Friday, December 22, 1995

Norman Rockwell—NOT!

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #15, December 22, 1995)

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwaanza, Solstice or none of the above, Christmas Day will soon be here. Society tells us that on Christmas we are supposed to get together with the rest of our (biological) families and do Norman Rockwell scenes. If we don’t do this (either because we can’t or don’t want to) we are supposed to feel lonely and empty. The entire rest of the world is playing Ozzie & Harriet—what’s wrong with us?

We in the leather community certainly don’t have a corner on holiday stress, but we sometimes have to face issues that vanilla society doesn’t. Family issues tend to be more stressful around the holidays for gay people in general—add kinkiness to the mix and the situation can become even worse. In family and other social situations, we are often presented with two bad alternatives: stay in the closet about who we are and feel ashamed, or be out and risk feeling uncomfortable at best and being snubbed at worst.

If Christmas is supposed to be such a warm-fuzzy time of year, why is it so stressful for so many of us? And what can we do about it?

Well, we can start by looking honestly at the situation. My partner Ken has stated that, in his opinion, Norman Rockwell was not a painter or even an illustrator—he was a subversive agent, brainwashing us all into believing romantic notions of family life that even in vanilla terms simply aren’t realistic. Ken also says that even Ozzie and Harriet weren’t real; as evidence, he cites the manner of son Ricky Nelson’s untimely death (a cocaine-related plane crash, if I remember properly). There’s no reason to beat ourselves up emotionally for failing to live up to what is an illusory ideal.

Face it, we leatherfolk are outlaws. We don’t always play by society’s rules the rest of the year; why should the holidays be any different? Rather than Norman Rockwell telling us what we should want, let’s ask ourselves how we really want to spend the day. Let’s not be limited by convention. Do we want to gather at someone’s home for a big holiday meal? Spend the day with just our partner, a roaring fire in the fireplace, and a sling? Have a Solstice orgy with 20 or 30 or 100 of our closest friends? (“I’m dreaming of a wet Christmas . . . ”)

Every year on Christmas night gay bars are teeming with people who have just spent the day at a family gathering and need a dose of reality, freedom and fresh air. I’ve heard the opinion expressed that anyone who would spend Christmas night at a bar is a lonely, pathetic soul. I don’t agree, and I say thank goodness that there is a gathering place where an antidote is available for those who need it. (I hasten to add that the “antidote” to which I am referring is fellowship, not alcohol.)

It doesn’t matter what other people think about how you celebrate the holiday. What matters is that it be uplifting and meaningful for you. That’s my holiday wish for all my readers—whatever you celebrate, however you celebrate it.

A final word: there’s a wonderful book by Mary Borhek called Coming Out To Parents: A Two-Way Survival Guide for Lesbians, Gay Men And Their Parents. It discusses holiday issues along with lots of other family-related topics. If you or your parents are feeling family stress I recommend it highly, and the fact that I’m the author’s son has absolutely nothing to do with my recommendation.

An Open Letter From Darlette Knox, Ms. Minnesota Leather 1995, to the Leather Community at Large:

I’m writing in this form in hopes of reaching those whom I could not personally thank for all the support. I wanted to thank everybody for coming out and supporting the leather functions and the Mr. and Ms. Minnesota Leather and the Leatherman of Minnesota contests. Without the direct support of all of you the leather lifelight in the Twin Cities would be dim.

A big thank you goes out to the leather clubs and organizations, the GDI’s, the supporters and promotors, the judges and all the attendees and entertainers. I am honored and feel privileged to represent Minnesota and will carry and present the title with pride.

Lastly, our community is growing and your continued support does not go unnoticed. All of you who come out are appreciated as well as needed, and I hope that all of you have a warm and wonderful holiday season. And again, thank you very much.


Friday, December 8, 1995

Questions and Answers

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #14, December 8, 1995)

What’s a bootblack? How do hanky codes work? When you talk about the “leather community,” what exactly are you talking about?

These are just a few of the leather-related questions I’ve heard lately, and those questions deserve answers. Therefore, today’s column, striving to educate, inform and entertain at the same time, takes a Q&A format.

What’s a bootblack? When a leather event advertises “bootblack in attendance,” it means there will be someone there polishing (or shining) boots. This person will probably use a lot of black boot polish and very little of any other color-—hence, “bootblack.”

How do hanky codes work? I could fill three columns answering this question. Here are the basics: Hanky in left pocket = top or dominant. Hanky in right pocket = bottom or submissive. Common colors: navy blue = fucking, grey = light SM [this was disputed, and I later published a correction: grey = bondage], black = heavy SM, red = fisting, yellow = watersports. (If you want to know what “fisting” or “watersports” are, ask me and I’ll tell you in a future column—see below.) There are many, many more, including handcuffs and teddy bears.

Keep in mind that in the dim light of a bar it’s sometimes difficult to tell exactly what color a hanky is, and some of the colors are pretty close even in the daylight. If you have a question about what color a hanky is or what it means, it’s okay to ask. It’s better to find out the color while you’re still at the bar, instead of dragging someone home only to find that the hanky you thought was navy blue is really black (or vice versa).

What exactly is this “leather community” that you’re always talking about? That was a humbling question to hear. Since I understand what it is, I just assume everyone else does too. For those of you who have been scratching your heads wondering what this “leather community” is all about, here’s as good an explanation as I can come up with.

There is no exact definition of the leather community; in order to belong you don’t have to join anything, or sign up for anything. You can join a club if you want, but you don’t have to. (That’s where another term, “GDI”—which stands for “God-Damned Independent”—comes from.) Basically, anyone who desires to be part of the community can join it.

So who are the people in the leather community? Members can be any age and any sexual orientation. There are gay men, gay women, bisexuals (people who feel attraction for both sexes), pansexuals (people who play sexually with both sexes), and even straights. Some people in the leather community don’t even wear that much leather—they may be more into latex, or spandex, or other types of fetishwear. Some members are into heavy sadomasochism, some only slightly, some not at all.

It’s a pretty diverse and wide-ranging group which happens to be united by several characteristics. We tend to be drawn to things and activities, sexually and in other areas of our lives, that general “polite” (or “vanilla”) society frowns upon and says we should feel ashamed of. We tend not to feel ashamed of them, however, but to celebrate them instead. That makes us outlaws, but for a lot of us that just adds to the excitement. We may sometimes find ourselves ostracized and shunned by “polite” society for what we see as flimsy reasons. Because we don’t appreciate being shunned, it behooves us not to shun anyone else just because they may see things differently that we do. That means the leather community, at its best, is a very open and accepting group of people.

Now, an invitation: If you have a question, send it BY MAIL to my attention c/o Lavender Lifestyles. I can’t promise I’ll answer them all, but I’ll answer as many as I can. And if I don’t know the answer, someone else probably will. (Please, no phone calls. The LavLife staff are wonderful people, and I’d hate to put them in the spot of having to take all those messages for me.)


Good Luck to Dale Willman: On Saturday, December 9, our own Dale Willman will be competing in the Mr. Great Plains Olympus competition at the Triangle in Denver. (For the record, a Ms. Great Plains Olympus winner will also be chosen, but Dale won’t be in that competition.) The winners go on to compete in the first-ever International Mr. and Ms. Olympus competition February 10 in New Orleans. This international contest is part of the Pantheon of Leather and is presented by The Leather Journal.

Friday, November 24, 1995

Leatherman of MN/Ms. MN Leather

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #13, November 24, 1995)

The Leatherman of Minnesota/Ms. Minnesota Leather contest was held Sunday, Nov. 5 in the Gay 90’s Dance Annex. In spite of talk about the community being burned out on contests, those in attendance certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves. Darlette Knox won the Ms. Minnesota Leather title, while runner-up BK took the Ms. Twin Cities Leather title. The new Leatherman of Minnesota is Thomas (who was runner-up in the recent Mr. Minnesota Leather contest). True, Thomas was the only male contestant, but he still had to earn the title. In situations such as this, the contestant must score a certain minimum number of points or the title is not awarded. (I was at a contest in Omaha last year where that happened; the only male contestant didn’t score enough points and the current titleholder was asked to hold the title for a second year.) Congratulations to Darlette, BK and Thomas; I thought you all presented yourselves very well.

The show was ably cohosted by Beth Kelley (Ms. Leather Madison) and new Mr. Minnesota Leather Michael deLeon, who did quite well in his first experience as an emcee. Crowd-pleasing fantasies were presented by Dale Willman and troy, Darlette Knox and strong>Nickie, Beth Kelley and Goo, and Tiffany Cartier, the new Miss Gay 90’s (who performed three fantasies!).

Man Bites Community, cont’d.:
The recent potshots aimed by the Club Kids at the leather community in Demure Butchness #7 certainly have the community talking. This week’s topic: young people and “pretty boys.”

The Club Kids point to a paradox: At most leather events you hear lip service paid to the concepts of unity, acceptance and inclusiveness. Yet one Club Kid has been told he was too much of a “pretty boy” to fit into the leather community, and another was told that he was too emotionally immature and should try again later when he could “handle it.”

Great Lakes Drummerboy troy responds that although he’s young, he certainly feels welcome in the community. In an interview, Atons president B.D. Chambers made the point that yes, the leather mentoring system has broken down due to AIDS and the community hasn’t had a chance to rebuild it yet. “It’s not we don’t welcome young people,” says Bruce, “but no one likes someone who’s pretty and knows it and thinks he’s prettier than everyone else. There are people who will show up at the Halloween party, for instance, and have some fun but who then won’t talk to you on the street, because you aren’t pretty enough or fashionable enough. And they aren’t afraid to tell you about it. The way to get involved is to show up at events and talk to people. If you show up at events, but you just stand around and make faces at people who don’t fit your image, you’re not going to meet people or get involved in the community. And you will find other people standoffish.

“Bitchiness aside, there are valid points to this diatribe. We do need to be aware that we need to find a way to reach out to new people and to make ourselves accessible. We need to rebuild or replace the old mentoring system, so that as people express interest in leather they can find a way to hook in and learn about the community and lifestyle.

“It’s good to take a moment to reflect on our attitudes — are we being standoffish? Are we thinking that just because they’re good-looking they must be “pretty boys” and therefore unapproachable? Self-analysis can be useful, and having someone in our face about it, while not fun, does give us a moment to ask ourselves these questions.”


Atons “Making the Streets Safe For Santa” Party

Sunday, Dec 3, 4-9 pm, Gay 90’s Dance Annex and Men’s Room.
With a theme like this, you know it’s going to be good. Entertainment of all sorts is planned including a self-defense instructor (!). Vince will be cutting hair and a leather Santa or two will be there, posing with patrons for pictures. Food, keg beer and sodas will be provided. Admission is $8 at door, or $5 with non-perishable food items or a new (non-giftwrapped) toy. The food items and toys will be given to the Aliveness Project while door receipts benefit the Queer Street Patrol. The Atons has a voice-mail line for questions; or for leather technophiles, their e-mail address is

Friday, November 10, 1995

Contest Winners

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #12, November 10, 1995)

As George Bush would say, it’s been Contest City around here lately, but contest attendance has been rather light. For those of you who weren’t there, here’s what you missed at the Mr. Minnesota Leather contest and the Mr. Gay 90’s Leather contest.

Mr. Minnesota Leather:

Six men competed for this title on a recent Saturday afternoon in the Gay 90’s Dance Annex. The show started with high-energy precision dance troupe 202 Jam (the audience loved them). Later in the show, comedienne Jody Maruska drew big laughs and much applause.

Contestants John and Gary performed their fantasy together (the first fantasy I’ve ever seen that included a cellular phone!). Thomas performed a hot shaving fantasy in a jockstrap. Norm did a classic S&M (stand & model) fantasy, but did it so very well. LaRon’s fantasy got the biggest audience reaction due to his wicked Bette Davis impression. Michael’s fantasy featured special guest star Dr. Bob (and slave) doing a heavy-duty bondage demo.

The erotic attire contest segment could have been better. This was not the fault of the contestants, who did the best they could under very bad circumstances—bright, flat lighting and absolute silence. Memo for next year: it’s much easier to be seductive when you have some sexy music and lighting getting the audience in the mood.

The results: 2nd runner-up, LaRon; 1st runner-up, Thomas; and the new Mr. Minnesota Leather, Michael DeLeon. Congratulations and best wishes to all.

Mr. Gay 90’s Leather:

In previous years this contest, held in the Men’s Room Bar, has been loud, boisterous, rowdy—but certainly never boring! What happened this year? Did the entire audience overdose on Prozac? The first contestant strutted his stuff and got absolutely no reaction from the (small) crowd. The off-stage announcer said, “You can clap if you want to.” I tried to start some applause, but it didn’t work. Three more contestants met the same lack of response. Finally, Bill Thompson took the stage in a spectacular chain harness and got some applause, as did Lee Sickler, the last contestant. Congratulations to winner Bill Thompson; thanks to you there will be another good-looking leatherman’s portrait hanging on the wall of the 90’s. And to Bill and the other contestants: Please don’t let this rather lackluster contest experience dim your enthusiasm for leather in general or leather contests in particular. Any of the contestants would be a welcome addition to any other leather contest.

Man Bites Community:

Fellow LavLife columnist Timothy Lee also publishes a ’zine called Demure Butchness. Issue #7, “The Nasty Issue,” more than lives up to its name as Timmer & Co. diss just about everybody. There are references to the leather community sprinkled throughout its pages, but the most vitriol is found on pages 40 and 41, in which the “Club Kids” bitch about various aspects of the community, including this column, which they say is “usually about surface previews of upcoming events at the Gay 90’s.” They’re right when they say “That’s calendar listing materials.” But so far, there is no local newsletter (like they have in Seattle, for instance), and I’ve never seen a local leather calendar other than those formerly issued by the Atons. Quite often at leather events I’ve had people tell me they wouldn’t have known about the event except for this column. That tells me it’s filling a need within the community.

The Club Kids say they would like some “education and outreach” columns. Well, I’ve written columns that dealt with topics such as my leather family, or ways to take “safe, sane and consensual” beyond the dungeon and apply it to other areas of life. I got good feedback on those columns, and I’d like to do more of the same, but I only have so much space available in this magazine.
The Club Kids have much more to say about the current state of the local leather community. If you want to be outraged, or just see some sacred leather cows gored, pick up a copy of Issue #7 of Demure Butchness. You may agree, you may disagree, but it will certainly make you think. Available at A Brother’s Touch or Dreamhaven Books or send $3 to Demure Butchness, Minneapolis, MN. (And no, Timmer did not pay for this plug, either monetarily or in trade.)


Black Guard Chili Feed

Sunday, Nov. 19, 4-9 pm, Gay 90’s Dance Annex
$5 gets you beer, chili, and the famously rowdy atmosphere that this event is noted for.

Friday, October 27, 1995

S.F. Simply Fabulous, Part II

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #11, October 27, 1995)

San Francisco/Drummer/Folsom reminiscences, continued from last issue . . .

This year’s International Mr. Drummer contest was the best international leather contest I’ve ever seen. Tickets were pricey—$25 for general admission (standing) and $65 if you wanted a seat. It was worth every penny.

Our own Alvin Robinson’s fantasy was an improved version of the “personal Jesus” fantasy which won him the Great Lakes Mr. Drummer title. The audience liked it—a lot. His speech, delivered in distinctive southern-gospel-preacher cadence, also got plenty of applause.

Best fantasy music: Florida Drummer Ray Castro used Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana”—guaranteeing a big finish. His fantasy involved a painter whose portrait came to life. After getting nicely messy splashing each other with red paint (blood?), the two men embraced and stepped into a box which then spun around while spewing fireworks from its top. (How’s that for a sexual metaphor?)

Most politically-incorrect fantasy: Southern California Drummer Joe Spina’s fantasy started with the voice of a father yelling at his son that no kid of his was going to be a faggot. There was a gunshot and the audience gasped. The lights came on and we saw a twelve-foot-high cross, a kneeler—and the son, holding a gun to his head after killing his father. A priest (Spina) wrestled the son to the ground, knocking the gun out of his hand. The priest then stripped off his robes, revealing a harness underneath. What followed was an S&M scene to chilling Madonna lyrics: “You can’t hurt me now/I got away from you/I never thought I would.” Parental abuse, murder, Catholic priests and S&M in one disturbing and thought-provoking fantasy. (The son, incidentally, was Pup, Southern California Drummerboy who went on to win the International Drummerboy title.)

Spike, the muscular and gorgeous contestant from Australia, did a strip-to-naked-and-put-on-leather fantasy. You may recall that last year’s Great Lakes Mr. Drummer did something similar. But while I wasn’t allowed to be totally naked on stage, Spike was—with his back to the audience. He was standing in front of a “mirror,” which was really silver mylar, so the audience didn’t see a reflection of his front. (We just had to use our imaginations.)

The non-contestant entertainment was first-rate. Mimi=Freed poked fun at the macho hyper-masculine Drummer image and noted (quite correctly) that several of the contestants were seen lip-synching on stage! (I bet they just could have DIED of embarassment!) Vocalist Richie Waits, appearing in an androgynous dress and Cleopatra-style headdress, sang a unique rendition of “I Feel Pretty.” His final number, a wonderfully bizarre version of “Proud Mary,” exploded with energy: he became a male Tina Turner, and four backup dancers became male Ikettes. The audience was blown away. (Those four backup dancers were led by Charlie Seltz, the contest’s choreographer, who is a master dancer and choreographer—and a sweetheart besides.)

After the excitement of Saturday’s contest came Sunday and the Folsom Street Fair. 400,000 kinky people of all persuasions came out to see and be seen. Vendors ranged from the usual (t-shirts and buttons) to the unusual (a spanking booth). Colt man Steve Kelso was there, wearing too many clothes, shaking hands and giving autographs. The parties continued all night.

And then came Monday. The bars were deserted. The sex clubs were deserted. (Believe me, I checked.) Even the streets were quiet. If the previous week had been foreplay, and the Folsom Street Fair on Sunday was the leather tribe’s collective climax, then Monday was the day that San Francisco, exhausted, finally had a cigarette and drifted off to sleep.


Monday, Oct. 30: Halloween Fetish party in the Gay 90’s Dance Annex (9 p.m. to closing). $200.00 first prize for Most Original Fetish Costume (Rubber & Leather).

Sunday, Nov. 5: Leatherman of Minnesota and Ms. Minnesota Leather contests, Gay 90’s Dance Annex, 4-9 p.m., contest at 5:30. No admission charge, donations accepted, all donations to charity. Beer and food will be provided. The atmosphere will be relaxed and social, with informational booths for clubs and other organizations. Ms. Minnesota Leather will compete in the upcoming International Ms. Leather contest, while the Leatherman of Minnesota will have a choice of international competitions. This event is the Minnesota Leather Den’s gift to the community in celebration of the fact that there will be a Ms. Minnesota Leather this year.

Friday, October 13, 1995

S.F. Simply Fabulous

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #10, October 13, 1995)

San Francisco was lovely, thank you. The International Mr. Drummer finals and the Folsom Street Fair were so spectacular I need more than one column to tell you about them. Here are just a few of the events and images that made the week memorable.

Tuesday: We (that’s your humble columnist and my partner Ken) had to change planes in Phoenix. While there we met Florida’s Mr. Drummer (Ray Castro), Drummerboy (Stephen Freeman, who has the most exotic eyelashes) and sponsor (Ed Ivey). That made the layover and flight from Phoenix to San Francisco much more interesting.

We stayed at a motel that was built in the 50’s. It was lovingly refurbished and painted in Caribbean colors with lush landscaping in the courtyard and a kidney-shaped swimming pool. It felt wonderfully tropical. It also felt like the most non-gay space in all of San Francisco. (Fortunately, that changed later in the week.)

Wednesday: At the press party, Ed Ryder (Mid-Atlantic Drummer) was standing next to Ray Castro and the effect was striking. The man next to me said breathlessly that they looked like two Tom of Finland drawings come to life. He was right.

Thursday: The “Fetish and Fantasy” ball featured many good fantasies and demonstrations on stage. But watching (and helping!) a gentleman from L.A. (whom we’d met at the press party) tie up a gentleman from Little Rock (whom we’d met at The Cove, a restaurant on Castro St.), was hotter than anything I saw on stage that evening.

Friday: The Leather “Cruise” Cruise featured many leather dignitaries (including me) “roasting” Keith Hunt, the outgoing International Mr. Drummer. That was fun, but the most outrageous part of the evening was the trip to and from the party. You’ve all seen the “River City Trolley” that shuttles tourists around Minneapolis? Well, San Francisco also has the same sort of fake trolleys (in addition to their real ones, of course). Imagine one of these fake trolleys, filled to overflowing with gay men in black leather, cruising past some of the most exclusive (straight) hotels and restaurants in San Francisco. Let’s just say we were noticed, and I wish I had pictures.

That takes us to Saturday and the contest, which was spectacular. Congratulations and best wishes to David W. Walker, the new International Mr. Drummer. He’s from the Rocky Mountain region (Colorado Springs), the same region that produced last year’s International Mr. Drummer, Keith Hunt. I’ll have details on the contest, and the Folsom Street Fair on Sunday, next issue.

A flurry of contests: Hot on the heels of the Mr. Minnesota Leather contest (October 7), comes the Mr. MNBear contest (Sunday, October 15, 4-9 p.m., Gay 90’s Dance Annex). Then on Sunday, November 5, W.I.L.L.O.W. Productions presents the Minnesota Festival of Leather, featuring the Leatherman of Minnesota and Ms. Minnesota Leather contests. Contestants should have “knowledge of the leather community on a local, state, national, and international level, have the focus, direction and time commitment to fulfill community needs, attend and support special events and fundraisers, as well as networking with organizations.” Whew! Sounds like a lot, but Heartless of W.I.L.L.O.W. Productions says, “I know there are men and women out there in our leather community who can fill those boots.” Two meetings for those interested in competing will be held on October 15 and 29, 7 p.m. in the Piano Lounge (2nd floor, Gay 90’s).

Minnesota Leather Den’s Chamber of Horrors
Sunday, October 22, 4-9 p.m., Gay 90’s Annex
Even bigger than last year’s! Entertainment will feature local, regional and international titleholders. Other attractions are a Halloween costume contest, starvation cell, insane asylum, and a “pit from hell” (no, they’re not transporting my office to the 90’s). Embalming fluid will be served and “Save Your Soul” buttons will be sold. (I made the mistake of not buying one last year.) Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door; advance sales at the Gay 90’s are Thursdays-Sundays 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m. at the Sidewalk Shop (2nd floor behind the Piano Lounge) and Fridays and Saturdays 9 p.m.-midnight at the entrance to the Men’s Room bar. Also, anyone interested in auditioning for a character part or helping build the Chamber is invited to call for more information.

Photo caption:
David W. Walker, the new International Mr. Drummer, is flanked by Ray Castro (first runner-up, left) and Ed Ryder (second runner-up, right).

Friday, September 29, 1995

The Time-Delay Factor

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #9, September 29, 1995)

There are things about writing a column I still haven’t quite figured out. For instance, the time-delay factor: I’m writing this column before going to San Francisco for the International Mr. Drummer contest and the Folsom Street Fair. By the time this column hits the streets I’ll be back in the Twin Cities and the new International Mr. Drummer will have been crowned. So I have a choice—I can write in future-tense, which is appropriate now, as I’m sitting here writing. Or I can write in past-tense, which will be appropriate when the magazine comes out. What to do, what to do?

Well, let’s be realistic about this. There’s no way I could write about it past-tense, since the question on everyone’s lips would be “Who won the contest?” And there would be no way I could answer that. So I will be honest and tell you (in future tense) that I’m going to San Francisco as one of the sponsors of Alvin Robinson, our Great Lakes Mr. Drummer 1995. I am going as a journalist. (I get a press pass and everything!) And I am going for a reunion with a lot of the guys I competed against last year, including the outgoing International Mr. Drummer 1995, Keith Hunt. Keith will be “roasted” by various members of the leather community during a cruise on San Francisco Bay the Friday night before the contest. Next issue, I promise I’ll tell you who won, and I’ll have as many details of the weekend as I can shoehorn into this space.


Mr. Minnesota Leather Contest

October 6 and 7

Something will happen at this contest that’s been a long time coming. J.D. Laufman, who has held a few titles over the years, will finally get to step down from one. You may think that’s a minor point, but it isn’t. The fact that I got to step down from my title makes me one of the lucky ones. After a year of holding my title, it felt good to give that final public performance and to hear the applause one last time. It completed the experience for me. I know a lot of other people who have held titles and didn’t get to have a stepdown. J.D., due to the whims of circumstance, didn’t have a public stepdown from his year as Great Lakes Mr. Drummer 1993, and the same goes for the titles he held before that, Mr. Minnesota Drummer 1993 and Mr. Leather Gay 90’s 1991. Now, finally, he can step down from Mr. Minnesota Leather 1995 and pass on the title to the lucky winner of Mr. Minnesota Leather 1996.

Friday, October 6, there will be a meet-the-contestants beer bash in the Men’s Room bar at the Gay 90’s 9 p.m.-1 a.m. The actual contest is on Saturday, October 7, 4-9 p.m. in the Gay 90’s Dance Annex. Friday-night beer-bash admission is $6 at the door; Saturday-night contest admission is $12 at the door. Weekend package tickets (admission to both events) are $15 and are available from the bartenders in the Men’s Room bar.

Other Upcoming Events

The Mr. Minnesota Leather contest kicks off an October that’s filled with interesting events. Sunday, October 15 marks the first annual Mr. MNBear Contest. Yes, that’s right, it’s the first one. The Bear contest that was held about a year ago was the Mr. Minnesota Bear contest—a different contest with different promoters. That contest was won by Corliss W. Resor, who is finishing up his title year as Mr. Minnesota Bear 1994-95. Corliss has been very active in the community and has been involved in many events, including fundraisers and “entertaining the troops.” Unfortunately, he’s another titleholder who will probably not have the luxury of stepping down from his title (see my previous comments about stepping down). Take a bow, Corliss, you done yourself (and the community) proud.

The next Sunday, October 22, is the Minnesota Leather Den’s Chamber of Horrors II. New Den President BK tells me the Den has been working very hard and it should be a memorable Halloween experience, so mark your calendars now! Also, anyone interesting in helping the Den construct the Chamber of Horrors can come to the Club Metro at 6 p.m. on Tuesday nights now through October 17.

Friday, September 15, 1995

Play Safe? Live Safe

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #8, September 15, 1995)

One of the leather community’s mottos is “Safe, Sane, and Consensual.” Those are good words to live by, and not just within the confines of a scene. Let’s ponder how we can apply them to life in general.

Safety can mean taking precautions so you don’t get hurt and you don’t hurt others. Sanity can refer our community’s high regard for personal integrity and honesty in ourselves and others. (That sounds pretty sane to me.) Unfortunately, we sometimes find that even in the leather community people can be dishonest. What can we, as individuals and as a community, do about that?

I’m going to save the “community” part of this discussion for another column and write here about individual personal safety. While this certainly includes safe sex, it also includes much more. AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases are good things to avoid, but we would also, I’m sure, like to avoid other unpleasantries like property theft, muggings, etc. Unfortunately, the precautions given below can’t guarantee totally smooth sailing. Whether it’s a one-night trick, an occasional sex partner, or a dating situation, there are risks involved. Short of becoming a hermit those risks can’t be completely eliminated, but here are some ways of reducing them.

Our local leather community is a pretty tight group; to say that “everybody knows everybody” is an exaggeration, but not too far from the truth. Use this fact to your advantage! News travels fast, and if certain people have a tendency to act in a less-than-honorable fashion, they tend to develop a reputation. So . . . let’s say you just saw someone across a crowded room who has your hormones in a frenzy. You’ve never noticed them before, but right now you’re not noticing much of anything else. First tip: Before you jump, check them out. Ask around and you’ll probably find someone who knows them, or at least has seen them before. You don’t have to let other people make your decisions for you, but it couldn’t hurt to ask. (When I was first getting into the leather scene, I only half-jokingly formulated a rule: “If you’re going to play with me, you gotta have references.”)

Suppose you ask around and nobody raises any red flags. Assuming you are successful in setting up a rendezvous with the other person, here’s tip #2: Introduce the other person to your friends. Make sure somebody knows where you will be, and with whom.

Tip #3: When you finally get physical, do it safely and sanely. Know the facts about what is considered safe and unsafe, and know what risks you are willing or unwilling to take—and stick by your decisions. If you see a rash or a sore that doesn’t look right, don’t be afraid to ask about it, and don’t be afraid to bring the action to a halt if you think the situation demands it. You have the right to do that (that’s what “consensual” is all about). And even if you see no obvious problems, don’t assume it’s okay to be unsafe “just this once” because the other person “looks okay.” Being safe “some of the time” is another name for being unsafe.

One more way to keep yourself safe: keep your judgment unclouded. It’s difficult to make good determinations about a prospective partner’s character when you’re out of control because you’re too drunk or high to care. If you have an alcohol or drug problem, the rest of the community may be more aware of it than you; be honest with yourself and get the help you need.


The Black Guard presents Tits & Buns

Sunday, September 17, 4-9 pm
Gay 90’s Dance Annex
Satisfy your voyeuristic urges. Come look at the best chests and butts in the Twin Cities—which might include yours. (That could also satisfy your exhibitionistic urges.) $5.00 at the door gets you beer, food, wonderful people-watching and four separate contests: best chest male, best chest female, best buns male and best buns female. All this and door prizes too!

Mr. Minnesota Leather Contest
October 6 and 7
Yes, the cycle begins anew. Prospective contestants should call (612) 522-4771 and inform the organizers of their desire to compete. (The rest of us can just put it on our calendars so we don’t miss it.) Contestants will be judged on interview, speech, fantasy and “presence.” I’ll have more details on this event next issue.

Friday, September 1, 1995

Two Contests and a Funeral

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #7, September 1, 1995)

James Jackson
May 20, 1950-August 8, 1995

James Jackson was born in New Orleans, LA. He moved to Minnesota in 1956, where he resided the rest of his life. He is survived by his partner of 12-1/2 years, Dudley; his mother; four sisters; one brother; grandmothers, grandaunts, and many other loving family members. He was interred in a private ceremony on Friday, August 11, with a memorial service on Saturday, August 12. James was an active member of the community, including the Black Guard of Minneapolis, Goodtime Bowling Association, and CDA. He will be missed by all.

“We can face it together,
The way old friends do!”

On the morning of Saturday, August 12, a memorial service was held for Jim Jackson, who died unexpectedly of complications due to AIDS. Members of the leather community joined with members of Jim’s family and many other friends to pay their respects and share memories.

It was a very nice and a very fitting celebration of Jim’s life. The funeral home was filled to capacity. Thom Johnson, who succeeded Jim as president of the Black Guard, was the moderator. Speakers included representatives from Jim’s family, the Goodtime Bowling Association, and the Black Guard. Dudley, Jim’s partner of 12-1/2 years, read the 23rd Psalm. The music was by artists such as Yanni, Garth Brooks, Anita Baker, and Rod Stewart.

The most moving part of the service occurred near the end, when everyone assembled joined with ABBA in singing “Old Friends.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Both at the service and at the reception afterward, it was interesting and heartening to watch the mingling of the various groups in attendance. Family, friends, fellow bowlers, members of the Black Guard and the Atons, and GDI’s all merged into one big group of people who had come together for Jim. I’m sure, somewhere, Jim was very pleased at the goings-on.

Dale Willman wins Minnesota’s Mr. Fantasy

A sweet, gooey, sticky, messy good time was on hand for attendees of Minnesota’s Mr. Fantasy contest, presented by W.I.L.L.O.W. Productions and held at the Gay 90’s on Sunday, August 13. The two contestants, Dale Willman and Master Zoran, went through a revealing private interview with the panel of judges (headed by Corliss Resor) before the start of the event. Things got underway with the Fantasywear and Question-and-Answer events, followed by each contestant performing their fantasy. Interspersed with the judged events were an audience-participation chug-a-lug event and a food fight demonstration by Zoran and two female members of his entourage. The final judged event was the Mystery category, in which the contestants were stripped naked, outfitted in loudly-patterned boxer shorts, and brought onstage along with such culinary-erotic delights as marshmallows, pies, and whipped cream. Both Dale and Zoran proceeded to delight the crowd by doing remarkable things with Twinkies that are not featured in the Hostess advertisements. (As contestant coordinator for the event, I had the pleasure of helping them clean up after it was all over. No, in spite of my legendary sweet tooth, I did not use my tongue.)

While Master Zoran certainly knows how to entertain a crowd (he’s a dancer and performer at Bondage A Go Go—catch his act Thursday nights), the judges awarded Dale Willman the title of Minnesota’s Mr. Fantasy, and the honor of representing Minnesota at . . .

The First-Ever International Mr. Fantasy Contest

Dale was one of ten contestants who traveled to Omaha, Nebraska to try for the title of International Mr. Fantasy. The weekend started on Friday, August 18, with a welcome party at which the contestants and judges were introduced. During the day on Saturday, August 19, the judges interviewed the contestants; there were also workshops, a vendor fair, and a brunch. The show on Saturday evening was a bit long but quite entertaining.

The new International Mr. Fantasy is JD Buchert of Austin, Texas. His fantasy featured the evening’s most impressive prop, a gigantic spider’s web made of rope on a rotating aluminum frame. An interesting fact about both the first runner-up (Bob Michaels of Las Vegas, Nevada) and the second runner-up (Paul Jaques of Oklahoma City): I competed with both of them in last year’s International Mr. Drummer contest in San Francisco.

The next two weeks look uncharacteristically sedate—my calendar shows no scheduled local leather events. So I guess we’ll all have to make our own amusements. Even if you’re not playing nice, remember to play safe.

Friday, August 18, 1995

The Leather Community—Myth and Reality

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #6, August 18, 1995)

Recently I was comparing leather philosophies with an experienced leatherman who was visiting from New York City. When the conversation turned to solidarity, relationships and politics in the leather community he seemed to feel that these concepts are paid a lot more lip service than they’re worth. At one point he made a comment to the effect that “If I hear one more person talk about their leather family I’m gonna puke.”

I’m going to try to write this column so he won’t need a barf bag if he reads it.

It’s been a little more than two years since the first time I went to a leather bar and felt I belonged there. In those early months, I was amazed and delighted to find how welcoming people were. I owe a lot to those people who (literally and figuratively) “showed me the ropes,” explained how the community works, and introduced me to their friends, who introduced me to their friends.

Now I find myself doing the same kinds of introductions for others who are going through their second “coming out” and joining the leather community. I’m now answering the same questions I remember asking not too long ago. For example, in the past week I’ve had the same conversation with two different people when they asked: “Where’s the best place to buy leather around here?”

My involvement in the leather community has led to my developing a “leather family” that seems to keep growing. It includes people from the Twin Cities and from everywhere else. I feel blessed to have such a family. As with all families it’s not unvarnished wonderfulness, but it’s still very satisfying.

Often I hear members of the radical right talking about their idea of “family values” and I feel like I’m gonna puke. But maybe the romanticized idea of a “leather family” (from which my New York friend was recoiling), or the romanticizing of the leather community in general, is our version of this myth, in which we’re all noble, stalwart, good-hearted souls and everyone always gets along with everyone else. On some level this is what everyone is looking for, whether they’re in leather or not. But it doesn’t exist.

The unromantic truth about the leather community is this: Leather can make us better, more honest, more compassionate human beings. But so far it hasn’t made me, or anyone else I know, perfect. People in leather are still human, and are still subject to the same human glories and shortcomings as anyone else. We may be different in that we wear leather (or other fetish wear) and are into varying degrees of alternative sexuality. But among leatherfolk I am going to see the same gamut of personalities, and of personal strengths and dysfunctions, that I see in other segments of society.

The philosophy of the leather community encourages honesty, integrity, personal strength, and respect for oneself and others. Many in the leather community try to live by those principles; some don’t. Just because someone is wearing leather does not guarantee they will be a wonderful person. A jerk who puts on leather is still a jerk.

Looking with unclouded and unsentimental vision at my “leather family” and the friends I’ve made in the leather community, I see quite a few who have alcohol or drug problems. I see people in abusive and violent relationships. I see people who desperately want a committed relationship but can never find one that works. I see politics, rivalry and power struggles. I see people with AIDS who are miserable, and I see people with AIDS who are living life to the fullest. I see people who are stable, who have forged lives that work. I see leaders who have an innate nobility about them. That’s my leather family. And I love them and care about them all.

If a person newly into leather expects to find a totally harmonious community, and a leather family who will make up for all the shortcomings of their family of origin, they will probably be disappointed. But if we don’t imbue leather with this magical power to make people something they’re not, we can look at people honestly and accept them as they are. We will naturally gravitate toward people with whom we feel a kinship. We will find ourselves part of a mutually satisfying leather family. And we’ll understand what’s truly valuable about the leather community.

Friday, August 4, 1995

LavLife: Leather

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #5, August 4, 1995)

W.I.L.L.O.W. Productions presents

Minnesota’s “Mr. Fantasy”
Sizzling Summer Leather Sunday Beer Bust
Hot Men and Hot Fantasies
Cold Beer and Food
August 13, 1995
Gay 90’s Dance Annex/Men’s Room
4:00 P.M.-9:00 P.M.
Admission $5.00

Dustin Logan’s Fantasy Productions of Omaha, Nebraska, is producing the First International Mr. Fantasy Contest August 18-20, 1995, in Omaha. Minnesota’s “Mr. Fantasy,” to be chosen August 13, will compete in this contest. All the judging categories are geared to the image of a “Fantasy” man, one who is proud of his lifestyle and sexuality.

If you’re someone’s fantasy come true,
Minnesota’s “Mr. Fantasy” could be you!


• Prejudging (interview, closed to general public), 3:00 P.M. Sunday (one hour before contest)

• Fantasy Wear (you are encouraged to be creative)

• On-Stage Question and Answer

• Fantasy

• “Mystery”
category. No one will know the contents of the Mystery Category until the weekend of the contest. Be prepared for ALMOST ANYTHING!

Believe in yourself and be a contestant!

Call W.I.L.L.O.W. Productions at (612) 561-7569 for a contestant application.


This issue I’ll tell you about some interesting events that are coming up, and then . . . we need to talk.

Friday, August 11, 9 p.m.
A popular DJ in New York and Chicago, Corliss W. Resor makes his Twin Cities debut at Checkers on Friday, August 11, with “Dreamweaver” from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. (drink specials 9-11 p.m.) A bootblack will be provided and leather/levi dress is encouraged. Corliss promises “a uniquely sensuous blend of music and video.”

Minnesota’s “Mr. Fantasy”
Sunday, August 13, 4 p.m.
When I gave up my Drummer title recently, I promised myself I would spend at least a year without holding a title. But the press release on the upcoming “Minnesota’s Mr. Fantasy” beer bust (see box) made it sound so exciting and so hot I was almost tempted to enter. If it sounds appealing to you, maybe you should enter, or at least attend. To anyone thinking, “Please, not another contest,” I can tell you this will be unlike any other contest you have ever seen, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the “Mystery” portion of the contest becomes one of the most talked-about leather events this year.

International Mr. Fantasy Contest
August 18-20
Minnesota’s “Mr. Fantasy” will go on to compete in the “International Mr. Fantasy” contest in Omaha, Nebraska, the following weekend. If you’re interested in making the trek to Omaha, it is not too soon to start making travel plans and reservations. Call Fantasy Productions at 402-346-8577 for more information.


I’m finding I really enjoy writing this column. I hope you enjoy reading it, and find it entertaining and informative. There have been a few minor bumps in the road, however, so it’s appropriate to clarify a few points about how this column works.

First: Plan ahead and let me know about events at least three weeks in advance so I can include them in this column; less than that and I’ll do my best, but no guarantees. (Keep in mind that The Leather Journal requires at least one month’s advance notice; Drummer requires two.)

Second: At one point a community member asked if I could do a write-up on a past event; it sounded like it was a great time, and I’m sorry I couldn’t include it here. But after much discussion, the decision has been made that this column will adopt a policy of “preview rather than review.” Translation: we think it’s better to let you know about events before they happen (so you can attend them) rather than writing about them after they’ve happened. Space limitations force us to make this difficult choice. We are, of course, open to input from the community on this issue; if you feel it’s important to see events reviewed, let us hear from you.

One final note: While I may not be able to include written reviews of events, photos are definitely another matter; Lavender Lifestyles invites you to submit photos of events for publication. (Helpful hint: Photos submitted soon after the event stand a better chance of being published.)

Friday, July 21, 1995

LavLife: Leather

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #4, July 21, 1995)

Let me start this column by reminding you of what’s going on this weekend. Some of the events, like the Atons Campout or the International Ms. Leather contest in Chicago, are in progress as you read this, and if you’re not at the event in question you’re probably too late. On the other hand, it’s easy to join in the fun at the North Star Regional (Gay) Rodeo, which has events happening all weekend both at the Washington State Fairgrounds in Lake Elmo and at Bandana Square in St. Paul. I know of at least two notorious leathermen who will be competing Saturday in the Wild Drag event (one of them will be wearing gold lamé—and no, I’m not talking about myself here.) Both of those locations should be readily accessible if you feel like hanging out with cowfolk and watching them compete—or if you feel like being a rodeo rider yourself.

The fundraiser for Lawrence Lawyer (you read about it in this column last issue) will be happening as scheduled. And another party has been added to the calendar: Clark Bufkin, formerly the publisher of Gaze Magazine, prominent member of the leather and bear communities, and holder of three titles including International Daddy Bear ’95, has evidently been listening to the Village People (or was it the Pet Shop Boys?) and has decided to “Go West” to San Francisco. Come bid him farewell Saturday, July 22, from 4 to 9 pm in the Dance Annex at the Gay 90’s. Details on these two events are elsewhere in this issue.

So, that’s what’s going on this weekend. The remainder of this column will be devoted to some thoughts about what went on last weekend, when I ended my year as Great Lakes Mr. Drummer.

When I was growing up I remember hearing people ask Miss America contestants what they thought was the best part of their experience of being in the contest. I remember them always answering one of two things: either “the people I’ve met” or “the changes I’ve made in myself.” At the time I thought it sounded hokey and plastic and treacly. Guess what? If you asked me that question, I’d give both those answers. It may sound hokey and plastic and treacly, but it’s the truth.

In the last few weeks, with the help of J.D. Laufman and John Tudor, I seem to be making the transition from leather titleholder to leather mentor and impresario. The experience of helping put together the Great Lakes Drummer Weekend has been as exhausting—and as rewarding—as the experience of competing for a title last year. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been a thrill to receive so much support from the leather community—locally, regionally, and even nationally! And what really makes it a thrill is that there was a time when it looked like it would never happen.

Shortly after the International Mr. Drummer finals in September last year, there were rumors that the Drummer title system would not continue. With those rumors, and also with the recent happenings at International Ms. Leather and at the NLA International, I began hearing questions of whether titleholder systems—Drummer, IML, IMsL, the NLA titles—were becoming obsolete, whether their time had passed. Personally, I don’t think that’s the case at all; I strongly believe that our community still needs titleholders to be role models and leaders. AIDS and the radical right are still with us, and so are many other challenges.

I’ve seen and heard some encouraging things lately. The International Ms. Leather contest that’s happening this week in Chicago will have more contestants than ever before. On August 19, a new title will be created as the first International Mr. Fantasy is chosen in Omaha. And I’m very glad to see the tradition of the Drummer title system continuing. I was not destined to be the last Great Lakes Mr. Drummer, and Keith Hunt is not destined to be the last International Mr. Drummer.

So, to all the contestants who entered, to the advertisers who placed ads, and to everyone who bought tickets and cheered, thank you! You have all helped strengthen and preserve a tradition and a valuable community resource. I hope everyone joins me in wishing the best of luck to the new Great Lakes Mr. Drummer and Drummerboy.

In closing, I’ll say again what I said at the contest: My year as Great Lakes Mr. Drummer may be over, but I’ll still be around. See you next issue.

Friday, July 7, 1995

LavLife: Leather

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #3, July 7, 1995)

Let’s talk about fantasies. (That should get your attention.) Not the kind that we leatherfolk perform on stage, and not the erotic kind we all have in our minds; today’s fantasy is more practical. For a long time I’ve had this fantasy about being able to clone myself so I could be in two (or more) places at the same time. That would mean that when two (or more) social events happen at the same time I wouldn’t have to miss either. A variation of this fantasy is being able to “time-shift” social events in the same way as we “time-shift” our favorite television shows with VCRs.

I mention both of these fantasies because the next two weeks will be very active, and so many things will be happening concurrently that I could really make use of cloning or time-shifting capabilities. I suppose I have two choices: Either I can a) bitch about why does everything have to get scheduled at the same time as everything else, or I can b) feel grateful to be part of such a vibrant community that is alive with so many activities from which I can choose. There are probably people in other areas of the country who would love to have such problems.

Here’s what’s going on:

Hellbent For Leather
Sunday, July 9, 5-9 pm
Gay 90’s Men’s Room
Before I describe this event I’m going to digress a bit, but this is important. Dear readers, there are two things I want you to get in the habit of doing: First, get in the habit of picking up Lavender Lifestyles as soon as it hits the stands on Friday night, or at least pick it up on Saturday. Second, when you pick it up, immediately turn to the LavLife: Leather column and see what’s going on. This may sound like I’m being selfish, but I’m not—really, I’m not. I just don’t want you to miss out on a great event like Hellbent For Leather because you waited until Monday to check out this column.

Presented by the Atons, Hellbent For Leather has two standout features guaranteed to make me want to come—I mean, attend. A dress code will be enforced (no details about exactly what that dress code will be, but I think we can all figure it out), and we all get to use the 4th Street side entrance, which (quite seriously) I consider a privilege. (Okay, I’m going to sound like a leather Barbara Flanagan now—I wish that side door was always open so we’d have easier access to “our” bar, and I really support the dress code idea.)

There will be free food from 5 to 7 pm, free keg beer (and sodas, a nice touch for those who don’t drink or who don’t want to drink too much), and other drink specials. Cost is $7 at the door, or show your Leather Pride dogtag and get in for only $6. (Heaven forbid I should pressure anyone, but I’m assuming that we’ll all have received our Leather Pride dog tags by then.)

Great Lakes Drummer Weekend
July 14, 15, 16
You’ve seen the posters. You’ve seen the ads in LavLife and The Leather Journal. You’ve gotten a flyer in the mail. You read about it in my last column. What more is there to say? Only this: It’s going to be BIG, and it’s going to be HOT. (And you won’t believe what I’ve got planned for my step-down performance!) It’s only $15 for the whole weekend package. Call for tickets or more information. You will want to be there!

Atons “Un-Run” Campout
July 21-23
See my last column for the details—but disregard the telephone number. If you want an application or more information, the correct number to call is (###) ###-####. (Please note: The same incorrect phone number that appeared in my last column also appeared in The Leather Journal and on the flyers that went out in the mail. So please don’t call the number listed on the flyer or in The Leather Journal article.)

A Fundraiser for Laurence
Sunday, July 23
Perhaps you’ve noticed that Laurence, who tends bar in the Men’s Room at the Gay 90’s, hasn’t been around lately. Wonder why? I talked briefly with him on Pride Sunday about what happened to him. He was going to contact me the next day with more details, but as my deadline approaches I haven’t been able to get in touch with him again. Here’s what I know:

A few weeks ago, Laurence woke to find his bedroom in flames. He knew he had to get out of there—immediately. In the process of getting out some nasty things happened to his wrist. He was rushed to a hospital and underwent microsurgery. He is now wearing a cast, doing physical therapy, and may or may not need more surgery. He expects to be able to tend bar again in September, and the 90’s will hold his job for him.

Laurence escaped, but many of his possessions didn’t. Most of the leather he’d collected over the years, including many irreplacable items, went up in smoke. (The few pieces of leather he was wearing on Sunday survived only because they were downstairs in the playroom.) He said he’s still checking to see what insurance will cover (although I don’t know if he meant household or health insurance). A tragic story—and it could have happened to any of us.

A fundraiser for Laurence’s benefit is currently being planned for Sunday, July 23; more details will be in the next issue.

International Ms. Leather Contest
July 20-23, Chicago
This major international leather title has recently been through a stormy period. But it looks like it’s back and better than ever. When I was in Omaha recently I talked with the outgoing IMsL 1994, Cindy Bookout, who told me she and partner Amy Marie Meek expect 40 to 45 contestants this year. That’s many more than IMsL has ever had, and almost as many contestants as the recent International Mr. Leather contest! In addition to the contest and related meet-the-contestant events, the weekend will include vendor displays and S/M workshops. These workshops will be designed for play between women, but IMsL is a pansexual event and men are encouraged to participate. Several different weekend packages are available. For further information call Amy at Bare Images Productions in Omaha. If you want to attend, your last chance to register by mail is July 10. After that, you can register at the event.

North Star Regional Rodeo/Great Northern Shindig
July 21-23
Quite a few members of the local leather community are also members of the North Star Gay Rodeo Association, so it’s appropriate to mention this event in this column. Cowboys and cowgirls will be coming from across the country and throughout Canada to Bandana Square in St. Paul and the Washington County Fairgrounds in Lake Elmo. The rodeo competition events on Saturday and Sunday are thrilling to watch, and even more thrilling to participate in. The evening dances are always festive and feature spectacular entertainment with a country/western flavor. And the people-watching should be magnificent. Wear your leather—you’ll see lots of other leather cowboys and cowgirls. For more information, call 82-RODEO.


So, there you are. Your calendar can be as full as you want it to be. I (or one of my clones) will be back in two weeks—see you then!

Friday, June 23, 1995

LavLife: Leather

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #2, June 23, 1995)

This picture of your humble leather columnist and his good friend Joe was taken at last year’s Pride parade. Since then, both of us have been fortunate enough to grace the pages of Drummer Magazine. He’s still a good friend even though they printed his picture bigger than they printed mine.

There’s certainly no shortage of things to write about this time: the Twin Cities Pride Festival, the Leather Pride celebration, and the upcoming Great Lakes Drummer Weekend and Atons “Un-Run.”

Before we get started, I want to say how much I’ve appreciated the positive and encouraging feedback I’ve been getting regarding the first edition of this column. Thank you to everyone who’s offered comments; they’ve been wonderful day-brighteners.

Twin Cities Festival of Pride
Minnesota Leather Pride Celebration
Saturday, June 24 and Sunday, June 25
The Pride Festival reappears, Brigadoon-like, for two glorious days each year, and Loring Park is transformed into a wonderful cross between a gay Disneyland and our own version of the State Fair. Be there, be proud, be visible—wear your leather (assuming there’s no threat of heat-stroke, of course). There’s so much to see and do—too much for only one day. Saturday I’ll casually see the booths and revel in the gay atmosphere and ambiance, as well as practicing my cruising skills (like they don’t get enough practice already). Then comes Sunday and the Pride Parade. The parade, it says here, steps off at noon; if you’re marching with the Leather Contingent, get there by 11:45 a.m. Meeting place for the Leather Contingent is on Willow between 14th St. and the Berger Fountain. The various leather clubs are sponsoring a hay wagon for those who don’t wish to trek on foot. Or ride your motorcycle (free reserved cycle parking on 4th Street).

After the parade, the Minnesota Leather Pride Celebration runs from 4-10 p.m. at the Gay 90’s Dance Annex and Men’s Room. With all four local leather clubs pooling their resources, you know this will be a blockbuster! Sponsored by (in alphabetical order) the Atons, the Black Guards, the Knights of Leather and the Leather Den, this event offers keg beer, sodas and food. Representatives from all the participating clubs will be there with club information. Other features include LIVE hot entertainment, a bootblack, jail, body piercings, temporary tattoos and haircuts by Vince, the Master Barber. All this and Dog Tags, too! Cost is a $5 donation, or wear your ’95 Pride button and get in for $4.

And while we’re on the subject of Leather Pride: This is the third year I’ve designed the logo for the Twin Cities Pride Festival. But it’s the first time I’ve designed the logo as a leatherman. When people see the Pride logo in an ad, or the Pride Guide, or on a button or T-shirt, I want them to know that the design of this year’s logo came from a member of the leather community. As an individual, as a titleholder, and as a representative of the leather community, I’m very proud that I could make this contribution to the Pride Festival.

Great Lakes Drummer Weekend
July 14, 15, 16
This is the biggest leather contest to happen here in quite some time. Leatherfolk will be traveling from all over the Great Lakes region to compete and to watch. Think how fortunate you are that you live here, and can enjoy it without the long drive or plane ticket!

Friday night, in the Men’s Room Bar at the Gay 90’s, the Great Lakes Drummerboy contest starts at 10 p.m. (But get there early for best viewing.) Then on Saturday evening, starting at 6 p.m., the Great Lakes Mr. Drummer contest will be held in the Gay 90’s Dance Annex. Your humble leather columnist, feeling a mixture of sadness and relief that his title year is over, will tearfully step down. And a new Great Lakes Mr. Drummer ’95 will be chosen, who will then go on to compete at the International Mr. Drummer Finals later this year in San Francisco. Note that Saturday’s contest starts at 6 p.m.; this means that there will be plenty of time after the contest for congratulations, celebration, and general heavy-duty partying.

Sunday afternoon the weekend ends with a bang: a victory party from 2-8 p.m. in the Men’s Room. Beer, sodas, food . . . the celebration continues.

This weekend will be BIG, and it will be HOT! You won’t want to miss it! (And I’m not just saying this because I’m one of the people putting it together.) Tickets for the entire weekend are only $15. Individually, the Drummerboy contest Friday night is $5; the Mr. Drummer contest Saturday night is $10; and Sunday’s Victory Party is $5. Call for tickets or more information.

Incidentally, the field of contestants is looking impressive. But there’s still room for more! If anyone else out there is interested in competing, call. As it says on the contest’s poster: “Go on, be a contestant. You know you want to.”

Atons “Un-Run” Campout
July 21-23
The Atons wish to invite leathermen to a low-cost, no-frills, do-what-you-want, outdoors weekend. The site, a private, wooded group camp, is located about 100 miles southwest of the Twin Cities. The area has a volleyball court and beach on a spring-fed pool. There are seven long row cabins, each with beds for up to 16. Modern toilet and shower facilities are available for your convenience. There is an area for tents if you wish to pitch your own. There will be dungeon space available all weekend and a hot tub to rest any tired bones. Cost of the campout is $80 before July 10, and $95 thereafter, which includes five meals, soda, beer and coffee. Call Jim for an application or more information.

Finally, keep watching this space—there are many more events coming up, and I’ll have details next issue.

Friday, June 9, 1995

LavLife: Leather

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #1, June 9, 1995)

Greetings! New magazine, new leather columnist. When the editors of this publication asked me if I was interested in writing a leather column for them I immediately assured them I was. By the time I hung up the phone I had recovered my senses and ask myself, “What have I gotten myself into now?” Well, I guess we’ll see.

Like any good scene, this column has a few ground rules. I have been asked by the editors to be “interpretive” rather than “descriptive.” Translated, that means I not only get to tell you about what’s happening, I also have the privilege of sharing my perspectives and opinions. I will try not to abuse that privilege.

I intend to deal in this column with facts, not rumors. I see this column as an opportunity to strengthen and encourage our community.

My name may appear over this column, but I can't write it alone. So . . . to all clubs, titleholders, promoters and the community at large: Please let me know what’s going on! I’d love to be in the position of having so much information to cram into this column that I have to—ahem—get down on my knees and BEG for more space. (You can contact me through the Lavender Lifestyles office.)

Finally, I tip my leather cap to my leather columnist predecessor. Thank you, Pete LaSha, for faithfully chronicling our community in an upbeat, uplifting and positive manner. I shall try to do the same.


On Sunday, May 28, the Atons held Eros III at the Club Metro in St. Paul. While Eros I and II were dungeon parties, the theme this time was “On the Beach.” In spite of the weather being un-beachlike, I understand about eight guys competed in the Swimsuit Contest. In other entertainment, Bruce Chambers (president of the Atons) and Mark Warner (Mr. Minnesota Drummer ’93) presented a fantasy in which Bruce was a right-wing fundamentalist who wanted to “convert” Mark from gay to straight. Instead, however, Mark wound up hynotizing Bruce—with very interesting results.


Same weekend, different locale: The 1995 International Mr. Leather Contest was held Memorial Day weekend in Chicago (sharing the hotel with a gay square-dancers convention, and a block away from Bear Pride ’95). The men were hot (contestants and spectators alike!) but we also maintained our dignity. I heard the hotel staff had misgivings about a hotel full of leatherfolk. They quickly changed their minds and were soon talking about what good guests we were!

The new International Mr. Leather 1995 is Larry Everett. I wish him a lot of luck and think he’ll do very well as an international titleholder. I met him last November in Omaha; he’s a genuinely nice guy (and he’s gorgeous!) He is from Collinsville, Oklahoma. That’s in Tulsa County, which is Oral Roberts territory--Larry says he can’t even buy a copy of Drummer Magazine there. Count your blessings.

Minnesota was well-represented at IML this year. David Urista represented the Manhole in Chicago, but he lives in Minneapolis. Our own J.D. Laufman was a judge for the contest, and I saw lots of other Minnesotans in the audience and around the hotel.


Unfortunately, one Minnesotan who wasn’t at IML this year was Charles Blake III. Part of the job of being Mr. Minnesota Leather is representing Minnesota at IML; since Charles did not fulfill that important obligation, he has been stripped of his title. The reader is referred to other portions of this magazine for more details.

On a personal note, let us not forget that during his tenure as a titleholder Charles participated in many fundraisers and helped raise a lot of money with his dazzling displays of skill with ropes and bullwhips. Seeing how things have turned out makes me very sad, both for Charles and for our community. Well, we’ve all lived through the nightmare; now my hope and my wish, for Charles and for all of us, is lots of healing.


That’s it—the end of my first column. I wonder if this is how Mr. Marcus started out?