Friday, February 26, 1999

Cori Ander Wins National Ms. OIympus Leather Title

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #98, February 26, 1999)

Pantheon of Leather IX/Olympus Leather Contest

Pantheon of Leather IX, the Leather Community Service Awards, was held February 5-7 in New Orleans. Sharing the weekend was the Mr. and Ms. Olympus Leather 1999 Contest. Space permits me only to share a few highlights of the weekend.

The biggest news for Minnesota is that Cori Ander, Ms. Minnesota Olympus Leather 1999, brought the national Ms. Olympus Leather title home to Minnesota. More good news: Greg Hausler, Mr. Minnesota Olympus Leather 1999, took second runner-up honors nationally. (The new Mr. Olympus Leather 1999 is little erick Lundgren from Louisiana).

Saturday night’s contest was beautifully produced in a wonderful old theater in the French Quarter. It was an entertaining evening that drew enthusiastic approval from the audience, which included a large contingent from Minnesota supporting Cori and Greg.

The community service awards were handed out Sunday afternoon at the same theater. The program opened with a salute to veterans in the leather community. Thirteen audience members took the stage and stated their name, rank and the branch of the armed forces in which they served. Then, while they stood at attention, a recording of Kate Smith singing “God Bless America” was played. I was prepared for it to be trite; instead it was incredibly moving.

The biggest disappointment of the weekend (for me, anyway) was that so few of the award winners were present to pick up their awards. That was a symptom of a larger problem with the weekend: Pantheon IX was an inspiring event that drew a crowd of great people, but it deserves a larger attendance than it had. The board of directors of Pantheon are aware that it needs and deserves more and better promotion, and they plan to work on this issue in the coming year.

For more coverage of the weekend visit Then make plans to visit Pantheon X in New Orleans next year.

Black Frost ’99: The Land of Oz

The Black Guard didn’t just top themselves with their latest run—they took the whole concept of a run banquet and show to a new level of sophistication. Again, space permits me to share only a few details, so I will focus on Saturday evening’s run banquet, show, and Red Heart Party.

Although you might think the Mall of America would not be the most leather-friendly place to hold an event, the staff at the Camp Snoopy Playhouse was friendly and accommodating. Dinner was quite enjoyable; the food was prepared well and presented attractively. (One point of etiquette that needs to be mentioned, however: fisting doesn’t really qualify as pleasant dinner-table conversation.)

The Playhouse itself is an impressive venue with good stage, lighting and sound facilities, and the Black Guard put them to very good use. They pulled out ALL the stops for this show, a retelling of the Wizard of Oz story. The soundtrack drew from many versions of the tale, including the 1939 film with Judy Garland and the Broadway musical The Wiz. At one point we even heard Eartha Kitt as the Wicked Witch of the West.

The costumes were absolutely amazing and must have taken hours and hours to make. An example of the witty and irreverent staging: Dorothy (perfectly played by Allison Brooks, aka Carl Gscheidmeier, who also directed) carried her little dog Toto in her basket. But Toto had nine different identities throughout the evening, among them a brown dog, a pink dog, a leather teddy bear, and a rubber chicken.

This show was unlike most run shows in that professional talent was brought in for the evening. Dancers Frit and Frat Fuller and the Kin International Dance Company added immeasurably to the presentation as Munchkins and Flying Monkeys, and the tornado sequence was breathtaking. Black Guard cast members Bruce Gohr (Scarecrow), Colin Spriestersbach (Tin Woodsman), Karl Keturi (Lion), Steve Katz (Auntie Em, also production designer and event producer), Mike Delorme (Glinda), and Ralph Schmidt (Evilene, the Wicked Witch of the West) held their own against the professional dancers.

Another professional, Donn Simione, brought the house down as the Wizard. His first appearance, dressed in leather and tap boots, was hot; his second appearance was even hotter as he tap-danced in impossibly high heels, a cape, a fishnet shirt and a studded leather jockstrap. If ever oh ever a Wiz there wuz, there never before wuz a Wiz like this! WOOF!

After the Land of Oz presentation came the Red Heart Party, presented in cooperation with Because We Care. It was emceed by Jm J. Bullock and featuring performances by singer Margaret Wakely Harris, pianist/comedian Dale Gonyea, and singer Kelly Britt. But by then a large segment of the crowd had either gone back to the host hotel or to the Minneapolis Eagle. That was too bad, because there was a huge amount of talent onstage that evening, and their choice of material was impeccable. If you want to see what you missed, ask a Black Guard member about getting a videotape of the evening.

Atons and Black Guard announce new officers

At the conclusion of Black Frost ’99 the Black Guard installed their new club officers: President Michael Delorme, Vice-President Steve Katz, Secretary Colin Spriestersbach, and Treasurer Carl Gscheidmeier.

New Atons club officers are President Sam Carlisle, Vice-President Jim Courtney, Secretary Keith Cheetham and Treasurer Paul Rozendaal. Their installation ceremony on March 7 will be part of the Atons “March Into Spring” weekend (see below).

Mark Your Calendar

The Atons present the “March Into Spring” weekend March 5-7, featuring Recruitment, Induction, and Installation. See this issue’s Out & About Calendar for full details.

The Mr. Minnesota Fantasy 1999 Contest Weekend happens March 26-28. Friday night is the return of the Party Bus Bar Cruise, followed by a meet-and-greet dance party featuring the music of Savage Aural Hotbed. Saturday evening’s Mr. Minnesota Fantasy 1999 contest features entertainment by Ballet of the Dolls with Savage Aural Hotbed. The weekend closes with two parties, a Fantasy Tea Dance from 6-9 pm and an “End Up” party from 9 pm to 1 am. Check next issue’s Out & About calendar for complete details. If you’re interested in competing, contact Dale Willman. (Correction: Last issue I mistakenly referred to this event as the “Mr. Minnesota Olympus contest.” But you knew I really meant to write “Fantasy” instead of “Olympus,” didn’t you?)

Upcoming Leather Events (for Calendar section)

Friday, March 5

March Into Spring: Recruitment
8-11 pm, The Minneapolis Eagle
Presented by the Atons and cosponsored by Clinic 42, this event will feature hot safe-sex videos and educational presentations as well as “recruitment” for the AIDS vaccine study at Clinic 42. Pay $5 for a glass and they’ll keep it filled with keg beer. All proceeds go to the Atons safe-sex supply fund.

Saturday, March 6

March Into Spring: Induction
6-10 pm, The Saloon
Presented by The Atons. There will be a brief pre-induction physical at the door. New recruits can get a buzz cut from leather barber Vince and a bootblack will get those boots shined up and ready for inspection. Drink and beer specials, free food from 7-9 pm. $5 donation at the door.

Sunday, March 7

March Into Spring: Installation
Cocktails at 11 am, brunch at noon
The Atons will install new club officers and honor a Friend of the Atons. Admission is limited and by reservation only; call for location information and to RSVP. $10 at the door.

Friday, February 12, 1999

History of The Black Guard

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #97, February 12, 1999)

Welcome to all our out-of-town visitors who are in the Twin Cities this weekend for Black Frost ’99 and The Red Heart Party. To all run participants, both local and visiting, make it a great weekend (and a safe one)! Here, reprinted from the Black Frost ’99 run book, is a short history of your host club for this weekend, The Black Guard of Minneapolis:

The leather scene that started flourishing in America after World War II has seen many leather clubs appear and disappear, but The Black Guard of Minneapolis is still here 22 years after they started. In that 22 years they’ve garnered their fair share of accolades and notoriety, and they’ve learned a thing or two about how to party. Black Frost ’99 should prove that 22 years of practice makes perfect (or at least comes pretty close).

The Black Guard signed its charter in 1977. The club was started with six members, three of whom are still living in Minneapolis. The club worked in conjunction with the Atons of Minneapolis to produce the Gopher III run.

The fledgling club decided it needed to have friendship pins produced. To raise the money to cover pin production, members of the club performed in a show at the old Sun Bar and Disco, which used to be across Hennepin Avenue from the Gay 90’s. That was the start of a long line of show performances that continues to this day.

In 1980 the club held an Anniversary Banquet at a restaurant called Richard’s. Fifteen people attended (including a female member named Nancy). After the banquet the club received many responses from members of the community who wished they had been able to attend. The next year an even larger banquet was held at Richard’s, and this banquet even included a leather fashion show presented by a local leather shop called Goliath’s Leather Emporium.

Members of the Black Guard traveled to a run in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where they met and formed a lasting friendship with another new club that was just starting out: the Argonauts of Wisconsin.

The Black Guard presented its first-ever Black Frost in 1982. That first run and show was enthusiastically received by the community, leading the club to make it an annual event. The club and the run quickly developed a national reputation. The Black Guard was recently called “the premiere show club in the U.S.” by Drummer Magazine, and their Black Frost run was selected by Drummer as one of the nation’s top four runs.

Another annual event on the Black Guard calendar is the Chili Feed, which is always scheduled in the latter part of November and is always a fun evening.

But it’s not all just fun and games. According to club historian Ralph Schmidt, “The Black Guard has always been willing to extend a friendly and helpful hand to everyone, and our members have traveled to many states and made many long and lasting friendships that continue to this day.” As an example, he notes that “when the Knights of Leather (a local women’s leather group) first organized, the Black Guard lent them the use of our club house for their meetings.”

Over the years Black Guard members have been generous in volunteering their time, often providing staffing assistance for local leather contests. The Black Guard has also lent their assistance and financial support to many organizations for start-up and ongoing help. A partial list of such organizations would include the Minnesota AIDS Project, The Aliveness Project, Every Penny Counts, Agape House, District 202, and All God’s Children Metropolitan Community Church. Most of these donations were done anonymously, and the Black Guard carries on the tradition of charitable giving today. According to a recent Black Guard press release, “The Black Guard of Minneapolis over the last years has dispersed over $80,000 to various Twin Cities and Minnesota GLBT-related charities through their fundraising efforts. They have also worked with, or teamed with, other organizations to raise another $50,000 in that same time period.”

According to historian Schmidt, “Raising funds for charity has always been a part of our philosophy.” But while the philosophy may stay the same, the methods of raising those funds are becoming increasingly sophisticated as The Black Guard teams with corporations and other groups in sponsorship arrangements. This year, sponsors of Black Frost ’99 and the Red Heart Party include U S West, Lavender Magazine, United Airlines, Coors, National Car Rental and, according to the Black Guard, “many others.”

What does the future hold for The Black Guard? Well, to find out, you’ll just have to come back to next year’s Black Frost, and the year after that, and the year after that. . . Seriously, though, members of the club are looking forward to their 25th anniversary celebration in 2002 and are already making plans—BIG plans. Here’s a hint from The Black Guard: “You may just want to have a tux at the ready!”

Mr. Minnesota Olympus contest postponed

The Mr. Minnesota Olympus contest, which was scheduled for the weekend of February 26-28, has been rescheduled for the weekend of March 26-28. The winner of this contest goes on to compete in the International Mr. Fantasy contest in Omaha in mid-August. There’s still room for more contestants, so if you’re interested in competing contact Dale Willman.

“Upcoming Leather Events” moved to Calender section

Part of the new look of Lavender Magazine involves dividing the magazine into six sections, each with its own calendar of coming events. This column appears in the “Out & About” section, which means you will now find leather events listed in the “Out & About” calendar. So turn right now to the calendar page and find out what’s going on in the next two weeks.

Upcoming Leather Events (for Calendar section)

Black Frost ’99 Banquet, Show, and Red Heart Party
Saturday, February 13, Camp Snoopy Playhouse Theatre at Mall of America
Even if you’re not attending the whole run, you can be there for the banquet, show and Red Heart Party. The run banquet starts at 5 pm and will be followed by The Black Guard’s usual wild and high-energy show (this year’s theme: “The Land Of Oz”). After the banquet and show is the Red Heart Party, a fundraiser for the GLBT community. Admission for the Red Heart Party only is $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Advance tickets are available at The Brass Rail or through Black Guard members. Call for banquet admission information.

The First Annual Mr. Minneapolis Eagle Contest (Finals)
Sunday, February 21, 8:00 pm, The Minneapolis Eagle
After the Eagle’s usual Sunday-afternoon beer bust (4-8 pm), stay and watch some hot men take the stage. The Eagle is looking for someone who is the embodiment of their clientele: fun, hot, no attitude. Judging will be by customer and staff ballots.