Friday, April 24, 1998

Inside a Leather Closet

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #72, April 24, 1998)

One of the other local gay publications has recently been running a feature in which they rummage through people's closets as a way of finding out more about them. (One of those closets belonged to Roger Gregg, Mr. Minnesota Leather 1998.) Now it's my turn—I'm going to take you on a guided tour of my leather closet, with shopping pointers along the way, to illustrate the broad range of places where it is possible to find additions to a fetish wardrobe.

Vests: My first vest came from Verducci Leather when they still operated retail stores; they currently have a store in Chanhassen that will be open for another few weeks, after which they will be wholesale-only. (Going out of business bargains, anyone?) This is a motorcycle-style vest with snap closures on the front, and it's the vest on which I have most of the run pins I've collected over the years. A second vest was purchased at the Minnesota State Fair (!); it's more formal, it's made of very soft leather and it even has lapels! The vest I seem to wear most often is my bar vest. For the uninitiated, it's called a bar vest because  the front has no buttons or snaps; it's intended to be worn open, the better to show off the wearer's chest in a leather bar. Mine was made by Leather Etc. (local leatherwoman P.J. Knight's leatherwear business). You won't find bar vests at places like Wilson's or Tannery West.

Bodysuit: While we're on the subject of things you won't find at Wilson's, here's a black leather bodysuit that was made by North Bound Leathers of Canada. The top looks like a black-leather athletic shirt that is cut away in front to frame the chest; continuing down, the garment ends in a zippered pouch in front that tapers to a strap up the back (no buttock coverage here). I bought mine at the International Mr. Leather Contest's Leather Market and wore it onstage when I competed in the International Mr. Drummer contest; now I understand Back in Black Leather (Club Metro Underground, St. Paul) is selling these and other items by North Bound Leather.

Pants and chaps: I bought my leather jeans at Worn Out West, a must-shop store on Castro Street in San Francisco that sells new and used leather, latex, uniforms, western, and other fetishwear. My chaps came from Mr. S. Leathers, another San Francisco leather-fetish emporium which also is a dealer for Wolf Production's locally-made heavy-duty bondage equipment.

Motorcycle jackets: Motorcycle wear by domestic manufacturers like Schott and German manufacturers such as Hein-Gericke are available new at area cycle shops. Don't overlook area Harley-Davidson dealers—the quality of their cycle wear is high, and when they have a sale the markdowns are substantial. I bought a leather shirt, belt and gloves at their store in Savage.

Motorcycle leathers are also available used at several stores in the Uptown area: Tatters (2928 Lyndale Ave. S), The Corner Store (900 W. Lake St.), and Just Broken In (3032 Hennepin Ave.). At these stores you can find jackets, vests, cycle pants, chaps, and even boots, western wear, and uniforms. And there's always Ragstock.

So where did I buy my leather motorcycle jackets? None of the above. The German one came from an estate sale, and both my black leather motorcycle jacket and my long leather trench coat came from a little cycle shop called Dayton's.

Upcoming Leather Events

Atons Bar Night in Chicago
Saturday, April 25, in The Pit at The Chicago Eagle

Call for more information.

Mr. Minnesota Fantasy Weekend
Thursday-Sunday, May 7-10, various locations

It's not just a contest. It's a weekend-long party, with special bonuses for weekend-pass holders. Here's what's planned as of this writing:

• Thursday night's Kick-Off Party is at Club Metro Underground (St. Paul) from 9 pm to close.

• Friday's Motorcoach Bar Crawl starts at 7 pm at the Minnesota Bar & Grill, visits five local gay bars and ends at a Meet & Greet Reception back at the Minnesota Bar & Grill. The Meet & Greet is open to everyone, but the Motorcoach Crawl is exclusively for the first 50 people who buy weekend ticket packages. After the reception will be a private play party for weekend-pass holders only.

• Saturday's activities are at the Club Metro Underground and start with a vendor fair/cocktail/SM demonstration party at 7 pm, leading into the contest at 9 pm (show producer Michael deLeon promises an entertaining evening) followed by a wind-down party after the contest. Topping it all off after the bar closes is another private play party for weekend-pass holders only.

• Sunday evening's Victory Party will be held at The Tank (at The Saloon) from 7-9 pm.

Weekend packages are $45 and include a souvenir T-shirt in addition to all the events listed above. All events except the Motorcoach Crawl and Friday and Saturday night play parties are available on an individual basis. Call Wolf Productions for weekend packages, single events or if you want to compete. The winner will represent Minnesota in the International Mr. Fantasy Contest in Omaha, August 14-16.

Mark Your Calendar . . .

Sunday, May 17: Mr. Minnesota Leather 1998 Roger Gregg and The Tank present the IML Kick-Off Party, 6-10 pm at The Tank. Food, drink specials, IML weekend package giveaway (not including hotel).

May 21-25: International Mr. Leather Contest in Chicago. Up-to-the-minute details at

May 29-31, 1998: The Knights of Leather present Knights Tournament 10, a tenth-anniversary celebration that even includes a Birthday Party. Bring a new participant and receive a 10% discount on your application fee. For more information or an application write Knights of Leather, Minneapolis, MN or e-mail

Friday, April 10, 1998

Leather/SM and Drug Usage

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #75, April 10, 1998)

The leather/SM experience, for many people, includes the use of drugs. Alcohol is the most obvious because it's legal; some members of the community also use illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and crystal. Some people would add poppers to this list; others don't consider them drugs. And very few would add steroids to this list, since no one takes steroids to get high. Yet the fact remains that steroids are illicit substances that are used (and sometimes abused) for often questionable reasons and often with undesirable side effects.

Before I continue, a disclaimer: I am NOT speaking from experience here. My firsthand experience with drugs has been almost nonexistent. I drink only occasionally; poppers give me a headache, so I avoid them. I've never even experimented with any other drugs. But lest you think I sound too much like Nancy "Just Say No" Reagan, let me say that the message of this column is NOT that drug use is always bad, and it is NOT that no one should ever use them. I would urge, instead, responsible usage. I simply and respectfully ask that you consider these points about drugs and their relation to leather/SM sex and the community:

• There is nothing magical about leather or SM that makes drugs more acceptable or less potentially damaging or addictive than they would be in any other setting.

• Remember "Safe, Sane, Consensual" applies to drugs. Playing under the influence of excessive drug usage is neither safe nor sane. Drug usage can impair judgment; as a result of that impaired judgment an SM scene may go too far, resulting in someone getting hurt.

Tops/Daddies/Masters: You are responsible for your own drug use, but you are responsible for your bottom's/boy's/slave's drug use as well. If you give them any substance as part of a scene, you are responsible for knowing exactly what it is, how to use it, and how much of it to give. Any substance use during a scene must be by the consent of all parties involved.

• Bottoms/boys/slaves: You are responsible for your own drug use. You have the right to say no to anything in a scene which makes you uncomfortable, including drugs. If you choose to use drugs before or during a scene, it should be with the consent of your Top/Daddy/Master. At the very least, if you are using a substance, your Top/Daddy/Master needs to know about it for the sake of your safety and his.

• Leather/SM sex is not a competitive event. The use of drugs to allow yourself to "take more punishment," thereby impressing your Top or the crowd around you, is misguided. This isn't the Olympics; no one is keeping score. You won't impress other people, and you run the risk of being injured by trying to take more than your body can stand.

• The Leather/SM community values authenticity and reality; drugs are artificial. Whether it's the artifice of a steroid-bulked body, or the ephemeral high of crack, drug usage can represent either a counterfeit experience or a retreat from reality. The genuine high that comes from a chemical-free SM experience is something that is at best only dimly approached by chemical substitutes; at worst the chemicals interfere with the SM high and degrade it. SM is about being in tune and connected with your body, and savoring every sensation that the SM experience provides. Drugs can get in the way—they can put you out of touch with what's really happening and substitute their own sensations. One common-sense way to evaluate drug usage in connection with leather/SM sex is this: Do the drugs enhance the experience? Or do they detract from it? Are they a substitute for the real thing?

• If you think you might have a drug problem, you owe it to yourself to deal with it. If you need help, get it; many kinds of help are available. One community resource for questions about chemical use in leather/SM situations is Sober Leather, Minneapolis, MN.

Upcoming Leather Events

(Note: Due to a clerical error, last issue's calendar gave incorrect dates for the Minnesota Drummer contest weekend. Correct dates are listed below. We regret the error.) 

Mr. Minnesota Drummer/Drummerboy Trash II Party
Friday, April 17, 9 pm-close, Club Metro Underground, St. Paul

Meet the contestants and judges at this Leather/Sweat dance party. Also featuring a 50/50 raffle and a balloon break ($1/balloon wins whatever prize is inside). $5 at the door includes first drink free.

Mr. Minnesota Drummer/Drummerboy Contest
Saturday, April 18, Club Metro Underground, St. Paul
Doors open at 7 pm, contest starts at approximately 8:15 pm

Come see all the action as a panel of judges (including current International Mr. Drummer Jeff Adler) choose Minnesota's next Drummer titleholders. Admission is $15, or $10 if ticket is purchased at the Friday night Trash II party. (Members of Sober Leather, the Black Guard, and the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Ice Castle are assisting in the production of this weekend's events.) If you want to compete contact Colin.

Mark Your Calendar . . .

Saturday, April 25: Travel to Chicago with the Atons for a fun night in The Pit (at the Chicago Eagle). Call for more info.

Friday-Saturday, May 8-9: Mr. Minnesota Fantasy Contest. If you want to compete contact Dale.

May 21-25: International Mr. Leather Contest in Chicago. Up-to-the-minute details at

May 29-31, 1998: The Knights of Leather present Knights Tournament 10, a tenth-anniversary celebration that even includes a Birthday Party. Bring a new participant and receive a 10% discount on your application fee. For more information or an application write Knights of Leather, Minneapolis, MNor e-mail