Don Thompson
February 2, 2006

THE LEATHER PAGE

Fifteen leather people and entities from the Palm Springs area were nominated to receive awards at the annual Pantheon of Leather, more than were nominated from the entire Los Angeles area, which has a population a hundred times larger than population here in the Valley. That in itself speaks volumes for the strength and visibility of our leather community here. We have two very active and popular leather bars, whereas San Francisco, for many years the leader of the Leather community, now only has one, which is only somewhat leathery at the Sunday beer bust. And New York City only has one leather bar now. So we must be doing something right here.

Pantheon of Leather is a sort of Academy Awards of leather. Nominations honor people who have done outstanding fund raising for charities, or who have proven to be successful leaders and motivators in the leather community. Also businesses, non-profits, events, clubs and business people are nominated for having been excellent in their own field. Among the people nominated from Palm Springs were Edward Espindola (a prodigious fund-raiser) and George Puddephatt, who found time not only to work full time at the Desert AIDS Project AND to be President of Palm Springs Leather Order of the Desert but also to turn up and support just about every fund-raiser going on. Among the other nominees were Chris Reese of the ToolShed as Business Person of the Year, the Barracks as Business of the Year and the Desert AIDS Project as non-profit of the Year. Other people and groups too numerous to mention here were also nominated.

Nominations came in from several countries and people nominated were from all walks of life and in all major cities (and some minor ones too) so the chances of anyone from Palm Spring actually winning and receiving an award are slim when you consider that hundreds of nominations were received. But we can all hope.

Pantheon of Leather is part of an exciting weekend in Chicago that includes the Mr. Cell Block Leather contest and the Mr. and Ms. Olympus Leather Contest. The weekend takes place from the 17-20 February so there is still time to get in on the action if you want to go. For more information go to your computer and check out www.theleatherjournal.com/pantheon.htm.

Another big event coming up which always attracts a large crowd from this Valley is the International Mr. Leather Contest (http://www.imrl.com/index.asp) which is held on Memorial Day weekend, also in Chicago. Our representative competing for the title this year is Bernard Stauffer, who won the Mr. Palm Springs Leather contest in November and is also Mr. Barracks Leather 2006. Bernard followed the example of his predecessors and joined many of the IML contestants by attending the Mid Atlantic Leather contest a couple of weeks ago, where he had a chance to size up most of the opposition and meet the judges, who were announced that weekend. American Airlines has a special rate for flights to this event.

Here in Palm Springs Mr. ToolShed 2006, Luc Benech, the close runner-up in the Mr. Palm Springs Leather contest, produced an event at his home bar last week to raise funds and awareness for the Meth Task Force which is working hard to combat the curse of methamphetamine addiction in this neighborhood and to help counsel and assist people trying to break free of the addiction. A great cause and a nice man into the bargain. Itís always a joy to see him out and about.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, almost all of them leather men, have formed a new Chapter (they call it a House) here in the desert and they had their opening presentation at The Barracks Bar on January 21. They had the crowd in stitches with the bizarre names they have given themselves. One that struck me was Rabbi MoredickforI. What scamps they are, and hard workers for charity too. See you all next week.