Don Thompson
May 3, 2006


Recently I have noticed a prevailing problem with leather contests – that there are usually more judges than contestants. This wasn’t always the case, in fact far from it. I recall that at the first San Francisco Leather Daddy’s Boy contest that I was associated with there were no fewer than twenty four contestants, so many that we couldn’t get them all on stage at one time. Those were the days!

The first time I judged that contest several years later there were fourteen contestants. From those peaks the numbers went downhill. There were seven, then five, then four, then three and occasionally now, only two.

At the first Mr. Palm Springs Leather contest that I attended in 2002 there were seven contestants. In 2005 there were only four. What next, I wonder?

At last year’s Southern California Leather Sir and boy contest there was no Sir contestant and only two boys. This year we had the same problem. So where are all the Sirs? The contest was not a Palm Springs contest, it was a Southern California contest, which meant other cities such as Los Angeles and San Diego should have been participating, and indeed there were quite a lot of people from those cities in the audience but not a contestant among them. What is the problem do you suppose? Is it the influence of the internet? Is it just a total malaise in the leather community? I’m beginning to wonder if it’s a combination of the two, since leather bars are closing everywhere. New York City now doesn’t have a serious leather bar, nor does San Francisco, once the world center of leather. Los Angeles only has two, with thirteen million people in the L.A. area.

London has two or three, Amsterdam has the same and Berlin has a few leather bars but there’s nothing anywhere to compare with the situation twenty years or more ago, when there were dozens of leather bars in cities all over the world. There were half a dozen at least in San Francisco alone.

Here we are fortunate in having two excellent and busy leather bars in the Coachella Valley, but where are the enthusiastic people who used to enter contests and participate in the community? Now they’re just passively standing in bars and drinking and sometimes not even doing that. The Barracks Sunday afternoon beer bust draws huge crowds and many of the people there would be excellent contest material, handsome, sexy, and wearing great leather, but at contests they’re conspicuous by their absence from the stage. Even P.S.L.O.D., one of the fastest growing Leather clubs in the country, can only turn out a handful of people to enter P.S.L.O.D.’s own Leather Pride contest.

Where’s the community spirit? Where’s the desire to serve?

At the Southern California Leather Sir and by contest on Saturday the 22nd April, all preparations had been made. Dale Breunig, International Sir 2002, was the producer and he did an excellent job, everything went like clockwork except for the fact that we only had two contestants for boy and none for Sir. Not Dale’s fault, he publicized the contest extensively in other cities as well as here. But there seems to be no enthusiasm.

Our two contestants did their best and each was impressive in his own way. However, I think the fantasy part of the contest was the deciding factor. Ron McFerrin’s fantasy had nothing to do with leather really, and had the judges scratching their heads wondering what he was trying to do, whereas Rick Yarborough’s fantasy had the audience in stitches. Rick is a bootblack at the Barracks and is known for his fetish of licking the boots of his customers so the fact that he had a huge fake red tongue as part of his act was especially funny.

Rick now goes on to Dallas for the International part of the contest next fall. He’s not afraid of contests; he was Seattle Leather Daddy’s boy when he lived up there and was Mr. Toolshed here a couple of years ago, so he has the initiative to enter contests and prepare a fantasy. But how about the rest of you?