Friday, April 13, 2007

Leather Leaders to Gather in Minneapolis

(Article published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #310, April 13, 2007)

A Sneak Peek at Leather Leadership Conference XI

PHOTOS: Barbara Nitke (photo credit: Mike Ralph), John Pendal (photo credit: Steve Lenius)

Minneapolis hosts more than 250 conventions and meetings each year. But the city has never hosted a Leather Leadership Conference. Until now.

After three years of working, planning and dreaming, Minneapolis will host the eleventh annual Leather Leadership Conference (LLC XI) April 20-22. Over 200 members of the leather/BDSM/fetish community are already registered for the conference, being held at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis. They will be coming to Minnesota from across the United States, Canada and even the UK.

The theme of LLC XI is “The Art of Sharing Power . . . a work in progress.” The theme is appropriate, according to LLC spokesperson Stephanie Lynn, because “it acknowledges the cultural foundations of Minnesota’s leather community and its reliance on shared power. We’re a diverse collection of people, clubs and organizations that, rather than competing—or even fighting—with one another, are able to share power and support each other.” The theme also has allowed organizers to tap into the Minneapolis/St. Paul area’s artistic and cultural resources and use them to convey, in a new and novel way, the traditional content of a Leather Leadership Conference.

The plans and arrangements for the conference have now been finalized, and Minnesota is ready to host the leaders and soon-to-be-leaders of the leather/BDSM/fetish world. Here’s a day-by-day rundown of what will be happening at LLC XI:

Even though LLC XI doesn’t officially start until Friday evening (April 20), a Starving Artist dessert/coffee reception on Thursday evening (April 19) will welcome more than 100 conference attendees who have arrived early.

Why so many early arrivals? Because on Friday afternoon, three afternoon-long Pre-conference Institute seminars will be offered. “Event Management” will be discussed by Master Z of Chicago, the man responsible for Chicago’s Kinky Kollege and Sinsations in Leather events. “So you want to be a titleholder!” will be presented by members of the Chicago Leather Kennel Club, an organization dedicated to grooming contestants for leather title competition and supporting them as they hold their title. The third Pre-conference Institute seminar is actually a combination presentation for leather businesses and artists: Master Fred explains “The Draw of Vending,” and noted fetish diva Midori will present “Painted Into A Corner: Freaks Make Art.”

The conference officially starts Friday evening with opening ceremonies incorporated into a Cabaret. Master of ceremonies for the evening will be Patrick Scully, the original creative spirit and driving force behind Patrick’s Cabaret. Featured entertainers will be whipmaster Robert Dante, comedian Matthew Gilman, and performance artist Heidi Arneson.

Also part of the Cabaret will be the opening keynote speech by Barbara Nitke, a noted New York artist, photographer and activist. Nitke was a joint plaintiff with the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom in a landmark court case (Nitke et. al. v. Ashcroft, later Nitke v. Gonzales)challenging the Communications Decency Act, a law limiting freedom of speech on the internet.

Saturday morning (April 21) starts with a breakfast featuring speaker Laura Antoniou, noted author of the “Marketplace” series of erotic novels and editor of the “Leatherwomen” anthologies. Then comes a full day of workshop sessions and panel discussions covering topics such as “When Consent Doesn’t Count,” “Research on Kinky Sexuality,” “You Say Dungeon, I Say Play Space” and “Putting Sex Back Into Leather.” A total of thirty sessions, arranged in six topic areas, will be presented, with conference participants being able to attend up to five different presentations.

A special LLC XI art gallery at the host hotel will be open during conference hours, with a “meet the artists” reception in the gallery after lunch on Saturday. Artists whose work will be on display include Barbara Nitke, Midori and Morgan Monceaux (profiled in last issue’s “Leather Life” column). Also in the gallery will be a show of film clips from the CineKink film festival, courtesy of Lisa Vandever, organizer of CineKink.

No official conference activities are scheduled for Saturday evening, but conference attendees will have many non-conference social activities from which to choose. Among them will be a reading presented by Laura Antoniou at 7 p.m. at Dreamhaven Books.

On Sunday morning (April 22), another round of workshop sessions will be followed by brunch and closing ceremonies. Included in the brunch will be the closing keynote speech by John Pendal, International Mr. Leather 2003. Pendal is a trustee of the UK’s Spanner Trust, an organization lobbying to change a UK law making consensual SM illegal.

After Sunday’s brunch, the conference will conclude with a caucus session. Participants can attend one of six concurrent topic-driven discussions about what they’ve learned at LLC XI and what next steps they can take.

Admission packages to LLC XI, either for the full three-day conference or for single days, are still available. For details visit <>.

(Editor’s Note: Lavender Magazine is a Media Sponsor of LLC XI.)

No comments:

Post a Comment