Friday, September 26, 1997

Leather Community News

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #61, September 26, 1997)

Welcome Leather Visitors

This is the weekend of the long-awaited Atons of Minneapolis 25th Anniversary Run. Congratulations to the Atons and welcome to everyone attending, and a special welcome to you if you’re from out of town. Have a great weekend—play safe but play hard. If you like the way we party in the Twin Cities, please note that there are some upcoming events (listed at the end of this column) that we hope will inspire you to pay a return visit.

Sober Leather Organization Holds First Event

The newly forming Sober Leather organization held its first-ever fundraiser Sunday, September 14 at the Saloon—and what a party it was! With help from the Atons, Black Guard, and Imperial Sovereign Court of the Ice Castle, there was almost always something happening on stage: raffles, auctions, demonstrations, speakers, two sets by local gay comedy group Hot Dish, and an appearance by newly-sashed International Ms. Leather Genelle Moore. In one memorable bit, some members of Sober Leather put a new and twisted spin on Patty Page’s “How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?” As if that weren’t enough, the dance floor was ringed with many vendor booths and displays. (And the food, courtesy of the Saloon’s kitchen, was absolutely delightful.)

For many in attendance, the theme of the evening was not necessarily “Welcome to the Community” but rather “Welcome Back to the Community.” One wonderful comment I kept hearing all evening was: “Where did all these new leathermen come from? I’ve never seen them before!” A lot of them aren’t “new” leathermen; as many of the demonstrations showed (and as I can personally attest) they’re no strangers to the leather/SM scene. The formation of Sober Leather gives them a chance to be active in the community once again, and it gives the rest of us the benefit of their years of leather experience and insight.

There was one point of confusion about the evening: Yes, alcoholic drinks were being served to those who wanted them. This was not a Twelve-Step meeting, and Sober Leather is not a recovery organization. Some of its members are in recovery from alcohol or other substance abuse. Others simply choose not to drink or use drugs. Others may indulge on occasion but respect the importance of not engaging in SM play while under the influence. Sober Leather’s mission is not to exclude anyone. Their mission, like that of the leather community in general, is to respectfully include anyone and everyone who wants to be included. For further information, write to them at P.O. Box 581114, Minneapolis, MN 55458.

Upcoming Leather Events

1997 Mr. Minnesota Leather Weekend
Thursday-Sunday, October 2-5, various locations

Join International Mr. Leather 1997 Kevin Cwayna as he passes his Mr. Minnesota Leather title sash to his successor. (If you want a chance to be that successor, you can enter the contest.)

The action starts Thursday night as the Brass Rail Goes Leather (Brass Rail, 9 pm-1 am).

Friday night is Tuff-N-Buff In The Dark (Club Metro Underground, St. Paul, 9 pm-1 am). $6 cover include one drink. According to contest publicity, there will be “No Lights, No Rules,” so this should be an interesting way to meet all those contestants and judges.

Saturday is the Contest and Dance (Club Metro Underground, doors open at 8 pm). Admission is $15 at the door or $10 presale (Friday night only). The sash will be presented to Mr. Minnesota Leather 1998 at midnight.

Winding up the weekend on Sunday will be Boots & Boxers Night (Saloon, 6-10 pm), with a $5 cover and Best Boxers, Best Look and Best Body contests.

Mark Your Calendar . . .

Friday, October 24: Yes, mark this date on the Steve Kelso calendar that you bought last year—because it’s your chance to see him again and buy your next Steve Kelso calendar! Kelso returns to the Town House Bar and Piano Lounge in St. Paul for another Aliveness Project fundraiser. Doors open at 6 pm; $10 admission includes a buffet supper. Kelso’s appearance starts at 9 pm. Buy a calendar, poster or video and he’ll autograph it for you (Christmas is coming—here are some great gift ideas). Music is by DJ Damon, the leather artist whose Kelso drawings were auctioned off last year (and who may do some more this year.) All proceeds benefit The Aliveness Project’s Holiday Basket Project.

Friday, September 12, 1997

“They Paved The Leather Roads We Walk On Now”: Preserving Our Leather History

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #60, September 12, 1997)

Where did leather come from? How did the leather community evolve? If you’ve ever wondered about that, there is an establishment in Chicago that can enlighten you. The Leather Archives and Museum is devoted to collecting, preserving and displaying our heritage. The 1997 International Mr. Leather souvenir booklet featured an article on the Leather Archives and Museum, from which I quote with permission:

“The Leather/SM/Fetish community as we know it dates from at least the early 1940’s, although many aspects of it date from hundreds or thousands of years earlier. But these aspects of our lifestyles have always been hidden from public view. They have not been written about with any real candor. Information about them has not been preserved in libraries and the artifacts of our existence have not been gathered into museums.

“New members of a sexual minority cannot go to the family attic and find Uncle Henry’s horde of Rigid Bondage Roster, Aunt Viola’s tit clamp collection or the home movies of grandma and grandpa having an absolutely wonderful experience with bondage and corsetry! The items of significance in our sexual lifestyle are not added to the biological family’s collection of treasured remembrances. Instead they are consigned to dumpsters and trash cans, either by our own anxieties or by our survivors’ disinterest or outright revulsion.

“Every generation of leathermen and leatherwomen has had to reinvent itself or base its community knowledge on the remembrances of living individuals. The Leather Archives and Museum is dedicated to preserving a record of our lifestyle, our communities, our achievements and our history for present and future generations.

“In 1992, Chuck Renslow (creator of our nation’s first leather bar, Chicago’s Gold Coast, and the Executive Producer of the International Mr. Leather Contest) asked several leatherman and women to join him in forming the Leather Archives and Museum. In 1993, LA&M presented its first exhibition of leather artifacts in a conference room at the Congress Hotel during the International Mr. Leather weekend. These exhibits were repeated in 1994 and 1995.

“In November of 1996, the LA&M moved into new headquarters at 5007 North Clark Street and opened its first permanent public exhibit space. The new space also houses the archival and research collections and allowed them to be accessible to serious students, who immediately came to use them from institutions ranging from the Chicago Art Institute to the Kinsey Institute for Sexual Research at Indiana University.”

During the recent International Mr. Leather contest, International Ms. Leather 1996 Jill Carter spoke from the stage at the Congress Theater about the importance of preserving our heritage: “Those individuals paved the leather roads we all walk on now.” She also discussed ways the community can assist the Leather Archives & Museum in its mission:

“See what piece of memorabilia your community can donate to the Leather Archives. Is your club’s history on file for all to read? Are your club colors on record? Has each state or region recorded its traditions to be saved for the future? Has the oral history of your community’s elders been recorded? If the answer is yes . . . does the Archives have a copy? If the answer is no . . . what are you waiting for? An invitation? Well, consider it given!”

The LA&M collects and preserves books, newsletters, magazines, photographs, letters, videotapes, organizational minutes and files, club and business logos, catalogs, posters, fliers, brochures, tickets, programs, club colors, patches, banners, buttons, run pins, original artwork, sketches, sculptures, dungeon/playrooms designs and plans, equipment designs, photos and sketches, and titleholder sashes, medals and trophies. If you are aware of items that should be preserved, do what you can to see that the current owner knows about the Archives and what they are trying to accomplish. The Leather Archives & Museum is a tax-exempt charity under section 501(c)(3) of the Federal Tax Code. This means that all donations to LA&M are deductible from federal income taxes. Memberships are available, and monetary donations can be made above and beyond membership. (The silent auction during the 1997 IML weekend raised over $3200 for the Archives.)

Next time you’re in Chicago, visit them (5007 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60640, telephone 773/275-1570). Once you’ve been there, you’ll wear your hide with more pride. In the words of Jill Carter: “Who we are—what we stand for—and where we are going must never again end up as landfill. Our memories are far too precious for that.”

Upcoming Leather Events

One Sunday afternoon, two events. At least they’re within walking distance of each other.

WOOF . . . Welcome to the Community
Sunday, September 14, 6-10 pm, The Saloon
You’ve read about them in this column. Now come welcome the Sober Leather organization to the local leather community. Featured: food, drink specials, fantasies, entertainment, demonstrations, vendor booths, a raffle and maybe a silent auction. $5 at the door.

2nd Annual Leather/Levi “Fun” Raiser
Sunday, September 14, 5-9 pm, Gay 90’s
Hosted by the Rainbow Cloggers. They’ll perform, as will Borderline. Proceeds benefit NSGRA rodeo contestants and royalty at the upcoming Washington D.C. and IGRA Finals rodeos. $10 includes beer and food.

Mark Your Calendar . . .

September 26-28: The Atons 25th Anniversary Run. See the related article in this issue, then register if you haven’t already. For a registration form e-mail, or visit their web site: