Friday, September 25, 1998

Mr. Minnesota Leather 1999

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #87, September 25, 1998)

As you read in this space last issue, Joshua Smith became the new Mr. Minnesota Leather on Sept. 6 at Club Metro Underground in St. Paul. Recent frictions between Club Metro and the leather community seemed to have been put to rest, and the contest (and all the rest of the weekend’s events) drew a healthy crowd and got generally good reviews from those attending.

Smith’s competitors for the evening were first runner-up Scott Kelley and second runner-up Karl Keturi. The judges came from as far east as Philadelphia (Dan Clougherty, Mr. Philadelphia Leather ’98) and as far west as Australia (Andrew Lennox, Mr. Australia Leather ’98 and International Mr. Leather ’98 first runner-up). Other judges were International Mr. Leather ’97 and Mr. Minnesota Leather ’97 Kevin Cwayna; current Ms. Minnesota Olympus Leather Renee Indehar; current Mr. Minnesota Olympus Leather B.D. Chambers; current Mr. Minnesota Fantasy Ken Flanagan; and outgoing Mr. Minnesota Leather Roger Gregg.

Smith’s speech, delivered with revival-preacher fervor, addressed a standard leather-contest theme (uniting the community) in an unusual manner. He summoned representatives of every subset of the leather/SM community—men’s leather clubs, women’s leather clubs, pansexual clubs, rodeo, bears, even the Metropolitan Community Church—in a graphic demonstration and reminder of how important it is to work together. Smith’s elaborate and dreamily surreal cop-fantasy presentation started with a dancing male silhouette on a windowshade; the focus then shifted to a hot scene between a prowler and the cop who apprehends him. Suddenly there was a blinding flash onstage as the proceedings were interrupted by local drag queen Eva, looking stunning and lip-synching to “Barbie Girl.” (That was the surreal part.)

Leather Community Charity Donations

The evening also saw various leather-related individuals and organizations distribute fund-raising proceeds to an array of charitable organizations. First, the Black Guard handed checks ($500 each) to representatives from The Aliveness Project, District 202, and Every Penny Counts. Camp Heartland received a total of three checks, one of which represented the money that was tossed onto the giant rainbow and leather pride flags that were carried in this year’s Twin Cities Pride Parade. The amount of that check (approximately $250) was matched both by the Black Guard and by Minnesota Leather Productions, producer of the evening’s contest.

Later in the evening, outgoing Mr. Minnesota leather Roger Gregg handed another check to Kevin Cwayna, representing District 202. In addition, a portion of the proceeds from the contest weekend benefited the Sexual Violence Center (an organization that, a few years ago, would not take donations from the leather community).

All these donations continue a long tradition of charitable giving by the leather/SM community. This tradition didn’t necessarily start with the onset of the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s, but AIDS certainly brought about a greater awareness of the needs to raise funds. The leather community was one of the hardest-hit by the epidemic and leather clubs, titleholders and the leather community in general responded by taking care of their own in the days before government and the general public were aware of the problem. Today, while AIDS charities are still very much supported by the leather community, the focus has widened to include organizations, such as District 202 and the Sexual Violence Center, that are addressing other problems of concern to the community.

Upcoming Leather Events

Atons Leather/Levi Dinner
Saturday, Sept. 12, 7:30 pm, The Monte Carlo (219 3rd Ave. N, Mpls.)
All members of the leather/SM community are welcome. Call the Atons HotLine to make reservations.

Ms. Minnesota Leather Contest Weekend

A committee of nine women have been working on this weekend’s events for months, and it should be good. Even though it’s a women’s contest, leathermen are welcomed and encouraged to come and party. Prices have been reduced! Weekend Package is now $25 with Survivor’s Brunch or $15 without; events (except the brunch) are also available separately. Call Deb or Renee for further event or contestant information. Winner receives a prize of $250 and competes in the International Ms. Leather Contest in Las Vegas, Nevada, July 1999. Here are the event-by-event details:

Meet & Greet/Bare As You Dare
Friday, Sept. 18, 6:30-9:30 pm, The Saloon
“Bare As You Dare” returns, complete with trophies and finger food. It’s also “Bat Night” with the first 10 in the door getting a complimentary slapper. Plans call for a Vendor Fair and live-action digital-camera photos available for pose and purchase. $3 in advance or $5 at the door.

Pre- and Post-Contest Parties
Saturday, Sept. 19, Minnesota Bar & Grill. Cocktails and full menu dinner at 5:30 pm, shuttle bus to contest/show starts at 7 pm.
Why hassle with U of M traffic and parking? Park your car at the MN Bar, have drinks and/or dinner, then catch the shuttle bus to the contest. Shuttle returns to the MN Bar for the Post-Contest Party. $5 in advance or $7 at the door.

1999 Ms. Minnesota Leather Contest and Show
Saturday, Sept. 19, 8 pm, Bell Museum Auditorium, 17th & University Ave. SE, U of M Campus
Perennial favorite, former International Ms. Leather and soon-to-be-parent (you read it here first!) Kay Hallanger will emcee—in my book, that alone is worth the price of admission. Head judge will be current International Ms. Leather Megan DeJarlais. $11 in advance or $13 at the door (Co-sponsored by U Film Society’s LGBT Film Festival, Oct. 2-15.)

Survivor’s Brunch
Sunday, Sept. 20, location and details when you register
Open only to the first 50 people registering for the weekend package, so get your reservation in now.

Wind-Down Party
Sunday, Sept. 20, 9 pm-1 am, The Tank @ The Saloon
An informal wind-down party for the weekend. No admission charge.

Atons Bar Night at the Eagle
Friday, Oct. 2, 9 pm-midnight, The Minneapolis Eagle
$2 donation at the door benefits District 202. Your first drink is half-price and there will be door prizes.

Mark Your Calendar . . .

October 1: Deadline for nominations for the Leather Community Awards. If you haven’t submitted your form yet, fill it out and send it in before this date. Don’t have a form? You’ll find one at the Atons’ website ( which you can fill out, print and mail to the address shown on the form.

October 16-18: Pantheon of Leather presents the Mr. & Ms. Minnesota Olympus Leather contest, “your local pansexual fetish contest.” The weekend will also include the above-mentioned Leather Community Awards. Call for event or contestant information.

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