AIS, COPE, Winter Wickedness & The Three F's
guest author Mollena
Thursday Aug 11, 2011
Yep, I'm going back for more COPE. It will be my third AIS event. There are lots of reasons for that, but I'd like to tell you about the main reason, and THAT has to do with The Three F's.
I travel. A lot. To kink, BDSM, Leather and alternative lifestyle events. I've been to hundreds of them in the past fifteen or so years. Friends will often say “Mo, you crazy bitch. What the fuck are you doing running around to all of these events? Don't they all blur together after a while?” And to them I say “Fuck off. I have a hotel room fetish, and I can't get enough.” Which is true. But wait! There's more.
Its like this: each event has its own fuel, its own focus, its own flavor, and there are many factors that shape that. I'm easily amused and very curious, so I walk into every event asking myself “What makes this one different?” and sometimes, there are precious few things to add to the list. From massive events with a few thousand attendees where I'm standing in front of a packed room to smaller events where I have maybe eight people gathered quietly together, I am always open to whatever may happen when kinky folks gather together to share space and energy.
I can say I had little in the way of expectations when I replied to a “call for Presenters” from a group called AIS. Seemed a pretty standard situation:mid-sized con, general kink focus, yadda. A couple of my presenter buddies mentioned that they'd been out to present for AIS and were universally very positive on their experience. “Cool, then it probably won't totally suck.” I thought.
My trip to Columbus was...fraught. I lost my wallet, had to fly stand-by, arrived 12 hours late and cranky as fuck, but I was greeted with warmth, and I was well cared for. I noticed immediately that all of the people working the event were friendly, and helpful, and introduced themselves personally, asking if there was anything that they could do to ease the rough trip I'd had and letting me know how to find them if I needed help. “What is this, some kind of fucking cult?” I wondered. But no, it was that first F, and that's Family. The people who make AIS happen are Family for one another. As I observed in that first event, and have grown to know, they pull together in a way that is amazing. Barak and brat_sheba have done a remarkable job in bringing together people who care about their community, and about one another. And you can't fake that.
In my first few hours at the con, I ran into some old friends...Friends being the second F. There were a bunch of presenters I knew and some friends who'd come in for this con. I though it was interesting that people chose this one to attend, and a few of them explained that Winter Wickedness and COPE were events they went to on their off time. Just to enjoy themselves without pressure. That caught my imagination. Part of the reason was that you always knew you'd find a friend here, and if you didn’t find an old friend, it was almost impossible not to make new ones. And I did, too! And some of them are people I now care for, very deeply.
The rest of the weekend brought together the third F, and that was the ridiculous amount of Fun I had, Whether it was fucking around in the dining hall and getting mooned by Fifth Angel or being serially molested in the halls or having Lochai and Ava Amnesia subvert my Key Lime Pie or having SherynB and LittleLuna push me under the bus...repeatedly...or gossiping in the lounge over midnight snack time with Michael Sol or randomly pinching Lqqkout's adorable butt...or or or...
I could go on, but I won't. Suffice to say, I had a blast. At the end of the weekend Barak let me know that I was welcome to come back to the next AIS event as a guest, and that he and Sheba were glad I could make it.
Do you know how often event producers invite presenters back, as guests...for free, just to visit? OK, they just don't. It isn't a policy that event producers have. But Barak and Sheba have made a point of treating presenters well. Like...well. Like Friends and Family. Which makes for a Fun time.
So, if you're going to COPE, I'll see you there. And if you're going to Winter Wickedness, I’ll probably see you there, too. Because finding a place where you can let your hair down and have fun and make friends, and be treated like family is a beautiful, rare and precious thing.
And fuck it...y'all have Krema Nut Factory Buckeyes.