Friday, March 29, 1996

Celebrating the Body Erotic

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #22, March 29, 1996)

In the March 1 edition of Lavendar Lifestyles (“Lifelines” column, page 12) Jim Lovestar wrote about the upcoming “Celebrating the Body Erotic” workshops for men (April 20-21) and women (May 17-19). My aim in this column is not to repeat what he said, but to add some of my own comments and to bring these workshops to the attention of the leather community.

What is leathersex all about? For me, leathersex at its best is radical sex, rebellious sex, revolutionary sex—at least when compared to the vanilla so-called “norm.” Leathersex is about taking ourselves to new psychic places and letting ourselves discover feelings and sensations we’ve never felt before. It’s about casting off restrictive ideas of what sex should and shouldn’t be, and giving ourselves the freedom to explore and find what works for us. It’s about replacing fear and shame with joy and celebration. It’s about Safe, Sane and Consensual. It’s about respecting ourselves and respecting others. It’s about taking what most of western society considers profane and sinful, and paradoxically using it to discover what is sacred and perfect and beautiful in each of us.

These are some of the ideals leathersex values and for which it strives. These are also some of the ideals around which “Celebrating the Body Erotic” revolves. That’s why I have a strong hunch that many people in the leather community will likely be open to, and ready for, the experience of “Celebrating the Body Erotic,” and why I want to strongly encourage leathermen and leatherwomen to consider participating in these workshops.

I did the “CBE” men’s weekend in April, 1994. At the time I knew I was having a “mountain-top” experience, but now that two years have gone by I can see how profoundly my life was changed and how I am still enjoying the benefits of that weekend.

I am convinced that if more people were acquainted with the principles taught at “Celebrating the Body Erotic” there would be less war, less anger, less disease, and less substance abuse. If the preceding sentence sounds like a wildly exaggerated claim I assure you I am absolutely serious.

If I’ve piqued your curiosity, you can find out more about “Celebrating the Body Erotic” by calling.

Darlette Knox, the current Ms. Minnesota Leather, announces a very special exhibition of interest to bondage aficionados. Now on display at The Sidewalk Shop (2nd floor, Gay 90’s) is a unique collection of bondage implements from all over the world, some dating back to the 1800’s. This hobby collection, the result of one person’s dedication and passion, must now be liquidated, so all the items are for sale. Stop by the Sidewalk Shop and take a look—this is definitely something you don’t get a chance to see every day!

Looks like we have a case of dueling contests here. The entertainment at last year’s IML was lukewarm at best, while the entertainment at last year’s Drummer contest was spectacular, and comic Mimi=Freed was one big reason why. Well, it looks like IML got the hint and has decided to up the ante, because this year’s featured entertainer is Judy Tenuta! My prediction: the lobby of the Congress Theater in Chicago will be empty while she’s performing, because no one will want to miss a word she has to say.

Even if you’re not doing IML this year, you can still have a Memorial Day Weekend leather experience. The Atons will be presenting a “Memorial Weekend Beer Bash” May 26th, 5 to 9 pm at the Gay 90’s.

Leather Calendar

Minnesota Leather Den Anniversary Party Raring, Daring, Flaring To Bare HAS BEEN POSTPONED. previously scheduled for Sunday, April 7; new date to be announced. But when it finally happens it will be fun!


Atons “Tax Time Beer Bash”

Sunday, April 14, 5-9 p.m., Gay 90’s

Atons Memorial Weekend Beer Bash
Sunday, May 26, 5-9 p.m., Gay 90’s

“Garage” Opening: Leather/Levi Extravaganza
Saturday, June 15, 9 p.m.-close
Main Club, 1813 N. 3rd St., Superior WI

Leather Community Service Awards
Sunday, June 16, 5-10 p.m., Gay 90’s

Friday, March 15, 1996

Coming Attractions

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #21, March 15, 1996)

The recent “Thrash, Trash, Let It All Flash” fundraiser, hosted by Ms. Minnesota Leather Darlette Knox (assisted by her partner Nicky as well as Mr. Minnesota Leather Michael deLeon and Mr. Minnesota Fantasy Dale Willman), was a memorable one for many reasons. Darlette succeeded in lining up quite a roster of live entertainment led by Bob Hastings and Lori Dow. Their over-the-top rendition of “I Got You Babe” absolutely brought down the house! The glamorous CC Russell, the only lip-sync act of the evening, appeared as Tina Turner and sang “We Don’t Need Another Hero.” Other entertainers included three S&M boys from Seren Productions and—drumroll, please—BIG MAMA of Gay 90’s coatcheck fame! In her first time on stage at a leather fundraiser, she took flogger in hand and let Miranda, who had evidently been a bad girl, feel the wages of sin. Truly a historic moment. (Beneficiaries of the fundraiser were Mr. Minnesota Leather’s travel fund, Robert Parker for the Minnesota AIDS Trek, and Ms. Minnesota Leather’s travel fund.)

At the fundraiser, one question seemed to be on many people’s lips: “When and where is IML (the International Mr. Leather Contest)?” If that’s your question, you’ve turned to the right page. Believe it or not, spring is just around the corner, and that means it’s time to get out the datebook and start planning for the “leather season,” which starts Memorial Day Weekend with the International Mr. Leather Contest in Chicago and ends in September with the International Mr. Drummer Contest and Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco. In between, various people and groups have planned all kinds of interesting events for your entertainment.

The information that follows has been taken from various sources (including the calendar section of The Leather Journal) and should be reasonably accurate. However, things do change and errors have a way of creeping in. (The Leather Journal had the wrong dates for our own North Star Regional Rodeo, for example.) So if you’re interested in an event, avoid disappointment by confirming the details.

Remember, it pays to make your reservations early. At IML and Drummer, for instance, the best seats in the auditorium go to those who register first. And hotels have a nasty way of filling up long before you think they will. (See the entry for IML below, and remember the same thing happens for Drummer/Folsom in San Francisco.)

May 5: Ms. Minnesota Leather and Leatherman of Minnesota present the Labyrinth of Leather Beer Bust.

May 24-27: International Mr. Leather (IML) Contest, Chicago. Come see Mr. Minnesota Leather Michael deLeon and Leatherman of Minnesota Thomas Casey as they take the stage! For information and registration forms call 1-800-545-6753. Host hotel is the Ramada Congress; call for room reservations. Ramada’s toll-free number is 1-800-2RAMADA, but they won’t be able to help you with IML room reservations. And good luck: at this writing the hotel is 95% booked!

May 31-June 2: Knights of Leather present Knights Tournament 8. Info: Knights of Leather, Minneapolis, MN.

June 2: Minnesota Leather Den presents Ludicrous Leather Prom Night—The Crowning of Leather Dominus and Domineer

June 15: International Master and Slave Contest, Atlanta

June 22-23: Twin Cities Festival of Pride ’96

June 23: Minnesota Leather Pride

July 12-14: North Star Gay Rodeo Association presents the North Star Regional Rodeo, St. Paul. Info: 555-0069. (Gotta love that new phone number, eh?)

July 14: Mr. Minnesota Fantasy Contest

July 18-21: International Ms. Leather (IMsL) Contest in Philadelphia, the “city of brotherly (and sisterly?) love.” Ms. Minnesota Leather Darlette Knox will be competing for the title. Call 1-800-THE-BELL for room reservations, 1-800-357-4190 (Atlas Travel) for air or train reservations.

July 19-21: The ATONS present Gopher XII Run, “Going Down on the Farm.” (Thank you ATONS and thank you NSGRA for having the rodeo and the run on different weekends this year!) Info: e-mail at ATONS@AOL.COM. Or check out their new web site (!) on the internet at http//

August 2-4: Great Lakes Drummer Weekend (tentative)

August 16-18: Fantasy Weekend and International Mr. Fantasy Contest, Omaha

September 5-11: Chicago Hellfire Club presents Inferno XXV, Chicago

September 23-29: International Leather Pride Week, San Francisco

September 28: International Mr. Drummer Contest, San Francisco

September 29: Folsom Street Fair, San Francisco

There! That should be enough to keep you out of (or maybe into?) mischief for a while!

Friday, March 1, 1996

Leather and Domestic Violence (cont’d)

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #20, March 1, 1996)

Continuing our discussion from the last column: So who exactly are these perpetrators of domestic violence? Who are their victims? You can’t tell by looking at them. All abusers are not overbearing ogres; all victims are not spineless wimps. Abusers often are able to function normally in social situations, and can even be quite charming. They manage to hide their abusive tendencies from the rest of the world, reserving them exclusively for their victim(s). Because abuse victims fear embarassment (and retaliation from their abuser) if anyone else discovers they are being abused, they may present a calm, confident face to the rest of the world that belies the hell in which they’re living.

Beneath the labels and the stereotypes, both abusers and victims are still people—people with a problem that needs to be dealt with. People who never thought they would resort to hitting someone they love, or who never thought they would stand for such treatment. People who may have thought they were immune to such things, and one day realize they’re in the middle of an out-of-control situation.

The Gay and Lesbian Community Action Council (GLCAC) provides direct services to both abusers and victims, such as legal advocacy and crisis intervention (including child protection and safe housing). They’re also a treasure trove of counseling referrals. There is a 24-hour domestic violence hotline (or call the GLCAC Helpline, noon to midnight). Susan Gibel is the domestic violence program coordinator.

GLCAC worked extensively with the National Leather Association to put together a pamphlet called “Domestic Violence in the S/M Community.” If you are a member of the leather-S/M community and think you may be involved in an abusive situation, this pamphlet is required reading. Call GLCAC and ask for a copy now.

Lesbian victims of domestic abuse can find counseling resources at Casa de Esperanza or Chrysalis. Counseling for lesbian batterers is available through the Domestic Abuse Project.

A group for gay male victims and survivors of domestic abuse meets every Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. at Community University Health Center (intersection of Franklin and Bloomington Avenues in Minneapolis). Chuck Loban (627-6885) is the group facilitator. This group is for gay men who are currently being abused and are wondering what to do about it. It’s also for gay men who are still haunted by the “ghosts” of a past abusive relationship; this group may be able to help lay those ghosts to rest.

Counseling options for gay male abusers include Affirmation Place (only if domestic abuse is accompanied by chemical abuse) and the Domestic Abuse Project. Individual therapy is also an option.

One kind of counseling that is definitely not a good idea is couples counseling; in situations where abuse is present it is almost always counterproductive. Counseling only helps when counselor and clients deal with the truth. When their abuser is sitting right there in the counseling session the victim can’t be truthful about the abuse they are enduring, for fear of retaliation from their abuser after the session is over.

I’m going to recommend two books for further reading on this subject, in addition to the pamphlet mentioned above. “Men Who Beat The Men Who Love Them,” by Patrick Letellier and David Island, was the book that finally broke down my denial and my defenses and convinced me I had to get away from my abuser. I can’t recommend it highly enough. For women, Susan Gibel recommends “Naming the Violence—Speaking Out About Lesbian Battering,” edited by Kerry Lobel.

Upcoming Leather Events

Ms. Minnesota Leather and Leatherman of Minnesota invite you to a
Spring Sleaze Beer Bust
Sunday, March 3, 5-9 p.m., Gay 90’s Men’s Room Bar
Everyone is welcome. Featuring “Trash & Thrash, Let It All Flash” Sleazewear Contest (wear your trashiest jeans—the ones with rips in all the right places!) Door prizes, live entertainment, a surprise special guest, food and beer. $5.00 at the door. “Break the winter freeze with a Hot Spring Sleaze” 1996.

Atons Casino Run (Grand Casino, Hinckley)
Saturday, March 16, 1:00 p.m. (register by Monday, March 11)
If you’ve always wanted to wear leather/levi/uniform attire to a casino, now’s your chance. If you’re a gambler, you could WIN BIG! Or you could just hang out in the Atons’ hospitality suite (and maybe WIN BIG in a different way). $10 prepaid, $15 bus-side. For complete details and a registration form call or e-mail