International Mr. Leather 2019 Fashion

posted by Madame Bubby

I passed by a booth at the leather market, and I noticed witches' hats. Yes, the kind with the peak. I heard a woman cackling. No, I am not making the above up, and I am not recounting a surrealistic dream.

And this booth was also selling a particularly hot item at the mart, a leather crown (for Baby Boomers like me, it resembles the head gear of the character Jughead in the Archie comics).

jughead leather crown

To be honest, I've noticed changes in the types of items sold at the market over the years, but this one was certainly, let's just say, interesting. The leather market is no longer solely a gay male space, or for that matter, a “traditional” gay cis leatherman space, with guys wearing the iconic Village People gay macho gear.
 

Village People

Through the years, as a diversity of genders have competed in various contests, the overall inventory of the mart and those who attend it has changed to reflect a more fluid, self-defining identification with and practice of kink.

Thus, the witches' hats could reflect, however superficially, a Wiccan influence, and many gay leathermen have rejected traditional monotheistic religions in favor of other forms of spirituality, often veering toward transmutations of beliefs and rituals prominent globally before Christian domination and colonization. In fact, the polyamorous life of many leatherfolk meshes well with a fluid polytheism.

Other kink/fantasy trends that have integrated themselves into International Mr. Leather include costume play. Think Renaissance fair, think Lord of the Rings, think Game of Thrones. Opera masks, capes, pirate boots with the cuff.
 

Renaissance men's clothing

I also noticed a couple of furries, though the fox had to take off the head (the mart tends to become hot and claustrophobic).
 

Leathermen and furries at IML

And, surprisingly, because I had thought it was not trending, steampunk fashion. I noticed a couple of guys with this gear attached to their hats.

One of the events this year was a discussion of the superhero fetish; this event makes sense, as the culture is replete with multiple constructions, reconstructions, and deconstructions in this genre. The line to get into Avengers: Endgame merges with the line to get into the mart.
 

Men in superhero fetish attire at IML

Even the conventional leather gear is taking on the colors of the rainbow. No longer black and red leather shirts: I noticed bright yellow and a green that somewhat resembles a lawn turf.

Uniforms composed of cloth are now composed of leather. I noticed a boy scout uniform produced completely in leather, and a couple of leather football shirts. Leather for those who can afford it or who want to combine looks and textures, while the cloth will fulfill the fetish/fantasy on its own terms.

Overall, dizzying! A traditional Old Guard type might lament the diffusiveness and lack of authenticity he sees in these fashions, while a millennial might rejoice that she can find something that fits her sensibility and budget. Leather gear has always been expensive. In fact, I noticed substantive price increases all around), and I am not trying to perpetuate the broke millennial stereotype, but the traditional leather scene has tended to attract older, established guys who possess the time and money to be kinky.

But who can really determine not just how to appear non-normative, but be non-normative? The leather kink world thrives on the tensions between hierarchy/freedom, appearance/reality, norm/taboo.

Perhaps the kaleidoscope of colors and textures shows this tension as the scene embraces generations who assume sexuality develops on a spectrum, and for whom reality shifts at a dizzying pace between a cyberspace primarily visual and private: pics, gifs and memes, and the physical, public space of the mart invaded by all the senses: the smell of leather and sweat, the sound of boots, the touch of meaty hands and moist tongues.

Rate this blog entry:
993 Hits
0 Comments

The Men of Playgirl

posted by Madame Bubby

Playgirl magazine, often billed unofficially as the “magazine for women and gay men,” has undergone some changes in its presentation through the years (one can no longer obtain the traditional hard copies that were usually hidden under some gayling’s bed at some point).

Even the naked guys in the magazine have changed, and that change reflects some social trends. What is interesting is that as recently as last week, on a gay chat board, Datalounge, the subject came up, and it wasn’t just a retro/nostalgia discussion from the eldergays.

The original poster made a point that the models in the 1970s and 1980s generally revealed huge bushes, and that they were trim and muscular overall, not what one might term “gym-pumped” or, to be biased, “steroid” bodies.

Now, the first Playgirl centerfold was Lyle Waggoner, who gained fame by appearing as a regular on the iconic Carol Burnett Show. For her sketches, Carol needed a straight guy, and I bet she also knew she would attract a certain audience (the Playgirl audience) by showing off his easy, unaffected, yet indisputably, studly presence. The first issues of Playgirl did not show cock, though. That came later, when the previous censorship of such materials was finally letting up in the early 1970s.
 

Lyle Waggoner in the first issue of Playgirl
Lyle Waggoner in the first issue of Playgirl

Lyle Waggoner in a later issue of Playgirl
Waggoner in a later issue

When Burt Reynolds died recently, many remembered his moment in Playgirl. Of course the photographers hid his member, but there was plenty to fantasize about even if was not visible. And hair, so much hair. The poster I referred to on Datalounge mentioned hairy bushes as if that was a style of the past, and that observation brings up the issue of shaving. How much hair is attractive? Or the lack thereof?
 

Burt Reynolds on the cover of Playgirl in December, 1974
Burt Reynolds on the cover of Playgirl in December, 1974

And note that many of the models, especially in the eighties, loved showing off their luxuriant locks. This hair was not hippie long hair that evoked Woodstock dancing and shabby communes in the woods; it was more like the idealized long hair of medieval knights and cavaliers and the like, heroes and antiheroes of romance novels.

But the long hair encouraged even more muscles, perhaps a reaction to possible associations with effeminacy in the more conservative eighties. Thus, tight pants, pastel colors, and long hair were acceptable if your body wasn’t just buff, but pumped up.

And in 1992, a pumped up, hard-bodied stud with a tattoo (harbinging what is now a rather generic look among millennials) named Dirk Shafer appeared as Playgirl’s Man of the Year. And he was gay. He didn’t come out as gay until much later, and he died in 2015.
 

Dirk Shafer as the Playgirl 1992 Man of the Year
Dirk Shafer as the 1992 Man of the Year

Another Playgirl model, Bill Cable aka Stoner, apparently appeared with Christina Crawford (!) in a mysterious video which has disappeared from youtube, alas. He also died young, kiiled in a motorbike accident in 1992.
 

Bill Cable aka Stoner
Bill Cable aka Stoner

Now that gay for pay is prominent in the adult erotic world, one might assume that some of the current models in Playgirl’s online edition are gay. And perhaps, depending on their situation, they aren’t concerned about concealing their orientation. Still, this open fluidity seems to produce rather generic results.

The secret thrill of an actual print magazine that enticed because of its very danger, dangerous imagery, a dangerous situation for the reader, is missing.

I am not advocating for the closet, but one wonders if it’s time for Playgirl to reexamine its purpose and not just serve an Instagram page in a larger format accompanied by tips on fitness. Remember, this magazine actually dared to in its earlier years explore female orgasms and polyamory and reveal men as sex subjects and objects for women and gay men.

Rate this blog entry:
9620 Hits
0 Comments

The Death of Jack Chapman aka "Tank": A Warning and a Challenge

Last week I tweeted a developing a story about a member of the gay bear BDSM community, Jack Chapman (who took on the name of Tank Haferpeten), who died at the age of 28 from complications that ensued after a silicone injection into this balls. Tank was a “pup” in a polyamorous community under the mastership of one Dylan Haferpeten, commonly known on a various social media sites as “noodlesandbeef.”
 

Dylan with his pups
Dylan with his pups

Dylan and Jack aka Tank
Dylan and Jack aka Tank

This group of guys fetishized muscle growth, changing their body from conventional bear builds to bodies that resembled certain types of superhero cartoon or anime figures: abnormally large muscles and other body parts, attained not just by working out in the gym, but by artificial means such as steroids and silicone.

Some have claimed that Dylan himself suffered from some form of body dysmorphia, a pathology called “bigorexia:” his body could never be big or massive or muscular enough, and he was willing to do whatever he felt he needed to do to make his fantasy a reality. Yet when this dysmorphia doesn't just affect the individual, but others, the fantasy becomes a literally monstrous reality.
 

Illustration of bigorexia: a muscular man looking in the mirror and seeing a skinny man

Note I used the word pathology. Safe, sane, consensual BDSM relationships manifest themselves in different forms depending on the specific desires and needs of the participants, but the sources I have explored claim that Dylan's control of his pups took on abusive forms, including mandatory severing of family and friend relationships outside his polyamorous group (the pups had were only allowed to contact Dylan, and Dylan only, on their cellphones) and financial control (for example, signing over salaries to Dylan).

More tellingly, When Jack temporarily severed the relationship, Dylan sued him in small claims court for money supposedly owed, and he even refused to physically sever the collar Jack was wearing. When Jack returned to Dylan, he signed over an inheritance to him. (Three weeks later, Jack was dead.)

And in Tank's case, the most obvious abuse was the insistence on silicone injections, an unsafe, life-threatening procedure. (Some sources even claim that Dylan is connected to two more deaths related to silicone injections.)

What is even more disturbing is Dylan's attempts to cover up what actually happened, claiming Jack died from a lung problem caused by wildfires in the area (not going on at the time of his death a week ago). Dylan even concocted pictures of Jack in breathing gear. He also claimed Jack was alive when he wasn't. The death certificate, which has since been changed to reflect the true cause of death, silicone poisoning, first claimed Jack died from pneumonitis.

I'm not going to draw hasty, sensationalistic conclusions about some of the evidence I present above, but the story, even in sensationalistic forms that use terms like “sex cult” and “harem” which decry physically, socially, and psychologically healthy BDSM relationships, is profoundly disturbing on many levels.

There's a danger inherent in breaking taboos and living in insular communities that develop around breaking said taboos. Gay, bear, BDSM, leather, fetish, whatever: we are drawn to who we identify with and what we like, but a breaking of boundaries can result in a dangerous blurring of the boundaries that help define the dignity and self-worth of individual persons. In Dylan's case, his narcissistic pathology destroyed not just a person's body, but his soul and spirit.

On the other side of the globe, in Jack's native Australia, a mother, brother, and grandmother are grieving for their son. They don't regret that he was gay, or a bear, or into BDSM: they regret that a disturbed, dangerous individual who lacks a soul destroyed a whole, loving person.

Abuse is never OK. Never. It's up to all to us, starting at the local level, to watch out for each other. And social media gives us the power to do so on a global level.

Rate this blog entry:
3123 Hits
0 Comments

Contact Us | 800-932-7111 | Join our email list

Go to top