Friday, July 31, 1998

Viagra + Poppers = “Potent”ially fatal

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #83, July 31, 1998)

Have you experimented with Viagra yet, or are you thinking about it? Do you use poppers? Be aware: mixing the two can kill you. The mainstream media doesn’t seem to be mentioning this fact, so I will.

I first read about Viagra in USA Today, in an article that was written from a totally heterosexist point of view. Men were interviewed, along with their wives, and everyone agreed that Viagra was a far better method for dealing with impotence than shots, splints, and urethral pellets. Gay men, and the thought that they too might want to experience this miracle, were not even mentioned in the article. Nevertheless, I know at least one gentleman who experimented with Viagra at this year’s International Mr. Leather contest in Chicago. He was favorably impressed (and that’s putting it mildly).

Shortly thereafter the warnings started appearing in the media. Yes, Viagra was miraculous, BUT . . . it could have some side-effects, such as headache, flushing, and a bizarre vision problem in which everything appears blue. (Ironically, the Viagra pill is colored blue—one wonders if this is coincidence or macabre humor on the part of the drug manufacturer.)

Then came the REALLY bad news: To date there have been at least sixteen deaths attributed to Viagra, three of them caused by the interaction of Viagra with nitroglycerine heart pills. Media reports cautioned that mixing Viagra with certain heart medications containing nitrates could lead to a potentially fatal drop in blood pressure. So, the reports said, if you’re an older gentleman on heart medication, Viagra is not for you. The news reports did not mention that older gentlemen on heart medication are not the only men exposed to nitrates these days, and therefore potentially at risk. Informational inserts packaged with Viagra also warn against taking the drug in combination with nitrates.

Poppers are nitrates, folks. Real poppers are amyl nitrate; butyl nitrate is another chemical that many gay men inhale to enhance sexual pleasure. They’re called poppers because amyl nitrate for medical purposes used to be supplied in glass capsules which were held under the nose and crushed (or “popped”), thus allowing the vapors to be released and inhaled. Popper use as a sexual stimulant has been ubiquitous in the men’s leather community and in other areas of the gay male community for many years.

Some of us who have been around awhile may have found that age has taken a toll on certain of our abilities, sexually speaking. Even men who don’t have erectile function problems may be tempted to use Viagra by anecdotal reports that the pill enhances performance for all men. (Medical science says this is not so—that if you don’t have a problem for Viagra to fix, you won’t notice any difference with or without the pill. But that’s not what I keep hearing through the grapevine.) Viagra and poppers may seem like a natural combo—Viagra to get things rolling, and poppers to enhance things once the action has started. In reality, such a combination could be deadly. So, if you decide to try Viagra, lock up the poppers. If you just can’t have sex without poppers, don’t experiment with Viagra.

There’s been another development on the Viagra front: currently appearing in the gay press (but again, not in mainstream media that I’ve seen) are questions about interactions between Viagra and frequently-prescribed AIDS medications. There are concerns that one class of AIDS drug could increase the concentration of Viagra in the bloodstream, potentially leading to toxicity, while another class of AIDS drug may decrease the concentration in the bloodstream, rendering the Viagra ineffective. If you’re on the AIDS cocktail, that means you have another reason to approach Viagra with caution.

Remember, Viagra is a prescription drug. If you think it’s for you, talk to your doctor about it first.

Upcoming Leather Events


Pantheon of Leather Fundraiser and Beer Bust
Friday, July 31, 8 pm-close, The Town House
Presented by Renee Indehar, Ms. Minnesota Olympus Leather, and B.D. Chambers, Mr. Minnesota Olympus Leather. Bootblacking will be available and entertainment will include “Top 10 Things You Don’t Do in a Dungeon.” Change from last issue’s listing: There is now no cover charge at the door for this event.

Beer Bust and Bondage Bingo
Friday, August 7, 8 pm-close, The Town House
What’s “bondage bingo”? You’ll have to come find out. A fundraiser for the Ms. Minnesota Leather Contest—call for more information.

Ms. Minnesota Leather Brunch
Sunday, August 9, Legends Café (825 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis)
An informational and social breakfast event. Contest representatives will be at Legends for most of the morning starting at, say, 9 am. Come have breakfast, ask questions about the contest or other topics, or just hang out.

Mr. Minnesota Drummer Fundraiser Weekend


Friday Fundraiser and Beer Bash
Friday, August 14, 9 pm-close, The Town House, St. Paul
If you haven’t experienced a Friday night leather event at The Town House, you’re missing out—come to this one. There will be door prizes. There won’t be a cover charge.

Saturday, August 15: Event to be announced—watch for it!

Sunday: Mr. Minnesota Drummer/Minnesota Drummerboy Send-Off
Sunday, August 16, 6-9:30 pm, The Saloon
Come wish Mr. Minnesota Drummer and Minnesota Drummerboy good luck as they represent us at the Great Lakes Mr. Drummer Contest in Columbus, Ohio August 28-30. Special guests to be announced. $5 at the door.

International Mr. Fantasy Weekend
August 21-23, Omaha, Nebraska
The ultimate Field Trip: a Fantasy Bus will be traveling from Minneapolis to Omaha for Fantasy Weekend. Roundtrip fare is $45 and seating is limited, so call right away if you’re interested. And you’ll need hotel and weekend package reservations. FFI write Fantasy Productions, Boystown, NE. The Radisson Redick is the host hotel; call to reserve your room.

Ms. Minnesota Leather 24-hour “Run”
Saturday, August 22, 11 am to Sunday, August 23, 11 am, Taylor’s Falls area
This fundraiser for the Ms. Minnesota Leather contest promises “24 hours of midsummer’s night fun.” Prepayment of $15 to $25 (sliding scale) includes food. Camp on the grounds, or just come for the day. Open to men and women. Info: call or write for registration form.

Mark Your Calendar . . .

October 16-18: Mr./Ms. Minnesota Olympus Leather Contest Weekend. In addition to the contest there will be workshops, parties, and a Leather Community Service Awards ceremony, nominations for which are now being sought. The awards are given for commendable service to the leather/SM/fetish community. If you didn’t get a nomination form in the mail, or call if you want a contestant application.

Friday, July 17, 1998

Minnesota Leather Pride 1998 in review

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #82, July 17, 1998)

PHOTO: Street flags

PHOTO CREDIT: Sherman Ford

The 1998 Minnesota Leather Pride celebration, held on the same weekend as the Twin Cities Festival of Pride, was expanded from the single Sunday event of previous years. This year’s celebration covered the entire weekend with events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and all events drew a good crowd in spite of some major storms moving through the Twin Cities area.

Friday evening’s drenching rains didn’t dampen the spirits of those at The Town House for the Leather Pride Kickoff. The dance floor was active, inspired by DJ Jim’s mix of swing, disco and country/western music. The people-watching was great, the air was festive, and folks seems to be enjoying the party. The TH is becoming a popular venue for leather events, with more scheduled there in the coming months.

Saturday evening’s event at the Minnesota Bar & Grill was supposed to be a cookout/picnic on the rooftop deck, but tornado warnings and rain forced the party to move indoors to the MNBar’s second-story pool-table room. This caused some confusion initially because moving the event indoors meant the food had to be cooked in the downstairs kitchen and shuttled upstairs. With the cooperation of the MNBar’s kitchen staff and the help of several mem bers of Sober Leather, the details finally were worked out and everyone had a good time. (And the view of the Minneapolis skyline was impressive, whether from the deck or indoors.) The community should try an event like this again—maybe next time the weather will cooperate.

Sunday’s weather, unlike that of the two preceding days, was glorious—plenty of sun and moderate temperatures. It was perfect weather for the Twin Cities Festival of Pride Parade. For the first time, the leather contingent was toward the front of the parade in one group. Community members helped carry two huge flags (one rainbow, one leather pride) that measured 50’x75’ each and looked mightily impressive moving down Hennepin Avenue toward Loring Park. This was followed by an impressive two-part leather float. DJ Bubba, on the first trailer, mixed a pulsing, throbbing soundtrack for the leather segment of the parade. Leather titleholders and club officers were on the second part of the float, manning a mortar that shot leather-flag-colored streamers into the air at strategic points along the parade route.

The crowd watching the parade was quite impressed—especially one little four-year-old girl I heard about who was greatly amused by the fact she could see peoples’ butts, in this case the leather-framed bare butts that certain folks on the leather float displayed. (Her mother was taking it all in stride: “Yes, dear, those are butts.”)

When it was all over, and the parade reached the park, the two huge flags had collected many pounds of change, thrown there by spectators along the parade route. (That’s pounds as in weight, not as in British currency.) I heard several people voicing the same thing I was feeling: “This was fun—let’s go back and do it again!”

After marching in the parade (and stopping by the leather community booth at the Pride Festival in the park) community members headed for Sunday’s leather pride event at Tropix. I stopped to check out the Rock The Avenue block party on my way to the Tropix event, and I saw many other leathermen there as well. Later in the evening the party moved to the 19 Bar’s back patio. There must have been some budding interior designers in the group, because the patio furniture was promptly rearranged so that it was more to the crowd’s liking, with the umbrellas over the patio tables softening the harsh light from the single bare lightbulb. Thus, in a dimly-lit blaze of glory, ended another year’s Leather Pride celebration.

-----

Welcome to everyone attending the Atons’ Gopher Broke, Lucky 13 run this weekend, and a special welcome to you if you’re from out of town. Have a great and safe weekend. Here’s wishing you need lots of lube and almost no insect repellent.

Upcoming Leather Events

S.L.A.M. Presents “Come Roast Your Meat” Barbecue
Saturday, July 25, 4 pm-whenever, 1865 Englewood Ave., St. Paul
Mr. Minnesota Leather Roger and Mr. Minnesota Drummerboy David present a fundraiser for S.L.A.M. (Sober Leather Association of Minnesota). Featured will be demonstrations, play spaces, and refreshments. S.L.A.M.’s motto in connection with this event: “Drug and alcohol free, but we still know how to party.” Tickets $10, available from Sober Leather members or e-mail Soberlthr@aol.com.

Mr. Minnesota Fantasy: “Off To International” Fundraiser
Sunday, July 26, 6-9 pm, The Saloon
Presented by Mr. Minnesota Fantasy 1998 Ken Flanagan, who will be competing in the International Mr. Fantasy Competition in Omaha (August 21-23). Come wish him luck as he represents Minnesota (and, we hope, wows the crowd in Omaha). Food, drink specials, raffles, auction, special entertainment “and a whole lot of party.” $5 donation at the door.

Olympus Leather Minnesota Fundraiser and Beer Bust
Friday, July 31, 8 pm-close, The Town House
Presented by Renee Indehar, Ms. Minnesota Olympus Leather, and B.D. Chambers, Mr. Minnesota Olympus Leather. Bootblacking will be available and entertainment will include “Top 10 Things You Don’t Do in a Dungeon.” $5 at the door.

Mark Your Calendar . . .

Saturday, August 8: Emperor & Empress Ball (Imperial Court)

August 14-16: Minnesota Mr. Drummer/Drummerboy Fundraiser Weekend and Send-Off. Details next issue—it will be BIG.

August 21-23: International Mr. Fantasy Weekend, Omaha, Nebraska. It’s not too early to make those hotel and weekend package reservations. FFI write Fantasy Productions, Boystown, NE. The Radisson Redick is the host hotel; call to reserve your room.

Friday, July 3, 1998

Interview: Leather singer/songwriter (and St. Paul native) Rick Beech

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #81, July 3, 1998)

PHOTO: Rick Beech

If you were at the recent Capital City Pride celebration in St. Paul, you probably know who Rick Beech is. He’s the singer who graced the Capital City Pride stage wearing boots and leather pants (no shirt to hide his beautifully-developed chest), and mesmerized the leatherfolk in the audience with his songs. What the non-leatherfolk in the audience thought of him might be another matter, but he’s gotten used to that.

One thing the leather/SM community does NOT seem to have a knack for developing is performers. Yes, leather contests feature performances of fantasies (erotic skits), and I’ve seen some adult video stars do some pretty amazing performances at leather events. But our community doesn’t seem to embrace the development of performance and entertainment skills with the passion of, say, the drag community.

So a singer/songwriter like Beech is a rarity, and not always appreciated. His songs touch on dark themes of sexuality, domination and pain, and his voice (reminiscent to me of The Doors’ Jim Morrison) is sensual, masculine and commanding. “Alternative rockers comprehend what I’m trying to do, musically,” says Beech. “Women like my music, and leathermen understand my music and appreciate it. Gay men who aren’t into leather tend to feel threatened by it, though. And I’m a singer, not a stripper or porn star, even though that’s what they expect me to be because that’s what I look like to them. So they don’t quite know what to do with me.”

Some facts about Beech: He’s a St. Paul native who lived here until age 10. He graduated from Becker (MN) High School and later attended Concordia College in St. Paul. His powerful voice is operatically-trained. The leather pants he wore on stage for his Capital City Pride performance are his first pair ever, given to him by his first boyfriend 15 years ago — he still has them, and he still fits into them. For someone who projects such an imposing stage presence, he’s surprisingly approachable. Various members of his (biological) family still live in the Twin Cities and were at Capital City Pride to see him perform.

Beech currently lives in Chicago, where he has worked in theater, music and radio for the last several years (he was a featured entertainer at the 1995 International Mr. Leather contest). He is now trying to focus on his singing and songwriting and is working on getting a recording contract. He’s forming a live back-up band. He’s very proud of one of his songs, “Suite of Pain,” that he didn’t sing for the Capital City Pride audience (“it would have been a little too intense”). And he’s working on, among other things, a cover of a Beatles song (“Tomorrow Never Knows” from the Revolver album). My prediction: You’re going to see and hear a lot more from Rick Beech.

Upcoming Leather Events

Atons present Hell Bent for Leather
Sunday, July 5, 7-10 pm, The Saloon
Featuring food, 75-cent tap beer and sodas, and door prizes including a Gopher-XIII run package. Something called “bondage massage” will be available—you’ll have to come to the event to find out what that’s all about. $3 with 1998 Minnesota Leather Pride dogtag ($4 without).

North Star Regional Rodeo and Great Northern Shindig
Thursday-Sunday, July 9-12, various locations
Presented by the North Star Gay Rodeo Association (NSGRA). Rodeo events Saturday and Sunday, dances and parties Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Check out the 24-page souvenir Rodeo program (prepared in large part by your humble columnist) in the current issue of Q Monthly. Also: They’re looking for volunteers to help with the rodeo. If the idea of spending a weekend rubbing elbows with rugged-but-friendly cowboys and cowgirls from across the U.S. and Canada appeals to you, call to volunteer.

Mark Your Calendar (for almost the rest of the year) . . . 

July 17-19: The Atons present Gopher Broke, Lucky 13. It’s their thirteenth semi-annual run, and it will be here before you know it, so register now! The theme is 1950’s leather in the spirit of Marlon Brando and “The Wild Ones.” For information and a registration form call; e-mail AtonsMpls@aol.com; visit www.starbase21.com/ATONS; or write Atons of Minneapolis, Minneapolis, MN.

July 17-19: 12th Annual International Ms. Leather Contest, Atlanta, GA (not for leatherwomen only!). For details call, e-mail imsl@synergy.net, or visit www.LeatherOnline.org/IMsL/.

Saturday, July 25: Sober Leather Fundraiser, details to be announced.

Saturday, July 25: One-year anniversary of the new Main Club in Duluth. There may be a leather caravan traveling from the Twin Cities to the Twin Ports that weekend; stay tuned for further details.

Sunday, July 26: Mr. Minnesota Fantasy fundraiser at The Saloon.

Friday, July 31: Olympus Leather fundraiser and beer bust at The Town House.

Saturday, August 8: Emperor & Empress Ball (Imperial Court)

August 14-16: Minnesota Drummer Fundraiser Weekend and Send-Off

August 21-23: International Mr. Fantasy Weekend, Omaha, Nebraska

August 28-30: Great Lakes Drummer Weekend, Columbus, Ohio

September 4-7: Mr. Minnesota Leather Weekend (Labor Day weekend)

September 5: Duluth Gay Pride Celebration

September 10-16: Chicago Hellfire presents Inferno XXVII, Chicago, Illinois

September 18-20: Ms. Minnesota Leather Weekend

September 25-27: Folsom Street Fair/International Mr. Drummer Contest, San Francisco

October 2-4: American Leathermaster Contest Weekend

October 9-12: Living in Leather XIII (sponsored by NLA International), Dallas, Texas

October 16-18: Mr./Ms. Minnesota Olympus Leather Contest, Fetish Weekend, and Community Service Awards (in conjunction with Pantheon of Leather)

November 22: Black Guard Chili Feed