Friday, July 19, 1996

Making the Scene at Hard Mondays

(Published in <em>Lavender</em> Magazine, Issue #30, July 19, 1996)

It’s Monday night—a school night, but so what? My mission for this evening is to experience “Hard Mondays” at the Saloon, and to answer the question on everyone’s mind: how does it compare to Bondage A-Go-Go on Thursday nights at Ground Zero?

I arrive at the Saloon at 10 pm. Ms. Minnesota Leather <strong>Darlette Knox</strong> and her entourage are already there, raising money for the Minneapolis-to-Chicago AIDS Trek.

The music is loud. The lights are red. The atmosphere is misty, stabbed by strobes and multicolored lasers. The crowd is a cross-section of the leather community—men, women, transgender, gay, straight, young, mature and in-between. A leather/levi/latex/fetishwear dress code is strongly encouraged, and the majority of the crowd complies, although there are also a few jeans-and-sweatshirts types present.

As the evening progresses the crowd grows and the dance floor becomes active. Go-go dancers of both sexes writhe on the dance floor and on a spotlit platform in a dark corner of the bar. Some people come in, gawk as they circle the bar, and leave; tonight is not their scene.

At about 11:00 the demonstrations start. Three women tie three men to a railing and perform a flogging scene. By 11:30 the performers are holding lit candles and dripping hot wax on each other as they weave their bodies together in a twisted human candelabra. The crowd is changing, however, and the leather atmosphere gets diluted a bit as more straight-appearing college kids filter in. (One girl is wearing a DKNY sweatshirt. We all know Donna Karan is a leather goddess, right?) But everyone is at least respectful of the leather/SM activity going on; unlike Bondage A-Go-Go, I don’t get the feeling that anyone is here tonight to be scandalized, and I don’t feel as if I’m part of the floor show for these people just because I’m wearing leather. Someone remarks that the atmosphere at the Saloon is more intimate than the atmosphere at Ground Zero; I agree.

At midnight, Mr. Minnesota Leather 1996 <strong>Michael deLeon</strong> and his business partner <strong>Gary O’Neill</strong> arrive, ready for action. They join Darlette and <strong>Nickie</strong> at the back of the bar. At 12:15 the entertainment takes a decidedly bizarre turn. <strong>Master Zoran,</strong> bare-chested and dressed in a skirt, receives a beer enema from <strong>Matt Hopping,</strong> dressed in an industrial-strength latex apron and gloves. The crowd gathers around, entranced by the proceedings. (And to think I almost left at midnight.)

A postscript to the experience: I realized the next day that a growing number of local bars have “special interest” nights of one sort or another. To name three: Ground Zero has “Bondage A Go Go,” South Beach has “South Bitch,” the Minneapolis Cafe in the Calhoun Beach Club is gay Wednesday nights. One point in favor of “Hard Mondays” is that it (unlike the three I just mentioned) happens in The Saloon, a bar that is gay-owned-and-operated and is gay seven nights a week. I think that’s a plus.

So, have you experienced “Hard Mondays” yet? Try it and see for yourself—Monday nights, 10 pm to 1 am at the Saloon, no cover charge.

<strong>Upcoming Leather Events</strong>

This weekend we wish <strong>Darlette Knox </strong>the best of luck as she competes in the International Ms. Leather ’96 contest in Philadelphia. We’re proud of you, Darlette!

Also this weekend, the Atons are hosting their Gopher XII run, “Going Down on the Farm.” Hope it’s a safe, sane, consensual and FUN weekend!

<strong>International Mr. Fantasy Contest</strong>
<em>August 16-18, Omaha, Nebraska—REGISTER SOON!</em>
Come see Mr. Minnesota Fantasy 1996, <strong>  insert name in boldface  </strong>, competing in the Internationals. The weekend kicks off Friday night with a meet-the-contestants Welcome Party. Saturday begins with a Sexual Scavenger Hunt (sounds intriguing!); the afternoon features seminars and demonstrations. The actual competition happens Saturday evening and will be followed by an after-hours party (and they know how to party in Omaha, let me tell you!) Sunday features a farewell brunch and the traditional afternoon softball game.

Weekend packages cost $30 per person ($35 after August 1, so register now). For a registration form write to Fantasy Productions, Omaha NE. The host hotel is the Radisson Redick in Omaha; call for room information and reservations.

Friday, July 5, 1996

Remembering Jim Conway

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #29, July 5, 1996)

James Conway, also known as James Conway Albright, died peacefully May 18 at his home in Golden Valley. In accordance with his wishes, approximately 40 people gathered at his home on May 29 for a farewell cocktail party and to exchange reminiscences. Jim Chalgren, brother Aton and fellow Egyptologist, performed an Egyptian farewell blessing.

Jim was a long-time and very active member of the Twin Cities leather community. He joined the Atons in 1988 and served for two terms as its president in 1990 and 1991; he was also an associate member of the Iowa Cornhaulers leather/levi club. He was keenly interested in the culture and artifacts of ancient Egypt; the 1990 Atons run, Gopher IX, was an Egyptian-themed run and Jim was Pharoah for the weekend. One of his many hobbies was leatherwork, and I will always remember his spectacular WHITE leather Egyptian outfit.

Other memberships included the Minnesota Polar Bares (Jim was a confirmed naturist) and the Minnesota Orchid Society (he loved tending his yard and garden and was especially proud of his orchids). For many years, Jim traveled the world as a professional musician playing woodwinds and piano with many big-name bands and singers.

Jim was a friend of mine and also a neighbor both at home and at work. Our offices were three blocks from each other in downtown Minneapolis, so I would often see him in the skyways. Shortly before he died I ran into Jim at the cash registers at Byerly’s in Golden Valley. He seemed upbeat and said he was looking forward to experiencing at least some of the upcoming Atons run. He took off his cap to show me his treatment-induced hair loss, and said he was anxious for it to grow back. He invited me to come over sometime for a swim in the pool.

Jim, wherever you are, you will be fondly remembered and deeply missed by many, many people.

Raymond LeBrun Succumbs to AIDS Complications

The local leather community recently lost another highly-visible member. Raymond LeBrun, who held the title of Mr. Minnesota Leather 1994 and Mr. Seattle Leather 1995, passed away June 25. At the time of his death he was residing in Spokane, Washington. I hope to have more details and a full remembrance in a future issue.

About That Impressive Leather Pride Float

Wasn’t that a great Leather Pride float in the recent Twin Cities Festival of Pride parade? It was a very l-o-n-g trailer rig sporting handcrafted leather-pride-flag skirting, twin propane-fueled “Flames of Liberation,” a colorful rainbow-flag display, space for leather club banners, and even a motorcycle for atmosphere! There was room on the float for the entire leather contingent, and the ride was climaxed by a spectacular balloon-release finale. I’m sure the entire leather community joins with me in extending our deepest appreciation to Transcorp owners Rand Haglund, John Audette and family for their large contribution of the trailer rig, decorations, and especially their time that went into the making of this year’s float. (And this is the second year they’ve done this!) Thanks for providing such a great ride and making us look so good!

Next Issue: Making The Scene at “Hard Mondays”

So, have you experienced “Hard Mondays” yet? I did recently, and I’ll tell you all about it next issue. Or try it yourself: Monday nights, 10 pm to 1 am at the Saloon, no cover charge.

Upcoming Leather Events

The Atons present “All-American Beer Bash”

Sunday, July 7, 5-9 pm, Gay 90’s Men’s Room Bar (use 4th Street side entrance)
Free keg beer and soda, food from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, and an “All American Man” contest. $5 at the door with your Leather Pride ‘96 dog tag, $7 without. While you’re there you can register for the upcoming Gopher XII Run (see below).

North Star Regional Rodeo
July 12-14
Welcome, Black Bart! At last the Rodeo folks have a column (and a columnist) all their own! (See Black Bart’s column for further Rodeo details.)

Mr. Minnesota Fantasy ‘95 Dale Willman and Ingenue Productions present
Mr. Minnesota Fantasy ‘96
July 14, 5-9 pm, Gay 90’s Dance annex
Hot men, hot fantasies, beer, food & more. $5 at the door. Applications for contestants will be at the Sidewalk Shop upstairs at the Gay 90’s, or for more info contact Dale Willman.

The Atons present Gopher XII, “Going Down on the Farm”
Event happens July 19-21; REGISTER NOW
See previous issue for details. Cost goes up after this weekend, so register soon (maybe at the All-American Beer Bash, above).