Friday, December 19, 1997

Holiday Potpourri

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #67, December 19, 1997)

In the style of Charles Dickens' ghosts, this column concerns itself with Leather Past, Leather Present, and Leather Future.

Leather Past: Black Guard and Atons host successful events

The Twin Cities leather/SM community has been treated to some exceptional events lately. The Black Guard's recently presented their twenty-first annual Chili Feed, and they showed that after doing it that many times they know how to do it right. This event marked the inauguration of the Tropix back room as a leather space, and it seemed to work very well on most counts. (Parts of their upcoming Black Frost run will be held in the same space; let's hope that by then there's a better sound system available.) Sizzling fantasy entertainment was provided by some very talented leathermen including current Mr. Minnesota Leather Roger Gregg; current Mr. Minnesota Leather Runner-Up Steve Eue; and J. Martin Ellis, current Mr. Southeast Drummer (who has recently relocated to the Twin Cities from Atlanta).

Two weeks later, the Atons held their annual Holiday Fundraiser at the Saloon, and both attendance and food donations were greater than last year's event. Holiday spirit was in abundance as partygoers posed for photos with International Mr. Santa Kevin Cwayna. A raffle collected food and cash benefitting the Aliveness Project, and the door proceeds of approximately $850 were donated to Every Penny Counts.

Leather Present: Greetings of the Season

Two years ago in this column I wrote: "Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice or none of the above . . . it doesn't matter what other people think about how you celebrate the holiday. What matters is that it be uplifting and meaningful for you . . . whatever you celebrate, however you celebrate it." That's still my holiday wish for all my readers.

Peter Semotink, 1955-1997

PHOTO: Peter Semotink (self-portrait)

Peter Semotink, a prominent member of the local leather/SM community, died on December 4, 1997. Funeral services, held December 9, were attended by members of the leather/SM community as well as a large number of relatives, friends, and the community at large. Semotink had been struggling with AIDS for several years; his death followed a stroke-induced coma. He was preceded in death by his partner of approximately five years, Tim Newman, who died of complications due to AIDS on December 7, 1994.

Semotink was an active member of the Atons for 10 years; he served two terms as club Treasurer and one term as club President (1993-94). Together with club members, he shepherded the Atons through three successful runs: the Egyptian, the Roman and the Renaissance. He was instrumental in launching the annual Leather Pride celebration as an adjunct to the Twin Cities Festival of Pride. He and Newman were active associate members of the Chicago Hellfire Club.

Born July 8, 1955 in St. Paul, Semotink at an early age discovered an interest in computers and technology; he turned this aptitude into a successful career working for many of the area's largest companies, culminating in a management position with supercomputer-manufacturer Cray Research. He was also an accomplished photographer whose work was seen in, among other places, Drummer Tough Customers #10.

In the words of fellow Aton Sam Carlisle, "Peter was a person who, no matter how difficult his situation was, would find a way to help someone who needed it."

Leather Future: Mark Your Calendar . . .

Jan. 23-24, 1998: Mr. and Ms. Olympus Leather Contest at the Metro Underground. The Olympus Leather Contest showcases a positive image of leather life and represents the entire diverse range of our community, from motorcycle and leather/levi clubs to heavy SM players and everyone in between. Call for contestant, hotel and ticket information. Produced by Back in Black Leather Productions. (Winners represent Minnesota in the Mr./Ms. Olympus Leather Contest in New Orleans February 13-16, 1998.)

February 13-15, 1998: The Black Guard present Black Frost ’98, their 21st annual run, at the Midway Days Inn. All run registrations and requests for information are being handled by phone through The Travel Company. (Ask for the "Black Frost Desk.") VISA and MasterCard accepted! So pick up the phone and register now, and encourage your far-flung friends to do likewise—airfare discounts are 5% until January 10. Rates for the run package itself go up after February 1.

May 29-31, 1998: The Knights of Leather present Knights Tournament 10. The site, a private camp within a 16,000-acre wooded state park, includes cabins with military bunks. Weekend events include workshops, demonstrations, fantasies and a tenth-anniversary Birthday Party! Dungeon space is available all weekend. Bring a new participant and receive a 10% discount on your application fee. Or get early sign-up prices if you register before March 23, 1998. For more information or an application form call or write Knights of Leather, Minneapolis, MN.

Friday, December 5, 1997

Dialogue: Genelle Moore, IMsL ’97

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #66, December 5, 1997)

PHOTO: Genelle Moore, International Ms. Leather 1997

Current International Ms. Leather (IMsL) Genelle Moore is a real-life police officer in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she lives with her sash widow Kathy Tejcka. International leather titles seem to run in Moore’s family — her older brother, Ronald Moore, was International Mr. Leather 1984. The focus for her year as IMsL is summed up by the motto that appears on her notecards: “With participation there’s education and growth.”

As International Ms. Leather 1997, you will spend your title year representing the ideals of the women’s leather community. What are some of those ideals?

When I think back on the women who have been mentors in the community as far as lesbians are concerned, one of the names that always comes to mind is Dr. Gayle Rubin. She was one of our founding mothers — she was working side by side with leathermen when I was a teenager. I think a perfect leatherwoman would be a woman like her, who thinks beyond today, who thinks about where we’re going to be twenty or thirty years from now. She definitely has a commitment to the legacy for new leatherwomen who are coming up, and she has a commitment to maintaining the history of what leathermen and leatherwomen have done. She’s not necessarily the type who’s in this for show, I think she’s in it because she’s committed to this life.

Let’s talk about similarities and differences between leatherwomen and leathermen. First of all, what differences are there?

I think women learn differently from men, and we as leatherwomen need to keep that in mind when we’re trying to teach other women about leather. I don’t think women jump right in. Women like to talk about things, conceptualize it, and then they do it. I’ve talked to women who are interested in leather but are a little intimidated, and I think it’s because they’ve been to leather events where it’s more “in your face.” That’s where women’s leather clubs come into play, because we can sit and talk about it, let people feel comfortable with it, and when they’re able to conceptualize what they want to do, then we do it.

What do leatherwomen and leathermen have in common?

Well, we’re still fighting the AIDS epidemic, and I think that’s a common issue. And I think we have a common commitment to maintaining the history of the leather culture. As far as leather is concerned and the philosophies and teachings behind it, I think the men’s and women’s communities can walk hand in hand and learn from each other. We need to work together and we need to remember that the common goal is “safe, sane and consensual” and that’s what we’re trying to perpetuate.

What is it like being a leatherwoman in the minority among leathermen?

I guess for myself, I feel like I fit into any environment. I enjoy men, so I don’t mind being around leathermen. My brother was a leatherman, so I can relate. But I can understand that some leatherwomen are very uncomfortable being around leathermen, just as some leathermen are uncomfortable being around leatherwomen. I don’t know that it’s a difference of philosophy, I think what’s happening is that leatherwomen, or even women in general, are going through another stage of the evolution of their development. Maybe what leatherwomen need to start developing is the spiritual part of living in leather; maybe that’s the part of our community that’s been missing. Women have always been very spiritual in any culture, and I think that’s what’s happening here. We’re going through some growing pains, not quite understanding where we fit in the whole leather scene, with all the definitions of tops and bottoms and daddies and boys and so on. Women are still jostling with where and how we fit in and how we’re to carry our piece of the community. I think it goes a lot deeper than the play, I think we need to start developing the spirituality that’s involved in living in leather.

(Information about Moore is available at many sites on the World Wide Web. She is featured on IMsL’s web page at; you can find more web sites with information about her by doing a Web search for her name.)

Upcoming Leather Events

TIES presents Snowbound ’97, an all-day BDSM seminar
Saturday, December 6, Laughing Cup Auditorium (1811 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls.)

Doors open at 11 am, presentations start at noon

Unfortunately, this event sold out soon after I got the press release. But what an event it will be! Topics include negotiation and consensuality, flogging techniques and safety, sensation play, toy making and care, slave training and rope bondage — followed by an attendees-only play party where people can practice newly-acquired skills under the supervision of experienced Dungeon Masters. This seminar hopes to provide new insights for both beginners and experienced players and, as are all TIES events, will be pansexual (GLBT, het, kink). If this sounds interesting, TIES is planning a larger seminar, SunStroke, next June, and they have a full calendar of monthly and quarterly events. For more information: TIES, Minneapolis MN or e-mail: (By the way, TIES stands for Tremendously Intense Erotic Situations.)

Atons Holiday Fundraiser
Sunday, December 7, 6-10 pm,The Saloon
A great way to kick off the holiday season. $5 at the door (benefitting Every Penny Counts); free food, drink specials including tap beer or non-alcoholic drinks for 75 cents. Also, food is being collected for The Aliveness Project; for every pound of food you bring, you get an entry in a drawing for a pair of leather pants donated by Back in Black Leather.

Mark Your Calendar . . .

Jan. 23-24, 1998: Mr. and Ms. Olympus Leather Contest at the Metro Underground. The Olympus Leather Contest showcases a positive image of leather life and represents the entire diverse range of our community, from motorcycle and leather/levi clubs to heavy SM players and everyone in between. Call for contestant, hotel and ticket information. Produced by Back in Black Leather Productions. (Winners represent Minnesota in the Mr./Ms. Olympus Leather Contest in New Orleans February 13-16, 1998.)

SPECIAL BONUS FEATURE: For inclusion in Letters to the Editor:

To the Editor:

Issue 65 of Lavender contained two Letters to the Editor about my column in Issue 63 on electrical SM play. I thank the writers for taking the time to express their views and feel that they, and the community, deserve a response from me.

I don’t choose topics for the “Leather Life” column to “boost my readership”; I choose them based on questions and comments I hear from the community. I try to include things the community either wants to know or needs to know. Here’s what sparked (excuse the pun) the electricity column: I was talking with a gentleman at a party recently, and the topic of conversation turned to electrical play. I mentioned the “never above the waist” rule — a rule with which this gentleman was unacquainted. His response was that gee, it sure was a good thing we talked about this because he had been considering experimenting with a car battery and jumper cables — one clamp to one nipple, one clamp to the other. I told him that was not a safe thing to do, and thought to myself “Well, there’s a column that needs to be written.”

One letter writer chastises me for “advising people to play with bondage or electricity . . . without proper training.” That was most certainly not the intent of the column. Some others may have read only the headline and deduced that I was telling people not to play with electricity at all, ever. That also was not the intent of the column.

I have always tried to make “Leather Life” sex-positive and SM-positive, within the bounds of intelligence, common sense and good taste. The message of the electricity column was not “Don’t play with electricity.” It was “Don’t kill yourself or someone else while you’re doing it.” In this context, I consider the descriptions of other electrical phenomena involving the human body very relevant in establishing a healthy respect for electricity and illustrating the importance of approaching electrical play in an intelligent manner.

When “Leather Life” started two-and-a-half years ago, a decision was made that it would not be a “how-to” column, since that kind of information is available elsewhere. Coverage of SM in this column has either been concerned with reinforcing awareness of the community’s “safe, sane, consensual” motto or has been targeted to those who are new to the community and who have questions. Similarly, the intent of this particular article was not to set myself up as a master “electrician,” but rather to emphasize the importance of seeking out those in our community who are experts at electrical play and learning from them.

Now, about violet wands and auras: I clearly presented it as my opinion (to which I am entitled), and in the next sentence I gave the reader permission to hold their own opinion on this matter. Metaphysics being the indeterminate science that it is, I thought that was fair. But I do thank Robert Johnson for making the quite valid point in his letter that violet wands should not be used around the eyes, and I also thank him for citing Checkpoint and DungeonMaster as learning resources.

Your humble columnist,
Steve Lenius