Friday, February 14, 1997

Leather Community News

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #45, February 14, 1997)

Congratulations to the Black Guard on their 20th Anniversary!

Welcome to everyone visiting the Twin Cities for Black Frost ’97!

Ms. Minnesota Leather Resigns Title; 1st Runner-Up Accepts: Due to personal reasons Amazon, who won the Ms. Minnesota Leather ’97 title last November, has handed over the title to 1st Runner-Up Aalan Cameron. The change is effective February 4, 1997. Following are excerpts from Ms. Cameron’s letter of acceptance:

“It’s an honor and privilege to represent the Minnesota women’s leather community by accepting this title. I wish to express to Amazon my deepest appreciation and admiration — may you have good fortune in your life’s quest.

“Many of you have already met me at various leather events. I’m sending out this open invitation to clubs and organizations who may need my assistance for events or runs. Please feel free to contact me at (612) 471-8278. I’m extending my time and my services to help. In leather, Aalan Cameron.”

Atons Install New Officers: The Atons of Minneapolis recently kicked off their 25th Anniversary year with their annual new-officer installation banquet. Paul Rozendaal assumes the Presidency; Growler becomes Vice President; Keith Cheetham becomes Secretary; and Jeff Paup, who served as banquet chef for the evening, becomes Treasurer. While at the banquet I also got a chance to view the Aton’s excellent promotional video (a leather club first, as far as I know) for their 25th-Anniversary Run to be held this fall.

New Black Guard Officers: This weekend, the Black Guard of Minneapolis presents Black Frost ’97, their 20th-Anniversary Run. At the Wind-Down Party on Sunday afternoon these new officers will take command: Mike Delorme, President; David Blaszak, Vice President; Scott Darst, Secretary; and Colin Spriestersbach, Treasurer. (See “Upcoming Leather Events” for more details on Black Frost events this weekend.)

New Leather Nights at Saloon and Club Metro: Leather nightlight options in the Twin Cities are expanding again. Club Metro has been pleased with the continuing success of “Thrust,” their final-Friday-of-the-month leather-oriented dance party. So now every Thursday is “Bootblack Leather Nite” from 8 pm to 1 am. A leather dress code is enforced. There’s no cover charge and the atmosphere is relaxed, with different entertainment and surprises every week. Bartenders Vern and Lawrence are serving drink specials including their infamous cocktail, the “leg spreader.”

Meanwhile, on March 9 The Saloon will unveil their Sunday-night leather bar, “The Tank,” with a grand-opening celebration featuring porn star Donnie Russo. (He’ll also be appearing that weekend at Rainbow Road.) “The Tank” will be open Sunday nights only (for now, anyway) from 6 to 10 pm. The only entry will be through the patio gate in back of the bar, and a leather/levi/skin dress code will be enforced. A variety of special events are planned, including visiting celebrities and special fetish nights. A $5 cover will include drink specials.

Upcoming Leather Events

Black Frost ’97
Friday-Sunday, February 14-16
If you’re attending from out of the area, welcome to the Twin Cities. Play safe and has a great time!

Black Frost 20th-Anniversary Show and Party
Saturday, February 15, 7:30 pm, Gay 90’s La Femme Lounge (Doors open 7:15 pm)
Even if you’re not attending the whole run, the Black Guard invite you to the show, open to the general public for the first time. Details are being jealously guarded, but their shows are legendary. $10 admission also covers the after-show party in the country-western upstairs bar at the Gay 90’s.

Black Frost Wind-Down Party
Sunday, February 16, 1:30 pm, Brass Rail
Another run event that’s open to the general public. Presidents of the various assembled clubs will toast each other and the Black Guard’s new officers will be installed.

Post-Wind-Down Celebration and Fundraiser
Sunday, February 16, 5-9 pm, Gay 90’s Mens Room Bar (use side entrance)
A fundraiser for Bob Jansen and the Main Club, as well as a salute to the Black Guard’s 20th Anniversary co-hosted by the Atons of Minneapolis and the Castaways of Milwaukee. Beer, sodas, food, door prizes. $8 at the door ($5 if wearing Black Frost ’97 run pin or black leather boots).

Blood Pinning: SM Play in the Military? (Not Really)

Blood pinning, a covert ritual practiced by members of the U.S. Marines and other branches of the military, suddenly isn’t so covert any more. A media frenzy means that millions of people have now seen the videotape of the blood pinning at Camp LeJeune, and millions more have heard about it. For those who haven’t: a soldier is awarded a medal, but it isn’t pinned to his uniform — it’s literally hammered into his chest with body blows.

While many people have only recently heard about blood pinning recently, it’s not difficult to find former mililtary men acquainted with the practice. I’ve spoken recently to several people who were blood-pinned; one gentleman said the initial blow was so forceful that “it knocked me back about three steps.” The pin was hammered so hard that the two spikes on its back “blasted through my pectoral muscle and were driven into my rib.” He still has two scars on his chest from the experience.

The existence of blood-pinning in the military probably shouldn’t be surprising. Blood-letting and blood-exchange rituals have been practiced for centuries by many different cultures and for many different reasons. “Blood sports” such as those practiced by the — ahem — “cutting edge” of the SM community were part of a performance art presentation at the Walker Art Center a few years ago. And they, too, caused a media uproar. But, in spite of the fact that both blood sports and blood-pinning produce sensational news coverage, there are some important differences.

Blood-pinning, military-style, doesn’t qualify as safe, sane or consensual. Properly-done SM blood sport incorporates hospital-style sterile procedures and implements; for some people a dungeon isn’t complete unless it includes an autoclave. Talk of sterile procedure hasn’t even entered the discussion of blood-pinning ceremonies, however, which removes the practice from both the “safe” and “sane” categories.

Consensuality is the third hallmark of healthy SM, and its connection with blood-pinning is debatable. While men may “consent” to being blood-pinned to the extent that they will stand there and take it, there is still an undercurrent of indirect coercion. Blood-pinning is a way of establishing and proving manhood among peers; in the words of the gentleman quoted above, it is “the ultimate macho I-can-take-anything statement.” A man who declines to participate runs the risk of being seen as a coward by his fellow soldiers.

Conversely, SM blood sport lacks this sort of coercion to participate. One simply does not engage in blood sport, or any other type of SM play, to impress other people. One of the leather/SM culture’s most integral traits is that everyone’s manhood is assumed and accepted. Demonstrations of macho at their best are considered unnecessary, and at their worst are seen as examples of poor taste.

One possible way in which blood-pinning could qualify as valid SM play would be as part of an extended military boot-camp scene. If it is done in this context, though, make sure those pins are sterilized beforehand.

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