Friday, November 25, 2005

Leather Life’s Holiday Gift Guide

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #274, November 25, 2005)

At Leather Life, we take the holidays seriously. Your humble columnist has been shopping all year, spending countless hours doing exhaustive research and intensive testing—all to increase your seasonal merriment. Now that it’s holiday shopping time again, take a look at these great leather/kink gift suggestions.

PHOTO: Devil Nutcracker (DevilNutcracker.jpg)

For a devilish twist on a holiday tradition, take a look at this Devil Nutcracker. It’s brought to you by Eden-Prairie-based Department 56—who consider it part of their Halloween merchandise line, but never mind. It’s approximately 10” tall. I found it at Ragin’ RaeJeans Gifts & Stuff (Chicago).

PHOTO: Fury double-width cockring (Fury 005.jpg), group of engraved cockrings (Engraved_Group.jpg)

PHOTOS BY: Gearessentials

Is Minneapolis turning into the designer-cockring capital of the world? It would seem so as one local company, Torq Rings by Blasted Art, enters a field dominated by Gear Essentials, another local company.

Gear Essentials (<www.gearessentials.com>) is expanding their highly successful line of jewelry-quality premium stainless steel cockrings by introducing the Fury, their first double-width ring. Almost an inch wide, it was inspired by the fact that some people were wearing two Gear Essentials rings at a time. The company also has new patterns available in their engraved line of cockrings.

Torq Rings by Blasted Art, Inc. (<www.torqrings.com>) adds a new twist to stainless-steel cockrings: custom-sandblasted designs that can include personalization. Blasted Art (<www.blastedartinc.com>) does amazing, artistic custom-sandblasting work on denim and leather, as well as glass, stone and metal. (I think their sandblasted “zipper” vase is especially eye-catching.)

Something practical yet bizarre for your next lights-out party: a glow-in-the-dark toilet seat from Acme Toy Company of Chicago (<www.acmetoyio.com>) that was on display at the Leather Mart at this year’s International Mr. Leather contest. They also have quite a selection of stocking stuffers, including leather-scented soap, oil, spray, and incense sticks and cones. Their website even shows a picture of a leather lei.

PHOTO: Candle(s)

PHOTO BY: Raw Candles

Raw Candles sells high-quality, clean-burning handmade candles in a variety of sizes and scents including leather, tobacco, and “banilla,” a combination of just what it sounds like—banana and french vanilla. They all smell wonderful, especially the tobacco (this from a nonsmoker, no less). New scents for the holidays: Raw Pumpkin Spice, Shadow Moss and Caffeinated (“Like Starbucks—only in wax!”). Each candles is strapped with a strip of faux leather and adorned with a stainless steel stud. <www.rawcandles.com>

PHOTO: Bathtub/Massage toy: Duck and/or Worm

PHOTO BY: Big Teaze Toys

Big Teaze Toys sells “toys that play with you”—a growing line of cute waterproof massage toys. The original “I Rub My Duck,” a rubber-ducky bathtub toy with a hidden massager, is now available in “Devil Duck” and “Bondage Duck” variations. In keeping with the bathtub theme there also vibrating “I Rub My Fish” and “I Rub My Penguin” varieties, as well as the longer, larger and more powerful “I Rub My Worm.” <www.bigteazetoys.com>

PHOTO: St. Andrew’s Cross / Plant Pedestal and Knick-Knack Shelf

PHOTO BY: Foxy Furniture

COPY: Foxy Furniture specializes in ingenious dungeon furnishings “Hidden in Plain Sight”™. Their Criss Cross, a St. Andrew’s Cross that morphs into a plant pedestal and knick-knack shelf, is available in many fine woods and finishes. They also sell the Power Pole, a coffee table that turns into a whipping post, and “Pandora’s Chest,” a linen chest that turns into a spanking bench or pelvic-exam table. Details at <www.foxyfurniture.com>.

PHOTOS : girl Nancy with Leather/Rainbow Quilts (girlnancy.jpg) and Lifestyle Sewing merchandise (LifestyleSewing.jpg)

Looking for comfy domestic and household items in hard-to-find themes? girl Nancy of Lifestyle Sewing makes quilts, pillows, pillowcases, pot holders, place mats, kneel pads, flags and other textile items in various flag/pride motifs including leather, rainbow, boy, girl, bear, leather dog and red AIDS ribbon. Choose from stock items or commission a custom-made piece. <www.lifestylesewing.com>

MSDB Bizarre Bazaar

Start your holiday shopping at MSDB’s sixth annual Bizarre Bazaar. You’ll find leather and fetish goods from more than a dozen vendors as well as bootblacking, tarot readings, Kinky Santa, a performance by Psycick Slutz and a silent auction to benefit Eli Knight. Saturday, Dec. 3, noon-7 P.M. at Trikkx (490 N. Robert St., St. Paul). No admission charge.

Friday, November 11, 2005

A Fundraiser for Eli

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #273, November 11, 2005)

PHOTO: Eli Knight

PHOTO CREDIT: Cynthia Dickinson

A family needs your help.

When the AIDS crisis first hit our community, we took care of our own. (We had to—the Reagan-era government wouldn’t.) Our community raised money to help people living with AIDS. Or they raised money for kids with AIDS or other life-threatening illnesses. We raised money for someone else’s kids—not our own.

How times have changed. Allow me to introduce you to Eli Knight.

Eli just turned 5 years old (his birthday was in September). He’s in preschool this year. He loves books and cars and riding his bike. He is an avid movie watcher who likes to learn the lines and repeat them later.

Eli Knight has cancer. While performing emergency surgery to remove his appendix, doctors discovered a massive tumor on Eli’s right kidney. The surgery to remove tumor, kidney and appendix took 8-1/2 hours. Eli will be in the hospital, recovering from the surgery, for two to four weeks.

At this writing, tests are still being done to determine what kind of cancer Eli has and what future treatment he will need. Up to six months of chemotherapy might be necessary.

Rumor has it that if Eli’s chemotherapy involves hair loss, a lot of people are going to be shaving their heads. That’s because Eli is part of a big family—a very big family. Eli’s parents are finding out just how big, and how caring, that family is.

In addition to his younger brother, Wyatt, Eli has two mommies (P.J. and Vicki Knight) and two daddies (David Coral and Bobbie Smith). Longtime readers of this column may remember P.J. and Vicki from “Baby on Board: Leather Lesbians on the Mommy Track,” in the Sept. 22, 2000 edition of Lavender.

All four parents are charter members of The Knights of Leather, so Eli’s extended family, in addition to grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, includes the rest of the members of the Knights and a lot of their friends as well. There are a lot of visitors to Eli’s room at St. Paul Children’s Hospital.

Eli’s younger brother, Wyatt, is 1-1/2 years old, and he recently needed some emergency medical attention when the tip of his thumb was almost completely severed. Fortunately, Wyatt’s doctors were able to reattach it, and it should be totally healed in about a year.

P.J. also is having some medical challenges. She, too, recently needed emergency surgery, also for a burst appendix. It was a very serious situation—according to her doctors, in another twelve hours the infection would have gotten into her bloodstream and she would have died. She spent six days in the hospital. She got out just ten days before Eli went into the hospital for his appendectomy.

While preparing her for surgery, P.J.’s doctors discovered the start of an artery blockage that eventually would lead to a heart attack. By the time you read this she will have undergone either an angioplasty or a stent placement.

Fundraisers for charitable causes long have been a part of our community’s traditions and culture. The tradition is still strong today—a recent community event raised over $8,400 for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The Knights of Leather are planning a fundraiser to help cover Eli’s and his family’s considerable medical bills. The event will be held at the Bolt (next door to the Minneapolis Eagle) on Saturday, Nov. 26 starting at 7 P.M. It will include a beer/soda bust, auction and other things that are still being planned.

Requested donation at the door will be $20 but no donation will be refused. Donations may also be sent to The Knights of Leather, Minneapolis, MN.

Through St. Paul Children’s Hospital, Eli now has his own website at <www.caringbridge.org/visit/eliknight1>. There you’ll find the latest news on how Eli is doing, and you can sign Eli’s guestbook and leave a message for the family.

More Fundraisers Coming Up

• Saturday, Nov. 19: Join the Black Guard of Minneapolis for their 29th annual Chili Feed. Beer bust, chili, silent auction, balloon bust, raffles, and the Black Guard’s famous jail. Black Frost 29 run applications will be available. Minneapolis Eagle, 5-9 P.M. $8 at the door.

• Early December: Join the Atons of Minneapolis for their annual Holiday Fundraiser. The Atons will again be collecting food for The Aliveness Project’s Holiday Basket Program, and a Silent Auction will benefit Open Arms of Minnesota. At this writing date, time and place are still being determined, so watch for further details.