Friday, December 29, 2000

Year-End Leather Review

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #146, December 29, 2000)

Updates and further thoughts on some of this year’s columns

The holiday season and the year are drawing to a close. As we all get ready to sing “Auld Lang Syne,” here are some updates and further thoughts on a few of this year’s Leather Life columns.

Even though this is a leather column, until this year I had never written about leather itself. Well, I fixed that oversight—the year’s first column was about leather care (“New Millennium, Clean Leather”) and a recent column dealt with how leather is produced. That column prompted a letter from Robert Davolt, former editor of Drummer Magazine:

“I read with interest your column on leather processing. I have never seen a leather column taken to such an entertaining and literal end. I will be using your recipe on a few of the folks here in San Francisco—the prospect of making something actually useful out of old dinosaur hides is quite exciting.

“In one of those delightful blends of kinks, did you know that leather production in ancient times made human urine a valuable commodity? It took the urine of the entire city of Rome to supply the tanners who outfitted the Legions with leather armor and equipment.

“You can’t imagine how long I have waited for an even vaguely appropriate application for this piece of historical trivia.”

The May 5 issue’s column dealt with Queer Youth Exist, a BDSM education group for minors that was created by two high school students, Hedge and Katze, as their Girl Scout Gold Award project. The column wound up being quoted as a “Cheer” in the “Cheers and Jeers” column of On Our Backs magazine. Since the column appeared Hedge has gone off to college; Katze is continuing the group on her own.

“Baby On Board: Leather Lesbians on the Mommy Track” appeared in the September 22 issue and featured a big picture of parents-to-be PJ and Vicki Knight, who have since been nominated for Pantheon of Leather’s Couple of the Year award. On September 24, two days after the issue hit the streets, Eli Francis Knight was born. He’s doing fine, as are the parents.

On December 3 the Atons of Minneapolis held their traditional Holiday Fundraiser (see photos on the Snapshots page), which raised over $4,200 for Every Penny Counts and the Aliveness Project. In addition, over 1,300 pounds of non-perishable food and personal items were collected for the Aliveness Project. The Atons thank everyone who made the event such a success.

Election Fantasy? Election Nightmare

I’ve saved the strangest follow-up for last. In the June 30 issue (“An Election-Year Fantasy”) I wrote what I thought was a satirical piece, fantasizing about what would happen if the country chose the President of the United States in the same way the leather community chooses International Mr. Leather (IML). The contest would be called the American Mr. President contest, and the titleholder would be chosen “every year in Chicago by a panel of judges,” as International Mr. Leather is chosen. I wrote that the judging panel, “nine wise elders of the community (otherwise known as the Supreme Court) would be entrusted with the task of choosing the man to lead the nation for the next year.”

Well, aided by masterful election engineering by those wonderful folks in Florida who brought you Anita Bryant, this election came down to the Supreme Court effectively awarding the “American Mr. President” title.

In some ways the analogy between presidential election and leather contest was not followed. Allow me to again compare the presidential race to IML and other leather contests: Normally the winner of a leather contest is not announced until the tallymasters have completed their counting (and, we hope, rechecked their figures). Better to make sure the figures are correct before announcing them than to risk an error, a challenge, and subsequent embarrassment. But I guess they don’t feel that way in Florida or Washington, D.C.

Of course, at a leather contest there’s an entertainer, usually a fabulous diva, on hand to keep the audience amused while the tallymasters total up the scores. If the contest entertainer has finished their set and the tallymasters still haven’t finished their tally, the audience waits and the entertainer does an encore. By contrast, the presidential election-night coverage was followed by a seemingly endless parade of politicians, lawyers and court cases. That’s entertainment? It seemed to enthrall much of the nation, or at least the media, in the same fashion as the OJ, Princess Di, and Monicagate stories. But for many it was simply the latest in a long series of media-hyped train wrecks, and they tuned it out. Maybe if Babs or Cher or Donna Summer had provided post-election entertainment the recounts could have continued. Oh, well—I guess we’ll never know.

Several groups and organizations have expressed interest in doing an after-the-fact count of the Florida ballots under the provisions of Florida’s Sunshine Law. What happens if that recount shows that Al Gore actually won the popular vote in Florida, as he won the nationwide popular vote? Well, in the leather community anyway, that calls for stripping someone of their title and awarding it to the person who should rightfully have it.

In closing: Happy New Year, and Happy Real Millennium.

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