Friday, April 9, 1999

Fantastic Fantasy Weekend

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #101, April 9, 1999)

Miss Jennifer, David Page win Fantasy sashes

Sometimes fantasies come true. After months of planning and preparation, this year’s Minnesota Fantasy Weekend, which took place March 26-28, exploded out of the minds of its creators into splendid, breathtaking reality. Three committed producers and scores of other talented individuals took an empty parking lot, erected a tent, and filled it with a full weekend of leather magic unlike any I’ve ever experienced anywhere else—and which I can’t adequately describe on a printed page. But I’ll do my best.

On Friday night, the weekend started with the Party Bus Bar Cruise II, which left the Minneapolis Eagle and visited The Brass Rail, Over The Rainbow, Trikkx, The Town House, and The Saloon. Then it was back to the tent set up next to the Eagle, where the Fantasy Dance Party was already in progress. State-of-the-art lighting, a fabulous sound system and a great mix of music got the crowd warmed up for the introduction of the weekend’s contestants and judges. After that, it was time for a performance by Savage Aural Hotbed, the local “industrial percussion” group that makes loud, pulsating, hypnotic music using everything from drums and a bass guitar to circular saws, grinders, and steel pipes. The effect of the music was amplified by a spectacular light show, and the combination resulted in a marvelous endorphin rush and altered state of consciousness. How appropriate, I thought to myself. I was being topped by these four musicians, and I was loving every minute of it.

Saturday night brought rain and strong winds—not the weather you want for an event in a tent. But in spite of the weather the show went on, starting with an opening tableau in which co-emcee (and contest co-producer) Dale Willman introduced the three male contestants (C.C., David Page and Scott Kelley) and two female contestants (Viper and Miss Jennifer). Then co-emcee Tiffany Cartier got the crowd in a playful mood with a song about the joys of “making love alone.”

In the first on-stage category, “Fantasy Wear,” Viper appeared as Xena, Warrior Princess. (Overheard in the audience: “She looks more like Xena than Xena!”) C.C. appeared in a costume that was part leather and part wild animal. Miss Jennifer sported a witch’s hat, sunglasses, a cigarette holder, and the ultimate fashion accessory—a boy on a leash, obediently crawling on his hands and knees. David Page was a gladiator, and Scott Kelley was the first person ever to be naked at the Minneapolis Eagle—underneath his towel, that is.

Other on-stage contest categories were question-and-answer and the Mystery category, in which the contestants had to improvise a fantasy performance using circus props (in keeping with the “Big Top” tent theme). And, of course, there were fantasies—lots of them. In addition to contestant fantasies, performances were given by current International Mr. Fantasy Tim Kernan and current Mr. Michigan Fantasy John Tatum. Contest co-producer Michael deLeon performed a brilliant pas de deux with dancer/choreographer Mary Ann Smith-Johnson of Ballet of the Dolls. And the entire Ballet of the Dolls troupe, accompanied by Savage Aural Hotbed, performed a piece specially choreographed for the evening by Dolls founder and choreographer Myron Johnson.

Then it was time to announce the winners. Ken Flanagan, Mr. Minnesota Fantasy 1998, passed his sash to David Page, who became Mr. Minnesota Fantasy 1999, with C.C. taking first runner-up honors. Miss Jennifer took the first-ever Ms. Minnesota Fantasy sash.

But, as everyone in that tent knew, by this time the event had transcended its status as a contest. As one of the contestants told the judges during the contestant interviews, “This weekend is about more than who wins—it’s about getting the community out and involved and celebrating itself.” And that’s exactly what was happening all weekend. Hats off to producers Dale Willman, Michael deLeon, and Gary O’Neill—they presented an event as good as or better than those I’ve seen in places like Chicago, San Francisco or New York. Hats off to the contestants, the performers, and the staff who shared their talents with the community. Hats off to The Minneapolis Eagle and the bars on the Party Bus Bar Cruise for their support. And hats off to everyone in the audience who enjoyed the weekend and whose support made it economically feasible to present a weekend of such scope and quality. The crowd was large, and it was the most diverse group of people I’ve yet seen at a Twin Cities leather function. That’s important because, as Tiffany Cartier put it, “If we’re alone they’ll pick us off one by one. If we’re together, we’re unbeatable!”

It was such a great weekend I really, really didn’t want it to end. If you were there and felt the same way (or if you weren’t there and are sorry you missed it), keep in mind that Miss Jennifer and David Page will be representing Minnesota at the International Mr. Fantasy contest, which takes place August 20-22—right here in the Twin Cities. That means we’ll all get another chance to produce some more of that magic.

Tiffany Cartier and Ken Flanagan: Alabamy-Bound

Tiffany Cartier (aka Mitchell Nash) and Ken Flanagan have for years been actively involved both in the leather community and with the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Ice Castle. By the time you read this, they will have relocated to Birmingham, Alabama. (A farewell party was held on Tuesday, March 30 at the Brass Rail.) Thanks for everything, and best of luck to you both.

Personality Profile: Tim Forte, Mr. Minneapolis Eagle

PHOTO: Tim Forte, Mr. Minneapolis Eagle ’99

There’s another new titleholder in town: Tim Forte, who is proud to be the new (and first-ever) Mr. Minneapolis Eagle. He was one of five finalists to come out of the Feb. 7 preliminary contest; he won the title at the finals on Feb. 21.

Forte was born into a family of four boys, two straight and two gay, and he counts his parents and brothers among his many mentors. He has lived in Minneapolis most of his life, although he spent a few years in Palm Springs and Milwaukee. He currently works in the computer training department at Best Buy’s corporate offices, but he is also trained as a nurse aide and has worked in AIDS hospices.

He describes his leisure-time activities as “going for walks around the lakes, bike riding during the summer, and playing bingo” (you’ll see him Wednesdays at the Eagle for bingo nights). He also cooks, does catering, works with watercolor paints, and crochets (“a little hobby I picked up from my mama”). He’s also a gardener and a handyman who loves to spend time remodeling, repainting, and fixing up old houses. He lives with John, his lover of five years, and a roommate, leather artist Damon.

His duties as Mr. Minneapolis Eagle will be to represent the bar. He will be on the Minneapolis Eagle float in this year’s Twin Cities Pride Parade, and he also plans to attend the upcoming International Mr. Leather contest in Chicago—not to compete, but to represent and publicize the bar. And, he says, when he’s finished with his duties as Mr. Minneapolis Eagle you just might see him entering another contest someday.

Wanna Win a Motorcycle?

Mr. Minnesota Leather 1999 Joshua Smith and Ms. Minnesota Leather 1999 Mario have teamed up to present “Family Reunion,” a fundraiser for Hope House and the Minnesota Leather Travel Fund. For the last few weeks Mario and Joshua have been selling raffle tickets for a 1982 Suzuki GS650L motorcycle complete with helmet. (You may have seen the bike on display at the recent Minnesota Fantasy Weekend.) Raffle tickets are $10. Only 399 tickets will be sold, and it’s no wonder that with odds like that they’re going fast. If you haven’t bought your ticket(s) yet, call Joshua or Mario. The winning ticket will be drawn at the “Family Reunion” event on April 11 at The Saloon (see the Out & About Calendar for complete details). You needn’t be present to win, but wouldn’t it be more fun if you were there and they happened to draw your ticket as the winner?

The Leather Flag’s True Colors

ILLUSTRATION: (Leather Pride Flag graphic—with BLUE bars this time)

Due to a printer’s error, the Leather Pride Flag illustration which appeared last issue was incorrect (the stripes that should have been blue turned purple). Here is a correctly-colored Leather Pride Flag. Lavender and this columnist regret the error and humbly ask Tony DeBlase, designer of the flag, not to flog us too hard.

Mark Your Calendar

For events in the next two weeks, see the Out & About Calendar. Here are some other events planned for the weeks ahead:

April 23-24: Minnesota Mr. Drummer and Drummerboy Contest weekend. To be a contestant, call Minnesota Leather Productions.

April 24: Atons Road Trip to the Cell Block in Chicago. Call the Atons Hotline for more information.

May 21-23: Knights of Leather present their Tournament 11 run. This year’s theme: “Make ’em Heel!” This is a pansexual run held at a private camp within a park. The weekend will feature workshops, demonstrations and fantasies. Call or e-mail for more information.

Upcoming Leather Events (for Calendar section)

Saturday, April 10

Leather/Levi Dinner
Cocktails at 7 pm, dinner at 7:30, Little Jacks, 201 Lowry Ave. NE, Minneapolis
Presented by the Atons, open to all. Call for reservations or info.

Sunday, April 11

Minnesota Leather “Family Reunion”
6-10 pm, The Saloon
A fundraiser for Hope House and the Minnesota Leather Travel Fund, presented by Ms. Minnesota Leather Mario and Mr. Minnesota Leather Joshua Smith. Highlight of the evening: some lucky leatherperson will win a 1982 Suzuki GS650L motorcycle complete with helmet; chances are $10, assuming they’re not sold out (need not be present to win). You’ll also see the first-ever Gay Celebrity Newlywed Game. $10 at the door.

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