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TREASURE ISLAND MEDIA BANNED FOR BEING "TOO HOT" FOR LEATHER EVENT CIRCUT
By: Keith Witchka, Staff Writer - 08-03-09 - 12:00 a.m. PDT
IML Ban is Third for Controversial Bareback Studio, Following Folsom Street Fair and Dore Alley.
New Barbary Coast Distribution's flagship label Treasure Island Media (TIM), the award-winning gay studio founded by legendary director-producer Paul Morris, has been banned from attendance at and any form of participation in three major leather/fetish events in North America: Folsom Street Fair, Up Your Alley, and International Mr. Leather (IML).
Folsom Street Events, which runs Folsom Street Fair and Up Your Alley (more commonly called Dore Alley), has banned Treasure Island Media—which specializes in documentary-style gay bareback or condomless videos—from both events for ignoring guidelines at last year's Folsom Street Fair, specifically those concerning safe sex practices. As evidence, the San Francisco-based organization referred to photographs of bareback activities by fairgoers in and around the TIM booth. These photographs were posted by TIM on their blog.
Treasure Island Media, also based in San Francisco, doesn't deny the allegations. "We make videos about our world," Matt Mason, TIM General Manager told JRL. "Folsom Street Fair is supposed to be about sharing and celebrating that world with the community, in the community.
"We thought Folsom was all about community," he added, "but it seems they don't appreciate our independent spirit."
The IML ban came as a shock both to Treasure Island Media—which has been a supporter and participant at the annual Chicago-based conference since 2003—and to the bareback community as a whole.
In a letter from founder and president Chuck Renslow, the Executive Committee of IML announced that it "has decided that it will no longer allow participation in the IML Leather Market by any entity which promotes barebacking or distributes/sells any merchandise tending to promote or advocate barebacking. This restriction will also apply to distribution of gifts, post cards [sic] or any other information via our facilities."
At first blush, the ban appears to apply to all bareback companies equally. However, an inside source who identified himself as a former IML title holder and member of International Mr. Leather's Board of Directors, informed TIM that the ban "target[s] your company specifically." Despite the targeting, TIM isn't taking this personally. "We have nothing but respect for Chuck Renslow," Matt Mason told JRL. "But we would never dream of imposing restrictions on anyone's ability to decide for themselves."
Response in the fan community has been sharply divided. At TIM's official blog (www.treasureislandblog.com/blog.htm), one anonymous commenter called IML "a bunch of hypocrites and cowards," while others vowed not to attend the conference or to do business "with any entity participating at IML."
On the flipside, other comments applauded IML's decision. "Bareback porn should be outlawed," one said. "You're just a bunch of sick people who need help. Thank GOD Chuck Renslow has stepped up and done something about it." Treasure Island Media is no stranger to controversy.
In addition to these event prohibitions, the studio caused a commotion in 2007, when it won for Best US Studio at the DAVID Awards in Berlin. In protest of a bareback company being so honored, the Lifetime Achievement Winner that year (Bruce Cam of Titan Media) declined his award.
Yet even as TIM is collecting bans from leather events, the GAYVN Awards—which have barred Treasure Island Media production's from eligibility in past years—are considering inviting the studio to the awards for 2010.
These criticisms haven't slowed down TIM—and, the studio promises, won't stop them. "For us, this is and always has been about freedom," said Mason. "Freedom of sexuality, and freedom for all of us to make our own decisions—about our fantasies and our realities. As long as we have these freedoms in America, Treasure Island Media will persevere."