All 63 International Mr. Leather 2017 contestants wave to the crowd. Soon after, the IML Top 20 Finalists were named. All photos by Dave Rhodes
International Mr. Leather 2017 is Ralph Bruneau who came in as Mr. GNI Leather 2016; his first runner-up is Mr. San Francisco Leather 2017 Geoff Millard, second runner-up is Mr. Leather Europe 2016 Joe King; International Mr. Bootblack 2017 is Ryan "Pawlish" Garner-Carpenter and first runner-up is Rhys.
IMsL and IMsBB winners
International Ms Leather 2019 Haley Alice and your new International Ms Bootblack 2019 Gretchen Wellman in San Jose, CA. There are three IMsL and two IMsBB contestants. The IMsBBs are Brooklyn and Gretchen, and the IMsLs are Haley, Heather Kelley and Tuesday Niles. There are many other awesome events to keep everyone busy including Seduction on Thursday night which raw women's energy. Special guests include Barbara Carrellas as keynote speaker and Ruth Marks who will be interviewed by Sarah Humble as part of the Inside the Leather Series. The weekend includes play space, hospitality parties, the Amy Marie Meek pool party and an IMsL IMsBB pet park. DoubleTree by Hilton San Jose, 2050 Gateway Place, San Jose, CA 95110.
Carter/Johnson Leather Library Florida Annex opens
By Rae N Chris
We are wrapping up the first night of a full weekend, March 30 - April 1, at the new Carter/Johnson Leather Library Florida Annex. Vi Johnson just got done giving a wonderful history talk for our local community. Miss Rae and Vi Johnson were surprised by Luke Monaco with a memorial frame of memorabilia from his personal collection. This memorial was created by him and his slave victor to honor the memory of his uncle David Weinbaum and is on loan from Sir Luke. The library annex housed in the SFC10 Community space in Oakland Park. https://www.facebook.com/groups/carterjohnsonleatherlibrary/
The Leather Leadership Conference 2014, to be held at the DoubleTree Hotel and the William Way Center in downtown Philadelphia April 11-13, has done an internal inventory of what it has offered, combined with conference feedback forms and with the results of their 2012 community survey, with the result of that inventory being the creation a new Do It Yourself (DIY) program that will debut in Philly with a new delivery system for that program.
LLC has been the offering leadership training for Leather/BDSM/Kink/Fetish and LGBT communities for nearly 18 years. During that time, several changes have taken place and there has been more acceptance for those in alternate lifestyles, including more positive media. The Internet has given endless opportunities for contact, communication, and networking. There are a multitude of groups, munches and events to attend; sometimes so many that one could go to at least one event a week or have to choose where to participate.
The Avatar Club Los Angeles educational program for Wednesday, August 27 is Fire Play with Orpheus Black at MCC in the Valley, 5730 Cahuenga Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601 starting at 8 PM.
Fire Play by Orpheus Black will include discussion on Basic Fire Safety: Preparing private or public fire play scenes, checking tools, fuel storage and transportation, safety equipment and measures, treating burns. Preparing the Sub: Easing fears, outlining safety protocols, negotiating safe words, phrases and gestures, cultivating the head space. Technique: Types of torches brushes and their differences, review of basic torching methods and basic cupping, tips and tricks Advanced Techniques Fire Painting Techniques:How to perform half body trails and full torso transfers Advanced Fire Cupping:Demonstration of horning, using cups as tie points and leads Torching Techniques: Safely combining rope bondage and fire play, safely increasing the heat and intensity of the flame.
Avatar's 35th Anniversary Celebration and Exposition
By Tommy Trafelet
Avatar Club los angeles will present an exhibition of erotic art at Highways Performance Space on February 17. A celebratory gala will be hosted by International Mr. Leather 2017 Ralph Bruneau, featuring his live performances. A new metal sculpture by Wim Griffith is available as a commemorative for the occasion. On display will be exclusive erotic art from noted artists Wim Griffith, Drubskin, Dean Cameron, Turk McNanty, B.B., Leo Garcia, Don Tingling, Joe Rodriguez and Michael Kirwan, and pieces never seen before. Two no-host bars, a silent auction, and Master of Ceremonies International Mister Leather Ralph Bruneau! Special dinner catered by Layne Sanden and special guest chefs. Tickets for the gala are $40 and all information is available at http://www.avatarla.org/35
Empire City MC Folsom Street East. Photo by Chaz Antonelli
ECMC’s Motorcycle Weekend
Empire City MC’s Memorial Day Motorcycle Weekend was simply amazing this May at The Ranch in New York State – everything from the ride up, the ride back, the fantastic meals served all weekend-long, the camaraderie of the guests – we couldn’t have had a better time. The day trips were fun and included: Cycle Stop, Extreme Biker Leather, Ground Rounds (prime beef hamburgers) at Bill Gray’s and Abbot's Frozen Custard. On Sunday afternoon, we had a pizza-baking contest. We were all exposed to craft beers, thanks to the folks from Three Rivers MC. There was even a very touching collaring ceremony on Friday night! Sunday, anti-road gremlin bells were presented to three new bikes/bikers: Jack, Erik and Earl.
Smokeout - 20th Anniversary
Smokeout celebrated its 20th Anniversary in Las Vegas the weekend of April 4-7 at the Alexis Park Resort and Villas. Most of the hotel was reserved for Smokeout with its cigar and pipe studs, Leatherman, bikers, bears and friends, from all over the world. Smokeout is a free-flowing weekend so everyone could enjoy Las Vegas the way they wanted. Maximus had their barber chair going, the Bullet Bar and SF Eagle hosted a play area that was busy, Rocky Mountain Rebellion supplied booze and lots of Rock and Roll music, Desert Brotherhood MC ride to Lake Mead, Cigar Poker party, bootblacks, the Chicago Hellfire Club had a Scotch and Cigar social. There were groups going to cigar shops, restaurants, shows and bars. The pool area was busy at almost all hours. Great job Bob, Shadow, Leather Uniform Club of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas boys of Leather.
Scene from Southwest Leather Conference 2017. Photo by Dave Rhodes
Southwest Leather Conference - Take the Plunge
Southwest Leather Conference 2018 - Take the Plunge will highlight the annual Southwest Master/slave Contest and Southwest Bootblack Contest in gorgeous Phoenix, Arizona. Southwest Leather Conference also includes Dance of Souls hook pull ceremony, keynote brunch, play parties, a large number of classes and workshops, Leather Tribe Revival and other socials. http://www.southwestleather.org/content/registration NOLA Leather to Geaux 2018 March 16 - 18, 2018 hosted by NOLA Leather to Geaux March 16-18 at 6 PM at the Phoenix, 941 Elysian Fields Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117-8535.
Dr. Brad Sagarin, one of the leading researchers in the physiological and psychological effects of BDSM, will return to the Southwest Leather Conference in January 2013 to share the latest scientific research on BDSM/Leather in the post-pathology era and will continue studies during the Sunday afternoon Dance Of Souls event at the conference.
A learned research team will join Dr. Sagarin at Southwest Leather Conference to discuss the results of previous studies including a large-scale comparison of personality traits in BDSM practitioners and non-BDSM controls (spoiler alert: BDSM folks come out looking pretty good), experimental evidence that empathy softens sadism, and an academic analysis of the benefits of explicit discussions about consent over silent assumptions. The team will also share the latest results from their lab including a Switch Study that produced the first known objective evidence that BDSM causes altered states of consciousness.
The 2013 change in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistic Manual) that depathologized sadomasochism has opened the doors to more mainstream research pertaining to sadomasochism including studies that show positive benefits of BDSM. Dr Sagarin has been a forerunner in scientific BDSM research and this change allows him even more latitude to further his investigations.
1. For those who don’t know you, please tell us about yourself & what your titles are.
First the easy part: As far as titles are concerned, all mine have been given to me as honorary titles.
1999 Man of the Year from National Leather Association International
2007 Lifetime Achievement Award from National Leather Association International
2010 Recipient of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Leather Leadership Award
2012 Presidents Award - Pantheon of Leather
Now the hard part: I am a native Texan and have been active in the LGBT community since the early 1970's. I became fascinated with Leather in the late 1970's and stepped into my first Leather bar sometime around 1978. Since that fateful day I have continued on my Leather journey and am a former member of the Dallas Motorcycle Club, Leather Rose Society, National Leather Association, Discipline Corps and a founding member of Inquisition Dallas.
I have written many articles on Leather/BDSM topics and am the author of four books currently in circulation including "Family Jewels, a Guide to Male Genitortureand Torment "and” Soul of a Second Skin-Memoirs of a Gay Christian Leatherman."
I have also directed a few films on Leather/BDSM subjects including "Leather" a short film-poem about the gay male Leather experience and "Out of the Darkness, the Reality of SM" a documentary on the critical difference between SM and abuse.
Professionally I am a Marketing Specialist and I live in Dallas with my boy/partner of 18 years Patrick and our feline mistress, Elvira.
2. What or who got you started in the leather community and for how long?
What drew me to Leather was the hyper-masculinity of it. I never considered myself feminine; nor was I attracted to feminine men. Leather just pushed all the right buttons for me and once I got involved I fund that I really liked rough sex and SM.
The community, as such, didn't really exist when I came in, but the subsequent AIDS crisis pulled us together and gave us a real sense of purpose. We, in Dallas, started educating our community to the many ways sex could be hot and kinky and still be safer-sex.
3. Which club or bar are you affiliated with and tell us more about the history?
Currently I am a member of NLA: Dallas and Discipline Corps. NLA: Dallas is a pan-sexual organization with a mission to educate and network Leather/Fetish/BDSM folk of all sexual orientations and genders.
Discipline Corps is a men-only social and play group whose primary focus is monthly dungeon parties and having a good time!
When I go to a bar it is the Dallas Eagle, our local Leather bar, though I am not officially affiliated with it the owners, Mark Frasier and Jeffery Payne are close friends of mine.
4. How did you enjoy being one of the judges at IML XXX5 and what were your favorite moments?
Judging at IML was an amazing experience. I was worn out form the long days, but energized by the great men I met during the experience. I knew most of the judges before the contest, though I did make new friends since a couple of the judges were new faces to me. We all bonded immediately and the contestants were all outstanding. The final choice was very hard, since any of the Top 20 could have easily been a wonderful IML.
My favorite moments were getting to meet so many folks from outside the US, and the South African delegation was a particular joy!
5. Tell us about your charity involvement and goals.
As far as charity work I have several. My contributions to my church, Cathedral of Hope are an ongoing passion of mine. We even have a full pew of Leather folk wearing their colors every Sunday. I also work with Kiva, a micro loan organization that funds small businesses and individuals across the world.
I serve as Chairman of the Board for the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance in Washington, DC and work raising funds to support it and its many programs.
6. Tell us about your leather family.
My leather family is small, just me and my boy/partner. My extended Leather family is larger. About 8-10 close friends who I think of as family. Beyond that I have a large circle of friends who I have met at events and contests all over the continent and they too, are like family. I consider them my Leather cousins.
7. Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
I have to say my father. He taught me a lot as far as values and how to treat other people. He was authentic and honest and I try to emulate that. He loved his work and his family. He was intellectually curious and being a scientist, he never stopped learning, and that is something I think I got from him.
8. In your mind, what’s the biggest misconception of the leather community?
The biggest misconception I see about the Leather community is that we are some sort of homogenous group with a written code of conduct and values. No such thing. We are as varied as the general population, except for our love of kink and Leather. As a whole I have found our community does communicate more than the average vanilla folk, and I attribute that to the fellowship of our organizations and to the need for communication when we play.
9. What would you say are the most important strengths to have as a Leather man?
Honesty, authenticity and a good bull-shit detector.
10. What does leather mean to you?
I could prattle on about this topic forever but I would sound like I was doing a canned speech for a title contest. In reality leather means as many different things as there are people involved in it. Some simply are drawn to the fetish. Leather clothes and gear are sensual, organic and arousing. Some are drawn to the BDSM aspect of it. That was part of my attraction.
Leather folk, the energetic and intense encounters that SM play offers. I went into it thinking I would be a "grey Hankie" guy. Only into bondage and light SM but quickly realized that bondage was really not very interesting to me and more hard-core SM was my thing. Changed my hankie to black and never looked back.
11. What do you see for the future of leather in your community and internationally?
It is in a state of flux. Leather always changes, as sexual pioneers we are on the edges of what is possible physically and sexually and so there will always be something different and new. I see a disturbing trend to try to turn back the clock and relive the glory days of Leather in the 1970's, but surprisingly the people who are trying to do that are predominately straight. They have adopted the Leatherman look as though it was a codified uniform and remind me of " Renfair" folks, donning period costumes and role playing at Leather.
12. What does sexual freedom mean to you?
As someone who came of age I the late 1960's sexual freedom means being able to define my sexuality on my own terms Being able to enjoy consensual activities with other adults and not have to conform to any rigid rules. I have begin to think of myself more as "Queer" than gay, not because I do not have an affectional orientation toward men, but because I enjoy playing with anyone so long as we click and our goals are the same. Sexual freedom is a basic human right, it is up to us to define it and express it and celebrate it.
13. Whats your view on the huge anti-gay wave that is happening in certain states in America? What do you think people can do to protect their rights and help others retain it?
What you mentioned as the "anti-gay wave" sweeping parts of the country is not a massive display of anti-gay sentiment in my opinion. It is the last gasp of the hard core bigoted right. Their attitudes are dying out. Public opinion polls show most Americans believe in equality for LGBT citizens. What these anti-gay laws are is an attempt by the right to change the framing of the issue from "equality" to "religious freedom" or as I call it the freedom to hate.
All of these attempt have failed and even in far-right leaning states like Arizona. Even there the Governor recognized it's not a religious freedom issue it is equal rights. The laws are clumsily crafted and over reaching to begin with and would not withstand judicial scrutiny, so I have o believe its just politics and its not working.
14. We all have so many issues we want to highlight, please tell us what cause is close to your heart right now and how are you involved?
The issue closest to my heart is the cause of sexual freedom. I believe sexual freedom is a fundamental human right and as such it needs to be protected and nourished. To that end, I work with the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance, a human rights group with the focus on sexual freedom. In fact I am chairperson of the board. That's how involved I am and how important it is.
We work to affect policy concerning sex education, freedom of speech, sex workers and gender and sexual inequality. It's a great organization that has made a real difference for our country. Woodhull holds the gender and sexuality seat on the US Human Rights Network, the group which monitors our country's adherence to the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
15. What advice can you give a future title holder?
Be authentic, approachable and honest. Bull-shitters stick out like sore thumbs. The title holders I know and admire are all down to earth folks who try to use their titles to benefit the community not themselves.
16. Tell us what your favorite piece of Leather is and why?
Other than my hat, my favorite piece of Leather is my flogger. It was made by Janet Hartwood and designed to fit me perfectly. The falls are longer than most folks like, but they balance perfectly with the handle and the flogger becomes an extension of my body when I play. I have several floggers and all were custom made for me. I believe if you invest in quality your toys will live as long as you do.
17. In your own words, can you tell us the difference between BDSM and Leather?
Hard to say. I used to think of them as the same, but apparently there are folk who see a big distinction. Leather does not imply SM, it can simply be a fetish. It is also a different kind of community and that is what sets it apart nowadays. To some folks Leather can only be gay men and BDSM is pan-sexual. There is another word that is loaded with nuance. Pan-sexual was a word coined by the Leather community to describe its inclusion of all sexual orientations, but has been co-opted by the straight community to mean "heterosexual" sexual orientation with some lesbians thrown in for spice. If I sound cynical, that's because I have seen this in practice. Play space where two women playing together was acceptable if they were playing in ways that the men enjoyed, but men playing together got stares and snide comments.
Personally I don't have problems playing in the newly defined "pan-sexual" spaces, I think a Leather person can define their own Leather-space and create a scene wherever it works.
18. Please tell us exactly what is beyond vanilla & what are your favorite activities you indulge in?
I would think anything that goes beyond plain sex would qualify as beyond vanilla. Spankings, role play, bondage, SM all of it moves beyond vanilla for me. My favorite activities are floggings and clothespins and CBT, but most often these are woven into some kind of erotic experience. I think all SM is better with an element of Eros. It doesn't have to be penetrative sex, but without a sexual aspect it has less appeal for me.
19. What’s the funniest safe word that you have heard?
Then comes the safe word. I have heard lots of strange ones from "aardvark" to "Pontiac". Personally, I like this system. I tell my bottom or sub to call me "Sir" as long as he or she is having fun, and to call me "Hardy" if they need to talk. It keeps the communication going and has never failed me.
20. What’s your favorite drink? And if you could invent a cocktail for the Leather community and what would you call it?
Well I stopped drinking in 1986 so my favorite drink is sparkling mineral water. My drink for the community would be just that, mineral water with a chaser of mouthwash, cause I love kissing and detest bad breath!
18. We would love to have you visit South Africa in the future, what classes do you think we could benefit from?
I do a lot of classes, but my favorites are a workshop I call "Putting Sex Back in SM." The pan-sexual dungeons in the US are notoriously tepid when it comes to palpable eroticism. Many do not allow sexual activities for legal reasons and some just are uncomfortable with sex. This workshop is intended to put that spark of the erotic back into the play in the dungeon and discusses and demonstrates how scenes can become erotic encounters with no "traditional sex" happening.
My "Family Jewels" workshop is always fun. Concentrating on CBT and how it can become part of a scene. I explain the use of toys, safety and exploration of various aspects of genitorture.
I have a complete list of classes I present I can provide you.
19. In conclusion, anything you would like to add to this interview for the Leather community of South Africa?
I would add that the Leather community in South Africa seems to be vibrant and growing and I encourage you to continue to explore, share what you learn and nurture the next generation of Leatherfolk. To them you will become the "Old Guard" and with that is the heavy responsibility of knowing you are setting an example for future generations. Play hard, play safe, have fun!
Mid-Atlantic Leather judges named
By Patrick Grady
The judges for Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather were named. They are Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather 2017 Martel Brown, International Mr. Leather 2017 Ralph Bruneau, International Mr. Leather 1992 Lenny Broberg, Mr. Eagle NYC 2016 Darkqwolf, American Leatherwoman 2012 Doc, Mr. Leather Europe Joe King and Sister Tiny Bubbles. The scores will be added up by Mark Branson of COMMAND MC and International Leather Sir 2015 Tug Whitehead. Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend will be held January 12-14 in Washington, DC. Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather 2018 will be a contestant in the International Mr. Leather contest in Chicago, IL, Memorial Day Weekend. Go to http://www.leatherweekend.com/ for details.
International Olympus Leather 2019 - Three winners in Chicago
International Olympus Leather was held in Chicago, Illinois May 3-5 with Rayna kitten becoming International Ms Olympus Leather 2019, Ferris Oxide chosen to be International Mx Olympus Leather 2019 and Randal boy glovez named International Mr. Olympus Leather 2019. 11 International Olympus Leather Alumni were in attendance. Head judge Fred Anderson won the Leather Rhodes Service Award. West Coast Olympus Leather Producer Anthony Harmon passed the West Coast Producers torch to Rayna kitten and Mina Fatale. Anthony Harmon was named International Olympus Leather Contest Producer and Vonn Tramel announced she would be focusing her efforts on the expansion and administrative efforts. Karen Ultra emceed and lit up the stage in a neon-orange dress and blonde wig.
LA Leather Pride
Two weekends of fun saw the largest attendance for many of the events. History was made when Mr., Ms LA Leather and Bootblack were held together, Assembly was huge, Doug Okeeffe had four Fireside Chats, Tom of Finland on display and the Off Sunset Festival grew. Eagle LA, Bullet Bar, Eagle 562 and Faultline hosted several events. La La Land was ready for great weather after two months of rain and the skies complied.
Eagle LA Mr. Leather 2019
By Robert Green
Mike Ebelhar took the 12th title of Eagle LA Mr. Leather in a tight competition of four very sexy men. The runner-up was Valdinei Santos. The Eagle was packed with a line around the building, with Leatherfolk from near and far in attendance. Co-owner Charlie Matula presented the Eagle LA Recognition Award to Riley Black of The Satyrs Motorcycle Club and the Regiment of the Black and Tans. January is the heart of los angeles Leather Contest season with every weekend full of Leather and events. Seven contest weekends in a row run into February. LA Leather Pride Week caps the season March 23-21.