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Friday, May 12, 2017

Filling the Holes

Written by  Rodney Burger
Centaur MC 47th anniversary Centaur MC 47th anniversary

There has been so much going on in the leather community the last few weeks that I really don’t know where to start. I want to finish up some of the stories of the last month or so. It seems that there are so many holes to fill.

I’ll start with Bears, Bikers & Mayhem held over the weekend of April 6th to 9th. This was the seventh year for this gathering of bears and leather folks in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and it was such a success that when I called the host hotel the first weekend of December, I couldn’t get a room. As a result, I ended up just driving up on Saturday afternoon with some of my fellow ShipMates to help co-host our poolside cocktail party with the Centaur MC. We had a blast! During the afternoon the jockstrap portion of the Mr. Mayhem Leather 2017 contest and new this year the Mr. Mayhem Leather Bear 2017 contest were held. There was a large and very impressive judging panel introduced: International Mr. Leather 2016 David “Tigger” Bailey, Mr. Leather Bear International 2016 Mufasa Apa, Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather 2016 Todd Leavitt, Mr. North American Bear 2016 Raymond Smith, Mr. Mid-West Leather 2015 Adam “Pup Vino” Henderson, Mr. Mayhem Leather 2016 Ash Duncan, Mr. New Jersey Leather 2017 Rich Farias, Ms. New Jersey Leather 2014 Nikki Wireman, and Leatherman of Color 2016 Kahlid El Bey. Unfortunately when the contestants were introduced there was only one for each title. The Mr. Mayhem Leather Contest started in 2014 with five contestants hitting the stage to become the first Mr. Mayhem Leather titleholder. There were also five contestants in 2015. Last year there were three men competing for the title. This year a second title is added with one contestant each. Maybe a laid-back weekend that is all about fun and play doesn’t need to include a contest? At any rate congratulations to Mr. Mayhem Leather 2017 Joey Watson from Milford, Pennsylvania, and Mr. Mayhem Leather Bear 2017 Keith Zatezalo-Greene from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I hope that both of you will have a wonderful title year, meet lots of people, and help see that next year not just the judges’ table is filled with great people, but that a crowd of contestants fills the stage.

At the other end of the country, Ms. Alameda County 2016 Girl Complex was selected from seven contestants and took home the title of International Ms. Leather 2017 and 2016 Great Lakes Bootblack Elisa was selected from a group of six contestants for the International Ms. Bootblack 2017 title during the annual contests held again this year in San Jose, California. Ms. San Francisco Leather 2016 Stela D. Love was first runner-up for IMsL 2017 and Oregon State Bootblack 2015 Micky Rebel was first runner-up for International Ms. Bootblack 2017. The weekend enjoyed one of the largest turnouts in years. Although it opened on January 20th, the folks at the Baltimore Eagle finally got a chance to celebrate their grand opening on the weekend of May 5th to 7th. Invitations went out on April 17th for the VIP grand opening cocktail party on May 6th held upstairs in The Nest at the Baltimore Eagle. My thought was that it would be Baltimore’s answer to D.C.’s famous “Leather Cocktails” held each January during Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend. Sir Steve (Mr. Baltimore Eagle 2003-2004) and I made sure we had on our formal leather for this monumental occasion. Image my surprise when I saw the line of middle-aged folks in business causal being checked off the guest list. The VIPs were mostly friends, business associates, and former co-workers of the bar’s owners. The few folks in leather were mostly all members of COMMAND, MC. It really did turn out to be a wonderful party. I met lots of nice people including a lovely lady from the Charles Village Civic Association who said that she could see the Baltimore Eagle from her house and was looking forward to Pride being in front of the bar. The reception reminded me of New York’s Studio 54 or the Baltimore version which was called Cignel and was located just around the corner from the Charles Theatre. At these legendary clubs it became fashionable for straight people to party with gay people. That’s the vibe that I got at the Baltimore Eagle. The party included an open bar, all kinds of hors d’oeuvres, a fantastic cake, and a few drag numbers from Chicago and Avenue Q. Afterwards we went downstairs to enjoy the rest of the evening. Although still very much a work in progress the patio is now open with a temporary bar set up until a new outside bar is constructed. The transformation of the old Baltimore Eagle into this shiny new space has been impressive. I must admit that I have had my doubts and had some negative opinions on some elements. Many of those issues are being resolved. My leather club the ShipMates joined forces with the Centaur MC and had a very successful and very fun joint bar night at the Baltimore Eagle on April 22nd. Even the current International Mr. Leather was in the house. I had such a good time that I told Sir Steve when we got home that the evening was a real epiphany for me. How could I not be on board with the new Baltimore Eagle after a fantastic night like that? The old Baltimore Eagle was a headquarters for the many leather clubs in the Mid-Atlantic area. No one club was favored over the others. Every leather club member felt a sense of ownership. It belong to all of the community. After the grand opening party upstairs, I stood with members of several leather clubs in the middle of the main bar as a larger version of COMMAND MC’s club colors was unveiled with much ceremony above the door. This was the new Baltimore Eagle.

On April 29th my fellow ShipMates and I had a fun bar night at the D.C. Eagle and I returned to the D.C. Eagle on May 7th to celebrate the 47th anniversary of the Centaur MC at a private party upstairs. Centaur MC President Todd White informed me that since it wasn’t a milestone year that it would be a casual, laid back, low-key affair that would include pizza and an open bar. (The Centaur MC held their 45th anniversary at Fogo de Chao on Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House.) Most clubs would have just ordered a bunch of pizzas. The Centaurs ordered a pizza oven on wheels with a staff who set up a tent behind the bar and made gourmet pizzas on the spot. There were also hors d’ oeuvres while the pizzas were being made and an amazing strawberry filled cake with white chocolate icing for desert. That’s how the Centaurs do low-key! I love my Centaur brothers and it was an honor to be invited to toast their 47th anniversary. They currently have 32 active members and many, many life brothers and associates. They not only produce the enormous Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, but always have a lot going on in the leather community.

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