Friday, September 10, 1999

Fantasy Becomes Reality (Barely)

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #112, September 10, 1999)

John Tatum, Mr. Michigan Fantasy 1999, was elevated to International Mr. Fantasy 1999 during the International Mr./Ms. Fantasy Contest held August 21 at the Guthrie Lab Theater in Minneapolis. Yes, against incredible odds and despite many major setbacks, the contest actually did take place as scheduled.

With all the strikes against it (almost no nationwide publicity, and no venue until very late in the game), the easiest thing would have been to cancel the entire weekend. Credit must be given to Wolf Productions and many other members of the Twin Cities leather community for sheer tenacity—they said there would be a contest, and there was. And in spite of the weekend’s events not being nearly as big as first envisioned, those in attendance seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Fantasy Weekend was started in 1989 in Omaha, Nebraska by Dustin Logan and Bob Ewing. It started as a “family reunion,” a gathering of past and present (and future) titleholders and other members of the leather/SM tribe. The whole idea of the weekend, in the spirit of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney (“Let’s put on a show!”), was to raise money for charity by presenting an entertaining evening of fantasy performances in a non-competitive atmosphere (as opposed to the competitive atmosphere of a leather contest). With the exception of one year, the event was always held in Omaha.

In 1995 the weekend was refocused and became the International Mr. Fantasy Contest, which was envisioned as less political and more “fun” than International Mr. Leather. Competitors for International Mr. Fantasy, one per state, have tended to number around ten per year and have tended to be from the midwestern states (and Canadian provinces). For last year’s tenth-anniversary weekend, the “old-style” non-competitive Fantasy Show was held on Friday night, with the International Mr. Fantasy Contest taking place Saturday night.

Starting in 1999, Logan and Ewing decided to let the International Fantasy Weekend travel to a different city each year (as does the International Ms. Leather Contest, also based in Omaha), and the Twin Cities were the first stop on the tour. Wolf Productions, who had just made a spectacular showing with the Mr./Ms. Minnesota Fantasy Contest, seemed primed to do it again, only this time for a national audience.

So why did this year’s contest attract only two male contestants (and no female contestants) and very few audience members from out of town? Putting together this year’s International Fantasy Weekend presented problems that took much too long to solve, and which in turn created other problems. Basic arrangements, like where to hold the contest or what hotel would host the weekend, proved to be extremely time-consuming and fraught with problems. Not knowing the contest venue or host hotel makes it difficult to attract contestants or do any nationwide publicity. By the time those arrangements were made, it was less than three weeks until the contest. Media deadlines had long since passed, and prospective contestants and audience members would have flown to the Twin Cities on very expensive airline tickets.

For all the storm and turmoil leading up to it, the actual weekend was a pleasant surprise. Whether it was Friday night’s motorcoach bar crawl, Saturday night’s contest at the magnificient Guthrie Lab Theater, the Saturday night after-party, or Sunday’s barbecue picnic by the Mississippi, all the events had one thing in common: those in attendance were having a good time.

The contest itself was a good one, and a close one. Mr. Minnesota Fantasy 1999 David Page presented an elaborate airport-security fantasy, while Tatum’s fantasy told the story of a kinky pansexual birthday party. Emcee for the evening was Gary O’Neill, who was also the contest organizer and who can now turn his attentions to competing in this year’s International Mr. Drummer Contest as Great Plains Mr. Drummer 1999. Judges for the weekend were Cori Ander, the current International Ms. Olympus Leather; International Mr. Fantasy 1996 Ariq Robinson, who is also the current Mr. Ebony Leather; Ms. Minnesota Leather 1991 P.J. Knight; and your humble columnist, who is also Great Lakes Mr. Drummer 1994.

Ms. Minnesota Leather Contest to be rescheduled

First it was the Mr. Minnesota Leather Contest being cancelled (see last issue’s announcement). Now it’s the Ms. Minnesota Leather Contest—not cancelled, but postponed. Ms. Minnesota Leather was originally scheduled for the weekend of September 26-28, at which time it would have conflicted with the International Mr. Drummer Contest and Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco. I was recently told by event organizer Renee Indehar that it will not happen that weekend but will be rescheduled. More information will, I assume, be forthcoming.

Upcoming Leather Events (for Calendar section)

Saturday, September 11

Atons Leather/Levi Night
Time and location to be announced—call the Atons Hotline for details
Presented by the Atons, open to all. For information and reservations call the Atons Hotline.

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