Friday, July 18, 1997

Lots of Leather at the Pride Parade

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #56, July 18, 1997)

The Minnesota leather community turned out in force for the 1997 Twin Cities Pride Parade — this years’s parade featured more leather-related contingents than ever before. The parade started, of course, with the ever-popular Dykes on Bikes, and the rest of the leatherfolk weren’t far behind.

International Mr. Leather 1997 Kevin Cwayna was on hand, riding in a black Camaro convertible. Cwayna was followed by about 25 members of the local leather community riding on the Leather Pride float (provided again this year by Transcorp owners Rand Haglund, John Audette, and family). Next in the parade were about 15 members of the recently-formed Sober Leather group, including Roger Gregg, who will be a candidate for Mr. Minnesota Leather this fall, and Steven Zeller, who will be a candidate for Mr. Minnesota Drummerboy this very weekend. (More about this group later in the column.)

After the Lavender Magazine car (the only local publication featuring leather coverage in every issue) came leatherman and boot aficionado Bob Jansen representing the newly-reopened Main Club in Superior, Wisconsin, where you’ll often find members of Duluth/Superior’s leather community. Jansen was followed by the folks who wear brown leather, the North Star Gay Rodeo Association, and by the leather community’s hirsute cousins, the MNBears.

Later in the parade was the final leather installment: the Wolf Productions float, featuring several leathermen including Mr. Minnesota Fantasy ’97 Michael deLeon. Easily the tallest leather-related parade unit, it featured some formidable-looking metal cages and live demonstrations of the heavy-duty bondage gear for which Wolf Productions is fast becoming famous.

After the parade, the annual Twin Cities Leather Pride celebration was held at the Gay 90’s. Presented by the Atons, Black Guard, Knights of Leather, North Star Gay Rodeo Association, and MNBears, the event featured a roll-call of past and present titleholders. The last name to be called was IML ’97 Kevin Cwayna, who presented a short keynote address (and said a few of the things he didn’t get a chance to say at the IML contest in Chicago). Country line-dance group Borderline performed several numbers, and fund-raising activities throughout the evening raised more than $1,000 for the Adult Foster Care Coalition, an AIDS-service organization.

Sober Leather Group Forms

After being talked about for the last few years, a Sober Leather club has recently been formed in the Twin Cities. Please note that this is not a leather twelve-step recovery group, and participation in recovery is not a membership requirement. This is a group of men and women who have come together to promote the idea of safe, sane, consensual, sober leather sex, free of alcohol and chemical use. This non-profit organization plans to hold alcohol- and chemical-free social events and educational seminars about sober leather which are open to the entire leather community. The club also plans to become part of a network of sober leatherfolk and clubs around the world. Currently engaged in start-up fundraising and organizing, the Sober Leather club welcomes input from new and prospective members and the community at large. A web page is currently under construction; for now, the best way to contact the club is to write: Sober Leather, Minneapolis MN.

Upcoming Leather Events

PHOTO: Kyle Brandon, International Mr. Drummer 1996

Mr. Minnesota Drummer/Drummerboy Trash Party
Friday, July 18, 9 pm, Club Metro Underground
Mr. Minnesota Drummer/Drummerboy Contest
Saturday, July 19, Doors open at 7 pm, Club Metro Underground
On Friday night you can meet the contestants, judges, and special guest International Mr. Drummer ’96 Kyle Brandon. Admission $5. Saturday night’s contest features Drummer-style men, boys and fantasy performances. Contest admission is $10 if you buy your ticket Friday night or $15 at the door Saturday. Door prizes and raffles both nights; net proceeds to charity. Hosted by the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Ice Castle and the Black Guard in conjunction with Minnesota Leather Productions.

Main Club Grand Opening Celebration
Friday/Saturday, July 25-26 (open until 2:30 am)
The New Main Club, 1217 Tower Avenue, Superior, Wisconsin
They’re back, and Twice As Big! For more information call (715) 392-1756.

Mr. Minnesota Fantasy Send-Off Party
Sunday, July 27, 5-10 pm, The Saloon
About a year ago, Michael deLeon, as Mr. Minnesota Leather, presented an IML send-off party that was one of the most spectacular fundraisers I’ve ever experienced. He’s doing it again (this time as Mr. Minnesota Fantasy), and you won’t want to miss it. $6 at the door, portion donated to an AIDS-related charity.

Mark Your Calendar . . .

August 15-17: International Mr. Fantasy weekend, Omaha, Nebraska. Come cheer for Mr. Minnesota Fantasy ’97 Michael deLeon. Weekend package $30 ($35 after August 1). FFI: Fantasy Productions, Inc., Omaha NE. Host hotel is Radisson-Redick, 1504 Harney St., Omaha NE.

Friday, July 4, 1997

Pride and Privilege

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #55, July 4, 1997)

During the past couple months I’ve been on a Pride binge. I think it started at the International Mr. Leather contest; this year’s gathering of the tribe had an even more profound impact on me than usual. I felt proud to be among these people and privileged to be at this event. When Savage Aural Hotbed played and when the new International Mr. Leather was announced I was extremely proud to be from Minnesota. Those feelings continued through Capital City Pride, the Twin Cities Pride Festival, the Pride Parade, and the Leather Pride celebration. I was proud to be there; I felt lucky to be there.

Now it’s Fourth of July weekend, which I’ve come to think of as “USA Pride.” This is the weekend when the (non-GLBT) rest of the country finally gets to engage in the kind of celebratory activity that we GLBT and leather types have recently been enjoying. And isn’t it grand that we get to enjoy the fireworks right along with them? We are, after all, just as much a part of this country as anyone else. And although our country, our politics, and our society are far from perfect, I feel proud and privileged to be a citizen of the USA.

Many people today see patriotism and civic pride as maudlin anachronisms. Many others see them as the property of the religious right, and therefore want nothing to do with them. We in the leather community, on the other hand, have our own style of patriotism and civic pride. We appreciate the good things about our society and this country. We also recognize our society’s problems and are committed to making them better by getting involved. That fosters a realistic, practical patriotism, as opposed to a starry-eyed, my-country-right-or-wrong view of things. To anyone who doubts the American leather community’s pride in their country: I wish you could have heard the assembled leather crowd’s stirring and heartfelt rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the start of the introduction ceremony for this year’s International Mr. Leather contestants. If the Promise Keepers could have heard it, they would have been mightily impressed.

So I have three flags on my figurative flagpole: the Stars & Stripes, the Rainbow, and the Leather Pride flag. And I’m proud of all of ’em.

* * * * *

Daddy’s Day a hit: The recent Daddy’s Day celebration presented by the Atons at The Saloon was well-attended and quite enjoyable. The Daddy-Boy contest, done like an episode of the old “Newlywed Game,” was a crowd-pleaser. International Mr. Leather 1997 (and ultimate Daddy) Kevin Cwayna was given a rousing welcome-back ceremony. I spent much of the evening on the Saloon’s patio, where the atmosphere is very close to that of the San Francisco Eagle’s patio (one of my all-time favorite leatherspaces). The Tank was so tightly packed that the bouncers were pressed into service as human ramp-meters, letting one person in for each person who left. (If this keeps up, we’re gonna need more space.) The Saloon continues to prove that it can be as leathery as it wants to be.

One final note: This was the first weekend I saw men wearing a clever visual pun, tank-tops with local leather artist Damon Thrift’s “Tank” logo on them; I guess that makes them “Tank tanks.”

Upcoming Leather Events

North Star Gay Rodeo Association presents The Great Northern Shindig
July 11-13, Radisson St. Paul and Washington County Fairgrounds, Lake Elmo
Check out the 20-page souvenir Rodeo program (prepared in large part by your humble leather columnist) in the current issue of—dare I say it?—Q Monthly. Then get your Shindig Weekend packets at Town House Country and Rainbow Road; events are also priced individually. (Both black and brown leather are apropos.) For further information, call the Shindig Hotline or check out the NSGRA web site:

Mark Your Calendar . . .

July 18-19: Mr. Minnesota Drummer and Drummerboy Contest at the Club Metro Underground. Special guest appearance by current International Mr. Drummer Kyle Brandon. Still room for more contestants; if you want to compete, call Colin Spriestersbach.

July 25-26: Grand Opening Celebration at the new Main Club in Superior, WI (which opened for business June 5).

August 15-17: International Mr. Fantasy weekend, Omaha, Nebraska. Always a hot and fun weekend, and easy to get to. Come cheer for Mr. Minnesota Fantasy ’97 Michael deLeon. Weekend event package is $30 ($35 after August 1). FFI: Fantasy Productions, Inc., Omaha NE. Host hotel is Radisson-Redick, 1504 Harney St., Omaha NE 68102.