Here are a few more articles that didn't make it into the book. I thought I'd share them with you here.
Marlboro Men, and Much More
Originally published in Lavender (January 6, 2006)
Brokeback Mountain, the film by Ang Lee based on the short story by Annie Proulx (screenplay by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana), is rapidly becoming the cultural landmark it deserves to be. When I first heard the film was being made, I knew I would be writing a column about it.
But Brokeback is not the film I thought I’d be seeing. And this column is not exactly the one I thought I’d be writing. Brokeback Mountain is more perfect and more profound, more touching and ultimately gut-wrenching, and more simultaneously tragic and uplifting, than I could have imagined it would be.
Let’s get the superficialities out of the way first: Cowboy aficionados will love the look of this movie. At first glance the two main characters, Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal), seem to be two prototypically hunky, macho Marlboro Men—but without the theme from “The Magnificent Seven” playing in the background the way it used to in Marlboro commercials.
(Actually, there are a lot of good-looking men in this film—many of the extras in the rodeo scenes are members of the Calgary Gay Rodeo Association.)
The cinematography for the first part of the movie captures lush, wild, expansive, breathtaking vistas of Brokeback Mountain. Herds of sheep move like ocean waves, and two beautiful men live under the stars, cook over a campfire, bathe in a mountain stream, caress and roughhouse and fall in love.
Missing New Orleans
Originally published in Lavender (September 30, 2005)
"Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?" I do—now more than ever.
Over the years both leather culture and gay culture have been among the many that have benefited from the spicy influence of New Orleans. That influence sends the despair and destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina far beyond the Gulf Coast region.
For me, amid the shock and horror of the news, it was memories that came flooding. The first time I visited New Orleans was in the mid-1980s at Christmas. My partner and I stayed at a hotel on Canal St. at the edge of the French Quarter. The holiday atmosphere was charming. They even had some snow for us Northerners.
For several years New Orleans hosted Pantheon of Leather, and the New Orleans leather/fetish community showed Pantheon visitors the most gracious kind of southern hospitality. The event was always the first weekend of Mardi Gras, when things were festive but still manageable. The Barkus parade (dogs and their owners in costume) became a Pantheon and Mardi Gras tradition for me.
I remember the food—beignets at the Cafe Du Monde, country French comfort food at La Madeleine, grand dinners with other Minnesota leatherfolks at the Palace Café on Canal St., Paul Prudhomme’s Cajun specialties at K-Paul’s Restaurant, burgers cooked under a (real) hubcap at the Clover Grill, and pralines from Aunt Sally’s to take home. My midwestern palate always appreciated the way New Orleans chefs are able to make food spicy yet flavorful (as opposed to just burning hot).
Knight of Leather Celebrates 20th Anniversary
Originally published in Lavender (August 19, 2005)
This year the Knights of Leather became the third Minnesota leather club to reach the 20-year mark. Founded as a club exclusively for leatherwomen, the Knights were reconstituted in 2000 as a pansexual leather club. I recently interviewed P.J. Knight, the most senior member of the Knights of Leather, who told me the fascinating history of the club.
The Knights of Leather was founded in January, 1985, by five leatherwomen. Shortly after starting the club, two of the founders moved to San Francisco. Another was with the Knights for two or three years. Another, nicknamed "Kooks," was a member of the Knights for six or seven years and now lives in Florida.
The only founding Knights member still in the area is Red (now Russ) Helbig, who for many years was involved with Twin Cities Gay Pride, Leather Pride, and Minnesota Leather Encounter as well as the Knights of Leather. Helbig left the Knights about ten years ago.
For years I was under the mistaken assumption that Knight helped found the club and that it was called "Knights of Leather" because of her last name. Knight was not one of the five original members. She was, however, the club's first pledge, or "squire," in March, 1985. Three months later she became a full member and has been one ever since.
Robert Davolt, 1958-2005
Originally published in Lavender (July 8, 2005)
Elegy for a Dinosaur
“San Francisco writer, publisher and humorist Robert Wayne Davolt, 47, died on the 15th day of May, 2005, after a brief battle with cancer . . . in which, obviously, the cancer came out slightly ahead.” These words begin Robert Davolt’s self-penned obituary. No one else could have done it like him.
Davolt was a multi-talented and prolific writer, editor, publisher, businessman and leatherman. He was best known for being the last editor of Drummer, the pioneering and iconic leather magazine, and for being the executive producer of the International Mr. Drummer contest.
After Drummer ceased publication Davolt wrote for many other publications, edited several issues of Bound & Gagged, and wrote an online column on Leatherpage.com that had a readership of nearly 125,000.
In 2003 he published his first book, Painfully Obvious: An Irreverent & Unauthorized Manual for Leather/SM (published by Daedalus, www.daedaluspublishing.com). The book was nominated for an American Library Association Stonewall Book Award.
Davolt’s next book, nicknamed GotterDrummerung: Twilight of the Odds, was to have been his full account of the demise of Drummer Magazine.
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