability to communicate effectively and educate about their specific dynamic, a demo/fantasy in which contestants will be invited to present a scene or scenario that involves their power dynamic, a closed interview with the judges, and their overall presentation during the contest.  With fundraising assistance from TXPE, the selected titleholders will have the opportunity to present demos and classes to educate others about their dynamic in venues across the country, and they will go on to compete in the International Power Exchange Contest at Beyond Leather in May of 2021.   

When asked what made this educational title special, Malcolm and Master John had this to say:  “The Texas Power Exchange Contest celebrates the wonderful diversity of power exchange dynamics found within our community, both those that identify as leather and those that do not.  From Owner/property to Taken in Hand to Sir/Ma’am and boy/boi/girl/little and everything in between, we have much to teach each other and much to celebrate.” 

Beyond Vanilla Online October 2020

Beyond Vanilla is excited to announce the first ever Beyond Vanilla Online, to be held on October 3, 2020, as an added benefit for Beyond Vanilla XXX ticketholders.  As we announced previously, Beyond Vanilla XXX has been postponed until October 1-3, 2021, but the need for physical distancing hasn’t diminished our interest in kink!  BV XXX ticketholders will have the opportunity to attend a one-day online conference where we will explore topics such as fear play, gender, and intentional relationship design.  Keep an eye on Facebook and Fetlife, where we’ll be announcing our exciting lineup soon.  In the meantime, head on over to beyondvanilla.org to get your Early Bird ticket so you can join us at BV Online next month and BV XXX next year.

We look forward to seeing you at 

BV Online on October 3, 2020 and at BV XXX in 2021!

Beyond Vanilla – A History In The Making

Beyond Vanilla is a multi-day event in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex celebrating its 30th year in 2020!  In 1984, as the AIDS crisis was gaining momentum, a men’s BDSM group called the Disciples of de Sade was founded. They began holding seminars in the small meeting room in the back of the Dallas Gay Alliance, with 15 – 20 people in attendance. Through the years, the presentations grew, moved locations, and became known as Beyond Vanilla.  In 1990, it was turned over to the then young club, NLA-Dallas, who has grown and shaped it to what we know today. 

What began as a safe sex workshop has evolved into an educational conference about how to do what we do safely and consensually, with the primary focus on newer community members.

Through the years, Beyond Vanilla has also served as the host to several contests for Bootblacks, the Pup community, to include International Pup/Handler, and Great Plains Olympus Leather.  This year, Beyond Vanilla is excited to welcome the Inaugural Texas Power Exchange Contest (TXPE), which is planned as a feeder into the International Power Exchange Contest hosted by Beyond Leather.  

TXPE is an inclusive contest open to power exchange relationships of any kind, established for at least one year. Contestants can be individuals, couples, or a triad of representatives of a poly power exchange relationship of any size. 

Please note that Beyond Vanilla is committed to an anti-racist culture and has a zero-tolerance policy on racism and bigotry. Diversity and Inclusion are more than just words for us; they guide our approach to community and education as we welcome, embrace, and protect all participants, especially BIPOC, all colors of the Pride rainbow, and all flavors of kink. Our name, after all, is Beyond Vanilla!

Master TC ready to roll at Beyond Vanilla
Master TC ready to roll at Beyond Vanilla

Beyond Vanilla 23 Review by griffin’s girl

Author: griffin’s girl

This year I went to a place I’ve never been… in more ways than one. Beyond Vanilla (BV). Master and I have been out in the Dallas/Fort Worth community for almost two years now. Last year we were aware of BV, but had a scheduling conflict. This year, no scheduling conflict meant we could finally be BV virgins!

I’m not an event virgin by any stretch of the imagination, having attended many previous events… SPLF, SELF, local special events, and fresh from Master/slave Conference (MsC) in August. I plan domestic and international events as a part of my day job, and have been involved in putting together a few local events, including Bridging the Slash, subHaven’s annual educational relationship weekend. So I have some event experience attending, volunteering and planning, both vanilla and kink.

It took us a while to finally decide to register for BV. We waited patiently for the announcement of speakers and classes. While some definitely sounded interesting, we were still on the fence. Master finally decided we would go… mainly for the classes, and in support of our friends who would be competing in the Great Plains Olympus contest. We were too late to purchase dinner tickets, and did not plan to attend the play party, so we stuck with the basic weekend package with a discount thanks to our NLA Dallas membership. I signed up to volunteer as well.

I arrived on Friday around 1:30 PM (conveniently rode the DART rail into downtown to avoid State Fair parade traffic). Classes had already started, so I went to the registration room first to grab my wristband and run bag before heading to one of the classes I’d been looking forward to. Not sure if it was due to an onslaught of people earlier or what, but not a single person welcomed me to the event. Not a security person, not a staff member, not a volunteer. There were no signs indicating which line was for pre-registered attendees, on-site registration, etc. even though it was clear there were multiple lines. It was a little awkward, but after asking a couple of people I was able to grab my stuff, figure out where the room was and got ready to immerse myself in learning. (A side note here… I was very grateful for the large map at the entrance since the rooms had been renamed. While the room names added to the ambiance, the hotel’s maps and directional signs were useless as a result.)

The first class I attended was Master Todd & slave elizabeth’s class “A slave’s guide to screwing up with grace.” I LOVED this class! slave elizabeth is bubbly and entertaining, and Master Todd… well, when he pipes up, he has masterful insight to impart! I took away so much from this class that has helped me to grant myself the grace I need to accept that I don’t have to be the uber slave that I think I see in others, when the truth is, we all screw up… even the uber slaves!

Next on my agenda was the cigar play class with Master Konrad and slave jazz. This class was at the pool area, and apparently no one told the presenters, volunteers, or anyone else that there was a classroom area set up around the corner from the pool in a semi-private area. It actually worked out for the best, because we took over a couple of the cabanas and slave jazz was able to disrobe for part of the demo without being seen from the hotel windows. It was great to be able to have cigar smoking at a cigar class, and live, interactive demos instead of just a discussion when the class has to be indoors. Kudos to the organizers for having this available!

Due to other commitments we were unable to stay for the burlesque show on Friday night, but I heard it was fabulous! 🙂

Saturday morning started bright and early with Miss Amy’s erotic tea service class. After covering a brief overview of place settings and etiquette, Miss Amy used volunteers to demonstrate the use of human furniture for tea parties. My favorite was the lamp! Very creative! The remaining three quarters of the class time was used for question and answers, and general discussion with the class attendees.

I thoroughly enjoyed Master Jim and slave marsha’s class on “The Calling: Ritual, Ceremony and Spirituality in Master/slave Relationships.” They gave a unique perspective to the spiritual aspect of the M/s dynamic and how it has affected their journey that really resonated with me.

My first volunteer assignment was Sir Dart’s class about fucking up. It wasn’t my first choice (sorry, Sir!), but I’m glad I got “stuck” with it! I mean, face it, everybody fucks up… yes, everybody, even you. The important thing is admitting it and moving forward. After sharing lots, and lots, and lots of ways we all have fucked up, including his own stories, Sir Dart shared tools for overcoming your fuck ups. Not only was the class material top notch, I made a couple of new friends in Sir Dart and his boy.

I’m going to go ahead and address the volunteer experience here. It wasn’t great, for me. I’ll leave it at that. Despite it, I highly recommend that everyone take the opportunity to volunteer at least once at big events. You learn a lot and it’s a great opportunity to give back to the community. I’ll continue to volunteer at the events I attend because it’s a rewarding experience most of the time.

Rounding out the day was the Japanese Tea Ceremony with Tatu. All I have to say is, wow! This was an amazing experience and I appreciate the presenter and volunteers who made this possible. It was something that I won’t forget for many reasons.

We did not purchase tickets to the dinner and keynote speech. However one of the highlights of our weekend was the Great Plains Olympus Leather contest. While I was disappointed in the lack of attendance, the contestants did fantastic and were very entertaining. Lillith Grey was a fantastic hostess/MC. If you missed the contest fantasies and pop questions, don’t miss it next year. Good luck to TC and shy who were crowned Mr. and Ms. Great Plains Olympus Leather.

On Sunday, I was very much looking forward to “Danger, Keep Out” with Master Obsidian and slave namaste. I’ve loved every class that I’ve ever attended from them and this class was no different. Much of what they said really impacted me and where I am in my journey with my Master and our involvement in the community. I appreciate their openness, honesty and candor.

I loved the social lounge and puppy mosh pit. The pups were so much fun to watch and interact with during the weekend, and I know that has really fueled the dialogue about pet play in our community. That is very refreshing to see and hear! The vendor area had a wide variety of goods and services available. I took advantage and bought Master a last minute birthday gift while I was there!

Overall, the weekend was filled with great moments, great memories and great experiences. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone who is interested in furthering their journey and expanding their horizons. Next year promises to be another full weekend of opportunities, and, with a few tweaks, can be even better than ever! As with everything else, this is a reflection of my experience. I encourage you to talk to others who attended and get their perspectives as well. However the only way you’ll know what it’s like for sure, is to make sure you attend in 2014! I hope to see you there!