(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #241, August 20, 2004)
What do you get when you cross a leatherman and a show-tune queen? You get your humble columnist. Sometimes I view the world through leather-colored glasses and sometimes through the lens of musical theater. When I combine these two ways of seeing the world, things can get interesting.
I’ve seen (or been part of) some really good leather fantasies over the years. (Just to remind you, the word “fantasy” in a leather context connotes an erotic skit—see last issue’s column). But I’d like to see the concept taken to the next level. I’m talking about more than skits here—I’m talking about a full-blown leather musical revue.
This stage production I’m proposing was inspired by “Fantasy,” the Omaha-based festival of fantasies that was created and produced for several years by Dustin Logan and Bob Ewing. “Fantasy” was a revolutionary idea for its time: an evening of fantasy performances for the sole purpose of entertainment, not as part of a competition.
“Fantasy” was thoroughly enjoyable, and I miss it. Hence the desire to not only bring it back, but to take the concept and make it big, and accessible to a broader audience as well. I have had this idea for a long time. For now it’s just a closet (you should pardon the expression) musical revue, but I dream that one day I’ll actually see it on stage. Read, and fantasize along with me.
The show starts with a big opening number in which the cast of characters invites the audience into their somewhat dark but fascinating world. What follows touches on as many different fetishes and scenes as can be crammed into an evening in the theater.
After the opening the show dives right into “It’s Raining Men,” a watersports number for the yellow-hankie crowd—simulated, of course (wink wink).
“Electrician Blues,” performed to the classic naughty blues song of the same name, includes both TENS-unit and violet-wand play (on a dim or dark stage to enhance the spectacle). The same performer later sings “Dentist Blues,” as made famous by Bette Midler: “You thrill me/When you drill me/And I don’t need no Novocaine today!”
“The Teddy Bear Picnic” is sung and danced sweetly and innocently by a stage full of hunky, furry bears. Here’s a sample of the lyric: “Beneath the trees where nobody sees/They’ll hide and seek as long as they please/’Cause that’s the way the teddy bears have their picnic.”
A tango number: A spotlight shines on the bare back of a man wearing black leather pants and a harness. He starts to slowly revolve to face the audience, and we see that it’s—Dan Chouinard! (His accordion is attached to the harness.) Chouinard plays “Kiss of Fire” (including the lyrics “If I’m a slave, then it’s a slave I want to be!”) while a couple performs a combination of tango and fireplay. (Chouinard and the dancers are brought back later for Tom Lehrer’s “The Masochism Tango.”)
A comic number: “I Want To Be Happy (But I Won’t Be Happy/’Til I Make You Happy Too),” from No, No, Nanette!, sung by an eager-to-please top to a jaded bottom. Following this is a non-comic dance interlude to the same song, featuring something I’ve always wanted to see onstage: an all-male synchronized dance line in full black leather and boots with taps on them. (Which leather company will get all the publicity that will come from supplying the leathers for the dance line?)
Whipmaster Robert Dante shows off his amazing whipping skill and technique, including his famous black-light whipping.
“Treat Me Rough,” originally a mapcap comic number from “Girl Crazy” by the Gershwins, is reworked with slight changes to the lyrics to be a sensual, sultry number in the style of 1930s Berlin.
A gay-male version of the 1964 hit by the Shangri-las, “Leader of the Pack,” is sung and dramatized by a male doo-wop group in black leather.
Another amazing dance number: synchronized flogging, combining flogging with tap dancing or Irish or American clog dancing (clogging while flogging!). Then the lights go down for something I recently saw at a run: flaming floggers, a combination of flogging and fireplay.
No revue is complete without a tear-jerker. In this case it’s Al Jolson’s classic “Sonny Boy,” reworked for the continuing age of AIDS (including a safe-sex message, of course).
Sung by either a boy or a slave, Cole Porter’s “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” includes the formerly-censored lines following “My Daddy, he treats it so well”: “He treats it, and treats it, and then he repeats it.”
And finally, the big finish (known in the trade as the “eleven-o’clock number”): “Leatherella,” in which our hero wants to go to the run but is forced by his Wicked Daddy and Stepbrothers to stay at home—after polishing all their leathers and boots. Fairy GodDaddy appears and produces a complete leather outfit and a Harley to go to the run. After meeting the Handsome Titleholder, Leatherella is forced to make a quick getaway on the Harley, which at the stroke of midnight turns into a unicycle (or a Segway—whichever would get more laughs). Next day the Handsome Titleholder comes calling with the boot that Leatherella left behind. You can figure out the rest.
Where to find the people to make this dream a reality? To quote a Stephen Sondheim lyric from Follies (with added leather emphasis): “Hey Mr. Producer/I’m talking to you, SIR!” You don’t suppose there are any theater producers in the leather community, do you? Or directors, choreographers, actors, dancers, technicians, set designers, costume designers, etc.? Or any angels/backers out there to finance it?
I can see it now—it opens in the Twin Cities and goes on to play Chicago (with an excerpt as the opening number at IML), Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York before becoming a Las Vegas perennial at the newly-opened Caesar’s Dungeon (built just for the show).
For now, it’s just my fantasy. Could it be a reality someday? To paraphrase Bloody Mary in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific: “You got to have a fantasy/If you no have a fantasy/How you gonna have a fantasy come true?”