A Royal Repartee… with Baltimore’s 2018 King of Pride

Baltimore’s 2018 King of Pride, Chris Jay, has ascended from humble beginnings to promote LGBTQ awareness and inclusivity. They (Jay’s preferred pronoun) recently chatted with Baltimore OUTloud to discuss how photography became a passion, their current reign as King of Pride 2018, and their new project The Queerbook: The Queer Performers Yearbook. “I would describe my current reign as King of Pride 2018 as eye-opening,” Jay began. “It’s been exactly a year since I was named King of Pride 2018. The way that I’ve been able to connect to Baltimore is unlike any way that a person can connect to […]

What I Think

I’ve been writing this column since 2005. At that time no one in this area was writing a column about the leather community. Events were not being documented, leather titleholders were not being interviewed, and upcoming leather events were not being promoted. I’ve always tried to keep my columns positive and upbeat. I want to build our community not tear it down. (There are plenty of other others who would like to do that.) I discovered the leather community in 1984 at The Gallery when I first moved to Baltimore and have been a member of a leather club for […]

Meet Eric Randolph and Alan Cortie – The New Owners of Mixers

Gay nightlife, like the gay community, has always existed in one form or another.  Over the last 50 years, gay bars have taken form to help shelter gay culture and have been one of the building blocks of the LGBTQ community.  Fostering a climate where LGBTQ individuals feel safe and protected is necessary for the well-being of the gay community.  For Eric Randolph and Alan Cortie, the new owners of Mixers Bar, this has become a mission.  “Mixers is a bar which is a comfort zone for everyone in the LGBTQ community.” Began Cortie.  “Many people may not want to travel to a bar that’s further into the city, or one […]


Last December, CNN projected that 2018 would be the Year of the Woman. Sarha Shaubach had been of a similar  mindset for months before that. Shaubach is the creator of Northern Exposure, the only Alaskan BDSM, leather, sex, and kink conference. She’s a leather titleholder, and the self-described “head lackey” at the Alaska Center for Alternative Lifestyles. For this year’s conference, Shaubach decided that she wanted to celebrate the strong women she has come to know in her life. So, she started inviting them up to Alaska to teach, present to, and experience her home community. This is also the […]

The Dog Days of Summer

It’s that in-between time of year. Memorial Day Weekend brought the start of summer and a new International Mr. Leather. We have celebrated Pride and danced in the streets. We toasted the 4th of July and hosted or attended a summer cookout. Many have been to the pool or the beach. As the summer sun has faded into the rainy season many folks are starting to feel a little down. I find that I can always cheer myself up if I have something fun planned. The anticipation of an event keeps me going. So, what’s next? It may seem ridiculous […]

The Story of Us – In His Own Words: Club Hippo  

 By Erik J. Akelaitis   “Where everyone is welcome…” That was their motto for over 40 years before the disco ball spun around one last time and dance floor closed in October 2015. It was the end of an era, but the Hippo was so much more than a bar or dance club. It was a safe haven where me and other Baltimore LGBT men and women could be ourselves, feel accepted and come together as a community.  It was the summer of 1999 when I first walked through the Hippo’s mirrored doorways. I was 22 and had just moved home to Baltimore after […]

Highlandtown Goes Artsy

Growing up in Baltimore’s Highlandtown, Felicia Zanninio-Baker’s love for her neighborhood began very young. Today her creative talents are helping positive change in her community. As the owner and proprietress of the Highlandtown Gallery, as well as Magnolia Designs, the interior designer has long been a supporter of local artists within the community. “I was brought to Highlandtown when I was just three months old,” Zannino-Baker began. “From a very young age, I was very involved with the Italian culture. We sang, danced, and performed in Italian costume from the age of seven.” Zannino-Baker, whose father founded Zannino Funeral Homes […]

Three Galleries in One

The Highlandtown Gallery opened in September 2013 and is a crown jewel in the Highlandtown Arts District. “What makes this gallery unique,” says owner Felicia Zannino-Baker, “is the combination of three galleries in one building. It’s a tremendous dose of eye candy. You can find many forms of art in one place – we have paintings, encaustics, photography, jewelry, originals on paper or canvas, mosaics, sculpture, glass.” A recent group exhibition was “The Mosaic Show,” and currently there’s a group nude show, “Nudes / Erotica / Exotic Women,” running through August. Housed within the Highlandtown Gallery location is also Zwiebach […]

An Interview with the President … Not that president!

They say that if you want to get all the facts you should go right to the source. With the 30th anniversary of COMMAND MC in November quickly approaching, I went right to the top. That top in question is the president of COMMAND MC, Sir Mike. Recently Sir Mike was kind enough to invite me to his Mount Vernon townhouse for an interview. His home was not only tastefully decorated but was also filled with framed posters from past International Mr. Leather Contests and other historic documents from his leather journey. For Sir Mike, the International Mr. Leather Contest […]

Picture Perfect

On April 7th, 2017, I attended the opening of a photography exhibit called “Blue Collar / Black Leather” by local artist Justin Osborne and Frank Vit at the Baltimore Eagle. Not only did I love their work, but I was immediately charmed by these two wonderful men who seemed to be such a perfect couple. We laughed, sipped wine, and I found myself quite entertained by the stories surrounding their photographs. I saw them a few more times over the past year at the bar or various leather events. On the Friday night of Baltimore Pride, I ran into Justin […]