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!
The Southern California Leather Gathering (SCLG) 2014 will be held on Saturday, June 21 at the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area in South El Monte, CA, from 11 AM - 4 PM.
SCLG is an annual outdoor picnic gathering that is open to all Leather/BDSM/Fetish, kink, motorcycle and bear individuals and/or groups of all genders and orientations. The aim of the Southern California Leather Gathering is to provide an opportunity for these various folk to interact in a relaxed atmosphere, have fun and raise awareness about the size and diversity of the Leather/BDSM groups within Southern California. There will be games and prizes. Several clubs and groups bring tents or umbrellas.
Bring your own food and beverages (non-alcoholic only). Feel free to bring extra food to share. There will be grills heated up and available for anyone that wants to grill food.
CODE: Dress Rehearsal
CODE: Dress Rehearsal - MAL Discount Tix Night will be hosted by CODE at the Glorious Health Club on Saturday, January 6 at 9 PM. With MAL just around the corner, try out your best gear at CODE - it's "dress rehearsal" time! Harnesses, chaps and jocks, oh my! Don't be caught by surprise - it's always best to have a Dress Rehearsal. Glorious Health Club, 2120 West Virginia Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002. https://www.facebook.com/codedc/
Don Thompson passes
Don Thompson, perhaps best known as San Francisco Leather Daddy VIII, passed away on the morning of January 5, 2018 in Cathedral City, CA due to a long time illness. Don studied at Cambridge and Oxford University in the United Kingdom, country of his birth. Professionally, Don was a concert organist and president of Pipe Organ Presentations. Much of Don's Leather community service was as producer of Fetish Balls in San Francisco in the 1980s and 1990s. He was a member of the California Eagles Motorcycle Club. For several years he was co-emcee of the Pantheon of Leather Awards. One proud moment in his early years was as the organist for The Beatles' Mr. Moonlight. Thompson is survived by his husband Henry Jordan. A memorial service is being planned for Don. Photo gallery which will not leave one with dry eyes https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10157037282395968&set=rpd.1132007819&type=3&theater
Folsom Street Events announced charitable giving in the amount of $330,745 on December 15 in San Francisco, CA. With this, Folsom Street Events cleared the $4.6 Million Mark in its 28-year giving history.
Board president Jacob Richards said, “2011 was a solid year for Folsom Street Events and our charities. We are enormously grateful to our sponsors, beneficiaries, beverage partners, and the leather/fetish community for the ongoing support. This check represents an increase from our $326,161 in charitable giving for 2010. Particularly given the depressed economy, we feel that this check is a total success.”
According to executive director Demetri Moshoyannis, “Given that we had a less-than-stellar year with respect to the weather at both Up Your Alley and Folsom Street Fair, we relied much more heavily on the successes of our Magnitude and DEVIANTS parties. The size of our check proves the potency and spirit of the Leather/BDSM/Fetish community. The vast share of the check will support our 16 Major and Supporting Beneficiaries, including AIDS Emergency Fund, Castro Country Club, Central City Hospitality House, Frameline, Project Open Hand, and Transgender Law Center, among others. Given what has been happening locally with other community organizations that distribute funds from special events, we feel particularly proud of our efforts. Combined, we are supporting over 70 great charities in San Francisco and around the U.S.”
Folsom Street Events hosted a special evening to honor its beneficiaries, sponsors, and nonprofit partners with a check ceremony at The Armory, 1500 Mission Street, well known in the Leather/BBSM/Fetish community as the home of Kink.com. Special invited guests included Supervisor Jane Kim (District 6), Supervisor Scott Weiner (District 8), and many others.
Folsom Street Events is a 501(c)3 nonprofit agency that produces seven annual fetish events: The San Francisco Party at IML, Bay of Pigs, Up Your Alley®, SF Leather Week Formal Dinner, Magnitude®, Folsom Street Fair®, and DEVIANTS™. Its mission is to create volunteer-driven Leather events that provide the adult alternative lifestyle community with safe venues for self expression while raising funds to benefit charity. In 2011, an estimated 250,000-plus event attendees raised money for charitable donations.
The dynamic nature of Washington, DC’s urban redevelopment has allowed the landlord to grant the DC Eagle yet another extension of their lease at 639 New York Avenue NW. The DC Eagle will be staying at this location though January 2014. During the weekend of Mid-Atlantic Leather the DC Eagle will be testing out their first pop-up location which is at the other end of the DC Eagle's current block - 607 New York NW, the Fringe Building.
At a time where many established Leather, gear and biker bars are closing across the globe, the DC Eagle has viewed the challenge of a location move as an opportunity to create a stable home for the DC Eagle and a destination for all members of the community. If all goes to plan the new home will be at 3701 Benning Road NE with an anticipated settlement in February 2014. After renovations and improvements, the DC Eagle management anticipate an opening in late summer of 2014.
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.
Andy CosmicRoo, Mr. Rubber Toronto of Canada, won the Mr. International Rubber 2014 title at Mr. International Rubber XVII (MIR 17) weekend in Chicago, Illinois on November 9.
Andy was one of 10 contestants from across North America and Europe who traveled to Chicago to represent their regions at MIR. The first runner-up was Mr. Midwest Rubber of Des Moines, Iowa Jesse, and the second runner-up was Mr. Fetish Leather Austria of Vienna In Trouble.
Chicago entertainer Teri Yaki was the emcee throughout the weekend.
The contest took place over two nights at the Center on Halsted in Chicago’s Boystown. The first part of the contest on Friday, November 8, included the introduction of contestants; a step down speech by Stephen Perry, the husband of late MIR 16 Jason Lynch; rubber image and fantasy. Saturday’s portion of the contest included speeches; Mystery Bag; and audience vote.
Bears, Bikers and Mayhem is planning its fourth combined, Bear, Leather and Fetish run for March 27-30. For the second year, the run will be held in historic Gettysburg, PA.
In its fourth year, BBM just keeps getting bigger, better and more unique. As always, BBM brings together Bears, Leathermen and Fetish Lovers to share in the fun with men from all over the United States and quite a few international guests.
The weekend features PanDEMONium, a Leather and fetish dance party on Friday night and Boots to Briefs, a bear party on Saturday. We have a pool party Saturday afternoon, a welcome cocktail party, Gettysburg Battlefield tours, go-carts, laser tag, a breakfast, a dinner, Sunday brunch and much more. Our vendor market features many first class Leather and toy vendors as well as former Mr. Tom of Finland, Barber Pete. For entertainment the weekend delivers Comedian Peter C. Bisuito, performance artist Kendall Kelly and Porn Star Michael Brandon along with three DJ's to keep you on your feet. The fun and play goes on each night with an after party featuring free drinks for VIP pass holders.
Beyond Vanilla will be held September 26-28 in Dallas, Texas, celebrating almost a quarter of a century on fun in the Lone Star State. Hotel Rooms are going fast at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Downtown Dallas. Reserve yours in the Beyond Vanilla block to get the lowest rate. In addition to discounts in overnight parking.
The fun begins Thursday evening at 6 PM at The Dallas Eagle for the Beyond Vanilla Kick-Off. A complimentary shuttle bus will be running to and from the Crowne Plaza and The Dallas Eagle from 5:30 PM to 2 AM. Early Check-In will be available at The Eagle so you can avoid the lines on Friday.
Friday registration opens at 10 AM, with Vending, and Silent Auction opening at 12:30 PM. Workshops run from 1-6:30 PM. The night's entertainment starts at 7 PM.
Saturday will pry eyes open at at 8:30 AM when Vending, and Silent Auction opens. Workshops start at 9 AM and run all day with a break for lunch.
The South Central Mr. and Ms Transgender Leather contest will be held Saturday, February 8 Central Station, 1025 Marshal Street, Shreveport, LA 71101 with a Meet and Greet the evening before, Friday, February 7 at the same location.
The South Central Mr. and Ms Transgender Leather contest are: Interview, open to the public; Leather Image, based on how comfortable one is in your second skin; Speech; Presentation, seven minute presentation on any topic that deals with the life of transgender or transition; Fetish Wear
On November 2 The Threshold Society will present its annual Bizarre Bazaar. In addition to numerous vendors, there will be sampler booths, food, and entertainment.
This event is open to the entire community, with the doors opening at 1 PM and the fun winding down at 7 PM. Admission is $10. There will be vendors from around the country and locally who will be selling some of the finest and most interesting wares in town. Here is an opportunity to handle and size those "special" items for which one has been looking.
The sampler booths will give Leather/BDSM/Fetish/Gearfolk a chance to try some activities they may only have been fantasizing about. Try out the violet wand, or a flogger, or a needle or two. What does a cane feel like? Here is a chance to get a small taste in a safe and fun atmosphere.
Join Threshold on the night of November 1 for the club's version of Dia De Los Muertos, Day of the Dead, play party. It is the night the "spirits," so get closest to the land of the living and celebrate the night away. This party is open to the community and admission is $20.
Eric Leue bested three others in winning the Eagle LA Mr. Leather 2014 title at that bar on Saturday night, February 1 in Los Angeles, CA. The runner-up was Brian Holt. Emcee Pup Don Mike made the announcement to what may have been the largest crowd in Eagle LA history a few minutes after 1 AM.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence: los angeles House opened the show with a raunchy blessing that had the crowd in stitches and the judges were the victim of an banana prank that was a riot. It involved and insertion then force feeding. Beyond that is too much information.
The judges were head judge California Leatherman 2003 Kevin Casey, Eagle LA Mr. Leather 2013 Bill Robertroy, The Leather Journal publisher and editor Dave Rhodes, International Mr. Leather 2007 Mike Gerle and Mr. DC Eagle 2005 Daddy Scott.
The judges' boy was Boy Bill and the contestant handler will be Eagle LA Mr. Leather 2008 Jasun Mark. The tally master was Avatar Club los angeles member Carlos Deviez.
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.
The 2014 version of the Folsom Street Fair took place in perfect Leather weather on Folsom Street between 8th and 13th Streets on Sunday, September 21, one week earlier than the usual fourth Sunday of September. It was cloudy, not sunny, but was perfect for Leather/BDSM/Fetish/Kink/Gearfolk wearing plenty of Leather - not too cold. The Fair seemed to be crowded earlier than normal and several booths were open just after 6 PM as that usual 5 PM wind did not arrive.
The move one block west did what organizers hoped it would do. That, and the stage moved to 10th Street not far from Howard made for better viewing. The short walk from Folsom Street over to the San Francisco Eagle at Harrison and 12th Streets worked. What had been a parking lot across from the Eagle was converted into a party area with a $20 admission.
Most of the usual suspects had vendor or social booths including The Society of Janus, Steamworks, the San Francisco Bare Chest Calendar Men, Mr. S Leathers, Orchid and Serpent.