Sam or Sammy as a lot of his friends call him, is a quirky, high-spirited yet initially shy, service boy who recently won this year’s International Mr Bootblack Contest. I’ve met him a few times since living in Seattle and even had the opportunity to experience his skills as he flirtatiously got me in his chair and did an oil tan on a pair of my boots. Sam is very persuasive when it comes to newcomers who are a virgin to his chair and his enthusiasm each time it happens is a delight to watch. I recently had the time to message with Sam and ask him a few quick questions as he is already traveling over the country, beard, mustache and all.
1. So why the nickname Oil Tan Sam?
Sam: I have always been a fan of oil tan conditioning. It is my favorite treatment for boots/garments. It keeps the leather supple and gives it a sleek matted look.
2. What made you want to become a bootblack???
Sam: I started off as a shoeshiner, and realized I had a leather fetish… The rest is history.
3. Who are your bootblack mentors?
Sam: My mentor aside from every bootblack I meet is Sean Bug. He showed me the ropes and made me realize just how sexy bootblacking is.
4. What made you want to join the Leather Community?
Sam: Being a bootblack is more then treating leather, It is about teaching, living by example, and leading from the bottom up. I found a welcoming community and I have never turned back.
5. You’re a querky guy with a querky attitude! What are those things that make you, you?
Sam: I am a very energetic person, I always have been. I have found that being positive and excited is quite contagious I love sharing it… Almost selfishly… I find my greatest happiness through others.
6. Why did you decide to run for IMrBB?
Sam: For many reasons, I believe I have a lot to offer the community, I want to spread love and awareness to as many people as I can. I was also encouraged by my local leather club, Blackout Leather Productions to run. I made my final decision to run during IMsL while sharing a room with soon to be IMsL 2013 Sarha. She bit me with the international bug, and I knew that I could do the IMbb name proud.
7. Are you a technical or erotic bootblack?
Sam: Why? Do I have to choose? I would have to say technical bootblack… It is important for me to give the best service possible while I molest your leather.
8. What advice do you have for those new to bootblacking?
Sam: Practice, practice, practice. Also most bootblacks have their own techniques most are right and few are wrong. Listen and learn and absorb all you can. If you have any questions send me an email at IMbb2013@IMrL.com
10. 3 things most people don’t know about you?
a. My father is blind, so I learned how to see through a blind mans eyes. so I see better with my hands then my eyes
b. I get really shy in large loud crouds. It makes me want to hide in the corner and pull out my boot kit, so I can have one on one interactions with everyone around.
c. I watch way to many cartoons, and play Minecraft.
11. Where were you shoeshining?? And how did you realize you had a leather fetish??
Sam: I started off as a street shiner. I hit up the several spots around Portland Or. My favorite is the back entrance of Powell’s Books. When I have time I still shine their. I realized I had a leather fetish when all I could think about was boots and I was starting to get turned on from treating peoples leather.
12. You’re very service oriented, is that why you were drawn to bootblacking???
Sam: I have always been service oriented. I have been in the service industry since I was 14 years old. I have always found joy in helping people, and making an impact in others lives. I was drawn to bootblacking as an artistic outlet. I am a sculptor by trade and I found that refurbishing boots gives me the same zen feeling as creating sculptures.
13. What is your favorite garment or experience you have had since bootblacking?
Sam: My favorite garments to treat are Jockstraps and Corsets. My favorite experience bootblacking was at the Rainbow Gathering in 2012. I brought my kit with me, and I see this gentleman with thrashed shoes laying down. I ask to shine his shoes, and he says, “yes, but one of my legs does not work too well, mind if I stay laying down?” I say sure. I get done with his left foot, and I am about to start his right one, and he says: “here, let me make this easier for you,” and he pulls off his prosthetic leg. So here I am in the woods, shining a mans shoe attached to his foot, not on his body with hundreds of people walking past making confused looks and stumbling over each other trying to grasp the scene going on.
I am sure that Oil Tan Sam will have many more stories to tell as his title year goes on. I wish him the best of luck and hope that a pair of my boots dance with his fingers soon again.