Friday, October 23, 2009

Legendary San Francisco Leather Columnist Marcus Hernandez, 1938-2009

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #376, October 23, 2009)


Sad news from San Francisco: a leather legend has left us.

Longtime San Francisco leather columnist Marcus Hernandez, also known as Mr. Marcus and Marcus the Merciless, died Thursday, October 8 in Pacifica, California. His weekly column of “leather and dish” in the Bay Area Reporter started in 1971 and ran for 38 years.

The column was filled with news of the leather community in the Bay area, across the United States and around the world, both what had happened that week and what events were coming up. If San Francisco has some well-known leather institutions and personalities, Marcus’ column is one of the reasons.

Over the years Marcus attended, and often judged, more local, regional and national leather contests and events than anyone else. He was about as omnipresent as anyone in leather could be, pretty much right up to the end, even at the age of 77.

For many years he was a judge (later judge emeritus) at the International Mr. Leather (IML) contest in Chicago, and every year he had the honor of announcing IML’s “Top 20” semifinalists. It was only fitting, because he knew so many of them—in many instances he had been there when they won the local or regional contest that sent them to IML.

In addition to his leather activities, in 1972 Marcus also was the first Emperor of the Imperial Court of San Francisco. He used both his leather column and his Imperial Court involvement to help many charitable organizations of all kinds.

Marcus’ brand of journalism was personal. If he liked you, or something you did, he would sing your praises. But if someone got out of line, Marcus was “merciless” at calling them out in print. He could be bitchy and biting, but it was always clear how much he cared about leather and the leather community.

Marcus was my mentor, my colleague in leather journalism and my friend. I will greatly miss seeing him at leather events and sharing information and photos for our columns. He leaves behind a grieving biological family, a close-knit leather family that took care of him during his last days, and a leather community that starts in San Francisco and extends throughout the rest of the world—the community that he did so much to help build for so long, and that will now have to get along without him.

(To read an 1996 interview of Mr. Marcus conducted by Chicago leather columnist Jack Rinella, visit <>.)

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