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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Review of Los Angeles Leather Pride 2013

I wasn't pleased with Los Angeles Leather Pride last year, and I didn't make much of a secret of my thoughts on the topic. There were conflicts, complications and quandaries that the local community was struggling with, so my complaints were meant to be helpful, rather than just piling on.

A year later, I have nothing but praise for the crew that took everything over and re-booted the original concept. As an outsider, I arrived with the intention of observing how the team interacted, along with the usual blow-by-blow litany of the stuff that happened.

Official Website
Schedule of Events
My Photos from Mr. LA Leather Contest 2013
Archival Photos of the Mr. LA Leather Contests from 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004



TEAMWORK

The first thing that I noticed was how the majority of Los Angeles men at each event were in a clear mood to cooperate. Even if they had no defined role, they wanted to help out. Yes, there were folks in charge, and specific flunkies to handle assigned tasks, but I could tell even many of the casual drop-in guests were there specifically to help out in any way that they could.

How do I know? I interviewed a lot of people, doing "market research". The majority of guys showed up because they wanted the basic, foundational concept of a gay leathermen's Tribal Gathering to succeed.

Yes, there were men who wanted to show up to gain plenty of external validation and hot cruising (nothing wrong with that!), but the same guys also arrived ready to be brothers together. The crowds this year were slightly smaller, but they appeared to be happier, more affectionate, and folks stuck around longer. Less clique-y, more intermixing.



PROWL AND GROWL / MEET AND GREET



The slave and I arrived at Mickey's in West Hollywood on Thursday the 21st of March and found ourselves in the midst of a continuous swarm of activity and excitement. Few of our San Diego brothers and sisters had arrived (they would show up 24 hours later), so it was time to wave at my LA buddies as they would swoop past in a blur of activity. They were making it easy for the judges and contestants to meet each other.

I was assured by the folks in charge that everything that COULD have gone wrong beforehand HAD gone wrong, including the city shutting down parking along the street. However, due to the sheer grit and determination of the organizers, plus the congenial and cooperative crowd's good will, resulted in this result:


Take a close look. Yes, it's a posed picture of the contestants running for the title of Mr. Los Angeles Leather 2013. But, notice how relaxed, brotherly and unified they are. They looked like this all weekend. They clearly felt supported, loved and confident.

Last year, the focus and theme of the event was much more scattered. This year, EVERYTHING was cohesively arranged to support the new leaders, volunteers, visionaries and brothers who would be on that stage on Saturday. It clearly provided an excuse for everybody to be really, really nice.



THE ART OF DRUMMER

Now THAT's a patio worth spending time in, shared with friends and some cigars!



A few of our San Diego crew gathered for meals, chats and brotherhood during the weekend. One of our shared events on Saturday (while the contestants were being interviewed) was the Art of Drummer exhibit at Antebellum Gallery, which is still ongoing until April 12th.


It's a highly-recommended, fascinating look into our shared cultural history, hosted by the gallery's owner, who was one of the photographers for Drummer Magazine.


The artwork looked so wonderfully familiar to me. As a younger gay Leatherman, I never missed an issue of Drummer if I could help it. The erotic art helped a massive number of us to fine-tune our own kinks. If it was new, hot and sexy, then a new style, fashion-trend or fetish could be born in a very short time.

In the days before the Internet, our Tribe depended on magazines, social columns and community-leaders/spokesmen in order to come to common agreement on how we felt about issues that directly affected us all.

Drummer Magazine was a major reason why leathermen came to be so successful in the late 1970's. That was our first Golden Age, and we are currently enjoying our second.




THE ASSEMBLY, AT ROUGH TRADE


The Assembly Uniform Reception is the annual all-formal-gear event that starts out the weekend. It featured members of BLUF (Breeches and Leather Uniform Fanclub), the California B&B Corps, and The Regiment of the Black and Tans, along with their friends and admirers:





This turned out to be one of my favorite events, because it was MUCH friendlier and welcoming this year, particularly for the younger men that I saw in the mix. They looked happier, and looked like they were where they belonged. Older guys like me have what we need, and now, it's clear that there is room being made for the next generations.

Titleholders galore!

For instance, it was almost impossible to get a photo of the contestants where they WEREN'T cracking each other up.  They were bubbling over with good cheer, and it showed:


After getting formal leather photos with my loved ones, I headed off to the Eagle for some fun interactions.


Honestly, it was a LOT like one of San Diego's events. LOTS of happy laughter, lots of hugging, and people stuck around and circulated. Much less nervous energy, less stress. Much better this year!



THE MR. LOS ANGELES LEATHER 2013 CONTEST

I spent the whole time looking through the lens of my camera, but I had a perfect seat, and got to enjoy everything up close.


The theme of this year's contest was "TRADITION: A Look Back to Move Forward", and I can agree. I have been photographing contests in Los Angeles for a long time. This one was much warmer, supportive and well-run. Everything worked well, and the contest moved along briskly.

The photographs are here. I suspect that I was the only one doing the full array of photos.

As always, Judy Tenuta proved why she is our Love Goddess!

I didn't attend a lot of events, but I feel as though I got my full money's worth, and then some. I am eager to see how the upcoming years change the goals and the expectations in Los Angeles. Our brothers deserve great applause for their hard work. It paid off in many ways that are providing the larger community with traditions and "family reunions" that we can all depend upon.



AND THE WINNER IS!!!!
By Robert Blackmon

Justin Emerick (Mr. Regiment 2013), was sashed as the newest Los Angeles Mr. Leather 2013 on Saturday night at Circus Disco in West Hollywood, Ca. Justin along with his six other leather brothers strutted their stuff to impress an esteem panel of judges. Bar wear, jock strap and formal wear were the three categories the men competed in. A twenty minute interview was done earlier in the day and the scores from each made up the total. A side splitting intermission show was performed by the hilarious comedian Judy Tenuta. She held no prisoners in her bawdy act. The ordained minister held a "surprise" wedding ceremony in which she pulled on stage LALP Vice Chair Kevin Casey and his DP of five years Brian Denhart. The two were married in her own religion "Judyism".

The night was just beginning. During the contest there was an exhibit of leather history and exotic art help in the Leather Hall of History. 665 Leather, Rough Trade, The Tom of Finland Foundation were among the businesses that donated items in the silent auction which raised more than $3,000 for local charities. The beneficiaries include: Project Angel Food, Being Alive, Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, One National Gay & Lesbian Archive and Sharon St. Cyr Fund.  The night ended with the most anticipated dance of the season Meat Rack "Off the Hook". Hundreds of the hottest guys in So. Cal piled into the club and danced the night away.

This year's LA Leather Pride celebrated L.A.'s past, present and future with the theme "Looking Back...Moving Forward". And that they did. The week was kicked off on Saturday March 16th with Tom's Angeles which was sponsored by The LA Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence who saluted the Tom of finland Foundation at Eagle LA. equally on that same night at Pistons Bar in Long Beach PROBED (the Black Party) was held benefitting Long Beach Aids Foundation.  On Sunday the 17th Hell on Wheels Pt 1-the Ride was held. This was the official kick off to the week as the contestants hopped on the backs of motorcycles and visiting several of L.A. iconic bars that have made our local community great.

The ride six hour ride ended at The Bullet Bar in North Hollywood, where Avatar Club Los Angeles sponsored the beer bust and contestant number draw. Stories in Leather  was held on Monday the 18th  at The Bullet Bar. Mr. L.A. Leather Bear Carl Dove hosted this one of a kind event where leather folk came together and shared their stories and experiences in the leather community. Followed by the very popular Spank! The Dark Side of Karaoke hosted by Mr. Long Beach Leather 2010 Alex Kitay. The Art of Drummer Magazine a traveling exhibition from the Leather Archives was held at the Antebellum Hollywood on Tuesday the 19th.

The week wasn't all uptight and high brow. All hell broke loose on Wednesday night with Hell on Wheels Pt II - Roller Skating Fetish Party at the  Moonlight Rollerway. This fun filled evening hosted by Payasos LA brought out the roller derby in all of us! You haven't lived until you've roller skated with the view of Mr. LA Leather Justin Emerick in a short leather gladiator kilt wiggling in front of you! The weekend began early on Thursday the 21st as Bears LA converged on Mickey's in West Hollywood to sponsor Prowl & Growl. This was the official LA Leather Meet & Greet. Leather men, bears and strippers Oh My!

The Assembly Uniform Reception hosted by the California B&B Corps, The Regiment of the Black and Tans and  BLUF took place at Rough Trade on Friday night. This social brought out leather men far and wide in their best uniforms and leather formal gear. Later that evening Maximus continued the theme and hosted Cigar Social at Eagle LA. After Saturday night's fantastic even the weekend was wrapped up with a fitting Mr. LA Leather Victory Brunch and the 10th Annual Southland Honors Awards at Pistons Bar in Long Beach.

Guests were treating to a scrumptious buffet by caterer  Layne. Several community leaders were honored including business of the year The Bullet Bar in North Hollywood and the late Kent Arnoldt. A special community service award was renamed in the memory of the incomparable George Wong. The GW Award was given to a very shocked and overwhelmed Marlon Morales. The afternoon concluded with the Pistons Beer Bust. For more information on all of the events and photos visit www.laleatherpride.com

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