Pup Ash-Tray Boner Kain, aka Matthew Mullin, at peace in his cage.

It’s “arff, arff,” not “woof, woof.” Master and slave? Nope. It’s handler and pup. And at special nights at North Hollywood’s Bullet Bar you can run around the floor on your hands and knees, barking, wagging that tail stuck in your butt and chasing balls with your pup buddies. When you’re ready to relax, just roll onto your back and let your tummy get licked.

The “pup culture” is one of the fastest growing gay kink communities. One sign that it has reached a special peak is this week’s first annual L.A. Puppy Pride.

“The four-day long weekend festival celebrates the pup lifestyle no matter what kind of human pup you are, and our approach to everyone is open arms’” says an announcement of the event.

Pup Ash-Tray Boner Kain, aka Matthew Mullin

This year’s L.A. Puppy Pride and the third annual L.A. Pup Contest are a production by Matthew Mullin, aka Pup Ash-Tray Boner Kain, and his lover and handler, Dan Lovell. Mullin is the current International Geared Up Pup titleholder and he and Lovell are the best known promoters of the pup culture in Southern California.

So what is the pup culture? Those who are part of it proudly embrace it as a “kink” and note it has ties to the bondage and discipline / sadism and masochism culture (BDSM) that draws crowds to that private club in North Hollywood for the monthly SoCal Bondage Club event. But there’s no electro shock to the genitals. No bondage (unless you consider a leash as such). And most “handlers” know how to discipline their pups, when needed, without a leather paddle.

Mullin describes his pup life in great detail in an interview on PupPlay.info.

“My pup play headspace is an exciting place,” he says. “At first it was very sexual, and still can be at times. But beyond the sexual side, it is a beautiful and honest place for me to bask, and I feel more connected to my core when I am there. It’s pure freedom. Freedom from everything that ails my human mind. I can just live moment to moment and know that I am safe with my handler, and it becomes almost like a meditation. When the world is difficult, my pup side comes out and I will crawl into my cage and feel peace and serenity flow through me as a pup in a safe space. When another pup gets in the mix or I’m at a mosh, I see all the movement around me and it’s like I’m at an amusement park …

“To me, being a pup promotes a better side of emotional connection between beings. It simplifies all that is complicated in the mind and brings you closer to your primal roots. The intensity of the emotions and the natural response come without much happening in the logical mind, which causes a close emotional connection to the other pups and handlers around you. We relate by movement and stance, playing with toys and nuzzling, which are all body language and physical actions versus logic and cohesive analytical thought. Not to say that a pup has no brain, we definitely do. It’s just that when you get into headspace regularly, you aren’t really using your brain in the same way you do as a human.”

Pup Dazzle, LA Pup Contest 2017 winner.

This month’s four major Puppy Pride events start Thursday night (Nov. 9) at 8 p.m. with “Pup Play Hollywood” at Bullet Bar at 10522 Burbank Blvd. in North Hollywood. Admission is free to the event, which will feature a screening of “WOOF: a Barkumentary,” which is a documentary about the pup scene in New York City. Also being screened is a clip from “You Can Do Better,” a TruTV program hosted by Matthew Lakiewhitz that features an interview with Mullins explaining what pup play is and why he does it. A panel, including some of the L.A. Pup Contest judges and some of those features in the films, will discuss pup culture and how it is seen through the media. The event, open to those 21 and over, will be followed by an opening gala.

Friday, Nov. 10, is the quarterly “Dog Pound” event at 9 p.m. at Bullet Bar. Given that it is Veterans Day, this one will honor service pups. The event also will include “Bark and Sniff,” the official meet and greet (and first round of judging) of the seven L.A. Pup Contest contestants. It’s being billed as the only place to “mosh” with the contestants in the puppy pit. Later that evening there will be a celebration of last year’s L.A. Pup titleholder, Pup Dazzle. Any pup, even pups who have no money, who want to go to this event can always volunteer by emailing Skullbit2014@gmail.com

The actual contest takes place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11, at Metropolitan Community Church, 5730 Cahuenga Blvd., in North Hollywood. The Los Angeles Pup Contest is for anyone who likes to be a human pup and is open across all genders and types of people. This contest is a feeder contest for all International Puppy-themed contests. There will be three segments, each including all contestants. In one segment, each contestant will portray a pup play fantasy. Then each will explain how he would fix or deal with an important community issue. Then each is invited to show his pup side. Pup Dazzle, L.A. Pup 2017 will give his step-down speech, and the Legendary Pup Award and the Skullbit Award will be given. The cover charge is $7. After the contest there will be a party at the Bullet Bar in North Hollywood, which no cover charge there.

At 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12, the Eagle L.A. will host “Bone,” the closing party for L.A. Puppy Pride Weekend. This will be a dance party with a raffle that is a fundraiser for the L.A. Pup 2018 travel fund as well as victory party for the new winner. The Eagle is at 4219 Santa Monica Blvd., in Los Angeles.

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