(Transitions article published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #135, July 28, 2000)
By Joseph W. Bean
PHOTO: Tony DeBlase
Tony DeBlase, creator of the Leather Pride Flag, died peacefully in Portland, Oregon, on July 21, 2000, after an extended illness. Dr. DeBlase—a mammalogist, specializing in the biology of bats—was one of the most active lecturers, demonstrators, writers, editors, publishers, instructors and philosophers of leathersex in the latter third of the 20th Century. (He was also a renowned gourmet cook.)
In 1982, as “Fledermaus,” DeBlase wrote a collection of stories titled The Fledermaus Anthology, many of which have become classics of the genre. As the founding publisher of DungeonMaster magazine, DeBlase pioneered the field of SM technique publishing. In 1986 DeBlase purchased the Drummer family of magazines, which reached their peak in power and influence by the time they were sold in 1992. DeBlase helped found The Leather Archives & Museum (LA&M) and served as Vice President of the Board of Directors from 1992 until 2000.
Among the many honors and awards given to DeBlase were NLA’s Man of the Year award in 1987, Pantheon of Leather’s Business Person of the Year Award in 1990, its Lifetime Achievement award in 1994 and the Forebear Award in 1997. The honor DeBlase said he treasured most was the coveted Caligula Award from Chicago Hellfire Club for his service to the club in the development of Inferno.
DeBlase’s most widely celebrated achievement is the Leather Pride Flag which he presented to the world as a “proposed design idea” in 1989. Deconstructions and recompositions of the flag’s familiar black, blue and white stripes with a red accent—originally a heart—are common, but the design itself was accepted worldwide as introduced.
A private memorial was held in Portland, and plans are underway for a major memorial celebration of DeBlase’s life during International Mr. Leather 2001. Cards and condolences may be sent to Tony’s surviving partner, Dr. Andrew Charles, in care of The Leather Archives & Museum, 6418 N. Greenview Ave., Chicago IL 60626. Memorial donations to the Leather Archives & Museum will be accepted.