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.)