In “Assless Chaps,” Chaos Mckenzie’s first installment of his diary of a leather virgin (in the last issue of Xtra), he wrote about getting ready for his leather début here’s how it all ends.
I am standing in front of my vanity mirror trying to get ready for my first ever leather event. “Leather is,” I chant, “not going to make a fashion victim out of me.”
Grabbing my hand-me-down chaps, I improvise with a tight T-shirt and cowboy jeans, zipping the chaps so that they only cover my thighs, letting the hems flare out. A little urban cowboy with just enough bitch to keep me at peace with my inner self.
Strapping a leather band to my right arm, I head off to the Resurrection party at Fly, held earlier this year.
The journey to the club is an experiment in culture. I am very aware of having tight leather wrapped around my legs, of my curvaceous ass being lifted and separated, of my crotch bulging forward. Secure with all this knowledge, I become extremely paranoid – not feeling sexy only self-conscious. I keep looking over my shoulder, checking out who’s watching.
This is so not me – I’ve never been scared of a few lingering stares. But suddenly all those horrible things I might have said about people in leather come back to me.
I arrive alone – my date conveniently dying of strange and unknown illnesses. In the line up are real leathermen, who wear the stereotypical leather ensembles but who carry themselves with grace and smiles, and circuit boys in leather, wearing extravagant variations on their usual club themes with pouting faces.
Inside, one thing stands out to me, no shame. Despite the debauched label thrust upon the circuit queers of my age bracket, I find the boys of the leather community to have absolutely no sense of inhibition at all. “Wasn’t always like this,” explains one older leatherman who stands with me over the balcony sizing up the crowd on the dancefloor. He takes a moment to tell me stories of secret codes, defending honour, raw inhibitions, of men who sought after something manly. “Now it’s just a fad, so everyone tries to top everyone else all just a big spectacle.”
The relative age of the crowd seems much higher than what I was expecting. I am dwarfed by the sheer fury of men who are mostly the age of my father. The leather crowd, unlike its newer circuit cousin, seems tied to the roots of gay life – as seen in our favourite ’70s porno. They exhibit an unwavering loyalty to a stereotype never forgotten.
I am pleasantly seduced by the always sophisticated and beautiful sounds of the DJ, Shaun Riker, amazed at how much harder and bass-heavy the leather crowd likes their beats.
What of me, and my leather début?
I’m not completely in my element, to say the least. The leather doesn’t make me feel bolder and I don’t gain any power; if anything I feel weaker than usual. Without my usual vices – phat pants and heavy gold chains – the leather makes me seem to play second fiddle and a little on display.
I have an idea at the back of my head, an awareness of being judged and what I am being judged on – that the leather I’m wearing is probably the first thing anyone takes notice of. I feel uncomfortable, a feeling compounded by the fact that I am uncomfortable among men completely at ease with themselves. But I’m not a self-conscious person. I realize that, like most scenes, leather parties seem a place for self-conscious people to feel unashamed when surrounded by like-minded peers.
Finally I take my cue to leave, grabbing my purse and the closest thing to my age for a worthy close to the night mainly, getting the leather off.
* The Sat, Jun 29 Leather Pride Ball is held at the Opera House (735 Queen St E); for other leather events this weekend, check out www.mrlt.com