Our International Power Exchange 2014 Stepaside Speech – Expectations, “topping from the bottom,” and not fitting into boxes

These are our notes for our International Power Exchange stepaside speech at Beyond Leather 2015. Those who were there know that we didn’t actually use our notes, so the words that came out of our mouths certainly varied from the writing below, but we think the intention and messages are the same. Thank you to everyone who has supported us during our title year as International Power Exchange 2014!

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Stefanos: Hello, perverts of Beyond Leather, what a fun year of traveling and meeting new people and seeing old friends for us! We’ve been honored to travel all over the US and even across the world representing International Power Exchange for our title year!

Shay: It’s amazing to see International Power Exchange contestants this year with dynamics that vary from primal to owner/property to Daddy/slave to owner/leather-dog- I want to celebrate and raise up ALL those dynamics! Also, much love to our sash brother & sister, who stepped down yesterday- 2014 International Pony Play Champions Master Randy & Pony Just One Kiss!

Stefanos: I want to thank all of the contestants and regional producers for working hard to give the best of the best! Meeting all the contestants and watching the contest yesterday has brought back memories that feel like a millennia away. One of my favorite recollections from Beyond Leather 2014 has influenced us throughout our title year. We had just arrived to the meet & greet at the bar with the other IPE contestants, trying to talk to all the judges and make a good impression. Daddy Michael of Florida Power Exchange, who had run for the title a previous year, approached me, and we started talking about the interview portion of the contest. He told me that one of the judges’ interview questions to him had been to ask him to define power exchange in eight words. He admitted that he had been somewhat thrown off by this question, and asked me if I could come up with an answer to it. I thought a moment and then replied: “Power exchange is the equality of expectations.” He considered this, and I could see him counting on his fingers before he said: “Nice, but that’s seven words.” “Ok,” I said: “Power exchange is the equality of expectations– Sir!” But seven words or eight, equal expectations as an s-type or d-type are the key to rewarding relationships.

Shay: A common place we see people getting tripped up on these expectations comes from the scripts that our community has for people who bottom. As we’ve traveled, we’ve presented a demo during many of our classes where I give polite but very specific feedback and guidance to Stefanos while he flogs me. This always gets an extremely negative reaction from the crowd- boos, suggestions that I should be gagged- in one rather alarming case, an audience member yelled “homicide”. I find that reaction fascinating, and as we’ve traveled I’ve encouraged people to think about when expectations could align to make a bottom-led scene like that amazing- as a teaching scene or if the bottom is a dominant masochist playing with a submissive sadist, as just a couple examples. When we ask people why the negative reaction, they say- you were topping from the bottom.

Well, I think we as a community need to take the idea of “topping from the bottom” and throw it off the nearest goddamn cliff. “Topping from the bottom” exhibits a kink culture that tries to jam people into neatly pre-defined expectations of what power exchange roles “should be” and shames bottoms and especially submissives/s-types for having wants and needs and desires, or even limits- “real” s-types wouldn’t have those, they’d bend to their Master’s every whim- and that’s bullshit. As a bottom, your wants and needs and desires are just as important as the D-types wants and needs and desires, and it doesn’t matter if I identify as Grand Mistress 12th Archon Firedragon Goddess Poo-bah and he’s lowly slave wormdick, we come into this community as equals. Power exchange is not about one person being “better than” another. Power exchange is about about voluntarily and consensually shifting authority. Take hold of your personal power because you don’t have any power to exchange if you come into it empty. International Power Exchange is in a unique place to support and celebrate this flexibility and redefining of power exchange roles and expectations, and that’s a big part of why we are passionate about IPE.

Stefanos: I could tell you our passion is represented in the more than 38,500 miles traveled sharing our title, lives, hearts and bodies with people from California to Vancouver, to Colorado and Iowa. Communities in Calgary, Maryland, Washington DC. Even Rome Italy! During our title year we’ve presented a total of 66 classes at 25 different events and venues in 3 countries and 2 continents! All the while representing International Power Exchange.

But that’s not the passion we’re talking about- that’s part of being a representative of a diverse community like ours. Spending days in airports and on airplanes is not the passion I speak of. Those are calculated costs and evidence of commitment.

No, our passion is that none of us have to fit in a relationship box. No box can contain this much power and passion.. We are passionate about this title because it gives a voice and face to those who do not otherwise “fit in.” We feel this title is crucial to raise up power exchange dynamics that were previously unrecognized or not understood and to encourage people to set their own expectations and write their own scripts. We’ve encouraged people in all our travels to be yourself and to know that people are more important than the relationship, and the relationship is more important the the protocols. Grow your power exchange from the relationship, not the other way around. Here at IPE, we don’t need to fit into someone’s box of preconceived anything.  Fuck that box, so we can be the sexual rebels we are in the freedom of power exchange.

Shay: We have one very special thank you- to our handler, partner, and pup, Tara. Without her, so much would have fallen apart.

Stefanos: It takes a special person to be a handler- they are the “unsung heros” of title contests. If you are or have been a handler for a title contest any contest, could you raise your hand or stand for a moment? I know some of you may be shy and not want to call attention to yourself, as that’s the way handlers are but please stand and be recognized for your awesome power. Please give all the handlers some love and applause!

Shay: We had a fantastic year and are excited to support the next International Power Exchange titleholders- can’t wait to hear who that will be! Thank you.


With the 2015 International Power Exchange titleholders- Ranell, Aren, & Ms WillowKat!

With the 2015 International Power Exchange titleholders- Ranell, Aren, & Ms WillowKat!