Friday, November 24, 2006

Leather Life’s Holiday Gift Guide: Steve’s Stocking Stuffers

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #300, November 24, 2006)

It’s that time again. Your humble columnist has been searching and researching all year to bring you these leather holiday gift-shopping suggestions. Here are a few distinctive items that could bring pleasure to the right recipient, followed by some local merchants where you can find many more gift suggestions.

PHOTO

Leather “Housegear” from MindFetish.com

Quincy Russell is the designer behind MindFetish Bedding Company. He has created the first and only fetish-based masculine collection of home furnishing and apparel for the bed, bath and body.

For the bedroom MindFetish offers erotic-print cotton bed linens as well as leather duvet covers, pillow shams, pillow cases, throw pillows, rugs, blankets and throws. There’s even a leather bed skirt incorporating bondage rings, and a bed mat that’s easy-clean leather on one side and non-skid rubber on the other.

For the bath Russell has created (very) graphic-print shower curtains and a line of erotically scented candles, soap and more.

MindFetish apparel includes bathrobes and boxer shorts in leather or erotic cotton prints, as well as a distinctive line of leather jocks.

See the whole collection at <www.mindfetish.com>. (Try not to drool on your keyboard.)

PHOTO: Gear Essentials ball weights

PHOTO BY: Gear Essentials

Erotic Weights from Gear Essentials

Twin Cities-based Gear Essentials has for several years offered a very popular collection of premium stainless steel cockrings. Now the company has introduced premium erotic weights for men in three different hefts (heavy, heavier, and heaviest).

The two-piece, doughnut-shaped weights are simply yet elegantly sculpted, meticulously crafted from stainless steel and given the Gear Essentials jewelry-quality finish. The precision with which the two halves fit together is stunning. Men who are fond of playing with parachutes (the kind that have nothing to do with jumping out of airplanes) will definitely appreciate these. Order from the manufacturer or find a retailer near you at <www.gearessentials.com>.

PHOTO: Pig of the Run card game

“Pig of the Run” card game

At last—a game that gives new meaning to the phrase “having the gang over for a game of cards.”

The game’s concept: You’re at a leather run. There’s a guy you’d like to play with—and there’s another one. You invite them to play (in this instance, using the cards in your hand). You negotiate. Other players might join a scene already in progress. You make new friends. And maybe you wind up as “Pig of the Run.”

When it’s your turn, you invite another player to play using a combination of a role card (Top, Bottom or Switch) and an activity card (bondage, domination/submission, fisting, flogging, torture or watersports—all with varying point values).

If the player you invited can play a compatible role card it’s a successful scene, and you get the points on the activity card. The player with the highest score at the end of the game is “Pig of the Run.”

Players can modify the game’s action with special cards including “Aggressive Top,” “Pushy Bottom,” “Novice,” “Gangbang,” and “Pig Pile.” There are even “Safeword” and “Safety Monitor” cards. Order from <www.toyboygames.com>.

Where to Shop

Here are two special events, and six local stores, where you can find more great leather/fetish gift ideas.

MSDB’s Bizarre Bazaar—Saturday, Dec. 2, 11 A.M.-7 P.M. at Trikkx (490 N. Robert St., St. Paul) Vendors include Dreamhaven Books, D’Sensual Products, Wolfhold Productions, Boundesign, Queen of Rods Tarot, MiN-KY and massage practitioners. Silent auction benefits National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. Bring your camera and have your picture taken with Kinky Santa 1-5 P.M. See <www.msdb-mn.org> for more info. (Drinks and food available at the bar throughout the event.) No admission charge.

Atons Holiday Fundraiser—Sunday, Dec. 3, 5 P.M. at The Bolt Underground (501 Washington Ave. S., Mpls.) The silent auction always offers interesting shopping possibilities, and the proceeds go to a good cause (the event benefits The Aliveness Project and Open Arms of Minnesota).

Cockpit Project (3015 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls.) Great selection of leather, gear and toys.

Smitten Kitten (3010 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls.) Large stock of vibrators, massagers and sex toys (all safe and non-toxic) as well as lubes, personal-care products and books. Guys, check out the Aneros prostate massager.

Gray’s Leather (3401 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls.) In addition to leather garments, Gray’s sells hides, hardware, and other supplies for leather-crafting projects.

Query Booksellers (514 E. Hennepin Ave., Mpls.) The quintessential GLBT book store. Books, CDs, DVDs, magazines, greeting cards.

Dreamhaven Books (912 W. Lake St., Mpls.) Nice stock of fetish-related books as well as science fiction, fantasy, horror, film and media books. Comic books, too.

Rainbow Road (109 W. Grant St., Mpls.) The GLBT general store. Apparel, jewelry, toys, housewares, greeting cards, books, magazines, videos.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Leather Leadership Conference XI: The Recipe (and a Progress Report to the Community)

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #299, November 10, 2006)

GRAPHIC: LLC logo

The eleventh annual Leather Leadership Conference (hereinafter known as LLC XI) will be held in Minneapolis at the Hyatt Regency April 20-22, 2007. That’s now just five months away.

We will be ready. We will be so ready.

In my role as Chief Instigator of the Local Organizing Committee that is planning this conference, I want to tell the community what we’ve accomplished and what we’re planning—and how you can participate. Here’s the recipe we’re following to make this conference happen:

1. August, 2004 (two years and eight months in advance of the conference): Call first meeting to discuss feasibility of having a Leather Leadership Conference in Minnesota. Wonder if anyone will show up. Express delight that about 25 people show up, and they all bring talent, expertise and enthusiasm to the project.

2. Spend next five months researching and preparing a bid to the LLC National Board to convince them to award the 2007 conference to Minnesota. Submit bid in January, 2005.

3. April, 2005 (two years in advance): Meet with LLC National Board at LLC 9 in Phoenix to discuss Minnesota’s bid. Shortly thereafter, receive notification that Minnesota has been awarded the 2007 conference. Do happy dance, then get down to work.

4. Start putting together a conference budget, projecting income and expenses. Also start putting together a comprehensive project plan that lists all the steps and tasks necessary to present the best LLC yet.

5. Secure Hyatt Regency Minneapolis as host hotel. Negotiate special room rate of $129/night. Start planning logistics for hotel, air travel, ground transportation, catering, conference rooms, etc.

6. Determine conference theme, “The Art of Sharing Power . . . a work in progress,” that both addresses a need in the leather/BDSM/fetish community and draws on the rich art and cultural resources of the Twin Cities.

7. Determine graphic/branding treatment of conference theme. Design advertisements, postcards, posters, buttons, t-shirts, pins, and other promotional materials. Order 5,000 postcards. Distribute advertisements and postcards at leather events everywhere.

8. Set up conference website and Buzz Network (Yahoo! group/e-mail list) to keep people informed about LLC XI.

9. Book keynote speakers (quickly, before their schedules fill up). Choose speakers who will generate excitement and draw people to the conference: New York photographer/activist Barbara Nitke and International Mr. Leather 2003 John Pendal. Later add a third speaker, author Laura Antoniou.

10. Plan a Thursday-night pre-conference welcome reception featuring gourmet desserts. Plan three pre-conference workshops for Friday afternoon. Plan a Friday-night opening cabaret hosted by Patrick Scully.

11. Determine programming “tracks” or categories for presentations, tying them to the overall conference “The Art of Sharing Power” theme. Publicize tracks on e-mail lists, website and Buzz Network.

12. April, 2006 (twelve months in advance): At the conclusion of LLC X in New York City, announce that LLC XI will be held in Minneapolis. Pass out Minnesota stuff, including packages of Spam, to audience. Have LLC XI website go live the following day.

13. Set up registration procedures and make plans to integrate them into the website.

14. Order another 5,000 postcards.

15. August, 2006 (eight months in advance): Host weekend-long LLC National Board meeting at Hyatt Regency Minneapolis. Update them on our progress and show them a typical Minnesota event by having them be guests at the Dark Ages Faire Saturday evening.

16. Order yet another 5,000 postcards.

17. Send out Call for Presenters. Send e-mails to presenters at past LLCs, post announcements on various e-mail lists and groups including the LLCXI Buzz Network, and have presenter application available on the Buzz Network.

18. Open conference registration and publicize it. Encourage people to take advantage of the $90 early-bird rate.

19. Start raising money. Keep conference registration costs low and affordable by asking individuals, clubs, groups, organizations, events and businesses to become conference sponsors. Develop sponsorship packages in various amounts to facilitate this process.

20. Issue a call for volunteers for both before and during the conference.

That brings us to the present. This is where you become an invaluable part of this recipe. Here’s how you can participate in LLC XI:

21. Get in the know about LLC XI by visiting the LLC XI website (<www.leatherleadership.org/llc11>) and by joining the LLC Buzz Network (<groups.yahoo.com/subscribe/LLC_Buzz_Network>).

22. Register to attend the conference (< www.regonline.com/llcelevenregistration>). LLC is for you if you’re interested in community service, leadership, group dynamics or the history of the leather/BDSM/fetish community. If you’re a member of a club or organization, be sure your group has representatives attending the conference (perhaps you?).

23. Submit a proposal to be a presenter. The Call for Presentations is open until Nov. 15, so there’s still time. We’re especially looking for presenters from the Twin Cities and the midwest. (Start by taking a look at the programming tracks at <www.leatherleadership.org/llc11/news_060900.html>.)

24. Become a conference sponsor. Individual and group/organization/business sponsorships are available at various levels. Contact <info@leatherleadership.org> for more information.

25. Become a conference volunteer. Help us present a great conference as we welcome visitors from across the country and around the world. A variety of volunteer positions are available, both before and during the conference. Contact <info@leatherleadership.org> for more information.