Friday, April 24, 2009

The Tenth Edition: Mr. Minneapolis Eagle Contest

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #363, April 24, 2009)

Old, stereotypical joke: What do big, butch, tough leathermen talk about at the leather bar? They exchange recipes.

In that spirit, here’s a recipe for a particularly tasty concoction: the tenth edition of the Mr. Minneapolis Eagle contest, held Saturday night, April 11, in the Bolt Underground.

1. Take six diverse contestants (Robert Ashpole, Bradley Gavin, Bill Devine, Jon Plemons, Rick Burgess, and Jay Kurvers). Place in front of four judges (Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2007 Dan Beach, Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2003 Gregg White, Sam Carlisle, and your humble columnist). Grill mercilessly.

2. Add a large, enthusiastic audience and a well-seasoned master of ceremonies (Brian Anderson—this was his fifth time emceeing the contest). Turn heat to high as contestants compete onstage in Keg Walk, Speech/Q&A and Truth-or-Dare contest segments.

3. Finish by adding one combination contest producer/tallymaster (Minneapolis Eagle owner Ed Hopkins) to add up the judges’ scores.

Yield: One second runner-up (Plemons); one first runner-up (Ashpole); one new Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2009 (Burgess); and one hot, entertaining evening for all present.

(Burgess now goes on to compete at the 2009 International Mr. Leather contest, Memorial Day weekend in Chicago—details at <>.)

7 photos

DSC_3700 / Credit: Marric Photography / Robert Ashpole

DSC_3704 / Credit: Marric Photography / Bradley Gavin

P4112426 / Credit: Steve Lenius / Bill Devine

DSC_3711 / Credit: Marric Photography / Jon Plemons

DSC_3715 / Credit: Marric Photography / Rick Burgess

DSC_3723 / Credit: Marric Photography / Jay Kurvers

DSC_3854 / Credit: Marric Photography

DSC_3858 / Credit: Marric Photography

P4122531 / Credit: Steve Lenius

Rick Burgess, the new Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2009.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Leather Life Interview, Part 2: Gary Iriza, International Mr. Leather 2008

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #362, April 10, 2009)

(The interview continues from the previous issue of Lavender.)

So you won the Mr. Palm Springs Leather competition and made it to Chicago. What are your memories of the IML competition? We don’t have time—I could tell you every minute of it. Thursday night, at the contestant introduction, I saw Guy Baldwin [International Mr. Leather 1989], who is my idol, I learned so much from his books. I just had to introduce myself—I’m Gary, Mr. Palm Springs, you’ve been my inspiration. And he saw that I was so moved that the friend who was with him came back later and said, you know, you made Guy cry.

Then, during the contestant number draw I picked number 47. I go backstage and there’s Guy Baldwin. And he goes, “Um, kid, I just wanted to mention something to you that you might not know—I was number 47.” That, for me, set the record straight, and I said, I am winning this. I’m not letting down Guy, I’m not letting down myself, and I’m going for it.

And then, when Chuck Renslow was saying my name as the winner, I couldn’t understand him—my last name is so difficult to pronounce—so it was like, “And the new International Mr. Leather is, Gary—whatever.” I just stood there. And CJ, he’s right next to me, he goes, “Bitch, you won!” I started crying.

Current leather community politics—what do you feel strongly about? I’m concerned that the leather community has become a preachy church that nobody wants to go to anymore. Put a dollar in the box, we have to raise money for the community, for kids, for breast cancer, for AIDS—money money money. Where is the fun?

I wanna see the leather community where it was in the beginning. People used to get together in bars. They’d socialize. Yes, they worked for the community, but they took time outside of our Friday and Saturday nights, or whenever we got together, outside that time frame, to do the social work. But when you bring the social work to the bar, when there’s somebody selling raffles all night, and pushing “Give me your money”—what happens? The real players, the ones who want to go out and have fun, have built an underground culture, and they don’t leave the dungeons because they don’t wanna go to a bar to keep putting money in a box. Nothing against helping the community—nothing against helping charity.

There wasn’t a lot of that at the Mr. Iowa Leather contest last night, was there? And I loved it. How fun was that event last night? Who was asking for a penny? No one. Did you have fun? Everybody had fun. See the difference? You can contribute. You can have a special night—you know, we’re working tonight to help whatever, whoever you wanna help. And I’ll be the first one to strip down and sell my jock straps to help the community. But we need to turn it down, because we’re here to have fun with each other, and I don’t want that to be lost.

And if we’re gonna help somebody, we wanna help our own community. Let’s help a leather event to not die. Let’s help within. Once we’re strong, and we are helping each other, and we have all the structure that we need, and then we can go out and help others. I know this is gonna be touchy, but it is the truth.

Tell me about porn— What’s up with porn? You did some? Yes, before I won IML. I haven’t done it for a year. And I think that’s the end of the conversation. I was just wondering how it came about that you did the ones that you did? I think I am the first IML who has had a porn career before the title. It was like four years before I won IML. Did you look for it, or did somebody see you and say, hey, you’d be good onscreen? I needed to pay my bills, and I had a boyfriend at the time who was into it, so we started doing it together. And then the thing grew and grew and grew and everybody started calling me. Have there been people who have looked down on this? There’s been a few brothers who competed with me that kinda wrote in blogs and stuff—oh, he’s just a, you know, beauty queen, porn actor, personal trainer, probably doesn’t have anything in his brain, the only thing he knows is how to fuck. I don’t hold resentments—they’re always gonna find you as a target and they’re always gonna have bullets, and they’re gonna shoot. The bigger the titleholder, the thicker the skin.

Have you thought about what you’re going to do after you step aside in May? I wanna stick around. I’m the first Hispanic IML, and I think I can bring a lot to the Latino community. I’m gonna take a couple months off to, you know, breathe in, breathe out, and then come back.

(Check out Iriza’s blog at <>.)

PHOTO: P5251137.tif

Gary Iriza, International Mr. Leather 2008.