Friday, December 20, 1996

A Christmas Fantasy: The real Drummerboy story

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #41, December 20, 1996)

Many, many years ago, in a land far away, there was a young drummerboy named Willie. Willie played his drum at the temple, where he accompanied the temple dancers. He loved drumming, and he also loved the leather harness that he wore to carry the drum. It had been a gift from his Daddy, who had made it especially for him. He loved the harness so much that sometimes he wore it even when he wasn’t playing drums. His Daddy had a harness too (even though he didn’t play drums at all) and most of their other friends had harnesses and other leather clothing as well.

Playing the drum at the temple didn’t pay very well, but Willie didn’t mind. Shortly after he had attained manhood and left his parents’ house he had started living with his Daddy, an older gentleman who made a good living as a successful astrologer.

One winter night, Willie and his Daddy were lying in bed, cradled in each other’s arms. Willie, feeling very contented, looked out the window at the starry sky. Suddenly he saw one star grow brighter and brighter, until it blazed with a radiance he had never seen before. As he drifted off to sleep holding his Daddy, he thought to himself that the star could have symbolized the love he and his Daddy shared.

The next day Willie had just finished playing his drum when his Daddy suddenly appeared at the temple. “Willie, take your drum and come with me,” said his Daddy. “We’re going on a long journey.” The King had seen the same star that Willie and his Daddy had seen the night before, and had asked his Daddy’s company (Weisman, Weisman and Weisman Astrological Consultants P.A.) to investigate it.

Day and night, the star continued to blaze in the sky as Willie, his Daddy and his Daddy’s two partners followed it for twelve days. Finally, it led them to a tiny stable behind an inn in an obscure village. In the stable, among the animals and the stablehands, there was a young woman, Mary, sitting on a bale of hay nursing a baby! Willie had never seen such a sight before. But what was even more incredible was that his Daddy and his Daddy’s partners knelt down before the mother and child and presented them with rare and precious gifts. Willie didn’t understand at all what was happening.

Willie’s Daddy, seeing the look of puzzlement on his face, took him aside. He explained that he and his partners had all had a dream telling them that this child was the long-awaited Hebrew Moshiac, or Messiah, who was born to remind all people everywhere of the common humanity they share.

Willie was amazed to hear this. He understood how important this was, and he felt both honored to be in the presence of this child and ashamed that he had no gift to bring, as his Daddy had. He went over to Mary intending to apologize. But before he could say anything, Mary spoke to him. “Thank you for coming here, Willie. You honor my child with your presence. Your Daddy told me all about you.” “He did?” Willie suddenly felt uneasy; many people in that time didn’t approve of Daddy/boy relationships, or people who wore harnesses even when they didn’t need to. Mary, who was wise beyond her years, sensed his discomfort and said, “Yes, and don’t you ever worry or feel ashamed of who you are. You have every right to be part of this holy event; you are just as much a brother to this child as is any other person.

“This child was born to be brother and friend to everyone in the whole world, in each and every tribe. I know your tribe is working on brotherhood and sisterhood in your own way. You have an idea of what brotherhood and sisterhood are all about; many people in this world don’t.”

Willie listened, fascinated, as Mary foretold some of the events in the life of her child, Jesus. He would never condemn anyone, and in fact would associate with many classes of people whom the rest of society at the time considered untouchable. History would never record whether Jesus ever married or had children. But it would record that he had many followers, including a disciple named John who would be enigmatically referred to as “the disciple Jesus loved”; scholars would argue for centuries over the exact meaning of that phrase. And they would argue over whether or not Jesus was, in fact, Moshiac. What they wouldn’t argue about was that Jesus was destined to play the most famous crucifixion scene in history.

Willie found himself lost in the wonder of Mary’s predictions. Suddenly, he remembered what he had intended to tell her: “I’m sorry I have no gift to give your son.” As he said this, an idea came to him: “Perhaps I can play my drum for him, like I do in the temple.” Mary nodded and said, “I think that would be lovely.”

As his Daddy listened with pride, Willie played his drum softly, gently and skillfully, tapping into the primal rhythms of the wind, sky, ocean, birds and animals. As he played, Mary swayed and rocked Jesus gently to the rhythm of the drum.

As they left the stable, Willie turned to his Daddy and said, “Daddy, I think we just saw something very special.” “Yes,” said his Daddy, “I think we did.”

Friday, December 6, 1996

Who Put The “M” in SM? Leather and SM In History

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #40, December 6, 1996)

“The New Joy of Gay Sex,” by Dr. Charles Silverstein and Felice Picano (published by Harper Perennial) is a fascinating gay-sex encyclopedia covering everything from “AIDS” and “Bars” to “Wills” and “Wrestling.” While not specifically targeted at the leather community, it contains a wealth of leather- and SM-related information (as well as some spectacular illustrations). Here’s one interesting SM tidbit:

SM, in leather circles, stands for “sadomasochism.” It is relatively common knowledge that sadism (achieving sexual pleasure by inflicting pain) takes its name from the Marquis de Sade. The origin of the name of the opposite practice, masochism (achieving sexual pleasure from receiving pain), is much less well-known.

According to “The New Joy of Gay Sex”, masochism takes its name from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, “a historian and novelist. All his novels contained whipping scenes, and he himself preferred to be whipped by women wearing furs, especially if the women were older.” (It’s an interesting comment on society’s values that the Marquis de Sade has become a household name and archetype, while von Sacher-Masoch languishes in relative obscurity.)

Some other items of historical interest from “The New Joy of Gay Sex”:

• The flagellants were a twelfth-century mass movement within the Catholic Church that encouraged people to flog themselves until they bled.

• Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque was a seventeenth-century nun who “carved the name of Jesus on her chest with a knife.” Because the carving didn’t last long enough, she subsequently burnt it in with a candle. (She was canonized in 1920.)

• Saint Mary-Magdalen dei Pazzi “used to roll in thornbushes in the convent garden, then go into the convent and whip herself. She also forced novices to tie her to a post, insult her, whip her, and drop hot wax on her.”

(The above examples are not intended to be disrespectful of the Catholic Church, but rather to show that SM impulses have been around a long time and in many different and unexpected segments of society.)

• The Chicago Hell Fire Club is an organization of men who are into heavy SM play; their annual Inferno run is a social and sexual highlight of the SM scene. Where did the name of the club come from? It was “probably borrowed from the Hell-Fire Club organized by Sir Francis Dashwood in late eighteenth-century England.”

On a more local note, the Atons leather club of Minneapolis take their name from Akhenaton, the Egyptian Pharoah just before Tutankhamun. His theory was that there was just one divine being instead of a myriad of gods. He called that god the Aton, the Sun God, and symbolized it as a sun disk with rays streaming from it. He closed the old temples and built new ones for the Aton. After he assumed the throne he installed a man named Smenkhare on the throne of Queen Nefertiti, his wife. Smenkhare was given all Nefertiti’s royal titles, and the inscriptions that remain make it clear that Akhenaton and Smenkhare were lovers. Eventually the old priesthood overthrew Akhenaton, installed the boy prince Tutankhamun (whose name was originally Tutankhaton) as his successor, and tried to obliterate Akhenaton’s name from the earth (primarily because of his religious heresy, not his sexuality).

Now you know.

Upcoming Leather Events

Leather Knights

Wednesdays in December, 8 pm to close, Town House Country
Leather/levi/uniform attire encouraged. Drinks are $1.50 all night with a $5 cover.

Atons Holiday Fund-raiser
Sunday, December 8, 5-10 pm, The Saloon
Help the Atons fill a few baskets by attending this fund-raiser benefiting The Aliveness Project’s Holiday Basket Program. $7 at the door or $5 with donation of food shelf items or new unwrapped toys. Free food, 75¢ tap beer & soda, other drink specials. Net proceeds benefit The Aliveness Project. For more info: call or e-mail

Steve Kelso Aliveness Project Fund-raiser
Friday, December 13, 9 pm, Town House Country
Come meet the legend himself! Buy a calendar or poster and Steve will autograph it for you on the spot. $5.00 at the door, net proceeds benefit The Aliveness Project.

Friday, November 22, 1996

The Difference Between Black and Gray

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #39, November 22, 1996)

True or false: a leatherman displaying a gray hankie in his right pocket thinks it would be fun to be tied up and beaten.

Answer: False. Although “tied up” and “beaten” may seem like a natural kinky sex combination, bondage and domination or B&D (gray hankie) are not the same as SM sex (black hankie). B&D covers a wide range of activities, some of which overlap with SM but many of which don’t. The gentleman in the above example may indeed want to be tied up or otherwise dominated, but that gray hankie says nothing about wanting to be beaten.

Being tied up or otherwise restrained may be followed by a flogging session, tit clamps, and hot wax. But it could as easily be followed by a long, slow blow job, full-body massage session, or a tongue bath—things even non-kinky types might find pleasurable. If you think of bondage only in connection with SM activities, think again; you may be missing something very enjoyable.

The theme of bondage runs through modern society, although most people don’t consciously think of it that way. A wedding ring is a symbol of being bound to another person, and the fact that one needn’t get pierced to wear one doesn’t change that fact. And a necktie can symbolize submission to a multinational corporation just as much as a dog collar can symbolize submission to a master. Many people turn to bondage and domination play as a way of understanding dynamics that the rest of society often would rather not discuss.

For a person playing the “bottom” role part of the thrill of bondage may come from being, literally, “out of control”—having turned control over to the top. The top, in turn, gets a thrill from being in total control of (and responsible for) another person. Some people even practice self-bondage (harnesses, corsets, cock-and-ball toys, butt plugs, or even tall boots laced up tight) and experience a combination of both feelings.

Safe, sane and consensual applies to bondage just as much as to SM. In SM sex the giving and receiving of pain is a major source of pleasure. Pain in bondage, however, is often a sign that something’s wrong. For instance, ropes or handcuffs that are too tight can cut off circulation; uncomfortable positions maintained for long periods of time can lead to tissue or nerve damage. Duct tape-and-Saran-Wrap devotees can cause all kinds of problems by staying wrapped too long. Being bound in whatever fashion should not mean being in physical discomfort or danger.

Another safety point: Just as a good SM scene has a “safeword” which instantly stops the action, a good bondage scene has the Houdini-like escape provisions necessary to ensure safety in an emergency. Some examples: a knife or scissors to cut rope (use them carefully!); extra handcuff or padlock keys; quick-release buckles on restraints.

If bondage sounds interesting to you, explore it. Start slowly, and take the time to learn to do it safely. There are many excellent books available on various bondage techniques and at least one magazine, “Bound and Gagged,” devoted to the subject. Finally, the Twin Cities Bondage Association is a good learning and networking resource: TCBA, St. Paul, MN.

STEVE KELSO is coming to the Twin Cities!

Are you a Steve Kelso fan? If so, then Friday, December 13 is your lucky day. You’ll be able to meet the legend himself at an Aliveness Project fundraiser to be held at Town House Country in St. Paul. Buy a calendar or poster and Steve will autograph it for you on the spot. (Talk about pleasurable Christmas shopping! And for a good cause, too.) The event starts at 9 pm. $5.00 at the door, net proceeds benefit The Aliveness Project.

If you just can’t wait that long, check out the official Kelso web site, coyly called “Hairway to Steven” at After thorough exploration of that site, you can link to an incredible universe of other leather/bear/fur sites that could keep you busy for hours!

Upcoming and Ongoing Leather Events

For quite a while now, the Men’s Room Bar at the Gay 90’s has been the one place locally that catered specifically to the leather community. Recently several other Twin Cities clubs, listed below, have started vying for our patronage.

Last Friday of the month (this month: November 29), 9 pm to close, Club Metro Underground
Leather/levi/latex/uniform dress code enforced, so the dance floor is all leather all evening. Come say hello to former 90’s bartenders Vern and Lawrence. $5 cover, free beer 9 pm-midnight.

NEW! Leather Knights
Wednesdays in December, 8 pm to close, Town House Country
Leather/levi/uniform attire encouraged. $5 cover includes free beer or $1.50 for other drinks.

Hard Mondays
Every Monday, 10 pm to close, The Saloon
Leather/levi/fetish wear. Amazing scenes and demonstrations. No cover.

Friday, November 8, 1996

Gay Marriage (and other forms of bondage)

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #38, November 8, 1996)

The legalization of gay marriage seems to have become a “hot-button” topic for the entire gay community, and members of the leather community are no exception. This year’s outgoing International Mr. Fantasy J.D. Buchert and his lover David Gillis renewed their vows onstage at the contest. And at this year’s International Mr. Drummer Contest, Mr. Southern California Drummer Kyle Brandon (who went on to win the International Mr. Drummer title) performed a “fantasy” which was not a fantasy at all, but rather a real-life marriage ceremony between him and his lover. In addition, many of the speeches at all three of this year’s international leather contests contained references to the issue of gay marriage.

Fighting for the legalization of gay marriage is a good and noble cause; it will be a great day when society no longer tells us our love is second-class love. But gay marriage is really just the tip of the iceberg.

In one sense, relationships in the leather community run the same gamut as in the rest of the gay community, which run the same gamut as in straight society (where, by the way, currently half of all marriages end in divorce). Leather relationships run for varying lengths of time, from hours to years, and none of them come with a guarantee. But because they’re not “normal,” people tend to give a lot more thought before entering into them, and that tends to make them healthier and more stable.

Relationships in the gay community in general and the leather/SM community in particular come in a rainbow of flavors the general straight public doesn’t usually consider. The leather community, in addition to woman/woman or man/man (and even, on occasion, woman/man) spousal relationships, offers such esoteric relationship choices as daddy/boy (neither of which is necessarily male, by the way) and master/slave. Adding to the richness of choices (or confusion, depending on your viewpoint) is the fact that one person may engage in multiple concurrent relationships; one person could theoretically be someone’s boy, someone else’s daddy, someone else’s master or slave, and someone else’s spouse all at the same time.

Certain elements of straight society find relationships like these threatening and subversive. They are so frightened by the form of these relationships they never get around to investigating the content; if they did they’d see the same kind of “traditional family values” they spend so much time talking about. The negotiations preceding an SM scene, and the trust necessary to bring it off properly, bespeak a respect for ourselves and the other person or people involved. The same can be said for a healthy and affirming daddy/boy or master/slave relationship.

These relationships don’t just happen—they require work and care and nurturing. But the work and care and nurturing pay off in learning what makes a healthy relationship and what doesn’t. And generally, the good that’s gained from these leather/SM relationships spills over into all the other relationships in which a person is involved, from work to family to casual acquaintances to people on the street.

If we let someone else’s disapproval dampen our enjoyment of our culture and our relationships we have only ourselves to blame. No one can oppress another without the other’s consent. To the extent we are secretive about the nature of our relationships we reinforce to ourselves, and to the general public, the idea that those relationships aren’t acceptable.

The Stonewall rebellion was about gays and lesbians questioning their oppression by straight society. It spawned a viewpoint that said, “We’re tired of not having the same rights as straights. When is it going to be our turn?”

The answer to that question is simple. It’s our turn whenever we take it.

But if we don’t take it, no one will ever give it to us.

More and more gay people, both leather and non-leather, aren’t waiting for society to legalize gay marriage, to “give us our turn.” They’re taking their turn right now. The leather/SM and non-leather GLBT communities have taken society’s rulebook (in which marriage is defined as a lifelong monogamous union of a submissive wife and a dominant husband for the purpose of producing offspring) and thrown it away. We no longer constrained by those rules—we are free to invent new kinds of relationships that meet our needs and the needs of those we love. If two people of whatever sex and/or gender decide that a traditional monogamous marriage framework (with or without children) is what they want, fine. If another framework better meets their needs, that’s fine too.

Legalized gay marriage will offer certain benefits (and will also entail certain responsibilities). But legislation won’t change peoples’ hearts and minds—hearts and minds will have to change in order for the legislation to be enacted. And hearts and minds will be changed, one heart and one mind at a time, by enough of us being open and proud of our culture and our relationships—woman/woman, man/man, daddy/boy, master/slave, whatever.

Leather pride—or any other pride, for that matter—is when we can be open, honest, genuine about ourselves and our relationships, and not feel a need to apologize. And it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy—over time society will get used to the idea that our relationships can be healthy, positive and satisfying. Finally, in a stunning example of anticlimax, gay marriage will be legalized.

But we don’t really have to wait for that to happen. Remember, it’s our turn whenever we take it. It’s our turn right now.

Upcoming Leather Events

Ms. Minnesota Leather Competition 1997

Friday, November 15, 9-11 pm, Club Metro Underground “Maximum X” Bar
$5.00 at the door includes free beer, food, door prizes and free parking. Don’t forget the “trashy pants” contest! (See the previous issue of Lavender for more details.)

Black Guard 20th Anniversary Chili Feed
Sunday, November 17, 4-9 pm, Gay 90’s Dance Annex
A leather community tradition. Free beer, soft drinks, food, prizes. (You can also get your link in the “Get Linked” chain if you haven’t already done so.) $5 at the door.

Friday, October 25, 1996

Are Leather Dress Codes Discriminatory?

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #37, October 25, 1996)

Lavender recently received a letter that asked:

“When I go into the LeFemme Show Lounge, I don’t have to wear drag. When I go into the Triangle Corral, I don’t have to wear a cowboy hat. When I go into the Dance Annex, I don’t have to wear dancing shoes.

“Why is it that when I am invited to PAY for admission to the Men’s Room for a Leather Community event, I am told that a dress code will be enforced. Does this mean that the Leather Community is excluding other factions of the total Gay Community? I’m especially interested because several times you have given the advice that if a person thinks he may be interested in the Leather Community he should attend a couple of events. That means I have to buy the leather BEFORE I make my decision.”

Mention the words “leather dress code” and a heated discussion will probably ensue. Some people feel they’re discriminatory; others wonder why the Twin Cities doesn’t have a leather bar with a dress code enforced seven nights a week, not just on special occasions.

New York City is large enough to support a leather bar with a dress code that’s always enforced. It’s called LURE; the name is an acronym for “Leather, Uniform, Rubber, Etc.,” and that’s the dress code that is very concisely spelled out at the entrance. No tennis shoes, no polo shirts, no chinos, no cologne or aftershave.

This is not the Fashion Police at work. This is a business that is trying to please its customers; the dress code is there in response to, and with the support of, LURE’s primary clientele. This is no different than an upscale restaurant requesting that gentlemen wear neckties.

Leather events in the Twin Cities use the leather dress code for the same reason: to get more people to attend. The leather clubs and other organizers of these events don’t want to exclude those who may be curious about the community but haven’t yet acquired any leather; on the contrary, they want to encourage these people to investigate the scene. This is why the dress code at most events includes “Levi/Shirtless.” The combination of jeans and a bare chest is a masculine look appropriate to the event, and just about everyone already owns a pair of jeans.

A drag show is just that: a show. The performers are on stage to be slightly outrageous, to titillate and to entertain the public. (To paraphrase Liberace, they don’t dress that way to be ignored!) Leather dress codes do aim to exclude people who don’t understand or respect leather and its ethos — who think leather is just another form of drag show and who want to be scandalized by these “brutes who are fruits.” These “tourists” are pretty easy to spot in a leather bar, and they are not appreciated. The patrons at a leather bar are there to enjoy the atmosphere and each other’s company, not to be part of a floor show.

TCBA Party Simulcast on World Wide Web

The Twin Cities Bondage Association (TCBA) recently held its “Camera Night” play party and perhaps made history at the same time. As far as anyone has been able to determine, this marked the first time that images of a play party have been simulcast over the World Wide Web. (Earlier this year the International Mr. Leather contest in Chicago was the first leather contest to be simulcast in this fashion.)

The TCBA was formed to provide a safe place for bondage play, networking, and education. For further information, write to TCBA, St. Paul MN.

Upcoming Leather Events

Ms. Minnesota Leather Competition 1997

Friday, November 15, 9-11 pm, Club Metro Underground “Maximum X” Bar
In addition to the contest there will be entertainment (including the Rainbow Cloggers), vendors, a barber, and a “trashy pants” contest with a cash prize (now you know what to wear to the event). $5.00 at the door includes free beer, food, door prizes and free parking.

Women in and of leather are encouraged to compete. Contestant applications are available at Club Metro, or see Darlette Knox in the DJ booth at the Gay 90’s. Vendor space is still available for groups, clubs or businesses; for vendor forms, sponsor sheets, and further information contact Darlette.

Friday, October 11, 1996

SF Leather Pride Week A Winner

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #36, October 11, 1996)

The leather community of San Francisco recently threw their annual party known as Leather Pride Week, which culminated in the International Mr. Drummer Contest and the 13th annual Folsom Street Fair. While Mr. Southern California Drummer Kyle Brandon captured the sash in the International Mr. Drummer contest, the leather community in general and San Francisco’s leather community in particular were the real winners.

After a full week of warm-up activities, the International Mr. Drummer contest was held Saturday afternoon, September 28. This contest almost didn’t happen, but several key individuals stepped in at the last minute to make sure it took place. Many of the behind-the-scenes personnel were new to the business of putting on a leather contest, but everyone appeared to be intensely focused on what they were doing; the result was a briskly paced contest with no awkward production moments.

No paid entertainers were on the program. The focus was solely on the contestants, who more than rose to the challenge and presented uniformly well-executed fantasies. Some highlights:

• “The Wizard of Oz” was re-interpreted by Rick Noss, Mr. Desert Plains Drummer. The Tin Woodsman’s new use for his oil can and fashioning a condom out of aluminum foil gave new meaning to the term “beer-can cock.”

• Great Lakes Mr. Drummer Jerry Leigh appeared as a bottom being worked on by three different tops while the audience enthusiastically cheered him on. (When the fantasy ended he had worn out all three tops and was begging for more.)

• Mr. Gulf Coast Drummer Don Woods presented a surreal (and inspiredly silly) fantasy reminiscent of 50’s kiddie TV show “Kukla, Fran & Ollie.” It was a hot barnyard SM scene being watched by a horse puppet (who also sang) peeking out the barn door.

• Mr. Florida Drummer Bill Masters appeared as a leather Forrest Gump. This fantasy also featured the unique symbolism of a sculpture of the state of Florida becoming an erection and finally exploding in a shower of ping-pong balls.

• The final fantasy of the evening was Kyle Brandon’s. It turned out not to be a fantasy at all, but rather a real gay marriage ceremony between Brandon and his partner, who an hour later became an instant sash widow. Brandon’s fantasy included cameo appearances by leather notables Brian Dawson (International Mr. Drummer 1989), Mikal Bales of Zeus Productions, and Pup (the outgoing International Drummerboy).

The winners: The Golden Whip Award (a.k.a. Miss Congeniality) went to “Ky” Fitzgerald, Mr. Mid-Atlantic Drummer; second runner-up was Jerry Leigh, Great Lakes Mr. Drummer; first runner-up was Ken Rosetti, Mr. Northeast Drummer; and the winner and new International Mr. Drummer is Southern California’s Kyle Brandon. The new International Drummerboy is Rocky Mountain Drummerboy Mike de Nisco.

Sunday brought beautiful weather and beautiful bodies to the Folsom Street Fair. In addition to people-watching and musical entertainment, there was shopping at the many booths selling everything a leather devotee could desire. This year’s lucky-thirteenth Folsom Street Fair was a great climax and a fitting finale to Leather Pride Week, and San Francisco’s leather community has every right to be proud of the way they hosted the worldwide leather community.

PHOTO: Winners of the 1996 International Mr. Drummer competition. Kneeling: International Drummerboy Mike de Nisco. Standing, left to right: Ken Rosetti, 1st runner-up; Kyle Brandon, International Mr. Drummer 1996; and Jerry Leigh, 2nd runner-up.

Mr. Minnesota Leather ’97 Crowned

(Note): The original headline I wrote for this item was “Cwayna is Mr. MN Leather ’97”.)

Mr. Minnesota Leather 1997 Kevin Cwayna

Kevin Cwayna won the sash at the Mr. Minnesota Leather ’97 contest held Oct. 5 at the Gay 90’s. Runner-up was Andy Tracy and second runner-up was Todd Leek. Also competing were Mat Veo and Mr. Minnesota Fantasy ’96 Robert Riley.

Judging the contest were current International Mr. Leather Joe Gallagher, outgoing Mr. Minnesota Leather Michael deLeon, current Ms. Minnesota Leather Darlette Knox, Mr. Rod’s ’96 Stacy DeSotel from Wisconsin, and Mr. Chicago Leather ’96 Jeff Affolter.

Entertainment included the Rainbow Cloggers (including Dean Preston, Mr. Minnesota Leather ’90-’91), Borderline, the Portfolio Men and the perfect leather contest music of Savage Aural Hotbed, who just may be the opening act for the 1997 International Mr. Leather Contest in Chicago.

Upcoming Leather Events

The Atons present “Inquisition”

Sunday, October 13, 6-10 pm, The Saloon
Featuring demos by Matt Hopping of The Saloon’s “Hard Mondays.” $3 at the door.

Atons Halloween Party ’96
Saturday, October 26 — ORDER TICKETS NOW
Featuring DJ Black Sheep and dog tags to the first 250. Limited attendance; tickets ($17) must be ordered in advance. If you didn’t get an order form in the mail, download one from the Atons’ Web site ( Tickets will be mailed the week of the event.

Friday, September 27, 1996

Leather Contests Explained

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #35, September 27, 1996)

The new International Mr. Fantasy was recently chosen in Omaha . In San Francisco this weekend the International Mr. Drummer contest takes place. Next weekend brings the Mr. Minnesota Leather ’97 contest here in Minneapolis (details in the gray box), the winner of which goes on to the International Mr. Leather (IML) contest in Chicago next May.

Where did all these contests (and all these titleholders) come from? What purpose do they serve for the leather community? And what difference do they make for anyone who’s not into the leather scene?

Where’d they come from? The same impulse that in straight society finds expression in the Miss America pageant find expression among members of the leather community in leather contests and titleholders. Interestingly, the drag/transgender community has evolved the Imperial Court system of royalty in response to the same impulses. As a psychologist would say: gay,straight or whatever, we’re all socialized the same. If the Imperial Court system produces emperors, empresses, and ladies-in-waiting, perhaps leather contests produce the leather community’s “knights.”

Both IML and Drummer started in 1979. “Beauty pageants” at first, the job of titleholder was transformed by the AIDS crisis — leather titleholders were among the first people to raise funds both for research and to benefit people living with AIDS, simply because they saw the need and were in a position to do something about it.

What purpose do they serve? A good leather contest is a challenge for the contestants and entertainment for the community. Watching a parade of beautiful bodies parading in full (or skimpy) leather and performing leather fantasies (erotic skits) makes for a pleasant evening for the audience. For the contestants and judges, of course, much more is involved.

The judges are as interested in the minds of the contestants as in their physical presence, which is why most contests include a private interview with the judges and a public speech before the audience. The judges are looking for the contestant who will be the community’s best representative, both at local functions and in more advanced levels of competition.

Why would someone want to compete? There are many reasons. Some contestants don’t care if they win or not; they compete for the chance to be in the spotlight for a few minutes. Others compete because they have something to prove, either to themselves or to others. At least a few international titleholders have entered a local contest on a dare. Then there are those contestants who earnestly want to win the contest and to have the experience of holding a leather title.

What’s involved in being a leather titleholder? A certain amount of glamour and a lot of work — and the good feeling that comes from being able to give something back to the community. Besides going on to further levels of competition, titleholders raise funds for charities, educate, entertain, raise consciousness, and are community ambassadors — all things that make the leather community stronger.

How do leather contests and titleholders benefit the non-leather/SM community? The most obvious benefit is fundraising: children’s charities are a favorite benefactor, as are AIDS charities (such as AmFAR, who sponsored Joe Gallagher, IML ‘96, and Andy Borden, 3rd runner-up for IML ‘95). But leather contests and titleholders serve another, perhaps less-obvious, purpose both for the leather community and for the GLBT community at large. The contests, and especially the fantasies, are positive, affirming celebrations of alternative sexuality. Leather titleholders promote that same sex-positive message to society at large — the idea that enjoyable, life-affirming, healthy sexuality isn’t limited to the heterosexual missionary-position flavor. They are sexual freedom-fighters working not just for the rights of the leather/SM community but for all sexual minorities.

Upcoming Leather Events

PHOTO: Mr. Minnesota Leather 1996 Michael deLeon

Mr. Minnesota Leather 1997 Reception
Friday, October 4, 9 pm-1 am, Gay 90’s Men’s Room Bar
This reception honors Michael deLeon, Mr. Minnesota Leather 1996; it’s also your chance to meet this year’s contestants and judges, including Joe Gallagher, IML ’96.Dress code will be in effect for the evening. Admission is $5 and there will be free beer, soft drinks and food for those attending.

Mr. Minnesota Leather 1997 Contest and Show
Saturday, October 5, 4-9 pm, Gay 90’s Dance Annex
Entertainment by The Portfolio Men, Borderline, Rainbow Cloggers and featuring the music of Savage Aural Hotbed (if you missed them at Michael deLeon’s IML send-off this spring, you’ll want to hear them now!) Contestants, having been interviewed earlier by the judges, will be judged on their speeches, leather image, fantasy presentation and on their stage and physical presence. Be there when IML ’96 deLeon sashes his successor. $10 admission. (Individuals wishing to enter the contest should call Colin Spriestersbach for additional information and contest application forms.)

Friday, September 13, 1996

Announcing: Mr. Minnesota Leather Contest 1997

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #34, September 13, 1996)

PHOTO: Mr. Minnesota Leather 1996 Michael deLeon

The Mr. Minnesota Leather 1997 Contest, to be held October 4 and 5 at the Gay 90’s, will see Mr. Minnesota Leather 1996 Michael deLeon ending his title year by helping to choose his successor. It will also feature a guest appearance by Joe Gallagher, International Mr. Leather 1996.

The event kicks off with a reception Friday night (October 4) for deLeon, who will be serving as head judge at this year’s contest. deLeon has represented the Minnesota leather community throughout the year at contests, fundraisers, and other events locally and throughout the U.S. and Europe. This event will also be a chance to meet this year’s contestants and judges. The reception starts at 9 pm in the Men’s Room Bar at the Gay 90’s (dress code will be in effect for the evening). Admission is $5 and there will be free beer, soft drinks and food for those attending.

On Saturday morning the judges will interview the contestants in a private session. The contest and show will be held Saturday afternoon (October 5) starting at 4 pm in the Gay 90’s Dance Annex (admission $10). Contestants will be judged on their interviews, speeches, leather image, fantasy (erotic skit) presentation and on their stage and physical presence. The winner, Mr. Minnesota Leather 1997, receives his title sash and $750 in cash and travel expenses to allow him to serve as our representative at the International Mr. Leather Contest in Chicago during Memorial Day Weekend of 1997. A cash prize of $250 will be awarded to the first runner-up.

This year’s Master of Ceremonies is Colin Spriestersbach, the contest organizer and the new Mr. Northwoods 1996-97. Individuals wishing to enter the contest should call Spriestersbach for additional information and contest application forms.

IML ’96 Joe Gallagher to appear at Mr. Minnesota Leather Contest

PHOTO: International Mr. Leather 1996 Joe Gallagher

Joe Gallagher, International Mr. Leather 1996, will be traveling all the way from New York City to be a judge at this year’s Mr. Minnesota Leather Contest. He will also be promoting one of his current projects called“Get Linked.”

When not acting as International Mr. Leather 1996, Gallagher works as a publishing specialist and World Wide WebMaster in New York City. He became International Mr. Leather after just three weeks as Mr. Leather New York. His sponsor is AmFAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research).

Gallagher is a board member of Gay Male S/M Activists (GMSMA) and has produced several GMSMA programs on topics ranging from “S/M On-Line” to “Hitting, Punching and Bruising.” He is a contributing member of the New York Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center and the Empire State Pride agenda. He shares his life with his lover of six years, Joel Geraci, their dog (canine, not human) and their real boy, ‘boy doug.’ If you would like to see more, check out the Zeus video “Brute Force” or visit Gallagher’s web page at for a list of appearances throughout the coming year.

“Get Linked” is an effort to construct a physical chain made from individual links, each contributed by members of the Leather/SM community. According to Gallagher, “Its very size will create a symbolic, but very powerful, tangible display of how large and diverse our community is.” The entire chain will be displayed at the International Mr. Leather 1997 contest, after which it will be turned over to the Leather Archive and Museum. More information will be available the weekend of the Mr. Minnesota Leather 1997 Contest; information about “Get Linked” is also available on Gallagher’s web page (address above). In the meantime, get those chain links ready!

Friday, August 30, 1996

Route 66, Part 2

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #33, August 30, 1996)

What I did on my summer vacation, continued . . . Oklahoma City was might pretty, all right, but one thing was missing: Their local leather bar, Levi’s, burned down two weeks before my visit. First Rod’s in Madison and now this—I suddenly sympathize with churchgoers in the South whose churches are being burned.

From Oklahoma, Route 66 continues through the Texas Panhandle. From the Cadillac Ranch (ten vintage Cadillacs buried fins-up-nose-down in a cornfield) to the 72-ounce steak at the Big Texas Steak Ranch (eat it, and all the trimmings, in one hour and it’s free—otherwise it’s $50), you really know you’re in Texas. But while the leather community is strong in Texas, there’s not much evidence of it along Route 66.

Albuquerque, on the other hand, is a Route 66 town with a strong leather presence. Every bar in town tries to attract leather, cowboys, or both. (And all the bars are conveniently located on Route 66!) A fun cowboy bar called The Ranch incorporates a leather bar called Cuff’s which is the home of the Sandia Leathermen (more about them later).

Unfortunately, Route 66 does not go through Phoenix and Tucson, where much of Arizona’s leather community flourishes. Instead it goes through Flagstaff, a charming little city where the Damron guidebook says a bar called Charlie’s is “discreetly frequented by the local gay population.” After Flagstaff, I experienced an adventurous (harrowing?) drive through mountains and the strange beauty of the Mojave Desert, as seen in the film Bagdad Cafe. Civilization at last reappeared in Barstow, California. From San Bernardino to the ocean, the remainder of Route 66 was a drive through urban Southern California.

The final stretch of Route 66, Santa Monica Boulevard, held one very special feature for me. For its entire length as one of the main drags (no pun intended) through the openly-gay community of West Hollywood (and past the International Male store!), the same highway that runs through the Bible Belt sports a grass median with flagpoles flying rainbow flags! The Mother Road has a powerful lesson to teach us: Like it or not, it unites us all; it brings together white, black, native American, Asian, Jew, Fundamentalist Christian, children of the rainbow—and leatherfolk. We’ll all be much happier if we learn to live comfortably with one another.

Kevin Watson is International Mr. Fantasy ’96

Kevin Watson, International Mr. Fantasy ’96.
The Twin Cities was well-represented at this year’s International Mr. Fantasy Contest in Omaha, Nebraska; in addition to our contestant, Robert Riley, I saw many other Twin Cities faces.

On Friday night the outgoing International Mr. Fantasy, JD Buchert, was roasted in traditional, semi-embarrassing fashion. To his credit, JD (who lives in Dallas, Texas) has taken this newly-established international title and given it a solid, credible start in its first year. My hat is off to him and to his partner, David Gillis. Prior to the roast, in the presence of the audience, JD and David renewed their marriage vows onstage. It was another of those genuinely touching moments for which Fantasy is becoming noted; last year’s contest was the scene of an onstage marriage proposal.

Saturday’s contest opened with a wacky but inspired production number re-creating the opening scenes of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The evening was marred by some technical difficulties and problems with pacing, but those problems were forgotten as the fantasy performances heated up. By a fortunate accident, the final fantasy of the evening was also the best one by far—a sizzling cowboy scene featuring a lazy ranch-hand and an angry owner determined to teach him a thing or two. Some fancy ropework and a finale with a branding iron made this one of the best fantasies I’ve ever seen anywhere.

The results: Rick Strub (Nebraska) was second runner-up; Jeff Sappenfield (Texas) was first runner-up; and Kevin Watson, the man wielding the branding iron in the above-mentioned fantasy, is International Mr. Fantasy 1996! Kevin is from New Mexico, and the many Sandia Leathermen who traveled with him to Omaha held what turned out to be a victory party at the hotel after the contest. There was general agreement among audience members (and even other contestants) that “the right guy won.” Kevin, here’s hoping you have a wonderful year as International Mr. Fantasy 1996!

Drummer Contest Update

This year’s International Mr. Drummer Contest will be held in San Francisco on Saturday, September 28. VIP reception (hors d’oeuvres & open bar) starts at 2 pm, contest starts at 3 pm and runs 3-4 hours. VIP tickets are $40, regular tickets are $25. (My personal recommendation: spring for the VIP tickets.) To order, call the Townsend Box Office voice mail; have your credit card number and your mailing address handy.

Friday, August 16, 1996

“Go West”

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #32, August 16, 1996)

“If you ever plan to motor west . . .”

I just returned from two weeks of driving Old Route 66, also known as America’s Main Street and The Mother Road. Yes, much of it is still there, even though it’s not called Route 66 any more. It still, as the song says, “winds from Chicago to L.A.,” so I started in Chicago and drove the whole thing. In this column I can only give you a small hint of the magic and wonder of those two weeks, but I’ll do my best. The story will be told from a gay leather perspective, of course. And although I will have many opportunities to use some variant of the phrase “Get your kicks,” I promise I won’t.

“You go through St. Louis”: When I asked Twin Cities leathermen what was a must-see in St. Louis, they all said “Clementine’s!” Turns out Clementine’s is located in the Soulard, a very old and very charming part of the city (and just a few blocks off Route 66!) And, in my honor, the adorably hunky bartender had the jukebox play “Get Your Kicks On Route 66” by Natalie Cole. But if you plan a weekend in St. Louis, here’s how it works: The evening starts at Clementine’s and then moves on to The Outpost (and The Eagle upstairs, with a really fun backroom). The action then moves down the block to Magnolia’s (“Mag’s” for short), and at closing time it’s off to East St. Louis, where the bars stay open until 4 a.m. There was lots of leather in evidence, all of it friendly. Quite a fun time—I’ll be back.

Tulsa was surprising, and not always in a good sense. I was looking forward to visiting The Tool Box; I have talked with the owners at various leather events and they often invited me to stop in if I was ever in the neighborhood. I got there only to find that The Tool Box is no longer a leather bar. Not only that, the leather scene in Tulsa has evidently fallen into disrepute with the rest of the local gay community. When asked why, one bartender at The Tool Box said, “Because you leather guys are the biggest queens of all.” I didn’t pursue the topic any further.

The pleasant surprise of Tulsa was the architecture. If you’re interested in Art Deco you’ll find some examples of it here that will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Radio City Music Hall and the Chrysler Building in New York City. I spent two hours going through the Boston Avenue United Methodist Church and was overwhelmed both by the sophisticated detailing and use of symbolism, and by the loving care with which the building has been kept up. And that’s only one of many deco gems waiting for you.

One Tulsa architectural feature I didn’t visit was Oral Roberts University, featuring the much-talked-about Prayer Tower. Wherever you are in the city, it’s visible on the skyline. And I was told that the atmosphere there was just beautiful, and that people’s lives had been profoundly changed by visiting the campus. Maybe next time.

“Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty”: It sure does! There’s this old Route 66 motel that for the last 15 years or so has been The Habana Inn, a gay resort in the middle of the heartland. The huge motel features two pools, with two levels of rooms surrounding each, and with other wings of rooms besides. The ballrooms have been converted into restaurants and bars, making for one-stop shopping, so to speak. It was very cruisy. There wasn’t a lot of leather in evidence, but that didn’t matter; there was a storm brewing, and it was getting too dark to drive, and The Habana Inn is on Route 66! I just had to stay there, didn’t I?

That was Week One of the trip. I’ll tell you about the second week next issue.

SUBHEAD: We Oughta Be In Pictures

“Homo Heights,” a movie starring the inimitable Quentin Crisp, is now being filmed locally. They recently held auditions for “extras” in the club scenes, and it was great to see so many leatherfolk show up. One fellow auditioner told me I reminded him of “that guy with the Village People.” I’ve heard that before, but something else happened that I wasn’t expecting. During the audition one of the women (who was either with the film or with the casting agency) looked at my audition form, saw that I was the leather columnist for this magazine, and told me she reads my column. Well, whether I get a part in the film or not, thank you—you made my day!

Friday, August 2, 1996

“What’s The Deal With SM?”

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #31, August 2, 1996)

A recent fundraiser hosted by Ms. Minnesota Leather 1996 Darlette Knox featured a flogging demonstration—several concurrent flogging scenes happening on stage with suitable lighting and music. After watching the action awhile, one of the people standing in front of me asked the person to his left: “So why are they doing this? What’s going on? What’s the deal?”

Perhaps you’re asking yourself the same question—”How can pain and bondage and torture and humiliation be pleasurable?” Perhaps you’d like to ask someone else for an explanation but would feel silly admitting that you don’t “get it” when it comes to SM (shorthand for sadomasochism).

SM sex is a way of exploring and growing in areas of sexuality and relationships that people often have problems with, such as trust (before I let someone flog me, I really have to trust them) or negotiating and respecting boundaries and limits (for example, a “safe-word” is negotiated between top and bottom before the scene begins; during the scene if the bottom says that safe-word the action comes to a halt). And SM sex can be a way of discovering new feelings and sensations, of “going where you’ve never been before.”

I don’t have room to give a complete explanation of a complex topic like SM in this column, but I can point your curiosity in the direction of some answers. Many books and magazine articles have been written about how and why SM sex works the way it does. For starters, you might be interested in The Leatherman’s Handbook II by Larry Townsend (which I can personally recommend) or SM 101 (I haven’t read it, but a lot of other people seem happy with it). Let me recommend a trip to A Brother’s Touch bookstore, where they will have plenty of books and magazines to satisfy your curiosity.

What if your investigations lead you to the conclusion that SM just isn’t your cup of tea? That’s okay. Not everyone who wears leather is into SM (and not everyone into SM necessarily wears leather). No one has the right to make you feel like a second-class leatherman or leatherwoman if you choose not to play in SM settings. However, respect is a two-way street—just because you choose not to indulge doesn’t mean you have the privilege of judging other peoples’ participation in SM as healthy or unhealthy.

If, on the other hand, your investigations make you want to start exploring SM, keep in mind that you get to choose how and when. Remember that the SM mantra is “Safe, Sane and Consensual.” No one has the right to coerce you into doing something you’re not ready to do. If you feel like someone is trying to, remember that the ultimate safe-word is “No!”

Not Safe and Not Sane

A leatherman who was prominent in a certain East Coast leather community was recently found dead in his basement—hanging by his belt from an overhead pipe. The community was stunned. Was it suicide? Or was it foul play?

I later heard the death had been ruled “accidental.” My friend had evidently been “scarfing”—choking off his oxygen supply to intensify sexual feeling. Obviously, this is a very dangerous thing to do and falls well outside the boundaries of “Safe, Sane and Consensual.” Please, I implore you—don’t even think about doing this.

In early 1994 a high official of the British government died the same way, and the British tabloids had a field day with it. It even was written up in Newsweek, where I read about it. I briefly thought to myself, “What a stupid thing to do!” before turning the page.

About a week later, I got a letter from my mother. In it was a copy of that same Newsweek article and a note: “I know, I know—you’re a big boy now and don’t need your mother clucking in the background. However, when I read the enclosed article I couldn’t help thinking . . . . Sexual highs are one thing, and I know you pursue them. Just don’t cross the safety line. Know that I send this because I love you, because I care. Enough said. Much love, Mom.”

Thanks, Mom. My sentiments exactly. (Have I got a cool Mom, or what?)

Upcoming Leather Events

International Mr. Fantasy Contest

August 16-18, Omaha, Nebraska
See previous issue for details. And good luck to Mr. Minnesota Fantasy 1996, Robert Riley.

Friday, July 19, 1996

Making the Scene at Hard Mondays

(Published in <em>Lavender</em> Magazine, Issue #30, July 19, 1996)

It’s Monday night—a school night, but so what? My mission for this evening is to experience “Hard Mondays” at the Saloon, and to answer the question on everyone’s mind: how does it compare to Bondage A-Go-Go on Thursday nights at Ground Zero?

I arrive at the Saloon at 10 pm. Ms. Minnesota Leather <strong>Darlette Knox</strong> and her entourage are already there, raising money for the Minneapolis-to-Chicago AIDS Trek.

The music is loud. The lights are red. The atmosphere is misty, stabbed by strobes and multicolored lasers. The crowd is a cross-section of the leather community—men, women, transgender, gay, straight, young, mature and in-between. A leather/levi/latex/fetishwear dress code is strongly encouraged, and the majority of the crowd complies, although there are also a few jeans-and-sweatshirts types present.

As the evening progresses the crowd grows and the dance floor becomes active. Go-go dancers of both sexes writhe on the dance floor and on a spotlit platform in a dark corner of the bar. Some people come in, gawk as they circle the bar, and leave; tonight is not their scene.

At about 11:00 the demonstrations start. Three women tie three men to a railing and perform a flogging scene. By 11:30 the performers are holding lit candles and dripping hot wax on each other as they weave their bodies together in a twisted human candelabra. The crowd is changing, however, and the leather atmosphere gets diluted a bit as more straight-appearing college kids filter in. (One girl is wearing a DKNY sweatshirt. We all know Donna Karan is a leather goddess, right?) But everyone is at least respectful of the leather/SM activity going on; unlike Bondage A-Go-Go, I don’t get the feeling that anyone is here tonight to be scandalized, and I don’t feel as if I’m part of the floor show for these people just because I’m wearing leather. Someone remarks that the atmosphere at the Saloon is more intimate than the atmosphere at Ground Zero; I agree.

At midnight, Mr. Minnesota Leather 1996 <strong>Michael deLeon</strong> and his business partner <strong>Gary O’Neill</strong> arrive, ready for action. They join Darlette and <strong>Nickie</strong> at the back of the bar. At 12:15 the entertainment takes a decidedly bizarre turn. <strong>Master Zoran,</strong> bare-chested and dressed in a skirt, receives a beer enema from <strong>Matt Hopping,</strong> dressed in an industrial-strength latex apron and gloves. The crowd gathers around, entranced by the proceedings. (And to think I almost left at midnight.)

A postscript to the experience: I realized the next day that a growing number of local bars have “special interest” nights of one sort or another. To name three: Ground Zero has “Bondage A Go Go,” South Beach has “South Bitch,” the Minneapolis Cafe in the Calhoun Beach Club is gay Wednesday nights. One point in favor of “Hard Mondays” is that it (unlike the three I just mentioned) happens in The Saloon, a bar that is gay-owned-and-operated and is gay seven nights a week. I think that’s a plus.

So, have you experienced “Hard Mondays” yet? Try it and see for yourself—Monday nights, 10 pm to 1 am at the Saloon, no cover charge.

<strong>Upcoming Leather Events</strong>

This weekend we wish <strong>Darlette Knox </strong>the best of luck as she competes in the International Ms. Leather ’96 contest in Philadelphia. We’re proud of you, Darlette!

Also this weekend, the Atons are hosting their Gopher XII run, “Going Down on the Farm.” Hope it’s a safe, sane, consensual and FUN weekend!

<strong>International Mr. Fantasy Contest</strong>
<em>August 16-18, Omaha, Nebraska—REGISTER SOON!</em>
Come see Mr. Minnesota Fantasy 1996, <strong>  insert name in boldface  </strong>, competing in the Internationals. The weekend kicks off Friday night with a meet-the-contestants Welcome Party. Saturday begins with a Sexual Scavenger Hunt (sounds intriguing!); the afternoon features seminars and demonstrations. The actual competition happens Saturday evening and will be followed by an after-hours party (and they know how to party in Omaha, let me tell you!) Sunday features a farewell brunch and the traditional afternoon softball game.

Weekend packages cost $30 per person ($35 after August 1, so register now). For a registration form write to Fantasy Productions, Omaha NE. The host hotel is the Radisson Redick in Omaha; call for room information and reservations.

Friday, July 5, 1996

Remembering Jim Conway

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #29, July 5, 1996)

James Conway, also known as James Conway Albright, died peacefully May 18 at his home in Golden Valley. In accordance with his wishes, approximately 40 people gathered at his home on May 29 for a farewell cocktail party and to exchange reminiscences. Jim Chalgren, brother Aton and fellow Egyptologist, performed an Egyptian farewell blessing.

Jim was a long-time and very active member of the Twin Cities leather community. He joined the Atons in 1988 and served for two terms as its president in 1990 and 1991; he was also an associate member of the Iowa Cornhaulers leather/levi club. He was keenly interested in the culture and artifacts of ancient Egypt; the 1990 Atons run, Gopher IX, was an Egyptian-themed run and Jim was Pharoah for the weekend. One of his many hobbies was leatherwork, and I will always remember his spectacular WHITE leather Egyptian outfit.

Other memberships included the Minnesota Polar Bares (Jim was a confirmed naturist) and the Minnesota Orchid Society (he loved tending his yard and garden and was especially proud of his orchids). For many years, Jim traveled the world as a professional musician playing woodwinds and piano with many big-name bands and singers.

Jim was a friend of mine and also a neighbor both at home and at work. Our offices were three blocks from each other in downtown Minneapolis, so I would often see him in the skyways. Shortly before he died I ran into Jim at the cash registers at Byerly’s in Golden Valley. He seemed upbeat and said he was looking forward to experiencing at least some of the upcoming Atons run. He took off his cap to show me his treatment-induced hair loss, and said he was anxious for it to grow back. He invited me to come over sometime for a swim in the pool.

Jim, wherever you are, you will be fondly remembered and deeply missed by many, many people.

Raymond LeBrun Succumbs to AIDS Complications

The local leather community recently lost another highly-visible member. Raymond LeBrun, who held the title of Mr. Minnesota Leather 1994 and Mr. Seattle Leather 1995, passed away June 25. At the time of his death he was residing in Spokane, Washington. I hope to have more details and a full remembrance in a future issue.

About That Impressive Leather Pride Float

Wasn’t that a great Leather Pride float in the recent Twin Cities Festival of Pride parade? It was a very l-o-n-g trailer rig sporting handcrafted leather-pride-flag skirting, twin propane-fueled “Flames of Liberation,” a colorful rainbow-flag display, space for leather club banners, and even a motorcycle for atmosphere! There was room on the float for the entire leather contingent, and the ride was climaxed by a spectacular balloon-release finale. I’m sure the entire leather community joins with me in extending our deepest appreciation to Transcorp owners Rand Haglund, John Audette and family for their large contribution of the trailer rig, decorations, and especially their time that went into the making of this year’s float. (And this is the second year they’ve done this!) Thanks for providing such a great ride and making us look so good!

Next Issue: Making The Scene at “Hard Mondays”

So, have you experienced “Hard Mondays” yet? I did recently, and I’ll tell you all about it next issue. Or try it yourself: Monday nights, 10 pm to 1 am at the Saloon, no cover charge.

Upcoming Leather Events

The Atons present “All-American Beer Bash”

Sunday, July 7, 5-9 pm, Gay 90’s Men’s Room Bar (use 4th Street side entrance)
Free keg beer and soda, food from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, and an “All American Man” contest. $5 at the door with your Leather Pride ‘96 dog tag, $7 without. While you’re there you can register for the upcoming Gopher XII Run (see below).

North Star Regional Rodeo
July 12-14
Welcome, Black Bart! At last the Rodeo folks have a column (and a columnist) all their own! (See Black Bart’s column for further Rodeo details.)

Mr. Minnesota Fantasy ‘95 Dale Willman and Ingenue Productions present
Mr. Minnesota Fantasy ‘96
July 14, 5-9 pm, Gay 90’s Dance annex
Hot men, hot fantasies, beer, food & more. $5 at the door. Applications for contestants will be at the Sidewalk Shop upstairs at the Gay 90’s, or for more info contact Dale Willman.

The Atons present Gopher XII, “Going Down on the Farm”
Event happens July 19-21; REGISTER NOW
See previous issue for details. Cost goes up after this weekend, so register soon (maybe at the All-American Beer Bash, above).

Friday, June 21, 1996

“Festival of Pride”—And Beyond

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #28, June 21, 1996)


Saturday—Twin Cities Festival of Pride

Saturday, June 22, 10 am-7 pm, Loring Park
Come on Saturday and browse the over 300 vendor booths when they’re less crowded. Wear your leather and be a visible representative of your tribe.

NSGRA presents “Boots & Boxers”
Saturday, June 22, 9 pm-1 am, Town House Country, St. Paul
Wear your best cowboy boots and boxer shorts to this always-fun event. One tip especially for men: even though you’re not wearing pants, wear a shirt. (I only mention this because at one time I assumed that since the event is called “Boots & Boxers” that was all you were supposed to wear, and I almost showed up at a previous “Boots & Boxers” sans shirt. Fortunately my partner Ken, who has a more highly-developed sense of decorum than I, warned me of my impending faux pas and let me borrow one of his cowboy shirts.) $2 donation requested; drink specials for people in boxers.

Sunday—Twin Cities Festival of Pride
Sunday, June 23, 10 am-7 pm, Loring Park
Sunday is Parade Day; wear your leather and march with the leather contingent! Check-in and line-up for the parade starts at 11:30 am on Willow (east side of Loring Park). The parade steps off at noon and returns to Loring Park about 2:30 pm. You can then watch the crowd and enjoy the mainstage activities until . . .

Leather Pride Celebration
Sunday, June 23, 4-9 pm, Gay 90’s
Presented through the cooperation of the Atons, Black Guard, Knights of Leather, MN Bears, and North Star Gay Rodeo Association, this is an event for the entire leather community—the perfect way to bring your Pride Weekend celebration to a climax.

Weenie Roast Beach Party
Saturday, June 29, 11 am-2 pm, East Mississippi River Flats Park, Minneapolis (Rain date is Sunday, June 30)
While not strictly a leather event, I know many other leathermen are as devoted to the romance of the mighty Mississippi as I am. Join with other river devotees in community service as we pick up trash and make the wild beauty of the river flats even more scenic. The reward for our hard work will be a community picnic and weenie roast presented by the H.I.M. Program at the Red Door Clinic in collaboration with the Minnesota Aids Project.


North Star Regional Rodeo

July 12-14
Want a preview? While you’re at the Pride Festival be sure to visit NSGRA’s Dance Tent, featuring dance exhibitions and classes.

Mr. Minnesota Fantasy 1996 Contest
Sunday, July 14
CALLING ALL CONTESTANTS! Have you ever fantasized about competing in a leather contest? Here’s your chance to turn that “fantasy” into reality! As Mr. Minnesota Fantasy 1996, the winner of this contest will travel to Omaha to compete for the title of International Mr. Fantasy 1996 (August 16-18). The Mr. Fantasy contests are geared to the image of a “Fantasy” man, one who is proud of his lifestyle and sexuality. If you’re interested, call Dale Willman (who is Mr. Minnesota Fantasy 1995).

The Atons present Gopher XII, “Going Down on the Farm”
Event happens July 19-21; REGISTER NOW
Enjoy a relaxed weekend at a secluded camp site in rural Minnesota. The scenic, forested site includes a spring-fed swimming pond with beach, hot tub, nature trails, barracks-style cabins, toilet and shower facilities, a dungeon, and a lodge. There is also an area for tents and R.V.s (no hookups, though). Cost is $110 ($125 after July 8) which includes all meals, beverages, and necessary permits. Transportation from the Twin Cities area to the run site will be provided upon request, and housing will be available before and after for those arriving from out of town or who wish to see the cities. For further information e-mail, or visit the Atons web site at

PHOTO: David Pirc

IML Weekend Postscript: In addition to being represented by Mr. Minnesota Leather 1996 Michael deLeon, Minnesota was also represented in Chicago by David Pirc, who competed in the International Mr. Deaf Leather contest which was held May 23 (three days before the International Mr. Leather contest). David, who also performed at the recent Labyrinth of Leather fundraiser, is an employee at the Gay 90’s (so if you think he looks familiar, that’s probably where you’ve seen him).

Friday, June 7, 1996

Dateline: IML 1996, Chicago

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #27, June 7, 1996)

Antonio Sanchez, Joe Gallagher, Mark Norton
Friday, 4:30 pm—Check-in: My partner Ken and I arrive at the Congress Hotel, headquarters for the 1996 International Mr. Leather contest. The lobby is absolutely swarming with beautiful men in leather, latex and uniforms. Everyone is smiling, laughing, greeting each other—it feels very much like the tribal reunion that it is. I’m amazed how many familiar faces I see.

7 pm—Contestant Reception: The contestants, all 49 of them, are introduced and draw their contestant numbers at a cocktail reception. Antonio Sanchez, who is from Spain and is Mr. Leather Europe and Mr. Drummer Europe, gets the biggest ovation by far. I predict he’ll do very well in the competition.

11 pm—Leather in Recovery Reception: I’m amazed at how many leathermen and leatherwomen at this event are in some sort of 12-Step program. Ken and I meet some very interesting people and hear some amazing personal stories.

Saturday, 11 am—IML Leather Market: It’s huge! It sprawls from ballroom to ballroom on the second floor of the hotel; on the third floor are more vendors and a balcony overlooking the vendors on the second floor. The cruising and man-watching couldn’t be better.My award for best vendor space: Our own Wolf Productions, run by Mr. Minnesota Leather Michael deLeon and friends. The booth’s heavy-duty machine-shop merchandise is a big hit with the crowd.

9 pm—The Hometown Party: The outgoing International Mr. Leather, Larry Everett, lives in Oklahoma. He is brought to the stage and seated on a life-size plastic horse while being roasted by friends, family and fellow titleholders. The highlight of the evening is a twisted rendition of songs from Rodgers’ & Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!”, starting with “The Sling With The Fringe On Top” and ending with a rousing “Oklahomo!

Sunday, 7:30 pm—The Contest: The Congress Theater is huge and elegant in spite of the ravages of time. The theater may be old, but one aspect of this year’s contest is very new: it’s the first contest ever to be “cybercast” live on the Internet and the World Wide Web!

Against a backdrop of fog and brightly-colored spotlights Frank Nowicki, the evening’s emcee, introduces the contestants; mere words like “hot” and “sexy” don’t begin to do them justice. After entertainment by the R.O.T.C. (Righteously Outrageous Twirling Corps, who combine the macho militarism of a gun drill with the campiness of baton twirling), the top twenty finalists are announced. Evidently, the judges this year are favoring a traditional leather look; none of the “alternative” leather contestants, including our own Michael DeLeon, make the cut. If it’s a disappointment for me, I can only imagine how Michael feels. (During intermission I see him in the lobby, and he’s all smiles—says he’s having fun, it’s all been a blast. I feel better after hearing him say that.)

The contest now moves into the Speech and Physique competitions. Of course they’re gorgeous, but we can also love them for their minds. The contestants cover a wide range of hot-button issues with speeches that are uniformly well-spoken—so well-spoken, in fact, that I hope to bring you highlights of their speeches in a future column.

While the judges’ scores are tabulated Judy Tenuta takes the stage and has her way with the audience. We love it. We love her. Most memorable line: describing Martha Stewart as a “Nazi Amish milkmaid.”

And the winners are: 2nd runner-up, Antonio Sanchez from Spain, Mr. Leather Europe ‘95/Mr. Drummer Europe, sponsored by Motor Sportclub Amsterdam/ECMC. (We’ll be seeing him again this fall at the International Mr. Drummer contest in San Francisco.)

1st runner-up, Mark Norton, Mr. Dixie Bell Leather ‘96 from Kansas City, sponsored by The Dixie Bell Saloon.

And the new International Mr. Leather ‘96 is . . . Joe Gallagher, Mr. Leather New York from New York City, sponsored by AmFAR. (Liz Taylor and Sharon Stone have every reason to be proud!) He was a clear audience favorite at the contest, getting some of the loudest and most sustained applause. Ken and I met Joe earlier in the weekend and we talked for quite a while. He’s a great guy who will do very well as IML ’96. Congratulations to Joe, Mark and Antonio, and best wishes to all the contestants. Thanks, guys, for making it a great contest!

This edition marks the 1-year anniversary of this magazine and this column, and I want to thank J.D. Laufman for offering me the chance to write it. I also want to thank the editor, publisher, and staff of this magazine; they have shown incredible respect, commitment and support both to me personally and to the leather community as a whole. They have given me the freedom to write what I wanted with a minimum of interference, no censorship and very little editing. Finally, a huge “thank you” to my readers—you are the ones who constitute the leather community I have the privilege of covering. You make it vibrant. So much of what I have written in the past year has been requested, suggested and inspired by you. Thank you for your constant support and encouragement.

Upcoming Leather Events

Main Club “Garage” Opening: Leather/Levi Extravaganza

Saturday, June 15, 9 pm to closing
Main Club, 1813 North Third Street, Superior, Wisconsin

Now here’s a fun weekend getaway. This event is only one of Duluth/Superior’s many Summer of Pride events; if you’re going north for the weekend you may also want to partake of the Pride Bonfire, Friday (June 14) night at dusk on Wisconsin Point, near the lighthouse. And on Sunday (June 16) at 1 pm is the Pride Harbor Cruise leaving from the Vista Fleet Dock in Duluth; tickets are $10.00 in advance, $12.00 at the dock.

New Night and Place for Bondage A Go Go

If you’ve been hearing rumors about this, they aren’t rumors anymore. Bondage A Go Go has moved from Thursday to Monday nights, and from Ground Zero to The Saloon. The action starts at 9 pm. Best of all, there’s no longer a cover charge, so come check it out. (Watch this space for more details.)

Friday, May 24, 1996

Upcoming Leather Events

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #26, May 24, 1996)

There’s so much going on in the next two weeks that this entire column is devoted to upcoming leather events. Memorial Day Weekend kicks off the summer leather season in style with the International Mr. Leather contest and other related leather festivities in Chicago (as well as some major Bear events the same weekend). For those not traveling to Chicago this weekend the Atons present a military/uniform-themed event, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” that makes me wish yet again I could learn to be in two places at the same time.

The following weekend the Knights of Leather present the first run of summer, “Knights Tournament Eight,” and W.I.L.L.O.W. Productions presents “Ludicrous Leather Prom Night.” And the weekend after that the Black Guard team up with the Unicorns of Madison for a “Rod’s Remembrance” beer bust (and please note that this event happens on a Saturday as opposed to the expected Sunday.)

So much for the overview—here are the details, event by event.

PHOTO: Michael deLeon

Good Luck to Michael deLeon, Mr. Minnesota Leather 1996, this weekend at the International Mr. Leather Contest in Chicago!

The Atons present “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
Sunday, May 26, 5-9 pm
Gay 90’s Men’s Room Bar (use 4th street side entrance)

Since it’s being held on Memorial Day Weekend, this event features an “I Love A Man In Uniform” contest. $7 admission ($5 with uniform or shirtless) gets you free keg beer & soda and free food from 5:30-7:30 pm. (The Atons’ last event, “Tax Time,” also encouraged shirtlessness and proved to be quite festive.)

Knights of Leather present “Knights Tournament Eight”
May 31-June 2
This medieval-themed run, complete with village square, is held at a private camp within a 16,000-acre wooded state park. Sleeping cabins have military bunks but no electricity; modern toilet and shower facilities do have electricity. Five home-cooked meals are provided (one of which is a fabulous medieval banquet), as well as continuous pop, sparkling water, beer, non-alcoholic beer, coffee and snacks. Weekend events include workshops, demonstrations and fantasies, and dungeon space is available all weekend. Cost is $115; for further information or to register call the Knights.

W.I.L.L.O.W. Productions presents “Ludicrous Leather Prom Night”
Sunday, June 2, 5-9 pm, Gay 90’s Dance Annex
Ever wish you could turn back the clock and escort someone (or be escorted) to the high school prom of your dreams? Now’s your chance! And a fine, twisted leather prom it will be, too, so get your date lined up soon. (Singles also welcome, of course—unlike in high school.) Wear your fantasy prom attire—formal, leather, whatever. Suitable prom-type music will range from the 50’s to the 90’s. Highlight of the evening will be the crowning of the Leather Dominus and Domineer (royalty contest open to all couples); plans call for the lucky couple to win a champagne dinner for two at the 90’s. All this and entertainment, free food and beer. Your host for the evening: Ms. Minnesota Leather 1996 Darlette Knox in her last fundraiser before the International Ms. Leather contest. $5 at the door.

Black Guard & Unicorns present “Rod’s Remembrance” Beer Bust
SATURDAY, June 8, 4-9 p.m. Gay 90’s Men’s Room Bar
When Madison’s Hotel Washington complex burned to the ground it meant a significant loss for Madison’s GLBT community. And it meant the loss of Rod’s, the leather bar in the basement (the first bar in which I ever wore a harness—ah, those were the days!) Happily, the owners plan to rebuild. In the meantime, come support the Unicorns and bring your memories of Rod’s. ($5 cover; free beer, food, prizes.)

Friday, May 10, 1996

Getting Into Leather, Part 3

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #25, May 10, 1996)

Last issue I wrote about leather events as one way to meet leatherpeople. Continuing our discussion, here are some more.

Leather bars: Unlike most other major metro areas, we’ve only got one. All together now: “The Men’s Room Bar at the Gay 90’s!” (That was very good!) On Fridays and Saturdays it can be quite festive or quite claustrophobic, depending on how you look at it. (You may meet lots of people, but it won’t be very easy to carry on a conversation.) The rest of the week is more laid-back, especially Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday.

There are alternatives. Some people like Bondage A Go Go on Thursday nights at Ground Zero. You might also consider Town House Country in St. Paul—there’s quite a bit of overlap between the cowboy and leather communities.

Even though we have only one self-identified “leather bar” in town, it’s okay to wear leather to any of our local gay bars, and this brings up an important point: If you want to meet others who are into leather, wear yours. On any given night, you may be the only person at the Saloon or Rumours wearing leather. Then again, if you’re one of two people wearing leather that night, and the other person is someone you would like to meet, the fact that you’re the only two people in that establishment wearing leather gives you something with which to strike up a conversation.

Personal ads: You can place one or you can answer one. You’ll find leather-oriented ads from across the nation in magazines such as Drummer, Cuir, and The Leather Journal (to mention but a few). But, for some reason, out of all those ads you’ll only find one or two ads from Minnesota (and they’re often the same ad, month after month). The ads can make for titillating reading, however, and if you’re traveling they might be a way to hook up with someone in a destination city (but I’m not sure I’d recommend that for a leather beginner).

Closer to home, you’ll find non-leather personal ads seemingly everywhere (including Lavender Lifestyles, of course!) Now for the disclaimer: I have never placed an ad, and I’ve never answered one. (Yes, there are still a few things I haven’t done!) So about the only advice I can offer is this: Safe, Sane and Consensual applies just as much to personal ads as to anything else. Whether placing an ad or responding to one, use common sense when it comes to your personal safety. As Drummer Magazine states so succinctly: “If you respond to an ad and meet with the person who placed it, you do so at your own risk. Be aware that not everyone plays safe or respects your limits. EXERCISE ALL DUE CAUTION.”

Clubs: The Twin Cities is home to the Atons and Black Guard for men and the Knights of Leather and Minnesota Leather Den for women. Leather/SM clubs such as these started life as motorcycle clubs, but nowadays a motorcycle is not a membership requirement.

Joining a club has advantages for those newly into leather. When you join a club it can be like being adopted by a ready-made leather family. You won’t have to worry too much about meeting people—it will happen as part of the club meetings and activities. Be aware, however, that being a club member often entails certain financial and time commitments to the club and to the leather community at large.

My advice to leather newcomers who like the idea of joining a club: Take the time to check them out. Attend club events and meet some club members. Find out about membership requirements. If you express interest in a particular club you may be invited to attend a club meeting. All this will give you a better idea of which club (or clubs) to join.

Even if you’re not a club member, you can meet people at upcoming club events and runs such as the Knights of Leather Tournament (May 31-June 2; call or write to Knights of Leather, Minneapolis MN for more information) or the Atons Gopher XII, “Going Down on the Farm” (July 19-21; call or e-mail at ATONS@AOL.COM for more information). And you’ll also see a lot of leather being worn at the North Star Gay Rodeo (July 12-14; call for more information).

Attend any of these events and you’ll see an example of the wonderful things clubs give to the community; you’ll also see how much hard work (mixed with fun, we hope) is involved in putting on such an event.

Register now for Knights Tournament 8 to be held May 31-June 2. Featuring leather/SM workshops, demonstrations, fantasies, dungeon space, village square events and a medieval banquet in a wooded private camp. FFI: Knights of Leather, Minneapolis MN.

Friday, April 26, 1996

Getting Into Leather, Part 2

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #24, April 26, 1996)

This two-part series just expanded into three parts. This issue’s focus will be on leather events—and we’ve got two mammoth ones coming up. So whether you’re a newcomer or an old hand, read on and get ready! (Next issue we’ll focus on other ways for newcomers to meet people in leather.)

“How do I join the leather scene? How do I meet other guys in leather?” I hear questions like these constantly—and always from other men, never from women. (Do they know something we guys don’t?) Anyway, to everyone who has written, phoned, or asked me in person: thank you for your interest. I hope you find the material in these columns helpful.

There was a time when people joined the leather community through a relatively formal system of apprenticeship, mentoring, and sponsoring. But the leather community has lost so many people to AIDS that the mentoring system was almost completely destroyed. There are still people out there who are willing to act as masters, daddies, mentors, trainers, etc. But for now, it’s up to you to find them.

It’s been said that getting into leather often represents a second “coming out.” I always thought the phrase “coming out” was shorthand for “coming out of the closet.” The closet was the place where we hid all the gay (or leather-related) feelings that society told us we should be ashamed of. When we came out of the closet, that meant we stopped being ashamed of being gay (or being attracted to leather).

I’ve recently been reading “Gay New York,” a fascinating gay history book by George Chauncey. It turns out the “closet” is a concept that came into being between 1930 and 1950; the term “coming out” predates it by quite a few years. In the 1920’s, and even before, there was no “closet” to come out of, and “coming out” had much more pleasant connotations; it meant being formally presented to gay society in much the same way as a debutante was formally presented to upper-crust society at a “coming out” ball.

My advice for those who want to get into the leather scene: make leather events and fundraisers your “coming out” events. They’re fun, they’re entertaining, they’re educational, and they’re perfect places to meet people. This weekend and the next will see two spectacular, not-to-be-missed leather events (details in the gray box). So put on that new item that you just bought and are dying to wear, lace your boots up high, and come out!


Mr. Minnesota Leather IML Fundraiser

Sunday, April 28, 4-9 pm, Gay 90’s Dance Annex
Michael deLeon, Mr. Minnesota Leather 1996 and dancer with Ballet of the Dolls, is putting together a fundraiser unlike any other. The Dance Annex will be hosting many out-of-town dignitaries including two of my favorite leatherpeople, Bob Fifield of The Leather Journal (who will present a fantasy) and Kay Hallanger (International Ms. Leather 1991). Savage Aural Hotbed, the amazing band that makes music with circular saws and plate steel (among other things) will accompany a dance performance by deLeon and Stephanie Fellner. Other attractions: a dance performance by Les Femmes Cabaret; a drag show featuring reigning ISCIC empress Tiffany Cartier and friends; a Celebrity Bar Staff Auction; Rent-a-Slave; body piercing, leather/toys mart, boot black, food, tap beer and door prizes. Sounds like after this party we’ll need the whole week to recuperate before . . .

“Labyrinth of Leather”
Sunday, May 5, 5-9 pm, Gay 90’s Dance Annex
Hosted by Ms. Minnesota Leather Darlette Knox and Leatherman of Minnesota Thomas Casey and featuring Mr. Minnesota Leather Michael deLeon and other leather titleholders. Also featured: leather/levi/western clubs; S/M and bondage demonstrations; education and information areas; piercing by Body Arts. There will be displays by artists who “capture the essence of leather in portraits and craftsmanship.” A “Leather Swap or Shop Meet” will let you swap or trade your leather items with other attendees or make purchases from local leather vendors. Food and beer, lots of entertainment, great door prizes and two bonus events: a special auction of handcuffs and hand and leg irons from around the world (get your bid number early—merchandise now on display at The Sidewalk Shop), and at 8 pm the host titleholders and the Minnesota Leather Den present the 4th annual, biggest, barest, “Bare As You Dare” contest! (Please note: contestants must meet all requirements of state and local laws).

Friday, April 12, 1996

Getting Into Leather, Part 1

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #23, April 12, 1996)

This issue starts a two-part series I’ve been intending to write for quite some time. Many of you have made requests along these lines: “You really make the leather community sound like a great group of people—how do I get involved?” If that’s what you’re wondering, read on. This issue we’ll discuss leather and related paraphernalia. Then, when we have you properly outfitted, next issue we’ll discuss places and ways to wear it.

There’s an amazing assortment of leather and leather-related merchandise out there competing for your purchase. Leather is made into vests of all kinds, shirts, jackets, coats, jeans, chaps, shorts, jocks, hats, harnesses, boots, armbands, wristbands, belts, and the list goes on. Then there’s denim and latexwear and uniforms and western-wear.

I’ve heard of people who discover leather and immediately spend an enormous amount on a complete leather wardrobe. Let me suggest that you do differently. Go slowly; savor each piece as you acquire it. Start simply with a good vest and a good pair of boots, for instance. Wear them with a black t-shirt and blue or black jeans (which you probably already have) and you’ll be perfectly comfortable at almost any leather function you want to attend. As you become more acquainted with the leather lifestyle you’ll be able to determine what other items you want to own; you’ll probably also decide that certain items are not for you. You may discover you really enjoy uniforms, for instance, or you may decide that you don’t really want to own a pair of chaps because they’re too much bother to put on and take off.

What’s a “good” vest? Think “biker” and you’ll be on the right track. It should be rugged as opposed to dressy—black leather, not brown or any other color, and not suede. The back of the vest should be leather rather than fabric. For footwear, again think rugged as opposed to dressy, and again think black. Military-style boots, construction boots, cowboys boots, motorcycle boots, even hiking boots can work. Wingtips, even black ones, won’t quite cut it. Whatever you do, don’t wear white tennis shoes—nothing works faster to brand you as a “tourist,” or someone who doesn’t know the scene.

Where do you find all this wonderful stuff? The possibilities are endless. Local leather shops are a good place to start (that’s another way of saying “Support our advertisers”). Other than that, just be on the lookout for wonderful things and you’ll find they throw themselves at you and say “BUY ME!” At least that’s been my experience. I’ve made amazing finds everywhere from the streets of New York City to designer boutiques to the Minnesota State Fair! One other possibility: If you’re attending the International Mr. Leather Contest in Chicago you’ll want to check out the Leather Mart.

Another shopping tip: Especially when you’re new to this, it helps to go shopping with someone who’s more experienced in the scene. If you have a leather mentor, invite them along. (If not, you have a perfect excuse to find one.)

Where does one shop for items such as these?

The first piece of leather I bought was a black leather vest, and that’s a good place for most people to start. I’m up to three vests now, each one for a different purpose. Let’s see what else I’ve got in my leather closet: biker jacket; trench coat; pea coat; German cycle jacket that converts to a vest; body suit that I wore onstage in the ‘94 International Mr. Drummer competition; biker hat; leather jeans; gloves; half-harness; armbands; wristbands; the hand-in-bondage watch you always see me wearing . . .

Friday, March 29, 1996

Celebrating the Body Erotic

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #22, March 29, 1996)

In the March 1 edition of Lavendar Lifestyles (“Lifelines” column, page 12) Jim Lovestar wrote about the upcoming “Celebrating the Body Erotic” workshops for men (April 20-21) and women (May 17-19). My aim in this column is not to repeat what he said, but to add some of my own comments and to bring these workshops to the attention of the leather community.

What is leathersex all about? For me, leathersex at its best is radical sex, rebellious sex, revolutionary sex—at least when compared to the vanilla so-called “norm.” Leathersex is about taking ourselves to new psychic places and letting ourselves discover feelings and sensations we’ve never felt before. It’s about casting off restrictive ideas of what sex should and shouldn’t be, and giving ourselves the freedom to explore and find what works for us. It’s about replacing fear and shame with joy and celebration. It’s about Safe, Sane and Consensual. It’s about respecting ourselves and respecting others. It’s about taking what most of western society considers profane and sinful, and paradoxically using it to discover what is sacred and perfect and beautiful in each of us.

These are some of the ideals leathersex values and for which it strives. These are also some of the ideals around which “Celebrating the Body Erotic” revolves. That’s why I have a strong hunch that many people in the leather community will likely be open to, and ready for, the experience of “Celebrating the Body Erotic,” and why I want to strongly encourage leathermen and leatherwomen to consider participating in these workshops.

I did the “CBE” men’s weekend in April, 1994. At the time I knew I was having a “mountain-top” experience, but now that two years have gone by I can see how profoundly my life was changed and how I am still enjoying the benefits of that weekend.

I am convinced that if more people were acquainted with the principles taught at “Celebrating the Body Erotic” there would be less war, less anger, less disease, and less substance abuse. If the preceding sentence sounds like a wildly exaggerated claim I assure you I am absolutely serious.

If I’ve piqued your curiosity, you can find out more about “Celebrating the Body Erotic” by calling.

Darlette Knox, the current Ms. Minnesota Leather, announces a very special exhibition of interest to bondage aficionados. Now on display at The Sidewalk Shop (2nd floor, Gay 90’s) is a unique collection of bondage implements from all over the world, some dating back to the 1800’s. This hobby collection, the result of one person’s dedication and passion, must now be liquidated, so all the items are for sale. Stop by the Sidewalk Shop and take a look—this is definitely something you don’t get a chance to see every day!

Looks like we have a case of dueling contests here. The entertainment at last year’s IML was lukewarm at best, while the entertainment at last year’s Drummer contest was spectacular, and comic Mimi=Freed was one big reason why. Well, it looks like IML got the hint and has decided to up the ante, because this year’s featured entertainer is Judy Tenuta! My prediction: the lobby of the Congress Theater in Chicago will be empty while she’s performing, because no one will want to miss a word she has to say.

Even if you’re not doing IML this year, you can still have a Memorial Day Weekend leather experience. The Atons will be presenting a “Memorial Weekend Beer Bash” May 26th, 5 to 9 pm at the Gay 90’s.

Leather Calendar

Minnesota Leather Den Anniversary Party Raring, Daring, Flaring To Bare HAS BEEN POSTPONED. previously scheduled for Sunday, April 7; new date to be announced. But when it finally happens it will be fun!


Atons “Tax Time Beer Bash”

Sunday, April 14, 5-9 p.m., Gay 90’s

Atons Memorial Weekend Beer Bash
Sunday, May 26, 5-9 p.m., Gay 90’s

“Garage” Opening: Leather/Levi Extravaganza
Saturday, June 15, 9 p.m.-close
Main Club, 1813 N. 3rd St., Superior WI

Leather Community Service Awards
Sunday, June 16, 5-10 p.m., Gay 90’s