(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #150, February 23, 2001)
It was Friday afternoon, the end of the workweek, and a female co-worker (whom I assume is heterosexual) asked me if I had “anything fun planned for the weekend.” I mentioned that actually, I did—I was going be a judge at a contest. “Oh, really?” she exclaimed. “What kind of contest?” Well, the contest was Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2001, but I didn’t really want to go into that much detail about leather bars and leather contests. So I offered what I thought was a simple, easy-to-understand explanation: “Well, it’s sort of like the Miss America Pageant, only it’s guys.” Her response caught me off guard, though it probably shouldn’t have: “Oh, really? Do you know who Miss Richfield is? I just love her! I think Jason in the accounting department is a friend of hers—I mean his—no, I mean hers!”
Note to self: Must stop explaining leather contests to non-leatherfolk by comparing them to the Miss America pageant. People misunderstand. They interpret the phrase “the Miss America Pageant, only it’s guys,” to mean guys in evening gowns and lots of makeup.
I absolutely think the world of Miss Richfield (1981), but I didn’t see her at the Eagle during the contest. The Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2001 contest was all about men—hot, sexy, masculine men in leather. And it was about choosing one of them to represent the Eagle, and the Twin Cities leather community, at the upcoming International Mr. Leather (IML) contest in Chicago.
This year’s Mr. Minneapolis Eagle contest started with private contestant interviews on Saturday afternoon, February 10. The four judges (Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2000 Todd Leek, Atons president Sam Carlisle, Black Guard president Rick Stokes and your humble columnist) interviewed each of the three contestants in a format patterned after the contestant interviews at IML.
The action continued Saturday evening with a meet-and-greet at the Eagle. While officially a non-judging event, the judges are always watching the contestants at events like these to see how good they are at—what else?—meeting and greeting.
Then at 8 PM on Sunday, February 11, came the public portion of the contest. It was a large and good-looking crowd that packed the Eagle that night, and they were ready for a good time. They weren’t disappointed.
Emcee for the evening was the incredibly hunky Dan Bergman, a bartender at Boom! who was moonlighting for the evening. (Bergman will shortly be releasing a CD entitled “Beautiful Mess”—watch for it.)
The first judging event of the contest was the Eagle’s traditional Keg Walk, during which the contestants walked the entire length of the bar while shouldering a beer keg. Contestant Steven Due showed some creativity in this category by only carrying the keg for the first half of the walk; he commandeered a boy from the audience to carry it the rest of the way. As Due explained, it was “a little bit of role reversal—a bottom having a boy!”
Next, each contestant gave a short leather-related speech and then had to answer a randomly-selected leather-related question. In his speech, contestant Due talked about coming out and self-acceptance in both a leather and a GLBT sense. Contestant Scott Kelley, familiar to many in the audience as the sales rep for Fit to a T Leather, talked about the history and primal aspects of leather, and contestant Lonnell Callum used his speech to get some call-and-response action going with the audience.
For the third and final judging round each contestant presented an erotic reading. The lights in the bar were dimmed and Due read a short selection from a book while surrounded by a bevy of gorgeous leathermen wielding flashlights. Kelley didn’t need no stinkin’ flashlights as he powerfully and seductively recited a tale of his own invention—no written script needed. (Who knows? Rather than inventing it, he may have been simply remembering it.) Callum initially had trouble reading in the darkness, but he also presented a powerful erotic reading once Kelley came to his rescue by leaping up on the stage to hold a flashlight. The readings seemed to have the desired effect on the audience—when this contest segment was over I felt like I needed an after-sex cigarette, and I don’t even smoke.
Contest results: Second runner-up honors went to Callum; first runner-up honors went to Kelley; and winner Due will be representing The Minneapolis Eagle and the Twin Cities leather community at the 2001 International Mr. Leather contest. If you plan to journey to Chicago to see him compete, better make your travel arrangements soon. Start by visiting the IML website, www.imrl.com, for all the details. Host hotel is the Palmer House in Chicago; at this writing there are still rooms available, but they’ll go fast.
FEB. 10: Some of the good-looking crowd at the Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2001 Meet & Greet.
ME011-24: Randy and Steve
ME011-23: Bruce, Jim and contestant Scott Kelley.
ME011-21: Steve and contestant Steven Due.
ME011-19: Paul and Bob.
ME011-18: Jeff and Frank.
ME011-17: David, Mike, TJ and Scott.
ME011-16: Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 1999 Tim Forte and John.
ME011-15: John and Jim.
ME011-14, ME011-13, ME011-12: The contestants. Steven Due, Lonnell Callum, Scott Kelley.
FEB. 11: The evening of the contest.
ME011-11: Outgoing Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2000 (and chief judge for this contest) Todd Leek.
ME011-10: Contestant Steven Due during the Keg Walk portion of the contest.
ME011-09, ME011-08, ME011-07: Contestant Scott Kelley during the Keg Walk.
ME011-06, ME011-05, ME011-04, ME011-03: Contestant Lonnell Callum during the Keg Walk.
ME011-02: Emcee Dan Bergman and contestants Steven Due, Lonnell Callum and Scott Kelley at the conclusion of the Keg Walk.
ME011-01: Contestants Steven Due, Lonnell Callum and Scott Kelley at the conclusion of the Keg Walk.
ME012-24: Emcee Dan Bergman and contestant Steven Due answering the pop question.
ME012-23: Emcee Dan Bergman and contestant Scott Kelley during the speech/Q&A segment of the contest.
ME012-22, ME012-21: Contestant Scott Kelley finishing up the speech/Q&A segment.
ME012-20, ME012-19: Contestant Lonnell Callum at the end of the speech/Q&A segment, accepting the crowd’s applause.
ME012-18: Rob and Dale.
ME012-17: Charles and Gabe.
ME012-16: Steven Due just found out he’s the new Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2001.
ME012-15: Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2000 Todd Leek hands over the sash to Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2001 Steven Due.
ME012-14, ME012-13: First runner-up Scott Kelley; Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2001 Steven Due; second runner-up Lonnell Callum.
ME012-12: Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2001 Steven Due.
ME012-11: Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2001 Steven Due and Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2000 Todd Leek.
ME012-10: The staff at the Eagle: bartender James, owner Ed Hopkins, manager Greg, bartender Jesse.