Friday, December 18, 1998

Year-End Leather Update

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #93, December 18, 1998)

In 1998, Minnesota’s leather/SM/fetish community continued to increase its visibility both nationally and worldwide. Evidence: In the nominations for this year’s Pantheon of Leather community-service awards, Minnesota is represented by a record total of seven nominations. Read on for a summary of what happened in the Twin Cities leather scene in 1998, complete with updates on some of the people and stories I’ve covered this year.

Minnesota Nominees for Pantheon of Leather 1999

Kevin Cwayna, Reader’s Choice (Men)

Renee Indehar, Midwest Regional Award

Michael deLeon, Midwest Regional Award

Steve Lenius (your humble columnist), Midwest Regional Award

Atons, Club of the Year

Atons, Club Event of the Year (25th Anniversary run)

Black Guard, Club Event of the Year (Black Frost 21)


February saw The Black Guard’s Black Frost 21; Drummer Magazine subsequently named Black Frost one of the top runs in the country, and it has been nominated for Club Event of the Year in Pantheon of Leather 1999. (Black Frost 22 is coming up February 12-14, 1999, so put it on your calendar now.)

The Knights of Leather held their tenth-anniversary Knights Tournament, with a birthday party theme, at the end of May. The Atons held Gopher Broke (their Lucky 13th run) in mid-July. It had a 1950s-leather theme (think Marlon Brando). The Atons have received Pantheon of Leather 1999 nominations for Club of the Year and for Club Event of the Year (for their 25th-anniversary run).

A list of other groups which have been part of the Twin Cities scene this year would include Sober Leather, which held some spectacular events; (un)Leashed, an ad-hoc group for women and trans-identified kinky individuals; leather gatherings of various types at All God’s Children Metropolitan Community Church; and what started as the Red Hankie Social and has now become simply the Hankie Social (all hanky colors and all fetishes welcome).

Contests and Titleholders

On January 24, B.D. Chambers and Renee Indehar became the first-ever Mr. And Ms. Minnesota Olympus Leather. They went on to represent Minnesota at the national Olympus Leather contest in New Orleans and have continued to be active community organizers.

In April’s Mr. Minnesota Drummer/Minnesota Drummerboy contest, the Mr. Minnesota Drummer sash was won by Mike Vintean, who later turned the title over to first runner-up Steve Eue. The Drummerboy sash was won by boy david (David McKammon). Both Eue and McKammon went on to Columbus, Ohio to compete in the Great Lakes Drummer/Drummerboy contest (which your humble columnist helped to judge), and Eue emerged as Great Lakes Mr. Drummer first runner-up.

The Minnesota Fantasy contest weekend in May featured a memorable motorcoach bar crawl as part of the festivities. Ken Flanagan captured the Mr. Minnesota Fantasy title with his hilarious “how to stuff a chicken” fantasy, and he went on to represent Minnesota at the International Mr. Fantasy contest in Omaha in August. The Fantasy Bus rolled again, this time all the way to Omaha, with an entourage of Twin Cities leatherfolk who showed their support for Flanagan.

Memorial Day weekend saw the Twin Cities’ first-ever international leather titleholder, Kevin Cwayna, make a stirring speech heralding the birth of the Leather Nation before passing the IML sash to his successor, Tony Mills (who is prominently featured in several of the1999 Colt calendars—just a little Christmas-shopping tip). Cwayna is a nominee for Reader’s Choice (Men) at this year’s Pantheon of Leather.

Mr. Minnesota Leather 1998 Roger Gregg, who represented Minnesota in this year’s IML contest, had earlier in the year presented two memorable hankie-color-themed events: the Red Party and the Blue Party. Gregg, assisted by his boy David McKammon, was becoming quite the leather impresario and was also working on opening a Twin Cities leather community center. Alas, piercing pioneers The Gauntlet made him an offer that was too good to refuse, and he and McKammon relocated to San Francisco (after liquidating a warehouse full of furniture and supplies which they had stockpiled for use at the center). The dream of organizing a leather community center has been taken over by others, so look for further developments in 1999.

Shortly before moving to San Francisco, Gregg passed his title to current Mr. Minnesota Leather Joshua Smith. Two weeks later Mario became the new Ms. Minnesota Leather in a contest held at the Bell Museum Auditorium on the U of M campus; current International Ms. Leather Megan DeJarlais was one of the judges. Minnesota’s newest international titleholder is International Mr. Rubber Thomas Smith (partner of current Mr. Minnesota Leather Joshua Smith), who won his title in Chicago supported by an audience full of friends from the Twin Cities.

Leather Pride Events

This year’s Capital City Pride in St. Paul gave the local leather community a special treat by featuring a spectacular performance by leather vocalist Rick Beech. A week later, the Twin Cities leather community was at the front of the Twin Cities Festival of Pride parade, carrying the world’s largest leather-pride flag and an equally huge rainbow flag. The flags were commissioned by Colin Spriestersbach and sewn by Carl Gscheidmeier (aka Alison Brooks, aka Betsy Ross.)

Leather Spaces

The list of possible places to hold leather events has widened in recent years, and this year St. Paul’s bars in particular saw a previously unheard-of level of leather activity. Many of the year’s contests were held at Club Metro Underground in spite of frictions between the bar and contest organizers. Trikkx and Over the Rainbow were stops on several leather party bus tours. This year’s Leather Pride celebration included events at The Town House, which also hosted several other leather fundraisers. In addition to The Town House, this year’s leather pride events were held at the Minnesota Bar & Grill (which has since closed, unfortunately) and at Tropix., which also hosted the Black Frost banquet and show. The Saloon continued to host many leather events, and even The 19 and The Brass Rail served as leather gathering spots.

And then, on September 8, The Minneapolis Eagle opened its doors, and in a few short months it has become a community institution. Will its popularity continue? And are these towns big enough to support other leather spaces in addition to The Minneapolis Eagle? The answers to those questions will become more apparent in 1999.

Issues and Trends

In January I wrote an article on the mainstreaming of kink. Since that article appeared kink has become even more mainstream—to the point where one can now walk into any Sears store in any mall in the country and buy a bottle of “Fetish” cologne. The marketing plan for this product appears to be targeted to teenage girls; I remember when teenage girls didn’t know the meaning of the word “fetish.” (If you buy some, don’t plan on wearing it to The Tank or The Eagle.)

Drugs and drug abuse were in the news again this year, but this time with a twist: often the drug being abused was Viagra. I said it before and I’ll say it again: Don’t mix Viagra and poppers unless you want your corpse to have an embarrassing bulge.

Sex continued to make outlaws of otherwise decent citizens in the Twin Cities and across the country. In August I wrote that election-year politics meant police crackdowns on sex in bars, on beaches and in other public places. As it turned out, even private homes were not exempt; right before this year’s election a local party was broken up by the Minneapolis police, and one of the hosts was arrested and spent the night in jail. Charges were later dropped, which leaves your humble columnist with all sorts of questions. But that’s another column.


Back in Black Leather was recently sold and renamed Fit to a T Leather. New owner Jennifer Langlund is keeping the main store in the basement of Club Metro, and Scott Kelley is still there to help you with all your leather needs. You can also find their merchandise at The Minneapolis Eagle on Thursday nights and at The Tank on Sunday nights.

It was recently announced that Q Monthly is ceasing publication. I will miss reading them; it was always interesting to see how someone else (usually Michael Dahl) covered the Twin Cities leather scene. I also had the opportunity to work directly with the Q Monthly staff on two rodeo program booklets for the North Star Gay Rodeo Association, and found them to be a great bunch of people—even if they were “the competition.” Hail and farewell.

And so we come to another holiday season and the close of another year. Whatever holiday you celebrate, may it be filled with love, joy, peace and friendship.

Upcoming Leather Events

Knights of Leather “Toy For A Child” Holiday Fundraiser
Friday, Dec. 18, 7-9 pm, The Minneapolis Eagle
Please bring your donation of a new, unwrapped toy; donations will be accepted all night. $5 at the door includes a free well drink or domestic beer. Don’t have time to shop? Leave an extra cash donation and the Knights will do the shopping for you. Dress code enforced. Door prize chances all night.

Friday, December 4, 1998

Thomas Smith is Int’l Mr. Rubber 1999

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #92, December 4, 1998)

The Twin Cities can now lay claim to another international titleholder: Thomas Smith of Minneapolis won the Mr. International Rubber 1999 contest during the Rubber Blowout Weekend in Chicago, Illinois on November 14, 1998. First runner-up honors went to Michael Ryan of Cincinnati, Ohio; Stephan Krayse from Munich, Germany was the second runner-up.

Smith’s victory was celebrated by over a dozen other Twin Citians who made the weekend trek to Chicago. He told me he appreciated their support and believes their presence had a definite effect on the judging.

Contest events included an interview with the judges, a “rubber image” segment, a combination Q&A and speech category, and a “rubberplay” category which was judged on how the audience reacted to each of the contestants in a shower scene. Smith’s attire for this segment of the contest consisted of a rubber fireman’s hat and coat, thigh-high rubber waders, and a latex jockstrap with spikes.

Judging the contest were Christof Lehner, Mr. International Rubber 1998; Bill Bailey, founder of New York Rubbermen; Tim Brough, publisher of Vulcan America magazine; Thom Dombkowski, head judge for International Mr. Leather; and Rich Villagracia, Mr. Vulcan Rubber 1997.

Smith, who also holds the title of Mr. Kentucky Leather 1997, is active in the Black Guard of Minneapolis, the American Uniform Association, Gay Male S&M Activists, and is an associate member of the Bluegrass C.O.L.T.S., Lexington, Kentucky and the Louisville Nightwings, Louisville, Kentucky. He serves on the Human Rights Campaign Steering Committee and is a past Board member and Vice President of the Philanthrofund Foundation. He is on the Finance Committee of the Minnesota Council on Foundations and is active in All God’s Children Metropolitan Community Church. He plans to travel extensively and be visible nationally as a representative of the rubber and macho fetish community.

Incidentally, the Smiths are now a two-title household: Thomas Smith’s partner is Joshua Smith, who is the current Mr. Minnesota Leather.

Upcoming Leather Events

Atons Holiday Fundraiser
Sunday, Dec. 6, 6-10 pm, The Saloon
If you’re not in a holiday mood yet, this should do it. Photos with Santa, bootblack, and prizes galore. $5 at the door; net proceeds will benefit Every Penny Counts. Also, please bring non-perishable food items for the Aliveness Project.

Mr./Ms. Minnesota Olympus Leather Meet and Greet
Saturday, Dec. 12, 6-10 pm, Minneapolis Eagle
Meet the contestants and bid in the Bear Auction benefiting the winners’ travel fund: Live bears will be auctioning off stuffed bears. $5 at the door includes free shot.

Mr./Ms. Minnesota Olympus Leather Contest
Sunday, Dec. 13, 7-10 pm, The Saloon
$10 at the door includes free shot. If you want to compete, contact contest producers Joshua or Tom Smith. Prizes include airfare to New Orleans for Pantheon of Leather and the International Mr./Ms. Olympus Leather Contest.

Ongoing Leather/SM Events (clip & save)

The Twin Cities leather/SM community includes many events which happen every week, every other week or every month. Space limitations don’t allow us to list them in every issue, so clip this list and save it for future reference.

Black Guard Fundraiser: 3rd Sunday of each month, various locations.

Dykes on Bikes: Meets every other Monday at District 202.

Hanky Social: Formerly the Red Hanky Social, the scope has been broadened to include all hanky colors and all interests represented by those colors. Time and location have been changed to the last Wednesday of each month from 8 to 10 pm at the Minneapolis Eagle. Next dates are Dec. 30 and Jan. 27. FFI: e-mail

Knights of Leather: Women’s leather club meets every 2nd Wednesday of the month, Sabathani Community Center. FFI: e-mail

Leather Roundtable: This newly-formed group of leather/SM community titleholders, club officials, event organizers, and other interested folks meets first Monday of each month at 8 pm to plan and coordinate leather events. Meetings are open, so if you have time, talents or ideas to contribute, call Joshua for more information.

Leather Spirituality Discussion Group: Every Wednesday, 7 pm, All God’s Children Metropolitan Community Church, 3100 Park Ave., Minneapolis. FFI: Call Joshua, or call the church.

Sober Leather: All-inclusive club dedicated to “safe, sane, consensual, sober” meets 3rd Monday of every month at Cafe Zev, 7 pm.

T.I.E.S. (Tremendously Intense Erotic Situations): All genders/orientations. The TIES Munch (a non-play social gathering for the express purpose of meeting people in a non-threatening environment) is held on the last Wednesday of every month at Legends Cafe, Minneapolis. The Munch starts at 7:30 pm; there is no set ending time. TIES also sponsors two monthly discussion groups in private homes, one for dom(me)s and one for subs. FFI, see the TIES website at TIES membership is not required for attendance at the Munch or discussion groups.

(Un)leashed: Loosely-organized club for women and transgendered persons meets 2nd Sunday of the month. FFI: Minneapolis, MN or e-mail