Friday, November 14, 2003

Leather Life interviews Mark Cady, The First Mr. Minnesota Leather

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #221, November 14, 2003)

PHOTO: Mark Cady

In October 1989, the first Minnesota Leather Encounter (MLE) weekend was held and Mark Cady (pronounced KAY-dee) became the first man to win the Mr. Minnesota Leather title. Now, fourteen years later, he reminisced as we sat in the living room of the Minneapolis apartment he shares with his husband, Hubert Trimble.

Leather Life: For people who were not around at the time, like me, explain what Minnesota Leather Encounter was.

Mark Cady: It was a collection of the leather groups—the Atons, Black Guard, Knights of Leather (they did a lot of work)—and they decided it was time to have something to recognize the leather community, get a little publicity, and have a contest—pick someone, and then forward them off to Chicago for the international contest.

I’d been into leather ever since I came out in about 1982. I was fascinated by leather, and started buying pieces and wearing them, and having fun and getting a lot of attention and hanging out with the Atons.

Why did you enter the Mr. Minnesota Leather contest? When they announced it did you think, “Aha! I’m going to enter that!” or did people have to persuade you to enter?

It was something that I wanted to do, and that I was excited and scared about.

How many other people competed?

I think there was about a half a dozen guys. You had to go out and show your wares, and look good in your leather, and then you had to do a skit, kind of a leather fantasy thing. I actually have it on tape.

You had prepared for this beforehand? This was not an impromptu thing?

No, no. We definitely prepared and rehearsed. And I remember Red [Helbig, now Russ] and PJ [Knight] helping me out a lot—they were helping everybody, because they were excited about it too.

When you won, what did you think?

I was thrilled. I was shocked and I was thrilled, and it felt real cool to be up in front of that crowd, and get the crowd riled up and excited.

Does this all seem long ago and far away, or does it seem like only yesterday, as you think back to it?

It seems like long ago and far away.

What was your IML experience like?

It was a thrill. You’re very nervous, and there’s a lot of people there, and people are looking at you all the time because you’re wearing a thing that says you’re a contestant. And there are a lot of people talking to you. They had this question-and-answer scene where you go into a room with the judges and they ask you a half-dozen questions, and they say it’s a big part of your score. And you have no idea if you’re answering what they want to hear or not. I just said what I felt. And then they prep you for the contest and there’s a lot of rehearsal, and you get to go out onstage and do your thing a couple of times. It was very exciting. I remember sweating a lot just from being nervous all the time.

Had you done a lot of preparation before going to IML in Chicago?

No, not really. There was no guidance whatsoever. Remember, the groups were new to this, too—this was the first time they had put on a contest. I was hoping that I’d win the Minnesota title and then I’d be able to travel around the state, and speak on behalf of leather and go to the bars and be part of events. But it didn’t work out that way. There was no PR person, and I didn’t know how to set things up. The only place I ended up going was Duluth, because Bob [Jansen] called from Duluth and said, “Listen, you’re the winner, come on up, we’ll give you a hotel room, and we’ll throw a party for you.” And that was a cool event, but that was about the only event I had that whole year. And a year after IML and the contest and everything, Hubert moved in with me, and I became a private guy out in the suburbs, and did not go out much. Hibernated.

And now you’re becoming more visible in the leather community again.

Yes. I’m coming back out of the closet. I want to get a feel for the community again. I kinda miss it, and now that we have a place like the Eagle, it’s nice to go there and see other leather people—although I don’t see enough people wearing leather, which kinda bothers me. Because I go there on a Friday night and I get decked out, because I want to look good. I love wearing my leather, I know I look good in it, I wanna look good in it, and it’s tough being one of three guys in the bar that have bothered to look very good in their leathers that night and everybody else is wearing t-shirts and jeans. So I wish the community would get together and put their leather on more often. Or rubber, or whatever.

How have your views on leather changed over the years? Or haven’t they?

Well, they have changed. In the beginning when I got into leather I thought leather was hard-ass guys, S&M, pain, kinky sex, and all that other stuff that people associate with leather people—they think we’re all a bunch of hard-ass mean guys. Now I think a leatherman—and some people are going to be upset by me saying this—is someone who wears leather. Period. And has any kind of relationship or sex that they want. It’s the leather that’s the attraction, and what you do in the bedroom is whatever you feel like doing. It does not have to be S&M, it doesn’t have to be kinky, it can be whatever you want it to be.

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