If you were to spend this whole weekend at The Abbey and Here Lounge, you might not have any idea that the other side of town was in the thick of Los Angeles Leather Week. Sunday March 21st actually marked the start of the twelfth annual week of leather-centric festivities, which provides leather aficionados with an excitingly diverse schedule of events, all leading up to the highly anticipated and already sold-out main event, the Los Angeles Leather Contest.
For those who may not have ventured much outside of the West Hollywood box, it might be surprising to know Los Angeles’ leather “subculture” is actually quite vibrant and active. But most anyone in North Hollywood or Silver Lake, communities that are home to venues like The Bullet Bar and The Eagle L.A., wouldn’t blink at the sight of a man in a harness—unless of course, he might be particularly studly.
The momentum for the week and Saturday’s ultimate contest has been building for several months from ten smaller, regional feeder contests. The contestants in the main competition this weekend were selected as representatives at events produced by local leather-affiliated organizations and businesses located across Los Angeles county, from Long Beach to Studio City.
And the prize for Saturday’s winners? Runner-up competes in July for the national title American Leatherman. The winner represents Los Angeles’ leather community for a year and goes on to compete at the International Mr. Leather Contest in Chicago in May.
Besides the Avatar Parking Lot Party at Faultline last Sunday, which essentially serves as a sort of presentation ceremony of the ten final contestants, a few of the week’s events have already occurred, including the “Roast and Toast of Ken Hearst,” who was Mr. LA Leather 2009 and the “Hell On Wheels” Roller Skating Party at the Moonlight Rollerway Skating Rink in Glendale. The latter was a particularly remarkable scene as members of the leather community descended on the Moonlight in jeans, harnesses, vests, and leather caps, to skate along to a range of music covering everything from classics like “Cherish” and “So Many Men” to more contemporary hits like “Bad Romance” and “Party in the USA”. Who knew leather guys liked Miley Cyrus? Among the mixed crowd of approximately 250 guests in attendance were Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, drag queen Phaedra, Leather Contest contestants and some dangerously talented skaters.
Other highlights this week include Friday’s “Southland Honors,” the awards ceremony that honors individuals, businesses and organizations that serve the Leather and SM communities, the Tom of Finland Erotic Art Fair in West Hollywood Park on Saturday and Sunday, and a new lunch-tour-shopping excursion in Little Tokyo, appropriately dubbed “Little Tokyo in Leather” on Saturday. Though tickets to the headlining event on Saturday are already sold out (check on Craigslist for second-hand tickets perhaps?) those interested in participating in the festivities can check out the Cigar Social at the Eagle LA, or swing by some of the hotter parties like the one at the Threshold on Friday or the men-only Anvil party on Saturday. Of course no contest would be complete without some sort of Victory Party, and those looking to mingle with the contestants and the winner of Saturday’s main event can drop by the bullet for the Saturday barbeque and join fellow celebrants on the Victory Bar Crawl to wrap up the week on Sunday night.
A Few Final Notes and Insider’s Tips:
The celebratory week of events is produced by The Los Angeles Leather Coalition, a non-profit organization comprised of more than twenty-five businesses, organizations and groups that support the local leather community, and other local leather-affiliated groups. For a full schedule of events, visit the Los Angeles Leather 2010 website.
Guests come from all over the map to attend Los Angeles Leather Week, and though the contest attracts mostly men, many of the other events of the week are mixed, so you can bring your leather lovin’ lady friend. Those events that are not for guys and gals will explicitly state that they are for “men only” on the schedule.
- To make a really rough analogy (don’t take offense at the over-simplification) “leather” is sort of used as an umbrella term, as one might use “gay” to refer to the LGBT community – guests aren’t just limited to wearing leather, but also incorporate rubber, latex, denim and other materials into their outfits.
Not to make such a dangerously grand generalization, but the leather community is one of the more accepting, warm subcultures in the LGBT community. Return that kindness with a bit of respect – if this is your first leather event, don’t show up in your khaki pleated pants and J Crew polo, dress appropriately as one would for a Leather Week event. Sure you don’t have to go out and buy your own harness, but at least make an effort.