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!