Tuesday, March 7, 2000

Speechless No More

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #203, March 7, 2003)

This year’s Pantheon of Leather Community Service Awards were presented Feb. 15 in the auditorium of the Leather Archives & Museum in Chicago. Your humble columnist was surprised (to the point of speechlessness) to be the recipient of one of this year’s President’s Awards.

I should, I suppose, first explain why I was so surprised. Every year Pantheon of Leather presents awards in a number of categories (this year it was 28) for which nominations are sought: Man of the Year, Woman of the Year, Couple/Club/Club Event/Business of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, etc. as well as several regional award categories. The recipients of the awards are then chosen either by a selection panel of the previous year’s award winners, or (for the Community Choice awards) by write-in voting from the entire community, or (for the Lifetime Achievement award) by consensus of the members of the Pantheon of Leather Board. I was one of twelve nominees for this year’s Midwest Regional Award (which went to Larry Manion, who is very active both locally in St. Louis and on the national scene as well).

Recipients of the President’s Awards, however, are chosen by the president of the Pantheon of Leather board; generally, three awards are presented each year. Since no nominations are involved, there is no advance notice of the possibility of receiving the award. Dave Rhodes, publisher of The Leather Journal and current Pantheon of Leather board president, explained that the President’s Award might be given to people who are overlooked in the nomination process, people who are nominated year after year but miss winning the award by a few voting points, or “sometimes we just feel it’s the right time for them to get [the award]. It’s kind of a wild card.”

I didn’t know Rhodes was referring to me when he said, “Some of the overlooked people in the [Pantheon] awards are journalists . . . . This man has been important for many years out there. There has not been any scandal in his reporting. He’s there in his region and has done some things nationally. He’s also held one of the Drummer titles, I believe in 1994-95.” When he mentioned the Drummer title it suddenly dawned on me that he might be talking about me, but I was still stunned when he announced my name as the recipient of the third President’s Award.

I walked up to the stage and was handed the award, made of very nice (and very heavy) crystal. Then I was handed the microphone. I’m sure my face looked about as blank as a TV test pattern as I so eloquently said, after a long pause during which I could think of absolutely nothing to say: “I’m speechless. Thank you!”

Well, hindsight is always 20/20, and all that. If I had not been so completely surprised, here’s what I would have said on the stage at Pantheon (and I’m absolutely sure there wouldn’t have been a dry eye in the house by the time I finished):

“I have many people to thank. First of all: The only reason I’m able to write what I write is because of the efforts of all those who have gone before me—many of whom are in this auditorium right now, and many more of whom are represented in the museum’s galleries downstairs. Among these people would be, of course, Dave Rhodes.

“Secondly, the only reason anyone gets to read what I’ve written is because of the efforts of the publisher, editor and staff of Lavender Magazine, which has been my literary home for eight years now, and because of Joe Gallagher’s commitment to Leatherpage.com, which steers readers to my column on Lavender’s web page.

“Finally, thank you to all of you, the members of this vibrant community, who keep supplying me with events and ideas to write about.”

Mr./Ms Olympus Leather Contest 2003

Also part of the Pantheon weekend was the 2003 Mr./Ms. Olympus Leather Contest—Sunday evening, Feb. 16, in the auditorium at the Chicago Eagle. Five female contestants and four male contestants competed. Highlights of the evening:

• During her fantasy performance Ms. Illinois Olympus Leather 2003 Miss Charlotte did an actual real-life onstage piercing of contestant Daddy Carl’s nipple. During his subsequent onstage question-and-answer session Daddy Carl noted that he had to make a change to his contest application: “I DO have a piercing.”

• The two Las Vegas contestants, Ms. Nevada Leather 2002 Debbie Fox and Mr. Nevada Leather 2002 Sir Kenneth Griffin Morgan, appeared in each other’s entertaining but startlingly similar fantasies, both to musical accompaniment by Tom Lehrer. Fox’s fantasy was a nicely choreographed “Masochism Tango,” while Morgan’s was the equally perverse “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.” And both finished the evening as runners-up in their contest.

• Ms. Gulf States Olympus Leather Angel Melly (from Birmingham, Ala.) spent the weekend wearing a halo that appeared to be made out of a white feather boa. One of her onstage questions: Suppose she was traveling on business and the airline lost her luggage, leaving her with only a polo shirt, khakis and loafers. Would she still go to the local leather bar? Her instant response: “You’re damn skippy I would, because somebody would be cutting ’em off with a knife!”

• At the conclusion of the evening the new Olympus Leather titleholders were announced: Mr. Olympus Leather 2003, from Daphne, Ala., is Mr. Gulf States Olympus Leather 2003 Robert. Ms. Olympus Leather 2003, from Tempe, Ariz., is Bootpig. Earlier in the evening Bootpig had been asked if she would tell her family and coworkers if she won; she replied, “I would tell everybody except my mother, who still thinks I’m a virgin.”

Full details of the Olympus Leather contest, as well as photos and a complete list of this year’s Pantheon of Leather award winners, will be in an upcoming edition of The Leather Journal and will also be available at www.theleatherjournal.com.

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