Friday, February 25, 2000

Two Passings

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #124, February 25, 2000)

PHOTO: Scott Darst


PHOTO: Morrie Bender

PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Hinton

It saddens me to report that the Twin Cities leather community recently suffered the loss of two members, Scott Darst and Morrie Bender. (While Bender had lived in Chicago for the last several years, he was for many years an active member of the Twin Cities leather community and still maintained many friendships here.) Both will be fondly remembered and greatly missed by many, including your humble columnist.

Scott Allan Darst

Scott Darst, a long-time member of the Twin Cities leather community, was born on April 5, 1964 and passed away January 29, 2000. He is survived by his mother, Zona Paine; his brothers, Tom and Dan; and his sisters, Sheri and Therisa.

A memorial service held in Cannon Falls, Minnesota on Friday, February 4 was attended by a large and diverse group of relatives, co-workers (Scott was an employee of Hennepin County) and friends, including many in leather. Scott was remembered as kind and caring, creative, funny, hard-working and good with people. As a co-worker stated, Scott found happiness in “sharing himself with the universe.” Special music was provided by Scott’s roommate Richard, who played guitar and sang a song that Scott had always loved and had asked him to sing at his funeral—“except,” as Richard put it, “it wasn’t supposed to be so soon.”

For many years Scott was a member of the Black Guard of Minneapolis, so it was fitting that on Sunday, February 6, the Guard held their own memorial gathering at The Brass Rail in downtown Minneapolis. The evening included the showing of a videotape of Scott’s performances in various Black Frost run shows through the years, and the gathering concluded with a Black Guard tradition: an emotional singing of ABBA’s “The Way Old Friends Do.”

Morrie Bender

(The following was written by Morrie’s partner, Kevin Hinton.)

Morrie Bender was born in Minneapolis on February 18, 1947 and died peacefully in his sleep on January 3, 2000 at his home in Oak Park, IL. Born and “reared” in Minneapolis, MN, Morrie’s early career was in law enforcement where he specialized in Polygraph exam techniques, leading to many years as director of security and stop-loss management for Rainbow Food Stores. Morrie became best known as bartender and bouncer for the Gay 90’s in Minneapolis where he suggested, planned, opened, promoted, and tended bar for the Men’s Room leather bar. He spent many years lovingly caring for both of his parents through long illnesses. The last eight years of his life were spent in Oak Park with his partner, Kevin Hinton, who remains eternally grateful for the opportunity to share Morrie’s path and learn first-hand his lessons of unconditional love and giving of yourself. Morrie always believed “What goes around, comes around,” so he shared his good fortune and kind spirit with the world every day. Morrie served on the Board of Directors for Community Response, Inc., an Oak Park-based AIDS service organization serving the west side of Chicago and 22 suburbs. He served a two-year term as President of M.A.F.I.A. (Mid-America Fists In Action) where his leadership is still recognized as a turning point in the club’s 25-year history. He touched many lives and will be remembered for his humor, caring, and his love for animals. (OK, OK. He was also a big, handsome, sexy man with a charming smile and a playful spirit!)

He is survived and is missed by Kevin and his family who “adopted” Morrie as another son, brother, and uncle; sister Sandra Taylor and brother Jerry of Los Angeles, brother Michael of Minneapolis; and all of his club brothers across the country who are also his family. A moving memorial service for Morrie was held on January 8, attended by 175. A gathering to celebrate Morrie’s life in the gay/leather/fetish community was held on Saturday, February 5 at Touché, a leather bar in Chicago.

Upcoming Leather Events (for Calendar section)

Saturday, February 26

Leather/Levi Night in Duluth/Superior
9 pm-closing, The Main Club, Superior WI
Part of The Main Club’s old anniversary weekend. Wear your spurs and get 25 cents off your drinks.

Saturday, March 11

Atons Leather/Levi Night
Location and time to be determined
Call the Atons HotLine for more information and to make reservations. Information is also available at the club’s website:

Friday, February 11, 2000

Notable Locals Nominated for Pantheon of Leather Awards

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #123, February 11, 2000)

Welcome Black Frost Attendees

A special welcome to folks from out of town visiting for Black Frost 23/”When Pigs Fly,” which happens Feb. 18-20 (see details below and in the Calendar). Have a safe, enjoyable weekend!

PHOTO: P.J. Knight, nominated for Woman of the Year

GRAPHIC: T.I.E.S. (Tremendously Intense Erotic Sensations), nominated for Club of the Year

GRAPHIC: The Minneapolis Eagle, nominated for Business of the Year

PHOTO: Joshua and Thomas Smith, nominated for Couple of the Year (formerly of the Twin Cities, now of Palm Springs, CA)

PHOTO: Cori Ander, nominated for Midwest Regional Award

PHOTO: Sam Carlisle, nominated for Midwest Regional Award

PHOTO: Gary O’Neill, nominated for Midwest Regional Award

PHOTO: Joshua Smith, nominated for Midwest Regional Award

Representing Minnesota in the 2000 Olympus Leather Contest:

PHOTO: David Coral, Mr. Minnesota Olympus Leather 2000

PHOTO: Mistress Hannah, Ms. Minnesota Olympus Leather 2000

The Twin Cities leather community received a record number of nominations for this year’s Pantheon of Leather community service awards. There were a total of eight local nominations: P.J. Knight for Woman of the Year; T.I.E.S. for Club of the Year; The Minneapolis Eagle for Business of the Year; Thomas and Joshua Smith for Couple of the Year; and Cori Ander, Sam Carlisle, Gary O’Neill and Joshua Smith for the Midwest Regional Award. The award winners will be announced at this year’s tenth-anniversary Pantheon of Leather award ceremonies on the evening of Friday, Feb. 25 in New Orleans. Awards will be presented this year in 22 categories.

Then, on Saturday evening, Feb. 26, David Coral and Mistress Hannah will represent Minnesota in the Mr. and Ms. Olympus Leather contest. Cori Ander, who brought the national Ms.Olympus Leather title home to Minnesota last year, will be on the judging panel to help select her successor; also on the judging panel will be Mr. International Rubber 1999 Thomas Smith, a former Twin Cities resident currently living in Palm Springs, CA.

Pantheon of Leather is a non-profit organization; the president is Dave Rhodes, who is also editor and publisher of The Leather Journal and, “a news magazine reporting news as it relates to all aspects of the Leather community.” For more information, including updated announcements of Pantheon award and Olympus Leather contest winners, visit

Black Guard’s Black Frost 23 features production of “When Pigs Fly”

The Black Guard has made a name for themselves over the years by producing raucous run shows. How to follow last year’s Wizard of Oz? This year they’re doing something new in the history of leather club run shows: they’re doing a production of an actual show, direct from the New York stage.

When Pigs Fly, the show the Black Guard is staging in conjunction with their 23rd annual Black Frost run, is “a gleefully over-the-top musical revue with catchy, upbeat music” (Variety) and a “hog heaven of silliness” (Associated Press). When Pigs Fly features 20 musical numbers and over 150 costume changes. (The Black Guard has been in rehearsal for the show since the beginning of October.) The show’s creator, Howard Crabtree, was a legendary theatrical costume designer and “out” gay man who unfortunately died just days before the show’s New York opening—but what a legacy he left!

The Black Guard’s charitable organization of Because We Care will perform the show Saturday night, Feb. 19 at the Mall of America’s Camp Snoopy Playhouse Theater. Doors open at 6:45 PM, dinner is at 7 PM and the show follows at 8 PM. Dinner/show price is $40; proceeds will be going to AIDS charities. Call to make your reservation.

Upcoming Leather Events (for Calendar section)

Saturday, February 12

Atons Leather/Levi Night and Officer Installation
7 PM, Backstage@Bravo, 900 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
Drinks and 28th Annual Club Officers’ Installation at 7 PM in the Blue Room (upstairs). Dinner following installation, about 8:15 PM, on the first floor. Please call the Atons HotLine to make reservations.

Friday, February 18

Atons Club Colors Night
7:30-10:30 PM, The Minneapolis Eagle
The saga of Paul Bunyan continues in anticipation of the Atons’ Bunyan-themed Gopher XIV run happening in July. Drink specials and door prizes. $3 at the door.

Saturday, February 19

The Black Guard presents When Pigs Fly
Doors open 6:45 PM, dinner at 7 PM, show at 8 PM, Camp Snoopy Playhouse Theater, Mall of America
Part of Black Frost 23 run events, this dinner and show is open to everyone, not just run participants. Proceeds to AIDS charities. $40 includes dinner and show.

Saturday, February 26

Leather/Levi Night in Duluth/Superior
9 pm-closing, The Main Club, Superior WI
Part of The Main Club’s old anniversary weekend. Wear your spurs and get 25 cents off your drinks.