Friday, May 7, 1999

Oh, The Places I’ve Been!

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #103, May 7, 1999)

MN Drummer, Leather/SM at BECAUSE, and scandal in New York City

PHOTO: Gary O’Neill and Doug Waalen (to be delivered Wednesday afternoon)

PHOTO CAPTION: Left: Mr. Minnesota Drummer 1999 Gary O’Neill. Right: First Runner-up Doug Waalen.

In the last two weeks I’ve found myself in some interesting places and seen some amazing sights; in this issue’s column I’ll tell you about them. I was recently in New York City and caught two huge and controversial exhibitions at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. Closer to home I participated in BECAUSE ’99, the recent bisexual conference at Metro State U in St. Paul. And I was at Club Metro when the new Mr. Minnesota Drummer was chosen. Let’s get started with that.

After a Friday-night Meet & Greet at The Minneapolis Eagle, this year’s Mr. Minnesota Drummer contest was held at Club Metro on April 24. The judges, all current or recent local titleholders, were Roger Gregg and David McKammon (visiting from San Francisco), Greg Hausler, Mario, Miss Jennifer, Joshua Smith, Thomas Smith, and outgoing Mr. Minnesota Drummer Steve Eue. There were two contestants for Mr. Minnesota Drummer: Doug Waalen and Gary O’Neill. (There were no contestants for Minnesota Drummerboy, so that competition was not held.) Co-emceed by contest organizer Colin Spriestersbach and Allison Brooks, the evening included entertainment by Brooks (who brought her Ernestine Tomlin character out of retirement for the evening), by “Barbie Girl” Eva Monet, and by comic Michelle Balan, the ultimate tough New York dyke. (For me, “West Side Story” will never be the same now that I’ve heard some of Balan’s rewritten lyrics.) The event drew a smaller-than-expected crowd, but the audience seemed to be having lots of fun.

The evening’s fantasy presentations followed the current trend of Industrial Macho. Waalen and former International Mr. Leather Kevin Cwayna did a construction-site scene, complete with a real jackhammer making real noise. O’Neill’s fantasy, which didn’t go quite as smoothly as it should have, featured lots of fog (LOTS of fog!) and lots of clothespins. Nevertheless, when the results were announced it was O’Neill who got the title and the sash, with Waalen taking first-runner-up honors. A postscript: While some folks might have wished for more competitors, I personally would rather see a contest with a few good contestants than a contest with many poor ones.

When I wasn’t attending Minnesota Drummer events that weekend, I was attending the eighth annual edition of BECAUSE, which stands for Bisexual Empowerment Conference: A Uniting, Supportive Experience. I was there because I was invited to be part of a panel of SM players presenting a workshop called “Getting Hurt Can Be Fun.” (I would be representing the “traditional” gay male leather/SM community.) I figured I’d attend, be on the panel, and that would be the extent of my participation. Once I got there, however, I discovered that there were over 30 workshops to be presented, and they sounded interesting. I discovered a good number of leather/SM folk attending. And I discovered that I felt welcome even though I don’t consider myself bisexual. I wound up staying for almost the entire conference; I learned a lot, met many great people, and consider the time very well spent. The organizers of the conference can be proud of the good job they did putting it together. Visit their website at, and then plan to be there next year for BECAUSE 2000. (There’s a lot of other good stuff at, too.)

One of the other workshops I attended at BECAUSE was the Minneapolis Safer Sex Sluts presenting “Martha Sexpert Living: Better Sex, It’s a Good Thing.” Greta Bauer as Martha Sexpert showed an uncanny, and almost scary, resemblance to another well-known Martha as she and her assistants discussed and demonstrated everything from making charming lube cozies to the proper way to clean toys. The Minneapolis Safer Sex Sluts will be performing in other venues in the weeks and months to come; whether you love that other Martha or hate her, you’ve got to see this.

Now, on to New York City, where I recently attended an exhibition called Erotica ’99 that outraged many New Yorkers, including mayor Rudy Giulani. He’s just devoted major effort to “cleaning up” Manhattan by closing or relocating sexually-oriented businesses. And now this kinky exhibition comes to the city-owned Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, effectively putting New York City in the porn business. Making matters even worse was a second exhibition at the Javits Center at the same time: the sixth annual International Gay & Lesbian Business Expo and Entertainment Festival, the largest event of its kind in the world. (A church group that had booked an event at the Javits Center pulled out rather than be surrounded by all these evil, twisted people.)

I spent an entire Sunday at the Javits Center attending both exhibits and drew some interesting comparisons and conclusions. Erotica was very kinky but very hetero, while the Gay & Lesbian Business Expo was very gay but not terribly kinky. A combination of the two would have been lovely.

I was glad I was able to get into Erotica before the show opened to the general public because it meant I could explore the booths, view the sizable art gallery, and talk to vendors without having to shout over huge crowds. I left just as the floodgates were about to open—I counted 1,500 people standing in line waiting to get in. Expected attendance for the four-day run of the exhibition was 50,000—the city had to bring in extra police for crowd control. When I went back later in the afternoon it was difficult to move through the crowds.

What was the attraction? I suspect for many attendees it was curiosity about all these things that have been forbidden for so long. The exhibits and vendors seemed to be targeted at people who are predominantly hetero and not “into the scene” at all. There seemed to be an air of “Oh, this is so naughty!” to many of the exhibits that didn’t work for me. Nonetheless, I found a few interesting displays to tell you about.

Healthy Life Resources had a sampling of cutting-edge sex toys for sale. For men there was the “Bonerman,” which can best be described as a milking machine’s evil child. (A Bonerman is custom-fit to each customer after that customer supplies five different measurements—four circumferences and an overall length.) For bottoms of all genders there was the “PoniRocR,” an upholstered hump containing mechanics which can vibrate and move your choice of over 160 different combinations of flexible attachments. If you’ve ever heard the limerick about the man who invented a screwing machine—this is what he would have invented. Neither of them is inexpensive, but alone or in combination they could be great fun. (Unfortunately, they weren’t set up to offer free trials at the show.) They were also showing a “Tantra Swing/Gym” for adults and some other fun stuff. Get all the delicious details at

And now that you’ve got your wonderful new sex toys, how about sharing the experience with a loved one who’s far, far away? Remember those “Reach Out and Touch Someone” long-distance ads? Now, with the emerging brave new world of “cyberdildonics,” you really can. Your computer’s mouse will give new meaning to the word “joystick” as you control your lover’s PoniRocR, Bonerman, vibrator or other “marital aid” from any Mac or PC with an internet connection and a web browser—while you watch their reaction via WebCam, of course. Best of all, according to a press release, it’s healthy: “You’ll never catch a sexually-transmitted disease at Nobody will die of AIDs [sic] through” To find out more, visit (you guessed it) The software is free and the service is free. You can also visit, the website of the originator of this technology. No, I’m not making this up.

Here’s another noteworthy event that I couldn’t attend but which was attended by several other members of the Twin Cities leather community: the third annual Leather Leadership Conference (LLC3) in San Francisco. For excellent coverage of this event, I refer you to Gary Virginia, Mr. San Francisco Leather 1996 and columnist for San Francisco-based Frontiers Magazine. You can read his article about LLC3 at

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:

May 21-23: Knights of Leather present Tournament 11, a pansexual run held at a private camp within a park. Workshops, demonstrations and fantasies will be presented. There’s still time to register—call The Knights or e-mail for more information.

May 28-31: International Mr. Leather contest weekend in Chicago. Joshua Smith will be representing Minnesota, and the tenth anniversary of the Leather Pride flag will also be celebrated. Visit or call 1-800-545-6753 for more information.

May 30: The Atons present their traditional gathering for those who don’t make the journey to Chicago.

June 3: You loved them at the recent Minnesota Fantasy weekend—here’s your chance to see them again. It’s Leather Family Night at the Ballet! Ballet of the Dolls, that is, performing “Swan Lake . . . The Sequel” at the Loring Playhouse, 8 pm. Special discount ticket pricing for leather community members. Call Wolf Productions for reservations and information. (Reservations must be made before Wednesday, May 26.)

Upcoming Leather Events (for Calendar section)

Saturday, May 8

Leather/Levi Dinner
Cocktails at 7 PM, dinner at 7:30 PM. McGovern’s Pub, 225 W. 7th St., St. Paul
Presented by the Atons, open to all. For reservations call the Atons Hotline.

Saturday, May 15

Black Guard Fundraiser
Scooters, 411 Galloway St., Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Meet your friends (or make a new one) in Eau Claire. Call for more information.

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