MAL puppy park

A ball gag story

by: Ainsley Hutchence

6 Photos
Photographer: Diriki Rice / Words: Diriki Rice

MAL puppy park

When this rather unusual series popped up in my inbox via D.C. based photographer Diriki Rice, to say I was intrigued is an understatement. Obvi you can’t just go around sending poeple photos like this without offering further explanation. Diriki’s wrap up of the event makes me wish I was also there to experience this puppy pleasure of sorts. Although as a women, I’m not sure I would have been allowed in?

A ball gag story by Diriki Rice

These images were captured at an activity known as the ‘Puppy Park’ from the 45th annual Mid Atlantic Leather weekend. MAL was organized in the late seventies as a social meet up for the gay motorcyclist community & has continued to grow since its induction. One doesn’t have to own a motorcycle or even wear leather to attend the event. The only thing one needs to do is bring cash & an open mind, because all who enter must pay & leave their inhibition at the door.

For the next three days, a hotel in downtown Washington D.C. would serve as a hub for hedonistic delights, the likes of which no one unfamiliar with the lifestyle has ever bore witness to. I wasn’t able to attend all the events as I had planned originally, so I would have to make the best of the activities that took place within the ballroom where the Puppy Park was being held. In order for me to do that I would have to overcome the same inhibitions any other straight individual would if they were going to attend a leather festival. Five words, “I’ll go if you go” from a fellow photographer & my mind was made up.

Those whom aren’t familiar with such a lifestyle are bound to imagine every cliché under the sun, & I must say coming from an outsiders perspective, it certainly isn’t too far fetched. From biker hats, to ass-less chaps, to semi nude, all was taking place under one roof & I had a front row seat & an exhibit hall pass.

The other photographer also took the liberty of prepping me by departing wisdom from their previous experience such as “ If you have any homophobic tendencies walk away now”, “ Be social everyone is here to have a good time”, & my personal favourite, “Prepare to have your dick grabbed”. That last one never happened because I didn’t attend any of the night festivities. The Puppy Park took place in the middle of the afternoon.

There I was canvasing the area absorbing all the information before me, like the foam play mat, the referees, the chew toys, & then the participants with their wrestling uniforms & out comes the dog masks. Just like the title suggests, it was full on puppy park complete with biting, sniffing, tail wagging & the occasional howl for good measure.

Hours went by trying to look for the defining moment that would sum up this leg of the festival & I decided to call it a day. Besides I needed a long stroll afterwards to gather my thoughts after seeing such a joyous melee take place, which I’m still trying to make sense of. But in the end I just chalked it up to people living their lives the way they see fit without doubt or prejudice.

During the event I was propositioned to attend next year, not as a photographer, but as a participant & while I was humbled by the offer I had to respectfully decline for I prefer to experience this event behind a lens.

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