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.