Competing in the Bear Competition by Master Bear


I ran in the Bear Competition organized by The Albuquerque Leather Daddies. I came in Runner-Up Bear 2019!!  I am so joyous over that!!! I am still flying HIGH!!!

This was my first competition in over 10 years. I excitedly typed up and sent in my application as early as I could. I practiced, and I planned, and I told myself over and over that my ultimate goal was to have fun. The first competition that I won was in 2008 and I took that dead serious. I mean stone cold serious. Everything that I did had the weight of a mountain. Not because that was expected of me, but because that was what I expected of me. This time, I was not going to allow that to happen again. This time was all about the joy. Here is the rundown of what happened that weekend through my still rose collared glasses:

Friday night was the meet and greet at the Eagle. This is a back bar at Sidewinders that is dedicated to the Leather Community. I got there early with my love, as she was vending. I kept watching the clock. At first, I thought “its 30 minutes till and no one’s here”. Then “it’s 15 minutes till and no one’s here”.  Then “it’s five minutes till and no one’s here”. At that point I began to panic, thinking that I was at the wrong bar. Soon after my panic struck people began to trickle in.

I had researched the judges beforehand and was really looking forward to meeting them. The bad news was that I was so nervous I couldn’t remember a single face or bio. When it was time to go back into the Eagle for the meet and greet, I was definitely on edge. I went in, chin up, and I tried introducing myself to one of the judges. Sure enough, all of the wrong stuff spilled out my mouth, and the judge promptly excused himself.  “JUST GREAT!” I thought. I took a deep breath. I reminded myself that I’m a female in a male competition and everybody’s nervous. Also, I’m a competitor so he’s not required to be nice to me.

It wasn’t long after that when International Bear 2018 caught my eye. This man is gorgeous. He towers over the entire room with this elegance and beauty. I walked up to him and embarrassed the hell out of myself.  I said “I like your pretty collar…” then walked away shaking my head and red-faced.

Luckily, at this point, Ruben (one of the Daddies) came over and introduced me to the judges that I had not met. I was very grateful because by then I was very nervous and I had sweat pouring off of me like I was Rocky Balboa screaming “Adrian”.

All of the judges brought this beauty, intensity, and magic to that room. They were also individually stunning, so much so that I kept having to tell myself “don’t look at them inappropriately- cuz you look crazy”.

That night we picked our numbers for the competition. I was number three. Then I got to stand with these two amazingly beautiful pieces of man muscle. I was in Pure Heaven. We got our pictures taken which is always fun. I just was over the moon.

After the official meet and greet and number picking it was time to socialize. From this point forward, all contestants are being judged. I don’t socialize that well. I can do pretty good one to one but I’m not great in a crowd situation. To help with this I gave myself a job. This guided my socialization and went helped calm my nerves.  My job was to get pics of everyone. This “job” helped me move around the crowd with ease, participate in what was happening, and interact easily.

At one point the Den  Daddy (this is the person  that stays with  you backstage,  talks you through  everything, and makes sure you are where you need to  be when  you need to  be there) pulls me aside and says “Do you need a special place?”

I didn’t understand what he was asking. He clarified “Do you need a separate partition?” I giggled and said “no”. Then I thought a minute and said: “Unless these guys are offended by boobs.” He didn’t skip a beat. “I don’t give a fuck if they are, and moreover, I don’t give a fuck if you are offended by dick.”

I laughed so hard! THIS WAS GOING TO BE GOOD!

My love was vending that night. So at one point, there was a crowd of bears around her stand. I just burst with pride. She was answering questions, making people laugh, and being her amazing self.

When we went home that night I slept really well. I had already pre-packed everything that we needed, and when morning came, I felt ready.

Saturday about noon was the lunch. This is another time for us to get to talk with the judge’s, as well as part of the judging. Being a Bear I had my priorities, I was starving. The spread was SO GOOD.  I had a chance to talk with the judges one-on-one and I was blown away by what amazing people they were.

One of the judges knew John Waters and I could not believe it!!  I completely GEEKED out as he was talking about what it was like to watch John Waters movies with John Waters making commentary!!!!!

One of the judges was working on the presentation for the bear competition and we had a chance to discuss the bear flag and a little bit of bear history. Kudos to my love for me even knowing about bear history. When I was prepping my love would quiz me on bear history, and it came in handy! Then I got to have the most amazing conversation with International Bear 2018. Whom, by the way, is brilliant. Dave Rhodes was there. He is an icon in my eyes. I got to ask him a question during his Q&A. It was magic. PURE MAGIC.

After the luncheon, we went and rested for a little bit. Next was the actual competition at Sidewinders. It didn’t start until 8 or 9, but I had a lot to get ready and a lot of people to organize, so we arrived at 6. After some instruction and costuming of my helpers, it was finally time for me to disappear behind the stage.

It turns out that of all of the six competitors, 3 Bear and 3 Cub, no one else had competed before. Out of curiosity, I asked them “what kind of prep did you do?” They all said that they didn’t do prep. This surprised me. The first part of the competition is the casual Bearwear and pop question.

I started asking the Cubs pop questions. One of the Bears came over and said: “you can’t prep for a pop question, you don’t know what the questions are going to be.”  I said “you prep your brain to think fast and concisely. The more that you do it the easier and faster it gets.”

I kept asking questions and they started thinking and answering faster. The more questions that I asked them the quicker their responses came.  As it turned out, one of the Cubs got asked the question on stage that I had asked him backstage. I helped people get dressed. I made sure to clean their shoes. Not all of us could afford boots. Many of us were wearing our shoes from home. I kept a cup of water and a rag beside me. Just the day before I had to clean the horse shit off my boots as I only own one pair of shoes.

My first pop questions were easy. It read “What makes me different from my competitors?”  First I said “a vagina”. Then I said “I have 14 years of organizing in this community. I currently run a group that throws two to three events a month. But the question isn’t what makes me different from my competitors, the question is what makes me the same as my competitors and that is an absolute love for this community.”

After Bearwear and the pop question was physique. This was the only part of the competition that I was nervous about. The men that surrounded me where eye-boggling gorgeous, and I am not. I’m not saying this out of self-deprecation, I’m saying that when you put me beside them, there was an obvious difference.

So to make up for the difference I had help. Mx was ready to come on stage with me, she was wearing an amazing outfit.  On the platter that she held was a bag of peanuts that had been rubber-banded to look like a nut sac with horse hair glued to it, some clothespins, and a six pack of my favorite soda.

As I prepared to walk on the stage for physique and the only thing that ran through my mind was “Go big OR Go home”.

As I was called onto the stage with Mx, and completely impromptu, I started stripping off my shirt. Right about that moment was when I realized I had on my worst bra. Too late now, I ran with it. Before the MC’s could start with the physique I took over the stage.  I said, “I have a gift for the judges”. The MC started to panic, they said very loudly “you can’t bribe the judges. No bribes allowed”.

With Mx beside me, I held up my big bag of hairy nuts and announced that I had included clothespins so the judges can put could put clothespins on my bag of hairy nuts while they stroke my six pack.  At this point, Mx elegantly walked down to the judge’s table, took everything off the tray and then walked over to the side.

Standing there in my very ill-fitting bra, I was asked a second pop question. The last one for the night.  My second question was “if a friend of mine was going to throw a sex party for me for my birthday who all would they invite”.  I said “oh that’s easy because my friend loves me they would send only 2 invitations.  It would be for my love and I would fuck her in half”.

Then they wanted me to strut in front of the judges. I abandoned all humility went up to the judges and started telling them my boobs were like balls but only higher. Then I gave them a big ol shimmy dance. It was one of those life-affirming moments. Where you smile and you laugh with others. Where all you are glows because of the moment.

After physique came the speech. It was 90 seconds. If you the speech is to short or you go over time you can get points off. The speech is supposed to be about your platform, which is what you intend on doing with your title that year.

As I was prepping for my speech I hear mummers in the background. Someone was slightly panicking not realizing that their speech was supposed to represent their platform. As I was talking to one of the Cubs I asked if he would like to run his speech by me. He said sure. Then I asked if he had timed it. He said no. I took out my phone and started to time him. Thirty seconds. He was going to be counted off for having it not long enough, but I withheld that nugget, as he was already under pressure.  Over the next 10 minutes or so I prepped him. I listened to his speech and gave him some advice on some things to add. After a while, he had at least doubled that time.

Then with all seriousness, I paused and said “Don’t move until you see it.” Another Cub jumped up and said “what do you mean?’  I said “you completely own that stage. Command your space and don’t move or speak until you are ready”.

Pretty soon it was time my time to go out for the speech. For me, the speech was the part that weighed the most on my soul. I had gotten together a group of good friends and asked them to join me on the stage. When they called my name all of my friends joined me. Some of them were in amazing costumes and all of them were beautifully dressed. I waited for the crowd to go silent. I took a big breath. This moment, this right there, was a space in time that was a defining moment of my life. This is what I said:

“Everyone has a right to create their own community table. Whom they choose to include is just as significant as whom they choose to exclude. When you look at your community table how many trans- bears, Trans folks, and their allies do you have? How many bears of color, people of color, and their allies do you have? How many sex worker bears, sex worker folks, and their allies do you have? When I say that I am a diverse bear it is not because of what I think, it is because of what I do. Everyone I’ve invited to join me here has touched me in some meaningful and deep way. They have challenged me, held me accountable, and made me change. And everyone here deserves equal sitting at our community table. I will not stop until I see that realized”.

Right after I ended my speech, I dropped. Everything came out of me like a balloon. I stood for the judges for a few more minutes then went backstage and sat down.

It was at that moment that I was honestly the most emotional. That speech, being joined by all of my friends, that was the reason that I was there. Win-lose it didn’t matter. I had to work really hard to keep it together. Everything had gone as I had wanted it to. I had helped others with every chance I could. I had gotten with everyone and told them that during the year if they wanted help with their platform, I would be more than happy to help them. In essence, my work was done.

A kind of intimacy can happen during competition.  This is developed among people that have been together for a short amount of intense time. I had actively engaged in that from the beginning, but at this point, I just needed to be left alone.

Being called up on stage with the other bears and being runner-up bear 2019 was more than I ever could have hoped for. I was in love. I was in love with the Bears, in love with the Daddy’s, in love with the judges, in love with the competition, and in love with my Den Daddy.

After they announced the winners and we were released I just sat on my bench behind the scenes. I was trying my best to pull myself together and go back out there. Three of the judges came back to find me to tell me that I had done an amazing job. I was grateful for that. I was also given the judges contest cards with their notes. I flipped through them and was blown away by their comments. I sat for so long that International Bear 2018 came to look for me. I jumped up, gave him a massive hug, and told him how happy I was. Then, Lil Miss, a dear dear friend, brought a bag with my comfy pants in them. Once my comfy pants were on I went outside.

The next day was the Sunday Bear Luncheon and although a lot happened there I’m going to focus on the parts that were specific to the competition. I got to have another chance to talk with the bear judges. I got to learn so much more about them. At one point I was asked, “was I upset that I didn’t win?” My answer was a resounding “NO.”

I said “I am Susan BearLucci!!!! I am going to compete every year, lose every year, applaud the winner every year, and I am going to have the best time of my life every year!”

I’ve already reached out to those who didn’t win and offered to prep with them for next year. I hope that they take me up on it. I love this time in my life. Being behind the scenes with the most amazingly sculpted men I’ve ever seen, walking around half-dressed. Being able to put my little pieces on it to make sure that their suspenders were even or that their g-string came up above their hips. It brought me deep and fulfilling joy.

I honestly cannot wait for next November when I get to do this all over again. When I think of this competition three things happen automatically. One, I smile, two I can feel myself getting this faraway feeling, and three,  I cry.

Next year when I take the stand I invite all of you to be there with me. To join me for this roller coaster of intense emotion. Both in front of and behind the stage as competitors.  I want to put a special shout out to the Daddy’s who made this possible. To the judges who were outstanding in every measure. To the Den Daddy who made me smile. To all of my fellow competitors who remind me of joy. And finally, to everyone who joined me on stage, you all made that part of my life Magic.

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