“So how was your weekend? What did you do? Did you do anything fun?”
These questions inevitably come up during Monday-morning water cooler discussions. Sometimes, the answer could be, “I stayed in and binge-watched Shameless on Netflix.” But what I really want to say is, “I spent my weekend at camping, running around naked (or mostly naked) in a resort in the woods, tying people on trees, fisting by the pool, and watching people shamelessly fuck like bunnies.”
GearUp Weekend is an annual leather event for gay, bi, and queer men held in Saratoga, Calif., where participants gather together to enjoy each other’s company — and learn about BDSM play in a supportive, safe, private, and sex-positive environment. It’s not unlike summer camp, with options for bunks, cabins, or tents. You’re surrounded by nature, with good food and an open bar, plus ordinary activities such as hiking and swimming. But there’s also informative workshops on fisting, piercing, and other fun activities. And, well, the hike is a naked hike with a circle jerk on the ridgeline.
You may also hear or see your bunkmates (or fellow campers) fucking loudly and openly. Hydration is important, not only because it’s hot, but also if you plan on getting into any piss play later. This year, the workshops included bondage from A to Z, “Cleaning Your Hole for Sex 101,” and cock-and-ball torture (CBT). In between, people hung out and smoked cigars under the large gazebo by the pool, watching their friends fuck like there is no tomorrow.
So really, it’s just like summer camp — except you can’t get in trouble for hooking up with your counselor. Since I’m not standing around the water cooler, I will give you a rundown of my weekend.
On Thursday morning, my friend Pete picked me up in his super-cute (but tiny) convertible VW Bug. I packed a bag with floggers and whips plus another rolling tool bag full of electro-stimulation equipment, medical-play equipment, and safer sex supplies — and bondage bags. In a third bag, I shoved jockstraps, sexy undies, and boots — my day-wear — plus some key pieces of leather gear and my outfit for the Saturday evening runway show and walk-off.
Two-and-a-half hours later, we arrived at the resort that would be our playground for the next few days, taking off our shirts to welcome the kiss of the sun and to air out our sweaty pits. At the registration table, we get our name badges, schedules, volunteering assignments, and goodie bags filled with the essentials: condoms, lube, cock rings, and even a handmade leather paddle. (The paddles were a nice touch that I’m sure got good use during the weekend.) Once everyone was registered, we met other fellow campers and watched a video on sex and consent, and we were off!
I mostly end up being the dominant, active partner (the top) during these gatherings, so I started my bondage play Thursday night by switching it up and letting my friend Chuck tie me up on a bondage bench. He blindfolded me and edged me to the point of almost cumming for practically an entire hour. It was torture and sheer ecstasy at the same time. Eventually, Chuck let me cum — sort of. (He’s really into ruined orgasms.) Chuck and I have a history of tying each other up and torturing the one another with pleasure (and a little bit of pain). Needless to say, turning the tables on one another is fair play.
Friday was a different story. I spent most of the morning handing out floggings and whippings to my friends. I did a rope-bondage suspension in the gazebo by the pool, stringing up my friend Vincent in the hottest part of the afternoon. We were sweating tons, so naturally, I stuck my sweaty crotch on his face while he was suspended by my rope. He very much appreciated that. I showered and took a quick dip in the pool before heading over to the main lodge to teach a bondage class before dinner. After dinner, there was no play for the rest of the night. I needed to recharge and get ready for the last day of camp.
By then, GearUp weekend was in full swing. I started my morning with the usual catered breakfast, then got stoned in the gazebo. By the pool, I spotted Alex, a tall, hunky, big-dicked friend who enjoys getting fisted. This was my opportunity to take my new latex, opera-length fisting gloves for a spin.
I re-engaged my friend Erik in our yearly play-piercing “battle,” where we glove up and pierce each other’s chests (usually) with needles until we start giggling like school-girls. After the runway show, in which everyone who wants to gets announced, pageant-style, I found time for yet more play. By Saturday night, I was spent, so I got stoned and finished the evening watching the stars.
On Sunday morning, Pete and I packed up camp and drove back home to San Francisco, exchanging stories from our weekend. Every year, it’s very difficult to enter reality. I’m sure we were both wondering what our co-workers would think.