Brue Pierce:My names Brue Pierce. Where I’m from is a loaded question. Do you want to know where I was born or where I’ve lived?
Gpup Alpha:I suppose where are you based?
Brue Pierce:Where am I based? I’m based in San Francisco area, Oakland specifically, here in California.
Gpup Alpha:You’ve had a significant role in the pup scene within America, but certainly within the San Francisco area.
Gpup Alpha:Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Brue Pierce:In the San Francisco area or are you talking about Woof Camp at IML?
Gpup Alpha:Let’s have a talk about Woof Camp because it’s a very well known event. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Brue Pierce:Woof Camp, last year was the last year for Woof Camp. I ended it because I kind of retired. I’ve been doing the moshes at IML for 13, 14 years. Before Woof Camp, it used to be called Kennel. Then when I fully took over, I changed the name to Woof Camp with some other friends. Gunny came up with the logo and a bunch of other volunteers, but I was the one producing it all the time.
Woof Camp was at IML in Chicago during Memorial Weekend for International Mr. Leather. Way back when, it used to just be five, six, eight of us pups that just happened to randomly meet at ILM and we’re like, “Oh you’re a pup. I’m a pup, Ah, let’s hang out. Let’s socialise.” Then we just would find a little quiet area. This was back in the Parmer House back when they used to have the San Francisco and the Texas party and a little stairwell back there. We just would meet there. We’d romp around a little bit and then we would occasionally meet each other from the event. That was it. It was Saturday, “Oh good. I’ll see you next year, Saturday,” at this area.
Then we would meet other people during the year and say, “Oh, come here.” Little by little, it grew. Then we actually got more organised to where then it became called Kennel. That’s when Nipper and Venny and myself and some others were involved in it. Then from there, it just kept growing to where we finally outgrew the little stairwell area. Then Nipper helped organise and get a room for us. Then we had it there and easily outpacked that room just with people and attendees and stuff. Then next year, it just kept getting bigger. Then I took over helping produce it as more behind the scenes back then. Then I just took over doing it. Like I said, Gunny came up with the logo and I just produced it and then every year just kept getting bigger and bigger. The rooms kept getting bigger. At one point, the biggest year was at the Hyatt. We had two ballrooms.
Gpup Alpha:Two ballrooms? How many pups were there?
Brue Pierce:We lost count as far as the clicker thingie. I think we had like 1,200 people come through the door.
Gpup Alpha:1,200 people?
Brue Pierce:Yeah, but that’s not all pups. That included the attendees and pups and handlers.
Gpup Alpha:That’s crazy.
Brue Pierce:It was a lot of people that year. Thank God we had the two ballrooms.
Gpup Alpha:How long ago was that?
Brue Pierce:That was three or four years ago because from there then we … They left the Hyatt and started going down … I think they went to the Marriott this past two years. I think we were back at The Congress last year.
Gpup Alpha:When you think about it, if you had 1,200 people four years ago, the numbers must have been crazy last year.
Brue Pierce:It got very difficult because as they went to the new hotels, our room allocation got smaller. The people didn’t get smaller, the groups didn’t get smaller, but our room allocation got smaller. It proved to be challenging. Here’s another thing a lot of people didn’t know about because people would always say, “Why don’t you do during the day time?” I’m like, “Because I work during the day time.” I’m working in the vendor area for Mr S Leather. That’s why I never did during the day time because I didn’t want to put thousands and thousands of volunteer hours into an event that I wasn’t going to be at. That’s why it was always at night. If we had been able to do it during the day, we might have had a little bit of room logistics. Last year at Woof Camp, I retired it because I’d been doing IML for like 20 some odd years now and, like I said, puppy moshes for 13/14 years now. I just was getting a little tired because I wanted to-
Gpup Alpha:Time to hand over the line?
Brue Pierce:It was. It was time to hand over. I wanted fresh blood, new ideas, new stuff. Luckily, I’ve found somebody to take the over, Kenneth Anthony from the Arizona PAH, Pups and Handlers group. They came and their pack took over. Then here at the same time, I was creating Woof Camp Weekend here in San Francisco with the San Francisco Canine Unit. That was a little bit … Each year, it’s getting a little bigger. I handed that over also to them, to the Canine Units, said, “Here, keep producing it, but I am retiring from that.”
Gpup Alpha:Tell us about the weekend. What would be involved in that?
Brue Pierce:The Woof Camp Weekend here in San Francisco? It was a three-day … I had envisioned four day, but for now it was a three-day event, where you would have a meet and greet, a dinner. You would have moshing the one night. The next day, you would have breakfast with the group. You have some kind of discussion, more moshing, a dance that night. That was Saturday. Then Sunday would be like a movie cuddle puddle way to wind down the weekend.
Originally, we had tried to organise it to be with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Easter Weekend, but Easter Weekend kept moving every year time. We wanted to have it like you knew that it was always this date every year. With Easter moving every year, it was hard to organisation. We moved away from Easter. Now it’s its own dedicated event, which I think is now August 12th and 14th.
Gpup Alpha:It must have been … I’m just trying to imagine what was the pup scene like 12 years ago.
Brue Pierce:12 years ago. Decades and decades ago … Before the internet, it was really hard because there wasn’t a lot of us out there. At least, there wasn’t a lot of us publicly out there. It was definitely an underground movement. There was some of us out there, but thank God for the internet. That’s what brought it out. I kept telling people way back then, “This is the next stage. This is the next trend. This is the next boom coming along the line.” They didn’t believe me. Look where we are now. Thank God for the internet because it really helped to open a lot of doors and make a lot of connections. Before then, you’d only meet maybe if you were lucky people at the events. Then it was rare that I’d meet somebody else. Back then, it was like, “You’re weird. Why are you barking and growling? Why are you acting like a dog or a pup?”
Gpup Alpha:Socially, how would you meet other pups? Would you just meet at a leather bar or something like that?
Brue Pierce:Pure luck actually, a lot of it back then. I just happened to be I’m very gregarious, outgoing person. When I was real young I decided that I was just going to be that way as a gay man. As I got a little older, as a kinky gay man, I wasn’t going to hide it. I’m just going to be who I am because I remember being that lonely little gay boy looking out, going, “God, I’m the only one.” Not realising that person just walked by me was one. I wanted to make sure that … Not that I was going to be flaming or out and proud, but I wanted if somebody saw me, they’re like, “Oh, I’m not the only one. There’s somebody else who is a gay, kink man.” I just would be my pup self and somebody would say, “What are you doing? Why are you doing that? Are you a pup?” Then I would talk to them or somebody else would come up to me and go, “Oh my God. I’m one too.”
Gpup Alpha:When did you discover pup inklings?
Brue Pierce:Probably when I was like five or six years old. The other kids would want to play cops and robbers or whatever and I always wanted to be the guard dog. I always wanted to be the police dog. I wanted to be the dog. They’re just like, “Okay, whatever.” I enjoyed it. I was happy doing that. Then my teen years, I had a little nickname for a little while, Old Yeller, just because I was make noises and growl and things like that.
Not until I was like 20/21, where a man I was dating, who happened to be in Denver … He was one of the Sisters there. He was like, “Hey, I’m doing a show, and I want you to help me.” I’m like, “Okay.” Actually, it came about really through sex because unbeknownst to me, when we would have sex, I would make a lot of barks and growls and noises. One time afterwards, he was like, “I think you’re a dog or a pup.” I was like, “[inaudible 00:10:52]?” He was like, “I really think you’re a dog or a pup. Have you ever thought about that?” I’m like, “What? What?”
We explored it, and it was through Don that I embraced it. Actually, I was really blessed that he, unlike other boyfriends who might have been freaked out about it, he just said, “Hey, this is interesting. Let’s explore it. See where it goes.” He’s actually the one who gave me my name.
Gpup Alpha:What does Brue mean?
Brue Pierce:When he gave me my name, he said, “I want to give you a dog name, but I want to think about it for a few weeks. Then at the end of the weeks, I’m going to give you a choice of two names and you pick the one you want.” For those two weeks, I just kept thinking, “Not Fifi, not Fifi, not Fifi.” Nothing wrong with Fifis, but that just wasn’t me and I just didn’t want that. I was really nervous and excited.
I actually don’t remember what the other choice was, but he finally said, “This name or Brutus.” Brutus is actually the name, but he would just say, “Hey Brue, come here Brue, come here Brue.” Then other people, he’d be like, “Oh, that’s my dog Brue, Brutus, Brue.” It just kept getting shortened to Brue. It just stuck. Really the full name is Brutus, but almost everybody knows me as Brue. It’s just stuck that way.
Gpup Alpha:At that time, did you have some sort of development towards your pup persona? Did you have a breed in mind or … ?
Brue Pierce:I did. Back then, I really investigated and researched. I went to libraries because I love libraries. I just researched different breeds and looked at different pictures and looked at different characteristic traits. I originally picked the Australian Shepherd dog. That’s what I identified for a little while, but then people who got to know me and got to meet me over the years kept saying, “God, you’re such a Golden. God, you’re such a Golden. God, you’re such a Golden Retriever.” I kept thinking, “Okay, maybe they’re seeing something in me that I’m not realising about myself.” I looked up descriptions and I thought, “Okay, I could see myself as a Golden,” so I switched breeds. I know some people are like, “You can’t do that.” I’m like, “I can do whatever I want. This is my pup journey.”
Gpup Alpha:Yeah, it’s like, “Hello, you’re living in a world where you get to be a totally different species. I think you get to change however you damn well please.”
Brue Pierce:I did. Actually the other breed I had originally looked at was Dalmatian, which my current handler, Teeth, he loves Dalmatians, so it’s a shame that I didn’t go that way. He got a Golden unfortunately.
Gpup Alpha:When you consider the breed standard, it’s a working breed, a loyal breed and not quite as … What is the word? Lush as a Labrador. You actually move a little bit and you don’t sit around eating cheesecake all day.
Brue Pierce:No, I’m very much the working dog, as my pack and my handler will attest to.
Gpup Alpha:You’ve got a pack. Can you tell us a bit about your pack?
Brue Pierce:I have a pack. I’m the alpha in the pack. Our pack … I have a handler and then I have a wolf and then I have a pup because I also handle. I’m versatile in that role. As I said, I’m a biped. I’m a dog and I’m a handler all in one. My handler lives in Denver. My wolf lives here. My pup, Cockpit, lives in Canada.
Brue Pierce:Yes, long distance is very hard.
Gpup Alpha:How do you make that work?
Brue Pierce:Skype, lots of communication. You travel when you can afford it. It’s hard.
Gpup Alpha:For pups who say that they struggle to meet other pups in their local area, it is possible to have a pack that’s extended?
Brue Pierce:It is. That’s what I call my family, my pack, but then also we have a pack here in San Francisco. Beyond those members within our pack, we then have pack members, Pup Knight, Wolf Pup, Pup Arrow. Grommit is now Arrow’s new beta, who has just joined. I’m getting to know a couple of other handlers right now that may or may not join the pack. Then there’s another pup that may or may not join. We’ll see. It’s just as you meet people, you feel them out and see whether they’re going to be a good fit or not with that. Our pack is very much a social pack. We’re very much about hanging out, socialising, playing games, movies.
Gpup Alpha:You’re a gamer. What sort of games do you play?
Brue Pierce:Jenga, Red Dragon Inn, Hail Agusta, board games, card games. We just like games.
Gpup Alpha:I wonder whether that’s got to do with the role play fantasy element because a lot of pups … Within in Serious, we’re all gamers. You can learn a lot about a pup by playing games with them as well.
Brue Pierce:I think you can. I would say half the pack are video gamers, the younger ones. Then the older ones, we’re more board gamers. I think it’s generational. I come from the Atari generation. Yes, I know. I dated myself. These guys come from the Xbox generation.
Gpup Alpha:There’s only so much Pong you can play.
Brue Pierce:There’s only so much … You would laugh, but my grandfather was one of the people who had the original Pong. You went to his house in the farm. He’s like, “I just got this new device. It’s Pong.” We would play for hours.
Gpup Alpha:The choice of that or making corndogs, I imagine that’s the choice you [crosstalk 00:16:48].
Brue Pierce:It was.