March 7, 2006
Bike clubs and other leather-oriented organizations have been around for a long time. Most people think that it all really began in 1953 with the release of the movie "The Wild One," starring Marlon Brando as a leather-clad biker. This was a highly erotic image and lots of gay people wanted to copy the style and join groups that shared their interest. Pretty soon the Satyrs Motorcycle Club came into being, and they are still around after 50 years and still putting on their highly successful Badger Flat Run every Labor Day weekend.
A "run" is a weekend away from home with other bikers and leather folk and it’s usually held in a fairly remote location at some kind of camp site.
Other bike clubs followed and by the mid-seventies there were scores, if not hundreds of them, all over the country and gay bars that they frequented in their biker outfits became known as leather bars. Unfortunately, AIDS appeared on the scene and biker clubs were particularly hard hit and in many places the clubs lost so many members in a few years that they no longer became viable entities and began closing down. The advent of the internet completed the process, as people stopped going to bars and joining clubs to find tricks.
Some clubs, such as the California Eagles required that you had to own a motor bike ride it (I was a member and had a Honda 750). Other clubs liked you to be a biker but it wasn’t mandatory and some clubs became just social clubs with very few riders. However they all had "runs" and they all wore biker leather, bike or not.
The Cal Eagles disbanded a few years ago, as did The Constantines, and The GDI club in San Francisco. Other clubs may have followed suit since then.
One would think that in a small community like Palm Springs and vicinity a club wouldn’t have a chance of surviving, but oddly enough, not only do they survive but they are growing. The Palm Springs Leather Order of the Desert (PSLOD) had only thirty or so members in 2002 but now there are close to seventy, many of them transplants from other cities who clearly miss the camaraderie of the bike clubs back where they came from. PSLOD meets the first Wednesday of every month at the Desert Pride Center at 7pm and guests are welcome. They also have a beverage benefit on the first Friday of every month at The ToolShed and they present Leather Pride Weekend which culminates in the Mr. Palm Springs Leather contest on the second weekend in November each year.
Their web site is at www.pslod.com.
Another club is the Palm Springs boys of Leather, www.psbol.com. Members identify as boys or submissives. The boys meet on the second Tuesday of the month at the Pride Center at 7pm, and they have a beverage benefit at The Barracks Bar on the second Friday of the month at 10.pm. The boys raise funds for various charities – on April 14th, for example, their beneficiary is the Desert AIDS Project.
A third local group is the Pride Riders. They were initially formed to protest the Gay Pride board’s decision not to allow motor bikes in the PS parade, but now they have continued as a club in their own right. They meet at the Barrack Bar on Thursday nights.
For those who are into rubber, the third Friday of every month sees the rubbermen having their beverage benefit at The Barracks and they put on a rubber weekend here every Labor Day. (www.westcoastrubber.com).
Finally, for uniform fans, a strong fetish in the leather community, there is the Palm Springs Division of the Boots and Breeches Corps. This group meets on the third Thursday of the month in members’ homes and they also have a monthly beverage benefit at The Barracks on the fourth Friday.
So, if you are a joiner, there are at least four groups you can join in the desert that will share your leathery interests.