Conversations with Leather Mark Homes - The Leather Journal

Conversations with Leather Mark Homes



By Jaco Lourens

1. For those who don’t already know, please tell us about yourself and your connection with the Leather world.

My name is Mark Holmes, aka Hawgs in the biker community and “Uncle Mark” in much of the Leather community. I graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1975,
flew KC-135 tankers and T-38 supersonic training jets while in the service. I left that in 1981, moved to San Diego and have lived here ever since but for a stint in Los Angeles
from 1991 til 1995 where I moved to live with my partner who worked up there. While there I worked for Harley-Davidson and did roles in Movies, Television and Commercials.
I moved back to San Diego in 1995. I was diagnosed with HIV in 1994 and got an AIDS diagnosis in 1995, given three months to live and I give thanks to all the researchers who
came up with Protease Inhibitors and follow on medications that have allowed me to live yet another 31 years healthy and happy.

2. Please tell us who got you started in the Leather community and for how long?

My first connections with the Leather world started as a biker, I’ve had a motorcycle since my second year at the Academy. When I moved to San Diego I was asked to take over
a Leather shop in a bar here and there began my connections with the Leather community. When the owner moved to another location, I moved my leather shop there and began
to make custom Leather gear. At first I had folks that knew how to make gear and sew work for me then taught myself the trade. I opened a retail store, Hard Labor Leather which at
the time with a couple bars became the social center for Leather in San Diego. I opened yet another shop in another bar and ended up selling it to the chain, The Crypt, and moved
to Los Angeles to be with my partner. We had commuted every weekend for five years back and forth to Phoenix to be together until he was promoted and moved to LA. It was
in the shops and bars that my connection deepened with the community and in 1984 I ran for Mr. San Diego Leather and won the contest and headed to Chicago to IML and
was a finalist at that event where I got to see just how huge the community was. I owned the contest in San Diego until I moved to LA in 1991.

3. Which club or bar are you affiliated with and tell us more about the history?

We are down to one Leather bar here, the Eagle. At one time we had several where I owned and ran the Leather shops. I continue to work for friends as a hobby and keep
up my skills in Leather making.

4. What is it about your motorcycle that you enjoy the most?

What I enjoy about my motorcycle the most is probably is the freedom is gives me to travel the country with my Club, HawgsDawgs, and it’s history. My dad had saved Savings
Bonds up since I was five to give me on my 40th birthday and allowed me to buy it when I worked at the Harley dealer in LA. Rather than go the ‘replace-it-when-it-got-old’ route I’ve
kept it like new and made it my own, I’ve had the engine rebuilt several times and will probably keep it for the rest of my life in honor of my Dad and his memory. It feels like a part
of me. I’ve ridden much newer and faster motorcycles but I feel One with this one wherever I travel. Knock on wood, it’s never stranded me anywhere and I can’t imagine life without it.

5. Tell us about your charity involvement and goals.

My charity involvement has become personal. When I owned the Hard Labor I held many charity events, mostly for AIDS when it wasn’t in the national limelight and we were taking
care of one another when the country seemed indifferent and we had to stand up for ourselves. I currently support AIDS charities within the community but my main support over
the recent years has been for the Wounded Warrior Project and donate to them monthly to help out the men and women who’ve lost limbs and worse serving their country.

6. Tell us about your Leather family.

My Leather family is wide and vast. It includes my Club brothers, local brothers and sisters here in San Diego who often call me “Uncle Mark” and have been true family over
the last 30 years. I’m the last living Mr. Leather here and am honored to be one of the senior members of the community; and while I’ve opened up my life to a lot of other events
and projects, I can truly count on all of them and enjoy serving whenever asked.

7. You used to interrogate people in the SERE Program, tell us what that is, and what the interrogation entailed.

When I was in the service, I had to take a course called SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) that would aid me in surviving being shot down over enemy territory.
The following year I took a course to teach it and became an instructor. Among other things, the main focus of the training was to simulate being captured and resist giving the
enemy any information that would harm my fellow flyers and comrades. While teaching the course and being an interrogator, I found I not only excelled at getting information but
gave the students the motivation and training on how to resist themselves - that I was most proud of. I learned the power of controlling others in controlled situations and that led
later to skills that I used in Leather scenes. There are many ways of control that do not need brutality but coercion and I enjoyed and enjoy every minute of it.

8. Who is the most influential person in your life and why?

The most influential person in my life had and has to be my father. His lust for life was amazing. He was a POW in World War II for almost three years, in Stalag Luft III, the
infamous prison camp where the escape from it was the story from the movie “The Great Escape” starring Steve McQueen and Sir Richard Attenborough. While my father assisted
in building the tunnel in that famous escape, he was moved to another compound just before the Escape and spent the rest of the war there and freed by General Patton at War’s end.
He finished a 28-year career as a pilot, then worked another 20 years as a health inspector in Florida and then another 20 years volunteering for Children’s Hospital.
He got a Black Belt in Ti Kwan Do at the age of 82, the oldest man on record to be awarded a black belt, would climb rock climbing walls into his late 80s and lived well until
he was 92 when he passed after living with Pancreatic Cancer for two years; when most succumb to it in six months or less. He loved picking up new skills just to do it and even
became a clown at Barnum/Baily circus to entertain the children at the Childrens' Hospital in St. Petersburg. I could not have had a better role model. He was even responsible in
a way for me finding my passion in life, skydiving, when I had told him about doing a Tandem jump and he challenged me, telling me, "that’s not real skydiving until you do it
yourself," and had the chops to be able to say that; he was the pilot of the bomber that got shot down over Germany on a mission that sent him to POW camp. I even owe my life
to skydiving from his experience, as he was told (propaganda) that the Germans would shoot parachutes out of the sky so he waited until he was merely hundreds of feet up to
pull his ripcord and got one swing after line stretch. It amazes me that my existence is owed to merely a second that a second later I would never have been born. Thanks to both
my Dad and my Mom, who at almost 96, is still living well.

9. Please tell us about your hearing loss and how does it affect your daily life?

I went Deaf from CMV which most people have but those with HIV can and often lose their eyesight, hearing, balance and other things due to immune systems that can’t
fight it. It took the eyesight in one eye, most of the hearing in one ear and much of the hearing in the other, as well as put me on canes and finally a wheelchair until I recovered from
HIV and had to learn to see (in 2-D) hear (with hearing aids) and learn to walk again. I have learned the hard way that life is adapting to whatever it throws at you; you can quit or
you can fight and live the best that you can. I have no depth perception yet learned to watch perspective and the size of things approaching and retreating to get a sense of depth
that allows me to drive and function as well as most. Being Deaf has been difficult, but you deal with it and do what you can. I taught myself sign language over two years then took
a couple courses in ASL at the local deaf center and a college course. I live between a hearing and deaf world; with modern technology I can hear well enough in small groups while
anything larger than three or four becomes difficult and many of my friends have learned ASL to help me along when the crowds get too large. It’s an amazing gift, much like mind reading
when you realize you’ve been having an hour-long conversation with someone, remember it as being a ‘voice’ but you’re never spoken a word. I get by. The worst thing was at one
point it started to take away being social as it was so difficult to keep up with conversations but I push as much as I can and try to get the gist of things through non verbal cues
and I’ve recently rejoined more in new things. I thought it was going to keep me from skydiving as when you’re a student you’re on a radio getting instruction on how to fly the
parachute and land and when I did my first one, I couldn’t understand a thing after free-falling for a minute and opening my parachute; the radio just didn’t have the clarity enough to
hear the instruction. I was on my own and had to figure it out and managed to get down the first time without any help. Landing was difficult as well from having no depth perception
and once near the ground I couldn’t really tell if I was two feet up or 10 just before landing. Again, I had to adapt and found I could look to the side, see when I was level with an eight-foot roof and begin to flare at that point and it worked. While most of my first 40 landings were frankly on my ass, I finally figured it out after watching some videos of landings and
manage now to land on my feet like a seagull, most of the time ;)

10. I believe you have appeared on Television and Movies, please tell us more and which was your favorite?

While living in LA I was riding my bike thru Griffith Park and they were filming a movie there, I stopped to watch and got to know a woman who organized a group of bikers to
work on movies. She asked if I’d like to be in a scene there and I enjoyed it. She hooked me up with her group and began working as an extra in a number of movies and TV shows as
a biker, bouncer, bad guy, etc. on shows as diverse as In Living Color, Blossom, Thirty-Something, and a handful of others. I began to network and try to get more roles and ended up
working in a handful of movies, Alien Intruder, Grand Canyon, and others. While on one shoot I was told there was a new pirate movie being made and I should audition and I signed up
and got a call from Steven Speilberg’s office to audition and got the part in Hook as one of the pirates. I had a small speaking role and while a scene where I played the piano in a musical
number didn’t make the cut, it got me in the musician’s union and I still get residual checks from that movie to this day. I think that was my favorite role as I met nearly every star in Hollywood
coming by to see the set and the ship. I got a chance to have lunch one day with Robin Williams while he gave up his break to help escort the friend of one of my pirate buddies who
was dying of AIDS and would not live to see the movie. That was niney 18-hour days that were as much fun as I’ve ever had. I got lucky and got a few commercials, one of which
was a gang of bikers where we got to do some serious stunt driving and ended up joining the Screen Actors’ Guild.

11. In your mind, what does Leather mean to you, and what is the glue that keeps us together?

What does Leather mean to me? More an attitude than the Leather itself. My first foray into Leather was as a biker, then I learned about a whole other Leather world that didn’t involve
motorcycles but BDSM, and took right to it. What I think makes a Leather man has much more to do with the way you carry yourself, your integrity and the way you treat others than what
you wear. I love my boots; but I’m often seen in Converse Chucks which are almost a trademark, they’re the only sport shoes I can wear comfortably due to nerve damage in my feet and I’ll
occasionally break all the ‘rules’ and wear them in my Leather on my bike and get some askance looks from some of the folks that are rigid in their uniforms. That’s fine for them, I frankly don’t
care. I do what I want and when I want, and if I was worried about what others thought of me due to their own rules, I wouldn’t be my own man. That being said, I love to get in full gear and
play too.

12. If you can be anyone dead or alive (not yourself) who would you be and why?

If I could be anyone dead or alive? Probably Carl Sagan. He was a personal hero to me. He saw the world as it is, not what we wished it could be and explained the world in simple
ways that anyone could understand, didn’t put up with bullshit of pseudoscience or religion but knew more about theirs than they did. I have always been a fan of science, and while I was
a history/political science major in College, my interest in science and astronomy keeps me looking toward a bright future.

13. What do you see for the future of Leather in your community and internationally?

The Leather community will always be with us, and while it changes all the time it too will adapt to new things while keeping an eye on it’s history. What was "Old Guard" to the new kids was
new stuff to the post WWII soldiers who gathered, became bikers and became what started our Leather community as we know it today. Watch "The Wild One" sometime then look at both our
Leather community and the biker community and you’ll see where our roots are. The future looks good. Every generation learns from the last and then puts their own touches on theirs, and that
will continue for years to come. Within the gay community, I can say arguably that age makes much less difference in the Leather community, and while agism exists, I remember when I was
25, I  learned much or most of my Leather S/M and admired the most the men in their 50s and even older that knew how to live well while so much of the greater gay community thought
you were dead at 30. AIDS made that true for a generation, in reality and not just metaphorically, and we still recovered from that, but I think we’re well on our way to a healthy Leather future.

14. Tell us what your favorite piece of Leather is and why?

My favorite piece of Leather? Probably the Leather breeches I made for myself. I rarely got the time away from making Leather for other people to make stuff for myself and bought used stuff. This pair was
made from the Leather left over from a big hide which I made some chaps from for someone else, and they said to spare no expense. It’s thick, buttery and smooth and served me well for almost 20
years of riding and going to Leather events. Second place would go to a Langlitz jacket a friend has let me "borrow" now for many years without asking for it back as long as I wear it and ride in it
and the two together, with a high pair of Chippewa boots gets me hard. That speaks for itself :)

15. What’s the funniest thing that happened to you in Leather?

Funniest thing that happened to me in Leather? Probably walking down the street at Folsom with the Rainbow Motorcycle Club (I’m a member of that club too, due to that day) and on a whim sat down
on their portable fire hydrant and had them all turn around and take a piss there on the street. I was laughing my ass off until some fundamentalist decided to ruin the fun and shove a video
camera between their legs to get it to show them back home how depraved we all are. I tossed his camera away and told him to get a life. Trying to show us as we are every day at Folsom is like
straight folks being judged for Mardi Gras. Get a life.

16. What’s the funniest safe word you ever heard?

Without getting too much grief from folks reading this, I rarely use safe words. I know that safe sane and consensual is the rule of the day, but for me personally , if I can’t read enough of someone
I’m playing with well enough to know when to slow or stop, I shouldn’t be doing it all all. That’s just me. I also believe, again, for me, that safe words have little meaning when playing with strangers,
I like playing with people I know and trust that can role-play well enough to make me think that it’s going to go too far without really doing it. That’s what a good mind-fuck is all about and my favorite Leather play. You can have safe words all day and when you’re playing with someone you don’t know they won’t save your life.  Be careful out there.

17. What was the last meal you cooked just for yourself?

Last meal I cooked for myself…. Sorry to say it was microwaved fish sticks and a salad. I usually do better. The Avocado dip was great though.

18. They say ski diving is like sex, how was it for you and what five possessions would you trade for another ski diving jump?

They say skydiving is like sex? Well, I did. I think the quote I made was "skydiving is better than sex." We’re comparing apples and oranges but I’ll definitely say when they’re done well, they’re both intense, fulfilling and an amazing dance and adventure. The surge of adrenaline you get from leaping out of a plane and flying doesn’t go away after a few minutes like an orgasm but carries with you
for most of the day into the evening, maybe that’s just me. Every time I fly I seem to relive it for hours, remembering every instant with incredible clarity even though it only lasts for 60 seconds.
What five possessions would I trade for the next jump? Probably most anything I own but for my motorcycle. I’m much more into adventures than things and while possessions can be be replaced nothing beats 60 seconds in the sky flying like birds or supermen with a few friends doing what humans have dreamed of since humanity began and have only done in groups for a few decades. Try it sometime and let me know, I’d love to jump with you.

19. I would love to visit San Diego, what five non-touristy places would you show me and why?

Non touristy places in San Diego. First of all I would love for you to visit San Diego, Jaco. We’ve known each other online for some 20 years! As for places here that aren’t touristy, I’d say a waterfall  on the way to Julian that most folks never see driving by (when we have rain, which we haven’t had much of lately, but are due a good soaking this winter). Come by the Dropzone and see some of the most fun and happy folks you’ve ever seen who really know how to live hard and well. A little oasis east of San Diego no bigger than a house in the middle of the 115-degree desert where it’s 80, if that.
A winding back road to the little town of Ramona. Twisting through scrub oak and climbing up with an amazing view of the distant ocean, on a clear day. And my front yard, which I’ve made into a private place with an outdoor shaded room, hot tub and fire pit. Great for a cigar, pipe and beer and meeting new friends.

20. In conclusion, anything you would like to add to this interview for the Leather community?

What would I like to add to this interview for the Leather community? Grab life with all your heart. Do amazing things. Regret nothing, even the mistakes. You learn the most from them. And be good to each other. That’s all we have, when you really think of it, is each other. Sort of not charity but giving back. You can add this somewhere in the charity part, was thinking about what a guinea pig I’ve been for AIDS research.



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