As in every year, there are stories that define a year, mark a change for the better or worse, establish the end or beginning of an era, lend recognition to achievement, or just simply make a statement that cannot be forgotten. Here are ours.
The Leather Journal's Top Story of 2013
US Supreme Court overturns Proposition 8 - Marriage-ban states fall like dominoes
Not long after the United States Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs who sued to have Proposition 8 reinstated had no standing, enabling same sex marriages to resume in California, marriages resumed.
Only a handful of states allowed same-sex marriage at the beginning of 2013. By the end of the year, 18 states, plus the District of Columbia, permitted same-sex marriage, with a few more likely to change. The last of the bunch, Utah on December 20 because a court judge ruled their same-sex marriage ban that was voter-approved in 2004 is unconstitutional. This was the biggest surprise of all. A dagger was struck into one of the main arteries of the devil that has fought against same-sex marriage.
Omar L. Boots was chosen to be Mr. Connecticut Leather 2014 on September 7 at the York Street Cafe' in New Haven, CT.
Leatherman, friends and family from all over came together to celebrate the year of Mr. Connecticut Leather 2013 KJ Nichols and to choose the next Mr. Connecticut Leather.
Mr. Connecticut Leather 2013 KJ Nichols, Mr. Mid Atlantic Leather 2013 Bryce Mr. New Jersey Leather 2013 Paul Maffei, Mr. Boston Leather 2013 Matthew Morse (aka pup Coby), Mr. Eagle NYC 2013 Arsenio Amadis, Mr. Chicago Leather 2013 Nick Zuko and Robin P. McHaelen who is the Executive Director of True Colors.
By Leo Newcomb
Palm Springs Leather Pride Weekend began with a great loss and sorrow for many of us on the eve of our 22nd annual celebration. On October 17, 2016, a week before our kickoff, we were struck with the hardest of blows with the unexpected passing of our beloved club brother, David Murdock, of natural causes. David was one of Palm Springs Leather Order of the Desert’s pillars and for decades had become proficient in every facet of our weekend. In his memory, we honored him both at the formal Leather dinner and the contest with a video tribute by Randy Carmenaty, narrated by Larry Golubski. It was with a heavy heart that in his honor and in the spirit of who he was, we forged ahead, as David would often say, “the show must go on.."
David must have been watching over us because we take great pleasure and tremendous pride in having hosted one of our highest attended Leather pride events in over a decade. This year we decided to practically overhaul the entire weekend. The theme and namesake, TOPGUN: Desert Opps, began with Hawkers and Vendors: Cruise Alley, which was held on Arenas Road with LA DJ, Manuelito. Over 2,500 Leatherfolk passed through the gate in the Spurline parking lot on Arenas Road as several vendors marketed their wares.
Tim Starkey, AKA "Tim Bootblack," passed away on November 9, 2013 at UMass Memorial Medical Center after a complicated course of illness and long hospitalization. He was 50 years old.
Tim was a dual titleholder, and he took both jobs very seriously. A native of Worcester, MA, he won the title of Mr. Boston Leather 2009. On May 30, 2010 at IML in Chicago, he went on to win International Mr. Bootblack 2010.
Tim was a member of Mama's Family, "Mama's Boot Masseur," Delta International, and New England Leather Alliance. Through his years of service in the Leather world, he received a FLAG (Fits Like a Glove) Community Service Award and the 2009 Toronto Leather Impact Award. He was also nominated for a Pantheon of Leather Award.
A dedicated Leatherman and BDSM activist, Tim traveled all over the U.S. and Canada to spend time with his Leather and Kink brothers and sisters. He could often be seen leading bootblacking classes or roundtable discussions, volunteering, or just having fun. Among his favorite hangout spots were P-Town, New York City, and of course, the Boston Ramrod.
The Centaur Motorcycle Club hosted its Mid Atlantic Leather Weekend the weekend of January 17-19 at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC with a record crowd in wonderful weather. The features were the Mr. Mid Atlantic Leather 2014 on Sunday afternoon and Leather Cocktails on Saturday night.
Leather Cocktails celebrated its beginning in Big Apple fashion since the party was founded at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. The Centaurs went all-out with the food - roast beef sandwiches, New York cheesecake and the best Manhattan clam chowder west and south of the Hudson River.
Club president Todd White gave a strong speech about the clubs attending the event making Mid Atlantic Leather what it is, after all of the club banners were on stage. Many of the club standard bearers were wiping tears away from their eyes by the time Todd finished. The following day, White was reinstalled as president during the introduction of Centaur MC new officers and all club members.
CLAW XIV will be held April 24-27 at the Sheraton Airport Hotel in Leather-friendly Cleveland, Ohio. Shuttle buses will meet every CLAW air-travel attendee — day or night — for their one-minute ride to the lobby door.
Cleveland Leather Awareness Weekend (CLAW) has seen a growth rate of about 15 percent each of the past several years. CLAW’s biggest Vendor Mart will feature more than 25 merchants, including CLAW sponsors Leatherwerks, Mr. S Leather, Leatherman NYC, Torso, and Stompers Boots; three Recon Reflex dungeon parties in the warehouse attached to FLEX Spas in downtown Cleveland; and more than 40 skills workshops and other educational offerings, including 25 Years Later, a discussion featuring Guy Baldwin and Brian Dawson, the renowned and groundbreaking Leather titleholders who were International Mr. Leather and International Mr. Drummer, respectively, in 1989.
Jeremy Morris won the Mr. Iowa Leather contest at the Blazing Saddle in downtown Des Moines, IA, on October 15 and will be Iowa's representative at International Mr. Leather in Chicago. Two men vied for the title.
The judges were IML 2008 Gary Iriza, American Leatherman 2008 Randy Carmenaty, Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2011 Jayson Glynn and Sheri Kutsch-Stanton who is a member of the Corn Haulers LL Club. The tally master was Bryan Smith, longtime manager of the Blazing Saddle.
Mr. Iowa Leather 2011 Mike Pagano emceed the contest, which also featured performances by porn stars Michael Brandon and Lance Navarro and several local entertainers.
Jeremy Morris is a founding member of the Titans of the Midwest, and produced Des Moines' Leather and Lace Kink Carnival in March.
Featuring: Chuck Renslow
- For those who don’t already know, please tell us about yourself and what your titles are.
I started the first leather bar in the United States and have been an advocate for the leather and gay community since then. I have been a Mason, photographer, psychologist, accredited hypnotist and many more. In the Leather community I’m referred as “Sir,” Daddy or Master.
- You got an amazing story to tell and I think so many of us consider you a pioneer, if you would, tell us who got you started in the leather community and what prompted the decision to start a contest called International Mr. Leather?
My lover in the early sixties was Dom Orejudos, also known as the artist "Etienne.” One evening I went to a park in Chicago called bug house square I picked up a gentleman, I took him home and told him: “I want to fuck you.” He said: “you will have to fight me for it!” Fighting him until he got submissive was a great turn on. From that point on I was aggressive in my sexual activity.
I started the Mr. Gold Coast Contest. It became so popular the bar couldn’t handle the crowd so we decided to move somewhere else but the Mr. Gold Coast could not be held out of the bar so we moved it out to a hotel and renamed it International Mr. Leather. In order to promote it I had posters made up and mailed to every leather bar in the world that I could locate. I even translated one into German and sent it to the German leather bars.
- You have received just about every award in the gay and lesbian, leather community, can you perhaps narrow it down, some of your favorite awards that stand out and mean the most to you?
I have received many awards. And all of them are at the Leather Archives and Museum. three of the awards that stand out are: the one from the gay and lesbian task force because they have done so much good for the entire gay community, the one by the Metropolitan Community Church, because they helped so many people that needed religion in their lives and could not find acceptance in the mainstream churches. And the third one was the leather man of the century.
- Family is important, you've been a Daddy to many, and trust is earned and very important, can you tell us about your family who are at your side now?
I consider the entire gay community as my family. Right now my lover Juan is at my side and I am surrounded by people who had been around me for decades.
- Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
I was basically raised by my grandmother since my mother worked and my dad had left us. I consider most of my attributes to my grandmother: she was practical, smart and very logical. She became a very successful business woman after my grandfather died.
- In your mind, what’s the biggest misconception of the leather community?
People think that the leather man just is into beating each other up etc. They don’t realize there is a great deal of love and compassion in the leather community.
- What does unity in leather mean to you?
We have to do away with all the prejudices and jealousy and other negative forces in the BDSM community.
- What do you see for the future of leather in your community and internationally?
I think the future will show more acceptances between the men's leather community and the women's leather community and the general public.
- Tell us what your favorite piece of leather is and why?
A vest that have my name and the International Mr. Leather logo all in studs, made by Studworks in San Francisco.
- You have done countless opening, closing and key note speeches; can you tell us some of your favorite or perhaps a funniest moment?
In so many of my speeches I have advocated that which I felt was beneficial to our community. Most of them, the community listens and follows through.
- For someone who never attended IML (International Mr. Leather), what would you say to him or her, why they should attend the event in Chicago?
IML is the largest leather gathering in the world. It is a lifetime experience and if you attend you will feel camaraderie with a great leather community. We are all brothers and sisters. One big loving family!
- In your own words, can you tell us the difference between BDSM and Leather?
Leather is merely a symbol. Some people are into different aspects of BDSM, such as just bondage, or the masculine image of leather.
- What’s the funniest safe word you ever heard?
“Little purple prunes”
- You have said that you enjoy cooking, and don’t particularly like the cleaning part, please can you cook us a meal that represent you and what would it be called?
That's easy! Prime Rib with whipped sweet potatoes and cream corn. And for dessert Pecan Pie.
- Away from Leather, would you tell us what one of your guilty pleasures are?
Watching Spanish Soap Operas... I don't understand a word they say yet. But the men are so handsome! I also like to watch men getting fucked.
- Tell us your favorite book at this moment.
Easy: “Steel and Velvet: a soldier's story” by Juan Cordoba. It kind of reminds my other favorite book “The Persian Boy.”
- In conclusion, anything you would like to add to this interview for the leather community of South Africa?
Keep unity. We are all in the fraternity of leather. We are family, we may not like everyone but we will support every single one because they are part of who we are.
Touché, located at 6412 North Clark Street, will host the 2014 Mr. Chicago Leather Contest Weekend, January 24-26.
International Mr Leather 2013 Andy Cross will serve on the judging panel along with Mr. Midwest Leather 2013 Matt Hengle, Mr. Midwest Rubber 2013 Jesse Driscoll, Ms Christina Court and Nick Zuko, Mr. Chicago Leather 2013.
Once again returning from London, England to host the contest will be International Mr Leather 2003 John Pendal.
The contest will be held on Saturday January 25 at 10 PM with additional events scheduled Friday and Sunday. A complete weekend schedule of events will be announced soon and posted online at http://www.touchechicago.com
The man selected Mr Chicago Leather 2014 will receive a title vest and $500 gift certificate from Leather 64TEN, plus additional prizes. Contestant entry forms are available at Touché and online at http://www.touchechicago.com
Mr. and Ms Iowa Leather 2014 will be held the weekend of October 10-12 at the Blazing Saddle in Des Moines, Iowa. A full weekend of events will entertain Friday through Monday.
all events will take place at The Blazing Saddle, located on East 5th Avenue in the Historic East Village; Wooly's, located just around the comer at 504 East Locust; and Club Red Light, located adjacent to Le Boi Dar at 508 Indianola Avenue. For the fourth consecutive year, Le Chateau Exotique from New Hope, PA is the official Leather vendor.
The events kick off with the Smoke Out/Grill Out at the Blazing Saddle on Friday, October 10 at 7 PM. The fun continues at l PM on Saturday, October 11 with the Titans of the Midwest presenting Kink U at Iowa Leather Weekend. The first of many great demos will be presented for the second year by North Star Kennel Club including a puppy mosh.
Mr. Leatherman Toronto 2003 Paul Ciantar and Canadian Leather Man 2004, has been named as a Judge for International Mr. Leather 2014, replacing Carlos Filetti of who withdrew due to a pressing family matter out of the country. Both gentlemen are from Toronto, Canada.
“We wish nothing but the very best to Carlos and his family and we look forward to having him join us in Chicago in the future,” said Executive Producer Chuck Renslow.
Other judges on the panel are International Mr. Leather 2013 Andy Cross, Mr. Atlanta Eagle 2010 Chandler Bearden, American Leatherwoman 2002 Tobin Britton, Northeast Mr. Drummer 1997 Will Clark, Mr. Leather Colorado 2006 Mike Maez, Mr. Iowa Leather 2012 Jeremy Morris, Mr. Maryland Leather 2010 Justin Terry Smith and Chairman of Leather Friends Italia Andrea Zanella.
The Mid Atlantic Leather Weekend, produced by the Centaur Motorcycle Club, went off without a glitch as a larger crowd than last year saw Matthew Bronson become Mr. Mid Atlantic Leather 2012, a fabulous Leather Cocktails, more vendors, great food, new club officers installed, and plenty of parties over Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend, January 12-15 at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Nine men vied for the coveted Mr. Mid Atlantic Leather title with Mr. Pittsburgh Leather Fetish 2012 Matthew Bronson winning, Mr. PW's Leather 2012 Marc Sherkness Carcione taking first runner-up and Mr. Connecticut Leather 2012 Matt Kenney becoming second runner-up on Sunday afternoon.
Centaur member and Mr. Mid Atlantic Leather 1993 Frank Nowicki was the emcee for the weekend.
The judges for Mr. Mid Atlantic Leather were: Mr. Mid Atlantic Leather 2011 Doug Pamplin, International Mr. Leather 2011 Eric Guttierez, International Ms Leather 2011 Sara Vibes, Mr. San Diego Leather 2010 Anthony Rollar, American Leatherman 2000 Dean Ogren, Washington, DC Eagle owner Ted Clements and Mr. Hayes Valley Leather 2005 Jay Harcourt.
Earlier in the day, the following were installed as Centaur MC officers for this year: president Steve Ranger, vice president Todd White, treasurer Patrick Grady, recording secretary John Bonnage, corresponding secretary Tom Buckley, road captain Jeff Klotz, tribune Chaz Dean and centurion Bob Dye.
Leather Cocktails on Saturday night had a spread of food, mostly slider hamburgers, cheeses and dips and desserts that were gobbled up about as quick as Hyatt servers could set them out.
Gone was the pomp and circumstance of introducing each club member by name with grand entrances and the introduction of Mr. Mid Atlantic Leather contestants. The traditional presentation of club colors was the main show. The introduction of members, installation of officers and viewing contestants were done on Sunday.
The Men of ONYX had a dance party on Saturday afternoon and there was also a puppy mosh sponsored by the Mid Atlantic Kennel Korps that drew big crowds. MAUL (Mid Atlantic Uniform League) held a Saturday party, too.
James Tyrcha, a trans male, was chosen to be Mr. Leather64TEN 2016 at the Jackhammer in Chicago, IL the night of March 12 and as a result, will compete at International Mr. Leather in May.
First runner-up was Gerald Cernak and second runner-up was Matt Cardoni. Steve Bell and Adam H. filled out the roster of contestants.
Michael Pacas Mr. Leather64Ten 2015 Michael Pacas was the head judge. Joining him on the panel were Justin St. Clair, Tinac Mackay, Will Boyd-Bohaczek and Dan Ronneberg. The tally masters were Pup Scout and Alex Tatum.
Emees Slade Travis and Todd Davidson kept the contest moving at a good pace.
The producers were Leather64TEN store owners Eric Kugelman and Michael Syrjanen.
James Tyrcha transitioned 10 years ago this April, and yet for years after he lived in fear of rejection just for being transgender. Two years ago, that stopped—when he came out to everyone about his transition. According to Ross Forman of the Windy City Times.
Tyrcha told the Windy City Times, "I just needed to be open about my transition and be an advocate" for the transgender community, said Tyrcha, spurred to speak out by bathroom/locker room use debates for transgender and the hoard of trans-bullying and physical attacks, particularly against trans women.
Flash-forward to the present, and Tyrcha is now an award-winning trans male. Click here to see full article in the Windy City Times.
Trans males have fared well at International Mr. Leather with Tyler McCormick winning the title in 2010. Years before, Billy Lane finished in the IML Top 20.
Tyrcha said to The Leather Journal, "My passion in life is creating change through acceptance in our community.
Acceptance is the road to the future of our community, especially for our newest members. I love dogs, the beach, and life!"
There was a VIP party on Friday night at the Jackammer followed by a meet and greet.
The Mr. Connecticut Leather 2015 contest was held Saturday, September 5-7 at the 168 York Street Cafe in New Haven with the winner being David Gerard of Norwalk, CT.
The runner-up was Trell Walters of Meriden, CT. Also competing was Jeff Wolf Striker Victoria.
The panel of judges included Mr. Mid Atlantic Leather contest founder Al Santora, Producer of Mr. New Jersey Leather Sal Susino, Brian Kuerze, Mr. Eagle NYC 2014 Cee Jay, Mr. Mid Atlantic Leather 2014 Joe Birdwell, Mr. New England Leather 2014 Steve Dupont, and Mr. New Jersey Leather 2001 JR Ramos.
There was a Friday meet and greet and a Sunday victory brunch.
David will continue on to Mr. Mid Atlantic Leather In January and IML in May.
It was announced on stage at the Hotel Whitcomb on Market Street on Saturday night, March 1 that Mr. San Francisco Leather 2014 is Scott "Big Red" Farrell. The first runner-up was Mr. San Francisco Eagle Leather Gage Fisher and the second runner-up was Mr. Daddy’s Barbershop Leather. Six men competed.
Heading the judging panel was Mr. San Francisco Leather 2013 who was the fifth Mr. San Francisco Leather titleholder to win the International Mr. Leather title. The other four were IML 1979 David Kloss representing the Brig, IML 1981 Marty Kiker representing the Brig, IML 1985 Patrick Tone representing Chaps and IML 1992 Lenny Broberg.
Joining Andy were Mr. LA Leather 2013 Justin Emerick, Mr. Bolt Leather 2013 Robert Brooks, Mr. Santa Clara County Leather 2012 Thib Guichard-Callin, Ms San Francisco Leather 2013 Val Langmuir and Judge Emeritus Garry "Marlena" McLain.
The emcees were Mr. San Francisco Leather 2013 Darren Bondy and International Mr. Leather 198 Mike Pereyra.
As Mr. Legion of Sin, Scott Farrell is a muscled redhead who is Mr. September on the 2014 Bare Chest Calendar. Big Red is a member of BaGG (Bondage a Go Go) and is the secretary of the San Francisco Bay Area Leather Alliance. He will compete at International Mr. Leather in Chicago in May.