Monday, February 28, 2011

An Interview With Rob Ordonez: Sex, Spunk, & Sass In the City!

(Jed Ryan with Rob Ordonez)

An Interview with Rob Ordonez:
     He’s got a portfolio as colorful as his azure-colored Mohawk, and an artistic vision as unique as his mysterious accent. To put it another way, Rob Ordonez is a truly self-styled artista. He has told me that he gets most of his artistic inspiration from walking around New York City, where the legions of urban trendsters with tattoos, piercings, wild hair, and renegade fashion sense give him as much food for thought as the vendors in Union Square's Greenmarket.  A true Renaissance man for 2011, Ordonez is a model and actor as well as an acclaimed photographer. He enjoys being both in front of and behind the camera equally. In fact, the day before our interview, during Fashion Week, Robert was photographed in “Time Out New York” Magazine’s Style section-- with four different looks. “When I pose for other photographers, I learn a lot from them.” the artist tells me. Ethnically, Ordonez describes himself as a “mutt“: His father is from Spain, his mother is from Mexico, with a grandfather who’s Italian, and a grandmother from the United States. However, New York City is truly where he belongs now… and his sexy, fun, fresh, playful, and youthful photography perfectly captures the spirit of the Naked City‘s creative underground. As a photographer, his work was recently seen in New York City’s Munch Gallery as part of the group art show "Enter", and there are more gallery showing on the way. Interestingly, Ordonez does not retouch his photos, preferring a more organic, natural vibe. Through the years, he has self-published seven books, which featured his photography as well as such personal musings as, “The City gives you the opportunity to express yourself, if you can capture the everyday event and combine it with your creativity.” Another quote is, “The human body is so beautiful. I’m not afraid to show it in erotic, gay, or provocative ways. PS: If you don’t like what you see, move on. It’s my life!” Now there’s a guy after my own heart!
JR: Thanks for meeting me, Rob! Now, many artists have their own take on the nude body, whether it be male or female. When you do male nudes, what makes your vision unique and different? Are you going for a specific feeling when you shoot?
RO: Actually, I like it a little dirty, but I don’t like showing hard-ons. I like it more erotic-- “showing“ but “not showing”! Like, maybe even covering a little bit-- or the guys just grabbing their dicks. I’d rather that they are not hard. I think it’s sexier that it’s just hanging out in their natural habit!
JR: I know what you mean. It’s like old school burlesque: Sometimes NOT showing everything can be more sexy than giving it all away. Even when you are watching a woman dancing… and she has pasties on her nipples. That can be more erotic than showing everything. So, you’d rather show a guy in his “natural” state, huh?!
RO: Yeah! I like to put them in the shower, all wet… or in front of the special wallpaper I have, or in leather. I love leather… so, I’ll have them laying on leather sofa with a vest on, or just boots! That works!
JR: Oh yes, it works! I love all the photos of the Leather guys. Bring it on! So, what’s with the Mickey Mouse ears in a lot of your photos?
RO: I have my “kink” side. But my inspiration is David LaChapelle, and he does all these crazy wild things that are out of the ordinary and really colorful. So, I guess that’s what’s inspired me to do all these crazy things like girls with big lollipops, and Mickey Mouse ears, and stuffed animals, and puppies… I think it’s kind of cute to have some inspiration in the photos, like a little baby dog or a little rabbit. It‘s just fun to have some crazy props.
JR: Yeah! When I saw the Mickey Mouse ears, all I could think of was “What would Walt Disney think?!“ So, you said that New York City inspires you as a photographer. What else inspires you?
RO: I walk in the streets all day long, all the time. I’m very visual. I love color. Lately, I like bad boys; just people that are different, and “bad”, and have that “dark side“. I think that’s the inspiration… punks, and rockers, and skinheads, and crazy characters. I love fashion. Really stylish people turn me on big time. And party boys: people that go to the clubs and they’re really dressed up like crazy. That’s hot!
JR: Well, I‘ve always found bad boys and girls to be more fun than the good ones!
RO: Definitely!
JR: So, as a bona fide New Yorker, where are your favorite places to hang out?
RO: I like going to art openings. I like to go at least twice a week to art galleries and openings. There are always people that I know there, and we have wine at the gallery openings, and I get inspired by the art. I like to go to those parties. I don’t like to go to clubs anymore. In my 20’s I did, but now I am almost 40. So, it’s art shows, movies, walking around all over the city… Bars are OK. I like G Bar a lot because the drinks are really good. If I go out, I go there or to therapy. Dancing too. The only party I don’t miss is the Black Party. I was going there for 12 years, and that’s the only one I DON'T miss! So those are my hangouts: G Bar, therapy, art galleries,… and Starbucks! I like The Eagle too. The Lure was THE bar! That was my favorite.
JR: Yeah, I was upset when they closed too. I feel bad about missing their closing night party. I heard it was really wild: guys just f***ing and s***ing and all that stuff. I mean, they were gonna close anyway, so why not just do everything?!
RO: But I heard that they were going to re-open it, at another location…
JR: I hope! I have been hearing that rumor for a long time! So, When looking at your photos, I recognize a lot of the models. A lot of them are these New York City underground movers and shakers who are always out and about. Was there one particular personality who you particular enjoyed shooting?
RO: I think that most of my models are new in the industry. I find most of my models at parties that I go to, or on the Internet on Facebook, or they are just friends, or they’re friends of friends. When I go to events, I shoot Amanda Lepore like crazy, because I think she’s fabulous. I asked her to pose for me. She’s one of David LaChapelle’s muses, and she won’t pose for anyone else. She’ll pose at events, but not at my studio!
JR: David seems very protective of her. Are they lovers?
RO: (Shocked) No! She always has these cute go-go boys around her who are her boyfriends!
JR: (Laughs) Good for her. Is there anyone else who you photograph a lot?
RO : I have my female muse: my girl Monica. I photographed her the most so far. She has this red hair. I have to say that my male muse is my ex-lover Gary. I have hundreds of photos of him. Those are the people who have inspired me the most so far, who I want to photograph over and over. I’m looking for new muses, because Gary is moving on. We are going in different directions!
JR: Gotcha! So, a lot of my friends are photographers, and I have noticed that a lot of photographers are among the “unsung heroes” of nightlife. Nightlife would not exist without them. We need them. The event may end, but photos last forever.
RO: I find that funny because wherever you go, if you have a camera, everyone kisses your ass! If you say that your work will be published, everyone wants you to take their photo so bad. Some people are camera whores. They see a paparazzi, and they want you so bad! I just went to a party last week and this girl was tapping on my shoulder and was like, “Can you take my photo with this guy? Can you take my photo with that guy?!“ They chase you when you are the photographer of the party. When you‘re a photographer, you‘re like a god. It opens door for you, especially when they know you’re good. People are after you, kissing your ass, wanting you to take their photo!
JR: Do photographers get the respect that they deserve?
RO: On the nightlife scene, yes. Most of the time. But as a business, I think that unfortunately it’s going down. Everybody now is a photographer. Everyone is taking photos like crazy. Nobody wants to pay for photo shoots. There are websites like Model Mayhem where there are hundreds of people: models and people who will shoot you for free. You really have to stand out and be amazing for people to want to pay… because everyone‘s taking photos now. And that kind of sucks, because you don‘t make money from photography anymore.
JR: That’s too bad. I think that’s true of all; artists, whether you’re a photographer, writer, actor, musician… You gotta do it at least in part because you love doing it, not because you want to get rich! Now, Robert, as someone who has taken so many photos of sexy men and women, what do you personally find sexy?
RO: I like bad boys. Bad models, bad manners: Somebody who won’t ask your permission, and just do things to you! I like Leather guys… and punks. I keep repeating that, but it’s what I like the most. That’s my inspiration: people gone wild!
JR: What famous person would you love to shoot?
RO: Madonna has been my role model, always… especially when she was “bad“. Now she’s old (Laughs) but I still think that she’s hot. She was always the rebel. She has been my inspiration for many, many years. I have so much artwork of her that nobody ever sees, because it’s just very private. But I love her. I would love to meet her and shoot her. My male role model is Tom of Finland. I love the Tom of Finland look.
JR: Oh, me too. And who knew that his work would still be all over the place in 2011? Lastly, what else do you want people to know about yourself?
RO: As a model, I am not afraid of doing crazy things, like being all tied up or being body painted from head to toe. I think’s that the only way that you are gonna make an impression. As a photographer, it’s always a challenge to expand your limits and your mission. I look at my work from three years ago, and I don’t really like it anymore. I’m like, “It’s OK…” but I think that as an artist you keep evolving and evolving and getting better and better. It’s interesting to see compare your photos from three years ago and compare them with to the ones now, and you’re like, ”This is much better!” It’s kind of cool that we evolve like that. Old experiences in life take us to that place. Eventually it may be perfect, but you have to go through both good and bad experiences to get that image!
JR: Amen, brother!
Sometime during our conversation, I tell Rob about how as a fledgling reporter, I used to use cheap, disposable cameras when I fist started covering new York City nightlife. I was always worried about losing or breaking a good camera. Mr. Ordonez responds, “It doesn’t matter what camera you have. It’s how you use it. If you have a good eye, even if you use a disposable camera, it will be good!” Rob Ordonez has a good eye all right!  For proof, visit his sites:

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Oh, God! There are some crazy things happening at St. Veronica’s Church…

     Forget the upcoming “Sister Act”, coming soon to Broadway. If you wanna see some nuns behaving badly, check out “The Divine Sister “, the “holy outrageous new comedy” by Award-winning playwright/actor Charles Busch. After all, who can resist a holy woman blaring, “Shut your hole!”? (And, without being specific, that is NOT the most outrageous tagline in this play…) “The Divine Sister“, directed by Carl Andress, is entering its fifth month off Broadway at New York City’s Soho Playhouse. As Busch’s admirers have always known, the author of such emblematic works as “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom” and “Psycho Beach Party” continues to find new ways to break the rules-- whether he’s writing the play or starring in it, and whether he’s in or out of drag. Fortunately for us, Mr. Busch is in drag for this one, and it’s a role he was seemingly born to play. Busch is the Mother Superior in 1960’s Pittsburgh struggling to keep her Church thriving amidst financial struggle. This no-nonsense Sister rules over a cast as colorful as the deliberately tacky “stained glass windows“ that decorate the set. Her postulate Agnes (Amy Rutberg)is a red-haired, impossibly perky scatterbrain who occasionally sprouts stigmata and may have divine powers (She sees Thomas Aquinas’ face in a rhubarb pie, and later on sees Saint Claire in a pair of pee-stained boys’ underwear). There’s also the tightly wound and restless Sister Acacius (Julie Halston), who we just know-- and secretly hope-- is ready to snap at any moment during the play‘s running time. More shenanigans are on the way when the German Sister Walburga (Alison Fraser), complete with lesbian tendencies and questionable motivations, comes to visit the nunnery.

     Busch’s strong-willed Mother Superior is determined to keep her Church afloat. But how can she do it? She approaches the cold-blooded widow Mrs. Levinson (Jennifer Van Dyke) for a possible donation, but gets rejected. Our Sister gets a surprise, however, when she is unexpectedly reunited with the widow’s morally dubious houseguest Jeremy (Jonathan Walker), who knew the plucky nun when she was a fresh-faced, Titian-haired lady reporter many years ago. (This flashback scene also allows Busch to take a break from his nunswear and indulge in some of his trademark vintage-style glamour.) Not only that, but Jeremy apparently still harbors a decades-old crush on our habited heroine. Hmmm… The audience starts to wonder, How far will our heroine go to save her Church?

     Like Busch’s other plays, “The Divine Sister” is inhabited by crazy characters and wildly over-the-top situations, peppered with sight gags and the cast’s delightfully deadpan delivery of some truly outrageous dialogue. Just when we think that “The Divine Sister” can’t or won’t get any more outrageous, well… guess what? It does. The play also includes pays homage to such camp classics as “Mame“ and “The Sound of Music“ which are so subtle that only the most ardent theater aficionado will likely pick it up. At the center of all the fun is Busch’s Mother Superior, who is a character you won’t forget any time soon. Busch’s wordless acting in one scene, while listening to the confessions of a boy with budding homosexual tendencies, is superbly riotous. And, it’s hard to top when our Mother Dearest breaks out a guitar for an impromptu song-and-dance number. Can I get a “Hallelujah!”? .
     In “The Divine Sister”, the audience wonders: Will Mother Superior will sacrifice her faith or morals to save St. Veronica’s. , or can she use her idiosyncratic charms to craft a plan?  Without giving too much away, let‘s say that our leading lady comes out on top. With “The Divine Sister”, so does Charles Busch… again.

     “The Divine Sister” is playing at The Soho Playhouse, 15 Vandam Street between 6th Avenue and Varick Street. Call (212)352-3101 or go to for tickets, and visit  for more info.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Saucy, Sarcastic, and Seriously Funny!

     What’s more therapeutic than sex? Well, nothing. But laughter comes REALLY close! Funny man Tom Ragú knows about the art of making people laugh. The woofy mirthmaster has been making quite a name for himself on the New York City stand-up comedy circuit, as both a performer and producer. As producer, Ragú utilizes a rotating roster of over 150 comedians, preferring to use artists who know each other in the same show. Ragú states, "The comedians know each other, so they are going to perform both for each other and for the audience. I found that when you get a bunch of comedians who don‘t know each other, then it becomes more competitive. When you have people who have a history with each other, it becomes more of a happy time! As a matter of fact, I think the name of my next show should be ‘Happy Time’!" Ragú invites all of us to "get happy!". His nights of knee-slapping include "Women We Love"-- a "celebration of women in comedy". Tom also hosts and performs at The long-running Tom Ragú Comedy Revue at The Stonewall Inn in New York City‘s West Village. Tom and I met at The Metropolitan Room, which Tom accurately describes as "one of the classiest cabaret rooms in New York City". (I agree!) It‘s also, incidentally, the original site of The Gotham Comedy Club, where many well-known comedians got their start. We talk about life in the Comedy Nation, Oprah and Gayle, and his source of his biggest inspiration, his Mama Ragú!

JR: Hi Tom. Thanks for meeting me!
TR: It's my pleasure.
JR: New York City is one of those places where a million funny things seem to happen every day, intentionally or not. Is New York City the main source of your comedy, or is there another source where you get your material?

TR: I don’t have to look far. The main source of my material is my mother, Mama Ragú
JR: (Laughs)
TR: ... or as I like to call her, “the original vagina“… because, she is a vagina so kind and loving that she made me never wanna go back in! So, she really is the big inspiration and the big source for a lot of my material. So, I certainly hope that she lives to 175 years old, because if she ever goes, I’ll have no act.

JR: (Still laughing...)
TR: And so, like a lot of ethnic types of households-- whether it’s Italian, or Greek, or Jewish-- the mother really is the anchor of the family. My mother, growing up, was a little detached. Because, I think that she did know that she had a gay son-- but like most old-fashioned Italian people, if you put your head in the sand and ignore it, it will go away-- whatever “it” is. Whatever problem is going on at the time, if you consider it a problem and you just ignore it, it will go away. It became clearly apparent to her, and to anyone that was paying attention, that I was not going away. I was a loudmouth, I was a rebel, and I was a person who saw the humor in every single thing-- whether it was appropriate at the time or not. And so, if you fast forward 20 years, we are extremely close-- as best friends as a mother and a son could be. And I find myself being humbled in her presence, and very grateful that we have that relationship. I don’t think that Lindsay Lohan and Dina Lohan have that kind of close mother/daughter bond. So, I am very grateful. And… she’s my number one fan and my biggest supporter. She comes to almost every show.
JR: Wow!

TR: So, I really don’t think that’s the case with a lot of gay people. I think that a lot of gay people are estranged from their families, and they create their own families. I certainly have created my own family too, of friends. But I know dozens and dozens of people over the years who don’t even talk to their families. I feel grateful that I have her in my life. She’s a pretty incredible woman.
JR: That’s great that you can include her in your humor-- sort of like the way that Margaret Cho can make her mother the butt of her jokes sometimes-- but behind the jokes, there’s a real admiration and appreciation. 

She absolutely is the butt of all my jokes, but she knows that everything that I say actually DID happen. She was in the hospital recently, and they kept her for a couple of days for observation. So of course, the hospital food comes. Everyone knows that the hospital food is horrible. That’s like the big running joke for decades; that hospital food is horrible. That’s why they call it “hospital food”. So, apparently-- and I don’t know how she ever escaped this-- my mother has never been in a hospital, where hospital food came. So, she was shocked and amazed-- and I mean shocked and amazed-- at the hospital food. She said, “What the hell is this crap? What is that?” I said, “That looks like it could be chicken.” And then she said, “Well, I’m just gonna have the mashed potatoes.“ Then, she took one bite of the mashed potatoes and she did, “These are NOT mashed potatoes. 
These came from a mix!“ I said, “Of course they did. Do you think that there are a thousand men in the kitchen mashing potatoes for the entire hospital? Do you think that that’s going on?!” So, apparently the woman has never stayed in a hospital, or she has never had the hospital food. She’s had people sneak in pizza or pasta or homemade food… because apparently, this was the first time at her age that she actually had actual, genuine hospital food-- and she was shocked!… I wanted to bring her food, but the people wouldn’t let me. I made the mistake of asking, “Should I bring her food from home?” and they were like, “No, no, no! Don’t do that!” I should have just done it anyway…

JR: Yeah… Now, in Kathy Griffin’s book, “Official Book Club Selection”, she talks about the amazing struggles that she and other comedians went through as neophytes, before eventually finding success. In your own pathway as a comedian, where do you see yourself now?
TR: I started doing comedy in the late ‘90’s in California at The Comedy Store in La Jolla. They had an amateur night every Sunday night. My friend John and I would go to it, and it was horrible. It literally was: Bob from accounting got drunk and decided to go up and do his “best” five minutes of material about the people in the office. Well, the people in the office thought it was hysterical, but no one else could relate to Bob from accounting. My friend John said, “I dare you to get up there, because you‘re so much funnier than these people who are getting up." All someone has to do is dare me to do something-- especially back then-- and I will probably do it.
I’ll keep that in mind!

TR: (Laughs) I got up there, and I don’t even know what I talked about-- probably Britney Spears and the Britney versus Christina thing that was going on at the time, and some other jokes. Looking back, they were so fantastic that I don’t even remember them! And I got the “comedy bug”. It does happen: Once you hear that laughter, that was it. Unfortunately, the second time I got up and decided to do comedy, it did not go so well! And then the third time… I allowed a couple of hecklers along the way to get under my skin. I stopped doing comedy and then became a DJ. That was what I did for about six or seven more years. When I moved back to New York in 2002, shortly after that I was watching a Judy Gold special on Comedy Central. It was hilarious. I think it was sometime in 2002 or 2003, and it just got to me in a way that I said to myself, “What am I doing here, sitting watching this special? I should be on stage!” It inspired me and lit a fire inside of my spirit to get back up and do what I should be doing. I started jumping on stages and trying to do comedy. I then created my own opportunities by producing some of my own shows. It was a very gratifying experience five years from that moment to have the opportunity to actually work with Judy Gold. It was literally a full circle moment for me on this very stage-- the Metropolitan Room-- where I said, “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Judy Gold!”. I’ve worked with her a number of times, and I’ve worked with a lot of people who I have seen on television: Vanessa Hollingshead, Jessica Kirson… There are a number of people who I have admired, and then I’ve gotten to work with them. It hasn’t come easy. I think that for me, rather than waiting around for someone to come around and give me an opportunity or give me a shot on stage, I just created my own opportunities. The Tom Ragu Comedy Revue-- which is sort of my anchor show-- started out in the back of a bookstore in a coffee house in The East Village in 2006: The Rapture Café on Avenue A. Then after about nine months of being there, the show moved to another venue-- a little bit of a bigger place that had an actual stage that had many other shows going on. Then we moved to another place, and then we moved to The Stonewall Inn, where the show has been for the last two years. So, it’s been a gradual ride. It hasn’t been easy, and I’ve learned a lot of lessons-- and I learned a lot of them the hard way. There have been people who have told me, “You shouldn’t do this, and you shouldn’t do that, and don’t do this…”, but I never would have listened to that. I didn’t. And I have had to learn every single thing and every single lesson the hard way. The comedy business is a really serious business, if you consider what it is that we do. The business of making people laugh is a very serious business. I like to think that I look for the lesson in every single experience that I have-- all the good ones, and all the bad ones. And the bad ones are the ones from which I really learn some very powerful lessons. And a lot of them have to do with me. A lot of them have to do with being firm and standing up for myself. A lot of them revolve around managing people properly and treating people with the same dignity and respect that I command. I’m not going to except people to treat me with any sort of respect or dignity if I don’t respect people or talk with them in a dignified way. You get in this world what you put into it. And, I observe it from afar with a lot of other people, and I don’t see a lot of that going on. I see a lot of people trying to climb over other people to get to the microphone, and I see people talking about other people behind their back, and writing about people on Facebook and on blogs, and I see people acting very envious of other people’s opportunities that they’ve created for themselves. Everybody’s comedy journey is different. My comedy journey is gonna be different from the guy standing right next to me, even though maybe we’re both gay male comedians from New York. We’re gonna have completely different comedy journeys. And that’s fine.

JR: It’s interesting that you used to be a DJ too. I’ve always believed that like stand-up comedians, DJ’s are also among the unsung heroes of the entertainment biz.
TR: I think that they’re both similar. I think that comedy is very musical. There is a cadence to it. In music, everything happens in fours. In comedy, everything happens in threes. If you listen to any joke, there are three parts to every joke. There is the premise, the setup, and then the punch. Whenever you hear a comedian talk about or reference some sort of experience that they’ve had, they are going to give you three examples. And then the next time that you watch any one of the big comedians or any one of the comedians in any local show, observe the joke: Like, “Let me tell you what happened today: First, I went to Duane Read. Then , I almost got hit by a taxi. Then, I slipped and fell. And the lesson is…” And then you get the punch line. There’s always three parts. Never two. Never four. I find comedy to be very similar to music, because there‘s a formula.

JR: Yeah! Now, you mentioned Judy Gold. Is there anyone else who you look at as a role model in the comedy world?
TR: There’s a wide variety of people. It’s Joan Rivers, it’s Jerry Seinfeld, it’s Totie Fields, it’s Moms Mabely, it’s Dave Attell, it’s Mario Cantone, it’s Louis Black, it’s Jon Stewart… Those are just some of them. Those are the people who really inspired me, and those who I can watch over and over again and never get tired of them.

JR: So, how long does it take you to prepare your material? How do you get ready for a new act?
TR:When something new has happened to me, I usually write it down immediately. Then I work on it and turn it into a joke, and then read it out loud, and get the cadence going to see how long it will be. I’ll try it out and call a couple of friends, and go over it with my dog Pete Ragú, who’s a very good audience…

TR: He loves every single thing I do. He’s one of those designer dogs that they make in the lab with love. He’s a Yorkie/Bichon Frise mix . So he’s a York-chon terrier. And really, there’s no way to maintain any masculinity when you have a dog like this. Even if you are the biggest gay man that there is, you cannot maintain any kind of masculinity when you have a Yorkie/Bichon Frise mix. But he’s a lovely guy… and I like him more than I like most people!
JR: (Laughs) I feel the same way about my pets! I’ve never seen a Yorkie/Bichon Frise mix… but when I think about dogs like that, I wonder, “Is this what technology produced? This animal is a descendant of the mighty wolf and the noble coyote? A creature like this could never survive in nature!”
TR: We have made hypoallergenic dogs. He’s a hypoallergenic Yorkie: a big Yorkie with a Bichon tail…

JR: With my particular menagerie of pets at home, I suppose I have no right to judge! So, Tom, you’ve done double duty as both a performer and a producer. What are some of the big differences between the two? Is it hard to balance the two roles sometimes?
TR: I personally don’t find it hard. I have observed other people, and in looking at the job that they do, it appears that this may not be what they ultimately could be doing. I think that people who are performers and also producers, who produce their own shows, are using both sides of their brain. There are career types who perform-- whether it’s singing or dancing or some other type of artwork-- and that’s what they do. But they are not analytical types at all. They wouldn’t be able to manage anyone. They don’t know the art of trying to talk to someone. They would not be able to balance a checkbook or work with money at all, and they absolutely shouldn’t. And then there are people who are analytical and who are thinkers, and it’s all about money, and they’re able to calculate everything real quick and know how manage and how to talk to people… but they have no sense of humor and they are not artistic at all. They don’t appreciate music and they don’t appreciate comedy, and they’re always looking at the bottom line. When you are able to find the rare few people who are able to do both-- and who are able to do both WELL-- then it really is a rare find. There are a few of us in the comedy community. I happen to think that my talents lie in both areas. I think that I’m a good producer, and that I am fair, and that I have a pretty good idea of what people want-- and I try to give it to them. And then I think that as a comedian, even though I am still growing and there‘s always enough room to learn, I think that I know what people want and I think that people appreciate my perspective. I think that for me, it’s a good marriage of the two. There are some other people out there who are also good comedians and good producers. But there are legions of people who are not. And they should just be performers!

JR: Is there any particular celebrity who has been the target of your jokes? Someone who has been the target most often? Besides Mama Ragú!
TR: I LOVE Oprah and Gayle. They are just comedy gold for me. Now, Oprah has spent 24 years of building up this reputation for being so spiritual, and so giving, and so loving… and really building a brand for herself. This 25th season has been all about breaking that down. Because, when Oprah launched her network in January, she has this golden show called “Season 25: Behind the Scenes”. Now, I don’t know if you had the opportunity to watch this show...
JR: I made sure I missed it!…
TR: It’s a reality show about the Oprah Winfrey Show. It’s all about the producers, and it’s all about preparing for all the different shows, and all about the madness that goes on at Harpo… leading up to the big moment which is when the audience comes and then “It’s the Oprah Winfrey SHOWWWW!” It’s that whole thing, you know, like, “You get a car, and you get a car, and everybody gets a car, and you‘re going to Australia, and the whole audience goes to Australia .…” Well, we got to see all the planning that goes behind all of that… and the hundreds of people who work at Harpo. There are over 460 people who work there to make that moment happen. Well, what we have never seen before is that Oprah is spitting, cursing, yelling at people…I think I caught her smoking in the ladies’ room. You know, she shows up for work with her hair in curlers, barefoot, walking her dog… It is hilarious! And then of course, there’s Gayle. And HE is hilarious!
JR: (Laughs)
TR: I love Gayle. Now, Gayle has his claws in Oprah and has never let go for the entire 25 years. So, Gayle deserves an Emmy just for holding on. And, Oprah has peed a circle around Gayle, and Oprah owns Gayle, basically. Gayle couldn‘t be happier. Now, there’s always this thing: “Are they a couple? Are they not a couple?“ I honestly don‘t think that Oprah is gay. I really don’t. I think that Oprah is a heterosexual woman who actually loves people, and tries to do good in the world, and wants to leave a good legacy. But I do think Gayle is!
JR: (Laughs... Are we detecting a pattern here?!)
TR: It’s hilarious. The whole Oprah Winfrey network is hilarious. There’s “The Gayle King Show”, because of course Gayle had to get a show. Now, Oprah Winfrey also has a channel on Sirius XM Radio. The Gayle King television show is just a camera recording the radio show! It literally is just Gayle sitting in a room, with a mic, going through notes. I’m watching this with Mama Ragú. I’m looking at her, she’s looking at me, and I‘m saying, “This is the stupidest television show that I‘ve ever seen.“ All it is, is a woman with a mic, reading notes and not knowing where she is… she‘s like “What are we doing next?” It’s worse than “The Wendy Williams Show“. I mean, it really is. There‘s no rehearsal at all. I said, “This is the stupidest show”. And Mama Ragú said, “But we’re watching it. I’m watching it, you’re watching it. Who’s the stupid one?!” And she’s absolutely right. We’re all watching it. I really don’t go after Oprah or Gayle, but I do think that if I did go after celebrities, they would be the ones… and, those stupid Housewives!!!
JR: (Laughs) Oh, yeah!
TR: I can’t stand them either. I don’t like Kim Zolciak, with all her wigs and her weaves and everything else. I don’t like Nene Leakes, because it sounds like a venereal disease I had when I was in the Navy… I don’t like any of these “Real Housewives” of anywhere… because they are some of the most unlikable, untalented, famous-for-nothing people that I’ve ever seen. There are people who are genuinely talented, and they can’t even get seen by the people over at Bravo. And then you have these people who are on a reality show, and all they do is scream and yell and try to pull each other’s hair… And then there’s this great show on either Discovery or TLC called “I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant.” I don’t know if you’ve ever had the opportunity to see this reality show…
JR: I’ll make sure I miss that one too.
TR: So this is a show where ladies go through an entire gestational period not realizing that they were pregnant. Now I, as a thinking person, did not even know that this was possible. But apparently, it is. And apparently, the place to give birth is in the restroom of you’re favorite fast food restaurant. So, you are going to see in the next 10 years or so a bunch of babies being named “Popeye” and “McDonalds” and “McNugget” and “Supersize”… because babies are being born in the restrooms of McDonald’s and Burger King and Wendy’s. It’s alarming… and that’s a show! I don’t understand how there’s more than one or two of these young ladies giving birth. I would think that it was a very rare occurrence… but apparently there are lots of people who are pregnant and they didn’t know it!
JR: Well, doesn’t watching these shows make you feel smarter?
TR: No. It makes me feel very angry, because it makes me feel like this is what the Program Directors and the Executives at the television studios think that we want to see. You know, it used to be that television taught you something. I know that when I was growing up, there was always a lesson. Every time I watched “The Facts of Life” of “The Golden Girls”, there was a lesson at the end and I felt good. I don’t feel good when I watch “The Real Housewives of Washington, D.C.” I’m, sorry. I don’t!

JR: I know what you mean. It’s shows like the ones you mentioned that make me glad I don’t have cable TV! So, what does Tom Ragú do do for fun when he is not performing or producing?
TR: I find that I am always producing and doing something. I hang out with Pete Ragú, my dog, and I hang out with Mama Ragú. I like to do things with them together: eat with them, read the newspaper with them, and walk them. I usually walk them together, so that Pete Ragú can go to the bathroom, and Mama Ragú can get some air… and everything is fine. So, I get to kill two birds with one stone by walking them together… I like to cook, and, uh… my life is not very exciting! Because when one thing ends, another thing is already being planned. I’m already planning May shows. There really is no resting. I very rarely have the time to relax or rest. Somebody said, “You know, you should really get into a relationship!” I have no time! It wouldn’t be fair. I don’t want to get to know anybody, and I don’t want anybody to get to know me. It wouldn’t be fair to start a relationship with somebody. I would never be around. Plus, I have no patience with people, and I don’t like most people, and I think that I’m funnier than most people.
JR: (Laughs)
TR: When people find out that I am a comedian, they always try and be funny around me. And I can’t stand that! It’s like, they’re “on” and they’re trying to do their best material. When I’m off stage, I’m off stage! I mean, I’m not trying out material on the UPS man who rings the bell or whatever, It’s really funny to watch, when you meet new comedians who are doing comedy for a year or so. They are always “on“, because they think that Comedy Central is gonna meet them and they’re going to get discovered at Starbucks. So, they’re always “on“, and when they find out that you’re a comedian, or you’re a producer, or booker of some particular place or whatever, they are always “on“. They will work their material into a conversation. And I wonder, “How did we end up talking about you getting hit by a car? Isn’t that part of your act?” They’re like, Yeah, it is… but it actually happened!” I find it hilarious… and annoying!
JR: (Laughs... and now I'm starting to ache!)

In case you didn’t notice, I laughed a lot during this interview. Be prepared to laugh even more with “Tom Ragú Presents “Bear-ly Funny” on Friday, February 18th at The Metropolitan Room, 34 W. 22nd St., NYC, at 9:30 PM. The show promises “the funniest, fuzziest, furriest” performers, including comedians, performance artists, a special appearance by The Boys of BEAR-lesque, and more! Call 212-206-0440 or visit  for more deets. And also check out  for much more! 

Sunday, February 13, 2011



     Love, love, hooray for love! L-O-V-E. That certain four letter word has been the inspiration for an infinite cornucopia of music, poetry, art, mediocre stand-up comedy, and tacky greeting cards throughout history. Love hurts. Love is a battlefield. Love makes the world go round. And as a fallen diva once said, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all!” Hey, I‘m all for loving myself-- at least twice a day! But whether you’re a hopeless romantic or a love-scarred cynic, one thing’s for sure: On February 14th, love will be in the air! This month, iconic Playwright/Actor Charles Busch and ten other community movers and shakers share their idea of the perfect V-Day! So today-- whether you’re having an intimate evening all by yourself, or sharing the love with that special guy (or two, or three…)-- we at Jed Central wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day! Chocolate, candles, and flavored lube are optional… And remember, my love don’t cost a thing! As Facebook says, "It's free-- and always will be!"

CHARLES BUSCH: "I like nothing better than a really old fashioned box of chocolate truffles. But the box is the most important thing. A red satin or velvet heart with a lovely flower on it and lots of ribbon. The surfaces of things can be the most profound."
Award-winning Playwright and Actor Charles Busch is now appearing as Mother Superior in “The Divine Sister”, his “holy outrageous new comedy”, at NYC’s Soho Playhouse. For tickets and more info, visit  Also visit
 “The perfect Valentine's Day is when you share it with someone-- friend or lover-- who accepts you for all that is you and that brings out the best aspects of your true self. Oh, and truffles never hurt!“
J. Julian Christopher is a Playwright (“Man Boobs“) and Co-Creator and Producer of “BULK-The Series“, an exciting, raw, sexy, dramatic web series exploring the Bear Community in New York City.

"My partner Orlando and I have discussed our ideal Valentine's Day and it would involve 36 hours in Madrid Spain with perhaps Valentine's Day in the middle of it. Manchego Cheese and and Toreadors! Woof!!!”
P.A. Cooley tells me, “I am probably the Bay Area Cub for all time since there isn't a successor to my title. I was crowned in 2009 as the BAC 2010.” P.A. is currently writing the blog about “an actor leaving the theater and involving himself in his first serious relationship after decades of Tom Catting around.”
 “Spending the day in the arms of Pierce Brosnan and Scott Bakula, both smoking cigars and shirtless, showing off their deliciously hairy pecs. The three of us are serenaded by none other than George Michael, also shirtless and deliciously hairy, as he sings an a capella version of ‘FREEEK‘! Yup, all three taste a hell lot better than chocolate!”
Justin John Costello is Mid-Atlantic Leatherboy 2006 and filmmaker. His upcoming projects are Producing the Mr. Rawhide NYC 2011 competition on March 11-13, and then entering production on “Amongst The Living“, a feature film starring Joe Zaso, Derek Long and Dirk Shafer, where the man character is a gay Leatherman..

RUSS DONALDSON: "Being with someone so special that candy, flowers, or a romantic candlelit dinner do not matter. The heart knows that what truly matters is in the non-tangibles!"
Russ Donaldson is Mr. Tri-State Leather 2010. Between now and competing at IML this May, he’ll be doing a lot of fundraising, including guest bartending gigs at On Broadway in Cincinnati, a Bar Night at Shooters in Cincinnati on February 26th, and a weekend of interactive cooking demos at his catering business.

“Paul and I are not really Valentine's Day people. We try to do things together throughout the year as opposed to setting aside one special day. Our idea of Valentine's is simply spending time together. It usually involves a project of some kind, whether it be painting a room, re-arranging furniture, or simply playing a game on the computer together. Quality time spent together doing something special or simply nothing at all does it for us!”
Frank King is Mr. Double L Leather 2010. He and his partner Paul are owners of the all-male, clothing optional Rams Head Inn in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. They are in the planning stages of organizing a "Sash-Fest". Also in the works is a "Bear-B-Q" being planned for the summer. Stay posted at  for deets!

 “The perfect V-day for me is spending the entire day with the man (or men) that I love through and through!”
Michael Kramer is Mr. D.C. Eagle 2011. He will be competing at IML in May. You can meet him at the upcoming Long Island Ravens Anniversary Run in March, where he’ll be on stage for the Ravens’ Master/Slave auction as well!
 “What I want for Valentine's is to have the feeling of giving love to everyone and receiving love from everyone. I want them to have the same feeling as the one I still have: my hubby and I completely in love to each other, for more than 8 and a half years. The clue is indeed to love yourself first. That will make you confident for success in loving others. Teaching and learning is essential in this life, and I want to see more of that happening to believe that love can make everything happy and mentally alive. Felíz día de Los Enamorados a todos ustedes.”
JJ Mack is a photographer, model, and well-known man-about-town in NYC nightlife. His work can be seen in “Edge NY” Magazine.
“The perfect V-day for Miss Pep is a quiet night in with my man, roses, chocolate, and a home cooked meal. But it will probably be fighting off advances from old men while I'm waiting in line at Kennedy Fried Chicken, before going to the movies alone. I do have a Valentine's Day crush though. I'm just working up the nerve to let him know! I'll keep you posted. If you see me in line at Kennedy Fried Chicken, you'll know…!”
Drag diva Peppermint has a new “Moulin Rouge”-inspired music video called “Fresh”. You can get a sneak peak here: You can celebrate V-day with Peppermint at Barracuda in NYC or see Miss Pep in any of her other shows at Vig 27, Splash, Therapy and XES. See  for more!

 “I think that laughter is the key to world peace, the way to a man's heart, and truly, the best medicine. It's also the best way to spend Valentine's Day. It doesn't matter how you do it - tickle your man's feet, tell your man old Judy Gold jokes - or (preferably) take your man to see my next show, called "Bear-ly Funny" - at The Metropolitan Room on Friday February 18th. Who says that Tom Ragú can't work some form of shameless self-promotion in every sentence?”
You can also see bedroom-eyed funny man Tom Ragu every month at NYC’s Stonewall Inn for The Tom Ragú Comedy Revue. Visit for more.

 “Let's delivered to me at work...a nice romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant...walking to a posh hotel where we've taken a room for the night...then after some fierce lovemaking, we call up some hot guys for an all-out orgy after midnight!”
Rod McCoy, AKA Onyx Rod, is Leatherman of Color 2011. You can meet him at NYC's upcoming Leather Pride Night and Folsom Street East, at DC Leather Pride, and hopefully at the Charm City Festival in Baltimore. He also has monthly Bar Nights at the DC Eagle. Check their website  for dates and times. Rod will also be at Cleveland Leather Awareness Weekend (CLAW) in April, and will be competing at International Mr. Leather (IML) in May.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

DOUBLE PENETRATION: Mr. Connecticut Leather and Mr. New Jersey Leather Speak!

(Photo 1: Michael Craft)
(Photos 3, 4, & 6: Jim Maciel)
(Photo 5: Jed Ryan)
DOUBLE PENETRATION: Mr. Connecticut Leather and Mr. New Jersey Leather:
Does It Get Crowded In Bed With Two Sashes?!

     Meet Tim White, AKA Leather Daddy Tim. Co-Founder of The CT Cruisers, Tim cuts an impressive and imperious figure, especially when in full Leather. On September 18, 2010, Tim won the envied Title of Mr. Connecticut Leather 2011. Now meet Robert Vitale, aka scruffy. Classically and ruggedly handsome, scruffy is active with the New Jersey Boys of Leather. On October 16th, scruffy became The Garden State’s Ambassador to the Leather community, winning Title of Mr. New Jersey Leather 2011. Here’s the first money shot: scruffy is boy and pup to his Daddy Tim. Via Facebook, Tim tells me how he and Robert met: “We met on Facebook, ironically enough... We started chatting in July of '09 after Bear Week, because of a pic I posted of his friend Spanky in high heels at tea dance. scruffy was in the photo and he saw it, and he commented on how huge his ass looked, and I said no he was damn hot. We started chatting everyday on Facebook, and met in person for the first time at the Connecticut Leather contest in 2009. The first thing he said to me was, ‘Your pictures do not do you justice.’ I'll never forget that! LOL!” Here’s the second money shot: Leather Daddy Tim and scruffy will both be competing at International Mr. Leather (IML) in Chicago this year, making this a rare (The first?!) instance of Daddy and boy competing against each other in the Contest. Both men are highly active and busy in the community. As Leathermen and Leatherwomen worldwide are anticipating an exceptionally zesty IML this May, here’s what Leather Daddy Tim and scruffy had to say about their relationship, the State of the Leather Nation, and more…

JR: Congratulations again to both of you on your Titles! Does these mean that there’s a possibility that the two of you may be running AGAINST each other at IML in May?
TW: The line has been drawn. The boxing gloves are on. Or maybe just Leather gloves... but yes, we are both planning to enter IML. I support my boy fully-- and as much as I want him to succeed, this is a competition after all. So may the best Leatherman win! Seriously, I am looking forward to going through the experience with scruffy. This is a once in a lifetime chance that I am so grateful for, and I know we will both enjoy it immensely. I am more than proud of my boy and it will be an honor to stand on that stage with him.
RV: It is my honor to represent the state of New Jersey in the Leather community this year: not only locally, but also nationally-- and that does include IML in Chicago in May! We are both excited! As Daddy said, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am glad and honored to be able to share it with him. Someone mentioned that they don't recall in recent memory that a Sir and his boy have gone head to head at IML…so bring it on, Daddy!! Seriously, even though it is a "competition": as far as I am concerned, anyone who enters any contest-- with the intent of trying to make a difference in the community-- has already won. We need more people to step and help out.

JR: Well said! In his book “Life, Leather, and the Pursuit of Happiness“, author Steve
Lenius writes a fictional exchange of dialogue between The Old Guard and The New Guard to show the generation gap in the leather community:
“Old Guard: New Guard, you say you’re the future of leather? Boy, are we in trouble! You’re undisciplined, you’re disrespectful, you’re slovenly! You think you know everything, but take it from me-- you know nothing! You’re hopeless! Why should I waste my time trying to whip you into shape-- so to speak-- when you show absolutely no interest in shaping up, getting your act together, and doing it right?

New Guard: Old Guard, you’re old fogies. You’re still fighting World War II, or at least Vietnam! The world has changed, but you haven’t! People don’t go for all that hierarchy and discipline stuff anymore, and most of your vaunted protocols are just so tired. Why would I want to play those games? Just because I’m young doesn’t mean I want to be your apprentice for the next 20 years! What do you have to teach me anyway? Who said your way was the only right way? Who made you leather god?”

On that subject: Tim, you’ve often spoke about your introduction to Leather through the traditions of the Old Guard. How important do you think that kind of education is for Leathermen who are just discovering the community in 2011 and beyond?

TW: That's an awesome question Jed. I have held the belief that when you enter this lifestyle, whatever is in your heart will emerge. For me, it was the discipline and structure that excited me, and the act of one man serving the needs of another, so it was a natural course for me to become involved in Old Guard ways. Sexual aspects aside, the real pleasure for me came from the tremendous respect and pride between two human beings, an amazing synergy that is often lacking in 'vanilla' relationships. I learned that whatever kind of person you are becomes magnified when you step into the Leather lifestyle. If you are slovenly and disrespectful, it becomes much more evident in this lifestyle and people certainly notice. If you carry yourself with integrity and respect others-- and more importantly, yourself-- then that respect comes back to you twofold. It's so important for those new to the lifestyle to look at where we have come from… and even if it's not for them, to respect those that hold those values in high regard. If you're a disrespectful undisciplined person by nature, chances are you won't get very far on your Leather journey, or generally in life for that matter. As much as I love and respect the Old Guard, it's important to note that you shouldn't be afraid to make it your own and to let your relationships evolve if you feel they can or if it's needed. A strict Old Guard relationship can be taxing on both parties, and this should be about enjoyment of life with another by your side, not about continuous stress and punishments. There are moments with scruffy that are strictly Old Guard, but there are also moments when protocol is lax and we simply enjoy each other's company like any other couple. As long as the respect is there, it's successful. We have found a balance that works for us, for now, but-- like any other relationship-- may change in the future. So I guess you could say 'we're a little bit country, a little bit Rock & Roll'... Old Guard with some New Guard mixed in. Evolution is inevitable, but if we disregard what has come before, we're doing ourselves a tremendous disservice.
RV: My two cents on this subject: The heart of a Leatherperson is what it is all about. I think the values of the leather community are basic moralistic ideas and common courtesies that have fallen by the wayside. These include pride, respect, and trust. I think the community in general still holds these values true, with the understanding that there needs to be some concessions made for changing times. With Daddy being taught the ways of Traditionalists (Old Guard sounds just that: old.) and with me being relatively new to the lifestyle, there have to be adjustments made to accommodate who we are, and where we see our relationship. To Daddy's point: You can make it what you need it to be and to fit your needs, as long as everything is discussed and agreed upon.

JR: Since winning, do you two find that you two get hit on more?! Or, are guys intimidated by the Sashes?
TW: scruffy should answer this one... he always used to say I looked “unapproachable”... I prefer “intimidating” (Laughs). I really am a nice guy, dammit! To be honest I have received messages from guys like “I saw you out but I was too shy to say hi.“ kind of thing. People sometimes want to put you on a pedestal and aren't sure how to react. To that I say “Nonsense!” We are here to interact and engage others, so you should NEVER be hesitant to say hi! We are just like everyone else, only we chose to put ourselves out there and be seen, to hopefully make a difference in other people lives through fundraising and to guide others to find their way and their own path. I'll admit my sash is big and heavy and could be used as a weapon, but it's only a piece of Leather with words on it that shouldn't hinder anyone from seeing the person behind it. So, never be afraid to say hi!
RV: Are there hot leather men hiding that I don't see?? (Laughs) Actually I have found that more people have approached me-- not trying to hit on me, but more to congratulate me and ask questions. Part of our responsibility is to meet others in the community, and to represent the Leather community in general to the public. I think that Daddy can agree that one of the best experiences that we both had was the day after we each won our titles. We put our sashes on and walked around the local neighborhoods and had people come up to us, ask about the contests, ask about the community, and ask about resources available to them, and take a picture or two. These people were from all walks of, straight, men, women, activists, students, housewives, husbands.... regular people walking down the street. It's that kind of interaction that really makes it all worth it.

JR: Wow! Tim, in the short time that you’ve been named Mr. Connecticut Leather 2011 in September, you’ve done a helluva lot of traveling already. It seems like every weekend is full for both you and Robert now. How is life on the road, always with your eye on the next big event?
TW: I'll just say we have stayed in some sh*tty-ass hotels (Laughs). Although we prefer the term “rustic”. All I can say is I am having a BLAST!! I am so proud to be out there representing Connecticut, staying true to who I am. Thankfully I have scruffy to keep it all managed. We are constantly on the phone going over schedules and upcoming events, and while we try to attend as much as we can, it's just not possible. There is a Leather SIR/boy contest in Tampa this weekend that we would have loved to attend-- sort of a combined “break” and exploration of new territory-- but it just wasn't possible with other events looming, and with travel funds low. Time to get on my knees again! Uh… to sell raffle tickets for my travel fund. (Mind out of gutter!). scruffy has been more than supportive of my events and bar nights with the CT Cruisers, and I travel to New York and New Jersey quite a bit for events... so much so that scruff finally bought me my own pair of pajamas and slippers that stay at his place. Such a good boy! So yes, life on the road can be tiring, but very worth it, especially since I get to share a large part of it with my boy. Let's just say you haven't lived till you hear the straight couple screwing in the morning in the room next to you and decide to show them up. “Honey, is that two men moaning?“

 JR: (Laughs) Sorry for laughing-- I just didn’t think you were the pajamas-wearing type of guy! So, back to business: Which cause or issue do each of you, as Mr. Connecticut Leather 2011 and Mr. New Jersey Leather 2011,want to bring to the forefront during your reign?
TW: We have raised some funds for the Hartford Health Collective's Rainbow Room with CT Cruisers, which caters to gay youth and offers a safe place to gather and receive counseling if needed: some youth that have hard home lives and/ or feel neglected by their families because they are gay. I look back at when I came out: the horrible experience I had, and only wished I had a place like that to turn to. In light of the string of tragic gay teen suicides, support of groups like these is imperative to gay culture. I would love to help them in any way I can. 
RV: Part of my platform is to help provide a safe space for LGBTQ youth, so that they have an environment where they feel comfortable being themselves and have no worries about being bullied by others. With the recent turn of events regarding teen suicide due to bullying, it is a great concern that we are letting these kids slip through the cracks, so we need to provide them with a support system. Organizations like the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and The Trevor Project are two organizations that are there for the youth, to answer questions and to support them through difficult times. There also organizations such as Hudson Pride Connection Center, in Jersey City NJ, that have similar programs-- but on a local level, which are also in need of support from the community.

JR: That rocks! Now, what can every member of the Leather community do, on a day to day basis, to keep our community thriving?
TW: Leather is not something you wear, it's something that is in your heart, how you relate to people. Always carry yourself with integrity and respect those around you, and uphold those values that make our community strong. The Leather lifestyle has become “unstigmatized”, so to speak, in recent years, so welcome those curious with a foot in the door, or take the hand of those peaking in the door and guide them though it. People that have been intimidated by Leather are venturing out to explore, a fact I noticed with CT Cruisers. I have had guys come up to me and say, “You know, I never realized I was into this stuff until I came here and experienced it”. That‘s a great feeling. We only become stronger with more people to carry on what we do today.
RV: I agree with Daddy on this. I think taking the first step is difficult for many people, so having an open mind, and asking questions is very important. They are no stupid questions. I think once people realize that this community is not built only on chains and whips-- but on trust, respect, and love-- then it makes it easier for them to relax and feel comfortable. And I think everyone should weather a harness under their dress shirts at work! (Laughs)

JR: I agree, I think everyone should wear a harness under their dress shirt at work-- or at least a leather jock… Now that will definitely keep people happy at the job! So, in addition to the big events like International Mr. Leather, what are some great events that the two of you recommend throughout the year… or, just some of your favorite hangouts?

TW: I love Mates Leather Weekend in Provincetown in October: a great weekend of events, guys in Leather, a fun contest, and an awesome jockstrap party Sunday afternoon at the Vault... “WOOF!” is all I have to say! The weather is perfect for wearing Leather and there is no better place than P-Town for a few days’ getaway. It's so removed from anywhere. This year we are both going to CLAW for the first time, and I am sure that will make the list of must do's in the future, I have heard nothing but good things. Of course, the two of us will be on vacation in Provincetown for Bear Week in July. I always look forward to that! The Vault at Large on Wednesday explodes with Leathermen... and the Fireman's Ball on Friday is always fun. Last year I dressed up in fireman's gear and had scruffy on a leash dressed as a Dalmatian. That was a huge hit!  On the home front, our CT Cruiser bar nights are always a great time. We hold them the second Saturdays of each month, each with a different theme, and it's just taken off in the year we have been putting them on. Everyone always has a great time and it's a perfect place to come and explore, even if you're not sure if the Leather lifestyle is for you. You can watch demos, and volunteer if you would like... we have done fire play, hot wax, electro, flogging... and we are always open to suggestions and feedback! We are fortunate to have the venue that we do, Tommy's in Middletown is gay owned and operated, so they allow us to take it to where we want it to go. I am so proud of how it has grown and am so thankful for the support we have received!
RV: Mates Weekend is fun indeed!! A very laid back environment full of hot men!! I also attended 12 Days in Baltimore this past year, which is a benefit fundraiser for local charities, where local leather talent gathers to sing, perform skits, do drag… all for the sake of charity. Each year they raise a ton of money, and it’s a lot of fun! It will definitely be on my calendar again next year. I agree with Daddy, I’ve heard nothing but good things about CLAW (Cleveland Leather Awareness Weekend) and can’t wait to check it out first hand! They have educational courses, demonstrations, and of course the occasional “play time” during the course of the weekend! I do have to admit though, that going to the NYC Eagle on Thursday nights for their CODE party is always fun! You can throw on your gear, and hang out with the guys!

JR: On the subject of guys: Leathermen are often seen as the epitome of masculinity and sexiness. As role models and ambassadors for the Leather community, what makes a man sexy?

TW: Confidence. No matter what you look like physically, having confidence in who you are makes you that much more attractive. scruffy will be the first to say that. However, don't mistake confidence with arrogance, a complete turn off. Walk that fine line: Be confident but humble. Oh, and a beard doesn't hurt either. (Laughs) Hmmm… must be why we are both furry faced... Was that arrogant?
RV: OK, I DO have to admit I am a sucker for a nice beard, that always grabs my eye first, as does an easy smile, but it is definitely the confidence of how you carry yourself. There are many different types of people in the Leather community, just as there are in all walks of life, and I think just being true to yourself is very sexy. Don’t try to be something that you are not, just be yourself. If people like you and want to talk to you, that’s great…..and if they don’t, then it is their loss.

JR: I’ve always been a sucker for guys with beards. And a guy in a jockstrap and boots is always great… especially when it’s JUST a jockstrap and boots! So, finally: According to my research, there are a few states with no Leather clubs or organizations. Hawaii is one of them. Now, granted, it might be tough-going to be in your best Leatherwear where it’s always 80 degrees… but I was thinking of eventually settling in Hawaii, and bringing a bunch of dedicated Leathermen with me to start the first Leather club in The Aloha State. Are you guys up for joining me?!
TW: Jed, I was there when you said “Hawaii“. Never been, and the thought of being one of a group of pioneers is damn enticing and exciting!! Maybe just have a Mr. Hawaiian Leatherjock? As long as the entrants have the right values, it's all good... plus a sweaty man in Leather... Uh, what was I talking about? Jed if you head it up, it will only mean good things for the Aloha State. You‘re a great man with his head and heart in the right place, I wish you all the success, you deserve it my friend.
JR: Thanks, Tim!
RV: Woo Hoo!! When do we leave?? There is nothing wrong with getting a little sweaty under all that leather, now is there?
JR: Absolutely not! Sweaty is sexy! Thanks, Robert!

Visit the Mr. Connecticut Leather website

Visit the New Jersey Leather Family website at
Learn more about International Mr. Leather at