Friday, January 16, 1998

Minnesota Mr./Ms. Olympus of Leather Contest—Why Leather Contests Matter

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #69, January 16, 1998)

The first-ever Minnesota Mr. and Ms. Olympus of Leather Contest will be happening January 23-24, 1998. If your first thought at this news is a sarcastic “Just what we need—another leather contest,” please continue reading as I examine where all these contests came from, why they all exist, and why they’re important. Then mark your calendar and be there.

Both International Mr. Leather and International Mr. Drummer started in 1979. International Mr. Leather (IML) was started by Chuck Renslow, who thought that the leather community would enjoy the contest and would benefit from the leadership and positive role models such a contest would bring forward. International Mr. Drummer was started by Drummer Magazine for the same reasons, but also as a way of providing men for the cover and pages of the magazine. These two major men’s leather titles co-existed quite nicely for years, with International Mr. Leather more political and International Mr. Drummer more sensual. In 1987 the women’s leather community added the International Ms. Leather (IMsL) title.

Then, a few years ago, rumors began to circulate that the Drummer title was going to end due to the financial problems that Drummer Magazine was experiencing at the time. Perhaps coincidentally, or perhaps in response to these rumors, the International Mr. Fantasy title was created in 1995 by Dustin Logan and Bob Ewing. They had been producers of an annual event called “Fantasy” at which titleholders presented fantasies and other entertainment to raise money for charity. It has always been my personal feeling that this event became the International Mr. Fantasy contest to carry on the tradition of the International Mr. Drummer title. It turned out that both Drummer Magazine and the Drummer title are still alive, however, and it is very much to the credit of International Mr. Fantasy’s producers and titleholders that International Mr. Fantasy has become a credible title in its own right.

At about the same time that International Mr. Fantasy was being created Dave Rhodes, publisher of The Leather Journal, created the Mr. and Ms. Olympus Leather contest in conjunction with his “Pantheon of Leather” community-service awards held each year in New Orleans. The OIympus Leather contests differ from the other titles mentioned above by awarding both female and male titles and holding both competitions in the same event. In this way, neither sex is a “guest” at a contest for the other sex. (By the way, there is no connection between the Mr. and Ms. Olympus Leather contests and similar-sounding men’s bodybuilding titles.)

Minnesota has seen local and regional contests in the IML, IMsL, Drummer, and Fantasy circuits. Now Alan Stangler, of Back in Black Leather Productions, has invested a large amount of time (and money) in establishing the Minnesota Mr. and Ms. Olympus of Leather titles.

Why do all these leather contests exist? Certainly not because they’re fantastic money-making opportunities. Winning a leather contest and holding a title is a difficult way to get rich and an easy way to become impoverished. The same generally goes for producing leather contests; they almost always have a raising-money-for-charity component, and any proceeds left over are generally kept as seed money for next year’s contest. Cash cows they ain’t.

Leather contests exist because they offer something to the leather/SM community. They’re entertaining to watch. They’re stimulating to enter. And they can be rewarding to produce. The  leather impresario who gives time, effort and money to put on a contest knows that she or he is engaged in a very special form of community leadership and mentorship. The producer is a mentor to the contestants, who will learn and grow by being in the contest and who will reap benefits long after the contest is over. The contestants in turn become mentors to the people in the audience by standing onstage with pride before the community. Entertainment, growth, personal development, leadership, mentorship . . . all this and hot men and women on stage in leather, too. That’s why leather contests exist. And that’s what you can see at the Minnesota Olympus of Leather contest. (See details in shaded box.)

Upcoming Leather Events

Leather/Levi Dinner
Saturday, January 17, 7:30 pm, Minnesota Bar & Grill (1501 S. 6th St., Mpls.)
A few years back the Atons used to host occasional leather/levi dinners; now they’re reviving the tradition at a new locale. If you haven’t done so already, this is a great excuse to check out the menu and atmosphere at the new Minnesota Bar & Grill.

First Annual Minnesota Mr. & Ms. Olympus of Leather Contest
All events happen at Club Metro Underground, St. Paul.

Friday, January 23: Meet & Greet 9 pm-1 am. Judges include current International Ms. Leather Genelle Moore, Mr. World Rubber 1998 Keith Martel, International Ms. Leather 1991 Kay Hallanger, current Mr. Minnesota Leather Roger Gregg, and current Mr. Minnesota Fantasy (and first-runner-up to International Mr. Fantasy) Michael deLeon (other judges are still to be announced). SM-themed dancers in cages will set the mood for the evening (music both nights by DJ Pat Ryan from West Hollywood’s The Rage nightclub).

Saturday, January 24: Doors for the Contest open at 8 pm; contest runs until 1 am. Contestants will be judged in the following events: Private interview with judges; leather presence; onstage Q&A; and fantasy presentation. In future years attention will be focused on contestants’ prior community involvement; this year the emphasis is on contestants’ vision for the title and the community. Contest entertainment will include a Back in Black leather show.

For advance ticket sales and hotel information call (612) 870-2968. Advance tickets, good for admission both Friday and Saturday nights, are $10 at the Back in Black shop in Club Metro; admission at the door is $5 Friday and $10 Saturday.

Contestants: Prizes have been added. First-place Mr. and Ms. winners receive airfare and hotel in New Orleans Feb. 13-16, 1998 while competing in the Finals contest. First-place winners also receive $250 worth of leather from Back in Black and $100 cash; second-place winners receive $100 worth of leather and $50 cash; third-place winners receive $50 worth of leather and $25 cash. Call for contestant information.

Atons present Lights Out
Friday, January 30, 9 pm-1 am, Club Metro Underground, St. Paul
The Atons invite you to the first Thrust party of the year. Lots of leather, lots of loud music, lots of dancing, not much light. $5 at the door gets you free beer and non-alcoholic beverages from 9 pm to midnight.

Mark Your Calendar . . .

February 13-15, 1998: The Black Guard present Black Frost ’98, their 21st annual run, at the Midway Days Inn. All run registrations and requests for information are being handled by phone through The Travel Company. (Ask for the "Black Frost Desk.") Those dates are coming up fast so register now. Rates for the run package go up after February 1.

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