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Jim Neuman

By November 25, 2020


 Conversations With Leather


Dave Rhodes interviews Jim Neuman



Jim Neuman

James Walter "Jim" Neuman was born on the north side of Chicago, and over the next half century, he has become something of a pioneer, mentor and icon in the Kink, Leather, Uniform and Boot Community in California.

Besides his outgoing Party personality and perfection of the art of "costume" change, he is a quiet supporter, behind the scenes, to dozens of charities. His philanthropies cover a broad spectrum of causes focusing mainly on HIV/AIDS awareness and community outreach.



Among many other organizations, Jim is a Life Member of the Tom of Finland Foundation, Senior member of the California B&B Corps, a Founding Member of the Mid-Atlantic Uniform League, past member of the American Uniform Association, Patron to the LA Leather Coalition, and proud member of Sandy "Mama" Reinhardt's Leather Family. He has been a judge of numerous Leather contests. He has participated in countless fundraising events in the bars of LA and San Francisco and was recently honored with the Pantheon of Leather President's Award. He regularly attends all the gay events in San Francisco plus annual visits to MAL, IML and CLAW



The following is an Interview with Jim Neuman and after that is a Biography of a man who has enjoyed virtually every day of his life and who has given back to the world what he has reaped. Oh and, scattered throughout are photos of Jim and his friends from Casa Lola in Palm Springs, Palm Springs Leather Pride, Tom of Finland, B&B Corps and other club events, International Mr. Leather, CLAW and other events. I could never accomplish all of this if I lived to be a thousand.




The Interview

TLJ - Please tell our reader about your involvement with Leather, Uniforms and The California B&B Corps.

Jim - My love of Leather - Well, as a young child, and into my teen's, I had a relative who owned a leather glove factory and my dad always professed his love of leather, so it was in my genes from the beginning, I guess. He loved Leather boots and jackets but could afford neither.

My love of Uniforms - I had always loved uniforms from the time a relative, returning from WWII, brought me a tiny sailor suit as a Christmas gift when I was just five-years old. I immediately recall loving the look, the smell, texture and fit of the wool sailor suit and continued to "try" wearing it even when it no longer fit.

My road to the Leather Community - About 1968, after my Navy stint in Vietnam, mostly by accident, I discovered the gay community in LA having then been mainly convinced of my heterosexuality. I was immediately turned off by most of what I saw of the gay scene. Not a "man's" world, I thought. Fortunately, a visit to the Arena Bar at Melrose and Gower - later becoming the original Griff's - my world pleasantly changed. I soon found myself to be a frequent visitor.

My early bar life - I became very comfortable among “those” guys and, besides the occasional "trick".....the embracing of which seemed to come quite naturally to my surprise….I soon became schooled in the talk about tops, bottoms, masters, slaves and the like. I immediately identified as a “top,” but I was always mainly a "poser,” in those early days. They say I was good looking - weren’t we all back then? - and therefore connecting became quite easy for me.

My first Leather - Not having any “real" Leather yet, mainly costuming in t-shirts and Levi's, I was told of Mike Whalen, who ran The Leather Game from his garage. I ordered a fairly conservative pants and jacket ensemble. Not really a confirmed "biker look," - yet - anyway, since the Harley-Davidson’s would come into my life later, but fairly soon.

Introduction to a dungeon - During one of the fitting visits, Mike showed me his dungeon, accessed through a "secret" door in his living room wall - I confessed that I was not really ready for that, and expressed my major interest in uniforms.



Road to the California B&B Corps - Between 1968 and 1972, I remained mostly a leather “outsider,” but continued to frequent the Leather bars, but was mostly busy as the first National Distribution Manager for the young Subaru Motor Company and later as a small business owner myself. The B&B Corps, established in 1968, was quite private and "closeted" in those days, but I wrangled an invitation to a meeting through Mike Whalen's connection, which I soon found to be something of a coup, since some members were in fact active, reserve or ex-law enforcement or military men. I recall wearing my Navy Uniform.being still active in the Naval Reserve - and, I guess I made a good impression.

“Pledging" the B&B Corps - After the initial meeting, as a guest, members Brad Engel and George Burgess took a liking to me. For George, I recall it was for more than just membership - grin. My first outing with them was me simply wearing a pair of LAPD uniform breeches, tall Dehner Motorboots, and a white T-shirt, all being borrowed from George or Brad. While both of them were in “full” uniforms, we "stormed" Griff’s, making quite an impression, since uniforms were not a normal sight in any gay bar at the time. I recall the three of us being in the midst of the crowd, with space around us, as guys were not quite sure what to make of us. There was a huge "rush" of adrenaline that came over me, from the attention, and I think that I immediately became the exhibitionist, that I am now, at that moment, with a giant erection growing in my breeches.

Becoming a B&B member - In 1974, I became an officer of the California B&B Corps. It was something of an honor during those days when no similar organizations existed….I thought of it like becoming accepted into the secretive Skull and Bones Society at Yale. We were mainly a dinner group, gathering in uniform somewhat secretly, in members homes for meetings, discussions about uniforms, dinner and socializing. We generally shunned publicity, or "outness,” but did host, by invitation only, one formal Christmas Dinner, in a “grand” venue or restaurant, each year.



Motorcycles enter my life - The allure of the macho uniformed motorcycle officer was soon to capture my attention, and since most members of B&B had police motors, at the time, it became urgent for me to “learn to ride” too. Having been in training for the Olympics in cycling (bicycle racing), prior to my tours in Vietnam, and then owning a dragster, following the service, speed and danger was already in my blood. Fellow B&B Officer, Ralph Goetz, became my mentor and we eventually had matching Harley-Davidson Police Motors which we rode in uniform many miles together until his tragic passing during the AIDS epidemic. Riding motors eventually led me to become a part-time Motor Escort Officer. I recall a fun event when I was asked to escort the “tour” bus during a “bar crawl” as part of a uniform weekend presented by our fellow uniform club The Regiment of the Black and Tans.



The B&B is joined by others - Soon the uniform world was joined by the likes of the Corps of Rangers, Regiment of the Black and Tans, Phoenix Uniform Club, American Uniform Association, and several others. The years that followed were something of a tumultuous time for the B&B as we grappled with the thought of “coming out” into the Uniform/Leather Community. Ultimately, we did, and joined our brother clubs in what would become the “golden age” of the Uniform Community. The calendar became ripe with fabulous events, pitting one club against the other for the honor - Best of Show!



TLJ - You are still very active with the California B&B Corps. Please tell us briefly about the club, its three divisions and your role in it.

Jim - About the California B&B Corps - I am the longest surviving Active member of the California B&B Corps. We are a group dedicated to the uniform kink within the Leather Community generally. Founded in Los Angeles we now have two other divisions, being in both San Francisco and Palm Springs. We are a fundraising body to various Community causes and host events to raise funds for these endeavors. We have a broad spectrum of members who are also cross-membered with many other kink organizations in our Community, and enjoy many leather title holders within our ranks. Membership is by invitation to those who are willing to accept our high uniform standards. In 2018 we celebrated our 50th Anniversary providing a grand gala, for our members and friends, at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles.



TLJ - When did you start your vast uniform collection?

Jim - My Uniform collecting - As it turns out, I seem to be well known for my extensive uniform collection which has been a lifelong addiction and kink. The collection really got started with my membership in the B&B Corps and love of travel. Shortly after returning from Vietnam, my first partner, of 37 years, and I, were both travel geeks. On an early trip to England, I happened upon a British Military Antique Shop in London - The Blunderbuss Antiques. The owner had purchased, in a “blind” auction, British, French, German and American WWII war surplus uniforms and dress regalia from a warehouse of the British Crown following the war. Upon meeting him, his first comment to me was - “you are the consummate WWII British and European Officer frame and size, so I have lots of uniforms to fit you!" I only wanted uniforms in my size that I could actually wear, so over the years, I have purchased many items from them, and from others who I have found in my continuing uniform searches. I eventually became so well known, in the collecting community, that many uniforms “found me,” rather than the other way around. My American uniforms have come to me in as many ways as there are those in my collection. I suppose I must have somewhere north of a hundred? What is my favorite? - I suppose my own Naval Officer uniforms, since I am one - having served 20 years combined service as a Navy Officer and proud Vietnam Veteran.



TLJ - You host five awesome parties every year, two at your home in Palm Springs for Prides, one following New Year’s, one for your Birthday, and another at your Mountain residence. Please tell us about these.

Jim - About my parties - During most of my adult life, following Vietnam, I was busy with a mania for travel, real estate investing, various employments and other non-gay activities. I have had little time in my life to be a committed volunteer as a “physical” participant in activist causes for our Community. Oh, I always had time to attend as many uniform, Leather and motorcycle events, as I could, but it was never possible for me to “work” for causes. Early in the commitment to my kink, I decided I needed to “give back” and have done so, mostly behind the scenes, supporting all kinds of activities and causes, both gay and straight, when funding was or is needed. I’ve tried to be a meaningful “Angel” to our Community over my lifetime. Being a small town boy, from just a middle class family, I have been fortunate to have been somewhat successful in my life and was early instilled with the concept of “give as you have received.” My various parties are just another function of my desire to do that.



TLJ - Your partner, Dick, lives in Northern California. You both travel to the other's city several times a year and your bond with each other is so strong, please tell us about how you met and what the magic that makes Jim and Dick work.

Jim - About my partner Dick - Dick is the second love to be a part of my life, oh there were a few short-lived partners between my first, and Dick, but none are as wonderful or lasting as him. We are the ultimate “odd couple,” he the quiet and peaceful one, whilst I am the crazy outgoing one. Opposites attract, it’s said, so I guess that’s our magic. Dick has a home in the Bay Area where we spend most of the summer to enjoy all the San Francisco gay high holidays, while winter finds us in Palm Springs or my place in the mountains. Dick does not do well in triple digit temps, so you won’t find him in the desert during those months. Dick and I met literally in an alley - Dore Alley - at the infamous street fair. I was mostly naked, he was not, but was ready to serve….the rest is history - grin. That was 2006.



TLJ - At USC, you were quite a prankster. As a Trojan, what was your favorite prank?

Jim - My Pranks at USC - Being something of a "geek" - even before the term was coined - in my high school years, I was determined to make up for it, in spades, during my four years at the University of Southern California. While I was a Freshman there, my older brother was a Senior at UCLA. It led to some fighting at home, but during school, we both lived away at competing fraternities on different campuses. Sponsored by my fraternity brothers, I was accepted into both Knights and Squires, the two important men’s spirit organizations at USC. Among our many pranks against UCLA, the one that stands out, was “committed” by myself and a Squire brother during a Homecoming at UCLA. Seems the USC Knights (Junior and Senior men) had gone to UCLA to release some mice in their library - yikes....in retrospect. After attending the “library” escapade, two Squires (Sophomore men), being myself and another, spotted the “huge” UCLA Homecoming Banner hanging from the balcony of Royce Hall across from the library. By various, now understood to be “criminal”, actions - that’s another story - we were able to return after midnight, gain entrance to Royce Hall, access the balcony, and “borrow” the banner. Hustling it down the steps to the cavernous trunk of my awaiting ’55 Buick - at the time, Westwood Boulevard went right into the campus - we were spotted by UCLAn’s, across the street, building booths for their homecoming festivities. That led to a car chase through the residential hills above UCLA, and our escape into the driveway of a darkened mansion, while our pursuers drove right on by. It was like a scene out of the movie “Sunset Boulevard” - grin. At the USC/UCLA joint homecoming football game, that next weekend, we flew it upside down from the towers of the Peristyle end of the Coliseum. And by the way, the score was a tie that year.... You could have ties in college ball back then....so neither my brother nor I had it over the other.



TLJ - You have traveled outside Leather/Uniform life, I believe. If so, what is your favorite destination and why?

Jim - My world travels - Yes, I have been to almost every major destination except in India and Russia, with little interest to visit either. My favorite place is one that I have had the opportunity to visit thirteen times and to support various humanitarian and wildlife causes. East, South and North Africa are magic places for me. My first visit found me at the East African cradle of civilization where Dr. Leakey first discovered the remains of early man. I was overcome with some “mystical” epiphany - a feeling of coming home! I can’t explain it, but have shared with others, who have had the same experience, expressing a feeling of urgency to return. My second most favorite, was my three visits to Galapagos and, as the only American Patron of the Australian Ballet, that continent comes in third on my list of “buckets” filled.



TLJ - If you could change anything with your life in Leather/Uniforms/kink, what would it be and why?

Jim - What would I change? That’s a difficult one, I have been so blessed in this life and have enjoyed every minute of it. I suppose I would have liked to have been a Leather titleholder - likely the only thing I have not been or done in our Community. Oh yes, and to again, speak to the 100, or so, friends I lost to the AIDS epidemic.



TLJ - If you could change the community in any way, what changes would these be and why?

Jim - My hope for “our” Community - With political unrest, and attacks, all around us, at every turn, our Community must come together to cooperate and protect the changes so many of us have worked so hard to achieve. Please put all our petty differences behind us and work for the overall good of our Community.




James Walter "Jim" Neuman was born on the north side of Chicago (ironically, an area now infamous as Boys Town), but grew up in East LA during WWII and then later in Whittier, California where he attended Whittier High School. After high school, Jim moved back to Los Angeles while he attended, and graduated from USC, where he was a member of Trojan Knights, Trojan Squires and living on the Row as a Frat boy in Delta Sigma Phi fraternity. During his college years he trained for the Olympics in Cycling, being sponsored by the Pasadena Athletic Association's Olympic Cycling Team. His Olympic hopes were dashed when his draft number loomed, leading him to join the US Navy, after graduation, to become an officer by attending Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. He retired, as a Lieutenant-Commander in 1983, culminating 20 years of combined active and reserve service.



Jim was involved for six years with the LA, cast of Phantom of the Opera in fundraising efforts for, Broadway Cares and Equity Fights AIDS and for one year with the LA cast of Sunset Boulevard. Jim is a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, being involved with Music Cares outreach, the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. He is a Founder at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, most recently the McCallum Theatre, and patron to the Australian Ballet, ABT and New York City Ballet, the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, South Coast Repertory Theatre, Center Theatre Group LA, LB Civic Light Opera, Newport Theatre Arts Center, Saddleback College Theatre Arts and is a past member of the American Theatre Wing that mounts the TONY awards in New York City. He was the honorary producer of Carol Channing's final performance of Hello Dolly in Southern California and has been a sponsor of other road productions of several Broadway shows.

He has also been a member of the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, as a Gold Member, the Pro Rodeo Cowboy's Association and is a Cowboy/Civil War and Renaissance re-enactor. Jim is an avid collector of Automated Musical Instruments and a member of AMICA (Automated Musical Instrument Collectors Association) and MBSI (Musical Box Society International). He also collects all things Military, Police and Firefighter related.



For a time, in his past, he was even an owner/driver of Diamond Gem, a 1968 Super Stock Camaro race car that held at least one NHRA drag racing record in the day. Jim is a member of Great Autos of Yesteryear, having had a long history of vintage car ownership, he still has a 1963 Buick Riviera, that was owned by his family, and a 1971 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow that has "played" in several movies.

Other organizations include, APLA, the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries, Desert AIDS Project, JFS of the Desert, the Cambodian Village Scholars Fund, Palm Springs Art Museum and it's Western Arts Council, Palm Springs Community Concert Association, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Catalina Island Conservancy, Catalina Island Museum Society, National Wildlife Fund, World Wildlife Fund, African Wildlife Fund, HAPI Fund for Animal Assistance, Dance Alliance, Phantom and Friends, Friends of Iolani Palace, Hawaii and the National Academy of Songwriters.In Jim's past life he had an insatiable thirst for travel, having been to the far and exotic corners of the planet, including 13 trips to North, East and South Africa, three trips to Galapagos and the Amazon, 20 or more trips to South America, Central America and Mexico, countless trips to Europe and Scandinavia, everywhere in the Orient, and lots to Australia, New Zealand, the islands of the South Pacific and Hawaii (where he lived part time for almost 20 years). Of course, his travels also covered most of the United States, including multiple visits to Alaska, also Canada and 71 civilian cruises, all over the place (about two or more each year.



In 2006 Jim met the new love of his life and "settled down" with Dick Shapero who he met at Dore Alley in San Francisco. In 2010 Jim moved from Newport Beach to Palm Springs and "resurrected" Casa Lola, the 1938 Mission Revival Home of Kate Smith (God Bless America) and, save for one trip together to Italy, he, and Dick, are content now to divide their time between Palm Springs, Wrightwood and San Carlos where Dick maintains a home. They are happy to just do local and more restful trips including an occasional RV outing in their Big Yellow Rig - life is good.














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