From Issue 3.3 - February/March 1997
Cuir Underground asked readers to tell us the five places, events, organizations, or publications that perverts must see while visiting their city or town. Several contributors couldn't decide on just five, so we've included them all.
Beginning with San Francisco's neighbor to the north, our correspondent Mavis had several recommendations for Seattle. For dancing, try the Vogue at 2018 First Avenue. Sunday night is "Fetish Night with Leather Thoughts." Industrial and gothic music rules at this pro-kink/mixed event for Seattle's die-hard fetishists. Saturday is industrial/goth night at the Catwalk (172 S. Washington). The Cuff (1533 13th Ave.) is Seattle's premiere gay men's leather bar. Neighbors night club is the venue for many leather/SM community events.
For shopping, check out the Crypt at 1310 E. Union Street, which has a good selection of leather clothing, accouterments, and toys. Toys In Babeland (711 E. Pike Street) is Seattle's answer to SF's Good Vibrations, featuring an excellent selection of dildos and vibrators; the store also carries toys, books, videos, magazines, and safe sex supplies. Fantasy Unlimited (102 Pike Street) focuses on fetish glam, featuring rubber, latex, PVC, and leather clothing from name designers, as well as a selection of glossy fetish magazines; this is Seattle's only carrier of P.E.S. electrical toys.
In Seattle, you'll trip over an espresso cart every block, but every two blocks you'll run into a piercing or tattoo parlor. Among the most highly recommended are the Gauntlet (112 Boylston Ave. E.) for piercing and Vyvyn Lazonga Tattoos (1516 Western Ave.). While in town, stop in at Beyond The Edge Cafe at 703 E. Pike Street, the official cafe for the SM community. The cafe hosts many community events and is a good source for flyers and information. Beyond the Edge features comfortable chairs, a relaxed atmosphere, a good cup of brewed tea, and SM art by local artists. San Francisco badly needs a place like this! For complete details about the Seattle scene, pick up Leather Pride (1122 E. Pike Street, Suite 707, Seattle, WA 98122; e-mail email@example.com or visit the Leather pride website), a bi-monthly newsletter featuring news, lists of organizations, and an extensive calendar of upcoming events.
Moving across the border, our Vancouver correspondent Sean recommended Xtra West, Vancouver's Gay and Lesbian Biweekly, as a good source of information about organizations and upcoming events. Richards Service Club (1169 Richards) provides sauna, TV, a lounge, a steam room, and private rooms. Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium (1238 Davie Street) -- the Vancouver bookstore that has been the subject of an ongoing censorship struggle with Canadian Customs -- is a good source of books, magazines, and a small selection of sex toys. The Edge Coffee House (1148 Davie) is the most popular gathering place after the bars have closed. The Limelight Cabaret (23 West Cordova) hosts a leather/levi night for men on the first, second and third Saturday of each month. The fourth Saturday is a mixed gender and orientation fetish party hosted by the Betty Page Social Club (fetish dress code enforced). Leather/SM groups include The Other Side (formerly NLA: Vancouver) which hosts a monthly demo/workshop and pansexual play party at 1221 Thurlowe Street. Vancouver Activists in SM (VASM) is a gay men's leather organization that hosts workshops and parties and publish the bi-monthly newsletter "Scene." The Vancouver Leather Alliance holds regular meetings and potlucks. Vancouver is also home to the BC Bears and Men in Boots.
Moving to the south, Guy Giumento reports that for gay men, the Faultline is the place to go. The bar hosts beer bust nights sponsored by various clubs (water sports fans, cigars aficianados, etc.). The Gauntlet II is another good leather/sm bar, and is the home of almost all the "back patch" clubs.
Our Texas correspondent reports that Austin can offer pervs great prices on leather and fetishwear. One source is the Leatherchest, located inside Chain Drive, a once gay male leather bar that now sees a more mixed (non-leather) clientele. Another shopping resource is Forbidden Fruit on Neches, with a good selection of toys and "educational devices"; the branch on North Loop has a better selection of fetish clothes. Austin is home to Bound by Desire (a pansexual group for women), NLA:Austin, and the pansexual, mixed-gender Group With No Name.
Moving to the Midwest, the college town of Madison, Wisconsin has perhaps more leather/SM activity that it's small size would suggest. For over twenty years, Rods was the pinnacle of pervy civilization in Madison before the death of its founder in 1991 and its eventual loss to fire last winter; plans to rebuild the Hotel Washington (also lost in the fire) provisionally include a reincarnation of Rod's. Today, the city's largest gay bar, Maneouvres, includes a dark space called the MAD Bar which has taken up the leather gauntlet. Tuesday nights are Fetish Nights at the mixed Cardinal Bar, where men and women get together to flaunt and flog. Several organized groups get together for play and perversion, but their events are not often publicized. The Unicorns of Madison, the local gay levi/leather club, delight in showing visiting club members around the city and around their dungeon.
Lolita, our New York correspondent, recommended several stores that carry leather/fetish merchandise. Purple Passion (242 West 16th Street) features rubber, leather, and PVC fetish clothing for men and women, as well as toys, magazines, and books. The Leather Man at 111 Christopher Street carries clothing, toys, magazines, and videos. Clubs include Hellfire (28 9th Avenue), which is open for pansexual perverts on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays the club is the Manhole (for men only). A block away is the well-known Vault, at 28 10th Avenue near 13th Street. The Lure (409 West 13th Street) is a gay men's bar with a strict leather/rubber/uniform dress code. The New Work Eagle, another gay men's leather bar, is located at 21st Street and 11th Avenue. The New York Renegades club hosts at least four dungeon parties a year, as well as a summer Camp Renegade. Finally, the New York Body Archive (9 Ninth Avenue near 13th Street) is a public resource center offering information and services related to a full range of body modification including tattooing, piercing, branding, scarification, and henna body painting. Open Fridays and Saturdays 2pm to 10pm or by appointment.
Our Boston correspondents Cecilia Tan and Kim Airs offered a wealth of suggestions. Club Man Ray (21 Brookline Street in Central Square, Cambridge) hosts their long-running fetish nights every Friday except the second Friday of the month, which is goth night. The club draws a mixed gender and orientation crowd. The main venue for gay leathermen is the Ramrod at 1254 Boylston Street in Boston (the club also welcomes women and transgendered leatherpeople). The Ramrod PX features leather, rubber and latex wares as well as wrestling gear. The Eagle in the South End also offers a leathery atmosphere and is home to the Leather Knights. Area fetish stores include the new eros boutique at 581 Tremont Street in the South End. Prices are good and the selection is excellent. Mistress Mimi and other fab dommes are on hand to lace you in and fix you up in leather, latex, PVC, wild boots, weird masks, and Skin Two-style imported fetish fashions. The venerable Hubba Hubba, which has long doubled as fetish and punk/goth headquarters, is located on Massachussetts Avenue in Central Square in Cambridge. Grand Opening! is a women-owned book, toy, and sex supply store (similar to SF's Good Vibrations) located in Coolidge Corner, Brookline. Body Xtremes is pushing the body modification frontier into neighboring North Quincy (414 Hancock Street). The Boston Dungeon Society runs workshops and classes suitable for novices and hosts social events; their membership leans toward an older, married, heterosexual crowd. Massachusetts Orgasmic Bitches (MOB) holds occasional events and runs an e-mail list for women into SM. Groups for men include Driezhen and the Boston United Leather Legion (BULL). The new England chapter of the National Leather Association meets the third Saturday of every month at the Ramrod, and hosts occasional special events such as the biannual Fetish Fair Fleamarket, which has grown into the largest fetish event in the Northeast.
Our correspondent from London recommended the SM/Fetish Market, featuring forty stalls of delicious pervery in shoes, toys, bondage gear, furniture, and equipment. The market happens the second Sunday of each month at the Arts Depot at 26 Pancras Road, Kings Cross (near Kings Cross tube station). Hours are 11am to 5pm, and admission is £1.50. Following the market is a party and a pissing competition. Regulation, at 21a St. Albans Place, Islington Green, is a fantastic gay bondage/SM shop (nearest tube stop -- Angel) featuring loads of butt plugs, dildoes, army gear, tubes, hard paddles, larger-sized rubber wear, hoods, masks, and some beautiful staight jackets; all the scene papers are available in the foyer. Club Whiplash (P.O. Box 2610, London W14 OTP) hosts wild nights of mixed SM the second Friday of every month for those into rubber, leather, tv, uniforms, and school wear; the club features tons of equipment on two floors. Hours are 9pm to 3am, admission is £10-14, and there is a strict fetish dress code.
If you're lucky enough to be in twon at the time, the Boat Party is a fantastic fetish and SM party that takes place once a year (in June) on a boat sailing up the Thames. The Pleasure Zone (P.O. Box 2610, London W14 OTP) hosts twice yearly SM parties run "for the people, by the people" (their Christmas party featured dungeons, schoolrooms, bumper cars, teacup rides and a pervy Santa). To find out more about the London scene, pick up the Pink Paper (gay/lesbian), Thud, Boys, Skin Two, or Ritual Magazine.
Several correspondents mentioned the queer Mardi Gras in Sydney on
March 1. The huge party and dance
features five pavilions, one of which targets leather/fetish/sm
folks. A leather cruise is held during the festival each
year. Correspondent Paul Kidd noted that Sydney's perv community is
fairly small, and linking into it requires a bit of luck. The city's
Leather Pride Week is held the second or third week of May each year
(May 11-17, 1997). For details, contact the Sydney Leather Pride
Association at P.O. Box 1524, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010. The Inquisition
Dance Party is held the last night of Leather Pride Week. If you miss
the big annual events, the Barracks Bar, a gay leather bar, is
downstairs at the Taylor Square Hotel in Taylor Square.