MR. EAGLE NYC 2011 SPEAKS:
CB Kirby’s New Year’s Resolutions!
In full leather gear, newly sashed Mr. Eagle New York City 2011 CB Kirby makes an impressive sight. Even more impressive than his physique, however, is his philanthropic spirit. Most would agree that it’s the responsibility of every Leather Title holder to serve as a role model for our community, and Kirby has taken his new Title VERY seriously. Even before becoming the new Mr. Eagle NYC, however, the 45-year old personal fitness trainer has been active with his reigning issue of choice: HIV/AIDS awearness and fundraising. It’s a issue to which Kirby reminds us, “It‘s not going away. And it affects us ALL.“ For the last three years, the intelligent and articulate Leatherman has participated in the annual Braking the Cycle, a three-day, 285-mile bike ride from Boston to New York City. The event raises money for HIV/AIDS services of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Center of New York City. Tonight, he’ll be co-hosting the 300th (Wow!) Porno Bingo at the Will Clark Show at Pieces, 8 Christopher Street, at 8PM. The night benefits the Positive Pedalers (AKA the “Poz Peds”), a group of men and women living with HIV/AIDS who participate in awareness through bicycle-related activities. On Friday the 28th, Kirby will be throwing his support behind the kickoff of Gear, a new party at The Eagle. The next night, he’ll be hosting “Jail and Bail 5” to benefit Team Eagle. There’s much more in the works, including plans for a night at The Eagle dedicated to Pups and their handlers– the first party of its kind in New York City. With the dawn of the New Year in sight, CB Kirby and I met at a West Village coffee house to discuss his personal crusade for our community, his goals for the year as Mr. Eagle NYC 2011, and whether or not carbohydrates are really as bad as their reputation!
JR: Thanks for meeting with me, CB. First off: Being a Title holder is more responsibility and harder work than meets the eye. You’re representing not only The New York Eagle, but also the New York City Leather community, and the Leather Nation at large. I imagine it’s NOT as glamorous as it looks! What is it like to balance being a Title Holder with the rest of your life– including that busy travel schedule of yours?
CK: It’s just like being a parent, or like anything else in life. It’s about juggling and keeping thinks in a healthy balance. I traveled to Toronto for Thanksgiving, so I kind of gave up my holiday to be there. I guess you can call it “priorities“. For me, it’s a little bit easier because being a personal trainer, I can make my own hours and can schedule around long weekend trips. So for me, it’s a lot easier than some Title holders who have the nine-to-five job and have to use their vacation days to do the traveling. So, I’m kind of lucky that way… but you know, a missing day is a missing day, and being on the road is being on the road. Going to Toronto meant flying out of the country. That was kind of interesting– taking all the leather gear with all the buckles and the D-rings and all of that through security. I was actually followed out of Customs by a Customs agent, and she stood for 20 minutes watching me at the luggage carousel… and when I finally got my luggage, she actually stopped me by stepping out in front of me! She actually demanded that I show her my declarations page and my passport and asked me why I was there.
JR: In Canada?!
CK: In Canada! And when I did, I told her that I was a guest of Mr. Leatherman Toronto and she was like, “Oh, OK.”. She was a lesbian, so it was kind of funny. Coming back into the States was even funnier. Going through security, I was the one who was chosen to be swabbed for bombs. They swabbed my hands, my shoes and all my luggage for explosive residue. Do I look like a terrorist?! (Laughs) But you know, travel is what it is. It’s kind of nice to travel with somebody, but I traveled with nobody up to Toronto, and it’s just like it is here. It’s just another extension of the Leather family, with wide open arms. You’re accepted. So as far as travel, it’s all juggling. It really is. Thursdays is Code night at the Eagle, and I really should be at the bar as the ambassador. Considering I have an 8AM client on Friday, I‘m very rarely there past midnight… because I need my sleep! Again, it’s about priorities. I can actually stay out a little later tonight, because I don’t have that 8AM client tomorrow. I can take advantage of that. But to stay out later than 1 or 1:30, it’s just not me!
JR: Gotcha! Now, since you won the Title, do you find that you get hit on more often… or at least, get a lot more attention?
CK: Let’s put it this way. On October 2nd, I became Mr. Eagle. Today’s date is December 30th. So, that’s almost three months. My number of Facebook friends has gone from being about 250 to 300 friends to almost 1500 friends right now. Everybody wants to be Mr. Eagle’s friend. You know what? I maybe turned two people away. One was because of being age-inappropriate, and the second I just didn’t have the right feeling towards. As far as being approached at the bars or on the streets: If I don’t have the vest or sash on, nobody knows who I am! In the bar, people approach me, but it’s more congratulatory. Yeah, there are those people who want to sleep with me– guys and girls– but overall, it is what it is.
JR: It can work the opposite way too. Some guys might be intimidated by you if you’re wearing your sash. A guy might be like, “Oh, I can’t go up to him. I’m too scared!”
CK: I think that with my smile, I am very approachable, and always have been! I think Facebook is the only increase in the number of people approaching me. At the bar or anywhere else, they approach me anyway. I would hope to say that I’m not that much of an ugly duckling (laughs)!
JR: (Laughs) I don’t think so! So, New York City is a crazy place. New York used to be the epicenter of the Leather Nation on the east coast, but today we only have two bona fide Leather bars in town. I suspect that part of it is that many so-called “movers and shakers” of New York City nightlife always want to give the impression of being two steps ahead of everyone else– and they may view the Leather community as being, shall we say, “dated“ or “vintage“. In your opinion, what direction are we going into as we enter 2011?
CK: I’ve been involved with the Leather community for a long time. The original Leather community I was involved with was in Florida. With all the travels, I found out that the Leather communities are different everywhere. There may be slight nuances, or there may be some pretty extreme differences. For example, the Leather bars in Fort Lauderdale: They are code all the time. They have a required dress. They are stricter, stauncher– kind of an Old Guard feeling. Here in New York, that’s changed. In the ‘70’s, it WAS Old Guard. It WAS The Leather Man. It was nothing to see Leathermen walking down Eighth Avenue in Chelsea wearing full gear. Now, if somebody‘s wearing leather, it’s not so much because they are a Leatherman, but it’s turned more to the fetish aspect of it and not the Leather LIFESTYLE. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but… I think that HIV/AIDS did a big number on the Leather community and took a lot of the Leathermen away from us. It’s changing. It’s evolving. Not better or worse, just different. It’s different on the West Coast, East Coast, Chicago, Florida… “Different” is not bad. So, I think Leather has individual qualities to it, and people make it their own for whatever reason. In the past few months, I have been aware of the influence of the younger generation. It may be more of a fetish for them, but they are not afraid to wear their gear in public. So, who knows? There may be a new generation, a new breed that’s coming out of it. It’s ever-evolving, just like the gay lifestyle at large.
JR: There is a controversy about the Leather community in that many members believe that you have to be initiated through the Old Guard or through a mentor, versus those who believe that you can just call yourself a Leatherman to be a Leatherman. But overall, I believe that our community is unique in that we have a great respect for tradition, yet we’re simultaneously looking toward the future.
CK: But… you will see the new, younger kids– I’ll call them “kids” because they’re kids to me– coming into the Leather community and actually LOOKING for mentorship. They’re actually looking for someone to teach them, to guide them, to educate.
JR: So, out of all the worthy causes benefiting our community, which one do you feel most passionate about?
CK: There are two really big causes, and there are three I am involved with in my title year. Two are similar… and the other is a little bit different. Braking the Cycle is one, of course. This is my third year. Next year I’ll ride as Mr. Eagle for Team Eagle. It’s an incredible experience. It raises funding for HIV/AIDS services for The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Center. The money we raise is what really generates the funding for that program for the Center. This past year, the net was $358,000– of that, a little over $100,000 was raised by sixteen riders of Team Eagle. That’s my big cause. In fact, on my business card there’s more about Braking the Cycle than there is about me. It’s more about the causes than about me. The other cause– and this is the biggest fundraiser that I will do in my Title year– is with Housing Works. It’s also an organization for HIV/AIDS services. We’re doing a brand new event in February called Love and Leather where they are going to completely stock their store on 143 West 17th Street with leatherwear, fetish gear, leather furniture, and more. We’ll have a DJ, we’ll have beer, we’ll possible have hors d’œuvre, there will be a Bootblack, and right now we are talking about having a well-known gay star to be a guest there. This went from being the size of a quarter to being about the size of… uhm, Lake Michigan! Which is great. The more money that we can generate and bring in, that’s great. The other cause that I have is working with The Harvey Milk High School at the Hetrick-Martin Institute: developing a mentor program within the High School and doing a clothing drive next month for homeless LGBT youth that go to the High School. And, also possibly doing an after-school fitness program once a week, because of my health and fitness background. So, those are my causes– and they’re very dear to me. My platform for my Title year is mentorship. This goes back to the whole idea of the younger crowd coming in and the mentorship that they’re looking for.
JR: Very impressive! So, what can all of us in the Leather community do, on a day to day basis, to benefit the Leather community as a whole?
CK: I think it starts by being true to yourself. I know with that sounds really clichéd (laughs), but it’s about being true to yourself and being honest with yourself. I know, and I’m friends with, a lot of guys who are in the Leather community during the evening, but during the day, they’re absolutely not. You won’t find anything on their Facebook page about it or whatever else. You know, I totally respect that. I think there’s a healthy balance between responsibility and respect and accountability. I think that what’s good is being proud and at peace with what you are, and not being afraid to show it– because you never know who is going to approach you. I am not only out about being a Leatherman and being in the Leather lifestyle, but I am also out about my HIV status. It was just about a month ago I had a young kid in the middle of Pennsylvania, in the middle of nowhere, who had just found out a couple of weeks prior that he was HIV positive. He had nowhere to turn, he was freaking out… so, I’ve been talking with him. It kind of goes back to just being there when the need arises. It’s kind of like the old adage, “It’s better to give a hand up than a hand-out”. There’s a lot of people with interest in the Leather lifestyle, and even the fetish aspect of it. So: Just be willing to talk about those when approached.
JR: Yeah! So, as a personal trainer, do you wanna spill any secrets about health and fitness? Like, are carbohydrates really the Antichrist? Of course, I know that if you tell me, they won’t be secrets anymore!
CK: Well, let’s face it. The number one New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. I think that the biggest piece of advice I can give is: Don’t buy that home gym. It’s always, ALWAYS going to turn into a clothes rack. You know what? You may get a week out of it, you may get a month out of it if you’re lucky, but it’s always gonna turn into a clothes rack. If you’re going to join a gym, join a gym with a friend. Going with someone to the gym, you’re nine times out of ten more likely to stick with it than if you join a gym by yourself and try to do it alone. If you can afford it, get a personal trainer. You join a gym, you get those couple of personal training sessions free. Take advantage of it. Don’t be scared. If they try to hard-sell you and that’s just not your deal, “no” is an answer. As far as carbs being the enemy, you know what? Use moderation. If you’re sitting down and eating a six pack of cupcakes from Crumbs, no wonder you’re sixty pounds overweight. If you were sixty pounds overweight when you started, you’ll gonna be sixty pounds more when you’re finished. It’s all about eating less and moving more and doing what you can. Don‘t overwhelm yourself, and don‘t set unrealistic goals for yourself– ’cause you’re gonna fall flat on your face. You really are. Also, a big thing is staying consistent. Pick a time a day when you’re able to be consistent, and you’re going to go at that time every day– because pretty soon what will happen is you’re going to make a daily habit of doing that, and you’re GONNA do it. And when you miss, you WILL know you’re missing, and you’re GONNA want to go back to it. So, it’s consistency!
JR: How do you feel about supplements?
CK: I feel everyone should be on a good daily vitamin. The one thing is: Talk openly to your doctor about things. We all should be going to get the annual checkup, regardless of whether you feel healthy or not. It’s the people who feel healthy who may find out that they have cancer in a late stage. Breast exams for women… it’s a simple thing that can save a life. Prostate cancer checks for men. Gay men should not be afraid to get a prostate check! (Both laugh.)
(CB plays Sexy Santa at a New York Boys of Leather event at Stonewall Inn.)
JR: Lastly: A lot of men and women look at Leathermen as the epitome of masculinity and sexiness. Being a Title holder, what do you personally find sexy?
CK: I guess you’re talking about what my tastes are! My taste run the spectrum from left to right. I think the bottom line is: It’s the eyes. It’s about a great smile. It’s about somebody who takes care of themselves. I can’t be with someone who’s not gonna take care of themselves. I want to be honest: Being a Bear is one thing, but someone who is morbidly obese– it‘s unhealthy. Come on. Sometimes I think that some of our society encourages unhealthy behavior or unhealthy aspects. And, let’s face it: Who likes bad breath? Also, I think it’s important to be able to carry on a conversation with some intellect… and, a sense of humor is really important. I mean, we all have our ideal, but few of use find our ideal. But if we don’t find our ideal, we shouldn‘t be settling for anything that’s going to be harmful for us, whatever that may be!
JR: Thanks, CB!
Mr. Eagle NYC 2011 CB Kirby will be co-hosting the 300th Porno Bingo at the Will Clark Show at Pieces in NYC tonight. He will also be at Mid Atlantic Leather in Washington, D.C. in January, and International Mr. Leather in Chicago in May. Visit http://www.MrEagle2011.com for CB’s schedule, gallery, biography, and much more!