Friday, August 1, 1997

International Mr. Leather: The Formative Years

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #57, August 1, 1997)

Part 1 of the Lavender Interview with Kevin Cwayna

PHOTO: Kevin Cwayna, International Mr. Leather 1997

Stepping into Kevin Cwayna’s living room, the first thing you see is a cluster of three vintage Philco Predicta televisions by the door. There are more vintage televisions in every corner of the living room, dining room, and office. ("And there are 50 more in the basement," Cwayna confides.) In the dining room, his International Mr. Leather sash hangs on a black-draped department-store mannequin. Collectible kitchen appliances are spotted among the TVs.

I settle into a blond wood rocker with arms like tailfins, while Cwayna relaxes on the dark green mohair sofa, and the interview begins.

Let's go back to your formative years. . .

Oh dear. . .

What was it that led to 50 TVs in the basement and the IML sash on a mannequin?

My, I'm not sure if I can explain any of that. I was definitely a gay teenager. I knew I was interested in boys as early as twelve or thirteen. I knew that my sexual interests were about love, but they were also about wrestling and playing around with each other and power games. But I didn't really know what to call that stuff.

Do you think life would have been different if there had been things like District 202 when you were growing up?

Definitely. I grew up in a very homophobic world, and I was desperate for information about anything gay. I remember going to libraries, going to the gay section, pulling out a book, running to the other side of the library, and pretending to read something else while I read it. Then I wouldn't have the courage to turn it in or check it out, so I would just hide it.

Do you remember any of those books?

One of them was "Young, Gay and Proud." It actually went into detail about sex between men. But there wasn't the kind of information that I wanted, which was statistics on how common it is, and something that let me know that maybe life as a gay adult would be okay. I remember a gay article in Time or Newsweek that mentioned Hennepin Avenue and Loring Park. It said, "This is where the gay people go in Minneapolis," so I was always dying to get to Hennepin Avenue and Loring Park. But I was a young kid from Edina, and I didn't have the know-how or resources to get there.

I felt very isolated and scared about what it meant if I continued to fall in love with boys. I thought it was probably going to lead to disaster, and I had different dates that I thought, "Well, if I'm still like this at 18 I better kill myself, because life won't be any good as an adult like this. But I'll give it until 18 to go away." And then at 18 I thought,"Well, maybe we'll wait a little bit longer." And then at 19, when I met my first boyfriend, who I was with for three years, I thought, "Well, this is actually okay. In fact, this could be good, and I'm not going to hate myself anymore."

(. . . to be continued next issue.)

Maynard and Zeller win Mr. MN Drummer/Drummerboy

PHOTO: Jack Maynard, Mr. Minnesota Drummer 1997; Stephen Zeller, Minnesota drummerboy 1997

On Saturday night, July 19, at the Club Metro Underground in St. Paul, Jack Maynard captured the title of Mr. Minnesota Drummer 1997, with runner-up honors going to Michael Zambori. Stephen Zeller was named Minnesota Drummerboy 1997. Maynard and Zeller are proud members of the recently-formed Sober Leather group, and many other sober leatherfolk were in the audience cheering them on.

The judges were current International Mr. Drummer Kyle Brandon, current Great Lakes Mr. Drummer (and International Mr. Drummer runner-up) Jerry Leigh, Mr. Iowa Leather ’97 Kevin Kirgis, Mr. Cellblock Leather-Chicago ’97 Brian-Mark Conover, and Mr. Charlie’s Leather-Chicago ’97 David Ritchie. In an unusual turn of events, there was no local representation on the judging panel.

Maynard’s next competition will be in Columbus, Ohio on August 23 for the Great Lakes Mr. Drummer title. Zeller will go directly to the drummerboy competition at the International Mr. Drummer contest, held August 30 in San Francisco.

Masters/slaves: Let’s Be Careful Out There

Of all the types of relationships in the leather/SM community, the Master/slave relationship is among the most intense. The relationship can only be considered safe, sane and consensual if both Master and slave are familiar with themselves, their partner, and the unique dynamics of this type of relationship. It’s certainly not for everyone. At its best, it can fulfill both partners in a way nothing else can. At its worst, it can be horrifyingly—and criminally—abusive.

It was not long ago that a man in Duluth decided he wanted to be a master and have a slave. He picked someone up, brought him home, drugged him, and locked him in a closet, thinking this would be a peachy way to break the man’s will and turn him into a slave. After two days, he checked on his slave and found him dead. This is an extreme example of the tragic consequences of someone trying to play master without knowing the first thing about it.

The Master/slave relationship is about love and fulfillment, not exploitation and abuse. A Master’s main responsibility is to do everything within His power to help his slave grow and develop. A Master is responsible for every aspect of his slave’s well-being, including his physical and emotional safety. (In the era of AIDS, this is an especially important consideration.) That can become an awesome responsibility that very few are able to shoulder.

A slave’s primary function is to please and serve his or her Master. A slave’s primary function is not to serve as a whipping-boy upon which the Master takes out his frustrations. (And a Master’s function is not to punish a slave who, because of feelings of low self-esteem, feels a need to be tortured or humiliated.) A slave also has a responsibility to communicate to his Master what he needs to take care of himself—if he doesn’t take care of himself, what will he have left to offer his Master? (Again, this is especially important if the slave is HIV-positive or has AIDS.)

Neither Master nor slave should enter into their relationship lightly. A novice Master can inflict horrible abuse on his unwitting slave; a novice slave, who has no knowledge of what makes a good Master, can be taken advantage of and and suffer gross mistreatment at the hands of a Master who is only in it to get his own jollies and who doesn’t take proper care of his slave. When this happens, it makes the institution of Master/slave relationships look bad, and gives a black eye to the entire leather/SM community as well.

Remember, Master/slave relationships still fall under the leather/SM community’s rallying cry of “Safe, Sane, Consensual.” If it doesn’t meet all three of those criteria, it constitutes abuse.

For more on safe/sane/consensual Master/slave relationships, including an excellent essay entitled “When Your slave Has AIDS,” visit the Masters And slaves Together web page at

Upcoming Leather Events

The Atons present Sweaty, Sleazy Sunday at the Saloon
Sunday, August 3, 6-10 pm, The Saloon
Featuring drink specials and a best butt/best chest contest.  $5 at the door.

August 15-17: International Mr. Fantasy weekend, Omaha, Nebraska. Come cheer for Mr. Minnesota Fantasy ’97 Michael deLeon. Weekend package is $35. FFI: Fantasy Productions, Inc., Omaha NE. Host hotel is Radisson-Redick, 1504 Harney St., Omaha NE.

Mark Your Calendar . . .

It looks like we have a conflict here. It’s worth noting that the Atons had these dates first;  the Folsom Street Fair folks created the conflict by changing their dates.
September 26-28, Minneapolis: The Atons 25th Anniversary Run. The theme is “A Renaissance—Renewing the Ties That Bind,” and in keeping with that theme there will be a trip to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival on Saturday. Other attractions: a Saturday banquet and a variety of play parties both Friday and Saturday night. An event like this only happens once every twenty-five years; if you haven’t already registered, what are you waiting for? For a registration form call, e-mail, or visit their web site:

September 22-28, San Francisco: Leather Pride Week, including the Fetish & Fantasy Ball on Friday, Sept. 26; the 19th annual International Mr. Drummer contest on Saturday, Sept. 27; and the 14th annual Folsom Street Fair on Sunday, Sept. 28. Contest tickets are $65 for VIP seating or $25 for general admission; reserve by calling the box office (have your credit card ready). Drummer’s e-mail address is No official host hotel; the San Francisco Hotel Reservation Hotline is 1-800-677-1500 (or

No comments:

Post a Comment