A Cold as Hell Interview

LGBT Detroit's winter Pride celebration, Cold As Hell, is the sister event to Hotter Than July. With the birth of this event in 2020, Cold As Hell advocates for and celebrate queer sexuality, attraction, education and freedom, with a focus on the intersection of Blackness. Lastly, event founder Curtis Lipscomb envisioned an expanded safe, brave space for the exploration of kink. For more information, visit LGBT Detroit's Facebook page.
I was able to chat with a few dope people who have huge roles in bringing Cold As Hell to life that will happen this year Jan. 29 through 30, 2021. The first person, Jerron Totten (he/him), is the Social Outreach Coordinator and Legislative Advocacy Specialist at LGBT Detroit and the Project Coordinator for Hotter Than July and Cold As Hell. I was interested in learning about how Cold As Hell contributed to LGBT Detroit's mission and what to expect from next month's event — geez, 2020 flew by so fast!
The two hosts for Cold As Hell 2020 — 2019 International Mr. Leather Jack Thompson (he/him) and Ironman Onyx Al J. Davis (he/him) — make an appearance. They talk about their experiences hosting together and some of their favorite moments from the events. Al Davis is also returning in 2021 to co-host Cold As Hell with Sir Oya Ra (he/him), 2020 & 2021 Mr. Maryland Leather. I asked them about what they're looking forward to for Cold As Hell 2021.

How is Cold As Hell similar to Hotter Than July, and how is it different? What does it add to LGBT Detroit's initiatives that Hotter Than July doesn't?
Totten: Cold As Hell is LGBT Detroit's winter pride event and fundraiser. Both event names are commensurate to the seasons in which they take place. Hotter Than July, Detroit's Black LGBT+ Pride is family-centered. Here, there is something for everyone. Cold As Hell celebrates LGBT+ sexual expression and is only for adults. Cold As Hell was piloted in January 2020, and it was hosted by Al Davis of Atlanta, Georgia, and Jack Thompson, IML of Washington, D.C.

What are you most excited about for Cold As Hell 2021?
Totten: This year Cold As Hell will take place Jan. 29 through 30, 2021. Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, Cold As Hell will take place in a virtual setting. Day one of Cold As Hell features instructional "How To" videos of various kinks/fetishes. Cold As Hell concludes on Jan. 30 with a panel discussion on Dynamics, Power Exchange and Negotiation, and Women in Leather. This year's event will be hosted by Al Davis and Sir Oya Ra of Washington, DC.

[To Jack Thompson & Al Davis]: What did you enjoy most about co-hosting with each other for Cold As Hell 2020? What was able to be accomplished with you two together that you don't think you could have done on your own?
Thompson: Co-hosting with Al was great. It was our first time meeting, and I feel like I left the weekend with a new friend. We had good chemistry and were able to share the mic well. I hope we get to host something together again someday. As for the work we were able to accomplish together, at different points of the weekend he had other responsibilities like demoing and playing. I wasn't teaching, so I was able to cover hosting while he was busy.
Davis: This is kind of a hard question because there was so much that I enjoyed. The first thing I enjoyed the most was the open panel where we got to address questions and share our knowledge with the audience new to kinks and fetishes. Secondly, the knowledge sessions we had were very informative and helped to further educate and even I was able to learn things I didn't know. Finally, the demos we did allow people to see different kinks and fetishes as well as try them.

[To Jack Thompson]: What is one memorable experience/lesson from Cold As Hell 2020 that you'll be taking with you in the future?
Thompson: It takes planning, compromise and community to put on an event like Cold As Hell. I have always found the task of putting something like that on daunting. Jerron, LGBT Detroit and all the volunteers were able to put on an amazing event and take away some lessons to make the next year even better. I am inspired and will take all that I have learned to help other events and organizations in the future.

[To Al Davis]: Jerron told me you'll be returning to co-host Cold As Hell 2021 with Sir Oya Ra. What are you looking forward to with your collaboration?
Davis: I am looking forward to bringing the same energy we brought this year into next year's event. We learned a lot, we had fun and we helped to educate people on kinks and fetishes. We have even more planned for this year so I'm excited for that.

[To Sir Oya Ra]: As future co-host for Cold As Hell 2021, how did your partnership with LGBT Detroit come about?
Ra: Last year, I competed and won the honor of carrying the title, Mr. Maryland Leather 2020 [now 2021 due to COVID]; only the fourth Black Mr. Maryland Leather in 40+ years. After my win, I was seeking ways to be of service to my direct community and communities abroad. I noticed Cold As Hell, but it was too late to participate in the way I wanted to. So, I reached out and offered to help in any way that I could. Since then I have appeared for Detroit's LGBT+ programming representing the Leather & Polyamorous communities. I also had the pleasure of providing a leather education & training intensive weekend to Cold As Hell's Project Coordinator, Jerron Totten [and] christening the founding of Mount Saint Oya Service Montessori School. In hindsight, I wonder if he was "working" the whole time and just feeling out the quality of my educational offerings [laugh]…

What are you looking forward to most and/or hoping to add to the experience of Cold as Hell 2021?
Ra: I am most certainly looking forward to the education! Education is major! I love to teach as I feel that teaching makes me sharper as a practitioner. I look forward to being able to share an experience that may cultivate and liberate. I want for people to be enlightened about what is their own "pleasure manifesto" as my mentee has coined it. "What gets you goin'?!" Leading to, "It's alright, you're not alone." This work should spark something causing its participants to dive deeper into self and into community!

Smitty (they/them/theirs) is a black, non-binary artist from Detroit, MI. They can be found on their website,


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