Black Boot Diaries
by Sarah Lashes

From Issue 2.3 - December/January 1995/6

Leatherfest in the Big Apple

The thought of spending November in New York City might send chills down most people's backs, but at the invitation of John Weis, the new president of Gay Men SM Activists (GMSMA), I found myself doing just that. I also discovered that I wasn't the only San Francisco pervert making the cross-country trip for the Leatherfest weekend.

Actually, Leatherfest was more than a weekend. Events began with a branding workshop on Wednesday presented by Bay Area body modifier Raelyn Gallina. While I arrived in NYC too late to attend, I did see the results, and it looked good. On Thursday, a New York- based safer sex information group and GMSMA got together to discuss safer sex. Friday night featured a fashion show at the Lure and a slave auction, and we finally got to show off our finest gear.

Sadly, a rubber ball that had been planned for that evening was cancelled, leaving this girl all dressed up with still plenty of other places to go. (The trick is to get a date like Lolita, a Eulenspiegel Society board member who knows exactly where to go, what to wear and who to do.) I found myself at Hellfire, a nice space with clientelle a bit on the sleazy side (being mixed), but plenty of people to play with if you looked. And I did.

Saturday was the "official" day of Leatherfest and the Lesbian and Gay Community Center was hopping. The Marketplace (a smaller version of our SM flea market) unfolded on the first floor, while workshops took place on the second. Big Dyke Daddy Irwin Kane breezed through New York, stopping at the 'Fest on his way back from Amsterdam where he judged the Mr. Europe Leather contest. Trish Armstrong of the Lesbian Sex Mafia threw a small birthday party for me at Mistress Mir's home, and wow, does she have an incredible dungeon! Most of the furniture was inspired by the Inquisition, and I took it as my duty to check out some of the pieces - only for curiosity's sake, of course.

Speaking of the Inquistion, I managed to view the Coward Collection at the Alexander Gallery on Madison Avenue, part of the Museum Macabre, a collection of original restraints, whips, iron collars, chain mail, an executioners chair and branks from the European Inquisition. At the same gallery I also managed to see an exhibition of fine pencil drawings by Daniel Ouellette, an artists who has taken body modification to the extreme and drawn it in a delicate, sophisticated way.

No trip to New York would be complete without shopping. I had the pleasure of escorting one of the Bay Area's finest, Mistress Josephine, on a whirlwind tour of the leather stores. Purple Passion (242 West 16th St, New York, NY 10011; (212)-807-0486) was our first stop. Hilton Flax, last year's winner of the Pantheon of Leather's Businessman of the Year award, opened the store six months ago and has been doing a roaring trade ever since. Specialising mainly in womens clothing, Flax has managed to select both standard favorites and a large collection of more unusual items. Our next stop was the Leatherman (111 Christopher Str. New York, NY 10014), which has every toy you could wish for, including hard to find items that one can usually only find in Europe and a large collection of high quality men's leather clothing. I had a fabulous time. The weather sucked, but the friendly welcome from the New York community certainly warmed my heart.

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Last updated: 16 December 1995