INTERVIEW: Becoming Mr Rubber UK - A journey to self-discovery.
06 September 2021
I'm sure you've heard this question a thousand times, but let's make this your 1001. We've all asked a Title holder, at least once.. What made you enter the Mr Rubber UK contest?
The contest was suggested to me by some close friends. I'd never considered anything like this before as I thought I was maybe too old, or not fit enough, so I was a little nervous and hesitant. However, after reading a bit more into it, and seeing what other Titleholders did with their role, it really spoke to me. I was doing it to have a great time, do my very best, and hopefully find a platform for a charity project I really wanted to do called Geartunes Live. I entered the competition not really knowing what it fully involved, but you need to take random chances and be spontaneous. That's my profile name, and my mindset… Life is adventure.
Were your friends supportive of your decision? Did they think you'd win?
Yes, they were, they were incredibly supportive. It was a really lovely time. I don't believe anyone should go into something thinking they'll own it, win it, or have a pushy attitude. You just end up looking like an arrogant prick. Just be yourself, have fun with it, and whatever happens, it'll be a great day. I loved the fact that the win was a total surprise for me.
Body anxiety is something that so many of us struggle with. I think I'd probably be terrified that I didn't have the right body type to be in a contest, let alone to be chosen as a winner. Did you have any anxiety about your own body?
Firstly, everyone has the right body to do a competition like this. Secondly, I have anxiety about my body every single day. In my 20's, I was stick thin. When you get a little older, and your hair falls out, and the belly appears, you do get very self-conscious, but it's just another part of your life and it should be celebrated.
In 2012, I lost my voice for over a year due to a rare voice condition, and a little later, I found out I was HIV poz, and both shook me to the core. I felt like I'd lost my entire identity and hid myself away for several years. It was the kindness of friends and the rubber community that gave me back the confidence to try and become a new and better me. I'll always be thankful for that.
Did you find a real sense of Brotherhood? Or is the behind-the-scenes stories and myths we hear about contestants and contest politics all true?
Ooooh, now there's a deep question, but I hate to break your illusion of divas and tantrums, it wasn't like that at all, it was so much fun.
We all had a really great time, both at Mr Rubber UK, and at MIR in Chicago. Sure, there might be a few bruised egos for some competitors, but it's all done in really good spirit, and if you embrace it for what it is, you'll be fine. There are incredible people to support you all the way, and the contestants definitely supported each other. Really great friendships have been formed because of it, and one of my fellow UK Contestants is now a really close friend, and we've done a lot of events together since.
Did you think YOU'D win? What did winning feel like?
I can honestly say, no, I didn't think I'd win, but I still hoped. We were all different in so many ways. I was out of my comfort zone, away from my hometown, and just happy to be taking part. I went there with a plan to have some fun and be proud of who I am as a rubberman. The rest fell into place.
Winning did feel incredible though. I can vividly remember the precise moment when my name was announced. I don't think I've ever smiled so much. I was dripping with sweat, coated in rubber, showered with glitter, it was insane. Pure and utter joy. That feeling was followed later in the day with, "wait… what just happened?", and by 2am at the Recon Full Fetish Party with, "Ohhhh myyyyy godddddddd, I'm so tired". But what a day. Thank you to everyone who organised, and supported it.
It's unfortunate that some Title Holders can get quite a lot of abuse on social media. What was your experience like?
On the whole, it's been awesome, from 99.999999% of the fetish community. There has been so much love and support, it was something I never expected.
Online trolling has now become an easy route for people that have internal issues, to vent their frustrations, to hide their own failings, or feelings of jealousy, in a really cowardly manner. We see everyday how it drives people to depression and suicide, or living in sadness and solitude. It's a demon of the modern age, but we absolutely shouldn't let their vile behaviour put us off our own goals, loves, or desires.
I never spoke out about my experience being trolled, but it hit me hard. However, thanks to my incredible and true friends, it became a small insignificant part of Mr Rubber UK role. A good friend once told me… "Shine. Shine as you are. If someone tries to take your shine away, just move to another place and keep shining brightly".
Going into MIR – Mr International Rubber, was it at all daunting, that you'd be representing the UK, not just on stage for yourself?
Yes, of course it was daunting. I'd never been to an event on such a scale before, but to be able to go to one of my favourite cities, and to be surrounded by some of my absolute rubber heroes, it was one of the most wonderful times on my MRUK journey.
I don't think you can think about carrying the entire UK, it would be too stressful, just go and give your absolute best. Although I travelled there alone, there were so many messages of support and love, and I knew the UK was with me.
The COVID-19 pandemic meant that a lot of contests were cancelled or delayed, meaning that you've had to carry the title for another year. What was that like for you? Easy? Or a burden?
Yeah, that was a surprise. I'd already got my exit plan in place for July, when the next competition should have been. I'd booked my international trips, and organised Geartunes Live! into venues across the country. Then everything changed.
Although it felt strange, we managed to do 3 Geartunes shows online, and I also set up some regular Zoom "Check ins" with a lifecoach, and Mr Leather UK, where anyone could join us and chat about what was happening in their lockdown world. They were both really enjoyable projects to be a part of.
We all got together and showed that we're survivors, no matter what life throws at us. I loved that extra year to be honest. It allowed me to breathe, refocus, explore, and rediscover what I'd learnt over that first crazy, but incredible, year. I was very lucky to have travelled to Berlin, Chicago, Barcelona, and Milan, plus many UK events before the world locked down, and I'll always look back and smile.
Are you looking forward to passing on the torch?
Yes, absolutely. The competition needs to come back. Since I won over two years ago, I've had the opportunity to meet and chat to so many awesome people in our UK rubber world, and have some incredible experiences myself. I can't wait for someone new to be able to have the chances I did, to travel, to explore, and to make lifelong memories.
What would you say is the most important thing you've learned, about yourself, as a Title Holder?
These last 2 years have been the most incredible, uplifting, strengthening time for me, and that's all thanks to the people around me. You've taught me to be proud of who I am, stand tall, and smile. We all have unique flaws, but together we're incredibly strong.
Prior to winning, I'd definitely misjudged one set of people in our fetish world - Titleholders. I had an idea of who they were, from what I'd seen and heard. The first titleholder I ever met looked past me as if I didn't matter, and that really hurt. I promised there and then that I would never want anyone else to feel like that. I truly hope I didn't.
Thankfully, all of the titleholders I've met over the last 2 years are truly incredible people. Misconceptions shattered, that was just a one-off. We've all adored having our roles, we all panic that we're not doing enough, and we all want to help each other as much as we can. It was an honour to be in such inspiring company. I also promise you this, come find me, or us anytime, and we'll always spend time with you.
What is the biggest challenge you think the rubber community faces today?
Kindness. Please don't judge someone for "the wrong brand" or "oh god, have you seen that, their rubber is too baggy, or not shiny enough". All of these so-called influencers should be raising people's morale, not shattering it.
Everyone is at a totally different stage of their own rubber journey. Everyone has different budgets. Elitist fashion feels no sexier than anything else. It's the feeling within us, that mindset, and the fire and passion that counts.
Also, when you get the chance, share your gear, don't squander it. Teach, mentor, and help others on their journey. That's what our community needs more of.
What was your biggest accomplishment in the 2 years that you've had the title?
I think there are definitely two defining moments for me.
Firstly, "Geartunes Live". It's a wild mix of Broadway showtunes, and gear-wearing performers, who may not have had the confidence or the opportunity to get on stage before. It's a really fun night. Together we raised around £4,500 for several UK LGBTQ+ charities, including Mesmac, HIV Scotland, THT, and Switchboard LGBT.
The second thing I'm really proud of, is introducing new people to the world of rubber. Friends, acquaintances, people who weren't sure, or not confident enough. To see them take the plunge, get dressed in gear, and to see how it makes them feel. The change in them moving forward is a wonderful thing.
Where do we see you next?
Since lockdown ended, I've focused on friends, family, and special playmates, and living week by week. I had a wonderful gear outing in Glasgow recently, and I'll be in London and Manchester at some point soon, most likely with impromptu nights out.
Internationally, it's still early for me to commit to many events, but I've booked to go to the Barcelona Rubber Weekend in November, and as I'm producing a special "Geartunes Live!" show for Darklands Antwerp in May 2022, I'll definitely see you there.
Ok. Ok. We always hear… "Title holders never have sex after they win". Tell me EVERYTHING! I want to believe that that sash got you laid. A LOT!!! Don't leave out any juicy details. Hahaha
Honestly, whoever told you that is a downright liar! Although I do feel like I'm breaking a Magic Circle secret. Yes, there was less sex at times, because of the events and travel, but I can honestly say that I've had the very best experiences since winning. It's opened my eyes to a huge array of fetishes and desires that I wouldn't have experienced before, and it's made me more inquisitive, more confident, and much more filthy. While most of the UK was making Banana Bread during the first lockdown, I was constructing Scaffolding framework and purchasing far too many accessories. For which, I thank you. But honestly, yes, we do all have sex. Muchly. A lot. Oodles. Ha ha ha.
Final words of wisdom for anyone else that might be considering entering a contest.
Things in life can happen unexpectedly. A wonderful journey can start and you'll have no idea where it's going to take you, go with it. Sometimes, walls can be put up and you think there's no way round them, but keep going, never give up, and never let others put you off your goals and your desires. Be proud of who you are right now, and enjoy every single second. Be inspired, not influenced, and share your wonderful uniqueness with the world.
Surround yourself with kind, uplifting people, and as my good friend said "Shine!". Let's be kind to each other, and keep remembering we're all in this crazy world together, for the rest of our insane, wonderful lives. So let's enjoy it, and never ever forget, life is an adventure.