Friday, January 31, 1997

Where Leather and Sobriety Intersect

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #44, January 31, 1997)

Leather/SM prides itself on its diversity and its inclusiveness. We, as a community, try to welcome everyone with an interest in our many and varied forms of alternative sexuality. We include women and men; young, old, and everything in between; gay, bisexual, queer, pansexual, and even straight (but not narrow); all colors and ethnic backgrounds; people living with AIDS and those with other physical challenges. Unfortunately, there’s one group of people in our community that sometimes doesn’t get the respect it deserves.

Here in Minnesota, the land of treatment centers and twelve-step groups, many members of our leather community are in recovery from alcoholism or other substance abuse. Some grew up here; others came to Minnesota to go through alcohol or drug abuse treatment and have decided to stay. Other community members may not be in recovery but still choose not to use alcohol or drugs. (Your humble columnist is a member of this group, so I am writing from experience.)

Many leatherfolk who go through treatment ask the same question: “Now that I’m in recovery, do I have to give up leather?” It’s not a frivolous question. How do they fit into a community which sometimes seems to revolve around the use of mind-altering substances? Throughout history, leatherfolk have met and cruised at bars, many of whose names are now part of our folklore. Today, almost every leather event, party, fundraiser or contest is held at a bar — and advertises free tap beer or drink specials as an inducement to attend. Illicit drug usage is sometimes a feature of heavy-duty SM and fisting scenes. The unspoken but implicit message often seems to be that drinking and drugs are integral parts of the scene, necessary elements of machismo; if you don’t partake, maybe you’re not a REAL leatherman or leatherwoman.

Some of us manage to deal with situations like these. We attend the events and enjoy the fellowship, but we drink soft drinks instead of beer. (When soft drinks are included in the price of admission, we bless the event planner’s inclusiveness; when the beer is flowing freely but soft drinks aren’t, we feel we’ve been dissed.)

Some of us find that for the sake of our sanity we have to avoid bars, so we look for other, safer meeting places like Cafe Zev or Cafe Wyrd. These are not strictly leather venues but can be enjoyable. Some of us are lucky enough to become part of a clean-and-sober family of leather brothers and sisters. But many of us still feel isolated from the rest of the leather community — and, therefore, from a significant part of our sexuality.

Once in a while we see signs of awareness and acceptance. San Francisco’s Sober Defenders is a clean-and-sober leather club. There is a sober leather/SM twelve-step meeting in Greenwich Village in New York City. Chicago’s International Mr. Leather Contest has a highly visible recovery component including meetings, a recovery hospitality suite and badges for staff members in recovery. And everywhere, the community’s mantra of “Safe, Safe and Consensual” serves as a reminder that playing under the influence of too much alcohol or drugs is neither safe nor sane.

Those are encouraging trends, but more can be done both locally and nationally. The Twin Cities does not currently have a clean-and-sober leather club even though there has been occasional discussion about starting one. Perhaps a full-scale club isn’t practical, or even necessary; what would be helpful is some way for chemical-free leatherfolk to recognize each other. I have seen many lists of hankie colors and what they stand for, and it amazes and saddens me to report that nowhere, even on the most comprehensive lists, is there a color that stands for “clean and sober” or for “drug-free play.”

Actually, it doesn’t matter if the symbol for clean-and-sober leather is a hankie color, a club pin, a dog tag, or something else. It would just be helpful if there was something that allowed us to recognize each other, and that was recognized and honored by the rest of the leather community as well. For those already in the leather community and for those interested in joining it, such a symbol would affirm the answer to the question posed earlier: “Yes, it is possible to be in leather and in recovery at the same time.”

Questions or comments about this column are invited. Please send your response to: Lavender Magazine (Attention: Leather Life), Minneapolis MN.

(Editor: Please put the following in a shaded box.)

Upcoming Leather Events

Mr. Minnesota Leather ’97 Valentine’s Day Fundraiser
Friday, February 14

Black Frost ’97
Friday-Sunday, February 14-16
The Black Guard’s 20th-anniversary run starts on Valentine’s Day. To request a registration form, write to: Black Frost ’97, Minneapolis MN.

Friday, January 17, 1997

Let’s Be Careful Out There

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #43, January 17, 1997)

According to the 1/7/97 issue of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a 35-year-old man was found dead in his apartment in south Minneapolis. He was tied up but hadn’t been shot or stabbed. No more details were available.

There have been other reports in recent months of similar happenings. So it’s time once again to talk about safe play.

• Get to know something about a prospective play partner. “Check their references” by asking friends about them.

• Let other people know who you’re going home with and where you’re going.

• If you’re not driving, be sure you have cab fare and change for phone calls.

• Keep a clear head. It’s difficult to watch out for your safety when you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

• Negotiate the scene beforehand. Use agreed-upon safewords to slow or stop the action if necessary.

• Remember: “Safe, sane, consensual.” If you aren’t familiar with all the things those three words entail, find out.

• “Endure nothing.” If you don’t feel comfortable with the way things are going, do what you need to do to keep yourself safe. That may include either leaving or kicking someone out. (Sometimes these things happen.)

The leather/SM community’s ideal is respect for every community member and for the rules of safety. Unfortunately there are people who don’t play by these rules; these are not people you want to play with. Following the suggestions above will lessen your likelihood of becoming their prey, or will help ensure your safety if you suddenly find yourself confronted with a dangerous situation.

Please, play safe and play smart.

Kelso Talks: More of the Exclusive Twin Cities Interview with Steve Kelso

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #43, January 17, 1997)

“I don’t get the star-struck thing. That’s why I don’t understand this.”

(Continued from the previous issue) After baring everything else, Steve Kelso bares his soul on everything from shaving to his World Wide Web site:

Your modeling work has been always solo, always “physique,” and mostly in print. You’ll be photographed hard, but you’ll never go any further than that. And there are no Colt group scenes featuring you. Why has it worked out that way?

Well, basically, that was one of my choices. And I can probably attribute it to the AIDS crisis and the fact that there are unnecessary risks that I don’t feel need to be taken. I do have a film out with Colt—it was supposed to be part of the “legendary body” series, which is basically that they film the guys walking around nude. Mine got a little more erotic and they didn’t quite know what to do with it. It was shot in Hawaii, and it’s a beautiful film. But it looks like it’s missing the last reel, which it is because it was never intended to be a jerk-off film. I’m entertaining the thought now of doing a full film because it will generate a lot more cash to help out.

This film you’re making, this is a porn film with other people?

No, it won’t be with other people, it will be a full solo with a cum scene at the end. And I want it shot very nice. I did the music to the other video, by the way.

I remember reading in another interview that you have a full recording studio.

I’m a musician, too, and music is one of my biggest loves.

Who inspires you musically?

I like a wide range, from jazz to dance music. I have a real love for all kinds of music.

Any plans to branch out into acting or performing?

Acting, yes. I played a small part in a “straight” movie made by the “regular industry.” I played a cop in a film called “Garage Sale” that was going around to film festivals all over the world. I’ve been taking acting classes in New York City for commercials. And the people who make commercials, they’re real particular. I mean, if you’ve done porn, 90% of ’em are real reluctant to work with somebody like that. The loophole I use is, I shave my mustache and then I can work, because I look nothing like my Colt photos.

Tell us about “Hairway to Steven,” the Official Kelso Web Site. Who came up with that wonderful name, first of all?

I had no idea, I didn’t know anything about it. Computers are pretty new to me, but I recently got on line and someone had told me that someone has a site on me. Well, he was using pictures from Colt. Now Colt doesn’t want people using their images without authorization—for good reason. People will use them for everything; they’ll make their bar advertisements out of them, they’ll be selling butt creams and things like that, and you don’t want that because producing the pictures costs a lot of money. So I can understand why they don’t want people using them. But, the Hairway had started a year or two ago . . .

You mean it was started before you knew about it?


Then it was NOT the Official Kelso Web Site at that point.

No, it wasn’t. I kind of turned it into my offical Web site by supplying him with the pictures. The gentleman’s name is Darrin, and he’s from Toronto. He’s a young guy and we met him when I did the tour and benefits up in Toronto. Nice kid, and he just started it up and it was one of those things he started up as a hobby. Well, normally a Web charge should be about $100 to have a very active site. But when you start getting 30,000 hits on it a month, it goes up to $1000 very quickly, very quickly. So, one, he couldn’t afford it, and two, Colt had sent him a cease-and-desist letter, which they generally send to anyone who uses their images without permission. Now, if he had checked with them, I don’t know, they may have worked something out. But they sent him a lawyer-letter that told him not to use the photographs. So, when I got wind of this, I started supplying him with the photos, which were now images done by and owned by Eagle Studios. And people can download the pictures, the pictures are there free for them to use. [The web address is—Ed.] But again, I will go after someone if my face is advertised for a bar or for something else without my permission, because I don’t want to be representing something in which I have no say or no involvement.

Anything more to say about hairy models versus shaved one?

Well I think the trend right now is definitely to the bear and leather and the more masculine look. The shaved, LA, smooth bodybuilder type is still attractive to a lot of people, but I think the majority now are starting to swing towards hair. Which is nice, because I’m hairy. I looked like a shaved rat when I tried to cut it off. One time, and never again.

It itches.

Oh, yeah. And still, a model may send Colt a picture, and the model’s hairy in the picture, and Rip will tell them “Do not shave.” But they’ll shave anyway—they’ll show up the day of the shoot and they’ll be shaved. And once it’s gone, it’s gone for a month or so.

There were a few pictures on the Hairway without the mustache.

That was for shock value. I feel if people are talking, that’s a good thing; when they stop talking is when you have to worry. And that was an intentional thing—I posted those pictures, and they got a very mixed reaction. Some people said, “I will delete my hard drive if you ever do that again” in their very gayest voice. Which is great, because it means they’re paying attention, and I know there’s a reaction. Did you see the new calendar? There’s one in the calendar without the mustache, and it sets people off.

We LIKE your mustache!

I know. But it creates controversry, and you have to push people’s buttons to make sure they’re paying attention. And when they’re not, then you stop, it’s time to go away.

How political are you? You only do personal appearances in connection with an AIDS charity and you’re doing lots of other AIDS fundraising. Want to talk about that?

Political things I stay out of. I’m very bad at politics and I don’t trust any of them, really.

So you’re not political in that sense, but you’re doing something active, you aren’t sitting on the sidelines.

Oh no, our community is having a problem right now with AIDS, and I feel that my best contribution is to try to raise money to help organizations that care for people with HIV and AIDS. That’s a rough job. What I do is not rough at all. When you give your time like that on an everyday basis, that’s commitment.

You’re getting fabulously wealthy doing this, right?

I wish. I live on a farm with cows—how wealthy do you think that is?

How much money is there to be made in this industry, and who’s making it?

The people who are doing the movies don’t get paid a high salary, anywhere from $300 to $500 a film. But if you look at the quantity, how many times they do a movie, there’s a lot of money that can be generated. And a lot of them use ’em to promote other things. They have massages and things that they offer. I’m assuming sexual things—if you look in local magazines in major areas, there are a lot of provocative ads. From the way the ads are worded, you can’t assume that it’s just gonna be a massage. So that’s where the money is to be made.

We talked a little bit about you being in the middle of dinner and somebody comes over and asks for an autograph. Do you ever get embarrassed? Has anything embarrassing ever happened, or are you beyond that?

I’ve signed penises, I’ve signed butts, it’s fun. I figure if they’re willing to flag it I’m willing to sign it.

Do you care to comment on society’s hangups with nudity and sexuality?

They’re getting better, they’re getting much better. Madonna helped quite a bit with her shock value with the “Sex” book and the other provocative things that she does.

Any advice for someone who wants to do this kind of modeling?

Absolutely go into it with your eyes open. Make sure you know where the photographs are going to be published, that you’re not going to be in an ad holding a bottle of lube in your hand. A lot of people sell the rights to the pictures—a photographer pays them a certain amount of money for those photographs. And then he publishes them in twenty or thirty magazines, runs ads with the person, and if they become popular, you know, you kinda lose control over them.

You have been photographed in leather, and you wear it VERY well. Are you into leather or any other form of alternative sexuality or kink?

I LOVE leather! Kink? Sure, everybody’s into some kind of kink. Never with pets, or I’ve never been caught, anyway. But, I mean, sex is very interesting, all kinds.

I’ve never seen you talk about this in other interviews.

They’ve never asked. If you ask I’ll tell you. I have nothing to hide.

Okay, so what do you like?

I like a romantic kind of thing, but I like to get down and dirty when it comes into the bedroom.

What would be a good evening for you?

Well, after coffee and chocolate fingers—just kidding. Nice conversation, and finding someone who’s, you know, who’s nice. It’s very difficult on the road, being in and out of cities, and I don’t feel it’s fair to sleep with somebody and then say “Thanks a lot, bye-bye now.”

You don’t have people throwing themselves at you? You will tonight!

I do, I do, and it’s very flattering. And a lot of times I’d love to do it, and I’ve fooled around with people on occasion, but it’s one of those things. You know, I keep in contact with people, I’m just not the type to have sex and say goodbye. But, um, yeah, I like sex.

I’ve talked to other people, mostly international leather title holders, who can walk into a bar and have anybody they want, and a lot of times they go home alone.

That’s the rough thing about becoming popular. You don’t want to go home with someone who’s coming up to you saying “I’m your biggest fan” because you lose something there. All of a sudden you’re not on the same basis, they’re looking at you in a much higher light. I don’t look at myself that way, I just want to be treated like a normal person. That’s why a lot of times I’ll shave my mustache when I go out after all the work is done. And people will treat me normally until they see my tattoo and realize who I am.

What exactly does the tattoo say? Does it say, “Hi, this is Steve Kelso,” or do they just recognize the eagle?

The tattoo and the bracelet have become predominant symbols. The bracelet, I never took it off in like eight or nine years. I just forgot, it’s not a fashion trend, I JUST FORGOT. And the eagle, it started out as an eagle, but I’m older now, so it’s a chicken hawk.

Have you ever been to Minneapolis/St. Paul before?

No, I haven’t. It’s a very SNOWY city.

Yes . . .

So I guess everyone just stays in and fucks all winter. I’ll have to move here, won’t I?

Who do you think is hot right now? Who turns your crank?

I don’t know. I really don’t have any one person who I think is hot. I mean, I see a lot of people, and in different states I could pick 20 or 30 people that I’d drop kick in a minute. But there’s really no one person. Like with actors, I don’t get the star-struck thing. That’s why I don’t understand this, really. When people are shaking when I’m signing or having a photograph taken with them, it amazes me, because I don’t get that way. I used to think Mel Gibson was real hot, until I found out about his dislike for gays. I blew that right out of the water! THAT can drop an erection really fast! That and bad conversation.

What’s your most favorite feature, and what’s your least favorite feature?

I like my mustache, and I think I got a pretty swell ass. My least favorite? I guess my feet.

Let’s get your vital statistics. Age?



6” in heels, 5’10” without.


It varies from 160 to 170.

Hair color?


And that’s natural?

Natural. On occasion. I have nothing against Miss Clairol. I’ll fight age any way I can.

Eye color?

Hazel, unless I’m drinking, then bloodshot.


I’ve never measured it. I’ve had people hang off it and they’ve said they could do a nice swing, but I couldn’t tell you the exact inches.

And the final vital statistics question is “cut or uncut,” but we’ve already seen it so what else is there to say?

Cut. And I kind of feel like I lost something, which wasn’t my choice.

Last question: I have been told by people that I resemble you. Care to comment?

You could. Trim the beard a little bit, you might look like me. Part your hair on the side, get a bigger penis maybe.

No, a smaller tummy. The second part of this question is: How often do you hear that? How often do people come up to you and say, “So-and-so said that I look like you”?

Sometimes I’ve run into people who look very similar to me, and their friends will drag them up and obviously they’re terrified to come over and say, “I look like you,” but there’s quite a few people who do. I’ve had a guy in San Francisco that had a tattoo with my face from the 1993 calendar. That was the most interesting thing.

Where was the tattoo?

It was on his arm. And it was the cover of the 1993 calendar, and I mean, it was me. He was waiting in line and everyone in line was staring at it, and when the guy got up to me, all I could think to say to him was, “I hope I never piss you off!”

Photo captions:

The eagle tattoo: “It started out as an eagle, but I’m older now, so it’s a chicken hawk.”

Autographing one of two original portraits by local artist Damon Thrift: “I felt if I’m going to have this fame and people are going to come out to see me, I might as well use it for something good, which is something I’d like to see a lot more of the porn industry do.”

On cameras and photographers: “It’s real weird, I get very friendly with the camera. You don’t look at it as a piece of machinery, you just look at it as if you’re looking at somebody or you’re speaking with somebody, and you want to get a reaction from them.”

Signing a calendar for a fan: “I’ve signed penises, I’ve signed butts, it’s fun. I figure if they’re willing to flag it I’m willing to sign it.”

In the spotlight at Town House Country: “I just kinda felt posing with my clothes off would be cool to do. I never thought it would turn into what it’s turned into.”

Upcoming Leather Events

The Atons present “The Leather Bowl”

Sunday, January 26, 5-9 pm, Gay 90’s Dance Annex
Come out for the first leather event of the new year. The Super Bowl will be playing in the background on the big-screen TV, but the real action will definitely be live (including a “Tight-End Contest”). $8 admission ($5 if wearing leather or athletic apparel) includes keg beer, food and soda.

Friday, January 3, 1997

Kelso Talks: Exclusive Twin Cities Interview with Supermodel Steve Kelso

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #42, January 3, 1997)

“If I’m going to have this fame, I might as well use it for something good.”

He’s manly, he’s hairy, he’s supermodel Steve Kelso. Leather types love him because he wears their favorite material so well. Bears love him because he’s furry. Lots of other men seem to love him, too, as evidenced by the fact that in all their years of operation Colt Studios never devoted an entire calendar, one whole year’s worth of pictures, to any single man until Kelso came along.

It was a fundraiser for the Aliveness Project that brought Steve Kelso (and his manager, Jeff Adams) to Town House Country in St. Paul the night of Friday, December 13. The bar was jam-packed with Kelso fans, who waited patiently (in a very long line) to meet the legend. Kelso autographed their calendars and posed with them for Polaroid photos from the camera of Thomas Fleisher. Lady Monique Champagne entertained, and two autographed portraits of Kelso by local artist Damon Thrift were sold to the highest bidder. By closing time over $1500 had been raised to benefit the Aliveness Project’s Holiday Basket Program, and hundreds of Kelso fans had experienced an evening they’d remember for a long, long time.

Before meeting his public, Kelso graciously allowed me to interview him. For forty-five minutes, in a basement office at Town House Country, we talked about everything: his childhood and teenage years, how he became the icon of masculinity he is today, and what he’d like to do in the future. We talked about AIDS, politics, sex, nudity, celebrity, romance, and the Marlboro man. He impressed me as witty, intelligent, gregarious, unassuming—an all-around nice guy, a regular Joe who lives on a farm in New Jersey. Who just happens to have one of the most gorgeous and celebrated furry bodies in history. And who doesn’t quite understand what all the fuss is about.

How exactly do you describe what it is you do? Do you call it physique modeling, beefcake, erotica, porn—what is it?

I’m not sure what the classification is. I just call it nude modeling. It, uh, gets me by.

How did you get into this? The story is that you submitted photos to Colt on a dare. What’s the real story?

No, it wasn’t a dare, that was a misquote. Actually, when I was out in California I met Rip Colt (photographer and owner of Colt Studios), we hit it off talking and he asked me if I’d like to pose. So I ended up posing. They flew me out for the first photo shoot, which ended up being the cover of the 1993 calendar, and from there on I guess sales were real good. Why I don’t know, it’s all a mystery to me—I think of myself as just a normal, everyday person.. But it caught on, so they started doing calendar after calendar after calendar. This year I did my own calendar with Eagle Studios that I produced with Jeff Adams, and a lot of the monies are going to AIDS charities. I felt if I’m going to have this fame and people are going to come out to see me, I might as well use it for something good, which is something I’d like to see a lot more of the porn industry do.

You just said “porn industry.” Why do I not think of what you do as porn?

It still gets classified as porn. I mean, no matter how you personally might look at it, most people look at it as porn. It doesn’t end up on the cover of Newsweek magazine because, you know, there’s obviously penises—HUGE penises, I might add. So, that’s why I classify it as porn. But nude modeling basically is all it is, because it doesn’t depict sexual acts, there’s no contact with anyone else.

Did you have to think long and hard (so to speak) about doing this, or have you always had an exhibitionistic streak about you?

I think everybody’s got a little bit of an exhibitionistic streak in them. I first started out being very, very fat, drunk and falling down all the time, and I went to a certain extreme. I did drugs, I got fat, I looked terrible, and I felt awful. So I thought, “What would it be like if I went to the OPPOSITE extreme? So, being the extremist that I am, I started working out and feeling real good about myself. So, naturally, I just kinda felt posing with my clothes off would be cool to do. As I said, I never thought it would turn into what it’s turned into.

You clean up very well.

What do you mean?

That’s a Twelve Step expression. Recovering alcoholics say, when they’re talking to one another, “You clean up very well.”

But that’s the way I think everybody should look at their lives. If you’re unhappy with your life, if you’re fat, if you’re too skinny, then change it. It’s not an easy process by any means. For me, it took four or five years of constantly working out and dieting. But all of a sudden people started to notice me, whereas before I had problems getting a date. I have to admit it’s very nice now that the tables are turned.

And all those people who wouldn’t date you years ago are KICKING THEMSELVES!

KICKING THEIR ASS! Yes! I was about fifteen when I started going out to the bars—I actually started working when I was a little underage because I looked like I was forty, you know, with the fur and everything—and I went through the same thing most kids go through doing drugs, not excessively, but to the point where I was unhappy with myself. And not hard drugs like heroin, or anything like that. Maybe a joint or things like that. Drinking, mostly, because you were partying with your friends. And I was getting fat, and I just wasn’t real comfortable in my jeans, basically.

Are you clean now?

Oh, yeah. It’s very difficult, because I like to drink. I mean, I LOVE to drink. I’m Italian and Irish, which means my ass is gonna get very huge and I like to fall on the ground drunk. So, I work out and try to stay in shape. It’s hard when I’m on the road, obviously, but when I have to do photo work, I mean, the camera doesn’t lie. It puts ten pounds on you, so you have to try to deduct as much as possible.

How long did you think this would last when you got started?

I didn’t think it would go anywhere, to tell you the truth.

Did you think Colt would take one roll of film, and maybe some people would buy the pictures, but you’d never hear from them again?

That’s what I thought, and they pre-warned me that sometimes pictures sell and sometimes they don’t. And if they didn’t, you know, I shouldn’t take it to heart. But I thought, well, it’s just an interesting thing to do. And they ended up putting me on the cover of the Colt Calendar and from there the sales just went right through the roof. I was the first guy in a long time, maybe ten years, to come in with the fur and the mustache, ’cause they get all the California bodybuilders who shave their chests and cut their crotch hair back. I guess it was just at the time when fur was becoming popular and the whole Bear craze started. And I mean, they’re my biggest fans, the leather crew and the Bears.

Who masterminded your rise to the top? You, Rip Colt, someone else, or did it just take off, and both you and Rip Colt are mystified?

Like I said, it was one of those things. You can’t predict anything. I mean, I’ve seen very attractive, hunky bodybuilder kids, and their pictures just don’t sell, they just don’t go. I don’t know what the actual mystique is. Also, I was basically the first one that they could send out on the road, because I could speak and tie my shoes at the same time—

Most of them can’t?

Most of them can’t.

Do you know any other Colt models? Care to dish?

No. All the models are flown in from different locations, so I’m pretty much out of touch with them.

What’s Rip Colt like to work with?

He’s great, he’s great. He’s an older gentleman, I guess 40’s—KIDDING, KIDDING. That’ll make it nice for him and piss off 40-year-olds. But, he’s great to work with, he really is. It’s very, very easy, there’s no pressure, and it’s usually an assistant and the model and himself.

Have you ever been featured in a book by Jim French?

Oh, the art books? No, no. Art doesn’t sell. That was one of his quotes, too. More people buy the more erotic-looking stuff. The artsy stuff is nice, but it doesn’t sell as well, so they never really put me into those kinds of poses or anything.

They put you in the poses?

Well, basically it’s kind of a mutual thing. A model can be very stiff, and can just be standing there looking dead straight at the camera, expressionless, and Rip will have to tell him how to pose. That’s one of the crafts that Rip says I had, the fact I knew how to turn and look at the camera, to change the expression, instead of looking straight ahead and scared.

And that was natural?


Like they say, “The camera loves you.”

It’s real weird, I get very friendly with it. You don’t look at it as a piece of machinery, you just look at it as if you’re looking at somebody or you’re speaking with somebody, and you want to get a reaction from them. That’s how you treat the camera.

What happened with Colt? Are you still with them at all?

I’m actually with my own company now. I’m going to work with that and get that off the ground, primarily using it for generating cash for AIDS organizations and things like that.

Did you leave Colt on good terms?

Oh, yeah, we’re all still good friends.

Who is the most popular male skin model of all time? Do you know, and is it maybe you?

I don’t think it’s me. Bruno, who used to be a Colt model, was very popular. Again, he had the fur, the mustache, and then that fell out of play when the trend swungto the body builders with the shaved chests. And I guess when I came in, I brought that back.

According to the Colt Anniversary Collection, which I just happen to have here, Bruno dates from 1973. I have a picture right here . . .

See the similarities? The hair, the mustache.

You Italian guys. If he cut his hair to the same length as yours, you could be brothers.

But at the time the style was the longer hair. And Bruno’s not overly built, but he’s very masculine.

Did you grow up looking at pictures of naked men?


Did you ever imagine one day you’d be one of them?


It never occurred to you?

Never occurred to me. I knew I was gay when I was nine years old. My mother had died when I was ten, and I was fooling around a year before that. So I started out before I had hair and could count.

Where did you get your pictures to look at?

Every place imagineable. At a newsstand, you opened a magazine and there’s the Marlboro cigarette guy, who I thought was just a hot stud.

Did you look at Playgirl when it was new?

Sure, when I could get my hands on it.

And the physique magazines? Well, actually, that would probably pre-date you. That was before they showed dick.

Before they showed dick? Well, actually, nowadays they try, but a lot of guys don’t show dick because they don’t have dick, basically. Take steroids and you deduct balls, you know. A lot of people think that I do steroids, but you can’t do them unless you’re overly hung, (which I’m not, you know) and I’d be afraid if I took steroids my balls would shrink up and my dick would be gone.

You don’t have a steroid body—

No, no, it’s not overly built—

You’ve got a NICE body.

I try to keep it toned, and that’s it.

Do you work out on your own, or do you have a trainer?

I work out on my own.

You probably have to watch what you eat. I think we already covered that.

Yeah, diet’s rough.

So—what’s your favorite food?

Ice cream, candies, beer, wine, sangria . . .

Do you ever see yourself on a Wheaties box someday?

On a Wheaties box? That would a nice twist—Cathy Rigby flipping off bars and my ass posted right on a Wheaties box. That would be fantastic!

It would make breakfast a lot more interesting.

At least for gay people.

What’s it like being a megastar?

Well, it’s interesting, it’s interesting. I can see how people would want to be noticed and would want the attention. See, I was always just the opposite, I was used to NEVER being noticed and always just in the crowd. So it was definitely an eye-opener for me. It’s very flattering when fans come up, but when it happens on such a regular basis (because I travel mostly in gay communities and gay locations), when you’re eating and you have people coming up to ask for an autograph and stuff it gets a little tiring.

Does that happen a lot?

Yeah, it does.

How well-known, how notorious are you?

It’s pretty world-wide. I’ve just gotten on the Web to find I’ve gotten mail from Honduras, from Africa, places you would never think of. China—they love me over in China.

Because of the fur, I suppose. But I’ve always had the feeling that there’s this little segment of society that loves Rip Colt’s photography and that knows you, but that the other 99.99% isn’t into that. So you could go to, say, Disneyland and nobody’s gonna know who you are.

See, that’s what amazes me. I thought the same way, I thought there was a specific type of person who bought the Colt material. But I’m finding out as I do more traveling, plus interviews and promoting and going around doing a lot of AIDS benefits, I’m getting pretty well-known. It’s fanning out—people are talking to me and are finding out, “Well, he’s not a douche bag like we suspected he’s gotta be,” so they end up telling a friend, and then it just kind of spreads like that. I guess. That’s what I’m assuming.

Why do you continue to do this?

Well, my reason now is, like I said, I put together this new studio, and I’m going to get gay models and other people who are interested in doing the same thing Colt does, but using more of the monies to benefit AIDS causes.

(This interview will be continued in the next issue.)