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.
Members of the IML Class of 2018 who appeared at Mid Atlantic Leather in January.
A record 71 men have officially registered by the early May deadline as contestants for IML 40 or International Mr. Leather 2018. IML contestant coordinator Jeff Tucker, an IML 1994 titleholder himself, greatly assisted in compiling this information. Contestants were given the opportunity to submit decent photos and brief bios. We have photos of all 71 and three-fourths of the supplied bios.Take a look and pick your favorites. One might pick their own Top 20 and compare it later to the list announced on stage at The Auditorium in Chicago, IL on Sunday night, May 27. This article originally had 72 contestants. One dropped out a few days before the contest due to a medical emergency. Find out more about IML at http://www.imrl.com
It was a picturesque afternoon for the Golden Gate Guards' Leather Cruise. Photo by Dave Rhodes
Welcome to Dave Rhodes' Hump Day - Wednesday, October 4, 2017.
This column will appear here every Wednesday on TheLeatherJournal.com
Folsom Street Fair means a Mama's Family photo shoot by Rich Stadtmiller on Dore Alley next to the Powerhouse in San Francisco.
Folsom Street Fair sees perfect weather
The Folsom Street Fair on Sunday, September 24 saw some of the best weather in the Fair's history.. The Folsom Street Fair was the culmination of San Francisco Leather Pride Week and had two huge dance parties, Magnitude dance on Folsom Street at 13th Street and the Deviants dance on Folsom Street at 8th Street. About 400,000 Leather and fetish enthusiasts descended upon the South Of MArket (SOMA) area for the festivities Magnitude dance area on Folsom Street at 13th Street, and the Deviants dance area on Folsom Street at 8th Street. Most of the vendors were repeats, but there were a few newbies. Lots of skin and nudes, more Leather, and plenty of rubber and puppies. More soon. https://www.folsomstreetevents.org/folsom-street-fair/
Mistress Cyan gives Leather and Fetish people a seat on the CSW Board of Directors in West Hollywood, CA. Photo by Dave Rhodes
BDSM/Fetish/Leather Community has a seat at the CSW table
West Hollywood, CA – On October 2, Christopher Street West (CSW), the non-profit organization that produces the annual LA Pride Festival and Parade, announced the results of its recent recruitment effort to bring new members to the CSW Board of Directors. This year, the organization received an overwhelming number of applications to fill only eight open seats. Among CSW's newest Board members is Mistress Cyan, President and CEO, Sanctuary Studios. Cyan joins seven other newbies and current CSW Board members: Steve Andrews (Secretary), Chris Classen (President), Erica Meyer, Raul Rios, Marquita Thomas, and Shayne Thomas. To read the full story go to https://www.lapride.org/press/la-pride-announces-newly-elected-additions-board Mistress Cyan said, "I'm honored to get the opportunity to better serve the community I love and cherish. I've been elected to serve on The LA Pride Board of Directors. The BDSM/Fetish/Leather Community has a seat at the table."
National Coming Out Day is Sunday, October 8
29 years ago, on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, we first observed National Coming Out Day as a reminder that one of our most basic tools is the power of coming out. One out of every two Americans has someone close to them who is gay or lesbian. For transgender people, that number is only one in 10. https://www.hrc.org/resources/national-coming-out-day
A Friendly Feast at Farmboy Kitchen was hosted by IML 2017 Ralph Bruneau (left) with Farmboy staff. Photo supplied by Ralph Bruneau
A Friendly Feast at Farmboy Kitchen
A Friendly Feast at Farmboy Kitchen hosted by IML 2017 Ralph Bruneau to benefit Mr. Friendly raised $1,000 on Sunday afternoon, October 1 in Los Angeles, CA. At least 30 people attended. The $40 admission covered great food and there was a silent auction. More photos at https://www.facebook.com/ralph.bruneau.7 Farmboy Kitchen is community-owned http://farmboykitchen.com/ To find out about Mr. Friendly's effort to stamp out the stigma of HIV/AIDS check out https://www.mrfriendly.org/about
Bob Behr assumes helm of Leather Archives Board
The Leather Archives and Museum (LA&M) has announced that Bob Behr has assumed the duties as President of the Board of Directors in light of Jon Krongaard's stepping down as President, effective September 27. Behr is a longstanding member of the leather, kink, BDSM, and fetish communities. He joined the Leather Archives and Museum Board in October 2016 and quickly took on leadership roles, serving as Chairperson of the Governance and Board Development Committee. Learn more about Leather Archives and Museum at https://www.leatherarchives.org/
Li Yinhe is China's most prominent female sexologist.
For sex advice, people in China turn to a 65-year-old female BDSM expert at $15 a pop
By Echo Huang of Quartz
In China, sex can be an awkward topic to talk about publicly. But the country’s most prominent female sexologist is trying to change the public’s mindset through her books, and now through social media.
Li Yinhe is known in particular for her research into BDSM, including her book Subculture of Sadomasochism, published in 1998, China’s first book on the subject.... The rest of the story is at https://qz.com/1059372/for-sex-advice-people-in-china-turn-to-a-65-year-old-female-bdsm-expert-at-15-a-pop/
Mr. New England Leather Weekend
The Fifth Annual Mr. New England Leather Weekend will be held November 17-19 in Provincetown, MA. Mr. New England Leather Weekend will include a fetish film festival, BLUF Cigar Social and the Mr. New England Leather 2018 contest. The winner will compete at International Mister Leather in Chicago in May. A full schedule of events, contestant applications and discount travel options are available at http://www.MrNewEnglandLeather.org
Voices of the Quilt musical needs funding
By Race Bannon
This project is important to me. The Quilt is a vital part of our history and served as a mechanism of solace during my own grieving when my first partner died of AIDS. This project needs money to move forward and I hope many of my friends donate. Donations of any amount, small or large, will help. Your donations are tax-deductible in the U.S. Two good friends, Jörg Fockele and Adam Ouderkirk, are part of this project's core production team and they uphold the highest standards and are men of impeccable integrity. Voices of the Quilt, endorsed by AIDS Memorial Quilt co-founder Cleve Jones and by the NAMES Project, is the story of a community, ravaged by the HIV/AIDS crisis, that rose up and took unprecedented action in the fight for human rights, in part through the creation of what became the AIDS Memorial Quilt - nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and estimated at 54 tons, the world's largest piece of folk art. The musical is a moving requiem to the fallen, a call to fight against a ravaging pandemic, and, above all, a celebration of life and the strength of community. Uplifting, joyous, and full of spirit, you will stomp your feet and sing out loud. Demos of song selections, performed by the composer, can be listened to on the donation page. https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/voices-of-the-quilt-workshopfundraising/voices-of-the-quilt-workshop
Avatar booth at Our Town LA Non-Profit Expo
Avatar Club los angeles will have a booth at the Our Town LA Non-Profit expo on October 14 Plummer Park, Fiesta Hall, 1200 North Vista Street, West Hollywood, CA 90046 from 12-4 PM. The purpose of this event is to allow the LA LGBTQ nonprofit groups listed on Our Town LA to promote themselves, the much needed services they provide and engage with the community one on one. Recreation, athletic and social nonprofits will also been in attendance. Those looking for volunteer and donation opportunities are always welcome. There will be entertainment provided by local talent, food donated by West Hollywood restaurants as well as raffle prizes and silent auction items. For event updates go to http://www.ourtownla.org/NPE2017.html
Forever Hard: The Story of the Everhard Baths
Author, actor and activist Ed Sparan conducts a presentation about the Everhard Baths Fire, which killed nine gay men in New York City in 1977. During this pivotal time in gay history, just after the Stonewall Riots, the gay community came together to better establish cleaner and safer places for gay men. When the AIDS crisis hit in the 1980s, bathhouses were shut down and sex turned back into the backrooms of bars by the 1990s. Ed will also talk about the play "Forever Hard" which tells the story of what happened that tragic night in May 1977. Stonewall National Museum - Wilton Manors Gallery, 2157 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors, FL. https://www.facebook.com/StonewallNationalMuseum/
Papa Bear Presents: Sash Bash Weekend
Join Mr. Iowa Leather 2016 Rob "Papa Bear" Anderson and current and past titleholders from around the region for a weekend full of fun, fetish, and family, Sash Bash Weekend is an event for the Leather family and friends to come together and celebrate, socialize and bring kink to Eastern Iowa area. March 2-4 at Studio 13, 13 South Linn Street, Iowa City, IA 52240. https://www.facebook.com/MIAL2016RobA/photos/gm.272421293272800/1571218662922049/?type=3&theater
The Bay State Marauders cocktail party at Mates Leather Weekend in Provincetown, MA. Photo by Steve Sheeky
Mates Leather Weekend first report
We just received photos from the Bay State Marauders cocktail party at Mates Leather Weekend in Provincetown, MA. We should have more by next week. Suffice it to say that it was another terrific weekend in Provincetown.
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.
Beat Your Drum - This Is Halloween!
Beat Your Drum - This Is Halloween will be held Friday, October 20, 10 PM to Midnight at the San Diego Eagle. Fetish Men San Diego is producing this event. Join in supporting California Drummer and Drummerboy at the San Diego Eagle Beat Your Drum is a night designed for kinksters to represent their own personal fetishes.
Electro named Mr. Michigan Leather 2018. Photo by Bryon Hayes
Electro named Mr. Michigan Leather 2018
By Bryon Hayes
Electro, from Kalamazoo, MI, who was competing as Mr. Campit Leather 2017, was tops among four men to become Mr. Michigan Leather 2018 at Mr. Michigan Leather XXII Weekend (MML), which took place on Saturday, September 23 at the Dunes Resort in Saugatuck, MI. Corey Vinegar was the runner-up. Electro will compete at International Mr. Leather in May. This year’s contest featured a Friday night SINsation Kickoff Party hosted by the Sinergy, a Bourbon and Cigar Party, hosted by the Michigan Band of Brothers; various workshops presented by Diashto and Issa Arden sponsored by the Chicago Hellfire Club and Titans of the Midwest; and a poolside barbecue. The event was emceed by Mr. los angeles Leather 2006 Bob Johnson. The judges were IML 2017 Ralph Bruneau, L.E., Ross Ransom, Daddy J and outgoing Mr. Michigan Leather 2017 Kenn Kennedy.
Dr. Nyobi says more Black couples are choosing BDSM to spice up sex
By Mo Barnes of rollingout
A recent dinner party at the Punany Playhouse and demonstration by famed sex education expert Dr. Nyobi Ross has shown that more Black couples are choosing to spice up their sex life with a little BDSM. Dr. Nyobi was a special guest for this past weekend’s Punany Playhouse event and she did not fail to surprise some of her guests. Read the whole story at https://rollingout.com/2017/09/21/dr-nyobi-says-black-couples-choosing-bdsm-spice-sex/spice-sex/
Atlantic States Leather winners. Photo by Digital Dreaming
Atlantic States Leather Weekend
By Rodney Burger
Frat Daddy George from Granby, Massachusetts was awarded the title of Atlantic States Leather Sir 2018, Justin Charles from Baltimore, Maryland was sashed Atlantic States Leatherboy 2018, and Callie Girl from Newport News, Virginia took home the Atlantic States Community Bootblack 2018 at the Baltimore Eagle in Baltimore on September 22-23. There were no additional contestants. Sloppy Seconds was the theme of the second annual Atlantic States Leather weekend. The Sir/boy judges were Daddy Al Santora, Mary Elizabeth Boyd, Rod McCoy, Ron Koski, KJ Nichols, david zeidler, and boy alex leffers. The Bootblack judges were boy Anderson, Jay Falcon and Christopher Edwards. There was a small vendor mart at the host Hotel Brexton which also saw several workshops. The contest was emceed by International Mr. Leather 1994 Jeff Tucker and COMMAND MC member Brie Devine.
Dallas Fetish Ball
The Dallas Fetish Ball: Torture Garden will be held November 10-11 featuring performances by Yusura, Miss Miranda and Lou Lou D'Vil. The Dallas Fetish Ball will include vendors, latex fashion, a spanking booth and a photo booth. The event is produced by The Church Dallas and will be held at 2424 Swiss Avenue. Get tickets in advance at http://www.LeatherMasters.com Many premium spots have been sold, so act soon.
Women's International Leather Legacy titleholders aboard the Hornblower for the Leather Cruise of San Francisco Bay; left to right are WILL 2011 Tracy Wolf, WILL 2013 Angel and WILL 2017 Renee Beckman. Photo by Dave Rhodes
Golden Gate Guards' Cruise of San Francisco Bay
The Golden Gate Guards did their part to make San Francisco Leather Pride Week special when they hosted their annual Cruise of San Francisco Bay on Saturday afternoon, September 23. The Hornblower boat left Pier 40 around 5:30 PM and the weather did not disappoint. Not too hot and clear The tall girl is Renee Beckman, WILL 2017. The African-American girl is Girl Complex, IMsL 2017. The other girl is Angel, WILL 2013. And then there is me, Tracy Wolf, WILL 2011.
San Francisco Pride's Membership elected four new Directors
On Sunday September 17, San Francisco Pride's Membership elected four new Directors to join the seven incumbents on their Board — each new member will serve a three-year term starting October 4. New members Nikki "Tita Aida" Calma, Elizabeth Lanyon, Jacob Little, and Amy Sueyoshi, with re-elected incumbent and current Board President Michelle Meow, join Jacquelene Bishop (Treasurer), Anietie Ekanem, DJ Gray, Nguyen "Win" Pham (Secretary), Justin Taylor, and William Walker. The theme for 2018 is Generations of Strength. Leather has a powerful visibility at San Francisco Pride. For more go to http://www.sfpride.org/
Artists of all kinds shared their talents during the Tom of Finland Art and Culture Expo. Photo by Dave Rhodes
Tom of Finland Art and Culture Expo
Over 150 enthusiasts attended the Tom of Finland Art and Culture Expo was held at the Tom of Finland House in the Echo Park District of los angeles, CA September 29 - October 1. To salute Kino Lorber's October release of the Tom of Finland biopic, this year's programming had a focus on moving pictures and pictures in motion, namely skateboards with artwork and tattoos on living bodies. Artists of many kinds, including a guitarist, had spaces throughout the grounds. There were displays of art including a skateboarding wall display of the north side of the building. Check out http://tomoffinlandfoundation.org/foundation/Events/ev_2017_09_30_toff_art_festival.htm
Foot Fetish 101 - everything you need to know about tendon loving care
By Miranda Kane of Metro
No matter how much an enthusiast explains their love of the humble tootsies, feet are still seen as the red-headed stepchild to their more popular siblings, bums, boobs, eyes and lips. So what is it about this particular extremity that has millions of people – from all over the world, and of every gender – desperate to get their hands on your teasing toes? Read more at http://metro.co.uk/2017/09/23/foot-fetish-101-everything-you-need-to-know-about-tendon-loving-care-6913693/?ito=cbshare
Great Lakes Leather Alliance XVI
Great Lakes Leather Alliance XVI (GLLA) was another whopping success the weekend of September 28 - October 1 in Indianapolis, IN. The keynote speaker will be International Mr. Leather 2016 Patrick Smith and the Carter Johnson Leather Library was there. We are awaiting word on the contests and other events, but we did come up with a photo of the Carter Johnson Leather Library. http://greatlakesleather.org/
Empire City MC 53rd Anniversary Dinner
Join Empire City MC on Sunday, October 8 at 44 1/2, 626 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10036 for their 53rd Anniversary Dinner in New York City, NY. The cash bar opens at 6 PM and dinner is served at 7 PM and there's plenty of free parking on and around 10th Avenue on Sunday. Tickets are now for sale for only $39.95/per person. Get them at http://www.ecmc-53.eventbrite.com and although you can pay at the event, Empire City MC asks that you please purchase your tickets in advance to prevent denial of admission due to limited seating. For more information on Empire Motorcycle Club go to http://empirecitymc.com
Avatar President and Vice President elect Dennis Beisbier and Tommy Trafelet. Photo by Dave Rhodes
Avatar elects officers
Dennis Beisbier of Long Beach, CA was elected Avatar Club los angeles during the club's September 27 meeting at MCC in the Valley in North Hollywood, CA. Joining Denis are Vice President Tommy Trafelet, Secetary James McCurdy, Treasurer Perry Ash and at-large Board members Xavier Espejo, Adam Forrest and Dana Atkinson. Beisbier recently took office as President after President Don Doyle passed away in early September
How you can include your information on Dave Rhodes' Hump Day. If you come up with a date and basic information on a new event, please send us the date and a short detail or two. This is designed for the web site and less so for print, so there is no 45 days-in-advance deadline. If your event is happening on October 27, make sure I have it by Monday afternoon, October 9.
You had a contest or run over the weekend - send us the names of the winners and a photo and a brief bit about it. Your events hotel room block opens - that is news. Send the link and a brief. Someone passes and you want people to remember them, let us know - photo please if available, but do not let lack of an immediate photo stop you from sending.
We're getting more photos - join the club. Send yours to us. If a news item comes in which we feel should also be a larger article we will contact you about it. Send to me at Photos need to be jpg format.
Please share us on social media.
The entire LGBT community - I hope you get your asses to the polls. This is the big one.
Valley Pride Street Festival hosted by Bullet Bar
The Valley Pride Street Festival was hosted by Bullet Bar on Sunday, August 12 on Burbank Blvd. between Cahuenga Blvd. and Strohm Street. This was a first=year effort. While I was there, at least half of the crowd was from the Leather community. At the same time, in conjunction with Valley Pride, MCC United Church of Christ in the Valley held an extension for families and young people. There were food trucks, vendors, clubs including Avatar Club los angeles, ONYX Southwest, Bears LA. The Bullet Bar and Eagle LA teamed up to host a cigar lounge. CMED and LANG had a booth promoting naturism. Bullet Bar, 10522 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601.
The Leather Archives & Museum has announced a documentary film about the history of the LA&M to be released in 2016. Christina Court, producer and director of the documentary High Shine: 15 Years Of International Ms Bootblack (High Moo Production, 2015), has teamed up with the Leather Archives & Museum to produce a documentary short that celebrates the communal effort that made LA&M the institution it is today. Court will use materials from the LA&M archives and film new interviews that will help bring the history and LA&M’s collections to life. While showing the current and evolving state of LA&M, she also hopes to provide a glimpse of what members and visitors could see from and in the LA&M into the next quarter century.
Eleven years after the first known reported case of AIDS and less than one year after artists Etienne (Dom Orejudos) and Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen) passed away, Leather history was forever changed. During the 1992 International Mr. Leather contest, IML owner and co-founder Chuck Renslow took the microphone. Within his remarks, Renslow announced that he and other community organizers had met and agreed it was time to establish the Leather Archives & Museum (LA&M). Renslow defined the organization as a way to ensure Leather history and the names of the thousands of Leather folk that the community had lost over the years, especially to AIDS, HIV and cancer, were not forgotten. Renslow’s announcement was immediately met with long and loud applause. Four months later, the LA&M opened a checking account with a $1,000 check donation from International Mr. Leather, Inc.
Over the past 25 years the LA&M has experienced nonstop growth. The museum and archives has resided in two locales on the north-side of Chicago. The organization has shifted from a sub-cultural destination spot for Leatherfolk to a cutting-edge community-based research institution, a well-renowned museum that appears on Chicagoist’s Ten Best Museums In Chicago, and an institution that is home to the largest collection of Leather, kink, alternative sexuality and BDSM historical objects and documentation in the world.
For more information on the Leather Archives & Museum check out http://www.leatherarchives.org
Folsom Street Fair Week events in San Francisco
Folsom Street Fair
The world's largest single Leather event will be on Sunday, September 30, the Folsom Street Fair which will turn Folsom Street from Sixth to 12th Streets into one big Leather sardine can. Everything imaginable will be seen there and much of it done there. The area in front of the Powerhouse and the Steamworks Twister game will be packed. We have a calendar of events below.
The Leather Hall of Fame honors and preserves the legacy of the extraordinary people and organizations that have significantly shaped the history of the Leather/BDSM communities worldwide since 1950. We are pleased to announce the 2018 inductees: International Mr. Leather (IML), Black Leather in Color, The Society of Janus (SoJ).
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
Pantheon of Leather XXVIII saw a crowd of about 150 Leatherfolk attend the awards show emceed by Christopher Edwards on Thursday night, August 30 at the Double Tree By Hilton Dallas Market Square.
Ralph Bruneau - You have been an amazing IML. LA and Avatar are proud of you as should all of the naturists be.
Lenny Broberg - I hear you are retiring, not confirmed. You have done the SFPD and police overall, proud. Thank you for all you have done. Palm Springs next. Hope you find the largest and best house of your liking.
Tim Brough and Joel - Maybe dinner together during one of Palm Springs' special events - or come to LA. We have great delis.
Jaco Lourens - A one-way ticket to Southern California.
My name is Gary Wasdin, and I am the new Executive Director of the Leather Archives & Museum. I am humbled to have been chosen to lead this organization and to continue the work that so many have contributed to over the past 26-plus years. While I am only in my third week, your passion and commitment to the LA&M and its work is evident. Thank you for your support.
The Pantheon of Leather Awards will be held during the International Leather Sir, Leatherboy and Community Bootblack weekend in Dallas, TX.
The Awards will be presented on Thursday night, September 1 in a Formal Reception.
The Nomination process began on April 5 and runs through May 31.
The winners will all be announced on stage during the International Leather Sir, Leatherboy and Community Bootblack weekend.
The Selection Panel is comprised of individuals who received Pantheon of Leather Awards in 2015.
Eric Paul Leue - Man of the Year
Patty - Woman of the Year and Community Choice Award (Woman)
Mufasa Ali - Mr. Marcus Hernandez Lifetime Achievement (Man)
Leslie J. Anderson - Mr. Marcus Hernandez Lifetime Achievement (Woman)
Joyce Berger - Business Person of the Year
Herman Groenewald, South Africa - International Award
Leo Iriarte and Esteban Bartolo - Couple of the Year
Master Michael and slave angie - Couple of the Year
Tyesha Best - Florida Regional Award
Jeff Gruenberger - Great Lakes Region
Todd White - Mid Atlantic Regional Award
Janet Ryan - Midwest Regional Award
Daddy Ray Tilton - NorCal/Northwest Regional Award
Brent Heinze - Rocky Mountain Regional Award
Tony Mayes - South Central Regional Award
Russ Mortenson Boyd - Southern California Regional Award
Jack Pearce - Community Choice Award (Man)
Bob "Bulldog" Rothwell - President's Award
Daddy Al Santora - President's Award
Make your nominations by clicking here.
Biographies of the Nominees at
Please take the time to read the bios for the nominees before casting your vote. There are people you might not know and their bio might help you make your decision.
By Jaco Lourens
1. For those who don’t already know, please tell us about yourself and your connection with the Leather world.
I’m a queer futch (femme-butch) Leather woman. I’m married to an amazing man, named Cobi and we are part of an awesome leather family called the House of AndOr. I live and breathe this lifestyle. Leather is at my core.
2. Please tell us who got you started in the Leather community and for how long?
Cobi, my husband, introduced me to the Leather community four years ago.
3. Which club or bar are you affiliated with and tell us more about the history?
I’m affiliate with quite a few! We’re very lucky in San Diego to have a large community with lots of options! I am the president of The Stomping Ground San Diego, San Diego’s first sex-positive community center. We just opened our doors on March 6, 2015. I’ve been a member of Club X, a pansexual BDSM education group, for 4 years which has been around for over 20 years. I’m a San Diego girl of Leather, a member of the Southland Title Sisters and of course my favorite group, the Gang Bang Girls, all of which were started in the last two to three years. I think what I’m most proud of is being a part of the history of amazing Leatherwomen. International Ms Leather is such an honor to have as a title, and as my year continues and I interview past IMsLs, producers and VIPs, I learn more and more about the history of this great legacy.
4. What made you enter your first Leather contest and who was the person that stood by you all the way?
I entered because it looked like a lot of fun! It became much more than that as the contest neared. In preparing for the contest I was required to answer a lot of questions about my part and identity in the community. Self-reflection helped me to know myself and my beliefs better. I learned history and imagined how I might make my community better. Cobi, my husband, stood by me the entire way. As a matter of fact, when he first met me, he told me I’d be IMsL one day. I didn’t even know what that was then!
5. Tell us about your charity involvement and goals for your title year.
My time and energy are spent within the Leather community. So I have become a FIRM believer in keeping the Leather community’s funds within it as well. The Leather Foundation helps many of the groups in San Diego and beyond to grow. It is a parent organization and 501(c)(3) umbrella organization for many Leather groups in the community. My goal this title year is to promote the peer to peer network of mental health awareness and support through the Leather dog tags, the “You are Not alone” campaign. I’ve also begun to work on the 30th Anniversary of IMsL history book. That’s a HUGE undertaking and not an easy task.
6. Also tell us about the “you are not alone” campaign, and how can we get involved or support this cause?
Depression and suicide is a great concern in our community. People who commit suicide usually do so because they feel alone and that needs to not be an option. Our community is typically very supportive of one another. We are everywhere and often come to the aid of community members in need. After seeing so many posts online about people struggling to deal with their feelings, some without resources to get help, I thought there should be some way to connect to one another and offer support. I created Leather dog tags with the phrase “You Are Not Alone” on them as a way for people to “flag” to others that they are open to talking and listening to anyone who may be struggling with feeling alone. Letting people know that there is always someone willing to help them is a start to creating stronger, more positive and mentally healthy communities. Purchasing dog tags for yourself lets people know you are their ally. Purchasing one for someone else reminds them that they are not alone. Each tag that your purchase covers the cost of two more being made. As the network expands, so does the support system. Visit https://squareup.com/market/imsl2015 to get your dog tags!
7. Tell us about your Leather family.
The House of AndOr is such an amazing support system. We started with four of us and now, three and a half years later, there are 10 of us in the family. We have traveled to many different conferences together, we learn together, we play together, have family dinners together but above all, we love together. Half of us are on at least one board within our local leather communities. So the core values of Leather are practiced daily within our family.
8. Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
My grandfather, who I call Papa, is most influential in my life. He is a calm, loving and patient human being. I aspire to be half as great as he was. He put Neil Armstrong on the moon! I have a favorite picture of him sitting at a computer the size of my house, with Neil Armstrong leaning over his shoulder, while my Papa taught him how to use the equipment that he engineered.
9. South Africa woke up at 3 AM every morning when IMsL was broadcasted live, and one of our favorite moments was seeing your fantasy, because of copyrights we could not hear any audio but we all went nuts! Please tell us your inspiration and the thoughts behind the awesome fantasy?
OMG I love hearing this!! SA is so dedicated! My inspiration was of course the Gang Bang Girls (a group that I am a co-founder of) and my love for Disney. As a child I did theater a lot, so I knew I wanted something epic, a little difficult to choreograph and something that was entertaining, funny and reflected my personality. I’ll bring the fantasy video, with music, to SA for you all to see. It really is better with music!
The fantasy was created for my run for the Ms. San Diego title. Although it is usually frowned upon to repeat fantasies, Judy Tallwing McCarthy (a judge for the SD contest and IMsL #1) loved it so much she suggested I do it for IMsL. I had so much positive feedback about it I decided to make some modifications and perfected it for the IMsL stage. Each princess’ song used denoted their part in the bathroom scene. It was choreographed down to every last beat. I even used Cobi as my understudy, so that I could watch it from the audience myself and perfect each movement. We practiced it for seven months!
10. In your mind, what does Leather mean to you, and what is the glue that keeps us together?
Leather to me is the heart and drive to make a subculture succeed. The glue is love. We love each other, we respect each other, and sometimes we even play with each other! I think that a lot of us forget that the reason we came into this community is to radically alter our sex lives. It’s easy to lose sight in that with all the fundraising and bake sales we do.
11. If you can be anyone dead or alive (not yourself) who would you be and why?
I would be Aubry Hepburn. Her life seemed so amazing and rare. A famous movie star, a beautiful and confident woman, but above all, she was diverse.
12. What do you see for the future of Leather in your community and internationally?
In my community I see a great coming together. It’s a large but very segregated community (which is not a bad thing). But there are some who are very serious about making sure there is a community center for all to enjoy and I think that will bring a lot of people together to make sure that succeeds.
Internationally, I think that there will be a lot of cross cultural pollination, if you will. I hear that Leather in Germany is very different than Leather in San Francisco. I enjoy the differences that I experience within and around all the communities I visit; some of which I want to bring home!
13. Tell us what your favorite piece of Leather is and why?
My favorite piece of Leather is a Leather flower that my very vanilla best friend gifted me before I ran for Ms San Diego Leather. She says to me as she hands me the flower, “Good luck with your contest, I know you’ll be the Queen of the Leathers.” I almost died laughing, but I was crying so much as well!
14. What’s the funniest thing that happened to you in Leather?
The night that the GBG’s (Gang Bang Girls) started has to be the funniest. IMsL 2013 Sarha, was at a conference we were all at. She had heard about our long night of gang banging each other (there were four women in total) and seemed interested so the next night we invited her to our room. One of the four of us, Nerissa, was not in the room when the shenanigans began, but immediately jumped in when she arrived. So Nerissa is elbow deep in Sarha, and looks over at me and mouths, “Who is this?” I laughed a little and just picked up her title vest off the back of the chair and held it up for Nerissa to see. The look of panic and embarrassment set in and Nerissa turned fifty shades of red!
15. What’s the funniest safe word you ever heard?
Refrigerator. After hearing it I said, “that’s a good one! As a fat girl it’s my safe base, so that’d be a great safe word!”
16. What’s your favorite drink? And design a drink or cocktail that represents you and what would it be called?
I have been sober for almost two years, so I’ll design a Mocktail: Let’s call it the Dirty MarTina it would be cherry 7-Up (my favorite drink), mint and sugar, shaken and poured into a martini glass (cause they’re pretty)
17. What was the last meal you cooked just for yourself?
Dino-Shaped chicken nuggets and sweet potato fries. It’s my ultimate comfort food.
18. You’re on an airplane and get stranded on an abandoned island with five other people. Who will be doing the cooking, who is your personal massage therapist, who do you push into the water to keep the hungry sharks at bay, who builds a bonfire to attract the ship in the distance and who is in charge of building that raft?
Guy Fieri would be the cook.
Dwayne Johnson (the Rock) is my massage therapist (with happy endings).
Donald Trump will keep the sharks at bay.
Cobi will build the bonfire.
Tom Hanks is building the raft (he has lots of experience).
19. What’s your home town and what five non-touristy things would you show me and why?
My home town is San Diego, one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world, so it’d be hard to show you non-touristy things since it’s a tourist trap! But here goes:
1. I’d take you to S&M (Sausage and Meat) restaurant- and we’d look up the safe word on their Facebook page for a free sample of any of the special bacons!
2. Game night with my Leather family- they’re epic, and everyone leaves having had an amazing time
3. We’d go to a little place I like to call secret beach - a small hidden patch of sand tucked away in the Cays of Coronado. We can bring my dogs and watch them run around like crazy and swim in the water!
4. Sailing on the Glorietta Bay - and if we can do it on the Duke of Pudding’s boat called Las Palabras, it can be a kinky adventure! once a year he puts on an event called Jello wrestling on the Bay where he builds a platform and blows up a kiddie pool and fills it with Jello, and the competition is to see who can get the ankle bracelets off the other first. Just last weekend he did an event that involved rope on the water, where people were tied to the bow and dangled over the water form the boom. He’s very creative.
5. I’d have to show you the kink clubs and hotspots! There are only a few, but all are great - so I can’t choose just one.
20. In conclusion, anything you would like to add to this interview for the Leather community globally?
It has been such an amazing year so far, with so many more amazing things to come! If anyone is wanting to run for IMsL, I would say go for it! you don’t need a title to run, and all women of all types are welcome to run as well. No limits on race, gender expression (as long as you’re comfortable with a women’s title), sexual orientation or religion. It was such a great experience for me, and I cherish the memories I have with everyone from my class.