Friday, September 29, 1995

The Time-Delay Factor

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #9, September 29, 1995)

There are things about writing a column I still haven’t quite figured out. For instance, the time-delay factor: I’m writing this column before going to San Francisco for the International Mr. Drummer contest and the Folsom Street Fair. By the time this column hits the streets I’ll be back in the Twin Cities and the new International Mr. Drummer will have been crowned. So I have a choice—I can write in future-tense, which is appropriate now, as I’m sitting here writing. Or I can write in past-tense, which will be appropriate when the magazine comes out. What to do, what to do?

Well, let’s be realistic about this. There’s no way I could write about it past-tense, since the question on everyone’s lips would be “Who won the contest?” And there would be no way I could answer that. So I will be honest and tell you (in future tense) that I’m going to San Francisco as one of the sponsors of Alvin Robinson, our Great Lakes Mr. Drummer 1995. I am going as a journalist. (I get a press pass and everything!) And I am going for a reunion with a lot of the guys I competed against last year, including the outgoing International Mr. Drummer 1995, Keith Hunt. Keith will be “roasted” by various members of the leather community during a cruise on San Francisco Bay the Friday night before the contest. Next issue, I promise I’ll tell you who won, and I’ll have as many details of the weekend as I can shoehorn into this space.


Mr. Minnesota Leather Contest

October 6 and 7

Something will happen at this contest that’s been a long time coming. J.D. Laufman, who has held a few titles over the years, will finally get to step down from one. You may think that’s a minor point, but it isn’t. The fact that I got to step down from my title makes me one of the lucky ones. After a year of holding my title, it felt good to give that final public performance and to hear the applause one last time. It completed the experience for me. I know a lot of other people who have held titles and didn’t get to have a stepdown. J.D., due to the whims of circumstance, didn’t have a public stepdown from his year as Great Lakes Mr. Drummer 1993, and the same goes for the titles he held before that, Mr. Minnesota Drummer 1993 and Mr. Leather Gay 90’s 1991. Now, finally, he can step down from Mr. Minnesota Leather 1995 and pass on the title to the lucky winner of Mr. Minnesota Leather 1996.

Friday, October 6, there will be a meet-the-contestants beer bash in the Men’s Room bar at the Gay 90’s 9 p.m.-1 a.m. The actual contest is on Saturday, October 7, 4-9 p.m. in the Gay 90’s Dance Annex. Friday-night beer-bash admission is $6 at the door; Saturday-night contest admission is $12 at the door. Weekend package tickets (admission to both events) are $15 and are available from the bartenders in the Men’s Room bar.

Other Upcoming Events

The Mr. Minnesota Leather contest kicks off an October that’s filled with interesting events. Sunday, October 15 marks the first annual Mr. MNBear Contest. Yes, that’s right, it’s the first one. The Bear contest that was held about a year ago was the Mr. Minnesota Bear contest—a different contest with different promoters. That contest was won by Corliss W. Resor, who is finishing up his title year as Mr. Minnesota Bear 1994-95. Corliss has been very active in the community and has been involved in many events, including fundraisers and “entertaining the troops.” Unfortunately, he’s another titleholder who will probably not have the luxury of stepping down from his title (see my previous comments about stepping down). Take a bow, Corliss, you done yourself (and the community) proud.

The next Sunday, October 22, is the Minnesota Leather Den’s Chamber of Horrors II. New Den President BK tells me the Den has been working very hard and it should be a memorable Halloween experience, so mark your calendars now! Also, anyone interesting in helping the Den construct the Chamber of Horrors can come to the Club Metro at 6 p.m. on Tuesday nights now through October 17.

Friday, September 15, 1995

Play Safe? Live Safe

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #8, September 15, 1995)

One of the leather community’s mottos is “Safe, Sane, and Consensual.” Those are good words to live by, and not just within the confines of a scene. Let’s ponder how we can apply them to life in general.

Safety can mean taking precautions so you don’t get hurt and you don’t hurt others. Sanity can refer our community’s high regard for personal integrity and honesty in ourselves and others. (That sounds pretty sane to me.) Unfortunately, we sometimes find that even in the leather community people can be dishonest. What can we, as individuals and as a community, do about that?

I’m going to save the “community” part of this discussion for another column and write here about individual personal safety. While this certainly includes safe sex, it also includes much more. AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases are good things to avoid, but we would also, I’m sure, like to avoid other unpleasantries like property theft, muggings, etc. Unfortunately, the precautions given below can’t guarantee totally smooth sailing. Whether it’s a one-night trick, an occasional sex partner, or a dating situation, there are risks involved. Short of becoming a hermit those risks can’t be completely eliminated, but here are some ways of reducing them.

Our local leather community is a pretty tight group; to say that “everybody knows everybody” is an exaggeration, but not too far from the truth. Use this fact to your advantage! News travels fast, and if certain people have a tendency to act in a less-than-honorable fashion, they tend to develop a reputation. So . . . let’s say you just saw someone across a crowded room who has your hormones in a frenzy. You’ve never noticed them before, but right now you’re not noticing much of anything else. First tip: Before you jump, check them out. Ask around and you’ll probably find someone who knows them, or at least has seen them before. You don’t have to let other people make your decisions for you, but it couldn’t hurt to ask. (When I was first getting into the leather scene, I only half-jokingly formulated a rule: “If you’re going to play with me, you gotta have references.”)

Suppose you ask around and nobody raises any red flags. Assuming you are successful in setting up a rendezvous with the other person, here’s tip #2: Introduce the other person to your friends. Make sure somebody knows where you will be, and with whom.

Tip #3: When you finally get physical, do it safely and sanely. Know the facts about what is considered safe and unsafe, and know what risks you are willing or unwilling to take—and stick by your decisions. If you see a rash or a sore that doesn’t look right, don’t be afraid to ask about it, and don’t be afraid to bring the action to a halt if you think the situation demands it. You have the right to do that (that’s what “consensual” is all about). And even if you see no obvious problems, don’t assume it’s okay to be unsafe “just this once” because the other person “looks okay.” Being safe “some of the time” is another name for being unsafe.

One more way to keep yourself safe: keep your judgment unclouded. It’s difficult to make good determinations about a prospective partner’s character when you’re out of control because you’re too drunk or high to care. If you have an alcohol or drug problem, the rest of the community may be more aware of it than you; be honest with yourself and get the help you need.


The Black Guard presents Tits & Buns

Sunday, September 17, 4-9 pm
Gay 90’s Dance Annex
Satisfy your voyeuristic urges. Come look at the best chests and butts in the Twin Cities—which might include yours. (That could also satisfy your exhibitionistic urges.) $5.00 at the door gets you beer, food, wonderful people-watching and four separate contests: best chest male, best chest female, best buns male and best buns female. All this and door prizes too!

Mr. Minnesota Leather Contest
October 6 and 7
Yes, the cycle begins anew. Prospective contestants should call (612) 522-4771 and inform the organizers of their desire to compete. (The rest of us can just put it on our calendars so we don’t miss it.) Contestants will be judged on interview, speech, fantasy and “presence.” I’ll have more details on this event next issue.

Friday, September 1, 1995

Two Contests and a Funeral

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #7, September 1, 1995)

James Jackson
May 20, 1950-August 8, 1995

James Jackson was born in New Orleans, LA. He moved to Minnesota in 1956, where he resided the rest of his life. He is survived by his partner of 12-1/2 years, Dudley; his mother; four sisters; one brother; grandmothers, grandaunts, and many other loving family members. He was interred in a private ceremony on Friday, August 11, with a memorial service on Saturday, August 12. James was an active member of the community, including the Black Guard of Minneapolis, Goodtime Bowling Association, and CDA. He will be missed by all.

“We can face it together,
The way old friends do!”

On the morning of Saturday, August 12, a memorial service was held for Jim Jackson, who died unexpectedly of complications due to AIDS. Members of the leather community joined with members of Jim’s family and many other friends to pay their respects and share memories.

It was a very nice and a very fitting celebration of Jim’s life. The funeral home was filled to capacity. Thom Johnson, who succeeded Jim as president of the Black Guard, was the moderator. Speakers included representatives from Jim’s family, the Goodtime Bowling Association, and the Black Guard. Dudley, Jim’s partner of 12-1/2 years, read the 23rd Psalm. The music was by artists such as Yanni, Garth Brooks, Anita Baker, and Rod Stewart.

The most moving part of the service occurred near the end, when everyone assembled joined with ABBA in singing “Old Friends.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Both at the service and at the reception afterward, it was interesting and heartening to watch the mingling of the various groups in attendance. Family, friends, fellow bowlers, members of the Black Guard and the Atons, and GDI’s all merged into one big group of people who had come together for Jim. I’m sure, somewhere, Jim was very pleased at the goings-on.

Dale Willman wins Minnesota’s Mr. Fantasy

A sweet, gooey, sticky, messy good time was on hand for attendees of Minnesota’s Mr. Fantasy contest, presented by W.I.L.L.O.W. Productions and held at the Gay 90’s on Sunday, August 13. The two contestants, Dale Willman and Master Zoran, went through a revealing private interview with the panel of judges (headed by Corliss Resor) before the start of the event. Things got underway with the Fantasywear and Question-and-Answer events, followed by each contestant performing their fantasy. Interspersed with the judged events were an audience-participation chug-a-lug event and a food fight demonstration by Zoran and two female members of his entourage. The final judged event was the Mystery category, in which the contestants were stripped naked, outfitted in loudly-patterned boxer shorts, and brought onstage along with such culinary-erotic delights as marshmallows, pies, and whipped cream. Both Dale and Zoran proceeded to delight the crowd by doing remarkable things with Twinkies that are not featured in the Hostess advertisements. (As contestant coordinator for the event, I had the pleasure of helping them clean up after it was all over. No, in spite of my legendary sweet tooth, I did not use my tongue.)

While Master Zoran certainly knows how to entertain a crowd (he’s a dancer and performer at Bondage A Go Go—catch his act Thursday nights), the judges awarded Dale Willman the title of Minnesota’s Mr. Fantasy, and the honor of representing Minnesota at . . .

The First-Ever International Mr. Fantasy Contest

Dale was one of ten contestants who traveled to Omaha, Nebraska to try for the title of International Mr. Fantasy. The weekend started on Friday, August 18, with a welcome party at which the contestants and judges were introduced. During the day on Saturday, August 19, the judges interviewed the contestants; there were also workshops, a vendor fair, and a brunch. The show on Saturday evening was a bit long but quite entertaining.

The new International Mr. Fantasy is JD Buchert of Austin, Texas. His fantasy featured the evening’s most impressive prop, a gigantic spider’s web made of rope on a rotating aluminum frame. An interesting fact about both the first runner-up (Bob Michaels of Las Vegas, Nevada) and the second runner-up (Paul Jaques of Oklahoma City): I competed with both of them in last year’s International Mr. Drummer contest in San Francisco.

The next two weeks look uncharacteristically sedate—my calendar shows no scheduled local leather events. So I guess we’ll all have to make our own amusements. Even if you’re not playing nice, remember to play safe.