Now that he’s defeated the jetlag, we sat down with Sergio Alejandro to get his thoughts on his month-long US pilgrimage to the International Rubberman contest (MIR).

Post Title: Interview with our Melbourne Rubberman 2022

by Liam Clark
Jan 21, 2024
Tags #Eagle Leather #Rubber #community #self-discovery
Now that he’s defeated the jetlag, we sat down with Sergio Alejandro to get his thoughts on his month-long US pilgrimage to the International Rubberman contest (MIR).

Back in October 2022, Melbourne’s very own Sergio Alejandro became the fifth Melbourne Rubberman to represent our shiny community at MIR. Sergio received return flights to Chicago courtesy of Eagle Leather to support him in his quest for the title of Mr International Rubber. Now that he’s defeated the jetlag, we sat down with him to get his thoughts on his month-long US pilgrimage in late 2023, and found out all about his experiences at this year’s International Rubberman (MIR) contest in Chicago.



L: Welcome back to Melbourne! How are you feeling now that MIR is all done and dusted?
S: Honestly, I’m feeling quite elated that it’s all done and dusted — it was a very exhausting experience both physically and mentally and I’m glad I have some downtime now to decompress and relax. It’s wonderful to be home, and to get to look back at all the incredible people I’ve met and really appreciate what an amazing opportunity it was.



L: You spent all in all almost a month in the USA, where did you go and what were your highlights?
S: I arrived at San Francisco on the weekend of Folsom and truly hit the ground running. There were socials, parties and a POC meetup organized by ONYX. I really got to get a great introduction to a city that has a great long queer fetish history. So Folsom was absolutely a highlight. It was wonderful getting to see everyone expressing themselves, during the middle of the day, enjoying things that are often hidden or taboo. Chicago was also an incredible experience, I arrived there about a week and a half before MIR and it was wonderful getting to know the city and getting to go to a few queer spaces and fetish nights and get a feel for the city. I really enjoyed going to the Leather Archives in Chicago and learning about the importance Chicago holds in the worldwide queer fetish community. Is it bad to say that the whole trip was a highlight?



Portrait of Sergio L: What were some things you noticed that were different about the communities that you went to, when compared to Melbourne?
S: Both cities are considerably bigger and have had many more decades and generations to cement their communities, so I feel that they both have a lot more progress on diversity and inclusivity and a larger variety of queer expression in their kink spaces. It was wonderful to see that kind of difference in their play spaces, so that was something that really stood out to me. Melbourne is a bit smaller, and younger and we are on that journey, and growing fast — but it was cool to see where the path is leading us from these overseas communities.



L: Is there anything you saw overseas that you’d like to see done more in Melbourne?
S: I think there needs to be a bit more discussion and education about diversity here, and how we can tangibly work to make POC feel more welcome in play spaces. Going to the ONYX Social in San Francisco was key for me for getting some ideas on how I can help facilitate some of those discussions over here. This is something that we all know is close to my heart and I look forward to working with people here to bring some of what I learnt back to Melbourne.



L: Conversely, having gone abroad, is there anything we uniquely do in Melbourne that has now been highlighted?
S: Coffee, ha! But seriously, I think we Melbournians punch well above our weight on an international level, especially given how young the rubber scene is here. We work really hard at growing and learning very fast and have a sometimes unrivalled enthusiasm. People know us abroad as very friendly, kind and super welcoming and ideally by my competing at MIR, I think they are now able to know us as being a truly multicultural nation.



Sergio performing in his fantasy round.

L: Did you have a chance to meet any of your fellow MIR contestants before the contest?
S: I got to meet AJ and RubberBeard during Folsom, and the three of us got to spend a lot of time together that weekend and bond. Jester, who was representing Florida was also there and I got to spend some great time with them too. Additionally, I was also there in SF for a bit longer, I got to be present for AJ’s step-down and the sashing of Rodrigo, the now current San Francisco rubber title holder and it was nice to get to know AJ properly with some of my downtime. I was also sharing a room in the host hotel for MIR with Dante from the Netherlands and that was a wonderful experience.



L: Tell us some of the highlights from the contest weekend?
S: I mean the competition *was* the highlight! Granted it was an incredibly nerve-racking experience and having to be in a sort-of performative state all weekend played some mind games with me, but having the opportunity to stand in front of the hundreds of people in the auditorium and online, and have fun was definitely a highlight. Getting to showcase Melbourne, my rubber, and meeting the other contestants while getting to represent at the pinnacle of the rubber world was an absolute highlight.



L: Overall, how was your contest experience?
S: No pun intended given that the theme this year was ‘intergalactic rubber’, but it was truly out of this world! It was one of the most fun things I have ever done. It cemented to me the idea that representation matters in all scopes, that chosen family is the most important and that acceptance and support is quite genuine within the fetish community. It was great to see the community from outside my home turf and to feel all that love over the four days I was there. It felt kind-of like I was in ‘The Witches’ with Anjelica Huston — like at a convention full of all these wonderful weirdos. Truly it was an incredibly fun experience.



L: Do you have any backstage moments you’d like to share with us?
S: There was a lot of nudity! I think the best part was just the love, because we were all going through the same thing. We were all nervous, we were all thinking about everyone watching back home, and we all are feeling the pressure to represent our communities well. Because of that we were all truly supportive of each other emotionally and physically - helping each other get into our gear and shining each other up and helping each other calm down. There weren’t any crazy backstage moments, just a lot of love and I truly feel bonded to each of the other eight contestants and that we truly became a close knit family.



Sergio abroad the US.

L: During your title year you spoke widely about inclusivity in the rubber community, did you get a chance to discuss this during the MIR contest?
S: I did a little bit, mostly during the interview round. One of the questions was about inclusivity in the rubber community and what methods I could explore in my position of leadership to improve things. I also spent a lot of time networking with a lot of the PoC attendees of MIR and that gave me a network to be able to refine and workshop ideas for things I can bring back here. For example, I became very close to both Pusckatt and Preston, even when they were here for Slick and that has helped me gain the tools and connections to be able to see what other people are doing elsewhere and figure out how to bring it across here. The whole experience has widened my network and mind to what is possible.



L: This year MIR surprised a lot of people by announcing that there will be no more gender locked restriction on entering the contest, and future MIR winners will choose which honorific pronouns, if any, will be on their title. What are your thoughts on this?
S: I’m all for it! We were told beforehand during our contestant orientation on the Friday and had to keep it to ourselves before they announced it, and it was very exciting. I feel anyone and everyone should have a chance to show themselves and their communities on that stage. I am very much a person who moves with the times and advocates for inclusivity and diversity, so for me it’s a no brainer to support this move. I look forward to seeing who competes in the next few years, because it’s only going to get bigger, brighter, and shinier from here!



L: Do you have any advice for the next contestant(s) who go to MIR to represent Melbourne?
S: The best advice I can give is to embrace the great opportunity that it is, and regardless of the outcome, to be proud of yourself. This experience allows you to find a family with people that you’ve never met, and you’ll come out of it changed for the better. Also, remember to have fun! This is a silly fun adventure on an international level. Just relax, and have fun and don’t put too much pressure on yourself!

__________________________

Liam Clark is a Melbourne based kinky homosexual and occasional journalist. He was the inaugural Melbourne Rubberman back in 2016 and finished 2nd at the 20th edition of Mr International Rubber.

All photos are courtesy of MIR / Pup Rally.

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